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MATTH. xvi. 18.
Upon this rock I will build my church.
S, in our times, men have different notions of Christianity;-during our Lord's perfonal miniftry, they had various opinions concerning Chrift himself. Some faid, that he was "Flias; "and others, Jeremias; or one of the prophets," verf. 14.
His difciples, alone, had just apprehenfions of him, and acknowleged him to be "Chrift, the Son "of the living God;" verf. 16. So belivers, only, are indowed with the faving knowlege of Chrift and his Father. "For it is given unto" fuch "to N 4
*This fermon was preached on the 20th of April, 1769, at the admiffion of the reverend Mr. Collin Campbell to the parish of Renfrew.
"know the myfteries of the kingdom of heaven; "but to" others "it is not given." Chap. xiii. 11.
Peter and his fellow apoftles were indebted, for this faving knowlege, to Chrift's Father and their Father, to his God and their God; "for flesh and "blood (faid our Lord to Simon) hath not revealed "it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven," verf. 17. In like manner, that knowlege muft flow.uniformly flow, in the fame channel to other finners. For " no man knoweth the Son but the Father," chap. xi. 27. and "no man can come "unto" Chrift "except it" be "given unto him "of" his "Father," John vi. 65.
In calling and diftinguishing Peter, by name, our Lord difcovered the holy delight he had, in the firmnefs of faith, intrepidity of zeal, and fuccefs, as an apoftle, whereof that name was expreffive. "I fay unto thee, that thou art Peter," verf. 18. fhewing us, that as he knoweth and distinguishth, fo," he calleth his own fheep by name, John. x. 3. And thewing, that our Lord is wonderfully pleafed-highly charmed, with their graces, attainments, and performances,...faying, "Let me
fee thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; "for fweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is "comely," Song ii. 14.
Having taken fuch notice of Peter's name,-in the words of my text, our Lord directed him and his brethren to a more glorious object, whofe "name is as ointment poured forth;" and from whofe favour, the perfons, the names, the princi plcs and the lives, of men derive all their excellence and value. "Upon this," rock faid he, pointing at himself, and not upon Simon Bar-jona, "I "will build my church.'
What we propofe, in a dependance upon grace,
I. To confider what Christ, is, according to this paffage,-A rock.
II. What he, here, promifeth,-Upon this rock, will build my church.
III. To improve the fubject, in a suitableness to the occafion of our prefent meeting.
1. We are to confider what Chrift is, according to this paffage-a rock.
Here, it may be observed, in general, that strictly fpeaking, the defcription of this glorious person, is a talk infinitely beyond the capacity of angels themfelves; confequently, that a man of like paffions with others, is by no means equal unto it. For, "who (lays one inspired writer) can declare his "generation?" If. liii. 8. And, fays another, fpeaking of the Father, "What is his name, or "what is his Son's name, if thou canst tell?" Prov. XXX. 3.
In the name, however, which our Lord here takes to himself, two things may be obferved, in way of illuftration.
1. That Canaan, being a rocky mountaneous country, afforded the happielt fhelter from fulden irruptions, and unexpected attacks of enemies.
The Old-teftament fcriptures furnith us with many inftances, wherein the Ifraelites retired to one or another rock, in the land of promife, for fafety, when furprized, or reduced to extremity. Accordingly, Balaam, alluding to this very circunftance, took up his parable, and faid of the Kenires, "Strong "is thy dwelling-place, and thou putteft thy neit in a rock," Num. xxiv. 21
Agreeable to this metaphor, our Lord's very name, Jefus the Saviour, is expreffive of the pro-` tection and safety that finners find, in his righteouinels, perfectious and providence as Immanuel; N 5
for, in the beautiful language of feripture, "fhall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a "covert from the tempeft: as rivers of water in a "dry place, as the fhadow of a great rock in a "weary land," If. xxxii. 2. And again, "The "name of the Lord is a ftrong tower; the righte"" ous runneth into it, and is fafe," Prov. xviii. 10. -Safe from the penal demands of the law, and the vindictive wrath of the Law giver :- From the paw, alfo, of the roring devouring lion, and all his emiffarics among men. -Obferve,
2. That as this rocky country afforded shelter, fo it abounded with the richeft provifion, for its inhabitants; for the mountains were covered with vines and olives, and the holes of the rocks were filled with fwarms of bees. Accordingly, we are told, that God made Ifrael" to fuck honey out of the “rock, and oil out of the flinty rock," Deut. xxxii. 13.
Than this account of Palaftine, nothing could be more expreffive of the liberal provifion which is made for the fouls of men in Jefus Chrift, and pointed out too, by the fame metaphor of a rock or mountain. "In this mountain (fays the prophet, "Ifaiah) fhall the Lord of hosts make unto all peo ple a feast of fat things;-a feast of wines on the «jees, of fat things full of marrow,-of wines "on the lees well refined," If. xxv. 6. Intimating, that fuch things are not more adapted and agreeable to the palate, than the words of Chrift, the ordinan ces of the gefpel, and the bleffings of his purchase are to the foul. Nay, in manifold experience, it hath been found, that the word of God,-revealing Chrift, and conveying falvation, is more favoury to the foul than wine and milk, oil and honey, marrow and fatnefs can be to the palate.-"How fweet "(faid David) are thy words unto my tafte!-yea,
"fweeter than honey to my mouth," Pfal. cxix, 103.
II. We are to confider what Chrift here promiseth, upon this rock I will build my · church. As an illuftration of this part of the fubject, it may be useful to notice: 1. What is here meant by the church. 2 By Chrift's intereft in her, my. church. 3. By his promife concerning her, I will build my church. And 4. To notice fome things concerning Chrift, as the foundation of the whole fabric: upon this rock.
1. We are to notice what is here meant by the church.
Without entering upon the definition of a church, according to the ufual acceptation of that term,→→ or confidering the peculiarities by which churches on earth are diftinguished from one another;it need only be oblerved, that our Lord, in this paf fage, directs our view to the collective, univerfal, -perfect church, to be gathered out of all the conmunities which bear that name among men :-the church wherein all the ranfomed world fhall be comprehended, and from which no ransomed foul hall be excepted.
Though nothing like this will ever be found, except in heaven;true church members, of every denomination, are viewed, by infinite Wildom, even at present. as feparated from the veffls of wrath with whom, in their church capacity, hey are feverally mingled, and, however unknown to themselves, united together in one church.
The reasons of different churches on earth, are, chiefly, two;their being feparated, in the providence of God, by diftance of language;-or, where not feparated by distance or language, the imperfection of their members, in holiness, must be confidered