Images de page

temple which is the habitation of God through the Spirit.

Having thus reviewed the introductory part of our collect, we proceed to consider the appropriate petition which is built thereon. “ Grant us to be so joined together in unity of “ spirit by the doctrine of the apostles and pro

phets, that we may be made an holy temple, “ acceptable unto thee through Jesus Christ

our Lord,

In the unity and symmetry of its parts consiste the beauty and strength of every building. It is in vain that the foundation is laid on a rock, unless the superstructure be firmly united to that foundation, and its stones properly cemented to each other. The Apostle therefore says, in the verse which follows the introduction of our collect, “In Jesus Christ, the chief corner-stone, « all the building, fitly framed together, groweth “ unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom,” he adds, addressing himself to the Ephesians, “ Ye also are builded together, for an habita“ tion of God, through the Spirit.” (Eph. ii. 20–22.)

Now when we pray that we may be “joined “ together in unity of spirit" by the prophetic and apostolic doctrine, we implore a communication of grace that we may be united firmly to Christ by faith, and to one another in love. The first object of concern is, that we may be established on Christ as our foundation. To have clear views of the nature and necessity of His mediatorial work, and to have the heart built up in Him, so as to be "filled with joya " and peace in believing," is the ardent desire of every true member of the Christian church for himself and for all his fellow worshippers. VOL. III.

2 G

[ocr errors]

That many among us are not united to Christ by faith, is a subject of reasonable fear and of charitable jealousy to the genuine Christian. And that he himself needs more grace for his further establishment in the truth, is the result of full conviction. Whether therefore we legard ourselves or others, the propriety of this petition is manifest. Grace for the promotion of “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, is the second object of our prayer. This is connected with our union to Christ, and the inva. riable result of faith in Him; so that if any man fancy himself to be a member of the church, who is not endeavouring to maintain this temper of mind, he deceives himself and the truth is “ not in bim." He is not built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. The prevalency of this disposition is essential to the welfare of the church, if not to its existence: for as the stones of a building mutually support and strengthen each other, so it is also in the church of Christ. The living stones are the means of mutual anion to the sure foundation. (Eph. iv. 16.)

Whether the fervent use of this prayer be not peculiarly necessary in the present day, let those judge who have duly contemplated the present state of the Christian church. Let the heresies which distract her, the differences of opinion which prevail on the most important points, be considered. Let the spirit of schism which agitates and weakens her be also remembered. And surely it will appear necessary to pray that we may be joined together in unity of spirit. Pinks and lissures in a building be marks of

: how infirm is the state of Christianity

But blessed be God, though the

external part of the edifice be thus endangered, there is still a people among us, who have “one " Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and “ Father of all, who is above all, and through « all, and in them all.” There are a few who cleave to Christ in faith, and to one another in love. But even among these there is a need of more grace.

For as a severe frost injures the mortar, by which the stones of material buildings are united; so the disorganizing spirit of the present day has weakened the union which ought to subsist among real Christians, between ministers and their people, and the people themselves. Too little importance is attached by general opinion to unity and charity in the church of Christ. May God in His mercy look on the church of England, and unite her members more closely in sentiment, in affection, and in practice!

The last thing to be considered is the use to which this building is appropriated, the end for which it is designed. Judging from the choice of its foundation, the character of its architect, the costly nature of its materials, the labour expended on its construction, and the time which its erection has already occupied, we may infer that its use is very important, its object grand and magnificent. And this inference will prove to be just. For the building thus gradually erected, “groweth unto an holy temple in the " Lord.” The fabrick is reared for the purpose of becoming « an babitation of God through • the Spirit.”.

- Thus saith the Lord, The hea“ ven is my throne, and the earth is my foot• stool: where is the house, that ye build unto “ me? and where is the place of my rest? For " all those things hath my hand made, and all my

[ocr errors]

“ those things have been, saith the Lord: but “to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at

word.” (Is. lxvi. 1, 2. Comp. Acts vii. 48, 49.) True believers are “the temple of the

living God, as God hath said, I will dwell in “ them and walk in them; and I will be their “ God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Cor. vi. 16.)

Referring to this figurative view of the church's felicity, we pray " that we may be made a

“ “ holy temple, acceptable unto God through “ Jesus Christ our Lord." We earnestly implore that, as the typical temple at Jerusalem was honoured with the Shekinah which abode in the holy of holies, so we may be indulged with the Divine presence among us, now in our present state, in proportion to our capacity of receiving it, and more fully hereafter when that capacity shall be enlarged. We pray that, as sweet incense continually ascended from the golden altar in the material sanctuary; so the incense of praise may evermore ascend from the temple of our hearts: and that, as the temple and its various services were acceptable to God through the typical sacrifices which were therein offered; so we and our services may be also

acceptable to Him through Jesus Christ our 66 Lord.”

O how transcendent is that honour to which believers are destined! How vast the felicity which is prepared for them, and of which they now enjoy the foretaste! Well may they exclaim with the antient church, in relation to their God, “How great is His goodness! how great

, “ is His beauty!" Whatever be our present attainments, let us acknowledge that we are utterly

unworthy of the inestimable favour which is conferred on us, of being “an habitation of

, “ God through the Spirit;" and let us labour to acquire a greater meetness for this holy and happy relation to Him. Let us stand firm on our foundation; let us cleave to one another; let us prize the instituted means of grace; let us, in all humility, thankfully keep our stations in the church, whatever they be; let us beware of schism; let us cultivate unity; and let us adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. Soon will the top-stone be placed on the Divinelyerected edifice with shoutings, “ Grace, Grace unto it.” The temple will be complete. God will be eternally honoured in it, while the living stones that compose it, shall continually ascribe glory, honour and blessing to its Divine Founder and Architect throughout eternity.

« PrécédentContinuer »