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tifice 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 negociation would secure them from the invasion of the neighbouring powers, particularly the Assyrians, to whom they were most exposed. These were the lies which they made their refuge, and the falsehood under which they hid themselves. These, they imagined, like moles or ditches, who keep off the deluge of wrath, so that it should 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 falsehood have we bid 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 saith the Lord, behold, I lay in Zion, for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure 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 up
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 shall 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, Ay in a wild haste to improper means for his safety, and thus throw himself into destruction, by his ill-advised, precipitant attempts to keep out of it; but he shall be calm and serene, 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, shall stand firm and unshaken, whatever tempests fall upon them, like a regular and stately building, founded upon a solid rock. But as to others, they shall be overwhelmed in the public calamity! the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies in which they trusted; and the waters shall overflow the hiding 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 likely 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 connection will admit of their application to him, even in this sense, thus, “ Since the refuge of sinners is a refuge of lies, behold I will provide one that will effectualiy secure all that fly to it from all the judgments to which they were exposed." I lay in Zion, for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, &c. “ I send my Son into the world, as an Almighty Saviour ; and all that put themselves under his protection, and build their hopes upon him, shall be so safe, that all the calami. ties of life shall not do them a lasting injury ; and the vengeance of the eternal world shall 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 sense. And we have the authority of an inspired apostle for this application. St. Peter quotes this passage according to the LXX, with some improvements, and applies it expressly to Christ. To whom coming, says he, as unto a living stone, disal. lowed 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 sons 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 spiritual sacrifices ; 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 safety, though they reject this sure foundation. They think themselves 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 forever.
The great God will also strictly inquire who is founded upon this rock, and who not. He will critically try the temple of his church, like a workman, with line and plummet ; he will discov. er all irregularities and useless appendages. And in consequence of this examination, the storms and torrents of divine indignation shall sweep away and overwhelm all that are not built upon this foundation, and that are not compacted into this building
These remarks contain the general meaning of our text ; but it is necessary I should be more particular.
Brethren, our nature, our circumstances, and the important prospects before us, are such, that it is high time for us to look about us for some sure foundation upon which to build our hap. piness. The fabric must endure long, for our souls will exist forever ; and their eagerness for happiness will continue vehement forever. The fabric must rise high, for the capacities of our souls will perpetually expand and enlarge ; and a low happiness of a vulgar size will not be equal to them. The fabric must be strong and impregnable, proof against all the storms that may beat upon it ; for many are the storms that will rise upon us,
upon our country, and upon this guilty world in general. Losscs, bereavements, sicknesses, and a thousand calamities that I cannot name, may yet try us. The enemy is now breaking in like a flood upon our country, and we and our earthly all are in danger of being overwhelmed. Death will certainly attack us all; and that must be a strong building indeed which the king of terrors will not be able to demolish. Besides, when all the purposes of divine love in our world shall be accomplisherl, an almighty tempest of divine indignation shall break upon it, and sweep away all that it contains; and blend cities, kingdoms, plains and mountains, seas and dry land, kings and beggars, in one vast heap of promiscuous ruin. Or, to shift the metaphor according to the emphatical variety in my text, the fiery deluge of divine vengeance, which has been gathering and swelling for thousands of years, but has been, as it were, restrained and kept within bounds by divine patience, shall then rise so high as to burst through all restraints, and overwhelm the guilty globe, and turn it into an universal ocean of liquid fire. This resistless torrent shall sweep away all the refuges of lies, and them that trusted in them, into the gulf of remediless destruction. We, my brethren, shall be concerned in this universal catastrophe of nature ; and where shall we find a support to bear us up in this treinendous day? Where shall we find a rock to build upon, that we may be able to stand the shock, and remain safe and unmoved in the wreck of dissolving worlds ? What can support the fabric when this vast machine of nature, formed with so much skill and strength by the hands of a divine Architect, shall be broken up and fall to pieces ? Now is the time for us to look out ; it will be too late when all created supports are swept away, and this solid globe itself is dissolved beneath our feet into a sea of fire. Now, now is the time for you to provide. And where will you look ? whither will you turn ? This earth, and all its riches, honours and pleasures, will prove but a quicksand in that day. Your friends and relations, were they ever so great or powerful, can then afford you no support. If they can but find refuge for themselves, that will be all ; therefore bethink yourselves once more ; where shall you find a rock on which you may build a happiness that will stand the shock in that day!
If you are anxious and perplexed, I need only point you to my text for relief. Behold, says the Lord God, behold I lay in Zion for VOL. II.
a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation ; he that believeth shall not make haste. Let me expatiate a little upon the properties of this foundation.
1. It is a stone ; a stone for solidity, stability and durableness. Every thing else,' says the charming Hervey, * ' is sliding sand, is yielding air, is a breaking bubble. Wealth will prove a vain shadow, honour an empty breath, pleasure a delusory dream, our own righteousness a spider's web. If on these we rely, disappointment must ensue, and shame be inevitable. Nothing but Christ, nothing but Christ, can stably support our spiritual interests, and realize our expectations of the true happiness.? And, blessed be God! he is sufficient for this purpose. Is a stone firm and solid ? so is Jesus Christ. His power is almighty, able to support the meanest of his people that build their hopes on him, and render them proof against all the attacks of carth and
His righteousness is infinitely perfect, equal to the highest demands of the divine law, and therefore a firm, immoveable ground of trust. We may safely venture the weight of our eternal all upon this rock; it will stand forever, without giving way under the heaviest pressure ; without being broken by the most violent shock. Let thousands, let millions, with all the mountainous weight of guilt apon them, build upon this foundation, and they shall never be moved. Is a stone durable and lasting ? so is Jesus Christ ; the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. His righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, his strength an everlasting strength, and himself the everlasting Father. He liveth forever to make intercession for his people, and therefore he is able to save to the uttermost, to the uttermost point of duration, all that come unto God by him. Here is a stone that can never moulder away by the waste of all-consuming time. Parian marble, and even the flinty rocks decay : the firm foundations, the stately columns, the majestic buildings of Nineveh, Babylon and Persepolis, and all the magnificent structures of antiquity, though formed of the most durable stone, and promising immortality, are now shattered into ten thousand fragments, or lying in ruinous heaps. But here is a foundation for immortal souls, immortal as themselves : a foundation that now stands as firm under Adam, Abel, and Abraham, as the first moment they ventured their dependence upon it; a foundation that will remain
* Theron and Aspasio, Vol. II. p. 361, &c.