He built His sanctuary like the heights, like the earth He has established forever.
These verses show that they whom God chooses are -
I. OFTEN NOT FOUND AMONGST THE GREAT. (Ver. 67.) Ephraim was the lordly tribe, the aristocracy of Israel. They had a long roll call of illustrious names. But God "refused the tabernacle of Joseph" (cf. 1 Corinthians 1.).
II. BUT, NEVERTHELESS, THEY MAY BE. (Ver. 68.) For the tribe of Judah was but little less exalted than Ephraim. God puts no ban upon any rank, or people, or tribe. How stern are the utterances of our Lord about the rich! And yet there have been many saints of God who have been rich.
III. ARE FOUND GENERALLY AMONGST THE LOWLY. (Vers. 70, 71.) "Blessed are ye poor," said our Lord. From amongst them the pioneers of the kingdom of God have nearly all come - "unlearned and ignorant men," poor, but rich in faith.
IV. AND WHERE NO APPARENT FITNESS EXISTS for the work that has to be done. David, a rustic shepherd lad, and yet, etc. (ver. 71).
V. BUT GOD'S CHOICE IS ALWAYS JUSTIFIED. (Ver. 72.) Of what great servant of God could it have been foretold that he would be what he came to be?
VI. OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS THE SUPREME EXAMPLE OF THIS. Despised of men. My soul, what is he to thee? - S.C.
He built His sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which He hath established for ever.
"He built His sanctuary like high palaces"; look through this very country, compare its palaces with its cathedrals and churches, even in their present state of disadvantage, and say whether these words are not more than accomplished; so that the palaces of England should rather, by way of honour, be compared to the cathedrals, than the cathedrals to the palaces. And rightly so; for our first duty is towards our Lord and His Church, and our second towards our earthly sovereign. And still more strikingly has the promise of permanence been fulfilled to us. For what were the years of Solomon's Temple? Four hundred. What of the second Temple? Six hundred. These were long periods, certainly; yet there are Christian temples in some parts of the world which have lasted as much as fourteen hundred years. Surely, then, when Christ multiplied His sacred palaces, He also gave them an extended age, bringing back under the Gospel the days of the antediluvian patriarchs. What a visible, palpable specimen this, of the communion of saints! What a privilege thus to be immediately interested in the deeds of our forefathers! and what a call on us, in like manner, to reach out our own hands towards our posterity! Freely we have received; let us freely give. See what a noble principle faith is. Faith alone lengthens a man's existence, and makes him, in his own feelings, live in the future and in the past. Men of this world are full of plans of the day. Even in religion they are ever coveting immediate results, and will do nothing at all, unless they can do everything — can have their own way, choose their methods, and see the end. But the Christian throws himself fearlessly upon the future, because he believes in Him which is, and which was, and which is to come. He can endure to be one of an everlasting company while in this world, as well as in the next. He is content to begin, and break off; to do his part, and no more; to set about what others must accomplish; to sow where others must reap. None has finished his work, and cut it short in righteousness but He who is One. Thus were our churches raised. One age would build a chancel, and another a nave, and a third would add a chapel, and a fourth a shrine, and a fifth a spire. By little and little the work of grace went forward; and they could afford to take time about it, and be at pains to do it best, who had a promise that the gates of hell should not prevail against it. Thus the temples of God are withal the monuments of His saints, and we call them by their names while we consecrate them to His glory. Their simplicity, grandeur, solidity, elevation, grace, and exuberance of ornament, do but bring to remembrance the patience and purity, the courage, meekness, and great charity, the heavenly affections, the activity in well-doing, the faith and resignation, of men who themselves did but worship in mountains, and in deserts, and in caves and dens of the earth. They laboured, but not in vain, for other men entered into their labours; and, as if by natural consequence, at length their word prospered after them, and made itself a home, even these sacred palaces in which it has so long dwelt, and which are still vouchsafed to us, in token, as we trust, that they too are still with us who spoke that word, and, with them, His presence, who gave them grace to speak it. In heaven is the substance, of which here below we are vouchsafed the image; and thither, if we be worthy, we shall at length attain. There is the holy Jerusalem, whose light is like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; and whose wall is great and high, with twelve gates, and an angel at each; — whose glory is the Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
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