gapl.gif (7083 bytes)Apples of Gold in a Network of Silver
(Prov. 25:11, ASV)

homewntr.wmf (5330 bytes)The Gate Beautiful

Hugh Macmillan

"The Beautiful gate of the temple." (Acts 3:10)

The door of a house is usually marked  out from the rest of the building by finer stones, or by pillars or  carvings. The gateways of a city are always more magnificent than any  part of the walls. The gates too are often made of costly materials and  richly adorned. At Florence the bronze gates of the Baptistery of the  Cathedral are so wonderfully carved that Michael Angelo said they were  worthy to be the gates of Paradise, and persons are always standing   outside admiring them. There is a natural desire to make the entrance to  a city or a house as important as possible. In proportion to the  progress of a people is the grandeur of their gates and doors. The  Esquimaux and the Caffres crawl into their huts as an animal creeps into  its burrow; but the doorways of the Egyptian and Assyrian temples were  very lofty; for these great people felt that their worship was an  elevation of man, and that in going in to perform it in the temple, they   were doing so in the company of the god himself, who therefore required  that the gate should be lifted up. Splendid doors and gates mean an  honored and welcome entrance, as opposed to stealing in without  a right. We have front doors and back doors; and the front door is  always grander than the back door, because it is by it that the sons and  guests of the house go in. We even make for the purpose a gateway  adorned with wreaths of leaves and flowers, over the road by which the   conquering hero comes, in order that by passing under the triumphal arch  he may be suitably welcomed and honored. And at the gates  of ancient cities the grandest ceremonies were performed in honor of  the returning general who (that)   entered in at the head of his procession.

In accordance with this common custom of man, God says that He will  make the gates of His Church on earth of carbuncles; and we are told   that the gates of the heavenly city are each made of one pearl. There  was a gate in the temple of Jerusalem which was called "Beautiful,"  because not only all the glory of the inside of the temple was seen by  the worshipper at a single glance when he passed through it, but also  because the gate itself was made of Corinthian brass as bright and as  precious as gold, and so richly carved that it was far more splendid  than any other gate of the temple. Now the temple of religion has a  beautiful gate in it, but in one important respect it differs from the   Beautiful Gate of the Jewish temple. On the pillars on either side of  that gate were engraved in Greek letters the words, "Let no stranger  pass beyond this on pain of death." All Gentiles were shut out, and even  Jewish women. But through the beautiful gate of the gospel every one is  free to enter into the holiest place. Jesus has quenched with His own  blood the fiery sword that kept the gate of the lost Eden; and now, like  the stranger that passed through the Lion Gate of Mycenae97one of the  oldest towns of Greece97and who left his sins and his debts behind him,  and was made at once a citizen, so all who pass through the beautiful   gate of Christ's atoning sacrifice, are pardoned and freed from the  grasp of the law, and brought into the glorious liberty of the sons of  God.

And not only can anyone go through this beautiful gate into God's  presence-chamber, but he can do so at all times. In each of the great   churches of Rome there is what is called the Porta Santa or Holy Door.  It is made of a peculiar marble, and is sealed up for fifty years, so  that no one during all that time can obtain admission through it to the  high altar. In the jubilee year the reigning Pope knocks at this door  with a silver hammer; and immediately it is pulled down, and a breach  made through which the Pope followed by a splendid procession can pass,  and minister in the most sacred place. But not like this Porta Santa is  the beautiful gate of the gospel. Not at long intervals is it opened. To   every one who knocks, however feebly, and at whatever time, it swings  back at once and gives admission. All that is needed to entitle anyone  at any time to admission is faith and love. There is an old German  fable, which tells us that a man happened one day while  walking among the hills to be struck with the beauty of a bright blue  flower growing beside his path. Plucking it, he put it in his breast,  and as he went on, the rock, in front, opened up   showing a deep cave. Entering in he found great heaps of gold, which he   eagerly gathered. When all his pockets were filled he turned to go out;  and as he was passing through the doorway he dropped the flower and  forgot all about it in his hurry, and immediately the rock closed upon  him with a thunderclap and cut off  his heel. In the story of Ali Baba or The Forty Thieves, it is a word   "sesame" which makes the door of the cave open and give admission to the   treasures within; and the curious thing is that this word "sesame" is   the name of a well-known Eastern plant which has a great many valuable   qualities. The moral of the two stories from the East and the West is  that it is not a dead thing, a mere charm, but a living plant97a living  power that can open the door to the most precious things in life. And so  it is not a dead form of religion, or a mere traditionally belief, but  a living faith that will open to you the door to the unsearchable riches  of Christ Jesus.

You remember it was at the Beautiful Gate of the temple that the  first miracle of the Christian Church was wrought. Peter and John, as   they went up to pray, cured the lame beggar there. And so the poor and  the maimed are placed still at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, that  heaven may be all the more beautiful to them, seeing that earth is so  dark and miserable. Heaven opens its most beautiful gate to those who  are made perfect through suffering. The kingdom of heaven belongs of  right to those who are poor in spirit. And these wounded and maimed ones  are placed there in God's Providence, that you may see and help them   when you go into the church to praise God for His goodness to  yourselves, and when you go out to do good in His name in the world, and  to carry the lessons you have learned in God's house into your everyday  life. Silver and gold you may not have wherewith to do good, but you can  give what money cannot buy or do97a healing and enriching love. The  gate will be more beautiful to yourselves, as beside it you help to make  the world more beautiful for others. And through the beautiful gate of   early piety may you all pass on and grow up into beautiful lives,  fulfilling all the fair promise of your youth, each of you a temple of  the Holy Spirit!

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