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quently a man of blood; yet God, it seems, accepted of his good will, in being the first proposer of it, and he did well, it is said, in that it was in his heart.
And, to shew you that it was not a bare proposal or pious intention that came thus into David's heart, but an earnest desire and sincere affection he had for God's service, and for the magnificence of his holy Temple; that though the glory and honour of that prodigious fabrick was transferred to his son and successor king Solomon, both to begin and finish that work; yet king David, before he died, not only gave this as an especial charge upon his blessing to his son; but he himself took all imaginable care for the performance of it; as may appear by that vast preparation of all things, both of men and money, wood and stone, and other materials made ready to his son's hands; that so he might set about it with so much the greater application and dispatch. And moreover, saith holy David, Because I have set my affection to the house os my God, I have of my own proper good, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, given even three thousand talents os gold, and seven thousand talents as silver, to overlay the walls of the house withal. 1 Chron. xxix. 3, 4.
But to see the influence of a good example, the people also, after the king's royal bounty and generosity, were encouraged to contribute liberally and cheerfully, and rejoiced with great joy; because that with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord: and this they did, not out of an opinion of their own worthiness, but out of a due fense of their duty and gratitude; thereby to acknowledge God to be the sole benefactor and giver of it all; But who am /, says good king Da
widf in the name of all his loving subjects, and what is my people, that we should he able to offer so willingly after this sort? For all things come of thee, O Lord God, and of thine own have we given thee.
With the same forward zeal and liberality, though not with the same magnificence, it is observed, the second Temple was re-built and raised out of its rubbish, after so many years captivity, and that too even in troublous times; wherein the workman was obliged with one hand to hold the weapon of defence, whilst he wrought with the other in the work.
Since therefore the Lord our God hath given us rest on every Side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent; our obligations to this duty are still so much the greater: Forif the Jews deserved reproof for neglecting to re-build the house of God, when under such miserable circumstances; how much more inexcusable must we needs be for this neglect of ours, even in the midst of peace and plenty?
Is it a time for you, O ye, faith the prophet Haggai, to dwell in your cieled houses, and lo let this house os God lie waste? And is it not a shame for us to see this Church of ours lie thus under reproach, and ruinous even to a proverb? whilst the inhabitants round about us cast the fame in our teeth; and we ourselves, with I know not what pretended difficulties and excuses, endeavour to shift it off as far from us as we can, saying with those in Haggai, This is not a time; the time that the Lord's house should be built is not come: and can there be any thing more seasonable and necessary than this is, when moved by the just complaint of strangers for want of room, which have occasioned their too frequent neglect of God's service? and when we ourselves, pent up and confin
ed, ed, as within curtains, to the narrow limits of this private chapel ("if at most a chapel j, dark and difuniform as you fee it is, are obliged thus to pay our public devotions in private as it were, and to worship the God of order in much confusion?
Shall we then, who profess ourselves Christians, and worshippers of the true God, and in a true manner, thus shun the light, as if ashamed of our profession? when the inhabitants round about us are not only not ashamed to acknowledge their false and imaginary deities, in the most public manner they are able; but insult us with their number of Churches and Pagodas, even upon our own territories? What is this but locking up the word of God from the rest of mankind, and keeping the key of knowledge to ourselves? whereas our light ought to be diffusive, and shine forth in a more open profession of our religion, "that others also, by seeing our good works, may «' join with us in glorifying our Father which is in ««Heaven."
I need not mention to you the inconveniences of this place, upon the account of its difficult ascent and situation; for those are but small in respect to the great advantages we receive from it: but what is more to be lamented, it is such a common thoroughfare, and thereby subject to all manner of indecencies and unholy profanations; which render it at other times more like a den of thieves than a house of prayer; so unsuitable to the sacred holiness of God's house, and so directly opposite to our Saviour's example, that he forbad all common and ordinary uses to be made of the Temple, and would not suffer any man to carry so much as a vessel through it to defile it. Markxu 16.
We are usually very exact, I cannot but ob
serve it, "in keeping up the fashions and customs of our country, and seem perfect masters of those lighter ceremonies; and should we not much rather endeavour to preserve these weightier matters, the dignity of our Religion, and the uniformity of its worship, by keeping up the canons and rubrics of our Church, with the appointed forms and ceremonies thereof? And how is it possible to keep any form, decency, or order (which is the very beauty of holiness) when we are thus irregularly crowded together?
We all, I presume, profess ourselves members of the Church of England, and rejoice in thatcha-< raster of being accounted true Churchmen; and is there none, of all the sons and daughters which she hath brought up, to take her by the hand, and lift her up out of her ruins? none to have pity upon her, nor grieved to see her in the dust? Surely our bowels could not but yern, had we any bowels of mercy left, to see our natural mother lie thus disconsolate, destitute, and forlorn, to whom (next to God) we owe our temporal being; and ought we not much rather to have compassion on her, to whom, by God's blessing, we owe our spiritual welfare? Can a woman forget her sucking child, that Jhe should not have companion on the son of her womb? yea, saith God, they may forget, speaking to the Church; yet will I not forsake thee, Isai. xlix. 15.
God's love to his Church, we see, is constant and perpetual, and he will always preserve it with his almighty presence, whether we remember it or not, even unto the end of the world; but, shall we not hereby become very ungrateful to neglect so gracious and merciful a Saviour, into whose Church we were baptized, confirmed, and
brought up, and at whose table we are continually eating and drinking?
But further, we are still obliged to set forward this work, by another most necessary and indispensable duty, and that is Restitution. Now, though each of us here may say, Our hands have not done this wickedness, neither have our eyes seen it; yet by our connivance at it, our hearts seem to have consented thereunto; and sacrilege is a fin of that malignant influence, that though the fact committed was but by a few, or by one single person; yet the guilt is diffusive, and cries aloud to God For vengeance, not only upon him or them that did it, but upon a whole community. As in the case of Achan, God punished the whole camp of Israel, and charged his wickedness upon them all; saying, Israel hath sinned', for they have taken of the accursed thing, and they have also stolen and dissembled. Josh. vii. 11.
And will a man rob God? yet ye have robbed me, faith the prophet Malachi to the sacrilegious Jews: but ye say, Wherein have we robbed him? In forsaking the house of God, and neglecting to build it up; in not restoring the wages of the servant and hireling, which of us have been kept back; and the charitable contributions of the fatherless and widow, which have been perverted and misapplied by the people of this land, still cry; and the cries of them that have watched on the wall are entered into the ears of the Lord of Saboath; and shall not I visit for these things, faith the Lord? shall not my soul be avenged of such a nation as this?
For consider, saith the prophet Haggai, and refletl upon your ways; ye looked for much, and lo, it came to little -, and when ye brought it home, I did