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worship; and these are intended in the doctrine: it is he profanation of these ordinances that is spoken of in the text: They came into my sanctuary to profane it ; and, lo! thus have they done in the midst of mine house, saitha Gacko This doctring seems to contain two propositions.
The Ordinances of God are holy
Divine ordinances are holy in the following respects :
1. They are conversant wholly and immediately about God, and things divine. When we are in the attendance on the ordinances of divine worship, we are in the special presence of God. When persons coine and attend on the ordi. nances of God, they are said to come before God, and to come into his presence: Jer. vii. 10. Come and stand before me, in this house which is called by my name ; Psal. c. 2, Come into his presence with singing.
In divine ordinances, persons have immediate intercourse with God, either in applying to him, as in prayer and singing praises, or in receiving from him, waiting solemnly and immediately on him for spiritual good, as in hearing the word ; or in both applying to God and receiving from him, as in the sacraments. They were appointed on purpose that in them men might converse and hold communion with God. We are poor, ignorant, blind worms of the dust; and God did not see it ineet that our way of intercourse with God should be left to ourselves ; but God hath given us his ordinances, as ways and means of conversing with him.
In these ordinances, holy and divine things are exbibited and represented. In the preaching of the word, holy doctrines and the divine will are exhibited; in the sacraments, Christ Jesus and bis benefits are represented; in prayer and praise, and in the attendance on the word and sacraments, are represented our faith, love, and obedience.
2. The end of God's ordinances is boly. The immediate end is to glorify God. They are instituted to direct us in the boly exercises of faith and love, divine fear and reverence, submission, thankfulness, holy joy and sorrow, holy desires, resolutions, and bopes. True worship consists in these holy and spiritual exercises ; and as these divine ordinances are the VOL. IV,
ordinances of worship, they are to help us, and to direct us ia such a worship as this.
3. They have the sanction of divine authority. They are not only conversant about a divine and holy object, and designed to direct and help us in divine and holy exercises, but they have a divine and holy author. The infinitely great and holy God hath appointed them, the eternal Three in One. Each person in the Trinity hath been concerned in their institution. God the Father hath appointed them, and that by his own Son. They are of Cbrist's own appointment; and be appointed, as he had received of the Father: John xii. 49. * 1 have not spoken of myself, but the Father which sent me, he gave me commandment what I should say, and what I should speak.” And the Father and Son more fully revealed and ratified them by the Spirit; and they are committed to writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
They are holy, in that God hath hallowed them, or consecrated them. They are conversant about holy things; and God ordained them, that in them we might be conversant about holy things. They are for a boly use; and it is God who, by his own immediate authority, ordained them for that holy use; which renders them much more sacred than otherwise they would have been.
4. They are attended in the name of God. Thus we are commanded to do all that we do, in word or deed, in the name of Christ, Col. iii. 17.; which is to be understood especially of our attendance on ordinances. Ordinances are administered in the name of God. When the word is preached by authorised ministers, they speak in God's naine, as Christ's ambassadors, as co-workers together with Christ: 2 Cor. v. 20. Now are we ambassadors for Christ; chap. vi. 1. We are workers together with him. When a true minister preaches, he speaks as the oracles of God, i Pet. iv. 11.; and he is to be heard as one representing Christ.
So in administering the sacraments, the minister represents the person of Christ; he baptises in his name, and in the Lord's Supper stands in his stead. In administering church-censures, he still acts, as the apostle expresses it, in the person of Cbrist, 2 Cor. ij. 10. On the other hand, the congregation, in their addresses to God in ordinances, as prayer and praise, act in the name of Christ, the Mediator, as having him to represent them, and as coming to God by him.
God's Ordinances are dreadfully profuned by those who attend on
them, and yet allow themselves in ways of wickedness.
Persons who come to the house of God, into the holy presence of God, attending the duties and ordinances of his public worship, pretending with others, according to divine institution, to call on the name of God, to praise him, to hear his word, and commemorate Christ's death, and who yet at the same time, are wittingly and allowedly going on in wicked courses, or in any practice contrary to the plain rules of the word of God, therein greatly profane the holy worship of God, defile the temple of God, and those sacred ordinances on which they attend. The truth of this preposition appears by the following considerations.
1. By attending ordinances, and yet living in allowed wickedness, they show great irreverance and contempt of those holy ordinances. When persons who have been committing known wickedness, and yet live in it, and have no other design than to go on still in the same, when they come from their wickedness, as it were the same day, as it is expressed in the text, and attend the sacred solemn worship and ordinances of God, and then go from the house of God directly to the like allowed wickedness—they hereby express a most irreverent spirit with respect to holy things, and in an horrid manner cast contempt upon God's sacred institutions, and on those holy things which we are concerned with in them.
They show that they have no reverence of that God who hath hallowed these ordinances. They show a contempt of that divine authority which instituted them. They show an horribly irreverent spirit towards that God into whose presence they come, and with whom they immediately have to do in ordinances, and in whose name these ordinances are performed and attended. They show a contempt of that adoration of God, of that faith and love, and that humiliation, submission, and praise, which ordinances were instituted to express. What an irreverent spirit doth it show, that they are so careless after what manner they come before God! that they take no care to cleanse and purify themselves, in order that they may be fit to come before God! yea, that they take no care to avoid making themselves more and more unclean and filthy.
They have been taught many a time, that God is of eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity, and how exceedingly he is offended with sin ; yet they care not how unclean and aboininable they come into his presence. It shows horrid 'irre erence and contempt, that they are so bold, that they are not afraid to come into the presence of God in such a manner; and that they will presume to go out of the presence of God, and from an attendance upon holy things, again to their sinful practices. If they bad any reverence of God and holy things, an approach into his presence, and an attendince on those holy things, would leave that awe upon their minds, thai they would not dare to go immediately from them to their ways of known wickedness.
It would show a great irreverence in any person towards a king, if he should not care how he came into his presence, and if he should come in a sordid habit, and in a very indecent manner. How much more horrid irreverence doth it show, for persons willingly and allowedly to defile themselves with that filth which God infinitely hates, and so frequently to come into the presence of God!
2. By making a show of respect to God in ordinances, and then acting the contrary in their lives, they do but mock God. In attending ordinances, they make a show of respect to God By joining in prayer, in public adorations, confessions, petitions, and banksgivings, they make a show of high thoughts of God, and of humbling themselves before him; of sorrow for their sins, of thankful less for mercies, and of a desire of grace and assistance to obey and serve God. By attending upon the hearing of the word, they make a show of a teachable spirit, and of a readiness to practise according to the instructions given. By attending on the sacraments, they make a show of faith in Christ, of chusing bim for their portion, and of spiritually feeding upon him.
But by their actions they all the while declare the contrary. They declare, that they have no high esteem of God, but that they despise him in their hearts. They declare, that they are so far from repeating of, that they intend to continue in their sins. They declare, that they have no desire of that grace and ass stance to live in a holy manner for which they prayed, and that they had rather live wickedly: this is what they chuse, and for the present are resolved upon. They declare by their actions, that there is no truth in what they prétend in hearing the word preached, that they had a desire to know what the will of God is, that they might be directed in their duty; for
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they declare by their actions, that they desire not to do the will of God, and that they do not intend any such thing; but incend, on the contrary, to disobey himn; and that they prefer their carnal interests before his authority and glory.
They declare by their actions, that there is no truth in what they pretend in their attendance on the sacraments, that they desire to be fed with spiritual nourishment, and to be conformed and assimilated to Christ, and to have communion with him. They show by their practices, that they have no regard to Christ; and that they had rather have their lusts gratified, than to be fed with his spiritual food : They show, that they desire not any assimilation to Christ, but to be different from him, and of an opposite character to him: They show, that instead of desiring communion with Christ, they are his resolved and allowed enemies, wilfully acting the part of enemies to Christ, dishonouring him, and promoting the interest of Satan against him.
Now, what can this be else but mockery, to make a show of great respect, reverence, love, and obedience, and at the same time wilfully to declare the reverse in actions. bel or traitor should send addresses to his king, making a show of great loyalty and fidelity, and should all the while openly, and in the King's fight, carry on designs of dethroning him, how could his addresses be considered as any other than mockery? If a man should bow and kneel before his superior, and use many respectful terms to him, but at the same time should strike him, or spit in his face, would his bowing and his respectful terms be looked upon in any other light than as done in mockery? When the Jews kneeled before Christ, and said, Hail, King of the Jews, but at the same time spit in his face, and smote him upon the head with a reed ; could their kneeling and salutations be considered as any other than mockery?
Men who attend ordinances, and yet willingly live in wicked practices, treat Christ in the same manner that these Jews did. They come to public worship, and pretend to pray to him, to sing his praises, to sit and hear his word; they come to the sacrament, pretending to commemorate his death. Thus they kneel before him, and say, Hail, King of the Jews ; yet at the same time they live in ways of wickedness, which they know Christ hath forbidden, of which he hath declared the greatest hatred, and which are exceedingly to his dishonour. Thus they buffet him, and spit in his face. They do as Judas did, who came to Christ saying, Hail, Master, and kissed him,