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Ghost, for the worship and glory of the true God;, the origin of that city which abideth for ever.
When the typical buildings in Palestine were commenced, it was said, "What do these feeble "Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they "sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will
they revive the stones out of the heaps of the "rubbish which are burnt? Now Tobiah the "Ammonite was by him; and he said, Even that "which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even "break down their stone wall."* Upon which the word of the Lord came unto the prophet saying: "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the founda"tion of this house; his hands shall also finish it; "and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath "sent me unto you. For who hath despised the "day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and "shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel "with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole "earth." t
By whom did Jacob arise when he was small, but by the mighty God?
III. The operations of true godliness in the heart
Nehemiah, iv. 2, 3,
+ Zechariah, iv. 9, 10.
are imperceptible; like leaven hidden in meal which worked silently and unobserved.
True piety is without ostentation and parade in its commencement, and thus also it pursues the noiseless tenor of its way. The kingdom of God cometh not with observation; the sincere enter into their closets and shut their doors upon them; they breathe first in the chambers of retirement, there behold they pray; while under the fig-tree they sit and mourn over their previous follies, they are overheard bemoaning themselves; they "go out” to weep bitterly; like infants they are much at home; when thrown into society, modest awe chains their timorous tongues; if they speak, it is tremblingly;" in the temple of God they do not so much as lift up their eyes to heaven, but are seen weeping; the language of their tears, though not heard, is " God be merciful to me a sinner."
Grace, when introduced in the heart, is frequently unobserved by others. The world has no idea of the life of a believer; his sorrows and joys, his conflicts and his cares, his secret transactions with God, are all unknown. "The world knoweth "us not." The pious are often necessarily unacquainted with the change of heart which has blessed such as were once alienated from God by wicked works, and they seek for some ample testimony,
when such may essay to join themselves to the disciples, as they were afraid of Paul, and believed not that he was a disciple.*
IV. Our parable represents the progress of unaffected piety to be gradual-it is like leaven.
There are indeed some miracles of mercy-a nation is born in a day; before Zion travails she brings forth; the lion is suddenly changed to the lamb; the persecutor instantaneously becomes an apostle; but ordinarily, the kingdom of grace is like leaven, it proceeds gradually, it works slowly, it walks step by step; the path of the just is like the light of the sun, which shineth more and more to the perfect day.
The thief on the cross was accepted as a penitent, and almost in the same moment admitted into glory; his meetness for heaven was miraculously effected, but his case was singular; we are taught to expect the blade, the ear, the full corn in the ear; it is the resolution of as many as are perfect, that is renewed, let us go on to perfection; for they have this common conviction, I have not attained, neither am I already perfect.† Every believer grows in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Sa+ Philippians, iii. 13.
* Acts, ix. 26.
vior Jesus Christ. Israel takes root, blossoms and buds, and fills the earth with fruit.
The nature of this advancement is not sufficiently noticed; many excellent persons discourage themselves, and are sadly suspicious of others, by overlooking such representations as are in our text.
They write bitter things against themselves, and conclude, because they are not cedars in Lebanon, that they are not trees of the Lord's right hand planting; that because not at the same moment, babes and fathers in Christ, that the work is not real. They suspect others, who, while they bear the blossoms of promise, have not yet any ripe fruits. How different from His dispositions, who accepts the unfolded bud, who will not quench the smoaking flax, who carries the lambs and gently leads the weary.
But by slow gradations real sanctification proceeds; like leaven it insinuates itself through every faculty of the mind, and by this very character of progression, gives the promise of permanence,-the pledge of final perseverance.
"The stillest streams
"Oft water fairest meadows, and the bird
"That flutters least, is longest on the wing.
Finally. The ultimate and total prevalence of these Divine principles in the renewed heart is here affirmed: "Another parable spake he unto them; "The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which 66 a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, "till the whole was leavened." 66 Being confident "of this very thing, that he which hath begun a "good work in you, will perform it until the day "of Jesus Christ." The certainty with which the apostle here speaks, is founded, among other reasons, on the very nature of true religion; it shall arrive at its destined perfection.
The time will surely come when the whole body, soul, and spirit, shall be sanctified fully. This universal prevalence of grace in the heart, occurs now in some measure in every renewed person. The memory, the understanding, the judgment, the affections, the will, all are influenced by this hallowed leaven; and as the pious have yielded their members, servants to uncleanness and to iniquity, unto iniquity; even so now they yield their members servants to righteousness, unto holiness. But we are led to anticipate the fulfilment of brighter hopes and better expectations.
The progressive operation of this Divine prin
+ Thessalonians, v. 23.
* Philippians, i. 6.