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XLII.-THE KEY OF THE HOUSE OF DAVID.

" And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so

he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall

open.” Isa. xxii. 22.-See also Isa. ix. 6. Matt. xvi. 19. Rev. iii. 7. A KEY has often been the ensign of office, either sacred or civil”; and appears in this case to have been borne or hung upon the shoulder. It is said of Messiah', that “the government shall be upon his shoulder:” that is, the ensign of government; the rod, or sceptre, or, probably, the key, which was the symbol of authority, shall be upon his shoulder. And God says of Eliakim", who is said by some to have been a type of the Messiah: “ And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; and he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” We can easily imagine that, in the rude contrivances of early art, the key was commonly of much larger size than is the case at present. Its form is said to have frequently resembled a sickle, and thus it would not unnaturally be borne upon the shoulder. When borne as an ensign of office, it was probably made of gold, or of some other costly material: and the exclusive authority to shut, or open, was significant of unlimited power. We should remember the use which our Lord made of the same figure, when He said to St. Peter : “ And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven 5."

5." And, indeed, He has sanctioned the belief that Eliakim was intended as a type of Messiah, by applying to Himself the very words which had been used to intimate the authority that was conferred on Eliakim. Not only does He say of Himself, “ I have the keys of hell and of death ," but He also describes Himself, as " He

2 See Bp. Lowth's note on Isa. xxii. 22. 4 Isa. xxii. 22.

5 Matt. xvi. 19.

3 Isa, ix. 6.
6 Rev, i. 18.

Lord 10.”

that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth?.”

The application, then, of this figure to our Saviour is intended to teach us, that all power in heaven and earth ® is committed unto Him, as God Incarnate. It is He that openeth the kingdom of heaven, by the key of holy baptism, and by the door of faith, and repentance. It is He that openeth the door of ministerial usefulness to His faithful servants. Thus St. Paul says, “a great door and effectual is opened to me':” and again ; “ A door was opened to me of the

It is He alone who can unlock the heart and the understanding of men", which are closed by the barriers of pride, and prejudice, and sensuality, so that the word which giveth light and understanding to the simple may find an entrance '?. He openeth also the Scriptures 13, which are as a sealed book ", to such as are unenlightened by His grace. And He will hereafter open the gates 15 of hell and death, that all who sleep may come forth; and that while His saints are clothed with immortality and incorruption", the wicked may rise to shame and everlasting contempt".

Let us not forget that He also “shutteth, and no man can open.” He shutteth up the heart 18 that hardens itself against Him; and He will shut out of His kingdom 19 all those who have rejected His grace.

What prayer can be more suitable, than that He will here "open" to us “the gates of righteousness !;" and hereafter, the gates of the bright city; that we “may go in to them and praise the Lord ?”

7 Rev. iii. 7.

8 Matt. xxviii. 18. 9 1 Cor. xvi. 9.

10 2 Cor. ii. 12. 11 Luke xxiv. 45. Acts xvi. 14. 12 Ps. cxix. 130. 13 2 Cor. iii. 12-18.

14 Isa. xxix. 11. 15 Matt. xvi. 18.

16 1 Cor. xv. 53. 2 Cor. v. 4. 17 Dan. xii. 2.

18 Isa. vi. 10.

19 Matt. xxv. 10. 1 Ps. cxviii. 19.

2 Rev. xxii, 14.

XLIII.-THE OAK IN WINTER.

“ As a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they

cast their leaves : so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof."

Isa. vi. 13.-See also Isa. Ixv. 8, 9. Rom. xi. 5. 7.
The last leaf has fallen from yonder oak.

The smallest spray or twig in all the mighty branches now shows itself against the sky; and one who had never seen the effect of returning spring", might suppose that the tree were dead. We know that the principle of life rernains in each branch that now seems lifeless, although the outward signs and tokens of life are suspended. When winter is over, the sap will again rise, and spread itself through every bough; and the thick foliage will effectually screen us from the heat, if we then come to shelter ourselves under its shadow.

So is it with the Church of God. It was so with the Church of old. When God removed His people to a state of captivity at Babylon, and the re-establishment of their Church and nation in Judæa seemed a hopeless dream', the eye of faith looked forward "with sure and certain hope” to that restoration which was promised. “ The holy seed" was “the substance” of the Church. There was still 66 a remnant” of faithful Israelites; and in that “ holy seed” a living principle was hidden or laid up, which, beyond all human calculation, issued in the revival, and prosperity, of the Jewish Church God had said of Cyrus, He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure; even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid 6."

It is thus, also, with the Church of Christ. Cast out from those countries in which it first arose, and its

very existence seeming from time to time to have been endangered by the invasion of heathen nations, or the prevalence of error, or the corruptions of secularity, and superstition, it has still rooted itself anew in other lands, and put forth leaves like Aaron's rod', and “ bloomed blossoms,” and “ filled the face of the world with fruit 8.” “ The holy seed” has been “the substance thereof." God has preserved “a little flock” of faithful servants: and the living principle has been, from age to age, conveyed by His Almighty grace, and by His blessing on His appointed ministry. Blessed be His Name that it is still as vigorous as ever; as powerful to bear, not only the leaves of outward profession', but the rich fruits of righteousness and peace!

3 Similitude xliv. First Series. 5 Ezra ix. 8.

4 Ps. cxxvi. 1. 6 Isa. xliv. 28.

And so, likewise, as to that winter of death, by which one generation after another is overtaken and subdued: the eye of faith is able to rest upon a glorious revival', where the eye of sense sees nothing but tokens of dissolution, and decay. Even when we commit the remains of a departed brother to the dust, the voice of faith gives utterance to “a sure and certain hope of the resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be like unto His glorious body, according to the mighty working, whereby He is able to subdue all things to Himself ?."

Thus is this leafless tree an emblem to us of glorious hopes. And there is yet another consoling reflection, which it may silently suggest to “ the mind that museth upon many things." For, may it not suggest the thought, that in some who seem to be dead in trespasses and sins', there may be a hidden seed, which yet may be quickened into life, and bear those fruits by which God is glorified ? Amen; even

do Thou, O Lord Jesus, breathe on such a soul, to raise it from its seeming death ; and do Thou evermore breathe graciously on us, that the tokens of true life may more and more appear

in us ! 8 Isa. xxvii. 6. 1 1 Thess. iv. 13-18. 3 Eph. ii. 1.

So;

7 Numb. xvii. 8.
9 Mark xi. 13.
2 Burial Service.

XLIV.-THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD COMPARED TO

GOADS AND NAILS.

“ The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which

was written was upright, even words of truth. The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.” Eccles. xii. 10, 11.-See also

2 Tim. ii. 15. Heb. iv. 12. As the beast of burden that is sluggish, and disobedient, must be quickened and corrected by the goad, so does my sleeping conscience need the continual pricks and admonitions of a faithful expounder of Scripture, both for correction, and instruction in righteousness *. And as it is the use of “nails ” to fasten what is loose, or what would otherwise drop to pieces, so the exhortation of a wise preacher should fix in my treacherous memory what I might otherwise soon “let slip$;” or make me cleave to those testimonies of eternal truth from which I am so apt to wander. How great is the blessing of some wise and faithful “master of assemblies," who is enabled rightly to divide the word of truth', and to apply to the different characters in his congregation 8 such texts of Holy Scripture as severally suitable to them !

Let us, however, always remember that the power and wisdom of every faithful preacher is given “ from one Shepherd;" who alone can effectually quicken such as are dead in sin, or knit our hearts unto Himself', that we may fear His Name. If He be graciously pleased to quicken my sleeping conscience by the godly motions of His Spirit, let me not be found among those who “kick against the pricks ";" but rather among those who, as soon as ’ they are pricked in their heart, inquire, with earnestness and sincerity, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?" and not only forthwith give themselves up to obey the word which

are

4 2 Tim. iii. 16.
7 2 Tim, ii. 15.
1 Acts ix. 5.

5 Heb. ii. 1. 6 Ps, cxix. 31. Acts xi. 23.
8 Matt. xiii. 52 ; xxiv. 45. 9 Ps. Ixxxvi. 11.
2 Acts ii. 37.

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