« PreviousContinue »
it is stated in the plainest language, then we find it beautifully veiled in some striking metaphor. Sometimes it is proved from the whole character of God; then again from a single attribute; then from the universal spread of knowledge; then from the benevolent character of Christ. Indeed, heaven and earth seem to have been ranged for illustrations of this
But this corner stone was rejected; yet it was a tried,' 'precious,' 'living stone. There were several reasons for this rejection by the Jewish nation. It is not uncommon for the wisdom of this world to reject those whom God sends for a blessing. Hence the hard fate of reformers. Man is glad to receive blessings, but then they must come in a way that meets his low and sordid views. He prefers a system of religion invented by himself. Hence he 'forsakes the fountain of living waters, and hews out cisterns,' but alas ! they are like those who make them, 'broken cisterns that can hold no water.'
1. The ancient Hebrews undoubtedly had at first clear notions of the Messiah, but these were gradually depraved, so that when Jesus appeared in Judea, false conceptions were entertained, insomuch that the Jews expected a temporal monarch and conqueror who should remove the Roman yoke and subject the whole world. Hence, they were displeased at the outward appearance, the humility and seeming weakness of the Saviour. Hence, they stumbled at that stumbling stone.' But 'have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now, if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their ful
2. This corner stone was laid as the commencement of a new religion, which in its essential features differed from any that had been established. The whole Mosaic dispensation was a mere introduction. Jesus designed to overthrow this and idolatry, and every other scheme of religion that could be set up among men. It might reasonably be expected that the Jews would reject any one who should contradict their notions of religion. They saw the corner stone laid in Zion, and it was but too evident that the dispensation which they had been taught to reverence would soon pass away, and in its stead would appear another religion, more spiritual in its nature, and more strict in its requisitions of moral purity.
3. The truth was gradually unfolded to the Jewish nation that their various privileges were to cease; that now salvation was to be extended to the Gentiles. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.'t Jesus was to break down the middle wall of partition, 'making in himself of twain, one new man, so making peace, that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross.' The Gentiles were, 'therefore, no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God, and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner
* Rom. xi. 11, 12.
Gal. iii. 28.
stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord.'* Nothing could be more abhorrent to the feelings of a Jew than an extension of spiritual favors to the Gentile world. He had been accustomed from early life to view all other nations as beyond the notice and favor of his God. In this new building of which the Messiah was the corner stone, he perceives that all are to be gathered in. We may, therefore, not be surprised at the rejection of such a Founder, and such a doctrine. It was but acting in accordance with his narrow views and selfish principles.
"The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner.' "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.'t Such were the declarations of Jesus to the unfaithful husbandmen, by whom he designed to represent the Jewish nation. They fell on this stone, and afterwards it fell on them in the entire overthrow of all their institutions, their temple, their religion and their country. So heavy were these judgments that they were indeed 'ground to powder. This stone will remain firm in the building of Zion, for God himself has laid it. “Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding-place. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with
* Ephes. ii. 14—21.
† Matt. xxi. 42–44.
hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.'*
It is not uncommon for builders at first sight to reject a stone, and afterwards make it the head of the corner. It lies, perhaps, in the quarry, an unsightly, shapeless mass, appearing wholly unfit for the master's use. The prophet declared centuries before the Messiah came that such would be his appear
_*** 'He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.'t The builders may search the whole earth and they will never obtain a better corner stone. To attempt to build without it will be in vain. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 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.'I Without me,' said Jesus in his last advice to his disciples, without me, ye can do nothing's 'Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name
* Isa. xxviii. 17, 18. 1 1 Cor. iji. 11-15.
+ Ib. liii. 2, 3. John xv. 5.
under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.'*
Finally, the world will turn to Jesus as the precious corner stone. Many buildings have been reared, but the builders may be 'likened unto the foolish man, who built his house upon the sand.' They cannot stand, for Jesus is not the foundation. He who takes him as the corner stone of his doctrine, may be 'likened unto the wise man, who built his house upon a rock. The rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.'
We see not yet the grand spiritual temple of God completed, in which He is to dwell with men, and they with him. But we see the corner stone laid by the great Architect of the universe. So great a work will not lie in an unfinished state forever, for He counted the cost. The walls will be reared. A brighter day will dawn upon the universe than when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy' at the laying of the corner stone of creation. For sin, death and sorrow will no longer be known. This is the Lord's doings, and it is marvellous in our eyes.' And when, at last, the spiritual temple shall be completed, the head 'stone will be brought forth with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.'
* Acts iv. 12.