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in the threshing-floor of Ornan, or Araunah, the Jebusite: it was formed with a holy and a most holy place, after the manner of the former tabernacle ; and when the ark of the covenant was placed within it, and all Israel assembled together to its solemn dedication, God showed his acceptance of the work and of the prayer then offered up by Solomon in behalf of his people, by consuming with fire from heaven the sacrifices on the altar, and filling the house with his cloud of glory. We know assuredly that God is everywhere ; that “in him,” whatever may be our local position upon earth," we live, and move, and have our being; ;** that we have no right to presume, unless upon his especial warrant, that he will dwell in temples made with hands, or esteem any earthly habitation his place of rest;f but we know also, that in condescension to our present capacities, and with the gracious view of assisting our devotions, he has vouchsafed to nominate and point out certain particular places in which it was his pleasure to be more peculiarly present among us. Such were, in the times of which I have been speaking, first, the tabernacle, and afterwards the temple ; and such are our churches now: they bear above others the venerable and endearing title of the houses of God; they are the appointed places for our gathering together as Christian worshippers, in full reliance upon the promise of the incarnate God, that where two or three are so met together in his name, there he will be in the midst of them. I
May we all so seek the church, and so conduct ourselves while in it, as to show that we are fully impressed with this important truth : and may we obtain from the means of grace which we enjoy in this his material temple, an earnest of his dwelling in that temple, to us of still nearer concernment,
· Acts xvii, 28
† Acts vii. 48, 49.
I Matt. xviii, 20.
the temple of our hearts: "as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”* The visible appearance of the divine glory within the newly dedicated building, while it tended to stablish and encourage both Solomon and the Israelites in a firm belief of the protection of God, might have a tendency to lead them into the supposition that for its own sake he would abide in it for ever, without respect to the conduct of his worshippers. A vision of the night was therefore granted to Solomon, warning him that this would not be so; but that if the people of Israel forsook him, he also would forsake them, and cast out of his sight the stately house which he had sanctified for his name.
In like manner after we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin ;"+ and unless through the renewal of that grace we rise again and amend our lives,” we shall be cast out of the sight of that glorious Being, who is too just and pure to dwell within a wilfully corrupted and rebellious soul.
Solomon, having thus discharged the main duty of a religious prince, in providing for the public worship of God, had leisure to attend to concerns of a more private nature; he contracted a marriage with the daughter of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and having built a palace for her reception, he brought her home to it with all due solemnity: an event which probably forms the literal subject of the forty-fifth Psalm, where the queen is represented as being brought in to the king in raiment of needlework, an Egyptian fabric ; as also of the Canticles or Song of Solomon: both which, however, contain also a spiritual meaning, and speak in figurative language concerning Christ and his church, I the mystical union between whom
2 Cor. vi. 16.
+ Article xvi.
# Eph. v. 32.
is frequently represented in Holy Scriptures in the light of a marriage. Nor, while intent upon securing to himself the blessings of domestic happiness, did this wise king neglect his country's welfare ; but strengthened and increased it by the building of many new cities, the splendid ruins existing on the site of one of which, called by him Tadmor in the wilderness, but now Palmyra, remain unto this day ; and laboured also successfully for its improvement, by encouraging in its inhabitants a spirit of commercial enterprise, sending out his fleets on distant expeditions, which returned to him laden with the produce of foreign lands. And here let us note, with the approbation which it deserves, the noble mind of Hiram, king of Tyre, who, far from entertaining that mean spirit of jealousy towards an aspiring rival, which but too many would have felt in similar circumstances, actually gave him all the assistance in his power, allowing his own skilful seamen to sail in the ships of Solomon. It were much to be wished that professed Christians were always to be found acting as generously as this heathen king: helping those engaged in the same pursuit as themselves—or at the very least, throwing no obstacles in their showing no mortification at their success. Besides the success of his trading speculations, another effect followed these well-considered measures of Solomon : the knowledge of his actions, and the fame of his wisdom were widely spread abroad ; insomuch that the queen of Sheba, determining to make proof of it by actual observation and inquiry on the spot, came from a great distance to visit him, and finding every thing to surpass her utmost expectation, expressed her satisfaction, not only in words, but by presenting him with the most costly gifts. Of this queen our Lord has said, that she should rise up in the judgment with the men of his generation, and should condemn them.* Her conduct in coming from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon would put them to shame, who, when a greater in every respect than Solomon, even their own Messiah, was among them, remained neglectful of his teaching, and as it were unconscious of so great a blessing. Let us diligently follow her example, and seek for wisdom, as men seek for silver, and search for it as for hid treasures :t let us remember always that “happy is the man who findeth wisdom, and the man who getteth understanding ;" that "all the things we can desire are not to be compared unto it ;” and that when we have once found this pearl of great price, we should sell whatever else we have, and buy it.—buy it of him who counselleth us to do so, that we may see those treasures of knowledge and happiness which are hid in himg—of that greater and more gracious than Solomon, who hath said, “ Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."|| We have hitherto regarded this wise king of Israel as an object of admiration, and an example to be followed : it remains that he afford us one lesson more, and that in his person we should receive an impressive warning, how liable the most guarded are to give way to temptation; and when we think we are standing most securely, take heed lest we fall. I
way, and Matt. xii. 42. † Prov. ii. 4; iii. 13, 15. Ş Rev. iii. 18.
so eminent for the highest endowments of intellect, and the most extensive range of learning ; this man, by whose lips God had so often spoken, who had laid down the most instructive rules of conduct, and was the admired author of three thousand proverbs, and of a thousand songs ; to whom the various productions of nature were familiar, and who exceeded the venerable sages of old time in fame of
|| John vi. 37.
I Matt. xiii. 46. 11 Cor. x. 12.
moral wisdom,—this man was enticed by sinners,* and consented unto them; he loved strange women in his old agent and his wives beguiled his heart; built for them high places, and idolatrous altars, and burned incense unto their gods. The promise made by the true God to David preserved him from being cast off as he deserved ; but it brought upon him a heavy doom, even the rending away of the kingdom from his posterity, and the bestowal of it upon his servant. That this declaration awakened Solomon from his delusive dream, and roused him to a proper sense of his own wickedness, and of God's mercy towards him, is rendered highly probable by the sentiments which we find in the book of Ecclesiastes, which bears internal evidence of having been composed at this late period of his life ; when, having made trial of all the substitutes for holiness which the world had to offer, he had found the absolute vanity of all, and came at last to this, as the conclusion of the whole matter ; Fear God, and keep his commandments ; for this is the whole duty of man.”I
THE SEPARATION OF JUDAH AND ISRAEL.
HEN our Lord Jesus Christ was desirous of ex
citing in the minds of his disciples a spirit of trusting confidence in the providential care of their Father in heaven, he invited them to the contem
• Prov. i. 10.
+ 1 Kings xi. 1, 8.
# Eccles. xii. 13.