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THE CITY OF THE SAINTS.

(ALL SAINTS.)

BY REV. J. E. VERNON,

(Vicar of Bicknoller, Taunton.)

PSALM CXLVII, 2, 3, 4. “The Lord doth build up Jerusalem, He gathereth together the outcasts of Israel. He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars, He calleth them all by their names. To understand the first part of my text, we must turn to the Revelation of S. John, chapter XXI., where he tells us that he saw “the holy city, “new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of “heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her “ husband." This is the “city which hath “foundations, whose builder and maker is God." This is the city whose foundations are the apostles and prophets, whose corner-stone is Christ, which is built of living stones, even the saints of God. This is the Jerusalem which God doth even now build up, and when the last stone is laid, that is, when the perfect number of the saints is made up, then will come the final judgment of the wicked and the gathering together of the outcasts of Israel, from the four winds, from the one end

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of heaven to the other. Yes, that great city which S. John saw, is, in its beauty and perfection a figure of the blessed company of the saints of God. The city appeared in the form of a perfect cube, the length and breadth and height of it all equal—this signifies the perfect number of the saints. It was “of pure gold, like unto “clear glass,” this signifies that as gold is refined and purified in the fire, so the saints who compose that mystical city have been refined and purified in the furnace of affliction, in fiery trials, and much tribulation. The gates of pearl and the foundations garnished with precious stones signify the different virtues of the saints--the pearl gates especially may signify their purity and humility, for the pearl, so much prized for its pure whiteness, lies hidden in obscurity in a rough and mean shell in the dark unfathomed “caves of ocean," until it is sought out and exalted from its abasement to the brightest honours ; and the gates being made of pearl signify that none can enter there without purity and humility. In the foundations of the city were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, shewing that only those who hold the faith as taught by them, and continue stedfastly

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in their doctrine and fellowship, cản find a place in that mystical city of the saints. The great and high wall of the city, and the angels stationed to guard the gates, shew how perfectly the saints shall be fenced round and protected from all danger and temptation, and shew also the impossibility of there entering in "anything that defileth, neither " whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a “lie.” In that it is said that there is no night there but unending day, this shews that all darkness of error and ignorance will be for ever cleared away from the minds of the saints, who will need no sun or moon, no created light, for their souls will be perfectly enlightened by the presence among them of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb; they will see God face to face, and know even as they are known. Every saint who departs hence in the grace and love of God goes to make up the perfect number of that glorious company of which the city which S. John saw in his vision is so beautiful a figure. And as in a material building, the builder shapes the stones, cutting them, and polishing them, smoothing their roughness, and adapting them to fit perfectly into the places prepared for them, so God shapes and prepares His saints by troubles and trials in this life to fill the place He designs them for in the heavenly Jerusalem. In this world the saints are as outcasts, stones rejected of earthly builders, as the chief corner stone, Jesus Christ, was rejected before them; many of them “were stoned, were sawn asunder, were “tempted, were slain with the sword; they wan“dered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins ; “ being destitute, afflicted, tormented ; (of whom the world was not worthy) they wandered in

deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and

caves of the earth.” All “came out of great “ tribulation," and men “cast out their names " as evil » for Christ's dear name's sake. But whom the world casts out, God gathers together, whom the world despises and rejects, God honours and elects.

They who are broken in heart, contrite that is, broken-hearted on account of their many sins, true penitents, these also find admission into the number of the blessed ones. God bindeth up their wounds, “ He healeth those that are broken “in heart and giveth medicine to heal their sick

ness. “For thus saith the high and lofty “One that inhabiteth eternity, Whose Name is “Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with “him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, “ to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive “the heart of the contrite ones;” and again, “O “thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not “ comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with “ fair colours, and lay thy foundations with “sapphires." Broken-hearted and wounded in spirit God's people may be through the world's unkindness and opposition, through the coldness even of those who should be their nearest and dearest. Their actions misrepresented and their motives misunderstood, they fly for comfort to Him Who inviteth the weary and heavy laden, and find rest and refreshment at last in the land of peace, sweet companionship among the blessed saints, and perfect happiness there where all tears are wiped away for ever by the loving hands that were pierced. Blessed are those true Israelites whom the world casts out with jeers and mockery, but whom God gathers in amid the songs of His angels, and numbers with His saints in glory everlasting! There they “shall “shine as the brightness of the firmament and

as the stars for ever and ever. And as God tells the number of the stars, so knoweth He the number of His people. In them, the true Israel,

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