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First. It is the strict discipline which she maintains. The comparison is to an army with banners a body of men subject to perfect order and discipiine, and moving as one man. With such discipline, an army is truly formidable ; while, without it, it is weak and despicable. The same is true also of a church, or any society, or body of men whatever.
Secondly. The church is formidable to opposition by means of the weapons with which she is furnished. These are not carnal but spiritual. She presents to the view of enemies the armor of God-his word, which is the sword of the spirit ; and with which is connected the breastplate of righteousness, and also the helmet of salvation. With these she is formidable to her enemies. Nothing alarms them more, than to behold the power of truth, in trembling and convinced sinners ; or to hear the songs of those rejoicing converts, in whose minds the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ, hath been revealed. They are thereby made to tremble, because they know, that if such things be real, and necessary for entering into the kingdom of heaven, the ground of their own hopes is destroyed, as there is nothing, in their experience, of a similar nature. They must therefore feel the danger they are in, of meeting wrath in the world to come.
The truth in belief and practice is indeed mighty, and it will prevail.
In a word, that which renders the church formi. dable to opposition, is the same which lenders it Leautiful and glorious; and it may all be summed up in love. This is a principle, which if possessed will effect strict discipline, and secure perfect unity,
Were love to God, to each other, and to mankind to prevail, and be acted out in a church, it would answer to every description given in our text. A church is then most beautiful and glorious, and at the same
time most like an army with banners, terrible to opposition, when the members are united in love, and all seeking the glory of God, and the good of each other, as their own.
Were Christians thus united in love, they would be in that state in which Christ prayed they might be, John xvii. 23. " That they may be one, even as we are one."
And what would be the consequence ? Truly the world would be convinced, that 'Christ is the Son of God, and that Christians are his people, beloved of the Father, even as Christ is loved ; for it is added, “ That the world may know, that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved
Here then we see what would convince and convert the world, or sinners around-viz. Christians being united in love. It is not the number of niembers, but it is their living in love, and acting out the truc spirit of Christianity, which will make an impression on the world, and bring sinners to serious and anxidus consideration, and to believe in Christ as the Son of God.
Though there may have been many éminent Christians in the world, and many branches of the church, where love has appeared, and been acted out, in somewhat of an high degree ; yet there have been so many of a different description, and so much imperfection in the best, that the trial has never yet been fairly and fully made, how terrible a church would be, and how beautiful and glorious, if it answered, in some good degree, to the prayer of Christ" That they may be one, even as we are one."
church is not more
1. From what has been said we see, wlly the
ious and formidable at the present day. It is owing to the want of that charity, 'which is the bond of perfectness and peace ; and to the consequent peglect of duty, by the members, to their Lord and Saviour, and to one another, particularly of the important duty of Christian discipline. Without strict attention to this duty, they cannot exist as a body compact together--they cannot, as they ought, be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment, nor can they answer the description in the text, « fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners."
2. From this subject we learn how we as a church ought to walk. It becomes us, as we would act in character, and answer to the description in the text, to adhere to the doctrines of Christianity, in profese sion and practice, and thus to manifest that the love of Christ constraineth us. This we have solemnly engaged to do. It becomes us then to devote our. selves to God, in deed and in truth. We ought to assemble ourselves for the worship of God in season, and out of the ordinary season. We ought to pray without seasing, and with all manner of prayer. We cught not lovender evil for evil, but to overcome evil with good, taking Christ for our pattern. But in these and in many other respects, alas ! my brethren, how far short of duty do we fall ?
Finally---How great the importance of being of the true church of Christ, or his sincere followers. Such are safe and happy--they are safe in his protectionthey are happy in his love. He has placed his affection upon them. He has set them as a seal on his arm, and a seal in his heart. His love to them is stronger than death. Many waters cannot quench it, neither can the floods drown it.
What shall we say to these things ? Let the love of Christ constrain us. Let it constrain Christians. Let it constrain sinners
to come unto him, and receive him, and give him their hearts, and live no more unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again. “ Hearken O daughter; and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy Father's house : so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty : for he is thy Lord, and worship thcu him.” Amen.