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out of the ark. Altars were generally, if not always, in ancient times, made of earth or rough stones.
The tabernacle, which was set up in the wilderness, was sanctified, and we are informed particularly, of the offerings presented at the dedication. This tabernacle, made by Bezaleel, and Aholiab, though designed for temporary use, must have been very expensive; for it may be seen in the thirty-eighth chapter of Exodus, where the sum of the gold, and silver, employed about it, is given in talents, and shekels, that that sum alone, independently of all the other expenses, would build one hundred and thirty-five such houses as this in which we are now assembled.
The tabernacle having for many years accompanied the Hebrew camp, was established after the conquest of Canaan, first at Shiloh; then at Shechem; then at Nob: and then at Gibeon. This continued to be God's house until the temple was builded, and dedicated; a period of about five hundred years;
and then the ark, which had been connected with the tabernacle, was placed in the temple.
It was David's intention to build the temple, and he spoke of it to Nathan the prophet; but as he had been a man of war and had shed much blood, though the Lord approved of his intention, he reserved the work for the quiet reign of Solomon his son, and successor. David however made great preparation for the building, and was altogether satisfied to commit to other hands what he had intended to do himself.
The place appointed for this magnificent edifice was mount Moriah, where Abraham was commanded to offer up Isaac; and where Ornan, the Jebusite had his threshing floor.
When Solomon undertook the work he applied to Hiram, King of Tyre, for such materials as he needed, and for the assistance of his artisans. Hiram had been the friend of his father; and it is thought, that he was a worshipper of the true God. He readily granted whatever Solomon asked for, and sent him a man of his own name, skilful to work in every thing for which he might be needed.
The words now selected for consideration are taken from Solomon's communication to Hiram; and as they con
tain things of importance to us all, and things which relate to the occasion which has convened us, we may be profited by bestowing upon them some particular attention.
We are first to take notice of the object which Solomon had in view, as he in general terms, announces it. Behold I build an house to the name of the Lord my God. It was not to be a palace for him to dwell in; nor was it to be erected for the purpose of adding splendor to the city of his royal residence, and to his kingdom, but it was to be a house for religious worship. The manner in which he speaks of it will show us too, that he had definite ideas of religious worship, and did not think, that whatever may be so called, is entitled to that appellation. Idolatry was early introduced into the world, either before the flood or soon after; and in the days of Solomon, many idols, under different names, had their temples, and their worshippers. Indeed, with the exception of the Israelites, idolatry was then spread over all the nations of the earth.
Though Solomon, towards the close of his life, in consequence of his unjustifiable matrimonial connexions, went after Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Zidonians; and after Milcom, the abomination of the Ammonites, and though he builded an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem; and for Molech the abomination of the children of Ammon, and though hc did likewise for all his strange wives, which burnt incense, and sacrifices unto their gods; it is very evident, that in the early part of his reign, he regarded these lying vanities with suitable abhorrence; and, that he had no expectation, when he builded the temple of adding himself to the number of their stupid worshippers.
Though Solomon lived long before true religion was denominated christianity, he had, essentially, the same view of religion which christians have ever entertained; and worshipped God, under the same name of distinction; so, that we should do him injustice were we to suppose, that keeping aloof from the gods of the earth, he recognized but one God, having however no clear, and definite, ideas, concerning his name, and concerning what constitutes his character.
Christ is frequently called Lord, and Solomon seems so to have understood it; for otherwise, he probably would not have mentioned Lord in connexion with God, but would have expressed his whole meaning by saying, I build a house to the name of my God.
Trinity is not a scriptural term, but it represents God as he is represented, very clearly in the New Testament; and not very obscurely, in the Old. When the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters; and when God had created the heavens, and the earth; or this world and the various animals, and things belonging to it, and connected with it, to complete the wonderful work he said, Let us make man in our image; after our likeness. It is obvious that this language can be intelligible only in one way of interpreting it. We may, with great propriety ask in this case, With whom took he counsel?
Christ said to the Jews, Your father Abraham rejoiced to sce my day, and he saw it and was glad. Who but the Son of God farther, could he be who frequently appeared in ancient times, under the name of the angel of the Lord? In the second psalm it is written, Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little; blessed are all they that put their trust in him. What son, but the Son of God, has power to kill, and to make alive? Whether Agur, the son of Jakeh, was Solomon or not, we learn something very interesting from his words in relation to this matter. Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended; who hath gathered the wind in his fists; who hath bound the waters in a garment; who hath established all the ends of the earth, what is his name; and what is his Son's name, if thou canst tell? Is not this pas sage exactly parallel with the following, No man, or no one knoweth who the Son is, but the Father, and who the Father is but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. Is it not the obvious meaning of both these passages, that there is in the Godhead, Father, and Son; and, that both are alike incomprehensible!
In the scriptures of the Old Testament which have been quoted, we have mention made of God; of the Son of God; and of the Spirit of God; and is not this a distinct exhibition of God the Father, God the Son; and God the Holy Spirit? It was therefore, to the name of this God; or to God under this name, sustaining this mysterious character, that Solomon intended to build his house.
This was in exact conformity to the instruction which David gave him, a little before his death, in his last solemn communication upon the subject of building the temple. And thou Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father; and serve him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind; for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts; if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever.
Solomon would readily understand who the God of his father was; or what ideas his father had of God, both from his conversation upon the subject, and from his psalms. Nothing can be more explicit than the hundred and tenth psalm, the first verse of which is as follows: The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
That difference in sentiment which now exists relative to the character of God, may be traced back, in the sacred history, to a very early period. Korah and his company of two hundred and fifty princes, said to Moses, and Aaron, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. If all the congregation of Israel were holy, all mankind must be holy too; and must not they who concluded this to be the case, suppose a Savior to be altogether unnecessary? Was there then not a wide difference between the opinion entertained by Moses, and Aaron, and that which was advanced by Korah, and his company? I will mention but one instance more. Cain, and Abel, brought each one an offering unto the Lord. Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock, a slain sacrifice, evidencing his faith in the blood of the atonement; but Cain brought only of the fruits of the ground, presumptuously disregarding the method
which God had prescribed for sinners in their approaches to him, and showing, that his dependance was upon the merit of his own offering, and not upon that sacrifice of which all other sacrifices were but typical representations.
Unless the meaning of Solomon be misapprehended, another idea is conveyed in his communication. However far he might be removed from idolatry, and from heresy he could not, with propriety, have said, Behold I build an house to the name of the Lord my God, unless he had considered himself to be one of God's people. Though his strange departure from the path of duty in the latter part of his life has furnished occasion for the enemies of religion to speak reproachfully of his character, the evidence stands recorded upon the pages of eternal truth, that he was a subject of grace, a child of God. His two names, Solomon, and Jedidiah, are both descriptive; the former signifying peaceable; and the latter beloved of the Lord. As neither of these names would have been applicable to him, had he been an unrenewed sinner; and as it is expressly declared, that the Lord loved him, and, that he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet, and called his name Jedidiah; and as his writings occupy a place in the sacred canon, the proof is irresistible that he belonged to the family of God.
We are next to consider, that this house which Solomon was about to build to the Lord his God, was to be dedicated to him. Dwelling houses, among the Israelites, at least in ancient times, were dedicated; and though this laudable practice has not been generally followed by other people, the dedication of the ark, and, of the temple, probably originated the practice of dedicating houses of public worship, in all ages, and in all countries, where the true God has been known, and adored. An house that is dedicated to God as his habitation, and for an assembly to worship in, is to be viewed as exclusively devoted to this purpose.
When Christ was upon earth, he found the temple converted to a very different use from that for which it was designed; a part being turned into a market for different kinds of animals, particularly oxen, sheep and doves, and a part being occupied by money changers, or, as we should call them, brokers, who had their tables, and whatever other ap