The body of Christ is at present scattered, and, if I may so speak, fragmentary. Of the members of his mystical body some are now before the throne, “spirits of just men made perfect.” Others are still in the wilderness; others are yet in the world, dead in trespasses and sins, uncalled by grace, destitute of the Spirit; others at present are unborn, still hidden in the womb of time. But earth is the stage whereon all the members are from time to time brought into a vital, manifestive union with their living head.
When I was a boy at school, in London, Waterloo Bridge was building; and I and my playmates used to go sometimes to what was then called “The Stone Field,” on the other side of the water, where the stones that now make up Waterloo Bridge were being squared and chiseled. Every vestige of that field, I have no doubt, is gone, and the place covered with buildings; but there stands Waterloo Bridge; and those stones that I used to play upon as a boy now form a part of that beautiful structure which Canova, the great Italian sculptor, said it was worth coming to London only to see.
Take the idea into spiritual things. The body of Christ is compared in Scripture to a building. “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:” Of this building believers are “living stones;” and many of them are at present in “the Stone Field,” where they are being hammered and hacked, squared and chiseled by the great Architect. During this state, like the stones of Solomon’s temple, which were hewn and squared at a distance, that “neither hammer nor axe, nor any tool of iron might be heard in the house while it was in building,” so are these living stones prepared for their future glory. The mallet and the chisel are at work upon them now day by day, that in due time they may fill their designed position in the spiritual building.
I remember well that all the stones which were strewn over the field were marked and numbered; and these figures no doubt denoted their intended position. Every stone so marked was in due time individually transferred to, and now occupies, the exact position that the architect designed for it. So every living stone was marked and numbered in eternity, is hewn and squared in time, and will, in future glory, be placed by the hand of the divine Architect in that place of the spiritual building originally designed for it.