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Lord must be the builder of this spiritual temple. It was a work which none but God himself could perform. Nor could even he do it, in the wisest and best way, though he was almighty, and had all creation at his disposal, in less than four thousand years. The physical creation he could complete, and in the wisest and best way, in a single week. He had only to speak, and it was done ; to command, and it stood fast. But to prepare the way, even to lay the foundation, of this eternal habitation for himself, he must operate throughout the kingdoms of nature, providence, and grace, for thousands, and thousands of years. And this not merely through the instrumentality of creatures, but he must make bare his own arm, and travel, for ages, in the greatness of his strength. Nor is this all, but, he who was in the beginning with God, and was God, must himself leave the glory which he had before the creation, take upon him the form of a servant, and labor, even unto death, the death of the cross.
And as under its awful, crushing weight, he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost, the sun turned away,
the rocks broke asunder, and the dead started from their graves, to adore him that liveth, but was dead, that they might live for evermore.
And must he who was in the beginning with God, make bare his arm, and travel for ages in the greatness of his strength, and even give up life itself, to lay the foundation? What other arm, and what other strength, but that which is divine, can rear the superstructure? Surely, it must be done, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts. This appears,
II. From the foundation itself. This foundation is the Son of God; the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person; in whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead bodily. By hiin were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth; visible, and invisible; whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him. He was before all things, and by him all things consist; and he is over all, God blessed forever. To him the Father saith, and be knows, " Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever ; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou remainest ; and they all shall wax old, as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and was, and is to come, the Almighty.
Such is the foundation of this temple, God manifest in the flesh. Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation. And other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ, the true God, and eternal life, The value of this foundation never can be known by any, except those who are builded, and are building upon it. And it cannot be fully known even by them, unless they can know the greatness, extent, and duration of that misery, into which this foundation keeps them from falling; and also the greatness, extent, and duration of that glory to which they will be raised, in consequence of building upon it.
Re leemed sinners, you who are builded together on this foundation, for an habitation of God, through the Spirit, you know something of its worth ; but nothing to what you will know, when you have tried it for eternity. It exceeds in value all the treasures of creation ; in excellence equals the glory of Jehovah ; and for stability, is like the pillars of the universe. That he must be the builder, is evident,
III. From the materials out of which the temple is to be made. These, as they are in their natural state, universally; and as they would be, without the Spirit and grace of God, eternally, are described by him, as walking according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. Among whom, we all had our conversation in times past, in the lusts of our flesh; fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. Does any one say, this is not my condition? I ask him, why? Had he been without the light of revelation, and without the Spirit and grace of God, would it not have been his condition ? Look abroad upon the millions who are now in that condition ; and is he naturally better than they? No; in nowise. It has been proved by the testimony of God, and by facts, concerning both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin ; and are even, naturally, dead in trespasses and sin.
And who can take these materials and make them alive, and fill them with love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, and temperance; but he who spake, and it was done; who commanded, and it stood fast? Can you
do it? Can any man do it? Let him make the experiment. And to make it under the most favorable circumstances, let him be a parent, and try it upon his own child. Let him renounce all dependence on God, and the influences of his Spirit, and then, take that child, who is now an enemy to his Maker, and if he can, create him anew in Christ Jesus unto good works, and cause him to glow like a seraph in the Divine service. No, not an Infidel parent on earth ean do this; and not a Christian parent will dare to attempt it. All the dedications of children to God, in baptism ; all the prayers and tears of pious parents while wrestling with God for their salvation, are a standing testimony, that the work must be done, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God. Even children, to be alive unto God, must be born again ; not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Does any one still doubt ? let him try the experiment upon himself. Let him openly and heartily renounce all dependence on God, and the influences of his Spirit ; and by his own unaided efforts, transform himself into the Divine image; that as he has borne the image of the earthly, he shall bear the image of the heavenly ; that as he has yielded his members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, he shall yield them as instruments of righteousness unto God; 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 unaided 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 fellouship 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 whick it was necessary to perform to lay the foundation from the foundation itself-from the materials, out of which the temple is to be made and from the object for which it is to be erected—it 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 hope 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