« ZurückWeiter »
discovered; but if you would see him best, it is not on Bashan, it is not on Hermon, it is not on Tabor; it was on Mount Zion that the Lord God loved to make a special display of himself. It is so with the Church. God is to be seen in the midst of her; her helper, her strength, her teacher, her guide, her deliverer, her sanctifier. In holy communion-in the breaking of bread, and in the pouring out of wine, in holy baptism-in the immersion of believers into the Lord Jesus Christ, in the preaching of the Word, in the constant declaration of the great salvation of Jesus, in the lifting up of the cross, in the high exalting of him that died upon it, in the preaching of the Covenant, in the declaration of the grace of God-here is he to be seen, here is his name written in brighter letters and in clearer lines than elsewhere the wide world o'er. Hence his church is said to be his temple. Oh, Christian people, you know this, for God dwelleth in you, and walketlı with you; you dwell in him, and he dwells in you—“the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant.” It is your happy privilege to walk with God; he manifests liimself to you, as he doth not unto the world; he takes you into his inner chamber; he manifests his love; the song of Solomon is sung in your courts, and nowhere else; it is not the song of the wide world, it is the sonnet of the inner chamber, the song of the house of wine, the music of the banquet. You understand this, for you have been brought into near acquaintance with Christ; you have been made to lean your head upon his bosom, you have been taught to look into his heart, and to see eternal thoughts of love there towards you. You know well, better than we can tell you, what it is to be the temple of the living God.
And once more; we should fail to describe the reason why the word "temple " is used to picture the church, if we did not observe that the church is like the templea place of worship. There was a law passed by God, that no offering should be presented to him except upon the one altar in his temple at Jerusalem, and that law is extant to this day. No acceptable service can be offered to Christ except by his church. Only those who believe in Christ can offer songs, and prayers, and praises, that shall be received of God. Whatever ordinances you attend to, who are without Christ in your hearts, you do belie that ordinance and prostitute it-you do not honour God therein. Two men go up to the temple to pray; the one a believer, the other an unbeliever. He that is an unbeliever may have the gifts of oratory, the mightiest fluency of speech, but his prayer is an abomination unto God, whilst the feeblest utterance of the true believer is received with smiles by him that sits upon the throne. Two persons go to the Master's table—the one loveth the ordinance in its outward sign, and reverenceth it with superstition, but he knows not Christ; the other believes in Jesus, and knows how to eat his flesh and drink his blood as a worthy partaker in that divine ordinance; God is honoured in the one, the ordinance is dishonoured in the other. Two persons come to holy Baptism: the one loves the Master, believes in his name, and trusts him; he is baptized, he honours Christ. Another comes, perhaps an unconscious infant, one who is incapable of faith, or hath no faith; he dishonours God, he dishonours the ordinance in venturing to touch it, when he is not one of the church, and therefore hath no right to offer sacrifice of prayer and praise unto the Lord our God. There is only one altar-that is, Christ; and there is only one set of priests, namely, the church of God, the men chosen out of the world to be clothed in white robes to minister at his altar, and whosoever besides pretendeth to worship God, worshippeth him not aright. His offering is like that of Cain; God hath no respect to his sacrifice, “ for without faith it is impossible to please God." We care not who it is that doth the act; unless he believeth, he cannot win pleasure from God, nor shall his sacrifice be accepted.
I have thus noted the reasons why the church is said to be the temple. As there was only one temple, so there is only one church. That one church is his holy place, where God dwells, where God accepts worship, where songs of praise are daily uttered, and the smoking incense of prayer continually comes up before his nostrils with acceptance. II. Now, we have an interesting subject in the second part of our text.
He shall build the temple of the Lord.” Christ IS THE CHURCH'S ONLY BUILDER. Now, I shall want to make a parallel between Christ's building the church, and Solomon, as the builder of the first temple. When Solomon built the temple, the first thing he did was to obtain instructions with regard to the model upon which he should build it. Solomon was exceeding wise, but I do not think he was his own
architect. The Lord, who had shown the pattern of the old tabernacle in the wilderness to Moses, doubtless showed the pattern of the temple to Solomon, so that the pillars, and the roof, and the floor thereof, were all ordained of God, and every one of them settled in heaven. Now, Christ Jesus in this is no Solomon; with this exception, that being God over all, blessed for ever, he was his own architect. Christ has made the plan of his church. You and I have made a great many plans for the building up of that church. The Presbyterian makes his plans extremely precise. He will put an elder in every corner, and the Presbytery is the great ground-work—the pillar and the ground of the truth; and right is he in so doing to an extent. The Episcopalian builds his temple too. He will have a bishop at the door-post, and he will have a priest to shut the gate. He will have everything built according to the model that was seen by Cranmer in the mount, it he ever was there at all. And those of us who are of severer discipline, and have a simpler style, must have Christ's church always built in the congregational order; every congregation distinct and separate, and governed by its own bishop, and deacons, and elders. But mark, Christ does not attend to our points of church government, for there is one part of Christ's church that is Episcopalian, and looks as if a bishop of the Church of England had ordered it; another part is Presbyterian; another, Baptist; another, Congregational; and yet all these styles of architecture somehow fused into one by the Great Architect, make that goodly structure which is called “the temple of Christ, the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth.” Christ must be his own architect. He will bring out different points of truth in different ways. Why, I believe that different denominations are sent on purpose to set out different truths. There are some of our brethren a little too bigh, they bring out better than any other people, the grand old truths of sovereign grace. There are some, on the other hand, a little too low; they bring out with great clearness the great and truthful doctrines of man's responsibility. So that two truths that might have been neglected, either the one or the other, if only one form of Christianity existed, are both brought out, both made resplendent, by the different denominations of God's people, who are alike chosen of God, and precious to him.
God forbid I should say anything that would bolster up any in their errors; nevertheless God's people, even in error, are a precious people. Even when they seem to be as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter, they are still comparable to fine gold. Rest assured that the Lord hath deep designs to answer, even by the divisions of his church. We must not interfere with Christ's reasons, nor with his style of architecture. Every stone that is in the temple, Jesus Christ ordained should be put where it is; even those stones that are most contemptible and unseen, were put in their places by him. There is not one board of cedar, one piece of burnished pinnacle, that was not foreseen and pre-arranged in that eternal covenant of grace which was the great plan that Christ, the Almighty Architect, did draw for the building of the temple to his praise. Christ, then, is the only Architect, and he shall bear the glory, for he designed the building.
Now, you remember that when Solomon set to work to build his temple, he found a mountain ready for his purpose, mount Moriah. The top of it was not quite broad enough; he had therefore to enlarge it, so that there might be room for the beautiful temple, the joy of the whole earth. When Jesus Christ came to build his temple, he found no mountain on which to build it; he had no mountain in our nature, he had to find a mountain in his own, and the mountain upon which he has built his church is the mountain of his own unchangeable affection, his own strong love, his own omnipotent grace and infallible truthfulness. It is this that constitutes the mountain upon which the church is built, and on this the foundation hath been digged, and the great stones laid in the trenches with oaths and promises and blood to make them stand secure, even though earth should rock and all creation suffer decay.
Then after Solomon had his mountain ready and the foundation builded, the next trouble was he had no trees near at hand: there were, however, fine trees growing in Lebanon, but his servants had not skill enough to cut them down. He had, therefore, to send for Hiram, king of Tyre, with his servants, to cut down the trees upon Lebanon, which, after being shaped according to the model, were to be sent by rafts or floats to Joppa, the port nearest to Jerusalem, and there brought a short distance over land for the building of the temple. He had to do the same with the stones of the quarry; for the different stones that were needed for the building had to be hewn out of the quarry by Hiram's servants, assisted by some of Solomon's people, who had inferior skill and therefore were set about the more laborious and rougher parts of the work. The same fact you will notice, if you will read the history of the building of Solomon's temple, occurred with regard to the making of the vessels of the house. It is said that Hiram did cast them, and Solomon fvund the gold; and the moulds were made in the great plain, and Solomon did cast them there, with Hiram for his chief designer and director.
Ah! but herein Solomon fails to be a type of Christ. Christ builds the temple himself. There stand the cedars of Lebanon that the Lord hath planted, but they are not ready for the building; they are not cut down, nor shaped, nor made into those planks of cedar, whose odoriferous beauty shall make glad the courts of the Lord in Paradise. No; Jesus Christ must cut them down with the axe of conviction; he must cut them up with the great saw of his law; he must plane and polish them with his holy gospel. And when he hath made them fit to be pillars in the house of the Lord, then they shall be carried across the sea to heaven; then shall they be placed in his temple for ever. No Hiram is needed. The axe is in his hand, the plane is in his hand too. He understandeth well that business. Was he not a carpenter on earth? And spiritually, he shall be the same to his church for ever and ever. It is even the same with the stones of the temple. We are like rough stones in the quarry. Behold the hole of the pit whence we were digged, and the rock whence we were hewn. But we were hewn out of that rock by no hand but Christ's. He raised up seed unto Abraham out of the stones of the pit; it was his own hammer that broke the rock in pieces, and his own arm of strength that wielded the hammer, when he dashed us from the rock of our sin. Though we are each of us being polished, so that we may be ready for the temple, yet there is nothing that polishes but Christ. Afflictions cannot sanctify us, except as they are used by Christ, as his mallet and his chisel. Our joys and our efforts cannot make us ready for heaven, apart from the hand of Jesus who fashioneth our hearts aright, and prepareth us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.
Thus you notice that herein Jesus Christ excels Solomon, for he provides all the materials. He hews them himself; he rough-casts them first, and then afterwards, during life, polishes them till he makes them ready to transport them to the hill of God, whereon his temple is to be built. I was thinking what a pretty figure was that floating of the trees of Lebanon after being sawn into planks and made ready to be fixed as pillars of the temple—what a fine emblem of death! Is it not just 80 with us? Here we grow, and are at length cut down, and made ready to become pillars of the temple. Across the stream of death, we are ferried by a loving hand, and brought to the port of Jerusalem, where we are safely landed, to go no more out for ever, but to abide as eternal pillars in the temple of our Lord, Now, you know the Tyrians floated these rafts; but no stranger, no foreigner shall float us across the stream of death. It is remarkable that Jesus Christ always uses expressions with regard to his people, which impute their death to him alone. You will recollect the expression in the Revelation-" Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe." But when he begins to reap, not the vintage, which represents the wicked that were to be crushed, but the harvest which represents the godly; then it is said, “He that sat upon the throne thrust in the sickle." He did not leave it to his angels, he did it himself. It is so with the bringing of those planks, and the moving of those stones. I say no king of 'Tyre and Sidon shall do it; Jesus Christ, who on the death of death and hell's destruction, he himself shall pilot us across the stream, and land us safe on Canaan's side. “He shall build the temple of the Lord.”
Well, after these things were brought, Solomon had to employ many thousand workmen to put them in their proper places. You know that in Solomon's temple there was no sound of hammer heard; for the stones were made ready in the quarries, and brought all shaped and marked so that the masons might know the exact spot in which they were to be placed; so that no sound of iron was needed. All the planks and timbers were carried to their right places, and all the catches with which they were to be linked together were prepared, so that there might not even be the driving of a nail—everything was ready beforehand. It is the same with us. When we get to heaven, there will be no sanctifying us there, no squaring us with affliction, no hammering us with the rod, no
making us meet there. We must be made meet here; and blessed be his name, all that Christ will do beforehand. When we get there, we shall not need angels to put this member of the church in one place, and that member in another; Christ who brought the stones from the quarry and made them ready, shall himself place the people in their inheritance in paradise. For he has himself said, “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go away, I will come again and I will receive you unto myself.” Ch shall his own usher; he shall receive his people himself; he shall stand at the gates of heaven himself to take his own people, and to put them in their allotted heritage in the land of the blessed.
I have no doubt you have read many times the story of Solomon's temple, and you have noticed that he overlaid all the temple with gold. He provided much of the substance, but his father Darid brought him a good store. Now Jesus will overlay all of us with gold, when he builds us in heaven. Do not imagine we shall be in heaven what we are to-day. No, beloved, if the cedar could see itself after it had been made into a pillar, it would not know itself. If you could see yourselves as you shall be made, you would say, “• It doth not yet appear' how great we must be made.” Nor were these pillars of cedars to be left naked and unadorned—though they had been fair and lovely then they were overlaid with sheets of gold. So shall we be. “It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body,” plated with pure gold: no longer what it was, but precious, lustrous, glorified.
And in the temple, we understand, there was a great brazen sea, in which the priests did wash themselves, and there were other brazen seas, in which they washed the lambs and bullocks when they were offered. In heaven there is a great laver, in which allour souls have been washed, “ for they have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the lamb.” Now Christ himself prepares this sacred sea. He filled it with blood from his own veins. As for our prayers and praises, the great laver in which they are washed, was also made and filled by Christ; so that they with us are clean, and we offer acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. I say again, before I leave this head, there is no part of the great temple of the church, which was not made by Christ. There is a great deal in the church on earth, that Christ had nothing to do withı; but there is nothing in his true church, and nothing especially his glorified church, which was not put there by him. Therefore, we may well come to the conclusion, on the last head, here, he shall bear all the glory, for he was the only builder of it.
III. Now, what a sweet thing it is to try and GLORIFY Christ. I am happy this morning to have a subject that will magnify my Master. But is it not a sad thing, that when we would magnify Christ most, our poor, failing lips refuse to speak. Oh, if you would know my Master's glory, you must see it for yourselves, for like the Queen of Sheba, the half can never be told you, even by those who know him most and love him best. Half his glory never can be told. Pause il while, and let me endeavour to address to you a few loving words. Your Master, O ye saints of the Lord, has prepared you, and will build you into his temple. Speak and say, he shall have all the glory. Let us note, first, that the glory which he shall have will be a weighty glory. Dr. Gill says, “ the expression implies, that the glory will be a weighty one, for it said, he shall bear the glory." “They shall hang," says another expression, “ upon him all the glory of his Father's house;" and in another place, we are told, that there is “ an exceeding weight of glory,” which is prepared for the righteous. How great then, the weight of glory which shall be given to Christ. Oh, think not that Christ is to be glorified in such humble measure, as he is on earth. The songs of heaven are nobler strains than ours. The hearts of the redeemed pay him loftier homage than we can offer. Try not to judge of the magnificence of Christ by the pomp of kings, or by the reverence paid to mighty men on earth. His glory far surpasses all the glory of this time and space. The honour which shall be bestowed upon him, is as the brightness of the sun, the honours of earth are but the twinklings of a fading star. Before him, at this very day, principalities and powers do bow themselves. Ten thousand times ten thousand seraphim wait at his footstool. “ The chariots of the Lord are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels," and all these wait his beck and his command. And as for his redeemed, how do they magnify him? never staying, never changing, never wearying; they raise their shout higher, and higher, and higher, and yet louder, and louder still, the strain is
lifted up, and evermore it is the same. “ To him that liveth and was dead and is alive for evermore, unto him be glory, world without end."
And note again, that this glory is undivided glory. In the church of Christ in heaven, no one is glorified but Christ. He who is honoured on earth has some one to share the honour with him, some inferior helper who laboured with him in the work; but Christ has none. He is glurified, and it is all his own glory. Oh, when you get to heaven, ye children of God, will ye praise any but your Master? Calvinists, to-day you love John Calvin; will you praise him there? Lutheran, to-day thou dost love the memory of that stern reformer, wilt thou sing the song of Luther in heaven? Follower of Wesley, thou hast a reverence for that evangelist; wilt thou in heaven have a note for John Wesley ? None, none, none! Giving up all names and all honours of men, the strain shall rise in undivided and unjarring unison “ unto him that loved us, that washed us from our sins in his blood, unto him be glory for ever and ever.”
But again: he shall have all the glory; all that can be conceived, all that can be desired, all that can be imagined shall come to him. To-day, you praise him, but not as you can wish; in heaven you shall praise him to the summit of your desire. To-day you see him magnified, but you see not all things put under him; in heaven all things shall acknowledge his doniinion. There every knee shall bow before him, and every tongue confess that he is Lord. He shall have all the glory.
But to conclude on this point; this glory is continual glory. It says he shall bear all the glory. When shall this dominion become effete? When shall this promise be so fulfilled that it is put away as a worn out garment? Never,
“ While life, and thought, and being last,
Or immortality endures,”
we shall never leave off praising Christ. We think we can almost guess how we shall feel when we get to heaven, with regard to our Master. Methinks if I should ever be privileged to behold his blessed face with joy, I shall want nothing but to be allowed to approach his throne, and cast what little honour I may have before his feet, and then be there and ever more adore the matchless splendour of his love, the marvels of his might. Suppose some one entering were to say to the redeemed, “Suspend your songs for a moment! Ye have been praising Christ, lo, these six thousand years; many of you have without cessation praised him now these many centuries! Stop your song a moment; pause and give your songs to some one else for an instant. Oh, can you conceive the scorn with which the myriad eyes of the redeemed would smite the tempter? “Stop from praising bim! No, never. Time may stop, for it shall be no more, the world may stop, for its revolutions must cease; the universe may stop its cycles and the movings of its world, but for us to stop our songs-never, never!”—and it shall be said, “ Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth." He shall have all the glory, and he shall have it for ever; his name shall endure for ever; his name shali continue as long as the sun; men shall be blessed in him, and all generations shall call him blessed; therefore shall they praise him for ever and
IV. Now, in conclusion, let us just make A PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF OUR TEXT. Brothers and sisters, are we to-day built upon Christ? Can we say, that we hope that we are a part of his temple; that his handiwork has been exhibited upon us, and that we are built together with Christ? It'so, listen to one word of exhortation. Let us evermore honour him. Oh! methinks, every beam of cedar, and every slab of gold, and every stone of the temple, felt honoured when it was raised up to be a part of the fabric for Jehovah's praise. And if that cedar, that marble, could have been vocal in that day when the flame descended from heaven, the token of Jehovah's presence, the stone, and the cedar, and the gold, and the silver, and the brass, all would have burst out into song, and would have said, “ We praise thee, O God, for thou hast made the gold more than gold, and the cedar more than cedar, inasmuch as thou hast consecrated us to be the temple of thine indwelling." And now, will you not do the same? O my brothers and sisters ! God has highly honoured you to be stones in the temple of Christ. When you think of what you were, and what you might have been; how you might have been stones in the black dungeons of vengeance for ever, dark dank stones, where the moss, and the weed, and the slimy thing for ever might have lived'; disgraced, abandoned, cast