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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 ye 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. 66 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
me I have lost none; and every individual among the redeemed will shout, and cry Grace, grace.
2. His perseverance. The Lord is a rock, and his work is perfect. As he prosecuted his work in purchasing redemption, and never gave over till he could It is finished, he will equally persevere in the application. His blood will not be shed in vain; but shall be sprinkled on all for whom he laid down his life. Many things might induce him to desist from the work. His friends, for whom he has done so much, are often careless, and provoke him. He is pressed under the sins of a professing people, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves. The love of many waxes cold. Though the meekest of all men, the typical mediator was wearied out with the obstinacy of Israel, though he had only the charge of them for about forty years. He wished to resign. Christ's patience even with his own people is infinite and inexhaustible. While friends provoke, enemies oppose him. Their opposition is unremitting in every place and period where he builds. Like Nehemiah, he has to fight as well as build, and be equally active night and day. As the Gospel is the great instrument for promoting his work; and as the blessings of the New Covenant, with the influences of the Spirit, are necessary to make it effectual, Christ's perseverance includes the outward dispensation of the first, and the continued communication of the last.
Once begun, it will
3. The perfection of the work. be performed to the day of Jesus. when the work will be perfect, which is justly called
There is a period
the day of the Lord. Then his purpose will be accomplished, and his promises confirmed, his work will be finished, and his people happy. That day was in his eye when he undertook the work, and in all his subsequent trouble and toil. Bringing forth the top or head-stone is the perfection of the work. This is a copious theme, including many precious articles. Every believer must receive the last blessing on ordinances and providential dispensations. The last degree of grace must be bestowed here, and the heavenly crown hereafter. All his people must be delivered from the least remainder of sin, and from its inbeing. They must be made perfect in holiness, and fully conformed to himself. Putting on the top-stone includes the conversion of the last elect vessel, and meetening him for glory; the winding up of Providence to the church below, and translating her from earth to heaven; the resurrection of the dead, and the reception of the saints into glory. Nothing will be left undone of all that he has purposed and promised, or which is beneficial or requisite to his people.
4. The public and triumphant conclusion of the work. The height of the last stone makes it visible, and the shoutings proclaim the triumph. The public conclusion of the work respects every believer, and the whole church. The crown of righteousness will be bestowed, and put on the head of every saint in a public and visible manner in the other world. Christ stands ready to receive him, and confesses him before his Father. The angels attend, and introduce him into the far country. Enemies pursue him to the