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ZION'S WATCHMEN ON HER FRONTIERS;
THE CHURCH'S OBLIGATION, FAITHFULLY TO DISCHARGE
HER RESPONSIBILITIES TO HER LORD, IN CHOOSING
SUITABLE LABOURERS FOR DIFFICULT DUTIES.
Isa. xxi. 11. “ The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night ? Watchman, what of the night?"
T'HERE is no historical narrative extant which will serve as a key to unfold the mysterious and summary predictions concerning Dumah ; we shall therefore not give way to conjectural remarks. The Scriptures use the term watchmen or watchers in an extensive sense when applied to the Chaldean army in Jer. iv. 16. On this passage Brown observes : “ The Chaldeans are called watchers; they waited for and seized their opportunity of destroying the nations; they proceeded with caution in their wars; and their sieges of cities were so orderly and determined that few could escape.” We ground on this application our reason for a departure from the strict acceptation of the word watchmen in the subsequent pages. In considering this subject we shall confine our observations to the following positions :
I. The term watchman is appropriately applied not only to prophets, but to all the public servants in the church;
II. There is a relative importance belonging to this office, which depends on the place the watchman is called to fill;
III. We infer it is the duty of the church (that is, empowered by Christ) to select watchmen, and invite them to occupy the different posts of observation and danger; to exercise her judgment, and regulate her choice of individuals, by the comparative difficulties and importance of the stations to be filled. In pursuance of this plan we observe,
I. That the term watchman is appropriately applied not only to prophets, but to all the public servants in the church. Whilst the church is in the wilderness, she is in a militant state ; the nature of the conflict she is called to maintain is strikingly detailed, and her enemies are represented, by unerring truth, as numerous, formidable, skilful, malignant, active, and dangerous. Their mode of attack is varied, and they take every advantage of the peculiar and trying circumstances of each individual ; for the warfare is personal as well as general, and they push their advantages to the utmost of their power whenever disaffection, ignorance, weakness, or carelessness opens the way for their entrance to spoil the camp. The King of kings has therefore appointed watchmen to sound the alarm at the approach of the enemy, to penetrate their plans, and give correct information of their intentions. Prophets were raised up and appointed by the king on extraordinary occasions; but as the warfare continues with unceasing ardour through every age, the office of watchman must necessarily be permanent. As every believer exhibits in his own person the constant conflicts of two opposing principles, the watchman chosen by the church ought well to consider the circumstances in which the people are placed over whom he is appointed, and the experience they have had in the field of conflict, that he may be able correctly to apprise them of their situation, their advantages or dangers, arising from the place they occupy in the world, as well as in the church.
The obvious qualifications for such a sacred office are, extensive and correct views of the truth as a whole; an enlarged and intimate acquaintance with the workings of the human heart; considerable experience of the power of truth; and as accurate views, as circumstances will allow, of the varied attainments, the advantages and difficulties, attending the situation of every one under his immediate charge.
The heart of every true believer is the seat of empire where the King of Zion is pleased to hold his court, reform the citizens, and destroy the power of his enemies. There he proscribes the fugitives by proclamation, and appoints the guard to preserve the peace of the city, to watch the gates, and discover the