The Great City
Psalm 48:12-14
Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.…

Cities are prominent waymarks in human history. With them began the distribution of rights from the few to the many. Cincinnatus at his plough had his patriotism fed by voices from the city. Cities show us the most of man; they exhibit what life can be made; they fortify genius so that its power runs not to waste; and out of the struggles of commerce, the breadth of view concerning human relations to which commerce leads, has sprung the best thought of what is duo from man to man. When Henry the First — called "The City Builder," gave to cities peculiar privileges to induce his people to congregate, unwittingly he laid the grand basis of opposition to the Feudal system, and the legal foundation of popular rights. The people united to ward off the attacks of the lords or barons; union gave strength; the limit of locality made them develop their resources; commerce, art and wealth increased within their walls; energy grew and multiplied; the people became wealthy, respectable, educated and refined; better laws and institutions were desired; and thus the principle of human rights, leading to political equality, was gradually developed. Towers and bulwarks, high walls and fortified castles, were the defences of old; to walk about an ancient city was to mark these things; and the great story that was carried down from one generation to another was of hugs walls and mighty gates — stories which we can hardly believe as we see the variety of these defences in the presence of modern arts of destruction. Then cities had to be set upon a hill, that no mountain might give the archers of the enemy a position of assault; or they must be reared, like Babylon and Palmyra, in the midst of a vast plain. But not so now. He who now walks about a great city to note its strength, its defences, its promises of superior greatness, does not mark down upon his map of survey walls, towers, bulwarks, palaces; for he looks into the character of homes, the intelligence and virtue of families, and he counts up schools and institutions of learning, benevolence, religion. Undazzled by all the glitter and show of wealth, unimpressed by the stately palaces, unmoved by the boasts of trade and commerce, and disregarding the growth of material prosperity that makes the grand exhibition of thronged streets and crowded marts — the river dotted with the white sails, amid which the floating vapour from the steam craft rises as incense, sending the thoughts out to sea and to the infinite, unimpressed, in his deepest nature, by all this, his great question is, How true is it that God and the Lamb have their thrones and servants here? How much is God the light of this city? How much of all this glory is as the costume of this oriental bride adorned for her husband, as we think of the city wedded to Christ? No interest of the city can be secured by deserting the Church or profaning the Sabbath. Religion is the patron of all good. She consecrates the child to God, that daily duty towards it may be more and better felt. She invokes a blessing in the school, and sanctifies education as the process of unfolding the mind, as the sun opens the flower, ripens the fruit, gives the seasons of the year. She comes to the workshop and to the lad at his apprenticeship everywhere, telling him labour is a great ordinance of God, and bids him aim to do well his task as a part of religious duty, assuring him that all effort or improvement has its relation to the moral culture and condition and prospects of the soul. Join the elements of duty thus presented, and we may be able to speak in Scripture language, with more than its original meaning, of "the crowning City, whose merchants are princes, and whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth." The city will be great. To walk round about her will be to walk about Zion, and to find something worthy of telling to the generations springing up around us. God will be known in her palaces for a refuge.

(H. Bacon.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.

WEB: Walk about Zion, and go around her. Number its towers.

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