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“THE humiliation of the Son of God was now drawing rapidly to a close. He had accomplished his decease at Jerusalem:' he had risen victorious from the grave: and, during forty days, he had been living among his disciplesconvincing them, by many infallible proofs,' that he was indeed restored to life. There remained but one more thing to be done that for which he had prayed, in John, xvii. 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before prayer, as you have heard in my text, was fulfilled; he all heavens, that he might fill all things,' and become for ever. The text sets before us,
the world was.' This ascended up far above Head over his Church
"I. THE LAST ACTS OF THE REDEEMER ON EARTH.
"1. He selects a suitable place, from which to take his departure. He had conversed with his friends at Jerusalem in an inner chamber,' 'when the doors were shut.... for fear of the Jews;' and if secrecy was desirable then, it was now much more so. The last glorious display was not intended for malicious Pharisees, for unbelieving Sadducees and Scribes. Evidence enough had been given to them, and more would hereafter be added. The public ministry of Jesus ended with his great sacrifice; and what remains of earthly intercourse shall be devoted exclusively to his friends. He therefore led them out' from Jerusalem, as far as to Bethany.'
"It has been argued, that this could not be the town of Martha and Mary— because that Bethany was two miles from Jerusalem; whereas the Apostles are said to have returned from this sight, only a sabbath day's journey '— that is to say, one mile. But why may we not suppose, that he first visited the town of Bethany, even if he did afterwards return part of the way, before he ascended up to heaven? The supposition is far from being improbable; and, if such were the fact, what a touching circumstance was here! He cannot forget Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus! Whom he loveth, he loveth unto the end' and as they are to see him no more, they shall be of those who see him the last. It is one of the manifold proofs of the Saviour's kind affection. Love him, brethren, as that pious family did, and you shall see greater things than this. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant.'
"2. He solemnly blesses his disciples.-He had by his deeds been blessing them, from the first moment of their acquaintance with him; for he had converted their souls, and had instructed them in the things relating to his kingdom. But he now does it by an express outward act. With uplifted hands, he calls on his Father to protect, comfort, sanctify, and prosper them.-If you would know what gifts that blessing included, you may see them fully enumerated in John, xvii.: he could ask no greater-he would ask no less-than are there recorded. Neither prayed he for these alone, but for them also which should afterwards believe on him, through their word.' Happy believer! who can by faith see those hands of love still stretched over him, and apply to himself the Saviour's blessing! May such be your privilege and mine for I wot that he whom thou, Lord, blessest, is blessed indeed.—At length,
"3. He ascends up to heaven. Here was no imposition! place tells us, that the act was done while they beheld.'
St. Luke in another
the circumstantial order of the event. He was parted from them-literally, ng stood aside from them;' both to prevent interruption, and that all migh see the whole transaction. Then he was carried up;' moving towards heaven in full view of the whole party, till, at length, a cloud received him out of their sight.' Carried? by whom? By hosts of invisible beings—' angels that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word. For now was fulfilled that which was spoken of the Lord by David -The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place. Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive.' Doubtless, there were angels assisting on the occasion; for we find two of them returning in visible form, to comfort the disciples with a promise, that he would hereafter come again in like manuer from heaven. As, therefore, we believe that he rose from the dead, so also do we believe that he is gone into heaven. . . . angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.'
"II. THE FIRST ACTS OF the RedeemED AFTER HIS DEPARTURE.
"1. They worshipped him.-Remember that! The appointed teachers of the Christian religion worshipped' Christ-it was their very first act, after they had ceased to behold him. And do not suppose that it was merely some respectful inclination of the body-such as is meant in our Marriage service. No-it was holy adoration, as to the invisible God; and accompanied, doubtless, by such words as Thomas was once permitted to use without censure—' My Lord, and my God!' Had they given such honour to the two angels, they would have met with a rebuke like that which St. John afterwards received under similar circumstances- See thou do it not!.... worship God! But in worshipping Jesus, they did worship God; and were therefore blameless.
"2. They were filled with joy-great joy. O how different from what they had once anticipated! Now I go my way to him that sent me; and because I say this, sorrow hath filled your heart.' But now, when he does this, they are 'filled with joy.' Whence this difference? It was because Jesus had now opened their understanding, to discern the mystery of his sufferings and his glory. The Comforter, moreover, I am inclined to believe, was immediately sent down with his sanctifying influences; although for his miraculous gifts they had yet to wait ten days longer.
"3. In the use of appointed means they sought and expected his gifts of grace. In Jerusalem were they to receive the promise of the Father;' therefore they at once returned thither. On their arrival, behold them 'continually in the temple, praising and blessing God!' continually-that is, at every appointed service. Surrounded as they were by formal and ignorant worshippers, how different their views, hopes, and feelings!-Yet such, brethren, as theirs were-such, by divine grace, may yours also be. What though others gain no blessing in public worship, in hearing the word, in the holy communion; yet this need not be the case with you. Only look up to the Lord of the temple, and he will make it a Bethel to your soul. In the breaking of bread' Jesus himself shall be known of you,' if by faith you seek him. O then, 'enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting;
and his truth endureth to all generations.' "-REV. J. JOWETT, A.M.
THE HEAVENLY TEMPLE
RBV. H. MELVILL, A.M.
PERCY CHAPEL, CHARLOTTE STREET, FITZROY SQUARE, MAY 31, 1835.
" And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple
of it."-REVELATIONS, xxi. 22.
These words occur, as you may be all aware, in that sublime description of the new Jerusalem, which is given us by St. John, in the conclusion of the book of the Revelations. We are not much concerned, in order to the understanding its import, with the prophetical bearings of the last chapters of this book; seeing that it is admitted on all hands, these chapters describe the future and everlasting blessedness of the righteous : and if this be admitted, we have all that can be gathered from the context towards illustrating the words which are to come under review.
Our text is not the only verse in the chapter which describes the heavenly state by the absence of things with which we are familiar here. We are told that “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” We have no difficulty in understanding the absence from the new heavens and earth of these consequences of sin ; their continuance would be alike inconsistent with the holiness and the happiness of eternity. Again we read that “there shall be no night there." It were easy to shew many a striking change which this absence of night seems to indicate as having passed upon our nature. Night is emphatically the season of rest; and the saying, “there shall be no night there,” is saying, we shall no longer require periods of repose.
At present it is sufficient to prove an individual not human, to prove him capable of existing without sleep, or to adapt himself to the circumstances of a planet whose diurnal rotation should so far differ from our own, that the days and nights are described as three or four times as long. It is a beautiful adaptation of the inhabitant to the dwelling-place, or of the dwellingplace to the inhabitant, that the hours during which man may labour, and those during which he rests, make up the time of the earth's rotation on its axis.
But there is a great deal involved in the absence of night: without spiritualizing the expression—without endeavouring to show that absence of night is characteristic of the heavenly state; applying it, that is, to the absence of all moral darkness, the unbroken continuance of day-light supposes such an alteration in our construction as, in itselt, should make me long for futurity. That there shall be no moment of inactivity, nor seasons of weariness ; that no employment will exhaust, no duty prove a burden; that always elastic and vigorous, I shall be always alike ready for searching into the wonders of God
these are some of the consequences, and make me dwell with delight on the fac that "there shall be no night there."
But our text is a still more remarkable instance how heaven may be delineated by the absence of things with which we are familiar on earth. We can perceive at once, that it is nothing but our feebleness which causes us to connect pleasurable ideas with the absence of night; and we might be prepared, therefore, to expect, that there would be no night in heaven. But the case is somewhat different in respect of temples or churches. Temples or churches are places in which we specially abstract ourselves from earth, and have fellowship with our Creator and Redeemer in heaven. "How dreadful is this place!" exclaimed Jacob when at Bethel: "this is none other than the house of God, and the gate of heaven." The public worship of the Almighty, when with one heart and one voice the congregation join in prayer and praise, presents the best image which is to be found within the circle of our creation, of the employment of the redeemed in glory. We know, moreover, that it is through the preaching of his word, that God sends messages to our souls. So that forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, would be abandoning the appointed channels of intercourse between earth and heaven. Hence temples do not seem out of place in sketches of the earth; and we might almost have expected, that when St. John gazed on the Eternal City, he would have beheld it rich in the structures especially consecrated to Deity. And yet, you observe, it is with temples as with night—“I saw no temple therein." Or, rather, it is with temples as with the sun and the moon: "The city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." Thus also-" I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." So that, after all, the assertion is not that there is no temple in heaven, but that the place of our earthly sanctuary is supplied in some mysterious, and, perhaps, ineffable manner, by direct manifestations of Deity.
Now it cannot be other than a most interesting and instructive inquiry, that which sets itself to the tracing out the intimations conveyed by the fact, tnat there is no temple in heaven but the Almighty. We are quite persuaded there lies a vast amount of moral intelligence in such intimations as that of the difference between our two states of being. And however true it may be that the future must be realized before it can be understood, it is equally true that we may remain more ignorant than God designed us to be of its wonders, through neglecting the scattered notices of the Bible, or through omitting to sift their meaning. We are, moreover, induced to occupy you with this subject on the present occasion, because, we think, it will well introduce that appeal to your liberality, which we have undertaken to-day. The object commended to your benevolence, is one which must be dear to all who would uphold Christianity in a neighbourhood; namely, that of supporting a place of worship in connexion with the Established Church, and on which, from unavoidable circumstances, there has long pressed a considerable debt. And in treating of the absence of temples from the heavenly state, we shall be led to dwell so much on their necessity in the earthly, that we believe no topic of address could be better suited than that now chosen, to urge you to co-operate in so holy and righteous an end.
We proceed to consider the use of temples in man's present state. We shal. then, in the second place, consider the absence of temples from his future state. and, in conclusion, apply the whole subject to that cause which now solicits your support.
Now whatever disputes may arise in respect of the spiritual obligation of the Sabbath as a divine institution, it would be hard, we think, to select a single appointment which so manifestly consults the well-being of society. If there were no future world, so that our calculations might be limited to this existence, the Sabbath would still be the most merciful, or rather the most necessary, ordinance, as affording time for the recruiting of minds, which would be certainly worn down by incessant application. We entertain no doubt, though we pretend not to reckon it susceptible of equal demonstration, that just as twenty-four hours is the exact length of time for the return of toil and sleep to mankind, so is one day in seven that precise portion of our lives which should be given to the repair of an overtasked nature. We are not able to prove that one day in three would be more than enough, or that one day in ten would be less than enough, for the preserving in any thing like healthful play the energies of the human machine. But we are so well assured that there are proofs of the nicest adaptation between man and every appointment wherewith man is found to be connected, and which we can trace in great variety of particulars, that we can feel certain that the selection of one day in seven was not arbitrary, but that it was ordered with as exact reference to the wear and tear of our powers, as that distribution of light and darkness which we have already commended to your notice. If you annihilate the Sabbath, and so do away with that fine pause in all the businesses of a stirring comm
muvity which each seventh day introduces, you will have done more towards rasping down the energies of the nation, than if you had sent mutiny into its armies, and recklessness into its commerce. If the time ever came when each inan went day by day to his business, without having a day of rest; and when there was no weekly cessation of bustle in our exchanges, our courts of law, our shops, and our farms, we should bave made the nearest approach towards national decrepitude; the powers of every class would be most fearfully overwrought; and we could expect nothing but the speedy giving way of an engine, on all of whose parts there was such an unnatural tension.
But it is to the day as the period in which attention can be given to the concerns of the soul, that the Sabbath is to be revered, and its institution upheld. Those who are engaged in secular concerns will be ready to confess the worth of an arrangement which withdraws them for one day in the week from the deadening atmosphere of profit and loss, and that leaves them at liberty to increase their acquaintance with the things of eternity. We are convinced that God is honoured and served by our faithful discharge of the duties of life; and we do not therefore think, that because a man's occupations are incessant and laborious, he is incapacitated from making great progress in religion. The pious tradesman who makes his godliness a ruling principle in the business and intercourse of life, will unquestionably find his Christianity matured by the business of the week-day as well as by the exercises of the Sabbath. It is nothing better than a calumny on religion, to speak of it as a thing which flourishes in