And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house…
I. GOD AT ALL TIMES NARROWLY INSPECTS THE STATE OF HIS CHURCH. "Go through the midst of the city," etc. His eyes are in every place, but especially upon the Church, His pleasant land, from the one end of the year to the other. He distinguishes with an accuracy peculiar to Himself, her true members from hypocrites. He knows her enemies, and restrains or destroys them. He knows when her members are in right exercise, and when they are in the wrong. How should this inspire fear and reverence, faith and hope, simplicity and godly sincerity in all her members!
II. CHRIST'S PRINCIPAL WORK IS IN THE CHURCH. Christ is head over all things, for His Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all. He worketh as God in all places, but the particular sphere of His work is in His Church. He executes all His offices in her, and nowhere else, and He has appointed ordinances as tokens of His gracious presence with His people.
III. CHRIST'S ERRANDS TO HIS CHURCH ARE GENERALLY IN MERCY. "Set a mark upon the foreheads," etc. There are indeed exceptions to this rule. Sometimes He comes to unhinge her constitution, to remove His ordinances, to bid a farewell to her, and to execute His judgments upon her, as in the case of the Jewish Church afterwards, and of the seven Churches of Asia. His design, notwithstanding these and other instances, is to save and deliver, when He cometh to His Church. He is the Saviour of His body, the Church, and all He doth for her is for her eternal advantage.
IV. IN TIMES OF GREAT AND GENERAL DEFECTION GOD HAS A MOURNING REMNANT. He had so at Jerusalem at the time specified, wicked as it was. These were few in number, and unknown to the prophet, perhaps unknown to the angels, and to one another; but they were known to Christ. He found them out, and it was His delightful work to signalise His mercy, and the mercy of His Father, in setting a mark upon their foreheads. He is infinite in wisdom, and cannot commit a mistake; He is infinite in power, and nothing can obstruct His design of mercy towards His own elect. These mourners may be few in number, but they are reckoned by Christ as equal, and superior to a generation of other men. They are sometimes a third part, sometimes a tenth, and at other times as a few berries on the top of the uppermost branches; but still these few are mourners.
V. SIN IS ALWAYS HATEFUL TO A HOLY SOUL. He sighs and cries for it. Every good man, like Hannibal against the Romans, has sworn eternal war against sin. It is bitter to him, because contrary to the nature, the will, and the law of that God whom he supremely esteems and loves; because it killed the Lord Jesus, and grieves the Holy Spirit of God. It is bitter in his heart, in his closet, in his family, in all places and circumstances.
VI. SAINTS NOT ONLY HATE SIN, BUT SIGH AND CRY FOR IT. The first refers to the affection of mind, and the last to the expressions of it in tears and other signs of grief. Grief for sin made the saints in Scripture water their couch with tears, to eat no pleasant bread, to keep them waking, to make them roll in dust, because God was dishonoured, and sin was committed by themselves and others. Alas! how few are now found in such exercise!
VII. GOOD MEN MOURN, NOT ONLY FOR THEIR OWN SINS, BUT FOR ALL THE ABOMINATIONS DONE IN THE MIDST OF THE LAND. They grieve, first for their own sins, and then for the sins of others. It were rank hypocrisy to invert this order; to do so is insufferable in the eyes of God and man. They who live in sin, who never grieve for their own sins, and yet pretend to bewail public crimes, are most detestable characters. As far as the knowledge of sin extends, good men loathe and grieve for it. When robberies, murders, and other crimes which tend to dissolve society are committed, when the sword of the magistrate is stretched forth in vain, then it is time for God to work, and for saints to be dreadfully afraid of His judgments.
VIII. IN TIMES OF JUDGMENTS FOR SIN, GOD GENERALLY SETS A MARK UPON HIS MOURNING REMNANT. He did so here, and in other instances innumerable. He is the guardian of the Church, the protector of the poor. He issues out a writ of protection in their favour, as in the 91st Psalm. He invites them to flee from danger, as in Isaiah 26. He delivers the island of the innocent, He saves His righteous Lots in the destruction of the wicked. His Calebs and Joshuas live still. His fruit-bearing trees are spared, while the barren trees are struck with His lightning.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side;