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Horatius Bonar

 

The Rent Veil

PREFACE

 

The Epistle to the Hebrews was written by the eternal

Spirit for the whole Church of God in all ages. It

shows us on what footing we are to stand before God as

sinners; and in what way we are to draw near as

worshippers.

It assumes throughout, that the present

condition of the Church on earth is one continually

requiring the application of the great sacrifice for

cleansing. The theory of personal sinlessness has no

place in it. Continual evil, failure, imperfection,

are assumed as the condition of God's worshippers on

earth, during this dispensation. Personal imperfection

on the one hand, and vicarious perfection on the

other, are the solemn truths which pervade the whole.

There is no day nor hour in which evil is not coming

forth from us, and in which the great bloodshedding is

not needed to wash it away. This epistle is manifestly

meant for the whole life of the saint, and for the

whole history of the Church. God's purpose is that we

should never, while here, get beyond the need of

expiation and purging; and though vain man may think

that he would better glorify God by sinlessness, yet

the Holy Spirit in this epistle shows us that we are

called to glorify God by our perpetual need of the

precious bloodshedding upon the cross. No need of

washing, may be the watchword of some; they are beyond

all that! But they who, whether conscious or

unconscious of sin, will take this epistle as the

declaration of God's mind as to the imperfection of

the believing man on earth, will be constrained to

acknowledge that the bloodshedding must be in constant

requisition, not (as some say) to keep the believer in

a sinless state, but to cleanse him from his hourly

sinfulness.[1]

Boldness to enter into the holiest is a

condition of the soul which can only be maintained by

continual recourse to the blood of sprinkling, alike

for conscious and for unconscious sin: the latter of

these being by far the most subtle and the most

terrible,--that for which the sin-offering required to

be brought.

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive

ourselves, and the truth is not in us." The presence

of sin in us is the only thing which makes such

epistles as that to the Hebrews at all intelligible.

When, by some instantaneous act of faith, we soar

above sin, (as some think they do) we also bid

farewell to the no longer needed blood, and to the no

longer needed Epistle to the Hebrews.

"Through the veil, which is His flesh," is our

one access to God; not merely at first when we

believed, but day by day, to the last. The blood-

dropped pavement is that one which we tread, and the

blood-stained mercy-seat is that before which we bow.

In letters of blood there is written on that veil, and

that mercy-seat, "I am the way, the truth, and the

life; no man cometh to the Father but by me": and,

again, "Through Him we have access, by one Spirit,

unto the Father."

Every thing connected with the sanctuary, outer

and inner, is, in God's sight, excellent and precious.

As of the altar, so of every other part of it, we may

say, "Whatsoever toucheth it shall be holy" (Exo

29:37). Or, as the Apostle Peter puts it, "To you who

believe this preciousness belongs" (1 Peter 2:7, i.e.,

all the preciousness of the "precious stone").

Men may ask, May we not be allowed to differ in

opinion from God about this preciousness? Why should

our estimate of the altar, or the blood, or the veil,

if not according to God's, be so fatal to us as to

shut us out of the kingdom? And why should our

acceptance of God's estimate make us heirs of

salvation? I answer, such is the mind of God, and such

is the divine statute concerning admission and

exclusion.

You may try the experiment of differing from Him

as to other things, but beware of differing from Him

as to this. Remember that He has said, "This is my

beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Say what you

like, He is a jealous God, and will avenge all

disparagement of His sanctuary, or dishonour of His

Son. Contend with Him, if you will try the strife,

about other things. It may not cost you your soul.

Dispute His estimate of the works of His hand in

heaven and earth; say that they are not altogether

"good," and that you could have improved them, had you

been consulted. It may not forfeit your crown. Tell

Him that His light is not so glorious as He thinks it

is, nor His stars so brilliant as He declares they

are. He may bear with this thy underrating of His

material handiwork, and treat thee as a foolish child

that speaks of what he knows not.

But touch His great work, His work of works,--

the person and propitiation of His only-begotten Son,

and He will bear with thee no more. Differ from Him in

His estimate of the great bloodshedding, and he will

withstand thee to the face. Tell Him that the blood of

Golgotha could no more expiate sin than the blood of

bulls and of goats, and He will resent it to the

uttermost. Depreciate anything, everything that He has

made; He may smile at thy presumption. But depreciate

not the cross. Underrate not the sacrifice of the

great altar. It will cost thee thy soul. It will shut

thee out of the kingdom. It will darken thy eternity.

The Grange,

Edinburgh, October 1874

 

CONTENTS

 

1. Open Intercourse with God.

2. How There Came to be a Veil.

3. The Symbolic Veil.

4. The True Veil.

5. The Rending of the Veil.

6. The Removal of the First Sacrifice and the

Establishment of the Second.

7. Messiah within the Veil.

8. The Blood within the Veil.

9. God Seeking Worshippers.

10. God Seeking Temples.

11. God Seeking Priests.

12. God Seeking Kings.

 

CHAPTER 1

OPEN INTERCOURSE WITH GOD

 

It does not seem a strange thing that the creature and

the Creator should meet face to face, and that they

should hold intercourse without any obstructing

medium.

We may not understand the mode of communication

between the visible and the invisible, but we can see

this, at least, that He who made us can communicate

with us, by the ear or the eye or the touch. He can

speak and we can hear; and, again, we can speak and He

can hear. His being and ours can thus come together,

to interchange thought and affection: He giving, we

receiving; He rejoicing in us, and we rejoicing in

Him: He loving us, and we loving Him. He can look on

us, and we can look on Him; He "guiding us with His

eye" (Psa 32:8), and we fixing our eye on His, as

children on the eye of a father, taking in all the

love and tenderness which beam from His paternal look,

and sending up to Him our responding look of filial

confidence and love. Not that He has "eyes of flesh,

or seeth as man seeth" (Job 10:4); but He can fix His

gaze on us in ways of His own, and make us feel His

gaze, as really as when the eyes of friends look into

each other's depths. "He that formed the eye shall He

not see" (Psa 94:9). He who made the human eye to be

"the light of the body" (Matt 6:22),--that organ

through which light enters the body,--in order that He

might pour into us the glory of His own sun and moon

and stars,--can He not, through some inner eye which

we know not, and for which we have no name, pour into

us the radiance of His own infinite glory, though He

be the "King invisible" (1 Tim 1:17),--He "whom no man

hath seen nor can see" (1 Tim 6:16),--the "invisible

God" (Col 1:15). He can touch us; for in Him we live

and move and have our being:[2] and we can lay hold of

Him, for He is not far from any one of us; He is the

nearest of all that is near, and the most palpable of

all the palpable. It would seem, then, that open and

free and near intercourse with the God who made us

arose from His being what He is, and from our being

what we are: as if it were a necessity both of His

existence and of ours.

That He should be our Creator, and yet be

separated from us, seems an impossibility; that we

should be His creatures, and yet remain at a distance

from Him, seems the most unnatural and unlikely of all

relations. Intercourse, fellowship, mutual love, then,

seem to flow from all that He is to us, and from all

that we are to Him.

We can conceive of no obstruction, no difficulty

in all this, so long as we remained what He has made

us. There could be nothing but the sympathy of heart

with heart; a flow and reflow of holy and unobstructed

love.

Unhindered access to the God who made us seems

one of the necessary conditions of our nature; and

this not arising out of any merit or worthiness on the

part of the creature, but from the fitness of things;

the adaptation of the thing made to Him who made it;

and the impossibility of separation between that which

was made and Him who made it. The life above and the

life below must draw together; heart cannot be

separated from heart, unless something come between to

put asunder that which had by the necessity of nature

been joined together. Distance from God does not

belong to our creation, but has come in as something

unnatural, something alien to creative love, something

which contravenes the original and fundamental law of

our being.

The tree separated from its root, the flower

broken off from its stem, are the fittest emblems of

man disjoined from God. Such distance seems altogether

unnatural. The want of vital connection, in our

original constitution, or the absence of sympathy,

would imply defect in the workmanship, of the most

serious kind,--and no less would it indicate

imperfection on the part of the Great Worker.

God made us for Himself; that He might delight

in us and we in Him; He to be our portion and we His;

He to be our treasure and we His.[3] He made us after

His own likeness; so that each part of our being has

its resemblance or counterpart in Himself: our

affections, and sympathies, and feelings being made

after the model of His own. We are apt to associate

God only with what is cold and abstract and ideal;

ourselves with what is emotional and personal. Herein

we greatly err. We must reverse the picture if we

would know the truth concerning Him with whom is no

coldness, no abstraction, no impersonality. The

reality pertaining to the nature of man, is as nothing

when compared with the reality belonging to the nature

of Him who created us after His own image. In so far

as the infinite exceeds the finite, in so far does

that which we call reality transcend in God all that

is known by that term in man. We are the shadows, He

is the substance. Jehovah is the infinitely real and

true and personal: and it is with Him as such that we

have to do. The God of philosophy may be a cold

abstraction, which no mind can grasp, and by which no

heart can be warmed; but the God of Scripture, the God

who created the heavens and the earth, the God and

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is a reality,--a

reality for both the mind and heart of man. It is the

infinite Jehovah that loves, and pities, and blesses;

who bids us draw near to Him, walk with Him, and have

fellowship with Him. It is the infinite Jehovah who

fills the finite heart; for He made that heart for the

very purpose of its being filled with Himself. Our joy

is to be in Him; His joy is in us. Over us He resteth

in His love, and in Himself He bids us rest. Apart

from Him creaturehood has neither stability nor

blessedness.

Free and open intercourse with the God who made

us, is one of the necessities of our being.

Acquaintanceship with Him, and delight in Him, are the

very life of our created existence. Better not to be

than not to know Him, in whom we live, and move, and

have our being. Better to pass away into

unconsciousness or nothingness, than to cease to

delight in Him, or to be delighted in by Him.

The loss of God is the loss of everything; and

in having God we have everything. His overflowing

fulness is our inheritance; and in nearness to Him we

enjoy that fulness. He cannot speak to us, but

something of that fulness flows in. We cannot speak to

Him without attracting His excellency towards us. This

mutual speech, or converse, is that which forms the

medium of communication between heaven and earth. Man

looketh up, and God looketh down: our eyes meet, and

we are, in the twinkling of an eye, made partakers of

the divine abundance.[4] Man speaks out to God what He

feels; God speaks out to man what He feels. The finite

and the infinite mind thus interchange their

sympathies; love meets love, mingling and rejoicing

together; the full pours itself into the empty, and

the empty receiveth the full.

The greatness of God is no hindrance to this

intercourse: for one special part of the divine

greatness is to be able to condescend to the

littleness of created beings, seeing that creaturehood

must, from its very nature, have this littleness;

inasmuch as God must ever be God, and man must ever be

man: the ocean must ever be the ocean, the drop must

ever be the drop. The greatness of God compassing our

littleness about, as the heavens the earth, and

fitting into it on every side, as the air into all

parts of the earth, is that which makes the

intercourse so complete and blessed. "In His hand is

the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all

mankind" (Job 12:10). Such is His nearness to, such

His intimacy with, the works of His hands.

It is nearness, not distance, that the name

Creator implies; and the simple fact of His having

made us is the assurance of His desire to bless us and

to hold intercourse with us. Communication between the

thing made and its maker is involved in the very idea

of creation. "Thy hands have made me and fashioned me:

give me understanding, that I may learn Thy

commandments" (Psa 119:73). "Faithful Creator" is His

name (1 Peter 4:19), and as such we appeal to Him,

"Forsake not the work of Thine own hands" (Psa 138:8).

Nothing that is worthless or unloveable ever

came from His hands; and as being His "workmanship,"

we may take the assurance of His interest in us, and

His desire for converse with us.[5]

He put no barrier between Himself and us when He

made us. If there be such a thing now, it is we who

have been its cause. Separation from Him must have

come upon our side. It was not the father who sent the

younger son away; it was that son who "gathered all

together and took his journey into the far country"

(Luke 15:13), because he had become tired of the

father's house and the father's company.

The rupture between God and man did not begin on

the side of God. It was not heaven that withdrew from

earth, but earth that withdrew from heaven. It was not

the father that said to the younger son, Take your

goods, pack up and be gone; it was that son who said,

"Father give me the portion of goods that falleth to

me," and who, "not many days after, took his journey

into the far country," turning his back on his father

and his father's house.

"O Israel! thou hast destroyed THYSELF" (Hosea

13:9). O man! thou hast cast off God. It is not God

who has cast off thee. Thou hast dislinked thyself

from the blessed Creator; thou hast broken the golden

chain that fastened thee to His throne, the silken

cord that bound thee to his heart.

Yet He wants thee back again; nor will He rest

till He has accomplished His gracious design, and made

thee once more the vessel of His love.

 

 

CHAPTER 2

HOW THERE CAME TO BE A VEIL

 

There was no veil in Paradise between man and God.

There were three places or regions; the outer earth,

Eden, and "the Garden of Eden," or Paradise; but there

was no veil nor fence between, hindering access from

the one to the other. There was nothing to prevent man

from going in to speak with God, or God from coming

out to speak with man.

It was not till after man had disobeyed that the

veil was let down which separated God from man, which

made a distinction between the dwellings of man and

the habitation of God.

Before God had spoken or done aught in the way

of separation, man betrayed his consciousness of his

new standing, and of the necessity for a covering or

screen. He fled from God into the thick trees of the

garden, that their foliage might hide him from God and

God from him. In so doing he showed that he felt two

things,--

1. That there must be a veil between him and God;

2. That, now, in his altered position, distance from

God (if such a thing could be) was his safety.

Even if God had said "draw near," man could not

have responded "let us draw near," or felt "it is good

for me to draw near to God." For sin had now come

between, and until that should be dealt with in the

way of pardon and removal, he could not approach God,

nor expect God to approach him.

There was a sense of guilt upon his conscience,

and he knew that there was displeasure on the part of

God; so that fellowship, in such circumstances, was

impossible. Any meeting, in this case, could only be

that of the criminal and the Judge; the one to

tremble, and the other to pronounce the righteous

sentence.

God did come down to man; but not to converse as

before; not to commune in love as if nothing had come

in between them. He came to declare His righteousness;

and yet to reveal His grace. He came to condemn, and

He came to pardon. He came to show how utterly he

abhorred the sin, and yet how graciously he was minded

toward the sinner.

Something then had now come in between the

Creator and the creature, which made it no longer

possible for the same intercourse to be maintained as

before. Man himself felt this, as soon as he had

sinned; and God declared that it was so.

How was that "something" to be dealt with? It

was of man's creation; yet man had no power to deal

with it.

Shall it be removed, or shall it stand? If it

stands, then man is lost to God and to himself. For

the sentence is explicit, "In the day thou eatest

thereof thou shalt surely die."[6] If it is to be

removed, the barrier swept away, and the distance

obliterated, God must do it, and He must do it

immediately, before the criminal is handed over to

final execution, and He must do it righteously, that

there may be no uncertainty as to the thing done, and

no possibility of any future reversal of the blessing

or any replacement of the barrier.

God, in coming down to man, said, "Thou hast

sinned, and there is not now the same relationship

between us that there was: there is a barrier; but I

mean to remove it; not all at once; and yet completely

at last." Man was not to be lost to God, nor to

himself. He was too precious a part of God's

possessions to be thrown away. He was too dear to God

to be destroyed. "God loved the world" (John 3:16).

Yet there must be a shutting out from God; and

this was intimated from the beginning. God shuts

Himself out from man; and He shuts man out from

himself: for the way into the holiest for a sinner

could not be prepared all at once. Not man only, but

the universe, must be taught long lessons both in

righteousness and in grace, before the new and living

way can be opened.

Law had said "The soul that sinneth it shall

die" (Eze 18:4); Grace had said "I have no pleasure in

the death of the wicked" (Eze 33:11); Righteousness

had said "The wicked shall be turned into hell" (Psa

9:17); Mercy had said "How shall I deliver thee up?"

(Hosea 11:8). In what way are these things to be

reconciled? Condemnation is just: can pardon be also

just? Exclusion from God's presence was righteous, can

admission into that presence be no less so?

The solution of this question must be given on

judicial grounds, and must recognise all the judicial

or legal elements involved in the treatment of crime

and criminals. For law is law, and grace is grace. The

two things cannot be intermingled. What law demands it

must have; and what grace craves can only be given in

accordance with unchanging law. "The reign of grace"

must be "the reign of law"; and the triumph of grace

must be the triumph of law. The grace which alone can

reach the case of the sinner is the grace of the

LAWGIVER, the grace of the JUDGE.

These were truths which man could not fully

comprehend. They were new truths, or new ideas, which

could only be thoroughly understood by long training,

by ages of education. The method of instruction was

peculiar, and such as suited man's special state of

imperfect knowledge. It was twofold, consisting of a

long line of revelations extending over four thousand

years; and a long series of symbols increasing and

becoming more expressive age after age.

That there was free love in God for the sinner

was a new truth altogether, and needed to be fully

revealed, "line upon line." Reasoning from God's

treatment of the angels, man would conclude that there

was no favour to be expected for the sinner; nothing

but swift retribution, "everlasting chains." God's

first words to man were those of grace; intimating

that the divine treatment of man was to be very

different from that of the fallen angels: that where

sin had abounded grace was to abound much more.

Forgiveness, not condemnation, was the essence of the

early promise.

But this was only one-half of the great primal

revelation. God having announced His purpose of grace,

proceeds to show how this was to be carried out with

full regard to the perfection of the law and the

holiness of the Lawgiver.

The unfolding of this latter part of His purpose

fills up the greater part of the Divine Word.

The announcement of God's free love was made on

the spot where the sin had been committed and the

transgressors arrested. But the unfolding of the plan,

whereby that free love was to reach the sinner in

righteousness, was commenced outside--at the gate of

Paradise, where the first altar was built, the first

sacrifice was offered, and the first sinner

worshipped.

The blood-shedding was outside, and Paradise was

closed against the sinner:--Paradise the type of that

heavenly sanctuary from which man had shut himself

out. No blood was shed within; for the place was

counted holy; and besides, man, the sinner, was

excluded from it now, and blood was only needed in

connection with him and his entrance to God.

To shut out man the sword of fire was placed at

the gate: teaching him not only that he was prohibited

from entering, but that it was death to attempt an

entrance. Paradise was not swept away; nay, man was

allowed to build his altar and to worship at its gate;

but he must remain outside in the meantime, till the

great process had been completed, by which his nearer

approach was secured,--not only without the dread of

death, but with the assurance that there was life

within for him.

But the flaming sword said, "Not now; not yet."

Much must be done before man can be allowed to go in.

"The Holy Ghost this signified that the way into the

holiest was not yet made manifest."

In after ages there was no flaming sword at the

gate. But the veil of the tabernacle was substituted

instead of it. That veil said also, "Not now, not

yet." Wait a little longer, O man, and the gate shall

be thrown wide open. These sacrifices of yours have

much to do in connection with the opening of the gate.

Without them it cannot be opened; but even with them,

a long time must elapse before this can be done; man

must be taught that only righteousness can open that

gate, and that this righteousness can only be unfolded

and carried out by the blood-shedding of a substitute.

Man had been driven out in one hour; but he must

wait ages before he can re-enter. In that interval of

patient waiting he must learn many a lesson, both

regarding God and himself; both regarding sin and

righteousness; both regarding the reason of his being

excluded and the way of re-admission.

For man is slow to learn. He cannot all at once

take in new ideas as to God and His character. He must

be fully "educated" in these; and this education must

be one not of years but of ages.

God then began to teach man by means of

sacrifice. This method of teaching him concerning

grace and righteousness widened and filled up age

after age. For this fuller education the tabernacle

was set up; and there God commenced His school. By

means of it He taught Israel, He taught man. The text-

book was a symbolic one, though not without

explanations and comments. It is contained in the Book

of Leviticus. Not till man, the sinner, should master

the profound and wondrous lessons contained in that

book could the veil be removed and access granted. Not

till He had come, who was to be the living personal

exhibition or incarnation of all these lessons, could

the sinner draw nigh to God.

It seemed a long time to wait, but it could not

be otherwise. The lesson to be taught was a lesson not

for Israel merely, but for the world; not for a few

ages, but for eternity; not for earth only, but for

heaven.

Every fresh sacrifice offered outside the veil

was a new knock for admission, and a new cry, "How

long, O Lord, how long." In patience the Old Testament

saints waited on; assured that sooner or later the

veil would rend or be swept away, and the way into the

holiest be made manifest; the right of entrance to the

mercy-seat seemed to the sinner for ever.

 

CHAPTER 3

THE SYMBOLIC VEIL

 

The veil of the tabernacle was hung between the holy

place and the holiest of all. Inside of it were the

Ark of the Covenant, the mercy-seat, and the cherubim;

outside were the golden altar of incense, the golden

candlestick, or lamp-stand, and the table of shew-

bread or "presence-bread," the twelve loaves that were

placed before Jehovah.

Properly there were three veils or curtains for

the tabernacle.

The outermost hung at the entrance of the

tabernacle; and was always drawn aside, or might be so

by any Israelite that wished to pass into the outer

court, where the brazen altar and brazen laver were.

That veil hindered no one, and concealed nothing. It

was an ever-open door; at which any Israelite might

come in with his sacrifice. It was at this door that

the priest met the comer and examined his sacrifice to

see if it were without blemish; for no blemished

offering could pass the threshold; and the bringer of

a blemished sacrifice must go back unaccepted and

unblest. The Priest rejected him and his victim. He

must go and get another bullock, or else bear his own

sin.[7]

The second veil hung at the entrance of the holy

place. It allowed any one to look in; but it

prohibited the entrance of all but Priests. "Now when

these things were thus ordained (arranged or set up)

the priests went always (were continually going) into

the first tabernacle (what we usually call the

second), accomplishing the service of God" (Heb 9:6).

They fed at the royal table there; they kept the lamps

burning; they put incense on the golden altar. But

they could enter no farther. The way into the holiest

was not yet opened; the time had not yet come when the

three places should be made one; all veils removed;

all exclusions cancelled; all sprinkled with one

blood; open freely to each coming one: altar, laver,

table, candlestick, incense-altar, ark, and mercy-seat

no longer separated, but brought together as being but

parts of one glorious whole; divided from each other

for a season, for the sake of distinct teaching and

for the exhibition of sacrificial truth in its

different parts and aspects; but in the fulness of

time brought together; as being but one perfect

picture of the one perfect sacrifice, by means of

which we have access to God and re-entrance into the

Paradise which we had lost.

The third veil hung before the holy of holies:

hiding, as it were, God from man and man from God, and

intimating that the day of full meeting and fellowship

had not yet come. It said to Israel, and it said to

man (for all these things had a world-wide meaning),

God is within; but you cannot enter now. The time is

coming; but it is not yet.

In heathen temples there were veils hiding their

holy places. But these pointed to no coming

manifestation; no future unveiling of Him who was

supposed to dwell within. These veils were but parts

of the idolatry and darkness of the system; not

proclamations of truth or promises of light. It was

not so in the tabernacle. The veil that hid the glory

was a promise of the revelation of that glory. In

pagan shrines it was a signal of distress and despair;

man's declaration that there was no hope of light;

that the unknown must always be the unknown; nay, that

the unknown was also the unknowable; and that the

unapproached was also the unapproachable. In Israel's

shrine the veil was a thing of light, not of darkness;

it was a covering, no doubt, but it was also a

revelation. It told what God was; where God was, and

how God could be approached.

That it was not a gate,--of iron or brass, of

silver or of gold,--said much; that it was a veil of

needlework, slight and moveable, said more. For it

intimated that the hindrance in the way of the

worshipper's nearer approach was slender and

temporary. The nature of a tent intimated among other

things its removeableness: "mine age is departed, and

is removed from me as a shepherd's tent" (Isa 38:12).

The nature of a veil in a tent intimates still greater

slightness and removeableness. It was a thing which

could easily be drawn aside, nay, which was, at the

needed season, to be taken away. It was no wall of

obstruction, but simply of temporary separation and

exclusion, to be done away with in due time.

But while it was slight it was very beautiful.

It is thus described:-- "And thou shalt make a veil of

blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine-twined linen,

of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made: and

thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood,

overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold upon

the four sockets of silver" (Exo 26:31,32). Of the

veil made by Solomon for the temple on Moriah it is

said, "He made the veil of blue, and purple, and

crimson, and fine linen, and wrought cherubims

thereon" (2 Chron 3:14).

The temple-veil seems to have been thicker and

of course larger every way, than that of the

tabernacle. It is said to have been about twenty feet

in height, and as much in width, strongly wrought and

finely woven. It was never drawn, or at least only so

much of it was moved aside once a-year as to admit the

High Priest, when he approached the mercy-seat with

blood and incense. For ages it stretched across that

awful entrance, a more immoveable barrier than brass

or iron: no Priest, or Levite, or Israelite venturing

within its folds. Torn down again and again in

different centuries, by the Babylonian, Persian,

Grecian, and Roman invader, it was often replaced,

that it might hang there, to teach its wondrous

lessons, till God's great purpose with it had been

fulfilled.

To the Jew of old there must have seemed

something mysterious about that veil. It was not hung

up merely to conceal what was within, as if God

grudged to man the full vision of His glory, or had no

desire to be approached. Many things connected with

its texture and place showed that this was not the

case. The unspiritual Jew of course was very likely to

misjudge its use and import; and the historian

Josephus is a specimen of that class. He seems to have

had not the most distant idea of its use.[8] But the

Israelite who had discernment in the things of God

would see something far higher and nobler than this,

though he might not understand it fully in connection

with Messiah. Still he would see in that veil

something glorious; something which both attracted and

repelled; something which hid and revealed; something

which spoke of himself and of his Messiah; for he knew

that every thing pertaining to that tabernacle, and

specially these on which cherubim were wrought, had

reference to Messiah the Deliver, the seed of the

woman, the man with the bruised heel.

All the curtains of the tabernacle had more or

less the same reference. For on all of them the same

devices were wrought. "Thou shalt make the tabernacle

with ten curtains of fine-twined linen, and blue, and

purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work

shalt thou make them" (Exo 26:1, 36:8). The cherubim-

figure was to be seen everywhere. That mysterious

device which was first placed in Paradise, and which

for ages had disappeared, was now reproduced in

connection with the tabernacle. Since the garden of

the Lord had been swept away (probably at the flood),

the cherubim had not been seen; though doubtless

tradition had handed down the memory of their

appearance, and to Israel they were not strangers.

Moses is now commanded to restore them. From Noah to

Moses the Church had been a wanderer, with no

sanctuary, only an altar to worship at. Yet,

doubtless, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew well about

the cherubim; and when Moses was instructed to replace

them he does not require to have their nature

explained. They are now to be inwoven into the

sanctuary,--that sanctuary which symbolised nothing

less than Messiah Himself; teaching us that (whatever

these cherubim might mean) the cherubim and Messiah

were all "of one." The Church is represented in the

tabernacle as one with Christ, "members of His body,

of His flesh, and of His bones." Israel was taught

that "the Church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38) was as

truly the body of Christ as the Church at Pentecost.

But however vague might be the ideas of the old

Jew regarding the veil, it could not but be viewed as

very peculiar, something by itself; part of the

tabernacle furniture no doubt, yet a singular and

unique part of it; in texture, in position, and in

use, quite peculiar: exquisite as a piece of

workmanship,--every colour and thread of which it was

composed being symbolic and vocal. But still it was

the frailest part of the fabric,--a strange contrast,

in after days when the temple was built, with the

massive marble walls and cedar beams, with which it

was surrounded. For the temple was in all respects

magnificent,--even as a piece of architecture. Its

enormous foundations were let in to the solid rock;

its vast stones, each in itself a wall, rose tier

above tier; its gates were of solid brass, so weighty,

that one of them required twenty men to open and shut

it. It thus presented a solid mass to view more like a

part of the mountain than a mere building upon it.

But the veil was a thing which a child's hand

could draw aside; and it was hung just where we should

have expected a gate of brass or a wall of granite,--

at the entrance into the holiest of all,--to guard

against the possibility of intrusion. Its frail

texture in the midst of so much that was strong and

massive, said that it was but a temporary barrier,--a

screen,--in due time to be removed. The worshipper in

the outer court, as he looked towards it from the

outer entrance of the holy place, would see something

of its workmanship, and might perhaps get some

glimpses of the glory within shining through its

folds. He would learn this much, at least, that the

way into the holiest was not fully opened; yet it was

only stopped by a veil, no more. He would conclude

within himself, that though shut out now he would one

day be allowed to enter and worship at the mercy-seat,

or at something better than that mercy-seat, at the

heavenly throne, in the true tabernacle which the Lord

pitched, and not man, when the High Priest of good

things to come should arrive, and as his forerunner,

lead him into the very presence of that Invisible

Jehovah who was now by symbols showing how He was to

be approached and worshipped.

The veil! It hid God from man; for till that

should be done which would make "grace reign through

righteousness" (Rom 5:21), man could not be allowed to

see God face to face. It hid man from God; for till

this "righteousness" was established by the

substitution of the just for the unjust, God could not

directly look upon man. It hid the glory of God from

man; it hid the shame of man from God. It so veiled or

shaded both the shame and the glory, that it was

possible for God to be near man, and yet not to repel

him; and it was possible for man to be near God and

yet not to be consumed.

The veil! It was let down from above, it did not

spring up from below. It originated in God, and not in

man. It was not man hiding himself from God, but God

hiding Himself from man, as His holiness required,

until it should become a right for a holy God and

unholy man to meet each other in peace and love.

And it was sprinkled with blood! For though the

expression "before the veil" (Lev 4:6) does not

necessarily mean that it was sprinkled on the veil,

yet the likelihood is that this was done. "The seven

times, (says a commentator on Leviticus), throughout

all Scripture, intimates a complete and perfect

action. The blood is to be thoroughly exhibited before

the Lord; life openly exhibited as taken, to honour

the law that had been violated. It is not at this time

taken within the veil; for that would require the

priest to enter the holy of holies, a thing permitted

only once a year. But it is taken very near the mercy-

seat; it is taken 'before the veil,' while the Lord

that dwelt between the cherubim bent down to listen to

the cry that came up from the sin-atoning blood. Was

the blood sprinkled on the veil? Some say not; but

only on the floor close to the veil. The floor of the

holy place was dyed with blood; a threshold of blood

was formed, over which the High Priest must pass into

on the day of judgment, when he entered into the most

holy, drawing aside the veil. It is blood that opens

our way into the presence of God; it is the voice of

atoning blood that prevails with Him who dwells

within. Others, however, with more probability, think

that the blood was sprinkled on the veil. It might

intimate that atonement was yet to rend that veil; and

as that beautiful veil represented our Saviour's holy

humanity (Heb 10:20), oh, how expressive was the

continual repetition of the 'blood-sprinkling' seven

times. As often as the Priest offered a sin-offering,

the veil was wet again with blood, which dropped on

the floor. Is this Christ bathed in the blood of

atonement? Yes, through that veil the veil was opened

to us, through the flesh of Jesus, through the body

that for us was drenched in the sweat of blood."[9]

We speak of the blood-sprinkled mercy-seat, and

the blood-sprinkled floor, on which that mercy-seat

stood; but let us not forget the blood-sprinkled

pavement, the "new and living way" into the holiest,

and the blood-sprinkled veil. For "almost all things

under the law were purged with blood, and without

shedding of blood is no remission."

Nor let us forget Gethsemane, where "His sweat

was as it were great drops of blood falling down to

the ground." At His circumcision, at Gethsemane, at

the cross, we see the blood-sprinkled veil. And all

this for us; that the blood which was thus required at

His hands should not be required of us.

CHAPTER 4

THE TRUE VEIL

 

All man's thoughts regarding the true meaning of the

veil have been set at rest by that brief parenthesis

of the Apostle Paul,-- "the veil, that is to say, His

flesh" (Heb 10:20). The Holy Spirit has interpreted

the symbol for us, and saved us a world of speculation

and uncertainty. We now know that the veil meant the

body of "Jesus."[10]

Thus Christ is seen in every part of the

tabernacle; and everywhere it is the riches of His

grace that we see. Here "Christ is all and in all."

The whole fabric is Christ. Each separate part is

Christ. The altar is Christ the sacrifice. The laver

is Christ filled with the Spirit for us. The curtains

speak of Him. The entrances all speak of Him.

Candlestick, and table, and golden altar speak of Him.

The Ark of the Covenant, the mercy-seat, the glory,

all embody and reveal Him. Everything here says,

"Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the

world."

But the veil is "His flesh,"--His body, His

humanity. As the lamb was to be without blemish, and

without spot, in order to set forth His perfection; so

the veil was perfect in all its parts, finely wrought

and beautiful to the eye, to exhibit the excellency of

Him who is fairer than the children of men. As the

veil was composed of the things of earth, so was His

body; not only bone of our bone and flesh of His

flesh, but nourished in all its parts by the things of

earth, fed by the things which grew out of the soil,

as we are fed. Christ's flesh was perfect, though

earthly: without sin, though of the substance of a

sinful woman; unblemished in every part, yet sensitive

to all our sinless infirmities. Through the veil the

glory shone, so through the body of Christ the Godhead

shone.

As in the holy of holies the shekinah or symbol

of Jehovah dwelt; so in the man Christ Jesus dwelt

"all the fulness of the Godhead BODILY" (Col 2:9). He

was "the Word made flesh" (John 1:14); "God manifest

in flesh" (1 Tim 3:16); "Immanuel," God with us;

Jehovah in very deed dwelling on earth, inhabiting a

temple made with hands; and that temple a human body

such as ours. For God became man that He might dwell

with man, and that man might dwell with Him. In Jesus

of Nazareth Jehovah was manifested; so that he who saw

Him saw the Father, and he who heard Him heard the

Father, and he who knew Him knew the Father.

In Jesus of Nazareth was seen the mighty God. In

the son of the carpenter was seen the Creator of

heaven and earth. In the Man of sorrows was seen the

Son of the blessed. He who was born at Bethlehem was

He whose days are from eternity. He who died was the

Prince of life, of whom it is written, "In Him was

life, and the life was the light of men." Of these

things the mysterious veil of the temple was the fair

symbol. He who could read the meaning of that veil

could read unutterable things concerning the coming

Messiah,--the Redeemer of His Israel, the Deliverer of

man; divine yet human, heavenly yet earthly, clothed

with divine majesty, yet wearing the raiment of our

poor humanity.

In Him was manifested divine strength, residing

in and working through a feeble human arm such as

ours: divine wisdom, in its perfection, speaking

through the lips of a child of dust; divine majesty

seated on a human brow; divine benignity beaming from

human eyes, and put forth in the touch of a human

hand; divine purposes working themselves out through a

human will; divine sovereignty embodied in each act

and motion of a human organism; divine grace coming

forth in human compassions and sympathies; and divine

grief finding vent to itself in human tears.

The perfection of His holy and glorious, yet

true manhood is seen in that mysterious veil. Its

materials, so choice, so fair, yet still earthly,

spoke of Him who, though fairer than the children of

men, is still bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.

Its well-wrought texture and exquisite workmanship, of

purple, and scarlet, and fine-twined linen, spoke of

His spotless yet thoroughly human body, prepared by

the Holy Ghost; while its embroidered or interwoven

cherubim spoke of the Church in Him,--part of Himself;

one with Him as He is one with them; for "both He that

sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of

one."

The "flesh of Christ" both revealed and hid the

glory. It veiled and it unveiled Godhead: it

proclaimed the nearness of Jehovah to His worshippers,

and yet suggested some distance, some interposing

medium, which could only be taken out of the way by

God Himself. For that which had been placed there by

God could not be removed by man. And yet man, in a

certain sense, had to do with the removal. In the

type, indeed, it was not so; but in the antitype it

was. For no hand of man rent the veil; yet it was

man's hand that nailed the Son of God to the cross; it

was man that slew Him. And yet again, on the other

hand, it was God that smote Him,--just as it was the

hand of God that rent the veil from top to bottom. "It

pleased the Lord to bruise Him and to put Him to

grief" (Isa 53:10). The bruising of His heel was the

doing of the serpent and his seed, yet it was also the

doing of the Lord.

There was the unbroken body, and the broken body

of the Lord. The veil pointed to the former. It was

the symbol of the unbroken body, the unwounded flesh

of the Surety. It was connected with incarnation, not

with crucifixion,--with life, not with death. We learn

from it that mere incarnation can do nothing for the

sinner. He needs far more than that,--something

different from the mere assumption of our humanity.

The veil said, that body must be broken before the

sinner can come as a worshipper into the place where

Jehovah dwells. The Christ of God must not merely take

flesh and blood; He must take mortal flesh and die.

Sacrifice alone can bring us nigh to God, and keep us

secure and blessed in His presence. We are saved by a

dying Christ.

The veil was, as we have said before, to the

holy of holies what the sword of fire was to the

garden of the Lord. Both of them kept watch at the

gate of the divine presence-chamber. The flaming sword

turned every way; that is, it threw around the garden

a girdle or belt of divine fire from the shekinah

glory, threatening death to all who should seek

entrance into the holiest, and yet (by leaving

Paradise unscathed upon the earth) revealing God's

gracious purpose of preserving it for the re-entrance

of banished man, or rather of preparing for him a home

more glorious than the Paradise which he had lost.

Both the veil and the flame said, "We guard the

palace of the Great King, that no sinner may enter."

Yet they said also, the King is within, He has not

forsaken man or man's world; you shall one day have

unhindered access to Him; but for wise and vast

reasons, to be shown in due time, you cannot enter

yet. Something must be done to make your entrance a

safe thing for yourself and a righteous thing for God.

That veil then, unrent as it was, proclaimed the

glad tidings; though it could not, so long as it was

unrent, reveal the whole grace, or at least the way in

which grace is to reach the sinner. That grace can

flow out only by means of death. It is death that

opens the pent-up fulness of love, and sends out the

life contained in the "spring shut up, the fountain

sealed." It is the rod of the substitute, the cross of

the sin-bearer that smites the rock, that the waters

may gush forth.

The antitype of the unrent veil might be said to

have been held before Israel's eyes from the time that

the Son of God took our flesh. It is the unrent veil

that we find at Bethlehem; it is the unrent veil that

we find at Nazareth, and all the life long of the

Christ of God. The miracles of grace wrought during

His ministry were like the waving of the folds of that

veil before men's eyes, and letting some of the rays

of the inner majesty shine through. So were His words

of grace from day to day. Men were compelled to look

and to admire. "They wondered at the gracious words

proceeding out of His mouth" (Luke 4:22, literally,

"at the words of the grace proceeding out of His

mouth"); "Never man spake like this man" (John 7:46);

"He hath done all things well" (Mark 7:37); what were

these things but the expressions of admiration at the

unrent veil. It was so beautiful, so perfect! Men

gazed at it and wondered. It was marvellously

attractive; and it was meant to be so.

Hence many were drawn to the person of Christ by

His attractive grace without fully understanding

either His fulness or their own great need. What they

saw in a living Christ won their hearts; they

acknowledged Him as the Saviour without fully

understanding how He was to be such. The disciples

would not admit any necessity for His dying. The

unrent veil seemed to them enough. "That be far from

Thee, Lord," were the words of Peter, repudiating the

very idea of His Lord's death. He was content with a

living Saviour. Death seemed altogether inconsistent

with the character of Messiah.

Let us mark the scene just referred to, and

understand its meaning. "From that time forth began

Jesus to show unto His disciples, how that He must go

to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and

chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised

again the third day" (Matt 16:21). It was as if

standing in front of the holy of holies, and pointing

to the veil, He was saying to them, That veil must be

rent! "Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke him,

saying, Be it far from Thee, Lord; this shall not be

unto Thee" (v 22). What was this but saying, Lord,

that is impossible; that veil must not and cannot be

rent! "But He turned and said unto Peter, Get thee

behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me; for

thou savourest not the things that be of God, but

those that be of men" (v 23). It was as if He had

said, Peter, thou art speaking like Satan, and for

Satan; he knows that unless the heel of the woman's

seed be bruised, his head cannot be bruised; he knows

that unless that veil be rent, thou canst not go in to

God; and he speaks through thee, if it were possible,

to prevent the rending; the veil must be rent; if I

die not, thou canst not live; if I die not, I need not

have come into the world at all.[11]

If one might, by a figure, speak of the veil as

living and sentient, might we not say that it dreaded

the rending. What was the meaning of Christ's words,

"Now is my soul sorrowful"? Was it not the expression

of dread as to the rending? And still more, what was

the meaning of the Gethsemane cry, "Father, if it be

Thy will, let this cup pass from me"? Was it not the

same? And yet there was the desire for its being rent,

the longing for the consummation. "I have a baptism to

be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be

accomplished" (Luke 12:50).

"A body hast thou prepared me" (Heb 10:5). That

body was truly human as we have seen, and yet it was

prepared by the Holy Ghost. "The Holy Ghost shall come

upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall

overshadow thee; therefore also,[12] that holy thing

which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of

God" (Luke 1:35). This body, thus divinely prepared

out of human materials, was altogether wonderful.

There had been none like it from the first: nor was

there to be any such after it,--so perfect, yet so

thoroughly human; so stainless, yet so sensitive to

all the sinless infirmities of man. In this respect it

differed from the body of the first Adam, which was

perfect, no doubt, but not in sympathy with us. The

kind of perfection in the first Adam unfitted him to

sympathise with us, or to be tempted like as we are.

The nature of Christ's perfection fitted Him most

fully for sympathising with us, and for being tempted,

like as we are, yet without sin.

The colour and texture of the temple-veil seem

all to have reference to the flesh or body; blue, and

purple, and scarlet, and fine-twined linen. Jeremiah's

description of the Nazarites may help us to see this:

"Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter

than milk; they were more ruddy in body than rubies;

their polishing was of sapphire" (Lam 4:7, or "their

veining was the sapphire's," as Blayney renders it).

The bride in the Song of Solomon thus also speaks of

the bridegroom, "My beloved is white and ruddy, the

chiefest among ten thousand" (Song of Sol 5:10).

All this corporeal perfection and beauty were

produced by the Holy Ghost. Never had His hand brought

forth such material perfection as in the body of the

Christ of God. It was "without spot and blemish,"

worthy of Him out of whose eternal purpose it came

forth; worthy of Him who so cunningly had wrought it

as the perfection of divine workmanship; worthy of Him

in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead

bodily.[13]

 

 

CHAPTER 5

THE RENDING OF THE VEIL

 

The symbolic veil was rent: and at the same moment the

true veil was also rent. It is this that we have now

to consider.

The following are the words of the evangelist:

"Behold the veil of the temple was rent in twain from

the top to the bottom" (Matt 27:51). In considering

them we must endeavour to realise the scene of which

this is a part. The passage transports us to

Jerusalem; it sets us down upon Moriah; it takes us

into the old temple at the hour of evening sacrifice,

when the sun, though far down the heavens, is still

sending its rays right over turret and pinnacle, on to

the grey slopes of Olivet, where thousands, gathered

for the great Paschal Sacrifice, are wandering; it

shows us the holy chambers with their varied furniture

of marble and cedar and gold; it brings us into the

midst of the ministering priests, all robed for

service. Then suddenly, as through the opened sky, it

lifts us up and carries us from the earthly into the

heavenly places, from the mortal into the immortal

Jerusalem, of which it is written by one who had gazed

upon them both, "I saw no temple therein, for the Lord

God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it."

For we must take the earthly and the heavenly

together, as body and soul. The terrestrial sun and

the sun of righteousness must mingle their radiance,

and each unfold the other. The waters of the nether

and the upper springs must flow together. The Church

must be seen in Israel, and Israel in the Church;

Christ in the altar, and the altar in Christ; Christ

in the lamb, and the lamb in Christ; Christ in the

mercy-seat, and the mercy-seat in Christ; Christ in

the shekinah-glory, and the shekinah-glory in Him, who

is the brightness of Jehovah's glory. We must not

separate the shadow from the substance, the material

from the spiritual, the visible form the invisible

glory. What God hath joined together, let no man put

asunder.

Even the old Jew, if a believing man, like

Simeon, saw these two things together, though in a way

and order and proportion considerably different from

what our faith now realises. To him there was the

vision of the heavenly through the earthly; to us

there is the vision of the earthly through the

heavenly. He, standing on the outside, saw the glory

through the veil, as one in a valley sees the sunshine

through clouds; we, placed in the inside, see the veil

through the glory, as one far up the mountain sees the

clouds beneath through the sunshine. Formerly it was

the earthly that revealed the heavenly, now it is the

heavenly that illuminates the earthly. Standing beside

the brazen serpent, Moses might see afar off Messiah

the Healer of the nations; standing, or rather I

should say sitting, by faith beside this same Messiah

in the heavenly places, we see the brazen serpent afar

off. From the rock of Horeb, the elders of Israel

might look up and catch afar off some glimpses of the

water of life flowing from the rock of ages; we, close

by the heavenly fountain, proceeding out of the throne

of God and of the Lamb, look down and recognise the

old desert rock, with its gushing stream. Taking in

his hand the desert manna, Israel could look up to the

true bread above; we, taking into our hands the bread

of God, look downward on the desert manna, not needing

now with Israel to ask, "What is it?"

But let us look at

The rending of the veil. This was a new thing in

its history, and quite a thing fitted to make Israel

gaze and wonder, and ask, what meaneth this? Is

Jehovah about to forsake His dwelling?

1. It was rent, not consumed by fire. For not

its mere removal, still less its entire destruction,

was to be signified; but its being transformed from

being a barrier into a gate of entrance. Through it

the way into the holiest was to pass; the new and

living way; over a pavement sprinkled with blood.

2. It was rent while the temple stood. Had the

earthquake which rent the rocks and opened graves,

struck down the temple or shattered its walls, men

might have said that it was this that rent the veil.

But now was it made manifest that it was no earthly

hand, nor natural convulsion, that was thus throwing

open the mercy-seat, and making its long-barred

chamber as entirely accessible as the wide court

without, which all might enter, and where all might

worship.

3. It was rent in twain. It did not fall to

pieces, nor was it torn in pieces. The rent was a

clean and straight one, made by some invisible hand;

and the exact division into two parts might well

figure the separation of Christ's soul and body, while

each part remained connected with the temple, as both

body and soul remained in union with the Godhead; as

well as resemble the throwing open of the great

folding door between earth and heaven, and the

complete restoration of the fellowship between God and

man.

4. It was rent from the top to the bottom. Not

from side to side, nor from the bottom to the top:

which might have been man's doing; but from the top to

the bottom, showing that the power which rent it was

from above, not from beneath; that the rending was not

of man but of God. It was man, no doubt, that dealt

the blow of death to the Son of God, but, "it pleased

the Lord to bruise him; He hath put him to grief."

Beginning with the roof and ending with the floor, the

rest was complete; for God, out of His own heaven, had

done it. And as from roof to floor there remained not

one fragment of the old veil; so from heaven to earth,

from the throne of God, down to the dwelling of man,

there exists not one remnant nor particle of a barrier

between the sinner and God. He who openeth and no man

shutteth has, with His own hand, and in His own

boundless love, thrown wide open to the chief of

sinners, the innermost recesses of His own glorious

heaven! Let us go in: let us draw near.

5. It was rent in the presence of the priests.

They were in the holy place, outside the veil, of

course, officiating, lighting the lamps, or placing

incense on the golden altar, or ordering the shewbread

on the golden table. They saw the solemn rending of

the veil, and were no doubt overwhelmed with

amazement; ready to flee out of the place, or to cover

their eyes lest they should see the hidden glories of

that awful chamber which only one was permitted to

behold. "Woe is me, for I am undone; I am a man of

unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean

lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of

Hosts" (Isa 6:5). They were witnesses of what was

done. They had not done it themselves; they felt that

no mortal hand had done it; and what could they say

but that God Himself had thrown open His gates, that

they might enter in to precincts from which they had

been so long debarred.

6. It was rent that it might disclose the mercy-

seat, and the cherubim, and the glory. These were no

longer to be hidden, and known only as the mysterious

occupants of a chamber from which they might not go

out, and into which no man might enter. It was no

longer profanity to handle the uncovered vessels of

the inner shrine; to gaze upon the golden floor and

walls all stained with sacrificial blood; nay, to go

up to the mercy-seat and sit down beneath the very

shadow of the glory. Formerly it was blasphemy even to

speak of entering in; now the invitation seemed all at

once to go forth, "Let us come boldly to the throne of

grace." The safest, as well as the most blessed place,

is beneath the shadow of the glory.

7. It was rent at the time of the evening

sacrifice. About three o'clock, when the sun began to

go down, the lamb was slain, and laid upon the brazen

altar. Just at the moment when its blood was shed, and

the smoke arose from the fire that was consuming it,

the veil was rent in twain. There was an unseen link

between the altar and the veil, between the sacrifice

and the rending, between the bloodshedding and the

removal of the barrier. It was blood that had done the

work. It was blood that had rent the veil and thrown

open the mercy-seat: the blood of "the Lamb, without

blemish, and without spot."

8. It was rent at the moment when the Son of God

died on the cross. His death, then, had done it! Nay,

more, that rending and that death were one thing; the

one a symbol, the other a reality; but both containing

one lesson, that LIFE was the screen which stood

between us and God, and death the removal of the

screen; that it was His death that made His

incarnation available for sinners; that it was from

the cross of Golgotha that the cradle of Bethlehem

derived all its value and its virtue; that the rock of

ages, like the rock of Rephidim, must be smitten

before it can become a fountain of living waters. That

death was like the touching of the electric wire

between Calvary and Moriah, setting loose suddenly the

divine power that for a thousand years had been lying

in wait to rend the veil and cast down the barrier. It

was from the cross that the power emanated which rent

the veil. From that place of weakness and shame and

agony, came forth the omnipotent command, "Lift up

your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye

everlasting doors." The "It is finished" upon Golgotha

was the appointed signal, and the instantaneous

response was the rending of the veil. Little did the

Jew think, when nailing the Son of the carpenter to

the tree, that it was these pierced hands that were to

rend the veil, and that it was their being thus

pierced that fitted them for this mysterious work.

Little did he suppose, when erecting a cross for the

Nazarene, that that cross was to be the lever by which

both his temple and city were to be razed to their

foundations. Yet so it was. It was the cross of Christ

that rent the veil; overthrew the cold statutes of

symbolic service; consecrated the new and living way

into the holiest; supplanted the ritualistic with the

real and the true; and substituted for lifeless

performances the living worship of the living God.

9. When the veil was rent, the cherubim which

were embroidered on it were rent with it. And as these

cherubim symbolised the Church of the redeemed, there

was thus signified our identification with Christ in

His death. We were nailed with Him to the cross; we

were crucified with Him; with Him we died, and were

buried, and rose again. In that rent veil we have the

temple-symbol of the apostle's doctrine, concerning

oneness with Christ in life and death,-- "I am

crucified with Christ." And in realising the cross and

the veil, let us realise these words of solemn

meaning, "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with

Christ in God."

The broken body and shed blood of the Lord had

at length opened the sinner's way into the holiest.

And these were the tokens not merely of grace, but of

righteousness. That rending was no act either of mere

power or of mere grace. Righteousness had done it.

Righteousness had rolled away the stone. Righteousness

had burst the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the

bars of iron. It was a righteous removal of the

barrier; it was a righteous entrance that had been

secured for the unrighteous; it was a righteous

welcome for the chief of sinners that was now

proclaimed.

Long had the blood of bulls and goats striven to

rend the veil, but in vain. Long had they knocked at

the awful gate, demanding entrance for the sinner;

long had they striven to quench the flaming sword, and

unclasp the fiery belt that girdled paradise; long had

they demanded entrance for the sinner, but in vain.

But now the better blood has come; it knocks but once,

and the gate flies open; it but once touches the sword

of fire, and it is quenched. Not a moment is lost. The

fulness of the time has come. God delays not, but

unbars the door at once. He throws open His mercy-seat

to the sinner, and makes haste to receive the banished

one; more glad even than the wanderer himself that the

distance, and the exclusion, and the terror are at an

end for ever.

O wondrous power of the cross of Christ! To

exalt the low, and to abase the high; to cast down and

to build up; to unlink and to link; to save and to

destroy; to kill and to make alive; to shut out and to

let in; to curse and to bless. O wondrous virtue of

the saving cross, which saves in crucifying, and

crucifies in saving! For four thousand years has

paradise been closed, but Thou hast opened it. For

ages and generations the presence of God has been

denied to the sinner, but Thou hast given entrance,--

and that not timid, and uncertain, and costly, and

hazardous; but bold, and blessed, and safe, and free.

The veil, then, has been rent in twain from the

top to the bottom. The way is open, the blood is

sprinkled, the mercy-seat is accessible to all, and

the voice of the High Priest, seated on that mercy-

seat, summons us to enter, and to enter without fear.

Having, then, boldness to enter into the holiest by

the blood of Jesus,--by a new and living way which He

hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to

say, His flesh, and having an High Priest over the

house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in

the full assurance of faith. The message is, Go in, go

in. Let us respond to the message, and at once draw

near. To stand afar off, or even upon the threshhold,

is to deny and dishonour the provision made for our

entrance, as well as to incur the awful peril of

remaining outside the one place of safety or

blessedness. To enter in is our only security and our

only joy. But we must go in in a spirit and attitude

becoming the provision made for us. If that provision

has been insufficient, we must come hesitatingly,

doubtingly, as men who can only venture on an

uncertain hope of being welcomed. If the veil be not

wholly rent, if the blood be not thoroughly sprinkled,

or be in itself insufficient, if the mercy-seat be not

wholly what its name implies,--a seat of mercy, a

throne of grace; if the High Priest be not

sufficiently compassionate and loving, or if there be

not sufficient evidence that these things are so, the

sinner may come doubtingly and uncertainly; but if the

veil be fully rent, and the blood be of divine value

and potency, and the mercy-seat be really the place of

grace, and the High Priest full of love to the sinner,

then every shadow of a reason for doubt is swept

utterly away. Not to come with the boldness is the

sin. Not to come in the full assurance of faith is the

presumption. To draw near with an "evil conscience" is

to declare our belief that the blood of the Lamb is

not of itself enough to give the sinner a good

conscience and a fearless access.

"May I then draw near as I am, in virtue of the

efficacy of the sprinkled blood?" Most certainly. In

what other way or character do you propose to come?

And may I be bold at once? Most certainly. For if not

at once, then when and how? Let boldness come when it

may, it will come to you from the sight of the blood

upon the floor and mercy-seat, and from nothing else.

It is bold coming that honours the blood. It is bold

coming that glorifies the love of God and the grace of

His throne. "Come boldly!" this is the message to the

sinner. Come boldly now! Come in the full assurance of

faith, not supposing it possible that that God who has

provided such a mercy-seat can do anything but welcome

you; that such a mercy-seat can be anything to you but

the place of pardon, or that the gospel out of which

every sinner that has believed it has extracted peace,

can contain anything but peace to you.

The rent veil is liberty of access. Will you

linger still? The sprinkled blood is boldness,--

boldness for the sinner, for any sinner, for every

sinner. Will you still hesitate, tampering and

dallying with uncertainty and doubt, and an evil

conscience? Oh, take that blood for what it is and

gives, and go in. Take that rent veil for what it

indicates, and go in. This only will make you a

peaceful, happy, holy man. This only will enable you

to work for God on earth, unfettered and unburdened;

all over joyful, all over loving, and all over free.

This will make your religion not that of one who has

everything yet to settle between himself and God, and

whose labours, and duties, and devotions are all

undergone for the purpose of working out that

momentous adjustment before life shall close, but the

religion of one who, having at the very outset, and

simply in believing, settled every question between

himself and God over the blood of the Lamb, is serving

the blessed One who has loved him and bought him, with

all the undivided energy of his liberated and happy

soul.

For every sinner, without exception, that veil

has a voice, that blood a voice, that mercy-seat a

voice. They say, "Come in." They say, "Be reconciled

to God." They say, "Draw near." They say, "Seek the

Lord while He may be found." To the wandering

prodigal, the lover of pleasure, the drinker of

earth's maddening cup, the dreamer of earth's vain

dreams,--they say, there is bread enough in your

Father's house, and love enough in your Father's

heart, and to spare,--return, return. To each banished

child of Adam, exiles from the paradise which their

first father lost, these symbols, with united voice,

proclaim the extinction of the fiery sword, the re-

opening of the long-barred gate, with a free and

abundant re-entrance, or rather, entrance into a more

glorious paradise, a paradise that was never lost.

But if all these voices die away unheeded,--if

you will not avail yourself, O man, of that rent veil,

that open gate,--what remains but the eternal

exclusion, the hopeless exile, the outer darkness,

where there is the weeping and wailing and gnashing of

teeth? Instead of the rent veil, there shall be drawn

the dark curtain, never to be removed or rent, which

shall shut you out from God, and from paradise, and

from the New Jerusalem for ever. Instead of the mercy-

seat, there comes the throne of judgment; and instead

of the gracious High Priest, there comes the avenging

Judge. Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ is coming, and with

His awful advent ends all thy hope. He is coming; and

He may be nearer than you think. In an hour when you

are not aware He will come. When you are saying peace

and safety, He will come. When you are dreaming of

earth's long, calm, summer days, He will come. Lose no

time. Trifle no more with eternity; it is too long and

too great to be trifled with. Make haste! Get these

affections disengaged from a present evil world. Get

these sins of thine buried in the grave of Christ. Get

that soul of thine wrapped up, all over, in the

perfection of the perfect One, in the righteousness of

the righteous One. Then all is well, all is well. But

till then thou hast not so much as one true hope for

eternity or for time.

 

CHAPTER 6

THE REMOVAL OF THE FIRST SACRIFICE AND THE

ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SECOND

 

The temple was not overthrown till about forty years

after the Son of God died on the cross. The type was

preserved for a season, that the antitype might be

more fully understood. The shadow and the substance

were thus for forty years exhibited together. The

temple still, in its rites, proclaimed what the

apostles preached. Every part of it spoke aloud and

said, "Look on me, and look away from me; look to Him

of whom I have been bearing witness for these many

ages; behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin

of the world."

But in God's sight the first sacrifice was

finished when Jesus died. Then the purpose for which

the blood had been shed day by day was accomplished.

Thus the apostle writes, "He taketh away the

first that He may establish the second" (Heb 10:9).

To a Jew this language must have sounded

strange, if not profane; quite as much so as did the

words, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will

raise it up." A first and second what? Does he rightly

hear the words?

Is it a second temple, a second altar, a second

priesthood; the first being set aside? That cannot be!

Israel's service is divine; it is one and unchanging.

Messiah, when He comes, will confirm, not destroy it.

Israel's service is a first without a second. A second

is an impossibility, a blasphemy.

Yet the apostle, a Jew, writing to Jews,

announces this incredible thing! He announces it as an

indisputable certainty; and he expects to be believed.

Had he announced a second sun or a second universe,

rising out of the extinction of the first, he would

not have been reckoned so outrageous in his statement

as in declaring the abolition of Israel's present

service, and the substitution of one more perfect, and

no less divine.

1. But what is this first? Speaking generally,

it means the old temple and tabernacle service; the

old covenant made with Israel in the desert, from

Mount Sinai. But the special thing in this service to

which he points is the sacrifice or sacrifices; the

blood of bullocks and of goats, the morning and

evening sacrifice of the lamb for the daily burnt-

offering, in which all the other sacrifices were wrapt

up,--which was the very heart and soul of all the

worship carried on in that sanctuary.

2. By whom was this "first" taken away? By Him

who set it up, and upheld it for so many ages; "He

taketh away the first." He, the Lord God of Israel,

the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. It was not man

who destroyed it, even as it was not man who

established it. Long before the city was overthrown

and the temple perished, the sacrifice had come to an

end, the temple service had run its course.

3. When was it taken away? On that afternoon of

the passover when the Son of God died upon the cross;

that awful hour when the sun was darkened, and the

earth shook, and the rocks were rent. Then, at

eventide, at three o'clock, the last Jewish sacrifice

was laid upon the brazen altar. In God's reckoning

that was really the last. No doubt, for years after

this sacrifices continued to be offered up; but these

could no longer be said to be of divine appointment.

The number of burnt-offerings according to God's

purpose was now complete; their end had been served;

they passed away. From the day that Solomon laid the

first lamb on the temple altar; from the day that

Moses laid the first on the tabernacle altar; from the

day that Adam laid his first upon the altar at the

gate of Paradise, how many tens of thousands had been

offered! But now God's great purpose with them is

served. All is done. The last of the long series has

been laid upon the altar.

4. How was this first taken away? Simply by

setting another in its place; making it give way to

something better. Not by violence, or fire, or the

sword of man. The altar sent up its last blaze that

evening as brightly as ever. The blaze sank down, and

all has since been dark. The great end was served; the

great lesson taught; the great truth written down for

man. Then and thus the fire ceased to burn, and the

blood to flow. No more of such fire or such blood was

needed. The first was taken away without the noise of

axes or hammers, because its work was done.

5. For what end did He take away the first? That

He might establish the second. The first seemed

steadfast; Israel reckoned on it standing for ever; it

had stood for many an age. Yet it gives way, and

another comes: one meant to be more abiding than the

first; one sacrifice, once for all; yet that sacrifice

eternal; the same in its results on the worshipper as

if it were offered up every day for ever; the basis

and seal of the everlasting covenant. It was to make

room for this glorious second that the first was taken

away; this glorious second through which eternal

redemption was accomplished for us.

Besides, it had come to be necessary, on other

grounds, that the first should be taken away. It was

beginning to defeat the very ends for which it was set

up. Men were getting to look upon it as a real thing

in itself; and to believe in it instead of believing

in Him to whom it pointed. It was becoming an object

of worship and of trust, as if it were the true

propitiation; as if the blood of beasts could pacify

the conscience, or reconcile God, or put away sin. It

was becoming an idol; a substitute for the living God,

and for His Christ, instead of showing the way of true

approach and acceptable worship. As men in our day

make an idol of their own faith, and believe in it

instead of believing in the Son of God, so did the

Jews of other days make the sacrifice their

confidence, their resting-place, their Messiah. And as

Hezekiah broke in pieces the brazen serpent when

Israel began to worship it, so did God abolish the

sacrifice.

That sacrifice was not in itself a real thing,

nor did it accomplish anything real. It was but a

picture, a statue, a shadow, a messenger,--no more. It

was but the sketch or outline of the living thing that

was to come; and to mistake it for that living thing

itself was to be deluded with the subtlest of all

errors, and the most perilous of all idolatries. And

what can be more dangerous for a soul than to mistake

the unreal for the real; to dote upon the picture, and

lose sight of the glorious Being represented? Ah, we

do not thus deceive ourselves in earthly things! No

man mistakes the picture of gold for gold itself, or

the portrait of a loved face for the very face itself.

Yet do we daily see how men are content with religious

unrealities; the unrealities of a barren creed, or of

a hollow form; the unrealities of doubt and

uncertainty in the relationship between them and God.

We find how many of those called religious men are

satisfied with something far short of a living Christ,

and a full assurance and a joyful hope.

Nay, they make this unreality of theirs an idol,

a god; not venturing to step beyond it, not caring to

part with it. They have become so familiar with it,

that though it does not fill their soul, it soothes

their uneasiness; it gratifies the religious element

in their natural man; it pleases their self-

righteousness, for it is something of their own; and

it saves them from the dreaded necessity of coming

into direct contact with the real, the living Christ,

of being brought face to face with God Himself.

Thus it comes to pass that a man's religion is

often a barrier between his soul and God; the unreal

is the substitute for the real; so that a man, having

found the former, is content, and goes no farther;

nay, counts it presumption, profanity to do so. To be

told that the world, with its gay beauty and seducing

smiles, comes between us and God, surprises no man;

but to learn that the temple with its sacrifices, the

Church with its religious services, does so, may

startle some, nay, may exasperate them, as it did the

Jews, to be told that their multiplied sacrifices and

prayers were but multiplied barriers between them and

God: not channels of communication, nor means of

intercourse. The Jewish altar stood between the Jew

and God; and that which was simply set as the ladder

up to something higher became a resting-place. All the

more, because it looked so real to the eye; while that

to which it pointed was invisible, and therefore to

sense unreal. But real as it looked, it was cold and

unsatisfying. It was a real lamb, and a real altar of

solid stone and brass; it was real blood and fire and

smoke; and to take away these might seem to take away

all that was substantial. But, after all, these were

the unrealities. They could accomplish nothing for the

filling of the heart, or the pacifying of the

conscience, or the healing of the soul's deep wounds.

Yet they pointed to the real; and their very unreality

was meant to keep man from making them his home, or

his religion, or his god. Men might admire the holy

symbols and majestic ritual; but the true use of such

admiration was to lead them to reason thus, If the

unreal be so attractive, what will the real be; if the

shadow thus soothes and pleases, what will not the

divine substance do; if the picture of Messiah, thus

sketched in these ceremonies, be so fair and goodly,

how much fairer and goodlier will be the living Christ

Himself; if the porch of the temple, or the steps

leading to that temple, be so excellent, what must the

inner sanctuary be; and who would stand ths, all a

lifetime, shivering in the cold without, when the

whole interior, with all its warmth and splendour and

life and vastness was thrown open, and every man

invited to enter and partake the gladness?

Thus the "taking away of the first" was not the

mere removal of what had done its work and become

useless; but the abolition of that which had become an

idol; a barrier between the Jew and God; quite as much

as if the brazen altar had in the process of time

become so enlarged as to block up the entrance into

the holy place or the holiest of all. We read in

Jewish history that once and again, during the

seventeen sieges of Jerusalem, the gate of the temple

was blocked up by the dead bodies of the worshippers.

So did the access into the true tabernacle, not made

with hands, become blocked up by the very sacrifices

that were intended to point to the open door; and so

in our day (long after that altar has been overturned

and the fire quenched), is entrance into the holiest

blocked up by our dead prayers, our dead works, our

dead praises, our dead sacraments, our dead worship,

our dead religion, quite as effectually as by our

total want of these. A lesson hard for man to learn,

especially in days when religion is fashionable and

forms are exalted above measure. Greatly is that text

needed amongst us, "If the blood of bulls and of goats

and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean,

sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much

more shall the blood of Christ purge your conscience

from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb 9:14).

It is then through the "second," not the

"first," that the conscience is purged and the man

made an acceptable worshipper, capable of doing good

works and doing them in the spirit of liberty and

fearless gladness. It is with the second, not the

first, that the sinner has to do in drawing near to

God; and it is the second, not the first, that God has

regard to in receiving the sinner, and receiving him

on the footing of one whose sins and iniquities are

remembered no more.

How wide the difference, how great the contrast

between the first and the second! The first drew the

veil and shut out the sinner from the holiest; the

second rent it and bid him enter. The first filled the

sinner's soul with dread, even in looking on the

holiest of all from without; the second emboldened him

to draw near and go up to the mercy-seat. The first

made it death to cross the threshold of that inner

shrine, where the symbol of the glory dwelt; the

second made it life to go into the very presence of

God, and provided the new and living way. The first

gave no certainty of acceptance and laid the

foundation for no permanent assurance; the second

said, "Let us draw near with a true heart in the full

assurance of faith"; "let us come boldly to the throne

of grace." The first was never finished, even after

many ages; the second was finished at once. The first

was earthly, the second heavenly. The first was

temporal, the second eternal. The first was unreal,

the second real. The first pacified no conscience; the

second did this at once, purging it effectually, so

that the worshippers once purged had no more

conscience of sins. The first was but the blood of one

of Israel's lambs; the second the blood of the Lamb

without blemish and without spot,--the precious blood

of Christ!

Still there was much about that "first" to

interest, to solemnise, to gladden. It was old and

venerable, a true relic of antiquity, such as no

modern Church can boast of. It was not one death, but

many thousand deaths; not one victim, but ten thousand

victims; each of them fulfilling a certain end, yet

all of them unavailing for the great end,--complete

remission of sin and the providing for the worshipper,

a perfect conscience and reconciliation with the Holy

One of Israel.

And that last Jewish sacrifice, at the hour of

the crucifixion, which ended the "first" and began the

"second"; was there not something specially solemn

about it? Was there not something peculiar about it as

the last? Like the last cedar of Lebanon, the last

olive of Palestine, the last pillar of a falling

temple that has stood for ages, the last

representative of an ancient race, it could not but

have something sacred, something noble about it.

An unbelieving Jew, worshipping in the temple,

at the time would see nothing remarkable about it,

save the unaccountable darkness which had for three

hours covered Jerusalem, and the fearful earthquake,

and the mysterious rending of the veil, the tidings of

which would immediately spread both in the temple and

the city. What can all this mean, he might say; but he

knew not what they meant; nor that this was the last

sacrifice, according to the purpose of the God of

Israel. Not connecting the first with the second, nor

the earthly with the heavenly, he would soon forget

the darkness, and the earthquake, and the torn veil,

coming next morning at nine o'clock to assist in the

celebration of the morning-sacrifice. For the great

break in the sacrifices was an invisible thing to him.

To heaven it was visible, to angels it was visible, to

faith it was visible; but not to unbelief. And

unbelief would go on from day to day doting on the old

sacrifice and admiring the old altar; till the Roman

torch set fire to the goodly cedar of the holy places,

and the Roman battle-axe shivered the altar in pieces,

and brought to the ground porch, and tower, and wall,-

-gate and bar, in one irrecoverable ruin; not one

stone left upon another.

But how would a believing Jew view this last

sacrifice? With mingled feelings in many ways; for as

yet his eyes were but half opened; and though he might

in a measure understand the first, he could not fully

see the second, nor the first in connection with the

second. It would still be to him sacred and venerable;

though now he saw it, like the picture of a dissolving

view, passing away and being replaced by another. Holy

histories of his nation and precious recollections of

his own experience would come up into view. From that

sacrifice he had learned the way of forgiveness,

perhaps from childhood. Often had the sight of it

poured in happy thoughts and told him of the love of a

redeeming God. Often had he stood at that altar with

his little ones, and taught them from it the way of

salvation through blood. Often had he seen the fire

blazing and the smoke ascending, and the blood

flowing, and he had mused over all these in connection

with the first promise of Messiah's bruised heel, and

the later prophecies of His pouring out His soul unto

death. But now he was startled. That darkness, that

earthquake, that rent veil; and in connection with all

this, the scene in Golgotha now going on, seemed to

say that sacrifice has done its work and must pass

away. That has come at last which he had been long

looking for; the better Lamb, the richer blood, the

more perfect sacrifice. Now he sees the full meaning

of the burnt-offering; now his faith lays its hand on

the head of the true sacrifice; now he knows what John

meant when he said, "Behold the Lamb of God"; and he

can say with Simeon, "Lord, now lettest Thou thy

servant depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen Thy

salvation."

And with what thoughts must the Son of God have

seen from the cross the smoke of that last burnt-

offering ascending? For it was at the ninth hour, our

three o'clock, when the evening lamb was laid on the

altar, that Jesus "cried with a loud voice, Eloi,

Eloi, lama sabachthani?" Yes, when the Son of God, the

true Sin-bearer, was uttering these words, Israel's

last sacrifice was offered. It is finished, was the

voice from the altar; it is finished was the voice

from the cross. Now the last type is done; and Jesus

sees it (for the altar-smoke would be quite visible

from Golgotha); Israel's long lesson of ages has been

taught; the type and Antitype have been brought face

to face. How often had Jesus seen the morning and

evening lamb offered up; and in gazing on it realised

his own sin-bearing work. Now he sees all

accomplished; sin borne, peace made, God propitiated;

and in testimony of this the last burnt-sacrifice

offered up. All is done. He sees of the travail of His

soul and is satisfied. He can now tell Jew and Gentile

that atonement has been made by the better blood. Life

has been given for life; a divine life for a human. He

can say, Look no longer on yon altar; its work is

done. Look to me, of whom it spoke during so many

ages; look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of

the earth.

And how does the Father view that last

sacrifice? For four thousand years it had been the

witness to the sin-bearing work of the coming Messiah.

The Father had set it there to bear testimony to the

propitiation of His Son. It said to Israel, and it

said to the world before the days of Israel, The seed

of the woman is to be man's deliverer. He is coming!

He is coming to bear sin; to be wounded for our

transgressions and bruised for our iniquities; to take

the chastisement of our peace upon Him, and to heal us

by His stripes. For ages that was the voice that came

from the altar. It was the Father's voice foretelling

the advent of His beloved Son. And now that voice from

the altar is to die away. The testimony is to cease;

for He to whom it was given is come. The ages of delay

are over; the day of expectation has come to an end.

The purpose of Jehovah is now consummated. The Father

now delights in the accomplishment of His eternal

design. Now grace and righteousness are one. So long

as one burnt-offering remained unpresented, there was

something awanting; something unfinished. But now the

last of the long series has arrived. The type is

perfected, the last stone has been laid; the last

touch has been given to the picture; the last stroke

of the chisel has fallen upon the statue. The

imperfect has ended in the perfect, the unreal in the

real; the first has become the last and the last

first. Now divine love can take its unimpeded way; no

drag, no uncertainty, no imperfection now. Grace and

righteousness have become one. The Father's testimony

to the finished work of His Son now goes forth to the

ends of the earth. That last sacrifice on Israel's

altar was the signal for the forthgoing of the world-

wide message of pardon,--righteous pardon,--to the

guiltiest, the saddest and the neediest of the sons of

men.

And how is this last sacrifice viewed by the

Church of God? Not with regret, nor with

disappointment at the thought that there is no such

altar now; but with rejoicing that the work has been

at length consummated, and that there is no necessity

for the repetition of the sacrifice. Whilst to a

believing Jew there was satisfaction in each recurring

sacrifice day by day, there could not but be a feeling

of uneasiness at that very repetition. If the

sacrifice is sufficient, why repeat it? Or will the

multiplication of imperfections produce perfection? If

insufficient, what is there to look to for the

pacification of the conscience? But the termination of

the series was an unspeakable relief. It was the

winding up of a work which had been going on for four

thousand years. Now, then, God is satisfied. Now there

is the certainty of remission. Now the conscience is

purged. Now the soul is at rest. And thus that last

burnt-offering gave to the Church the assurance that

the reconciliation was accomplished. No more offering

for sin! No more blood! the foundation is now secure.

On it she stands, in it she rejoices. The "good

conscience" is now secured. Fear and shame in drawing

near to God are at an end for ever. There is nothing

but boldness now; for by one offering He hath

perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Not by

the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood,

He hath entered in once into the holy place, having

obtained eternal redemption for us. By this blood He

hath reconciled us to Himself. By this blood He daily

cements the reconciliation, and keeps our souls in

peace. By this blood He washes off the ever-recurring

sins that would come between us and God, purging our

consciences from dead works to serve the living God

(Heb 9:12,13).

Round the old altar on Moriah one nation

gathered, for the worship of Jehovah, during a few

earthly ages; but round the new altar is gathered the

great multitude that no man can number, out of every

nation and people; for we have an altar, whereof they

have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle. The

first has been taken away, but the second has been set

up, to stand for ever. Here we worship now; here shall

be the eternal worship; the Lamb slain is the centre

of worship for the universe of God, whether on earth,

or in heaven, or throughout the wide regions which the

creating Word has filled with suns and stars. On this

divine altar shall all creaturehood lay its

everlasting praise. From this altar shall ascend the

never-ending son. This altar shall be the great centre

of unity between the multitudinous parts or units of

universal being. Here heaven and earth shall meet;

here redeemed men and angels shall hold fellowship;

here the principalities and powers in heavenly places

shall learn the wisdom of God; here shall be found the

stability, not of manhood only, but of creaturehood as

well, the divine security against a second fall,

against any future failure of creation, against any

future curse, against the possibility of evil or

weakness or decay. He has taken away the first, but He

has established the second; and with that He has

linked the establishment of all that is good and holy

and blessed in His universe for evermore.

From this "second" also there goes forth the

message of reconciliation; the announcement that peace

has been made through the blood of the cross; the

entreaty on the part of God, that each distant one

would draw near, each wanderer re-enter his Father's

house. To every one that is afar off, this great

propitiation speaks, and says, RETURN! It bids you

welcome, with all your worthlessness and unfitness,

pointing to the ever-open door, and assuring you of

reception, and pardon, and free love, without delay,

without condition, and without upbraiding. From this

centre the good news of God's free love to the

unrighteous are going forth. In the simple reception

of these by the sinner there is everlasting life; but

in the non-reception of them there is eternal death;

for that blood condemns as well as justifies. It

speaks peace, but it speak trouble and anguish. It

contains life, but it also contains death. It

introduces into heaven, but it casts down to hell. He

who receives it is washed, and sanctified, and

justified; he who rejects it is undone,--doomed to

bear his own guilt, without reprieve, for ever. For

you, or against you, through eternity that blood must

be.

There has been a first, there is a second, but

there shall be no third! The first could not suffice,

either for salvation or for destruction; it did not

save those who used it, nor did it ruin those who used

it not, or who used it amiss. The second sufficed for

both. It is able to save and to destroy, to forgive

and to condemn. No third is needed, no third is

possible. The second is established for ever. It is

eternal. It is an everlasting sacrifice. It is an

eternal ransom, an eternal redemption, an eternal

salvation, an everlasting covenant, and an everlasting

gospel. Its accompaniments and issues are everlasting

life, everlasting habitations, everlasting

consolation, an everlasting kingdom, an eternal

inheritance, an eternal weight of glory, a house not

made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Yes; this

second is established, and shall stand for ever. He

who accepts it becomes, like it, established, and

shall stand for ever; for it has the power of

imparting its stability to every one who receives

God's testimony concerning it. This is "the living

stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God,

and precious; to which coming we, as living stones,

are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to

offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by

Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:4,5).

There shall be no third! This is the security

and the joy of all who receive it. He who has taken

away the first has established the second. Heaven and

earth may pass away, but it must remain; and with it

remains our reconciliation, our sonship, our royalty,

and our eternal weight of glory. Were it possible that

this second altar could be overthrown, or crumble down

through age; this second blood, and second covenant,

and second priesthood become inefficacious or

obsolete, then should our future be shaded with

uncertainty. But all these being divine are eternal;

and in their eternity is wrapt up that of every one

who is now by faith partakers of them; in their

eternity is wrapt up that of the inheritance, the

city, and the kingdom, which become the possession of

every one whom the blood has washed and reconciled.

For the cross is never old. The wood, and nails,

and inscription have indeed perished long ago; but the

cross in which Paul gloried stands for ever. That

cross is the axle of the universe, and cannot snap

asunder. That cross is the foundation on which the

universe rests, and cannot give way. The cross of

Golgotha is, in this sense, everlasting; and each one

who glories in it becomes partaker of its immortality.

In itself blood is the symbol of death; in connection

with the cross of Christ, it is the emblem and the

pledge of life. It is by blood that all that is

feeble, and corruptible, and unclean is purged out of

creaturehood. It is by blood that this race of ours is

preserved against the possibility of a second fall,

and this earth against the contingency of a second

curse. It is by blood that the Church of God has won

her victory, and been made without spot, or wrinkle,

or any such thing. It is the blood that has given such

resplendent glory to the New Jerusalem, and made its

light so pure, for "THE LAMB is the light thereof."

And yet is it not on this very blood that the

spirit of the age is pouring its contempt, as if it

were the great disfiguration of Christianity,

requiring to be explained and spiritualised, before it

can be admitted to have any connection with a divine

religion? Is it not against this blood that the tide

of modern progress is advancing, to wash out every

trace and stain of it? It is against the blood that

unbelief is now specially declaring war, little

supposing, in its blindness, what would be the

consequences of success in this warfare. Take away

that blood, and the security of the universe is gone.

Take away the blood, and the gate of the glorious city

closes against the sinner; nay, that city itself, with

all its beauty, and purity, and splendour, passes away

like a vision of the night, each stone of it vanishing

into nothingness, and its light becoming darkness.

 

CHAPTER 7

MESSIAH WITHIN THE VEIL

 

We spoke of Messiah longing for the time when the veil

should be rent, and when, through Himself, there

should be unobstructed access to the innermost shrine

of God. "How am I straitened till it be accomplished."

We spoke also of His dreading this rending, this

death,--so that "with strong crying and tears He

prayed to Him who was able to save Him from death"

(Heb 5:7).

Let us now see Him looking beyond the veil,

surveying the glory, and anticipating His own entrance

into it, as our forerunner, the first fruits of them

that slept, the first-begotten of the dead. "For the

joy set before Him He endured the cross, despising the

shame, and is now set down at the right hand of God"

(Heb 12:2). That to which He looked forward was not so

much the rending of the veil, as the result of that

rending,--both for Himself and for His Church, His

body, the redeemed from among men.

The veil was rent; rent "once for all"; rent for

ever. Yet there was a sense in which it was to be

restored, though after another fashion than before.

Messiah could not be "holden" by death, because He was

the Holy One, who could not see corruption. Death must

be annulled. The broken body must be made whole;

resurrection must come forth out of death; and that

resurrection was to be life, and glory, and

blessedness. Through the rent veil of His own flesh,

He was (if we may so use the figure) to enter into

"glory and honour, and immortality." Thus He speaks in

the sixteenth Psalm:--

"Therefore my heart is glad,

Yea, my glory rejoiceth:

My flesh also shall rest in hope.

For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell;

Neither wilt thou suffer thine

Holy One to see corruption.

Thou wilt show me the path of life:

In thy presence is fulness of joy;

At thy right hand are pleasures for evermore."

Let us dwell upon these verses in connection with

Messiah's entrance within the veil.

The speaker in this Psalm is undoubtedly Christ.

This we learn from Peter's sermon at Jerusalem (Acts

2:25). He is speaking to the Father, as His Father and

our Father. He speaks as the lowly, dependent son of

man; as one who needed help and looked to the Father

for it; as one who trusted in the Lord and walked by

faith, not by sight; as one who realised the Father's

love, anticipated the joy set before Him, and had

respect to the recompense of the reward.

He speaks, moreover, as one who saw death before

Him,-- "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell"; and

looking into the dark grave, on the edge of which He

was standing, just about to plunge into it, He casts

His eye upwards and pleads, with strong crying and

tears, for resurrection, and joy, and glory,-- "Thou

wilt show me the path of life." For the words of the

Psalm are the united utterances of confidence,

expectation, and prayer; not unlike those of Paul, "I

am now ready to be offered, and the time of my

departure is at hand; henceforth there is laid up for

me a crown of righteousness."

He speaks too as one who was bearing our curse;

as one who was made sin for us; and to whom everything

connected with sin and its penalty was infinitely

terrible; not the less terrible, but the more, because

the sin and the penalty were not His own, but ours.

The death which now confronted Him was one of the

ingredients of the fearful cup, against which He

prayed in Gethsemane, "Let this cup pass from me"; for

we read that, "in the days of His flesh He made

supplication, with strong crying and tears, unto Him

that was able to save Him from death." In this Psalm,

indeed, we do not hear these strong cryings and tears,

which the valley of the Kedron then heard. All is

calm; the bitterness of death is past; the power of

the king of terrors seems broken; the gloom of the

grave is lost in the anticipated brightness of the

resurrection light and glory. But still the scene is

similar; though in the Psalm the light predominates

over the darkness, and there is not the agony, nor the

bloody sweat, nor the exceeding sorrow. It is our

Surety looking the king of terrors in the face;

contemplating the shadows of the three days and nights

in the heat of the earth; surveying Joseph's tomb, and

while accepting that as His prison-house for a season,

anticipating the deliverance by the Father's power,

and rejoicing in the prospect of the everlasting

gladness.

The first thing that occupies His thoughts is

resurrection. The path of death is before Him; and He

asks that He may know the path of life;--the way out

of the tomb as well as the way into it. Death is to

Him an enemy; an enemy from which as the Prince of

life His holy soul would recoil even more than we. The

grave is to Him a prison-house, gloomy as Jeremiah's

low dungeon or Joseph's pit, not the less gloomy

because He approaches it as a conqueror, as bringing

life and immortality to light, as the resurrection and

the life. Into that prison-house He must descend; for

though rich He has stooped to be poor; and this is the

extremity of his poverty, the lowest depth of His low

estate,--even the surrender of that, for which even

the richest on earth will part with everything,--life

itself. But out of that dungeon He cries to be

brought; and for this rescue He puts Himself entirely

into the Father's hands, "Thou wilt show me the path

of life."

Very blessed and glorious did resurrection seem

in the eyes of the Prince of life, of Him who is the

resurrection and the life. Infinitely hateful did

death and the grave appear to Him who was the

Conqueror of death, the Spoiler of the grave. He had

undertaken to die, for as the second Adam He came to

undergo the penalty of the first, "dust thou art and

unto dust shalt thou return"; yet not the less bitter

was the cup, not the less gloomy was the valley of the

shadow of death; not the less welcome was the thought

of resurrection.

The next thing which fills His thoughts is the

presence of God,--that glorious presence which He had

left when He "came down from heaven." His thoughts are

of the Father's face, the Father's house, the Father's

presence. Earth to Him was so different from heaven.

He had not yet come to the "Why hast Thou forsaken

me?" but He felt the difference between this earth and

the heaven He had quitted. There was no such

"presence" here. All was sin, evil, hatred, darkness;

the presence of evil men and mocking devils; not the

presence of God. God seemed far away. This world

seemed empty and dreary. He called to mind the home,

and the love, and the holiness He had left; and He

longed for a return to these. "Thy presence!" What a

meaning in these words, coming from the lips of the

lonely Son of God in His desolation and friendlessness

and exile here. "Thy presence!" How full of

recollection would they be to Him as He uttered them;

and how intensely would that recollection stimulate

the anticipation and the hope!

Of this same Messiah, the speaker in the psalm,

we read afterwards, "In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; the

same was in the beginning with God" (John 1:1); and

elsewhere He speaks thus of Himself: "Jehovah

possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His

works of old; I was set up from everlasting, from the

beginning, or ever the earth was...I was by Him, as

one brought up with Him, and I was daily His delight,

rejoicing always before Him" (Prov 8:22,30); and

again, He, in the days of His flesh, thus prayed: "O

Father, glorify Thou me with Thine own self, with the

glory which I had with Thee before the world was"

(John 17:5). Thus we see that the "presence" or "face"

of God had been His special and eternal portion. His

past eternity was associated entirely with this

glorious presence. No wonder then that in the day of

His deepest weakness,--when the last enemy confronted

Him with his hideous presence, He should recall the

Father's presence; anticipating the day of restoration

to that presence, and repossession of the glory which

He had before the world was.

"Thy presence," said the only-begotten of the

Father looking up into the Father's face! He speaks as

the sin-bearer, on whom the chastisement of our sins

was laid, and between whom and heaven these sins had

drawn a veil; He speaks as an exile, far from home,

weary, troubled, exceeding sorrowful even unto death;

He speaks as a Son feeling the bitterness of

separation from His Father's presence, and of distance

from His Father's house; He speaks as one longing for

home and kindred, and the unimpeded outflowings of

paternal love. "Thy presence," says the Man of sorrows

looking round on an evil world;--oh, that I were

there! "Thy presence," says the forsaken Son of man,

for "lover and friend hast Thou put far from me, and

mine acquaintance into darkness";--oh, that I were

there! "Thy presence," not this waste howling

wilderness, this region of pain, and disease, and sin,

and death, and tombs. "Thy presence," not these

temptations, these devils, these enemies, these false

friends; not this blasphemy, this reproach, this

scorn, this betrayal, this denial, this buffeting,

this scourging, this spitting, this mockery! "Thy

presence,"--oh, that I were there; nevertheless, not

my will but Thine be done.

Only through death can He reach life, for He is

burdened with our sin and our death; and death is to

Him the path of life. He must go through the veil to

enter into the presence of God. Only through the

grave,--the stronghold of death, and of him who has

the power of death,--can He ascend into the presence

of God; and therefore, when about to enter the dark

valley, He commits Himself to the Father's guidance,

to the keeping of Him who said, "Behold my servant

whom I uphold," the keeping of which He himself, by

the mouth of David, had spoken: "Yea, though I walk

through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear

no evil, for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff

they comfort me." Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth,

Capernaum, Gethsemane, Golgotha,--these were all but

stages in His way up to "the presence"--the presence

of the Father; and it is when approaching the last of

these, with the consciousness of His nearness to that

presence, only one more dark passage to wind through,

that He gives utterance to this psalm,--His psalm in

prospect of resurrection and glory,-- "I have set the

Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand,

I shall not be moved: therefore my heart is glad and

my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest in hope;

for Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt

Thou suffer Thine holy One to see corruption; Thou

wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is

fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures

for evermore."

Connected with this "presence," this glory

within the veil, he speaks of "fulness of joy." On

earth, in the day of His banishment here, He found

want, not fulness. He was poor and needy; no house, no

table, no chamber, no pillow of His own. His was the

extremity of human poverty; though rich He had become

poor; he was hungry, thirsty, weary, with no place to

lay His head. Though He knew no sin, He tasted the

sinner's portion of want and sorrow. He was in the far

country, the land of the mighty famine; and looking

upwards to the happy heaven which He had left, He

could say, "How many servants in my Father's house

have bread and to spare, and I perish with hunger."

Drinking also of the sinner's deep cup of wrath, He

was the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. It

was as such that He looked up so often as we find Him

in the Gospels doing, and as we find Him in this

Psalm, with wistful eye reminding Himself of the joy

He had left, and anticipating the augmented joy that

was so soon to be His when, having traversed this vale

of tears, and passed through the gates of death, He

was to re-ascend to His Father, and re-enter the

courts of glory and joy. "Fulness of joy" is His

prospect; fulness of joy in the presence of God.

Concerning this going to the Father He spoke to His

disciples; and then added, "These things have I spoken

unto you that my joy might remain in you, and that

your joy might be full." It is of this same full joy

that He speaks in our psalm; a joy which was to be the

fulness of all joy; a joy which was to be His

recompense for the earthly sorrow of His sin-bearing

life and death; a joy which He was to share with His

redeemed, and on which they too should enter, when

they, like Him, had triumphed over death, and been

caught up into the clouds to meet Him in the air; a

joy which would be to them, in that wondrous day,

infinitely more than a compensation for earthly

tribulation; even as one of themselves has written,

"Our present light affliction, which is but for a

moment, worketh for us a far more eceeding and eternal

weight of glory."

This was "the joy set before Him," because of

which He endured the cross; and here He calls it

FULNESS OF JOY. That which He calls fulness must be

so; for He knows what joy is, and what its fulness is;

just as He knew what sorrow was and its fulness. The

amount of joy sufficient to fill a soul like His must

be infinite; it must be joy unspeakable and full of

glory. The amount of joy reckoned by the Father

sufficient as the reward of the sorrow of such a Son,

must be infinite indeed. What then must that be which

Messiah reckons the fulness of joy. What a day was

that for Him when, death and sorrow ended, He entered

on life and gladness! And what a day will that be, yet

in store for Him and for His saints, when we, as His

joint-heirs, shall enter on all that life and

gladness; the day of His glorious coming, when that

shall be fulfilled which is written, "Come forth, O ye

daughters of Jerusalem, and behold King Solomon with

the crown wherewith his mother crowned him, in the day

of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of

his heart."

Besides the "presence" or "face" of God within

the veil, Messiah sees the right hand; the place of

honour and power and favour,--the right hand of the

throne of the majesty in the heavens; and at that

right hand there are pleasures for evermore; eternal

enjoyments, such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard.

For all the things on which Messiah's soul rests are

everlasting; the life, the fulness, the joy, the

presence, the pleasures,--all eternal! No wonder,

then, that He who knows what eternity is,--an eternity

of glory and gladness,--should feel that "the

sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be

compared with the glory that shall be revealed"; and

should, when going up to the cross, and down into the

grave, say with calm but happy confidence, "Thou wilt

show me the path of life, in Thy presence is fulness

of joy, at Thy right hand are pleasures for evermore."

Most mysterious are such words as these from the lips

of Him who is the resurrection and the life; and yet

it is just because they come from Him,--from this

Prince of Life,--that they are so assuring, so

comforting to us. His oneness with us, and our oneness

with Him, account for all the mystery. His oneness

with us, as our substitute and sinbearer, the endurer

of our curse and cross and death, accounts for all

that is mysterious in this Psalm. Our oneness with Him

clears up all that is wonderful in such words as "I am

the resurrection and the life, he that believeth on

me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." Blessed,

thrice-blessed oneness,--mutual oneness; He one with

us, we one with Him, in life, in death, in burial, in

resurrection, and in glory. Now we can take up His

words as truly meant for us, "Thou wilt show us the

path of life"; for in believing God's testimony to the

Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth, we have become one

with Him!

In all this we have,

1. Messiah's estimate of death. He abhors it. It

is His enemy as well as ours. He came to conquer it,

to destroy it for ever. He conquers it by being

conquered by it; He slays it by allowing Himself to be

slain by it. He crucifies it, kills it, buries it for

ever. Death is swallowed up in victory. "O death," He

says, "I will be thy plague; O grave, I will be thy

destruction."

2. Messiah's estimate of resurrection. He longs

for it; both on His own account and His people's. It

is the consummation of that which He calls life. It is

the second life, more glorious than the first; the

opposite extreme of being to that which is called "the

second death." The Son of God came into the world as

the Prince of Life; He came not merely that He might

die, but that He might live; and that all who identify

themselves with Him by the acceptance of the divine

testimony concerning His life and death and

resurrection, might not only have life, but might have

it more abundantly. Resurrection is our hope, even as

it was His; the first, the better resurrection; and as

we toil onwards in our pilgrimage, burdened with the

mortality of this vile body, and seeing death on every

side of us, we take up Messiah's words of hope and

gladness, "Thou wilt show me the path of life."

3. Messiah's estimate of joy. He recognises it

as a thing greatly to be desired, not despised; as the

true and healthy, or, as men say, the "normal"

condition of creaturehood. God Himself is the blessed

one; and He formed His creatures to be sharers of His

blessedness. Heaven is full of joy; and all its

dwellers are vessels of gladness. Earth was not made

for sorrow, but for joy; and, before long, that song

shall be sung over the new creation, "Let the heavens

rejoice, and let the earth be glad." For this day of

joy Christ longed, anticipating it as the consummation

of all that He had come to do. As the eternal Word

which was with the Father, He knew what joy was; as

the Man of sorrows, He knew what sorrow was. He was in

the true condition and circumstances to take the

proper estimate of joy. And here He tells us what that

estimate was. He longed to be done with sorrow, which

was as the shadow of hell; He "desired with desire" to

enter into the joy set before Him, the joy of life,

the joy of resurrection, the joy of God's presence and

right hand for ever. Let our eye, like His, be fixed

on that coming gladness,--that sunrise of eternity for

which the Church is waiting and creation groans. That

hope will cheer, will nerve, will liberate, will heal,

will animate, will purify; will do miracles for us. As

yet, the joy has not arrived. It doth not yet appear

what we shall be. Not now; not here; not on this side

of the grave! But the promise of its possession, and

the assurance that when it does arrive, it will be

great enough and long enough to make up for all trial

and all delay, are sufficient to keep us ever looking,

waiting, watching. Resurrection is coming, with all

its light and joy; and then comes the world's second

dawn, and the Church's long-expected dayspring; the

cessation of creation's groans, the times of the

restitution of all things; the new heavens and the new

earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.

4. Messiah's estimate of the Father's love. It

is this love that is His portion; it is in this love

that He abides and rejoices; for it is He who says,

"Thy loving kindness is better than life." No one knew

so well as He did the glorious truth, "God is love;

and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God

in him." The Father's love! Here His soul found its

resting-place, in the midst of human hatred and

reproach. The Father's love! It was with this that He

comforted Himself, and with this it was that He

comforted His Church, saying, "As the Father hath

loved me, so have I loved you"; "Thou hast loved them

as thou hast loved me"; "Thou lovedst me before the

foundation of the world"; "that the love wherewith

Thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." Is

that love to us what it was to Him? It was His rest,

is it ours? It was into this hidden chamber, this holy

of holies, that He retired, when the world's storms

beat upon Him; is it in this that we take refuge in

our evil days? It was sufficient for His infinitely

capacious soul; it may well suffice for ours. Is,

then, His estimate of the Father's love our estimate?

Is this love our gladness? Is its sunshine the

brightness of our daily life? And with simple

confidence in it, like Messiah's, do we look into and

look through the future, however dark, saying, "Thou

wilt show me the path of life; in Thy presence is

fulness of joy, and at Thy right hand are pleasures

for evermore?"

On all that light, and joy, and fulness, and

love, Messiah has now entered. For eighteen hundred

years He has been in that presence, and at that right

hand, which He longed for; and though yet greater

things are in store for Him in the day of His promised

advent, yet He has now for ages been done with sorrow

and death, with reproach and hatred. He has entered on

His rest; He has passed into life; His blessedness is

now without a shadow. And is not this a thought full

of joy to us? He whom we love is happy! No second

Gethsemane nor Golgotha for Him. Whatever may befall

us, whatever of tribulation we may have yet to pass

through, He is blessed; it is all well with Him. He

has trodden the path of life; He has entered into that

presence which He longed for; He has sat down at that

right hand where there are pleasures for evermore. Is

this not a joyful thought to us here, even in the

midst of our weakness and sorrow? And was it not to

this He referred when He said, "If ye loved me, ye

would rejoice, because I said I go unto the Father"?

and was it not with forgetfulness of this that He

reproached His disciples, "Now I go my way to Him that

sent me, and none of you asketh me, whither goest

Thou? but because I have said these things unto you,

sorrow hath filled your heart."

Should we not rejoice in His joy? Should not the

thought of His happiness be a continual source of

consolation to us? Amid the dreariness of the desert,

it was a cheering thought to Israel that there was

such a region as Canaan, over which the barrenness of

the waste howling wilderness had no power. Amid the

griefs and cares of earth, it is a blessed thought to

us that there is such a place as heaven, to which the

storm reaches not, and where there has never been

known, neither shall be, one cloud, one pain, one sin.

So amid the troubles of our own troubled spirits, or

the sorrows of those about us, it is a happy thought

that there is one heart, once full of grief, that now

grieves no more; one eye that often wept, which now

weeps no more; and that this blessed One is none other

than our beloved Lord,--once the Man of sorrows. He

who loved us, He whom, not having seen, we love, is

now for ever blessed; He has entered that presence

where there is fulness of joy; He has taken His seat

at that right hand, where there are pleasures for

evermore.

Does not this comfort and gladden us? What He

now is, and what we so soon shall be,--this gives

vigour and consolation. It lifts us almost

unconsciously into a calmer region, and gives us to

breathe the very air of the kingdom. It purifies, too,

and strengthens; it makes us forget the things which

are behind, and reach forward to what lies before.

The prospect of resurrection and glory sustained

the soul of our Surety here. This was the joy set

before Him. Let us set it before ourselves, that we

may not be moved. We have much to do both with the

future and the past. In that future lies our

inheritance, and we cannot but be seeking to pierce

the veil that hides it. But in the past we find our

resting-place. Christ has ascended on high, leading

captivity captive; he has ascended to His Father and

our Father, to His God and our God. The work is done.

The blood is shed. The fire has consumed the

sacrifice. It is finished! This is the testimony which

we bring from God, in the belief of which we are

saved. It needs no second sacrifice; no repetition of

the great burnt-offering. That which saves the sinner

is done. Another has done it all. Messiah has done it

all; and our gospel is not a command to do, but simply

to take what another has done. He who ceases from His

own labours, and enters on these labours of another,

has taken possession of all to which these labours

entitled Him, who so performed them, even the Messiah

of Israel, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world.

 

 

CHAPTER 8

THE BLOOD WITHIN THE VEIL

 

The day of atonement brought the three courts of the

tabernacle into one. On that day the high priest

passed from the outmost to the innermost; implying

that he had equally to do with all the holy places,

and that they whom he represented had also to do with

these.

He carried the incense from the golden altar

into the holiest; and he carried the blood from the

brazen altar into the same. It was one blood, one

incense, one priest for all the three.

The blood, which was sprinkled on the mercy-

seat, was from without. The sacrifice was not slain in

the inner courts, but in the outer. It was blood from

without that was carried in the priestly basin within

the veil, sprinkling the veil, the floor, the ark, the

mercy-seat, and the feet of the cherubim as they stood

upon the golden covering. In being carried within, it

lost none of its expiating virtue and value: nay, it

seemed to acquire more virtue and more value as it lay

upon the furniture of the holy of holies.

Its efficacy, when thus brought within the veil,

was enhanced; and it did not the less speak to those

without because itself was within. It had come from

without, and its voice spoke to those who were

without. It spoke but from one small point, yet it

goes beyond the tabernacle, beyond Israel, beyond

Palestine, to the men of every kindred and nation, and

tongue and people. It contained a world-wide message,

so that each one hearing of that atoning blood might

at once say, Then God is summoning me back to Himself;

He is saying to me, "be thou reconciled to me"; He is

sending to me, from the altar and the mercy-seat, an

invitation of mingled righteousness and grace.

This propitiation rests on substitution. In all

these symbolical transactions we have one vast

thought,--the transference of guilt from one to

another, legally and judicially; the presentation of

one death for another, as perfectly valid for all ends

of justice, and quite as suitable before God as the

judge, to meet every governmental claim as the direct

infliction of the appointed penalty on the actual

transgressor.

There are two things which the whole Levitical

service assumes, and without which it is simple

mockery of man, that Sin is reality, and that

Substitution is righteousness.

1. Sin is a real thing. Men do not think so,

even when with their lips they utter the word. It is

but a shadow to them, a mere name, no more.

Sin is a sore evil. It is not felt to be so, yet

it is not the less truly such. It is not hated, it is

not shunned as an evil,--an evil whose greatness no

one can measure or tell. When men speak of it they do

so as painters speak of shade in a scene or picture;

as rather a needful thing, nay, a thing of beauty in

its own way. They have no due sense or estimate of it

at all. It is not to them what it is to God. It is not

by any means in their books what it is in the book of

God.

Yet, right views of sin are the key to the

Bible, the key to the history of the world, and the

key to God's purposes concerning it. He who does not

know what sin is cannot understand the Bible. It must

be a dark and strange book to him. He cannot solve the

difficulties of the world's history. All is perplexed

and contradictory. He cannot enter into God's purposes

respecting it either in curse or in blessing, either

in condemnation or redemption. Sin is not misfortune,

but guilt; not disease, but crime; not an evil, but

the evil, the evil of evils, the root of all evils;

terrible in itself as fraught with all that we call

"moral evil," and terrible in its judicial effects as

necessarily and inexorably bound up with irresistible

and irreversible condemnation.

In spite of all the divine teaching, both in

God's book and in the world's history, man refuses to

believe that sin is what God has proclaimed it, and

what its own development, in the annals of the ages,

has shown that it really is.

The first and fundamental lesson of the

Levitical service is the infinite evil of sin.

Sacrifice is God's declaration of His estimate of SIN.

Strike this thought out of it, and sacrifice is simple

barbarism,--a coarse emblem of the vengeance of a

Jupiter, or a Moloch, or a Baal upon helpless

creaturehood.

2. Substitution is righteousness.--I do not

argue this question; I merely indicate that scripture

assumes this.

Often has the doctrine of substitution been evil

spoken of as a slander against God's free love. It has

been called a commercial transaction, a bargain

inconsistent with true generosity, a money-payment of

so much love for so much suffering. Philosophy,

falsely so called, has frequently, by such

representations, striven to write down a truth for

which it could not find a niche in its speculations,

and of which the philosopher himself had never felt

His need. With any book less buoyant than the Bible to

float it up, this doctrine must long before this have

been submerged under the weight of ridicule, which the

wisdom of this world has brought to bear upon it.

But it has been seen that the Bible and the

truth of substitution cannot be sundered. They must

sink or float together. The great philosophic puzzle

with many, who were not prepared to cast off the

Scriptures, was how to disentangle the two, so as to

strike out the doctrine and yet preserve the old Book.

This difficulty has been felt all the more,

because in the Bible itself there are no indications

of any misgivings as to the doctrine, no explanations

meant to smooth angularities and make the doctrine

less philosophically objectionable. As if unconscious

of the force of any such objection, it makes use of

figures, once and again, which are directly taken from

the commercial transactions of life. Even if what is

branded as the mercantile theology could be proved

untrue, it is certainly very like what we find in the

Bible; nor can one help feeling that if the above

theology be untrue, it is rather strange that the

Bible should lay itself so open to the suspicion of

favouring it. For, after all, the strongest statements

and most obnoxious figures are those of that Book

itself. Eliminate these and we are ready to hear how

philosophy can argue. We do not say "explain them," we

say "eliminate them"; for our difficulty lies in the

simple existence of such passages. Why are they there,

if substitution and transference be not true? They are

stumbling-blocks and snares. Let these passages

themselves bear the blame, if blame there is. It is

idle to revile a doctrine, yet leave the figures, from

which it is drawn, untouched and uncondemned.

Substitution may be philosophical or

unphilosophical, defensible or indefensible; still it

is imbedded in the Bible; specially in the sacrificial

books and sacerdotal ordinances. Its writers may be

credited or discredited; but no one can deny that

substitution was an article of their creed, and that

they meant to teach this doctrine if they meant

anything at all. We might as well affirm that Moses

did not mean to teach creation in Genesis, or Israel's

deliverance in Exodus, as that he did not profess to

promulgate Substitution in Leviticus. Substitution is

in that book beyond all question; along with that book

let it stand or fall.

There is then substitution revealed to us beyond

mistake in Scripture; revealed in connection with

Israel's worship, Israel's tabernacle, and Israel's

Messiah. The special thing in that service, in that

sanctuary, and in that Deliverer, with which

substitution is connected, is THE BLOOD. Hence it is

with blood that we find atonement, expiation, and

propitiation connected. For the blood is the life; and

it is the substitution of one life for another that

accomplishes these results, and brings with it these

blessings to the guilty.

Let me take two passages, one from the Old

Testament, the other from the New, in illustration of

what the blood is affirmed to be and to do. I give but

a brief sketch of what I suppose they include; but it

will suffice to show what Scripture teaches on the

subject.

The first is Zechariah 9:11, "As for thee also,

BY THE BLOOD OF THY COVENANT I have sent forth thy

prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water." Blood

here is declared to be the cause of deliverance,--the

blood of the covenant; as if without this covenanted

blood-shedding there could be no setting free of the

prisoner. The blood goes in, the prisoner comes out.

The blood touches his chain, and it falls off. The

blood drops on the prison-bar, and the gate flies

open. It is blood that does it all; blood whose virtue

is recognised by God; blood whose effects and results

are embraced in the everlasting covenant; the covenant

of peace, the covenant of deliverance, the covenant of

liberty, the covenant of life. But let us look more

closely at the language of the prophet.

The words "as for thee also," or "thou also,"

are the very words of our Lord, when weeping over

Jerusalem; "Even thou," thou, the guiltiest of the

guilty, the most undeserving and unloveable of all.

Thus our text starts with a declaration of the great

love of God,--Messiah's love to Israel,-- "Yea, He

loved the people." "God is love," runs through this

whole passage; and "where sin abounded grace did much

more abound."

To this passage the apostle seems to refer in

Hebrews 13:20, as to the bringing up Christ from the

dead by the blood of the everlasting covenant. The

prophet's words were fulfilled in Christ's

resurrection, as Hosea's (11:1) were in his return

from Egypt. (See also Psalm 18 and 40)

The words of Zechariah shall yet be fulfilled in

Israel. The day of deliverance for the beloved nation

is surely coming. She shall know the power of the

covenant-blood to protect, to deliver, to save, to

bless. It is not simply "blood" expiating sin in

general, but "covenant-blood," linking that expiation

specially to Israel, and Israel to it. It is passover-

blood, bringing out of Egypt. Passing over this,

however, let us take up the words in their widest

sense. Let us see what the covenant-blood can do, not

for Israel only, but for us.

The blood finds us "prisoners," captives,

"lawful captives," exiles. It finds us righteously

condemned, sold to our enemies, under wrath. Let us

see what it does for us.

1. It removes the necessity for imprisonment.

Such a necessity did exist. Law must take its course.

Its claims must be satisfied. No leaving the prison

till the uttermost farthing has been paid. The blood

has made the satisfaction. It has met the claim. It

has provided for the payment of the penalty. The

necessity for the imprisonment no longer exists. The

law consents.

2. It makes it right for God to deliver.

Deliverance must be the work of righteousness, not of

Almightiness alone. It was righteousness that sent the

sinner to prison, and barred the door against all

exit. It is righteousness that must bring him forth;

and this righteousness is secured by the blood of the

covenant. It is now as unrighteous to detain the

captive, as before it would have been unrighteous to

bring him forth.

3. It opens the prison-door. That door is

locked, and barred, and guarded. No skill can open it,

no force can unbar it, no money can bribe its guards.

It cannot be opened by the earthquake, or the fire, or

the lightning. Only righteousness can open it; and

that prison-opening righteousness comes through the

blood of the covenant; the great blood-shedding makes

the prison-gates fly open; it rolls away the stone.

4. It makes it safe for the prisoner to come

forth. For the avenger stands without, on the watch.

He has a right to be there. He has a right to seize

the prisoner, and to take vengeance. But the blood

stays all this. The covenant-blood conducts the

prisoner forth, and the sight of it bids the avenger

flee. That avenger was the executioner of guilt, and

the guilt is gone. The blood has removed that which

gave him power. He sees the blood, and withdraws his

hand.

5. It reconciles to God. It is the blood of

propitiation, the blood of atonement. It makes up the

variance between the sinner and God. It removes the

ground of distance and dispeace. It brings nigh those

that were afar off, by making distance no longer a

righteous necessity, and nearness a thing of which the

law approves, and in which God delights. It is

reconciling blood.

6. It redeems. "Thou hast redeemed us to God by

Thy blood." It is the ransom or purchase-money. It was

necessary that the sinner, sold and imprisoned, should

be bought back again at a price such as would satisfy

law and justice. And the blood has been found to be

ample payment,--the very ransom needed by those whom

death had made captive.

7. It cleanses. We are washed from our sins in

this covenant-blood; our robes are washed white in the

blood of the Lamb. All that sin had done this blood

undoes. All its pollution this blood washes away. It

is purifying blood; and, as such, it fits for worship,

for drawing near to God.

8. It pacifies. It comes into contact with the

sinner's conscience, and removes the sense of guilt,--

takes away the terror. The soul is at peace, and is

kept in peace by this blood. "He has made peace by the

blood of His cross."

Let these things suffice to show the power of

the covenant-blood. Such it was, such it is, such it

will be.

It is as efficacious as ever. It has lost none

of its power. Age does not change it, nor repeated use

weaken its efficacy. It can still do all it once did

for the sinner. Its potency is divine.

It is as sufficient, as suitable, as free, as

near as ever. He whose blood it is comes up to each of

us, and presents it to us in all its fulness and

power. Take it as it is presented, and all the

benefits of this covenant-blood forthwith become

yours; and though you may be the unworthiest of the

unworthy, you are reckoned by God clean every whit; a

forgiven sinner, a delivered prisoner, a saved man.

The second passage to which I would refer is

Hebrews 10:19:-- "Having therefore, brethren, boldness

to enter into the holiest (or literally 'the holies'

'or holy places') by the blood of Jesus; by a new and

living way which He hath consecrated for us, through

the veil, that is to say his flesh; and having an High

Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a

true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our

hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our

bodies washed with pure water."

As in the former passage, so in this, it is only

a brief sketch that I can here give; not attempting to

expound the words or illustrate the argument, but to

bring out the emboldening of which the apostle speaks

in connection with the blood. Deliverance by the blood

was the idea of the former passage; boldness by the

blood is the idea of this. The boldness comes to us

from what that blood reveals to us of God, and of the

way in which He has met the sinner and provided for

his entrance into the sanctuary as a worshipper.

It is not so much doctrine that the apostle

delivers to us in his Epistles, as "the fulness of

Christ," that fulness as supplying the sinner's wants

and as bringing him into that relationship to God,

which God's purpose of redemption designed, and which

was needful for the sinner's blessedness.

God's full provision in Christ for us as sinners

is continually brought before us; and we are invited

to avail ourselves of it. The provision for the

removal of wrath, for pardon, for reconciliation, for

service, is fully detailed, that we may know the

"manifold grace of God" and "the unsearchable riches

of Christ." For instance:--

In the Epistle to the Romans we have the

provision in Christ fitting us for work:--viz., that

righteousness of God which delivers us from

condemnation and sets us free to serve or work for Him

who hath delivered us: and in the last chapter of that

epistle we have the list of a noble band of apostolic

workers.

In the Epistle to the Ephesians we have the

provision for conflict:--viz, the being filled with

the Spirit and His gifts, that we may wrestle against

principalities and powers. The armour and weapons for

the warfare are described in the concluding chapter.

In the Epistle to the Hebrews we have the

provision for worship. For God is seeking worshippers,

and He has made provision for making such. It is to

worship that He calls us in this epistle; and He

points to that which enables us to become acceptable

worshippers:--to that which, so soon as it is

understood and believed, turns the chief of sinners

and the farthest off of prodigals into an acceptable

and happy worshipper.

He assumes that "boldness" or "confidence" is

essential to this: and this boldness has been

provided. There is, 1. the open door of the sanctuary;

2. liberty to enter;

3. boldness in drawing near to God; 4. access to all

the courts; for the expression is not simply "the

holiest" but "the holy places"; as if we had the

fullest right to every part of the sanctuary, the full

range of the holy places.

This boldness is the opposite of dread, and

darkness, and suspicion, and uncertainty. It is not

merely the reversal of Adam's flying from God into the

trees of the garden, but it is the entire removal of

all sense of danger, or fear of unacceptableness,--

nay, it is the importation of childlike and

unhesitating confidence, in virtue of which we go in

without trembling and without blushing; for God's

provision is so ample that in going into His courts

and going up to His throne we are neither afraid nor

ashamed. All that would have produced such feelings

has been taken away. This boldness is effected,

1. By something without us. It is not anything

within us,--our evidences, or experiences, or

feelings; not even our regeneration, and our being

conscious of the Spirit's work in us. It is entirely

by something without us,--the blood of Jesus.

2. By something in the heavens. It is into the

heaven of heavens that we are to enter in worshipping

God; and that which gives us boldness in entering

there, must be something which has been presented

there, as the apostle says,-- "the heavenly things

themselves by better sacrifices than these." The blood

was shed on earth, but presented in heaven; Christ

entered in with His own blood.

3. By something about which there can be no

mistake. The question as to the existence of the blood

or its being presented in heaven, is settled once for

all on the authority of God. We need not reason about

it. God has told us that it has been done. As to our

own feelings there may be many mistakes; but as to the

presentation of the blood, there can be no doubt and

no mistake. It is a certainty; and on that certainty

we rest.

4. By something which shows that the ground of

dread is removed. The dread arose from the thought, 1.

I am guilty; 2. God must be my enemy; 3. I dare not

come near him; 4. He must condemn me. The blood of

Jesus meets these causes of terror, and shows the

provision which God has made for the removal of them

all. The sight of the blood dispels my terror and

relieves my conscience, and says, Be of good cheer.

For it shows the penalty paid by a substitute,--the

full penalty; a divine life given in room of a human

life, the wages of sin paid by the death of a divine

substitute.

5. By something which God has accepted. God has

accepted the blood! He raised Him whose blood it is;

and this was acceptance. He set Him on His throne at

His right hand. This is acceptance. He presents him as

the Lamb slain. This is acceptance. He has testified

to His acceptance of it. It is blood which God has

accepted for that pardon and cleansing and reconciling

that we preach; blood by which law is magnified and

righteousness exalted.

6. By something which glorifies God. That blood-

shedding glorifies Him. The sinner's admission and

entrance glorifies Him,--glorifies Him more than his

exclusion and banishment and death. The blood by which

God is thus glorified in receiving the sinner, must

give boldness. I am going in to glorify God; and my

going in will glorify Him, in consequence of that

blood,--this cannot but embolden me.

7. By something which tells that God wants my

worship. God came down seeking worshippers. He wants

your worship,--this is His message. That tabernacle

says He wants you as a worshipper. That laver, blood,

incense, mercy-seat, all say He wants you as a

worshipper. He is in earnest in seeking you to worship

Him. He wants you to come in and serve in His courts,-

-as a priest!

We go in through the open gate, the rent veil:

by the new and living way, the blood-dropped pavement.

Personally we are sprinkled from an evil conscience;

i.e., at the altar; our bodies are washed, i.e., at

the laver. Thus there are such things as the

following, resulting from all this.

1. Liberty of conscience. I mean liberty of

conscience before God. A "good conscience" comes to us

through the blood upon the mercy-seat. A conscience

void of offence before men we may have in other ways,

but only in this can all have a conscience void of

offence before the Searcher of hearts. It is the blood

which purges the conscience from dead works, as did

the water mixed with the ashes of the red heifer

cleanse the Israelite who had touched a dead body. By

the blood the "true heart" comes.

2. Confident approach to God. Instead of flying

from God, we turn to Him. Instead of trembling as we

cross the threshold of His sanctuary, we lift up our

heads like those who know that only here are they on

secure ground,--like the flying manslayer entering the

gate of the Refuge City. The blood removes the dread,

and makes us feel safe even under the holy light of

the glory. We are protected by the blood; we are

comforted by the blood: for this blood casteth out all

fear.

3. Happy intercourse. A sinner's fellowship with

God must be carried on through the blood. That blood

was meant to remove everything that would have

hindered communion; or that would have kept God at a

distance from the sinner, and the sinner at a distance

from God. But it is not merely that we are brought

nigh by the blood of Christ; we are brought nigh in

the fulness of a tranquil spirit, which feels that it

can now unbosom itself to God, in the certainty of

confiding love. Fear has been supplanted by joy. The

intercourse is the intercourse of trusting happy

hearts, pouring out their love into each other; and

the Spirit bears witness to the blood in this respect,

by imparting the childlike frame, and teaching us to

cry Abba Father.

4. Spiritual service. There seems nothing

spiritual in the blood; and yet without the blood

spiritual service is an impossibility. Abel's

sacrifice seemed a more carnal thing than Cain's

offering of the choicest fruits of Eden, yet it was in

Abel's that God recognised the spirituality and the

acceptable service. It is the blood which divests us

of that externalism which cleaves to the service of

the sinner,--which strips us of a hollow ritualism;

which turns death into life, hollowness into

substance, and unreality into truth. Spiritual service

has ever been connected with the blood-shedding of

atonement, which by its appeal to the inner man, draws

out the whole spiritual being in happy obedience and

willing devoted service.

5. Holy worship. Holiness is not associated with

darkness, or gorgeous rites, or glittering robes, or

fragrant incense, or swelling music, or a magnificent

temple, or an unnumbered multitude. All these may be

unholy things, hateful to God. There may be the

absence of all these, and yet there may be holy

worship: the worship of holy lips; the worship of holy

hands; the worship of holy knees; the worship of a

holy soul. It is the blood that consecrates; whether

it be man or place, whether it be voice or soul. That

which is presented to God must have passed through the

blood, else it is unholy, however imposing and

splendid. If it has come through the blood, it is

holy, however small and mean and poor. All worship is

unclean save that which has been sanctified by the

blood. All holy worship begins with the blood, and is

carried on by means of the blood. We go within the

rent veil to worship, not without blood. For it is the

blood which sprinkled on the worshipper makes him

first, and then his worship, acceptable. This is

"entire consecration."

 

CHAPTER 9

GOD SEEKING WORSHIPPERS

 

For ages before God sought a temple, He had been

seeking worshippers. He could do without the former,

but not without the latter.

His first sanctuary was but a tent; and three

thousand years had elapsed before He said, Build me a

house wherein I may dwell. Yet all this time He was

seeking for worshippers amongst the sons of men. By

man's sin God had lost the worship of earth, and He

had set Himself to regain it.

1. He wants LOVE. Being the infinitely loveable

God, He asks love from man--from every man; love

according to His worth and beauty.

2. He claims OBEDIENCE. For His will is the

fountainhead of all law; and He expects that this will

of His should be in all things conformed to.

3. He expects SERVICE. The willing and living

service of man's whole being is what He claims and

desires,--the service of body, soul, and spirit.

4. He asks for WORSHIP. He does not stand in

need of human praise or prayer; yet He asks for these,

He delights in these, He wants the inner praise of the

silent heart. He wants the uttered praise of the

fervent lip and tongue. He desires the solitary praise

of the closet; and still more the loud harmony of the

great congregation; for "the Lord loveth the gates of

Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob," (Psa

87:2). True praise is a "speaking well of God", (1

Peter 1:3), speaking of Him in psalms and hymns and

spiritual songs, according to His excellency. "Bless

the Lord, O my soul" (Psa 103:1), "Blessed be the God

and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph 1:3).

It was of "worship" that the Lord spoke so much

to the woman of Sychar. To Nicodemus He said nothing

of this; nor indeed to any others. It was in regard to

"worship" that the Samaritans had gone so far astray,

therefore He speaks specially of this,--even to this

poor profligate. He spoke to her of "the Father," and

of "the worship of the Father" (John 4:21); reminding

her that God was a spirit and that "they who worship

Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." And then

He adds these memorable words, "the Father seeketh

such to worship Him."

It was of the difference between outward and

inward religion, between the real and the unreal,

between the acceptable and the unacceptable, that He

spoke to the woman. Samaria and Jerusalem, Gerizzim

and Moriah, these were but external things. There was

no religious virtue connected with them; God is not

the God of the outward, but of the inward; not the God

of places, but of living creatures; not the God of

cities and mountains, but the God of hearts and souls.

No rites, however numerous or gorgeous or beautiful,

can be a substitute for the life and the spirit. The

question is not intellectual, or aesthetic, or

pictorial, but spiritual; not as to what gratifies our

eye or ear, our sense of the great or the tasteful,

but what is acceptable to God and according to His

instructions.

Where am I to worship God? man asks; but he

answers it in his own way; as all false religions, and

indeed some true ones, have done. On certain sacred

spots, he says, where some man of God has lived, where

some martyr's blood has been shed, where the footsteps

of good men are recorded to have been, which have been

consecrated by certain priestly rites,--there and

there only must men worship God. God's answer to the

question, Where am I to worship God? is, EVERYWHERE:

on sea and land, vale or hill, desert or garden, city

or village or moor,--anywhere and everywhere. For

certain purposes God set apart Sinai for a season, and

then Moriah; but not to the exclusion of other places.

And even these consecrations are at an end. Sinai is

but the old red granite hill,--no more,--where now no

man worships. Moriah is but the old limestone

platform, now desecrated by false worship. "Woman,

believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in

this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the

Father" (John 4:21).

When am I to worship God? man asks; but he

answers it in his own way also. Only at certain times,

he says,--certain hours, and certain days, fixed and

arranged by priestly authority, or ecclesiastical law,

or traditional rule. God's answer is, "at all times

and seasons": pray without ceasing. The naming of

certain hours and days is necessary for the gathering

together of the worshippers; but worship is to be

perpetual, without restriction of times. All hours are

holy; all days are holy, in so far as worship is

concerned; only one day having been specially

appointed of God, and that not for restriction but for

order.

How am I to worship God? man asks; and he has

answered it also in his own way. In the gorgeous

temple, in the pillared cathedral, with incense, and

vestments, and forms, and ceremonies, and processions,

and postures, he says.[14] But these performances are

the will-worship of self-righteousness, not the

obedient service of men worshipping God in ways of His

own ordination. Man cannot teach man how to worship

God. When he tries it he utterly fails. He distorts

worship; he misrepresents God, and he indulges his own

sensuous or self-righteous tastes. His "dim religious

light" is but a reflection of his own gloomy spirit,

and an ignorant misrepresentation of Him "who is

light, and in whom is no darkness at all." God's

answer to man's question is given in the Lord's words,

"they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and

in truth." The vestments may or may not be comely;

that matters not. The music may or may not be fine:

the knees may or may not be bent; the hands may or may

not be clasped; the place of worship may or may not be

a cathedral, or a consecrated fabric. These are

immaterial things; adjuncts of religion, not its

essence. The true worship is that of the inner man;

and all things else are of little moment. As it is

with love so it is with worship. The heart is

everything. God can do without the bended knee, but

not without the broken heart.

It is of the Father that Christ is here

speaking;--of Him whose name is not only God but

Father,[15] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus

Christ. As the fountainhead of all being in heaven and

in earth, the paternal Creator, the Father of spirits,

the great Father-spirit, the God of the spirits of all

flesh, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, yet

who visiteth earth in His fatherly love,--as such He

is here spoken of by our Lord. He is a spirit, yet He

is no vague or cold abstraction, no mere assemblage of

what we call attributes, but full of life and love;

with the heart of a Father, with the pity and power

and care of a Father, and also with all a Father's

resources and rights. Though we have broken off from

that Father and gone into the far country, that does

not change His paternal nature, though it alters our

relationship to Him and the treatment we are to

receive at His hands. He made the fatherly heart of

man, and He did so after the likeness of His own. That

fatherly heart yearns over His wandered family; "His

tender mercies are over all His works."

It is as Father that he is seeking worshippers,

and seeking them here on earth among the fallen sons

of men.

He seeketh! That word means more than it seems.

He is in search of something; of something which He

has lost; of something which He counts precious; of

something which He cannot afford to lose. Great as He

is, there are many things which He cannot think of

letting go. His very greatness makes Him needy for it

makes Him understand the value, not only of every soul

which He has formed, but of every atom of dust which

He has created. When He misses any part of His

creation He goes or sends in search of it; He will not

part with it. Men of common souls, when they lose

anything, are apt to say, Let it go, I can do without

it. Men of great minds, when they lose anything, say,

I must have it back again, I cannot afford to lose it.

Much more is this true of the infinite Jehovah. It is

His greatness that makes Him so susceptible of loss.

Others may overlook the lost thing. He cannot. He must

go in quest of it.

It is the same kind of seeking and searching as

the prophet Ezekiel, speaking in the name of Jehovah,

declares,-- "I will search and seek," (34:11); and to

which our Lord so often refers, when He represents

Himself as "seeking the lost" (Luke 19:10); it may be

the lost sheep, or the lost piece of silver, or the

lost son.

We must not dilute these expressions, and say

that they simply imply that God is willing to have us

back again if we will come; that He is willing to take

us as worshippers if we will come. All that comes very

far short of the meaning. And though we may say, what

can the infinite Jehovah be in want of; what can He

need, to whom belongs not only the heaven of heavens

but the whole universe;--still we must see how anxious

He is to show us His unutterable earnestness in

seeking and in searching.

Such is the attitude of God! He bends down from

His eternal throne to seek; as if the want of

something here on earth, on this old sinful earth,

would be a grievous and irreparable loss. What value

does He attach to us and to our worship!

Yes, the Father seeketh worshippers! He is in

search of many things of which sin has robbed Him;

affection, homage, allegiance, reverence, obedience;

but worship,--the worship of man, and of man's earth,

He is specially seeking and claiming. He so created

this world, that from it there should arise, without

ceasing, wide as the universal air, that fragrance of

holy worship, from the creatures which He had made and

placed upon its surface. The command is not merely,

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,"

but "thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only

shalt thou serve." Over this broken command He mourns;

"it grieves Him at His heart"; and He seeks to have it

restored in man. He loves worship from human hearts

and lips, and He will not be satisfied without it. It

might seem a small thing to lose the worship of a

creature's heart, here on this low and evil earth. Can

He not let it go? It will only be the worse for the

creature, not for Him, who has the worship of heaven,

and of ten thousand times ten thousand angels. No; He

cannot lose that worship. It is precious to Him. He

must have it back.

O man, God speaks to you and says, "Worship me."

He comes up to each sinner upon earth and says,

"Worship me." If He does so, He must care for you and

He must care for your worship. It is not a matter of

indifference to Him whether you worship Him or not. It

concerns Him, and it concerns you. Perhaps the thought

comes up within you, what does God care for my

worship? I may praise, or I may not, what does He

care? I may sing, or I may blaspheme, what does it

matter to Him? He cares much. It concerns Him deeply.

He is thoroughly in earnest when He asks you to

worship Him. He wants these lips of yours, that tongue

of yours, that heart of yours. He wants them all for

Himself. Will you give Him what He wants?

You say He has enough of praise in heaven, what

can he want on earth? He has angels in myriads to

praise Him, does He really desire my voice? Will He be

grieved if I refuse it? Yes, He desires your voice,

and He will be grieved if you withhold it. He has many

a nobler tongue than yours, but still He wants yours.

He has many a sweeter voice than yours, still He is

bent on having that poor sinful voice. Oh come and

worship me, He says.

This answers the question so often put by the

inquiring, What warrant have I for coming to God. God

wants you. Is not that enough? What more would you

have? He wants you to draw near. He has no pleasure in

your distance. He wants you to praise Him, to worship

Him. He is seeking your worship. Do you mean to ask,

What warrant have I for worshipping God? Rather should

you ask, What warrant have I for refusing to worship

Him? Is it possible that you can think yourself at

liberty not to worship Him; nay, think that you are

not under any obligation to worship Him, until you can

ascertain your election, or feel within you some

special change which you can consider God's call to

worship Him?

His search for worshippers is a world-wide one.

It goes over the whole earth; and His call on men to

worship is equally universal. He made man to worship

and to love; can He ever forego such claims, or can

man ever be in a position in which that claim ceases,

or that obligation is cancelled? Can his sinfulness or

unworthiness exempt him from the duty, or make it

unwarrantable in him to come and worship Jehovah?

Let us hear how He speaks to the sons of men,

Jew and Gentile:--

"Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands!

Sing forth the honour of His name,

Make His praise glorious." (Psa 66:1)

Again He speaks,--

"O sing unto the Lord a new song;

Sing unto the Lord, all the earth!

Sing unto the Lord,

Bless His name!

Show forth His salvation from day to day." (Psa 96:1)

Again He speaks,--

"Praise ye the Lord!

For it is good to sing praises unto our God;

For it is pleasant;

Yea, praise is comely." (Psa 147:1)

Nay, He calls on all nature to praise Him. He

claims the homage of the inanimate creation.

"Let the heavens rejoice,

And let the earth be glad;

Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.

Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein;

Then shall the trees of the wood rejoice

Before the Lord." (Psa 96:11-13)

Thus is God seeking for worshippers here on

earth. And what is His gospel but the proclamation of

His gracious search for worshippers? He sends out His

glad tidings of great joy, that He may draw men to

Himself and make them worshippers of His own glorious

self.

The shepherd loses one of his flock; and he

misses it. The shepherd misses the sheep more than the

sheep misses the shepherd. The sheep is too precious

to be lost. It must be sought for and found; whatever

toil or peril may be in the way. Even life itself is

not to be grudged in behalf of the lost one, "The good

Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep," as if the

life of the sheep were more valuable than that of the

Shepherd.

The woman loses one of her ten silver pieces,

she cannot afford to lose it. She must have it back

again. She seeks till she find it. It does not miss

her, but she misses it. She seeks and finds!

The father loses his son; and is troubled. The

son may not miss the father, but the father misses the

son; nor can he rest till he has taken him in his arms

again, and set him down at his table with gladness and

feasting.

But the passage we are considering brings before

us something beyond all this. It is not the shepherd

seeking his sheep, nor the woman her silver, nor the

father his son; it is Jehovah seeking worshippers! and

He is in earnest. He wants to be worshipped by the

sons of Adam. He desires the worship of earth no less

than that of heaven. He has the praise of angels, but

He must have that of men. Such is the value He sets

upon us, and such is His love?

But it is spiritual worship, and spiritual

worshippers that He is seeking: "The Father seeketh

such to worship Him." The outward man is nothing, it

is the inner man He is in quest of. The worship must

come, not from the walls of the temple, but from the

innermost shrine. It must be something pervading the

man's whole being, and coming up from the depths of

the soul; otherwise, it is but as sounding brass or a

tinkling cymbal. Forms, sounds, gestures, dresses,

ornaments, are not worship. They are but

"Mouth-honour breath,

Which the poor heart would fain deny, but dare not."

Instead of constituting worship, these outward

things are often but excuses for refusing the inward

service. Man pleases himself with a sensuous and

theatrical externalism, because he hates the spiritual

and the true. God says, "Give me thine heart." Man

says, "No; but I will give you my voice." God says,

"Give me thy soul." Man says, "No; but I will give

Thee my knee and my bended body." But it will not do.

"God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must

worship Him in spirit and in truth."

But what provision has God made for all this? It

is not enough to say to us, "Be worshippers,"--this

might be said to the unsinning, and they would at once

comply. "Let all the angels of God worship Him." But

say this to a sinner, and he will ask, "How can I, a

man of unclean lips and unclean heart, approach the

infinitely holy One? It would not be safe in me to

come, nor would it be right in God to allow me to

approach." There must be provision for this;--

something which will satisfy the sinner's conscience,

remove the sinner's dread, win the sinner's

confidence, on the one hand, and satisfy God,

vindicate righteousness, magnify holiness, on the

other.

For this there is the twofold provision of the

blood and the Spirit. The blood satisfies God's

righteousness and the sinner's conscience. The Holy

Spirit renews the man, so as to draw out his heart in

worship. It is the blood that propitiates, and it is

the Spirit that transforms. God presents this blood

freely to the sinner; God proclaims His desire to give

this Spirit freely.

"May I use this blood?" perhaps one says. Use

it! Certainly. Thou fool, why shouldst thou ask such a

question? Use it! Yes; for thou must either use it, or

trample on it. Which of these wilt thou do?

"May I expect the Spirit?" some one may say.

Expect Him! What! art thou more willing to have the

Spirit than God is to give Him? Art thou so willing,

and God so unwilling? Thou fool, who has persuaded

thee to believe such a lie?

God has come to thee, O man! saying, "I want

thee for a worshipper": wilt thou become one?

Remember, thou must either be a worshipper or a

blasphemer; which wilt thou be?

 

 

CHAPTER 10

GOD SEEKING TEMPLES

 

God began with seeking worshippers, but he goes on to

seek temples; or rather, in the sense which we are now

to consider, in seeking worshippers he was seeking

temples; and in preparing worshippers, he was

preparing temples.

The Church is the great temple. Each saint is a

temple. In His Church, and in each member of that

Church, Jehovah dwells. "Ye are builded together for

AN HABITATION OF GOD through the Spirit" (Eph 2:22).

Man was made for God to dwell in. Man thrust God

out of His dwelling-place, and left Him homeless;

without a habitation on earth. The universe was His;

every star was His; every mountain was His: but none

of these did He count fit to be His habitation. Only

in the human heart would He be satisfied to dwell.

Man thrust out God from His dwelling, but God

would not be thus driven away. He must return; and He

must return in a way which would make it impossible

that He should ever be thrust out again; and He must

return in a way such as will show not only the

hatefulness of man's sin in thrusting Him out, but the

largeness of His own grace, and the perfection of His

righteousness.

Jehovah is bent upon returning to His old

dwelling-place. He might have created others, and

dwelt in them. But He has purposed not to part with

His old ones. It is as if He could not afford to lose

these, or could not bear the thought of casting them

away. "I will return," He says. He casts a wistful eye

upon the ruins of His beloved dwelling-place, and He

resolves to return and rebuild, and re-inhabit.[16]

When the Son of God was here, He had no place to

lay His head. He was a homeless man in the midst of

earth's many homes. But still He did come, seeking a

home, both for Himself and for the Father. The home

that He sought was the human heart; and He came with

this message from the Father,-- "I will dwell in

them." To this closed heart He comes, in loving

earnestness, seeking entrance, that He may find for

Himself and for the Father a home. Thus He speaks:

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man

hear my voice and open the door, I will come in unto

him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Rev

3:20); and again He speaks, "We will come unto him,

and make our abode with him" (John 14:23). So that

this is our message to the sons of men,--the Father

wants your heart for His dwelling,--the Son wants your

heart for His dwelling.

But it is for more than dwelling that God is

seeking. It is for a temple. To dwell in us, in any

sense, would be infinite honour and blessedness. But

to take us for His temples, to make us His Holy of

Holies, His shrine of worship, His place of praise,

His very heaven of heavens, is something beyond all

this. Yet it is temples that God is now seeking among

the sons of men; not marble shrines, nor golden

altars, with fire, and blood, and incense, and

gorgeous adornings; but the spirit of man, the broken

and the contrite heart.

The Church is God's temple. "In whom ALL THE

BUILDING, fitly framed together, groweth into AN HOLY

TEMPLE in the Lord" (Eph 2:21). Each saint is God's

temple. "Ye are the temple of God" (1 Cor 3:16). Our

body is God's temple. "Know ye not that your body is

the temple of the Holy Ghost" (1 Cor 6:19).[17]

God is seeking temples on earth,--living

temples, constructed of living stones, founded on the

one living stone,-- "built up a spiritual house" (1

Peter 2:5).

Of this temple God is Himself the Architect, and

the Holy Spirit is the BUILDER. It is constructed

after the pattern of heavenly things, according to the

great eternal plan, which the purpose of the God, only

wise, had designed for the manifestation of His own

glory. As both the Architect and Builder are divine,

we may be sure that the plan will be perfect, and that

it will be carried out in all its details without

failure, and without mistake. It will be beauty,

completeness, and perfection throughout,--a glorious

Church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; in

size, in symmetry, in ornament, in majesty, in

stability, altogether faultless,--the mightiest and

the fairest of all the works of Jehovah's hands.

In another sense, hereafter, when all things are

made new, "the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb" are the

temple (Rev 21:22). But we also are the temple; both

now and hereafter. Both things are true. He in us, and

we in Him. We are God's temple, and He is ours for

ever.

The foundation is Christ Himself (1 Cor 3:11;

Isa 28:16; 1 Peter 2:4-6). He is the rock on which we

are builded; He is no less the foundation-stone which

bears up the building, and knits its walls together.

In the eternal plan of the divine Architect, this

foundation-stone is grandly prominent,--the chief part

of God's eternal purpose; framed by God; laid by God

in the fulness of time; laid in Zion; laid once for

all: a sure foundation, a tried stone; one, without a

rival and without a second. It was this stone, laid by

God, which the apostle (if we may carry out the figure

which he uses in connection with his own ministry)

carried about with him from place to place, when he

went through the gentile world founding churches.

"According to the grace of God which is given unto me,

as a wise master-builder, I have laid THE

FOUNDATION...For other foundation can no man lay than

that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 3:10,11).

On this foundation each soul rests. From the first

saint, downward to the last, it has been and it shall

be so. There is but one foundation for Old Testament

saints as well as for new. On this, too, the Church of

God rests; the one Church from the beginning, the one

body, the one temple, filled with the one Spirit, for

the worship of the one Jehovah. Not two foundations,

nor two temples, nor two bodies, nor two Churches; but

ONE, only one, made up of the redeemed from among men,

bought with the one blood, justified with the one

righteousness, saved by the one cross, expectants of

the one promise, and heirs of the one glory.

The stones are the saints, (1 Peter 2:5) "Unto

whom coming as unto a living stone, ye also as lively

(living) stones, are built up a spiritual house." Of

the quarrying, the hewing, the polishing, the

building, of these living stones I cannot here write.

But each has a history of his own. Though dug out of

one rock, hewn, polished and fitted in by one Spirit,

yet each has come to be what he is by means of a

different process, some longer, some shorter, some

gentler, some rougher. But on the one foundation, they

are all placed by the one hand, one upon the other, in

goodly order, according to the one eternal plan in

Christ Jesus our Lord; forming the one glorious temple

for Jehovah's worship and habitation. Many stones, one

temple; many members, one family; many branches, one

vine; many crumbs, one loaf. They are "BUILDED

TOGETHER for an habitation of God through the Spirit."

The "unity of the faith," (Eph 4:13), from the

beginning is the pledge of the unity of the temple;

and as this faith has been one since the day of the

announcement of the woman's seed, so has this temple

been; the multitude of stones not marring but

enhancing the unity. The "unity of the Spirit," too,

(Eph 4:3), is both the pattern and the pledge of the

temple's unity. It has been one spirit and one temple

from the beginning; not two spirits and two temples,

but only one. "There is one body and one spirit, even

as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one

Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of

all, who is above all, and through all, and in you

all." Thus all the "building fitly framed together

groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord" (Eph 2:21).

God is now seeking these stones for His temple among

the lost sons of Adam. Worthless and unfit in

themselves for use in any divine building, they are

sought out and prepared by the great Builder for their

place in the eternal building. Yes, God is in search

of these stones now; just as He has been these many

ages, since Adam, and Abel, and Seth, and Enoch, and

Noah, were sought out nd fitted in to form the

glorious line or row of stones lying immediately above

the foundation-stone. God is coming up to each son of

man, degraded as he may be, an outcast, and saying,

"Wilt thou not become a stone in my temple? I seek

thee: wilt thou prefer thy degradation, and reject the

honour which I present to thee."

The temple is holy (1 Cor 3:17; Psa 93:5). It is

set apart for God; it is to be used for sacred

purposes; it is pure in all its parts; its vessels,

its walls, its gates, its furniture. It is not yet

perfect, but it shall one day be so. Into it nothing

that defileth shall enter. And even now God, the

inhabitant of the temple, is seeking holiness of all

who belong to it. "Be ye holy, for I am holy."

Let us dread the defilement of His temple; for

it is written, "If any man defile the temple of God,

him shall God destroy" (1 Cor 3:17). For God will not

be mocked, nor allow His throne to be polluted. Yet do

we not defile it by sin, by worldliness, by vanity, by

formality, by profanity, by our unfragrant incense,

our impure praises and prayers?

Let us rejoice in the honour of being living

temples, living stones, consecrated to the service of

the living God. Let us walk worthy of the honour,--the

honour of being filled with God, penetrated by His

light, perfumed by His sweetness, gladdened by His

love, and glorified by His majestic presence and

indwelling fulness.

CHAPTER 11

GOD SEEKING PRIESTS

 

If God has a temple, He must have priests; else were

there no song, no service, no worship. In His eternal

plan, priesthood is provided for; a priesthood not of

angels but of redeemed men; of those who seemed the

least likely to fulfil such an office in such a

temple.

It is a "holy priesthood" that he has provided

(1 Peter 2:5). It is a "royal priesthood" (1 Peter

2:9); for He has made us kings and priests. It is a

heavenly priesthood like that of His own Son.

As such we minister at God's altar, we tread His

courts, we eat His shew-bread, we kindle and trim His

lamps, we offer His sacrifices, we burn His holy

incense.

God is seeking priests among the sons of men. A

human priesthood is one of the essential parts of His

eternal plan. To rule creation by man is His design;

to carry on the worship of creation by man is no less

part of His design.

He is now in search of priests; and He has sent

His Son to prepare such for His temple. In order to

their being such, He must redeem them; He must

reconcile them; He must cleanse them; He must clothe

them with the garments of glory and of beauty. All

this He does. "The Son of man came to seek and to save

that which was lost."

The embassy of peace which is going forth from

the cross is an embassy in quest of priests. His

ambassadors of peace beseech men to be reconciled to

God in order to their becoming priests. God Himself in

His glorious gospel comes up to the sinner and asks

him to become a priest to Him.

And what does this priesthood mean? What does it

embrace? Let us consider this.

Priesthood is the appointed link between heaven

and earth; the channel of intercourse between the

sinner and God. God and man can only come together on

the ground of mediatory priesthood. Such a priesthood,

in so far as expiation is concerned, is in the hands

of the Son of God alone; in so far as it is to be the

medium of communication between Creator and creature,

is also in the hands of redeemed men,--of the Church

of God.

Sin had broken up all direct or open

intercourse, as we have seen; and the veil declared

this. All access to God was to be debarred till a new

medium should be provided, such as should secure the

ends of righteousness; such as should make it

honourable for the Holy One to receive the

unrighteous; and such as should make it safe for the

unholy to stand in the presence of the Holy.

Priesthood is the link between the sinner and

God, between earth and heaven,--earth, where all is

vile; heaven, where all is pure. Without priesthood,

God and we are at awful and unremoveable distance from

each other. Without priesthood, there can be no

transference of guilt, no remission of sin, no

reconciliation to God, no restoration either to

fellowship or blessing. Priesthood involves and

accomplishes all these, because it is through it that

the substitution of life for life is effected. It is

the conducting medium through whose agency the

exchange is brought about between the sinner and the

Surety. In nothing less than this does its purpose

terminate, and wherein it falls short of this, it is

but a pretext or a name. If priesthood be not the

living link between God and the sinner, it is nothing.

All this was exhibited in symbolic rite under

the former law. It was through priesthood that all

intercourse with God was carried on. It was the priest

that led the sinner into God's presence, that

presented his offering, that transacted the business

between him and God, and that received the blessing

from God to bestow upon the sinner. God set up the

Aaronic priesthood on very purpose to exhibit this; to

let men know what His idea of priesthood was, and what

He intended a priest to be.

True, this ancient priesthood had only to do

with the flesh; it pertained but to the outward person

of the sinner, and the mere visible courts of God. It

could not reach the inner man; it could not take hold

of the conscience; it could not lead the worshipper

into the true presence of the invisible Jehovah. It

fell short of these ends, and thus far was defective.

Still, it did fully accomplish its end as a medium of

communication, in so far as the outward man and the

material courts were concerned. It was complete

according to its nature; and in so far as it went, it

established intercourse between the sinner and God.

In so doing, it brought out most fully God's

idea of priesthood, as if to prevent the possibility

of any mistake upon the point. It showed God's

ultimate design in regard to this; His intention of

bringing in a perfect priesthood in His own time and

way. His object was not to show men how to construct

and set up a priesthood of their own, but to tell them

what He Himself meant to do, so as to hinder their

attempting such a thing. His object was to teach them

the true meaning of priesthood, in order that when He

brought in His own High Priest, they might fully

understand the nature of His work, and the end to be

accomplished. It was a new and a great idea that He

sought to teach them, an idea which would never have

occurred to themselves; an idea which it required long

time to unfold to them; an idea most needful for them

fully to grasp, as upon it depended the new

relationship which grace was to introduce between them

and God.

But then when the old priestly ritual had thus

served its ends, it was of no more use. It behoved to

be taken down, as being more likely to hinder than

help forward the sinner's intercourse with God, as

being certain to confuse and perplex, and lead to

innumerable mistakes in the great question of approach

and acceptance. It was not to be imitated, for any

imitation would but mislead men from the true

priesthood. It was not to be set up in another form,

for every part of it was merged, and, as it were,

dissolved irrecoverably in the priesthood of the Son

of God. The High Priest of good things to come had

absorbed it all into Himself, so that any attempt to

reconstruct it in any form is undoing what God has

done; restoring what He Himself has taken to pieces;

committing sacrilege with His holy vessels; nay,

profaning with irreverent touch what He has removed

out of sight, and forbidden to be handled or used.

So far, then, is the old ritual from being a

model or example for us now, that it forbids the

attempt to imitate its rites. Its very nature, so

purely symbolic and prospective, forbids such an

attempt. Its abolition still more strongly prohibits

this. For that abolition is God's proclamation that

its ends are served, and its time accomplished. But

specially its abolition, through fulfilment in the

person of Messiah, declares this. Before it was cast

away, everything in it that was of value was gathered

out of it, and perpetuated in Him. Every truth that it

contained was taken from it, and embodied in Him. It

did not pass away simply because its time had come,

but because the need for it had ceased; it had been

superseded by something infinitely more glorious in

its nature, and more suitable to the sinner. Who

thinks of preserving the sand when the gold that it

contained has been extracted? or who misses the

beacon-light when the sun has risen?

The coming of the Son of God, the Great High

Priest, thus involves the abolition of priesthood in

the old sense, for He has taken it wholly upon

Himself: it is now centred in Him. All the ends of

priesthood are fully met by Him. There is not one

thing which we need either as sinners or as

worshippers which we have not in Him. So that the

question arises, What end can it serve to set up

another priesthood apart from His? Has He left

anything incomplete which ought to be completed by us?

Has He left any of the distance unremoved between us

and God? Has He left the work of atonement, and

mediation, and intercession, in such a state of

imperfection, that we require a new priestly order to

perfect it? If not, then is it not strange profanity,

as well as perversity in man, to insist upon setting

up what is so wholly unnecessary, and what cannot but

cast dishonour upon the divine priesthood of Messiah

as being imperfect in itself, and as having failed in

its ends?

In the present age, then, there are none on

earth exercising priestly functions. There is

ministry, but not priesthood. The apostles were not

priests. They never claimed the office, and never

sought to exercise it in the Church. Nor did they

enjoin their successors to claim it, nor give them the

slightest hint that, as ministers, they were priests.

They taught them that priesthood had passed away; that

the priestly raiment had been rent in pieces; that

there was no longer any temple, or altar, or sacrifice

needed upon earth under this dispensation. The epistle

to the Hebrews gives the lie to all priestly

pretensions, and the epistles to Timothy and Titus

show how totally different ministry is from

priesthood.

Yet we read of the "royal priesthood" (1 Peter

2:9); we read of "kings and priests"; we read of those

who claimed to themselves the priestly name even here.

But these were not apostles, nor prophets, nor

evangelists, but simply saints. As saints, they were

priests. As one with the Great High Priest, they were

entitled to this name. As those who were called to

share with Him the future honours of the throne and

altar, they are the "royal priesthood." Other priests

upon earth there are none. Usurpers of the name and

office there are many. Of true, God-chosen priests,

there are none save these.

Their priesthood is still in abeyance, so far as

the actual exercise of it is concerned. They are

priest-elect; but, at present, no more. Their title

they have received, when brought into the Holy of

Holies by the blood of Christ; but on the active

functions of priesthood they have not entered. It doth

not yet appear what they shall be. They wear no royal

crown; they are clothed with no priestly raiments;

their garments for "glory and for beauty" are still in

reserve among the things that are "reserved in heaven,

ready to be revealed in the last time." Both their

inheritance and their priesthood are as yet only

things of faith; they are not to be entered on till

their Lord returns; they are priests in disguise, and

no man owns their claim. Yet it is a sure claim; it is

a Divine claim; it is a claim which will before long

be vindicated. The day of the MANIFESTATION of those

priests is not far off. And for this they wait,

carefully abstaining from usurping honours and

dignities which God has not yet put upon them.

The High Priest whom they own is now within the

veil; and till He come forth, they repudiate all

priestly pretensions, knowing that at present all

sacerdotal office, and authority, and glory, are

centred in Him alone. To attempt to exercise these

would be to rob Him of His prerogative, to forestall

God's purpose, and to defeat the end of the present

dispensation.

Their priesthood is after the order of

Melchizedek. The King of Salem and priest of the Most

High God is he whom they point to as their type. Their

great Head is the true Melchizedek; and they, under

Him, can claim the office, and name, and dignity.

Melchizedek's unknown and mysterious parentage is

theirs, for the world knows them not, neither what nor

whence they are. Melchizedek's city was Salem; theirs

is the New Jerusalem, that cometh down out of heaven

from God. His dwelling was in a city without a temple,

and He exercised His priesthood without a temple; so

their abode is to be in that city of which it is said,

"I saw no temple therein, for the Lord God Almighty

and the Lamb are the temple of it." Distinct from

Abraham, and greater than he, though of the same

common family of man, was Melchizedek; so they, "the

church of the first-born," distinct from Israel, and

greater than they, yet still partakers of a common

nature, are to inherit a kingdom more glorious and

heavenly than what shall ever belong to the sons of

Abraham according to the flesh.

It is in the age to come that they are to

exercise their royal priesthood. They are the kings,

while the dwellers on earth are the subjects. They are

priests, and, as such, carry on the intercourse

between earth and heaven.

For priesthood is not merely for reconciliation,

but for carrying on intercourse after reconciliation

has been effected. It is not merely for securing

pardon, but for forming the medium of communication

between the pardoner and the pardoned. Thus priesthood

may exist after all sin has passed away, and the curse

has been taken from sky and earth, and all things have

been made new.

For this end shall priesthood exist in the

eternal kingdom, both in the person of Christ Himself,

and of His saints. A link is needed between the upper

and the lower creation; between heaven and earth;

between the visible and the invisible; between the

Creator and the created. That link shall be the

priesthood of Christ and His redeemed. They shall be

the channels of communication between God and His

universe. They shall be the leaders of creation's song

of praise; from all regions of the mighty universe

gathering together the multitudinous praises, and

presenting them in their golden censers before

Jehovah's throne. Through them worship shall be

carried on, and all allegiance presented, and prayer

sent up from the unnumbered orbs of space, the far-

extending dominions of the King of kings.

Whether the kingly or priestly offices are to be

conjoined in each saint, as in Christ Himself, or

whether some are to be priests and some kings, we know

not. The separation of the offices is quite compatible

with the truth as the Church forming the Melchizedek

priesthood: for the reference may be to the Church as

a body, and not to each individual. And is it not

something of this kind that is suggested to us by the

four living ones and the four-and-twenty elders in the

Revelation? Do not the former look like priests, and

do not the latter look like kings?

Yet it matters not. In either way, the dignity

is the same to the Church; in either way will the

"royal priesthood" exercise their office under Him who

is the Great Priest and King.

Our priesthood, then, is an eternal one. There

will be room for it, and need for it hereafter, though

the evils which just now specially call for its

exercise shall then have passed away. We greatly

narrow the range of priesthood when we confine it to

the times and the places where sin is to be found.

Such, no doubt, is its present sphere of exercise; and

it is well, indeed, for us that it is so. Did it not

extend to this, where should we be? Were it not now

ordained specially for the alienated and the guilty,

to restore the lost friendship, and refasten the

broken link between them and God, what would become of

us? But having accomplished this, must it cease? Has

it no other region within which it can exercise

itself? Has it not a wider range of function, to

which, throughout eternity, it will extend, in the

carrying out of God's wondrous purposes? And just as

the humanity of Christ is the great bond of connection

between the Divine and the human, the great basis on

which the universe is to be established immovably for

ever, and secured against a second fall, so the

priesthood of Christ, exercised in that humanity,

shall be the great medium of communication, in all

praise, and prayer, and service, and worship of every

kind; between heaven and earth; between the Creator

and the creature; between the King Eternal, Immortal,

and Invisible, and the beings whom He has made for His

glory, in all places of His dominion, whether in the

heaven of heavens, or in the earth below, or

throughout the measureless regions of the starry

universe.

 

CHAPTER 12

GOD SEEKING KINGS

 

One great part of God's eternal purpose in creation

was to rule His universe by a MAN. "Unto the angels

hath He not put in subjection the world to come,

whereof we speak; but one in a certain place

testifieth, What is MAN, that Thou art mindful of him,

or the SON OF MAN that Thou visitest him?" (Heb

2:5,6).

To Adam therefore He said, "have dominion," or

"rule." After the words of blessing, conveying

fruitfulness to man, "be fruitful and multiply," there

are three words added, conveying earth over to man as

his possession and his kingdom, so that he might

exercise authority in it by "divine right." 1.

Replenish or fill. 2. Subdue. 3. Rule.

Adam's unfaithfulness, by which dominion was

forfeited, did not make the great purpose of none

effect. That purpose has stood and shall stand for

ever. Instead of the first Adam God brings in the

"last Adam," the "second Man," the Lord from heaven,

as His King, and He introduces His offspring as kings

under Him, to fill, subdue, and rule the earth.

He has found His King, and has put all things

under His feet: placing on His head the many crowns,

and setting Him on the throne of universal dominion,--

though as yet we see not all things actually put under

Him. He says, "Yet have I set my King upon my holy

hill of Zion": and He gives Him the heathen for His

inheritance and the uttermost ends of the earth for

His possession. He is the great Melchizedec,--the

priestly King,--into whose hands all things have been

put.

But under Him, or associated with Him, are other

kings. These are the redeemed from among men,--the

chosen according to the good pleasure of His will: by

nature, sons of the first Adam, but created anew and

made sons of the second.

From the ranks of fallen men God is selecting

His kings. He has sent His Son to deliver them from

their death and curse. He has sent His Spirit to

quicken them and to transform them, not merely into

obedient loving subjects, but into kings, heirs of the

great throne. "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy

children, whom thou mayest make PRINCES in all the

earth" (Psa 45:16).

These kings, though by nature mortal men, become

heirs of immortality, and at the resurrection of the

just, put on all that is to fit them for their

everlasting reign. Everything connected with them is

of God.

1. God elects them. It is by His will that they

are what they are. He finds the race of Adam in the

horrible pit, and out of that ruined mass He chooses

some,--not only to salvation but to glory and

dominion. These kings are the chosen of God.

2. He redeems them. They are found in the low

dungeon, captives and prisoners in the hands of the

great oppressor. God sends redemption to them,--

redemption through Him who takes their captivity upon

Him, that they may be set free; who enters their

prison-house, and takes their bonds upon Him that they

may be unbound. In Him they have redemption through

His blood.

3. He consecrates them. Their consecration is by

blood. It is the blood of the covenant that sets them

apart for their future work and honour. Sprinkled with

the precious blood they are "sanctified" for

dominion;--for that holy royalty to which they have

been chosen.

4. He anoints them. With that same anointing

with which Christ was anointed, they are anointed

too,--anointed for royal rule,--priestly-royal rule.

The Holy Spirit, dwelling in them, as in their Head,

coming down on them, as on their Head, fits them for

the exercise of dominion. The wisdom needed for

government is a holy wisdom, and this holy wisdom they

receive by means of the unction from the Holy One.

5. He crowns them. They are, as yet, only kings-

elect. Their coronation-day is yet to come. Yet the

crown is already theirs by right; and He who chose

them to the throne will before long put the crown upon

their head.

Not out of the ranks of angels is He seeking

kings. This would not suit His purpose, nor magnify

the riches of His grace. Fallen man must furnish Him

with the rulers of His universe. Human hands must

wield the sceptre, and human heads must wear the

crown.

To this honour He is calling us. He is sending

out His ambassadors for this end; and the gospel with

which they are intrusted is the glad tidings of a

kingdom. And this in a double sense. There is a

kingdom into which they are to enter and be partakers

of its glory: and yet, in the same kingdom, they are

to be God's anointed kings. It is a kingdom doubly

theirs. They not only "see the kingdom of God" (John

3:3); they not only "enter into the kingdom of God";

but they occupy its thrones. "The kingdom, and the

dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom, under the

whole heaven, is given to the people of the saints of

the Most High, and they possess the kingdom" (Dan

7:22,27). "I appoint unto you a kingdom," says our

Lord, "that ye may sit on thrones" (Luke 22:28). "To

him that overcometh will I give to sit on my throne,

even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father

on His throne" (Rev 3:21). Hence they sing the song,

"Thou art worthy, for Thou hast redeemed us by thy

blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people,

and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and

priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Rev 5:9).

Not to be reigned over, but to reign, is the honour to

which they are called. "They shall REIGN for ever and

ever" (Rev 22:5).

O sons of men! This is the honour to which God

is calling you. It is for the end of making you His

kings that He is seeking you. To deliver you from

wrath is the beginning of His purpose concerning you;

to set you on His throne is the end. Nothing short of

this. Think what the riches of His grace must be, and

His kindness towards us in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Where sin has abounded grace has abounded more. Herein

is love! Behold what manner of love the Father has

bestowed on us, that we should not only be called sons

but kings; that we should not only be lifted to a

place in His family, but to a seat upon His throne! To

make us in any way or in any sense partakers of His

glory and sharers in His dominion is much but to make

us "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ," is

unspeakably more. A throne such as man can give and

take away seems to many a worthy object of ambition;

how much more the kingdom which God gives, the kingdom

which cannot be moved.

And if any one asks, How may I share this

royalty and win this crown? we answer in the well-

known words, "As many as received Him, to them gave He

power (right) to become the sons of God"; for what is

true of the sonship is true of the kingship too. We

obtain it by receiving the Son of God. He that takes

Christ receives a kingdom, and becomes a king. His

connection with the King of kings is His security for

a throne. Oneness with Christ gives him the royal

inheritance. To be washed in His blood, to be clothed

with His raiment, to be quickened with His life, to be

gladdened with His love, to be crowned with His

crown,--these are some of the steps of honour, up

which He leads those who believe in His name.

For it is a throne that cannot be bought. It is

THE GIFT of "the King eternal, immortal, and

invisible"; and He giveth it to whomsoever He will.

The invitation which the Son of God gives to us in His

gospel is an invitation to a throne and crown. He

holds it up and bids us look at it. He holds it out

and bids us take it.

I know not if all this were ever better

described than by John Bunyan, in the beginning of the

"Pilgrim's Progress," in the dialogue between

Christian and Pliable:--

"Pli.--Come, neighbour Christian, since there

are none but us two here, tell me now further what the

things are, and how to be enjoyed, whither we are

going.

"Chr.--I can better conceive of them with my

mind, than speak of them with my tongue: but yet,

since you are desirous to know, I will read of them in

my book.

"Pli.--And do you think that the words of your

book are certainly true?

"Chr.--Yes, verily; for it was made by Him that

cannot lie.

"Pli.--Well said; what things are they?

"Chr.--There is an endless kingdom to be

inhabited, and everlasting life to be given us, that

we may inhabit the kingdom for ever.

"Pli.--Well said; and what else?

"Chr.--There are crowns of glory to be given us,

and garments that will make us shine like the sun in

the firmament of heaven.

"Pli.--This is very pleasant; and what else?

"Chr.--There shall be no more crying, nor

sorrow: for He that is owner of the place will wipe

all tears from our eyes.

"Pli.--And what company shall we have there?

"Chr.--There we shall be with seraphims and

cherubims, creatures that will dazzle your eyes to

look on them. There also you shall meet with thousands

and tens of thousands that have gone before us to that

place; none of them are hurtful, but loving and holy;

every one walking in the sight of God, and standing in

His presence with acceptance for ever. In a word,

there we shall see the elders with their golden

crowns; there we shall see the holy virgins with their

golden harps; there we shall see men that by the world

were cut in pieces, burnt in flames, eaten of beasts,

drowned in the seas, for the love that they bare to

the Lord of the place, all well, and clothed with

immortality as with a garment.

"Pli.--The hearing of this is enough to ravish

one's heart. But are these things to be enjoyed? How

shall we get to be sharers thereof?

"Chr.--THE LORD, THE GOVERNOR OF THE COUNTRY,

HATH RECORDED THAT IN THIS BOOK; THE SUBSTANCE OF

WHICH IS, IF WE BE TRULY WILLING TO HAVE IT, HE WILL

BESTOW IT UPON US FREELY."

Thus very simply and beautifully does Bunyan put

the manner of our obtaining the glory. Some would call

this too free. Some would say, Here is the way made

far too easy, without any preparatory alarms and

repentance. But there stands John Bunyan's idea of the

way of a sinner's entrance into the kingdom; and let

him who can improve or correct it do so. "The Lord,

the Governor of the country, hath recorded that in

this book; the substance of which is, If we be truly

willing to have it, He will bestow it upon us freely."

Bunyan's soundness of doctrine is well known.

His Calvinism was of a very decided kind. His views of

Christ's redemption-work were very precise. His belief

as to the necessity of the Holy Spirit's work was

undoubted; yet he delighted to set forth the gospel in

all its scriptural simplicity, unencumbered with

preparatory exercises and processes intended to make

the sinner "fit for receiving Christ," and fit for

having the peace of the gospel dispensed to him; and

never did he state that free gospel more freely, that

simple gospel more simply, than when, in the manifest

fulness of his heart, he wrote the above sentence, and

put it into the lips of his pilgrim:--

"IF WE BE TRULY WILLING TO HAVE IT.

HE WILL BESTOW IT UPON US FREELY."

Such a sentence shines like a star; yes, like a

star to a tempest-tossed sinner in his night of

darkness. He asks, How may I be saved? how may I be

made a worshipper? how may I become a temple? how may

I be taken into the royal priesthood? God's answer is

not, works, and pray, and wait, and get convictions,

and bring yourself under the stroke of the law; but

believe and live; believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,

and thou shalt be saved. Likest in its naked

simplicity to these divine utterances is that star-

like sentence of the Puritan dreamer. It is but

another form, in language all his own, of the

concluding message of gladness dropped from heaven, as

the great book of truth was about to be closed and

sealed:--

"WHOSOEVER WILL,

LET HIM TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY."

Too free! Too easy! Too simple! It will only

make skin-deep professors! Another gospel! So say some

whose idea of the gospel seems to be that of a work to

be done by the sinner, not of a work which Christ has

already done; whose exhortations to the inquirer are,

Wait, pray, seek, wrestle, labour on, and possibly God

may drop salvation into our lap; whose theory of a

sinner's approach to a Saviour turns all upon the

necessity of some long, laborious preliminary

seekings, repentances, convictions, terrors, by which

he is so humbled and broken, as to be at length in a

right frame for Christ to bless him, in a right

condition to be trusted with rest of soul;--whose

largest grasp of the glorious gospel extends only to

this, that it is good news for the qualified, for

those who have been ploughed deep enough and long

enough by the law.[18]

Well: go to; go to, we say to such. Away and

dispute the matter not with us, but with the Master.

Ask Him why He "received sinners" at once, without

preliminary work, or qualification, or preparation, or

delay; why He said to the hardened profligate of

Sychar, "Thou wouldst have asked, and He would have

given"; to Zaccheus, "Make haste and come down, for

today I must abide at thy house"; to the adulteress,

"Neither do I condemn thee"; to the thief upon the

cross, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise."

Upbraid Him with allowing three thousand of Jerusalem

sinners, at one bound, and under one single message,

to pass into the kingdom, instead of keeping them

"waiting at the pool," or tortured by the law into

gloomy fitness for the glad tidings: express your

astonishment that He should have set such an example

of rearing churches out of heathen idolaters in a

single day,--Corinth, Ephesus, Colosse, Thessalonica,

Philippi, without waiting for years before calling

their members "saints," or permitting them to sit down

at the table of the Lord; set up your foolishness

against His wisdom, your presumption against His

lowliness, your traditions against His commandments,

your love of darkness against His joy in light;

proclaim your amended gospel, the gospel of Galatia,

"Except ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you

nothing"; but what will be the result of those

amendments and restrictions on Christ's free gospel?

What will all this wood, and hay, and stubble come to

in the great day of the Lord? What will be thought of

all these barriers which human self-righteousness has

reared to check the speed of the flying manslayer, and

keep him from too easy and too swift an entrance into

the city of refuge, when "the breath of the Lord, like

an overflowing stream" (Isa 30:28), shall sweep these

barriers and their builders clean away.

 

 

 

FOOTNOTES

 

[1] I intended to have said something more upon this

point; but room fails me. I meant to have noticed the

Seventh of the Romans in connection with some recent

opinions. But I content myself with the following

letter, which appeared in the London Record of October

19th, to show the extreme lengths to which some are

prepared to go in advocating their tenets. Rather than

reconsider their own opinions, they will affirm that

the Apostle Paul fell from grace, went into heresy,

and that the Seventh of the Romans is the confession

of his fall and heresy. An English Clergyman thus

writes to the London Record:--

"I am surprised that in dealing with Mr.

Pearsall Smith's errors, no one, so far as I know, has

yet called attention to his tract, 'Bondage and

Liberty,' on the Seventh of Romans.

"He asserts that St. Paul 'fell from grace,' and

became entangled in the Galatian heresy! That there

may be no kind of mistake, I give his own words:--

"'But having begun in the Spirit, he had sought

to be made perfect by the activities of the flesh, the

consequences of which were that sin revived and "he

died," or lost his full communion with Christ, and

victory through faith over sin.

"'You have had now to travel along with Paul in

the Seventh of Romans, in this passage which is

manifestly the experience of a Christian, though not a

true Christian experience. After having once

exclaimed, "How shall we that are dead to sin live any

longer therein?" you have been deceived, mistaking

your own efforts to keep God's law for the walk of

faith; and the result has been that sin has been--not

conquered, but to a sad extent manifested.

"'It is this agonising experience of yours of

failure in your inward and outward walk that was

shared by Paul in this parenthesis--following his

declaration of the death of believers to sin and to

the law--to which he here limits the pronoun "I," as

the acknowledgment of how a Christian may fail, rather

than as belonging to the proper experience of a

Christian. It was this experience that made him so

zealous in warning the Galatians against legalism in

their walk. It was the agony of this "falling from

grace" and coming "under law" in his practical ways

that brought out the cry of despair, "O wretched man

that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this

death?"

"'But, brother Paul, thy agony is ended when, as

in a moment, and with a sudden joy that precludes

explanation, thou again beholdest Jesus dawning on thy

soul as a Deliverer, not only from wrath, but from

sinning. "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord."'

"As may be supposed, there is much nonsense and

confusion in the little book from which the above is

taken, but I submit whether there is not something

worse, and which calls for vigorous treatment at the

hands of faithful, sensible, Evangelical men?"

[2] 1. It is interesting to notice the way in which

the negative particle is used in the different

designations of God. He is called invisible,--He who

cannot be seen, He who cannot lie (Titus 1:2)

incorruptible (Rom 1:23; 1 Tim 1:17) He who cannot be

tempted (James 1:13): He who only hath immortality (1

Tim 6:16). In connection with the things of God, and

of Christ, we have a similar use of the same negative

particle:--Thus, "His eternal power and Godhead" (Rom

1:20); unfading (1 Peter 1:4); immutability (Heb

6:17); without repentance (Rom 11:29); undefiled (Heb

7:26); past finding out (Rom 11:33); unchangeable (Heb

7:24). These instances will illustrate the truth that

very much of what we express of God, is expressed in

the form of a contrast to the things of man.

[3] John Howe thus writes on this point, in his

treatise on "Delighting in God":--"The most excellent

portion, in whom all things that may render Him such

do concur and meet together; all desirable and

imaginable riches and fulness, together with large

bounty, flowing goodness, every way correspondent to

the wants and cravings of indigent and thirsty souls.

How infinitely delightful is it to view and enjoy Him

as our portion...every way complete and full, it being

the all-comprehensive good which is this portion, God

all-sufficient...making His boundless fulness overflow

to the replenishing of thirsty longing souls."

[4] "How pleasant to lose themselves in Him; to be

swallowed up in the overcoming sense of His boundless,

all-sufficient, everywhere flowing fulness! By this

dependence they make this fulness of God their own.

They have nothing to do but to depend; to live upon a

present self-sufficient good, which alone is enough to

replenish all desires. How can we divide the highest

pleasure, the fullest satisfaction, from this

dependence! 'Tis to live at the rate of a god; a

godlike life; a living upon immense fulness; as He

lives."--Howe's Blessedness of the Righteous, Chapter

8.

[5] "God's excellency, His wisdom, His purity and

love seemed to appear in everything; in the sun, moon,

and stars; in the clouds and blue sky; in the grass,

flowers, and trees; in the water, and all nature--

which used greatly to fix my mind."--Jonathan Edwards

[6] Literally, "dying thou shalt die,"--that is,

"thou shalt commence dying"; life with thee is at an

end. Thus man was made to live, he was made immortal;

it was sin that brought in mortality.

[7] The true Priest,--"the High Priest of the good

things to come"--stands at the gate to receive all who

come. He refuses none, however imperfect they and

their offering may be; for it is His perfection and

His perfect offering that give the right of entrance

to the sinner; He receives all comers. "Him that

cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."

[8] "The veils, which were composed of four things,

declared the four elements; for the fine linen was

proper to signify the earth, because the flax grows

out of the earth; the purple signified the sea,

because that colour is dyed by the blood of a sea

shell-fish; the blue is fit to signify the air, and

the scarlet will be an indication of fire."--Antiq. b.

iii. chap. 7. sect. 7.

[9] Dr. A. A. Bonar's Commentary on Leviticus, pp.

68, 69.

[10] In the previous verse he had spoken of the

"blood of Jesus,"--so here we understand him to say

that the veil is the body of Him whose name is Jesus;

that one name at which every knee shall bow: that one

name of which all prophecy is the testimony (Rev

19:10). In the above passage, in Philippians, it is

very noticeable that JESUS by itself should be so

specially singled out; JESUS as the special name for

worship and for worshippers. "In the name of Jesus

every knee shall bow." Of all His many names this is

the one which the Father delights to honour, and round

which the eternal adoration of heaven and earth is to

gather. It is the name of names:--the name above every

name,--JESUS.

[11] Christ's calling Peter by the name of Satan, and

thus identifying him, in what he had just been saying,

with the old tempter, carries us back to the first

promise, in which that tempter heard his own doom and

man's deliverance predicted. If Jesus did not die, if

the heel of the woman's seed were not bruised, the

first promise fell to the ground. Satan knew how much

turned upon the bruising of the heel of that seed, and

how necessary it was to the bruising of his own head.

Nothing could have more identified Peter with Satan

than the position he took up here as to the non-

necessity for his Master's death. Nicodemus did not

understand the person of the Lord; Peter did not

understand His work, nor see the necessity for His

sacrificial death.

[12] "Therefore even that which shall be born shall

be holy; it shall be called the Son of God."

[13] Dr. Owen dwells at length upon this point, the

forming of Christ's body by the Holy Spirit. "The

framing, forming, and miraculous conception of the

body of Christ, in the womb of the blessed virgin, was

the peculiar and special work of the Holy Ghost...It

was effected by an act of infinite creating power, yet

it was formed or made of the substance of the blessed

virgin."--On the Holy Spirit, b. ii. chap. 3.

[14] These are defended on the ground that they teach

certain truths. But worship is not for teaching; it is

for the taught. To multiply teaching and symbols is to

injure worship; for teaching is not worship, and

worship is not teaching.

[15] The name Father occurs but seldom in the Old

Testament; and not in the same sense as that in which

our Lord here uses it. In such places as Deuteronomy

32:6, Isaiah 63:16, 64:8, Jeremiah 31:9, the word

refers specially to Jehovah's relationship to Israel,

as head of the family; but in our Lord's words the

reference is to the great spiritual Fatherhead

inherent in His nature, as the invisible God, Jehovah,

the being of beings, God over all, head and parent of

the universe: not in the modern sense of an equal

fatherhood, into the possession of which every man is

born; but in the sense contained in the words "we are

His offspring" (Acts 17:28), and "in Him we live, and

move, and have our being."

[16] "The designation was most apt, of so excellent a

creature, to this office and use, to be immediately

sacred to Himself and His own converse: His temple and

habitation, the mansion and residence of His presence

and indwelling glory! There was nothing whereto he was

herein designed whereof His nature was not capable.

His soul was, after the required manner, receptive of

a deity; its powers were competent to their appointed

work and employment; it could entertain God by

knowledge and contemplation of His glorious

excellencies, by reverence and love, by adoration and

praise. This was the highest kind of dignity whereto

creature nature could be raised,--the most honourable

state. How high and quick an advance! This moment

nothing; the next, a being capable and full of God."--

Howe's Living Temple.

[17] In all these passages the word used signifies

the inner part or shrine of the building,--the holy

place and the holy of holies. We are the holy of

holies, where the cherubim dwelt, where Jehovah dwelt,

where He is said to "dwell between the cherubim"; or

as it really is, to "inhabit the cherubim"; the

cherubim being His habitation. Into this inner shrine

the blood was brought, but not the fire. The effects

of the fire were there, the smoking incense, but not

the fire itself; for into this sanctuary no wrath can

enter. The wrath has been expended and exhausted

outside; and this sanctuary is the abode of love and

favour; they who belong to it have been delivered from

wrath for ever. They are the monuments of exhausted

wrath,--wrath which has spent itself upon another, and

which has passed away from them for ever. I may notice

that it was into the holy place, that Judas threw the

pieces of silver,--going to the gate, and flinging

them in among the priest as they were carrying on the

service.

[18] "Satan would keep souls from believing by

persuading them that they are not yet qualified and

sufficiently fitted for Christ, and that they have not

seen themselves absolutely lost, not so much burdened

with sin as they should. And, it is to be feared, that

Satan makes use of many of God's ministers, as the old

prophet mentioned, 1 Kings 13:11, &c,. to keep off,

and drive away souls from Christ, under the notion of

preaching peremptory doctrine for Christ, and so seek

to fit men for him, as some have preached many months

together this doctrine, before they would preach

Christ at all; whereas their commission, and the

example of Christ and His disciples, was to preach

glad tidings first."--Powel, an old Puritan.

 


 



















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