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have me to be your Propbet to teach you? O guilty sinner, will you have me to be your Priest, to pardon you? O enslaved sinner, will you have me to be your King, to subdue your iniquity, to conquer your enemies, to break your rebellion and enmity ? Poor bankrupt, will you have a Surety, to pay all your debt? Poor oppressed sinner, will you have a helper, to bear all your burdens?' Will you have one that can supply all your wants, and heal all your wounds ? have one that can portion you for eternity ? Poor mortal worm, that art to crumble into dust in a little, will you have one that can jointure you for eternity, and make you happy in death, and happy in judgment, and happy through eternity ? Will you have eternal life? - He that hath the Son hath life:" and his complaint is, “ Ye will not come to me that ye might have life.” He himself is the true God, and eternal life. What say you ? either are you content or not. If you be not content, and will not have salvation that is come so near to you, then, “ How shall you escape, if
you neglect so great salvation ?” Is not your ruin of your self, when you will not have salvation from the guilt of sin, and from the power of sin ? Must not your hell be the hottest ? « Wo to thee Chorazin and Bethsaida! It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah, than for you: and thou Capernaum, that art exalted unto heaven, shall be brought down to hell.” Turks and Pagans, that never heard the gospel, will be, may I say, set upon the surface of hell, while you must be thrust down to the centre of damnation.-Christ says, “I would have gathered you, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but ye would not.” But, are you satisfied ? You are called outwardly by the word; but are you made content to have Christ for yours in all respects, as a Prophet, Priest, and King, to save you from sin, as well as to save you from hell. Can you say it before God, men, and angels, that your heart is made content? Then you are not only called outwardly, according to his word ; but inwardly, and effectually called, according to his purpose. The decree is open; and the everlasting love of God, that runs under ground from all eternity, is broken up above ground in drawing you with loving-kindness, and making your heart content with Christ, and close with him in all his offices. And now, has his love manifested to you in the gospel, drawn out your heart's love towards him? Then you may apply all the comforts' that the text bears; * All things shall work together for good to them that love God, and are the called according to his purpose.”
SERMON CXLI. TEMPLE-DESOLATÍON making Way for TEM
John ii. 19. Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three
days I will raise it
When the hands of men and devils are lifted up to destroy, it is our safest course to look to the hand of Christ, that it may be lifted up to deliver, and to raise up what they pull down; for this be is able and ready to do, whenever ruin and desolation is come to a height, as is exemplified in these words of his, “ Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
The occasion of these words is, 1. Our Lord's having purged the temple, and driven the buyers and sellers out of it, verses 14, 15. 19. ; and having given the reason of it, intimating, that his Father's house ought not to be profaned, and made a house of merchandize, and that he had authority to purge it, as his Father's house; he being faithful as a Son over his own house, and filled with zeal, which did eat him up, made him humble and spend himself in redressing these abuses, and vindicating the honour of the temple. And, 2. The Jews, with their leaders, demanding a sign to prove his authority for so doing, verse 18. The Jews had, with their leaders, allowed that abuse and profanation of the temple; but, because they could not directly charge the work that Christ did, as if it was not a good work, to purge and purify the house of God from such abuses, when it was consecrated for holy use and divine honour ; therefore, they question his authority, saying, “ What sign givest thou us, to prove that thou art authorized and commissioned to do these things?” They had robbed the temple of its honour, and robbed God of his right; and now they would rob the Son of God of his office, and upon the matter declare that he wanted the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, that he had no warrant to execute that office. They that apply themselves in earnest to reformation-work, may expect to meet with opposition, even from these that are concerned to give them assistance, as the Jews. here, who should have stood by Christ, in vindicating the honour of their temple, instead of resisting him ; but we are hereby taught, not to think strange of resistance in the work of God, even from these that should give assistance therein. Here is their question, “ What sign shewest thou us, to prove thou art author- . ized and commissioned to do these things ?”
* This sermon was preached at the opening of the Associate Synod, met at Stirling, April, 12th, 1748. Published at the desire of the SYNOD.
The text then is our Lord's answer, “ Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”. What Christ had done, and was doing, did miraculously manifest his power and authority; therefore, he works no other miracle immediately to convince them, but gives them a sign in some thing future, the truth whereof was to appear by the event; and the sign was his own death and resurrection. Thus he refers them to that which would be: 1. His last sign; seeing you will not be convinced with what you see and hear, then you may wait: for, 2. It was to be the great sign for proving his being the Messias, sent of God, because it was foretold of him, that he was to be bruised, Isa. liii. 10.; that he was to be cut off, Dan. ix. 26.; and yet that he should not see corruption, Psalm xvi. 10.; and therefore was to rise up, and sit at the right hand of God, till his enemies should be all his footstool, Psalm cx. 1. If these things were fulfilled in him, and the truth appeared in the event, according to Deut. xviii. 21. then it was evident he was the true prophet, the true Messias, the Son and Sent of God, having all power and authority in his Father's house.
This death and resurrection of Christ is here foretold in a figurative way, as afterwards, when he called it the sign of the prophet Jonas : so here, “ Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” This he spoke to them in parables, that, as it is said, Matth. xiii. 13.
Seeing, they might not see; and hearing, they might not understand: because thus for judgment came he into the world, that they who see not might see, and they that see, or were puffed up with their knowledge, might be made blind.” This figurative speech here, proved such a stumbling-block to them, that it was produced in evidence against him at his trial, to prove him a blasphemer; Matth. xxvi. 60, 61. "At last came two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it again in three days.” Had they humbly sought the meaning of his words, he would have told them, and it would have been a savour of life unto them; but they were resolved to cavil, and it proved a savour of death unto death. They that would not be convinced were hardened : and the very manner of the expression, and of the prediction here, proves an occasion of the accomplishment of that prediction itself, when, through wilful mistake of the meaning of his words, it was produced as an evidence against him. It is not the first time that testimonies, well intended, have been mistaken and misrepresented; and the words thereof turned to a quite other meaning than was designed, and thus produced as evidences for condemning the innocent. Our Lord's own words were thus abused ; and no wonder such injuries be done to the words of fallible men.
The words here may be considered, 1. In themselves: and, 2. In their scope.
1st, In themselves. They contain a twofold predic.
you to do it.
1. He foretels his death; “ Destroy this temple :” that is, ye will destroy it: this is, as afterwards explained, "the temple of his body,” verse 21. They took him to be speaking of the temple he had purged. We mistake Christ many times, when we take literally what he speaks figuratively. He shewed his zeal for that temple they spoke of; but he would have us know, that the holiness of it was but typical, and led to the consideration of another temple, which that was but a shadow of, the substance being Christ, Heb. ix. 9. Col. ii. 17. Some think therefore, that when Christ said, “ Destroy this temple,” he pointed to his own body, and laid his hand upon it: however, we are here assured that he spoke of the temple of his body; “ Destroy this temple :” this I prophesy and know you will, and I will permit
2. He foretels his resurrection by his own power ; 6. In three days I will raise it up:" others were raised, but he raised himself. Now, Christ chused to express this by their destroying, and his raising the temple.
(1.) Because he was now justifying himself, in purging the temple which they profaned. You that defile one temple will destroy another : and, indeed, the defiling of the temple is the destroying of it; and its reformation is its resurrection. Also he chused this way of expression.
(2.) Because the death of Christ was indeed the destruction of the Jewish temple, and the procuring cause of it; and his resurrection was the raising of another temple, the gospel-church, Zech. vi. 12. The ruins of their place and nation, John xi. 48. were the riches of the world : See Amos ix. 11. Acts xv. 16.
2dly, The words may be considered in their scope : the scope and design thereof was, to prove his authority to purge the temple. I will prove it, might he say, by raising what you will destroy, and raising it in three days. As they were ignorant of the meaning of Christ's words, so of the almighty power of Christ, as if he could do no more than another man. Had they known that this was he that built all things in six days, they would not have made it such air absurdity that he would build