July 2: The True Temple Restored

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” Romans 11:33

Behold this wisdom, as it shines in the recovery of lost and ruined man by Christ. Here is a manifestation infinitely transcending in greatness and glory the first creation of man in holiness. In the first creation, God had nothing to undo; no dilapidated temple to take down, no occupant to dispossess, no ruin to repair, no rubbish to remove, no enemy to oppose. But in the re-creation of man, how vastly different! The beautiful temple is a ruin—dilapidated and fallen. God is ejected; another and an antagonist occupant dwells in it, and enmity to its Creator is written in letters of darkness upon every part and over every inlet. In rebuilding this structure, all things were to be created anew. “Behold,” says God, “I create a new thing in the earth.”

It was a new and profounder thought of infinite wisdom, unheard, unseen before. Fallen man was to be raised—lost man was to be recovered—sin was to be pardoned—the sinner saved, and God eternally glorified. Now were the treasures of wisdom, which for ages had been hid in Christ, brought forth. Infinite wisdom had never developed such vast wealth, had never appeared clothed in such glory, had never shone forth so majestic, so peerless, and Divine. Oh, how must angels and archangels have wondered, admired, and loved, as this brighter discovery of God burst in glory upon their astonished vision—as this new temple of man rose in loveliness before their view!

The greatest display of infinite wisdom was in the construction of the model upon which the new temple, regenerated man, was to be formed. This model was nothing less than the mysteriously constituted person of the Son of God. In this, its highest sense, is “Christ the wisdom of God.” Here it shone forth in full-orbed majesty. Gaze upon the living picture! Look at Immanuel, God with us—God in our nature—God in our accursed nature—God in our tried nature—God in our sorrowful nature—God in our suffering nature—God in our tempted nature—yet untouched, untainted by sin. Is not this a fathomless depth of Divine wisdom? To have transcended it, would seem to have transcended Deity itself.

The next step in the unfolding of this Divine wisdom is the spiritual restoration of man to a state corresponding in its moral lineaments to this Divine and perfect model. This is accomplished solely by “Christ crucified, the wisdom of God.” And here, again, does the glory of God’s wisdom shine in the person and work of Jesus. Every step in the development of this grand expedient establishes His character as the “only wise God,” whose “understanding is infinite;” while it augments our knowledge, and exalts our views of the Lord Jesus, as making known the Father. Here was a way of salvation for perishing sinners, harmonizing with every perfection of Jehovah, sustaining the highest honor of His government; bringing to Him the richest glory, and securing to its subjects, as the rich bequest of grace, happiness eternal, and inconceivably great.

Oh, how truly did God here “work all things after the counsel of His own will”! How has He “abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence”! In Jesus’ sacrificial obedience and death we see sin fully punished, and the sinner fully saved—we see the law perfectly honored, and the transgressor completely justified—we see justice entirely satisfied, and mercy glorified to its highest extent—we see death inflicted according to the extreme tenor of the curse, and so vindicating to the utmost the truth and holiness of God; and yet life, present and eternal life, given to all whom it is the purpose and grace of the Father to save. Tell us, is not Jesus the great glory of the Divine wisdom?

September 18: Holy Holy Holy

“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the Seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips; and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6:1-5

What an august revelation of the glory of Christ’s Godhead was this which broke upon the view of the lowly prophet! How instructive is each particular of His beatific vision! Mark the profound humility of the seraphim—they veiled with their wings their faces and their feet. They were in the presence of Jesus. They saw the King in His beauty, and covered themselves.

But the effect of this view of our Lord’s divine glory upon the mind of the prophet is still more impressive: “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips…for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” What prostrated his soul thus low in the dust?

What filled him with this self-abasement? What overwhelmed him with this keen sense of his vileness? Oh, it was the unclouded view he had of the essential glory of the Son of God! And thus will it ever be. The beaming forth of Christ’s glory in the soul reveals its hidden evil; the knowledge of this evil lays the believer low before God with the confession, “I abhor myself. Woe is me! for I am undone.”

Beloved, let this truth be ever present to your mind, that as we increasingly see glory in Christ, we shall increasingly see that there is no glory in ourselves. Jesus is the Sun which reveals the pollutions and defilements which are within. The chambers of abomination are all closed until Christ shines in upon the soul. Oh, then it is these deep-seated and long-veiled deformities are revealed; and we, no longer gazing with a complacent eye upon self, sink in the dust before God, overwhelmed with shame, and covered with confusion of face. Holy posture!

Blessed spectacle!—a soul prostrate before the glory of the incarnate God! All high and lofty views of its own false glory annihilated by clear and close views of the true glory of Jesus. As when the sun appears, all the lesser lights vanish into darkness, so when Jesus rises in noontide glory upon the soul, all other glory retires, and He alone fixes the eye and fills the mind. “With twain they covered their faces, and with twain they covered their feet.” Their own perfections and beauty were not to be seen in the presence of the glory of the Lord.

How much more profound should be the humility and self-abasement of man! Have we covered ourselves—not with the pure wings of the holy cherubim, but with sackcloth and ashes before the Lord? Have we sought to veil—not our beauties, for beauty we have none—but our innumerable and flagrant deformities, even the “spots upon our feasts of charity,” the sins of our best and holiest things; and, renouncing all self-glory, have we sunk, as into nothing before God?

Oh, we are yet strangers to the vision of Christ’s glory, if we have not. If the constellation of human gifts and attainments, distinctions and usefulness, on which unsanctified and unmortified self so delights to gaze, have not retired into oblivion, the Sun of Righteousness has yet to rise upon our souls with healing in His wings.

June 24: A Great Stooping Down

“For verily he took not on him the nature of angels;
but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” Hebrews 2:16.

Who are the people upon whom the heart of Jesus is set? They, are not angels; and yet He loves angels, because they are elect and holy; He loves them as the creatures of His power, and as the ministers of His will. But God loves not angels as He loves man. The Lord Jesus bears not the same affection towards those unfallen and pure spirits as He does towards a poor sinner hiding in His wounded side, cleansing in His blood, and enfolding himself within the robe of His righteousness. He never took part of the nature of angels, nor wept over angels, nor bled for angels- but all this He did for man!

It is His Church, then, which is represented as the object of His love- His own people, the donation of His Father, the creatures of His choice, the subjects of His grace, the treasure of His heart. Is it asked wherein has He loved them? Rather might we ask wherein has He not loved them?

Look at His assumption of their nature! What a mighty stoop was this!- the Infinite to the finite. Were it possible for me to save the life of an insect by assuming the form of that insect, I should, by so doing, manifest my great benevolence. But behold the love of our Incarnate God! His heart was bent, His whole soul was set, upon saving man.

But He could save man only by becoming man. He could not raise our nature, but as He stooped and assumed that nature. He must not only look upon it, and pity it, and weep over it, but He must take it into the closest and most indissoluble union with Himself. Nor was it the mere exchange or blending together of natures so as to form one new nature. It was not the absorption of the Infinite into the finite, for He ceased not to be God when He became man; He only veiled, He did not extinguish, the glory of His Deity. In this consisted the mightiness of the stoop.

I see no humiliation in the Savior’s life, but as it springs from this one fact- His condescension in taking up into union with His own Divine our human nature. This was the first and greatest step in the path that conducted Him to the cross. All the acts of abasement and ignominy which follow were ingrafted upon this. And, oh, what humiliation! Look at your nature! Contemplate it in some of its severest forms of degradation, wretchedness, and woe. Are you not often constrained to blush that it is your own? Do you not turn from it at times with loathing and abhorrence, ashamed to confess that you are a man?

Above all, what self-loathing, what self-abhorrence, when the Holy Spirit opens the chambers of iniquity in your own heart, and makes you acquainted with the abominations that are there! And yet the Son of God stooped to our nature. “A body have You prepared me.” But it was unfallen, sinless humanity that He took into union with His Godhead. Where, then, is His condescension? In stooping to an inferior nature, though in that stoop He received no taint from us. He was made a sin- offering, yet He was “without sin.”

If this truth, dear reader, has no glory to your eye, nor sweetness to your soul, what is your Christianity? It is the foundation of Christianity, it is the marrow of the Gospel, it is the hope of the soul, it is that truth which takes every ruffle from the pillow of death.
And is not this just the truth we need as a suffering and a tried people? When do we extract the sweetest honey from this bitter of bitters? Is it not when our humanity is wounded, oppressed, and cast down? When do we most value and love the humiliation of the Incarnate God? Is it not when by suffering we are driven to it, then to learn the tenderness and the sympathy that are in Christ?

Oh blessed affliction, sweet sorrow, friendly chastisement, that brings my soul into the deeper experience of what God is in my nature!