Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

is the sum of it: it forbids nothing but unholiness, it requires nothing but holiness; “ Ashe that has called you is holy, fo be ye holy in all manner of conversativn; because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy,” i Pet. i. 15. The law of love must be a holy law; for, as all unholiness is comprised in enmity to God and inan, so all holiness is comprised in love to God and man.

3dly, The third question here was, Why is it ingeminate and doubled ? This is the law of the house; Bebold, this is the law of the house: Why is it twice proclaimed in the text?

1. It imports, That this law of the house, respecting holiness, is an indispensible law: therefore it is notified; and again notified with a bebold, that none may pretend ignorance. The moral law, materially considered, is eternally binding:

2. It imports, That ye are deaf and dull of hearing; or, “ Hearing, we do not hear; but, like the deaf adder, stop our ear at the voice of the charmer:" and at the best are ready to forget that this is the law of the house. Therefore we are assured of it again and again.

3. It imports, That there is danger in neglecting this advertisement; and, in being remiss and slack in the study of holiness, it endangers the house; for, tho' the houshold of faith are all well intitled to heaven, and well secured from hell, yet the law of the house hath a fanćtion suita. ble to the children of the family; “ If his children forfake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes,” Pfal. lxxxix. 30,-32. The rod of God is terrible, even to his children.

4. It may import, That this is the beginning and the end of true religion: therefore, that this is the law of the house, is both at the beginning and the end of the text. Here is the preface, Tbis is the law of the bouse; here is the conclusion of the whole matter, Bebold, this is the law of the boufe. This boundary is set set round about the house of God; and, Holiness to the Lord, must be the motto of the house, from the top to the bot. tom thereof. This leads,

IV. TO

V 2

IV. To the Fourth thing proposed, namely, The extent of this law of holiness: Upon the top of the mountain, the whole limit thereof round about all be most boly.-I think, in general, this speaks out the universality of that huliness God calls for in his house. It should be universal subjectively, the whole heart, and all the faculties of the foul, should be engaged in the fludy of holintfs; we are to love the Lord our God, with all our heart, foul, strength, and mind.--It should be universal objectively, with respect to all the commands of God; " Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect to all thy commandments,” without exception, without limitation.-It should be universal intensively, with the utmost intenseness of soul; “ Following the Lord with full purpose of mind.—I said, I will take heed to my way. I have sworn, and I will perform it, That I will keep thy righteous judgments.”—And it must be universal extenfively, with respect to all times and seafons, companies and occafions, places and circumstances.-The law of the house binds to holiness universal in all these respects.

But more particularly, the extent of this holiness in the house of God, as here expressed, Upon the top of the mountain, the ubole limit thereof round about, seems to me to import an universality, respecting every thing that relates to the houfe of God, the church of God: the expression suits the Old-testament dispensation, while the material temple stood upon the top of the mountain ; but the gospel-meaning thereof, as it respects the New-testament church, seems to be, that every thing about God's house, from the top to the bottom, shall be most holy, as becomes the spiritual temple of God. It says,

1. That all the officers shall be most holy; ministers, elders, deacons; all that bear any vessels in God's house; "Be ye clean, ye that bear the vessels of the Lord,'If.lij.nl. And hence, when God comes to purge and purify his church, he is said particularly to purify the fons of Levi, Mal. iii. 3. Surely we, whose office is to go up to the top of the mount, ought to have holy feet to tread such a holy place; that it may be said of us, “ How beautiful, on the mountains, are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace !" Alas! many officers in God's house,

among us, that have most of the beauty of holiness about them, God is fast taking them away. He seems to be taking away the gold and silver, and leaving the dross; and, when he is taking down such as were props and pillars in the house, what shall we think, but that the house is like to fall about our ears, and heavy judgments at the door, when the righteous are taken away from the evil to come! But,

2. It says, that all the members of the house shall be most holy, all the children of the family; “ Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; and they shall call them the most holy people, the redeemed of the Lord,” Ifa. lxii. 11. Every inhabitant of the house, every believer, every member of Christ, every professor of Clirist, every one that nameth the vame of Christ, must depart from iniquity. It says, that, not only ministers should be holy, but people should be holy; not only the top of the mount, but the whole limit therc. of round about. All that enter within the walls of Zion must be holy, otherwise they are not indwellers, like children; but only incomers, like dogs; that shall be banished out with disgrace, and never admitted to the higher house.

5. It says, That all the courts and judicatories of the house should be most holy; Synods most holy, and General Assemblies of the house, most holy ; Upon the top of the mount, the whole limit tbereof round about. When these courts and judicatories of the house, or Assemblies of the church, whether inferior or superior cues, are most holy, and purged with the spirit of judgment, and fpirit of burning, then they are intitled to Heaven's protection ;“The Lord will create upon every dwelling-place in mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night,” Ifa. iv. 4,5. But when in days of degeneracy, corruption, and defection, like ours *, they become most unholy, then they are exposed to ruin and defolation.

At the time when this Sermon was preached, matters, both in the church and fiate, were in a most deplorable condition : error in principle, and immorality in practice, every-where abounding; a reliln for true religion, and genuine piety much on the decline ; a deviating from attained to Reformationpurity, and a falling from first love, greatly upon the increase.

U 3

非 *

4. It

[ocr errors]

4. It says, That all the acts and statutes of the house are to be most holy. And indeed the acts of Assemblies and Judicatories of the church are to be regarded only according to their holiness, and agreeableness to the holy word of God; “ To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them,” Ifa. viii. 20. Acts issued even from the top of the mountain, if they be not according to the law of the house, are to be rejected, opposed, and protested against, as the commandments of men, and not the commandments of God; “ In controversy they shall Itand in judgment, and they shall judge it according to my judgments; and they shall keep my laws and my Atatutes in all mine assemblies,” Ezek. xliv. 23, 24. And, indeed, it is but a dismal time, when the children of Zion are obliged to plead with their mother, and even protelt against her acts and statutes *.

5. It says, That all the forms and ordinances of the house be most holy; I mean, the form of doctrine, the form of worship, the form of discipline, the form of

* This was a very remarkable year in the church, and gave æra to a very memorable event, viz. the Seccession. Our Author here has his eye upon che conduct of the Assembly this year [viz 1732]. He uiually noticed any remarkable transactions that occurred at the time when he composed and delivered his discourses: And therefore, as a key to this, and some other similar pafinges, both in this and some subsequent difcourses, it may not be improper briefly to open up the matter. The church was, at this tiine, in imminent danger; for, not only a pernicious scheme of Arian, Arminian, Socinian, and Neonomian doctrine was prevailing, but several arbitrary Acts and Decisions had been framed and pafied in the Supreme Judicatory, and the Lord's heritage much oppressed and grieved, by the settlement of reclaiming and diffenting congrega:ions. To clear up the paffa e now before us, we may observe, that the All-mbly's conduct this year was very singular and extremely arbitrary, in a double respect Several Minutters [forty-two in number] among whom our Author was one, gave in a subscribed Representation to the Allembly, for the redress of many of the steps of defeation which the church had gone into. This Representation, though just in itlelf, was refuled so much as a hearing by the Assembly; whereupon such of the Miniíters as were present, offered a protest for their exoneration, which was also refused to be marked. There was a petition of the same nature, figned by many hundred Elders and Christian people given in to the fame Asembly, and shared the fame fate.The Ailembly did not lift here, but passed an Ad concerning the planting of vacant churches, which lodged the decisive power of electing Ministers, in a conjunt meeting of elders and heritors (and so depriving the Christian people of their jult right), no other qualification being required of faid heritors but their being Piotestants, however much disaffected to the government both in church and faie. This was matter of deep regret to many, and truly afflicting to several Ministers, who accordingly proteiled against the Assembly; some of viliom were alierwarcis fevereiy fentenced, for their faithfully tellifying again these corFliptions and incroachments.

govern.

[ocr errors]

government, that they be according to the scripture-pattern; as it was said to Mofes concerning the form of the tabernacle, “ Look that thou make it after the pattern that was shewed thee in the mount," Exod. xxv. 40. compared with Acts vii. 44. Heb. viii. 5. The doctrine, found and lively; worship, pure and spiritual; discipline, pure and impartial; and government, beautiful and orderly, is the outward glory of the church : and God hath said, “ Upon all the glory there shall be a defence,' Isa. iv. 5. But in so far as the fences are taken away, in as far is the glory departed from Israel, and the ark of God taken by the Philistines, withiv or without the house. The holiness of doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of the house, comprehending the top of the mount, and the whole limit thereof, ought to be defended, and contended for, that it be not spoiled, corrupted, and defaced by these who make themselves famous for lifting up hammers and axes upon the carved work; and the rather, that the church of Scotland, particularly, has been fo often in our Reformation-days folemnly sworn, by National Covenant, to the defence thereof, against all anti.christian, unfcriptural, and unholy forms and orders whatfoever.

6. It says, That all the chambers and rooms of the house should be most holy; I mean, all the ordinances of the house, whether public, or private, or secret; which are like so many chambers and rooms of the house to be kept clean and most holy; for, “ He will be fanctified of all them that come nigh him,” Lev. x. 3. The outer rooms and public chambers of folemn ordinances, word, and facraments; the more private chambers of spiritual conference and family.worihip; and the secret chambers of retired devotion, the chamber of meditation, the chamber of prayer, shall all be most holy, and occupied in the most holy manner. Not only all the public rooms, but all the secret clofets of the house shall be most holy; not only the top of the mount, but the whole limit thereof round about; whatever part of the house we enter, is to be most holy, in the exercise of faith, love, and all the holy graces of the Spirit, and in spiritual endeavours, through grace, to get all that are abi

« IndietroContinua »