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"But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth ?" 2 Chron. vi. 11. What an imposing scene of awful grandeur rises before the imagination as we endeavour to realize the situation of Solomon when he uttered these words ? And could such a scene be favourable to the abstraction and spirituality of the most elevated devotion ? Large assemblies either damp and depress the ardours of piety, or invigorate and sustain them ; but this depends altogether upon their character and object. The object had been often revolved as one of the utmost importance to their wellbeing and happiness : the people were prepared for a day of high and solemn enjoyment, such as they had never known, by the long and unreserved concentration of all their resources for the purpose of its attainment. To this was directed a profuse liberality which spared no cost, which shrunk from no sacrifice : labours, personal, arduous, and unremitting — fervent, united, and persevering supplications, anticipating the event as one peculiarly hallowed and fraught with divine and spiritual communications. The text is the lowliest and loftiest expression of devotion that is probably to be found in all the records of religion. Let us endeavour,
92 GOD DWELLI G WITH ME . I. To trace the sentiments and feelings in which it originated : II. To exhibit the delightful ideas which it conveys; and, III. To state the grounds which may induce us to conclude that God in very deed thus dwells with men upon earth. And, I. Let us trace the sentiments and feel-
ings I WHICH THE QUESTIO I THE TEXT ORIGI ATED. 1. Enlarged and comprehensive vieivs, with a deep impression of the majesty and glory of God. At a superficial glance, the question would seem to imply notions of the Divine nature and attributes the very opposite of these views and these impressions ; as if God, the infinite and the omnipresent, could be essentially in one place more than another; and though the heavens, and the heaven of heavens, could not contain him, yet that he might be invited to and dwell in a house upon earth, or a temple made with hands; thus attaching to his presence the idea of limitation and locality. But Solomon had not to learn what was the common faith of the nation and the doctrines of the Scriptures concerning the infinite fulness of Him who filleth all in all, and who is in the Hebrew language described by a name (Hammakom) conveying the very idea of the universality and infinitude of his being. All things are full of God, and he is every where : " If I climb up into heaven, thou art there : if I go down to hell, thou art there also !" ay, we may go beyond these positive realities, and maintain that he dwells in the imaginary regions of
GOD DWELLI G WITH ME . 93 immeasurable space — that he is there where nothing else is, and nothing else is there where he is not. The king of Israel, at this solemn moment, when the cloud of ineffable glory filled the temple, spoke under the powerful influence of the gracious presence of the Divine Majesty, well assured that it was no derogation of the immensity of his being to suppose that he could be differently present in some places or alike in all — that at one and the same moment he was filling heaven, earth, and hell; but conveying to each very different impressions of his presence.
" If God," says an acute and learned dialectician of a former age, " is equally present on earth and in hell, in the church and in the prison of Tophet, wherein consists the difference which in the one makes it desirable and in the other intolerable? Are we to think," he asks, " that we men have his company but as the devils have, to tremble at ? o. The cry in Tophet is, i What have we to do with thee, thou Son of the Most High ?' ot so here on earth ; but, c Why art thou so far from me, O my God !' The finger of God is there (in hell) as in the plagues of Egypt ; but his right hand is here, that right hand with which he doeth gloriously. With them, that is, with the evil spirits, God is almighty — with us he is God all-sufficient : there he is a consuming fire — here, Immanuel, God with us. Therefore it is, that, though he were here before, yet is he said to bow the heavens and come down.'*
94 GOD DWELLI G WITH ME . The king of Israel was awe-struck with the amazing condescension which had so visibly chosen a building on earth as the medium through which to display to the guilty sons and daughters of Adam the glories of his infinite perfections ; — ¦ that every where he should be God, the Creator and the upholder of all things, the Source of being and of bliss, through innumerable worlds and systems of worlds ; but that for the earth and its human inhabitants he should reserve such a manifestation of himself as should give both the pre-eminence over an entire and boundless universe — this it was that filled the royal mind with that adoring amazement which breaks forth in the exclamation, " Will God in very deed dwell with men upon the earth !" 2. This devout interrogatory may be traced, secondly, to lofty ideas of the extent and grandeur of the universe as contrasted icith the insignificance of man, and the degradation of his state and character.
3. But the ivlwle scene was typical; and as the shadows of good things to come, on this sublime occasion assumed a distinctness approaching to substantial reality — as the incarnation of God was revealed by the glory between the cherubim with a vividness which almost turned faith into vision, we doubt not that the sainted monarch caught a glimpse of the mystery, and, realizing the period when God should be manifest in the flesh, he saw the illustrious stranger, He that was greater than the temple, standing in the midst of it ; and, unable to suppress his emotion, broke forth in the
GOD DWELLI G WITH ME . 95 language of grateful astonishment, " Will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth !" But we come now, II. To CO TEMPLATE THE DELIGHTFUL IDEAS WHICH THE QUESTIO CO VEYS. It is not so much a question as an affirmation — God will in very deed dwell with men on earth, and his dwelling-place is the sanctuary: it was once, and for a long succession of ages and generations, the temple, and now it is every edifice where his name is recorded, where his people assemble. " Where two or three meet together in my name," says he who alone has realized the hypostatical union, in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily, " where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." To dwell with men on earth. This implies, 1 . Presence ; or, the manifestation of power and glory. The Essence is invisible, but the attributes are displayed. 2. It also implies influence. Presence, not only for the purpose of unveiling the moral glories of his nature, but influence as an operating agency, and a spiritual communication.
3. It also conveys the idea of residence. Here he dwells with man; a resident, not a guest. One always at home ; not as a wayfaring man, or a stranger, that turneth aside for a night : therefore the sanctuary is the dwelling-place of a perfect and infinite spirit of knowledge, of wisdom, of purity, of consolation, of love, of joy, of heaven.
96 GOD DWELLI G WITH ME . 4. But it implies more; it implies association, or communion. He not only dwells with, but in and among men upon earth. Here children come to meet a father; disciples to listen to the Master's voice ; patients to experience the physician's skill. 5. Infinite condescension and grace : — illustrated in the objects of its regard; the perpetual flow of the blessings by which they are enriched; the patience which bears with them ; and the mercy which admits them to the privilege of intercourse, notwithstanding their guilt and un worthiness. III. But what are the grounds which may I DUCE US TO CO CLUDE THAT GOD I VERY DEED THUS DWELLS WITH ME UPO EARTH? 1. Facts which cannot be controverted. The mercy-seat ; the temple ; the incarnation ; the descent and communication of the Spirit. 2. Corresponding effects, the most unequivocal in their character, and unaccountable on every other principle. 3. Testimonies the most numerous and unquestionable. 4. Promises that cannot be violated. 5. The accomplishment of a scheme of mercy and of glory, which cannot otherwise be realized.
1. Hence appears the reasonableness and necessity of public worship — nothing else can raise the human mind to its proper elevation; nothing, without this, can prepare the world for its greatest social improvement. This is necessary also to form the human character for its immortal destiny. 2. The dispositions and sentiments which distinguish the true worshippers of the Most High. 3. Here is matter of congratulation to Christians in the superiority of their worship to that of the temple, when conducted even by Solomon. A greater than Solomon is here. 4. Happy the people that are in such a case, for they shall in very deed dwell with God in heaven. 1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=970
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