Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

Harmony in God's procedure with the Church

Wonderful are you, O Lord! and stupendous are your ways. The harmony that prevails, and the glory that shines in all your government, fills every pious soul with adoration and wonder. All your subjects approve of whatever the King does, and are surprised and pleased at once. Let me cast together the first and last ages of the world, and compare his conduct with the church under the law, and under the gospel, and I shall find a beautiful correspondence and agreement in all his ways.

When God would have a church to himself, he calls Abraham, and blesses him; so our Savior, when he founded the New Testament church, called whom he chose, and blessed them with spiritual gifts and heavenly graces. When God made promise to Abraham, that Messiah should spring from his posterity, circumcision was instituted; and when the promised seed came into the world, baptism was brought into its place. At one great occurrence, when Israel was delivered from tyrannical Egypt, the passover was appointed; and at another greater event, when Jesus, to deliver the true Israel from the bondage of sin, was to suffer, the supper was instituted. The Old Testament church had Egypt to leave, a land of bitter bondage; and we have the kingdom of darkness to come out of, a land of cruel slavery. The church of old was composed of twelve tribes—the Christian church is founded on the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The one, though few at their beginning, grew into a great nation—the other, though small at their commencement, spread through many nations. By miracles Old Testament church was delivered, fed, and defended—by miracles the doctrines of New Testament church were disseminated and confirmed.

The Old Testament church had a sea to pass through at its first escape—this had a flood of afflictions at its first appearance. The former was guided by the cloud and pillar of his presence—the latter by his word and Spirit. The one had to go through a vast and howling desert—the other to struggle through a world of sin, vanity, and vexation. The Old Testament church tabernacled the wilderness forty years, and lacked nothing—the New Testament church has a place given her in the wilderness, where she is fed for many days. Manna was the bodily or natural food of the first; the true manna is the spiritual food of the last. A refreshful river out of the rock followed them all the way—and to us, "that rock is Christ." To them the typical serpent was suspended on a pole, that whoever was bitten by the fiery serpents might look and live—and we have the glorious antitype lifted up on the loftier pole of the gospel, that we may behold and be healed of all the wounds given by Satan, the old serpent.

The Old Testament church had their feasts and solemnities—we have ours. The Jews, after all their toils and pilgrimages, subdued the heathen nations—the first founders of Christianity, after all their trials and persecutions, subdued Paganism itself, and idolatrous nations submitted to the truths of the gospel. When the Jews were settled, and in a flourishing condition, Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked, yes, became worse than the heathen who were around them; so, after the Christian church enjoyed rest and tranquility, they turned to do worse than the unconverted nations around them. When Israel fell from the worship of the true God into idolatry, Babylon was the scourge that brought the church into captivity and bondage—so, when idolatry sprang up in the church of Christ, an apostatizing Rome—bloody Babylon, that great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth—became the cruel oppressor of the church of the faithful. And as the destruction of ancient Babylon preceded the church's delivery—so the destruction of spiritual or mystical Babylon, (for the time approaches when she shall be cast as a mill-stone into the sea, to arise no more,) shall precede and promote the church's enlargement.

As the Jewish deliverance was by a temporal Messiah, a Cyrus—so the Christian liberation is by the heavenly Messiah, the Savior of the world, who shall destroy the man of sin by the breath of his mouth, and by the brightness of his coming. As our Savior's first coming was the fulfillment of the prophecies, and finished the Old Testament dispensation—so the second coming of our incarnate God shall be the fulfillment of the promises, and finish the New Testament dispensation. His first coming was as a Savior, to take away the sin of the world—but his second appearance shall be as a judge, to condemn the sinners, acquit the saints, and carry them to heaven! Hasten, then, this day of glory, when all things shall be accomplished, to the entire satisfaction of every saint—and to the bright display of every divine, every adorable perfection.