And a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those entering the temple courts.
introduction may be obtained. Such introduction should treat of the suffering poor in the East, showing how necessarily dependent they were upon promiscuous charity. With their condition may be contrasted the care for the poor in all Christian lands, and the provision of hospitals and institutions for their relief. Some account may also be given of Herod's temple, and the position of the gate called Beautiful. Josephus says the other gates were overlaid with gold and silver, but this one, which was probably the gate on the east, which led from the court of the women, was "made of Corinthian bronze, and much surpassed in worth those enriched with silver and gold." It may further be shown how this miracle, wrought by the agency of St. Peter, resembles the gracious miracles of healing wrought by our Lord himself. The picture of this poor and hopelessly suffering man suggests the following topics for meditation:-
I. THE DISPENSATIONS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE BRING BODILY DISABILITIES FOR SOME MEMBERS OF THE HUMAN FAMILY. This, as a fact, may be variously illustrated, and it may be shown, from our Lord's teachings, that neither bodily infirmities and disabilities, nor earthly calamities, are necessarily direct results of personal sin or fault. They are oftentimes hereditary consequences of ancestral sin. They are often products of circumstances and conditions of life, over which the sufferer had no control. They may be regarded as the great sin-burden lying OH the race, and borne more evidently by some members for the sake of all. So long as the race is sinful, it must have the character of its sinfulness marked and impressed by manifest, painful, unsightly, revolting, and apparently hopeless forms of "suffering" all around it. The "suffering" as well as the "poor" we have always with us.
II. SUCH DISABILITIES SET SOME MEMBERS OF THE HUMAN FAMILY UPON THE BROTHERHOOD AND CHARITY OF OTHERS. For, if we look upon them aright, we regard them as bearing the common burden, and so bearing our burden. We might have been among the blind, or dumb, or lame, or idiotic, or paralyzed; and it is never enough that we thank God for our freedom from special disabilities; our thankfulness only finds its natural and proper expression in caring for, helping, and relieving the disabled and distressed. Sufferers, wherever they are found, should touch our hearts with tender emotions. We should have such an open, sensitive heart as can take them all in. It is well if we show special interest in some particular class of sufferers - the orphan, incurable, lame, sick children, deaf and dumb, etc. To take a higher ground, our Lord is the great Sufferer, and so the head of all sufferers. Therefore, for his sake, and as showing our tender sympathy and love for him, we should take his suffering brethren into our love and care. "Doing it to the least of the brethren is doing it to him." "He that loveth God [his Father] should love his brother also."
III. A NATURAL EXPECTATION LEADS MEN TO LOOK FOR SUCH CHARITY TOWARD THE DISABLED FROM THE RELIGIOUS. It is a fact that systematic efforts for the welfare of the naturally disabled are only found in lands where Christian thought and feeling prevail. It may be illustrated and enforced:
1. That this connection between religion and brotherly charity is natural It is the fitting impulse of "human kindness" that leads us to care for others, but it is the special impulse of that new feeling that comes with personal and saving relations with Christ.
2. That this connection is right. Urged as such by Divine command and Divine example, as well as by the example of all noble and holy men.
3. This connection has been, in Christian lands, fairly well met. Show into how varied spheres Christian benevolence and charity may now run. Ask earnestly, and with direct applications - Is it true, individually for us, that our piety has cultured into holy vigor our charity? If not, it is of little worth to us or to others. - R.T.
The gate of the temple which is called Beautiful.Josephus, "There were nine of the gates that were overlaid with silver and gold. But one without the temple, or sanctuary, made of Corinthian brass, far excelled those of gold or silver." This gate is supposed to have been the east entrance to the women's court, and was sometimes called the Corinthian Gate, from the material of which it was made. It was also known by the name of Nicanor's gate. Others, however, suppose the Beautiful gate to be that called Shushan by the Rabbins, probably from the bas-relief lily work in brass around the capitals of the columns (1 Kings 7:19). It is derived from an unused root signifying "white," white and beautiful being convertible as in Shushan (Esther 1:2), the white or beautiful city (as Beogrady — Belgrade — in Slavonic). This gate was on the cast side of the court of the Gentiles, and close to Solomon's porch.
(W. Denton, M. A.)
(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)
1. To begin with the first gate — the gate of infancy and childhood. It is a beautiful gate, indeed. What fond hopes wreathe every cradle! What possibilities are wrapped up in that little bundle of helplessness and want called the baby? This bundle of weakness and want laid at the beautiful gate of life, asking alms of all, having nothing but capacity, needing everything — care, watching, sympathy, love, wisdom — everything to feed and clothe the body, to quicken and nourish the mind, and train a young immortal for the mortal and immortal life. And what can do this like mingled affection and faith akin in spirit to that which looked out through the illuminated eyes of Peter and John upon the tame man at the temple gate? And what this foundling at the gate of life needs is the touch of a loving hand and the faith of a loving heart. This is sure to carry with it healing and strength. And it is no less Divine on what is called the natural than what is called the supernatural plane. Are not the mingled affection and faith with which a true Christian mother broods over her child, nurturing into life body and mind in what we call the natural order, just as truly of God as was the power that healed the lame man at the temple gate? See how she puts herself into affectional rapport with her child. She looks into its eyes, finds its soul, talks with it in the soul's language, which mother and child both know, smiles upon it, gives strength to its ankle-bones by holding them in her warm, motherly hands, and, finally, tempting the child to rise up and walk by the confidence that shines through her eyes, and by the outstretched hand ready to save from falling or to lift up again and again and yet again, till at last the child walks and leaps and praises God, in childish fashion, by its innocent gladness. All this affection may do, is continually doing, in all true homes. But there is a higher work to be done for the child, a deeper nature to be reached, a life within a life to be waked: and this calls not for affection only, but faith — faith in the reality of this interior life, faith in God as the Infinite Good, and in the reality of His Holy Spirit's influence, faith in Him as the constant inspiration and life of the soul. This faith must crown affection, or the deepest wants of the child's soul can never be met It is this sweet, calm, holy influence filling the home, as the balmly odours of pine groves fill the surrounding air, that gives to the home atmosphere a healing, a strengthening, a life-giving power. It is better than silver or gold. But by and by the child is grown, and the home is left for the "wide, wide world."
2. Here opens another gate — the gate of early manhood. This, too, is a beautiful gate, especially when the gate of childhood has been a fitting preparation for it. If it ever seems to rest in shadow, it is because the higher nature has not been waked, but sleeps, while the lower nature is alive and active. What in all this world is more beautiful than a young man — and man means woman — well furnished mentally, morally, spiritually, passing out through the beautiful gate for the great work of life! What fond hopes centre in him! But all such hopes are not realised. Why is it? But one reason for the failure may safely be ascribed to this: an undue sense of self-sufficiency. In the pride and strength of young manhood, one is slow to perceive that he is lame or undeveloped, or weak in any part of his nature. He is no cripple at the gate, to ask help of anybody. Is there no lameness, no weakness, no need of the touch of a helping hand? Even if the need be not felt, it does not follow that it is not real. It may not be felt, because the greatness of life is not felt. Where life is regarded only as a vigorous scramble for the main chance, for business success, or pleasure, without aspiration for anything above the beaten paths of dust and ashes, then, indeed, any man with good legs and arms and a thimbleful of brains may feel quite equal to the undertaking. But for one who looks on life from the standpoint of spiritual possibility — such a one, comparing his ideal with his actual, the glorious possibility with his own sense of inability, will need no argument to convince him that, however strong his ankle-bones, his spirit is in pressing need of the healing and strengthening touch of a faith and hope that makes the deepest and truest things of life the most real. He who helps me to faith in eternal realities, honour, right, integrity, self-sacrifice, and lifts me to a plane of life where the difference between noble and ignoble living is most clearly seen, is my greatest benefactor. It is this spirit which lifts, guides, and liberates the soul for noblest living. It is inspiration for the life eternal here and now. "Silver and gold" Jesus had none. Such as He had He gave — Himself, a soul enkindled with the love of God and man.
3. But manhood hastens on to old age. May we call that, too, a beautiful gate? Yes, if faith and hope, like Peter and John, stand at the gate to look into our eye and take our hand as we pass through. At first the gate of old age seems anything but beautiful. One of the brightest and most cheerful of our American poets calls it an "Iron Gate." At first, they were almost ashamed to be found fairly inside the gate and unable to get back. But by and by, as they get adjusted to the new condition, and find themselves still in good company, rather select withal, the gate does not seem so dreadful. Approaching it, it did look like iron; but seen from the inside, with faith and hope shining upon it, it becomes beautiful — just as beautiful as the gates of childhood and manhood. The gate of childhood faces the sunrise. The gate of manhood lies under the mid-day sun. The gate of old age "looks toward sunset," indeed; but it is a sunset that carries with it the promise of an immortal day. They are all beautiful gates of life. Which is the most beautiful we will not venture to say till we see them all from the higher standpoint we hope to reach by and by. But, even here and now, old age, with all its infirmities, has its blessings, which youth and manhood cannot know till they pass through the gate — the blessing of rest after toil, the blessing of sweet companionship with those with whom we have passed through all the beautiful gatest, the living over again with them the scenes of the past, to which "distance lends enchantment"; the looking forward in glorious hope to higher fellowship, Where youth is renewed as the eagle's. These and the like lift the shadow from old age, and let God's sunshine in to brighten and warm. But this implies a touch of the healing hand. And now, especially, as in life's morning, the help is none the less, but all the more Divine. if it comes through the eye, the heart, the hand of affection and faith mingled, assisting us tenderly and lovingly to rise up above the gathering mists and shadows, and pass trustingly through one more beautiful gate to the other mansions.
4. And is death, too, a beautiful gate? One would not think so by the hard names given to it Grim Tyrant," "Great Destroyer," "King of Terrors," and the like. But God never gave His white-winged angel such names. These, then, are some of the beautiful gates of life. All beautiful gates! built not by the wealth or workmen of Herod, but by the All-Beautiful, who created man in His own image, for the beauty of holiness. And at each gate God's messengers, in some form, wait to give us the healing touch and put us on our feet. Oh! were we always conscious of the brooding spirit of Divine Love standing at every gate, looking into our eyes, seeking to find our souls and call forth responsive love, should we not all leave our sins, our weakness, our doubts, and stand on our feet, walking and leaping and praising God by a life in harmony with the Divine will?
(W. P. Tilden.)
I. THE CLOSE RELATION BETWEEN RELIGION AND BEAUTY. The gate Beautiful was a temple gate. The Puritans depreciated beauty. In their excessive spirituality they ignored the true and proper uses of the visible, and disparaged the body. Jesus Christ manifested in human flesh the Divine glory, and by the resurrection of His body has given a type and pledge of the exaltation of man and nature. All material things may be transformed by the spirit of man. The beautiful in form, colour, and sound has been created by love, patriotism, and genius. But the higher inspiration of beauty is in religion, which touches with firmest finger the faculties out of which the graceful arises. Art, poetry, architecture, and music owe their finest products to Christianity. As religion has inspired aesthetic creations, so the way to religion should be by the paths of beauty. God's worship should be no bald offering of utility, but should be associated with the most perfect in architecture, music, and oratory. The ways by which the young are drawn to Christ should be festooned with loveliness, and not be a via dolorosa. All the qualities of the Christian character may be rendered in attractive forms. When religion and beauty are wedded, science, industry, and citizenship will also be drawn into the goodly fellowship.
II. But the highest beauty, and the largest gateway to heaven, is SPIRITUAL BEAUTY — the beauty of the Lord revealed in Christ. The cripple was not healed by the beauty of the temple gate, but by the beauty of Christ — the glory of His love, sympathy, and helpfulness. Visible beauty brings us to the threshold only; we must enter to behold the uncreated beauty. It is this which transforms the man and changes him from glory to glory in its image. When possessed it must not be hidden, but must, in imitation of the altogether lovely, be manifested in beautiful words, acts, life. As Christ would have us reproduce His beauty, so we must aim at making spiritually lame and ugly people radiant with the same loveliness.
1. With one or two exceptions the word beauty is not mentioned in the whole New Testament. On the other hand, it is mentioned often in the Old. The most remarkable contrast among nations in antiquity was that between the Jew and the Greek. The Greeks are always instanced as the nation that had the genius of beauty and the love of it; but among the Greeks it was essentially physical; and although moral qualities were sometimes brought down and represented in it, it was in order merely to enhance the physical beauty. On exactly the other side stood the Hebrew, who was forbidden to have much that was physical in his worship. And so art never took root nor flourished in Palestine. But, on the other hand, there arose in the minds of the old Hebrew seers and lyrists a sense of the beauty of conduct, character, and moral quality that never represented itself in sensuous form. I think that if we were to look into the modern schools of beauty we should find that they follow the Greek and not the Hebrew. Now, in the New Testament, though it does not mention beauty as the Old Testament does, nevertheless we have a specification of qualities of thought, and feeling, and exhortations to beautiful conduct. One by one Christ takes up the things that are transcendentally beautiful in their kind, although they are not so to men. When a diamond is first found it is like a rough stone, without form or comeliness, and only when it has been ground does it become glittering; and so almost all the precious stones are found — in seams and ledges, and under circumstances where their beauty does not appear until they have been dealt with. "Blessed be ye, when persecuted." Blessed be the rapid-running stone that grinds the gems — not, perhaps, in the process, but in the result.
2. In all the earth no spire, cathedral front, nor temple is so beautiful as the form of man and woman when brought out in all the lines and lineaments of Christian culture. And the New Testament says, "Let your light so shine." Some have interpreted it, "Let your gloom so shine that men think you are very serious-minded." No, but let your light shine. Let the things that shine out be, as the apostle other-where says in regard to them, "Whatsoever is pure, whatsoever is true, whatsoever is of good report, think on these things." These are the qualities that are to shine with such attractiveness, as that religion shall not repel men, but win them, draw them — "that men, seeing your good work, shall glorify your Father which is in heaven."
3. Every single quality that belongs to Christian character should be carried up to the condition of beautifulness. That is the aim, not by flash, rare — used only as a medicine is — but beauty that rises like a star, and continues to shine with a steadfast ray. The light that has in it all the primary colours carries them always without any discontinuity. And so the great qualities which grace inspires are to be carried up toward the line of beauty; they are intrinsically so. Now, when a plant seed unknown is sown we watch the unfolding of it, wondering at every step what is to be the outcome. The stem may be coarse, the leaf may be hirsute, and, like the cactus, one may never dream that this great flat, fat, spiny leaf could ever be the mother of beauty until the blossom comes, and then in all the earth is there anything more exquisite and gorgeous than the blossom of the cactus? So in regard to unripe and undeveloped qualities of moral feeling in the soul. Men may, during the process in which they are unfolding, see nothing very lovely; but when they have been carried up to their florescence, or their fruit estate, they are invariably beautiful. Moral qualities, like physical excellences, have a beginning. Some attain more quickly and easily than others the relish of the beautiful; some are the result only of long striving; some grow like autumnal flowers, only when they feel the coming breath of frost itself, out every quality that goes to make the true Christian as Christ longs to see him is an element, that, if carried up to its full extent, touches the line of the beautiful. So of conduct. Whatever is graceful, noble, free, large, manly, lordly in courage, is beautiful; and because it is beautiful it belongs to the religious perfection of man. And all conduct that has in it the element of heroism — how beautiful it is. The fidelity that costs! The self-denial that finds its reward in the fruition of that which is served! The angels of the cradle and the crib — those Protestant saints, maiden women, that, having no family, adopt the children and the household of those with whom they dwell, and spend love, and time, and all service, and pain even, and watchfulness for the sake of others — how beautiful is this quality of conduct! If I read over the qualities that constitute religion, as described in the fifth chapter of Galatians, they will sound to you like the snap of so many harpstrings, and all of them together like the sweep of an old harper's hand. The joy of religion! — not the joy of reading hymns, or of going to meeting, necessarily, or hearing sermons; but the inward joy which one has from communion with God through hope, and inspiration, and faith; the temperament of joy — peace — the absolute concordance of every quality in us, without any oppositions from any direction; the perfect harmonisation of every element in the soul. "Long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, self-control" — these are the features. The portraiture every one must make up in his own imagination. This is religion. Whoever, then, so lives as not to produce in some way or other the impression of the beauty of religion falls short of the genius of the New Testament.
(H. W. Beecher.)I. A beautiful THING. "The gate Beautiful."
1. It was fitting that the approach to a beautiful place like the temple should be beautiful. Many beautiful things are marred by the ungainliness of their surroundings. A cathedral in a squalid neighbourhood, a mansion with a tumble-down entry, a picture in a broken frame, an untidy woman, are offensive incongruities. The most beautiful thing in the world is the religion of Christ, but how many are offended by what they see at the front of it — conditions of entrance which Christ never laid down, specimens of Christianity that Christ never produced. Reproduce the beauty of religion in yourselves, and make the path to it attractive, and there will be no difficulty in making converts.
2. The gate led to a beautiful place. This is not always the case. The best things only are placed in some windows. The world presents an attractive outside, but within is death. Once through the gate of God's house the worshipper should find everything in harmony with the beautiful work he has to perform there; the structure, the service in all its parts should be conducive to the beauty of holiness. An ugly, ill-kept church, a tame, bald service — how detrimental to devotion, how dishonouring to God.
II. Beautiful CHARACTERS.
1. Peter. There were ugly seams in Peter's character. He was impulsive, he denied his Lord, he compromised at Antioch. But we must take that character as a whole. and like some vast mountainous region, although there may be a morass here, and stunted vegetation there, and yawning chasms yonder, yet how grand the whole! In his deep penitence, his burning enthusiasm, his teaching by word and pen, there have been few more admirable men than Peter.
2. John. If Peter represents the rugged, John exhibits the more symmetrical type of Christian character. He must have had exquisite qualities whom Jesus so loved, and who was specially selected for so beautiful a task as the care of Jesus' mother. And all these qualities, tenderness, love, loyalty, come out in his letters.
3. Peter and John, a combination which nearly makes perfection of beauty, power and gentleness, zeal and affection. And at the last a good deal of Peter came out in John, and a good deal of John in Perer.
III. A beautiful ACT.
1. It was beautifully done. "Fastening his eyes upon him." "He took him by the right hand." How much may be accomplished by a look. The mere gaze of Peter and John inspired life into a hope that had been dead for long years. There is as much in the way a thing is done as in the thing itself. You may bestow alms so as to deprive them of half their value — grudgingly, morosely, even vindictively. You may help a man so as to make every nerve quiver, and so as to provoke a reluctance to be helped at all. You may wipe a tear and leave a wound in the process. The action should be suited to the act. And if you can do nothing you can always look something, which sometimes will answer as well, and if you can give nothing else you can give your hand, which often will be more acceptable.
2. The deed was beautiful. It was physician's work, and what more beautiful — restoration to health — for which in its literal sense we may not be qualified; but there are sick bodies to which we may minister by kindly attention — "Sick and ye visited Me": sick hearts to which we may administer comfort; sick minds that we may relieve by wise advice; sick souls that we may lead to the Great Physician.
IV. A beautiful METHOD.
1. A frank recognition of the impossible. "Silver and gold have I none." There are few things more unpleasant than to attempt what is beyond our power. We excite expectations that are doomed to disappointment, and bring ourselves into contempt. Before you promise to do a thing be sure you have the means. Don't let people think that you are a philosopher if you have no wisdom, a philanthropist if you have no money, a doctor if you have no medical skill, a preacher if you cannot preach. Moral deformities are what a man pretends to have but has not.
2. Self-abnegation in favour of the able. "In the name of Jesus of Nazareth." To put oneself between the helpless and the helper, what more ugly. Who more despicable than the quack who interposes between the diseased and the doctor? Only he who stands between the sinner and the Saviour. If you cannot help a man, do not interfere with those who can. This is the least you can do; but the beautiful action is to get the two together and then stand aside. This is what Peter and John did; and this is what all men do in dealing with diseased souls, get them to Christ and then get out of the way.
V. A beautiful EXPERIENCE. "Immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength."
1. Strength was given to the weak. Strength added to strength is abnormal, and therefore not beautiful. There is no grace in the opulent receiving money, or in the competent receiving help, but frequently the reverse. But if a starving man is fed, and a helpless man assisted to do a task otherwise impossible, a beautiful effect is produced. "The whole need not a physician," and to give medicine to the healthy only results in a disagreeable experience. Go, then, to the sinful, and lead them through the stages of repentance and faith until the dead in trespasses and sins become alive unto God through Christ, and the most beautiful of experiences is the result.
2. The weak was made strong. What experience is comparable to the consciousness of strength — strength of body, of intellect, above all of soul — to resist temptation, to live to and work for God.
VI. A beautiful RESULT.
1. On the part of the man. "Walking and leaping and praising God."
(1) (2) (3) 2. On the part of the multitude. (1) (2) (3) 3. On the part of Peter. It led to two of the most beautiful sermons in all Christian literature. (J. W. Burn.) (H. Macmillan, LL. D.) (H. W. Beecher.) (H. W. Beecher.) (H. W. Beecher.) (H. W. Beecher.) (F. Quarles.)
(2) (3) 2. On the part of the multitude. (1) (2) (3) 3. On the part of Peter. It led to two of the most beautiful sermons in all Christian literature. (J. W. Burn.) (H. Macmillan, LL. D.) (H. W. Beecher.) (H. W. Beecher.) (H. W. Beecher.) (H. W. Beecher.) (F. Quarles.)
(3) 2. On the part of the multitude. (1) (2) (3) 3. On the part of Peter. It led to two of the most beautiful sermons in all Christian literature. (J. W. Burn.) (H. Macmillan, LL. D.) (H. W. Beecher.) (H. W. Beecher.) (H. W. Beecher.) (H. W. Beecher.) (F. Quarles.)
2. On the part of the multitude.
3. On the part of Peter. It led to two of the most beautiful sermons in all Christian literature. (J. W. Burn.) (H. Macmillan, LL. D.) (H. W. Beecher.) (H. W. Beecher.) (H. W. Beecher.) (H. W. Beecher.) (F. Quarles.)
3. On the part of Peter. It led to two of the most beautiful sermons in all Christian literature.
(J. W. Burn.)
(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)Proverbs 11:22). Many a pretty girl is like the flower called the imperial crown, which is admired, no doubt, for its showy appearance, but despised for its unpleasant odour. Were her mind as free from pride, selfishness, luxury, and levity, as her countenance from spots and wrinkles, and could she govern her inward inclinations as she does her external carriage, she would have none to match her. But who loves the caterpillar and such insects, however showy their appearance, and bright and variegated the colours that adorn them, seeing they injure and defile the trees and plants on which they settle? What the better is an apple for its rosy skin, if the maggot have penetrated and devoured its heart? What care I for the beautiful brown of the nut, if it be worm-eaten, and fill the mouth with corruption? Even so external beauty of person deserves no praise, unless matched with the inward beauty of virtue and holiness. It is, therefore, far better to acquire beauty than to be born with it. The best kind is that which does not wither at the touch of fever, like a flower, but lasts and endures on a bed of sickness, in old age, and even unto death."
(H. W. Beecher.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
(H. W. Beecher.)