Isaiah 26:1
It seems best to take this as the picture of an ideal spiritual state.

I. THE IMPREGNABLE CITY. Its walls and outworks are "salvation." A great word - negatively hinting deliverance from the enemy and the oppressor; positively including all the contents of sacred peace, prosperity, and happiness. But salvation is nothing without a Savior; it is the loving presence of Jehovah who girds about Jerusalem as a wall. In Zechariah 2:9 he is spoken of as a "wall of fire." In another magnificent image, "Round about are the everlasting arms." The idea of the Eden-garden may be compared with that of this fenced city. A "garden walled around, a chosen and peculiar ground," may represent the mystical Church here, the celestial state hereafter. The city is created and fortified by the Eternal.

II. THE CELESTIAL CRY. The command is heard from heaven, "Open ye the gates!" As in Isaiah 40:1, from the same quarter, sounds the gracious word, "Comfort ye my people!" The righteous nation that keepeth faithfulness may enter the Divine city. The emphatic thought is that this city is to be the scene of righteousness, a contrast to the state of "this world which passeth away." "Open to me," exclaims the psalmist, "the gates of righteousness: I will go into them and praise Jehovah; the gate of Jehovah into which the righteous shall enter" (Psalm 118:19, 20). And again, in another sublime passage, "Who shall ascend into the hill of Jehovah? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart" (Psalm 24:3, 4). This righteousness of mind and heart is the gift of the Divine grace. Purity in the human spirit is at once the reflection of God's nature and the condition of "beholding" him. If men are good and faithful, it is because their souls have kept walk and converse with the truthful God (Psalm 31:24). And this they have only learned to do as the result of chastisement and the experience of the evil of other ways. "The Church was always like a barn (Matthew 3:12), in which the chaff is mingled with the wheat, or the wheat overpowered by the chaff'" When the Jews came back from captivity, it was with purified hearts; a large portion of the filth of idolatry had been swept away. And so universally; it is "out of much tribulation," much sifting on life's floor, that we must enter the kingdom - that the pure wheat of chastened character must be gathered into the celestial barn.

III. THE ATTRIBUTES OF JEHOVAH.

1. The firmness of his purpose. The words in ver. 3 are differently rendered: "a steadfast mind thou keepest in;" "firm is the hope thou wilt form;" "a purpose established thou purposest." And this purpose is one of peace. He "thinks the thought of peace" (Jeremiah 29:11). Hence the attitude of the believer is one of fearless and fixed repose; "He shall not be moved forever... shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in Jehovah" (Psalm 112:6, 7). This being of ours, in itself frail, anxious, feverish, needs steadying, staying; and its only sufficient prop must be "Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, in truth' (Isaiah 10:20). The essential thing in faith is habitual dependence; the result, ineffable peace. "Peace, peace," are the prophet's emphatic words. "He refrains from epithets; such peace is indescribable." So in Isaiah 57:19, "Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near." And the Christian apostle takes up the thought of the profundity and unutterableness of this bliss of the soul, "The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).

2. The constancy of Ms being. Jah Jehovah is a Rock of ages, and may be trusted in forever. One of the four places where our translators have retained the original name Jehovah, of which Jab is the abridged form (Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 12:2). The doubled name is used for emphasis, as in "Peace, peace," above; it expresses the perfection of his majesty, wisdom, holiness, which should reflect the utmost reverence and the most absolute trust in the mind of the believers. And" Rock, Rock of Israel," etc., is another of the sacred names of the Divine Being (Isaiah 30:29; see Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 18, 80, 31, etc.). Actively, to protect, to throw the cool shade of his protection upon the suffering of his people; passively, to resist the utmost shock and assault of his foes. The noble image of one of our poets, too lofty to be applied to mortal, may be applied to him -

"As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form,
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm,
Tho' round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head." Let us contemplate the nature of God; no other nature yields a lasting satisfaction anti repose to the beholder. "As soon as we turn aside from beholding it, nothing is seen but what is fleeting, and then we immediately faint. Thus ought faith to rise above the world by continual advances; for neither the truth, nor the justice, nor the goodness of God is temporary and fading, but God continues to be always like himself."

3. His irresistible power. He brings down the lofty and the proud. Bulwarks, armed hosts, enormous wealth, are of no avail against "moral influence." And when we thus speak, we mean nothing less than the just will, the fixed purpose, of the Eternal. No Babylon, no Rome, no empire built on force and fraud, need be a terror to the faithful. They, at the day of doom, must "melt like snow at the glance of the Lord," or be abased even to the dust. "We live amidst closing histories and amid falling institutions; there is an axe laid at the root of many trees; foundations of fabrics have been long giving way, and the visible tottering commences. 'The earth quakes and the heavens do tremble.' The sounds of great downfalls and great disruptions come from different quarters; old combinations start asunder; a great crash is heard; and it is some vast mass that has just broken off from the rock, and gone down into the chasm below. A great volume of time is now shattering, the roll is folded up for the registry, and we must open another. Never again - never, though ages pass away - never any more under the heavens shall be seen forms and fabrics, and structures and combinations that we have seen. The world is evidently at the end of one era and is entering upon another;" but the" Rock of ages" will remain, and the Church which rests upon him, "to enlighten ignorance, to fight with sin, and to conduct man to eternity" (Mozley).

4. His just dealings. A plain or straight path is made for the righteous - one free from obstacles and opposition, even as the path of the Eternal himself to the fulfillment of his purposes (cf. Proverbs 3:6; Proverbs 11:5; Proverbs 15:19). He is even said to make their path "plain with a level," i.e. to a nicety. It could not have seemed so to the Jews in captivity; and often it must seem, in the midst of perplexity and distress, far otherwise to the children of God now. Yet what seems to be a "roundabout" path in a mountainous country may actually be the shortest from point to point. So with the ways by which the Lord our God leads his children to the end. The direct line which haste and impatience would take is not really the "straight path" in the world of spirit. Here, when we seem to be turning back, we may be really moving forward; we may seem to be "fetching a compass," none the less certainly may be advancing by the safest and most direct road.

IV. SONG OF THE CHURCH. A meditation on the ways of God, and the relation of the believing soul to him. Waiting for God. They had watched, as it were, for Jehovah to advance along the great way of judgment by which he was to proceed to open the Messianic kingdom. Longing for the revelation of him. Oh that his Name and memorial (two expressions for one idea) might be known! The Name of God is God revealed, "the side of the Divine Being turned towards man" (Psalm 20:1; cf. Psalm 30:27; 63:9). (For the meaning of "memorial," cf. Exodus 3:15; Psalm 30:4; Psalm 135:13; Hosea 12:5.) The Messianic hope. The judgments of God, the thought is, must prepare for the new kingdom, for the reign of righteousness in the world. Calamities are symptomatic of evils needing to be cleansed away, if significant of the hand of Jehovah at work in reformation, and so prophetic of a new era. The reign on Mount Zion will be ushered in by a series of judgments on the unbelievers and the unrighteous, i.e. the heathen as opposed to the worshippers of Jehovah. Those judgments are a necessity. Righteousness is not learned, the need of it, the beauty of it, are not experienced, except in the school of suffering, of Divine chastisement. The effect of wealth and honor and success is not to lead men to God, and to the paths of rectitude and religion. Neither the Divine mercy, nor the bright example of others, nor the general tone of moral society, have sufficient influence to attract the inveterate sinner to belier things. In vain the light is poured upon the morally blind, upon those who "will not behold the majesty of Jehovah." In vain his hand is lifted up in judgment; their insensibility prevents them from perceiving it, though they are acute enough in their observation of the trifling interests of the sensuous life. There is but one way of dealing with such insensibility. Those judgments will be effective. They shall see the jealousy of Jehovah for his people (cf. Psalm 69:9), for fire shall devour his adversaries. His jealousy is like fire (Psalm 79:5; Zephaniah 1:18). In consuming it purifies, in purifying it consumes (cf. Deuteronomy 32:22; Job 20:26; Job 22:20). Remorse, shame, envy, indignation, - those fires within the bosom reflect the judgment of God; resistance, rebellion, impenitence, make them unquenchable. Peace and deliverance for the chosen. The past supplies arguments of hope for the future. A work has been accomplished by the Church, but this is Jehovah's work in it and by it. The deliverance from a foreign yoke was his work also. They had been enslaved to other lords (cf. Isaiah 63:18), and they had done as they pleased with Israel. But they have been swept away into the kingdom of the shades, and are forgotten. "From past events and benefits received, we should reason to God's future kindness, and infer that he will care for us for the future. God is not like man, to be capable of weariness in doing good, or exhausted in giving largely; therefore the more numerous the benefits with which he has loaded us, so much the more ought our faith to be strengthened and increased" (Calvin); cf. Psalm 138:8; Genesis 32:10, 12; Philippians 1:6. "Thee only." Under the dominion of Jehovah alone is peace, blessedness, liberty, to be found.

"He is a freeman whom the truth makes free,
And all are slaves beside." J.







In that day shall this song be sung.
If it be demanded, what period of time is this which the prophet speaks of? we must answer, that it is the time when the people, who for their provocations were thrown into the furnace of affliction, and had continued in it till they were purged from their sins, were delivered from it, and restored to the favour of God, and the enjoyment of His former mercies. Of which restoration there are three kinds or degrees plainly spoken of by the prophet Isaiah.

1. The Jews' return from the land of their captivity, especially that of Babylon.

2. The restoration of the family and kingdom of David in the person of the Messiah.

3. The perfect felicity of that kingdom in astute of future glory.

(W. Reading, M. A.)

All true prophecy, seems to have in it three elements: conviction, imagination, inspiration. The seer speaks first of all from his knowledge of, and experience with, the inherent vitality of right and righteousness. He is sure that the good in the world is destined to conquer the evil. Then when he attempts to tell how this victory is to be brought about he uses his imagination. He employs metaphors and figures which from the necessities of the case may not be literally fulfilled. And then, in addition to this, his prophecies have in them a certain comprehensiveness of plan and structure, and a certain organic relation to history, such as can be revealed only by the Divine Maker of history Himself. It took a man of large parts to see above the wreck and ruin, and through the darkness of his age, such visions of hope and promise as Isaiah saw. Everywhere around him were sensuality and oppression. The Church of the true God had been almost swallowed up by the foul dragon of paganism. And yet the prophet, with his eye upon the future, beheld a day when this song was to be sung in the land of Judah: the song of salvation. Sure he was that God must triumph, and with the poet's instinct he clothed his assurance in the language of metaphor, and set it to the rhythm of song.

(C. A. Dickinson.)

1. Those who study this song in the light of succeeding history find in it the picture of the ultimate triumph of the Church. The central figure is the strong city, the walls and bulwarks of which are salvation, and through whose open gates the righteous nation which keepeth the truth is allowed to enter. This picture reminds us at once of that vision of the new Jerusalem which fell upon the eyes of the seer of Patmos many years after, and which was evidently the type and symbol of the perfected kingdom of Christ. To attempt to give to this strong city and this new Jerusalem a literal and material significance is to involve ourselves in inextricable difficulties.

2. There are two views concerning the progress and ultimate triumph of Christianity in the world. In some respects these views are the same; in others they differ radically.(1) The first theory is that there is to be in the near or remote future a sudden, visible appearance of Christ in the clouds of heaven to take His place upon the throne of David at the earthly Jerusalem, where He will reign with His saints for a thousand years. Meanwhile the world is to come more and more under the Satanic influence.(2) The other theory is that of a gradual development under the spiritual forces which began to be dominant in the world on the day of Pentecost, when Christ, according to His own promise, began His reign in His new kingdom. This I believe to be the true view: the one which Christ Himself propounded when He said His kingdom should be like the seed that should "grow" up.

3. I am well aware that those who claim that the world is fast ripening in evil for its final catastrophe can point to many facts which seem to substantiate their theory. But just here, it seems to me, comes in one of their greatest mistakes. There is, of course, danger of generalising too much, but there is certainly great danger of allowing some near fact to blind the eyes to the great general truth which lies beyond it; to hold the sixpence so near the eye that we cannot see the sun. There is danger of confining our thoughts so exclusively to certain specific texts as to get a wrong conception of the real truth of which these special texts may be only a small part. Now, what are some of the signs that we are living today in an age of conquest?(1) Take that law of decay which you find written upon evil everywhere, whether in the individual or the nation. "He bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, He layeth it low." Rome in her arrogance was the first great organised power to make war against the new kingdom. But Rome fell, and over the ruins of her pagan temples the Christian walks today. France posed as the haughty oppressor of the weak and unfortunate, as the instigator of the horrors of St. Bartholomew's day, and following close upon her dreadful sin came the death and desolation of the Revolution. Our own great nation allowed to ripen in her very heart the malignant curse of slavery, and for her sin was obliged to suffer the pangs of a civil war. These are only a few of the conspicuous illustrations of the great truth that righteousness is surely, though perhaps slowly, vindicating her everlasting strength.(2) I might call your attention to the other side of this conquest: to the rapid increase in the present days of that strong City whose wails are salvation. I might show you a whole library filled with missionary literature which tells that the kingdom of the new King has extended its bounds into almost every habitable part of the earth. I might point you to the Year Books of our Churches, and show you what armies of men and women are yearly marching through the gates of the strong City. I might show you how the spirit of the Cross, having taken possession of the civilised nations of the world, has materialised into churches and hospitals and asylums and charitable institutions and temperance guilds and myriads of Christian homes.(3) But further, I might speak of another phase of this conquest. "When Thy judgments are in the earth," says the prophet, "the inhabitants of the earth will learn righteousness." These Divine judgments appear as a subtle tonic atmosphere pervading the whole world, and, like the ozone of the mountains, invigorating almost unconsciously every age and generation.(4) The influence of the Gospel is pervasive. In a certain sense we have a right to say that a community is a Christian community even though but a small minority of its inhabitants profess to accept Christ as their personal Saviour. The spirit of Christ is in that community; the leaven of the Gospel is leavening it. The new kingdom is established there, and even they who deny allegiance to it are in many ways better than they who are without it. The principles of Jesus Christ are the standard principles of morality throughout Christendom today, and men are inevitably judging them. selves and being judged by others according to these standards.

4. I believe that we are in the midst of mighty spiritual forces which are working successfully for the redemption of this world from sin; and I have two great incentives to spur me on to earnest effort.(1) The one is faith in humanity and Christ. I say humanity and Christ, because I believe they are one. That, to me, is the meaning of His incarnation. The mighty forces of righteousness are moving with their slow, crushing power as the steam roller moves over the newly macadamised road, breaking and levelling everything before it, that the chariot of the King may ride smoothly on to its destination. But this is only a part of the truth. The other part is that the new kingdom is open to all.(2) The other thing which spurs me on is hope — that blessed hope which the apostle had of the glorious consummation of this age of conquest.

(C. A. Dickinson.)

We have a strong city.
To understand this figure of a city we must remember what a city was in the earlier ages; i.e., a portion of land separate from the general surface, in which the people of a locality gathered, and put their homes into a condition of safety by building walls of immense strength, which should both resist the attacks of enemies and, to a great extent, defy the ravages of time. Such a city, then, was the emblem of security.

(R. H. Davies.)

I. THE GROUND OF REJOICING. Salvation; and consequently eternal security. "We have a strong city." All God's people are represented as citizens; the whole sainthood is represented as a corporate assemblage of people possessed of peculiar privileges, connected with an eternal condition, and as such are to dwell in some region of safety and bliss. Here they find not such an abode. Here they have "no continuing city, but seek one to come." And, when they shall be gathered together in the presence of their Lord, they will constitute the body to form a city.

II. THE CHARACTER OF THOSE WHO ARE TO PARTAKE OF THESE BLESSINGS. "The righteous nation which keepeth the truth."

(R. H. Davies.)

freedom and safety. The original sense of the word rendered "salvation" (as Arabic shows) is breadth, largeness, absence of constraint.

(Prof. S. R. Driver, D. D.)

(1) Political theorists have been fond of picturing an ideal State, the government of which would be perfect.(2) The ideal State in the mind of the average Hebrew was limited to his own race, but in the writings of the inspired psalmists and prophets it could not be so restricted, but widened itself out so as to embrace the whole world. Thus was the way prepared for the grand conception of the kingdom of heaven as first proclaimed and then established by the Son of God.(3) But it is a difficult thing, except in moments of great exaltation, to put much intensity of feeling. Into a conception so vast. It was a great deal easier to conceive an ideal State than an ideal world, and an ideal city was still more manageable for the imagination. We need not wonder, then, that even after the great proclamation about all the kingdoms of the world becoming the kingdom of God, the seer of Patmos should fondly return to the thought of the city, and revel in anticipating the advent of the New Jerusalem. Nor shall we be astonished that the prophets, though they had the wider outlook, should even in their moods of highest exaltation cling fondly to the thought of a holy city as the best picture, the more serviceable that it was a miniature of the coming kingdom of God.(4) In these early days of insecurity, the first requisite of a city was strength. So it is natural that this should be the feature on which the prophet here lays special stress. But wherein does its strength lie? He speaks not of ramparts or forts, of fleets or armies, but of salvation as the bulwarks of the city. We find this word salvation in other places translated by the more suggestive rendering "health," or "saving health."

1. The first thought suggested in this connection is that the city should be a clean place to live in, healthy from end to end and in every corner, each house in it a fitting abode for sons of God and daughters of the King. When we pass from the sanitation of the city to the saving health of the citizen, we think first of his body, and recognise the necessity of having all the conditions as conducive as possible to its health.

2. But clearly we cannot stop there. We must have the "mens sana in corpore sane"; hence the need of universal education, to secure intellectual sanity.

3. Nor may we end here, for moral sanity, a sound conscience, is even still more important. The nation must be a righteous nation.

4. Clearly, there must be sanitation for the will before we have reached saving health; and inasmuch as the will is swayed by desire, the sanitation must reach the heart. What sanitary measures could we here summon to our aid? The purest water will not cleanse the heart; the most bracing air will have no effect upon the soul. There must be a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness, and some breath of God for inspiration to the soul.

5. And here we reach the prophet's highest, dominating thought. "In that day," the passage begins. What day? Look back (Isaiah 25:9). "It shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us." And look forward (ver. 4), "Trust ye in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength." "Lord, Thou wilt ordain peace for us; for Thou also hast wrought all our works in us" (ver. 12). This introduces us to one of the most important questions of the day. There are many, sound and strong on the subject of righteousness, who yet fail to realise that righteousness is so bound up with saving truth — that truth of God and His salvation through Jesus Christ His Son, and by His Holy Spirit breathed in human hearts, which they sometimes offensively set aside as mere dogma — that the one cannot be had where it does not exist already, and cannot be retained long where it does without the other. "Open ye the gates that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in."

6. How can we open or help to open these gates of national strength and saving health? For individual action the answer would be such as this: First, by loving truth and keeping righteousness ourselves; next, by doing all we can to help others to a life of godliness and righteousness; further, by earnest and frequent prayer to Him who gave of old the promise, "I will open to you the two-leaved gates"; and lastly, by the faithful exercise of the privileges of citizens, seeing to it that in the forming of our opinions, in the giving of our votes, in the use of all our influence, not selfish interest, or class interest, or even party interest, but the interests of righteousness and truth be the determining factor. But individual action is not enough. We must combine; we must bring our united force to bear. And here the main reliance must be on the Church of Christ, on which is laid the responsibility of carrying on His great work of salvation.

(J. M. Gibson, D. D.)

There are three things here —

I. THE CITY. No doubt the prophet was thinking of the literal Jerusalem, but the city is ideal, as is shown by the bulwarks which defend, and by the qualifications which permit entrance. And so we must pass beyond the literalities of Palestine, and must not apply the symbol to any visible institution or organisation if we are to come to the depth and greatness of the meaning of these words. No Church which is organised amongst men can be the New Testament representation of this strong city. And if the explanation is to be looked for in that direction at all, it can only be the invisible aggregate of ransomed souls which is regarded as being the Zion of the prophecy. But, perhaps, even that is too definite and hard. And we are rather to think of the unseen but existent order of things or polity to which men here on earth may belong, and which will one day, after shocks and convulsions that shatter all which is merely institutional and human, be manifested still more gloriously. The central thought that was moving in the prophet's mind is of the indestructible vitality of the true Israel, and the order which it represented, of which Jerusalem on its rock was but to him a symbol. And thus for us the lesson is that, apart altogether from the existing and visible order of things in which we dwell, there is a polity to which we may belong, for "ye are come unto Mount Zion, the city of the living God," and that order is indestructible. There is a lesson for us, in times of fluctuation, of change of opinion, of shaking of institutions, and of new social, economical, and political questions, threatening day by day to reorganise society. "We have a strong city"; and whatever may come — and much destructive will come, and much that is venerable and antique, rooted in men's prejudices, and having survived through and oppressed the centuries, will have to go, but God's polity, His form of human society, of which the perfect ideal and antitype, so to speak, lies concealed in the heavens, is everlasting. And for Christian men in revolutionary epochs the only worthy temper is the calm, triumphant expectation that through all the dust, contradiction, and distraction the fair city of God will be brought nearer and made more manifest to man. To this city — existent, immortal, and waiting to be revealed — you and I may belong today.

II. THE DEFENCES. "Salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks." This "evangelical prophet" is distinguished by the fulness and depth which he attaches to that word "salvation." He all but anticipates the New Testament completeness and fulness of meaning, and lifts it from all merely material associations of earthly or transitory deliverance into the sphere in which we are accustomed to regard it as especially moving. By "salvation" he means, and we mean, not only negative but positive blessings. Negatively, it includes the removal of every conceivable or endurable evil, whether they be evils of sin or evils of sorrow; and positively, the investiture with every possible good that humanity is capable of, whether it be good of goodness or good of happiness. This is what the prophet tells us is the wall and bulwark of his ideal. real city. Mark the eloquent omission of the name of the builder of the wall. "God" is a supplement. Salvation "will He appoint for walls and bulwarks." No need to say who it is that flings such a fortification around the city. There is only one hand that can trace the lines of such walls; only one hand that can pile their stones; only one that can lay them, as the walls of Jericho were laid, in the blood of His first-born Son. "Salvation will He appoint for walls and bulwarks," i.e.d., in a highly imaginative and picturesque form, that the defence of the city is God Himself. The fact of salvation is the wall and the bulwark. And the consciousness of the fact is for our poor hearts one of our best defences against both the evil of sin and the evil of sorrow. So, let us walk by the faith that is always confident, though it depends on an unseen hand. "Salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks," and if we realise, as we ought to do, His purpose and His power to keep us safe, and the actual operation of His hand keeping us safe at every moment, we shall not ask that these defences shall be supplemented by the poor feeble earthworks that sense can throw up.

III. THE CITIZENS. Our text is part of a "song," and is not to be interpreted in the cold-blooded fashion that might suit prose. A voice, coming from whom we know not, breaks in upon the first strain with a command, addressed to whom we know not. "Open ye the gates" — the city thus far being supposed to be empty, — "that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in." The central idea there is just this, "Thy people shall be all righteous." The one qualification for entrance into the city is absolute purity. Now, that is true in regard of our present imperfect denizenship within the city; and it is true in regard to men's passing into it, in its perfect and final form. They used to say that Venice glass was so made that any poison poured into it shivered the vessel. Any drop of sin poured into your cup of communion with God shatters the cup and spills the wine. Whosoever thinks himself a citizen of that great city, if he falls into transgression, and soils the cleanness of his hands, and ruffles the calm of his pure heart by self-willed sinfulness, will wake to find himself not within the battlements, but lying wounded, robbed, solitary, in the pitiless desert. "The nation which keepeth the truth," — that does not mean adherence to any revelation, or true creed, or the like. The word which is employed means, not truth of thought, but truth of character; and might, perhaps, be better represented by the more familiar word in such a connection, "faithfulness" A man who is true to God, that keeps up a faithful relation to Him who is faithful to us, he, and only he, will tread and abide in the city.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Accepting the vague but universal idea that there is an abundance of sin of every sort massed together in any great city, our inquiry concerns the main lines of work by which the welfare of the city may be promoted. To the eye of the prophet there comes a vision of a strong city; and the walls and bulwarks of that strength is said to be salvation — that is, the strength and safety of a city is in the men and women in it who are saved through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. I know there are many to turn a deaf ear to any such claim as this. They reject it as being too sweeping. They say that there are many sources from which the life-giving waters come. Let us take a look at some of these things which are supposed to give safety.

I. And perhaps the first thing to be mentioned is Law. It need not be any highly moral or religious enactment, but simply plain, everyday, matter-of-fact law. The city needs it. People in the simplicity of country life, where there is an abundance of room, can get on without much law. But the city needs law. And no one will decry the beneficent effect of righteous laws. It must be said, however, that the good effect of law is very much diminished by the many bad laws which are enacted. Are we claiming too much when we say that largely the efficiency of law is due to the Christian men and women who are in the city? Righteous laws follow in the train of progress made by Christianity. The bulwark which at first seemed to stand out alone and distinct becomes identified with that bulwark in the vision of the prophet whose foundation stone, as well as its lofty capstone, is salvation.

II. We are led on to speak of another bulwark for the city. It is A BENEFICENT AND POWERFUL PUBLIC OPINION. But again, I assert that very largely all this safety is due to the presence in the city of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is the public conscience itself, and where did it come from but through Christianity?

III. But again, look at another so-called secular bulwark. Call it THRIFT, the genius of success, the ability to get on in the world. Thrift is consistent with pure selfishness. Find a society in which everybody is only thrifty, where no man cares for his neighbour, where the human heart feels nothing of the flow of generosity and love, and, while you may be able to point to fine and well-kept houses, neat little cottages, well-dressed, clean children, you are really looking upon a hollow, lifeless sham. I do not want to live there, A sea of poverty with a little stream from Calvary flowing into it would be far better. Just a touch of human sympathy and love would transform the whole.

(J. C. Cronin.)

I. What is the PERIOD referred to? A day which was to he remarkable for the destruction of the Church's enemies, for the salvation of her friends, and for the glorious extension of the Gospel through all the nations of the earth.

II. What is the SUBJECT of this song? "We have a strong city: salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks." The inviolable security of the Church was to be the subject.

III. WHERE is this song to be sung? "In the land of Judah." It was sung when the great salvation was accomplished by the one offering of Christ upon the Cross; and the risen Saviour said to His disciples, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature"; and the tidings were sent abroad; and the Gospel, which was first preached at Jerusalem, was sounded forth into all lands. And we cannot but indulge the confident persuasion, that among the Jews, though they are for the present cast out, this song shall be sung in due time, which shall be "as life from the dead." But as that people have long since been cut off because of their unbelief, we remark, that the words will apply to others also; "for he is not a Jew which is one outwardly," etc. So that this song comes down to us.

(G. Clayton.)

I. THE FIGURATIVE DESCRIPTION WHICH IS HERE GIVEN OF THE CHURCH.

1. It is a city; from which metaphor we obtain three ideas respecting it —(1) Its amplitude. It is not a family, or a village, or a hamlet, or a provincial town; but a city. It includes as its inhabitants, all the good both in heaven and in earth, who form "an exceeding great multitude." The dimensions of this city are such as comport with the largeness of the Father's designs, the transcendent value of the Saviour's merits, the variety and immensity of the Holy Spirit's influences.(2) Its order No city ever flourished long without rule. Christ is the King of this city, and He establishes His laws in the midst of it.(3) Its magnificence. We are not to look for the magnificence of the Church in outward splendour and glory, but in its sanctity — its holy principles and practices.

2. But this city has an important appellative; — it is "a strong city." And this will appear, if you consider —(1) The foundation on which it rests. "Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever."(2) The protection it enjoys. God Himself dwells in this city; and His presence is our stay and our defence. All His attributes and promises are connected with this safety.(3) The principles by which its unity is cemented. Unity is strength. And the unity subsisting between the members of this city is so strong as not to be dissolved by any earthly power. The principles by which the members of the Church of Christ are united are these two — truth and love. "We have a strong city."(4) The rude assaults it has sustained, uninjured. We hardly know the strength of anything till it is put to the test. The Church has been exposed to the opposition of earth and the fury of hell.

II. ITS IMPREGNABLE SAFETY. How do I know that this city shall continue, and its interests be advanced, until its glory is consummated? Why, for this reason: "Salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks."

1. Hostility is implied.

2. The means of preservation and defence are amply provided.

3. It implies a glorious issue. All these means shall prove effectual

III. HOW MAY WE HAVE A SATISFACTORY ASSURANCE THAT WE HAVE PERSONALLY AN INTEREST IN THIS CITY OF THE GREAT KING? You may have this —

1. If you have chosen Jesus Christ as the ground of your dependence for salvation.

2. If you are visibly incorporated with the inhabitants of this city.

3. If you are enabled to exemplify the distinguishing character of those who are citizens of Zion.

4. If you find that you have truly merged all your interests in the interests of the Church, and have identified your happiness with her successes.

5. If you find your thoughts and affections much engaged on that future State of which the Church on earth is but a type.Conclusion —

1. Let me call upon you to be thankful to God, who has afforded you such an asylum.

2. Let me invite you to enter this city.

3. Let us dismiss our fears, when we have once got within the walls of this city.

4. Endeavour to bring as many as you can to be inhabitants of that Zion, the privileges of which you enjoy.

(J. C. Cronin.)

I. Mention some of those ENEMIES against whom the Church is fortified.

1. She is fortified against all the attempts of Satan.

2. A wicked world is always disposed to take part with Sam against her.

3. The Church has enemies within her own walls; and is often in the greatest perils by false brethren.

4. The Church has enemies even in the hearts of her best friends and sincerest members. That principle of corruption that is not totally subdued in the best Christians, as it is inimical to God, must also be inimical to the Church; and, as far as it prevails, its effects must be always hurtful to her.

II. Speak of that SALVATION which God has promised to appoint for walls and bulwarks to the Church.

1. Salvation bears an evident relation to misery and danger.

2. It is but a partial salvation that she can hope to enjoy in this world: —

3. But her salvation shall one day be complete. From every salvation that God has already wrought, faith draws encouragement: considering it as a pledge of what He will work in time to come.

III. CONSIDER WHAT ABOUT THE CHURCH IS SECURED AGAINST THE ATTEMPTS OF ENEMIES BY THE SALVATION OF GOD. She may lose much of what may appear to a carnal eye as most valuable to her. But in the eye of the Church herself, and of all her genuine children, all this perfectly consistent with the all-sufficiency of that salvation by which she is defended. An is still safe that is necessary either to her being or her well-being, and all that is essential to the happiness of any of her citizens.

1. Her foundation is always safe. She is "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone."

2. Her existence is always safe. The Church may be driven into the wilderness; but she shall never be driven out of the world.

3. Her particular citizens are all safe, under the protection of God's saving arm.

4. Her privileges and immunities are all safe. These having been purchased for her by the blood of Christ, and bestowed upon nor by His God and Father, are also preserved by Divine power and grace; and none shall ever be suffered to deprive her of them.

5. Her treasures are all safe. She has a two-fold treasure: a treasure of grace, and a treasure of truth. Both these are lodged in the hand of Christ.

6. Her real interests are all safe and secure: and that to such a degree, that neither shall she suffer any harm, in the issue, — nor shall her enemies gain any advantage, by all their apparent success.

7. In a word, her eternal inheritance is perfectly safe and secure.

IV. Conclude with some IMPROVEMENT of what has been said.

1. The Church of Christ has but little occasion for the favour and protection of earthly princes, and little cause to regret the want of it.

2. It is neither upon ordinances nor instruments, upon her own endeavours nor those of her members, nor upon any created assistance that the Church of Christ ought to depend for safety or prosperity.

3. Neither the Church of God, nor any particular Christian, has anything to fear from the number, the power, the policy, or even the success of their enemies,

4. This subject informs us what it is that really brings the Church of Christ into danger. Nothing but her own sin can bring her into real danger; because this, and nothing else, tends to deprive her of her protection, or to cause her defence to depart from her.

5. We may here see plentiful encouragement to every member of the Church, as well as to those who bear office in her, to continue strenuous and undaunted, in opposing every enemy, in defending every privilege, that God has bestowed upon the Church, every ordinance that He has instituted in her, and every truth that He has revealed to her.

6. We have here an ample fund of consolation to all those who are affected with the low condition of the Church of God in our day.

(J. Young.)

In the Scriptures we read of some very strong cities, that are now levelled with the dust. But the "city" mentioned in the text is stronger than all the rest. The state of nature may be called the city-of-destruction; and the state of grace, the strong city, or the city of salvation.

I. The NAME of this city. "Salvation." It is a very old name, it has had this name a great many thousands of years; it has never changed its name; it is a durable name; it is an unchangeable name.

II. What KIND of a city it is.

1. It is a large city. It would hold all the inhabitants of the earth for thousands of generations.

2. It is a free city. The Lord Jesus Christ welcomes you to come and live in it.

3. It is a wealthy city. The treasures of free grace are in the city of salvation.

4. It is a healthy city. They breathe good air who live in it. The Physician is the Lord Jesus Christ, who heals every disease.

5. It is a happy city.

6. This city will last foe ever. Where is Babylon? Where is Tyre? Where is Nineveh? Where are the cities of Egypt? Those mighty cities are levelled with the dust, but this city will last through all eternity.

III. The BUILDER of this city. The Lord Jesus Christ. In London there is a constant succession of streets for many miles in length, and the whole was built by man.

IV. Who are the INHABITANTS of this city? They are good men, women, and children.

1. They are called "saints." The word "saint" means a holy person.

2. Another name given to the inhabitants of this city is righteous.

3. Another name is believers.

4. Another name is sons and daughters.

V. The WATCHMEN of the city. There are watchmen placed upon the walls of Zion — parental watchmen, teaching watchmen, and ministerial watchmen.

VI. The GUARDS of the city. Angels guard you while you sleep and while you are awake. They are wise guards; powerful guards; affectionate guards.

VII. The WAY which leads to this city. The road of repentance.

VIII. The WALL of this city. It is so high that no enemy can scale it; it is so strong that no enemy can break or injure it.

IX. The FOUNDATION of this city. The righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

X. The STREETS of this city. There are some very remarkable streets.

1. The high street of Faith. This street runs from one end of the city to the other. In almost every town and city, we find a street of this name — "High Street." But there is no such street, as this high street of faith; it is a very long and beautiful street. It connects the gate of conversion and the gate of Heaven. This high street is frequented by all who live by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. The street of Humility. It lies alongside the high street of faith.

3. The street of Obedience. The inhabitants are very partial to this street. This street is divided into ten parts. The ten parts are the ten commandments. This is a very broad street. "Thy commandments are exceeding broad." It is a remarkably clean street.

4. A fourth street is Worship street.

XI. We may now take a view of the SCHOOLS of the city.

1. Providence.

2. Revelation.

3. Affliction.

4. Experience.

XII. Come and see the PALACES of the city. When anyone gets to London, they want to see the palace of the king. I will show nobler palaces than palaces or earthly Kings. These palaces are ordinances; such as prayer, praise, reading and hearing the Holy Gospel, baptism and the Lord's Supper, meditation and self-examination. Consider the reason why they are called palaces. A palace is a place where the king is to be seen. It is a place where petitions are presented; where the king bestows wealth and great gifts. Here petitions are presented and received; here King Jesus bestows wealth and honour. It is a place for conversing with the king; and here we may converse with Jesus. In a palace grand feasts are held; so in the ordinances noble feasts are provided for souls immortal, where they may eat abundantly of heavenly provisions.

XIII. The ARMOURY of the city. A beautiful piece is hanging up called the helmet — the helmet of salvation. Not far from the helmet is a breastplate — the breastplate of righteousness. Near the breastplate is a girdle or sash, with this inscription — truth. The next piece of armour is a pair of shoes with this name — "preparation of the Gospel of peace." Next is "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." The shield of faith.

XIV. The GARDEN of the city.

1. The walks in the garden. The walks of meditation and holy fellowship.

2. The fountains. The Lord Jesus Christ is the principal fountain. There is another fountain, called the consolation of the Holy Ghost; the water is delicious. All the inhabitants drink of it.

3. The flowers. There are the flowers of the promises and doctrines; they are odoriferous flowers, and never failing.

4. The trees. The tree of knowledge; not the tree of knowledge which was in Eden, but of knowledge and wisdom. There is not a poisonous tree in the garden. The tree of life, the Lord Jesus Christ, is there — "whose leaves are for the healing of the nations."

XV. The BANK of this city. The name of this bank is written on the door; it is — the covenant of grace. It is so free, all may come and apply; and all who apply, receive. The bank, too, is very rich; and it is free for the poorest sinner. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Proprietor, and He is willing to give to poor sinners as much as they need. This bank cannot fail; it cannot break. Whatever is drawn out during the day, it is as full again at night. It is full of "the unsearchable riches of Christ."

XVI. There is a GATE through which the inhabitants of the city pass, when they enter Heaven. It is the gate of death. There is a valley leading to the gate called the valley of the shadow of death. It is illuminated with the light of the Sun of Righteousness. Pious children pass through that valley, leaning on the arm of Jesus.

(A. Fletcher, D. D.)

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