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ter the counsel of his own will," and to arise, in due time, the wonder of angels and of men. This building of God at lengte began to appear and to ascend. But it accorded not with hu. man ideas of grandeur and magnificence. The very depost. taries of the original design, were the first to relift the completion of it, because it justified nor their prejudicis and preposo, fessions. Their oppofrion, however, served only more illuf. triously to display the manifold wisdom and goodness of God, and to expose the weaknefs and folly of man. Had the edifice been of man's deviling and rearing, it could no: have ftood " the washing of a ride,” for the “ foolish man built his house upon the sand ; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon thit house; and it fell : and great was the fall of it.” But infinite Wisdom, founded the fabric of Christianity upon a rock. The rains have de fcended, the floods have come, the winds have blown and beat. en upon this house, but it has not fallen; for it is founded upon a rock.
In the gospel history we behold the groundfloor or platform of the Chriftian religion. It principally consists in a narration of plain, unadorned tacts, well auiheniicated, indeed, but recommended by no artificial polish, and deriving all their importance and effe&t from their own native truth and excel. Tence, lerviny, neverı heless, as a solid support to the precepts, the promises, the predi&tions, the doctrines, the consolations of our moft holy faith. Take, for instance, the event which our Blessed Lord, in the passage which has now been read, fore. told concerning himself, namely, that the temple of his body Kould be destroyed, and'in three days raised up again. Now when this event actually did take place, not only was the veracity of Jesus, as a prophet, completely established, but a foundation was laid of sufficient strength to sustain the whole weight of the Chriftian's hope, of a resurrection to life and immortality. We shall, therefore, fis it consider this all-impose tant doćirine, in the history which is the foundation of it, and then in the superst: uetire reared.
In purifying the temple tiom the abominations pra&lised in it, Jesus had undoubtedly assumed the authority of one invested in the office of magistracy or with the character of a prophet. That he was no magistrate all men knew and he never pretended to it. To have acted in this capacity might have been considered as: usurpation. As a prophet, i hen, and only as a prophet, could he * appear in the character of a public reformer. But it is requia
fite that a prophet should produce his credentials. This fuga gested the demand: “What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doe it these things ?" which plainly implied, that one
Phineha.pen and grofscie as jadge and using the furnia
dels not only
ading under a commission from heaven, was obliged to supa port his claim by a sign from heaven. But is there need to produce fupernatural teftimony to a right to retorm known. public, flagrant abuse ? Did not their own hiftory furnish and noted inftance of a private person's assuming the fword of fuftice, and acting at once as jndge and executioner, in the case of open and gross violation of the divine law; that of Phinehas, who was but the grandfon of Aaron' the priest ? He not only became liable to no cenfure, but obtained a deatha Jefs name, and an honourable office for his seasonable interpofi. zion. “Then food up Phinehas, and executed judgment; and fo the plague was stayed. And that was counted unto bim for sighteousnefs eni'o all generations for evermore." Did not the fign, in the present instance, appear in the act ? Did not the great Reformer authenticate his powers by the manner in which he exercised them, and by the effect which they produced ? Did ihe guilty relift? Did they call in question his authority ? Did they drag him, in their turn, to the tribunal ? No, whey feet his afcendant and shrink from his rebuke. Who, then, call for a sign ? Not tbe offenders ; they had received fufficient evidence: not the populace, for they must have been equally overawed and confounded. The rulers of the Jews hearing of this singular tranfaction, some of them, perhaps, beinglon the Spot, and eye-witnesfes of what paffed, jealous of their honour, and considering their prerogative as invaded ; they, as inen having authority, demanded a hign. From their general characa ter, and from the inefficacy of this and other signs afterwards given, we know from what motive the present demand was wade; not in the fpirit of meekness, not from the love of truth, pot to obtain conviction; but in the hope of finding occasion to censure, or of putting the assumed authority of Chrift to a test which it could not fand.
A fign is given them, and a moft remarkable one it is, * Jesus answered and said unto them, dellroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Whatever conftruction the Jews might put on these words, what Jesus intended to convey is obvious, and it was in every point justified by the correfponding event. He who is smıplicity and truth itself could have no design to millead. The a&tion and emphasis with which he fpake, clearly pointed out ihe object. The general attention had just been directed to a temple made with hands, a temple wickedly profaned by an abominable traffic, which was connived at by its protessed conservators, and whose hoa. eur had been tu nobly vindicated by a stranger. That stranger had already attracted general noticer-by the Gogularity of his
fpeech and deportment ; every eye was fixed upon him, his every attitude and gesture were observed, and thele plainly indicated that the temple to be destroyed, and raised up in three days, could not be the venerable pile in the court of which this converfation passed. When he afterwards foretold the approaching deftruction of that temple, he expressed himself in * terms not liable toʻmisapprehension "As he went out of the
temple, one of his disciples faith unto him, Master, see what. manner of stones and what buildings are here'! And Jesus answering laid unto him, Seeft thou chefe great buildings ? there shall not be left one stone'upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Now he points to an edifice infinitely more facred. From both the first and second houses built on mount Zion the glory had long since departed. The sensible tokens of the
divine presence were withdrawn. The holy oracle was no "longer consulted by Urim and Thummim. But in Him, who was the only glory of the second house, “ dwelled all the ful. ness of the Godhead bodily," and the destruction of this temple he thus prediệts as a sign not to the men of that generation * only, but to all ages, even to the end of the world. From the
very nature of prophecy, a vail muft be drawn between the prediction and the event. “Hope that is seen is not hope," and " faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Christ indulges 'not those unbelievers with an immediate display of his miraculous power, in support of his pretensions to the character of a prophet, which they could easily have explained away, or misinterpreted ; but he reters
bem to a sign shortly to be exhibited, which should be, at once, the exact accomplishment of a well known prediction, and the greatest miracle that can possibly exift. That the misconcep.. tion of the Jews was perverse and affected is evident from this, that when they had actually fulfilled the part of the predi&tion which depended on themselves, by destroying that lacred temple, we find them labouring under the roit dreadful appre. Thension that Jesus would accomplish the other part, which der pended on him, and they employ every precaution, which ter.' Tor could suggest, to prevent and defeat it. "The chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, laying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver faid, while he was yet alive, After three days' I will rise again. Command, therefore, that the fepul. ehre be made sure until the third day, left his disciples come by night and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead : so the last error shall be worse than the first." And when the astonished watch came into the city, and made report to their employers, of “ all the things that Cc
were done,” did it produce conviction ? No, it only filled them wiih mortification, and kindled rage. “ The chief priesls, when they were allembled with the elders, and had taken counfel, they gave la ge nioney unto the soldiers, saying, say ye, His dilciples came by night, and it le him away while we sept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.” To what purpose, then. ask for a sign ? They relift and reject the most illustrious, which, with rever. ence be it poken, God himlelt could give, thereby approving the truh of what Jesus on another occasion said, " If they hear not Moses and ihe prophets, neither will they be persuaded; though one rose from the dead.”
" Destroy this temple." Let it be observed, that this is simply a prediction or supposition, and not a precept, equivalent to, ye will deflroy this temple, or, though ye should defroy this temple. It is a mnode of expression ihat frequently occurs in Scripture. Thus in the Old Testament, Joseph says to his brethren, “this do, and live," that is, do this, and ye shall live. Thus God speaks to Moses, “Get thee up into this mountain, and die in the mount whither thou goeft up, and be gathered unto thy people," meaning evidently, thou shalt die in the mount, and salt be gathered unto thy people. Thus, Isaiah viii. 10. " Take counsel together, and it fhall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not land :” that is, though ye take counsel together, and though ye speak the word. And in the New Testament, the word of Chriít to Judas, “ that thou doft, do quickly," cannot be considered as a command to accomplish his plan of treathery, but merely as an intimation that he was seen through, and that under the impulse of a diabolic spirit, he was hurrying on to commit that dreadful enormity. Thus Paul exhorts, “ Be angry and fin not;" surely not as if he meant to encourage violent transports of wrath, but in the event of a man's giving way to a fit of passion, the apostle means to guard him against excessive indulgence in it, by restricting iis duration to the going down of the sun. This early notice did. Jesus give, not to his disciples only, but to all who came to worship in ihe temple, " of his disease which he thould ac. complish ai Jerusalem ;' that it should be effected by the hand of violence; wat by decay, but by destruction, and that his own countrymen should be the perpetrators of it. This declatation was frequently repeated, and became plainer and plainer, till the fact juftified every particular of the prediction. . ..." This temple. Our blessed Lord in this place and else
where denominates his body a temple, as declaratory of his su- ? !.. periunity to the lusty pile ou Mount Zion, even in its greatest
glory... giory, much more in its then degraded, defiled flate.' " I say unto you,” addresling himself to the pharisees, “ that in this place is one greater than the temple," because Deity resided continually and inseparably in him, as the Jews believed he did in that which was built by Solomon, in answer to that petition; “ O Lord may God, hearken into the cry and to the prayer which thy servant prayesh before thee 10-day : that thine eyes may be opened toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which ihoulaft said, My name thall be there :" according as it was foretold by Moles near five centuries' be. tore: “ Then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell ihere.” J fephus informs us that not only did the answer to Solomon's prayer imply a real and lensible residence of Duity, but that it was the universal belief of the Jews and of the strangers who visited jerna falem, that there was an ingress of God into the temple, and a habitation in it ; and, in another place, that God descended and pitch-d his tabernacle there. The Jews themselves, however, admitted, that whatever glory these expresions might fignify was now departed. To restore ihat glory, and to beitow it on the second i mple in more abundant measure than the first ev. er poflefled was the end of Christ's miflion ; and in him was the predictio n fulfilled : “ The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, faith the Lord of hosts." He was that oracle by whose answers all light and truth were emitted; the true Schechinah who had the spirit without measure; he was anointed with the oil of gladnefs above his fellows," and thus in all respetis greater than the temple. That iemple, says he, which you have defiled I have cleansed : and this temple of my body, which you are going to destroy, I will raile up a. gain.
When this prediation was verified by the matter of fact, that faćt became the foundation of one of the distinguishing doctrines of the gospel, the resurrection of the dead. Jesus early taught and frequently repeated it, that it might be clearly un. derstood and carefully remembered. The impostor is at pains toʻconceal his purpose till it is ripe for execution. He fears prevention, and there'ore endeavours to take you by surprize. The thief gives no warning of his approach, but comes upon men while they leep. The true prophet discloles his design, prepares, forewarns, puis the person who doubts or disbelieves upon his guard, bids defiance to prevention. His own refur. rection, and the doctrine of a general resurrection which is founded upon it, were not barely hinted at, or declared in ob. (cure and equivocal terms, They were not the caluat topic,