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filled what He himself declares, “Is not my word like as a fire, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces ?" Jer. xxiii. 29.
The “operations” of the great Master-builder are not uniform, but marked by “diversity." Some stones are separated from their quarry, and brought off by a preparatory process, in a gradual and gentle manner. Thus a Martha, a Mary, a Lazarus, and others like them, are gently dislodged from earthly attachments, and fitted at-length for the Lord's service; while over a Peter, a Nicodemus, and others, a power is exercised, which is inore instant and imperative. Others again are shivered from their worldly holds, as by an explosion of rocks. Such was the case of Saul on his way to Damascus, and that of the jailor at Philippi. A report is heard,
A and the hard stone is at once disengaged. But when may one be truly said to be thus disengaged? At that moment, my brethren, when he finds himself a poor, lost sinner, a ruined debtor, sensible that he has nothing to pay; a penitent mourner over his own moral destitution. Then is he loosed indeed. God hath broken him away, and he is become quite another man, as compared with those who remain embedded in the elements of the world ; he is become a “lively stone," awakened to reflection, and crying out unto God. Such a stone the great Master-builder takes in charge, causes it to be fashioned to his mind with the hammer of his word, and polished
with the grinding of tribulation. Thus he builds it into the structure of his temple, on Christ, the sure Foundation, and secures it with the cementing and uniting virtue of that lively faith which is of his own operation. There shall be holy " stones set up in his land," saith the prophet Zechariah, ix. 16; and the Lord, by Ezekiel, speaks even of Tyrus as "set upon the holy mountain of God, and walking among stones of fire,” Ezek. xxviii. 14.
If we closely inspect the building, we find the lively stones admirable for their unity, evenness, and mutual conformity. From whatever quarter of the world they may have originated, whether from Europe or Asia, from nations white or black, from savage wilds or cultivated regions, they are no sooner builded together into this “ habitation of God through the Spirit,” than they are all alike and uniform. Every one of them appears sprinkled with blood; all of them are dark in the world's eyes, and darker in their own; but in the eyes of God, they are pure as lilies, and white as snow. They are, one and all, contrite souls, humbled persons, pilgrims and strangers in the earth ; having no continuing city here, but seeking that which is to come. They are all sufferers in this world, “groaning within themselves, and waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of their body.” They are all saved; but it is by hope: they are happy; but it is in hope. They are but one body, and
one Spirit, having been called in one hope of their calling.” They have one Lord, who can command them from the cross; one God and Father of all, who hath reconciled them unto himself, througlı the blood of the Lamb. They have one faith ; for they all seek their life out of themselves in Christ. They have one baptism, namely, that into the death of the Second Adam. Such is the unity of the true church. It is a perfect unity in essentials, and in its nature; but contains the most manifold variety in its forms and gifts. “Of Zion it shall be said, All kinds of people are born in her ;" sings David, Psalm lxxxvii. 5. They are all born of God; here is their unity : but in themselves they are every variety of people. “ Behold,” saith the Lord unto his church, Isa. liv. 11, “I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.” Precious stones are they all, and their variety sets off their beauty. Of one, hope may be his prevailing characteristic; of another, seraphic love; a third, simple, childlike humility; a fourth, clear in wisdom and knowledge. Some are contemplative, and retiring within ; others are apostolical, and active abroad. Some are babes in Christ; others are young men or fathers in the Lord. Some have been drawn to Christ in one way, others in another.
II. Zion's COMPLAINT.
We have heard of Zion, the city and dwellingplace of our God : and that “the Lord loveth the gates of Zion," Psa. Ixxxvii. 2. But how faithfnlly and ardently he loves her, she herself does not always consider. Why else that complaint which now comes under our notice?" Zion saith, The Lord hath forsaken me; and my Lord hath forgotten me,” Isa. xlix. 14. O Zion, complain rather of thy own unbelieving heart; for if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God.
It is acknowledged, that circumstances may arise, under which nothing may appear more just than this complaint of Zion. When, in Noah's time, the earth was filled with violence against the Lord and against his Anointed, and the people of God had dwindled into one little family ; when, in the days of the kings of Israel and Judah, the seed of Abraham had revolted from Jehovah, and his nominal people were bowing their knees at the altars of Moloch and of Baal ; or when, in a subsequent period, the king of Babylon trampled with his iron chariots upon Salem's ashes, and afterwards her mighty foe, Antiochus, set up his abomination of desolation upon Jehovah's altar, and caused the holy volumes of revelation to be torn in pieces and scattered to the winds; when, in later ages, papal darkness rested upon all the nations of Christen
dom; and, more recently, when from a darkness of yet deeper blackness, from a national delusion of infidelity, from a godless and monstrous perversion of intellect, there arose a cry against the King of kings, more frantic, if possible, than that ancient one of “Crucify him, crucify him ;'*—in any one of these instances, who could blame the daughter of Zion for hanging her harp upon the willows, covering herself with mourning as a widow, and giving vent to her grief in the lamentation before us, " The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten
But what are thy feelings in our own day, O virgin daughter of Zion ? Truly the times to thee now are pleasant again. We behold thee on thy tower as a watcher, surveying and considering the stability of God's edifice around thee; and lo! it stands magnificently, and is increasing gloriously. From one quarter of it and from another, in many directions, thou hearest again the cry of “Hosannah! Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” There is a testimony and a praise re-awakened in the land, where all was lately sad and still as death; and it is a testimony concerning Him whom thou lovest. The banner of the cross is again unfurled. Vernal beams shine down from behind
* Witness Voltaire's repeated blasphemy, “Crush the wretch !"_TRANSLATOR.