Spurgeon: Covenant Strength and Christ the Capstone of Our Lives

20 12 2011

“The arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.” Now, wherever you read of the God of Jacob in the Bible, you may know that that respects God’s covenant with Jacob. Ah! I love to talk about God’s everlasting covenant. Some of the Arminians cannot bear it, but I love a covenant salvation—a covenant not made with my father, not between me and God, but between Christ and God. Christ made the covenant to pay a price, and God made the covenant that he should have the people. Christ has paid the price and ratified the covenant; and I am quite sure that God will fulfil his part of it, by giving every elect vessel of mercy into the hands of Jesus. But, beloved, all the power, all the grace, all the blessings, all the mercies, all the comforts, all the things we have, we have through the covenant. If there were no covenant; if we could rend the everlasting charter up; if the king of hell could cut it with his knife, as the king of Israel did the roll of Baruck, then we should fail indeed; for we have no strength, except that which is promised in the covenant. Covenant mercies, covenant grace, covenant promises, covenant blessings, covenant help, covenant everything—the Christian must receive, if he would enter into heaven.
Now, Christian, the archers have sorely grieved you, and shot at you, and wounded you; but your bow abides in strength, and the arms of your hands are made strong. But do you know, O believer, that you are like your Master in this?
IV. That is our fourth point—A GLORIOUS PARALLEL. “From thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel.” Jesus Christ was served just the same; the shepherd, the stone of Israel, passed through similar trials; he was shot at by the archers, he was grieved and wounded, but his bow abode in strength; his arms were made strong by the God of Jacob, and now every blessing rests “upon the crown of the head of him who was separated from his brethren.” I shall not detain you long, but I have a few things to tell you; first about Christ as the shepherd, and then about Christ the stone.
Christ came into the world as a shepherd. As soon as he made his appearance, the Scribes and Pharisees said, “Ah! we have been the shepherds until this hour; now we shall be driven from our honors, we shall lose all our dignity, and our authority.” Consequently, they always shot at him. As for the people, they were a fickle herd; I believe that many of them respected and admired Christ, though, doubtless, the vast majority hated him, for wherever he went he was a popular preacher; the multitude always thronged him and crowded round him, crying, “Hosanna.” I think, if you had walked up to the top of that hill of Calvary, and asked one of those men who cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him,” “What do you say that for? Is he a bad man?” “No,” he would have said, “he went about doing good.” “Then why do you say ‘crucify him?’” “Because Rabbi Simeon gave me a shekel to help the clamor.” So the multitude were much won by the money and influence of the priests. But they were glad to hear Christ after all. It was the shepherds that hated him, because he took away their traffic, because he turned the buyers and sellers out of the temple, diminished their dignity and ignored their pretensions; therefore, they could not endure him. But the Shepherd of Israel mounted higher and higher; he gathered his sheep, carried the lambs in his bosom; and he now stands acknowledged as the great shepherd of the sheep, who shall gather them into one flock and lead them to heaven. Rowland Hill tells a curious tale, in his “Village Dialogues,” about a certain Mr. Tiplash, a very fine intellectual preacher, who, in one of his flights of oratory, said, “O Virtue, thou art so fair and lovely, if thou wert to come down upon earth, all men would love thee,” with a few more pretty, beautiful things. Mr. Blunt, and honest preacher, who was in the neighborhood, was asked to preach in the afternoon, and he supplemented the worthy gentleman’s remarks, by saying, “O Virtue, thou didst come on earth, in all thy purity and loveliness; but instead of being beloved and admired, the archers sorely shot at thee and grieved thee; they took thee, Virtue, and hung thy quivering limbs upon a cross; when thou didst hang there dying they hissed at thee, they mocked thee, they scorned thee; when thou didst ask for water they gave thee vinegar to drink, mingled with gall; yea, when thou diedst thou hadst a tomb from charity, and that tomb, sealed by enmity and hatred.” The Shepherd of Israel was despised, incarnate virtue was hated and abhorred; therefore fear not, Christians, take courage; for if your Master passed through it, surely you must.
To conclude: the text calls Christ the stone of Israel. I have heard a story—I cannot tell whether it is true or not—out of some of the Jewish rabbis; it is a tale, concerning the text, “The stone which the builders refused, the same is become the headstone of the corner.” It is said that when Solomon’s temple was building, all the stones were brought from the quarry ready cut and fashioned, and there were to be put. Amongst the stones was a very curious one; it seemed of no describable shape, it appeared unfit for any portion of the building. They tried it at this wall, but it would not fit; they tried it in another, but it could not be accommodated; so, vexed and angry, they threw it away. The temple was so many years building, that this stone became covered with moss, and grass grew around it. Everybody passing by laughed at the stone; they said Solomon was wise, and doubtless all the other stones were right; but as for that block, they might as well send it back to the quarry, for they were quite sure it was meant for nothing. Year after year rolled on, and the poor stone was still despised, the builders constantly refused it. The eventful day came when the temple was to be finished and opened, and the multitude was assembled to see the grand sight. The builders said, “Where is the top-stone? Where is the pinnacle?” They little thought where the crowning marble was, until some one said, “Perhaps that stone which the builders refused is meant to be the top-stone.” They then took it, and hoisted it to the top of the house; and as it reached the summit they found it well adapted to the place. Loud hosannas made the welkin ring, as the stone which the builders refused, thus became the headstone of the corner. So is it with Christ Jesus. The builders cast him away. He was a plebeian; he was of poor extraction; he was a man acquainted with sinners, who walked in poverty and meanness; hence the worldly-wise despised him. But when God shall gather together, in one, all things that are in heaven and that are in earth, then Christ shall be the glorious consummation of all things.

“Christ reigns in heaven the topmost stone,
And well deserves the praise.”

He shall be exalted; he shall be honored; his name shall endure as long as the sun, and all nations shall be blessed in him, yea, all generations shall call him blessed.

read the whole thing here


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