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Still he found favour in God's sight, for his holy wish, and on account of his anxiety, the Lord promised to build him, like the midwives in the Exodus, an house,—to enlarge, that is, and to continue his family, and to bless them out of the treasury of heaven. David, accordingly, did not raise the temple he wished unto the Lord; but Solomon built him an house 1.
Upon this I shall beg to add two remarks. First, that since it has now pleased the Almighty to be worshipped in temples made with hands, (albeit the heaven of heavens cannot contain him,) those temples, our churches that is, should be kept decently and in order ?, according to Apostolic precept. Moreover, (though it has been excellently said, that the “best ornament and beauty of a church is a holy priest and sanctified people,") the building should, nevertheless, be in accordance with the means of those, on whom, roundabouts, the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, according to the prayers of the faithful, dispenses the benign influence of heaven, sending ruin, and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness'. And thus, in
1 Acts vii. 47.
* On this head no one surely can read what is written in Exod. c. xxxvi. 1, 2. relative to the wisdom and understanding given to Bezaleel and Aholiab, to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, and not put it to account. It is referred to for the edification of those who will read, and understand, and profit by the Old Testament, without meddling with foolish questions. See Greswell on the Parables, vol. iv. pp. 86, 87. Note.
3 Acts xiv. 17.
many a way, the evil and the unjust, the despiser and the blasphemer, partake of those blessings which the Lord withholds not for the righteous' sake. Oh let such read the word of the Lord to Haggai the prophet, and if they be rich, let them answer to this !, -- Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? O! let such consider their ways, lest the heaven now, as then, be stayed from dew, and the earth be stayed from her fruit?. My Christian brethren! the times we have fallen upon are evil, but have we sufficiently examined each the plague of our own hearts? If not, we have not read to edification, the prayer of Solomon at the dedication,--we do not know, so as to understand, that which is written in God's word ;— When Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. And thus much as concerns the first question.
The other remark, arising from the notice of David's godly inclination, which I would refer to, is this,—that the hands of that man who builds a church had needs be clean 4. David's,-because
See the Homily for Repairing and keeping clean and comely adorning of Churches; and Bishop Jewell's Sermon on Haggai, c. i. 2—4. Ed. fol. 1611. Black letter, p. 171. as well as the Sermon on Ps. lxix. 9. T'he zcale of thine house hath eaten mee.
i. 4, 5. 10.
Isaiah xxvi. 9. On this subject see the timely remarks (in every sense) of Bishop Latimer, in The Second Sermon of the Card, vol. i.
Ed. Watkins, 1824.
that there was blood upon them, and for the matter about Uriah it may be,--were not clean enough. In such a good work there must be no vain glory, no vanity, no ostentation,--all must be for the honour of God, so that here, as in worship, a man shall say, “ I will wash my hands in innocency, O Lord, and so will I go to thine altar; that I may show the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Thy wondrous works1. This thine house, O Lord, have I caused to be repaired and beautified as an unworthy and unprofitable servant should, because thou hast showered down blessings upon my head ; Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth,—and thus have I humbly wished, unwilling as I am to let my left-hand know what my right-hand has done, to let my light shine before men!” Happy the people blessed with such a benefactor! Happy the man who is thus wise to salvation. The Holy Spirit has opened his heart as he did Lydia's?,
-nor has he known the Saviour only by the hearing of the ear, but he has found the Christ the Saviour of the world.
And now, Christian brethren, in conclusion let me exhort you to be thankful, and to show that you are so by being a people zealous of good works, leading a righteous, and a sober, and a godly life here, that when your earthly tabernacle fails, and you return to your dust, Christ may be your righ
Psalm xxvi. 6, 7.
2 Acts. xxvi. 14.
teousness, and save your souls alive. In the doing so you will best please your earthly benefactor, of whom you may almost say, in the words of Ezra, Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this into the king's heart, to beautify the house of the Lord'-and most assuredly you will so please your Father which is in heaven,your Benefactor which is above-even the Lord, who has bade you to keep his sabbaths, and to reverence his sanctuary,—and who has so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved?.
Lastly, as ye know that except the Lord build the house, their labour is but lost that build it', let me call upon you to pray for yourselves and for your children in that beautiful collect of our Church, which says, “ O Lord, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion: that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace, may ever more be defended by thy mighty power, through Jesus Christ our Lord 4."
1 c. vii. 27.
? John iii. 16, 17. 3 Ps. cxxvii. 1. On accidentally turning to Bishop Reynold's Works (long after this sermon was written) I found he had made a somewhat similar application of these words of the Psalmist. See vol. iv. p. 316. Ed. 8vo. 1826.
* Fifth Sunday after Epiphany.
GEORGE HERBERT'S TEMPLE.
THE CHURCH PORCH.
Restore to God his due in tithe and time;
God then deals blessings; if a king did so,
Tho' private prayer be a brave design,
Where it is warmest. Leave thy six and seven ;
When once thy foot enters the church, be bare.
Kneeling ne'er spoil'd silk stockings : quit thy state ;