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view him as king over Israel; and which shows its course : every sound within its sacred precincts those ce- is as the sound of thy footstep, as thou lebrations took place, and those rites goest forward in thine awfulness. And were performed, which announced a in this, yea, in this, thou art amazing. Redeemer, and in some sense antici. I should have marvelled at thee less, pated his coming. Then well indeed had thine advancings towards the conmight the Jew, who thought on God's summation of thy plan been audible way as "in the sanctuary,” break into through the universe, than now that a confession of the greatness of God. within these walls thou hast space We know not precisely the time when enough for the march of a purpose in the psalm, in which our text occurs, which the universe has interest. Wonwas composed; whether after the derful in that, through what goes on in building of the temple, or whilst "the this house builded with hands, thou art ark of the covenant of the Lord re approximating to a glorious result, the mained under curtains.” But suppose overthrow of evil, and its extermithat Solomon had already reared his nation from thine empire-yea, more magnificent pile, it would not have wonderful, for it more shows thee inbeen the grandeur of the house of the dependent even on the instruments Lord which would have filled the de- which thou dost use, than if thou hadst vout Jew with wonder and exultation. taken unnumbered worlds for thy scene As he gazed on the stupendous struc- of operation, passing in thy majesty ture, it would not have been because from one to another, and causing each it outdid every other in beauty and to be a beacon on the track of redempmajesty, that his heart would bave tion. And therefore, oh, what can I do, swelled with lofty emotions. He would after feeling and confessing that "thy have venerated the edifice, because it way, O God, is in the sanctuary,” but was as the council-chamber in which break into a challenge, a challenge to Deity arranged his plans, and the stage angels above, and to men below, who on which he wrought them gradually is so great a God as our God ?" out for the benefit of the world. As But we would now observe, that, by he entered its courts, he would have the sanctuary, we may probably underseemed to himself to enter the very stand the holy of holies: for it was in place where all those mighty affairs that veiled and mysterious recess that were being transacted, which were to the Shekinah shone, the visible token terminate, in some far-off season, in the of the Almighty's presence. However emancipation of the earth from wick- true it be that God's way was in the edness and wretchedness. On every temple, understanding by the temple altar he would have seen a Redeemer the whole structure that was set apart already offered up: in every cloud of to sacred uses, it was yet more emphaincense he would have marked the as- tically true that this way was in the cendings of acceptable prayer through sanctuary, understanding by the sanca Mediator: in the blast of every trum- tuary that part within the veil, into pet he would have heard God marshal- which none but the high priest was al. Jing his armies for the final overthrow lowed to enter, and that but once in of Satan. And the feeling of his soul the year, when he entered as a type must have been, " Thy way, O God, is of the Mediator who, having shed his in the sanctuary.” Thy way-I can- blood as a sacrifice, carried it into not trace it on the firmament, studded heaven to present it as an intercessor. though it be with thy works. I cannot It may not have been altogether to the trace it on the earth, though thou art temple services, to the ceremonies and there in a thousand operations, all sacrifices appointed by the law, that the eloquent, and all worthy, of thyself. I Psalmist referred: it may rather have search creation, but cannot find the been to the awfulness, the sanctity, lines of thy way, along which thou art the privacy of that spot where the Alpassing to the fulfilment of thine an- mighty might be said to have conde. cient promises. But here is thy way, scended to take up his abode. In sayhere in thy sanctuary. Every stone ing that God's way was "in the sancseems wrought into the pavement of tuary,” he may have designed to asthat way: every altar is as a pillar sert the impenetrable obscurity in which the divine proceedings were which he works, is among the signal shrouded, and at the same time the tokens of his greatness. In nothing inviolable holiness by which they were does the Supreme Being more demand distinguished ; and then the concluding our admiration than in those properquestion will indicate that this obscu- ties which caused an apostle to exrity, and this holiness, were arguments claim, "How unsearchable are his judg. or evidences of the greatness of God. ments, and his ways past finding out.” And it will not be difficult to trace the It is a proof of his mercy towards us, connection between the several parts and a source of vast honor to himself, of our text, if you consider the sanctu- that he hides himself in clouds, and ary as thus put for the qualities or pro- throws around his goings an awful obperties which were specially pointed scurity. There is something singularly out by the holy of holies. You are to noble in that saying of Solomon, in the remember that the sanctuary was a book of Proverbs, "It is the glory of place into which no Israelite but the God to conceal a thing.” It is his glohigh priest might ever dare to enter, ry, not to make his every dealing luand the attempting to enter which minous, so that his creatures might would have been an act of the worst read without difficulty its design, and sacrilege, certain to be followed by admit without an act of faith its excelinstant and fearful vengeance. What lence; but to involve his proceedings concealment then was there about this in so much of darkness, that there sanctuary, and at the same time what shall be a constant demand on the subpurity! He who thought on the holy missiveness and trust of those whom of holies thought on a solitude which they concern. It is his glory, inaswas inaccessible to him, though close much as he thus takes the most effecat hand: inaccessible, even as the re- tual mode of preserving a spirit of demotest depth of infinite space, though pendence on himself, in beings who are a single step might have taken him in- prone to forget a first cause, and to asto its midst; but, at the same time, a cribe to some second whatsoever they solitude where, as he well knew, every fancy they can trace to an origin. And thing breathed holiness, every thing very wonderful does God appear, when glowed with the lustre of that Being thus represented as seated in some inwho is of purer eyes than to look upon approachable solitude, veiled from all iniquity. And to say of God that his finite intelligence, and there regulating way was in this sanctuary, what was the countless springs, and putting in it but to say that God works in an im- motion the countless wheels which are penetrable secrecy, but that, neverthe- to produce appointed results through. less, in that secrecy he orders every out immensity. It is not that he is thing in righteousness? These are facts associated with myriads of wise and with which we ought to be familiar, and ever-active beings, with whom he may in regard of which we should strive to consult, and by whom he may be askeep our faith firm. We may not hope sisted, in reference to the multitudin. to understand the dealings of the Lord: ous transactions of every day and evenay, we must be content not to under- ry moment. His way " is in the sancstand them: we must not attempt to lift, tuary.” He is alone, majestically, omwith presumptuous hand, the veil which nipotently alone. The vast laboratories conceals the place in which they origi- of nature, he presides over them him. nate. It is behind that curtain, to pass self. The operations of providence, they which is to perish, that the Almighty ar- all originate with himself. The workranges his purposes, and appoints means ings of grace, they confess his immedifor their consummation; and though we ate authorship. My brethren, this is God may know something of these purpo- in his sublimity. God in his stupendousses, as they appear without the curtain ness. Let us take heed that we attempt in their progress towards completion, not to penetrate his solitudes: let it conthey are hidden from us in their springs, tent us to worship before the veil, and to and must often therefore be quite in know that he is working behind it: why comprehensible.
rashly endeavor to cross the threshold But what of this? The sublime se of the holy of holies, when "it is the crecy in which God dwells, and in glory of God to conceal a thing ?”
And certainly it is not the obscurity supposed to meditate in the temple. which there may be round the ways of He calls to mind the dealings of God. the Lord which should induce a suspi- How much that is perplexing, how cion that those ways are not righteous. much that is dark, how much that is If God work in a place of secrecy, we incomprehensible! Whither shall he know that it is equally a place of turn for counsel and comfort ? whence sanctity : we can be sure, therefore, of shall he draw material of assurance, whatsoever comes forth from that place, that, notwithstanding all apparent inthat, if involved in clouds, it is invest consistencies, notwithstanding obscued with equity. We may not be able to rity and intricacy, the hand of the Lord discover God's reasons : but we can be is a mighty hand, and will bring to pass certain from his attributes, attributes whatsoever is best ? His eye is on that which shine through the vail, though vail which hides from his gaze the that vail be impenetrable, that we Shekinah, and the mercy-seat, and the should approve them if discovered. overshadowing cherubim. What does And if it be an evidence of the great the solitude, with its burning and beauness of God, that his way is hidden, tiful wonders, represent? what means we scarcely need say that it is a further this inaccessible spot, tenanted by Deevidence of this greatness, that his ity, but forbidden to man? Ah, whereway is holy. That, although he have fore indeed doth God thus shrine himto deal with a polluted world, with self in the holy of holies, unless to creatures by nature "dead in trespas- teach us that we cannot look upon ses and sins," he contracts no impu- him in his actings, but that, nevertherity, but keeps travelling, as it were, less, those actings, though necessarily in the sanctuary,” even whilst mov- inscrutable, partake the sanctity as ing to and fro amid those who have well as the secrecy of his dwelling? defiled themselves and their dwelling. This thought may be supposed to ocplace—what is this but proof that he cupy the Psalmist. It strengthens, it is immeasurably separated by differ- animates him ; it should strengthen, it ence of nature, from all finite being; should animate you. The vail
, whilst that he is verily " the high and holy it hides, reveals Deity: nay, it reveals One that inhabiteth eternity,” the high by hiding : it teaches the sublimity of because the holy, and equally the holy God, inapproachable; his independbecause the high? Indeed, whilst there ence, none with him in his workings ; is every thing to comfort us, there and yet his righteousness, for it is the is everything also to give us lofty awful purity of the place which warns thoughts of God, in the fact that God's back all intruders. Then there is way" is in the sanctuary.” "In the enough to make us both discover, and sanctuary:” I may not enter, I may rejoice in, the supremacy of our God. not think to penetrate. But how great With a tongue of fear, for we are alinust be the Being who thus, withdrawn most staggered by the mysteriousness from all scrutiny, always in a solitude, of his workings, we will confess," Thy though encompassed with ten thousand way, O God, is in the sanctuary :" but times ten thousand waiting spirits, or with a tongue of triumph, for his very ders every event, directs every agent, concealments are tokens of his Almighconsummates every purpose.
In the tiness, we will give utterance to the sanctuary :” where every thing is of a challenge, "Who is so great a God as purity that dazzles even the imagina- our God ?" tion, on whose emblematic furniture But there can be no reason why we the eye may not look, as though a hu- should confine the illustrations of our man glance would dim the lustres of text to the Jewish temple and dispenits gold. How righteous must be the i sation. We may bring down the verse Being who thus hides himself in light, to our own day, understand by the how just his ways, how good his ap- sanctuary our own churches, and still pointments! Do ye not seem to enter found on the confession in the first into the feeling of the Psalmist ? are ye clause the challenge which is uttered not ready to pass with him from his in the second. You must all be prepaconfession to his challenge? Come, red to admit, that, under the christian, place yourselves by him, as he may be even as it was under the legal, dispen
sation, God specially works by and tor, he breaks into an acknowledgment through the public ordinances of reli- of his unrivalled greatness. gion, in converting sinners and bring. Hence we seem justified in transfering them into acquaintance with him. ring the verse to ourselves, in regardself. Perhaps indeed you may think ing it simply as containing an arguthat it could not have been to such ment for the greatness of God, drawn workings as these that the Psalmist from his working through the instrureferred, when he spake of God's way mentality of sermons and sacraments. as "in the sanctuary," and that we are His" way is in the sanctuary.” It is not therefore warranted in making that in buildings devoted to the purposes use of his words which we are now of his worship, and through the minisabout to make. But we believe that trations of his ordained servants, that this is altogether an error, and that the he commonly carries on his work of Psalmist may justly be considered as turning sinners from the error of their speaking of the sanctuary, even as we ways, and building up his people in now speak of a church, as a place of their faith. That there may be excepinstruction where messages are to be tions to such a rule as this, no one looked for from God to the soul. The would for a moment dispute. Cases Psalmist describes himself as perplexed unquestionably occur in which converby the dealings of God, and then as sion is effected without the instrumencomforted by the thought that God's tality of a sermon, or in which the way" is in the sanctuary." Now if you soul is rapidly edified, though debarred turn to the seventy-third psalm, bear- from all public means of grace. But ing the name of the same author, Asaph, nevertheless the general rule is, that as is borne by that in which our text it pleases God " by the foolishness of occurs, you will find a very similar de- preaching, to save them that believe," scription of perplexity, and of comfort not only, you observe, to bring men in derived in some way from the sanctu- the first instance to belief; but to carary. The writer is greatly staggered ry them forward in godliness till belief by the prosperity of the wicked, and issues in final salvation. We magnify tempted to receive it as an evidence our office. We claim no authority against the strictness of God's moral whatsoever for the man: but we claim government. And how does he over- the very highest for the messenger, the come the temptation? You shall hear ambassador. Again and again would what he says, "When I thought to we seize opportunities of impressing know this, it was too painful for me; upon you the importance of entertainuntil I went into the sanctuary of God: ing just views of the ministerial office. then understood I the end." He ob. There are nunibers of you, we must tained, you perceive, instruction in the believe, who constantly come up to sanctuary, which sufficed to the remov- God's house with the very tempers and ing his doubts, and the restoring his feelings which you would carry to a confidence in the righteousness of the lecture-room; with all that excited indivine dealings. It cannot, therefore, tellect, and all that critical spirit, which be an unwarrantable supposition, that fit you for nothing but the sitting in the reference to the sanctuary in our judgment upon what shall be delivered, text, is a reference to the public or- as upon a process of argument, or a dinances of religion as instrumental specimen of elocution. There is practo the communicating knowledge, and tically no recognition of the commisthe strengthening faith. The Psalmist sion which is borne by the man who is again perplexed by much that is in- addresses you, no influential persuatricate in the dealings of God. But sion of his being an appointed messenagain he bethinks him of the sanctu- ger through whom you may hope that ary: he remembers that God's way God will graciously infuse light into "is in the sanctuary”-in other words, the understanding, and warmth into that God's method of teaching is by the heart: but, on the contrary, he is and through the ordinances of the thought to stand before you with no sanctuary; and, filled with gratitude higher claim on your attention than and wonder that there should be such what he can make good by his own a channel of intercourse with the Crea-'mental powers, and with no greater likelihood of speaking to your profit the office of a preacher to men. It might than is furnished by his own skill as an have been so. In place of assembling expositor of truth. And upon this ac- to listen to the exhortations, and recount mainly it is, as we have been ceive the counsels, of one who shares long painfully convinced, that there with you your sinfulness, and is natuare such insufficient results from the rally under the same condemnation, services of God's house, that Sabbath you might have thronged to the sancafter Sabbath passes away, and scarce tuary, to hearken to a celestial messenleaves a token that good has been ger, who came down in angelic beauty, wrought. You are not in the moral at- and offered you in God's name a home titude which is presupposed in the ap- in the land from which he had descendpointment of the preacher. You are in ed. And we cannot doubt that you the attitude of critics, you are in the would have hung with surpassing inteattitude of a jury, having to pronounce rest on the lips of the heavenly speaka verdict after hearing certain state- er; and that as, with an eloquence, and ments. But the preacher is not before a pathos, and a persuasiveness, such as you as a debater, the preacher is not are wholly unknown in the most touchbefore you as a pleader; and conse. ing human oratory, he warned you aquently your attitude is just the re- gainst evil and urged you to righteousverse of ihat which ought to be assum- ness, your hearts would have burned ed: the preacher is before you as an within you, and been often wrought up ambassador, and therefore ought you to a resolve of pressing towards the reto be in the attitude of mere listeners gion to which the seraph invited you. to an overture from the God whom you We fully believe, that, if some mystehave offended, of expectants of a com- rious visitant, unearthly in form and munication from him in whose name raiment, were to occupy this pulpit, the preacher addresses you. The evil a deep and almost painful solemnity is, you do not feel that God's way "is would pervade the assembly; and that in the sanctuary;" and therefore you as, in tones such as were never modugive too low a character both to ser. lated by human organs, and words such mons and sacraments, failing to view as never flowed from human lips, he in them the appointed instrumentality reasoned of righteousness, temperthrough which God works in convert- ance, and judgment to come,” there ing and confirming the soul.
would be produced on the mass of riBut, nevertheless, the fact remains, veted listeners an effect, which might that God's way "is in the sanctuary." not indeed be permanent, but which, And a very surprising fact it is, one for the time, would be wholly without calculated to excite in us the highest parallel in all that is ascribed to powerthoughts of the supremacy of God. We ful speaking. Neither can it be thought wish you to contrast the agency with that an angel would preach with less the result. We are always much struck affection than a man, because not exwith the expression of St. Paul to Ti posed to our dangers, nor linked with mothy, "in doing this, thou shalt both us by any natural ties. We know that save thyself, and them that hear thee." angels watch for the repentance of sinThe preacher, who is to be an instru. ners; that, when the poorest of our race ment in the saving of others, stands in returns, like the prodigal, to his Fathe same need of salvation himself. In ther, a new impulse is given to their the great work of gathering in the na- happiness; and we cannot therefore tions, and fixing the religion of Jesus doubt, that, if any one of these glori. in the households and hearts of the hu- ous beings were to be visible amongst man population, the Almighty makes us, and to assume the office of teacher, not use of lofty agents who have kept he would plead with such passionatetheir first estate, but of the fallen and ness and warmth, and throw so much feeble, who are themselves in peril, of heart into his remonstrance, as would themselves but wrestlers for immorta- leave no room for a suspicion that diflity. It is easy to imagine a different ference in nature incapacitated him for arrangement. In his Epistle to the Ga- deep sympathy with those to whom he latians, St. Paul has supposed the case spake. But, to pass over other and obof an angel from heaven discharging vious consequences of the substitution