« EdellinenJatka »
astray a regenerated person may wander, it is still impossible that this little flame can be altogether quenched; his soul may look desolate ; the altar of prayer in his spiritual temple may lie in ruins, and grass may grow upon its steps; the holy pictures may be obliterated, or be, from their faded colours, no longer recognisable ; and the poor heart, once so gloriously adorned, may resemble a forsaken dwelling, where the birds of night find a habitation, and which the rain and the -storm penetrate; all this may take place, and yet the lamp of the testimony—“Thou art the Christ !" may still flicker among the ruins in the now desolate hall. The divine flame of this conviction still remains, and will most assuredly, sooner or later, lead back the lost sheep, by the aid of its light, into the arms of its Shepherd.
Have we now finished the examination of the temple? Not yet, my brethren; there are still more of the works of the heavenly Bezaleel. Besides the seven golden candlesticks of the wisdom from on high, we behold in the sanctuary of the regenerated soul, the whole contents of the old covenant. Here is the eternal law, no longer engraved upon tables of stone as formerly, but written by the finger of the Spirit on the fleshly tables of the heart. It has now become the instinct of the heart, and its secret inclination; it no longer constrains, for pleasure and duty now coincide. There is to be found the rod of Aaron always green, always producing flowers and fruit; the priesthood of Christ as comprehended by faith ; his eternal media torship, affording unceasingly to the conscience its fruits of peace, and from day to day quickening the
heart with renewed enjoyment. The little pot with the imperishable manna is not even wanting--the joy of knowing that we are the children of God, and partakers of his grace-divine treasures, in comparison of which whole worlds of temporal glory are as nothing. And what shall I say of the immortal garlands with which the Spirit encircles the pillars and festoons the walls of the temple of the soul? No virtue is here wanting; whatever is just and true--whatever is beantiful and glorious—whatever is lovely and of good report, all are twined together. Humility scatters its violet-odour; the passion-flower of patience turns round in faith, following the course of the Sun of Righteousness; and from the lily-cup of a renewed and heavenly spirit there issues forth the sweet fragrance of those acts of benevolence which are never wanting in the lives of the just. Thus we behold garlands of ever-blooming flowers plucked from the garden of God, watered with heavenly dew, and bound together by the ties of perfection and love.
III. When the Comforter has finished his work in the character of Bezaleel, think you that he will take leave of the temple, and depart from it? No, my brethren; our Saviour has promised that the Comforter will remain with you; and Paul also says,
“ Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you ?" He now makes it his permanent abode; not a place merely to enter and depart from. A soul which the Son of God has pure chased and washed with his own most precious blood, will not be accounted by the Holy Spirit as too mean a domicile. But it is only priests who inhabit a temple; and the Holy Spirit may, in this respect, be regarded as an Aaron performing his priestly functions in the souls of the regenerated.
The priests, as you are aware, had to make use of blood in many things; and in this also the Spirit resembles them. He it is who makes the blood of atonement, which we are by nature unable to perceive, so unutterably costly and precious in our eyes : he teaches us its importance, and enables us by means of faith to comprehend its power; he enables us to appropriate it to ourselves, and he sprinkles it on the floors of our hearts, making us hear its voice, which cries louder than that of Abel. And by whom do we enjoy such peace in this blood, that no contemplation of the holiness of God, no thought of the multitude of our sins, is able to lessen it? It is by the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the High-Priest, and the sprinkler of blood. The offices of this invisible Aaron are of various kinds; and who could name or recount them all! Sometimes he stands with the incense kindled in his hand, his eyes raised to heaven, and in the attitude of prayer; for all the devotion whose incense ascends from our souls, is kindled by his breath of life. He gives it substance, and he gives it wings; he warms and enables it to rise. At other times he rings the bell of the sanctuary; then suddenly, as though some miraculous trumpet had been blown, the congregation of our thoughts assemble clad in their Sunday apparel. He preaches to them, unfolds one mystery after another to their comprehension, explains texts, parables and histories, and pours out light and joy upon all. We behold him again performing his office at the altar: he sacrifices, and it is a thank-offering which he
presents : “ Give thanks unto the Lord,” he cries with a loud voice, “ for he is good !" Then it is a sacrifice of praise : “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits !” When we bring a burnt-offering also, that is, when we give up our dearest wishes or most valued possessions for the Lord's sake,—when, to please him, we part with some joy, lay aside some prerogative or some advantage, or account all as shame that we may win Christ when we do so,-it is not we who bring these sacrifices to the altar ; but it is He, the invisible Aaron, who does so, and who then burns them in the sight of God. Sometimes he opens the horn of consecrated oil in the soul, when its fragrance fills the whole temple, impregnating even the air without, and manifesting its presence, on every occasion, by words of power, by friendly consolation, or by joyful notes of praise. But we have not yet enumerated all his priestly functions. He spreads forth his hands in blessing; he blesses when our spirits bear testimony that we are the children of God; when our hearts rejoice because we are of a chosen and a royal race; when he declares us to be people in whom there is no longer spot or stain ; or when, in short, he enables our hearts to enjoy what the Son purchased for us with his blood. He consecrates, also ; and, oh! how beautiful, how lovely, is the temple of the soul when he performs this work! No longer is there any thing impure to be discerned;
our wishes and desires mount upon seraph's wings, far above the high places of this earth; with countenances veiled like those of the angels of God, the thoughts stand solemnly assembled around the throne of the Lamb, and the glory of God fills the house of the soul.
As it belonged to the office of the old-testament priest to stand as representative of the people ; so we behold the Priest from on high acting in a similar manner in the temple of the regenerated heart. He not only represents us when he gives form and substance to those sighs which we ejaculate when we know not how or what we would pray for, and when he makes them conformable to the dignity and beauty of the house of God; but in various other ways he is Paraclete and Advocate, Intercessor and Representative. When our conscience is accusing us, and a voice cries out to it, “ Why dost thou accuse? God is greater than thou!" who is it that steps forward on our side ? Who is it but the Comforter ? When some error or iniquity rises in judgment against us, and One who is not of our heart, although he dwell within it, says to the Judge, “ Condemn the sin, but not the sinner, for he is holy !" who is it that thus pleads our cause ? It is the great advocate within. When we are in perplexity, and know not what we shall say, or how we shall defend ourselves, and when, all of a sudden, we are no longer at a loss for words, but, to our own astonishment, express ourselves at the right moment, and in the most eloquent and appropriate manner, is it not clearly discernible that an invisible being assists us,and furnishes us with words to speak? Thus we see how