I. UNITY IS BROUGHT ABOUT BY GOD HIMSELF. He is the God of peace, and delights in peace. "I," says he, "will make them one nation in the land." The kind of unity which is effected by the action of common human sympathy or interest is neither valuable nor permanent. True unity needs a Divine basis.
II. UNITY IS MANIFEST IN BROTHERLY LOVE AND SYMPATHY. That is to say, it is, first of all, unity of heart. When the same Divine Spirit works in many natures he produces similar effects in all; and his handiwork is nowhere more evident than in the prevalence of mutual love. The members of the same body, being obedient to the one Head, render one to another the tribute of mutual interest and kindly willingness to serve and help.
III. UNITY CONSISTS IN COMMON SUBJECTION TO ONE KING. "One King shall be king to them all; My Servant David shall be King over them, and they shall all have one Shepherd." The political unity of the Jews seems lost sight of m the Messianic reference of the prediction. The Church of Christ is one because there is over it but one Head, even Christ himself. All true Christians, every true Christian community in every place, acknowledge his sole sovereignty and confess allegiance to his sole authority.
IV. UNITY IS DISPLAYED IN THE ABANDONMENT AND REPUDIATION OF ALL UNFAITHFULNESS. When some of the children of Israel worshipped Jehovah, and others some one or other of the various hateful deities of the heathen, it was impossible that there should be unity. "How can two walk together except they be agreed?" There is thus a negative condition of spiritual oneness. The minds of men must be turned away from error and sin, in order that they may with one accord be turned Godwards and heavenwards. The unfaithful to God cannot be faithful one to another. They must have the same loathing and the same liking.
V. UNITY IS DISPLAYED IN A COMMON AND CONJOINT OBEDIENCE. This is a positive condition of spiritual oneness. "They shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes to do them." They who are one in heart will not find it difficult to be one in life. The laws are one, although the obedient are scattered far and wide, although the forms of obedience vary with varying circumstances.
VI. THE UNITY IS EVERLASTING. This can be true only of a unity which is Divine in its basis and its bonds. The language used in this portion of prophecy must refer to the spiritual kingdom of Christ. "David my Servant shall be their Prince forever;" "They shall dwell in the land for ever;" "I will make an everlasting covenant with them;" "I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore." Such expressions are true. and they are true only of the kingdom which is "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." No national, probably no ecclesiastical, unity upon earth is permanent. But the Son of God is King forever, and the subjects of his spiritual empire are bound together by the common ties which unite them to their Lord - ties which time cannot weaken and death cannot dissolve. - T.
Take thee one stick.I. THE SAD CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL AT THE TIME THE PROPHET WROTE. It was that of separation and of estrangement. Such a condition was —
1. Contrary to nature.
2. Displeasing to God.
3. Disastrous to themselves.That and other sin had reduced them to a condition of national bankruptcy, physical serfdom, social misery, and moral degradation.
II. THE HAPPY CONDITION TO WHICH THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL WERE ABOUT TO BE RESTORED. That of unity, harmony, and oneness. Union in a Christian Church is a condition greatly to be desiderated, and earnestly to be sought by all its members.
1. It is of great importance to the Church itself.
2. It is an immense advantage to the surrounding community.
3. It is well pleasing and highly honouring to God.
III. THE AGENCY BY WHICH THIS DELIGHTFUL CHANGE WAS TO BE EFFECTED.
1. He breathed into them a principle of spiritual life.
2. He sent them wise advisers and earnest intercessors.
3. He visited them with a sore trial. The Babylonish captivity. Common suffering often awakens common sympathy, and common sorrow begets mutual interest.
4. He appointed them a common work. The rebuilding of the city and temple of Jerusalem. A common service for Christ is still promotive of union among Christians.
5. He makes His residence in their midst (ver. 27). Christ in the midst of a Church acts like a magnet in the midst of steel particles: He attracts all to Himself. As Christians are enabled to love Christ and approach Christ, so will they love one another and approach one another.
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