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but men and angels, in one spiritual building: and while they all derive their strength from him, they all feel, through him, an union with each other-For this purpose “God laid” him in Sion from the beginning; he laid him, I say, in types and prophecies, and declarations, and promises; and he requires all both in heaven and earth to honour him as the one source of their strength, and the one bond of their union-]
In this view he is "elect and precious" in the eyes of God
[God has appointed him to execute this office from all eternity, and determined that there shall be "no other name whereby any shall be saved"-And, as qualified for it, as discharging it in every respect, and as saving man in perfect consistency with the honour of the divine perfections, God esteems him "precious;" He declares that "in this his beloved Son He is well pleased;" and He acquiesces fully in the salvation. of all who shall approve of this appointment-]
Nor will he be less precious in our eyes, if we consider II. The security of those who "believe in him"
To believe in him, is, to feel an entire dependence on him ourselves, and to have such an union with him as produces a correspondent union with all the other parts of his spiritual temple-They who thus believe in him shall never be confounded
[Much there is in their experience, which might well confound them, and which nothing but their union with him could enable them to support-How should they endure a sense of guilt, or bear up against their indwelling corruptions? How should they sustain the fiery trial of persecution, or stand composed in the near prospects of death-These are things which disconcert and confound others; and drive them like a ship from its anchor-But they have "an anchor both sure and stedfast"-They are not agitated, and driven to husty conclusions, or ill-advised methods of deliverance" Their heart standeth firm, trusting in the Lord"-" Being justified by faith they have peace with God"-The promise that "Sin shall not have dominion over them" encourages their hopeTheir present consolations, and future prospects of reward, soften all their trials, and enable them to "glory in tribulations"-And, knowing in whom they have believed, the sting of death is taken away, and they are "delivered from their bondage to the fear of death"-]
a Eph. ii. 14, 20, 21, 22.
the passage from whence it is taken, Isai. xxviii. 16.
b Compare the text with
[Terrible indeed must be the apprehensions of an unbeliever, when first dismissed from the body and carried into the presence of an holy God-And at the day of judgment, how will he stand appalled!-But the believer will go as a child into the presence of his Father, with love, and joy, and confidence
-He will not be confounded at the glory of the divine Majesty, because he is washed in the Redeemer's blood, and clothed in his righteousness-Even Mary. Magdalen, or the dying thief know no terror in the presence of their God, because they are complete in Christ:" it is on this account that they shall have confidence before him at his coming, and great boldness in the day of judgment-Nor is this the privilege of a few only, who are strong in faith, but of "all that believe," whether their faith be strong or weak-]
od 1. How great is the difference between believers and unbelievers!
[The world perhaps may not in some instances discern much difference; but God, who sees the heart, gives this glo-' rious promise to the one, while there is no such promise in all the sacred oracles to the other-Let us then believe on Christ; and make him "all our salvation and all our desire”—].
2. How unreasonable is the unbelief of sinful men!
[God has laid his Son for a chief corner-stone in Sion, and declared him to be precious to himself in that view: why then should he not be "elect and precious" unto us also?Have we found a better foundation, or a surer bond of union?
Or can we produce one instance wherein any person that believed in him was finally confounded?-O let us consider what confusion will probably seize us here, and certainly, hereafter, if we continue to reject him-And let us without delay "flee for refuge to the hope set before us"-]
c 1 John ii. 28. and iv. 17.
CLXIX. THE FELICITY OF GOD'S PEOPLE.
Isai. xxviii. 5. In that day shall the Lord of Hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty unto the residue of his people.
THE sublime expressions of scripture frequently raise in our minds a pleasing sensation, while yet we entertain but very confused notions of the truths contained in them VOL. II.
-It is scarcely possible to read the words of the text without being struck with wonder and admiration: but we cannot enter into their full import without a careful attention to the preceding context-Samaria was the capital of the ten tribes: it was situated on a high hill, and surrounded by fertile vallies, which were skirted with other hills: hence it was compared to a crown or chaplet; which, while it adorned the adjacent country, marked its pre-eminence above all the other cities of Israel-But for the pride and intemperance of its inhabitants God denounced his judgments against it, declaring that this beautiful chalet should be "a fading flower," and this boasted fortress, a desolation-He foretold that its wealth and beauty should but excite the avidity of its enemies, who, as soon as they came against it, should prevail over it, and greedily devour it, as one would devour a delicious piece of fruit which he unexpectedly found hanging on a tree-Then, to mark, as strongly as possible, the contrast between them and his faithful people, he promises that He himself will be to his people, a crown of glory that shall never perish, and a diadem of beauty that shall never fade
This was fulfilled in the preservation of the two tribes under Hezekiah from the forces of the Assyrians, after they had destroyed Samaria and carried captive the whole kingdom of Israel-But its full accomplishment must be sought for in the blessings which God vouchsafes to his people under the gospel dispensation-To illustrate it we must observe, that,
I. In the most degenerate times God has a remnant of faithful people
There has been no season when God has not had some faithful adherents
[In the antediluvian world all flesh had corrupted their way, and it seemed as if the very remembrance of God had been effaced from the minds of his creatures: but yet there was one small family who maintained their stedfastness, and openly acknowledged the true God-Before God separated the Israelites for himself, the world was again reduced to a state similar to that before the deluge: yet even then there were found an Abraham, a Melchizedec, a Job, and perhaps a few
others connected with them-The times of Elijah were extremely degenerate: yet then, though he thought himself the only servant of God in Israel, there were seven thousand others that had never bowed their knee to Baal-Though therefore the knowledge of God has frequently been almost extinct, yet there never has been a period when he had not some to be his witnesses in the ages in which they lived-]
But at no time has he had more than a little remnant
[When first the twelve tribes were established in Canaan, piety prevailed among that nation more than at any other period: but there is no reason to imagine that the godly bore any proportion to the ungodly; nor, if their whole nation had been pious, did they bear any proportion to the world at large
-There were many converted in the days of the apostles; and religion flourished far beyond what it ever did before or since that time: yet Christians were even then "like the gleanings of the olive, one or two upon the topmost boughs"-The name of Christ is indeed very widely spread; but if his professed followers be sifted, how little true wheat would be found in comparison of the chaff!-Truly it is "a little flock," "a remnant according to the election of grace;"" though the nominal Israel be as the sand of the sea, it is only a small remnant that will eventually be saved"—]
Their state however is peculiarly happy; for
II. While they honour God, God greatly exalts and
The terms used in the text import that God will be to his people a source of
a Rom. xi. 5. and ix. 27.
[A crown is the highest honour to which an human being can aspire in this world-But how poor and contemptible is such a dignity, when compared with that which God confers on his people!" "He is not ashamed to be called their God:" He acknowledges them as "his sons and daughters:" they are the very "members of Christ's body," yea, they "are one spirit" together with him-While monarchs are surrounded by their nobles, the saints are attended by holy angels, who, as "ministering spirits, are sent from heaven to minister unto them". When they go hence they have a crown of righteousness, and a throne of glory on which they shall sit with Christ at the right hand of God, in whose presence they shall "reign as kings and priests for ever and ever"-" Such honour have all his saints"-]
[A crown is deemed the brightest ornament to the person that wears it; nor is any thing wanting to it that can increase its splendour-This idea is particularly marked in that a crown is called "a diadem of beauty"-But God puts a far brighter ornament around the head of his people: "He beautifies them with salvation;" He encircles them, as he did Moses of old, with rays of his own glory, insomuch that "his own glory is seen upon them"-A meek and quiet spirit is but a single grace out of many, with which they are endued; yet that is "an orna-, ment of great value even in the sight of God" himself; what then must be the constellation of graces that form their character?-But what can God himself say more than this, that they are "renewed after his own image in righteousness and true holiness," and that they are progressively "changed into his image from glory to glory by the agency of his almighty Spirit?" Is the ornament of a glittering bauble worthy to be compared with this?-]
[Men conceive that the possession of imperial honours must of necessity contribute greatly to their happiness: hence, if such a station be within their reach, there is nothing which men will not do to attain it-But supposing that all the satisfaction which men expect from their elevation were invariably attached to it, how much greater happiness does God impart to his chosen people! Their "peace passeth all understanding;" their "hope is full of immortality;" their "joy is unspeakable and glorified"-They are not indeed exempt from sorrows; but they have "joys with which the stranger intermeddleth not"-No tongue can declare the comfort they sometimes feel in a sense of the divine favour; nor can the heart of man conceive those joys which are prepared for them at the right hand of God-]
[The idea of security attaches to the condition of a king, because, the instant that he is in danger, there are thousands at his command to rally round the throne, and to expose their lives in his defence-But if "the Lord of Hosts himself be our crown," then are we secure indeed-And has he not said that "He standeth round about his people;" that "their place of defence is the munition of rocks;" that " He himself will be to them as a broad and rapid river that can neither be passed nor navigated;" yea, that " He will be a wall of fire round about them," not only to protect their persons, but
b Isai. xxxiii. 16.
e Ib. ver. 21.
d Zech. ii. 5.