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of presents is most proportionable: and although the service of the soul and spirit is most delectable and esteemed by God; yet, because our souls are served by things perishing and material, and we are of that constitution, that by the body we serve the spirit, and by both we serve God, as the spirit is chiefly to be offered to God, because it is better than the body, so the richest oblation is the best in an equal power and the same person, because it is the best of things material : and although it hath not the excellency of the spirit, it hath an excellency that a cheap oblation hath not; and besides the advantage of the natural value, it can no otherwise be spoiled than a meaner offering may ; it is always capable of the same commendation from the piety of the presenter's spirit, and may be as much purified and made holy as the cheaper or the more contemptible. God hath nowhere expressed that he accepts of a cheaper offering, but when we are not able to give him better. When the people brought offerings more than enough for the tabernacle, Moses restrained their forwardness, by saying, “it was enough,” but yet commended the disposition highly, and wished it might be perpetual : but God chid the people when they let his house lie waste, without reparation of its decaying beauty; and therefore sent famines upon the land, and a curse into their estate, because they would not, by giving a portion to religion, sanctify and secure all the rest. For the way for a man to be a saver by his religion, is to deposit one part of his estate in the temple, and one in the hands of the poor; for these are God's treasury and stewards respectively: and this is “ laying up treasures in heaven;" and besides that it will procure blessing to other parts, it will help to save our souls; and that is good husbandry, that is worth the saving.
13. For I consider that those riches and beauties, in churches and religious solemnities, which add nothing to God, add much devotion to us, and much honour and efficacy to devotion. For since impression is made upon the soul, by the intervening of corporal things, our religion and devotion of the soul receives the addition of many degrees by such instruments. Insomuch that we see persons of the greatest fancy, and such who are most pleased with outward
• Τα αισθήσει καλά, και τοήσει καλών εικόνες.-Philo.
fairnesses, are most religious. Great understandings make religion lasting and reasonable; but great fancies make it more scrupulous, strict, operative, and effectual. And therefore it is strange, that we shall bestow such great expenses, to make our own houses convenient and delectable, that we may entertain ourselves with complacency and appetite; and yet think that religion is not worth the ornament, nor our fancies fit to be carried into the choice and prosecution of religious actions, with sweetness, entertainments, and fair propositions. If we say, that God is not the better for a rich house, or a costly service; we may also remember, that neither are we the better for rich clothes ; and the sheep will keep us as modest, as warm, and as clean, as the silk-worm; and a gold chain, or a carkenet of pearl, does no more contribute to our happiness, than it does to the service of religion. For if we reply, that they help to the esteem and reputation of our persons, and the distinction of them from the vulgar, from the servants of the lot of Issachar, and add reverence and veneration to us; how great a shame is it, if we study by great expenses to get reputation and accidental advantages to ourselves, and not by the same means to purchase reverence and esteem to religion; since we see that religion, amongst persons of ordinary understandings, receives as much external and accidental advantages, by the accession of exterior ornaments and accommodation, as we ourselves can, by rich clothes and garments of wealth, ceremony, and distinction? And as, in princes' courts, the reverence to princes is quickened and increased by an outward state and glory; so also it is in the service of God. Although the understandings of men are no more satisfied by a pompous magnificence, than by a cheap plainness; yet the eye is, and the fancy, and the affections, and the senses; that is, many of our faculties are more pleased with religion, when religion, by such instruments and conveyances, pleases them. And it was noted by Sozomen, concerning Valens, the Arrian emperor, that when he came to Cæsarea, in Cappadocia, he praised St. Basil, their bishop, and upon more easy terms revoked his banishment, because he was a grave person, and
d Quòd cum tanto ornatu tamque decenter sacerdotio fungeretur, conventusque ageret.
did his holy offices with reverent and decent addresses, and kept his church-assemblies with much ornament and solemnity.
14. But when I consider that saying of St. Gregory, that the church is heaven within the tabernacle, heaven dwelling among the sons of men®, and remember, that God hath studded all the firmament, and paved it with stars, because he loves to have his house beauteous, and highly representative of his glory; I see no reason we should not do as Apollinaris says God does : “ In earth do the works of heaven.” For he is the God of beauties and perfectionsf; and every excellency in the creature, is a portion of influence from the Divinity, and therefore is the best instrument of conveying honour to him, who made them for no other end but for his own honour, as the last resort of all other ends for which they were created.
15. But the best manner to reverence the sanctuary, is by the continuation of such actions which gave it the first title of holiness. “ Holiness becometh thine house for ever,” saith David : “ Sancta sanctis," holy persons and holy rites, in holy places 8; that, as it had the first relation of sanctity by the consecration of a holy and reverend minister and president of religion, so it may be perpetuated in holy offices, and receive the daily consecration, by the assistance of sanctified and religious persons.
" Foris canes," dogs and criminal persons are unfit for churches; the best ornament and beauty of a church, is a holy priest and a sanctified people h. For,
• Εκκλησία εστίν ουρανός επίγειος. "Εργον το μέγα, και καλόν τίμιον του γάρ τοιούτου η θεωρία θαυμαστή.-Arist.
& Gravitas honesta, diligentia attonita, cura solicita, apparitio devota, et processio modesta.– Tert. de Prescript.
Confluunt ad ecclesiam castà celebritate, honestà utriusque sexus discretione.-S. Aug. lib. ii. c. 28. de Civit. Dei.
h Tα γαρ κατά πόλεις προσευκτήρια τί έτερόν έστιν ή διδασκαλία φρονήσεως και ανδρείας, και σωφροσύνης και δικαιοσύνης, ευσεβείας τε και οσιότητος, και συμπάσης αρετής;Philo Legat. ad Caium.
Μόνος γάρ οίδε τιμάν ο προηγουμένως ιερείον εαυτόν προσάγων, και άγαλμα θεϊον τεκταιως την έαυτού ψυχήν, και ναόν εις υποδοχής του θείου φωτός τον εαυτου παρασκευάζων νούν. -Hier. in Pyth.
Ψυχής καθαράς τόπον οικειότερον επί γής θεός ούκ έχει· οίς και ο Πύθιος συμφέρεται, λίγων, Ευσεβέσιν δε βροτοίς γάνυμαι τόσον όσσον ολύμπω.-Ιdem.
Quin demus id saperis
since angels dwell in churches, and God hath made his name to dwell there too; if there also be a holy people, that there be saints as well as angels, it is a holy fellowship, and a blessed communion : but to see a devil there, would scare the most confident and bold fancy, and disturb the good meeting ; and such is every wicked and graceless person: “ Have I not chosen twelve of you, and one of you is a devil ?" An evil soul is an evil spirit, and such are no good ornaments for temples : and it is a shame that a goodly Christian church should be like an Egyptian temple ; without, goodly buildings; within, a dog or a cat, for the deity they adore. It is worse, if in our addresses to holy places and offices, we bear our lusts under our garments. For dogs and cats are of God's making, but our lusts are not, but are God's enemies; and therefore, besides the unholiness, it is an affront to God to bring them along, and it defiles the place in a great degree.
16. For there is a defiling of a temple by insinuation of impurities, and ancther by direct and positive profanation, and a third by express sacrilege. This “ defiles a temple” to the ground. Every small sin is an unwelcome guest, and is a spot in those“ feasts of charity,” which entertain us often in God's houses : but there are some, (and all great crimes are such,) which desecrate the place, unhallow the ground as to our particulars, stop the ascent of our prayers, obstruct the current of God's blessing, turn religion into bitterness, and devotion into gall; such as are marked in Scripture with a distinguishing character, as enemies to the peculiar dispositions of religion: and such are, unchastity, which defiles the temples of our bodies; covetousness, which sets up an idol instead of God; and unmercifulness, which is a direct enemy to the mercies of God, and the fair return of our prayers. He that shows not the mercies of alms, of forgiveness, and comfort, is forbidden to hope for comfort, relief, or forgiveness, from the hands of God. A pure mind is the best manner of worship, and the impurity of a crime is the
"Animadverto gratiorem existimari qui delubris deorum puram castamque mentem, quàm qui meditatum carmen intulerit. — Plin. Sec. Pan. Trajan.
'Αγνον δή ναιοΐο θυώδεος ένδον ιόντα Εμφάμεν αγνείη δ' έστι, φρονείν έσια. - Porphyr. de Non Esu Animal. lib. ii.
Optimus animus pulcherrimus cultus. Mή καθαρά καθαρού εφάπτεσθαι ου μη Sopstóv. — Hierocl.
greatest contradiction to the honour and religion of holy places. And, therefore, let us imitate the precedent of the most religious of kings; “ I will wash my hands in innocence, O Lord, and so will I go to thine altark;" always remembering those decretory and final words of St. Paul, “ He that defiles a temple, him will God destroy!.”
O eternal God, who “ dwellest not in temples made with
hands; the heaven of heavens is not able to contain thee,” and yet thou art pleased to manifest thy presence amongst the sons of men, by special issues of thy favour and benediction; make my body and soul to be a temple pure and holy, apt for the entertainments of the holy Jesus, and for the habitation of the Holy Spirit. Lord, be pleased, with thy rod of paternal discipline, to cast out all impure lusts, all worldly affections, all covetous desires, from this thy temple; that it may be a place of prayer and meditation, of holy appetites and chaste thoughts, of pure
intentions and zealous desires of pleasing thee; that I may become also a sacrifice, as well as a temple ; eaten up with the zeal of thy glory, and consumed with the fire of love; that not one thought may be entertained by me, but such as may be like perfume, breathing from the altar of incense; and not a word may pass from me, but may have the accent of heaven upon it, and sound pleasantly in thy ears. O dearest God, fill every faculty of my soul with impresses, dispositions, capacities, and aptnesses of religion; and do thou hallow my soul, that I may be possessed with zeal and religious affections; loving thee above all things in the world, worshipping thee with the humblest adorations and frequent addresses, continually feeding upon the apprehensions of thy divine sweetness, and consideration of thy infinite excellences, and observations of thy righteous commandments, and the feast of a holy conscience, as an antepast of eternity, and consignation to the joys of heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
k P's. xxvi. 6.
11 Cor. iii, 17.