« AnteriorContinuar »
mation of good tidings did not of itself make the temple unholy. But the spirit of a mercenary syndicate, sharing its unhallowed gains with the priests for the sake of worldly barter and private gain, made the house of God a den of thieves. From such a spirit let us keep the temple of God forever free.
But if the house of God should be kept free from contamination and greed, much more must the people of God, who are the real Church. The world reads the Bible but little, but it is a close student of the lives of professing Christians. Judgment begins at the house of God,—the judgment of the world, and the judgment of God. Those are solemn lines of Kipling's, reminding the civilized races how they represent to the heathen world the God whose name they profess to honor, and they apply with equal pertinency to the Christian in the world:
“By all ye will or whisper.
By all ye leave or do,
Will weigh your God and you.” God is honored or dishonored in the conduct of those who profess to love him. Let the people of God keep themselves from those things which pollute the spiritual life of the Church of Christ, lest Jesus be wounded in the house of his friends.
The real temple of God is the human soul. And it is written of this temple, “If any man defile the temple of God, him will God destroy: for the temple of God is holy; which temple ye are.
Evil imaginations, unholy desires, resentful feelings, covetous longings, all these profane the temple of our lives. Mary scholars have raised the question whether the two cleansings of the temple were not really one; it seemed to them strange that Jesus, having cleansed the temple
at the beginning of his ministry, should have need to repeat the act at the close. Whatever the answer concerning the temple then, we know too well the answer to the question now. How easy it is for the old abuses to creep back! How constant is the need of the whip of small cords in the temple of our own soul! How readily we shut out of our lives in the ar-, dor of our first consecration many worldly habits that creep back and back, nearer and nearer, till they camp within the sacred precincts of our soul's most holy place!
It is not enough that we drive the evils from our lives; the empty spaces must be filled speedily with worthier purposes, and holier affections. Jesus spoke once of a man from whom an unclean spirit was cast out, who swept and garnished the place, but brought no holy purpose home to dwell, and the evil spirit returning found room for himself and seven spirits worse; so that the last state of that man was worse than the first. That was a happy phrase of the great Chalmers, “the expulsive power of a new affection.” The temple of the heart should be kept pure by a love that pushes out unholy things, and fills the place to its full capacity with the things that are holy and pure.
God seeks as his own no empty temple; but one filled to the full with the spiritual activities that belong to the kingdom of God. The heart that is full to overflowing with the love of God has no room for the things that defile the life of the spirit.
Far back in the days before Christ a wise man wrote: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” There is a sacred shrine in the soul of man within which traffic and barter have no lawful place.
It is the purpose of the celebration of this Easter season to bring our hearts into close sympathy with the spirit of the successive days. Can we doubt the message to our own hearts of this day of the cleansing of the temple? Ought it not to be for all who are seeking to follow the footsteps of our Lord, a day of searchings of heart that all that is unholy may be cast out; a day of digging about the roots of our souls that we may discover the causes of our unfruitfulness, and of consecration of purpose that our lives be no more barren nor unfruitful? If the day shall bring to us such meditations and resolves, then shall our Lord, coming this day to the inner temple of the heart, find in it a shrine for his own indweiling.
Tuesday of the last week of Jesus has been called the day of controversy. Controversy with Christ! Arguing with Jesus! Finding fault with the Saviour! Where was it that our Lord met such treatment? In the capital city of his people; in Jerusalem, where every Jew prayed for the coming of the Messiah, where the prophets had spoken of the coming of the kingdom of God. Who was it that set him at naught, challenged his authority, sought to catch him in his words? His own people whom he loved, the leaders of the people whose eager hope of the coming salvation had become a passion almost unparalleled in history.
Jesus had come from Galilee to offer himself unreservedly to his people as the Way, the Truth, the Life. Jerusalem rejected him. He came unto his own and his own received him not.
And he left them. Left the temple on that fatal Tuesday, never to tread its courts again. Left the city to return only for the evening supper with the twelve and return again a prisoner. But before he left he spoke his last word to his people, the last public utterance that fell from his lips. Surveying all the history of the folly and wickedness of the long past, declaring the significance of that hour which he alone understood, forecasting the fateful future which he alone could see, he broke into the cry in which is uttered all the pathos of his passion: “O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the
prophets, And stoneth them that are sent unto her! How often would I have gathered thy children
together, Even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings,
And ye would not!
Lord.' It was a cry whose pathos the world can never forget, and whose significance every generation must consider. It was not for Jerusalem alone. That proud, bigoted, and selfish city was but the type of humanity. Here is infinite, divine yearning. Here is a deliberate human rejection. Here is a fatal, inevitable consequence. And here is the hope of a final apprehension. It is not for Jerusalem alone. It is for the world, which God so loved, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Jesus is ever to us the revelation of God. He shows us God's attitude. He unveils God's purposes. He speaks for the Father. And never more wonderfully than here. It has foolishly been said by some people that Jesus has insufficiently expressed God in failing to ascribe to him that tender attitude that we think of as peculiarly characteristic of motherhood. Indeed some of them have improved upon the Lord's Prayer, “Our Father and Mother God.” Prosaic souls! Yet in this sad farewell to the city that rejected him, the poetic spirit of Jesus does express the divine yearning under the figure of motherhood, “as a hen gathereth her brood under her wings.” After all, when Jesus speaks of the Father it is but the use of poor human language and poor human analogy. Far beyond the pity and patience of any human love is that infinite, divine love, so great because so good, so generous because so just, that encompasses all the children of men forevermore.
Jesus sums up in his own attitude toward men all