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reconciliation, and pardon, and peace. The Lord, in short, is waiting to be gracious. It is for you, my brethren, to decide, whether ye will tempt him more and more, or make this—even this—the day of salvation, and turn to him with all your heart, so that your souls may live
The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall
never go out.
This was an ordinance for Israel, when it pleased the Lord to " dwell in temples made with hands”—when he deigned to hallow with his presence, first, the humble tabernacle in the wilderness and afterwards the more fitting habitation which was prepared for him on the chosen hill of Sion.-In each of these, there was an altar of burnt-offering, and the fire upon the altar was to be burning in it-it was never to be allowed to go out—but when once kindled, it was to glow for ever, a
daily sacrifice from the people to their God.—That temple is now destroyed, and that altar overthrown.---- Nevertheless Jehovah has not withdrawn himself. He still dwelleth upon earth. There is a temple still, and an altar still. The temple is the human body, the altar is the human heart.-“ What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in
have of God'?” “Ye are the temple of the living God?.”—There is something more in these words, my brethren, than a strong figurative expression. In the time before the flood, and in the days of the favoured patriarchs—God walked more openly and familiarly with man, appearing by his angels, in a bodily form. Over Israel, liberated from captivity—and made a chosen people peculiarly his own, he looked out from the pillar of cloud by day, and watched from the pillar of fire by night.-—In the temple his immediate presence was visibly demonstrated-and in the holy of holies the brightness of his glory shone between the cherubim.-Under this, the more perfect dispensation, he is still actually, though not visibly, present with his Church, and the heart of every Christian is “the place where his honour dwelleth.” Hence the Apostle tells us, that whoso defileth his body by sin, shall be destroyed, because he has defiled “the temple of God.”
11 Cor. vi. 19.
2 2 Cor. vi. 16.
Here then we have a temple and an altar, but where is the fire that should alway be burning upon it, and never go out ? That too, should be found, my brethren.- Not indeed a visible fire, reeking with the fat of the peace-offering,—or rolling clouds of perfume from
« the frankincense that is upon the meat-offering,”—but a sacrifice of a sweeter savour, a light more pleasing in the sight of God: viz. the pure flame of sincere and earnest devotion. This is the fire, kindled by the divine inmate of the sanctuary—the Holy Ghost himself, which the Christian is commanded to keep alive. It must nev go out, or it will prove that the altar is no
longer dedicated to the Most High God; and that the Lord has departed from that which has now ceased to be his temple. It must not be suffered to languish by neglect, lest a little more of inadvertence or indiscretion, extinguish it altogether. But it must be kept burning clearly, brightly, steadily—“a memorial unto the Lord" of our faith and our service for
My brethren, is this flame alive within our own bosoms ?-A more important question can scarcely be asked-nor one, consequently, which it more nearly concerns us to be able to answer correctly ; and yet perhaps it is not always easy to arrive at a certain conclusion about it. It is not always easy for a man to satisfy himself fully, whether the divine spark still gleams within his heart, or whether the light of his life is extinguished.
And the difficulty and perplexity on this subject are sometimes increased, by referring to a test which certain persons propose as applicable to all cases, and in all cases infallible. They assert, that a