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man-stealer has been stopped, both in the taking of his prey, and in the market, yet rejoice still more when the strong man armed, that kept the city of man's heart, is bound and cast out, and the Holy Spirit has taken his place, dwelling in, and ruling over the newborn man, sealing him unto the day of redemption.
How glittering must the breast-plate of Aaron have looked with those twelve precious gems set therein, in the curious embroidery of the blue, purple, scarlet, and gold, of the Ephod; which, with a chain of wreathed gold, was fastened to the two shoulder-pieces, wherein were also two precious stones, and the names of the twelve tribes engraced on both. The names also of Christ's children, the Israel of God, are engraved on his heart: and are more precious to him than the glowing ruby, the sparkling diamond, the sapphire, the jasper, and all the gems on Aaron's breast-plate: indeed, he calls his people his jewels, his peculiar treasure. (Mal. iii. 17.) The affection of the High Priest, and the power of the High Priest, are wreathed in one, as set forth by the golden chain that fastened into one the precious stones on the heart and shoulders of Aaron; and there is never a moment that the Lord Jesus, the great High Priest of the true Israel,-circumcised with the circumcision made without hands-does not bear every one, even to the least little child that loves him, on his heart. Not a sigh, nor a tear, nor a grief is forgotten; the hairs of their heads are all numbered by Him that feedeth the young ravens when they cry, and that watcheth over the sparrow: therefore they
may not-they must not let go their confidence; for they are of " more value than many sparrows.” (Luke xii. 7.)
As twelve* precious stones shone in the breast-plate of Aaron; so also twelvet precious stones formed the foundation of the Holy City, and, with the exception of four, they were the same in each case, and were doubtless emblematic of the exceeding value of the family of God. When, then, my beloved children, you look on any of these precious stones, think of that breast-plate of Aaron, and ask if your name is on the High Priest's heart, before God, and whether you have found the Pearl of great price, and sold all that you have to possess it. (Matt. xiii. 45, 46.)
I have been oftentimes much struck with that solemn, but yet most gracious prophecy of our Lord in Mal. iii. “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in
The names of the precious stones + The names of the precious stones in the breast-plate of Aaron.
in the foundations of the Holy City. Twelve Tribes. Ex. xxviii. 17.
Twelve Apostles. Rev. xxi. 20. Sardius Topaz Carbuncle Jasper Sapphire Chalcedony Emerald Sapphire Diamond Emerald Sardonyx Sardius Ligurite Agate Amethyst Chrysolite Beryl Topaz Beryl Onyx Jasper
Chrysophrasus Jacinth Amethyst See Appendix.
former years. The figure of a refiner is one of the deepest interest : -the refiner never leaves the crucible; the precious metal is of too high a value: as it purifies, it gets clearer and clearer, until at last the scum or dross is gone, and the image of the refiner is reflected as in a glass, in the molten gold; and this was the thing desired. So our blessed Lord never puts his children into the furnace of affliction, but to purify them; to purge away the dross, and make them more like himself: and this accomplished, the crucible is removed. How forcibly does the patriarch Job allude to this: “ He knoweth the way that I take; and when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job xxiii. 10.) The value of the word of God, and its infinite purity, is also beautifully illustrated by this figure. The words of the Lord are pure words, as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. (Ps. xii. 6.) And again, the law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.” (Ps. cxix. 72.) So also ver. 127, “ I love thy commandments above gold, yea, above fine gold.” Dear children, is David's language yours ? can you thus speak of God's blessed word ? This is how a man on the eve of execution would speak of the Queen's proclamation of pardon when read in his earsall language would fail to tell its value. But the word of God proclaims tidings far above an earthly pardon; even forgiveness in the precious blood of Jesus. And the soul that receives these good tidings can say, passing on beyond the gold, even the gold of Ophir, “the price of wisdom is abore rubies, and all the things thou canst desire are
not to be compared to her : LENGTH OF Days is in her right handin her left hand riches and honour; her ways are ways of pleasantness, , and all her paths are peace.” (Prov. iii. 15–17.) And again in chap. viï., “My fruit is better than gold, yea, than much fine gold : I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment; that I may cause them that love me to inherit substance." (Ver. 19–21. See also ii. 4.) We have often read the 60th chapter of Isaiah* together. It contains a passage of exceeding beauty :—the prophet is evidently describing the tribes of Israel, in the last days, rising up into the favour of God; the days of their widowhood past, and their sorrows gone.
- Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings : and thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeenier, the Mighty One of Jacob. For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thy exactors righteousness. Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.” Any comment of man on this word would but weaken it,-“ Happy is the people that is in such a case; yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord.”
The Canticles, or Songs of Solomon, also abound in illustrations from the precious stones and metals; likewise the Revelation of St. John. Eph. v. 32, where the Lord is revealed as the heavenly Bridegroom, the Church the Bride, is a key to the former; and a deep spiritual acquaintance with the Tabernacle and Temple service, would surely throw much light on the latter.
Sometimes the figures are in judgment; and then, in allusion to the sternness of the metals, instead of the clouds dropping the fertile showers and the gentle dew; the earth yielding her thirty, sixty, and hundred fold; the word concerning the obstinate and obdurate Israel is, “I will break the pride of your power: and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass; and your strength shall be spent in vain : for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits." (Lev. xxvi. 19, 20.)
And so in Jeremiah vi., where, under the imagery of refuse rejected metals, the judgments of God are thus awfully described : “ They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters. The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away. Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them.”
The Rock is a figure frequently used in Scripture to denote stability and protection. In the song of Moses, which closed his forty years' ministry in the wilderness, how striking are these words :—“Because I will publish the name of the Lord; ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment; a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deut. xxxii. 3, 4.) The figure is also again introduced in ver. 15, 18, 30, 31; all denoting the same thing-great stability and perfection. But that which gives the Rock the deepest interest to the