Acts 21:39

Robert Hawker

"A citizen of no mean city."–Acts xxi. 39.

It certainly was very laudable in Paul, in a moment of danger, to avail himself of the common privileges of his freedom, in the common rights of men. But it would have been a sad thing for the apostle, had he not, at the same time, been also "a fellow citizen with the saints, and of the household of God." He, like the patriarchs, knew his right in that city "which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." My soul! see to it, this evening, that thy name is enrolled among the citizens of those who are built upon the" foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone." And if thou canst find evidences of this high calling, thou wilt know also, as well as Paul, that thou art "a citizen of no mean city." Now a city that hath "foundations, and whose builder and maker is God," differs totally from all the cities founded among men. All these have their rise, their increase, and fall. Where are the vast monarchies of past generations? Alas! time hath passed over them as a flood, and swept them all away. And what the sacred writer hath said of one, may be equally applied to all: "Babylon, the great, is fallen, is fallen; in one hour is thy judgment come!" But the citizenship of a believer is firm, eternal, and secure. God the Father is the founder of it: he hath laid the foundation-stone in Zion. God the Son is the Rock on which it is built. And God the Holy Ghost is the eternal source of life and strength, and all the immutable privileges of it. This city is everlastingly and eternally secure, for "salvation hath the Lord appointed for walls and bulwarks." And the peace and happiness of its inhabitants must ever remain the same; for the citizens are of one body, and one spirit, even as they are called, in one hope of their calling. For the Son of God hath made them free by his blood and righteousness, and they are free indeed. Such, my soul, among numberless other distinguishing characters, are the outlines of the history of that city which hath foundations, and of which we may say, with the psalmist, "Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God!" If thou art a citizen of it, the enrolment of thy name among the free-men may be easily seen, for Jesus, the King of Zion, must have signed it with his blood. And then art thou come, as the apostle describes, not to the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire: not unto blackness and darkness, and tempest; but unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven; and to God, the Judge of all; and to the "spirits of just men made perfect;" and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling. Then, have you found also the blessedness of the place, and the immense privileges of its inhabitants? In the freedom of this city is found peace with God, through the blood of the cross; and access at all times, through him, by one Spirit, unto the Father. And as among other citizens there are certain marks and characters, by which the privileges of one city are distinguished from another; so in this, the language, the dress, the manners, and customs, are wholly foreign to all the rest of the world. A citizen of God's house, talks the language of God; he is dressed in the garment of salvation, and the robes of Jesus's righteousness. His manners and customs are altogether peculiar to a child of God and art heir of heaven; for all is in conformity to the gospel of Christ. My soul! what sayest thou to these characters? Are they thine? If so, thou mayest assume Paul's account of himself; for, like him, thou art "a citizen of no mean city."


Robert Hawker

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