God Builds and Guards His City
Hilary was born in Gaul at the beginning of the 4th century to wealthy pagan parents, who gave him an excellent education with a high level of Greek. Later, upon reading the Old and New Testament writings, he abandoned Neo-Platonism and was baptized. The Christians of Poitiers so respected Hilary that they elected him bishop unanimously in 350. Over the next twenty years, he vigorously confronted the Arian heresy that was threatening to take over the Gallic church, defending Christian orthodoxy by his writings and his actions.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your? This is the house and this is the temple of God, full of the precepts and of the energies of God, and capable of receiving the divine indwelling by holiness of heart, about which the same prophet has borne witness: Holy is your temple, wondrous in justice. Holiness, righteousness, human temperance -- this is the temple of God.
This house therefore, must be built by the agency of God, for one which is constructed by human efforts does not endure, nor does it stand firm when reared by the teachings of this age, nor will it be kept safe by the care of vain toil and of our anxiety. It must be constructed in another way, it must be guarded in another way.
It must not have its beginnings upon slippery and shifting sand, but its foundations must be laid firmly upon the prophets and the apostles. It must be increased with living stones and held together by the Cornerstone. It must be built up by an increase of mutual connections until it reaches to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. It must be adorned by the beauty and ornament of spiritual graces.
So this house which is built by God, that is by his teachings, will not collapse. This house will grow and expand into several houses as the divine buildings of the faithful make for the adornment and increase of the blessed community in each one of us.
The Lord has been the faithful guardian of this community now for a long time, when he protected Abraham on his journeys, when he intervened to save Isaac as he was being sacrificed, when he enriched Jacob in his time of bondage, when he placed Joseph over the land of Egypt, who had been sold as a slave, when he strengthened Moses against Pharaoh, when he chose Joshua as leader in the wars, when he freed David from all his dangers, when he came to the aid of the prophets, when he translated Elijah, when he chose Elisha, when he fed Daniel, when he poured moisture on the young men in the fiery furnace and as a fourth aided the three, when through the angel he instructed Joseph about his own birth from the virgin, when he encouraged Mary and sent John as his forerunner, when he chose the apostles, when he prayed to the Father: Holy Father, keep them; while I was with them I kept them in your name, and when finally he himself after his passion promised the watchful care of his eternal guardianship over us in these words: Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.
This is God's eternal protection of this blessed and holy community which is formed by the coming together of many into one and which is in each individual one of us. Therefore it must be built with the agency of the Lord that it may grow up to reach the fulness of its consummation. The building already begun has not reached perfection, but through its building the completion of its perfection is being achieved.
Hilary of Poitiers (c.310-367)
Almighty God, you have built your Church
upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone:
Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching,
that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,for ever and ever.