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DELIVERED IN PHILADELPHIA, SEPT. 8, 1841, BEFORE THE AMERICAN BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FOR FOREIGN Missions,
By JUSTIN EDWARDS, D. D.,
THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD THE BUILDER OF HIS SPIRITUAL TEMPLE,
“JYot by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”—Zechariah iv. 6.
This was spoken by the angel of the Lord, concerning the building of the second temple. It is the explanation of a vision, which was seen by the prophet Zechariah, the object of which was, to show him, and through him, to make known to the people, a truth, which it was of great importance that they should clearly understand, and deeply ; viz. that while they must, themselves, make strenuous and persevering exertions, to build the temple; their dependence for success must be placed, not upon themselves, or upon creatures, but upon the Spirit of the Lord. This is a truth of universal application, with regard to every good work; and of fundamental importance to all o, For this reason, God takes a variety of ways to make it
own, and to impress it upon the hearts of men. And for this same reason, I invite your attention to it at this time.
The angel of the Lord came to the prophet, and awaked him, as a man is awakened out of his sleep, and said to him, What seest thou ? He looked, and lo, a candlestick, all of gold; with a bowl upon the top of it, and seven lamps thereon. He saw also, two olive trees, one on each side; and two olive branches, one from each tree, hanging over the bowl. These branches were emptying oil out of themselves, into the bowl. And from this bowl, it was carried, by seven pipes,
to the seven lamps, which were burning, with distinguished lustre,
He shall operate on the heart of the king of Persia, and incline him ... .
to favor you; on the hearts of your enemies, and keep them at a distance; on the hearts of the people, and excite them to the work; to undertake it with resolution, and to prosecute it with diligence,
amidst all the difficulties which they may be called to encounter, until . . .
it shall be completed. All this shall be done, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. Yet, in the accomplishment of this work, there must be might and power. Human might and power, with great skill and perseverance, must be exerted, or the work will not be done. Olive trees will not grow, bear fruit, and produce oil, in such a manner as to give light, without human effort. Candlesticks and lamps, bowls to receive oil, and pipes to convey it to the proper places, are not made without hands; and hands under the guidance of sound heads and hearts; dependent, indeed, upon God, but voluntarily employed in the accomplishment of that, which is represented in the ‘ Bible, and represented truly, as done by the Lord. This unfolds a
principle of vast importance to all men. Notwithstanding their
dependence on God, which is real, entire, and universal, what their hands find to do, they must do; and with their might. That might which God has given them, and for this purpose, must be voluntarily and perseveringly exerted, in accordance with certain laws, which he has established; or his Almighty power will not be exerted in their behalf. It is true, and it ought deeply to be felt, that, except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. And it is equall true, and it ought as deeply to be felt, that except men labor, according to his appointment, vain are their expectations, that he will ever build it. For he will not exert his power, except in his way. And . to experience the benefit of that power, men must take that way. His promised operations were not designed, and when correctly understood, are not adapted to supersede their efforts, but to awaken them; to give them new energy; and to crown them with glorious success. And this is an aspect of Divine operations, which should never be lost sight of; that . awakens attention, and which excites to effort, in dependence on him, of whom, and through whom, and to whom,
are all things.
The SriRrt of THE LORD THE BUILDER of His spiritual rouple.” 223 - - * **** : *** * , ... 'This was the aspect in which the subject was presented to the * mind of the prophet, and this the aspectin which he presented it to the minds of the people. And so they understood it, No sooner were they told that the Spirit of the Lord was to be the builder of the temple, than they ascended the hills and the mountains, collected their. materials, brought them on to the spot, and according td:laws by which God operates in such matters, fitted them for their places, and i. them together. , Had they not done this, they might in words ave acknowledged their dependence, and waited and prayed, and prayed and waited for the Lord, or rather against him, all their lives, and not even the foundation of their temple have been laid. Why not ? Was it not the temple of the Lord?...and had he not promised that it should be built 3 and that he would be the builder 7 And had he not decreed that this should be done, and thus shown that it was ertain 3 Yes, it was the temple of the Lord. He had declared that - it should be built, and that he would be the builder. He had decreed * : *this should be done, and made known that decree; and thus showed
. ...'... to the universe, that its accomplishment was certain.
** ... But it was not his house in any such sense, that he would build it, without them. He had not promised, or decreed any such thing; but the contrary. He had indeed said, that it should be built; not by • might, joy power, but by his Spirit; and this was true. But it : was not true in that sense, which those men put upon his words, ... " who would not work, and gave his declarations as an excuse for their neglect: who said that they had nothing to do, or that there was ... nothing which they could do; and of course, did nothing. But it - "was true in that other sense, in which God meant it; and in which * - those understood it, who were awakened by it, to inquire, each one for .* himself, Lord, what wilt thou have me to, do? and who, as God showed them their duty, were ready, in dependence on him, to do it. - And who, in this way, caused their temple to rise, and who continued their exertions, without becoming weary, till they saw it complete. And then, as a confirmation of God's truth, and a public testimony to their faith in it, brought forth the head-stone thereof, with shoutings, crying, GRACE, GRACE, UNTo IT. - Nor will the most deep and permanent conviction of entire dependence for every right view, thought, feeling, word, and action, do such persons any hurt. It will always do them great good. It will arouse them to great effort, secure untiring #. and prepare them for great success. Nor will it be difficult for such persons to see, or to feel, the perfect consistency between entire and absolute dependence on God, and perfect human freedom and accountability. That most difficult problem, which never has been, and never can be, rightly solved, by those who stand “all the day idle,” even though they say, “I go, sir,” and yet go not, these men will work out, to a perfect demonstration. They will work out, instrumentally, not only their own salvation, but the salvation also of their fellow men; while God works in them, both to will and to do, all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power; that faith which comes
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by hearing, is the gift of God, of his own operation, and which works by love, purifies the heart, aid by which, in every generation, such men have wrought orighteousness, obtained promises, out of weakness been made strong waxed valiant in fight, and overcome the flesh, and devil, and come off conquerors, and more than through him that loved them and #. himself for them. so of their labors, conflicts and triumphs, is recorded, e may be followers of them, who, through faith and patience, land; ofte: #. much tribulation, are now inheriting the promises. *Not that we should call any man, master; or follow him farther than lo. Christ, who alone is our Master; and in the doing of whose *will, we may know for ourselves the truth of God. And this knowledge which is thus gained, by being ht out, is heaven wide in its influence, from that which is ever gained by being only thought out. The one may be done in the cloister, and the man remain there till he dies. The other will carry him who has it to the high places of the field, and engage him in conflicts, not with flesh and . blood only, but with principalities and powers, with the rulers of the darkness of this world, and with spiritual wickedness in high places. And it will not suffer him to put ohis armor, till he puts o crown. And it will then lead him to proclaim, what he feels, “Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name, be the §. ;” and with the builders who brought forth the head-stone with shoutings, to cry, “GRACE, GRACE, UNTo it.” T
That temple which was built at Jerusalem, was a striking type of the spiritual temple which God has long been building, and which
will be completed at the last day. Of this temple, the apostle speaks in his Epistle to the Ephesians. In whom, speaking of Christ, he says, all the building, fitly framed together, groweth up, unto an holy temple in the Lord. . . . . is temple is the Church; that holy spiritual building, which is founded upon-the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone. It is to be composed of all true believers, who shall ever have lived, from the first morning of creation, to the last moment of time. They may not belong to the same denomination; or spend life on the same side of the wall which they have set up; but if they believe on the Son of God, and are so joined to him, as to be “one spirit,” they shall form a part of his spiritual temple. Europeans, Asiatics, Africans, Indians; all, of every age, and color, and kindred, and people, and nation, and tongue, who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, shall thus be builded together, for an eternal habitation of God, through the Spirit. The building of this temple is, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. This appears from the greatness of the work Which it was necessary to perform in order to lay the foundation; from the foundation itself; from the materials out of which the temple is to be made; and from the object, for which it is to be erected. I. From the greatness of the work which it was necessary to perform, in order to lay the foundation, it appears, that the Spirit of the