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the cloister and withers in the counting-house. Yet there is a necessity for
And in exact proportion as you recognize the worth of the institution of the Sabbath, you will also recognize the necessity that there is for a public provision for its right use and improvement. It would be of little moral benefit to our peasants and our mechanics, that one day in seven should be set apart froin business for religion, unless some means of instruction were placed at their disposal. We could expect nothing better than that the time intended for religion would be given to idleness and profligacy, if there were no organized system which brought the lessons of Christianity to almost their own doors. A Sabbath without churches would be a day of open licentiousness, rather than even the appearance of devotion. And you might leave untouched the ordinance of the Sabbath, yea, and enforce with the utmost carefulness, its outward observance, so that in the high way of traffic there should be the quietness, and the bustle of our crowded streets should be exchanged for the listlessness of the village: but if there is to be no public gathering of the people, and if, in the hushing of other sounds, you hush the bell that calls men to the solemn assembly, and thus take away from us that music which ushers in each Sabbath's morn, and which seems to chime to us of heaven, we fear and believe you would leave the land overspread with a godless population : and in providing a season of leisure, without assisting thein to use it to heavenly purposes, you would strengthen a hundred-fold the growth of impiety, by giving it clearer space for its development. Our churches were designed, and ought to serve, as schools of theology-seminaries in which multitudes who every day but the Sabbath are immersed in secular occupations, may be instructed in the ordinances and duties of religion.
We are quite certain of many a village pastor in our land, that he has been instrumental through his Sabbath ministrations, in sending a system of sound, practical divinity into all the cottages of his parish. During the week he can , scarcely gain access to any of his parishioners, except the young and the sick;
the rest are occupied from morning till night, and have no time to give to their minister s instructions. But then comes the Sabbath-morn, and with it the instructive book, which tells the husbandman and the agriculturist the way to heaven. There is a spectacle yet to be seen in our community—that of the villagers flocking from different parts of the scattered hamlet, their little groups dotting the fields in every direction, and all going up to the rustic church, girt round with the graves of their fathers—which it were vain to look for under any other arrangement. The pastor can thus bring to bear all that influence which, unless every good feeling is exiled from our valleys, will make the faithful parish priest one of the most powerful of rulers : for is he not associated in the minds of his people with every birth, every marriage, and every funeral, so that all that is joyous, and all that is sorrowful in the annals of the village, seems to claim him as a party concerned ?
It will bring to bear all his influence on his congregation; and in discoursing to them on successive Sabbaths of successive truths of Christianity, he will prevail to giving them a soberer theological information; 80 that numbers will grow well instructed in the disclosures of the Bible; and that mainly under the blessing of the Almighty through the working of the two-fold arrangement—that there is a Sabbath which they are required to keep, and that there are churches to which they may repair.
But over and above these almost self-evident reasons why there must be churches in our earthly state, preaching is the appointed ordinance of God on a day when he gathers in his people. A season set apart solely for divine worship is not of human device, but possesses all the sanctions derived from the known will of our Creator. And then when we assemble ourselves in the church we bring ourselves into the position in which God hath directed that those who seek acquaintance with himself shall be placed, and we are looking through the channels in which they are especially promised. It is therefore in no sense optional, we say, if it were not on the principles of the Bible, whether or no there shall be churches in our land, and whether or no we shall resort to thein for worship; seeing that were we to do away with all arrangements for the public worship of God, we cut ourselves off from the only appointed means of grace, and could expect nothing else but the rapid decay of individual piety. While tabernacling on earth, and therefore able to see only through a glass darkly, we must obtain our knowledge of God from other modes than that of immediate communion. These modes must be such as God is pleased to appoint; inasmuch as seeing the benefit sought is wholly gratuitous, the method of distribution must be left to the Giver: and while it is directed that we forsake not the assembling of ourselves together, and whilst it is promised that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them," we know it to be our duty to rear temples to Jehovah, and claim it as our privilege to go up to the house of the Lord.
But it is comparatively easy to dilate on the use of temples in inan's present state : we pass on to more difficult matter, and would consider, in the second place, the ABSENCE OP TEMPLES PROM MAN'S PUTURB STATE. This is the chief thing coinmended to our attention in the words of the text. But what we have advanced is not irrelevant to the chief object of the discourse; seeing that if we wouid ascertain why there are no temples in heaven, the simple course is to shew why there are on earth, and why it is our duty to attend them. We shall pursue this plan: but what we mainly wish, is, not the explaining the absence of temples, but rather the abstracting from such fact the truths it seems intended to convey. We shall not therefore be over solicitous as to preserving the logical order of our discourse.
We will observe, then, what changes must have passed upon our condition ere temples may be swept away without injury, nay, rather, with great benefit, to vital religion. If we have at all described the character of this change, it is evident we shall have made advances towards ascertaining that celestial and sublime change whereof all shall be the subjects who are admitted as citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem. But if there were no longer any necessity for Sabbaths, there would be, at the least, a much diminished necessity for churches. If our population were all righteous; all so deeply imbued with godliness, that they made every day, in some broad sense, a Sabbath, and every place a sanctuary, there would be comparatively but little requirement that we consecrate, in a special manner, certain seasons and certain structures. The only supposition on which we can decline to dedicate to God one day in seven is, that of our dedicating all the seven : and if there ever come such a jubilee time to this earth, that every man miglit be said to walk with God, the whole earth being turned into one mighty sanctuary, and its whole tenantry into one worshipping assembly—so that in all its circle the sun should only shine on families devotedly engaged in the high work of magnifying their Maker ; then, undoubtedly, the institution of the Sabbath might be no longer required; and only on the principle that in place of a sabbatical day the world now kept a sabbatical week. Yea, and we could not draw a richer picture of regenerated earth than by just supposing such an extension of Sabbaths as alone would render safe the removal of churches. There is not a single feature, whether of moral or physical loveliness, which appears not in the sketch which is outlined by this supposition. I know that if man required not to be summoned at stated seasons to worship his God, it would only be because his whole life was one unbroken act of prayer and praise to the Almighty, · I know that if there were never occasions when he needed to be called off from the transitory and the perishable, it could be because the scene around him had become impregnated with eternity; that it might be affirmed of him that he was so circumstanced as to walk by sight, and no longer by faith. And hence, too, I also know, that if man could safely dispense with churches, as being able safely to dispense with Sabbaths, then must he be where every thing around him breathed with Deity ; where every creature with whom he held converse served and loved the Redeemer; where there was no exposure to temptation, and where nothing that defileth could ever gain admission.
'Therefore yet further I find a beautiful description of the heavenly state in the statement of St. John, that he saw no temple there. It tells me there is no keeping of the earthly Sabbaths, for all its days alike are holiness to the Lord: and telling me this it also tells me, that if once admitted within the gates of pearl, and privileged to tread the streets of gold, I shall be free from every remainder of corruption ; I shall no longer need external ordinances to remind me of my allegiance, and strengthen me for conflict; but that, made equal to the angels, I shall love God without wavering, and serve God without weariness.
It tells me that eternity is one unbroken Sabbath ; and one unbroken Sabbath it could not be to me, if I were not endowed with the noblest powers, immeasurably removed from all that hath intercourse with sin, and circled by scenery, and mingling with companions, and presenting no impress, but that which burns and breathes of Deity. It could not be that every day and every moment throughout unnumbered ages should be one of that perfect dedication to our Maker, wbieh is faintly imaged by the holiest services of the earthly Sabbath, if it were not that I should be imperishable and spiritual, myself a temple, immortality oneness with the Saviour. Therefore, however a human pencil, striving to delineate the heavenly Jerusalem, might have intermingled sanctuaries and palaces, and crowned the city with that diadem of towers which tells of dwelling-places reared for Him whom the universe cannot contain; there is more, far more, to me in the total want of sacred architecture, than the rich profusion of dome and steeple with which man would have crested the heavenly metropolis. And though poetry, if bidden to pour its melodies on the home of the saints, might have drawn its imagery from what is most celestial on earth, and have spoken of the courts of the Lord's house, and the tabernacles crowned with the mystic insignia of a present Deity-nothing could have been so eloquent to me of the deep tranquillities and purities of heaven, and nothing could have so told me of one uniform, cloudless, blessed Sabbath, as the simple announcement of St. John, “ And I saw no temple there."
Now, up to this point we have confined ourselves to the supposition that there would be no Sabbaths when churches were no longer needed; shewing you that to represent heaven without a temple, is virtually to represent it as one entire temple, seeing that it represents eternity as one unbroken Sabbath. It is, however, when we consider churches as the places in which we are to gain acquaintance with God, that we find most of interesting truth in the fact that there is no temple in heaven. The evangelist, John, accounts for the absence of temples, or rather states how their place is supplied : “ And I saw no temple therein : for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." We think it impossible to read these words, and not immediately perceive that the mode of our gathering in divine knowledge hereafter shall be widely different from that prescribed us whilst on earth. Allowed not direct and immediate intercourse with God, we can now only avail ourselves of instituted means, and hope to obtain in the use of ordinances faint glimpses of that Being who withdraws himself majestically from the searchings of his creatures. And we may not doubt that God shall everlastingly continue a mystery to all finite intelligences ; so that we look not in the favoured expatiations of the future for perfect acquaintance with Deity. We rather take it as a self-evident truth, that God can be comprehensible by none other but God; and that consequently there will always be between the Creator and the created that immeasurable separation which forbids all approach to familiar inspection.
But nevertheless, we may not doubt, that although God must be inscrutable even to the angel and the archangel, there are disclosures of Deity made to these illustrious orders of being such as we ourselves are neither permitted nor qualified to enjoy. The manifestation of Godhead in that to us unknown region which we designate heaven, and to those ranks of subsistences which we beliove
associated highest in the scale of creation, must be, we are sure, of that intenseness and that vividness, which give to intercourse the character of direct and personal communion.
To such manifestations we ourselves are privileged to expect admission. We guard against the thought of limiting Deity to place, and circumscribing him within the boundaries of any scene however splendid; just as though He who must be equally every where, fixes his person and dominion in one sublime and favoured section of the universe. But where God is pleased to shew himself most, there, without violence to truth, we may speak of God as especially present: and they who gain entrance into this scene (wheresoever it be) of splendid manifestations, may be affirmed, in a sense, to behold God-and none but them; to see God face to face, and to speak to him as a man speaks with his friend. And over and above such direct exhibitions of Godhead as are perhaps inconceivable by us whilst yet in the flesh, we know that Christ in his glorified humanity moves to and fro through the assemblies of heaven : and we believe that, being the image of the invisible God, they wlio see the Son in the magnificence of his exaltation, may be said to see the Father also. So that we introduce nothing at variance with the correctest notions of Deity, as the Omnipresent and the Inscrutable, when we refer to the New Jerusalem, as the place in which man may converse directly with his Maker, and, seeing no longer through a glass darkly, enjoy the blessedness of open communion. This it is which seems symbolically taught by the statement, that the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of the heavenly city. It shall not be needful in order to advance in acquaintance with the Deity, that the saints gather themselves into a material sanctuary, and hearken to the teaching of one of their brethren, and partake of sacramental elements. They can go to the fountain head, and therefore require not those channels through which living streams were before time transmitted. Present with the Lord, they need no emblem of his presence : faith having given place to sight, the apparatus of outward ordinances vanishes, like the shadows of the law when the substance had appeared.
We cannot find words in which to express our thoughts of the grandeur and the imagery which represents the Almighty as the temple of the city. A temple filled with Godhead—its walls his attributes, its roof his majesty, its gates his eternity! And to worship in this temple; to live in this temple; to worship God in God-0 there is a wonderfulness here which is not to be overtaken in ali onr strivings! For who can imagine to himself the everlasting Creator condescending to become as a sanctuary to the children of men ; the gorgeous cathedral, into whose recesses they may penetrate, and at whose altars they may do homage? We can feel, O God, that the universe is thy temple : we are overwhelined by the thought that Thou wilt be the temple of the universe. Yet let not the majesty of the statement prevent our taking to ourselves its comfort and its instruction. In place of going up to the house of God, I am to go up hereafter to God himself: the house of God is to be God. This is the grand change in passing from the terrestrial to the celestial: and I cannot hear of such change without feeling I shall no longer be taught through the ministry of my brethren, and the instrumentality of ordinances : but that I shall be privileged to gather in knowledge from as much of actual inspection and immediate communing, as consists with the difference between the finite and