Ezekiel 48
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
The kingdom of God, here symbolized "with such imperfect materials of thought and utterance as then lay within the prophet's reach," was to be one that has not yet been realized; but with the overthrow of many superstitions, the breaking down of much corruption, and the birth and growth (or the revival) of much Christian zeal, it may be said that this fair vision is being fulfilled - that the kingdom of Christ is coming, though it is far from having come. Among its characteristics, as it shall one day be, are -

I. GLORIOUS MAGNITUDE OF DIMENSION. (Ver. 10. See homily on Ezekiel 42:15-20.)

II. IT'S A MIXTURE OF GRACE AND OF REWARD. The distribution of the land seems to have been without much (if any) regard to the meritoriousness of the tribes. Dan, which for its admission of idolatrous dements might have been last placed, comes first of all (ver. 1); on the other hand, marked preference is shown to "the priests... of the sons of Zadok, which have kept my charge, which went not astray," etc. (ver. 11). In the kingdom of Christ there is this same righteous and beneficent admixture.

1. It is of God's grace that all sinful souls are taken back into his favor, and are partakers of eternal life (Ephesians 2:5; Romans 6:23).

2. A large reward is offered to steadfastness and fidelity (Luke 22:28; Matthew 25:21; Romans 2:7; Revelation 2:10).


1. The several tribes were so placed that they were as near to one another as could be; they were to be located side by side. And there was to be no barrier of sea or mountain wall, or even deep river between them; there was to be no hindrance to full communion (see vers. 1-8).

2. They were to unite in a common service. All the tribes were to take part in the service required for the city (ver. 19). When in the future the kingdom of God shall be what its Lord would have it, there shall be no separating walls keeping Churches and communities apart; there will be nothing standing in the way of fullest and happiest communion; differences of opinion or of organization will not be sources of division and separation; and while fellowship will be uninterrupted, co-operation for common ends will be common and complete, - all will serve together.

IV. BEAUTY. The aspect presented by this vision is one of symmetry; the sanctuary of the Lord in the midst of it (ver. 10); the sacred city around the sanctuary; and the twelve tribes around the city. Here is the beauty of a symmetrical arrangement. The beauty of the Church will not, indeed, be of this visible, material order. That is quite out of the question. It must necessarily be moral, spiritual, if at all. And that it will be.

1. It will be fair with devotion - constant, systematic, and (withal) spontaneous devotion (see next homily).

2. It will be adorned with an admirable consistency of behavior, shunning the evil and pursuing the good which its Divine Master has either condemned or commended.

3. It will be beautiful with the spirit of a true catholicity, its members having a cordial regard and affection for one another, however they may differ in views and tastes.

4. It will be arrayed in the "beautiful garments" of sympathy and helpfulness. - C.

The spiritual training of men has been uppermost in God's mind. As a wise father trains his child, so God has been training us. From God earthly fathers have instinctively learnt their methods. With unparalleled patience God has been encouraging men to take the first step heavenward, then the next, and the next. The progress has been slow, often imperceptible; yet it has been continuous. Earth has been, and still will be, a great school-house, a religious university, and God's lesson-books are numberless. The outline of God's plan was sketched in Judaea, and the Hebrews (dull scholars as they were) have become teachers to the world.

I. RELIGION FILLS A CENTRAL PLACE IN A RENOVATED WORLD. "The sanctuary of the Lord shall be in the midst thereof." As the light of truth permeates men's minds, they will discover the supreme excellence of piety. Whatever will aid in the unfolding of their spiritual nature, whatever will promote increasing likeness to God, shall be most appreciated. Temporary good will sink into its proper place; will be appraised at its proper value. The outlook upon human destiny will be taken from a loftier elevation. Present possessions and enjoyments will be deemed, not final, but stepping-stones to higher things. And, from her central throne, Religion will radiate a benign influence over every interest men have in life. What the sun is to the solar system, or what the axle is to the wheel, or what the heart is to the human body, true religion will be among the concernments of our race.

II. RELIGION PROVIDES A GRADUATED SCALE OF EXCELLENCE. It produces states of purity, circle within circle. Central amongst the civilized nations lay the Hebrew people - a "holy nation - a peculiar people." Among the Hebrew tribes was one tribe set apart and hallowed for God. Within this tribe was selected a consecrated family, and within this family a consecrated man. So also within Jerusalem, the holy city, there was a central portion holier still; within this enclosure a court sacred to the priests, and within this holy place the holy of holies. Thus God leads us step by step from a lower to a loftier life, from one stage of holiness unto another. We aspire and make endeavor after a nobler style of life; and lo! when we have attained it (as in ascending the Alpine mountains) we discover heights of excellence still above us, more attractive yet. Kindlier methods than those God uses on our behalf it is impossible to employ, and his benevolent ambition is to raise us to his own level of life and joy.

III. RELIGION PROMOTES UNITY AMID DIVERSITY. "The sanctuary shall be in the midst of it." In other words, the several tribes of Israel were allotted their territory (in Ezekiel's ideal sketch) in relation to the holy place. Their vital connection with the sanctuary determined their connection with each other. The distinction between the tribes was not obliterated; it served some useful purpose; but this common relation to the sanctuary bound them each to each. If they had any separate interests as tribes, they had larger and more precious interests as a nation. The more they valued the sanctuary the stronger was the attachment to each other. The nearer they got to God the less distance there was between each other. Among the citizens in Christ's kingdom diversities in minor things will continue. Diversity adds to beauty and to usefulness. Diversity of function and office, diversity in opinion and in taste, is lawful; yet amid all lawful diversity there runs a bond - a vital tie - of true unity. The members of the body are various, yet the body is one. In all God's works the same principle prevails.

IV. RELIGION BRINGS GOD EQUALLY NEAR TO ALL. As a fact in Jewish history, the tribe of Dan, being furthest removed from God's sanctuary, became more worldly, idolatrous, and godless than the other tribes. In the new settlement of things, in Ezekiel's vision, Dan shall have equal privilege with the rest. Type and parable wilt always lack some elements, which inhere in the substance. In the new kingdom God shall be within easy reach of all. Spiritual monopolies shall cease. Exclusive privilege has vanished. The devout heart in every tribe of men, or in any class of society, may find God always near. Distance from God is no longer geographical; it is moral. The slave and the pauper may have access to the great presence-chamber; the monarch, Jew or Gentile, may be barred out by their own unbelief. "With that man will I dwell, who is of an humble and a contrite heart."

V. RELIGION HAS AMPLE REWARD FOR FAITHFUL SERVICE. The sons of Zadok had remained faithful in a time of general apostasy. Divine approval may not have been openly or profusely expressed at the time. Yet generous reward was in store. Permanent honor and permanent advantage appear as the prolific fruit. They shall dwell nearer to God than others do. The entire nation shall serve them. Their deed shall reflect honor upon their father's name. The glory of their deed shall be perpetual, shall be world-wide. Their noble deed shall be the seed-corn for other deeds, and these again shall bear fruit in other lands. "The memory of the righteous is blessed."

VI. RELIGION IS SUPREMELY VALUABLE. Concerning this consecrated land it was decreed, "They shall not sell of it, neither exchange, nor alienate the firstfruits of the land." Nothing can compensate for the loss of religion. It is solid consolation that true piety is inalienable. No power on earth or in hell can rob us of our faith, or of our purity, or cf our hope. It has the guarantee of almighty protection. You can no more alienate religion from a saint than you can alienate warmth from a sunbeam or saltness from the sea. All that a man hath will he give for his life; but the life of his spirit he accounts a thousandfold more precious yet. God's friendship is treasure which no arithmetic can express. All comparisons fail. - D.

It was highly creditable to these sons of Zadok that, when the children of Israel generally and the Levites in particular went astray, they resisted the influence of a very general example, and remained faithful to the worship and service of Jehovah. "Faithful among the faithless," they were recognized and remembered by God himself, and their fidelity was rewarded in the apportionment of the territory among, the people. It is a virtue which every Christian should aim at possessing and exercising.

I. FIDELITY IS IN CONTRAST TO GENERAL UNFAITHFULNESS. Doubtless there was a period in the history of Israel when apostasy was remarkably general. But such is the weakness and vacillation, the inconstancy and mutability, of human nature, that fidelity is in every age and in every state of society a noticeable virtue. When multitudes turn from God and abandon themselves to error or superstition, to infidelity and irreligion, they are conspicuous and commendable who cleave unto the Lord with purpose of heart.

II. FIDELITY IS DISPLAYED IN THE RESISTANCE OF TEMPTATION. Two considerations account for unfaithfulness - the inducement of interest, indolence, worldliness, etc.; and the weakness of the moral nature, the frailty of resolution. To brave unpopularity, to dare to be singular, to turn a deaf ear to the instigations of the lower parts of the nature, to follow the guidance of deliberate convictions, - such is the way of honor and of piety. Life is a scene of discipline; none can escape the probation; the faithful endure it and profit by it.

III. FIDELITY CONSISTS IN KEEPING THE LORD'S CHARGE. We are all trustees to whom the great Ruler and Judge of all has confided a charge. It may be a deposit of truth, it may be a certain service to be rendered; but whatever it be, it is required in us as stewards that we be found faithful. There are those who boast of their fidelity so their fellow-men, who have, however, no just and practical sense of the duty of faithfulness to God himself. But of all our responsibilities the most sacred is that to him in whom we live and move and have our being, who has assigned to us our work and vocation on earth, and who will require of every one of us a strict account.

IV. FIDELITY IS A VIRTUE THE MANIFEST EXHIBITION OF WHICH MUST NEEDS INFLUENCE THE COMMUNITY FOR HIGHEST GOOD. The faithful are the salt of human society; they are a rebuke to the vacillating, and an encouragement and inspiration especially to the younger members of society whose aim it is to serve their generation according to the will of God. In Jewish history are to be found not a few illustrations of the beneficial effects of examples of faithfulness to God and to the mission and the witness appointed by God.

V. FIDELITY IS APPRECIATED AND REWARDED BY GOD HIMSELF. The text furnishes us with an instance of the Divine satisfaction with those who do not shrink from fulfilling the charge Committed to them. And our Lord Jesus Christ has assured us that those who are faithful in a few things shall he made rulers over many things. The prospect of Divine approval may well sustain the servants of God when they have to endure tribulation, persecution, and desertion because of their steadfastness and integrity in the discharge of sacred duty; all this God is "not unrighteous to forget." - T.

Jerusalem was the metropolis of the Jewish state and of the Jewish Church. Accordingly, it was regarded as the charge of the whole nation. All Israelites had an interest in its peace and prosperity, and all recognized the honorable obligation of providing for its welfare. In his ideal reconstitution of the nation Ezekiel provided that the city lands should be cultivated, and the city service should be fulfilled by Israelites selected from all tribes, who also should serve as a militia for its defense. The principle is a Divine principle which applies to the Church of Christ, the true and spiritual Jerusalem.

I. A UNIVERSAL SERVICE. As all the tribes of Israel joined in serving their country's metropolis, so in the Church of the Divine Redeemer no one is exempt from contribution to the common good. No one is so feeble or so obscure that his aid may be dispensed with. Every age and every land in which Christianity is professed furnishes a contingent to swell the army of the Lord.

II. A VOLUNTARY SERVICE. No other is acceptable to the Lord, who desires the heart, and who will accept no mechanical, unwilling labor. Cordiality is essential, even though power be slight and opportunity be limited. The professional and official element must always be regarded with anxiety and watchfulness, for the motive must be pure or else the work is marred.

III. A VARIED SERVICE. Each has his own special gift, and none should be undervalued, far less despised. Young and old, learned and lay, those in public and those in private life, all have their work to do, their part to fulfill. None can be spared. The Church is built upon its Divine Foundation through the labors of many minds, many voices, many hands. The one Master finds work for all.

"He has his young men at the war, His little ones at home."

IV. A DIGNIFIED AND HONORABLE SERVICE. To do anything at the bidding of such a Master, and for the progress of such a cause, may welt be esteemed a privilege. Our Lord himself, by his incarnation, ministry, and sacrifice, has done more than could have been done in any other way to teach us the true dignity of service. If it be an honor to serve a great nation, a powerful king, how much higher is the honor of serving the Lord Jesus and those for whom he died!

V. A SERVICE WHICH IS LIBERALLY RECOMPENSED. Our Lord himself saw of the travail of his soul, and was satisfied. And when the promise is given to his faithful servants and followers, that they shall enter into the joy of their Lord, this is equivalent to an assurance that, sharing his toil, they shall also share his recompense. The safety and the growth, the prosperity and the glory, of the city is an abundant reward to the citizen who works with diligence and self-denial for its good. And the Christian has no greater joy than to witness the increase and the fame of the heavenly Jerusalem, and no brighter hope than to share his Master's throne. - T.

Admitting to the sacred city, in the midst of which, was " the sanctuary of the Lord" (ver. 10), were twelve gates, three on each side of it, and bearing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Surely the significance of this arrangement was that the Divine Sovereign was always accessible to all his people; that he desired to be approached by them all in order that they might have fellowship with him, and that he might confer blessing upon them. In that kingdom, of which the vision is prophetic, the Divine Lord is accessible to all; and it is not only true that he may be approached by all who will seek him, but that it is his express, his strong desire that all his children should freely draw near to him and hold converse with him. God, as revealed and related to us in Jesus Christ, is accessible -

I. AT ALL TIMES. The gates into the kingdom, or into the near presence of God, shall "in no wise be shut," either day or night. There may be days and hours when we may be offered unusual facilities for coming before God, but there is no day and there is no hour when we may not draw nigh unto him, when he is not willing and even desirous that we should pour our prayers or our praises into his ear.

II. FROM ALL DIRECTIONS. These gates looked in all directions - north, south, east, and west. From all the four quarters of the land the children of Israel were to draw near to the sacred city and to the more sacred sanctuary of the Lord. From all possible directions are we now to approach God.

1. All geographical directions. There is no sort of favoritism anywhere. As well be born in any one place under heaven as in any other. There is no Jerusalem, no Gerizim, no Mecca, no Benares, no Rome, in the kingdom of Christ.

"Where'er we seek thee, thou art found, And every place is hallowed ground."

2. All moral directions. We may approach God from a great variety of spiritual standpoints.

(1) From that of the burdened sinner seeking forgiveness and release.

(2) From that of the son who has been painfully conscious of a long estrangement or a growing coldness, and who is anxious for full reconciliation and for close and happy, perhaps renewed, intercourse with his Father.

(3) From that of a rejoicing spirit longing to bring his gladness in holy and happy gratitude to the altar of the Lord.

(4) From that of the troubled and sorrowful soul seeking comfort of him who "raiseth up them that are bowed down."

(5) From that of the seeker after righteousness, who is longing for more complete deliverance from evil and greater likeness to his Divine Leader, asking for the cleansing and renewing influences of the Spirit of God.

(6) From that of the earnest worker in the vineyard, pleading for the effectuating power which alone will make his efforts to be crowned with a true success. But from whatsoever direction a man draws near to God he will find an open gate, a welcome, a response. But there is now one Name only that is inscribed. All entrance is -

III. THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. He is "the Door," and "no man cometh unto the Father but by him." By him both Jew and Gentile "have access unto the Father" (John 10:7; John 14:6; Ephesians 2:18). Jesus Christ is our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5); he is the one Propitiation for our sins, having offered the one sacrifice for sins forever (1 John 2:2; Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 10:12). It is through him we come, and it is his Name we plead (John 16:23). He is the open Door, and whether we approach as sinners seeking reconciliation, or as children or friends seeking communion and blessing, we have constant admission to the ever-accessible Father of our spirits. - C.

A sublime close to a glorious book of prophecy. Ezekiel has had occasion to witness against Jerusalem, to upbraid the inhabitants of the city for their unfaithfulness to their God and to their privileges, to threaten chastisement and desolation, and to lament because his prediction has been fulfilled. But as he turns his vision away from the actual to the ideal, from the past to the future, from the Jerusalem that now is to the Jerusalem which is from above which is the mother of us all, from the Jewish state to the Church of God which that state foreshadowed, his mind is elevated with a sacred rapture, he beholds his brightest hopes fulfilled, God in very deed dwells with man - "the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there."

I. TO DISPLAY HIS FAITHFULNESS TO THE CITY. The purposes and promises of God to man stand written indelibly upon the sacred page. Not one word that he has spoken shall fail; all shall be fulfilled. "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." "The mountains may depart, and the hills be removed, but my faithfulness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy upon thee."

II. TO RULE AND GOVERN THE CITY. Not with the harshness of a despotic tyrant, but with the wisdom and justice of a beneficent Sovereign, does Jehovah bear sway over his redeemed and happy Church. He represses all rebellion and disorder, he promulgates ordinances, he inspires a cheerful obedience, he maintains that order which is the expression of loyalty and contentment.

III. TO PROTECT THE CITY. The Lord has taken his Zion under his own guardian care. The foes of the city may be mighty, but her Friend and Protector is mightier still. "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge." Fear cannot be, for danger cannot come where he is. He casts the shield of his almighty protection around his beloved. The walls of the city are salvation. The citizens may dwell in everlasting peace. No weapon that is formed against Zion shall prosper.

IV. TO DIGNIFY AND HONOR THE CITY. The presence and the throne of the Eternal Majesty shed a luster over the sacred metropolis. The seat of his government is by that very fact invested with an incomparable splendor and renown. The kings of the earth bring their honor into it. Every citizen shares in the dignity conferred by the throne of the great King.

V. TO ABIDE FOR EVER IN THE CITY. "The Lord is there." The unfaithfulness and defection of the Israelites were such that the glory of the God of Israel removed by the east gate from the temple and the city of Jerusalem. But the prophet beholds him return to his chosen dwelling-place. And as Jehovah takes up his abode in his Church, he utters the assurance, "I will never leave thee!" - T.

The name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there. The final words of the prophet are golden, and deserve to be written in largest capitals. The architecture of the holy city is ideally complete; its finial shines out with immortal luster. The city is baptized with a new name. Instead of "Jerusalem," it shall be "Jehovah-Shammah." Names are often labels which falsify the reality. A worthless mine may be named "El Dorado." A rotten ship may still bear the name Impregnable. But this name shall express the distinctive feature of the renovated city. Its glory shall not appear in chiseled marble and in burnished gold. In the new kingdom Christ shall set up, all the materials shall be spiritual, therefore impervious to decay. The charm and enchantment of the place will be this -

"The Lord is there." It shall be nothing less than heaven in miniature. This illustrious name betokens -

I. SECURITY. Real security is never a visible quantity. It does not consist of granite walls and bastions, nor yet of approved artillery. The walls of Jericho were a poor defense. Jerusalem was better shielded by an unseen angel against the legions of Sennacherib, than by all its towers and citadels and gates. The host of Israel, when invading Canaan, was invincible because the Lord was among them. The presence of God is no mere fancy; 'tis a substantial reality. And if he be among us he brings with him all the qualities of Omnipotence. He who reared the Alps by a word, cannot he defend us? He who created with a breath this solid globe, cannot he protect? He is to us better than all "munitions of rocks." If he dwell in our midst, well may we triumphantly shout, "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge."

II. EMINENT RENOWN. A city is deemed garnished with honor if it be the residence of a king. To have the presence of a monarch in their midst, to enjoy ever and anon his smile, is a privilege which all citizens prize. But how superior the renown of a city in which the King of heaven specially dwells! That he should stoop to sojourn among feeble mortals is an act of condescension peculiarly God-like. Compassion to the fallen is his delight, and he is satisfied if he can bestir in us holy ambitions. But what an honor! It is a difficult task to make it real to ourselves. His presence is the essential charm of heaven. He is its Light and its Life. Yet he deigns to dwell in an earthly empire I Will he not be equally the Life and Glory of the place? Will not this city acquire an eminence that shall cast into the shade all other renown? What other honor can we desire than this? Can ambition any higher climb? Is not this a climax of honor - "God with us"? Such a city becomes the metropolis of the world.

III. INTERNAL ORDER. If our King dwell in our midst, and if he be endowed with qualities of supreme wisdom and supreme righteousness, then the order of the city will be complete. Oppression of every sort and kind will be unknown. Upon every act of violence he will frown, and his frown will suffice. The inhabitants will instinctively study his comfort. The least danger of losing his presence will make them loyal. They will feel intolerable shame at any act that would distress his mind. His laws and regulations they know to be righteous through and through. His administration of rule is kindly and gentle. It is a joy to please him. Resistance can find no corner wherein to lurk, for "his eyes are in every place." To meet his gracious commands is not enough; they anticipate his every wish. For such a one service is a very banquet. At his feet they place heart and will.

IV. PROSPERITY. The presence of God among us brings real prosperity. From him, the eternal Fount of good, all substantial blessing flows. A hollow, transient prosperity may now and again be possessed without him; but it soon collapses, - it is only penalty disguised. The foes of God have at times had a flash of apparent success. But again men looked; it had vanished; the possessors were hurled into destruction; into smoke had they faded away. As the rising, of the sun brings to us radiant day, so the smile of God alone gives success to agriculture, to commerce, to art, to legislation, and to literature. If God dwelt among us, every interest in human life prospers. Industry reaps a full reward. Contentment reigns in every home. The very deserts bud and blossom like the rose.

V. HIGH COMMUNION ALSO IS ENJOYED. Our King does not clothe himself in silent, proud reserve. The very opposite; he is free of speech, affable, familiar. All the stores of knowledge he has he is ready to communicate. It is his purpose to make us wise, righteous, beneficent, pure. He dwells among us that we may commune with him and learn of him. We have known and felt the rich gains to character and to spiritual progress we have made by an hour or two of converse with the great and good among men. We were lifted up to a higher plane of life. But what language can express the gain of purity and spiritual excellence we obtain from converse with God? It is at times a glad experience; but earth is too poor in speech to tabulate the gain. And it is a gain that abides. A stupendous change passed over the eleven apostles through their familiar intercourse with Jesus, and we have often envied them the high advantage. Yet we are not excluded. We are invited to closer friendship, to more intimate converse with God. Fools we are that we do not use the privilege. By communion with God we become like God.

VI. EXQUISITE JOY. As superior joy pervades like a sunny atmosphere the scenes of heaven, so an installment of the came joy fills the city on earth where God dwells. Joy springs out of the harmony between our souls and our surroundings. The highest joy is reached when our souls have perfect friendship with our Maker. Oat of this intimate relationship with God comes friendly relationship with all holy beings. Now "all things work together for our good." Sorrow is but a preparative for a higher joy. The darkest cloud breaks into showers of blessing. Sorrow is ephemeral; joy is permanent. There are qualities in joy as well as varying measures. This joy is superlative - the cream of all joy. 'Tis the selfsame joy that dwells in Jehovah's heart. My peace," said Jesus, "I give unto. you." All other forms of gladness fade into nothingness m the presence of such joy as this. It Is a well-spring of bliss which can never be exhausted, because God can never be exhausted. "In thy presence is fullness of Joy." "Then shall I be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness."

"O blest the city, blest the land, That yield them to this King's command! O blest the heart set free from sin, To which he deigns to enter in!"

Far more valuable to the Church of Jesus Christ is that Divine presence here promised than was the sacred Shechinah to the ancient people. The latter was only a mere symbol, once a year beheld by one man; but the former is a gracious power, to be appreciated and felt by every true Christian heart. "God is in the midst of her; The Lord is there," or (as Fairbairn would translate it) "The Lord is thither or thereupon;" the Lord from his temple looks towards (or upon) the city, and through the city to the whole land. It is the presence of its Divine Lord in the midst of the Church that is here indicated, and it may well be the concluding, as it is the crowning, thought which gives completeness to the prophet's vision.

I. HIS OBSERVANT PRESENCE. Jesus Christ is "with us always" (Matthew 28:20); not in the body, but in the spirit; and his spiritual presence means his observation of us, his perfect knowledge of us all, his observation of our inner life and of our outward conduct, in the homes in which we live and in the different spheres in which we move, as well as when we are gathered together in his house or around his table. The near presence of our Lord is a thought which should preserve us from folly and from sin, which should urge us to duty and to kindness, which should sustain us in trouble and in loss.

II. HIS SYMPATHETIC PRESENCE. 'We have need of his presence at all times, but we realize our need more especially and more profoundly in the time of our affliction. It is then we want a Divine Friend and an all-powerful Deliverer. Man fails us then; he may be something or even much to us, but he leaves much to be desired. And to feel that "the Lord is there," in the trials of the household, in the anxieties of daily duty, in the pressing problems and sacred struggles of the Church, is much to the mind of the devout. In Jesus Christ we have a present, sympathizing Friend, who enters into our sorrows, who goes down with us into the deepest waters through which we have to pass.

III. HIS ACTIVE PRESENCE. Our Lord is with us, not only observing us and feeling for us, but also acting graciously upon us and through us.

1. Illuminating our minds by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit.

2. Sustaining our spiritual life by Divine communications of power (see Ephesians 1:19).

3. Responding to our devotion, accepting our praise and our adoration, hearing and answering our prayers.

4. Energizing and. effectuating our work, enabling us to speak for him, and making our words to be "mighty to pull down" and to build up. The near presence of Christ should be the most powerful incentive to the pursuit of spiritual worth and to the execution of Christian enterprise.


1. Do not indulge in a vain regret. It would have been very pleasant to "see the Lord" as his apostles saw him, to look into his face, to hear his voice; and very honorable it would have been to minister to his necessities as they were permitted to do; but we can be, in fact and in truth, as near to him now as they were then; and still we listen to his word, and still we serve him most acceptably for inasmuch as we show kindness or render help to "one of these little ones of his," we do the same thing "unto him'"

2. Do not cherish an unfounded hope. Many are the souls that lived long and died disappointed, expecting to have a present visible Savior amongst them. We need not add to their number; the words of promise find another fulfillment than this.

3. Realize the valuable truth, the invaluable truth, that our Lord. is with us now, loving us, caring for us, strengthening and Comforting us, governing and using us, blessing us with all priceless blessings.

4. Make the present heritage a foretaste of the future. Live in such happy and holy Consciousness of the presence of the Lord that it will only be a change of scene and sphere, not of spiritual condition, when we are citizens of that country where "God himself shall be with them," where "he who sits on the throne shall dwell among them," of that city which may well be called "Jehovah-Shammah," for "the Lord is there." - C.

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