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this ordinance, who enters into the meaning, and feels the weight of our Saviour's injunction; Do this in remembrance of me?
It was in the Jewish temple alone that the victims for sacrifice were slain, and the means of reconciliation exhibited. And it is through this ordinance we behold the sacrifice of the cross shadowed forth. We see in the death of God's Son, that without shedding of blood there is no remission.' Through this ordinance, the believer discovers a very significant meaning in the language of Christ, My flesh is meat indeed, and muy blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.' Nothing resembling this is to be found in the religious systems of the heathen. That man is a sinner, and deserves and dreads punishment, is apparent from their sacrifices and bodily tortures and mortifications ; but how he can be pardoned and sanctified, they are unable to ascertain. With them, an impenetrable darkness broods over these most momentous questions; and nothing can solve them but that divine revelation, which faithfully unfolds the plan of redemption. The brightness of the Father's glory assuming human nature, dispersed the portentous cloud which hung heavy upon the prospects of a ruined world ; thus discovering to us clearly how guilt may be pardoned consistently with the rights of justice, and the honor of the law. On Calvary the cross is elevated, and Jesus expires as an offering for sin. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish, but have eternal life.' As a few loaves and fishes multiplied in the hands of Jesus, to the satisfying of hungry thousands, so the same divine influence renders the ordinances of religion a 'feast of marrow and fat things to believers. To the lukewarm professor, this ordinance is merely an empty ceremony ; but to the genuine Christian, it is an extraordinary occasion, for which he has been preparing by meditation and prayer. Hence when he meets his Saviour in the sacrament, he is enabled to say, 'He brought me to his banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.'
4. The discipline exercised in God's house is holy.
It is here that his laws are explained and enforced. The Lord sits as King in his own tabernacle, and governs it. His statutes are suited to the nature and capacity, and are calculated to exalt the moral character and condition of his faithful subjects. Perfect symmetry and order mark his family. Every member has a place assigned him, and a part to perform, which may contribute to the strength and beauty of the house; and a failure in duty may occasion disorder and weakness in the church. The Head of the church is invisible, and therefore governs by human instrumentality. When be ascended up on high, he gave to the church pastors, teachers, prophets, and evangelists authorising them to comfort and govern according to Christ's word. He has conferred no discretionary power, but placed in the pastor's hand the statute of heaven, and said, by this shall my subjects be governed. And when, Christ delegates to his ministers the power to govern the church, a corresponding obligation to submit to his authority on the part of his people is implied. Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, says, “We beseech you brethren, know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord;' and to the Hebrews he adds, Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God : whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.'
The church cannot be in a healthy and vigorous state without discipline. This when judiciously exercised, is the very ligament of the church. Without this, we know not whether he who enters is a friend or an enemy. It is this which draws the line of separation between the church and the world. Let Christian discipline be prostrated, and the rights and privileges of the church left unguarded, and she will be over-run with worldly, proud, contentious and immoral professors, between whom and the world lying in wickedness, there will exist no difference. But to exercise discipline to advantage, it must be attended to in season, with faithfulness, impartiality, and tenderness. Says an ingenuous writer, · He who would successfully administer discipline in the church of God needs an eagle's eye to penetrate attendant circumstances, and a lady's hand to manage the most delicate case.' Let an evil be cured, if possible, where it originates ; lest, like waters which are let out, it extend through the whole church. Save the disordered member by all lawful means ; but be sure to amputate before the whole body becomes mortified. · Brethren,' says the apostle, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.' And, says our Lord, Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word
be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.' This seems to be, in miniature, the whole system of discipline which Christ has given to the church; and his ministers and people are sacredly bound to observe it.
5. The defence given to the church is holy.
The church has ever been eyed with jealousy by her enemies. Her interest has been artfully and maliciously represented as set up in opposition to that of the state ; and contention and bloodshed have been unjustly attributed to the peaceful religion of Christ. Hence, every plan that infernal ingenuity and malice could invent, has been devised for her extermination. Even in her infancy, the dragon tried his strength, but in vain.
'The figures employed by the inspired penman to represent the church in affliction, clearly evince, that nothing but an Almighty arm could have secured her in the midst of the most unparalleled sufferings. The burning bush, in which the Lord appeared to Moses, was intended to illustrate the furnace of tribulation through which both the Jewish and Christian church have had to wade, but in which they have been miraculously preserved. The page of Ecclesiastical history faithfully delineates the sufferings of the church under Rome, pagan and papal ; and with equal accuracy developes the wonderful manner in which God has vindicated her by crushing the power of her adversaries, and turning their mischievous policy against themselves. The blood of the martyrs has proved the precious seed, whence, in succeeding generations, an army of witnesses has been raised, who, counting not their lives dear unto themselves, have boldly followed their Lord without the camp, bearing his reproach. When Herod sought to destroy the infant Saviour, he hoped, doubtless, by extinguishing the light of Israel, to shroud the moral world in impenetrable darkness. Pontius Pit late with the Jews, raged against the Lord and his Anointed, saying, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us ; but He who sitteth in the heavens has laughed, and held their counsels in derision.' Those who are acquainted with the history of the church, need not be told the fate of Nero, Aurelian, Dioclesian, Julian, and other blood-thirsty enemies of the church. And why, my brethren, has not every christian temple been demolished, the ordinances of religion interdicted, and even religion itself blotted out from under heaven? It is because the Lord is in his holy temple. Empires have risen to the zenith of their glory, from which they have gradually declined, till they have become engulphed in oblivion. And what mighty energy has preserved the church amidst such tremendous convulsions ? The only answer that can be given to this question is, “The foundation of God standeth sure.' The glorious Author of our religion long since predicted, Upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her ;' and subsequent events have proved that encouraging declaration to be infallible. The Lord will continue to send the rod of his strength out of Zion, and tu rule even in the midst of his enemies. He will cause the wrath of man to praise him, and the remainder of wrath he will restrain, until
his enemies shall lick the dust, and all that are incensed against : him, shall bow down at the soles of his feet.
II. They describe the conduct becoming his worshippers. Let all the earth keep silence before him. By silence here, we are to understand profound respect and submission. Reference is here had to an Eastern custom. The guards, officers, and nobles, in Eastern courts, when they attend their princes, keep the utmost silence. If earthly princes command such respect from their subjects, what reverence is due to the King of kings and Lord of lords?.. But what course of conduct is most indicative of respect for Jehovah, especially when we enter his sanctuary?
1. If we would respect God, we must enter his temple in a derout frame of mind. Religious worship is an ordinance of God. Hence, we are commanded not to forget the assembling of ourselves together. But he not only requires our worship, he also prescribes the manner in which we must present it. We are not to rush thoughtlessly into the house of God, as though it were a theatre or a rendezvous for carnal gratification. Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools : for they consider not that they do evil.' God is there, and no worldly nor unholy thoughts should ever intrude within the doors. If Abraham considered the place and employment too holy, when he ascended the mount to sacrifice his son to the Lord, to admit his servants, how scrupulously should wo exclude all contemplations of an earthly and selfish character When we enter the sacred enclosure where God is worshipped. Employments also which are admissible on ordinary occasions, would be highly reprehensible in the house of God. But when no special advantage is derived from hearing the gospel, overlooking our own indifference and worldliness, we are apt to seek for the cause in the coldness or incompetency of the minister. It is as necessary that the mind be prepared for the profitable reception of the gospel, by previous prayer, as that the ground should be softened by the showers of heaven, to prepare it for the reception of the seed. The institutions of heaven may be within our reach, and the ministers of religion may preach till they are called to their eternal home, but unless we are prepared to receive with meekness the ingrafted word,' it will prove a savour of death unto death. Not only should worldly projects be dismissed, when we go to the house of God to receive instruction, but the mind should be unembarrassed and open to the convictions of truth, so that the word being mixed with faith, it may expel erroneous principles and unholy afferiions, and conform the heart entirely to the gospel.
"God is a spirii, and they who worship him must do it in spirit and in truth.' Tho.€ who expend the most time in self-examinaljon and prayer,
preparatory to hearing the truth, usually secure the greatest amount of good from it, and while listening to the joyful sound, are enabled to exclaim, How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts !
2. Keeping silence before the Lord, implies, that our deportment in his house be decorous. A more weighty and important question cannot be put to our consciences on going to the temple of God, than what our object is in resorting to that sacred place. Is it merely to pass away an hour that hangs heavily upon us? Is it idly to sit, or curiously gaze round upon the congregation, that we may show our fine attire, and learn the newest fashions? It may be, some come merely to criticise on the sentiments, oratory, or personal accomplishments of the preacher, but, forgetting that as guilty sinners, they should tremble at God's word. We should enter the house of God to learn humility, and ascertain our latter end. It was in the sanctuary, that David saw the fate of the wicked, and learned contentment. I was envious,' says he, at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.'. To reconcile their great worldly prosperity with their extreme wickedness, was too great a task for him, until he went into the sanctuary of God; then,' continues he, understood I their end.'
A lamentable evil bas prevailed in many of our congregations, of devoting the time previous to divine worship in irreligious conversation. But it certainly would be far more acceptable to God, were we to endeavor to abstract our thoughts from the world. The house of God would then indeed be to us frequently like the mount of transfiguration, and we should have occasion to exclaim, “It is good to be here !
Punctuality, as to the time of our getting to the house of worship, is an important item in that respect, which God requires from his worshippers. Nothing can be more indecorous, than to disturb the devotions of the sanctuary, by abruptly rushing into the house of God in the midst of prayer or sermon, and thus diverting the attention of a whole congregation from the appropriate services of God's house. And as we appear in the sanctuary to take a part in all its holy services, it is equally unbecoming to retire until regularly dismissed, unless there be an imperious demand for it.
It should not be a place for carnal amusement, merchandise, or iniquity. The strong rebuke which our Saviour gave to those who profaned the temple of God when he was upon earth, is still applicable to many who call themselves Christians : My house shall be called of all nations, the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.'
3. But we must not only by external decency respect the Lord of Hosts, we must also engage heartily in the solemn and delightful devotions of his house. We are personally concerned in the great