« AnteriorContinuar »
"twas the Obstinacy and Impenitence of the Jews, their wilful Refufal of the Means of Salvation, that occasion'd the Sacking and Destruction of their City: They had many repeated Warnings to avoid the Danger, many loud Calls and passionate Invitations to Repentance, to prevent their Ruin j but they turn'd the deaf Ear to them all, and nothing could prevail with them to accept their own Happinesf. Instead of hearkning to, they kilCd the Prophets., and storid them that were sent to them; and the Judgment that follow'd it was, Behold your House is left unto you desolate. Mat. 23.37,38. Therefore is Desolation come upon you; your City, Temple, and whole Nation are irreversibly destroy'd; your City for the Oppression and Injustice
Sractis'd in it, your Temple for not hearkning to the Inductions deliver'd in it, and your whole Nation for abusing the Mercies and Blessings conferr'd on it. Thus they who wilfully refus'd the Offers of Mercy, became the Objects of Vengeance, and are set forth as Monaments of Divine Justice to all succeeding Generations, to let us know, that if we follow their Steps, we mast expect the fame Fate •, and except we repent, we must alt likewise perish.
This is the first Part of the Gospel for this Day, which is design'd for a Warning to all wilful and impenitent Sinners. There is yet a second Part of it, which relates to the Reverence due to the Temple, or the publick Places of God's Worship, held•forth in the following words; And he went into the Temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought, faying, My House is the House os Prayer, but ye have made it a Den of Thieves. Where we shall oblerve,
ift, That publick Places were set apart for Divine Worship both under the Old , and New Testament, and that not only by the Divine Liking and Approbation, but by Divine Appointment and Designation. This is evident in the Old Testament, by the Tabernacle first, and afterward by the Temple; the former being stil'd the Tent which God 'had pitch'd among Men, Pfal. 78.60. the latter, the Saniluary, the high and holy Place, and the Place which he had chosen to set his Name there: with many other Expressions to the like purpose. In the New Testament 'tis plain from those words of the Apostle, Have ye noi Houjts to' eat and drink in, but despise ye the Church of God? . . . i Cor. i Cor. I1. 22. Where the Church of God being oppos'd to Houses where they might eat and drink, must be understood of the Publick Place of God's Worship, where iuch common and ordinary Actions are not to be done. This is so fully prov'd by the Learned Mr. Mede on that Place,' that I need not enlarge upon it, but refer the Reader to him. > . •.
zdly. We may observe farther, that the publick Places of Divine Worship were and still are to be accounted Holy unto the Lord j not indeed by any inherent Holiness, for neither Times nor Places are capable of that, but by a relative Holiness, because they belong to God, and are separated from all common Uses, and apply'd only to holy and religious Purposes. Thus the Sabbath-day is call'd Holy, because 'tis set apart for the Service of God, and other Holy Uses, and for the fame reason the Sanctuary, the Temple, the Church, are to be accounted Holy unto the Lord, being appropriated wholly to his Use and Service. From whence we may observe,
idly, That some kind of Respect and Reverence is due to such Places, for the Relation they bear to God, and their Dedication to his Worship. So God himself exprefly commands, Te shallsanilify my Sabbath, and reverence my Sanctuary; Lev. 19.30. God's mOre immediate Presence there requires from us the Respect of the Cap and the Knee •, and his Promise to meet, to direct, to assist and bless us there, calls for a greater Regard to be paid to it, than other ordinary Places. To fatisfy us herein, we may,
jthly, Observe our Saviour's great Care to keep the Temple from Profanation. For going into the Temple, and finding Buyers and Sellers there, he cast them out with great Indignation, and forbad the carrying of any Vessel or Burden thro it. St. Matthew and St. Mark tell us, that our Saviour himself overthrew the Tables of the MonyChangers, and the Seats of them that sold Doves •, tho they pretended to sit there for the Convenience of Offerings and Sacrifices for the Use of the Temple. And St. John, that he made a Scourge of small Cords, and drove them all out of the Temple; which he did with that Indignation and Zeal, as made the Disciples call to mind that prophetical Saying of David concerning him, The Zeal of thy House hath eaten me up, as we read, John 2.14,15, &c. From hence a Learned Divine hath obierv'd, That our Saviour, whilst he was upon Earth, never exercis'd any kingly or coercive Jurisdiction, riftliction, but in vindicating his Father's House from Profanation, which he could not see prostituted to vile and vulgar Uses, nor suffer it to be desecrated and profan'd.
To all which he adds that smart Saying and Rebuke It is written, My House is the House of Prayer, but ye have made it a Den of Thieves. The Saying is written in Isa. §6. 7. Mine House shall be called an House of Prayer for all People. Where we have, .- '."
(1.) God Almighty's Right or Title to the Temple or Church asserted •, for he calls it My House, and justly too, being devoted and consecrated to him: by which it is made his Peculiar, and no other may lay any Claim, or pretend to any Property in it. i.e.'. f 1
- (a.) We have the Use to which it was design'd, and is to be put• , 'wshallbe called an House of Prayer: that is, the Place where all our solemn Prayers, Praises, Devotion and Sacrifice are to be offer'd up. .1:• 1
(3.) We have the Persons for whose Use it was intended; and that is, mn T«?f for all People and Nations: which was a Prophecy of the coming in of the Gentiles, who. should be all gather'd into one Flock, and meet in one Fold, and so be all joyfal together in his House of Prayer.
Lastly, We have our Saviour's Rebuke for profaning the Temple, and converting the House of God to vulgar and common Uses j making the House of Prayer a Den of Thieves. Te have made it a House of Merchandise, faith he in St. Matthew; a Place of Trade for selling of Oxen, and Sheep, and other Cattle, faith he in St. Mark and St. John. And here, ye have made it a Den of Thieves, by the Fraud and Theft so frequently committed therein.
Having thus turn'd the Buyers and Sellers out of the Temple, and so reseu'd it from Abuse and Profanation, he f estor'd it to its Right, by making it a House of Prayer, and the Place of teaching and instructing the People; for so the last words tell us, And he taught daily in the Temple. And of the Apostles we read after, that they were contimolly in the Temple blessing and praising God; Luke 24.53.
Thus I have briefly fumm'd up the whole of this Day's Gospel; which we may improve and apply to many good Purposes. As,
'1. From God's dealing with Jerusalem, we learn his great poodnesi in allotting to them and us a Day of Grace, and giving both Time and Means of working out our own Sak vation. He is not wanting to any, in affording them Ways and Opportunities of being happy, but is ever ready to assist them with Grace and Strength to that end ., yea, he importunes them to know the Time, and accept the Terms of Peace, and fends his Messengers and Ambassadors to beseech them to be reconcil'd. Such is the Mercy and Goodness of God towards his Creatures, that he leaves no ways unattempted to provide for, and to compass their eternal Welfare,,'
He doth not indeed force them to be happy, nor yet' doom them to be miserable, but hath made them rational i Creatures, and set Life and Death before them, giving them sufficient Time, Strength and Encouragement to chuse the one, and escape the other. So that he hath left all obstinate Sinners without Excuses and if any miscarry, their Misery will, lie at their ,own door, and their Destruction is of themselves. . - .'.
2. Since God hath given every one of us time and space for Repentance, let us all improve it to the Benefit and best Advantage of our Souls. We fee God hath not been any way wanting to us, let not us then be wanting to our selves-, but having a Prize put into our hands, let us have Hearts to make a right Use of it. 'Tis the Apostle's Advice, to know the Time, that now 'tis high time to awake out of the Sleep of Sin, and to mind our own Salvation. We fee how it far'd with Jerusalem, for not considering the Time and Things that belong'd to their Peace, how for that reason they were hid from their Eyes, and what Mifefies besel them for'taot,knowing the Day of their Visitation. Remember that our Time too is pasting away \beware then of flipping our Opportunity, which being lost, cannot be regain'd. While the Day lasts let us work^' because the Night is hastning upon us, when no Man can' work.-':-l.7...': .v-t • . - *' .,.'!""
. Lastly, From our Saviour's casting those that bought andi sold out of the Temple, and rebuking those that turn'cf the House of Prayer into a House of Merchandize, or a: Den of Thieves, let us learn to pay all due Reverence and Respect to God's Bouse, and beware of profaning it .by any rude or unbecoming Actions: having Houses toe3Xl and drink, to buy and sell in, let us do those things at' home, and not make the House of God an Alehouse or a Market,;. but preserve it pure and free from all com:.. ...j mon,
.mon, and much more from all sinful Uses: so shall.our Prayers ascend up from thence like Incense, and yield 4. Iweet-smelling Savour, &c.
WE are taught to pray this Day for such a Measure of Divine Grace, that by running the way of God's Commandments, we may obtain his graciops Promises, and be made Partakers of his Heavenly Treasure. The Grace here chiefly pray'd for, is the Grace of Faith, to which the running the Paths of God's Commandments, 'and the obtaining the Promises, are frequently ascrib'd. And in this we may be the more confirm'd by the Epistle appointed for the Day; in which the Apostle labours to estai|>Kfti the Corinthians, and in them all Christians in a firm Belief of the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of our Saviour : which he the rather did, because some false Teachers had crept in among them, who deny'd the Resurrection, and had shaken the Faith of many in that great Article, as some have likewise attempted to do in our Days. ,ji Kow to arm them against'such false Teacher?} arid to prevent the Poison and Contagion of their corrupt Doctrines, he here gives them an Antidote to keep them found in the Faith, and to confirm them in the Belief of this and other great Articles of it: To which end, he ;i .si''
First, Puts these Corinthians in'mind of what he•had besore taught them, and how they embrae'd it, and for some time made no Question, or eivte'rtain'd any Doubt concerning it: So he tellsthem, ver. 1. Brethren (faith he) / declare untt yo% the Gifpel which Ifrtieh'd unto ysai, irhich alfa