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any man to carry even a vessel through it, to defile it; such was the respect paid to the Sanctuary even by our Saviour Christ himself, who was the true owner and proprietor of it.
And as to the material part of God's House or Sanctuary, though we want at present in these remote parts the necessary solemnity of dedicate ing this Church, and setting it apart by a regular, decent and authoritative separation tor the use it was intended; yet in this also, even in this Church, unconsecrated as it is, there is a decency required; and that not only in respect to the Majesty of God, in whose more immediate presence we are; but in regard to that religion we own, and the dignity of our profession: For as the respect and grandeur of an earthly prince is maintained by the pomp and splendor of his palace, so is the Majesty of our heavenly King in some sort set forth by the external glory and magnificence of his Temple; the loftiness of whose sacred and venerable fabrick raises the devotion of the most zealous suppliant, and strikes the beholder with a religious awe.
It was for this reason, no doubt, that in making the Tabernacle, such care was taken, that what it wanted in extent, might be made up in contrivance, costliness and grandeur, that it might be as beautiful and as rich as art could make it; and in building the first Temple, that glorious and magnificent work of King Solomcn, what vast preparations were there of all things, of silver and gold and precious stones; what extent and contrivance, what strength and beauty, what va-> riety and order, and excellency of workmanship? And what was all this for? but to the honour of God, to render the palace exceeding glorious, to raise the admiration of every beholder, and
spread its fame and glory throughout the whole world.
In like manner also in our Christian Churches, that reverence we owe to God and his religion, ought undoubtedly to be preserved, by a decent and honourable provision for it; and provided we distinguish betwixt a false and too artificial a beauty on the one hand, and a mean and sordid deformity on the other, what cost can we think too great to be bestowed on the place of God's worship? or what expences too much for the honour of his service? In this, we give the world a testimony of our affection to that religion we profess; in the other, we declare that honour we acknowledge due to the God we serve; in both we promote the glorious end and design of the gospel: For such palaces are not made for man, but for the Lord God.
III. I am to lay before you the universality of
this duty, by the enlargement of Christ's
Church, here foretold in my text; with some
proper inferences suitable to this solemnity.
The great end and design, you know, of our
Saviour's coming into the world was, that .'.11
the world through him might be saved; that as
in Adam all died, so in Christ (hall all be made alive;
that all nations, Gentiles as well as Jews, even
the whole race of mankind, might come to the
light of the glorious gospel, and that all flesh
might see the salvation of God.
In order whereunto it pleased the Almighty, when the fulness of the time was come, to fend forth his Son, his only begotten Son into the world; who by taking the state of our nature upon him, undertook the redemption of lost mankind; thereby completing those ancient proH 3 phecies^ phecies, that foretold the coming of the expected Messiah, promised to our first parents Adam and Eve in paradise; in that, the seed of the woman Jhould break the serpent*s head.
And that he might the more effectually destroy that exorbitant power which the Devil and his Angels had usurped over men; it pleased our Saviour before he left this world, to establish his Church and Kingdom here on earth, commissioning his Apostles to carry on that great work, -which he had begun, and to extend the limits of his established empire over the face of the whole . earth.
The universality of which Church and Kingdom of our Saviour's was foretold by the royal Psalmist, and the Prophets that succeeded him; that God would give him the heathen for his inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for his possession; that his dominion should be extended from sea to sea, and from the flood unto the world's end; that all Kings Jhould fall down before him, and all nations should do him service; that the mountain of the Lord's House should be established in the top of the mountains, and that all nations Jhould flaw unto it; that the earth should be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the the sea; agreeable whereunto was the enlargement foretold by the bringing in of the Gentiles to the obedience of the' faith, and in calling the House of God an House of Prayer for all people.
In confirmation ot which ancient and glorious prophecies, our Saviour also assures the Jews, that the time would come, when the Gentiles should be admitted to the same privileges with themselves, laying; Other peep I have, which are not of this sold; 'them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one sold, and
one one shepherd. And before Christ's ascension into heaven he expresly charged his Apostles, saying; Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; and again, Yejhall be witnesses unto me, both in 'Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria^ and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
And as the Church of Christ is thus universal in respect to place, so is it also perpetual in regard to time; the Jewish oeconomy being to last no longer than the coming of Christ, and then to cease when Christ appeared; but the Christian Church, or Christ's kingdom here on earth, was to be established for ever; as long as the sun and moon endureth, even throughout all generations; and that it should be such as should never be destroyed. No weapon that is formed against it shall prosper; neither shall the gates cf hell be ever able to prevail against it.
The same also was foretold by the angel Gabriel; that Christ should reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there should be no end; agreeable to that promise made by our Saviour to the Apostles, and to their successors; that he would be with them, and affilt them always, even unto the end of the world.
Hence we see the Church of Christ is by its very nature and first original constitution of it, an universal society, fitted and designed for the reception of all men into its rights and privileges; making no difference between Jew and Gentile, circumcision and uncircumcision, bond and free, male and female; being all one in Christ Jesus: For by one spirit we are all baptized into one body, and by one spirit we are all built up a spiritual house, raised upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief torner stone.
H 3 And
And here what a spacious prospect have we in fight? how glorious an appearance doth this open to our view? how infinite a society may we suppose this to be, that is made up of all the faithful in Christ Jesus, from the beginning of the world unto the end of it? And from whence may we date the original of this blessing? but from the important tidings of this good day, the nativity of our blessed Lord and Saviour; ushered in by a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying; Glory be to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards men.
This is that day, from which, as from the fountain head,, those mighty blessings consequent thereupon do succeed and flow; this is that feast, which above all festivals is crowned with the honour of God's peculiar making, the queen of feasts, and birth-day of the world; this is that day, which father Abraham foresaw, and rejoiced even at that distant sight of it. Now are those illustrious prophecies fulfilled, that pointed out to us the gracious designs of Providence; now is the partition-wall broken down, that old distinction between Jew and Gentile, and the kingdom of heaven thrown open to all believers; now is Divinity espoused to Humanity, and Heaven and Earth contracted together; now is the marriage of the Lamb come, the greatest wedding that ever was, the marriage between Christ and his Spouse the Church, and God and man reconciled to each other.
Well-therefore may we break forth into joy, with the royal Psalmist, and say with him; This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes: this is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice, and be glad in it,