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yield up their personal liberty. It is not religion to be in bondage to any man, or to any system of men : it is religion to be free. O God! how thou hast ennobled man. O with what nobility thou hast entrusted him, for thou dost reverence thine own image, thou dost love thine own offspring All nature is combined to chain him down upon the naked rock, and to tear out the vitals of his peace: thou alone consultest for his peace. Therefore if
you would escape out of the region of untruth, into the region of truth, you must first cease from being bondsmen of the evangelical system, or of any system, Calvinistic, Arminian, Pelagian, Utilitarian, and become free men, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. O what a redemption was needed, to make such bondsmen free: being made free, let us not again become entangled with the yoke of bondage. Be all law abolished, but the law of the Spirit, the royal law of liberty.
O man, seek the freedom of the will, and in thy free love of goodness behold the present God. There is no presence of God, but in the will to do good: there is no presence of Christ, but in the way to do good: there is no presence of the Spirit, but in the act of doing good : and goodness in the will, in the way, and in the acting, is man redeemed, man united to Christ, mau inhabited by the Spirit, man glorifying his Maker. This is holiness, this is truth, this is dig. nity, this is blessedness. There is no God like unto our God, and there is no creature like unto a man renewed in the image of God in righteousness and true holiness. Well hath the wisdom of man said, “ Honesty is the best policy;" and well hath the poet written,
“ An honest man's the noblest work of God.” From these designations of the great Head of the church, which convey to him the very essence of God, and constitute him the great centre of holiness in the creation of God, the hope of every groaning sinner seeking righteousness, and finding it not, the joy of every seduced, misled, and lost creature, shewing him the way back again to truth and honour ;~from this his spiritual excellency, and his spiritual appropriateness to man's bondage and misery under him who was a liar from the beginning, and the father of falsehood, — we now pass to the attribute of power, of royal power and dominion upon the earth, which he hath attained, in virtue of that very holiness and truth, which, as a living creature, he did maintain. That creature, (for it is in his creaturehood, that the excellency of his holiness and truth standeth, though the origin of them be in his Godhead); that creature who possesseth holiness and truth, is well entitled-is in right of God's own being entitled-to the supremacy of things created. If God himself be holy and true, then be assured that only such as are holy and true shall attain unto eminence in his creation. He is not the King to respect persons, and to set vile men high in place: his principle of government it is, to exalt the righteous, and to establish the true, because he is a God of righteousness and truth; and therefore it is, that the supremacy of holiness and truth, which Christ possessed upon the earth, draws with it the supremacy of power ; for such I conceive to be the thing expressed in these words : “ He that hath the key of David, who openeth, and, no man (one) shutteth, who shutteth and no man (one) openeth.”
HE THAT HATH THE KEY OF DAVID. The language is taken from the conclusion of the xxiid chapter of Isaiah, entitled, “ The burden of the valley of vision.” That vision concerneth the city of David, Jerusalem, the upper city that was built around and on Mount Zion, which was in the hands of the Jebusites until David took it, being in respect of its situation, as contrasted with the lower city, the type of the Jerusalem which is above, the mother of us all. And, because the Philadelphian church hath its promise in terms of this : Jerusalem, that cometh down from heaven, therefore is it, as I think, that Christ takes this second part of his designation from the burden of the valley of vision. Now that burden consisteth of two parts; the former including the first fourteen verses, and taken up with the burden, properly so called, the woeful calamities which were to come upon Zion at the hand of the king of Babylon, and which fell out in the days of Jeremiah the Prophet. The second part beginning at the 15th verse, is altogether personal, directed to Shebna, the treasurer," who was over the house, that is, the house of David, occupying the office which we now denominate that of Lord Chamber
lain. To this Shebna, the prophet carried tidings of dismay; foreshewing to him, that, instead of lying down in that sepulchre of honour and of state which he had prepared for himself, he should be violently turned out, and tossed like a ball into a land “ large of spaces (marg.) there to die, bereaved of his glory, and covered with shame; in which day of trouble and disgrace to him, Isaiah is further commissioned to foreshew a day of honour to Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, and in the prediction of his glory are found the words which our great Shepherd here appropriates unto himself. In order to do justice therefore to the fragment taken out, and presented to us, in the text, it will be necessary to study the scope of the whole, which in all its parts, as well as in this, is evidently prefigura. tive of Christ, in this character of being unto God what Eliakim was to David, of being in God's house, which is creation, what Eliakim was in David's house, having the key of every chamber thereof, to open or to shut according 'to the pleasure of his own will. In the very name, Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah,-- which being interpreted is, “God the strong, or the Resurrection, the Son of God the gracious,"-is contained the substance of the mystery ; which is, Jesus the powerful and mighty one, proceeding forth of Jesus the humble and gracious one; Jesus with power, the reward of his grace. Of this Eliakim it is said, "I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle ; and I will commit thy government into his hand." The robe was, and indeed is to this day, in eastern countries, the gift of a king unto his servants, when they enter into his service, whereto allusion is made in the third chapter of this Prophet : “ When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing; be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand : in that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer ; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people" (vers. 6, 7). The girdle again, as bearing the sword, the quiver, and other weapons of war, is, throughout Scripture, the symbol of strength, and likewise also because it supports a man who hath much labour to undergo. To be clothed therefore with Shebna’s robe, and to be strengthened with Shebna's girdle, is a noble style for expressing
installation in his office, investiture in its dignity, and endowment with its power; and therefore it is added, "I will commit thy government into his hand.” What was the nature of that government, and how Eliakim should fulfil it, we are not left to conjecture, nor to gather from other hands; for it is immediately added, “ He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.” This part of the prophecy doth set forth the office of Christ as “ the everlasting Father,” or “the Father of the age to come;" as the Jacob and the Israel, the Father of the Twelve Tribes. It represents him as the liberal Householder, ever supplying from his stores the nourishment of his people ; as the Scribe well instructed unto the kingdom, who bringeth out of his treasury things new and old; as the Bread of Life come down from heaven to give life unto the world ; as the Lamb in the midst of the throne, who shall feed his people, and lead them unto living fountains of water, and wash away all tears from their eyes. Whether the removal of Shebna, to make room for Eliakim, may signify the deliverance of Jerusalem, and its people from those hard oppressors who have so long vexed and spoiled them, to give them into the hand of Him who shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from thenceforth and for ever ; or whether, in a more eminent sense still, it may signify the casting out of Satan, who now possesseth the princedom of the world, and from Rome, his chosen seat, hath long wielded a sceptre of darkness and cruelty over both Jew and Christian, I take not upon me to determine ; nor is it necessary for our present object, which concerneth not so much Eliakim's predecessor, as Eliakim himself. Nevertheless my idea of the burden, taken as a whole, is this, That after its grievousness had been fully told out in ordinary prophetic terms, the consummation of the woe, and the conclusion of it, and the deliverance from it, are set forth in a personal transaction towards Shebna and Eliakimn; in order to teach us, that in a person the miseries of Jerusalem would be consummated, as they had been begun in the person of Nebuchadnezzar, and by a person the deliverance should likewise be wrought out. Nation after nation should drench Jerusalem in blood and misery; but the hand of a person should determine her final cata: , strophe, and the hand of a person should deliver her from it. The burden of the valley of vision is circun. stantial to begin with, personal to end with. Now, these persons who are to contend for Mount Zion,-as the Easterns would say, her evil genius, and her good genius, coming into mortal battle for Mount Zion and Jerusalem, are Lucifer, the son of the morning, who shall pretend to sit on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north, who shall plant the tabernacle of his palace between the seas, in the glorious holy mountain, the personal Antichrist who shall sit in the temple of God, saying, that he is God, and claiming to be worshipped as God; for things very dark, and very evil, the very mystery of hell itself shall yet be disclosed at Jerusalem : and at such a time when delusion, and deception, and the false glory of the son of the morning sci ed upon the hill of Zion, shall have all but consummated the world's ruin, and won the allegiance and the worship of almost all the inhabitants of the earth, then shall the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Seed of David, the Bright and the Morning Star, come down to fight for Jerusalem, and for his holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be delivered, and the yoke of every oppressor shall be destroyed together, and the oppressors themselves shall cease out of the earth. To represent this personal conflict between the Prince of Light and the prince of darkness, which shall conclude these battles of their several servants, is the reason, as I judge, for which this prophecy concerning the valley of vision, is conclud. ed in terms of Shebna and Eliakiin : who, according to this idea, will stand as the antitypes of the personal antichrist and the personal Christ; the Papacy being the materials, the members of Antichrist, the mystery of iniquity which hath prepared the world for his appearing; as the true church is the members of Christ, which God doth in continuance fashion until the appointed number, and the full form of the Christ, shall be accomplished. Then shall the personal Antichrist appear, and, gathering his limbs unto him, shall commit himself in open and undisguised controversy for the supremacy of the world; when Christ, gathering to himself his members from under the four quarters of the heavens, shall come to withstand and