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lustre of love, zeal, or duty, without Christ the light of life; more than a stone in the breast-plate could display any irradiation without the sun. They may also differ in the degrees of splendor and usefulness; but the dif ference in all excellent gifts (as the apostle styles them) is wholly from God, and allotted to every one according to his own superior wisdom and design. They are all mere stones in themselves. He selects and gathers them: he polishes and fixes them in their place and order: he shines upon them; and then they are enabled to shine too and show forth his glory, not their own. To shine at all, they must first be in Christ; and the more they are afterwards in his rays, the more of his grace and glory will rest upon them, and be reflected by them before the eyes of men. Without him, they are eclipsed and suffer offuscation, and would soon become as dark or dim as the rest of the world.
The precious stones of earth are also valued because of their firmness and durability. So are the pleasant stones (as the prophet calls them) of God's sanctuary. They shall abide with rich display in his most holy place for ever and ever, beyond all the possibilities of diminú. tion or decay; because their PRESERVER, who bears them upon his bosom and his shoulders, is equally faith ful and almighty.*
* I am inclined to believe, that, as the Urim and Thummim related to the elect in Christ, and received that very name because of their union with him; so he hath styled himself the FIRST and the LAST, the beginning and the end, they being nothing in the kingdom of grace without him. To express this idea, he uses the first and the last letter of the Greek alphabet in the book of Revelation, the A and the : he is also the & and the of the and then, the beginning and the ending of the sign,
But, there are also false stones; compositions, which look like the most precious of stones, while they are nothing but paste or glass. The skilful lapidary can readily detect them; though they often impose, and especially at a distance, upon the unexperienced or incautious observers.-Thus, lamentable it is to own, there are many deceivers, many hypocrites, many who make a fair show in the flesh, and yet, while they seem to be something, are really nothing, or worse than nothing;-mere paste, that soon dissolves in a fiery trial; worthless glass, that falls to pieces, if but struck with a blow of strong temptation.
This holds forth a solemn lesson for professors to search and try themselves. False stones may receive light, but they have no true weight or solidity in them; no genuine lustre, but only a specious or deceitful glare, contrived by the trick or art of man. When they are duly examined, their value is sooner or later ascertained; and they are finally thrown aside, as matters of imposition always deserve. The allusion is too plain to need a further observation.
Christian! May you and I, through the Spirit of grace, apply all these things to ourselves for the closest examination; and may it be said at last to each of us, as to the spiritual church to whom every real believer belongs; Arise, shine, for thy LIGHT is come, and the GLORY of the Lord is risen upon thee!
which denotes his people. He is the first principle of their light, or light of their lights; and he is the consummation or perfection of the whole covenant of grace, and of those perfections also, which they have received, in number, weight and measure, only and entirely from him.
PORTION, OR HERITAGE.
JEHOVAH's portion is his people: Jacob is the lot of his
inheritance. Deut. xxxii. 9.
The word rendered portion implies part or division; and, applied to the people of God, it denotes, that they are divided from the earth to be the Lord's particular and appropriated share, in distinction from all others. Jacob is a name given them as a name of character and unity. The word, rendered lot, means line or cord used in the apportionment or mensuration of land: thus, the lines (says the psalmist) are fallen unto me in pleasant places, &c. Ps. xvi. 6. These lines, forming a portion for a tribe or family, fell according to what is meant by another word, translated lot [b] and thus the portion of God's people was ever by his particular designation; for though their lot, which shall determine their portion,. may be cast into the lap with others, yet the whole disposal or arrangement of it is of the LORD. Thus the word cord or line is used to specify the particular and precise boundary which he has fixed, immoveably fixed, as a perpetual land-mark, betwixt them and others. The word inheritance means, what comes of rightful claim and property. The Lord hath a right to his people by a very dear purchase; insomuch that they are now no longer their own, but his, and his for ever.
This is also the import of the word clergy; í.e. persons allotted. And though, in a certain sense, it is rightfully peculiar to men, who are set apart from the world, to minister in holy things; yet, in a more sublime and spiritual view, it belongs collectively to the whole body of the redeemed, and points out their fixed and unalterable relation to Jehovah their Saviour. Thus, they are all priests to God and the Father, holy, sanctified, and the like: and thus, particularly, they are named God's heritage, o xλnpo, the clergy, as the word means, in 1 Pet. v. 3.
There are many passages of scripture, which point out God's people as his portion and heritage, and their extreme preciousness to him as such, which indeed is the true reason of the names. The Lord doth not use terms without an express or forcible sense, as men may and often do; but he determines a truth into fact by one word or title, and out of that, as from a root, he causes to spring forth or branch a thousand other dependant truths and principles, which, bearing rich and delightful fruit, are for the nourishment and comfort of his people.
They were an inheritance lost, but are now an inheritance redeemed and recovered by him, who is their next of kin, their elder brother, the head over all things to them, and therefore called, by one word, their xa, which signifies both their near Kinsman and Redeemer. To him the psalmist addresses the fifth psalm, under the title of the conqueror, the God of the inheritance, i. e. the church and it is thus addressed, that the church may joyfully remember, to whom she is privileged to
apply for help at all times. Hence, the church is called the rod av of his inheritance; Jer. x. 16. because JEHOVAH in Christ is the covenanted head of the church, using his power and majesty eminently for her salvation and security. All she has and is belongs to the Lord, as his own peculiar estate; and it is represented under this idea, that his people individually may see their blessedness, and possess everlasting consolation, and good hope through grace.
The recovery of all inheritances at the year of jubilee* was intended to signify, that the divine apportionment, which God hath in his people and they have in him, is unalienable under all circumstances of distress, which may prevent their temporary view or enjoyment of that privilege. When the great jubilee shall come and the last trumpet shall sound; all that the believer had a claim to by faith in this world, shall be made his own perfect and perpetual possession in the heavenly kingdom,
* When Ahab coveted the vineyard of Naboth, he attempted to violate this fundamental tenure of all the Jewish lands, which were held under God expressly, as the peculiar Lord of that soil, and the portions of which could not be alienated from the families to which they were allotted. It was this act of unbelief in God, as well as covetousness, which Naboth, who appears, upon the whole matter, to have been a true believer among idolaters, so highly abhorred as to say, The Lord forbid it me, or (as it might be rendered) it would be a profanation to me before the Lord, to give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. 1 Kings xxi. 3. If the lands were held like those of the Gentiles, there would have been no criminality in the absolute alienation, which Ahab appeared to desire.
One melancholy circumstance is obvious from the short history of this affair; which is, that the idolatrous and wicked reign of Ahab