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SERMON XVIII.

I KINGS, Chap. VIII. v. 13, 27, 57, 60.

I have surely built thee an House to dwell in, a settled Place

for thee to abide in forever! But will God indeed dwell on the Earth? Behold the Heaven, and the Heaven of Heavens, cannot contain thee; how much less this House that

I have builded The Lord our God be with us as he was with our Fathers:

Let him not leave us, nor forsake us That all the People of the Earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else.

My BRETHREN,

ALTHOUGH I have only read to you the foregoing verses, as being those which I am more immediately to insist upon, yet the greatest part of the chapter from which they are taken, containing the history of Solomon's Dedication of the Temple, and which has been already read to you as the first Lesson for this day's service, will be the subject of my following discourse.

But, before I proceed, it may perhaps be expected that I should carry you back into remote antiquity, to investigate the origin and shew the reasonableness of Consecrating, Dedicating, or Setting Apart, par.

ticular places for the more immediate and public worship of the Supreme God. And such an inquiry, it must be confessed, would furnish out a most interesting detail; no way unsuitable to this day's solemnity. But the time being short, and having another plan in view, I shall touch but slightly on these matters.

The great Progenitors of our race, Adam and Eve, when they first sprung from the forming hand of their munificent Creator, no doubt, felt their hearts to exult with joy and gratitude unutterable. Every thing within, and without them, contributed to heighten this joy into the most transcendent ecstacy. The curiosity of their own structure, the Paradise that surrounded them, the unfading beauty, the eternal verdure and yet continual novelty, of its scenes (while they continued in their state of innocence) led them, doubtless, at all times and in all places, into the most fervent acknowledgments of that Goodness, from which the whole proceeded. Nevertheless, it is no way improbable but that they had some Consecrated place, some chosen Bower, by brook or by fountain, adorned with all the bloomy honours of Paradise, whither (at stated times, and at proper intervals) they might retire from the heat of the day, to offer up their more immediate praises, for Creating Love and Preserving Goodness.

But whatever may be in this, one of the first things we find their descendents employed in, after the Fall, was their solemn offering up “ the fruits of " the earth, and the firstlings of their flocks,” in places set apart for that end; and, after the Flood,

Noah no sooner descends from the Ark than he is found erecting an altar unto the Lord. Abraham too planted a Grove in Beersheba, where he called on the name of the everlasting God; and this God himself, through four whole chapters of Exodus, is found instructing Moses how to erect and adorn that glorious Tabernacle which we read of there.

Now these places of worship were agreeable to the state of a people, in those early ages, migrating from place to place. But when nations were settled, and distinct societies formed; in the place of Groves and temporary Tabernacles, superb Temples were erected. And thus it was with the Jews, at the time of erecting that Temple of unparalleled magnificence and architecture Divine, whose Dedication or Consecration my text refers to.

After journeying for many years through the wilderness, after sustaining many bloody wars with their fierce enemies; that people had now got full possession of the Land of Promise, and enjoyed that happy tranquillity, which their souls had long and earnestly wished for.

And now, what improvement doth their illustrious monarch make of this occasion? Doth he forget the God of Israel, that had led his people through so many dangers? Doth he turn the fruits of Peace entirely to works of secular import, to Luxury, the pursuit of Pleasure, and of low selfish Enjoyment? No! but he remembers the intimation given by the prophet Nathan to his father David, how that his Son after him should build an House (not a moveable and temporary Tabernacle, but a fixed and set

tled House) to the name of the Lord forever*. Accordingly, with his whole heart and spirit, he sets about this divine work, and writes to distant places, for an amazing store of materials of every sort. To this purport is his letter to Hiram, king of Tyre and Sidont.

“ Thou knowest, says he, how that David thy “ father could not build an house (or fixt Temple) “ unto the name of the Lord his God, for the wars " which were about him on every side, until the Lord put

them under the soles of his feet. But now the “ Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, so “ that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent: “ and behold, I purpose to build an house to the

name of the Lord my God; as he spake unto David my father, saying, Thy Son, whom I will set upon

thy throne in thy room, he shall build an House " unto my name.

Now, therefore, command thou, “ that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; and

my servants shall be with thy servants-for thou “ knowest that there is not among us any that can ss skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonianst.”

Solomon having procured his materials, and at length finished his house, with such a profusion of ornament and eastern magnificence, as far excels all the pomp of modern times; having been favoured

• 2 Sam. i. 13.

† 1 Kings, Chap. V. v. 2– -7. # These are the same Sidonians whom Homer calls wohudodá ass, much skilled in divers arts; which particular character of them is mentioned to shew, that Solomon sought out the most excellent artists in the world for the work of the Temple; and that the Bible account of them corresponds exactly to that given of them, in some of the most ancient profane writings which we now have.

with the Divine Direction in planning and carrying on the work; having built the walls with hewn-stone, and lined them with cedar; having carved and adorned the doors and linings with gilded Cherubims, and palm-trees, and knots and full-blown flowers, having overlaid the holiest places, such as the Oracle, the Altar and the Sanctuary with plates of massy gold; having furnished the whole house with tables, and candlesticks, and lamps, and tongs, and basons, and bowls, and censers, made also of gold, and curiously embossed with flowers; together with such an immense quantity of bases, and lavers, and pots, and other vessels of polished brass-work as was not to be weighed*;—the day was now come when this superb edifice, with all its costly apparatus of furniture, was to be Dedicated, Consecrated, and Set Apart for ever to the name of the Lord!

On that memorable day, the Elders and Judges of cities, the Heads of tribes and Chiefs of families, assembled themselves before king Solomon, and began the solemnity with a grand procession from Jerusalem to Mount-Zion, in order to bring from thence the Ark of the Covenant, containing the two Tables of the Law; which had been deposited there by Da. vid, (when he brought it from the houset of ObedEdom) in a temporary tabernacle, until a fixed house should be prepared for its reception.

In the like solemn manner did they return from Mount-Zion, to the mount of the Temple at Jerusalem, the Priests bearing the Ark with the Law, and

* 1 Kings, chap. vi. vii.

† 2 Sam. vi. 12. 17.

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