"Say ye to the Daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him." (Isaiah 62:11)
Ye will find, if you read this chapter, my friends, that it contains many "exceeding great and precious promises;" (2 Pet. 1:4) and, although they appear in the Old Testament, they are new and covenant promises; and being such, are "yea and amen in Christ Jesus, (2 Cor. 1:20) and sure to all the seed," (Rom. 4:16) being confirmed by the oath of the eternal Jehovah, who is not a man, that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent; (Num. 23:19) sealed by the blood of Christ, and ratified in heaven; and will be, sooner or later, ratified in the conscience of every one of the heirs of promise to their unspeakable joy.
The Prophet begins the chapter by expressing his determination, "For Zion's sake not to hold his peace, and for Jerusalem's sake not to rest, until the righteousness thereof went forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth." By "righteousness," in this passage, I understand, the Person, rather than the work, of Christ is intended; for "this is the Name whereby he shall be called, "The Lord our Righteousness." (Jer. 23:6) And, by "salvation," I also understand Christ to be intended, and the work which he completed, when he hung on the accursed tree, and said, "It is finished, and gave up the ghost." (John 19:30) We may gather from this, and other passages of scripture, that the Old Testament saints looked forward to the coming of Christ in human nature--the "seed of the woman," (Gen. 3:15) who was to bruise the serpent's head. They looked, longed, watched, waited, hoped, and desired the blessed event with, "Oh, that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion!" (Ps. 53:6) And Christ tells his disciples, that many desired to see the things that they saw, but died, and saw them not.
In the second verse, the Prophet predicts, "that the Gentiles shall come to his light, and kings to the brightness of his rising." No other prophet appears to have had such clear views of Christ as a Saviour of the Gentiles, as well as of the Jews, as Isaiah. He saith, in one place, "There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots; and to it shall the Gentiles seek, and his rest shall be glorious." (Isa. 11:1,10) And again, "Gentiles shall see thy righteousness and all kings thy glory; and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name." (Isa. 62:2) Isaiah not only saw that the Gentiles had an interest in Christ, but that a great number of the elect were among them; and tells us, "that more are the children of the desolate than of the married wife, saith the Lord." (Isa. 54:1) And as they are children of God by adoption and grace, they shall see His righteousness; and not only so, but the Lord shall arise upon them, and his glory shall be seen upon them; and they shall be called by a new name. Our original name is "alien;" as saith the Apostle, "Wherefore, remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision by that which is called the circumcision in the flesh made by hands, that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." (Eph. 2:11,12) And, we know, that aliens and bastards were prohibited from entering into the congregation of the Lord, even unto the tenth generation. (Deut. 23:2,3) Hence the necessity of a new name; alien must be obliterated, and we called by a new name, or we never can enter into the kingdom of heaven. It is certain that this new name is that of sons; "For I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved: and it shall come to pass, that in the place were it was said unto them, ye are not my people, there shall they be called the children of the living God." (Rom. 9:25,26) And "if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." (Rom. 8:17) This is an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. It is the Saviour's new name, which he has promised to write upon the overcomer; and, in this respect, they are called by his name. He is our elder brother; the darling Son of God; the only-begotten of the Father, and the firstborn among many brethren; (Rom. 8:29) the heir apparent, to whom the right of inheritance belongs, being entailed to him and his seed throughout all generations. This new name is not merely recorded in the Bible; but is written on the fleshy tablets of the heart, agreeable to what the Lord himself declares, "I will give him a white stone; and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving him that receiveth it." (Rev. 2:17) And he that believeth, hath this witness in himself; God's Spirit bearing witness with our spirits that we are his children. Therefore, when the Father speaketh to us as unto sons, and the Holy Ghost bears witness to our sonship, then, and not till then, can we cry, "Abba, Father." (Rom. 8:14,15)
The Prophet goes on to say, "Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed forsaken: neither shall thy land any more be termed desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah; for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married." How sweet! how precious! how encouraging is this promise to the poor destitute, disconsolate widow! to whom the Lord speaks in these words, "Fear not, for thou shalt not be ashamed; neither be thou confounded, for thou shalt not be put to shame; for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more; for thy Maker is thy Husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name." (Isa. 54:4,5) This widow is one who is dead to all hope of salvation from a covenant of works, and not yet married to Christ; so as to say with the church, "My Beloved is mine, and I am his." (Songs 2:16) Therefore, is without a husband. And, I believe, that this is the spot and situation where, in experience, the greater part of the Church of the living God are to be found in this day. They have been chastened and taught out of the law: stripped of their own righteousness; brought off from every sandy foundation, driven out of every refuge of lies and from all confidence in the flesh; and, with weeping and supplication, are led to Jesus, with "Lord, save! I perish." And, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so Christ is exhibited to view; and Christ saith, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me." (John 12:32) He therefore draws forth the heart in prayer, and the soul in affection to him. He draws, and we run. He allures, and we follow after him, saying, "With my soul have I desired thee in the night, and with my spirit will I seek thee early." (Isa. 26:9) He puts in his hand by the hole of the door, and our bowels are moved for him. He gives us a glimpse of his lovely face, speaking an encouraging word to receive and cheer our drooping spirit. This makes us bold, excites to prayer, encourages our confidence, makes hope abound, and love to wax warm to Him who is "the altogether lovely;" (Songs 5:16) and the soul is ready and desirous of embracing her Beloved, saying, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth; for his love is better than wine." (Songs 1:2) But, alas, alas, He withdraws, and is gone. This makes the spirit droop, the heart faint, the soul fail, and the mind despond. Thy confidence is shaken, thy hope is dashed, and thy comfort gone; and so is thy heart, for he has taken that away with him. You seek, but cannot find him; you call, but he gives you no answer. "Oh, that I knew where I might find him!" (Job 23:3) Jealousy now possesses the soul; you commune with your own heart, and in spirit make diligent search, saying, "Will the Lord cast off for ever? Will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Doth his promise fail for evermore?" (Ps. 77:7,8) In this state of desertion, the cry of the soul is, "Set me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm; for love is strong as death, jealously is cruel as the grave." (Songs 8:6) "I am sick of love, I want to enjoy the object beloved:" for "whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on the earth I desire beside thee." "Thou art altogether lovely, and the chiefest among ten thousand."
In this way the Lord trieth the faith, affection and patience of a poor widowed soul. Is the Lord leading any of you who are here tonight in this path? Then, fear not; for "thy Maker is thy husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name." He hath betrothed thee to himself "in faithfulness, in lovingkindness, and in tender mercy, and thou shalt know the Lord." (Hos. 2:19,20) And let me tell thee, poor sinner, that he is our near kinsman, who is bound by law, oath, and promise--and by love that is stronger than death--to marry the desolate widow, to raise up seed to the dead, that the family name should not become extinct, and the entailed inheritance lost. Therefore, remind him of his relationship; plead his covenant contract, oath, and promise; beg of him to spread his skirt over you, to clothe you with the wedding-garment, and to bring you into the bridal chamber, with the banner of everlasting love over you. In this way make thy request known unto Him; and then, "Sit still, my daughter, until thou shalt know how the matter will fall; for the man will not be in rest until he have finished the thing this day." (Ruth 3:18) Therefore, in the Lord's own time, the next verse will be accomplished in your own soul's experience, "For, as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee; and, as a bridegroom rejoiceth over his bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee." But I must pass on.
In the sixth verse, the Lord saith, "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day or night." And surely the prophet Isaiah was a living witness of the truth of it.
Then, the Lord goes on to say in the tenth verse, "Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people." Whatever these gates may denote, there is a needs be to pass through them. The watchmen were not only to lift up their voice like a trumpet on the walls, but to go through the gates into the city. The gate being the place of entrance, sets forth, 1st, Christ, as the door into the sheepfold: 2nd, the new birth; this is the gate of life, or the way into spiritual life: 3rd, justification, or passing from the sentence of death in a broken law to justification, to eternal life; and when this takes place, we may be said to have passed the gate of righteousness, which David prayed the Lord to open to him. And close to this is the gate of praise; for "thou shalt call thy walls salvation, and thy gates praise." Through these gates the watchmen must go; and so must every minister of the gospel in this day, or he can never be instrumental in leading the children of God through them; he will stumble at the very threshold of the door. And the watchmen were not only to "go through" the gates, but they were to "cast up" the way also, even the highway, which is Christ; agreeable to this text; "I am the way!" the only way to the Father; for no man can come to the Father but by me. (John 14:6) Christ is "the way of life, which is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath." He is the way of righteousness, in which alone a guilty sinner is justified from all things from which he cannot be justified by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:39) He is the way of peace: having made reconciliation for iniquity. He is the way of sanctification, or holiness; for, "A way shall be there, and an highway; and it shall be called the way of holiness." (Isa. 35:8) He is the only way of salvation; for "there is salvation in no other name." (Acts 4:12) And having offered himself without spot unto God, a sacrifice of a sweetsmelling savour, and shed his precious blood to atone for sin, he, as the High Priest over the house of God, has entered with his own blood into heaven, and has consecrated for us a new and living way into the holiest of holies. (Eph. 5:2; Heb. 10:19-21) Every other way is a false way, a delusive path, leading down to the chambers of death. This path the Prophets cast up in their ministry; "For to him gave all the Prophets witness." This path was cast up by Paul; for he was determined to know nothing among the people but Jesus Christ, and him crucified: saying, "We preach Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." (1 Cor. 2:2; 1 Cor. 4:5)
But again, they were not only to "cast up the way," but to "gather out the stones," which is the most difficult part of the watchman's work. These stones are by the same prophet called "stumblingblocks." And there being so many things in the path to heaven that stumble the judgment of the weak, and confound the wisdom of the babe in grace, make this part of the watchmen's commission very difficult. But time will not admit of my attempting to enter into this tonight.
They were not only to "gather out the stones," but to "lift up a standard for the people." This standard is the word of God, and not the experience of any man, nor any man's "line of things made ready to our hands." The scripture is the "standard to which doctrine, experience, and practice, must be brought and tried. In doctrine; "if any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." (1 Pet. 4:11) "To the word and to the testimony." "If any man speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in him." (Isa. 8:20) Christ dying for the sins of his people, and rising again for their justification, (Rom. 4:25) were two leading features in Paul's ministry; and he appealed to the scripture for a confirmation of what he preached. And, we know, that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God; and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction, that the man of God may be perfect and thoroughly furnished unto every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16,17) And, in experience; the scriptures contain the experience of the babe in grace desiring "the sincere milk of the word;" (1 Pet. 2:2) and the young man, who is "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." It contains the experience of a soul in the horrible pit, sinking in deep mire where there is no standing; and the experience of a soul in the mount of communion with the Lord, with all the intermediate states and stages between the two extreme points. The liftings up, and castings down; the buddings of hope, and feelings of despair; the actings of faith, and fits of unbelief; the dark nights, and sunshiny days; the day of prosperity, and the day of adversity; the day of trouble, and the deliverance out of it; the day of temptation, and the Lord succoring under it; together with many other branches of experience too numerous to mention, are to be found in the scripture. To this "standard" we must come; in this "balance" we must be weighed; and, if our experience does not accord with the scriptures, and will not bear the scrutiny of truth, it will not pass as genuine with God, however it may pass among men. And so in practice; the scriptures lay down the rule of walk and conversation; and "How shall a young man cleanse his way? but by taking heed thereto according to thy word;" and "as many as walk according to this rule, peace be unto them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God." (Gal. 6:16)
I now come to the text. But having occupied so much time in speaking on the chapter, I must be short in discoursing from the text; "Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him."
In speaking from text, I will, First, treat of Zion; Secondly, of the daughter of Zion; Thirdly, of her Salvation; and Fourthly, of his work and reward.
I. By "Zion," literally, Jerusalem is intended. And the Prophet Zechariah saw him entering Jerusalem, and saith, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, thy King cometh unto thee; he is meek, and having salvation; lowly, riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." (Zech. 9:9) David also saw him enter into Jerusalem, and heard the children sing Hosanna to King David's Son. "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:" (Ps. 118:26) and tells us, "that out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast ordained strength, because of thine enemies." (Ps. 8:2) But, by Zion spiritually, the church and people of God are intended; as it is written, "I have put my words in thy mouth, and have covered thee in the shadow of my hand, that I might plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people." (Isa. 51:16) My beloved people; for "the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it." (Ps. 132:13,14) And upon this holy hill of Zion hath the Father placed his Son as King; and he is to reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there is to be no end; for "he shall reign till he has put all his enemies under his feet;" (1 Cor. 15:25) and "the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." (1 Cor. 15:26) My redeemed people; for "Zion shall be redeemed with judgments, and her converts with righteousness." (Isa. 1:27) Therefore, by "Zion," I understand, the beloved, chosen, and redeemed people of God; loved with an everlasting love; chosen in Christ to salvation before the foundation of the world; redeemed by the precious blood of Christ from the curse of the law, from the wrath of God, from the sword of justice, and from going down into the pit of hell; and by his power delivered from this present evil world, from the power and dominion of sin, and from the tyranny of the devil; from resting in a form of godliness, from service in the oldness of the letter, from trusting in their own righteousness, and in his own time from the bondage of the law into the glorious liberty of the children of God; "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, hath God shined." (Ps. 50:2)
And we are told to "walk about Zion; and go round about her, to mark well her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, and consider her palaces." (Ps. 48:12,13) These bulwarks appear to set forth salvation by grace; for "Thou shalt call thy walls salvation, and thy gates praise." (Isa. 60:18) These, and many more great and glorious things, are spoken concerning Mount Zion, the city of the great King.
II. But who is meant by "the daughter of Zion?" This is the second thing in the text we have to notice. Paul speaks of Jerusalem that is from above, "which is free, and is the mother of us all." (Gal. 4:26) John saw the new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, as a bride prepared for her husband, which is, Christ. (Rev. 21:2) And we read in the Songs, "There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number; My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her." (Songs 6:8,9) Therefore, Jerusalem is the Lord's married wife; and she is by her Husband made free. He has freed her from the hand of her creditor, having paid her debts for her. He has freed her from sin, and the wages of it which is death, by putting away her sin, and dying in her stead. And, being by her lawful Husband made free, she must be free indeed. Now, "the daughters of Zion" are the children of this free woman; as the Apostle saith, "So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free." (Gal. 4:31) "And of Zion, it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her." (Ps. 87:5) Therefore, by "the daughter of Zion," we are to understand, the children of God that are accounted for the seed; the children of promise, heirs according to the hope of eternal life; born in Zion, or born of the Holy Ghost. But, being babes in grace, little children in knowledge, and young in the ways of God, for this reason they are called "daughters."
But, it may be asked, "How shall I know that I am a 'daughter of Zion?'" Why, the scriptures furnish us with many striking traits, and prominent features in the character of a daughter of Zion, a few of which I will endeavor to notice. And, although the experience of one child of God does not in all things agree with the experience of another child of God; yet there is a family likeness in every branch of the family, too striking to me mistaken; for all that see them shall acknowledge that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed. (Isa. 61:9) And, in order to point out to you a few of the most striking traits in the daughter of Zion, I must refer you to the 45th Psalm, where it reads thus, "Kings' daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir. Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour. The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee. With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king's palace." (Ps. 45:9-15) There appears to me to be several striking things set forth in these words that I have quoted. And first, the Lord addresses her as his daughter, and demands her attention; "Hearken, O daughter," 'listen attentively to what I am about to say.' Man by nature hath no ear to hear what the Lord saith: but is like the deaf adder that heareth not the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. (Ps. 58:5) In fact he has no will to hear, but turns a deaf ear to the voice and word of the Lord; as we read in the first chapter of Proverbs, "Because I have called and ye have refused; I have stretched out my hand and no man hath regarded it." And again, "Therefore will I number you to the sword, and you shall bow down to the slaughter; because when I called ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not." But when the Lord speaks to a daughter of Zion, it is otherwise; for "as soon as they hear of me they shall obey." (Ps. 18:44) Such are obedient children: and Christ saith, "My sheep hear my voice." (John 10:27) And again, "Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice." (John 10:16) And, "Blessed is the man that heareth me." (Prov. 8:34) Thus, the Lord calls for their attention; and among the first things that the Lord gets is the ear: for he circumcises the ear to hear, as one deeply interested in what the Lord saith. A criminal at the bar of justice does not listen more attentively, and with deeper-felt interest and anxiety to what is passing in court than this daughter of Zion does, to hear what the Lord will say unto her; the language of her heart is, "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth;" (1 Sam. 3:9) 'I am listening to hear what the Lord will say unto me.' If the Lord speaks roughly, as Joseph did to his brethren, she stands in awe and trembles at his word; but notwithstanding, she longs to know what the mind and will of God is concerning her. But if he speaks an encouraging word, she catches it; her spirit revives and she is a little emboldened; and hope springs up in her soul, with, "Who can tell! it may be the Lord will have mercy on me."
The Lord not only calls for her attention; but tells her to "consider." It is said of Mary, that "she pondered in her heart the things that were told her by the angel." (Luke 2:19) And so does this "daughter of Zion." She will look to the rock whence she was hewn; (Isa. 51:1) she considers her awful state and condition through the Adam-fall; she considers her way, which has hitherto been perverse before God; she considers her guilty state, having sinned, and come short of the glory of God; she considers her present position, as under the law and under its curse. It is with her a day of adversity; and therefore a time of great and deep-felt consideration. And the more these things are pondered over, the deeper the soul sinks in trouble and distress. "What shall I do to be saved?" "Jesus, have mercy on me!" Lord, save! I perish;" is the cry of the soul. And as she considers the forementioned things; so, by the blessed Spirit of God she is led to consider, on the other hand, the love of the Father in giving his dear Son; the love of Christ in dying for ruined sinners; the love of the Spirit in convincing of sin, and quickening them to newness of life. She also considers the invitations in the Bible given to the hungry and thirsty soul; the many promises given to the poor and needy, burdened, heavy-laden sinner. She ponders these things over and over again, and hangs on them like a child at the breast. She brings her experience to the scripture, to be weighed in the balanced of the sanctuary; and begs of God to "search her, and know her heart; to try her and know her thoughts; and to lead her into the way of everlasting." (Ps. 139:23,24)
But she is not only to "consider," but "incline her ear, and forget her own people, and her father's house," (Ps. 45:10) and to worship the Lord, and him only. The Father, speaking to the Son, saith, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." (Ps. 110:3) And Christ saith, "I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and I will speak to her heart." (Hos. 2:14) And "where the word of a King is, there is power." (Eccle. 8:4) "Every one that heareth and learneth of the Father cometh unto me," (John 6:45) saith Christ; but "no man can come unto me, except the Father draw him." (John 6:44) But I will "draw them with the cords of a man, and with the bands of love," (Hos. 11:4) saith the Lord. And as soon as love operates in the sinner's heart, he will rise up, forsake all, and follow the Lord, with Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God." But as the Lord does not always walk in one uniform path, employ the same means, nor take the same method in bringing sinners to Christ, there is no marking out a way for the Lord to walk in. Mary Magdalene came to him for the pardon of sin from heart-felt conviction that she was a ruined sinner; and so did the publican. The leper came to Christ for healing from a heart-felt sense of his deep-rooted malady. But, in Lydia's case, "The Lord opened her heart to attend to the things" spoken by Paul; (Acts 16:14) and the word came to her, "in power, in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance." (1 Thess. 1:5) She received the truth she heard in faith; and her faith worked by love to the truth, to God the author of truth, and to Paul the messenger of truth. And, in the case of Zaccheus, in the word spoken there was power; his blind eyes were opened; his deaf ears were unstopped; the veil of ignorance was in measure taken from his mind; his dead soul was quickened to newness of life; the strong man armed was conquered, and his kingdom within laid in ruins; the carnal enmity of his mind slain, the love of the world cast out, the love of sin subdued, and his heart opened to receive Christ joyfully. But in the case of the church, love is the moving cause; hence she saith, "I sought Him whom my soul loveth!" Tell me, O thou whom my soul lovest, where you feedest, and where thou makest thy flocks to rest at noon?" Dear Lord, "set me as a seal on thine heart, as a seal on thy arm; for love is strong as death." Thus, it is evident, that the Lord takes different methods in bringing his people to himself; yet they all come with "weeping and supplication." Conviction of sin, a deep-felt sense of our ruined state, the wrath of God and terrors of the Almighty, together with the fear of death and dread of everlasting destruction, fills the mind of the seeking sinner with sorrow, which gives rise to weeping. In other cases, the Lord stands afar off in time of trouble: they call, but get no answer; they seek but cannot find the Lord. My Beloved is withdrawn, and is gone. "Oh, that I knew where I might find him!" This filleth the heart with sorrow, which gives rise to weeping; and the Holy Ghost in them gives rise to the supplication that ascends to God out of the heart. But to pass on.
This daughter of Zion is "all-glorious within." Her internal glory consists in the image of Christ being stamped in her soul; for, "As we have borne the image of the earthly, so shall we also bear the image of the heavenly." (1 Cor. 15:49) And Paul saith again, "Predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son." (Rom. 8:29) But time will not admit of my attempting to point out to you the striking traits and prominent features in this image, stamped in the heart of a daughter of Zion. David also adds, "her clothing is of wrought gold. This clothing sets forth the imputed righteousness of Christ, the garment of salvation, the covering of the Spirit of God; the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; and the sinner, clothed with humility, and in his right mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus: and in this raiment of needlework she shall be brought unto the King. And not only so; but there is another striking figure in this daughter, namely, that she comes behind; she keeps in the rear, she follows after; she walks in the same path in pursuit of the same object; but being weak in faith, faint in spirit, cast down with many fears that all is not right, fearful of acting presumptuously, of being led in a wrong path, and of being buoyed up with a delusive hope. She also knows in little in her own eyes, esteeming others better than herself. She is one swift to hear others relate what the Lord has done for their souls, but slow to speak of herself, lest the work in the end should prove not to be of the Lord. These things will keep a soul in the rear of the flock.
And now, my friends, let me ask you, before I pass on to the next head, what you know about this path? Have you any of the forementioned marks and evidences of a daughter of Zion? If so, the Lord speaketh to thee in the text--
III. "Behold, thy salvation cometh," which is the third thing we have to notice. And truly this is a great salvation, and every way suited to the character and case of a "daughter of Zion." For instance. Is she a lost sinner, sensibly so? "He came to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10) Does she feel that she is a filthy, guilty, vile sinner; a sinner to the very core, a sinner in grain, the vilest of the vile? "He came into the world to save sinners;" (1 Tim. 1:15) yea, the very chief of sinners. Is she so poverty-stricken, that she has nothing wherewith to come before the Lord: and yet her wants are great, and too numerous for her to tell the Lord the whole of them? He saveth the souls of the needy. Is she at times sore broken in the place of dragons, and covered with the shadow of death; her strength brought down with hard labor, and her soul melted because of trouble; and, on the other hand, by the blessed Spirit, her hard heart has been broken, her proud spirit humbled, her stubborn will bent, her soul brought down into the dust of self-abasement, abhorring herself, and repenting in dust and ashes, and her spirit made contrite? We are told, "that the Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and such as be of a contrite spirit." Is she convinced of her helplessness, as well as vileness? and does she feel that she is so deeply sunk and totally lost, that it requires superabounding mercy and Almighty strength to reach her case and save her soul? and is she led to the God of comfort and Father of mercies, in the way which he has consecrated? Then, the Apostle saith, "he is able also to save to the very uttermost all those that come unto God by him." ( Heb. 7:25)
But it may be, and frequently is the case, she does not doubt his power; for the important question is not, whether he can, but whether he will display his power and manifest his mercy in my individual case, and save me, a poor, lost, helpless sinner? Is this the important question in the mind of a daughter of Zion? I believe it is. Then, hear what the Prophet saith, "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save." (Zeph. 3:17) Mark that, poor trembling sinner; "He will save." But are you too weak in faith to believe it to the comfort of thy sorrowful heart; and notwithstanding, still saying, "I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living?" 'I am afraid he will never appear to my help and deliverance, and to the salvation of my poor perishing soul?' Then, hear what the Lord saith, "Strengthen ye the weak hands; and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you." (Isa. 35:3,4)
How suited, therefore, is this salvation to the character of a "daughter of Zion." It is equally suited to her case. Is she under the Law? Here is salvation from its curse. Is she condemned to die? Here is salvation from death. Does the justice of God pursue her, as the avenger of blood did the guilty manslayer. In this salvation there is a refuge, a hiding-place, a place of safety. Is she haunted, terrified, and tormented with the fear of death and everlasting destruction? We are told, "He came to deliver them, who, through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." (Heb. 2:15) Does sin, within, strive for the mastery? Is this a daily plague, and source of grief and sorrow? And does thou fear thou shalt be left to serve sin in the lust thereof? Hear what the Lord saith, "Sin shall not have dominion over you." (Rom. 6:14) And does the devil, as a roaring lion, pursue the threatening destruction? or, as an artful fox, or cunning serpent, besetting thy path on every hand, digging pits, laying traps, snares, and nets to catch thy feet? and are you afraid that you shall one day fall by the hand of this enemy? Then hear what David saith, "Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler." (Ps. 91:3) And Christ saith, "Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you." (Luke 10:19) O, what a great salvation this is? how suited to the character and case of a poor ruined, helpless sinner!
But in a "daughter of Zion's case, the salvation promised is not yet come; no, she cannot say, "I have found Him of whom Moses and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth," being the Christ. Nor can she say with the church, "My Beloved is mine, and I am his." Neither can she say, "This is my God, I have waited for Him; he will save me: this is my God; I have waited for him; I will rejoice in his salvation." No; she must wait until the Lord comes, before she can adopt these words as her own.
Perhaps there are some here this morning, whose character, path, and experience, answereth to that which has been given of a "daughter of Zion." And were I to ask you what your present state and position is, you would perhaps reply, 'It is dark, and Jesus is not come; neither can I feel a persuasion that he will come to my help; I find and feel myself at such an infinite distance from the Lord; "O that I knew where I might find him!" "Where is the promise of his coming?" O, I fear in my case his promise fails for evermore; hope deferred has made my heart sick; so that my eyes fail, and my heart faints."
To a poor sinner in this state, the parable of the prodigal is very striking and encouraging. He has spent all his substance, and is reduced to beggary and want; so is the poor sinner. He would have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat, but no man gave unto him. And what would not a poor guilty, needy sinner do? Why, he would do anything and everything to bring peace to his conscience; quietness to his mind; food for his soul; and rest to his troubled heart. But the Lord will not suffer him to fill his belly with husks; he will not allow him to stay in a far country feeding on an outside religion, a form of godliness, a knowledge of the truth in the letter, a natural dead faith in the scriptures generally, and the doctrines of faith particularly, on which many feed and what is the whole of it, but husks? It is not the kidney of the wheat; it is the shell, not the kernel; it is the bone, not the meat. But what can he do? He must either return to his Father's house, or perish with hunger in a strange land. There is no other alternative. This brings him to himself; and, as it were, sobers him down; thoughts possess his mind now that did not in the days of his prosperity; his meditations are now on a melancholy subject. "What shall I do? what step shall I take? what path shall I pursue? Now he calls to mind his Father's house, and his servants, who have bread enough to spare, whilst he is perishing with hunger. This brought him to a decision; "I will arise, and go to my Father;" and he purposes in his mind how he will approach him, "I will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son, make me as one of thy hired servants." But who can tell the sinking and rising up of the man's mind during his journey; for it was not a day's journey only; no he was in a far country? when he reflected on his base conduct, his refusing his father's counsel, turning a deaf ear to his admonitions, walking contrary to his commands, and by so doing brought himself into disgrace and beggary; when he reflected on these things, his heart sunk like lead in the water. But, on the other hand, when he considered that it was a Father, and not an enemy that he was approaching; and that a Father cannot forget a son, although a son may in some respects forget his Father; and that the base conduct of a child does not destroy the paternal affection of a Father: when he considered these things, hope sprang up in his soul. And so it is with the poor sinner who is returning to the Lord, from whom he has gone astray, like a lost sheep. He confesses his sin; and the Lord having chastened him for iniquity, his beauty is consumed, his comeliness is turned to corruption; and having lost all sight and sense of worth or worthiness in himself, he will and does feelingly say, "I am not worthy to be called thy son;" and with humbling dispensations without, and humbling grace within, he is made willing to take the lowest seat.
But whatever might be his hopes that his Father would receive him, he did not anticipate or expect his Father would run to meet him, fall on his neck, and kiss him, and receive him in such a cordial manner. This was far from his thoughts. But so it was; and "whatsoever was written aforetime, was written for our learning," and is to show us, that "the Lord is good, and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy;" "who will not cast off for ever;" a God that waiteth to be gracious, and who "delighteth in mercy."
Therefore, "say ye to the Daughter of Zion; Behold, thy salvation cometh." And "He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry." Therefore, "Fear not; the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple." Yes; there is a day coming,--how far distant is not for us to say,--when the Bridegroom will come forth to meet the Bride; take her to himself; tie the marriage-knot; take her to his embrace; bring her into the bridal chamber, and spread the banner of everlasting love over her. Then, you will say with a merry heart, a cheerful countenance, and with joyful lips, "This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend, O ye Daughters of Jerusalem." My Beloved is mine, and I am his."
The other part of the text, for want of time, I must leave. And may the Lord add his blessing. Amen.