« AnteriorContinuar »
ON PRAIgINC GOD.
2 Chron. Y. 13, 14.
came even to pass, as the trumpeters end fingers ivere Ms one, to make one found to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lift up their voice •with the trumpets and cymbals, and injtruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is goody
for his mercy tndureth fcr ever: that then the house was filed with a cloud, even the house of the Lord;
so that the pritsts could not sand to minister by reason tf the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filed the
house of God.
'•HE day of Pentecost excepted, when the Holy I Ghost made a visible descent upon the apostles ofour Lord, we may 'consider this as the brightest day with which the church was ever favoured. It i& impossible to conceive the joy, the wonder, the ecstafy of these devout worshippers, when they beheld the cloud, that well known fymbol of the Divine presence, and faw the temple silled with the glory of the Lord. Solomon himself, aj we learn from the 18th verse of the following chapter^ was fo overpowered powered with this extraordinary manisestatiao, that he made a sudden pause even aster he had begun to pray; and like one doubtsul whether he should believe the testimony of his own senses, abruptly alks the question, " But will God in very deed dwell with
man upon earth? Behold, heaven, and the heaven "of heavens cannot contain Thee: how much less "this house that I have built?"
From the last chapter of Exodus it appears, that when the tabernacle was sirst erected in the Wilderness, God was pleased to take visible possession of it, in a way similar to what is here recorded; and the effects, though not precisely the fame, had a very great resemblance so those which we have now read. For we are there told, that" Moses the man of God, "was not able to enter into the tent of the congre"gation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the "glory of the Lord had silled the tabernacle." Here, however, the cloud not only silled the tabernacle, but the whole temple; and the Divine presence wa» displayed with such glory and majesty, that the priests who burned incense at the golden altar, were obliged, at least for a time, to intermit the service. "They "could not stand to minister by reafon of the cloud; "for the glory of the Lord had silled the house of "God."
It is unnecessary to observe to you, that such pompous and visible manisestations of the Divine presence are not to be expected in the days of the gospel. The darkness of the former dispenfation required those external aids, and rendered them not only desireable, but usesul and necessary. But now, when the darkness is dispelled, and the day-spring from on high has visited us, the great objects of faith being freed from the thick vail of types and shadows, afsect the mind without the assistance of our bodily senses, and make a deeper and more lasting impreffion upon the foul of the believer than the most splendid
scenes scenes the eye could behold. Zion's glory does not now consist in outward pomp and magnisicence, but in the spiritual, though invisible presence of her King; according to his own gracious promise, " Lo, "I am with you alway, even to the end of the world;" and again, " Where two or three are met together "in my name, there am I in the midst of them." When divine power accompanies the ordinances of religion; when these waters of the fanctuary are impregnated with a healing and quickening virtue; when the fouls of believers are enlightened and purisied, revived and comforted by the use of those means which Christ has appointed, then is the temple silled with his glory, and there is no need of any visible cloud to convince the devout worshipper that God is with him.
It has long been lamented, (would to God there was less cause for it), that this gracious presence of our Redeemer is sensibly withdrawn from our public assemblies. We have heard with our ears, and our fathers have told us what works the Lord did in their days, in the times of old; how his steps of majesty have been seen in the fanctuary, and. his arm revealed by its glorious effects, turning the difobedient to the wisdom of the just, enriching and beautifying the fouls of his own people with righteousness, peace and joy in believing. But, alas! how is the gold become dim, and the most sine gold changed! These blessed fruits of the ordinances of the gospel are now rarely to be seen, and there is too much ground for that complaint; " The bellows are burnt, and the "lead is consumed of the sire; the founder melteth "in vain, for the wicked are not pluckt away from u their wickedness." Few, comparatively speaking, are now converted by the means of grace; and even among those sew who have a name to live, the decayed and languid state of Christianity is too observable to need any proof or illustration. To what cause then shall we impute this? Is God's arm shortened, that it cannot fave? or his ear heavy, that he cannot hear? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath the Lord forgotten to be gracious? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? No; God is unchangeable, the fame to-day, yesterday, and for ever, without any variableness or shadow of turning. He is a rock; hi» work is persect, and all his ways are judgment; a God of truth and inviolable sidelity. iThe blame therefore must be thrown entirely on ourselves. Our iniquities have separated between God and us, and withheld good things from us. We do not cry to him with our hearts. We do not stir up ourselves to call upon God. Our prayers are cold and liseless. Our praises languish on our lips. We rush on ordinances without any serious preparation; and are neither suitably concerned to obtain the divine presence, nor properly affected when we miss it.
That this is too frequently the case, will not, cannot be denied. Our own observation and experience must convince us of the truth of it. But may I not be allowed to hope, that many have come upon this occasion with ardent desires to behold and admire the beauty of the Lord, and to seel the power of his grace ia the fanctuary? May I not hope that there is here a goodly number, who, like Moses, have been pleading in their hour of private meditation, " I be"seech thee, O Lord, show me thy glory."
And since the passage upon which I am now dis- • coursing, affords matter of usesul and seafonable in-: struction; as it not only relates an extraordinary manisestation of the Divine glory to his ancient church, but likewise informs us how the worshippers were employed at the time it was made: I think the inserence is persectly just and natural, that if we desire and expect to share in their privilege, we ought, in