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joy; both the wrath and peace of God pass the understanding of those who have never had an inward experience either of the one or the other.
2. They are wondered at. It is said of Christ, that “ many were astonished at him." His person, doctrine, miracles, and manners of life, were all the objects of admiration. Some wondered at the ill usage that he met with, and others at the exemplary patience with which he bore it. Thus the people of God ever were, and ever will be, men to be wondered at. We read it of Isaiah and his children, and Joshua and his fellows. The cold and lukewarm wonder at the zeal of the saints; the fearful and unbelieving at their courage and resolution; the discontented at their resignation ; the unsteady at their constancy and perseverance. The wicked wonder that they will run counter to their secular interests, deny themselves in so many instances, encounter so many hardships, and go through such a variety of arduous labours, and all for a happiness out of sight, and which, therefore, they look upon as uncertain. “ They think it strange,” says the apostle, “ that you run not with them to the same excess of riot.”
3. They are despised; the objects of scorn and contempt. Christ was despised and rejected by the carnal part of mankind, and so are they. Sinners are not contented with walking in the council of the ungodly, but they ascend to a higher degree of impiety, and assume the seat of the scornful: “ Despisers,” says the apostle, “ of those that are good," of pious persons, and of piety itself. Those gracious qualities, which should procure universal esteem to the people of God, frequently expose them to ridicule and contempt; and they become, as the Psalmist expresses it, the
song of those who, as they do not reverence, will not imitate their virtue. To overvalue themselves, and undervalue those that are better than themselves, is the necessary fruit of that blindness and ignorance which are the result of the fall, and natural to all unconverted men. “ Hear, O our God,” says Nehemiah, “ for we are despised, and turn
4. They are tempted by Satan, persecuted by men, and afflicted by God. To all these afflictions was Christ subject; and the servant is not above his master, nor the disciple above his Lord. The most eminent saints are oftentimes tempted by Satan; his fiery darts are thrown at them, but repelled by the shield of faith. He runs upon them as with open mouth, to affright and devour them, but they overcome him by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of his testimony. They are also persecuted by wicked men. These smite them with the tongue of slander, and are as injurious in their practices as they are keen in their reproaches; but through the Divine tenderness and care, though perplexed, believers are not in despair; though persecuted, they are not forsaken; though cast down, not destroyed: as they share with Christ in his sufferings, so also do they in his supports. Finally, they may be, and often are, afflicted by God himself. His arrows stick fast in their flesh, and his waves and his billows go over them; so that the language of Christ upon the cross is frequently the language of the humble and sincere Christian : “My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?" In a word, if there are any of the dear children of God that are not at times visited with afflictions, exercised with temptations, and even wrapped in the darkness of desertion, they are unlike their blessed Lord and Master. The cross is the way to the crown; Christ found it so, and so, generally speaking, will all the saints.
5. They are strangers and sojourners; and though, as the text expresses it, “ they are in the world,” yet it is but for a little time. Christ's race was soon run, and so is theirs. Here they have no continuing city, but are seeking one that is to come. They are travelling to a better country, and never think themselves at home till they are brought to heaven. They act their part upon the stage of time, and then exchange it for a boundless, awful, but happy eternity. The body is a frail tabernacle, and they will soon quit it; they may not live always if they would,
and they would not live always if they could. This is not their rest, neither can it be, because it is polluted; but as Christ is entered into his rest, so a rest remaineth for all them that are his.
6, and lastly. The saints are, like Christ, called out to peculiar service in the world, and in some degree qualified for that service by the gifts and graces of the Spirit. They are endued with meekness, humility, patience, zeal for God and a hatred to sin, heavenly-mindedness, contempt of the world, and every other christian virtue. They pray much, and labour much. The smiles and frowns, flatteries and threatenings, of the world, are alike disregarded by them. They neither shrink from the greatest sufferings, nor decline the hardest services; they have an ardent and disinterested love to their fellow-saints, and a compassionate regard to the bodies and souls of all men. It is their meat and drink to do God's will; and in doing it they seek not their own reputation or personal advantage, but have a single eye to his glory, in all which respects they are conformed to the image of Christ. The same mind is in them which was in him; and “as he was, so are they in this world.”
From this subject we may learn two things.
1. To adore the Lord Jesus Christ, who has left us such an example, and be looking more to him.
- Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
2. We may learn not to be unprepared for, or discouraged by, the ill-treatment we may meet with from ungodly men. As we must suffer with Christ, let us learn to suffer like Christ; “ for even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example
At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord.
These words have at least an ultimate respect to the gospel church, as must appear to any one who impartially considers the context; so that the words, “at that time,” must refer to the plentiful effusion of the Spirit in consequence of Christ's resurrection and ascension, and the conversion of the Gentiles by the ministry of the apostles and their successors, in which we may see the first creation acted over again; light arising out of darkness, beauty out of deformity, and order out of confusion ; savage nations, who had been led away by dumb idols, bowing before the true God; careless sinners awakened by the terrors of the law, and awakened sinners comforted by the grace of the gospel; the dead spirits of men raised to a divine life, and souls enslaved by Satan and their own lusts set at liberty. At that time they shall call Jerusalem (a name frequently given to the christian church, to denote its holiness, strength, and privileges, the throne of the Lord ; which suggests to us the following considerations.
I. The peculiar glory and excellency of the saints. The throne of God must needs be resplendent with majesty. “ A glorious high throne," says the prophet, “ is the place
of our sanctuary.” Some kings have been at great expense to decorate their thrones. You have a particular description of Solomon's, which was indeed very magnificentmade of ivory, overlaid with gold, with six steps, and twelve lions on the one and other side. Now the church is God's throne, to which there is no earthly throne comparable--no, not that of Solomon; and but one that exceeds it-even God's throne of glory in heaven. Many encomiums are passed upon the beauty of the saints in Scripture, whose graces outshine the most precious jewels, as far as the robe of imputed righteousness with which they are clothed outshines their brightest graces. They are comely through God's comeliness put upon them; and since they were precious in his sight, have been honourable. Though, as to their outward appearances, they may be unlovely, and therefore neglected and despised, which the Psalmist expresses by their lying among the pots, yet, with respect to their internal excellences, they are like the wings of a dove covered with silver. Hear the language of the heavenly Bridegroom to his beloved bride: “How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love! for delight.” “ The Gentiles," says the prophet, “shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising ;" and again, “ Thou shalt be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God:” intimating that the beauty of the church is majestic.
2. Their safety and security. A king ought to protect his subjects, but he will certainly protect his throne. Solomon had a company of warriors round about his bed, each with his sword upon his thigh, because of fear in the night; and surely his bed was not more guarded than his throne. Thus God will protect and defend his people; his glory depends upon their security, and he will consult his own glory ;-“My defence," says David, “is of God.” birds flying," says the prophet,--that is, as birds by an instinct of nature fly swiftly to their nest when they see their young ones exposed to any danger," so will the