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by him the people, that the good work should prosper, and by the special care of Providence, and the immediate influence of Divine grace, be brought to an happy issue.
The building of the second temple is an emblem of the great work which will be carried on in the church to the end of time. Christ's spiritual temple will meet with great opposition. All the deceit and violence which Satan and his agents can exert, will be employed against it. Whoever may be for Christ, the many and the mighty will be against him. But the work shall prosper. Though those employed in it
may be small and despised, the Lord stands by them. They are workers together with God, and must be successful. He can nip the designs of enemies in the bud, or blast them when fully blown. His hand is invisible, but almighty and energetic.
The design of the text is to inspire Zerubbabel with courage. If he was destitute of external might and power, the prophet assures him of unseen aid, and solaces his heart by the promise of the Spirit
. This encouragement is equally applicable to all who would, at another period, engage in the Lord's work, and endeavour to promote it. It is peculiarly applicable and animating to the saints in times of backsliding and declension. Though few should engage in the Lord's work, and though they should be destitute of external aid, Jehovah is on their side, and the Holy Spirit will build the spiritual temple. Thus aided and animated, they will surmount every obstacle, and overcome every difficulty. The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper among them. David's horn
shall bud forth. This and that man shall be born in Zion; and Christ shall see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied.
What we further design in this discourse, is to illustrate the method in which the Lord carries on his work as expressed in the text, specify some of the excellent purposes answered by it, and then apply the whole.
I. It was proposed to illustrate the method in which the Lord carries on his work. The text naturally divides it into two branches : it is not carried on by might and power ; but by the Lord's Spirit.
The first branch is, that the Lord's work is not promoted by might and power. About this we make the following observations.
1. The Redeemer's work does not depend on legal authority. Some are of opinion that this is meant by the term power. The highest authority, without the assistance and blessing of the Lord of hosts, can never make religion prosper. Let it be enjoined by laws ever so numerous and excellent, it will not flourish without the Lord's blessing. However highly the doctrines of Christianity may be encouraged by legal establishments, they will dwindle into nothing, vanish away, or be exchanged for others different in their nature and effects, without Divine countenance. Like the Lord's peculiar people of old, the doctrines of grace have often prospered in proportion to their oppression. The powers and princes of this world have been more frequently hurtful than helpful. Igno
rant of the Lord of glory, they have oftener crucified him than paid him homage. Many times have they rejected his doctrines, but seldom received them. The history of the church abundantly proves that they have been her enemies. Their hostile attempts have been equally hurtful in opposite extremes. Their smiles have produced multitudes of apostates, and their frowns have kindled the furnace and flames of persecution. The Redeemer's work by no means depends on them. It flourished when they were all in arms against it, and will prosper in spite of all their oppo sition. The Lord Jesus is the author of the Doetrines of Faith, and will preserve them. He has promised to be with his servants to the end, and to bestow his blessing wherever his name is recorded. Should the princes of this world appear friendly to religion, their favour might multiply professors; but nothing short of Divine grace can make a single soul receive the truth in the love of it. The countenance of earthly princes is fickle and mutable. Divine countenance is secured by the faithful promise and oath of him who cannot lie.
2. The Redeemer's kingdom and interest are not supported by external force, and the courage and prowess of armies. Human lusts produce wars, and induce men to bite and devour one another. So situated, military forces may be necessary for their support. These the church can seldom command, and the want of them is compensated in her Captain and King. He is both the breaker-up of her way, and her rearward. He is mightier than all who can be against her. He supplies the force of armies, and
military courage and skill. His faithfulness is her shield and buckler. Like the pillar of old, his presence enlightens her, and is a defence against all her foes. As members of civil society, Christians are entitled to the same rights with others. Their religious profession should neither interfere with, nor invalidate their natural rights. They may plead them; and should never be deprived of them. Like the apostle, they may claim and improve the advantages of being free born; and in opposition to the malicious and unjust decisions of chief priests and elders, they may appeal unto Cesar. True religion may make men better citizens, but cannot make them worse. As church members, the King of saints will protect them. The Lord will fight for Zion and the hill thereof. Christ's kingdom is not of this world, and he does not support it by secular power and influence. Had it been of this world, he would have fought when in it. He girds not the carnal but spiritual sword on his thigh, and rides on the white horse of the Gospel to conquer. The weapons of his followers are not carnal, but mighty through God to baffle opposition. We have a beautiful emblem of the method in which the church is supported, in the return of the Jews from Babylon to Jerusalem. They applied not to the Babylonian monarch for support, but to God. They fasted at the river Ahava. God heard their supplications, and answered their cries. He protected their persons, prospered their journey, and defended their cause.
3. Christ's work is not carried on by numbers. Though they had neither legal authority nor military
force, great numbers might overcome all opposition, and prevail. Christ's spiritual temple never was, and never will be built by mere superiority of number. A country may be Christianized. Professors may increase to vast multitudes. But, in order to promote the Lord's spiritual temple, like Gideon's army, they must be tried, thinned, and reduced. About numbers the common rule is, Many are called, but few chosen; broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; but narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. About to settle the Gospel in any particular place, men have often such a desire for numbers as evidences much want of spirituality and faith. The usual way of supporting a proper testimony for Christ is by a few names. With a simple dependance on the Redeemer, a few will afford that outward support which is necessary for his
Instead of discouraging from prayer, this consideration should urge us to wrestle that this and that man may be born in Zion. Our minds should be deeply impressed with this truth, that numbers of themselves can never build the temple of the Lord; and that a few, commissioned and countenanced by the King of Zion, can do much with him, while multitudes ean do nothing without him. Though few in number, and opposed by legal authority, the apostles planted Christianity in many places. Often a very few have supported the Lord's truths in the place where Providence fixed their lot, without external aid, and in opposition to all attempts to crush them. Christ's gracious presence is of incalculable