In offering a few remarks in reply to the queries of brother Hammond stated in his letter, we shall confine our remarks principally to the particular points on which he desired our views, viz:
1. What does Zion, as spoken of Isaiah lxvi. 7-9, mean?
2. If Zion is the church, who are her children?
Zion is a name which literally signifies, a monument, raised up, &c. It is the name of the loftiest mountain on which the city of Jerusalem was built, and on which the citadel of the Jebusites stood when David took possession of it and transferred his court from Hebron to it, by which it came to be called the city of David, and probably from his having deposited the ark there, it was called the holy hill. It is on the south side of the city of Jerusalem, rising about 400 feet from the valley of Hinnom.
This name is very frequently in the scriptures applied to the church of God, both in the Old and New Testaments. The suitableness and beauty of this appellation to the church of God, will appear from the following considerations:
1. The church is truly a monument of the goodness, mercy, love and grace of God.
2. The church has been raised from sin, condemnation, wrath, and death, by the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ; and being “risen with Christ, she is made to partake of those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” – Col. iii. 1.
3d. As the city of David, (David being an eminent type of Christ) Zion is well calculated to represent the city of our God, which he has set upon a hill, where her light cannot be hid.
4th. Zion was the seat of the government of national Israel, and as such, typical of the church of Christ, in which the spiritual throne of our anti-typical David is located.
5th. The strong and invincible walls and towers of Zion may illustrate the invulnerable walls of salvation with which God has inclosed his church.
6th. All that was prefigured by the ark, the mercy seat, the cherubim, &c., is found in the church. From these, among other considerations, the church as a city is very appropriately called Zion, or Sion, and in this sense we understand the appellation to be used in the text.
2. “If Zion is the church, who are her children?” There may be more difficulty involved in this interrogative than one would suppose. It would seem that the exposition given by Paul, Gal. iv. 27,28 and 31, ought to settle this point to the perfect satisfaction of all who are willing to abide by the decisions of the scriptures; and perhaps it is, but we know that many of the “wise and prudent” of the present age contend zealously that Ishmael and all the creatures of means produced by illicit affinity with the daughters of Moab, Ashdod, Ammon, &c., (see Ezra ix. 1, and Nehemiah xiii. 23-30,) are the legitimate offspring of the free woman. It would be very hard to satisfy arminians that God has ordained that the bond woman and all the children of means shall be cast out of Abraham’s house, and that none but such as are Christ’s are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to promise. It is true, Ishamel was spoken of as Abraham’s son by a bond maid; but God did not regard him as a son, when said to Abraham, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest,” &c. – Gen. xxii. 2. Almost if not all the religious sects which claim to be the church of God, have supplied themselves with numerous handmaids in the form of societies, by which they expect to raise up children to Abraham, and they seem as confident that God will own them as the seed which he had promised to Abraham, as Sarah and Hagar were that Ishmael was the son which God had promised to Sarah; and as the even were that Matthias was the man whom God had chosen to complete the number of the apostles; but their disappointment will be equally great when the word of the Lord shall be executed and the bond-woman and her brood of illegitimates cast out.
Brother Hammond will understand that the names Church, Kingdom, City, Flock, Zion, &c., are used as nouns of multitude, and are applied to the church collectively; that none of these names are applied to the saints individually. And while the church as a whole body is regarded as the bride, the Lamb’s wife, all the individual members belonging to her are known in the relationship of children. Her Maker is her Husband; the Lord of Hosts is his name. He has promised to bring her sons from afar and her daughters from the ends of the earth, and to raise up the sons of Zion against the sons of Greece, and to make her as the sword of a mighty man. Hence we conclude that all the children of the promise, who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God, are, as Isaac was, the children of promise; and Sarah, the free woman, which in Paul’s allegory is Jerusalem which his above, which is free, is the mother of them all; and as Zion was the highest elevation of Jerusalem, so it must denote Jerusalem which is above, instead of that Jerusalem which answered to Mount Sinai, and which is in bondage with her children.
New Vernon, N.Y.,
February 1, 1847
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 744 - 746