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I. In considering the presence of God in the sanctuary, we are led, first, to contemplate the characters in which he dwells there, and in which we are to worship him.
God claims our worship in his holy temple, as the one supreme Maker and Lord of the universe -as our all-bountiful Preserver and Benefactoras our merciful Redeemer-as our almighty Sanctifier-as our eternal Judge.
1. He claims our worship in his holy sanctuary, as the one supreme Maker and Lord of the universe.
In this sublime character, God demands our most profound adoration. This beautiful fabric of the world must have been the work of an Almighty Architect; and man, the noblest being that adorns it, traces his origin to that God in whose likeness he was made. In this sanctuary, then, we are called to adore Jehovah, as the sovereign Maker and Lord of the universe: here he is invisibly seated on that throne from which proceeded the fiat which called into existence universal naturethat throne which infinite majesty and power sustain, and which exercises the sceptre of universal dominion. Here, then, "let us worship, and fall down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker." "Of old he laid the foundations of the earth; and the heavens are the work of his hands. They shall perish, but he shall endure; they all shall wax old as doth a garment, and as a vesture shall he change them, and they shall be changed; but he is the same, and his years shall not fail.” "The gods of the heathen are dumb idols; but it is the Lord who made the heavens. Ascribe unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, ascribe unto the Lord
glory and strength. Ascribe unto the Lord the honour due unto his name; bring presents, and come into his courts. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him all the whole earth."
2. We are to worship God in his temple, as our all-bountiful Preserver and Benefactor.
The Being who made the world, can alone sustain and bless it. On that Almighty Benefactor from whom cometh every good and perfect gift, we are dependent for all that we need, and all that we desire; and, all-gracious and merciful, it is he who opens his hand and fills us with good. What place, then, so proper as the temple consecrated to his name, in which to adore his power which sustains us, and his goodness which gives us all things to enjoy! In the temple the song of praise should ascend from the daily subjects of his bounty: we are to "enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise ;" we are to be "thankful to him, and to speak good of his name;" for he is "the Lord, the God who helpeth us, and poureth his benefits upon us."
3. We are to worship God in the Christian sanctuary, as an all-merciful Redeemer.
This is the most interesting character in which we are called to worship him: for, brethren, conscience testifies that we have all sinned; and reason teaches that, as sinners, we are obnoxious to the justice of that Being whose laws we have transgressed. Reason pronounces that we are guilty; but reason could point out no means of expiation. Hecatombs were offered to expiate man's guiltrivers of blood flowed to wash away his sins: his "first-born was given for his transgression-the
fruit of his body for the sin of his soul." Alas! the sin of the soul still remained-still excited agonizing fears in the bosom of guilty man. That Almighty Being only, to whom man was accountable, could prescribe the means of his pardon: and "God so loved the world, as to give his onlybegotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but should have everlasting life." How invaluable, then, are the services of the Christian sanctuary, in which we are called to behold God as in Jesus Christ reconciling the world unto himself, and to adore and praise him as that merciful God who "blotteth out our iniquities, and remembereth our sins no more!"
4. We are to adore and supplicate God in the sanctuary, as the Sanctifier of our corrupt nature.
No man who knows himself, the weakness of his understanding and the strength of his passions, can hesitate to acknowledge his need of a superior power to enlighten him in the knowledge of spiritual things, and to bring his sinful passions into subjection to the Divine law. The restoration of man from the ruins of the fall, is like creating him anew, and requires an exertion of the same almighty wisdom and power which at the first called him into being: the same voice which at the first spoke light out of darkness, can alone shed on the darkened understanding the light of divine truth, and restore the corrupt soul to purity and rectitude. God our Redeemer, is also our Sanctifier; and in the Christian temple he dispenses his grace. In the Christian temple, therefore, we should supplicate him, who only can raise us from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, and by whose holy inspiration alone we can think those things that
are good, and by whose merciful guiding perform the same.
5. God is to be adored in the Christian sanctuary, as the Almighty Ruler and Judge of the world.
Here we bow before his throne of righteous dominion; for, infinite in power, he will detect and punish the most concealed vices of the heart; and, infinite in goodness, he will notice and reward the humble services of his faithful people. In the sanctuary we adore him as the Almighty Judge, who will punish the impenitent with everlasting destruction from his presence, and exalt his people to the seats of celestial glory.
In the most interesting and in the most awful characters is God presented to our worship in the Christian sanctuary. We worship him as the Maker, the Benefactor, the Redeemer, the Sanctifier, the Judge of men; clothed with those majestic attributes that inspire awe, and surrounded also with those engaging perfections that awaken our love.
II. But what are the means by which he manifests his presence in the Christian sanctuary?
The same admirable order that pervades the economy of nature distinguishes the dispensation of grace. In the natural world, God exerts his power and accomplishes his purposes by subordinate agents, who each performs the part allotted it in the vast machine, with undeviating regularity and certain effect. The dispensation of grace, the work of the same Almighty Jehovah, is conducted by the instrumentality of offi es and institutions, by which God displays his power, and dispenses his grace and mercy. As the ministers of his plea
sure in the mysterious plan of redemption, he separates a body of men, on whom he confers a divine commission, whom he strengthens and consoles by the promise of his protecting power, and to whom he commits the word of reconciliation, the ministration of the ordinances that are to be the channels of his grace: they are constituted the officers of the sanctuary, dispensing the word, conducting the worship, and administering the ordinances by which God manifests his presence.
1. God manifests his presence in the Christian sanctuary, in his holy word.
This word is "a light to our feet and a lamp to our path;" it contains all those truths, precepts, threats, and promises, that constitute it the power of God unto salvation; and when promulgated with authority in the Christian sanctuary, it penetrates the thoughtless and secure with conviction, illuminates with divine knowledge the darkened understanding, enlivens with heavenly consolation the afflicted spirit, strengthens the feeble and tempted soul, and implants holy tempers and graces in the hearts of the ungodly. When the word of God, promulgated in the sanctuary, proves thus quick and powerful, we behold and feel the presence of God in his earthly temple.
2. God manifests his presence in the Christian sanctuary, in the worship which is there celebrated.
When the congregation follow the minister through the various offices of evangelical worship -when the emotions of penitence are expressed in humble confession-when, as needy and sinful creatures, they invoke, in reiterated and alternate supplications, the mercy and grace of God, their Redeemer and Sanctifier-when his praises ani