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Haggai ii. 9. The glory of this latter house shall he greater than of the former^ saith the Lord of hosts. From the earliest period of time, particular place? were set apart for the peculiar worship of God. Such was, probably, that " presence of the Lord ;'' a consecrated spot where the divine glory was manifested ; from which Cain departed. The first act of oah, when he came from the ark, was to rear an altar to his Preserver. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in all their journeyings, constantly set apart a particular spot for worship. The shady grove and the elevated mountain were at first chosen by most nations, as places of devotion. But after the recess of the grove, and the height of the mountain had been used by the Gentiles for the exercise of the most obscene, cruel, and
* Preached at the dedication of the ew Independent Presby i.ehan Church in Savannah, May 9, 1819.
MISCELLA EOUS. 251 impious rites, God prohibited his people from worshipping in them, lest they should be seduced into the idolatrous practices of other nations. He commanded the tabernacle to be reared : to it all offerings were ordered to be brought ; from it alone the
smoke of sacrifice was to rise; and to it the people were to approach, when they would meet with God. It stood four hundred and seventy-nine years, when it was succeeded by the temple. It was David, who first formed the design of building the temple. Having finished his own palace, he was pained by comparing its splendour with the ta* bernacle, in which the ark, the august symbol of the divine presence, was contaiaed ; and resolved to dedicate a magnificent temple to the God of Israel, the ruler of the world. " The king said unto athan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth in curtains." (2 Sam. vii. 2.) When athan, commending him for his motives, informed him that the honour of rearing this building was reserved for his pacific successor, he submitted to the heavenly order; but made vast collections for the future temple, and strongly exhorted his son not to neglect this pious work. It was reared on the place where Abraham had prepared to slay his son, and where David offered a sacrifice to stay the progress of the exterminating angel. In seven years and a half it was finislied. Of its unparalleled splendour it is unnecessary for me to speak. It was then solemnly consecrated to God. The ark of the covenant, and the tent in which it was kept, were brought from Gibeon, and placed in the apartments 'of the temple: the cloud, the symbol of the divine presence, descended and fdled the house : Solomon, animated by this token of acceptance, surrounded
252 SERMO CXXXVI. by the priests, the levites, and the people, poured out before God his petitions and thanksgivings : numerous victims bled ; while the choirs, as well with their instruments as their voices, made the air re-
sound with the praises of God. The Lord had already shown his acceptance of the temple by the cloud that filled it; but he displayed it still more sensibly by the fire which descended from heaven to consume the victims. So soon as the surprise occasioned by this now declaration of the divine favour was past, the priests, the levites, the people, and the king, bending to the earth, cried in the accents of joy and gratitude, " Praise the Lord, for he is good ; for his mercy endureth for ever!" Such was the dedication of the temple. It would always have continued glorious, and its duration would have equalled that of the levitical economy, if the Jewish people had remained faithful to their vows, and had not profaned it. But when they became corrupted, God gave victory to the arms of ebuchadnezzar, who destroyed tlie city, and burnt the temple to the ground, four hundred and twentyfour years and three months after its foundation had been laid by Solomon. The second temple was commenced in the second year after the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity. The young, who had not seen the splendour of the first structure, uttered cries of joy; but the old men, remembering the magnificence of the former temple, wept with sorrow. JIaggai and Zechariah were sent to cheer them, by an assurance that, notwithstanding it was in so many respects inferior, there should be in it a brighter glory than was in the temple of Solomon. It indeed wanted the external magnificence and grandeur of the first
MISCELLA EOUS. 253
building: the shechinah, the bright cloud of glory, the symbol of the divine presence, which had rested between the cherubim, was removed ; the urim and thummira, by which God had manifested his will, no longer adorned the breast of the high-priest, and announced the divine commands; the ark of the covenant, the tables of the law written by God himself, the pot of manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, these memorials of the miracles and mercies of God, were gone; the fire which descended from heaven had been extinguished. Yet still " the glory of the latter house was greater than that of the former;" for into it, "the Desire of all nations came, and filled it with glory." It is to this presence of Christ in it, which more than compensated for the "\vant of other things, that the prophet refers in the text. There he was received in the arms of Simeon, and beheld with rapture by Anna ; there he often dispensed the most sublime instructions, and most precious consolations ; there he announced "peace, good-will to man;" there he proclaimed himself the water of life, and invited all thirsty, fainting, perishing souls, to come to him and drink and live for ever. There he more than supplied the want of those tfiings which were enjoyed under the first temple. Why should they regret the shechinah, when with them there was Immanuel, God incarnate? Why should thoy weep for the urim and thummim, when they had this divine piophet to instruct them, with infinitely greater clearness and force.'' Why should they mourn for tlie ark and its contents, when in Jesus they had the true ark, the mercy-seat, through which alone our offering could be accepted and our sins forgiven; when he gave laws full of mercy, and brought the memo-
254 SERMO CXXXVI. rials of God's ancient, eternal goodness? Why should they lament the sacrificial fire, since the one offering of the Redeemer was about to render all other sacrifices unnecessary, and since he would baptize all his disciples with the Holy Ghost, and with celestial fire, that consumes not inanimate victims, but our sins and corruptions. Behold the Saviour standing in the temple : the object of the Father's everlasting love ; the source of felicity to angels ; the " light to lighten the Gentiles, and glory of his people Israel;" the victim appointed from eternity to atone for the sins c^ man, and acknowledge that " the glory of the latter house was greater than that of the former !" You perceive then the great truth contained in these words : it is, that the presence of Christ constitutes the chief glory of any church. Without this the utmost external pomp and splendour are in vain; without this, the towering spire, the decorated ceiling, or the massy column, arc viewed with disregard by all the inhabitants of heaven ; without this, the most regular attention to the exteriors of religion, the eloquent address and the harmonious hymn, are only " a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal." Brethren, you have felt with David, that while your own habitations are increasing in splendour, so should the house of God — you have therefore reared this building. In thus acting you have done well. But be not satisfied with this; unless Jesus be in this temple, its most important, its spiritual glory will be wanting. Do you ask. How his presence in a church is displayed, and the building rendered glorious by this presence }
1. By ihe faithful preaching, and the cordial reception^ of his gospel.
MISCELLA EOUS. 255 Believing it to be the word of eternal life, we must announce it plainly and fully ; we must continually exhibit to you its essential and peculiar doctrines ; those doctrines which Jesus came from heaven to reveal. If instead of this, we present you with disquisitions that have little reference to the Redeemer, or urge you to the practice of morality from motives that have no connexion with the gospel, we are traitors to our Redeemer, our ministry will be unfruitful ; and however we may amuse you, on the walls of the sanctuary we may write " Ichabod,'''' the glory is departed. The apostle Paul cries to the Galatians, " Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed." And in like manner we cry, Wo to that man who shall ever stand in this desk, and attempt to lay any other foundation than that which is laid in Zion, Jesus Christ ; that shall present any other ground of a sinner's acceptance with God, than the atoning blood and justifying righteousness of Immanuel ; that shall attempt to derogate from the essential glories and mediatorial perfections of the Son of God ! Should such an one ever stand here, and under the garb of a minister of the Redeemer assail those great truths which are our only hope, accursed be the eloquence or ingenuity that he may employ to diminish our attachment to the cross of Christ ! I cite against him you, my brethren, who have reared this house for the propagation of the pure unadulterated gospel ; J cite against him our pious ancestors, who have died in that faith in which we hope to triumph in our 'ast hours ; I cite against him the departed pastors of
this congregation, from Zubly down to Kerr, who have taught the same doctrines; 1 cite against him thee, Son of God, to whose honour we raise this
256 SERMO CXXXVI. church; >vhoni wo here will bless, and love, and worship ! Should such an one ever occupy this desk, whatever may be his talents or his acquirements, the powers of his mind, or the graces of his manner, the true glory of the church will have vanished ! Should such an one ever occupy this desk, I repeat, accursed be his doctrines ; may they be rejected with abhorrence ; but may he himself be brought to the acknowledgment of the truth as it is in Jesus ! But if we would desire that this house should be glorious, it is not enough that we should preach those plain truths of the gospel which God has always blessed ; by which, you, believei*s, w ere converted ; by which you have been so often consoled ; in listening to which you have felt Jesus near to you : it is also requisite that to this faithful preaching be joined your constant attendance. Our duties are reciprocal : if we are bound to announce the gospel, you are bound to hear it; and for every unnecessary absence from the house of God, you must answer to him. Hope not that this temple will be glorious, unless we see the seats constantly occupied by worshippers whenever divine service is here performed. And think it not enough to come merely with your bodies, your souls must be engaged; the principles of religion must not only be received by the understanding, but cherished by the heart, and displaying their inlluence on the life. Let the church ever be filled with such constant, devout worshippers, and this house will be glorious.
2. This cflect will be produced also, if the ordinances of religion be here regidarli^ adminisfered, and properly prized.
Here the infant, just opening his eyes upon the world, is to be brought to the holy baptismal font, and dedicated to the God of his fathers. Here the seal of Jehovah is to be impressed upon his forehead. If parents observe this, not as a bare empty ceremony, but as a dear pledge of the kindness of God to their child, and of his readiness to receive and bless him ; if they esteem as a precious privilege, the seal of the promise of the covenant, the sign of the grace of the Spirit, the initiating ordinance of the church ; if they bring up their offspring in the nurture and admonition of the Lord ; we may hope that this house will be glorious, not only in our days, but in those of our descendants also. Here the sacramental table is to be spread, and the emblems of the Redeemer's sufferings to be exhibited. If the holy festival is attended by numerous and sincere disciples, ardently desirous of communion with the Saviour, Jesus will, according to his promise, be in the midst of us, and render this house glorious. 3. The presence of Jesus is manifested, and his temple rendered glorious, wherever the professors of
¦his religion are distinguished for holiness and spiritual joy ^ and where sinners are converted. If all among us who have sworn over the symbols of his broken body and shed blood, to devote ourselves to him, should be distinguished by sanctity, by benevolence, by brotherly love, by zeal, by superiority to the world, by the spirit of prayer; if we should value and experience those pure delights which flow from communion with the Redeemer, which remorse never embitters, which are the foretaste of heaven ; if among the crowd who have hitherto been careless and insensible, the voice of the VOL. IV, .35
258 SERMO CXXXVI. Saviour should be heard, and his power I'elt, and man)' of them a(hled to the church : tliis house will liave a spiritual glory infinitely transcending the most splendid external decorations. You see then, my brethren, the great objects which we should desire, for which we should fervently pray; you see the purposes for which this house is built ; it is devoted to God. It never should, 1 trust and believe tliat it never will, be employed for any secular concerns. In the tablet placed over the door, you declare that it is sacred to divine worship alone.* Let it be a spot to which we never bring the cares of earth, the occupations of the world : into which we never enter without tliinking of God and our Redeemer. It is true, the walls and stones have no inhereiit holiness, unconnected with the pure worship of God in this place ; but we cry with the Psalmist, " Holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever." We are followers of that Re-
deemer who with indignation cast out from the temple those who employed it for secular and worldly purposes. Brethren, there is something unspeakably -solemn in the consideration of the effects that will follow the erection of a temple to God. From it every regular member of this congregation will be raised to higher glory, or sunk in deeper despair. To each one of us, the gospel here preached will prove either a savour
^ The insctiption on the tablet to which the author .-alludes, is the following : — Jehovje Patri, Filio, Ppiritni(nip Sancto Hanc ffdeiii, cultui divino sacram, ruiidatam A. D. MUCCCXVII. Ahsolufam A. D. MDCCCXIX. Gives Savanensis siil» ciira pastoral) Henriri Kollock, P. I>Sancle dedicant.
MlSCELLA EOlJSi 259 ot life unto life, or of death unto death. Improve the ordinances of religion, and you will bless God when froni heaven you look back upon this house ; neglect them, and they will plead against you at the holy tribunal. Oh ! it will be melancholy to have assisted in building this house ; to have heard in it the offers of salvation ; and then to be excluded from " that house not made with hands, eternal in the
heavens !" Be not satisfied, till you yourselves are living temples, in which God is both resident and adored. But this is not all : in a few years this congregation will have entirely changed its appearance ; other persons will occupy your seats ; other preachers will address you from this desk. In the next generation, some will here be born to God ; and some live and die without an interest in the Redeemer, who will here be offered to them. Generation will succeed oeneration before this building will be destroyed ; and thousands through eternity will sing a more rapturous song of praise, from the remembrance of the blessings received in this place; and thousands utter a groan of deeper anguish when in the world of horrors they recall the salvation that was here urged upon them, but ungratefully, madly, refused by them. " How dreadful" then, and yet how lovely, " is this place !" Young persons ! this church must soon be resigned into your hands : we always look on you with peculiar sensibility. There are some of you, (we testify it with delight,) whose early years are sanctified by vital piety ; some, the hope of this ffock, and the fu-ture pillars of this church, who under the influences of the Spirit are preparing for usefulness when the heads of the older followers of Jesus shall be moul-
2bO SERMO CXXXTl dering iii the dust. On you may the dearest blessings of God Most High ever rest! May you enjoy the peculiar benediction ofthat Saviour who delights in the early convert ! May your number be augmcHted, and your graces increased ! and may you in the next generation be able to do more, far more for
God than we have performed ! And now , most glorious God ! we look to thee : to thee, the great Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we solemnly consecrate thi& house, and dedicate and set it apart for the pure preaching of thy word J for the administration of the sacraments ; for the praises of our God ; for prayer, for supplication, and for all the offices of devotion. May it be rendered glorious by the perpetual presence of Immanuel. May the fire of thy love descend from heaven, that all our sacrifices here offered may be accepted ! Here may the thunders of thy word awake the careless ; here may the balm of Gilead be applied to the wounded conscience ; here may the blushing prodigal, penitent for his wanderings, be folded in the embraces of his Father ; here may the believer enjoy communion, and feel the consolations, of the Holy Spirit! Let all dissentitDn and hatred ever be excluded ; and may this be the house of love and peace as well as holiness; may there be a long succession of faithful, w ise, pious pastors ; and may many, very many, be here born to God, and trained up for eternal life ! " This is now the house of God, and the gate of heaven ; the Lord is here, and we know it."
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