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which time itself dates its existence—that “ beginning" in which God created the heavens and the earth, and set lights in the firmament for signs and for seasons, and for days and for years. It may remind us of the continued exercise of creative power by which the earth we inhabit is carried through its diurnal and annual revolutions, by which day and night, and seed-time and harvest, and summer and winter, follow each other in regular and beneficent succession. Turning our attention from the outer world to ourselves, it may remind us of the commencement of our own existence, the beginning to us of time, our entrance into that world which was created as our temporary habitation, where we are to lay the foundation of our future existence, and decide for ourselves whether or not our future life shall or shall not be an eternity of happiness. As, however, we cannot dwell upon all the events of which the present season calls to remembrance and suggests for reflection, we may turn our attention to some that bear more directly upon our spiritual condition and experience.
The beginning of a new year reminds us of the year of our redemption. The deliverance of Israel from Egypt was marked as the beginning to them of a new and happy year. “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Old things were about to pass away, and all things were to become new. The year of their deliverance was come. Bondage was exchanged for liberty, and their sorrow was turned into joy. How much more have we occasion to mark the time of the redemption of our race as the commencement of a new year! “ The year of my redeemed is come,” is the language in which the Lord announces His glorious advent, to effect for the whole human race a deliverance, of which that of Israel from Egypt was but the faint representative.
The beginning of a new year reminds us of the dawn of the Lord's · second advent. The first dispensation of the Christian Church has passed successively through the periods and seasons of its year—its spring, summer, autumn, and winter; and is now succeeded by a second and new dispensation, in one respect unlike and superior to all others. In this Church there will be all the seasons, but all the seasons blended into one. There shall be no night there, for her sun shall no more go down ; there will be no winter, for her tree of life shall bear her monthly fruits, neither shall her leaf fade, but will be for ever green, for the leaves are for the healing of the nations.
That we should have seen the commencement of this year is a cause of rejoicing indeed. It should produce thankfulness and inspire hope
-hope for our race, and for the time when all things are become new. Ignorance and error, and poverty and crime, and oppression and war, will be gradually removed and finally cease. .
It is the year of jubilee, when the bound are to be set free, and the accumulated burdens and oppressions of successive years are to be rolled away. These are not visions, but realities. The Spirit, descending from on high, is even now moving the minds of men ; and changes are in progress that will issue in the establishment of a kingdom in which justice and mercy shall prevail, and men will find their dignity and happiness in seeking the elevation and happiness of others.
The beginning of a new year reminds us of the beginning of a new life—the commencement of the year of our regeneration. This to us individually is the most momentous of all periods—that one which brings with it the most decided change, a change from darkness to light, from death to life. No change can equal this in its immediate effect upon, and in its ultimate consequences to us, as beings who are created for immortality. All the Divine operations of creation, of providence, of redemption—have reference to this as their end. We have been created that we may be re-created; we are born that we may be born again; we are redeemed that we may be saved. The commencement of a new year should therefore lead us to inquire whether we have entered on a new life. Times are of no real value to us, except as the measures and the symbols of states. What is a new year to us unless we regard it as an admonition and a memorial of something higher and better?
The end of the old and the beginning of the new year should remind us, finally, of that coming event which is to close the year of our present existence, and usher into that world where, to us, time shall be no longer; where, to those who have used their time aright, there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, for the former things are passed away; where the never-setting sun shall banish night and winter, and make the never-ending year a perpetual spring. Living in the more immediate presence of Him who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, our states and our blessedness shall partake of His unchangeable nature. We shall, indeed, pass through changes of states; but all these shall be progressions, bringing us nearer and nearer to the ever unapproachable perfection of the Lord of life and glory.
THE HEADSTONE OF THE CORNER.
“ The stone which the builders refused is become the headstone of the corner.”
Psalm cxviii. 22.
Our text is a prophecy. It foretells a glorious future for the Church. It points to the time when God the Messiah shall take unto Himself His great power and reign among men; that day when He shall be King over all the earth, and when there shall be one Lord, and His name one.
That our text is prophetic, and refers to the great Saviour, we may see from His own words. In Matthew He says, “ Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner ?" (xxi. 42). This He said in reference to the parable of the householder, who planted a vineyard, and let it out to husbandmen; but when he sent his servants to receive the fruits of it, the husbandmen ill-treated them, and at length killed the son of the householder when he was sent. This householder plainly meant the God of Israel, the vineyard the Jewish Church, the husbandmen the Jewish people, and the householder's son whom they slew, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified by the Jews. And this passage is also found both in Mark and in Luke. In the Acts of the Apostles we read that Peter, when filled with the Holy Spirit, said at Jerusalem, relative to Jesus whom they had crucified, “ This is the stone that was set at nought by you builders, which is become the head of the corner" (iv. 11). We see then plainly that our text relates prophetically to the Lord.
Our Saviour is mentioned under the image of a stone in several other places. By the prophet Isaiah the God of Israel says, “ Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone." Peter, the apostle, mentions this passage as referring to our Lord. The stone cut out without hands which Daniel saw, and which smote the image, evidently typifies Jesus Christ. He is also plainly meant in prophecy where it says, On one stone shall be seven eyes. Jesus says of Himself as the chief Stone, Whosoever shall fall on this Stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
Thus we see how Jesus is the great and precious Stone on which we are to build. He is also called a Rock, and was typified by the rock in Horeb, which Moses smote, and the waters gushed out. Paul says that this rock was Christ. By this image of a rock, and of a corner-stone, we are to view the Lord as our Foundation, our Refuge in trouble, and our Source of strength. On Him we may build and be saved.
Our Lord seen as a stone, or corner-stone, has reference to some kind of building; but to what kind of building does it refer? Evidently to that great divine building the house of God. God has a house where He dwells, and His children-His sons and daughters, dwell with Him, their Father, there, and they are all one happy family. Jesus said, In my Father's house are many mansions, in which words by house He evidently means heaven, as the Lord's dwelling-place. Heaven is also called a temple, because a temple is a house in which
Wood Cine m the Lord is said to dwell. The Psalmist saith, God is in His holy temple; and in the Revelations it is said that the redeemed ones will, in the other life, serve the Lord day and night in His temple, which temple evidently is heaven. The redeemed ones composing heaven are also called the Church, the Church triumphant of God. All who love and serve the Lord are called His Church, His Church militant while on earth, and His Church triumphant when in heaven. The Church being formed by such men, and the Church being typified by a house or temple, we find the Apostle saying to the Corinthians, “ Ye are the temple of the living God; know ye not that ye are the temple of God?" And he calls the Church a house, where he says to the Hebrews, that " Christ is a Son over His own house, whose house are we,” says he, “ if we hold fast the confidence," and so on. All the Church is thus the Lord's house or temple ; and so are a few men thereof, yea, even one man ; each Christian, with the Lord dwelling in His mind, is a miniature church, or church in its least form. The Apostle calls a few men a church, where he says to the Romans, “ Greet the Church in their house.” In the sense of one man being a Church or dwelling-place of God, the Lord says, “If a man love me, he will keep My words, and My Father will love him, and we will come in to him and make our abode with him.” He also saith, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” Here He plainly alludes to the mind of man. Each man is a house or temple of God, when the Lord makes it the place of His abode.
Now, as the Lord's house or temple is heaven, so is it His kingdom ; and as each man's mind is a house or temple, it is also a kingdom, if
governed by the divine laws. The Lord says, “ The kingdom of God is within you,” alluding to men's minds being ruled by laws of love and charity. In this way is each follower of the Lord to be a miniature church, temple, or kingdom preparatory to entering heaven after death, where he will be a pillar in the temple of his God.
As each man of the Church becomes in this way a spiritual house or temple, and as he is to be a co-worker with the Lord, we may see that each man has a house to build, a kingdom to establish. This he has to do by progressing in his regeneration, as he practises the divine precepts, in which case he“ builds,” to use the Lord's language, “his house upon a rock." Each society of Christians has a house to build, and so have, as one body, all the faithful on earth. All will be together the Lord's house or kingdom, where He Himself will dwell and rule, as the life and soul of all: and thus being His Church, they will be the body, the mystical body of Jesus Christ.
After saying all this in regard to heaven, as being imaged by a house, let us consider a little more this image itself. The Jews had a tabernacle and a temple, each being called a house or dwelling-place of the Lord. They were commanded to construct a tabernacle, with a sanctuary, that the Lord might dwell among them. Afterward they had at Jerusalem a temple, which was called the Lord's house, but then it was only so called in the way of type or representation. We know from the Word that the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, and that heaven is His throne, and the earth His footstool. That earthly temple of the Jews was representative of the spiritual house or temple before mentioned, which is heaven; and as heaven is heaven and the Church is a church from the Lord as its soul and life, we may see why the Lord called the temple His body; it was His body by representation. The Jews themselves, and all their rites and ceremonies, were representative. They themselves represented the Lord's spiritual Church, and their rites represented its true worship. Respecting the building of the temple, we read that “the house when it was building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither; so that there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was building.” By this is meant that in the materials to be used by men in building up their minds into dwelling-places of the Lord there is nothing to be perverted; no truth to be falsified, or turned to favour selfish or worldly love.
We now see fully that the Lord's true temple is the Church and the kingdom of heaven. Of this the great Saviour is the chief corner