1 Peter 2:6
Why also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious…
The figures woven into this passage are architectural. They do not, however, touch the imagination as much now as they did when they were first drawn; for we have been misled with regard to the truths they are designed to illustrate, by the degradation that has befallen the cornerstones which we plant. The cornerstone is not a foundation stone with us. It might just as well be put at the middle of the wall as at the corner; at the top as at the bottom; and, for that matter, it might as well be put in the tower as in the wall. It is merely a ceremonial cornerstone, made to contain a few records, giving the date, the time, and what not, belonging to the building. But there are real cornerstones yet. When builders have dug down and found the bottom level, and desire to lay a foundation which no fire can reach, no water undermine, no weight sway, and lay broad and vast stones, then these stones have a marked relation to the integrity of the whole building above. If they are weak, or easily displaced, the foundation will be unstable; and when that gives way, the superstructure, no matter how carefully it may be built, will follow it. There was, however, another kind of cornerstone in former times — namely, a massive slab, which, standing upright, united to itself firmly the two side walls, and so bound together the building laterally. Both of these terms are in our text, and both of them are applied to Christ, who is represented as not only bearing up the whole structure of piety as a foundation, but binding it together as a cornerstone, or the head of the corner, so that, vertically and laterally, the building takes hold and sustains itself by the foundation and the cornerstone. This passage teaches that as a building rests upon its foundation stones, so every Christian rests upon Jesus Christ. They are not merely connected with Him: they rest upon Him. So do they rest upon Him, that if He were to be removed from them all their religious experience would fall, as a wall would go down if its foundation stones were taken out of the way.
I. I first ask you to mark THE DISTINCTION WHICH EXISTS BETWEEN A MERE GENERAL DEPENDENCE UPON GOD, AND A CONSCIOUS PERSONAL LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS, for that is the distinction which demarks between the school of what may be called the naturalists in religion, and of evangelical Christians. It is one thing to be a believer in God's government; it is another thing to hold company with God — to behold Him, to love Him, and to commune with Him, to twine your life about Him.
II. I remark, secondly, THAT THIS DIRECT, INTIMATE, HOURLY, AND DAILY LIVING WITH CHRIST, IS THE THING WHICH THE GOSPEL PROPOSES AS ITS CHARACTERISTIC AIM. Morality is a good thing. A man without it certainly cannot be a Christian, although he may not be one with it. Moralities are mere day labourers, who dig out the roots and clear off the weeds, and get the ground ready for something else. Morals do but plough the soil — piety is the fruitful stein, and love the fair flower which springs from the soil. It is only love that can find out God without searching. Upon its eyes God dawns. Love is that regent quality which was meant to reveal the Divine to us. It carries its own light, and by its own secret nature is drawn instantly towards God, and reflects the knowledge of Him back upon us. When love hath brought forth its central vision of the Divine, and interpreted it to all the other faculties, then they, in turn, become seers, and the soul is helped by every one of its faculties, as by so many eyes, to behold the fulness of God.
III. I remark, thirdly, THAT IT IS DEEMED BY MEN VERY DELUSIVE, AND BY SOME WISE MEN UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE, IN THIS MORTAL STATE, FOR A MAN TO LIVE BY FAITH IN AN INVISIBLE BEING, so that Christ shall seem to be a present companion to him. You might as well attempt to root up an oak of a hundred years' growth as attempt to eradicate my faith in Christ present with me — Christ living with me, and I with Him, so that my life is joined to His. Imagine that I stand, tearful and tremulous, yet joyful, by the side of a magnificent picture, which electrifies me, which touches all the great fountains in my nature, causing them to rise and overflow; which translates my mind, and purifies it. As I stand looking at such a picture, a man comes to me and says, "What are you gazing at, sir?" I begin, in broken language, to tell him what effect the picture is having upon me; and he looks at me with astonishment, and says, "Well, it may be that it affects you so, but it does not stand to reason; for it is natural to suppose that if it affected you so, it would affect me in the same way; and I do not have any such feelings as you profess to have. I am sure I would not pay a sixpence for the thing." There I stand trembling before the picture; he reviles it, because his sensibilities are all materialised. Next there comes to me a utilitarian — one of those men who think nothing good unless it be useful, and with whom use means that which is good to sell or to eat. "Is it possible," he says, "that this picture can operate upon your feelings? It makes no impression upon me whatever. I do not see how it can do such a thing. If you were to tell me that it was one of Raphael's great productions, and that it was worth five or six thousand dollars, I should understand that it had some value. You are a little touched, are you not?" Then a bloated sensualist comes to me, and says, "I would give more for one flagon of wine than for all the old painted rags on earth." He and I live in different worlds. But if none of these could be made to understand my feelings in the presence of a picture, how much less can they know the reality and glory of my feelings before that more glorious revelation of heavenly beauty which shall remain unrolled forever and forever, and which, as I stand before it, causes everything in me of faith, and hope, and joy, and love, to cry out!
IV. NEED I SPEAK OF THE PRECIOUSNESS OF YOUR SAVIOUR? Need I call to your remembrance the experiences in which He has manifested Himself to you? Do you not remember those days of struggle and distress, through which you passed, and that day of hope and joy which succeeded them, when Christ dawned upon you, and you felt that your troubles were over, and your resistance to His will was ended, and you cried out, "My Lord and my God!" and He raised you to His bosom? Has He not revealed Himself to you, saying, "I am with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you"? The manifestation of Christ to us takes away from trouble all its sting. By and by we shall strand, every one of us, in the narrow passage of death, and there is but one Pilot there. If He comes, bright and shining, from the dark waters of the troubled sea, how sweet and precious will He be to the dying soul that has loved Him, and longed to see Him!
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.