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For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.' 1 Cor. iii. 11.
THIS word occurs in the singular fifty-three times; in the plural thirty-two; but this passage is the only instance where it is directly applied to the Saviour of the world. There are, however, other terms evidently designed to convey the same meaning; such as 'corner stone,' 'precious stone,' 'head of the corner.' We need not dwell on a term where the meaning is so evident. It is sufficient to observe, that as no building can stand without a foundation, neither can Christianity without Jesus as its support. There are several particulars connected with this appellation which we will place before the reader in their proper order, and then make an application of the whole to the subject of our title.
I. A foundation must be prepared.
II. Every thing must be removed that stands in the way.
III. It must be proportioned to the building.
IV. It must be laid before the building can be erected.
V. There cannot be more than one foundation.
VI. A foundation is laid with an intention to raise a superstructure.
All these particulars will be found to apply to
Christ, and our object now will be to take a brief view of each.
I. A foundation must be prepared. Many passages go to show that God had prepared Jesus for his work before he ame. 'Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.'* 'Behold my servant whom I uphold; mine elect in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.' 'Who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.'‡
II. Every thing must be removed that stands in the way. From the moment of the origin of sin, intimations were made of the coming of Jesus. The great and glorious day was revealed to patriarchs and prophets. Just before the entrance of the Saviour upon our earth, a forerunner came to prepare the way by preaching repentance to the Jewish church. Every thing then was in a rude state. The people were sunk in moral degradation. When Jesus appeared, Jehovah laid the foundation of that church. which is to stand forever, surviving the revolutions of time and the ruins of empires.
III. The foundation must be proportioned to the building. Two things are essential to a good foundation; the first is to bear, the second is to endure. That Jesus is well qualified for both, is evident from the prediction of the prophet: 'His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God,
† Ib. xlii. 1.
1 Pet. i. 20.
* Isa. xxviii. 16.
The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.'* Speaking to John, our Lord says, 'I am he that liveth and was dead: and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.'t 'We may safely,' says one, 'venture the weight of our eternal all upon this rock; it will stand forever, without giving way under the heaviest pressure, without being broken by the most violent shock. Let thousands, let millions, with all the mountainous weight of guilt upon them, build upon this foundation, and they shall never be moved.' That this foundation is able to endure, as well as to bear, is evident from the whole tenor of Scripture. 'Some,' says the Apostle, concerning the truth, 'have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his.'‡ 'He that believeth on him shall not be confounded.'S 'Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever.' 'This stone can never moulder away. Parian marble, and even the flinty rocks, decay; the firm foundations, the stately columns, the majestic buildings of Nineveh, Babylon, and Persepolis, and all the magnificent structures of antiquity, though formed of the most durable stone, and promising immortality, are now shattered into ten thousand fragments, or lying in ruinous heaps. But here is a foundation that now stands as firm under Adam, Abel, and Abraham, as at the first moment they ventured their dependence upon it.'
IV. The foundation must be laid before the build
* Isa. ix. 6.
§ 1 Pet. i. 6.
† Rev. i. 18.
|| Heb. xiii. 8.
2 Tim. ii. 19.
ing can be erected. The foundation referred to in our motto was laid in the counsels of God ere time began; before a single star twinkled in the heavens; before the sun smiled upon our globe. The original design of the Almighty was to erect a spiritual temple into which the human race should ultimately be gathered. Hence, we are told that, 'He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.'* But this foundation may be said to be visibly laid in the incarnation, work, and death of the Son of God. During the conversation at the Last Supper, Jesus said to his disciples, 'Without me ye can do nothing.' It proved to be as their Master predicted. They went forth in the power of his name, and sin, disease and death were subject to them. So mighty was this name in carrying forward the work which the Son of God had commenced, that the great Apostle exclaimed, when writing to the church at Philippi, 'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.'
V. There cannot be more than one foundation. 'Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.' 'But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.'S 'This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.'||
Phil. iv. 13.
* Eph. i. 4.
† John xv. 5.
Acts iv. 11, 12.
The Apostle lays a weighty injunction on us respecting building on this foundation. 'Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.'* It ought to be borne in mind that the same fire which destroys 'the wood, hay, stubble,' saves the man himself. The idea is well presented by the Psalmist: 'Thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions.'t
Jesus then being the only foundation, we are not to depend on our works for salvation. If we do, we are laying another foundation, and rejecting Christ: 'for we are not redeemed with corruptible things,' 'but with the precious blood of Christ,' 'that our faith and hope might be in God.' 'By the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.' It is further evident that we are not to make a foundation of our faith, for 'if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself.' We are not to look to our desires, prayers, alms, sufferings, or performances for salvation, but to Christ the Lord, 'for to this end he hath died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.'
VI. A foundation is laid with an intention to raise
Rom. xiv. 9.
1 Cor. iii. 12-15.
Psa. xcix. 8.