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BELIEVERS AS STONES IN THE TEMPLE
Arthur. How little we thought last Sunday that Friday would see us at Lowestoft, so far from our dear home.
Papa. Nor did I remember when I fixed our subject, that this beautiful stone church was being built just at the back of our lodgings ; but it will give us many excellent illustrations,
Lily. There is no one at work there to-day, Mamma.
Mamma. No, my child ; but you shall wheel my
sofa and draw our table to the back dining-room window, where we can see the building as they left off last night, and then we shall easily gather the lessons it teaches. What is the first thing to be done in erecting a house or church ?
Mary. To lay the foundation, Mamma. And we all found those verses at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, about the “wise man who built his house and digged deep and laid his foundation on the rock ; and the foolish man, who built his house upon the sand.” (Matt. vii. 24–27.)
Papa. And what is this rock foundation, Arthur ?
Arthur. The Lord Jesus, papa : “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. iii. 11.)
Mamma. And often you will find our Saviour spoken of as the Corner-stone,- the first stone which is laid,—that on which the others lean for support, and which unites the two sides of the building. I think Genesis xlix. 24, is the first passage where he is called by this name
; “Thence is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel."
Lily. And David says, “ The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” (Ps. cxviii. 22.)
Mary. And in Isa. xxviii. 16, the prophet says, “Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.”
Arthur. I found one before that in Isaiah, sister, chapter viii. 13, 14: “The Lord of hosts shall be for a sanctuary, but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel.”
Papa. Now, Lily, read | Peter ii. 6-8, and you
will find these three passages are all grouped together, and expressly spoken of Christ.
Lily reads. “Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious : and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe He is precious ; but unto them wbich be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner. And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient."
Papa. You see, Lily, the apostle does what we are doing, searches out the same figure in different parts, and places the texts side by side: from which we learn that this stone chosen of God, would be rejected by the nation of Israel, but trusted in by God's own people. And we might add, under the name of Christ," the stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands, and brake in pieces all earthly kingdoms. (Dan. ii. 34-45.) But having learnt how Jesus condescends here also to take the same name as his people, let us go on to the building upon this foundation-stone.
Mary. I thought I had found out every passage in my Bible where stones were mentioned, and none seemed like our state by jature, mamma.
Mamma, I think if you turn to Is. li. 1, Mary, there is a verse which bears on this; “ Hearken unto me, ye that follow, after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord : look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged." The rough unhewn crags, or shapeless stones lying in the quarry seem just to pointout man's unbappy heart before the
grace of God selects and fashions it. Mary. Oh, yes, Mamma, we found many texts about the hewing of the stones for Solomon's temple. One 1 marked, (1 Chron. xxii. 15), “ Moreover, there are workmen with thee in abundance, hewers and workers of stone and timber, and all manner of cunning men for every
kind of work." Lily. And in the second verse they are called masons, as Papa told us yesterday, “ Masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God.”
Arthur. And in another place it is said, “the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house; and Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them, and the stone-squarers ; so they prepared timber and stones to build the house." (1 Kings v. 17, 18.)
Papa. Yes, God employs many workmen under Him to prepare, and hew, and chisel, the etones of his temple. There is one very
interesting verse in the next chapter of Kings, the seventh verse,
“ And the house when it was in building was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither, so that there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building." All the sharp cuttings, and hard blows, and delicate modellings were finished before the stones were transported to Mount Zion. And so with Christians now, all their trials and sufferings are here ; and they are not taken to the heavenly temple till quite formed and fitted for the niche they are to
Mamma. And you saw how many instruments the masons used the the chisel and mallet, and the file; but all were needful: so our God has various instruments, some stern and severe, as when his “word, like the hammer, breaketh the rock in pieces.” (Jer. xxiii. 29.) some gentle and constant, as when “ the waters wear the stones” (Job xiv. 19), but all just suited for the designs of the great Architect.
Mary. And, Mamma, we found many texts which spoke of jewels and precious stones being built into the wall of this temple; in Solomon's temple “he garnished the house with precious stones for beauty.” (2 Chron. iii. 6.) Arthur. And God promises to Israel, “O