The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!…
I. The sons of Zion are comparable to fine gold. In its refined state gold is so freed from alloy or dross, that among the metals it is esteemed the PUREST; and if there be one feature in the Christian more prominent and distinguishing than another, it is his purity at once of heart and fife. Between Christians and iniquity there is an ever-widening distance, an ever-increasing opposition; and although, like the finest gold, which still contains some portion of alloy, they are never in this life absolutely free from impurity, they are yet, with an unwavering steadiness of purpose, putting it progressively away from them, and becoming clothed with that righteousness which in eternity shall shine in unspotted whiteness. Sin, in every shape and under every guise, is the object of their deep and confirmed abhorrence; and because of the love, and faith, and hope which they sedulously cultivate, they are so gradually approximating in resemblance to Him of whose spirit they are the living temples, that they exhibit so many reflections of that moral beauty by which the Godhead is adorned, and are the types of that holiness which, undimmed and infinite, reigns triumphantly in heaven.
II. But gold is distinguished also for its VALUE. This arises from its rarity, from its intrinsic worth, and from its utility; and, in these several respects, the comparison between it and "the sons of Zion" may be illustrated.
1. First, then, the Christian is comparable to gold in respect of scarcity. Not profusely enriching every land, nor to be found imbedded in every soil, the golden ore is discoverable but in few countries; and, in like manner, of the earth's inhabitants, the sons of God's spiritual Zion form small and insignificant proportion.
2. Christians are comparable to pure gold, next, as respects their intrinsic value. Estimated, indeed, on the principles which guide the world's judgment, they, in general, have less to recommend them than many of their unregenerated and ungodly neighbours; but looked at as delineated by the Spirit of revelation, and judged according to the standard by which the destinies of creation are to be decided, they are a "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people."
3. The Christian is comparable to fine gold also in respect of utility. By this, indeed, the value of an object is usually estimated; and as gold, when freely and plentifully circulated, promotes the general comfort and happiness, so "the sons of Zion," by the sanctity and blamelessness of their lives, exert a most beneficial influence upon society. With the influence of consistent and persevering example, every individual is acquainted. It challenges to imitation; it is a living commentary upon the excellence and power of principle; and where it is not successful in exciting to kindred action, it usually has majesty enough to awe and to rebuke the gainsayer into silence. And if we would properly comprehend the influence which, in this respect, Christians exercise upon the community at large, we have only to look at them moving within the circle of a family or a neighbourhood. Suppose multitude of such men, the same in character, the same in consistency, pervading society throughout the land, mingling in the market place, frequenting the marts of trade, labouring in the manufactory and in the workshop; and when you think of the innate depravity of the human heart, and the inherent tendency of sin to propagate itself, is it not clear that they are the salt which preserves the whole mass from rottenness, — the preservatives of the community from moral putrefaction and decay?
Parallel VersesKJV: The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!