THE TEMPLE GATES BY JOSEPH A. SEISS, D.D., LL.D.

, He that entereth in by the way of the North gate to worship shall go out by the way of the South gate ; and he that entereth by the way of the South gate shall go forth by the way of the North gate : he shall not return by the way of the gate whereby he came in, but shall go forth over against it. And the Prince in the midst of them, when they go in, shall go in; and when they go forth, shall go forth. — EzEK. 46 : 9, 10. GATES ajar is a popular poetic image which these words may call to mind. Gates are spoken of, — gates of good and blessing. They are Temple gates, — the gates of entrance into holy worship and fellowship with God. The first thought suggested in connection with entrance into these gates is, that Religion is for all in common.^ — for high and low alike. They are for the prince and for the people without distinction of rank. There are many orders and estates in life. Whatever may be men's theories of natural and social equality, the fact remains that class differences cannot be obliterated. There always are, and always will be, older and younger, teachers and pupils, governors and governed, learned and .3:50

FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. 33 1 ignorant, rich and poor, fools and wise. No laws, or legislation, or attempts to level things, can

ever make this different. But while these distinctions exist, and often are very deep; before God, all are on the same level and foundation; for God is no respecter of persons. The same Temple gates and ordinances are for all alike. The prince must go with the people, and the people with the prince. There is no exemption for the high and rich because they are high and rich, nor for the humble and poor because they are humble and poor. Worship, devotion, and the service of God are precisely the same for all. In the true divine order, "the rich and the poor meet together," as the one Lord is the Maker of them all. But God's worshippers do not all entei^ the temple from the same quarter. There is a north gate, and a south gate; — a side of sunshine, and a side of shade, — and people come in from these opposite sides. Some have good fortune in their affairs, and are peculiarly favored in their estate; and in their case the mercies of God are most potential in drawing them. Many have had good and pious homes in which they grew into pious thinking and pious ways, hardly knowing anything else. They come not with bitter sorrows of repentance, for their consciences have never been corroded by gross immoralities, and they have never lived in unbelief. Their lives have been genial, sunny, and good, the rewards of careful parental and pastoral care and teaching;

332 THE TEMPLE GATES. and it has ever been their life and joy to love and serve the good Father in heaven. Gently drawn along as by golden cords, they have come into religion's ways amid pleasantness and peace.

These enter the temple from the side of sunshine and brightness. But there is an opposite side, — the side of gloom, darkness, and storms. Great sorrows and adversities, great crimes and terrors of conscience, great disturbances and fears, great perils and judgments, are often the means of bringing careless and wicked people to a change of their ways. Except for some dark providence, some sore bereavement, some heavy affliction or severe reverses, many would never have been moved to piet}^ and faith. Except for lives of profanity and wickedness, the alarms awakened by Jehovah's threatenings, the sharp disasters that came near consuming them, many would never have come to think of God nor to seek His mercy. The hand of almighty power often strikes in upon the peace of guilty souls, breaks up their nests, shows them the yawning gulf, and through fiery trials brings them to themselves and their duty. These come into the temple by way of the north gate, — from the side of shadow, gloom, and darkness. But from wdiatever side people enter, the great matter is to enter. The gates are made for this purpose. To neglect the temple and worship of God, is to neglect the soul and heaven. To be without God and without hope in the world is an abnormity, — a negation of proper manhood, —

FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. 333 a making light of the superlative work of divine goodness toward our race. There is no merciful God, no hope, no salvation apart from Him who can be approached only through His own ordinances and temple. The gates of the Sanctuary

are the gates of hope and salvation, and there is neither for those who refuse to enter them. And having entered there must be straightforward progress. Entering at the north gate there is to be a going through to the south gate ; and the same to the north gate from entrance at the south. Many enter the temple-place and come out just where they went in. They make no progress. They do not go through. They begin and then retreat. They go part of the way, but get no further. We see them enter at one gate, but they never get to the other. There is no thoroughness in their religion, — no following on to serve the Lord. They perform some duties, but leave the rest. They make the start, but fail to continue. But God says, "If any man draw back, my soul hath no pleasure in him." Having made the beginning, we must "go on unto perfection." Paul supplied the right example, when, forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forth to those things that are before, he ever pressed for the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Another thought is, that the true worship of God does not let us out as we came in. It is meant to do something for us, — to make us better, stronger, and firmer in our faith and duty. When

334 THE TEMPLE GATES. Moses was in the mount with Ood, his face took on a brightness, so that the children of Israel could scarcely endure to look upon it. When men observed certain disciples, they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus. Association and fellowship with the divine im-

printed its marks. And so our entry into the temple is intended to enlighten, brighten, and burnish our souls, — to clear away the darkness and earthiness of our hearts, — to illuminate and transfigure our natures, — to bring the sorrowing to joy, the troubled to peace, and to prepare the happy for the day of trial. We may not always be able to see the effect, or be fully conscious of it, but the good is there, and continues to deepen as we continue in the sacred communion. Moses did not know his face was shining, and we may not be able to carry away with us the scented waters ; but where they have touched us the pleasant aroma remains upon the soul. Going in with a true heart and a serious mind, we cannot come out as we went in. A pious life has many ins and outs. There is an in to the closet. We need our private devotions, — our retirements from the world ; and to these we must attend. This is one ingoing. There is another ingoing to the public worship. If we would be right Christians, we dare not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is. People who despise churchgoing, who do not care whether they hear the preaching of the Word or not, and think they can

FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. 335 do as well by lying at home or wandering about the streets and fields, or by using God's holy day for social visitations, never can have much of the spirit of religion in them. True Christian life calls for a going in to the sanctuary. There is also a going in to the Table of the Lord, to the study of the Scriptures, to frequent

self-examinations, and to consideration of what we can do for God and His cause. All these are ingoings in Christian life. But there are also outgoings. We cannot always be in the closet, in the place of worship, or in the more formal duties of religion. Neither is it intended that we should. God has arranged for 6'z^/goings as well as zVzgoings. We go in to eat, and rest, and commune, and refresh ourselves ; and then we go out to employ and put forth the strength which we thus acquire. A right man will always have some employment, and so will have a going out to business, trade, and daily occupation. Hiding away from the world is not Christianity. God means us to take our part in the industries, toils, burdens, and attritions of life. It is this that helps to develop character, strengthen virtue, and promote usefulness. Man is always at his best where he is obliged to work and toil for bread and shelter ; and no man can be what he ought to be, if he never goes out in this line of things. Then there is also a going forth to manifold temptations. God always tries those whom He honors. He puts them to the test, that they may

336 THE TEMPLE GATES. show what is really in them, and develop their powers of endurance. It may be by adversity, or it may be by prosperity, — it may be by provocations and rough experiences, or it may be by flatteries and soft solicitations, — it may be by taxes on temper, on patience, on endurance, or it may be by exemptions, ease, and a plentiful and sunny life. But, in one way or another we must be

tried. As Jesus came out of the waters of Baptism to be tempted of the devil, so we must encounter all sorts of trials and temptations, that we may prove ourselves the true children of God by our victories over them. And then there are further outgoings in Christian work. Religion is not all hearing of sermons, saying of prayers, and singing of Psalms. There are children to be instructed and trained in religious knowledge and habits. There are sick, and poor, and helpless to be looked after and cared for. There are churches to be built and sustained, ministers to be educated, erring ones to be recovered, people destitute of the means of grace and salvation to be supplied with the word and ordinances, and a thousand interests of the kingdom to be looked after and provided for, requiring labor and self-denial, to which good people must needs go forth. It is therefore a true picture of Christian life which these ins and oiits suggest. But in these ingoings and outgoings God's people have a comforting assurance. ' ' The Prince is in the midst of them."

FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. 33/ Whoever this Prince may be when the prophecy reaches its ultimate fulfihnent, we know who is now the Prince of Zion. The King and Head of the Church is the risen and enthroned Jesus. He is the Lord and Prince of all God's people. And He is ever with them, — ever "in the midst of them." Going in or oiit^ He is with them.

His word is, that "Where two or three are gathered together in His Name, there He is, in the midst of them." And all faithful souls know the truth of this. His Sanctuary is the appointed and special meeting-place between Him and them. Here He breathes upon them, and bestows His Spirit, and shows His wounded hands, and feet, and side, and gives His loving benediction. Here He mingles His prayers with ours, and unites His Spirit with our spirits, to lift us into heavenly experiences and blessing. And when His people go forth He goes forth with them. Be it in special works for Him and His Church, or in our daily business. He is with us. A true Christian is a Christian in his ordinary work and plans of life, as well as in his worship and confession; and the Prince is with him in the one as in the other. Christ and His people are one, and can no more be separated in the common affairs of life than in their devotions. He dwells in them and walks in them. He also goes with them into their trials and temptations, to direct, comfort, and sustain. There is no one upon whom we can so much count at 22

338 THE TEMFI.K GATES. such times as upon Him. His sympathies are with the sorrowing; His help is with the weak and endangered; His consolations are with the faint and the sad.

And in our goings forth in active Christian duty, He hath specially said, " Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." When His ministers stand up to preach His Gospel, He stands up with them, and speaks by them, and is their mouth and wisdom, as He is their salvation. When His people do for His Name and honor, and for the good of the Church and their fellow-men, it is more His doing than theirs. It is His Spirit acting in their acts. And especially in our going forth out of this world, will our Prince go with us. In the passage through the dark valley, the gloom is often so deep, the mystery so great, the experience so untried, the natural dread so oppressive, that then, above all, we would like to have the assuring presence of some one able to sustain and comfort us. But there our Prince is especially near. He is never closer nor more precious to a believing soul than when it trembles on the confines of an unexplored eternity. Even amid the dissolution of the earthly house of this tabernacle. His hands are open to receive the outgoing spirit; and, in all the frowning gloom and darkness. His rod and His staff are pledged for our defence and consolation. And yet one other thought from this text: IVe have not long to worship here. There is a gate

FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. 339 of entrance and a o^ate of exit, and the distance between them is short. It is the place for the adjustment of our affairs with God, — the place to get His favor and benediction, — the place of ready-making for a happy departure; — but it is

no place for a long stay. The gate at which we come in already points on to the gate at which we are to go out. We cannot remain even if we would. The procession is ever moving, and we necessarily move with it. "For here we have no continuing city." Dear friends, have you entered these sacred gates and put yourselves in condition for a hopeful and happy exit from this world? Some of you have had your lot on the side of storms and darkness. You know what it is to be afflicted, bereaved, weighed down with trials and sorrows. Have they served to bring you in by that North gate ? Some of you may have had but little else than sunshine and prosperity, to whom God has been very good, strewing your path with flowers. Has that served to awaken your devout gratitude and to bring you in through the South gate? Think what mighty interests hang suspended upon these questions. Let them not be put aside as impertinent. And if you have not yet sought to enter the blessed sanctuary, now is the time for you to act ; that through these earthly gates you may enter the gates of pearl and find your home in the heavenly Jerusalem. 1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books 2. ALL WRITINGS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000

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