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men. Whither, in such circumstances, should the child of God flee, but to the bosom of his Father? There, by the consolations of grace, by the beams of spiritual joy, by the comforts of the Holy Ghost, he will be compensated for the bitterness and frowns of the world. There, tasting the mercy of his God, he will pity, forgive, and intercede for those who wound him. There, resting in the embraces of the Most Merciful, he will love and adore; there, as in a sanctuary and asylum, his soul will peacefully repose amidst the reproaches and persecutions of his foes; and when the hour of his dissolution arrives, he will cry, with holy confidence, · Father, whose tenderness I have so often experienced, Father of that Saviour to whom I have fled for refuge, and in him my covenant God and Father, into thine hands I commend my spirit: thou wilt receive it, O God of my salvation !"
THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE.
Haggal ii. 9.
The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the
former, saith the Lord of hosts.
From the earliest period of time, particular places 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 Noah, 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 impious rites, God prohibited his people from worshipping in them, lest they should be seduced into the idolatrous practices of other nations.
* Preached at the dedication of the New Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah, May 9, 1819.
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 tabernacle, in which the ark, the august symbol of the divine presence, was contained; and resolved to dedicate a magnificent temple to the God of Israel, the ruler of the world. “ The king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth in curtains.” (2 Sam. vii. 2.) When Nathan, commending him for his motives, informed him that the honour of rearing this building was reserved for his pacifie 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
sacrifice to stay the progress of the exterminating angel. In seven years and a half it was finished. 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 filled the house: Solomon, animated by this token of acceptance, surrounded 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 resound 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 new declaration of the divine favour was past, the priests, the levites, the people, and the king, bending to the earth, cried in the aecents 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 Nebuchadnezzar, who destroyed the 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. Haggai 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
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 thummim, 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 want 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 bimself 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 things which were enjoyed under the first temple. Why should they regret the shechinah, when with them there was Immanuel, God incarnate? Why should they weep for the urim and thummim, when they had this divine prophet to instruct them, with infinitely greater clearness and force? Why should they mourn for the 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