Sermon 1581. Silver Sockets-Redemption the Foundation!
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, JANUARY 30, 1881,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, When you take the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall theygive every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord, when you number them; that there be no plague among them, when you numberthem. This they shall give, everyone that passes among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary:(a shekel is twenty gerahs): an half shekel shall be the offering of the Lord. Everyone that passes among them that are numbered,from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the Lord. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall notgive less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the Lord, to make an atonement for their souls. And you shalltake the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the Tabernacle of the congregation;that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the Lord, to make an atonement for their souls." Exodus 30:11-16.
"A bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for that went to be numbered, from twentyyears old and upward, for six hundred and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men. And of the hundred talents of silverwere cast the sockets of the sanctuary, and the sockets of the veil; an hundred sockets ofthe hundred talents, a talent fora socket."
WILL you kindly open your Bibles to Exodus 30, for I must commence my discourse by expounding that passage. When the account was taken of the number of the children ofIsrael, the Lord commanded that every male over 20 years of age should pay half a shekel as Redemption money, confessing thathe deserved to die, acknowledging that he was in debt to God and bringing the sum demanded as a type of a great Redemptionwhich would, by-and-by, be paid for the souls of the sons of men. The truth was thus taught that God's people are a redeemedpeople-they are elsewhere called, "the redeemed of the Lord." If men reject the Redemption which He ordains, then they arenot His people, for of all His chosen it may be said-"The Lord has redeemed Jacob and ransomed him from the hand of him thatwas stronger than
Whenever we attempt to number the people of God, it is absolutely necessary that we count only those who at least professto have brought the Redemption price in their hands and so have taken part in the Atonement of Christ Jesus. David, when henumbered the people, did not gather from them the Redemption money and, therefore, a plague broke out among them. He had failedin obedience to the Lord's ordinance and counted his subjects, not as redeemed people, but merely as so many heads. Let usalways beware of estimating the number of Christians by the number of the population of the countries called Christian, forthe only true Christians in the world are those who are redeemed from iniquity by the blood of the Lamb and have personallyaccepted the ransom which the Lord has provided-personally brought their Redemption money in their hands by taking Christto be theirs and presenting Him, by an act of faith, to the great Father.
God has upon earth as many people as believe in Jesus Christ and we dare not count any others to be His but those who cansay, "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." We must not count heads which know about Christ,but hands which have received the Redemption money and are presenting it to God. We must not
count persons who are called Christians by courtesy, but souls that are Christly in very fact because they have accepted theatoning Sacrifice and live before God as "redeemed from among men." Observe that this Redemption, without which no man mightrightly be numbered among the children of Israel, lest a plague should break out among them, must be personal and individual.There was not a lump sum to be paid for the nation, or 12 amounts for the 12 tribes-each man must bring his own half shekelfor himself.
So there is no Redemption that will be of any use to any of you unless it is personally accepted and brought before God byfaith. You must, each one, be able to say for yourself concerning the Lord Jesus, "He loved me and gave Himself for me." Thedoctrine of general redemption, which teaches men to say, "Oh, yes, we are all sinners, you know. Christ died for us, forHe died for us all," lays a very poor foundation for comfort. We need not so much a general as a personal redemption-a Redemptionwhich actually redeems and redeems us as individuals! The great Sacrifice for the sin of man must become to us a personalAtonement, for only so can we realize its efficacy. You must, each one, bring Christ to the Father, taking Him into your handsby simple faith. No other price must be there and that price must be brought by every individual, or else there is no acceptablecoming to God.
It was absolutely essential that each one should bring the half shekel of Redemption money, for Redemption is the only wayin which you and I can be accepted of God. If birth could have done it, they had the privilege beyond all doubt, for theyhad Abraham as their father! They were lineally descended from the three great Patriarchs and they might have said, "We areAbraham's seed and were never in bondage to any man." No, but salvation is not of blood, nor of birth, nor of the will ofthe flesh-salvation is by Redemption-and even the true child of Abraham must bring his Redemption money. So must you, youchild of godly parents, find salvation by the Redemption which is in Christ Jesus, or be lost forever!
Do not believe the falsehood of certain modern divines that you children of godly parents do not need to be converted becauseyou are born so nobly and brought up so tenderly by your parents! You are, by nature, heirs of wrath even as others. "Youmust be born again" and you must be personally redeemed as well as heathen children, or else you will perish, though the bloodof ministers, martyrs and Apostles should be running in your veins! Redemption is the only ground of acceptance before God-notgodly birth or pious education. There were many, no doubt, in the camp if Israel who were men of station and substance, butthey must bring the ransom money or die amid their wealth! Others were wise-hearted and skillful in the arts, yet they mustbe redeemed or die. Rank could not save the princes, nor office spare the elders-every man of Israel must be redeemed andno man could pass the muster-roll without his half shekel, whatever he might say, or do, or be.
God was their God because He had redeemed them out of the house of bondage and they were His people because He had "put aredemption between His people and the Egyptians." Well did David ask, "What one nation in the earth is like Your people, evenlike Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to Himself?" Note well that every Israelite man must be, alike, redeemedand redeemed with the like-with the same Redemption. "The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than halfa shekel." Every man requires Redemption, the one as well as the other. Kings on their thrones must be redeemed as well asprisoners in their dungeons. The philosopher must be redeemed as well as the peasant. The preacher as much as the profligateand the moralist as certainly as the prostitute or the thief. The Redemption money for every person must be the same, forall have sinned and are in the same condemnation!
And it must be a Redemption that meets the Divine demand because, you see, the Lord not only says that they must each bringhalf a shekel, no more, no less, but it must be, "the shekel of the sanctuary"-not the shekel of commerce, which might bedebased in quality or diminished by wear and tear, but the coin must be according to the standard shekel laid up in the HolyPlace. To make sure of it, Moses defines exactly how much a shekel was worth and what its weight was-"A shekel is twenty gerahs."So you must bring to God the Redemption which He has appointed-the blood and righteousness of Christ-nothing more, nothingless! The ransom of Christ is perfection and from it there must be no varying. The price must satisfy the Divine demand andthat to the fullest.
Note that the price appointed did effectually redeem so far as the type could go. Some rejoice in a redemption which doesnot redeem, for the general redemption by which all men are supposed to be redeemed leaves multitudes in bondage and theygo to Hell in spite of their kind of redemption! Therefore do we preach a particular and special Redemption of God's own chosenand believing people-these are effectually and really ransomed-and the precious price once paid for
them has set them free! Neither shall any plague of vengeance smite them, for the Redemption money has procured them eternaldeliverance! This type is full of instruction. The more it is studied, the richer will it appear. Every man that is numberedamong the children of Israel and permitted to serve God by going out to war, or to take upon the duties of citizenship, must,as he is numbered, be redeemed.
So must every one of us, if we are truly God's people and God's servants, find our right to be so in the fact of our Redemptionby Christ Jesus our Lord. This is the joy and glory of each one of us-"You have redeemed me, O Lord God
of Truth." th
Now we turn to the second of our texts, and there we learn a very remarkable fact. In the 38th chapter, verse 25, we findthat this mass of silver which was paid, whereby 603,050 men were redeemed, each one paying his half shekel, came to a greatweight of silver. It must have weighed something over four tons and this was dedicated to the use of the Taber-nacle-the specialapplication of the precious metal was to make sockets into which the boards which made the walls of the Tabernacle shouldbe placed. The mass of silver made up 100 sockets and these held up the 50 boards of the holy place. They were in a wilderness,constantly moving and continually shifting the Tabernacle. Now, they might have dug out a foundation in the sand, or, on comingto a piece of rock where they could not dig, they might have cut out foundations with great toil. But the Lord appointed thatthey should carry the foundation of the Tabernacle with them!
A talent of silver, weighing, I suppose, close upon 100 pounds, was either formed into the shape of a wedge, so as to be driveninto the soil, or else made into a solid square plate to lie upon it. In the wedge or plate were made mortises into whichthe tenons of the boards could be readily fitted. These plates of silver fitted, the one into the other, tenon and mortisewise, and thus they made a compact parallelogram, strengthened at the corners with double plates and formed one foundation,moveable when taken to pieces, yet very secure as a whole. This foundation was made of the Redemption money. See the instructiveemblem!
The foundation of the worship of Israel was Redemption! The dwelling place of the Lord their God was founded on Atonement!All the boards of incorruptible wood and precious gold stood upon the Redemption price! The curtains of fine linen, the veilof matchless workmanship and the whole structure rested on nothing else but the solid mass of silver which had been paid asthe Redemption money of the people! There was only one exception and that was at the door where was the entrance to the HolyPlace. There the pillars were set upon sockets of brass, perhaps because as there was much going in out of the priests, itwas not meet that they should tread upon the token of Redemption. The blood of the Paschal Lamb, when Israel came out of Egypt,was sprinkled on the lintel and the two side posts-and out of reverence to that blood it was not to be sprinkled on the threshold.
Everything was done to show that Atonement is to be the precious foundation of all holy things and everything done to preventa slighting or disregard of it. Woe unto that man of whom it shall ever be said, "He has trodden under foot the Son of Godand has counted the blood of the Covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing." I do not, for a moment, bring beforeyou the type of the text as a proof of doctrine! I intend to use it simply as an illustration. It seems to me to be a verystriking, full and suggestive emblem, setting forth most clearly certain precious Truths of God. I feel I am quite safe inusing this illustration because it is one among a group of acknowledged types and could not have been given without a reason.I do not see why they could not have made the foundation sockets of iron, or why they could not have been content with tentpins and cords as in other cases of tent building. I see no reason, in the necessity of the case, why they must be socketsof silver-there must have been another reason. Why was that particular silver prescribed? Why must the Redemption money beused and nothing else? Truly there is teaching here if we will but see it!
Moreover, this does not stand alone, for when the Tabernacle was succeeded by the Temple, Redemption was still conspicuousin the foundation. What was the foundation of the Temple? It was the rock of Mount Moriah. And what was the hill of Moriahbut the place where, in many lights, Redemption and Atonement had been set forth? It was there that Abraham drew the knifeto slay Isaac-a fair picture of the Father offering up His Son. It was there the ram was caught in the thicket and was killedinstead of Isaac-fit emblem of the Substitute accepted instead of man! Later still, it was on Mount Moriah that the angel,when David attempted to number the people without Redemption money, stood with his sword drawn. There David offered sacrificesand burnt offerings. The offerings were accepted and the angel sheathed his sword-another picture of that power of Redemptionby which mercy rejoices against judgment!
And there the Lord uttered the memorable sentence. "It is enough, stay now your hand." This, "enough," is the crown of Redemption!Even as the Great Sacrifice, Himself, said, "It is finished," so does the Great Accepter of the Sacrifice say, "enough." Whata place of Redemption was the hill of Zion! Now, if the Temple was built on a mountain which must have been especially selectedbecause there the types of Redemption were most plentiful, I feel that without an apology I may boldly take this first factthat the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness was based and grounded upon Redemption money and use it for our instruction.
With this much of preface we will now fall to and feed upon the spiritual meal which is set before us. O for Divine Graceto feast upon the heavenly Bread that we may grow thereby! Spirit of the living God, be pleased to help us in this matter.
I. First, I want you to view this illustration as teaching us something about GOD IN RELATION TO MAN. The tent in the wildernesswas typical of God's coming down to man to hold communion with him-the fiery cloudy pillar visible outside and the brightlight of the Shekinah, visible to him who was called to enter once a year into the innermost sanctuary, shining over the MercySeat-these were the tokens of the special Presence of the Deity in the center of the camp of Israel. The Lord seems to teachus, in relation to His dealing with men, that He will meet man in the way of Grace only on the footing of Redemption. He treatsman concerning love and Grace within His holy shrine, but the basis of that shrine must be the Atonement!
Rest assured, dear Friends, that there is no meeting with God on our part except through Jesus Christ our Redeemer! I am ofLuther's mind when he said, "I will have nothing to do with an absolute God." God out of Christ is a terror to us! Even inChrist, remember, He is a consuming fire, for even, "our God is a consuming fire." But what He must be out of Christ may noneof us ever know-
"Till God in human flesh I see, My thoughts no comfort find.
The holy just and sacred Three
Are terrors to my mind!
But if Immanuel's face appears,
My hope, my joy begins!
His name forbids my slavish fear,
His Grace removes my sins."
You must not attempt to have audience with God, at first, upon the footing of election. It were presumptuous to attempt tocome to the electing Father except through the atoning Son. "No man," says Christ, "comes to the Father but by Me." Neverattempt to speak with God on the footing of your own sanctification, for very soon you will come to bringing your legal righteousnessbefore Him and that will provoke Him.
Always enter the Holy Place with the thought, "I know that my Redeemer lives." "Not without blood." Remember that! Into theHoly Place went the high priest once every year, "not without blood." There can be no coming of God to man on terms of peaceexcept through the one great Sacrifice-that must be the foundation of it all. No, and not only God's coming to us, but God'sabiding with us is upon the same foundation, for the Tabernacle was, so to speak, the House of God-the place where God especiallydwelt among His people, as He said, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them." But He never dwelt among them in anything butin a tent that was set upon the silver of the Redemption money and you, dear Friend, if you have ever walked with God, canonly maintain your fellowship by resting where you did at first-as a poor sinner redeemed by your Savior.
They have asked me to rise, sometimes, to a higher platform and come to God as a sanctified person. Yes, but a rock, thoughit may be lower than the little wooden stage which some erect upon it, is safer to stand upon! And I believe that those whowalk with God according to their attainments and imaginary perfections, have climbed up to a rotten stage which will fallunder them before long. I know no mode of standing before God today but that which I had at first. I am still unworthy inmyself, but accepted in the Beloved! Guilty in myself and lost and ruined-but still received, blessed and loved because ofthe Person and work of Christ. The Lord cannot dwell with you, my dear Friend-you will soon have broken fellowship and bein the dark if you attempt to walk with Him because you feel sanctified, or because you have been active in His service, orbecause you know much, or because you are an experienced Believer.
No! No! No! The Lord will only abide with us in that Tabernacle whose every board is resting upon the silver foundation ofRedemption by His own dear Son! There can, Beloved, be no sort of communion between God and us except through the Atonement.Do you need to pray? You cannot speak with God except through Jesus Christ! Do you wish to praise? You cannot bring the censerfull of smoking incense except through Christ! It is only within that foundation of silver that you can speak to God, or hearHim speak comfortably with you. Would you hear a voice out of the excellent Glory? Do you pray that the great Father wouldspeak with you as with His dear children? Expect it through Jesus Christ, for, "through Him we have access by one Spirit untothe Father." Even unto the Father, though we are children, we have no access except through Jesus! The tabernacle of communioneven to him that lives nearest to God must be built upon the Redemption price. Free Grace and dying love must be the goldenbells which ring upon our garments when we go into the Holy Place to speak with the Most High!
The Tabernacle was the place of holy service where the priests all day long offered sacrifices of one kind and another untothe Most High. And you and I serve God as priests, for He has made us a royal priesthood. But how and where can we exerciseour priesthood? Everywhere as to this world. But before God, the foundation of the temple wherein we stand and the groundof the acceptance of our priesthood is Redemption! The priests offered their sacrifice not in groves of man's planting, oron high hills which were the natural strength of the land, but within the space marked out by the silver slabs of atonementmoney-and so must we worship and serve within Redemption lines. If we come to the idea of legal merit and suppose that thereis a natural goodness in our prayers, or in our praises, in our observances of Christian ceremonies, or in almsgiving, orin zealous testimony, we make a great mistake and we shall never be accepted.
We must bring our offerings unto that court which is fenced about by the Foundation most precious which God has laid of old,even the merit of His dear Son! We are accepted in the Beloved and in no other manner! We are shut in within the Foundationwhich Christ has laid of old, not with corruptible things as with silver and gold, but with His own most precious blood! Thusmuch, dear Brothers and Sisters, upon one view of this subject. May you learn much of God in His relation to man while youmeditate thereon at your leisure and are taught of the Holy Spirit.
II. I think we may, in the second place, apply this illustration TO CHRIST IN HIS DIVINE PERSON. The Tabernacle was the typeof our Lord Jesus Christ, for God dwells among men in Christ. "He tabernacled among us and we beheld His Glory," says theApostle. God dwells not in temples made with hands, that is to say, of this building, but the Temple of God is Christ Jesus,"in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." Our Lord is thus the Tabernacle which the Lord has pitched and notman-and our first and fundamental idea of Him must be in His character as Redeemer. Our Lord comes to us in other charactersand in them all, He is right glorious, but unless we receive Him as Redeemer we have missed the essence of His Character,the foundation idea of Him.
As the tent in the wilderness was founded upon the Redemption money, so our idea and conception of Christ must be first ofall that, "He is the propitiation for our sins" and I say this, though it may seem unnecessary to say it, because Satan isvery crafty and he leads many from the plain Truth of God by subtle means. I remember a Sister who had been a member of acertain denomination who was converted to God in this place, though she had been a professed Christian for years. She saidto me "I have always believed only in Christ crucified-I worshipped Him as about to come in the Second Advent to reign withHis people, but I never had a sense of guilt. Neither did I go to Him as putting away my sin and, therefore, I was not saved."
When she began to see herself as a sinner, she found her need of a Redeemer. Atonement must enter into our first and chiefidea of the Lord Jesus. "We preach Christ crucified"-we preach Him glorified and delight to do so-but still, the main pointupon which the eye of a sinner must rest, if he would have peace with God, must be Christ crucified for sin. "God forbid thatI should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." Do, then, my dear Hearer, let the very foundation of your faithin Christ be your view of Him as ransoming you from the power of sin and Satan! Some say they admire Christ as an exampleand well they may! They can never find a better! But Jesus Christ will never be truly known and followed if He is viewed onlyas an example, for He is infinitely more than that! Neither can any man carry out the project of being like Christ unlesshe first knows Him as making atonement for sin and as giving power to overcome sin through His blood.
Some writers have looked upon Christ from one point of view and some from another-and there is no book that is more likelyto sell than a Life of Christ-but the most essential view of Him is to be had from the foot of the Cross. No
complete life of Christ has been written yet. All the lives of Christ that have yet been written amount to about one dropof broth, while the four Evangelists are as a whole bullock. The pen of Inspiration has accomplished what all the quills inthe world will never be able to do again and there is no need they should. However much we dwell upon the holiness of ourLord, we cannot complete His picture unless we describe Him as the sinner's ransom. He is white, but He is ruddy, too. Rutherfordsaid, "O then, come and see if He is not a red man. In His suffering for us He was wet with His own blood. Is He not wellworthy of your love?"
When He comes forth in the vesture dipped in blood many shun Him-they cannot bear the atoning sacrifice-but He is never inour eyes so matchlessly lovely as when we see Him bearing our sins in His own body on the Cross and putting away transgressionby making Himself the Substitute for His people! Let this, then, be your basic idea of Christ- "He has redeemed us from thecurse of the Law." Indeed, in reference to Christ, we must regard His Redemption as the basis of His triumphs and His Glory-"thesufferings of Christ and the glory that shall follow." We cannot understand any work that He has performed unless we understandHis vicarious Sacrifice. Christ is a lock without a key; He is a labyrinth without a clue until you know Him as the Redeemer!You have spilt the letters on the floor and you cannot make out the Character of The Wonderful till first you have learnedto spell the words-ATONEMENT BY BLOOD.
This is the deepest joy of earth and the grandest song in Heaven. "For You were slain and have redeemed us unto God by Yourblood." I beg you to observe, in connection with our text, that as the foundation of the Tabernacle was very valuable, soour Lord Jesus, as our Redeemer is exceedingly precious to us. His Redemption is made with His precious blood. The Redemptionmoney was of pure and precious metal, a metal that does not lose weight in the fire. "The Redemption of the soul is precious."What a Redemption price has Christ given for us! Yes, what a Redemption price He is! Well did Peter say, "Unto you that believe,He is precious"-silver and gold are not to be mentioned in comparison with Him.
To me it is very instructive that the Israelites should have been redeemed with silver in the form of half-shekels becausethere are many who say, "These old-fashioned divines believe in the mercantile idea of the Atonement." Exactly so! We alwaysdid and always shall use a metaphor which is so expressive as to be abhorred by the enemies of the Truth of God! The mercantileidea of the Atonement is the Biblical idea of the Atonement. These people were redeemed, not with lumps of uncoined silver,but with money used in commerce. Paul says "You are not your own: you are bought"- listen-"with a price," to give us the mercantileidea beyond all question! "Bought with a price" is doubly mercantile. What do you say to this, you wise refiners who wouldrefine the meaning out of the Word of the Lord? Such persons merely use this expression about the "mercantile idea" as a cheappiece of mockery because in their hearts they hate the Atonement altogether-and the idea of Substitution and expiation byvicarious Sacrifice is abhorrent to them.
Therefore has the Lord made it so plain, so manifest, that they may stumble at this stumbling stone, "whereunto also," I think,as Peter says, "they were appointed." To us, at any rate, the Redemption price which is the foundation of all is exceedinglyprecious. But there is one other thing to remember in reference to Christ, namely, that we must each one view Him as our own,for out of all the grownup males that were in the camp of Israel, when they set up the Tabernacle, there was not one but hada share in its foundation. We read in Exodus 35:25 and 26, "And all the women that were wise-hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both ofblue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats'hair."
The men could not spin, perhaps they did not understand that art, but every man had his half a shekel in the foundation. Iwant you to think of that. Each Believer has a share in Christ as his Redemption-no, I dare not say a share in Him, for Heis all mine and He is all yours. Brothers and Sisters, have you, by faith, laid hold upon a whole Christ and said, "He haspaid the price for me"? Then you have an interest in the very fundamental idea of Christ! Perhaps you are not learned enoughto have enjoyed your portion in certain other aspects of our Lord, but if you are a Believer, however weak you are-thoughyou are like the poor among the people of Israel-you have your half shekel in the foundation! I delight to think of that!I have my treasure in Christ-"my Beloved is mine."
Can you say He is yours? I do not deny it. So He is, but, "He is mine." If you deny that fact we will quarrel at once, forI do assert that, "my Beloved is mine." Moreover, by His purchase, "I am His." "So am I," you say. Quite right! I am gladyou are, but I know that, "I am His." There is nothing like getting a firm, personal hold and grip of Christ-my
half shekel is in the basis of the tabernacle-my Redemption money is in the divinely glorious building of Grace! My Redemptionis in the death of Christ which is the Foundation of all!
III. Time fails me and yet I have, now, a third thought to lay before you very briefly. The tabernacle was a type Of THE CHURCHOF GOD as the place of Divine indwelling. What and where is the Church of God? The true Church is founded upon Redemption.Every board of shittim wood was shaped and mortised into the sockets of silver made of the Redemption money and every manthat is in the Church of God is united to Christ, rests upon Christ and cannot be separated from Him. If that is not trueof you, my dear Hearer, you are not in the Church of God! You may be in the Church of England or of Rome-you may be in thischurch or some other-but unless you are joined to Christ and He is the sole Foundation upon which you rest, you are not inthe Church of God.
You may be in no visible church whatever, and yet, if you are resting upon Christ, you are a part of the true house of Godon earth. Christ is a sure Foundation for the Church of God, for the Tabernacle was never blown down. It had no foundationbut the talents of silver and yet it braved every desert storm. The wilderness is a place of rough winds-it is called a howlingwilderness-but the sockets of silver held the boards upright and the holy tent defied the rages of the elements! To be unitedto Christ by faith is to be built on a sure Foundation! His Church will never be overthrown, let the devil send what hurricaneshe may! And it was an invariable foundation, for the Tabernacle always had the same basis wherever it was placed. One dayit was pitched on the sand; another on a good piece of arable ground; a third time on a grass plot and tomorrow on a barerock-but it always had the same foundation. The bearers of the holy furniture never left the silver sockets behind. Thosefour tons of silver were carried in their wagons and put out first as the one and only foundation of the holy place!
Now, the learned tell us that the 19th Century requires "advanced thought." I wish the 19th Century was over. I have heardit bragged about so much that I am sick of the 19th Century! We are told that this is too sensible a century to need or acceptthe same Gospel as the first, second and third centuries. Yet these were the centuries of martyrs; the centuries of heroes;the centuries that conquered all the gods of Greece and Rome; the centuries of holy glory-and all this because they were thecenturies of the Gospel! But now we are so enlightened that our ears ache for something fresh-and under the influence of anothergospel, which is not another-our beliefs are dwindling down from alps to anthills and we, ourselves, from giants to pigmies!You will soon need a microscope to see Christian faith in the land-it is getting to be so small and scarce!
By God's Grace some of us abide by the Ark of the Covenant and mean to preach the same Gospel which the saints received atthe first! We shall imitate those who, having had a silver foundation at the first, had a silver foundation for the Tabernacle,even till they came to the promised land! It is a foundation that we dare not change. It must be the same, world without end,for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
IV. Fourthly and lastly, I think this Tabernacle in the wilderness may be viewed as a type OF THE GOSPEL, for the Gospel isthe Revelation of God to man. The tent in the wilderness was the Gospel according to Moses. Now, as that old Gospel in thewilderness was, such must ours be, and I want to say just two or three things very plainly and have done. Redemption, Atonementin the mercantile idea-must be the foundation of our theology-doctrinal, practical and experimental. As to doctrine, theysay a fish stinks first at the head and men first go astray in their brains. When once there is anything wrong in your beliefas to Redemption, you are wrong all through. I believe in the old rhyme-
"What think you of Christ? is the test
To try both your state and your scheme,
You cannot be right in the rest
Unless you think rightly of HIM." If you get wrong on the Atonement, you have turned a switch which will run the whole trainof your thoughts upon the wrong line. You must know Christ as the Redeemer of His people and their Substitute, or your teachingwill give an uncertain sound. As Redemption must be the foundation of doctrinal divinity, so it must of practical divinity."You are not your own: you are bought with a price," must be the source of holiness and the reason for consecration. The manthat does not feel himself to be specially "redeemed from among men," will see no reason for being different from other men!"Christ loved His Church and gave Himself for it." He who sees no special giving of Christ for His Church will see no specialreason why the Church should give herself to Christ!
Certainly Redemption must be the foundation of experimental theology, for what is an experience worth that does not make us,every day, prize more and more the redeeming blood? Oh, my dear Friends, I never knew, though I had some idea of it, whata fool I was till of lately! I tell you that those dreadful pains which may even make you long for death will empty you rightout and not only empty you, but make you judge yourself to be a hollow sham and cause you to loathe yourself-and then it isthat you cling to Christ! Nothing but the atoning Sacrifice will satisfy me! I have read plenty of books on modern theologybut none of them can heal so much as a pin's prick in the conscience! When a man gets sick in body and heavy in spirit, heneeds the old-fashioned Puritan theology-the Gospel of Calvin, the Gospel of Augustine, the Gospel of Paul, the Gospel ofour Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Our theology as a matter of experience must be based upon Redemption!
Ah, Brothers and Sisters, and not only our theology but our personal hope. The only Gospel that I have to preach is that whichI rest upon myself-"Who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree." "For the chastisement of our peace was uponHim and with His stripes we are healed." "He bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors." Oh, dear Hearers,build on that and you will never fail! But if you do not take Christ's Redemption as the foundation of your hope-I do notcare who you are-you may be very learned but you know nothing at all! The Lord grant you Grace to know that you know nothingand then you will know something! And when you have learned as much as that, may He teach you the Redemption of His Son andreveal Christ in you! This, Beloved, is, therefore, the burden of our service and the glory of our life.
Those silver sockets were very precious, but very weighty. I dare say the men who had to move them sometimes thought so! Fourtons and more of silver make up a great load. O blessed, blissful draft, to have to put the shoulder to the collar to drawthe burden of the Lord-the glorious weight of Redemption! My Soul, blessed are you to be made a laboring ox for Christ, alwaysto be bearing among this people the divinely precious load of the Foundation which Christ has laid for His people! You, youngBrothers that preach, mind you, always carry your four tons of silver- preach a full and rich Redemption, all of you! Youwho teach in the Sunday school, do not let the children have a place to live that has no foundation-the first wind will blowit over and where will they be-left naked under the ruins of that in which they had hoped!
Lay Christ for a foundation. You cannot do better, for God Himself has said, "Behold, I lay in Sion a chief Cornerstone, elect,precious." Lay this silver foundation wherever you are! Yes, but though the ingots were heavy to carry, every Israelite feltproud to think that that Tabernacle had a foundation of silver. You Amalekites out there cannot see the silver footing ofit all! You Moabites cannot perceive it! All you can see is the badger skins outside-the rough exterior of the tent. You say,"That tent is a poor place to be a temple-that Gospel is a very simple affair." No doubt it is to you, but you never saw thesilver sockets! You never saw the golden boards! You never saw the glory of the inside of the place lit up by the seven-branchedcandlesticks and glorious with the Presence of God. Brethren, Redemption is our honor and delight-
"In the Cross of Christ I glory Towering o'er the wrecks of time: All the light of sacred story Gathers round its head sublime."
This the First and this the Last-the bleeding Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world and yet living and reigningwhen earth's foundations shall dissolve! That blessed Lamb of God is in the midst of the Throne of God and His people shallall be with Him, forever triumphant! He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Foundation and the Headstone.O Savior of sinners, glory be to Your name! Amen and amen.