And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought;…
"My house is the house of prayer." This is as true of that portion of the holy body which we call the Church visible or militant as it is of the rest. The object of the visible Church is not solely philanthropic, although the Church's duty is to do good unto all men, specially to them that are of the household of faith. It is not solely the moral perfection of its members, although the purification to Himself of a peculiar people zealous of good works was certainly a main object of its founder; still less is it the prosecution of inquiry or speculation, however interesting about God, because we already know all that we ever really shall know in this state about Him. We have on our lips and in our hearts the faith that was once delivered to the saints. This temple, visible and invisible, is thus organized by its Divine founder throughout earth and heaven to be a whole of ceaseless communion with God; and as its heavenly members never, never for one moment cease in their blessed work, so by prayers, broken though they be and interrupted — by prayers and intercessions, by thanksgiving and praise, private and public, mental and vocal, the holy Church throughout the world doth acknowledge Him who is the common centre of light and love to all its members, whether on this side the veil or beyond it. Into this temple also there sometimes intrudes that which moves the anger of the Son of Man, for this spiritual society has its place among men. It is in the world, although not of it, and it thus sometimes admits within its courts that which cannot bear the glance of the All-Holy. And especially is this apt to be the case when the Church of Christ has been for many ages bound up with the life and history of a great nation, and is, what we call in modern language, established — that is to say, recognized by the State, and secured in its property and position by legal enactments. I am far from denying that this state of things is or may be a very great blessing, that it secures to religion a prominence and a consideration among the people at large, which would else be wanting to it, that it visibly asserts before men the true place of God as the ruler and guide of national destiny; but it is also undeniable that such a state of things may bring with it danger from which less favoured churches escape. To be forewarned, let us trust, is to be forearmed; but whenever it happens to a great Church, or to its guiding minds, to think more of the secular side of its position than they think of the spiritual — more, it may be, of a seat in the Senate and of high social rank than of the work of God among the people; if, in order to save income and position in times of real or supposed peril, there is any willingness to barter away the safeguards of the faith, or to silence the pleadings of generosity and justice in deference to some uninstructed clamour, then be sure that, unless history is at fault as well as Scripture, we may listen for the footfalls of the Son of Man on the outer threshold of the temple, and we shall not long listen in vain. Churches are disestablished and disendowed to the eye of sense, through the action of political parties; to the eye of faith by His interference who ordereth all things both in heaven and in earth, and who rules at this moment on the same principles as those which of old led Him to cleanse His Father's temple in Jerusalem.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought;