‘As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever.’
I. First, ‘we have heard’ of the honour of the Church as included in that testimony of Jesus which is the spirit of prophecy, the very groundwork of the Psalter.—We hear our Lord’s own predictions about His Church, His accomplishment of His own prophetic psalms—those psalms in which ages beforehand He prepared men to realise what the Church of Christ should be, and how it should fill up His sufferings and share His glory.
II. ‘Like as we have heard, so have we seen.’—This frequent teaching about the Church is not a thrice-told tale, not only a prophetic vision or an Apostolic instruction. It is something for us to realise ourselves. The ‘fair place’ is our heritage. The Kingdom of God is within us. The Divine presence is granted to us if we will but open the eyes of our mind, the temple our hearts, every day.
III. The past and the present alike cheer us on in our hopes for the future of the Church of Christ.—In this present time we see, and not only with the eye of faith, the fulfilment of those ancient promises and predictions in the marvellous preservation and enlargement of the Church.
IV. Notice one or two reflections as to our own duty in the Church into which we have been baptized.—(1) Take on trust the doctrine of the Church’s life, even if you can only hear of it at present. (2) Abide in the Church. We must not try to stand outside the Church or above it, but where Christ is, in it. (3) Though faith tarry, wait for it. Fullness of conviction, like consummate knowledge, can only gradually be won. Study, then, humbly the holy doctrines delivered unto you, and most of all that priceless word which proves them.
V. Let us all remember that holiness is the great mark of the Church—the holiness which is God’s gift of mercy through the merits of His Son, granted to the lowliest and most degraded if truly penitent and faithful.
(1) ‘God protects not only His people, but the city in which they dwell. He guards the very house in which they call upon Him. But He means that they should recognise this, should trust His watchfulness and power, should be grateful for His help and goodness to them, and by proclaiming what He has done, induce others, especially their descendants, to exercise a like faith. For God is the same, yesterday, to-day, and forever. This God is our God.’
(2) ‘Three psalms, the forty-sixth, forty-seventh, and forty-eighth, bound together by the golden clasp of the forty-fifth, are the great hymns of the City of God.’
(3) ‘From the beginning, God’s works have made known His name and His praise over all the earth, but Zion is the place where His glory has been specially manifested. This is the central point of His historical revelations. And from this spot the triumphal proclamation of His name shall go forth throughout the world; so that not only in the Promised Land but to the ends of the earth, the latest generation shall praise that God who hears prayer, who exercises justice to the joy of His people, who is their guide, helper, and protector.’