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AN EXHORTATION TO TURN TO GOD
Zechariah 1:3-6. Say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord of Hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of Hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts. Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the Lord of Hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the Lord. Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned, and said, Like as the Lord of Hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.
TO those who look for novelties, and enjoy nothing but deep and curious speculations, the words before us will appear uninteresting: but to those who love practical religion, they will convey sentiments and feelings worthy to be cherished by every child of man. It is a sickly taste that cannot relish them; and that minister who cannot find in them a proper subject for his discourse, must either labour in a more fruitful part of the Lord’s vineyard than any we are acquainted with, or have different views of Christian edification from those which we are accustomed to entertain. Men at this day, as well as in former ages, are departed from God; and need to be exhorted to “turn unto him” in newness of heart and life. They also need the same warnings and the same encouragements, as those did to whom the prophet spoke. We therefore, without thinking any apology necessary for the selection of so plain a subject, (from which nothing can be offered which is not already familiar to all your minds,) proceed to call your attention to this solemn address: in which you may notice,
A friendly exhortation—
The Jews, after their return from Babylon, had been extremely remiss in rebuilding their temple; but they were almost instantaneously wrought upon by the preaching of the Prophet Haggai to resume the work which had been intermitted: and on this account God sent them another prophet, who by his exhortations and instructions should encourage them to proceed, and keep alive the zeal which had been kindled in their minds. But where is there not remissness in the work of God? Where is there one who does not need the direction and encouragement here offered? O brethren, hear ye the direction; “Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of Hosts”—
[We have all revolted, and turned aside from God: we have “all gone after vanity, and become vain:” we “have turned every one of us to his own way;” some after their vile lusts and passions; others after the world with all its cares and vanities; others in the more creditable, but not less fatal, way of self-righteous formality. But we should turn to the Lord, to him only, to him entirely, and with the whole heart. We should turn to him in a way of deep contrition for our past offences, of lively faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy and forgiveness, and of unreserved obedience to his commandments. This is the way in which God expects us to turn unto him [Note: Jeremiah 3:10.]: and to this alone does he give any promise of a favourable acceptance [Note: Jeremiah 29:12-13.].”]
Hear ye also the encouragement; “I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts”—
[God is alienated from us, as we are from him; and from us he turns, whilst in our unconverted state, with wrathful indignation. But, if we “turn to him, he will turn to us:” “if we draw nigh to him, he will draw nigh to us:” if we will call upon him in truth, he will hear, accept, and bless us. To the impenitent “he is a consuming fire:” but to the penitent, a Saviour and a friend. Search the inspired volume, search the annals of the whole world, and find, if you can, one mourning and believing penitent whom he cast out; or find, if you can, any limit to his mercy and grace. In “turning unto us” is implied not only a reversal of all the judgments which he had purposed to inflict upon us, but a communication of all that a Father’s love, and a Saviour’s grace can bestow—pardon, and peace, and holiness, and glory.
And here it will be proper to notice the frequent repetition of his name, “The Lord of Hosts.” Was that repetition without design? No: it is intended to impress on our minds, that, as the message is from him, so is the particular direction stamped with his authority, and the particular promise confirmed by his unchanging truth and faithfulness. It is in the name of the Lord of Hosts that we come; it is the word of the Lord of Hosts that we speak: it is the veracity of the Lord of Hosts that is pledged for its accomplishment.]
To this exhortation is added,
A salutary caution—
We are apt to follow the examples of our fathers, and to tread the path which they have trod before us. Not that we so readily conform to the practice of godly parents: their example, though not destitute of weight, finds more than a counterpoise in our evil passions, and in the conduct of those around us: but in justification of our own evil ways we are glad enough to plead the habits and authority of those who have gone before us. This however will be of no avail. Such examples form no precedent for us. The word of God is our rule: and according to that we must walk, regardless of all that others have done, or may do, to establish any other rule. Attend then to this salutary caution:
Walk not as your disobedient fathers have done—
[The generality of those who have gone before us have walked just as the great mass around us do at this time. But a state of worldliness, or sensuality, or carnal indifference was not therefore right, because they lived in it; nor is it therefore safe, because they died in it. In like manner, the conduct of our superiors at this day is no rule for us. If they truly and unreservedly obey the voice of God in his word, cleaving to the Lord Jesus Christ with full purpose of heart, and devoting themselves in body, soul, and spirit to his service, we may follow them: but even then we must not regard them as infallible: we must not follow even St. Paul himself any farther than he followed Christ: and whereinsoever they deviate from the path marked out for them by Almighty God, there we must choose the more perfect way, and adhere exclusively to that which unerring wisdom has prescribed to us, knowing no other rule than that of God’s commands.
Doubtless in dubious matters we would recommend much deliberation, and diffidence, and circumspection. We would not have young people setting up their judgment hastily against that of their superiors in age and station: for the young and inexperienced are apt to see things in a very partial light, and not to take a sufficiently comprehensive view of any subject; and hence they often err, when in their own judgment they are most confident that they are acting right. But still the word of God must be your rule: you must try every thing by that standard: if what you see, or what is recommended to you, be evidently contrary to that, you must not do it, though it be sanctioned by the authority of the whole world: nor, if a line of conduct be clearly and undoubtedly agreeable to that, must you be diverted from it even though the whole world rose up to oppose you. It is by the word of God that you will be judged in the last day; and therefore by that, and that only, must you be regulated now.]
This salutary caution is further confirmed by,
A convincing appeal— “Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?” No: both the one and the other are gone to give up their account to God, and to receive from him their proper doom. Now, whatever they may have thought or done, they know that God’s word is true, and that it shall stand for ever. But to a certain degree this may be seen even in this world.
Has not the word of God taken hold of multitudes who have gone before us?
[Look at the Antediluvian world: were not God’s threatenings verified in them? Look at the Jews at the time of the Babylonish captivity: did the word of God fail with respect to them? They put to death their prophets for predicting that captivity; but were the predictions falsified? Were the Jews able to avert, or to escape, the judgments that had been denounced? Look at the Jews at this present time, and compare their state with all the prophecies concerning them, from the time of Moses to that of Christ and his Apostles: has one word fallen to the ground? Has not the word of God found them out? In like manner, if we could go into the invisible world, we should there see, what now we are so unwilling to believe, that not so much as one jot or tittle of God’s word has ever failed. Of the unregenerate, not one has entered into the kingdom of God; and of the impenitent and unbelieving, not one has “escaped the damnation of hell.” This is a fearful thought: but, if in no instance that is visible has God’s word ever failed, so neither has it, or shall it fail in those which are invisible.]
Have not many who have gone before us borne testimony to this truth?
[The Jews on many occasions acknowledged it [Note: Lamentations 2:17; Lamentations 4:11-12.Daniel 9:11-13; Daniel 9:11-13.], and actually returned to God in consequence of the conviction impressed by it on their minds. In fact, every real penitent is a witness for this truth. He confesses, that his sins have found him out, and that, if mercy interpose not for his deliverance, all the judgments denounced against sin will in due season come upon him. Be convinced, then, whilst conviction may be of some avail: and wait not to learn, by bitter experience, what now, if credited, you might escape. Let not that come upon you, of which you are forewarned in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. The Rich Man would not believe the evil and danger of a carnal life, till he was made to experience its bitter fruits. His surviving brethren, too, who walked in his steps, accounted themselves sure of happiness in the eternal world, when, if a message could have been sent to them from the dead, they would have been better informed [Note: Luke 16:27-28.]. But they had Moses and the prophets; and so have you; yes, and Christ and his Apostles also, all bearing the same testimony. And therefore as unto dying men I would speak; knowing that I myself also am soon to die, and that both preacher and hearers must, in a very little time, appear at the judgment-seat of Christ;—I, to give an account of my ministry; and you, of the use you have made of it. I beseech you, receive not the grace of God in vain! In the name of the Lord of Hosts I declare unto you, that, if you will turn unto him in humiliation and faith, he will turn unto you in reconciliation and love; and that, if you will “turn from all your transgressions unto the Lord Jesus Christ, your iniquities, great and manifold as they have been, shall not be your ruin.”]
GOD THE AVENGER OF SIN
Zechariah 1:5. Your fathers, where are they?
THE preachers of God’s blessed word have in all ages had reason to complain, “Who hath believed our report?” True it is, that a faithful ministration of the Gospel is, to a certain degree, approved: but it is also true, that the approbation given to it is very different from that entire submission which it requires. The very people that commend the ministry will not obey the word delivered to them. They are pleased with an exhibition of truth; but they do not feel its force, or give themselves up to its influence. But the word of God will stand, whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear. Now, that the judgments of God are almost exclusively of a spiritual nature, and therefore invisible, we can only declare what God has spoken: but when the commands of God were enforced with temporal sanctions, the prophets could appeal to what he had done. God had threatened, that if his people were disobedient to his voice, they should be subjected to a great variety of calamities, and be cut off by his four sore judgments— by wild beasts, and pestilence, and famine, and the sword. Hence the prophet exhorted the Jews, after the Babylonish captivity, not to walk in the steps of their rebellious progenitors: and, to convince them of the fatal consequences that would ensue if they despised his voice, he appealed to them, “Your fathers, where are they?” that is, ‘Have they not, agreeably to the predictions of former prophets, been made monuments of God’s indignation? and have not you, therefore, reason to expect, that, if you resemble them in their disobedience, you will, like them, be made to experience also the bitter consequences of your transgressions?’
The question thus put to them, may be considered in a twofold view:
As a devout reflection—
Have those of former generations been able to protract their existence beyond the period allotted to them by Almighty God?
[No: however little they might think of death, they were overtaken by it; and, in the appointed season, fell beneath its stroke. Neither the people, nor the prophets who ministered unto them, could “live for ever.” They had a space assigned to them for the discharge of their respective duties; and when that period had elapsed, they were summoned into the eternal world, to give an account of themselves to the Judge of quick and dead.]
And shall we continue here beyond our appointed time?
[Not an hour; no, nor a single moment. “Our times are in God’s hands:” and, when called by him, we must bid an everlasting farewell to every thing here below. A tree, cut down, may sprout again: but man, once dead, can live no more [Note: Cite the whole of Job 14:7-10.]. “However esteemed, however admired, however regretted, he falls to rise no more in this world: he perishes like his own dung,” as Job observes; and “they that have seen him in all his glory, shall say, Where is he?” Truly, “his place shall know him no more [Note: Cite also Job 20:4-7.].” Death will shew no respect of persons. Whether we be unprepared to meet our God (and therefore desirous of a further respite); or be, like the holy prophets, actively engaged in his service (and therefore desirous of completing our work); we must equally obey the summons of Jehovah; “our bodies returning to their native dust, and our spirit ascending unto Him who gave it.”]
Let us then reflect on the transitoriness of earthly things, and the certainty of our approaching dissolution—
[We have our occupations and enjoyments, even as our fathers had — — — but how speedily will they pass away, and come to an end! We are apt to be promising ourselves months and years of pleasure; but “we know not what a single day may bring forth.” The fate of the Rich Fool may be ours before tomorrow: “this very night may our souls be required of us;” and all the things from which we hoped to reap such a harvest of joy may be delivered over to some unknown possessor.
Truly this is a reflection which we ought to cherish, and on which we should dwell with deep concern: for, till we have learned to estimate the vanity of time, we shall never feel as we ought, the importance of eternity.]
Let us next notice the question,
As a solemn admonition—
Their fathers had been disobedient, and had despised the warnings of Jehovah: but they were made to feel his righteous indignation, and to acknowledge that he had dealt with them according to their deserts [Note: ver. 5.]. In this view the question has the force of a most solemn warning to all who are disobedient to God’s commands—
[“Your fathers, where are they?” We will not speak of persons, but of characters. Of persons we know nothing: of characters we can speak on the authority of God himself. I ask, then, Can it be supposed that all who have passed into the eternal world are alike happy? Are none saying, “Like as the Lord of Hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us?” Do we believe, or does any one amongst us believe, that God will put no “difference between those who serve him, and those who serve him not?” We cannot but know, that many, whilst they were living amongst us, gave no evidence of real piety: and that, as far as we had any opportunity of judging, or have any just reason to believe, they were never truly and savingly converted to God. Now, our blessed Lord has said, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven [Note: Matthew 18:3.].” Is this word true then, or is it not? If it be true, where are they who have died in an unconverted state? If not in heaven, there is but one other place in which they can be. In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, we hear of the one as “carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom;” and of the other, that, immediately after his decease, he was “in hell, lifting up his eyes in torments.” And such, we are assured, will be the condition of all in a little time, according as they shall be found at the time of death. I know how backward men are to believe this; and how fondly we cherish the delusion, that all, on their departure hence, are happy [Note: In the writings of the pious Baxter, a fact, of which he was himself an eye-witness, is adduced, as illustrative of this truth. A flock of sheep being frightened as they were passing over a bridge, one leaped over the side of the bridge: the rest, in succession, having no apprehension of evil having befallen him, followed the example; and found not, till it was too late, how fatally they had been misled. Precisely thus it is that successive generations rush into the eternal world, deceiving and deceived.]. We will not even admit a thought to the contrary: and perhaps in our whole lives we never had the suggestion seriously proposed to us in reference to any departed soul, “Where is he?” To entertain a doubt of the happiness of any, would be deemed uncharitable in the extreme. But, be it known to you, that, however the wheat and the tares may resemble each other whilst growing in the field, a different end awaits them: the one is growing for the granary; the other for the fire, which, at their separation in the last day, will assuredly be their doom.]
Forcible as the question is when considered generally, it will acquire tenfold importance if we regard it with a special Application of it to our own souls—
Where are we?
[The general answer to this would be, “I am in a vain and transitory world.” This is true. But there is another answer, to which I would wish to draw your attention; and it is this; “I am on Mercy’s ground.” Could we but view life in this light, what an insight should we have into the great ends of life! We are sinners, condemned sinners, respited for a little season, till it shall be seen whether we will avail ourselves of the overtures of mercy which our God and King has sent us. Regardless of the sentence that has been passed upon us, we are wasting our time in thoughtless gaiety, or spending it in unprofitable pursuits. One and another is led forth to execution; but, not being eye-witnesses of their fate, we continue unaffected by their removal, till we ourselves are summoned to participate their lot. The Rich Man, of whom we have before spoken, had five brethren, who were following the steps which lie had trodden before them, and were hastening unconsciously to the same awful end. So it is with us. We see not the state of those who have gone before us; and we put far from us all thought of the destruction in which their ways have issued, till, by bitter experience, we find that the warnings which have been given us are true.
Remember, then, that the time which is yet allotted us is given on purpose that we may seek reconciliation with our offended God, and avert, by a believing application to the Lord Jesus, the misery that awaits us. If we will consider life in this light, and improve it for this end, we shall be truly happy.]
Where shall we be in a little time?
[This is the question which every one of us should ask from day to day: nor should we ever rest, till we can give to it a satisfactory answer. Let us, then, put it to ourselves with all seriousness at this time. Suppose, by disease or accident, we had been removed, as many others have been who were once as likely to live as we; where should we have been at this moment? Shall we reply, “I do not know?” What! Have we lived twenty, or perhaps twice twenty, years in the world, and left it still in doubt what our portion should be at our departure hence? According to our own acknowledgment, then, it appears that we might at this very moment have been in hell, writhing in anguish inconceivable, and looking forward to a never-ending eternity of woe. What an overwhelming thought is this! And what madness is it, to leave for one hour longer in uncertainty our acceptance with God! Let us come, then, to our present state: Where should we be, if we were to die this day? Are we prepared to meet our God? Have we washed in the fountain of the Redeemer’s blood, and clothed ourselves in the spotless robe of his righteousness? Are we living, from day to day, not to ourselves, but unto him? And is the one object of our lives to advance in our heavenly course, so as ultimately to win the prize? If this be not our state, what but misery could await us, if we were taken hence? Awake, my beloved brethren! awake to your true condition! Can you give sleep to your eyes, or slumber to your eye-lids, in such a state as this? Will not the thought of eternity appal you? If any of your fathers, who have gone before, could be restored for any fixed time to your state, think you that they would trifle away their hours as they once did, and as you now do? or, if permitted to come to you from the dead, would they not speak in far stronger accents than ever you were addressed by me? O! arise, and “redeem the time!” and “what your hand findeth to do, do it with all your might.”
Let us not, however, close the subject without contemplating the state of those who have “fallen asleep in Christ.” “Where are they?” O, how delightful the thought! They are at this moment with Christ in Paradise, and joining with all the hosts of the redeemed in everlasting Hallelujahs to God and to the Lamb. Think then, I say, of their state [Note: If this were a Funeral Sermon, here the character and state of the deceased might be drawn, for the comfort and encouragement of survivors.] — — — And endeavour so to live, that, at whatever hour your summons may arrive, you may be found ready, and “have an abundant entrance into the presence of your Lord.”]
CHRIST’S INTERCESSION FOR JERUSALEM
Zechariah 1:12-13. Then the angel of the Lord answered and said, O Lord of Hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years? And the Lord answered the angel that talked with me with good words, and comfortable words.
TO the ancient prophets revelations were often made by visions. It was in a vision by night that this communication respecting God’s designs towards Jerusalem was made to the Prophet Zechariah. There were presented to his view “a Man riding upon a red horse, standing amongst myrtle-trees in a bottom: and behind him a number of others, on red horses, and speckled, and white [Note: ver. 8.].”. The “myrtletrees in the bottom” represented the Lord’s people in a low and debased state. “The Man on the red horse standing among them” was the Lord Jesus Christ (as we shall see more fully in the sequel); and “those on other horses behind him” were angels attendant on him, to execute his will. The prophet, anxious to know who these attendants were, asked the question, and gained from the Man (who is also called “the Angel”) the desired information; namely, that they were beings, “whom Jehovah had sent to walk to and fro through the earth,” and to bring him intelligence respecting the state of its inhabitants. These attendant angels being then interrogated respecting the result of their inquiries, informed the Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, that “all the earth was sitting still and at rest [Note: ver. 9–11.].” Upon this, “the Man,” “the Angel,” the Lord Jesus Christ, poured forth before his heavenly Father his intercession in behalf of Jerusalem under her present desolate condition, entreating that mercy might at last be vouchsafed unto her: and by his Father he is “answered with good words, and comfortable words.”
The two points then for our consideration are,
The Angel’s intercession—
“The Angel” is no other than the Lord Jesus Christ—
[“The Man,” and “the Angel,” are evidently the same person, even the Angel of the Covenant, who on many occasions, whilst he assumed the appearance of a “man,” demonstrated himself to be of a superior order of Beings, even an angel, yea, and superior also to all the angelic host, even God himself, who had condescended to take on him the human and angelic appearance, in order to manifest himself to his people in a way suited to the weakness of their corporeal and mental faculties. It was in this way that he appeared to Jacob, wrestling with him as a man, and an angel, yet blessing him as God [Note: Compare Genesis 32:24-30. with Hosea 12:3-5. See also Joshua 5:13-15.]. The Prophet Zechariah also speaks of him in another place as “the Man, that was Jehovah’s fellow,” or equal [Note: Zec 13:7].
As the great Advocate of his people, he intercedes for them on all occasions, yea, “ever liveth on purpose to make intercession for them:” and in the passage before us he prophetically and mystically proclaimed his future office, which in our nature he should execute at the right hand of God.]
His intercession was for the restoration of God’s favour to his chosen people—
[Though the Jews had returned from Babylon, yet had they not in any degree recovered from the desolations which had been spread through their whole country. The rebuilding of their temple, though begun, had been for some time suspended; and no prospect remained of their recovering their former prosperity, unless God by his special providence should interpose for them, and, by a richer effusion of his grace, stir them up to the exertions that were necessary for the occasion. The time was now particularly favourable: the attendant angels, whom he had sent forth to explore the state of the world, had brought word, “The whole earth was still, and at rest;” and consequently there was no just reason to fear those powerful interruptions which they had hitherto experienced: and, if other nations were prospering, how painful was it to see Jerusalem excluded from participating the blessings which were diffused all around her! Already had she endured the indignation of God during the space of threescore and ten years: it might be hoped therefore, that now, at last, the season was arrived when she should once more experience the blessedness of his favour.
Whilst we contemplate this intercession for the Jews at that period, how strongly are we reminded of our duty towards them at this time, when they have borne the indignation of Jehovah, not for seventy, but seventeen hundred, years; and when, so far from being restored to their country, they are still scattered over the face of the whole earth! The state of peace too which Europe now enjoys, leave us at liberty to seek their welfare in a way which was scarcely practicable in the midst of war. Our attention now may be more deeply fixed on them, and our means be more liberally employed in their service. And shall we neglect to improve the opportunity? Shall we see all the nations recovering from their distresses, and feel no desire to impart blessings to God’s ancient people, who are still in as disconsolate a state as ever? Does not gratitude to God, and love to immortal souls, demand this at our hands? Methinks the present circumstances of the world afford us an occasion, not unlike to that which the Samaritan woman enjoyed, when conversing with Jesus; who said to her, “If thou hadst known who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water [Note: John 4:10.]. Yes, if we duly appreciated the benefits we now enjoy, we should labour to improve them, for the spiritual welfare of ourselves, and of all around us.]
What success we might hope for is manifest from the whole tenour of,
“The Lord answered the Angel with good and comfortable words.”
What this answer was, we are afterwards more distinctly informed—
[The Angel who had interceded, kept not the answer within his own bosom, but imparted it to the prophet, and commanded him to communicate it to the people, for whom the intercession had been made. In substance it was this; That God had determined to restore Jerusalem; and that, notwithstanding her condition was in appearance hopeless, it should become more prosperous than at any period of her former history. As for those who had oppressed her, or were now at ease and regardless of her welfare, he was “sore displeased with them,” and would require it at their hands: but Jerusalem herself should yet become the joy of the whole earth, enriched and comforted with all imaginable blessings [Note: ver. 14–17].
The promises contained in this answer, doubtless have a primary reference to Judζa at that time: but they also look forward to a period yet future, when the Jews shall return from their present dispersion, and be re-established in their own land. A beautiful description of that period is given in a subsequent chapter of this prophecy [Note: Zechariah 8:2-8.] — — — as also in numberless other passages of Holy Writ [Note: See Jeremiah 30:3; Jeremiah 30:9-10; Jeremiah 30:17-22; Jeremiah 31:3-14.] — — —]
Say now whether these be not “good words, and comfortable words?”
[The re-establishment of the Jews in their own land at that time, and the restoration of divine worship in the midst of them, was an unspeakable blessing, for which no adequate thanks or praise could be rendered. But what will their future restoration be? How replete with happiness to them, and with honour to their God! Taken in connexion too with their spiritual welfare, and the welfare of the whole Gentile world, which will be promoted by it, how utterly will it surpass all human expectation, and all finite conception! Verily, “the light of the moon will in that day be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun seven-fold, as the light of seven days.” Let the promises then that relate to it be “good” in our estimation, and a source of “comfort” to all our souls.]
From hence we may see,
What encouragement we have to pray for our own souls—
[Alas! in what a low state is even the Christian world! Scarcely, if at all, are the generality of Christians in a better condition than the Jews themselves: the same neglect of God, the same worldly and carnal habits, the same indifference to the concerns of the soul, are found amongst the one as the other. For the most part, we are in the very same predicament as they were previous to the establishment of the Gospel among the Gentiles. They rested in the law, and made their boast of God, and, in consequence of their possessing a revelation of his will, assumed the high-sounding titles of ‘guides of the blind, instructors of the foolish, teachers of babes;’ and yet, though professing to be teachers of others, they taught not themselves, and, whilst making their boast of the law, through breaking the law they dishonoured God [Note: Romans 2:17-24.]. Thus do we act in relation to the Gospel. We glory over the Jews who are ignorant of the Messiah whom we worship; and yet, in point of pure morality and solid piety, we are not a jot superior to them. Nevertheless, if we implored mercy at the hands of God in the name and for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we should assuredly obtain an answer of peace. O what good and comfortable words does the Gospel contain! What exceeding great and precious promises are there made to every true penitent! Will Christ ever cast out one of this description? Never. Is there to be found so much as one single word in all the Bible that should prove a source of discouragement to such a character? No, not one; on the contrary, if there were but one such being in the universe, God would fix his eyes upon him with pleasure, and press him to his bosom with more than parental kindness. Call then upon Him, whoever thou art that mournest thy low condition; and know, that, as sure as ever thou humblest thyself before God, thou shalt be exalted in due time.]
What encouragement we have to intercede for the Church of God—
[Whether we contemplate the state of the Jews or Gentiles, we find equal need to importune God in their behalf. Even the Christian world are far from being in that state of purity and blessedness which their superior privileges authorize them to expect. We should therefore lay to heart the state of the world around us: “our eyes should be as a fountain of tears, to run down day and night” in behalf of the myriads who are perishing in their sins. We should implore of God to take to him his great power, and reign amongst us, and to hasten the season when “all the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.” Our blessed Lord teaches us to make it a part of our daily prayer, and never to approach our God without saying, “Thy kingdom come.” Did we but thus plead with God from day to day, what might we not hope for? Verily, our prayer should not go forth in vain: nor should it be with “good and comfortable words” only that God would answer us, but with an abundant effusion of his Spirit, as in the days of old. Then should “a little one become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation; for the Lord would hasten it in his time [Note: Isaiah 60:22.].”]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Zechariah 1". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Easter