G. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) Hallock.

The English pulpit : collection of sermons online

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world. Surely you are saying — " What shall I render to the Lord
for all his mercies ? " What ? why render love — love for love. God
has loved you, and he requires your love in return. He addresses you
as he did his servant formerly, and he addresses you personally, and
he addresses himself to your hearts — " Lovest thou me ? " And if
you say, " Lord, thou knowest that I love thee ! " he replies, " Feed
my lamhsP Some of these children, it may be, are bereaved of their
parents : they are almost outcasts of the world ; but they are the ten-
derlings of Christ's flock : he calls them to himself ; he bears them in
his bosom ; he intends to bless them ; — but he honors his servants, by



180 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

allowing them to take these lambs under their care. K you regard
his authority, if you have tasted of his love, attend to his injunction,
and return the love wherewith he has loved you, by feeding his lambs.
Supply their minds with knowledge ; make them acquauited with his
truth and guardianship ; and do all that is needful to support those
schools, which profess to accomplish this great object. And what you
do, diO from a principle of love to Christ ; doit, also, out of love to
your fellow-creatures, and an earnest desire for the welfare of posterity.
And what you do, do it with all your hearts, and with all your might.
" God will not be unrighteous, to forget your work and labor of love ;"
and you shall receive from him happiness here, and life everlasting !



SERMON XV.

THE SPIRITUAL BUILDING



BY REV. ISAIAH BIRT.



" In whom ye also ate builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. — Efmesians ii. 22,

The gospel ministry, in all its departments, is conducted on the same
principles. Whether it be stationary or itinerant ; whether it be pas-
toral or missionary; — these principles are ever the same. These
principles are very few, but very important. They relate to all men
— to all without distinction, whether Jew or Gentile, bond or free,
kings or subjects ; — they consider all as far from God ; that the whole
world " lieth in wickedness ; " that " there is none righteous, no not
one." This is the first principle of a gospel ministry ; it contemplates
every man as a sinner, exposed to M'rath and indignation. These prin-
ciples relate to Jesus Christ also. This ministry exhibits the Lord
Jesus Christ, in his person, his offices, and his works, as the great, the
only Redeemer, appointed for salvation by God, to the ends of the
earth. We must also consider the ministry of the gospel as relating
to the means, under divine influence, by which a churchis to be formed
out of this world, set apart for the worship and service of God upon
earth, and finally to be made like him, and be with him, and enjoy him
for ever.

These principles are ever exhibited in the ministry of the gospel. —
And in order to confine them in our view, the church of God is repre-



THE SPIRITUAL BUILDING. 181

sented under a variety of similitudes. Sometimes it is considered as
a sheep-fold ; and the sheep are gathered bj his care, -watched over,
provided for, and blessed for ever. In the words before us, it is rep-
resented under the idea of a building. " Now therefore," it is said to
the Gentiles, who were once considered as different from the Jews ; —
" now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-
citizens with the saints, and of the household of God ; and are built
upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself
being the chief corner-stone ; in whom all the building fitly framed
together groweth into an holy temple in the Lord ; in whom we also,"
both Jews and Gentiles, " are builded together for an habitation of God
through the Spirit." Seeking the divine blessing and assistance, we
will employ ourselves this evening in contemplating the church under
the idea which is given in the text, as " builded together in Christ for
an habitation of God through the Spirit." We will, first, take notice
of the materials of this building ; then, we will attend to its basis and
plan ; thirdly, we will contemplate the instruments and agency employed
in its construction ; we will next consider the end to be accomplished
in its erection ; and finally, we will return to ourselves, and endeavor
to enforce on our own hearts what is important in connexion with the
words of the text. And that we may be blessed of God, and that
it may be the mercy of every one present to be united to the church
here, and to share in its glories hereafter !

I. Let us contemplate the materials of this building,

1. In their nature. They are of a very superior order. In all
buildings there are some materials which are comparatively insignifi-
cant, some unimportant, some unsightly. But if we examine Scrip-
ture, in reference to the materials of this building, we shall find that
it selects the most precious materials, — gold, and silver, and precious
stones, on which men set such a high value. And yet all these images
fall short ; gold, and silver, and precious stones, are not worthy consid-
eration, when compared with human souls — with the children of men
— the sons and daughters of Adam. If we consider man in reference
to the eternal world, he is a being of a superior order. If we regard
him in relation to angels, he is, in many respects, similar, and is capa-
ble of sharing in their enjoyments and dehghts. If we contemplate
him in reference to God himself, we see him formed for intimate com-
munion with him. You can find no being superior to man, except
angels ; and indeed, when we come to be united to the church, we are
said to come " to an innumerable company of angels ; " and when, in the
Revelation, John tells us of the glories of the celestial city, we find



182 THE EXGLISn PULPIT.

that " all the angels stood round about the throne ; " and when redeem-
ed men from every part of the world uttered their ascriptions of praise
and thanksgiving to God and the Lamb, for the blessings of redemp-
tion, we find the angels united with them, as though they were but one
company, — united with them in their acclamations — and added a
hearty " Amen " to their sublime doxologies. Contemplate these
materials,

2. In their diversity. There is a great diversity in every building.
If we were to examine the building in which we are now assembled,
we should find in it a great variety of materials of a very reverse
description. So it is in this building of God ; it is composed of per-
sons of every possible variety ; " of every nation, and kindred, and
tongue." Scripture does not confine the blessings of the gospel to
any one class — to monarchs, or to the poor only; but when the inhab-
itants of the celestial city were shown to John, he was informed that
they comprehended persons of all descriptions — kings and their sub-
jects, bond and free, Jews and Gentiles, and even slaves. For the
distinctions which prevail, and properly prevail, amongst men, have no
place in heaven whatever. No ; it is man — man in his sinfulness —
man in his spiritual, his undying nature — man in the endless diversi-
ties of his earthly condition, — that is contemplated by the gospel. No
man can stand and survey this building as it rises, and say, " I can
never become a part of that building ; I am so dry a tree, that I can
never be cut and fitted ; I am so rough a stone that I can never be
squared and polished ! " No ; all may be made fit. Even amongst
the angels we find a great diversity ; for we read of " thrones, domin-
ions, principalities, and powers ; " and these angels all join to form a
part of this glorious building. Contemplate these materials,

3. In their number. This is exceeding great. John tells us that
he saw " a great multitude which no man could number." how
pleasing is the consideration ! When we considered their diversity, this
was pleasing ; this led us to entertain hope as to all our fellow-men ;
but here is number also — a great number — " a great, an innumerable
multitude, out of all nations, and kindred, and people, and tongues."
God has done much more in this respect than we are aware of, or are
sometimes willing to allow. We are ready to suppose, as Elijah, that
there are very few who serve God ; whereas, God had, at that very
period, " reserved to himself seven thousand men who had not bowed
the knee to the image of Baal." There are multitudes we know not
of, who are preparing for glory, for honor, for eternal life. " In my
Father's house," said the Savior, " are many mansions ; " and multi-
tudes out of every nation — multitudes which no human power can



THE SPIRITUAL BUILDING. 183

calculate, — vnW be collected to inhabit them. The principles which
men have adopted to hmit their views of the number of the redeemed,
appear to me as calculated to expand our ideas considerably ; they are
the choice of the God of love, the purchase of the benevolent Redeem-
er, and they are an exceeding great number. Contemplate them also,

4. In their circumstances. These are very unpropitious. The
angels, who are to become a part in this building, are all prepared and
fitted for their places ; but men — they are like the trees in the forest,
or the stones in the quarry, or the ore in the mine. The trees must
be felled and squared ; the stones must be dug out and polished ; the
ore must be brought out and purified, before it can be ready to form
any part of this building. And then contemplate these materials,

5. In their value. And can you estimate this ? It is impossible ;
it is Kke thinking of space, or of God himself. Christ has given us
some idea of their value, when he said, " What is a man profited if he
gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ? or what shall a man give
in exchange for his soul ? " One soul — the soul of the poorest man
— the soul of a poor negto slave — one soul — is of more value than
the world ! But if one soul be so valuable, how shall we estimate the
value of the vast mass of mind which goes to compose the church of the
living God ? What is gold and silver ? what are precious stones ? —
what shall we put in competition with human souls ? with these minds —
these minds capable of feeling, of thought, of suficring, of joy ? And
when we add to this, eternal duration — an eternal duration in joy or
in suffering, O how immense is the value of immortal souls ! None
but Jesus Christ can estimate the value of these materials — th'e value
of immortal souls.

II. Let us attend to the basis on which it rests, and the

PLAN ON which IT IS CONDUCTED.

1. There have been experiments made by angelic and by human
minds, but they have both failed. Angels were tried in heaven, a.nd
they failed ; man was tried under most propitious circumstances on
earth, but he failed ; the foundation which might have been supposed
to have stood, failed, and the building came down. But what is the
foundation on which this building rests ? Ah, you anticipate me here !
It is Christ ; it is Christ himself ; Jesus Christ is the chief corner-stone.
As it is said in Isaiah, " Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone,
a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation." And, says
Paul, " As a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation ; and other
foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
This, then, is the base of this building ; on his person, on his work, on



184 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

his mediation, on his sufferings, on his exaltation, on his government,
— the whole building rests. If he fall, the structure for ever falls ;
none can raise, none can sustain it, but he ! This is the base — the
most important part ; this is the foundation which God has laid in Zion.
Now here Jesus Christ appears to us under the idea of correspon-
dence. There is in him that which is most suitable for this important
purpose. He is said to be "head of all principahties and powers ;"
but little is said, it is true, of angels ; and vet we are given to under-
stand that he is their head and support. But he is intimately allied to
us ; he is " bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh." He has done
all that is necessary for our salvation : he has died for our transgres-
sions ; he has brought in for us an everlasting righteousness ; he has
risen to heavenly glory ; he is seated at the right hand of his heavenly
Father : and he is now carrying on the blessed work. And he is capa-
ble of supporting all this vast concern ; for Paul says, " In him dwell-
eth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." There is a correspondence
therefore, between the work and his character. Were he man, he might
fear a giving way of this building ; for even angels in heaven were not
able to stand. But when we consider that the fulness of the Godhead
is in him, and that he is " Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day,
and for ever," we see in his merit, and in his perpetual existence, a
sure foundation for the confidence and salvation of all the sons and
daughters of men. From age to generation, the materials have all
been brought here, and here they have rested.

2. Christ is not only the basis — he is also spoken of as the chief
corner-stone. Not only do all the parts rest upon him ; but in him they
are all united ; — in him they are all united to each other, to the holy
angels, to himself, and to the Divine Father ; all are one in him. God
never could, I was about to say — it is certain God never has met with
man, but in Christ ; it is here men and Christ meet, and it is here men
and men meet in harmony as one. We are ready to suppose that the
church may be formed under this or that denomination, or according to
this or that creed. No, no ; these never unite hearts and souls togeth-
er ; these never unite man to God, nor man to man ; but let men come
to Christ ; let them be one with him ; and then they are united to God,
and united to the whole church.

3. Christ is not only the basis and the union of this building, but
the whole huilding is constructed by him. All the lines are drawn from
him, from his dignity, from his glory. In the preceding verse we read,
" In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy
temple in the Lord : in whom ye also are bullded together for an habi-
tation of God through the Spirit." The building will partake of the



THE SPIRITUAL BUILDING. 185

character of the foundation ; it ^vill not be a grand and noble founda-
tion, with a small and insignificant structure erected upon it. When
we consider the person of Christ ; his work ; his groans, and tears, and
sufferings, and death ; his glory, and his power ; and when we call to
mind that he is heir of all things, and head over all ; — we may rest
assured that the building shall be noble, extensive, and grand.

4. The excellencies of Christ will he the beauty of the building.
The church is built in him ; Christians are all lively stones, and he
lives in them and through them. He is not only the foundation on
which the church rests, and the corner-stone by which it is united, and
the pattern according to which it is framed ; but " the head-stone of the
corner," the crown, the ornament of the whole. The beauties and
excellencies of the Savior will appear in all his church. When he comes
in glory, it will be " to be admired in his saints, and to be glorified in
them that believe." When the whole work is completed, all will be
glorious, and beautiful, and excellent ; and he will appegj: the chief
beauty, and glory, and excellency of all.

III. Let us consider the instruments and agency by which

THIS BUILDING IS CONSTRUCTED AND CARRIED ON.

There is something very sweet and interesting in the contemplation
of this work ; especially when we feel that we have an interest in it
ourselves.

How extensive is this work ! It is carrying on in Europe, in Asia,
in Africa, in America ; and it is carrying on in the celestial world also.
Does it not immediately strike you that it requires a universal presence?
an agent that must be present everywhere, both in earth and heaven,
in order to carry it on ?

How arduous is this ivork! It is a work of most astonishin



Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 21 of 45)