« ElőzőTovább »
even'to sin, the heaviest load in the world. The rock of ages, such as never has failed, never will fail those humble penitents who cast their burden upon the Lord Redeemer ; who roll all their guilt, and fix their whole hopes upon this immoveable basis.' The foundation is sure, because it is of divine appointment. Behold, says the Lord God, who has authority to make the appointment, behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation. It is also sure, because of the extent of his power, the perfection of his righteousness, and the eternity of his existence. But these I have already touch. ed upon. Indeed his excellencies are so sweetly blended and complicated, like the colours of the rainbow, that it is hard to describe one of them, without running into another.
The author whom I have repeatedly quoted, thinks the words may be otherwise rendered : 'A foundation ! a foundation !! There is, says he, a fine spirit of vehemency in the sentence thus understood : it speaks the language of agreeable surprise and exultation, and expresses an important discovery. That which mankind infinitely want ; that which multitudes seek, and find not ; it is here ! it is here ! This, this is the foundation for their pardon, their peace, their eternal felicity.'
5. This is a corner-stone. "It not only,' says Mr. Hervey,' sus. tains, but unites the edifice : incorporating both Jews and Gentiles, believers of various languages and manifold denominations, here, in one harmonious bond of brotherly lore ; hereafter, in one common participation of eternal joy.' To this purpose, and in this style, speaks the apostle : He is our peace who hath made both; that is, both Jews and Gentiles, one, one regular, compact, magnificent superstructure, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone ; in whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth up into an holy temple in the Lord ; in whom you [Gentiles] also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Ephes. ii. 14. 20, 22. Materials for this sacred temple are collected from thrones and cottages, from bond and free, from Jews and Gentiles, from Europe, Asia, Africa, and America ; but notwithstanding these distinctions, they are all united in this corner-stone ; all harmo. niously compacted* into one regular, magnificent temple, where the God of heaven delights to dwell.
* So the original word, ouvepuodeysuéva.
may also be called a corner-stone, to signify his pe-, culiar importance in this spiritual building. Hence be is elsewhere repeatedly called the chief-corner-stone, and the head of the corner. Matt. xxi. 42. Psalm cxviii. 22. Mark xii. 10. Luke xx, 17. Acts iv. ll. 1 Peter ïi. 7. Ephes. ii. 20. We are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, in a subordinate sense ; but Jesus Christ himself is the chief corner-stone. He has the most important place in the building. It is he that holds
and connects all. Apostles, prophets, and all are but sinking sand without him. Their righteousness, their strength are nothing without him. On him all their doctrines depend, in him they all terminate, and from bim they derive all their efficacy. Take away this cornerstone, and immediately the saints in heaven fall from their thrones ; and the saints upon earth, that are gradually rising heavenward, sink forever. Take away this corner-stone, and this glorious living temple that has been building for so many ages, breaks to pieces, and covers heaven and earth with its ruins.
Having thus illustrated the particular properties of this stone, I shall take notice of this general property of it, that it is a foundation. So it is repeatedly called in my text, “ It is laid in Zion as a foundation :" It is a sure foundation. It must be the foun. dation, and have the principal place in the spiritual building, or none at all.
No other foundation, says St. Paul, can any man lay, than that which is already laid, which is Jesus Christ. And he must lie at the bottom of all, or the superstructure cannot stand. To join our own righteousness with his in our justification, is to form a foundation of solid stone, and hay, straw, and stubble, blended together. To make our own merit the ground of our claim to his righteousness ; that is, to hope that God will save us for Christ's sake, because we are so good as to deserve some favour at least for our own sakes, this is to lay a foundation of stone upon a quicksand. The stone would have stood, had it been in its proper place, that is, at the bottom of all ; but when it is founded upon the sand, it must give way, and all the superstructure must fall. This is the grand fundamental mistake of multitudes in the christian world. They all own Christ is the only Saviour ; but then the ground of their expecting salvation through him, is not his righteousness, but their own. Their own worthless works, which their ignorance and vanity call good, lie at the bottom of all their hopes, as the first foundation ; and Christ's righteousVOL. II.
ness is rather a part of the superstructure, than the entire foun. dation. This is the refuge of lies, the delusive biding-place which multitudes are building all their lives with a great deal of pains, and, when they think themselves provided with a strong everlasting mansion, suddenly they feel themselves swept away into destruction by the overwhelming torrent of divine indignation.
Here, brethren, let us pause a while, and turn our attention to a question that I hope you have anticipated, “ Am I a living stone built upon this foundation ? Are all my hopes of acceptance with God and eternal happiness founded upon this rock ?” Are you not desirous to make this important discovery? To make it now while you have time? If you have made a mistake, to cor. rect it, by pulling down the old building, and beginning a new one on the right foundation ? Have you no anxiety about this ? If not, I must tell you, you care not for the God that made you, or the Saviour that bought you with his blood : heaven and hell are but trifles to you, and you are indifferent which should be your eternal lot. You have not the sensibility of a man, with regard to pleasure and pain, but the stupidity of a brute, or rather of a senseless stone. And if you continue thus stupidly careless about eternal things, you shall forever be cut off from the rewards of pious diligence, and feel the dreadful doom of the slothful servant. Brethren, can you be indifferent in a matter of such infinite consequence? Let me remind you, that a dreadful hurricane is gathering over this guilty world, which will burst upon you, and sweep you away, unless you be founded upon the rock of ages. Think of the last part of my text ; the hail shall stveep away the refuge, or hope of lies, the waters shall overflow the hiding-place. You may be parts of the outward court of this spiritual building ; I mean, you may be members of the visible church ; but that is only a scaffold to the sacred temple, and when this is finished, that shall be pulled down. Remember this building will be critically inspected : the great Architect will lay judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet ; and if you do not stand that test, you will be demolished, as useless appendages or incumbrances, and you never can be built up again ; the temple of God will then be complete, and no new stones shall be added to it forever. Therefore now is the time to discover fundamental errors, and correct them. Discover them you can and will in the eternal world : but 0! it will then be too late to correct them!
Would you then know whether you are really built upon this sure foundation ? If so, I shall willingly assist you to make the
And for this purpose I solemnly propose a few questions to your consciences in the sight of God.
1. Have you ever seen the utter insufficiency of every other foundation ? You will never build upon Christ, while you can build any where else with hopes of safety. If you have ever fed to him as a hiding place, you have seen it was your last refuge. And have all your false hopes, all your refuges of lies been swept away? Have you seen that honours, riches, pleasures, and all the world, were but breaking bubbles ? Have you been sensible that your own righteousness was a rotten foundation, and that you were just ready to sink every moment under the burden of your sins, and to be swept away by the torrent of divine vengeance ? Like a sinking man, you have been ready to catch at every twig ur straw for support ; but were you obliged at length with Peter, to turn to Christ, and cry out, help, Lord, I perish? Have you let go every other hold, and taken fast hold of him as the only support? Have you given up all other grounds of hope, and as poor, guilty, perishing, helpless creatures, placed your whole dependence upon this foundation ? If you can honestly give a satisfactory answer to these inquiries, it looks encouraging : but if not, you may be sure you are building upon some sandy foundation ; you are lurking in some refuge of lies, and must be overwhelmed at last in inevitable ruin.
2. Have you ever been sensible of the preciousness, the ex. cellency, and the stability, of this divine foundation ? If you have ever built upon Christ, it has been at once an act of the last necessity, and of the most free choice. 0! how precious did this stone appear to you ! like the loadstone, it had a strong attraction upon you, and you were effectually drawn to it. You need go no farther than your own hearts to find the truth of what I have said of the preciousness of Christ ; the preciousness of his strength, his righteousness, and every thing in him. To you that believe he is precious, i Pet. ii. 7. This is the assertion of an apostle concerning all believers, without exception. And shall I conclude this is the real sentiment of this assembly concerning Christ? Shall I conclude it, brethren ? O shall I allow myself to be so happy? Does your conscience tell you there is ground for your saying that Christ is precious to you? Alas! iş it not quite the reverse with many of you ?
3. Where is your habitual dependence ? Is it upon Jesus Christ alone? Or is it upon something else? Do you not feel the need of strength, of spiritual life, of pardon and righteousness, and eternal life ? Certainly, if you know yourselves, you feel the need of these things. And upon whom do you depend for them? Is it upon Jesus Christ alone? Is it habitual, and, as it were, natural to you, since you first ventured upon this foun. dation, to rest there, sensible that you have always need of this support, and that every other foundation is but sinking sand ? Brethren, what does conscience reply to these questions?
4. Have you been formed into proper stones for this spiritual temple ? Has God hewn you, may I so speak, by his word, and broken off whatever was rugged, irregular, and unfit to be como pacted into the building ? Has he shaped and polished your souls for a place in it? Do you feel this divine Architect daily carry ing on this woik in you, polishing you more and more into a resemblance to Christ? Or are you still the same rough, irregular, unpolished pieces, with human nature unsanctified in its present degenerate state? Then you may be sure you are not built upon this foundation.
I think I may pronounce these few queries fully decisive in this case. And what discoveries do they now make among you? Where now appears to be the foundation of your hope ? Have not some of you rejected the chief corner stone which God has appointed, and built upon a quicksand ? If so, even a friendly tongue cannot but denounce some terrible things to you.
While you are not founded upon Christ, you shall, you must unavoidably, sink forever. There is nothing that can support you. Build your hopes ever so high, the fabric will fall, and bury you in its ruins. Nay, this only foundation of hope and happiness will be to you a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, the occasion of your more aggravated guilt, and more dreadful destruction. There are a few texts of scripture which I would ring like peals of alarming thunder in your ears. The same Lord of hosts who shall be for a sanctuary to his people, shall be for a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, for a gin and a snare ; and ma. ny shall stumble and fall, and be broken, and snared, and taken. Isa. viii. 14. Unto you that believe, says St. Peter, he is precious ; but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to them that stumble at the word. 1 Pet. ii. 7, 8. If this stone be not made by you the foundation of your hopes, it will fall upon you and crush you