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THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS.
A POSTIL FOR ALL SAINTS' DAY.
“ On thy right hand did stand the queen in a vesture of gold wrought about with divers colours.”—Ps. xlv. 10.
This is an unusual text for “All Saints' Day.” At first sight it does not seem to have much to do with it ; it is not even taken from any part of its service, but from that of another festival. True: but upon THAT FESTIVAL depends the whole of this. If there had been no Christmas, there would be no All Saints' Day; if there had been no Incarnation, there would be no Communion of Saints. I intend to speak of the services for this day, and in fact to go through them. I mean to show you how they bear upon each other; and therefore it is that I tie them up together into one, with a text taken from that day on which they all depend.
The Bible is not like other books, in which passages may be altered, and words may be put in or left out, without injuring the sense and meaning. What the LORD said of the Revelation, may be said with equal truth of the whole Bible;—“If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, the LORD shall take away his part out of the Book of Life.” And rightly so: the words are God's words,—not man's. Man may have written them, and for his own purposes, and not knowing the extent of what he was writing; but God has placed His own interpretation upon them, and therefore
every word is of consequence. The real meaning may not have been seen for years after they were written; but as time rolls on, and the antitype appears, we begin to discover the full interpretation, and then words of course words to which we had attached no particular meaning—come out clearer and clearer, and show themselves to have been all the while typical and emblematic.
It is like a landscape. We look out upon it by night, and see only unmeaning outlines ; but the day dawns, the light grows stronger, the sun rises, and we see, not new objects, but things which have always been there, though our eyes have been unfit to distinguish them till the light from heaven has fallen
them. Who was the king's son mentioned in the forty-fifth Psalm ? who was the queen ? what was her vesture of gold ? why was it wrought about with divers colours ? Had an Israelite been asked these questions in the days of that great marriage feast, when first this Psalm was sung before the rejoicing crowds of Jerusalem, he would have said at once that the king's son was Solomon; that the queen was the daughter of Pharaoh ; that the vesture of gold with its divers colours was the magnificently embroidered robe of honour which David had prepared for her.
And he would have answered rightly according to the extent of the revelation which had been vouchsafed to him. He would not have known-he would never have heard—that which the second lesson for this afternoon has revealed to you; that the time should be when “ the marriage of the LAMB should come, and His WIFE should make herself ready,—that to her should be granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of the SAINTS.
We have here, then, the very same landscape before us which was before the Jew, but we have light from heaven to see it by. The objects have been always there, though hitherto the outlines only had been seen, the Lamb had been slain from the foundation of the world : and we know now that Solomon in His glory is but a type of CHRIST the King,—that the daughter of Pharaoh, chosen out of the world, and numbered among God's chosen only by becoming His, is but a type of that heavenly bride the Church, similarly chosen and similarly sanctified; and that her robe of honour is nothing else than the righteousness of the saints, not belonging to her before she was chosen, but now wrought and put on her by the grace of God the HOLY SPIRIT.
This robe, which is the righteousness of the Saints, is of gold, and very precious ; but why is it wrought about with divers colours ?
Look at the second lesson this morning; remember who those were who “through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained the promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire. There were no divers colours here; it was the wrought gold. They were God's saints, and their righteousness was the robe of honour wherewith the bride was clothed. But they were all of one people; no others had been embroidered in as yet, and made one with that glorious vestment, which was complete in itself, but formed the groundwork for the embroidery. The number of this first dispensation was complete. “I heard,” says S. John, “ the number of them that were sealed, one hundred and forty and four thousand out of every tribe of Israel.” Their dispensation had been closed, the number of their elect had been reckoned up; no more were to be sealed in the forehead from the stock of Abraham after the flesh.
But look what came after this. “ After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, not numbered now, but which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and
peoples, and tongues." These are the “divers colours," worked into and made one with that glorious robe of gold. They stood before the throne and the Lamb, clothed now, not with the divers colours which they had by nature, for these, whatever they had been originally, bad now been “made white,” and therefore reduced to one colour by the Blood of the Lamb. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free now; but as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on CHRIST. They stand with the palms of victory in their hands, and cry with a loud voice, Salvation to our God, Which sitteth
upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. Now remember this. Jerusalem which once was is . a type of God's Church that now is. Whatever, therefore, is related in the Bible of Jerusalem and of its people, is not related without a cause ; it has its meaning; it is a lesson, or a warning, or a prophecy; and it is intended for us, the as yet unnumbered multitudes of CHRIST's Church now on earth.
Among that typical people there was, as we see by this day's epistle, a certain definite number finally sealed ; elected from among the elect. As long as the process of selecting these was in the act of accomplishment, four angels stood on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that a wind should not blow upon the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. They had a special command to "hurt not the earth, neither the sea nor the trees, till the servants of God were sealed on their foreheads.” But no sooner was this done, and the destined number accomplished, than the fate of the outward vessel which held them was accomplished also. The Jewish Church came to an end. No doubt that particular number specified, -that hundred and forty and four thousand,-means something which we see
but darkly now, but shall see more clearly hereafter. It may be, as some have said, that twelve, the number of the tribes, is multiplied by twelve, the number of the Apostles, and that again by ten, to signify the gathering of individuals; it may be, as the imaginative Bede has figured, that “the increase of perfection is the multiplying of twelve by twelve, and the consummation is shown by thousands, which, being the solid square of ten, signifies the living stability of that Church which is often figured by the number twelve, as representing the fourfold world in the faith of the TRINITY. But leaving all these speculations, which after all are more or less fanciful, one thing is certain : there is a number mentioned, a perfect and definite number; and when that number is completed, the door is shut—the destiny is closed.
Do we not remember a sentence in the Burial Service awfully illustrative of this ? do we not pray that the LORD would accomplish the number of His elect, and would hasten His kingdom ? And do we not thereby acknowledge that, unnumbered as are now the multitudes of nations, and kindreds, and tongues, and people, the time will come when the parallel between the type and the antitype will be made perfect, and the servants of God in this spiritual Jerusalem will be numbered, and sealed in their foreheads with the mystical seal of the servants of God in the temporal Jerusalem. And then comes the destruction of the world, the judgment, and the everlasting Jerusalem.
As yet the number is incomplete, and the Apostle does not feel at liberty to record any of them ; but he feels himself under no such restriction with regard to the completed dispensation, which is to be to us a type. He mentions these. “The time would fail me,” he says, in