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opened as to see men like trees, lie had the best ground to conclude that his sight would be perfected. Brought out of Egypt with an high hand, and conducted safely through the Red Sea, Israel had no reason to be alarmed by any opposition they might afterward meet with. When sin and Satan are once dethroned, the saints have no ground to fear their future attacks. If the Gospel of Christ gained ground, when Jew and Gentile conspired against his person, and seemed to prevail; the propagation and preservation of it ever after may be fully depended on. Having once begun a good work, we may be confident that Christ will perfect it in every believer. His arm is not shortened. His ear is open to the cries of the saints. He who has delivered will deliver. Having supported his people in six troubles, he will be with them in seven.
4. That opposition to the Lord's work in Zion, or the hearts of the saints, may be allowed to continue apparently insurmountable till matters come to an extremity and crisis, and then be instantly defeated. It was eminently so about the second temple. The devices and opposition of enemies seemed to prevail. Zion has often been brought low, before the Lord helped. Many of the saints have escaped so narrowly, as to be like brands plucked from the burning. The Assyrian army were on the very eve of taking Jerusalem, and the Lord put a hook in their nose, and turned them back. Working deliverance, when enemies are on the point of victory is highly glorifying to God. It displays his power. It is easy to quench the flame when scarcely kindled, but it re
quires great power to extinguish a fire now burning with the utmost fury. It mortifies the enemies of Zion, and fills them with confusion. So much is this for the glory of God's power and care that he seems to rejoice in the strength and apparent prevalence of his enemies as a proper occasion of displaying his infinite perfections. These are his words, “ Now will I rise, saith the Lord : now will I be exalted, now will I lift up myself. Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble; your breath of fire shall devour you. And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burnt in the fire." Isai. xxxiii. 10-12. When the Lord's enemies have done their utmost, and triumphed as if victory were certain, how must they be astonished when he addresses them, as in Obadiah ver. 3, 4, “ The pride of their heart hath deceived thee: thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Whọ shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.” Deliverances in these circumstances is peculiarly sweet to believers, and encourages their faith and hope in future trials. Having the sentence of death in themselves, they trust in God who raiseth the dead. If at any future period, they know not what to do, their eyes are to the Lord.
5. This clause also implies that the very thing which the enemies of the Redeemer intend to obstruct his work, is overruled by him to promote and advance it. The great mountain is not only removed,
but made a plain. It was not only so levelled as the Lord's people could pass over it, but the hollow places were filled, and the whole became a patent path; and so was helpful and beneficial. This had a literal and signal accomplishment when the opposition of Tatnai and others prevailed, till it came under the cognizance of Darius, who effectually put a stop to it. He issued a decree that none should retard the work. He not only restrained the opposition of enemies, but appointed them to supply the builders, and furnish them with every thing that was requisite. We have an account of this in the sixth chapter of Ezra, which pleases and edifies the serious mind. While the whole deserves attentive consideration, we select v. 7, 8, “ Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews, and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place. Moreover, I make a decree, what
shall do to the elders of these Jews, for the building of this house of God: that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered.”
All opposition to the Redeemer's interest will have the same issue. It will eventually promote the work it was designed to destroy. The success of Christ's cause is represented by what he met with in his own Person. He was humbled. His dignity was veiled under a cloud, and at last he was crucified. His cause began to prosper, when his enemies thought it was destroyed. Stephen's death promoted the cause it was designed to crush. In their wars and tumults, the nations have often intended to extirpate the fol
lowers of Christ; but their shakings have issued in the more eminent coming of him, who is the desire of all nations. The design and native tendency of error is to obscure the truth, and prevent its force. The Lord has overruled it to be the occasion of making his truths shine more conspicuously. The activity of enemies in opposing the doctrines of grace has awakened the zeal of friends to defend them. The light has shone with greater lustre, and has proved the mean of increasing the knowledge of the saints, and promoting the conversion of sinners. Satan's temptations, calculated in themselves to destroy, have proved an occasion of special comfort to the believer. That raven has helped him to many a meal. Indeed, all opposition will be made a plain. Darkness will be made light, crooked things straight, and all the paths of the Lord will be mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant.
Many other things might have been observed, but as our chief design is to open the second clause, we leave them and proceed.
II. These words, He shall bring forth the head-stone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it, among other things, imply the following:
1. The activity of Christ. From the time when he laid the first stone in his great spiritual temple, he will never be inactive or unemployed till the headstone be brought forth. His heart is always engaged about the work. The salvation of sinners is the chief of his ways. He is straitened till it be accom
plished. His eye is never off it for a single moment. The eyes
of the Lord run through the earth, observing every thing that may be useful to provide and order it; and every thing which would be hurtful to prevent, and overrule it. He is the Watchman on Mount Zion, and views the whole of it at once. He observes every part of it, at every period. He keeps and waters' it, night and day. He never slumbers nor sleeps. His hand is never from the work. Were it withdrawn for a single moment, instead of making progress, the edifice would tumble into ruin. His omnipotent arm preserves what is already built from the violence of the storm, and the destructive hand of every foe. He places new stones and forwards the work. Sinners are gathered in, and saints built up and established. Without his arm all endeavours to build the work would be in vain. Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh in vain.” The presence and power of his almighty arm is sometimes more, and sometimes less observed. Faith alone can discern it. When we look by faith, we will never find him absent, or unconcerned. He is appointed by the Father to build the spiritual temple, and all he does in that arduous work is the execution of his great mediatory office. He will execute it with the greatest fidelity. He is faithful to him who appointed him. If Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant; much more Christ as a Son over his own house. The work shall prosper. Hell and earth cannot prevail against it. Christ will say at last, Of all whom thou hast given