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joy have flowed in upon you through the preached word; what strength has been imparted to you to resist temptations, and to fulfil your duties to the Lord; and, finally, what anticipations and foretastes of your heavenly inheritance you have here enjoyed; and you will not regard with indifference the very spot where such mercies have been vouchsafed unto you; but will be ready to say, “If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not that Jerusalem above my chief joy?."] 3. With desire for yet further blessings
[To our latest hour shall we need yet further blessings from the Lord. As all the males of the land came up to the temple thrice every year to offer their accustomed offerings, so we must still come up to the house of God, to renew our supplications at the throne of his grace, and to receive from him such communications as our necessities require. Even when at a distance from the temple, the Jews looked towards it with a view to express more fully their faith and hope in the God of Israel: and so should we, not indeed to any individual edifice, but to the house of God where his people are assembled; “panting after it as the hart after the water-brooks, and saying, When shall I come and appear before God'?” It should be a comfort to us to reflect how often we have in past times
gone up with the multitude to the house of God with the voice of joy and praise ";" and we should long to have those opportunities renewed, that God may yet again be glorified in us, and that the whole work of his grace may be perfected within us.] IMPROVEMENT
1. As members of the great community, let your expectations be enlarged
[“ When did God ever say to any, Seek ye my face in vain?" No indeed; “God delighteth in the prayer of the upright:" not a sigh shall pass unnoticed by him, or a look be directed towards him, without some special token of his regard". “Only draw nigh to him, and you never need fear but that he will draw nigh to you *."]
2. As individual believers, assure yourselves that God will not overlook you
[Did God so regard the Temple of Solomon? Know, that ye who believe in Christ are far more acceptable temples than that. Whilst that was yet standing in all its glory, God poured contempt upon it in comparison of " a poor and contrite spirity.” Yes, “ to a contrite sinner he will look” with complacency"; and" in him will he dwell, as in his templea." Towards him “ his ears shall be attent;" and on him shall be fixed “his eyes and his heart perpetually.” Know, then, your privilege, my beloved Brethren; and value as you ought the honour thus accorded to you.]
q Ps. cxxxvii. 6.
r Ps. xlii. 1, 2.
s Ps. xlii. 4.
y Isai. lxvi. 1, 2. 2 Isai. lvii. 15. a 2 Cor. vi. 16.
THE DUTY OF PROTESTANTS.
2 Chron. xi. 13, 16. And the Priests and the Levites that were
in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers.
IN this age of Revolutions, it may be well to turn our attention to perhaps the greatest, speediest, completest and least sanguinary revolution that is recorded in the annals of the whole world. The empire of Solomon, if not large in extent, was exceeding powerful : but no sooner was he removed from it, than his son, instead of conciliating the regards of his subjects, disgusted them with the most insulting menaces, and drove them, in utter desperation, to revolt. Far the larger half of his people, even ten tribes out of twelve, formed themselves into a separate and independent state; and continued, throughout all successive periods of their existence, not only an independent, but an hostile nation. To enter into any discussion about the rights of the different parties, would be altogether foreign to our purpose, and to the occasion for which we are assembled: though we cannot refrain from expressing our most unqualified reprobation of Rehoboam's folly, in listening to the extravagant counsels of his young friends, instead of following the sage advice of the elders. But, in a
a In 1822, after the attempted Revolutions in Italy, and in the midst of those in South America, and the commotions in Spain and Portugal, and in Greece.
religious view, this revolution was pregnant with consequences of the most important nature. Jeroboam, in order to keep his new subjects from going up to Jerusalem to worship according to the Law of Moses, set up golden calves in Dan and Beth-el, that the people might worship them, or, perhaps, that they might worship Jehovah in and through them. Having appointed a new worship, he appointed new priests to officiate in it, excluding of course from that service all the ministers of Jehovah. What now must be done throughout all his dominions ? Shall the godly conform to this idolatry? No: a schism was instantly created : and all the godly in the land, whether Clergy or Laity, forsook their country, and united themselves to the worshippers of Jehovah in Jerusalem; entering thus their solemn protest against the abominations which had been introduced. Now this will lead me to set before
you, I. The conduct of Protestants in that day
It was not on account of some trifling regulations about non-essential matters, that they withdrew themselves, but on account of the utter subversion of their religion, and the establishment of idolatry in its stead. Nor did they rise up in rebellion against the government, or attempt to maintain their religion with the sword. They peaceably withdrew; and sought to enjoy in another country the blessings of which they were deprived in their own. Their conduct was altogether such as became the servants of the Most High :
1. They bore their testimony against the reigning abominations
[Of all the clergy of the land, we read not of so much as one who consented to renounce his principles for filthy lucre sake. A noble example this! and nobly followed, too, by all the godly of the land! for it is said, “ After them,” that is, after their example, "out of all the tribes of Israel, such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel, came to Jerusalem.” It is probable that they had no hope of effecting any thing by remonstrance: but here was a testimony far more decisive than any mere remonstrance could be. It was open and
visible to all; and could not but produce a very great sensation through the land. It spoke, in fact, so loudly and intelligibly, as to leave the whole nation without excuse.]
2. They adhered steadfastly to the service of their God
[It is said, “ they came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice to the Lord God of their fathers.” It was by sacrifice only that they could approach their God: and it was in the temple only that the sacrifices could be offered. Thither, then, they would go. Nothing should detain them from thence. They would not willingly offend man: but they were determined not to neglect their God. His honour and his authority were, in their minds, considerations of paramount importance: and, if enjoined to worship any other God, or to refrain from serving him, their
“Whether it be right to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye."] 3. They renounced all for conscience sake
[The priests left their cities, their suburbs, their possessions, and abandoned all for conscience sake. The people, too, even all the godly of the land, forsook their all, that they might approve themselves faithful to their God. This was a severe test of their integrity: but their piety was equal to the occasion. And though, in individual instances, we may certainly find much greater sacrifices for conscience sake, yet perhaps, on so large a scale, this was never equalled in any country under heaven.]
But let us pass on to what more immediately concerns ourselves, namely, II. Our duty, as Protestants, at the present day
The abominations of Popery are scarcely more tolerable than those which Jeroboam established. And it is a mercy to us that our forefathers had courage and piety enough to protest against them.
But we have our duties also to perform1. We should realize our own religious principles
[To what purpose do we renounce the superstitions of the Romish Church, whilst we hold fast the greatest and most fundamental error of all, the doctrine of human merit? I grant that we do not maintain this error in the same open, gross, and avowed way in which it is held by the Papists: but on the subject of salvation by faith alone we have all the same jealousies as they. Yes, though Protestants by profession, the great mass of us are looking for salvation by our own repentances or reformations, rather than by the simple exercise of faith in Christ. In the ministry of the word, instead of bringing forward the great doctrine of justification by faith alone, as that which is universally admitted, approved, and gloried in, we are forced to make a thousand apologies, in order to ward off from ourselves the imputation of being Antinomians and heretics. O Brethren! it should not be thus. We ought all to rejoice that we are emancipated from the bonds in which Popery holds its deluded votaries, and to glory in the Lord Jesus Christ as all our salvation and all our desire
-] 2. We should shew their superior efficacy to sanctify the heart and life
[There have been doubtless many eminently pious men in the Church of Rome: but they were pious in despite of their errors. So far as they were influenced by superstition, their piety
was debased, rather than advanced. Christianity gives liberty to the soul, instead of reducing it to a state of bondage: and, if we possess that liberty, it should elevate us to a higher and nobler course than can be attained by the servile principles of Popery. Papists withdraw altogether from the world: we, whilst in the world, should shew ourselves above it; “ dead to” its cares, and “ crucified to” its allurements. They, in order to mortify the flesh, have recourse to absurd and self-tormenting usages, which, whilst they lacerate the body, puff up the soul with pride and self-applause. We must seek the elevation of the soul in high and holy affections, “having our conversation in heaven," and delighting ourselves in God - -] ADDRESS, 1. Those who are conforming to this vain world
[Behold the conduct of the pious Israelites, and blush. They, for the honour of their God, forsook all that they possessed: and if you, either from the love of the world, or from the fear of man, are averse to make this sacrifice for your Lord and Saviour, glory not in being Protestants; but seek to become Christians: for on no other terms than these will Christ ever acknowledge you as his disciples b — -]
2. Those who, like the Israelites, are “setting their hearts fully to seek the Lord their God”—
[No man ever repented of “ following the Lord fully." Such persons may have less of this world; and may at times be reduced to great necessities, even as the Apostle Paul was
b Luke xiv. 33.