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the new testament was introduced, it was usual to speak of its religion under this imagery. Thus the passage which I have read alludes partly to the building, and partly to the worship of the temple. As the stones were laid on their foundation, so believing in Jesus, we 'come to him as unto a living stone,' and are 'built up a spiritual house;' and as the priests offered up their sacrifices, so believers are 'a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.' Yet there were great disparities between the jewish and christian temple. The stones of the former, being mere unconscious matter, were brought; here, being conscious and voluntary agents, they come. The foundation there also was mere matter, but here it is 'a living stone;' that was literally a house, this is a spiritual house.' Priesthood was there distinguished by descent, here by character; their sacrifices were taken from the herd or the flock, ours from the heart, the offering of prayer and praise, presented in the name of Jesus Christ.
But laying aside the imagery, we may consider the whole as furnishing a description of individual and social religion. Social religion begins with individual, and individual religion with 'coming' to Christ.
I. With respect to personal religion, the scriptures make much of our coming to Christ.
However correct. we may be in our deportment, and devout at the stated seasons of worship, if Christ be 'disallowed,' all is nothing. Election itself no otherwise secures our salvation, than as it secures our coming to Christ for it. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.' The atonement of Christ does not avail us, but as coming to him. It was thus in the atonements under the law in some cases sins were confessed by the party laying their hands on the head of the victim, and in others by the priest on their behalf: but in no case could they derive benefit, but as 'comers thereunto."
The first operations of true religion in the mind are in this way. Christ may not be the first object to which a sinner's thoughts are turned; this may be his sin and exposedness to the wrath of God; but let our thoughts of sin and misery be as pungent as they may, if they lead us not to Christ for salvation, there is no true religion in them. He is the way' to God: 'no man cometh unto the Father but by him.' We may be burdened under
guilt and fear, but till we come to him with our burden, there will be no gospel rest for our souls. The promise is not made to us as burdened, but as coming to Christ with our burdens. Matt. xi. 28.
Nor is it confined to the time of our first believing; the christian life consists in coming habitually to Jesus. 'I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh, is by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.' That which food is to the body, the doctrine of Christ crucified is to the mind. Except we eat his flesh, and drink his blood, we have no life in us.'
Our estimation of other objects is often governed by public opinion, but we must appreciate Christ not by what men think of him, but by what he is in the account of God. He may be disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious; and if we are of God, we shall be of God's mind; he that is precious to God will be so to us. May there be many characters of this description, my friends, among you! You will then have materials for building up the spiritual temple, and for the offering up of spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
II. Add a few remarks on social religion, under the same idea of a temple; particularly, on the materials with which it must be built-the important character it sustains the employment of its priesthood-and the medium through which all their sacrifices must be accepted.
1. The proper materials for the chistian temple are 'lively stones;' else they will not fit a living foundation, nor unite with other living stones in the building. Beware that the desire of being a large and opulent people, may never induce you to overlook this. If it ever come to this, that your members are admitted on any principle short of faith in a living Redeemer, Ichabod will be written upon your doors.
2. The important character you sustain is that of a temple for God to dwell in. If the word of truth be preached among you, the worship of God preserved in its purity, and the ordinances of Christ observed according to their primitive simplicity, God will dwell in you and walk in you, and ye shall be his people, and he will be your God. He makes great account of christian churches, as being the appointed means of establishing his kingdom among men. With what complacency did he speak of ancient Zion; This is my rest for ever, here will I dwell, for I have desired it-The Lord loveth the gates of Zion, more than all the dwellings of Jacob.' What a high degree of interest is Christ described as taking in the concerns of the seven churches in Asia. The same idea is conveyed by the judgments denounced against those who have persecuted or corrupted them. If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.' It was this that opened the gates and broke down the walls of old Babylon; and it is on account of this that another Babylon, the antichristian church, shall come down even to the ground. They have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink, for they are worthy.'
3. As to your employment as a holy priesthood, this is to offer up 'spiritual sacrifices.' We have heard much of the christian priesthood, as applied to ministers; but christianity knows of no priesthood, except what is common to all believers. It knows of pastors, bishops and elders; but it is a misnomer to call them priests. It is for you all as christians to offer up prayer and praise,
both for yourselves and others; and may you continue on this spot to offer them!
4. Be not forgetful of the medium through which all your offerings become acceptable-'Jesus Christ.' We must not carry our offerings in our hand, like Cain, presuming to be accepted on account of them. The order of the divine proceedings is the reverse of this. The Lord had respect, not to the offering of Abel, and so to him, but to Abel, and so to his offering. The good works of sinful creatures, even those which are most spiritual,' are no otherwise acceptable to God than by Jesus Christ.' The case of Job and his three friends serves to illustrate this principle. The Lord was so displeased with them, that he refused to accept even a petition at their hands. My wrath, saith he, is kindled against you. Take your offerings, and go to my servant Job: he shall pray for you, and him will I accept, lest I deal with you after your folly.' Such is our case, and such the intercession of our Redeemer. Him God accepts, and through him our prayers and praises become acceptable to God.
CHARACTER FORMED ONLY BY A COURSE OF ACTION.
Query. Was not David a regenerate man when he slew Uriah by the sword of the children of Ammon; and if so, how can we reconcile his conduct with the apostle's assertion, that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him? 1 John iii. 25.
Answer: The difficulty here suggested would vanish, if it were considered that while the quality of actions is determined by their relation to the divine law, the estimate we form of character must be regulated by the
habitual course of the life and conduct. If we were to form our opinion of men from particular events in their lives, we should pronounce Noah a drunkard, Aaron an idolator, Jacob a liar, David a murderer, and Peter an apostate; and each of these characters are excluded from the kingdom of God. But such a judgment would evidently be harsh and erroneous, because these things were not of a piece with their general character, but most entirely opposed thereto. The apostle, in the words referred to, is describing those who 'go in the way of Cain,' and whose character and spirit resemble his. Such a man, he affirms, hath not eternal life abiding in him.' But in this sense, David was not a murderer. His sin in the matter of Uriah was not the result of those principles on which his character was formed, but a melancholy proof of the force of temptation, even in the case of an eminently good man.
GENERAL ANALYSIS OF THE APOCALYPSE.
Letter to Dr. Marsliman at Serampore, 1809.
I HAVE been reading the Revelation; writing a brief sketch of what appeared to me the meaning; then comparing my thoughts with those of Gill, Lowman, and Faber. I think I understand more of it by far than I ever did before, and find in it great ground of encouragement to go on in the work of God. The occasion of my attending to this subject, was an application from Dr. Stuart of Edinburgh, who having read a long controversy between Faber and Cuninghame in the Christian Observer, wanted my thoughts upon it.