7previous - next - BM Home - Full Page
1 Kings 6
We have already considered the subject of the temple, so far as, relates to the materials of wood and stone of which that sacred edifice was constructed, and the agency by which the great work was commenced and carried on to its completion. We propose now to enter within its holy precincts, and trace the analogy of its principal divisions, furniture, and elaborate decorations.
Already have we pointed out the general representative meaning of this wonder of the ancient world. A type as it was in its highest sense of the Temple of the Lord's body, the Object and the Origin of all holy worship, it represented, in its secondary sense, Heaven and the Church, which are the Lord's mystical body, the grandest and the brightest image of Himself, and in its particular sense it was a symbol of the regenerate man, who is an image of the Lord, and a heaven in its least form. To complete the chain of representatives we must take in the written Word; but this is nearest to, and indeed identical with, the Incarnate Word, being the Divine Truth itself presented in another form.
The first great truth we learn from the division of the temple, as from that of the tabernacle, is one that lies at the foundation of all our knowledge both of the Infinite and of the finite whom they represented. The temple, like the tabernacle, consisted, we have seen, of three principal divisions. It had an inmost place, called the holy of holies, a second apartment called the holy place, and beyond this a court. This last part of the sacred enclosure was twofold, there being an inner and an outer court, the reason for which will appear as we proceed.
The great truth represented in this division of the temple is, that in the Divine Being, and thence in heaven and in man, there is a trine, a trinity in unity, which is the universal type of all perfection both in the Infinite and the finite. In the Divine Being from eternity, and still more fully in relation to us since the Incarnation, there is a trinity of Divine Essentials. Love, wisdom, and power form the trine which must have existed in God, or in which God must have existed, from all eternity. Since God became incarnate we recognise this same trinity in the Lord's Essential Divinity, His Divine Humanity, and His proceeding Holy Spirit. These in the New Testament are called Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father is the Essential Divinity, or the Divine Love, the Son the Divine Humanity, or the Divine Wisdom, and the Holy Spirit is the Holy proceeding or the Divine Power. There is an apparent dissimilarity between these descriptions of the Divine Trinity, but there is none in reality. For it was the Divine Wisdom, or the Word, that was made flesh, and from the Word made flesh proceeds the Holy Spirit. From eternity God was not only a triune God, but He was a Divine Man. Before the Incarnation He was a Man in first principles; after that event He was a Man in last principles also. Before the Incarnation God was a Man chiefly as the Creator and Conservator; since the Incarnation He is Man as the Redeemer and Saviour also. Before the Incarnation God was the Divine Man as angels are finite men; after the Incarnation he was a Divine Man as we on earth are men. Before the Incarnation, therefore, God, when He appeared in person, assumed the angelic nature, being manifested in the spiritual form of an angel, which eminently was called the angel of His presence, and the angel of the covenant. When God became incarnate it was by assuming the human nature as it exists in the natural world, being born into the world as a man, the offspring of a human mother, though of a Divine Father. This humanity, born of a virgin mother on earth, and glorified by a Divine Father in heaven, and so made Divine even to the very ultimates called flesh and bones, is eminently the Temple of Jehovah: the one True Object of human faith and worship, the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose blessed and glorious Person is the Divine Trinity; three in one and one in three. The trinity in God does not consist of a tripersonality. The very nature of the Trinity is such, that if there were many Divine persons, no one of them could exist without having a trinity in himself; for no one of them could be a person without possessing the three essentials of love, wisdom, and power—or divinity, humanity, and operation. Trinity is as essential to a Divine existence as unity, and unity as trinity. The true doctrine of the Divine Trinity, so far from invalidating the doctrine of the Divine unity, confirms and exalts it; for the more clearly we see the distinction of the principles, the more clearly we see the unity of the person. The Divine Trinity, therefore, is not one God in three Divine persons, but one Person in three Divine Essentials: one Lord God, in whom we recognise our Creator, Redeemer, and Regenerator. "God is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him."
This Divine Trinity in the One God, even from eternity, is the origin of the triune nature of all and everything in the realm of created existence. Throughout the whole of creation there is a resemblance, an analogy, more or less distinctly marked, of the triune nature of its Divine original. Everything that exists has its essence, its form, and its use; and these, even in the very lowest of created things, are the analogies or correspondents of love, wisdom, and power: for love is essence or life, wisdom is form or the manifestation of life, and use is power or the active and ultimate result of life. This trinity and unity must pervade the whole creation, since no created being, however exalted, and no created thing however low, could form part of a universe, in which God is present as in His grandest finite temple, unless each part were an image of the whole, and capable of being a receptacle of that one Life from which all live, of that one Wisdom from which all are formed or organized, of that one Operation from which all act.
In the universe, created after the image of God, as necessary to His presence therein, there are several different but kindred parts in which the Divine image is more perfectly displayed. Higher in the scale of finite existence, they are in closer connection with the Author of their being and Fountain of their life, and in them the Divine purpose in creation is more fully brought out and more perfectly realized. The purpose of God in creation was to rear up from among the human race a heaven of glorified spirits, that should be an image, ever increasing in fullness and perfection, of His own immensity, glory, and blessedness. This heaven is the higher temple of the Divine Presence; and, considered in relation to it, and as parts of it, the regenerate are the living stones and other precious materials of which it is and will continue to be built up world without end. This heavenly temple has also its three mansions—its holy of holies, its holy place, and its outer courts. As there are three that bear record in heaven, so heaven itself is distinguished into three, of which number the Apostle Paul speaks, when he says he was caught up into the third. In these three we see the images and the receptacles of the Divine love, the Divine wisdom, and the Divine operation. The third or highest heaven is an image and receptacle of the Divine love, the second or middle heaven is an image and receptacle of the Divine wisdom, and the last or lowest heaven is an image and receptacle of the Divine power or operation. In the last or ultimate principle of every trine the two higher principles coexist in their fullness and in their power. The peculiarity of which we spoke regarding the court of the temple may now be seen with advantage. There were in fact two courts, which are mentioned as the inner and the outer court. The ultimate or lowest of the three heavens is also divided into two—not into two distinct heavens, but into two parts, corresponding to, and immediately communicating with, the two heavens which are above. The lowest heaven being the common basis of the other two, it communicates immediately with the highest or celestial heaven on the one hand, and with the middle or spiritual heaven on the other. And as the ultimate heaven, in relation to the other two, is comparatively natural, and for the sake of distinction is called the natural heaven, the two parts into which it is divided are called the spiritual-natural and the celestial-natural heaven, and the angels which belong to or constitute them are also so distinguished.
But there is another peculiarity, another distinction, in the temple of the heavens which was represented by one that is mentioned in the temple of Solomon.
In the holy of holies of the symbolical temple was placed the ark containing the testimony—the two tables on which were written with the finger of God the ten commandments. These commandments represented the Lord Himself. The holy tables were deposited in the inmost of the temple to represent the Lord's more immediate presence in the inmost heaven. But for the tables of the law there was a receptacle within a receptacle. The law was within the ark, and the ark was within the holy of holies; so above or within the highest heaven there is another heaven, called in the Writings of the Church the heaven of human internals. This is the inmost receptacle and highest residence of God with the angels of His kingdom, and indeed with all human beings; for there is a region, or degree, or faculty in every human soul, be it the soul of angel, man, or demon, which is analogous to this inmost heaven, this heaven of heavens, and which forms a part of it, and in which the Lord has His immediate residence; in virtue of which every soul has immortality, entirely independent of his finite will and wisdom. Hut this part of the analogy of heaven with the temple will be better seen by considering the correspondence of the temple with the individual man, as he is constituted by creation, especially as he is perfected by regeneration.
The truth that every less is an image of the greater, that even every least is an image of the greatest, is in no instance more perfectly exemplified than in the case of man. Man is the highest and most perfect individual image of his God; and he is the nearest image of the universal heaven. He is the highest individual image of his God, because he was created to be the most perfect individual receptacle or recipient of a finite measure of the Infinite Principles, or Divine Essentials, that make up the very nature and person of God. God, we have seen, is Love itself, Wisdom itself, and Power itself: and man was created to receive from God a finite measure of these infinite principles. We do not call them simply attributes; they are the origin of all attributes, being in themselves the very Essentials of the Divine Essence, the Divine substance, and the origin of all others. As an image of God, man has a faculty for the reception of love from God, a faculty for the reception of wisdom from God, and a faculty for the reception and exercise of power from God. His faculty for the reception of God's love is his will, his faculty for the reception of God's wisdom is his understanding, and the faculty for the reception of God's power is his ability or faculty of speaking and acting. Man is a created image simply in virtue of possessing these faculties. And as every one, except from accidental circumstances, inherits these faculties, every one is capable of receiving those spiritual and eternal gifts from his beneficent Creator and Redeemer. The impediments which the Fall introduced into the world to the reception of these gifts having been removed by the Lord's Incarnation and Redemption, all may freely receive what is now freely offered, love, and wisdom, and holiness, from the Saviour God. The actual reception of these makes man a spiritual image of his God—a new creature—a temple of the Lord's Holy Spirit—an image of the temple of the Lord's glorious Body—a little heaven, a resemblance of the greatest. Every one has within himself, in miniature, all that exists in the kingdom of heaven: by creation he has them potentially, by regeneration actually. The mind of every man consists of three distinct degrees, analogous to the three heavens; and he enters, when he leaves this world, into that particular heaven, the analogue of which has been opened in himself during his residence on earth. These degrees respectively correspond to the court of the temple, the holy place, and the holy of holies. As in the universal heaven, so in the human mind, there are an inner and an outer court, surrounding the holy place, and an inmost receptacle of the Divine Testimony within the holiest place. The lowest mansion of the regenerate man, as a temple of God, consists of two parts, doing good and speaking the truth—a holy life and conversation. These also are the ultimates of a regenerate will and understanding; for the new will is ultimated in good works, and the new understanding is ultimated in good words, or in doing and speaking the truth every man to his neighbour.
Within or above the holiest place in the human mind there is a higher region—a more transcendent faculty, in which the Eternal dwells alone. Into this human internal man never penetrates. It is above the sphere of his consciousness and beyond the limits of his power. However he may pervert or destroy the life of love and truth in the regions of his mind below, he cannot even disturb the order of this. God has mercifully reserved it for Himself. It is His high and holy place which man can never desecrate. Through it the Lord preserves in every one the faculties of liberty and rationality, as well as immortality; and from that high and holy place He is ever ready to descend, when there is a contrite and humble spirit to receive Him. This impenetrable sanctuary of the Lord in the human mind is that of which Solomon speaks by the Holy Spirit in his dedication of the temple. The Lord said that He would dwell in the thick darkness. The highest human and angelic intelligence can never pierce the cloud that overhangs this secret place. There the Lord dwells in the thick darkness of His superhuman wisdom and overruling Providence. But in this as in all His dealings with His creatures His regard for their eternal interests is the ground of His economy. He conceals Himself from human wisdom and consciousness, that man may act from freedom according to reason, as if he were the author of the blessings he enjoys; and only leads him by revelation to see and acknowledge the operation of the hand which he can neither perceive by sense nor feel by consciousness.
To complete the series of analogies of what is Divine and spiritual in the temple of Solomon, it may be observed, in conclusion, that the Word of God is eminently the temple of the Lord. In this the Lord dwells both with angels and men—in heaven and in the Church. In the Word are three distinct senses, celestial, spiritual, and natural; but above the highest of these there is in it a sense purely Divine, which, like the human internal of man, is above the reach of the highest human intelligence.
Having traced the general correspondence of the temple which Solomon, by Divine appointment, built for the worship of Jehovah, we must reserve for another chapter a more minute delineation of the sacred edifice.
The treatment of the subject in the present chapter may perhaps seem to have too little tendency to edification. We are, however, to reflect that there is a wide difference between speculation and truth; and that while speculation may end in theory, truth has an invariable direction in the way of practical usefulness. That symbolism which leads us to look upwards to the Lord and inwards to ourselves, and that reflects some of the highest truths relating to the works of redemption and salvation, cannot fail to afford the means of improving the heart as well as of enlightening the understanding. When we look into the historical books of the Sacred Word, and find that they reveal some of the deepest mysteries of the kingdom of God under the form of the plainest narrative, our veneration for the inspired volume becomes increased, while our views of the kingdom itself become enlarged. When we view the temple of the Jews as symbolizing the Sacred Word in which the Lord dwells with His people, the human mind that has been formed by the principles of the Word into a habitation in which the Lord dwells, the angelic heaven where the Lord is ever in the midst, and above all, the Temple of the Lord's Humanity wherein all the fullness of the Godhead dwells—that Godhead which the heavens, even the heaven of heavens, cannot contain—our contemplation of so many correspondent and harmonious truths must, if we are disposed to be benefited, fill our hearts with gratitude, and lead us onward and upward in the way of improvement. Does not the contemplation of these truths teach us, that we must be fitted to enter into the universal harmony which exists among the angels of heaven, and between them and the Author of their happiness, before we can enter into their habitations and participate in their joys? Does it not tell us that He who originally created us after His own image, now desires to re-create us after His own likeness; and that if we would become spiritual and living temples, we must follow in the footsteps of Him who built up the Holy Temple of His Divine Humanity in labour, and self-denial, and suffering, as well as in works of love and beneficence? He has now opened up a new and living way of access to Himself, as our Father, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh. We are able to enter even into the holy of holies. Further, the temple is now opened in heaven, and there is to be seen in heaven the ark of His Testament (Rev 11:19). The way is thus opened for the penitent and obedient to enter into the holiest of all. Let us strive to realize the Divine declaration: "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God" (Rev 21:3).7 previous - next - BM Home - Full Page