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was the mercy-seat, the especial pledge of God's presence, itself set upon the ark of the covenant in which the tables of the law were, and overshadowed by the cheru. bims of glory ; so the whole of most of our churches was meant, by those who builded them, to refer to the most holy par the chancel ; where, as often as the communion is administered, or the tokens of the true mercy. seat, the man Christ Jesus, giving himself to be, first a sacrifice for us on the cross, and then our spiritual meat and drink. As the show-bread was set by the side of the temple, so the holy bread and wine which are to be offered on the table of our Lord, is set ready, not on that table, but where it may be reverentially taken and offer. ed by the priest. As the altar of burnt-offering was put in front of the ark, so the places where the priest kneels, to offer the sacrifice of prayer, are commonly somewhere near the front of the chancel. As in the ark itself were the tables of the law, so the laws of God, the Scriptures, are rehearsed to you, and preached on, from the chancel, and the commandments are set up, as you know, over the communion-table. And these are not mere dead ceremonies : if, even in the Jewish service, they were tokens of God's presence and blessing, doubt not but that to us Christians, coming with faithful hearts, they are much more so. Thus, even the order of the parts of the church may teach us, if we will, many serious and comfortable truths; and wherever we look around, from the crosses on the top of our churches, to the carvings on the rails and seats, we may see something to put us in mind of him to whom all points-because he is all in all to usGod made man, and crucified for our sake.
As to our sacred services, compared with those of the Jews; no one who considers at all can help seeing, both how the one answers to the other, and how ours are far more blessed.
If they had the priests, the sons of Aaron to bless them in God's name, and offer for them such sacrifices as were then ordained ; we have the priests of the new law, the spiritual sons and successors of the apostles of Jesus Christ, those whom he sent, as his father had sent him. If they had sacrifices of beasts, and the meatoffering, we have the holy and blessed sacrifice of that sacred bread and wine, which he will make to us, if we be not unworthy, even his own body and blood. If they had the law preserved in the ark, we have the Bible read and preached. If they had the divine psalms, we, too, have them, and their meaning also—the very spirit and life of them, Christ Jesus.
But over and above the forms of the tabernacle and temple, and their sacred services, they had certain great miracles, yet more fearful, and, at the same time, more gracious, by way of signs, that God was there in a manner in which he was nowhere else. When Moses first set up the tabernacle, having ordered all things in it as Almighty God had commanded him, God took possession of it by a bright cloud, covering the tent of the congregation; and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. In like manner, when Solomon dedicated the temple, the priests, we read, could not stand to minister, by reason of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord. Thus did the Lord fulfil his promise of coming to the Jews, to bless them in every place where his name was recorded: but this glory was as nothing, compared with that which we know fills our churches the presence of God's Holy Spirit, blessing God's gifts and those who receive them; transforming all into the likeness of Jesus Christ in whom all are one.
Again : “When Moses went into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with God, he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy-seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims; and he spake unto him.” Thus he learned the words of God, “hearing a voice, but seeing no man. Was not this an awful testimony of the Lord being in that place? Yet was it not more awful than we ourselves experience, if we have faith, every time we come into the church, and hear the counsel of the Lord out of Holy Scripture, and the ancient creeds and prayers of the church of Christ.
In both those cases, God answers us by a voice ;-the lessons which come home to our hearts, come from him; if we obey them, it is him we obey ; if we despise them, it is him we despise. The Bible, read and preached in the church, and the holy sacraments there administered, are the two great miracles, making these our assemblies more glorious, more full of the Most High God, than ever were the places where he recorded his name among the Jewish people of old. Christ was near to them ; but to us he is actually joined. They were his servants; we are his members. And of this astonishing union, these his churches, set apart for the sacrifice of prayer and thanksgiving, for instruction in his word, and for the service of his holy sacraments, are so many sure tokens and pledges.
See then, Christian brethren, what a burden is laid upon us; a joyful and a blessed burden, if we will so take it ; but who can say how low it will sink us, if we refuse to meet God's gracious providence with serious thankfulness and obedience? I say again, a new church such as this, is a sort of burden laid upon the consciences of all who live in the place where it is provided, and who are called therefore by God's providence to take part in his services here. For wherever a church is, Christ, as you have heard, hath promised to come unto his people. He is here to meet you, as often as the church is open.
in earnest believe this ? and if you do, can you help perceiving that wilful staying away from church is an affront to his holy name ; it is as much as saying, you do not care to be with him, you do not care for his blessing.
And what if we come for custom's sake, just because other people do? What if we come with a careless and childish mind, and when we are here behave disrespectfully? Yet surely it is still true that Christ is here ; our behavior makes no difference in that respect, but to us it will make all the difference : we shall seem to our Father and Redeemer as those who mock; we shall be in God's sight hypocrites and deceivers, and we shall bring a curse upon us and not a blessing.
Consider well then what you are about when you come within this threshold ; more especially recollect yourself and be very serious, if you mean to go beyond the outer court of the tabernacle, and, entering into the holy of holies to offer yourself at the holy feast of the body and blood of the Lord. Consider, recollect yourself: it is no common place: it is a king's court, and the king's servants are around the throne on every side: it is the palace of the great king of heaven and earth, and the angels are round about his altar, filling the temple as a prophet saw them of old. Will you sit gazing carelessly about, while the blessed spirits are hiding their faces in terror and amazement at his unspeakable glory? will you not think of God your Savior-no not even in this place where he records his name, and at this hour when he is waiting to bless you?
Remember that his presence can be no indifferent matter: this village cannot be, henceforth, as if this new church had never been built ; if God is not better served here than he has been, if his worshippers do not try to serve him more seriously and more regularly, if the neglecters of his worship do not take warning by such signs of his being here, their account will be so much heavier by and by : they will be in the sight of their judge and his angels so much more like Chorazin and Bethsaida; the very heathens, if they respect their idol temples, will perhaps rise up at the last day and condemn such indevout Christians.
Let all those again, who seriously delight in this church, and have taken interest in it guard themselves against the certain danger of their present feelings passing away : let none of us be contented to admire the beauty of the work, without earnest resolutions to employ it to that purpose for which God's gracious providence gave it. What is that purpose ? That he might come to us and bless us. He hath come to us : he is now, and daily will be, waiting to bless us: and as this place is a figure of heaven, the holy place of the Most Holy, so his blessing here, if we will but receive it with clean and prepared hearts, will prove but the faint shadow of another blessing, a perfect and eternal one, which he will pronounce on us hereafter.
EFFECTS OF CHRIST'S ASCENSION.
PREACHED ON ASCENSION DAY.
Psalm lxviii. 18.
“ Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive, thou hast
received gifts for men ; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them."
As God Almighty graciously taught us how to pray to him, in the Lord's prayer, so he had long before set us a pattern how to praise him, by the divine songs of the Old Testament, which he has instructed us, in the New Testament, to apply to his mercies shown us in Christ Jesus. Otherwise, so infinite and unspeakable are those mercies, we never surely should have known how to praise him for them worthily. We never should have known or thought of a hymn worthy of the ascension of our Savior, had not the Holy Spirit himself, by the prophet David, condescending to provide us with one in that glorious psalm which is appointed by the church to be used on Whitsunday: in which, under the figure of the ark of God, carried up to Mount Sion, the praises of our blessed Lord are sung, going up to heaven as the head of his church, and sending down the holy Comforter, the fountain of all spiritual blessings, to abide among
his chosen in his room. The psalm, indeed, goes over the whole reach of God's mercies in redeeming his church, from the beginning to the end; but the most illustrious verse, perhaps, in it, is this, which relates to our Lord's ascension : “ Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive, thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell