« AnteriorContinuar »
strangers. We must share with angels in their bliss and glory, or with devils in their agonies and terrors. And our eternal doom shall be according to our prefent character, and the improvement we make of our Goportunities for preparation.
And do you, írs, make it your main concern to secure a happy immortality? Do you live as expectants of eternity ? Or do you live as though this world were to be your eternal residence, and as if your bodies, not your souls, were immortal? Does your conscience approve of such conduct ? Do you really think it is better for you upon the whole, to commence fashionably wicked, or perhaps ringleaders in debauchery and infidelity, in a country overrun with all manner of vice? Is this better than to retain the good impressions you might perhaps receive in youth, and to act upon the model built for you in a religious education? Which do you think you will approve of in the hour of death, that honest hour when things begin to appear in a true light? And of which think ye will you be able to give the most comfortable account at the supreme tribunal ? Brethren, form an impartial judgment upon this comparison, and let it guide your conduct. Behave as strangers and pilgrims on earth, that have here no continuing city ; behave as expectants of eternity, as candidates for immortality; as beholding him that is invisible, and looking for a city which has foundations eternal in the heavens. In that celestial city may we all meet at last, through Jesus Christ. Amen!
JESUS CHRIST THE ONLY FOUNDATION.
ISAIAH xxviii. 16, 17. Behold, I lay in Zion for a
foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation ; he that believeth fhall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet : and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters Mall overflowo the hiding-place. * THE context, like many other passages of the pro
I phetical scriptures, seems to have a double sense. The primary sense may be thus represented. The judgments of God were ready to break in upon and overwhelm the impenitent nation of the Jews, like a tempest of hail, and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, and bearing all before it. (ver. 2.) The prophet had repeatedly given them timely warning of these approaching judgments; but they still continued secure and impenitent, and unapprehensive of danger. They flattered themselves they had artifice enough to keep themselves safe.
They thought themselves impregnably intrenched and fortified in their riches, their strong holds, and the sanctity of their temple and nation. They might also think their arts of negotiation would secure them from the invasion of the neighbouring powers, particularly the Aflyrians, to whom they were most exposed. These were the lies which they made their refuge, and the falfhood under which they hid themfelves. These, they imagined, like moles or ditches, who keep off the deluge of wrath, so that it should
* This Sermon is dated Hanover, Feb. 13, 1757
not come to them, much less overwhelm them; and they were as secure as if they had made a covenant with death, and entered into an agreement with hell, or the grave, not to hurt them. Therefore the prophet represents them as saying, We have made a covenant with death ; and with hell are we at agreement : when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us ; for we have made lies (that is what the prophet calls lies) our refuge ; and under what he calls falfhood have we hid ourselves. (ver. 15.) It is in this connection my text is introduced ; and it points out a solid ground of hope, in opposition to the refuge of lies in which these sinners trusted ; as if he had said, “Since the refuge to which you flee is not safe, and since my people need another, Therefore thus faith the Lord, behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a fure foundation ; that is, "My promises, my providential care, the supporting influences of my grace, and the various means I shall take for the comfort and safety of my people in this national distress, shall as effectually bear them up as a firm foundation of stone does a building erected upon it. They that build their hopes upon this foundation, shall stand unshaken amidst all the storms and tempests of national calamity that may beat upon our guilty land. He that believeth hall not make haste; that is, he that trusts in this refuge shall not be struck into a distracted hurry and consternation upon the sudden appearance of these calamities. He shall not, like persons surprised with unexpected danger, fly in a wild hafte to improper means for his fafety, and thus throw himself into destruction by his ill-advised precipitant attempts to keep out of it; but he shall be calm and ferene, and have presence of mind to take the most proper measures for his deliverance. Or the meaning may be, • He that believeth, shall not make such haste to be delivered as to fly to unlawful means for that purpose; but will patiently wait God's time to deliver him in a lawful way. The prophet proceeds, Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet ; that is, ' God will try the Jews with strict justice, as an architect examines a building with a line and plummet. Such of them who have built their hopes upon the foundation above described, fhall stand firm and unshaken, whatever tempests fall upon them, like a regular and stately building, founded upon a folid rock. But as to others, they shall be overwhelmed in the public calamity! the hail shall fweep away the refuge of lies in which ihey trusted; and the waters fall overflow the biding-place. And then your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand : when the overflowing Scourge shall pass through, then shall they be trodden down by it. (ver. 18.)
This seems to be a primary sense of the context; and thus, it is probable, the Jews understood it, who did not enjoy that additional light which the gospel sheds upon it. In this view it is very applicable to us, in the present state of our country and nation, when the enemy is like to break in like a flood upon us. But I must add, that it is very likely that, even in this primary sense of the context, the text refers to Jesus Christ. There seems to be an unnatural force put upon the words when they are applied to any other; and the connexion will admit of their application to him, even in this sense, thus : Since the refuge of finners is a refuge of lies, behold I will provide one that will effectually secure all that fly to it from all the judgments to which they were exposed.' I lay in Zion for å foundation a stone, a tried stone, &c.
I send my Son into the world as an Almighty Saviour; and all that put theinselves under his protection, and build their hopes upon him, shall be so safe, that all the calamities of life shall not do them a lasting injury; and the vengeance of the eternal world fhall never fall upon them.'
But whether we can find Christ in the primary sense of these words or not, it is certain we shall find him in their ultimate principal fenfe. And we have the authority of an inspired apostle for this application. Saint Peter quotes this passage according to the LXX, with some improvements, and applies it expresly to Christ. To whóm coming, says he, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a Spiritual house. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold I lay in Zion a chief corner-stone, elect, precious ; and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 1 Peter ii. 4, 6. Taking the passage in this evangelical sense, the general meaning is to this purpose :-The Lord Jesus is represented as a tried, precious, and sure foundation, laid in Zion; that is, in the church for the fons of men to build their hopes upon. His church thus built on him, is compared to a stately, regular and impregnable temple, consecrated to the service of God, to offer up fpiritual facrifices; and proof against all the storms and tempests that may beat upon it. It shall stand firm and immoveable through all eternity, for its foundation is sure.
But alas ! though Jesus Christ be the only foundation, yet the sons of men are so full of themselves, that they venture to build their hopes upon something else, and promise themselves fafety, though they reject this sure foundation. They think themfelves as secure as if they had entered into a treaty with death and the grave, and brought them over to their interest.
But lo! the wrath of God will at last beat upon a guilty world, like a storm of hail, or break in upon it like an overwhelming torrent; then every soul that is not built upon this rock must be swept away, and all the other refuges and hiding places shall be laid in ruins for ever.
The great God will also strictly inquire who is founded upon this rock, and who not. He will cri.