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Nor is this a doubtful, but a clear acknowledged privilege
[Ignorant people may doubt "whether there be any Holy Ghost:" but true Christians know him, and know themselves to be his habitation. St. Paul appealed to the Corinthians respecting this, not imagining that any one of them could entertain a doubt of it. They must have read of it in the Jewish scriptures:d often too must they have heard it from him: nor could they fail of knowing it from their own experience. If for an instant they reflected on the light, the strength, the consolations with which they had been favoured, they could not but ascribe them to the agency of God's spirit; and consequently they must be conscious of his dwelling in them as in his temple. Believers at this day have certainly not less grounds for drawing the same inference with respect to themselves; and therefore they may, and ought to know, that they are in the actual enjoyment of this privilege.]
But as this privilege is attended both with duties and dangers, let us consider
II. The declaration founded upon it
God denounces the heaviest judgments against those who abuse this privilege
[He would not suffer any unclean person to enter into his temple of old, however free he might be from moral pollution, or however ignorantly he might have contracted his ceremonial defilement. These ordinances were intended to shew that sin of any kind, and much more such as now prevailed among the Christians at Corinth, was extremely hateful in his sight: such purity does he require in all that come nigh unto him. Doubtless there are errors both in faith and practice, which, though injurious to his people's happiness, will not destroy the relation that subsists between him and them: but, if they be of such a kind as to affect the foundation of the Christian's hope, or greatly to dishonour the superstructure, they will surely bring down the divine judgments on all who harbour them."]
This denunciation is even founded on the privilege itself
[Why was God so jealous of the honour of his temple, but because it was his immediate residence? the more inti
Acts xix. 2. f Ver. 15.
d Isaiah lxvi. 1, 2.
e Numb. xix 13.
Deeper, must import such a degree of defilement as has a tendency to destroy; because the destruction menaced is also expressed by the word lepet.
mately it was connected with him, the more was he himself dishonoured by any pollutions introduced into it. Thus we also, instead of having any reason to hope for impunity on account of our relation to him, are taught to expect rather the heavier indignation, if we provoke the eyes of his glory.i] IMPROVEMENT
1. Let us seek to possess this great privilege
[As to be visited by an earthly monarch would be a higher honour than to be admitted into his palace, so to have God dwelling in our hearts on earth is even a higher honour than to be admitted into his temple above. Shall we not then be solicitous to obtain it? when God has designed that we should even know ourselves possessed of it, and enjoy all the happiness arising from it, shall we treat it with contempt, as a mere phantom of a heated imagination? Let us open wide the doors of our hearts, that the King of glory may enter in.*]
2. Let us be careful lest we abuse this privilege
[Doctrines arising from human systems, even though they be true in themselves, must never be pressed into the service of sin, or be brought to enervate the force of declarations, which, though apparently opposite, are equally clear and true. If some truths are revealed for the confirming of our stability, others are intended to create within us a holy jealousy. Instead therefore of attempting to invalidate the declaration before us, let us flee from those defilements which alone can make it formidable. Let us maintain that purity of heart which God requires, and study to "be holy as God is holy." This was the Apostle's most ardent wish for his converts;" and it should be the one continued object of our ambition."]
¡ Amos iii. 2.
1 Thess. v. 25.
k Ps. xxiv. 7.
Rev. ii. 5, 16.
CCCXCVII. THE DANGER OF WILFUL AND OBSTINATE DISOBEDIENCE.
Exod. xxiii. 20-22. Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not: for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. But, if thou shalt indeed obey his
voice, and do all that I speak, then will I be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.
IT is but too common for men to cast the blame of their own negligence on God
But they who labour so much to exculpate themselves now, will one day be silent
And God will finally be justified in every sentence that he shall pass
His kindness to the church of old may shew us what his conduct is towards us
And they who are thus guided, warned, and encouraged, must, if they perish, ascribe their condemnation to themselves alone
The words before us contain
I. The work and office of Christ
Christ is here called an angel or messenger
[He is often called by this name in the holy scriptures Nor does he disdain to assume it himselfb
In his essential nature indeed he is equal with the FatherBut in his mediatorial capacity he sustains the office of a servant-]
As the angel of the covenant, he leads and keeps his people
[He is represented as a leader and commander, like Joshua his type—
He went before them in the wilderness in the pillar and the cloud
And still, though invisibly, guides them in their way to heavend]
Nor does he leave them till he brings them safely to glory
[He did not forsake the Israelites, till he had accomplished all his promises
Having" prepared the land for them," he preserved them for it
He is the angel that was in the pillar and the cloud, Exod. xiv. 19. That angel was Jehovah, Exod. xiii. 21. That Jehovah was Christ, 1 Cor. x. 9. See also Mal. iii. 1.
6 John xii. 49.
c Isaiah lv. 4.
a Ps. xxv. 9. and xxxii. 8.
Thus has he "prepared mansions for us" also And will surely bring us to the full possession of then 18-] But as this office of Christ implies a correspondent duty in us, God suggests
II. A caution against neglecting him
We are much in danger of displeasing him
[As our guide, he expects implicit obedienceNor can we rebel against him without "provoking" his indignationh
Hence we need continual circumspection'-]
The consequence of displeasing him will be very tarrible
[Doubtless to penitents he is full of mercy and compas-,
But to impenitent offenders he will manifest his wrathk Nor will he suffer any to continue in their sins with impunity!-]
His power and dignity are a certain pledge to us that he will avenge the insults that are offered him
[By "the name of God" we understand not his authority only, but his very nature
And this union with the Father is a pledge to us, that he will act as becomes the divine character
Nor will any consideration of mercy ever tempt him again to sacrifice the honour of the Deity to the interest of man-]
It is not however by terror only that God would persuade us; for he adds
III. An encouragement to obey him
Obedience is in some sense the condition of God's
[We know that there is nothing meritorious in man's obedience
Yet is there an inseparable connexion between that and the divine favour
Nor is it a partial obedience only that he requires at our hands
It must be earnest, unwearied, uniform, and unreserved-]
f John xiv. 2. i Ver. 13.
John xiv. 10, 11. and x. 30.
g 1 Pet. i. 4, 5.
Isaiah Ixiii. 10.
And to those who yield him this obedience he will shew himself an active friend, and an almighty protector [His favour consists not in a mere inactive complacencyIt will manifest itself in a constant and powerful interposition on their behalf"—
He will not fail to secure them the victory over all eir enemies-]
1. Those who disregard the voice of this divine messenger
[From what is spoken of his mercy you are ready to think him destitute of justice
And from the depth of his condescension you conclude he will not vindicate his own honour
But where God most fully proclaims his mercy he declares his justice also°—
Make not him then your enemy who came from heaven to save you
Consider what means he has used to guide you to the pro
what great things he would do for you, if you
what certain and terrible destruction your rejection
2. Those, who though they submit to his government, are doubtful of success
[The Israelites, notwithstanding all the miracles they had seen, were afraid they should not finally attain the object of their desires
Thus amongst ourselves, many tremble lest their expectations should never be realized
But is not God able to beat down your enemies before you?
Or will he forget the promise he has so often renewed?If he be incensed against you, it is not owing to unfaithfulness in him, but to instability in you
Only be vigilant to obey his will, and to follow him fully And you need not doubt but that he will preserve you unto his heavenly kingdom"-]
¤ 2 Chron. xxxii. 8. Isaiaħ xlix. 25. Heb. xii. 25.
a Jer. ii. 17.
• Exod. xxxiv. 7.
2 Tim. iv. 18.