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der, conveniences of assembling, residences of religion. And God, who always loved order, and was · apt to hear all holy and prudent prayers, (and therefore also the prayers of consecration,) hath often declared that he loves such places, that he will dwell in them : not that they are advantages to him, but that he is pleased to make them so to us. And therefore all nations of the world built public houses for religion : and since all ages of the church did so too, it had need be a strong and a convincing argument that must show they were deceived. And ' if any man list to be contentious,' he must be answered with St. Paul's reproof, · We have no such custom, nor the churches of God.'
6. Thus St. Paul reproved the Corinthians for 'despising the church of God'' by such uses, which were therefore unfit for God's, because they were proper for their own, that is for common houses. And although they were at first, and in the descending ages so afflicted by the tyranny of enemies, that they could not build many churches; yet some they did, and the churches themselves suffered part of the persecution. For so Eusebius reports, that when, under Severus and Gordianus, Philip and Galienus, the Christian affairs were in a tolerable condition, they built churches in great number and expense. But when the persecution waxed hot under Diocletian, down went the churches, upon a design to extinguish, or disadvantage the religion. Maximinus gave leave to rebuild them. Upon wbich rescript (saith the story) the Christians were overjoyed, and raised them up to an incredible height and incomparable beauty. This was Chris
tian religion then, and so it hath continued ever x since; and unless we should have new reason and new revelation, it must continue so till our churches are exchanged for thrones, and our chapels for seats placed before the Lamb, in the eternal temple of the celestial Jerusalem.
7. And to this purpose it is observed, that the holy Jesus first ejected the beasts of sacrifice out of the temple, and then proclaimed the place holy, and the scene of representing prayers; which in type intimates the same thing which is involved in the expression of the next words, “My house shall be called the house of prayer to all nations :' now and for ever to the Jews and to the Gentiles, in all circumstances and variety of time and nation. God's houses are holy in order to holy uses; the time as unlimited as the nations were indefinite and universal. Which is the more observable, because it was of the outward courts, not whither Moses's rites alone were admitted, but the natural devotion of Jews and Gentile proselytes, that Christ affirmed it to be holy, to be the house of God, and the place of prayer. So that the religion of public places of prayer is not a rite of Levi, but a natural and prudent circumstance and advantage of religion, in which all wise men agree; who therefore must have some common principle with influence upon all the world, which must be the univocal cause of the consent of all men; which common principle must either be a dictate of natural or prime reason, or else some tradition from the first parents of mankind; which because it had order in it, beauty, religion, and confirmation from Heaven, and no reason to contest against it, it hath surprised the understanding and practices of all nations. And in
deed we find that even in paradise God had that which is analogical to a church, a distinct place where he manifested himself present in proper manner. For Adam and Eve, when they had sinned, 'hid themselves from the presence of the Lord: and this was the word in all descents of the church, for the being of God in holy places, the presence of the Lord was there. And probably when Adam, from this intimnation, or a greater direction, had taught Cain and Abel to offer sacrifices to God in a certain place, where they were observed of each in their several offerings, it became one of the rules of religion which was derived to their posterity by tradition, the only way they had to communicate the dictates of divine commandment.
8. There is no more necessary to be added in behalf of holy places, and to assert them into the family and relatives of religion : our estimate and deportment towards them is matter of practice, and therefore of proper consideration. To which purpose I consider, that holy places being the residence of God's name upon earth, there where he hath put it, that by fiction of law it may be the sanctuary and the last resort in all calamities and need, God hath sent his agents to possess them in person for him. Churches and oratories are regions and courts of angels, and they are there not only to minister to the saints, but also they possess them in the right of God. There they are; so the greatest and Prince of spirits tells us, the Holy Gbost : 'I saw the Lord sitting upon his throne, and his train filled the temple; above it stood the seraphim :'? that was God's train. And therefore
? Isa. vi. 1, 2.
' Psalm xxvii. 4,5,6. VOL. II.
holy David knew that his addresses to God were in the presence of angels : ' I will praise thee with my whole heart, before the gods will I sing praise unto thee:''before the angels,'so it is in the Septuagint.? And that we might know where or how the kingly worshipper would pay this adoration, he adds,‘I will worship towards thy holy temple.' And this was so known by him, that it became expressive of God's manner of presence in heaven :' the chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels; and the Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the holy place.'3 God in the midst of angels, and the angels in the midst of the holy place; and God in heaven in the midst of that holy circle, as sure as he is amongst angels in the recesses of his sanctuary. Were the rudiments of the law worthy of an attendance of angels ? and are the memorials of the gospel destitute of so brave a retinue ? Did the beatified spirits wait upon the types ? and do they decline the office at the ministration of the substance ? Is the nature of man made worse since the incarnation of the Son of God ? and have the angels purchased an exemption from their ministry since Christ became our brother ? We have little reason to think so. And therefore St. Paul still makes use of the argument to press women to modesty and humility in churches, ' because of the angels.' And upon the same stock St. Chrysostom chides the people of bis diocess for walking, and laughing, and prating in churches : “ The church is not a shop of manufactures or merchandise, but
the place of angels and of archangels, the court of God, and the image or representment of heaven itself.” 1
9. For if we consider that Christianity is something more than ordinary, that there are mysteries in our religion, and in none else; that God's angels are ministering spirits for our good, and especially about the conveyances of our prayers, either we must think very low of Christianity, or that greater things are in it than the presence of angels in our churches : and yet, if there were no more, we sbould do well to behave ourselves there with the thoughts and apprehensions of heaven about us; always remembering that our business there is an errand of religion, and God is the object of our worshippings. And therefore, although by our weakness we are fixed in the lowness of men, yet because God's infinity is our object, it were very happy if our actions did bear some few degrees of a proportionable and commensurate address.
10. Now that the angels are there in the right of God, and are a manner and an exhibition of the Divine presence is therefore certain, because whenever it is said in the Old Testament that God appeared, it was by an angel : and the law itself, in the midst of all the glorious terrors of its manifestation,' was ordained by angels,' and 'a word spoken by angels,' and yet God is said to have descended upon the mount. And in the greatest glory that ever shall be revealed till the consummation of all things, the instrument of the Divine splendour is the apparition of angels : for when the