22. The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner. 123. This was done by Jehovah; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24. This is the day which Jehovah made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 25. I beseech thee, O Jehovah! save me; I beseech thee, I beseech thee, O Jehovah! give prosperity, I beseech thee. 26. Blessed is he who cometh in the name of Jehovah: we bless you out of the house of Jehovah.
In the verse following, a particular request is subjoined, which the faithful must entertain; namely, that as God had thus appointed David to be the minister of his grace, so he would
But it may be asked, how the prophet designates those master-builders who, so far from wishing the protection of the Church, aim at nothing so much as the demolition of the entire structure? We know, for instance, with what vehemence the scribes and priests, in Christ's time, labored to subvert all true piety. The reply is not difficult. David refers solely to the office which they held, and not to the inclinations by which they were actuated. Saul and all his counsellors were subverters of the Church, and yet, in relation to their office, they were chief-builders. To the ungodly the Holy Ghost is wont to concede the honorable titles which belong to their office, until that God remove them from it. How abandoned, oftentimes, were the priests among the ancient people of God, and yet they retained the dignity and honor which belonged to their office, until they were denuded of it. Hence the words of Isaiah,
"Who is blind, but my servant; and who is foolish., but he whom I have sent?" Isaiah 42:19
Now, though their intention was to undermine the whole constitution of the Church, yet, as they were divinely called for a different object, he calls them the servants and the sent of God. In our day, also, the Pope and his filthy clergy, who usurp the title of the priesthood, nevertheless continue the professed enemies of Christ; from which it follows, that they are any thing rather than God's legitimate servants, -and occupying the position of pastors -- while they scatter the flock, their condemnation will be the greater. Between them and the Levitical priests there is assuredly a wide difference. As, however, they are invested with the usual authority, there can be no harm in conceding the title to them, provided they do not use it as a cloak to conceal their vile tyranny; for if the mere title was sufficient to procure for them personal reverence, then Christ must, of necessity, have been silenced, seeing that the priests rejected his doctrine. This passage rather informs us, that those who are intrusted with the office of ruling the Church, sometime, prove the worst workmen. David, speaking by the Spirit, denominates chief-builders those who attempted to destroy the Son of God and the salvation of mankind, and by whom the worship of God was adulterated, religion wholly corrupted, and the temple of God profaned. If, therefore, all who are clothed with the ordinary authority must be listened to without exception, as legally appointed pastors, then must Christ not speak, because it very frequently occurs, that his bitterest enemies are concealed under the garb of pastors.
Here we behold with how strong and impregnable a shield the Holy Ghost furnishes us against the empty vauntings of the Papal clergy. Be it so, that they possess the name, "chief-builders;" but if they disown Christ, does it necessarily follow that we must disown him also? Let us rather contemn and trample under our feet all their decrees, and let us reverence this precious stone upon which our salvation rests. By the expression,
David then proceeds to repeat, at some length, as I have observed, that it is erroneous to estimate the kingdom of Christ by the sentiments and opinions of men, because, in spite of the opposition of the world, it is erected in an astonishing manner by the invisible power of God. In the meantime, we ought to remember, that all that was accomplished in the person of Christ extends to the gradual development of his kingdom, even until the end of the world. When Christ dwelt on the earth, he was despised by the chief priests; and now, those who call themselves the successors of Peter and Paul, but who are truly Ananiases and Caiaphases, giant-like wage war against the Gospel and the Holy Ghost. Not that this furious rebellion ought to give us any uneasiness: let us rather humbly adore that wonderful power of God which reverses the perverse decisions of the world. If our limited understandings could comprehend the course which God follows for the protection and preservation of his Church, there would be no mention made of a miracle. From this we conclude, that his mode of working is incomprehensible, baffling the understandings of men.
Was it necessary, it may be asked, that Christ should be reproached by the master-builders? It would certainly indicate a sad state of the Church, if she never had any pastors except those who were deadly enemies to her welfare. When Paul styles himself "a master-builder," he informs us that this office was common to all the apostles, (1 Corinthians 3:10). My answer therefore is, that all who bear rule in the Church are not charged with perpetual blindness; but that the Holy Spirit meets with this stumblingblock, which, in other respects, is wont to prove a hindrance to many when they witness the name of Christ enveloped with worldly splendor. When God, for the purpose of making his glory shine forth more brightly, looseth Satan's rein, so that those who are invested with power and authority reject Christ, then it is that the Holy Spirit bids us be of good courage, and setting at nought all these perverse decisions, receive with all respect the King whom God has placed over us. From the first, we know that the master-builders have endeavored to subvert the kingdom of Christ. The same thing is taking place in our times, in those who are intrusted with the superintendence of the Church having made every attempt to overturn that kingdom, by directing against it all the machinery which they can devise. But if we call to mind this prophecy, our faith will not fail, but will be more and more confirmed; because, from these things it will the better appear that the kingdom of Christ does not depend upon the favor of men, and that it does not derive its strength from earthly supports, even as he has not attained it by the suffrages of men. If, however, the master-builders build well, the perverseness of those who will not permit themselves to be appropriated to the sacred edifice will be so much the less excusable. Moreover, as often as we shall, by this species of temptation, be put to the trial, let us not forget that it is unreasonable to expect that the Church must be governed according to our understanding of matters, but that we are ignorant of the government of it, inasmuch as that which is miraculous surpasses our comprehension.
The next clause,
1 The learned Michaelis understands this literally. "It appears," says he, "that, probably at the building of Solomon's temple, one of those stones, which David had taken care to get provided and made ready for use, was found faith with by the builders, and declared to be useless, and that God, for altogether different reasons, commanded by a prophet that this stone should be made the corner-stone. The Orientals regard the corner-stone as the one peculiarly holy stone in a temple, and that it confers sanctity upon the whole edifice. It is, therefore, the more probable that, either by the Urim and Thummim, (the sacred lot of the Jews,) or by a prophet, God was consulted which stone he would direct to be taken for the corner-stone. The answer was, that which they have perseveringly rejected, and declared to be quite unserviceable. Certainly it must have been for a very important reason, that God positively appointed this stone to be the corner-stone. But the New Testament declares it to us in Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; and 1 Peter 2:7. The Jewish nation would conduct themselves towards the Messiah precisely as the builders did towards this stone, and would reject him; but God would select him to be the corner-stone, which should support and sanctify the whole Church." -- Quoted in Dr Pye Smith on the Priesthood of Christ, page 150. Michaelis' opinion, that the words literally relate to a stone which the builders at first rejected, but which they were subsequently induced to place in the most important part of the building, is, however, mere conjecture. The prophetic sense in which this verse is applicable to the Messiah, who was rejected by the chief priests, elders, and Pharisees of his time, and who is now the foundation of an ample and constantly increasing Church, rests on more solid grounds; being sanctioned both by Christ himself and his apostles.
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