More than two thousand years ago a captive in Babylon, after the city of his fathers had been destroyed for the sins of those who dwelt in it, was carried in spirit into his own land, to see the vision of a temple, from which living waters flowed to all the world. There a Voice was heard, saying, "Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart on all that I shall show thee; for thou art brought hither to the intent that I might show this unto thee; and declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel." And then the same Voice said again, "Thou, son of man, show the house unto the house of Israel, and let them measure the pattern, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities. And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, show them the form and fashion of the house, and all the ordinances, and all the laws thereof; and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form, and do all the ordinances thereof."
A vision not unlike this has been seen by some in every age, of a temple destroyed in Adam, but raised up again in Jesus Christ our Lord. In Christ the House is shown as God alone can show it. But though for eighteen hundred years the Church has had the vision before her, for the most part it is yet sealed. Even to saints very little has been opened of it. Yet this is the vision God would have us see, for Christ is the pattern to which we are predestined to be conformed; and we shall be like Him when we see Him as He is. Now as of old, therefore, a Voice is saying, "Show the House to fallen men," that they may know what God can do in man's ruin. In proportion as we see it we are changed from the wretched ruin, which we have all become, to be a building of God, a house not made with hands, in which He shall be served, and praised, and seen for ever. Even if as yet we cannot see the House itself, it is something at least to look over its plans. They may stir us up to long for, and seek, and perhaps at last to find, the true building.
The following pages are an attempt to call attention to this House, and to some of the ordinances, and ways, and laws, thereof. The Gospels show it in all its breadth, and length, and depth, and height. These Notes only touch so much of it as is brought before us in Twelve Sayings of our Lord. It seems as if He foresaw that without some words His life would not be understood. At all events, by words as well as by life, He calls us to behold and mark the heavenly pattern. It does not appear to have been noticed how these Twelve Sayings, specially marked by reiterated Amens, form in themselves a distinct and perfect series. God can wait for eyes to mark His works. His light for ages was serving men, before one was found to see the wonders of that light which all received so freely. So is it with His words. Heaven sees their beauty, if earth as yet is blind to it.
Of course in dealing with such a subject as man renewed by God, there must be, not only some repetition, but things also, which, spite of the repetition, will at first be dark, and hidden even from disciples. For "the house is for the Lord, and exceeding magnifical," and the different courts, body, soul, and spirit, are so connected, that one cannot be drawn without bringing into view something which belongs to other portions of the same temple. All the parts too, are according to one pattern, marked by one ruling thought throughout, each detail more or less repeating the one idea which stamps the whole building. But this repetition only brings out God's delight in this His house, which He has made in every part to bear some traces of His image. Certainly God does not shrink from repetition, either in His word or in His works. In His Word the varied aspects of His Christ cannot be shown without Four Gospels, which repeat the same story. So again in nature, the heavens and earth, in the same seasons, flowers, and fruits, produced age after age in endless repetition, again and again rehearse the same one wondrous tale, of life out of death, and beauty from corruption. So in these Twelve Sayings there is repetition. There is much, too, which can only be understood as we live the life here drawn for us. True disciples will not be offended to learn how little they yet know. Only let them live Christ's life, and all will open to them.
May the Lord grant us all to see more of the fashion of the house, which He has built in Christ, and yet is building, in the place of the earthly house of this tabernacle, in which we groan here, being burdened; that in measuring its courts, its laver and altars, its candlestick and bread, and thus seeing how unspeakably more glorious all these things are than the moving tent in which we now sojourn, we may sigh and cry for the house from heaven, even to be built up in His likeness, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself. "Domine Deus, a Te petatur, in Te quaeratur, ad Te pulsetur. Sic, sic accipietur, sic invenietur, sic aperietur. Amen."
November 1, 1881.
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