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of that glorious fabric, which all nations admired, and all times have celebrated; even those stones which were laid in the base of the building were not ragged and rude, but hewn and costly: the part that lies covered with earth from the eyes of all beholders, is no less precious, than those that are more spicuous. God is not all for the eye, he pleaseth himself with the hidden value of the living stones of his spiritual temple. How many noble graces of his servants have been buried by obscurity; not discerned so much as by their own eyes; which yet as he gave, so he crowneth! Hypocrites regard nothing but show; God, nothing but truth.
The matter of so goodly a frame strives with the proportion, whether shall more excel: here was nothing but white marble without, nothing but cedar and gold within. Upon the hill of Sion stands that glittering and snowy pile, which both inviteth and dazzleth the eyes of passengers afar off; so much more precious within, as cedar is better than stone, gold than cedar. No base thing goes to the making up of God's house. If Satan may have a dwelling, he cares not though he patch it up of the rubbish of stone, or rotten sticks, or dross of metals: God will admit of nothing that is not pure and exquisite; his church consists of none but the faithful, his habitation is no heart but the gracious.
The fashion was no other than that of the tabernacle; only this was more costly, more large, more fixed; God was the same that dwelt in both; he varied not; the same mystery was in both; only it was fit there should be a proportion betwixt the work and the builder. The tabernacle was erected in a popular estate, the temple in a monarchy; it was fit this should savour of the munificence of a king as that of the zeal of a multitude : that was erected in the flitting condition of Israel in the desert: this, in their settled residence in the promised land: it was fit therefore that should be framed for motion, this for
rest. Both of them were distinguished into three remarkable divisions, whereof each was more noble, more reserved than other.
But what do we bend our eyes upon stone, and wood, and metals? God would never have taken pleasure in these dead materials for their own sakes, if they had not had a further intendment: methinks I see four temples in this one. It is but one in matter as the God that dwells in it is but one; three yet more in resemblance, according to the division of them in whom it pleaseth God to inhabit; for wherever God dwells, there is his temple. O God, thou vouchsafest to dwell in the believiify heart. As we thy silly creatures have our being in thee, so thou, the Creator of heaven and earth, hast thy dwelling in
The heaven of heavens is not able to contain thee, and yet thou disdainest not to dwell in the strait lodgings of our renewed soul. So then, because God's children are many, and those many divided in respect of themselves, though united in their head, therefore this temple, which is but one in collection, as God is one, is manifold in the distribution, as the saints are many; each man bearing about him a little shrine of this Infinite Majesty: and for that the most general division of the saints is in their place and estate, some struggling and toiling in this earthly warfare, others triumphing in heavenly glory; therefore hath God two other, more universal temples; one the church of his saints on earth; the other, the highest heaven of his saints-glorified. In all these, o God, thou dwellest for ever; and this material house of thine is a clear representation of these three spiritual; else what were a temple made with hands unto the God of spirits? And though one of these was a true type of all, yet how are they all exceeded each by other! This of stone, though most rich and costly, yet what is it to the living temple of the Holy Ghost, which is our body? What is the temple of this body of ours, to the temple of Christ's
body, which is his Church? And what is the temple of God's Church on earth, to that which triumpheth gloriously in heaven?
How easily do we see all these in this one visible temple; which, as it had three distinctions of rooms, the porch, the holy place, the holy of holies, so is each of them answered spiritually: in the porch we find the regenerate soul entering into the blessed society of the Church ; in the holy place, the communion of the true visible Church on earth, selected from the world ; in the holy of holies, whereinto the high priest entered once a year, the glorious heaven, into which our true High Priest, Christ Jesus, entered once for all, to make an atonement betwixt God and man. In all these, what a meet correspondence there is, both in proportion, matter, situation !
In proportion :—the same rule that skilful carvers observe in the cutting out of the perfect statue of a man, that the height be thrice the breadth, and the breadth one-third of the height, was likewise duly observed in the fabric of the temple, whose length was double to the height, and treble to the breadth, as being sixty cubits long, thirty high, and twenty broad. How exquisite a symmetry hast thou ordained, O God, betwixt the faithful heart, and thy Church on earth, with that in heaven; how accurate in each of these, in all their powers and parts, compared with other! So hath God ordered the believing soul, that it hath neither too much shortness of grace, nor too much height of conceit, nor too much breadth of passion: so hath he ordered his visible Church, that there is a necessary inequality, without any disproportion; a height of government, a length of extent, a breadth of jurisdiction duly answerable to each other : so hath he ordered his triumphant Church above, that it hath a length of eternity, answered with a height of perfection, and a breadth of incomprehensible glory.
In matter :-all was here of the best: the wood was precious, sweet, lasting; the stones beautiful, costly, insensible of age; the gold pure and glittering: so are the graces of God's children, excellent in their nature, dear in their acceptation, eternal in their use; so are the ordinances of God in his Church, holy, comfortable, irrefragable; so is the perfection of his glorified saints incomparable, unconceivable.
In situation :the outer parts were here more common, the inner more holy and peculiarly reserved. I find one court of the temple open to the unclean, to the uncircumcised; within that, another open only to the Israelites, and of them, to the clean ; within that yet another, proper only to the priests and Levites, where was the brazen altar for sacrifice, and the brazen sea for washings; the eyes of the laity might follow their oblations in hither, their feet might not.
Yet more, in the covered rooms of the temple, there is whither the priests only may enter, not the Levites; there is, whither the high priest only may enter, not his brethren.
It is thus in every renewed man, the individual temple of God; the outward parts are allowed common to God and the world; the inwardest and secretest, which is the heart, is reserved only for the God that made it. It is thus in the Church visible; the false and foul-hearted hypocrite hath access to the holy ordinances of God, and treads in his courts; only the true Christian hath entire and private conversation with the holy One of Israel; he only is admitted into the holy of holies, and enters within the glorious vail of Heaven.
If from the walls we look unto the furniture; what is the altar, whereon our sacrifices of prayer and praises are offered to the Almighty, but a contrite heart? What the golden candlesticks, but the illumined understanding, wherein the light of the knowledge of God and his divine will shineth for
ever? What the tables of show-bread, but the sanctified memory, which keepeth the bread of life continually? Yca, if we shall presume so far as to enter into the very closet of God's oracle; even there, O God, do we find our unworthy hearts so honoured by thee, that they are made thy very ark, wherein thy royal law, and the pot of thy heavenly manna are kept for ever; and from whose Propitiatory, shaded with the wings of thy glorious angels, thou givest thy gracious testimonies of thy good Spirit, witnessing with ours, that we are the children of thee, the living God.
Behold, if Solomon built a temple unto thee, thou hast built a temple unto thyself in us; we are not only, through thy grace, living stones in thy temple, but living temples in thy Sion. Oh do thou ever. dwell in this thine house, and in this thy house let
ever serve thee! Wherefore else hast thou a temple, but for thy presence with us, and for our worshipping of thee? The time was, when, as thy people, so thyself didst lodge in flitting tents, ever shifting, ever moving; thence thou thoughtest best to sojourn both in Shilo, and the roof of Obed-edom; after that, thou condescendest to settle thine abode with men, and wouldst dwell in a house of thine own at thy Jerusalem. So didst thou in the beginning lodge with our first parents in a tent, sojourn with Israel under the law, and now makest a constant residence, under the Gospel, in the hearts of thy chosen children, from whence thou wilt remove no more; they shall remove from the world, from themselves, thou shalt not remove from them.
Wheresoever thou art, O God, thou art worthy of adoration ; since thou ever wilt dwell in us, be thou ever worshipped in us. Let the altars of our clean hearts send up ever to thee the sweetest perfumed smokes of our holy meditations, and faithful prayers, and cheerful thanksgivings. Let the pure lights of our faith, and godly conversation, shine ever before