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the gracious effect. The builders took courage, and persevered. The work prospered. The head-stone was brought forth, and the Jews shouted, and praised Divine grace. With some propriety, Zerubbabel has been reckoned a type of Christ. Till his second coming, the Redeemer will be employed in building his great spiritual temple. Mountains of opposition will be continually reared up to obstruct the work. They shall all be made a plain. His hand shall never be a single moment from the work till the head-stone be brought forth. Then the redeemed, with endless praise, shall shout and sing, Grace, grace!
In discoursing from these words, we propose to open the import of both clauses, and apply the subject.
I. It was proposed to take notice of some truths implied in these words, Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain. Without restricting this clause to the immediate opposition against the building of the second temple, it imports,
1. That God has his eye upon those who oppose his work, and observes all their devices. He as it were calls them by name, and makes a home charge. Here he says, Who art thou, O great mountain? He is always equally acquainted with every enemy. His foes vainly imagine that "the Lord shall not see, nor the God of Jacob regard." He knows every individual among them, and all that is in his heart.
When they collect and combine, he is acquainted with their numbers, designs, and machinations, and shall defeat them all. On this head the 83d Psalm may be consulted. He knows their opposition before they are acquainted with it themselves. He watches their progress, and, in the most unexpected season, brings their counsel to nought. Plots devised with the utmost secrecy and subtlety never escape his notice. The eyes of the Lord run throughout the whole earth in behalf of his people, and are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. He knows every device of Satan, and all the motions of the sinful heart.
2. That what would be a total hinderance to Sion and the believer is nothing to Christ. So potent and mighty were the opposers of the second temple, that they reckoned the few builders would as soon move the surrounding hills as defeat their counsels. In an unbelieving hour the builders might be of the same opinion. The Redeemer intimates in the address that these enemies were nothing before HIM. The question, who art thou? at once expresses his own dignity and their insignificance, his power and their impotence. Often he accepts his enemies in similar language. Remarkable are those words, Isaiah xlii. 13-16, "The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies. I have long time holden my peace, I have been still, and refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy, and devour at once. I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their
herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools."
Every obstacle in the Christian's way to heaven, at some time or other, appears to him wholly insurmountable. Guilt stares him in the face. In point of magnitude it is like a great mountain. In respect of number, his iniquities are like the sand on the sea shore. The power of sin is strong and prevalent. The world frowns. The opposition of Satan, that strong man, is most formidable. The saint trembles. Instead of expecting victory, sometimes he looks on the cause as lost. So insignificant and unavailing are these ills of opposition before Christ, that he speaks of them with contempt and indignation. About every saint, in his own time, he addresses the mountain, and it is removed. If, with faith as a grain of mustard seed, the believer can say to this and that mountain, be thou removed and cast into the sea; with infinitely greater ease can the Author of faith cast them all away, and make them a plain. In this as well as in another sense, if he touch the mountains they vanish into smoke. If he cast forth his lightning, they are scattered; and if he shoot out his arrow, they are destroyed. His enemies can go no farther than they are permitted. Satan is chained. The human heart is under his control. All power in heaven and earth is given unto him.
3. It imports, that if the greatest opposition can be easily removed, the Lord's people have no reason to fear that which is less. A great mountain is addressed, and enemies of less influence had reason to fear. When the eyes of the blind man were so far
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, Who 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,