« PreviousContinue »
preserve us from such awful self-deceivings, the end of which is everlasting destruction! Let this consideration deter us from a perilous settle. ment between the borders; that “in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we may have our conversation in the world.” For “by the grace of God,” saith the apostle, “I am what I am;" and to the same effect is that utterance of the perfect and upright Job, “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life,” Job xxxiii. 4.
THE MORE THAN PARENTAL LOVE
Isaiah xlix. 14–16.
But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath
forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
What a saying of God is this! What an exceeding great and precious promise! It is a fruit tree by a fountain in the wilderness; where many a pilgrim has, from age to age, shaken off the golden fruit for his refreshment: neither does its leaf wither; but it thrives and blooms, and bears abundantly unto this hour. Shake it only, O troubled soul, and it will yield thee a rich supply. Let us notice,
I. ZION'S BUILDING.
I. “Zion” here signifies the true Church; born from above, by water and the Spirit. Elsewhere she is called Jerusalem; and very frequently is she spoken of as a city or building. Thus, St. Peter saith, “ Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house.” A very expressive and comprehensive similitude of the true Church.
If we inquire, first, who is her builder, we find that there is but one who can properly be called by this name. The founder of the true Church is He by whom God made the worlds; therefore she is called “ The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel,” Isa. Ix. 14. The plan of Zion's building is older than the world itself. Before the foundations of the earth were laid, it was designed and drawn out in the everlasting purpose of God.
Its height, and depth, and breadth, and length, were all accurately laid down; the time for its completion was minutely predetermined ; its very stones were numbered, and the places appointed where they should be hewn and fashioned. Nearly six thousand years ago, did the blessed God commence the building, and it is going on at this day exactly after the original plan. The Lord buildeth up Zion, and he buildeth alone; absolutely and entirely alone; no stranger can dare to put a hand to the work. Whenever he uses any of us as his under-builders, he first makes us sensible of our own weakness; the excellency of the power is of him, and not of
When experience has taught us, that of ourselves we can do nothing; when, like Jacob, we are obliged to halt on the shrunk limb which God has touched, then only will he make use of
us. He who will have the temple to be built unto his own glory, he alone will be the Builder. He is jealous for the glory of his holy name.
If we inquire concerning the foundation of the true Church, an apostle meets us with an answer: “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” The God-Man is the Foundation. If any other Christ be professed, than he of whom the Baptist cried, “ Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world :" if the only Blood-surety be wanting, with his all-sufficient sacrifice, with that blood which cleanseth from all sin, there may indeed be what is called a church, but it can be no xvolaxov, no house of the Lord. The true church is built upon Christ; not merely as he is a good man; not merely as he deserves the character which even Pilate could not but recognise in him, saying, “I find no fault in this man;" nor only upon such a Christ as infidel philosophers and mere men of taste can very well consent to, but upon the whole and entire Christ of God: who, though “to the Jews a stumblingblock, and to the Greeks foolishness, is, unto them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
If now we consider the building itself, it consists of stones, and of lively stones. Stones indeed all of us are by nature: hard and cold stones, dead in spiritual life, and settled and fixed in the earth by our own heaviness and inertness. How many have sat for years under the gospel, like the "children sitting in the market-place;" to whom it may equally be said, “We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented !" The rain, the sunshine, the storm, and the lightning, have from time to time, descended upon them; but still they remain as ever, hard, insensible, and unchanged. Is not this the quality of rocks and stones? But, God be thanked, that "he is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham;" and it is such very materials, rough and refractory as they are, that God has selected for the building of his spiritual temple, that the greatness of his power and wisdom might be manifested. It is not of the holy angels and archangels, nor of all the company of heaven; neither is it of the fallen angels, those once bright morning stars, that he constitutes the building of Zion; but it is of the children of fallen Adam, who were perishing in spiritual death and misery. He who has undertaken every concern of this building, has made it his own special work to bring forth and qualify the stones for it. His evangelists, and the ministers of his word, who are styled “workers together with Him," cannot, of themselves loosen and bring off a single pebble from its native bed, except he speak the word by their mouth, and wield the hammer in their hand. Then is ful