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The Measurable and the Immeasurable.
BY THE REV. JOSEPH PARKER, D.D.
"These are the measures of the altar after the cubits." (Ezekiel xliii., 13.) Whilst he was measuring gates and posts and porches, I cared little, but
when he began to measure the altar, who could but pause ? And t'len came this disappointment—" after the cubits." I thought he was going to measure the altar And what is a•' cubit" ? said I ; and he mocked me with this reply : " The cubit is a cubit and an hand treadth." Ah ! thar undefined " hand breadth"—thut plus Quantity that is in everything. No man «-ver understood the altar. Remember that, and bt)calm. The altar is not to be understood ; there ere some places at which we can only pray, and wonder, and woep, and wait. It is the man with tho footrule in the Church that I dread. He tells me, for sooth ! how long J preached. Can any man preach with that man in the au dience ? THE USE OF THE MEASURABLE is to point to the imme«F.urablfe. How great we used to think those houses down in yonder village ! We passed the great house with a kind of suppressed but not wholly unconscious awe. Then you came to Birmingham. Manchester, Liverpool, London, and went back ; and you said, " Where is the great house ?" That's it—gone down. Why ?—because of the greater sights you have seen, the greater houses that hava passed before >our vision. And thus all life goes dewn in that sense, and yet up in an other. The man who has communed with God fears no oppontnt. Goliath Icoked so huge when I saw him from the human standpoint, but after five minutes with God I sought him ai;i he could not b.? found. So you tabernacle with God : live and move and have your being in God : walk in the heavenl'.es ; then when you come down to earth, with its battle, and stress, and cries, and pain, and need, you will understand what the npostle meant when ha said : Our light affliction is but for a moment. How so? While we look not at the things which Bre seen—not at the cubits, but at the eltar ; not at time, but nt eternity ; not at the present, but at the future. It is heaven that must one day explain the certh. . ,_ . Now, these are not mere incidents. They express a law.. There is A LAW OP GROWTH ; Let us look at this law of altered cubits a littl* while, for it admits of divers and useful illustrations. Take the alphabet. This is your English alphabet. There are some four or six and twenty letters in it ; that is the mea sure of the alphabet after the cubits, Now pronounce the aiphalet. You can not ; you have got all the letters in one huge mouthful, and cannot pronounce tfcem. And most of the totters are them selves dumb, waiting for the vowels to touch them into music and Into life. Suppose a man should say : That is the English language, there you have the English literature ; there you have the "Paradise Lost," an<\ the " Princlpta," and "Hamlet," and all the poetry that has ever been written, and all the philo sophy that has ever been dreamed and published ; th«?re you liavo it all, in so t ar 88 the whole is expresHed In the English language. In a sense, yes ;in another sense, no. Are you content with the alphabet ? You smile at the notion when I refer to letters, to literature, to poetry, and to philosophy ; but how many are there who have been in the Church forty years and are in the cradle still, in the alphabet still, and who when they go to church want to hear the a. phabet pronounced ! I don t ! But unless you say " A, B." and right down to "V Z," there ar« some measurers, not sent from heaven, who say you have rot preached the Gospel! " HOUSE" AND " HOME." Take the whole doctrine with regard to the house. What is your house? You tell me its length and breadth and height, and how many rooms there are in it, and how long they are and how broad. But house is not home. You can talk about the little handful of bricks you call your house ; it means nothing in itself ; have you carried it up into the immeasurable home ? Only life can do that, only love, only mani fold experience. Tragedy and sorrow and loss, and birth and death, and wedding festival, and all the fears and hopes that gather in one darkening, brighten ing apocalypse, only these things can make your house your home. Many men have houses who have no homes. Many men have creeds who have no faith. Who can lay a measuring-rod upon the word "home"? It means al most heaven. Now lay your cubit mea suring line on that! MEASURING THE BIBLE. Of what wonderful application is the thought possible in relation to the Bible ! There are persons, or have been in history who knew all about the Book, what was the initial letter to each chap ter, how many verses there are in each section, which is the middle verse in a particular book, as Genesis or Joshua or the Kings. They knew all theso things ; but they did not know the Bible. That was the measure of the Bible after the cubits—a bookbinder's t-stimate ! a printer's specification ! But the Bible, the sanctuary, the Inner spirit, the Divine Intent, these do not admit of statistical treatment ; and you have never read the Bible until you have read the spirit of It, got Into sympathy with its soul. There is an altar that can be measured ; there Is an altar that can not be measured. Have we come to the higher altar ? HOW TO READ THE BIBLE. Some persons ask me for a book that will help them to discover and defend the doctrine of Inspiration ; they say, " Do you know of such a book ?" I say, I do. " What is it ?" The Bible.
We might carry on the same thought into higher regions. We might address ourselves for example to the matter of | miracles in the light of this cubit mea surement. Everything depends upon how you approach the miracles. I could approach a miracle so that I would deny it ; I could speak about law, and the continuity of law and nature. But I could so communt- with God and so enter into the spirit of his mind and purpose that the miracles would stand in another relation to me ; and I should then understand that the miracles are but cubits, the altar is be hind. Here is this sweet, whlte-souled Nazarene healing a lame man. Put a semicolon after such healing. Jesus never healed a lame man without want ing to get at the lame soul. Do you suppose any miracle ends in itself ? You do not understand the Divine punctua tion. Dear Jesus ! he healed a man of his blindness : a thing hardly worth doing in itself ; but the meaning was, " O thou blind one. I want to open thy poul's eyes ; T want thee to see God." If that was the purpose of the miracles I understand them better than I did be fore. Then they were not mere wonders and signs ? Par from it. They were not mere displays of power ; as who should say. Behold what can I lift, and throw, and set down upon the earth. No, no. What were they then ? Initial gospels, measured altars at which the immeasureable prayer was to 'be offered. DARK I GO FURTHER ? Why thi? law, largely and reverently applied fixes its operations uoon tbe very Christ himself, as we knew him after the flesh. I tremble to say it, but Paul said it, and he is our elder brother and leader —the apostle of Insight—and he said, " Henceforth know we no man after the flesh : yea, though we have known Christ after the ilesh, yet henceforth know we him no mnra" The incarnation stands between the natural and the super natural, and lays its wounded hands upon death. Jesus is here but for a day or two, a mere bracket in the litera ture of duration and evolved and ever - evolving Providence. As to seeing Him, it was a srlance. ami He was gone—gone that He might be nearer, invisible that He might be better seen. This is a great mystery. I can only speak to the higher spiritual expe rience, to those who having not seen have believed ; and he who believes Bees. We wanted the dear one to remain with us all the time ; and He said. No, it is expedient for you that the measurable should become the immeasurable, the visible the invisible, the physical the spiritual ; 1 can work more for you in heaven than would be possible under present conditions : it is for your sakes that. 1 disappear from the. reach of the bodily eye. THE TRUE CROSS. May I go still further, and stop there ? We see the cross no more after its cubit measures. Th*? cross was measurable, the Roman footrule was laid upon it : so much vertically, so much horizontally, fo much in weicrht : that was the cross. No ! that was the Roman gallows, that was not the Cross. Oh why do we not preach the Cross, the Eternal Cross, whose shadow lies evtn over the light of summer ? Men need the Cross, so Interpreted. But have we not made a gallows of the Cross ? Who can mea sure the word " Atonement" ? I will not have any sympathetic communica tion with men who can gabbte about the Cross, and who can preach equally well ' all day long about the same Cross, never feeling its oasslon, its fire, its awful tragedy. There are men, whom T can not follow or understand, who can speak about these great mysteries and feei no death, no loss of blood, no parting of life. I do not know any man that pains me more than the man who ;otn? is to me on a Thursday morning, wh?n I preach in the City of London—a man who says, so coldly and so suggestively, " Now yovi can get a train at Holborn Viaduct at a quarter-past 1" —I finish at V—" you can just jump into that and be in time for our service"—sixty miles off ! Oh. he hurts me ! He does not understand Ihis Gospfl : he never preached. Preaching is loss, sacrifice, outgiving, outerance. And so this Cross is more than wood ; it is more than a Roman device. It is Christ's Cross. The cross from the Roman murderers* point of view was the least of It. Where was the Atonement rendered ? In eternity. Do you sup pose that Christ was born in Bethlehem in any other than a merely visible, tem poral, and earthly sense ? He was never born. When did He die ? He is a Lamb slain from before the founda tions of the world : before the sin was done the Atonement was made. You cannot anticipate God. You canot sur prise the B'.ternal. He does not conceive of the Cross as an after-device, he does not attempt to sanctify a Roman mur der into a living Atonement. The cen turies come and go ; they are the breath of eternity. The very hairs of your head are all numbered. This gives us A NEW VIEW of all our society reports and society operations, and of all our Church life. " I preach," says one minister. "to a very small congregation." Mow do you know it Is small ? Who told you that lie ? A small congregation—lmpos sible ' One man Is a congregation to the right preacher ; one listening soul will take the fire out of him. "We only added one man to the church last year." Who was he ? "I think his name was William Carey." When you added Wil liam Carey to the church you added India, and you added the world. "We only added three to the church last year"—and my lords are sitting and exa mining the schedules, and saying to one another. " T see. sir. that only three were added to the church last year ; had we not better lower the grant this year ?" That is the measure of the altar by the cubits. We must have statistics, we must have reports ; certainly, but I say they may be measured wisely or they may be measured unwisely, und I say
(that a report In figures may give no cor rect representation of the altar or of JG!hriutian service. SMALL SPHERES do not mean small service. Under stand that you can measure by -he cubit end not measure by '.he spiritual lastingness and amplitude Df the results of your ministry, as they arc- viewed by God. O Father ! once a man wanted to build a temple to Thee, and he fumbled and groped and mistook, and could not do it, and Thou didet come to him and say : I see the temple, and I take It ; it Xi nil roofed in and glorious ; it was in thine heart. And Thou, O
Christ, sister—mother—brother—Son of God. Thou cHdFt smile water into win« and turn two mites Into millions of gold. It is what we would do that Christ looks upon, regards, and accepts. There was at the World's Fair the other day a man from Japan who smiled upon the Christianity of England and America, and said, " Japan ought to be very much obliged to the countries that send missionaries to her" ; and he laughed the fool's laugh. Oh. sirs, we do not send missionaries, we send Christ. The missionary is the earthen vesel, the human messenger, the brotherly man ; but when we send a missionary we send the Lord. And the time will come when even JAPANESE SNEERING will not be accounted rational argument.
Go on Bending: the Christ through the missionaries, the Cross through the men, the Gospel through the preacher ; and do not turn aside to argue with any man about It ; make up your mind that this thing 1b right, and do It. And you shall have praise at last. Many persons are very medle&ome with processes. They think that you are very unwise, and this is a very reckles man. Theirs is a mousey kind of prudence that never did anything but steal its morsel of cheese from some other plate. They are people that never lost their lives, and therefore never found them. Put after you have wrought out the thing to a great success they come and say to you,
" Woll—or—of course —or —you know— or—l see—er—evidently—or—you wore right." What able prophots ! What magnificent commentators upon things they do not understand ! You have your policy, you take it from the Christ heart, and you mean that all this world shall hear this Gospel, whether it will hear or whether it will forbear tpiritu ally. Having made up your mind to that course, turn neither to the ri^ht hand nor to the left, and salute no man by the way. and say you are doing a great work and canot stop to argue.
In connection with the information re garding the proposed bishopric at Thurs day Island, mentioned in our tele
gram* from that place, we take the following from the monthly report of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge for December, 1894 :—" In accordance with their notice given at the lust general meeting, the Standing Committee proposed that a sum of £1000 be voted towards the Endowment Fund of the new see of Thursday Island, to meet £SjOOO to be raised from other sources, 10 be payable in instalments of £250 to meet £2250 ; the whole or any part of the fund to be permanently and se curely invested to the satisfaction of the Standing Committee in tru?t for the new ace of Thursday Island. The grant was voted as proposed."
A'globe-trotter on horseback has never yet become a realised (aot, the horse not being amphibious, but Prince Wiaaemsky, the well known Asiatio traveller, is going to do some thing quite new in this way (says the " Pall Mall Gazette"). He writes from Mount Athos to the " Figaro" that he intends to ride from Europe into America. Starting from a given point in Western Europe, he will ride through Europe and aoross Siberia, and reach the Behnng Straits at a time when they are frozen over. He will then attempt the doubtful, dangerout), frozen passage on horseback, and po reaching Amerioa, will ride from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, having thus performed the longest journey on horseback in the records of the world's history.