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Wherefore thea hath God a house? Wherefore have we ours, but to dwell in? But doth not he himself tell David, and so doth Stephen the Protomartyr (upon whose days we are fallen) tell the Jews, that He dwells not in Temples made with hands? True, he dwelis not in his house, as we in ours, by way of comprehension : he dwells in it, by testification of presence. So do we dwell in our houses, that our houses contain us; that we are only within them, and they without us: so doth he dwell in his, that yet he is elsewhere, yea, every where; that his house is within him. Shortly, God dwells where he witnesses his gracious presence: that, because he doth, both in the empyreal Heaven amongst his angels and saints, and in his Church upon earth; therefore his dwelling is both in the Highest Heaven in perfect glory, and on Earth in the hearts and assembly of his children.
As of the former, our Saviour saith, In domo Patris mei, In my Father's house are many mansions : so also may we say of the latter, There is much variety and choice in it: there was the Church of the Jews, the Church of the Gentiles: there is a material, and a spiritual house: in the one, Solomon's, Zerubbabe's, such piles as this; in the other, so much multiplicity, as there are nations, yea, congregations that profess the Name of Christ. One of these was a figure of the other; the material, under the Law, of the spiritual, under the Gospel.
Ye see now the first house, and the latter; the subject of our text and discourse. The latter, commended to us, Comparatively, Positively : COMPARATIVELY with the former; major gloria : POSITIVELY, in itself; in this place will I give peace: both, set out by the stile of the PROMISER and AVOWER; saith the Lord of Hosts. All which challenge your Christian attention.
I, COMPARATIVELY. As the first house, which was material, was a figure of the second, which is spiritual; so the glory of that material, was a figure of the glory of this spiritual. Now, because all the life, and glory, of the spiritual stands in Christ the Messiah, the Prophet looks through the type of the material, at him which shall beautify, yea glorify the spiritual
, of whose exhibition the Prophet speaks; Adhuc modicum, Yet a little while, and I will shake the Houters. This modicum was but soine five hundred and odd years: much to men, but a modicum to the Ancient of Days, with whom a thousand years are but one day. It is in and by him, that this latter house, under the Gospel, shall in glory surpass that first, under the Law.
The prophets had spoken gloriously of the Temple that should be; and now, lest, when the people should see the homely and cottage-like re-edification of Zerabbabel, they should be disheartened and offended, the Prophet desires to draw their eyes from the stone and timber, to the spiritual inside of the Evangelical Church; shewing the glory of this latter house, to exceed the former.
Some gross interpreters have looked with Jewish eyes upon the outward fabric, which was threefold; Solomon's, Zerubbabel's,
Herod's: Solomon's, sumptuous and magnificent; Zerubbabels, mean and homely; Herod's, rich and majestical, immodico sumptu, incredibili splendore, as one says. Solomon's was before defaced. Now, because Zerubbabel was so far from making his word good, that the people wept, when they saw the difference, (which Calvin well observes, was not without a special providence of the all-wise God; else the Jews would so have fixed their eyes upon the outward splendor, that they would never have looked for the spiritual and inward Grace of the House of God:) therefore they have taken it of Herod's temple; the wails and lining whereof were indeed, answerable to this prophecy, more glorious. But this conceit, as it is too carnal, so is it quite dissonant from the context; both in regard of the precedents, and subsequents: of the precedents; for, how did The Desire of all Nations come to that pile of Herod's? of the subsequents; for, what peace was under the Herodian Temple? first, the builder of it was the chief oppressor of the Jewish liberty; and then, secondly, it gave occasion to the perpetual misery of that people. Pilate would expilate the treasures of it for aquæ ducta ; which, denied, cost the Jews much blood. Under Claudius, twenty thousand slain in a feast of unleavened bread. Jonathas, the priest, slain by thieves, suborned by Felix, in the very Temple; and, ever after, it was the harbour and spoil of villains. What hills of carcases! What streams of blood were in it at the last vastation! enough to amaze any reader: so as in that seventy-nine years wherein it stood (longer it did not,) it was no better than a stage of Tragedies, a shambles of cruelty. Of that therefore God could not say,
Dabo pacem : it was Templum adulterinum, as one calls it justly, and had neither command nor promise. It was the Spiritual Temple, the Evangelical Church, whose glory shall be greater than the Jewish, which shall be blessed with The Desire of the Nations, with the assurance of peace. But why then doth the Holy Ghost speak of gold and silver, the costly materials of an outward structure? Even these very metals are figurative. Not that God cares so much for them, but because we do; because our eyes use to be dazzled with this best parcel of earth : therefore, when he would describe a glorious Church, he borrows the resemblance of gold, silver, precious stones; Isaiah Ix: and even by these doth he set forth his New and Heavenly Jerusalem; Rev. xxi.
Wherein then is the glory of God's Evangelical House greater, than of the Legal? Yea, wherein is it not greater? Whether ye look to the Efficient, the Matter, the Duration, the Extent, the Service.
The Efficient : that was built by man, though directed by God: in this, God himself is the Architect; not only giving the model, but the frame. The Matter: whether of structure, or ornament: the structure of the one was of stone and wood;: of the other, is of living stones : the ornament of the one was gold and silver; of the other, divine graces of faith, charity, hope, sanctity, truth, piety, and all other virtues, to which, gold itself were but trash.' The
Duration of the one, even that longest-lived Temple of Solomon, though called Dwy na, domus sæculi, was but four hundred and thirty years; of the other, beyond time to eternity. The Extent of the one, to be measured by a few poles; yea, though ye take in the courts and all, by a few acres : of the other, universal; so far as the King of Heaven hath any land. The Service in the one, performed by a few men, mortal, sinful; the blood of beasts shed upon the altar: in the other, performed by our Eternal High Priest, after that higher order of Melchisedec; offering up his own most precious blood for our redemption. In that, Christ Jesus was obscurely figured; in this, really exhibited, born, living, dying, rising, ascending, preached, believed, lived. Every way therefore, both in Efficient, Matter, Duration, Extent, Service, Major gloria.
Let no man tell me now of that just wonder of the world, the Jewish Temple; white marble without; lined with gold within, brazen pillars, golden vessels, costly vails; a high priesthood set forth with precious stones, rich robes, exquisite perfumes, curious music, and whatever that ancient goodly institution had rare and admirable: I say, the clay of the Gospel, is more worth than the marble of the Law; Evangelical brass, more worth than Legal gold; the rags of the Evangelical priesthood, more excellent than the robes of the Levitical. In short; the best of the Law, is not comparable to the basest of the Gospel.
John Baptist was the Janus of both Testaments. He was to the Churches, as Noah was to the Worlds: he saw both the first and the latter. It is a great word, that our Saviour saith of him; That amongst those, which were born, or rather, as ours read it better, begotten of women, there did not a greater than he arise: but it is a greater word, that he speaks of the children of the New Testament; That the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. I stand not upon examining the comparison; whether it be ratione sanctitatis, or officii. It makes either way for my purpose. Therefore was John so great, because he was the last of the Law, and the first of the Gospel: and the old rule is, minimum maximi majus est maximo minimi. Therefore is the least in the Kingdom of Grace greater than he, because he is all, what John was half; wholly under that Evangelium Regni, which is able to advance him to a greater perfection, than that harbinger of Christ.
What a favour then is it, Right Honourable and Beloved, that God hath reserved us to these better days of his Gospel; wherein the helps of salvation are more clear, obvious, effectual; wherein, as the glory of the latter house exceeded the former, so the means of that incomprehensible glory of the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, lie more open unto us! What should we do, but both uti and frui, gladly “ use," and sweetly “ enjoy this unspeakable blessing, which God hath kept in store for us, and walk worthy of so incomparable a mercy? The old Jews lived in the dawning of the day; wherein they had but a glimmering of that sun, which would rise: we live after the bigh noon of that happy
day. If we walk not answerable to so great a light, what can we look for, but utter darkness?
Ye shall now give me leave, Right Honourable, to carry these words, in a meet analogy, to the present occasion. The Temples under the Law were both a figure and a pattern of the Churches under the Gospel. Within this roof, under which we now stard here, was both the former, and the latter house: and, even in these walls, doth God make his words good, That the glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former. The first foundation of it was, no doubt, both pious and rich. I shall not need to fetch the pedigrees of it from St. John Baptist in Jerusalem; nor to discourse of either the devotion or wealth of that religiously-military Order, for whom these stones were first laid*. Imagine the altar never so gay; the imagery never so curious; the vestments never so rich; the pillars, walls, windows, pavement, never so exquisite : yet I dare boldly say, this present glory of this house, in this comely whiteness and well-contrived coarctation, is greater than the former
. What care I? nay, what doth God care, for the work of a lapidary, or painter, or mason? One zealous Prayer, one orthodox Sermon, is a more glorious furniture, than all the precious rarities of mechanic excellencies. I do most willingly (as what good heart doth not?) honour the virtuous actions and godly intentions of our worthy forefathers; which, no doubt, it hath pleased God in mercy to accept and crown; but, withal, it must be yielded, that they lived under the tyrannous injury and usurpation of those Pharisees, who kept the keys of knowledge at their own girdles, and would neither draw for them, nor sutter them to draw for themselves. Blessed be God for better conditions! The well of life lies open to us: neither are we only allowed, but invited, to those heavenly liquors; Inebriamini 0 Charissimi ; Drink, yea, drink abundantly, o Beloved; Cant. v. 1. This happy liberty of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, daily and sincerely preached to us, Noble and Beloved Christians, is worthy to be more worth unto us, than all the treasures, ornaments, privileges, of this trausitory world: and this, since, through the inestimable goodness of God, ye do and may find in this latter house, well hath God verified this word in your eyes and ears, The glory of the latter House - shall be greater than of the former.
II. Hitherto the Comparative praise of the latter house: the POSITIVE follows, in the promise of a gracious effect; In this place will I give peace : wherein I know not, whether the Blessing doth more grace the place, or the Place the blessing: both grace each other, and both bless God's people; In this place will I give peace.
If ye look at the Blessing itself, it is incomparable: Peace; that, whereby the Hebrews had wont to express all welfare in their salutations and well-wishes. The Apostolical benediction dichotomizes all good things into Grace and Peace: wherein, at the narrowest, by Grace, all spiritual favours were signified; temporal, by Peace. The Sweet Singer of Israel could not wish better to God's Church, than Peace be within her walls: and, behold, this is it, which God will give; Dabo pacem. Yea, our eyes should stoop too low, if they should fix here. The sweet Choristers of Heaven, when they sung that divine carol, to the honour of the first Christmas, next to Gloria in ercelsis Deo, said, In terris, Par. Yet higher: the great Saviour of the World, when he would leave the most precious legacy to his dear ones on earth, that they were capable of, he says, My Peace I grze you. And what he there gives, he here promises; Dabo pacem ; I will give it.
* Consecrated by Heraclius, Patriarch of Jerusalem,
But, where? whence? In this place. Not any where; not every where: but in his own house; in his latter house; his Evangelical House: as if this blessing were confined to his holy walls, he saith, In this place will I give peace. This flower is not for every soil: it grows not wild, but is only to be found in the Garden of Sion. It is very pregnant, which the Psalmist hath, Psalm cxxviii. 5, and cxxxiv. 3 ; The Lord, that made Heaven and Earth, bless thee out of Sion. He doth not say, “ The Lord, that made the earth, bless thee out of heaven;" nor, “ The Lord, that made heaven, bless thee out of heaven;" but, bless thee out of Sion: as if he would teach us, that all blessings come, as immediately and primarily from heaven, so mediately and secondarily from Sion, where this Temple stood. Some philosophers have held the moon to be the receptacle of all the influences of the heavenly bodies, and the correyances of them to this inferior world; so as all the virtue of the upper orbs and stars are derived by her, to this elementary sphere. Such doth both David, and Haggai, repute the house of God; whither, as to Joseph's storehouse, doth God convey the blessings of peace, that they may be thence transmitted to the sons of men.
How, and why then doth God give peace in this his house? Because here, as Bernard well, Deus et audit, et auditur,“ God hears, and is heard here:” audit orantes, erudit audientes; “ he hears his suppliants, and teacheth his hearers."
As this place hath two uses, it is both Oratorium and Auditorium ; so, in respect of both, doth it bless us with peace: our mouth procures it in the one, our ear in the other; God works in our hearts by both.
In the first, God says, as our Saviour cites it, Domus mea Domus orationis; My llouse shall be called the House of prayer. And what blessing is it, even the best, of Peace, that our prayers cannot infeoff us in? Solomon, when he would consecrate the Church he had built, solemnly sues to God, that he would invest it with this privilege of an universal-gracious audience: and, numbering the occasions of distressed suppliants, makes it ever the foot of his request; Then hearken to the prayer, that thy servant shall make towards this place: Hear thou in heaven, thy dwelling place; and, when thou heurest, have mercy.
If ever therefore we would have peace outward, inward, private, public, secular, spiritual; if we