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hypocritical at their entry, and give not Christ their hearts, it is an hundred to one if ever they do it. Remember Judas. I know you were in some measure diligent before communicating. Continue. There could not be a worse sign than if you slackened diligence after it. You should all consider. I have spoken to your ears. God alone can speak to your hearts; and to his grace and mercy I commend
MALACHI III. 17.
And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day
when I make up my jewels.
The Lord has always had a special people distinguished from the rest of the world, and he considers them as his peculiar treasure. They seldom have any thing about them to catch the attention, or raise the admiration of the men of the world; but there is something in their maxims and practice which, though unjustly, provokes their contempt and malevolence. While despised by the men of the world, they are dear in God's esteem. He loved them with an everlasting love, and he loves them to the end. He loves both in word and deed. So great is his love that words cannot be found to express it. It passes all knowledge, and has a breadth and length, a depth and height, which are incomprehensible. To declare his love, the Lord uses names expressive of the most tender and endearing affection, and heaps them upon one another.
one another. He calls them spouse, friends, children, brethren, and peculiar treasure. He loves also in deed. He performs many actions to and for his people, which evidence that his love is
equal, if not superior, to his declarations of it. He chose them from all eternity, and Christ was established their surety. At an early period he revealed his purpose of love in his word, and opened up the great plan of salvation. In effectual calling he reveals his Son in their hearts. From that day till they are brought home to glory, he keeps them every moment, and without intermission performs some actions expressive of the greatness and reality of his love. Hereafter he leads them eternally to living fountains of water.
As the Lord loves in word and deed, we have a specimen of both in the text. Believers are styled his jewels, and he makes them up. He brings them into such a condition as will, some time or other, make it evident to whom they belong. The Lord not only loves the persons of his people, but their exercises. He makes honourable mention of these in the context: “ Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard; and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name." The exercises of the saints are said to be “ an odour of sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God,” and to come up before him as the most fragrant perfume.
In this chapter, when the Lord took such notice of his people and their exercises, it was a time of prevailing wickedness, as may be seen, verses 13, 14: but through grace a few were enabled to keep their garments clean. While these were despised by all around them, they were highly esteemed by the Lord,
He cared for them as his jewels, and made them up. They did not serve him for nought.
Perhaps the text might have a primary respect to the Lord's care of the small remnant of the Jews who did not reject Christ, but believed on him as the true Messiah, and received his Gospel. If may
be considered as a promise of embodying them, together with the Gentile converts, into the New Testament church; but it must not be confined to this sense. It is a glorious promise, equally respecting all, in every age and country, who fear the Lord and think on his name, and has a special respect to those who bear testimony for him, when the greater part are running on in sin. The worse the times are, the dearer to the Lord in one sense are the few who are properly exercised : “ and they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels."
What will be further necessary for explaining these words will occur in discussing the following method. We shall first speak of believers as jewels; secondly, of the Lord's making them up; and then of the day in which he does it; and conclude with some practical improvement.
I. It was proposed to speak of the saints under the idea of the Lord's jewels.
1. Jewels are digged from the earth. The most precious metals, and the richest jewels, lie hid in the bosom of the earth. Without inquiring why it has been so ordered in Providence, suffice it to say, that
the thing is certain. Accordingly we are called, in Prov. ii. 4, to search for wisdom as for silver, where there is an evident allusion to searching for a silver mine.
The Lord finds all his people in the rough quarry of nature, and out of it he digs them. He finds them in a fearful pit and a miry clay. He brings them out, , sets their feet on a rock, and establishes their goings. This is implied in the exhortation which the Lord gives to them that follow after righteousness and seek him :" he calls them to “ look unto the rock whence they are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence they are digged.”
The saints are no better by nature than others. They all bear the image of the earthy Adam, and however soon they may be turned to the Lord, still “ that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural ; and afterward that which is spiritual." In their natural state there is no good thing about them. Their minds bear the impress of fallen Adam. They are prone to all evil, and averse to every thing which is good. Their hearts cleave to the dust, are set on things below, and go out in pursuit of every object, except such as is heavenly and spiritual. They live without God and without Christ in the world. Their whole nature is corrupted, and without original righteousness. Every faculty of the soul is depraved. The understanding is darkness, and the will enmity: the affections are impure and irregular, and the conscience is evil and seared. “ Every imagination of the thoughts of the heart is only evil continually." Such is the state of the soul of every saint while he