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the same to all eternity. Therefore it deserves the next character given to it, namely,
2. A tried stone. Tried,' says the same fine writer,' in the days of his humanity by all the vehemence of temptations, and all the weight of afflictions ; yet, like gold from the furnace, rendered more shining and illustrious by the fiery scrutiny.' His obedience was tried ; and it appeared upon trial that it was perfect and universal. His meekness was tried, by the abusive treatment he met with from men. His patience and resignation to the divine will was tried, when the bitter cup of the wrath of God was put into bis hand, and when the absence of his Father extorted that bitter cry from him, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ? Matt. xxvii. 46. His love to his Father, and his zeal for his honour were tried, and they were found an unquenchable fame, that glowed without once languishing through the whole of his life. His love to men-to sinners—to enemies, was tried : tried to the uttermost : it was put to the trial whether his own life or theirs was most dear to him ; whether he would rather see his enemies perish by the sword of justice, or that himself should feel the agonies of a cross. This was a trial indeed ; and you know how it issued. The severity of the trial did but render his love to us the more illustrious. In short, this stone was thoroughly tried by God and man, and it still remained firm without a flaw.
Jesus has also been tried under the capacity of a Saviour, by, millions and millions of depraved, wretched, ruined creatures, who have always found him perfectly able, and as perfectly wil. ling to expiate the most enormous guilt ; to deliver from the most inveterate corruptions; and to save to the very uttermost all that come unto God through him. Ten thousand times ten thousand have built their hopes upon this stone, and it has never failed so much as one of them. Manassah and Paul, that had been bloody persecutors, Mary Magdalen, that had been possessed of seven devils, and thousands more that were sinners of the most atrocious characters, have ventured upon this rock with all their load of sin upon them, and found it able to sustain them. This stone is the foundation of that living temple, the church, which has been now building for near six thousand years, and the top of which already reaches the highest heaven. All the millions of saints from Adam to this day, both those in heaven and those on carth, are living stones built upon this foundation-stone ; this sup.
ports the weight of all. And this trial may encourage all others to build upon it ; for it appears sufficient to bear them all.
But I must farther observe, that a new translation of this sentence, still nearer to the original, will give a new and important view of the sense of it. Instead of a tried stone, it may be rendered, a stone of trial ;' or, ' a trying stone;' that is, this is the true touch-stone of men's characters. It is this that, above all other things, discovers what they really are, whether good or bad men, whether heirs of heaven or hell. Only 'propose Jesus Christ to them as a Saviour, and according as they receive or reject him, you may know their true character, and their everlasting doom. If with eager hearts they spring forward and embrace him as a Saviour, they are true subjects to the King of heaven ; they give the highest, the last, the most decisive proof of their subjection to his authority. That men should submit to Jesus Christ as a Saviour, is not a single command of God, but it is the drift, the scope, the substance of the whole law and gospel ; it is the grand capital precept ; it is a kind of universal command that runs through all the dispensations of Heaven towards the sons of men. And therefore, while men refuse to submit to this command, they are guilty of a kind of universal disobedience ; and it is in vain for them to pretend to have a real regard to God and his authority in any one instance whatsoever. If they obey God sincerely in falling in with this command, they will obey him in every thing; but if they will not obey him in this, they will truly obey him in nothing. Hence it is that good works are the inseparable fruits of faith in Christ, and that unbelief is the root of all evil. Submission to Christ is also the most effectual trial, whether the corrupt dispositions of the heart, whether the innate enmity to God, pride, stubbornness, &c. be thoroughly subdued. If a man is once made so dutiful, so humble, so pliable, as to submit to this humbling, mortifying method of salvation through Jesus Christ, it shews that divine grace has got an entire victory over him, and that now the rebel is so subdued that he will be obedient in any thing. There is nothing in the whole law or gospel to which the hearts of sinners are so averse, as this method of salvation ; and therefore, when they are subdued to tbis, and made willing captives of the cross of Christ, we may, be sure they have surrendered themselves to universal obedience.
This text has made strange discoveries in the world in every age. This touch-stone has discovered many glittering virtues to be but dross. The pharisees and scribes had a high character among the Jews for piety, till this trying stone was applied 10 them; and then it appeared what they were ; then it appeared they were the most inveterate enemies of God upon earth. These were the builders that rejected this stone, and would not build upon it. They rather chose to build upon the sandy foundation of their own righteousness. Nay, instead of making him the foundation of their hopes, they made him a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, Rom. ix. 32, 33. 1 Pet. ii. 8. and they slumbled and fell into destruction. Christ crucified, says the apostle, is to the Jews a stumbling block, i Cor. i. 23. This test made strange discoveries also in the heathen world. Many of the sages of Greece and Rome had a high reputation for wisdom and virtue ; they gloried in it themselves, and they were admired and celebrated by the populace. But when this stone was pointed out to them as the only foundation of their hopes, they rejected it with proud disdain, and thought it much more safe to depend upon their own virtue and merit, than upon the virtue and merit of one that was crucified like a malefactor. And thus it appeared they were not truly good and virtuous. Let this touchstone be applied likewise to the inen of this generation, and it will discover a great many counterfeits. You will find some who have an amiable, ingratiating conduct, who are temperate, just, charitable, and shine with the appearance of many virtues. You will find others who are very punctual in the duties of religion ; they are frequent in prayer, and strict attendants upon all the solemnities of divine worship : all this looks well. But tell them that all this is no sufficient ground for their hopes of the divine acceptance; nay, that they must renounce all this in point of dependance, as having no merit at all; and that they must, as helpless, guilty, self-condemned sinners place their trust only in Jesus Christ ; and they then begin to shew their pride: then their hearts rise against this mortifying doctrine, and perhaps against him that inculcates it. They cannot bear that all their imaginary merit should have such contempt cast upon it. They will own indeed, as others around them do, that Christ is the only Saviour ; but their real dependance is at bottom upon some supposed goodness in themselves. And thus they discover that all their righteousness is but the proud self-righteousness of a Pharisee, or the self-confident virtue of a stoic philosopher, and not the humble religion or genuine sterling virtue of a true chris. tian. Thus the reception which men give to Jesus Christ is the grand criterion of their character. And this is agreeable to the prophecy of good old Simeon concerning him : Behold this child, says he, is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign that shall be spoken against ;-that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. Luke ii. 34, 35. The secret thoughts, reasonings,* and dispositions of many hearts, that were before unsuspected, are revealed by this trial. And I wish it may not make very ungrateful discoveries among you.
As this is a trying stone with regard to men's present characters, so it will be also as to their final doom and everlasting state. All that are built upon this foundation, however frail and tottering in themselves, shall grow up into a glorious impregnable temple, and stand firm when the frame of nature is dissolved. But all that are not built upon this foundation, however strong or well established in their own conceit, or however bigh they raise the fabric of their hopes, shall be demolished and laid in ruins forever. The one may be likened, says Christ, unto a wise man who built his house upon a rock, and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, and it fell not ; for it was founded upon a rock. And the other may be likened to a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand ; and the rain de. scended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell ; and great was the fall of it. Matt. vii. 24, 27. What a confounding fall will this be to those that have built a towering Babel of hopes that reaches to heaven! But,
3. This is a precious stone. More precious than rubies (to borrow the words of Mr. Hervey,) the pearl of great price, and the desire of all nations. Precious with regard to the divine dignity of his person, and the unequalled excellency of his mediatorial offices. In these and in all respects greater than Jonah ; wiser than Solomon ; fairer than the children of men ; chiefest among ten thousand ; and, to the awakened sinner, or enlightened believer, altogether lovely.'
He is precious in himself, as possessing all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, the sum total of all divine excellencies, and as clothed with all the virtues of a perfect man. In short, all moral excellency, divine and human, created and uncreated, centre in
him, and render him infinitely precious and valuable. He is precious to his Father ; his beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased; bis elect, in whom his soul delighteth. He is precious to angels : Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, is their eternal song. He is dear to all good men in all ages. To you therefore that believe he is precious, says St. Peter. 1 Peter ii. 7. How precious are his atoning blood and meritorious righteousness to the guilty self-condemned soul ! low precious is his sanctifying grace to the soul heavy laden with sin, and groaning under that body of death ! how precious the assistance of his almighty arm to his poor soldiers in the spiritual warfare ! how precious the light of his instructions to the benighted wandering mind; how sweet the words of his mouth ; sweeter than honey from the honeycomb. How precious the light of his smiling countenance, and the sensations of his love to the desponding, sinking-soul ! how precious that eternal salvation which he imparts ! and how precious the price he paid for it! not corruptible things, such as silver and gold, says St. Peter, but his own precious blood. i Peter i. 18, 19. In short, he is altogether lovely, altogether precious Diamonds and pearls, and all the precious stones in the universe, cannot represent his worth. Othat a thoughtless world did but know how precious he is ! Surely they would then say to his friends, Whither is thy beloved gone, that we may seek him with thee? I enlarge upon this article with the mere pleasure, as I doubt not but the experience of several among you can affix your Amen to what I say, and to much more. I am now but complying with the request of one my friends,* at the distance of near four thousand miles, who writes to me thus :— Dear Sir, recommend Him to poor sinners, recommend him to poor believers, as a most wonderful Saviour and Redeemer ; abundantly able to deliver them from all that hell and sin can do to destroy them. O that his divine excellencies and worth could be set forth! Surely the most abandoned sinners would fall before him with ravishment and wonder'.- These are British sterling thoughts concerning this precious stone, my brethren, and I hope the same thoughts are to be found among you.
O! that they were universal among us, and among all the sons of men !
4. This stone is a sure foundation. Such (says Mr. Hervey) as no pressure can shake; equal, more than equal to every weight ;
* Mr. Benjamin Forfitt, of London.