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heart or consequent holiness of life; when they exclaimed, in this spirit, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are we, grounding themselves upon this external distinction alone, without any spiritual sense of its true life and importance; then, as the prophet speaks, they trusted in lying words;* and they found at last, that, when the Lord of the temple appeared, he first in sign, and afterwards in fact, drove them all out of it, because they had made it a den of thieves. They had robbed it of its true glory and intention, and perverted it to the world, the flesh, and the devil. And thus it was with respect to their sacrifices, which, when made camally only, were no more than the head of a dog, or swine's blood, before the Lord. Nay, he who killed a clean beast not in faith, by which alone it could typically bear sin, shed innocent blood in God's account, with the aggravation of doing it in the
place where guilt was to be confessed and atoned.t m. In like manner, it is not enough for us to call ourselves
Christians, and to value ourselves upon any privileges, which we have outwardly above the heathen world, if we have not also Christ in us the hope of glory. A man may assent to all the articles of the Christian faith, and yet be condemned for an unbeliever. He may go through every means of grace, and partake of the holy sacra. ments; he may even live a sober and decent life, with the outward performance of all religious duties, and may do much for himself, his friends, and the world; but
• Jer. vii. 4.
+ Lev. xvii. 3, 4. Jer, vii, 6.
still be dead to God, a wretched empty formalist, without faith, or hope, or love, or any true taste or relish of spiritual and heavenly things. Natural men, and espe cially those who have been trained up to science and the knowledge of divinity in an ethical and metaphysical way, are amazed at this sort of language, and, with the learned scribes and pharisees of old, cannot conceive how it is possible, that they should be blind in these matters, and that simple and unlearned people should often know more of them than themselves.* Hence, it is, that they think them conceited, and affected with the desire of singularity; while they speak (and our Lord puts himself with them) what they do know experiment
* Perhaps, there may be a snare (often to be guarded against) in genius and a fine understanding, even when employed in the things of God. Rational thoughts, brilliant expressions, a captivating oratory, and the like, are but little akin to the simplicity of God's word, and the plainness with which it is written. Men of this kind, even good men, are liable to be drawn into abstract and metaphysical researches, into argumentative or disputatious strains, into new, and therefore suspicious, theories and distinctions, rather than into those plain facts and truths, which fill the sacred pages without the milous royons of man's wisdom, or into such a deep impression of their importance, as leaves no inclination for what will then be understood to be an egregious trilling of human powers, instead of that spiritual energy which refers all the glory and all the blessing to a higher cause. In proportion as men are fond of disputing, or of (what they call) the reasonableness of things, in religion; in that proportion will they be found dull within, and weak without. God will bless nothing but his own simple unadulterated truth; and the plainer this is set forth, the better. Nobody thinks, that the splendor of the diamond should be hid by a splendid case: it looks best when exposed to view, upon the plainest and the gravest ground.
ally ally, and testify what they have seen spiritually; and therefore they neither receive their witness, unless God have mercy upon them, nor can endure their persons. They forget, in this vein of reproach, that God's witnesses have often stood alone in his cause. Elijah was almost if not quite the only prophet, who resisted the torrent in his time; and Micaiah the son of Imlah had all the other prophets upon him, 'when he testified against an evil king. When he was cautioned for this singularity, he replied, with a noble heroism of faith; As Jehovah liveth, even what my God saith, that will I speak.* It was said of Athanasius, that he was against all the world, and all the world against him: and the same might have been said of Paphnutius, Luther, and many others. We must detach, in this great cause, persons from things, and number from consequence. The truth of God hath ever had but few followers in its truth, though many professors. Strait is the gate now, as it ever was, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life ; and few there be that find it. It was always a comparatively LITTLE flock, to whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give the kingdom.
Reader, art thou 'of this flock, this spiritual temple? Doth Christ (which is the purpose of this temple) dwell in thy heart by faith? Art thou watching for God's everlasting inhabitation within thee, by, the operations of his Spirit, by the correction of his word, by the suc. cesssion of his providences, by faith in his mercies, by love to himself and his service ? Art thou looking toward
* 2 Chron xviii. 13.
the mercy seat of his holy temple, or, in other words, to Christ -as thine head, as well as the head of all other his people? Is the desire of thy soul to his name, and to the remembrance of him? Canst thou say, With my soul have I desired him in the night, and my spirit within me hath sought him early? Art thou thus looking, in the ways of holiness, for this blessed Immanuel, as thine only expectation, and only hope? Is it, at times, the melting, the burning desire of thine heart, to see his presence in righteousness, and to wake up in his likeness? If Christ do indeed dwell in thy heart by faith, if thou art a real member of his holy temple, thou wilt love the light of his countenance above all things; thou wilt dread the thought of departing from him, or of his absence from thee; and, as thou art graciously made his habitation, thou wilt sometimes, if not often, long to be in his, even in the mansion which he hath prepared for thee.O what felicity is there in these divine expectations! How do they vivify the soul, and animate it above the sordid, miserable, pursuits and agitations of a passing, dying, world! As the greatest stars appear minute and inconsiderable to us because of their distance; so the Christian, who is lifted up the highest in spirit towards his heavenly home, can behold, with the most gracious indifference, the lower cares of time, and can count them and the earth itself, but littleness, and even dung, compared with the excellency of Christ and his tran. scendent mercies.
HOUSE OF GOD.
-1 his term conveys the same idea with the word temple, under a more familiar form. It implies, by an easy figure, the constant inhabitation of God with and in his people, as his favored and peculiar home. The house of God is the church of the living God.* Not the frame of a building, but a particular designation of persons : whose house are wet (says the apostle, speaking of Christ;) we believers, whom he is building up for that purpose, as parts composing the grand fabric, in which he will abide for ever.
This building is of God. No tool of man can be lifted up upon it: men themselves are but tools in his hand, accomplishing his work. The attempt is violation and pollution in the sight of God.* "
* 1 Tim. iii. 15.
† Heb. iii. 6. * Exod. xx. 25. It is seriously to be remarked, how exact and careful the whole Jewish æconomy was of any thing polluted or forbidden. No pleas of danger or convenience were admitted in breach of the rule. Persons uncircumcised, or out of the covenant; and persons circumcised, and therefore holy in that respect, yet having contracted any defilement; were excluded from holy offices and places, while under those circumstances. When Nadab and Abihu, consecrated priests and sons of Aarón, from whatever motive either of pride or perverseness, offered strange fire before the Lord; fire which had not descended from heaven; their service was abominable, and their persons were destroyed.