One Greater Than the Temple

   (No. 1275)

   Delivered on Lord's-Day Morning, January 23rd, 1876, by


   At the [5]Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

   "But I say unto you, that in this place is one greater than the
   temple." Matthew 12:6

   OUR LORD INTENDED, of course, to assert that he himself was greater
   than the temple, but he used the most modest form of putting it. When
   in the interests of truth he is obliged to speak of himself his
   meekness and lowliness are always apparent in the mode in which he
   makes the personal allusion, and every one can see that he does not
   seek his own glory, or desire the praise of man. In the instance before
   us he says, "In this place is one," or, as some read it, "is something
   greater than the temple." He who is truly meek and lowly is not afraid
   to speak the truth about himself, for he has no jealousy about his
   reputation for humility, and is quite willing to be thought proud by
   the ungenerous, for he knows that he only speaks of himself in order to
   glorify God or promote truth. There is a native peculiarity in true
   lowliness which shows itself in the very form of its utterances, and
   wards off the imputation of boasting.

   We do not find the passage now before us in any other gospel but that
   of Matthew. It is so important, so sententious, and withal must have
   been so startling to those who heard it, that we should not have been
   astonished if we had found it in all the four evangelists. Only Matthew
   records it, and he most fittingly, since he is in some respects the
   evangelist of the Hebrews; for, as you know, he began his book by
   saying, "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David,
   the son of Abraham," and he evidently adapted his gospel to the Jews.
   As the Jews would be the last to receive teaching which in any way
   lowered the temple, it is all the more remarkable that Matthew inserted
   our Lord's words in the gospel which he designed to be read by them.
   But, though the words occur but once, we must not, therefore, regard
   them as being any the less weighty, for the sentence comes with a
   preface which shows the force our Lord intends to throw into it. The
   declaration is prefaced by "I say unto you." Here is the authority
   before which we all bow혰 Jesus says it. He does not merely proclaim the
   truth, but he sets his personal stamp and royal seal upon it. "I say
   unto you"혰 I who cannot lie, who speak the things which I have received
   of my Father, upon whom the Spirit of God rests without measure,혰 I say
   unto you. He speaks as one having authority, and not as the scribes;
   with a verily, verily of certainty he teaches, and therefore let us
   unquestionably accept his declaration, "I say unto you, that in this
   place is one greater than the temple."

   Let us now meditate upon this truth, first observing the fact that our
   Lord is greater than the temple; secondly, remarking that he ought to
   be so regarded; and, thirdly, suggesting and urging home some few
   reflections which arise out of the subject.

   manifestly because he is God, "God over all, blessed for ever." He who
   dwells in the house is greater than the house in which he dwells, so
   that as God our Lord Jesus is greater than the temple. It needs no
   arguing that it must be so: the divine must be infinitely greater than
   anything which is of human workmanship; the self-existent must
   infinitely excel the noblest of created things. The temple was many
   years in building. Its huge stones were quarried with enormous labor
   and its cedar beams were shaped and carved with matchless skill; and
   though no hammer or tool of iron was used upon the spot, yet by the
   strength of men were the huge stones laid each one in its place. It
   stood upon Zion a thing of beauty and a joy for ever, but still a work
   of men's hands, a creation of human strength and human wisdom. Not thus
   is it with the Christ of God. Of him we may truly say, "From
   everlasting to everlasting thou art God." "And Thou, Lord, in the
   beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are
   the works of thine hands." The temple being created, and having a
   beginning was a thing of time, and therefore had an end. The things
   which are seen, whether they be temples or taverns, are temporal, and
   must pass away. In due time the firebrand in the hand of the Roman
   soldier reduces to ashes a building which seemed as lasting as the rock
   upon which it stood. Go ye now to the place where once Zion stood, and
   mark well how the glory is departed, even as it departed from Shiloh of
   old. Deep down in the earth the base of the mighty arch which formed
   the ascent to the house of the Lord has been uncovered from the
   mountain of ruins, but scarce else will you find one stone left upon
   another which has not been thrown down. Though these masses of marble
   were so huge that it is an ordinary circumstance to find a stone
   twenty-four feet in length and nine feet in breadth, and sometimes they
   are even found forty feet in length, weighing as much as one hundred
   tons, yet have they been flung from the seats as stones are cast upon
   the king's highway. Thus has the temple disappeared, and thus shall all
   creation pass away, but thou O Lord abidest". "They shall perish; but
   thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a
   vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou
   art the same, and thy years shall not fail."

   The temple was no rival of Jehovah, but derived all its glory from his
   deigning to reveal himself therein. "Exceeding magnifical" as it was,
   it was far below the divine greatness, and only worthy to be called his
   footstool. If we were to dwell on any one of the attributes of his
   Godhead, it would be more and more clear that Christ is greater than
   the temple, but the point is one which none of us doubt. After all, the
   temple was but a symbol, and Jesus is the substance; it was but the
   shadow of which he is the reality. Albeit that every Hebrew heart
   leaped for joy when it thought of the tabernacles of the Lord of Hosts,
   and that this day every Jewish spirit laments the departed glories of
   Zion, yet was the holy and beautiful house a figure of good things to
   come, and not the very image of the covenant blessings. It was not
   essential to the world's well being, for lo! its disappearance has
   brought light and life to the Gentiles. It is not needful to true
   religion now, for the time is come when they that worship Jehovah adore
   him in no consecrated shrines, but worship him in spirit and in truth.
   But our Lord Jesus is truth and substance. He is essential to our light
   and life, and could he be taken from us earth's hope would be quenched
   for ever. Emmanuel, God with us, thou art greater than the temple!

   This fact it was necessary for our Lord to mention, in order to justify
   his disciples in having rubbed ears of corn together to eat on the
   Sabbath day. He said, "the priests in the sanctuary profane the
   Sabbath, and are blameless." They were engaged in the labors of
   sacrifice, and service all through the Sabbath-day, yet nobody accused
   them of breaking the law of the Sabbath. Why? Because the authority of
   the temple exempted its servants from the letter of the law. "But,"
   saith our Lord, "I am greater than the temple, therefore, surely I have
   power to allow my servants who are about my business to refresh
   themselves with food now that they are hungry, and since I have given
   them my sanction to exercise the little labor involved in rubbing out a
   few grains of wheat, they are beyond all censure. If the sanction of
   the temple allows the greater labor, much more shall the sanction of
   one who is greater than the temple allow the less. As the Son of God,
   Christ is under no law. As man he has kept the law, and honored it for
   our sakes, because he stood as our surety and our substitute; but he
   himself in the essence of his nature is the law maker, and above all
   law. Who shall arraign the eternal Son, and call the Judge of all the
   earth to account? "Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker. Let the
   potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth."

   But now we must pass on to other meanings, and view our Lord in his
   blessed personality as the Son of man as well as the Son of God. He is
   greater than the temple, for he is a more glorious enshrinement of
   Deity. The temple was great above all buildings because it was the
   house of God, but it was only so in a measure, for the Eternal is not
   to be contained within walls and curtains. "Howbeit," says Stephen,
   "the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the
   prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house
   will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath
   not my hand made all these things?" How remarkably Stephen does, as it
   were, pass over the temple with a mere word; he merely mentions it in a
   sentence, "But Solomon built him a house," as if no stress needed to be
   laid upon the circumstance. It is remarkable that from the moment the
   temple was built true religion in Israel began to decline, and the
   abominable shrines of heathen idols were set up in the holy land. The
   glory of even an allowed ritualism is fatal to spiritual religion. From
   a pompous worship of the true to the worship of the false the step is
   very easy. When God dwelt in the tent, in the days of David, religion
   nourished far better than in the days when the ark abode in a great
   house garnished with precious stones for beauty, and overlaid with pure
   gold. Still within the holy of holies the Lord peculiarly revealed
   himself, and at the one temple upon Zion sacrifices and offerings were
   presented, for God was there. The presence of God, as you know, in the
   temple and the tabernacle was known by the shining of the bright light
   called the Shekinah between the wings of the cherubim over the ark of
   the covenant. We often forget that the presence of God in the most holy
   place was a matter of faith to all but the high priest. Once in the
   year the high priest went within the awful veil, but we do not know
   that even he ever dared to look upon the blaze of splendor. God
   dwelleth in light that no man may approach unto. The smoke of the
   incense from the priest's censer was needed partly to veil the
   exceeding glory of the divine presence, lest even those chosen eyes
   should suffer blindness. No one else went into the hallowed shrine, and
   only he once in the year. That symbolical pavilion of Jehovah is not
   for a moment to be compared with our Lord Jesus, who is the true
   dwelling-place of the Godhead, for "in him dwelleth all the fullness of
   the Godhead bodily." What a masterly sentence that is! None but the
   Holy Ghost could surely have compacted words into such a sentence,혰 "In
   him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." "God was in
   Christ, reconciling the world unto himself." The manifestation of the
   Godhead in Christ is not unapproachable, for we may freely come to
   Jesus: a voice out of the excellent glory bids us come boldly unto the
   throne of the heavenly grace. We cannot come too often, nor be too long
   in our approaches unto Jesus, the true mercy-seat. The atonement has
   been offered, and the veil of the temple, that is to say, the flesh of
   Christ, has been rent, and now we may approach the Godhead in Christ
   Jesus without trembling. Verily, as I think of God, incarnate God in
   Jesus Christ, and dwelling among the sons of men, I feel how true it
   is, "In this place is one greater than the temple."

   Another sense of the words is this혰 Our Lord is a fuller revelation of
   truth than the temple ever was. The temple taught a thousand truths of
   which we cannot now speak particularly. To the instructed Israelite
   there was a wealth of meaning about each court of the temple, and every
   one of its golden vessels. Not a ceremony was without its measure of
   instruction. If the Spirit of God opened up the types of the holy and
   beautiful house to him, the Israelite must have had a very clear
   intimation of the good things to come. Still there was nothing in the
   temple but the type: the substance was not there. The blood of bulls
   and goats was there, but not the atonement that taketh away sin. The
   smoke of the holy incense from the golden censor was there, but not the
   sweet merits of the great law-fulfiller. The seven-branched candlestick
   was there, but the Spirit of God was not yet given. The shewbread stood
   on the holy table, but food for souls could not be found in the finest
   of the wheat. The temple had but the types; and Christ is greater than
   the temple because in him we have the realities, or, as Paul calls
   them, "the very image of the things." "The figure for the time then
   present" had its uses, but it is by no means comparable to the actual
   covenant blessing. The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came
   by Jesus Christ. There were some truths, however, and these among the
   most precious, which the temple did not teach at all. I do not know,
   for instance, where we can read adoption in the symbols of the temple,
   or the great truth of our union with Jesus, and other priceless
   doctrines which cluster around the cross and the resurrection; but in
   the person of Jesus we read the exceeding riches of divine grace, and
   see by faith the inexhaustible treasures of the covenant. In Jesus we
   see at once "our Kinsman and our God." In the person of Christ we read
   the infinite eternal love of God towards his own redeemed ones, and the
   intimate intercourse which this love has established between God and
   man. Glimpses of this the temple may perhaps have given, for it did
   intimate that the Lord would dwell among his people, but only to eyes
   anointed seven times with the eye salve would these high mysterious
   doctrines have been visible. The fundamental truths of the everlasting
   gospel are all to be seen in Jesus Christ by the wayfaring man, and the
   more he is studied the more plainly do these matchless truths shine
   forth. God has fully revealed himself in his Son. There is in fact no
   wisdom needful to our soul's welfare but that which shines forth in
   him, and nothing worth the learning but that which the Spirit of God
   teaches us concerning him, for he is to the full "the wisdom of God."
   Know Christ and you know the Father. Does he not himself say, "he that
   hath seen me hath seen the Father"?

   Again, the Redeemer is greater than the temple, because he is a more
   abiding evidence of divine favor. God for ever dwells in Christ Jesus,
   and this is the eternal sign of his favor to his people. There were
   some things in the first temple which were rich tokens of good to
   Israel, but none of these were in the temple to which our Lord pointed
   when he uttered these words. Remember, he looked at Herod's temple, the
   temple which you may call the second, but which in some respects was
   more truly a third temple. In Solomon's temple there were four precious
   things which were absent in Christ's day. First there was the ark of
   the covenant, which precious chest was above all other things the token
   of Israel's high relationship to God, and the assurance of the Lord's
   grace to his covenanted people. The ark was lost at the Babylonian
   destruction of the city, and thus the Holy of Holies lost its most
   sacred piece of furniture: the throne of the great King was gone. There
   were no wings of cherubim above the mercy-seat of pure gold, no tables
   of stone engraved by the divine hand were within the golden coffer, and
   Aaron's rod that budded and the pot of manna were both gone. Now, in
   our blessed Lord you find the covenant itself and all that it contains,
   for thus saith the Lord, "Behold, I have given him for a witness to the
   people, a leader and commander to the people." His blood is "the blood
   of the everlasting covenant," and he himself is given for "a covenant
   of the people, for a light of the Gentiles," (Isaiah 42:6.). Jesus
   Christ is the covenant between God and his redeemed, he is its
   substance, its seal, its surety, its messenger, its all. In our Lord we
   see the fullness of covenanted blessing. His are the covering wings
   beneath which we dwell in safety; and his is the propitiatory, or
   mercy-seat, whereby we draw near to God. In him we see the tables of
   the law honored and fulfilled, priestly authority exercised with a
   living and fruit-bearing scepter, and heavenly food laid up for the
   chosen people. It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness
   dwell, and all the promises are yea and amen in him. Thus in Jesus we
   find what the temple had lost.

   The second temple also lacked the Shekinah. The throne being gone, the
   symbol of the royal presence departed too. The supernatural light did
   not shine forth within the holy place in Herod's temple. The glory had
   departed, or at least that particular form of it, and though the second
   temple became more glorious than the first because the Messiah himself
   appeared within it, yet it missed that symbolic splendor of which the
   Israelite was wont to say, "Thou that dwellest between the cherubim
   shine forth." But in our Lord Jesus we may always see the brightness of
   the Father's glory, the light of Jehovah's smile. Around his brow
   abides the light of everlasting love. Have you not seen the light of
   the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ?

   They had lost also from the second temple the Urim and the Thummim.
   Precisely what the Urim and the Thummim may have been we do not know,
   but this peculiar mystery of blessing had a connection with the
   breastplate and with the high priest who wore it, so that when men went
   up to the temple to inquire, they received answers as from the sacred
   oracle, and whatsoever cases were spread before the Lord, an answer was
   given by the high priest, through the lights and perfections, or the
   Urim and Thummim with which the priest was girded. That was lost also
   after the Babylonian captivity. But in Jesus Christ the lights and
   perfection always abide, and if any man would know anything, let him
   learn of him, for he by the Eternal Spirit still guides his children
   into all truth, solves their difficulties, removes their doubts, and
   comforts their hearts, giving to them still light and perfection, each
   one according to their measure as he is able to bear it now, and
   preparing for each one the unclouded light and the spotless perfection
   of eternal glory.

   The second temple had also lost the sacred fire. You remember when the
   temple was opened the fire came down and consumed the sacrifice,혰 a
   fire from heaven, which fire was carefully watched both night and day,
   and always fed with the prescribed fuel, if indeed it needed to be fed
   at all. This the Jews had no longer, and they were compelled to use
   other fire to burn upon the altar of God, fire which they had probably
   consecrated by rites and ceremonies, but which was not the same flame
   which had actually descended from heaven. Behold, beloved, how far our
   Lord Jesus is greater than the temple, for this day is that word
   fulfilled in your ears혰 "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and
   with fire." He has given to his church now to be immersed in the fiery
   element of his Spirit. She dwells in the everlasting burnings of the
   divine power, the Lord himself has exalted her to this. Now are her
   lamps kindled by flame from heaven and her sacrifices are consumed by
   consecrated flames, while, around, that same Spirit is a wall of fire
   to preserve the chosen from their enemies. In the perpetual baptism of
   the Holy Ghost the saints find power and life. So that everything which
   of old was regarded as a special token of God's love to Israel, though
   missing from the second temple, is in reality to be found in Jesus
   Christ our Lord, and so he is greater than the temple.

   Furthermore, he is greater than the temple, because he is a more sure
   place of consolation. Brethren, when a guilty conscience wished for
   relief the man in the olden times went up to the temple and presented
   his sin offering; but you and I find a more effectual sin offering in
   our crucified Lord whenever our soul is burdened, for by it we are in
   very deed cleansed from sin. The Jew was not really cleansed, but only
   typically; ours is an actual and abiding deliverance from sin, its
   guilt, and its defilement. We have no more consciousness of it when the
   blood of Jesus Christ is applied to our souls. Oh, come ye evermore, ye
   burdened ones, to Christ's body as to a temple, and see your sin put
   away by his finished atonement, and then go your way comforted. The
   Israelites were wont to go to the temple in time of trouble to make
   supplication: it is very pleasant to think of heart-broken Hannah
   standing in the tabernacle before the Lord pouring out her silent
   complaint. Come, beloved, you too may speak in your heart unto the Lord
   whenever you will, and you will be heard. No Eli is near to judge you
   harshly and rebuke you sharply, but a better priest is at hand to
   sympathise with you, for he himself is touched with a feeling of our
   infirmity. Fear not, you shall obtain an answer of peace, and the
   blessing given shall bear the sweet name of Samuel, because you asked
   it of the Lord. To Jesus you may come as to the temple, when like
   Hezekiah you are made to smart by a blasphemous letter, or any other
   oppression: here you may spread the matter before the Lord with a
   certainty that the Lord, who is greater than the temple, will give you
   an answer of peace in reference to the trial which you leave in his
   hands. No doubt some went to the temple without faith in the spiritual
   part of the matter, and so came away unconsoled; but you, coming to
   Jesus Christ, with your spirit taught of God, shall find sure
   consolation in him.

   Only once more, our Lord is greater than the temple because he is a
   more glorious center of worship. Towards the temple all the Israelites
   prayed. Daniel prayed with his window opened towards Jerusalem, and the
   scattered in every land turned towards that point of the compass where
   Jerusalem was situated, and so they made supplication. To-day not Jews
   alone but Gentiles, men of every race, speaking every language under
   heaven, turn towards thee, "thou great Redeemer," the true temple of
   the living God. Myriads redeemed by blood in heaven, and multitudes
   redeemed by blood on earth, all make the Christ of God the center of
   their perpetual adoration. The day shall come when all kings shall bow
   before him, and all nations shall call him blessed. To him every knee
   shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that he is God to the glory
   of God the Father. Brethren, is not it sweet to think of Jesus as being
   at this very moment the central point to which all devout believers
   turn their eyes? Let the Mohammedan have his Keblah, and the Jew his
   temple, as for us we turn our eyes to the risen Savior, and with all
   the saints we offer prayer to God through him. Through him both Jews
   and Gentiles have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

   II. Now, secondly, and briefly, JESUS OUGHT TO BE REGARDED AS GREATER

   We ought to think of him then with greater joy than even the Jew did of
   the holy and beautiful house. The eighty-fourth Psalm shows us how the
   king of Israel loved the house of the Lord. He cries, "How amiable are
   thy tabernacles O Lord of hosts." But oh, my soul, how amiable is
   Christ! How altogether lovely is thy Redeemer and thy God. If the
   devout Israelite could say, "I was glad when they said unto me, let us
   go into the house of the Lord," and if at the sight of the temple he
   cried, "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount
   Zion," how ought our heart to exult at the very thought of Jesus, our
   incarnate God! What intense pleasure, what rapture it ought to cause us
   to think that God in very deed does dwell among men in the person of
   his well-beloved Son! I wonder we are not carried away into
   extravagances of delight at this thought, and that we do not become
   like them that dream. I marvel that we are so cold and chill when we
   have before us a fact which might make angelic hearts thrill with
   wonder. God incarnate! God my kinsman! Bone of my bone, and flesh of my
   flesh! Surely if we were to dance as David did before the ark, we might
   scarcely need to excuse ourselves to the heartless Michals who would
   ridicule our enthusiasm. Oh, the bliss of knowing that God is in Christ

   We ought also to consider our Lord with greater wonder than that with
   which men surveyed the temple. As I have already said, the temple was a
   great marvel, and would be so even now if it were still standing. Those
   huge stones were so well prepared by art, and were themselves so
   massive, that they did not need to be cemented together, and they
   fitted so closely that the thinnest knife could not be inserted between
   them, so polished and so compact were they. The house itself abounded
   with gold, silver, and precious stones; it was a treasury as well as a
   temple. For size it was remarkable too, if we consider the entire range
   of the buildings attached to it. The level space within which the
   actual temple stood is said to have been about one thousand feet square
   and it is asserted that it would have contained twice as many people as
   the huge Colosseum at Rome. The actual temple was but a small building
   comparatively, but its appurtenances and Solomon's porch, which
   surrounded the square on which it stood, made up a great mass of
   building, and the magnificent bridge which joined the lone hill to the
   rest of Jerusalem was a marvel of architecture; Solomon's ascent by
   which he went up to the house of the Lord was one of the sights which
   quite overcame the queen of Sheba. The brightness of the white marble,
   and the abundance of gold must have made it a sight to gaze upon with
   tears in one's eyes to think that man could erect such a house, and
   that it should be for the true God. I do not wonder at all that men
   were bidden to go round about her, tell the towers thereof, mark well
   her bulwarks, and consider her palaces. Neither are we astonished that
   invaders quailed before the strength of her defences, "They saw it, and
   so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away." The like of
   this temple was not to be seen on the face of the earth: neither the
   pyramids of Egypt, nor the piles of Nineveh, nor the towers of Babylon,
   could rival the temple of the living God at Jerusalem: but, my
   brethren, think of Jesus and you will wonder more. What are the huge
   stones? What are the delicate carvings, and what the cedar, and what
   the overlayings of gold, and what the veil of fine twined linen, and
   what all the gorgeous pomp of the ceremonials compared with God, the
   everlasting God, veiled in human flesh? Wonder, my brethren, wonder,
   bow low and adore. "Without controversy great is the mystery of
   godliness. God was manifest in the flesh."

   Being greater than the temple our Lord is to be visited with greater
   frequency. The males of Israel were to go up to the temple three tines
   in a year. "Blessed are they that dwell in thy house," says David: for
   they would be there always. Oh, my brethren, you may enjoy the
   happiness of these blessed ones, and dwell in Jesus always. You may
   come up to the Lord Jesus whensoever you will. All days are appointed
   feasts with him. You need not wait for the new moons or the Sabbaths,
   you may resort to him at all times. We that have believed do enter into
   a perpetual Sabbath, in which we may continually worship the Most High
   in the person of Christ.

   Let us also reverence him with still greater solemnity. The devout Jews
   put off their shoes from off their feet when they entered the temple
   enclosure. True, in our Lord's day, much of this solemnity had been
   forgotten and they bought and sold within the great enclosure around
   the temple the beasts and birds that were necessary for sacrifice; but
   as a rule the Jews always treated the temple with profound respect.
   With what reverence shall we worship our Lord Jesus? Let us never speak
   lightly nor think lightly of him, but may our inmost spirits worship
   him as the eternal God.

   Let us honor him also with higher service. The service of the temple
   was full of pomp and gorgeous ceremonies, and kings brought their
   treasures there. With what assiduity did David store up his gold and
   silver to build the house, and with what skill did Solomon carry out
   the details of that mighty piece of architecture. Come ye and worship
   Christ after that fashion. Bring him the calves of your lips, bring him
   your body, soul and spirit, as a living sacrifice; yea bring him your
   gold and silver and your substance for he is greater than the temple
   and deserves larger gifts and higher consecration than the temple had
   from its most ardent lovers. Surely I need not argue the point, for you
   who love him know that you can never do enough for him.

   So, too, he ought to be sought after with more vehement desire if he be
   greater than the temple. David said he "longed, yea even panted for the
   courts of the Lord." With what longings and partings ought we to long
   for Christ! In answer to her Lord's promise to come again the church
   cries, "Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus." We ought to long more for
   the second advent of our Lord; especially ought we, if we mourn his
   absence from our own souls, never to rest until he reveals himself to
   us again. Oh, ye redeemed ones, love him so that you can no more live
   without his smile than the wife can live without her husband's love;
   and long ye for fellowship with him as the bride for the wedding day.

   Set your hearts upon him, and hunger and thirst after him. The Jew
   pined to visit Mount Zion, and with such pinings I bid you long for
   Jesus and for the time when you shall see him face to face.

   III. Now, we have to spend a few minutes in urging home one or two
   PRACTICAL REFLECTIONS which arise out of this subject.

   And the first is this: how carefully should the laws of Jesus Christ be
   observed. I believe that when you entered the temple by passing through
   the Beautiful Gate you saw a notice that worshippers should pass in on
   the right hand, and that afterwards they were to pass out on the left.
   I am quite sure that if the temple now stood, and any one of us could
   make a journey to Jerusalem we should be very careful to observe every
   order of the sanctuary, and if we found the porter at the gate said
   "you must take off your shoes," we should with gladness remove them, or
   if he bade us wash we would gladly enter the bath. Knowing that God
   dwelt there, had we been Israelites we should have been very attentive
   to every observance required of the law. Now, brethren, let us be
   equally attentive to all the laws of Christ, for he is greater than the
   temple. Never trifle with his commands, nor tamper with them. Remember,
   if you break one of the least of his commandments, and teach men so,
   you will be least in the kingdom of God. He is very gracious, and
   forgives, but still disobedience brings injury to our own souls. I
   beseech all Christians to search the Scriptures and see what Christ's
   mind is upon every moot point, whether it be baptism or church
   government, and when you know his will carry it out. Do not say of any
   precept, "That is non-essential," for everything that Jesus bids you do
   is essential to the perfection of your obedience. If you say it is not
   essential to salvation I am compelled to rebuke you. What, are you so
   selfish that you only think about your own salvation? and because you
   are saved will you kick against your Savior and say, "I do not care to
   do this because I can be saved even if I neglect it." This is not the
   spirit of a child of God. I pray you, dear friends, do what I anxiously
   wish to do myself, follow the Lord fully, and go step by step where he
   would have you go, for if you would obey temple rules much more should
   you obey the rules of Christ.

   The next reflection is how much more ought we to value Christ than any
   outward ordinance. It is not always that all Christians do this. There
   is a dear brother who loves Christ, and I can see Christ in him, I am
   sure I can; if I know anything about Christ at all in my own soul I see
   that he knows him too. Very well: but then he does not belong to my
   church! It is a pity; he ought to be as right as I am, and I wish he
   knew better. But at the same time his love to Christ is more to be
   esteemed than his correctness in outward things, for Christ is greater
   than the temple. I am not going to quarrel with any brother in Christ
   because he is somewhat in error about external ordinances, for he has
   the spirit if not the letter of the matter. I wish he had been baptized
   with water, but I see he is baptized with the Holy Ghost, and therefore
   he is my brother. I wish that he would observe the water baptism
   because Christ bids him, but still if he does not I am glad that his
   Master has given him the Holy Spirit, and I rejoice to own that he has
   the vital matter. Perhaps he does not come to the Lord's Supper, and
   does not believe in it. I am very sorry for him, for he loses a great
   privilege, but if I see that he has communion with Christ I know that
   Christ is greater than the temple, and that inward communion is greater
   than the external sign. Hence it happens that if we see Christ in
   persons with whose theology we do not agree, and whose forms of Church
   government we cannot commend, we must set the Christ within above the
   outward forms, and receive the brother still. The brother is wrong, but
   if we see the Lord in him, let us love him, for Christ is greater than
   the temple. We dare not exalt any outward ordinance above Christ, as
   the test of a man's Christianity. We would die for the defense of those
   outward ordinances which Christ commands, but for all that the Lord
   himself is greater than the ordinance, and we love all the members of
   his mystical body.

   Another reflection is this: how much more important it is for you that
   you should go to Christ than that you should go to any place which you
   suppose to be the house of God. How many times from this pulpit have we
   disclaimed all idea that this particular building has any sanctity
   about it. We know that God dwelleth not in temples made with hands, yet
   there may be some of you who come here very regularly, who have great
   respect for the place. If you did not go to any place of worship you
   would think yourselves very bad, and so you would be. If you never went
   on the Lord's day to the worship of God at all you would certainly be
   keeping yourselves out of the place where you may hope that God will
   bless you. But is it not a strange thing that you would not like to
   stop away from the temple, but you stop away from Christ, and while you
   go up to the outward sanctuary to the real Christ you have never gone.
   I am sure you would feel ashamed if anybody were able to say of you
   "There is a man here who has not been to a place of worship for twelve
   months." You would look down upon a man of whom that could be said.
   Yes, but if there be any reasons for coming to what you think the
   temple, how many more reasons are there for coming to Christ: and if
   you would think it wrong to stop away from the public place of worship
   for twelve months, how much more wrong must it be to stop away from
   Jesus all your life; but you have done so. Will you please to think of

   Now, had you gone to the temple, you would have felt towards it very
   great respect and reverence. And when you come to the outward place of
   worship, you are very attentive, and respectful to the place혰 let me
   ask you, have you been respectful to Christ? How is it that you live
   without faith in him? No prayer is offered by you to him, you do not
   accept the great salvation which he is prepared to give. Practically,
   you despise him, and turn your backs upon him. You would not do so to
   the temple, why do you do so to Christ? Oh, that you unconverted ones
   knew the uses of Christ. Do you remember what Joab did when Solomon was
   provoked to slay him. Joab fled, and though he had no right to go into
   the temple, yet he felt it was a case of necessity, and hoping to save
   his life he rushed up to the altar, and held by the altar's horn.
   Benaiah came to him with a sword, and said, "Come forth," and what did
   Joab say? "Nay," he said, "but I will die here;" and Benaiah had to go
   back and ask Solomon, "What is to be done?" and Solomon said. "Do as he
   hath said," and so he slew him right against the altar. Now, if you
   come to Christ, though the avenger of blood is after you, you will be
   safe. He may come to you and say, "Come forth," but you will reply, "I
   will die here." You cannot die there, for he shall hide thee in the
   secret of his pavilion, in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide
   thee, and with thy hand upon the blood-stained horn no Benaiah, and no
   devil, and no destroying angel can touch thee. Sinner, it is your only
   hope. You will be lost for ever, the sword shall pierce through your
   soul to your everlasting destruction; but fly now unto Christ the
   temple, and lay hold upon the altar's horn, and let this be on your

   "I can but perish if I go,
   I am resolved to try;
   For if I stay away I know
   I must for ever die."
   "But if I die with mercy sought,
   When I've this altar tried,
   This were to die, delightful thought,
   As sinner never died."

   By faith, this morning, I put my hand upon the altar's horn. All my
   hope, dread Sovereign, lies in the blood of thy dear Son. Brethren in
   Christ, let us all lay our hands there once again. Poor sinner, if you
   have never done this before do it now, and say in your heart,

   "My faith doth lay her hand
   Upon that altar's horn,
   And see my bleeding Lord at hand
   Who all my sin has borne."

   Christ is greater than the temple, may his great benediction rest upon
   you. Amen.


   HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"혰 84 (Song II.), 820, 427.