Page images
PDF
EPUB

having put off concerning the former conversation, the old man which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts; become renewed in the spirit of his mind, and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness, so that he shall live, not unto himself, but unto him who died for him and rose again.

Has any one ever done this, of himself merely, by his own unaided wisdom, righteousness, and strength, without the spirit and grace of God? Who is he? When, or where? Go through creation, and ask every soul, that has passed from death unto life, Who made you to differ? And how were you saved? And they will all answer," By grace were we saved, through faith, and that not of ourselves, it was the gift of God. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sin, has made us alive together with Christ. We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works.” And,“ by the grace of God,” each one would say, “ I am, what I am."

And if no one ever has been thus changed, without the Spirit and grace of God, what evidence is there that any one ever will be ? Do you say, the power, which, as a free moral agent, each man possesses ? and the command of God to him, to make him a new heart? But has any one any more power than other men have had? And if their power did not avail them, without the Spirit of God, what evidence is there, what evidence can there be, that yours, without this Divine agent, will ever avail you ? or the anaided power merely, of any other man, ever avail him ? None: absolutely none. All the evidence of facts, and of the Divine testimony, is on the other side.

To make power availabie to any good work, let it be remembered, there must be, not power merely, but also a disposition to use it for that end. And whatever be the power of man as a free moral agent, and he has enough to sustain the responsibilities of endless retribution, and to make it his reasonable service, to do all that God requires; yet it is certain, that he will never, without the Spirit and grace of God, so use it as to make himself a new heart, to love God, hate sin, and delight in holiness ; or be even instrumental in leading others to do this immediate and indispensable duty. Though God himself, from the throne of his excellent glory, calls after him, saying, “ turn ye, turn ye; for why will ye die ?” and beseeches him by the the tears and blood of a Savior, to turn and live ; yet, with all his power, be it what it may, without the grace of God, he will never obey him.

And yet, this must be done, and by multitudes which no man can number; out of every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue. Who will ever cause them to do it? but he who said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” He must shine into their hearts, and give them the light of the knowledge of his glory, in the face of Jesus Christ; or they will not turn from darkness to light, or become light in the Lord. He must write this law upon their hearts, and imprint it upon their inward parts, or they will never be fitted for that temple; from

every part of which is to blaze in living characters, HOLINESS unto the Lord forever." That he must be the builder of this glorious edifice, is, if possible, still more plain,

IV. From the object, for which it is to be erected. What that object is, we are told by the Apostle, in the second and third chapters of

his Epistle to the Ephesians : viz. That, in the ages to come, God might show the exceeding riches of his grace, in kindness toward us through Jesus Christ. And to make all men see, what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world, hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ ; to the intent, that unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known, by the church, this spiritual temple, the manifold wisdom of God.

Here then, is the object for which this spiritual temple is to be erected. It is in ages to come, to show angels, principalities, and powers, in heavenly places, the manifold wisdom of God; and the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward men, through Jesus Christ : an object which is infinite ; and which, as it unfolds with ever increasing brightness, will call forth, from multitudes which no man can number, in louder and louder strains, Alleluias to God and the Lamb, forever and ever. Who can accomplish this, but God himself? Can an angel do it? Can a superangelic creature ? Can any creature, however exalted, show, by his productions, the manifold wisdom of God? Can he, in ages to come, show to angels, and principalities, and powers in heavenly places, the exceeding riches of God's grace, in kindness toward men, through Jesus Christ? It is higher than heaven, what can he know ? deeper than hell, what can he do? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea. No man, or angel, or superangelic creature, can conceive a thousandth part of the riches of that grace which, at such a sacrifice, has opened an eternity of bliss to a world infinitely undeserving. But suppose he could conceive, and could display all the riches of that grace, he could not be the builder of this temple : for Jehovah will not give his glory to another. And the object of this temple, is, not that any creature may display, but that God may display the exceeding riches of his grace, and his manifold wisdom. Of course no creature can build it. For no creature can display wisdom which he does not possess; and no building can display more wisdom than is possessed by the builder. But this building is to display more, infinitely more, than is possessed by all creatures in the universe. It is to display not merely the wisdom, but the manifold wisdom of God; wisdom as much greater than the wisdom of all creatures, as he is greater than they. Let them all collect all which they possess, or ever will to eternal ages, and put it into one common stock, and it is still as much less than his, as the thing made is less than God who made it. And as this temple is, in ages to come, to display to angels, and principalities, and powers in heavenly places, the manifold wisdom of God, and the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward men through Jesus Christ, it is settled, forever,

that no creature can build it. From the greatness of the work which it was necessary to perform to lay the foundation from the foundation itself-from the materials, out of which the temple is to be madeand from the object for which it is to be erectedit is perfectly evident that it must be built, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts.

Some remarks will close this discourse.

1. If the Spirit of the Lord is the builder of this temple, no one will ever become a part of it, without being prepared for it by him. Let the best human soul that ever existed, in apostate man, be cultivated and improved, if it could be, for ages; without experiencing that change which the Bible calls, being born of the Spirit,” it would never be prepared for this spiritual temple. It would have no moral likeness to the foundation ; nor would it be resting upon it. It would not coalesce with the other parts of the temple, nor would it have any fitness to be a habitation of God. On this point, there is a great difference of opinion among men.. Some suppose, that they have no need to be born of the Spirit, to be created anew, or to pass from death unto life. They do not believe, that, when Jesus died for all, all were dead; or that they must be made alive by the power of God. Not feeling that they have destroyed themselves, they do not feel that in God alone is their help. Nor do they look to him, as the Lord their righteousness. Nor does he become the end of the law for righteousness, to them, as he is to those that believe. Nor have they that hope in him, which purifies them as he is pure; nor is he unto them wisdom, and righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own, they do not submit to the righteousness of God. Nor do they live by faith in him that loved them, and gave himself for them. They never glory in his cross, nor are they by it, crucified to the world, or the world to them.

Other persons there are, who, by an unction from the Holy One, know, that they must be born of God; that that, which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that except they be born of the Spirit, they cannot see the kingdom of God.

These two kinds of materials, may appear to men, in this distant world, and while looking through a glass darkly, to be somewhat alike. But when brought to the place where the temple is to stand, and viewed by the great Master-builder, in the blazing light of eternity, they will be found to be altogether different. The very best which have been prepared by men, or creatures merely, instead of being found in the image of God, and fitted, with the rest of the temple, to reflect the lustre of his glory, to every part of the universe, will be fitted only to be cast away from his presence, and from the glory of his power. And as all time for preparation will then be ended, they that are filthy will be filthy still ; and all bope of their ever becoming a part of this glorious temple, will vanish as a dream, when one awaketh.

2. As the Spirit of the Lord is the builder of this temple, his materials will all be perfectly prepared. However unsightly, or dark, or

distant, and totally unfit to form a part of such an edifice, he who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, will shine down, not only upon them, and around them, but into them, and will so give them the light of the knowledge of his glory. And they shall not only see light, but themselves become light, in the Lord. However defective, or even opposite they were before, to all that is requisite for such a building, on such a foundation, and for such a purpose, he who made them will so have mercy upon them, and he who formed them show them such favor, as to transform them into his own image, and cause them to shine in the beauty of holiness. And having begun this good work in them, he will carry it onward, till be shall present them spotless and faultless before the throne of his glory, with exceeding and everlasting joy. And though of every age and nation, he will have made them, in his providence, and by his grace, so perfectly like the foundation, and like the rest of the temple, and so perfectly fitted each one for his place, that when brought to the spot where the temple is to stand,

no sound of any instrument will be heard in building. But all the materials, from all parts of the earth, will come tog as by their own 'attraction, and their union will be perfect and eternal.

3. As the Spirit of the Lord is the builder of this temple, any individual to whom he is made known, and who is in a state of probation, may himself become a part of it. Wherever he may live, and under whatever circumstances he may be placed ; however long he may have been in rebellion against God, and however deeply he may

have sunk in degradation and guilt; he may nevertheless be transformed into the Divine image, and live. Though his sins were as scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they were red like crimson, they may become as wool. From all his filthiness and his idols, God may cleanse him ; a new heart he may give him, and a new spirit put within him; may take away the heart of stone, and give him a heart of flesh. He has done this for thousands. He is now doing it for thousands more. And he will do it for ten thousand times ten thousand, multitudes which no man can number. The time cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf be unstopped; the lame man shall leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing. And they shall return and come home to the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the city and temple of God-the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

4. As the Spirit of the Lord is the builder of this temple, we see what each one must do, in order to be prepared for it. He must become acquainted with the Holy Spirit, and must look to him for what he needs. He must attend to his communications, must understand, believe, and obey them. They will thus be spirit and life to his soul. He will be begotten again, not by corruptible seed, but by incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever

. To this word each soul must himself give heed, as to a light shining in a dark place, till the day dawn, and the day-star arise in his heart. He must treat this word, in his feelings and conduct, not as the word

of man, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which is able to save the soul. And he must be not a hearer only, but a doer of the word; and he will then find it to be perfect, converting the soul ; and sure, making wise the simple ; right, rejoicing the heart; pure, enlightening the eyes; clean, enduring forever; true and righteous altogether ; more to be desired than gold, even much fine gold; and in obeying it, will experience great reward.

Nor does the fact that men are dependent on God, and that he is almighty, lessen the necessity or the benefit of thus hearkening to his voice, believing his declarations, or obeying his commands Dependent on God, they indeed are; but that, instead of being a reason why they should not immediately hearken to his voice, believe his declarations, and obey his commands, is the very reason why they should.

5. As the Spirit of the Lord is the builder of this temple, and he operates by the truth, we see the reason why a knowledge of the Spirit, and of his truth, should be commumicated, in the least possible time, to all people. All people need this knowledge. They are in imminent danger of perishing eternally without it. It is suited to their condition; and adapted to meet their wants.

Nothing else will do it. We have this remedy. Freely we have received, and freely we are bound to give. God commands," Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. And he that believeth not shall be damned. But how shall they believe on him of whom they have not heard ? And how shall they hear, without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? And by whom shall they be sent, if not by us, who know that there is a Holy Ghost; who know the truth which he has revealed; and through the belief and practice of which, he sanctifies and saves the souls of men ; and who are commanded by the Holy Ghost, in the least possible time, to make known his truth to all people? The grand business of every one should be to embrace the gospel himself, and thus, in his own experience, find it to be the power of God to salvation ; and to exert his influence to have this done by every

man, woman and child, in Christendom and throughout the world. He is bound by high and sacred obligations not only to embrace the gospel himself, but to exert his influence to cause it, in the least possible time, to be proclaimed to every creature. And from the discharge of this duty no man can be excused. Let him be a merchant, a manufacturer, a mechanic, or a farmer ;^a professional man; a man of leisure, or a man of business; whoever, wherever, whatever he may be, he is bound by obligations which he can never throw off, to go himself; or, assist others to go and preach the gospel to all people; and to use his influence to induce all people to embrace it. To this he is bound to devote his time, his talents, his influence, his property. Here is an object for which it is glorious to labor ; glorious to acquire property, learning, talents; influence, every thing which can be made subsidiary to the diffusion of the knowledge of God and his salvation. And here is an object for which men may

« PreviousContinue »