" And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication^ and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon^s porch'—JOH X. 22, 23. ational humiliation and national rejoicing may at times be every way fit and proper. Events may call for them, — their propriety may be universally recognised; but if annually perpetuated, they may become unmeaning— the memorials of worn-out and obsolete things. Antiochus had defiled the temple by offering swine upon the altar. Judas Maccabeus had purified it, and the "feast of the dedication " was the annual commemoration of this event in Jewish history. In addition to fasts and festivals of Divine appointment, others were appended, and these, though not binding on men's consciences, appear to have been scrupulously observed. It is instructive to observe with how much more reverence men treat Church institutions than those ordained and sanctioned by God. What a contrast there is between Christianity and Judaism I Christianity is a religion without fasts and festivals. It is not an outward religion. It is

Temple Views of Winter. 99 not meats and drinks. It does not consist in outward observances. It says nothing about "times and seasons." It does not attach sanctity to days and years. It has little to do with the letter — much with the spirit. It insists on a correspondence between the inward life and the outward expression.

An ecclesiastical body has no right to enjoin outward signs of an unusual state of feeling. We cannot rejoice or be sorrowful because we are commanded ; and we may therefore conscientiously decline to fall in with observances which to us would not be utterances of truth. Still, in the exercise of the excellent grace of charity, while we claim liberty for ourselves, we have no right to condemn others. " Let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth." We have no rule over men's consciences. The man who acts from conviction demands our reverence, though his convictions be founded on error. God is the judge of conscience ; He has not delegated this prerogative to us, or to any body of men. What hast thou to do with another man's conscience, or what has another man to do with thine ? " He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks." A man who makes God's glory his aim is not to be condemned by us ; but if he would subvert the Gospel by attaching unreal value to bodily service, we are bound to utter our protest. Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch, H2

100 TempU Views of Winter. and it was the feast of the dedication. He, the glory of the temple, had come to it, and in its porch men seek to stone Him, because He asserts His oneness with the Father. Symbolism may be more yalned than truth. Men may attach greater importance to the sanctuary than to the Gospel. Before the Jews came round about Christ, and asked Him how long they were to be kept in doubt, Jesus was walking in the porch, and it is natural for us to form some idea

of the thoughts that might have been passing through His mind — suggested in all probability by the ecclesiastical arrangements and institutions then in the course of observance, or by the season of the year, for the Evangelist tells us " it was winter." Christ's thoughts could not be fully expressed in words — they could only be breathed to His Father ; but they appear frequently to have been suggested by outward things, and on this occasion He may have thought of the contrast between the outward beauty of the temple and the real condition of the Church, — or the little moral influence the Church had yet brought to bear upon the world, for the world's winter was only the symbol of its spiritual state. But whatever the thoughts of Jesus, we may gather lessons of great spiritual import from the thoughts suggested to us in the sanctuary by the season of the year. Our subject is, "Temple Views of Winter." The ritualism of nature is most expressive, — it furnishes us with types of spiritual ideas. Our words

Temple Views of Winter^ loi are nature*s pictures, and the outward world is the grand volume of God*s utterances of His thoughts. See how spiritual truths are illustrated. We have life, death, burial, and resurrection. We see that the death of one form of life is introductory to another. What silent and unseen influences produce changes in the world, well fitted to portray the greater changes wrought by moral power. Christ, the greatest Teacher, used nature's illustrations. He wants a type of His spiritual kingdom ; He looks round ; He does not borrow from art, or from science, from any of the world's institutions, but from nature. The smallest seed containing the germ of life, is His apt and beautiful illustration of that spiritual kingdom, which, however feeble and small in its commencement, has life,

and is destined to develop that life in its own time in appropriate manifestations. He wants a symbol of His own wonderful and mysterious death, in the effects, the great results, to be answered by it. He can only find it in nature. " Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a com of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone ; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." All nature's symbols were full of meaning in His hands. I. Our first remark is, That death precedes life. Our year does not begin with spring, but with winter. Winter must go before and prepare the way for the coming spring. So the winter in man's heart ushers in the birth of spring — for spring, with all its

loi Temple Views of Winter* verdure and beauty, its fragrance and melody, is tx)n\ in the coldness and barrenness of winter. Winter is the type of death. Death seems to reign, and to fill the world with its presence and utterances. The winds as they moan and sigh in the darkness of the night, and rap at our chamber windows, seem like troubled spirits that seek to be admitted that they may find rest. Winter paralyses old age, and takes the colouring from childhood. It bids the sexton ply his task, and fills many a grave. Yes, winter is the symbol of death. If mental life is to be developed, how much have we to die to ! — how much to unlearn of what we knew, or thought we knew ! — how many early prejudices, mistaken opinions, and confused conjectures, have we to separate ourselves from, and to leave in the grave, if we would come forth and live in the light 1 How much of our present existence passes away in our dying to opinions, which we called truths, and which in sorrow and toil we have found to be

errors 1 If the spiritual life is to be developed, death must precede it. Old principles must be renounced^ old impulses repelled, old habits abandoned. We must be bom again. There must be a new creation. There must be the realisation of death in law before there is life in Christ. Paul's experience is the illustration and proof of this statement: "I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." Without the knowledge of the spiritual requirements of the law —

Temple Views of^ Winter. 103 reading its letter, but having no idea of its spirit — a man may live; but let the commandment come — let it come into contact with the thoughts, the im^ pulses, the imaginings of the heart — and there will be the manifestation and the fearful consciousness of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. How did Paul die ? " The things that were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." The things with which he was trading with heaven ; the things most precious in his esteem, with which he had freighted the vessel bound for the shores of a distant world — these he threw overboard as worthless. " Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things ; and do count them as dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." There must come the sternness of winter ; it must come with all its severity, its storms, its frosts, its cold, ere we shall die to those mere forms — those conventionalities, those things we call life. There must be the sharp, cutting wind, stripping us of un-

realities — the lifeless and dead leaves of mere profession. There must be the cold, in which our own fancied strength and life will die. When God sends winter into the world of a man's spiritual nature, " who can stand before his cold ? "

104 Tingle Views of Winter. Death precedes life. There must be death to sin, that there may be life to God. We can only cease from sin by becoming dead to sin, and we cannot die this death without suffering in the flesh. "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts." Crucifixion with Christ precedes Christ living in us. *' If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." It is in darkness, in tempests, in sorrow, in the long and dreary winter of the soul, that the life of the flesh, the sensuous life is weakened, that its manifestations are checked, that the body ceases to be the grave of the soul. In proportion as we die to sin will the spirit be life because of righteousness. There must be winter with its desolations, — there must be the death of the world's old forms of life, ere the spring with its new and beautiful manifestations will be bom. Death precedes life. There must be death to the things seen, if we would live to the things that are unseen. " We must look not on the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen ; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." The world must be dead to us, ere we shall set our affections on things that are above. Death to earth, life to heaven, is the spirit of Christianity. If the world were the scene of life's full development, we might indulge in no longings for a more congenial clime. It is the

Temple Views of Winter. 105 winter that prepares us for the vernal season. We must experience the winter of the worid that we may enter on the spring of eternity. Death precedes life. The body must die that it may live a new life. " It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption ; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory ; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power ; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." It must die to be invested with spirituality. It must sleep in the grave till the world's Easter morning shall come. II. The second lesson the winter teaches us is, That life has its successive developments. Winter is necessary that one form of life may pass away to be succeeded by another. It is not all spring earth's beautiful garments become worn and soiled, and must be laid aside, and in darkness and silence nature makes preparation for her new vesture. It is not all activity and growth — everything that has life putting forth its utmost strength ; there must be a time for the gathering up of energies and the concentration of power. It is not all fruitfulness ; the fruits of the earth must be gathered in, and thus answer the purposes of their growth, and the developments must begin anew. The length of the year is so determined as to be adapted to the constitution of the vegetable world. If any change were to take place, the beautiful and wonderful mechanism would be disarranged, and

io6 Temple Views of Winter. come to a stand, for the vegetable clock-work is set for a year. Even the strong trees of the wood require all the seasons of the year for their perfection. The winter is necessary for hardening and giving solidity to the growth of spring. In the spiritual world the winter is necessary. It is adapted to the present constitution of man. It is not always needed that life's most powerful energies should be at their full stretch. There must be the strengthening of the inward life, that preparations may be made for new manifestations. There must be quiescence, that there may be activity. We need winter, with its cold winds, with its rain and snow. We get strength and robustness, not in summer, but in winter. Life then is less outward, and more inward. There is more spiritual growth in winter than in summer. It is in silence and sorrow amid life's storms, that we gather up the strength we expend in action. There are successive developments of life ; — these, though almost numberless in their forms, may be repetitions. Every year may see leaves and flowers and fruit like the last. But some forms may be succeeded by new manifestations of life — ^by growth, by increase of beauty, by greater luxuriance and fruitfulness. There is not a flower or leaf that falls in the breeze that has not accomplished its purpose, and made way for its successor. One development having answered its end, makes room for another

Temple Views of Winter. 107 coming up behind it; There are successive manifestations of spiritual life that seem to be copies of

each other. There are feelings and thoughts clothed in the same attire, and bearing year after year the same fruit. These are necessary to the Christian character, and yet these repetitions would not go on did not winter intervene. Some forms of spiritual life are replaced, however, by manifestations far surpassing those that preceded them: — there may be the leaf, but the tree has g^own ; there may be the flower, but its beauty and fragrance leave little room for comparison with former developments; there may be the fruit, but how much more luxuriant. So should it be with us. Let us make this our earnest desire that the acts of spiritual life may not simply be repetitions, but new manifestations. It is winter, when we are surrounded by all the barrenness of poverty, when earth has no supplies for our wants, when labour is unneeded or unrewarded ; it is winter, when death blasts the flowers in our gardens, when our best beloved are hidden in the grave; it is winter, when darkness veils our heavens, and we are surrounded by sorrow and gloom : but oh ! who shall say what new manifestations of life may follow this dreary season. III. Another lesson that winter may teach us is — That life contains the germ of all future developments. We have the seeds of things — we have life in all its future developments in the germ. The acorn

xoS Tcm^ Vian of Winter. contains the life of the forest ; the ioot» the future incense of spring; the seed, the world's harvests. Winter does not destroy life, — there are the beginnings of new forms of life ere the old ones pass away. Spiritual life is Divine — ^it is etemaljlife. The first

manifestation — ^the first act of faith — the simple belief of the soul in Jesus, contains in it the germ of all the future life. There is a relation between our spiritual life and the sinless life — ^life without a shadow, without any darkness at all, life without sin. Thanks be to God, this is the perfection of life to which we are destined. There is a relation between our present life and the sorrowless life : " They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." There is a relation between our present life as Christians, and its most glorious revelations: ''Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." We see then, in conclusion, that winter stands in relation to other seasons. We are not to look at it by itself, but as introductory and necessary to these. And yet in spring, when we are filled with the fragrance of flowers and the melody of birds, who thinks how much we are indebted to winter ? Who, amid

Temple Views of Winter. 109 the beauty of summer, attributes it to the coldness and severity of winter? Who, when the crown is placed on the brow of autumn, remembers that it was woven by the icy hands of winter? So afflictions are not for the present joyous, but grievous ; nevertheless, afterward they produce' the fruits of righteousness in those which are exercised thereby. Winter stands in relation to other seasons. The winter of old age, dear Christian, is to be followed

by an everiasting spring — you shall renew your youth — there shall be no wrinkles on your brow, no furrows on your face, no snow on your head. The winter of sorrow is to be followed by the harvest of joy : " Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart." What we want now is life. O God ! give us life ; then we will not fear the present or any coming winter — not even death, for life is ours. "This is the record, that God hath given to us effemal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.''

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