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The blessings we may expect are great, in proportion to the excellency of the dispensation under which we live
[What ministers may we not hope to find in the Christian Church, instructed as they are in the great mystery of redemption, and commissioned as they are to proclaim salvation to men through the sacrifice of their incarnate God! If “they who bare the vessels of the Lord,” under the Jewish dispensation, were required to “ be clean;" much more should they be holy, and “clothed with righteousness,” who go forth as ambassadors from God, and stand in the very place of Christ, to preach the word of reconciliation to a guilty worldk. And what ought our people to be? What may we not expect from them who are thus divinely taught, and who have all “ the unsearchable riches of Christ imparted to them?”. We are told, that, “ by comprehending with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height of the love of Christ, we are to be filled with all the fulness of God":” and therefore we may well expect that those who, through the ministry of the Gospel, are led into the knowledge of these incomprehensible mysteries, will “ rejoice in all this goodness,” yea,
rejoice in it with a joy that is unspeakable and glorified." Certainly, the fruit of the Gospel should exceed that of the Law: for so are we taught in Scripture to expect, that "the light of the moon in our day should be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun seven-fold m.” Behold,” says
God, “ I create new heavens and a new earth : and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad, and rejoice for ever, in that which I create : for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy: and I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people : and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying"." This, then, Brethren, is the blessedness I desire for you: and I pray God that all of us, both priest and people, may so walk, as to approve ourselves to Him, who assumed our nature, and tabernacled amongst us', and laid down his life for us.] TO IMPROVE this subject, I would add,
1. Let us consecrate our souls to God, as his temple-
[Glorious as the Temple of Solomon was, and greatly as God honoured it by his presence, I hesitate not to say, that it was contemptible, in comparison of an abode which you may
k 2 Cor. v. 20.
1 Eph. iii. 18, 19. m Isai. xxx. 26.
offer him in a broken and contrite spiritp — The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, will come and take up their residence within you, Brethren, if you will but open the door of your hearts, and implore of them this high honourq. And what holiness and happiness you shall then possess, I need not say. Let every one of
seek this honour; and not one of you shall be disappointed of his hope ---]
2. Let us plead with him his great and precious promises,
[Solomon entreats of God to “ remember the mercies promised to David.” Thus take you every promise contained in God's blessed word; and spread it before him. He bids you “put him in remembrance, and declare your affiance in him".” And if you do this, you shall be constrained to acknowledge, as Joshua after an experience of fourscore years acknowledged, that not one of all the things which God has promised to you has ever failed -]
p Isai. lvii. 15. and lvi. 1, 2.
9 John xiv. 23.
GOD'S REGARD FOR HIS OWN HOUSE. 2 Chron. vii. 15, 16. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine
ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may
be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
NEVER, from the foundation of the world, was there so magnificent a structure as Solomon's Temple, or so imposing a scene as that which took place at the dedication of it - The prayer which Solomon offered on that occasion was no less remarkable: in point of humility and fervour and propriety, nothing could exceed it. The answer also that was given to it was singularly encouraging. Compare the petition to which my text refers, with the answer given to it in the text itself: “ Now, my God, let, I beseech thee, thine eyes be open, and let thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place b.” a This may be briefly described, ver. 12.
b 2 Chron. vi. 40.
These very words does God repeat to him in a way of promise, and with great additional force : “ Mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place: for now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually."
These words will afford me a fit occasion to shew, I. The regard which God bears to his house
We marvel at the condescension of Almighty God, when he says, " Mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.” But he regarded that structure, and he regards every place that is built for his more immediate service,
1. As the house where he will more especially reside
[The whole land of Israel was dear to him in this view. Moses says of it," It is a land which the Lord thy God careth for; the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year." But this house was his more peculiar residence: “his name was put thered.” He was invited by Solomon to come and take possession of it: "Arise, O Lord, into thy resting-place, thou, and the ark of thy strength®!" And, in answer to his request, he came down visibly and abode within it: “Now, when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt-offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord's house?" To this event the Psalmist refers, when he says, “ The Lord hath chosen Zion: he hath desired it for his habitation : This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it 8.” Hence it may well be said, that “God loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob h."] 2. As the theatre where he will display his glory
[In the temple were displayed, under types and shadows, all the wonders of redeeming love. The sacrifices that were offered, the consuming of them upon the altar, the carrying
c Deut. xi. 12.
d Deut. xii, 11. with 2 Chron. vi. 5, 6.
ver. 1, 2. & Ps. cxxxii. 14, 15.
of their blood within the vail to sprinkle the mercy-seat of the Most High, the offering of incense also before the mercyseat, all prefigured the atoning sacrifice, and the prevailing intercession of the Lord Jesus, through which every sinner in the universe may find acceptance with God. The whole of the services there offered a shadow of good things to comei:” and in the temple alone were they suffered to exist. But now are the same things declared plainly and explicitly by every servant of the Most High that is called to preach the Gospel of Christ. Yes, every minister that is taught of God proclaims this truth : “It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinnersk.” And though this message may be greatly diversified in the mode of its delivery, it is in substance the same with all: for every faithful minister “determines, with the Apostle, to know nothing among his people save Jesus Christ and him crucified'.” And where is this mystery unfolded, but in the house of God? True, the house of God is pre-eminently "the house of prayer;" but it is also the place where "the glory of God is displayed as shining forth in the face of Jesus Christ," and a free salvation is proclaimed to all the sinners of mankind.]
3.'As the throne from whence he will dispense his blessings
[To the temple of old, every sinner brought his offering : and from thence he departed with a comfortable hope that he was accepted of his God. And say, Brethren, whether you have not found God in this place, ready to hear and answer your most enlarged petitions? Have you not found the word, that was delivered in the Saviour's name, “ quick, and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword?” Has it not brought conviction to your minds; and been effectual, also, to administer consolation to your souls? Has not grace been administered by means of it? and have you not found it a channel of communication to your souls, insomuch that you have here “drunk as of rivers of water,” and “feasted, as it were, upon fat things,” that have nourished your souls unto life eternal ? Yes verily, God has said that he would“ beautify the place of his sanctuary, and make the place of his feet glorious m;" and in these divine communications his own soul, no less than the souls of his people, has been refreshed, and filled with joy"]
From the regard which God bears to his house, we see, i Heb. x, 1.
k 1 Tim. i. 15. 11 Cor. ii. 2. m Isai. lx. 13. n Jer. xxxii. 41. Zeph. iii. 17. VOL. IV.
II. The feeling which we also should have towards
itAre God's “ eyes and heart upon his house perpetually?” Then we also should regard it, 1. With a reverential sense of its sanctity
[I readily grant, that there is not the same measure of sanctity in holy buildings and in holy vessels now, that there was under the Mosaic economy, where “ Touch not, taste not, handle not,” constituted so great a part of the divine Law. But, on the other hand, there is an immense distance between things sacred and things common: nor is there any person of real piety who would willingly break down this distinction. It is possible, I grant, for this idea to be carried to an extreme of superstition: but it is equally possible for it to be spurned at in a way of grievous impiety. Different usages may prevail in different places, in perfect consistency with a becoming reverence for the house of God: but what our blessed Lord did in driving the buyers and sellers out of the temple, may serve to shew us, that what has been consecrated to God ought not to be turned to a profane use: and more especially, whilst it is acknowledged as the place which God delights to honour with his peculiar presence, it should be approached with reverence; and, in the spirit of our minds at least, we should «
put off our shoes, when we tread on such holy ground:” for God has expressly and most authoritatively said, “ Thou shalt reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lordo."] 2. With gratitude for mercies there received
[Methinks, of some of you it may be said, that “ you were born there P." And what a blessing is this! In comparison of it, the whole world is lighter than the dust upon the balance. Call to mind how ignorant you once were of those things which belong to your everlasting peace. Once you knew not what guilt you had contracted in the sight of God, and to what tremendous judgments you were exposed. You knew not what provision God had made for you in his Gospel. The necessity of an atonement; the suitableness and sufficiency of the atonement which Christ has made; the nature of a life of faith on Christ; the work and offices of the Holy Spirit ; the beauty and excellency of holiness; these, and a variety of other things, were altogether unknown to you, till you heard them in this place, and God “opened the eyes of your understanding to understand them." Only call to mind what a load of guilt has been removed from your souls; what peace and
o Lev. xix. 30.
p Ps. lxxxvii. 4.