2 Chron. xxxvl 23. "And he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people ? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up." You have just heard these words in the Second Lesson of to-day, and the thoughts which they suggest seem applicable to the present position of us all. The Israelites were returning to their home. Difficulties and dangers on every side encompassed them ; but whatever those difficulties and dangers might be, their one duty, their one ambition, their one purpose, their one hope, was to build a temple to the Lord their God. It was to be for them an effort, at once strenuous and sacred, at once united and individual. I. It was to be a material temple that they were to build. This is the first conception which men always form of the habitation of God — places set apart to His honour, hallowed by the associations of His worship ; places like the chapel in which we are met to-day, — the outward beauty of which we desire to make a symbol of the love and honour which we owe to God, but which, I trust, every one of you will still more earnestly desire to honour with love and reverence — to haUow by seriousness and godly fear. God may be near you in M.S. p

210 IK THE DAYS OF THY YOUTH. [seem. every place ; but nowhere nearer to your boyhood than in this your school-chapel. If daily, as you enter, each of you will kneel low on your knees before God's footstool, entreating Him to banish from your cleansed soul all low desires, all dreamy reveries, all guilty thoughts, that the words of your mouth and the meditations of your heart may be acceptable in His sight; — if you determine, from the first, faithfully to fulfil the simple duty of joining with your own lips in the hymns and responses, and by the Amen of serious hearts, making each prayer your own, — then here most assuredly, to the infinite help and blessing of your lives, will you be enabled day by day to see more and more brightly the Face of God ; and pure Faith and meek Charity and every " hovering angel girt with golden wings," will here take you by the hand and waive off each baser temptation, till, in your own earthly lives, you have found a place for the temple for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob. II. But though you may best seek Him here, you may find God everywhere. The Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands. This great glorious world is His. The sky is His, with its driving clouds, with its sunset colourings, with its overarching canopy of stainless blue. The trees of the forest are His, with every moss and lichen that inlay their gnarled boughs with silver and emerald, and the flowers that nestle at their feet, and the birds that sing among their branches. This long summer which you have all enjoyed is His, and the autumn with its raiment of gold and purple ; — and the sea is His, and He made it, and aU that moveth therein. " What you see around you is not — as the obtrusive ignorance of fancied wisdom has often so arrogantly proclaimed to us —

xxii.] THE TEMPLE OF THE GOD OF TRUTH. 211 is not dull, dead matter, not blind and formless law, but the translucence of a divine energy, the work of Him who layeth the beams of His chambers upon the waters, and maketh the clouds His chariot, and walketh upon the wings of the wind. The darkened and unspiritual intellect, wise in its own conceit, may distenant creation of its God ; but the fact that there are blind eyes does not disprove the reality of the light. The proof of that Light is simply that it shines ; nor does it need other evidence save its own existence. The materialist may proclaim to us that to him all is darkness, but the senses are not man's only teachers, and the humble and the spiritual-hearted shall feel in this universe of God no dead combination of chance atoms, but a '' Sense of something far more deeply interfased, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round oc^an and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man ; " ^ and that something is none other than the presence cf the Lord his God. III. But though to all who know and love Him God is the Soul of the visible universe, and we " climb by these sunbeams to the Father of Lights," He hath a nearer and a truer temple still. The earth hath He made, indeed, for the children of men, and it shines with His handiwork ; but it is spirit only that can know spirit, and God's truest temple is the upright Iieart and pure. I look around upon you all — upon these youthful bodies into which God lias breathed the breath of life, and v»rhich so have become living souls. I look around me, and I say — Some may be neglected, some desecrated ; in the shrines of some there may be secret idols,

^ Wordsworth, Tintern A hhey. p2

21 y I THE DAYS OF THY YOUTH. [serm. worshipped with the flame of strange fires and the smoke of unhallowed incense ; but even of the most ruined it is true now — and God grant that it may be more and more true hereafter ! — that the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these ! What ? Know ye not, every one of you, that your bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost, who dwelleth in you, — temples which you ought to be raising now and to the end, — temples which God has given us all charge to build and hallow, and of which I ask you, " Who is there among you of all His people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up." IV. Eor in striving to hallow in your own mortal bodies a house for God's habitation, you will all be joining to build yet another temple — God's last, best, truest temple, — a Church, that is, a society of God's children; — in this instance the society of a great English school, rising invisibly and silently to God's honour — a school in which God wishes and loves to dwell— a school " with Christ for its one foundation, while those for whom Christ died are the materials of which it is composed." And this is an eternal temple. The day shall come in some far-off time when our chapels and our schools shall be in ruins, and the stones of them shall have crumbled into dust; but when that day comes, we, as living stones in that spiritual and eternal structure, may long have been fitly framed togethei ana grown into a holy temple which time effaceth not, and Avhere God continually dwells. This — the temple of God in a Christian school — this is the temple which

God specially charges every one of us, from the least to the greatest, to build for Him to-day. It was no easy task of old for Israel; it will be no easy task for us. They did it in anxious labour, and amid many

XXII.] TEE TEMPLE OF THE GOD OF TRUTH. 213 perils, and so must we. Their enemies came scofiQng. " What do these feeble Jews ? " asked Sanballat the Horonite. " If a fox go np, he shall break down their stone wall," sneered Tobias the Ammonite. But they went on, because the people had a mind to work. And when their enemies conspired by force to hinder them, they did as we must do. They set a watch against them, day and night ; and each of the people had his spear, and sword, and bow; and each as he builded with one of his hands, with the other he held a weapon, and so, sword on thigh, toiled at the high labour from the rising of the sun till the stars appeared. And so must we build ; — all of us unitedly ; — all of us prayerfully ; — all of us from morning till night ; — all armed and watchful ; — all working with a will. For God has charged us to build, and the work is great and large. Will even one of you be such a traitor as to join with scoffing opponent or conspiring enemy ? Will even one of you be such a caitiff as to be idle himself, and to spoil the work of his brethren ? Arise ! and build for God ! " Who is there among you of all His people ? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up." V. But what kind of a temple does God require ? On what condition will the Lord our God who is so hio-h o' deign to dwell in the house we build ? I will mention one condition.

God is essentially and before all thiugs a God of truth. If God is to be with us there must be truth here, and by truth I mean not only truthfulness, which is a part of it, but reality ; not merely that absence of falsehood which is its first element, but absolute sincerity. What a grand thing it is in a human life — what hope it gives that a boy will grow up worthily to that virtue which is nothing but perfect manliness — v;hen

214 I THE DAYS OF THY YOUTH. [serm. everything that he is and does is built upon the large basis of sincerity ; when we know that, whatever his faults may be, .there is no sham about him, no thievish corners in his character, no subterranean jealousies, no smouldering malignities. He may strike the downright blow, but he will not use the poisoned dagger ; and if he smite it will be by broad daylight, and in the face, not at the back and in the dark. His character may not be perfect, but at least it is transparent ; his countenance may not be winning, but at least he does not wear a mask. If we know that w^e may trust his honesty and his straightforwardness ; if we feel that he would rather die than lie ; if his worst enemy yet might fearlessly appoint him a judge and arbiter : then I say that, having clean hands and a pure heart, he who hath not lift up his soul to vanity nor sworn to deceive his neighbour, this man shall receive the blessing of the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. a. Since, then, this school must be built up into an habitation for the God of truth, let us see to it that w^e be true. We must be true first to one another. ot one of us stands alone. We are bound together by common hopes, common interests, common duties, common affections. If we be true to one another we shall not seek our own; there can then be no treacheries, no falsities among us ; no influences that

subtly corrupt, no lies that secretly undermine ; but in word and deed a nobility and a loyalty which renders all baseness impossible between man and man. We who are set in authority over you must be thoroughly loyal to you; loyal to you by never forgetting how solemn is our responsibility for those your interests which are entrusted to our care ; loyal to you by considering your welfare more even than our own ; loyal to

XXII.] THE TEMPLE OF THE GOV OF TRUTH. 2i5 you by seeing that, in whatever other way you may lose or fail, you shall never lose by one hour of our idleness, or fail by one carelessness of our neglect ; loyal to jqm by never allowing a like or a dislike, an offence or an impatience, to deflect for one moment the even scale of our impartial justice ; loyal to you by never allowing an impulse of anger or a thought of popularity to divert our judgment by one hairsbreadth from what is right ; loyal to you, therefore, by often doing, not what you like, but what you need, — not what might please you for the moment, but what will be best for jom in the end. God forbid that I should shrink from settinsr o before you our duties as masters no less frankly and faithfully than yours as boys ; and these are our duties — to meet all your wishes half-way when they are good or innocent, but never to indulge them when they are unwise or wrong; to make the path of labour, and of knowledge, and of self-denial as smooth before you as God permits, but to do our utmost, at any cost, to check your feet when they would stray into the paths of death, or the steps that take hold on hell. All this you know, and I feel an entire confidence that here, if anywhere, the ruled and the ruling are one in heart. For as we to you, so must you be no less loyal to us; loyal

to us even when we ask you to do hard things and to make great sacrifices ; loyal to us even when you do not yet see why certain restrictions are necessary, or certain studies desirable ; loyal to us, even if in all honesty, we have failed to understand your character, or failed to appreciate your efforts ; loyal to us for having tried faithfully to serve you, even when you cease to be under our authority. For your gratitude we ask not ; from the noble it will come spontaneously, from the ignoble it never comes at all, nor does it even enter into

216 I THE DAYS OF THY YOUTH. [serm. 3UV calculations. Enough for us if, whether grateful or ungrateful, we can help you a little on life's hard and thorny road. But more than this, you must be loyal not only to us, but to one another. When you daily meet in the school, in the classroom, in the dormitory, in the playground, cherish in your hearts not only a holy charity for one another, but with it a deep reverence for the awfulness before God of your common nature and your common immortality. Yes ! be true to one another. Behold how good and pleasant a thing it is, brethren, to live together in unity. In lowliness of heart let each of you esteem others better than himself. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Oh, you, who are elder, while you lessen each other's trials by a friendship full of manly and mutual honour, make it your highest common duty to shelter the young, the weak, the inexperienced, so that neither cruelty, nor thoughtlessness, nor, worse than all else, the deadly curse and plaguespot of impurity inflict on their souls an irreparable harm. Build God's temple in kindness, by seeing that there be no such thing as a bully to vex, unhindered, the life of his fellows ; build it in manliness, by seeing that no one elder or younger boy be allowed, unchecked, to profane the sacred name of friendship by corrupt and spurious fancies, which, beginning in effeminacy and vanity, end

in shame and degradation. Yes ; if you would build the temple of the Lord you must be true to one another. I3. But remember that you cannot be quite true to one another unless you are true to your own selves. As our great poet says : — " To thine own self be true, And it shall follow as the night the day, Thou caust not then be false to any man." And to be true to vourselves is to be true to vour

XXII.] THE TEMPLE OF THE GOD OF TRUTH. 217 higher nature — trne to the aims and purposes of an immortal soul, created in God's image and redeemed into His adoption. He who degrades God's high ideal for his mortal life — he who sows to the flesh and not to the spirit — he who prefers the death of sin to the life of righteousness — he who to the impulses of his lower nature sacrifices the inspirations of his higher and eternal nature, as Adam did when he flung away his Eden of innocence for the forbidden fruit, as Esau did when for one mess of meat he sold his birthright, as Saul did when he suffered one raging envy to poison his whole existence, as David did when he debased his soul to be trampled in the mire by one evil lust — such a one is a traitor to himself. It is sometimes said of a man that he is his own worst enemy; but this, alas ' is true of many a man in a sense far deeper than that in which it is ordinarily used. An enemy might injure for a time, but what enemy, short of Satan's self, v/ould destroy another with a subtle, everlasting, irremediable destruction, as he who sells his soul for nought ? To be true to yourself you must take as the one law of your being that only which is best, and purest, and likes t God. 7. For as you cannot be true to one another without being true to yourselves, so neither can you be true to

yourselves if you are not true to God. He has made your heart His dwelling-place; you must be true to Him by not defiling it with idols. He has made the fortress of your soul strong for Himself : you must be true to Him by not betraying it to devils. He has given you talents and opportunities : you must be true to Him by employing them in His service. He has entrusted to you, as a labourer, the vineyard which His right hand hath planted : you must be true to Him by yielding Him its fmits of increase. Oh ! strive to be

218 I THE DAYS OF TRY YOUTH, [serm. xxii. true to Him by obeying His commandments ; to be true to Him in your daily prayers by bringing Him real sins to be pardoned, real wants to be supplied ; to be true to Him in this His house, coming before Him with meek heart and due reverence : by coming here not to dream, or to sleep, or to smile, or to trifle, or to look, or to be looked at, but to praise and pray ; by listening to the messages He sends you here as to words addressed to your individual souls. And one such message He is speaking to all of you now. The elder of you — the Prefects, the Heads of Houses, the Captains of Classrooms and Dormitories — He bids you protect the weak, punish the wicked, put down with a strong hand all evil doing, support and countenance whatsoever things are pure, true, lovely, and of good report. And no less to the younger — even to the youngest new boy amongst us — He says. Be strong in the Lord, for moral weakness is very nearly akin to active wickedness. You, too, must help us to build God's temple. " Who is there among you of all His people 1 The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up." Sept. 20, 1874.



Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful