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"The Lord loveth the gates of Zion "-where He has brought some together-heaps of stones, whom He has made lively stones," to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." God recognises these as "the holy mountains," and has laid a foundation for them to build upon. God saves by the foolishness of preaching; He brings their wisdom to the dust; He gives His word and owns it. "The Lord loveth the gates of Zion "-not a gorgeous house, splendid buildings and entertainments; but, as Stephen preached at his death, "The most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands." He has dwelt in a stable; He has dwelt in worse places than that; and, blessed be God, He has dwelt here. He says "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." This man is a lively stone, a monument raised up of God, and would willingly give God all the glory for bringing him to the Lord Jesus Christ, without whom he must eternally perish.
"Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God." I have thought of that expression in Isaiah, "Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities." Oh, what solemn things they are that have to do with Zion! There people have to do with God. What a solemn thing! There God has to do with them. What a solemn thing! There they have to do with the solemn things of the soul; there eternity is proclaimed-the' solemn realities of eternity, either eternal heaven with eternal happiness, or eternal hell with eternal misery. Oh, what solemn things! The beginning of life, the progress of life, the testimony of God that He has given us a conscience, and that He rules that conscience in infinite wisdom as we are brought to consult Him, that "He who is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much," and, "if ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous Mammon, who will commit to you the true riches?"-these are things God talks to men's consciences about; and He tells us, plainly, there is a strait gate, a narrow way; of life is above to the wise to depart from hell beneath." But there is a wide gate, a broad way in which there is
plenty of room, and they need not jostle one against another, but it leads to death. Now there is no mistaking the end of a road if we are walking in it. It is no use to say we will go so far and then stop. You may be in your grave before that: God only can stop you. No one can say God will not summon his soul into His presence this night. You know whether God has brought you to meditate on these things; they are the things you will have to do with if you are building ou the true foundation.
"Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God." Isaiah ii. and Micah iv. begin the same: "It shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it "showing that in the last days, gospel times, there should be such a manifestation of the life and spirit of God's Word as on the day of Pentecost, when many of different nations were astonished and amazed at the effect of it. But much of this remains to be fulfilled. "Many people shall go and say, Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob." I don't know whether you often speak thus to others, "Come ";- "and He will teach us of His ways"-0) marvellous thing for God to teach poor, ignorant sinners!
-" and we will walk in His paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.' Few believe this now; they don't go to hear as if they wanted God to teach them; and the Word preached does "not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."
"When the Lord shall build up Zion He shall appear in His glory." And if he can and does say, "Thy sins are forgiven thee," is it less easy for Him to say to a poor palsied man, "Rise up and walk"? No. And He does say it. Is it not a marvel of mercy that God, who is infinite in wisdom-for He sits "as a refiner and purifier of silver," and "has His fire in Zion and His furnace in Jerusalem "-should take you that He should take me, a poor polluted mass of dross and tin, to accom
plish in His own time and way His perfect work in me, that He may raise me up by-and-by as the work of His own hands, not only by creation but by renewing and restoring, a vessel meet for the Master's use, "perfect and entire, wanting nothing" Then, no wonder "the Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings. of Jacob,' and "where two or three are gathered together in My name," He says, "there am I in the midst of them."
Now, while I've been talking to you about the solemn things of Zion-and they are glorious things, and we have to glory in them-I have felt, could we now live a life of ease and pleasure, could we command eternity in so doing, would this be more glorious? Oh, to have to do with these solemn preparations for death, and to have an abundant entrance administered to us into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Oh, some of our hearts would echo, "Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God!"
"Rahab and Babylon," "Philistia and Tyre"-they have their characters, no doubt; and if God does not call them by His grace they will live and die there. God does not own these; God says nothing shall enter into His kingdom that defileth, but only those whose names are in the book of life. Now, y u search the hook of life, and you won't find Rahab, or Babylon, or Philistia there, but you will find all the children of Zion there; "The Lord shall count, when He writeth up the people, that this man was born there."
"As well the singers, as the players on instruments, shall be there." This may be for the encouragement of those who feel that, while God has brought them to have to do with Zion, they look upon others as far more advanced; as those who could play on instruments in the temple service, as appointed for those days, may be considered more advanced than those who could only sing. A broken and a contrite heart are the blessings God values and looks upon. Now this would lead me to ask, Has God ever tuned our hearts to praise Him "for His mercy endureth for ever"? Can I praise Him that
He has led my feet to Him, and caused me to receive any testimony of mercy, so that, with the Psalmist, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord?" Are there burstings forth of praise, so that instead of sighing you are found singing "O Lord, I will praise Thee; though Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away, and Thou comfortest me?" "They shall come and sing in the height of Zion." What! those that hanged their harps upon the willows? Yes, "and flow together for the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for corn, and for oil." These very ones, perhaps by unexpected means, shall be brought to prove the goodness of God in giving them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness"-the branch of His right hand planting, the work of His hands; that ye may be glorified. If God has ever put a song into your hearts, He will do it again; and, as surely as you have been found amongst God's mourners, so surely you shall be amongst His singers: "The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
"All my springs are in Thee." While we continue here we are needing fresh springings, both for the first quickening and for restoring us. Oh, we can't retain the spirit of life; this is of God only; we want new life, new will, new power. It's not enough to know that we have received it; but are we retaining it are we seeking for more, with freshness of life from the fountain of life, the reservoirs of Himself, so that our religion is not a dead one but a living one? Oh, how Jesus Christ felt this; He cried, "Now, O Father, glorify Thou me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was." And He testifies of that power He had received, "that He should give eternal life to as many as the Father had given Him; not that they should have it only in the root and that they should remain dormant, but that they should grow and bring
forth fruit, some sixty, some an hundred, and some thirty fold. Our security, our blessedness, proceeds from the love of God. Its effects are most known when there is most drawing out of our affections towards Him, so that He dwells in us and we in Him, according to the prayer of Jesus-" as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us."
Now, I believe these are things that accompany salvation, and that what you have heard here to-night will bear the strictest scrutiny of God's Word; but don't you take it for granted, search the Scriptures to see whether these things are so. That is the testimony we must each come to in death, and I know the testimony of God will stand, while it meets with rejection from this mortal flesh. God grant not one of you in this place may die without knowing it, and that we may have that abundant fulness of joy which is in His presence, and pleasures for evermore which are at His right hand.
Thank God for a little more rest and power to enjoy it. I must quite leave you now.
SUMMARY." His foundation," Christ (to whom only flee), dwells in Zion-"lively stones brought together, "holy mountains"-in the contrite heart raised up to His glory. . . Glorious, solemn things belong to Zion-having to do with God, eternity, heaven, hell, our life, our conscience where He speaks, the strait gate, the broad way... Zion "shall be exalted above the hills "-amazing displays of gospel power, and (marvel of mercy!) "He shall teach," purify, and perfect polluted sinners for Himself-solemn preparations, and abundant entrance! but for those only "in the book of life," "born in Zion," whether "singers," or advanced as "players on instruments." Then, can we praise Him? Zion's mourners shall. All springs for life and restoring are in Christ: He prayed, "Father, glorify ME, . and that they may be one in us." These things will stand.