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equal, if not superior, to his declarations of it. He chose them from all eternity, and Christ was established their surety. At an early period he revealed his purpose of love in his word, and opened up the great plan of salvation. In effectual calling he reveals his Son in their hearts. From that day till they are brought home to glory, he keeps them every moment, and without intermission performs some actions expressive of the greatness and reality of his love. Hereafter he leads them eternally to living fountains of water.
As the Lord loves in word and deed, we have a specimen of both in the text. Believers are styled his jewels, and he makes them up. He brings them into such a condition as will, some time or other, make it evident to whom they belong. The Lord not only loves the persons of his people, but their exercises. He makes honourable mention of these in the context: "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard; and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name." The exercises of the saints are said to be "an odour of sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God," and to come up before him as the most fragrant perfume.
In this chapter, when the Lord took such notice of his people and their exercises, it was a time of prevailing wickedness, as may be seen, verses 13, 14: but through grace a few were enabled to keep their garments clean. While these were despised by all around them, they were highly esteemed by the Lord.
He cared for them as his jewels, and made them up. They did not serve him for nought.
Perhaps the text might have a primary respect to the Lord's care of the small remnant of the Jews who did not reject Christ, but believed on him as the true Messiah, and received his Gospel. If so, it may be considered as a promise of embodying them, together with the Gentile converts, into the New Testament church; but it must not be confined to this sense. It is a glorious promise, equally respecting all, in every age and country, who fear the Lord and think on his name, and has a special respect to those who bear testimony for him, when the greater part are running on in sin. The worse the times are, the dearer to the Lord in one sense are the few who are properly exercised: " and they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels."
What will be further necessary for explaining these words will occur in discussing the following method. We shall first speak of believers as jewels; secondly, of the Lord's making them up; and then of the day in which he does it; and conclude with some practical improvement.
I. It was proposed to speak of the saints under the idea of the Lord's jewels.
1. Jewels are digged from the earth. The most precious metals, and the richest jewels, lie hid in the bosom of the earth. Without inquiring why it has been so ordered in Providence, suffice it to say, that
the thing is certain. Accordingly we are called, in Prov. ii. 4, to search for wisdom as for silver, where there is an evident allusion to searching for a silver mine.
The Lord finds all his people in the rough quarry of nature, and out of it he digs them. He finds them in a fearful pit and a miry clay. He brings them out, sets their feet on a rock, and establishes their goings. This is implied in the exhortation which the Lord gives to them "that follow after righteousness and seek him :" he calls them to look unto the rock whence they are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence they are digged."
The saints are no better by nature than others. They all bear the image of the earthy Adam, and however soon they may be turned to the Lord, still "that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual." In their natural state there is no good thing about them. Their minds bear the impress of fallen Adam. They are prone to all evil, and averse to every thing which is good. Their hearts cleave to the dust, are set on things below, and go out in pursuit of every object, except such as is heavenly and spiritual. They live without God and without Christ in the world. Their whole nature is corrupted, and without original righteousness. Every faculty of the soul is depraved. The understanding is darkness, and the will enmity: the affections are impure and irregular, and the conscience is evil and seared. Every imagination of the thoughts of the heart is only evil continually." Such is the state of the soul of every saint while he
lies in the quarry of nature. Even the bodies of believers are taken from the earth, and are dust; and they are, in respect of them as well as their souls, on a level with the rest of mankind, for "all are of the dust." Thus, as the Lord's jewels come into the world, there is no difference between them and others. "They are heirs of hell, and children of wrath even as others.".
2. Jewels are polished. After men have digged them from the bosom of the earth, they are commonly at great pains in polishing them. Every art is used to cut and form them to the owner's mind. The Lord too polishes his jewels, and gradually takes away the ruggedness which is about them in their natural state, and smooths them for his own use. He files off every excrescence, and takes away all superfluity of naughtiness. He makes them all polished shafts for sanctuary building. This operation extends to all the parts of the man, and is of equal extent with the depravity of their nature. Holiness is implanted in their hearts, and pervades every faculty of the soul. Light is sown in the understanding, and the will is renewed: the affections are purified and set on things above, and the conscience is awakened and invigorated. There is a total and universal change. The strong man is cast out, and the Holy Spirit dwells in the heart. Grace may be small when first implanted, but it is under Divine care, and will increase. Holiness extends also to all the members of the body, and they become servants of righteousSometimes it costs the artist long time and much labour before his jewel is completely polished;
but he is always coming nearer the desired end. We can only have very faint ideas of the great work which the Lord has to accomplish in polishing his jewels; the pains he must be at, and the obstacles which must be surmounted, arising partly from themselves, and partly from their enemies. Any other, but the Creator of the ends of the earth, would faint and be weary; but having begun a good work He will perfect it. One thing is comforting, the more labour that is requisite for polishing the jewel, the more brightly will it shine, and the greater honour will it reflect upon the great arist. "Christ will be admired in all them that believe."
The Lord intends all his jewels to be pillars in his temple above, and lively stones in his spiritual house. This makes him neither spare cost or pains in smoothing and fitting them for their particular position. They may with propriety be compared to the precious stones in Solomon's temple, all of which were hewed, carved, and "made ready before they were brought thither, so that there was neither hammer nor ax, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building." The Lord's jewels in the article of death, and before they are placed in the temple above, are perfectly polished.
3. Jewels are kept safely. When once the owners have polished them, they lay them up carefully in some safe place. The Lord's jewels are kept safely. They are in the Father's hand, and none can pluck them out of it. The apostle strongly asserts their safety when he affirms that they are kept as in a garrison by the mighty power of God. The eternal God