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1. It was the immediate residence of the Deity
[“I have loved," says he, “the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.” When Moses made the tabernacle, it pleased God to come down and honour it with his more immediate presence, and to manifest there his glory in the sight of all Israel. There God promised, in a more especial manner, to meet his people; saying, “ Thou shalt put the mercy-seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee: and there will I meet with thee; and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat, and from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.” The same blessed privilege was given to all Israel, through the medium of their High Priest, as long as the tabernacle and the temple stood : and on numberless occasions had David reaped the benefit of this condescending and merciful appointment. Can we wonder, then, that he should love the house of God, where he enjoyed so vast a privilege, and where such transcendent benefits were accorded to him? But we know from himself what his feelings were in relation to it: “One thing have I desired of the Lord, which I will seek after; that I may
dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple"."]
2. There he was enabled to worship God in the way that God himself had appointed
[Though God might be worshipped acceptably in every place, yet it was at the tabernacle only that any sacrifice could be offered to him, or that a full access to him could be enjoyed. There alone could a sinner be sprinkled with the blood of his offering, and have the pardon of his sins thus sealed upon his soul. Hence, when David was driven from Jerusalem, and forced to take refuge in a heathen land, this was the great subject of his complaint; not, that he was separated from his friends, but that he was cut off from communion with his God in the established ordinances of his worship. Hear his sad complaint : “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God! My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night; while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I remember these things, 1 pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holy-day ..... Ås with a sword in my bones, mine
o Exod. xl. 34-.-38. c Exod. xxv. 21, 22. d Ps. xxvii. 4.
enemies reproach me, while they say daily unto me, Where is thy Gode?']
3. There he obtained those supplies of grace and peace which his daily necessities required
[The whole book of Psalms is little else than a record of answers to his prayers. "I waited patiently for the Lord; ; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings: and he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God"." True, he might enjoy much of this in his own secret chamber; but it was chiefly in the house of God that he obtained these benefits. This he himself acknowledges: and he assigns it as the reason for his ardent attachment to that holy place: “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young; even thine altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King, and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee . .. A day in thy courts is better than a thousand: I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord is a sun and a shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly."]
The example before us might be amply sufficient to commend to our regard the house of God. But I must proceed to state, II. The incomparably stronger reasons which we
have for a similar attachment to it The dispensation which we are privileged to enjoy is of a more liberal kind than that under which he lived. 1. Our access to God is more intimate
[David, though a prophet and a king, did not dare to enter into the most holy place, where God displayed his glory. Had he presumed to intrude himself there, he would have been struck dead upon the spot. Not even the high-priest could enter there but on one day in the year, and in the manner prescribed by God himself. But we are permitted to come even to his very throne, and to behold him on his mercye Ps. xli, 1–4, 10.
f Ps. xl. 1-3. 8 Ps. lxxxiv. 1--4, 10, 11.
seat. Yes, the vail of the temple, at the time of our Saviour's death, was rent in twain from the top to the bottom: and from that very moment a way of access to him has been open for all the sinners of mankind, without exception. This is the construction put on that event by an inspired Apostle, who says, “ Having, therefore, boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us through the vail, that is to say, his flesh, and having an High-Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith h." Holy Ghost himself,” I say, has taught us this! And is this no ground for love to divine ordinances? Methinks, the liberty thus accorded to us should produce in us a correspondent liberty of mind in approaching God, and an exquisite delight in drawing nigh unto him.] 2. Our views of him are more clear
[Even the high-priest himself, when admitted into the sanctuary, could behold nothing but a bright cloud abiding on the ark between the cherubims. But we have access to the true tabernacle, the Lord Jesus Christ,“ in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodilyk.” “ He is the image of the invisible God'," “ the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person m:" and " in beholding him, we behold the Father himselfn:” yea, “ as with an unveiled face we behold the glory” both of the Father and the Sono. We see “ God in Christ reconciling the world unto himselfp," and are enabled to call him our Father and our Friend 4.
Of the perfections of God, also, we have incomparably clearer views than ever were vouchsafed even to David himself. True indeed, he says, that, in God, “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other?." But he had not such an insight into that mystery as we enjoy. The full discovery of God, as “ a just God, and yet a justifier of ungodly mens," was reserved for us, under the Gospel dispensation : we see, not only mercy, but faithfulness and justice, engaged on our side, and pledged for the forgiveness of our sins!
His purposes, too, how marvellously are they unravelled, and with what distinctness are they exhibited to our admiring eyes! Things which no eye ever saw, or ear heard, or heart conceived, under the Jewish economy, are revealed unto us by the Spirit; so that, from eternity to eternity, we can behold the designs of God unfolded, first, as they were originally concerted between
h Heb. x. 19-22.
i Heb. ix. 7,
k Col. ii. 19.
the Father and the Son; then as executed by Christ Jesus in his incarnate and glorified state; and, lastly, as they will be consummated at the day of judgment. Say, then, whether we should not delight in drawing nigh to God, and having our souls filled with these heavenly contemplations? If the shadow of these things so endeared to David the house of God, what should the substance of them effect in our hearts?]
3. Our communications from him are more abundant
[Doubtless David was most highly favoured of the Lord; and "God was very abundant towards him, both in faith and love u.” But still we cannot yield to him, no, not even to him, in the privileges we enjoy. The Holy Spirit was not then “poured out so abundantly” as he has since been upon the servants of the Lord. To us he is given as “a Spirit of adoption y,” and, as “a witness” to testify of that adoption”; and as "a seal,” to mark us for the Lord's peculiar treasure a . The servile spirit of the Law is altogether banished from us, and we are
“made free indeedb.” With what exalted views are we sometimes favoured, when we can see the Lord Jesus Christ actually bearing our sins in his own body on the tree, and pleading our cause at the right hand of God, and ordering every thing, both in heaven and earth, for our welfare, and preparing for us a mansion in heaven, himself taking possession of it for us as our forerunner, and shortly about to come again in his own person to invest us with all the glory he has purchased for us, even a participation of his own throne, his own kingdom, and his own glory! What is all this, but “an earnest” of heaven itself already begun in the soul? Yet all this is vouchsafed to us frequently under the ministry of the word, and at the table of the Lord; insomuch that we seem caught up, as it were, into the third heavens, and scarcely know whether we are in the body or out the body, by reason of the brightness of our views, and the blessedness of our souls. I mean not to say that this is the experience of all, nor of any at all times: but I do say, that it is the privilege of all; and that it is our own fault if we do not actually possess it: and that the hope of gratifying our taste with these rich dainties cannot fail of endearing to us the house where this feast is provided for us.] It will now, in conclusion, be profitable to INQUIRE, 1. Whence it is that this experience is so rare
[It must be confessed that there are but few who thus delight in the ordinances of God. But why is this? Would
u 1 Tim. i. 14. x John vii. 39. Tit. iii. 6. y Rom. viii. 15. 2 Rom. viii. 16. Eph. i. 13, 14.
b John viii. 36. c Isai. xxv. 6-8.
they not be alike precious to all, if all desired to make a suitable improvement of them? The truth is, that the generality of
persons attend them only as a mere form, without any consciousness of the ends for which they have been appointed. What if we viewed them as our mother's breast, to which we were invited for the support and nourishment of our souls? What if we came to them, “desiring the sincere and unadulterated milk of the word, that we might grow thereby d?” Verily we should then find such communications from the Lord Jesus, as would fill us with unutterable joye. But we feel not our need of mercy: we have no real desire after the Saviour: we are content with a godliness which consists in mere form, without any thing of power.” No wonder, then, that the house of God has no charms for us. True, indeed,
persons may affect divine ordinances, just as they would a fine concert, on account of the eloquence of the person by whom they are administered'; or they may set a value on them as means of fostering a high conceit of their own goodness &: but as means of access to God, and as a medium of communion with him, they find no real delight in them. To enter into the experience of David, and obtain a conformity of mind to his, religion must be our one great and paramount concern. If once Christ become our supreme joy, whatever brings us near to him, and him near to
as marrow and fatness to our souls.”] 2. What are the prospects of those in whom this experience is found
[Truly, they are blessed among men. They need not envy any other people upon earth. They possess what is far superior to all the delights of sense. View a man at the footstool of the Most High: view even the poor publican, who, through a consciousness of his own extreme unworthiness, dared not so much as to lift up his eyes to heaven. Who that knows with what complacency Almighty God beheld him, and with what pleasure he listened to his sighs, and treasured up his tears in his vial, would not congratulate him on the state of his soul, and on the prospects that were before him? The truth is, that every such person has “his sins put away from him, as far as the east is from the west;” and “ his name is written in the Lamb's book of life.” For
us, will be
person is prepared " a crown of glory, that fadeth not away.” He now beholds his God by faith: and soon shall he behold him face to face. He now draws nigh to God in a temple made with hands: and he shall soon commune with him in his temple
d 1 Pet. ii. 2.
e John iv. 10. and vii. 37, 38.