The Character, Excellence, and Estimate of the Pious
Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons
Lamentations 4:2-12
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 CHARACTERS DESCRIBED. "The precious sons of Zion."

1. Zion is their spiritual birthplace. Being "begotten again," they have received the spirit of sons (Galatians 4:6), and now aspire after the "better country" to which the sons of Zion are entitled (Isaiah 35:10; Hebrews 11:16).

2. They acknowledge their great and growing obligations to Zion.

3. They are devoted to the interests of Zion. Gratitude, piety, benevolence, prompt them to promote the prosperity of the Church, by persuasion, etc.; and by their example and their prayers (Psalm 122:6-9; Isaiah 62:1; Matthew 5:14-16; Romans 12:1).

4. They are entitled to all the privileges and immunities of Zion. They are "free" (Galatians 4:31); "are fellow citizens with the saints," etc. (Ephesians 2:19). And the unfailing word of Zion's King secures to her protection (Isaiah 26:1); provision (Psalm 132:15); support (Isaiah 35:3, 4); comfort (Psalm 132:16); and eternal glory (Isaiah 60:14-20).


1. In respect of its purity. "Comparable to fine gold"; which is gold that has undergone a certain process of purification, to clear it from dross, and thus make it more fine, solid, strong, and useful. So the saints have all experienced "the renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5); and their hearts are purified by faith (Acts 15:9).

2. In respect of its value. Gold is of "the precious metals" the most precious, i.e., of highest price. The text speaks of fine gold, of the best quality; and therefore most valuable. In this sense Zion's sons are precious; possessing intrinsic excellence. They are partakers of precious grace (2 Peter 1:1); which they exercise on precious promises (2 Peter 1:4); which promises have respect to a precious Saviour (1 Peter 2:5-7); by whose precious blood they are redeemed (1 Peter 1:19).

3. In respect of its utility. The true sons of Zion are greatly useful, on account of their excellent principles of philanthropy and social order, uniting the different classes and members of society, and promoting the welfare of the whole (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Whence results the excellence of their practice; as rulers (2 Samuel 23:1-3); parents (Ephesians 6:4); masters (Colossians 4:1); subjects (Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:17); children (Ephesians 6:1-3); servants (Ephesians 6:5-7); doing evil to none (Romans 12:17); but good to all. "If thine enemy hunger, feed him," etc. And they are valuable also, on account of their piety and their prayers.

4. In respect of its honour. Gold has been employed in presents to the most honourable persons (1 Kings 10:2, 10; Matthew 2:11); and in the most honourable services; whether civil (Psalm 14:9, 13); or sacred (Exodus 25:11-22; 2 Chronicles 3:3-11). The pious are highly honourable in the estimation of those who are proper judges of what constitutes an honourable character.

III. THE ESTIMATION IN WHICH THE SONS OF ZION ARE TOO OFTEN HELD. "How are they esteemed as earthen pitchers," etc.; as mean, worthless, despicable things! This false estimate of the pious happens, because Satan employs all his craft and all his agency to obscure the excellence of truth and piety; and to gild with a false and beguiling lustre what is wrong and wicked.

1. Their principles are misnamed. Their humility is meanness; their forbearance and meekness, pusillanimity, weakness, etc. On the other hand, their zeal is rashness; their firmness, obstinacy; their piety, enthusiasm, etc.

2. Their motives are suspected. Of the Redeemer Himself it was said, "He is a bad man, and deceiveth the people."

3. Their conduct is misrepresented. "Prejudice has neither eyes nor ears" to discover merit; but it whets the tongue of slander, to mangle, disfigure, and distort innocent actions; and then to inflict censure and condemnation.

(1) In our estimate of character let us not judge from common report; but from our own observation.

(2) Nor by the maxims of the world; but by those of God's Word. Many, of whom the world was not worthy," have "wandered in sheepskins," etc.

(3) Nor be solicitous of the honour that cometh from men; but "the honour that cometh from God only" (John 5:41-44).

(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!

WEB: The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, How are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!

Men Lightly Esteemed
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