« PreviousContinue »
A WARNING TO PROFESSORS OF RELIGION : OR THE
GREAT GUILT OF THOSE WHO ATTEND ON THE ORDINANCES OF DIVINE WORSHIP, AND YET ALLOW THEMSELVES IN ANY KNOWN WICKEDNESS.
Ezek. xxiii. 37, 38, 39.
That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands;
And with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire to devour them. Moreover, this they have done unto me: they hrve defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my Sabbaths. For when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same day into my sauctuary to profane it; and, lo! thus have they done in the midst of mine house.
SAMARIA and Jerusalem, or Israel and Judah, are here represented by two women, Abolah and Aholibah; and their idola. try and treachery towards their covenant God is represented by the adultery of these women. They forsook God, who was their husband, and the guide of their youth, and prostituted themselves to others. The baseness of Aholah and Aholibah towards God, their husband, is here pointed out by two things, viz. adultery and bloodshed: They have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands.
1. They committed adultery with other lovers, viz. with their idols : With their idols have they committed adultery.
2. They not only committed adultery, but they took their children, that they bore to God, and killed them for their lovers. Their hearts were quite alienated from God, their busband, and
* This Tract is the substance of two posthumous discourses on this text, first printed at Edinb., 1788.
they were so bewitched with lust after those other lovers, that they took their own children, whom they had by their busband, and put them to cruel deaths, to make a feast with them for their lovers ; as it is said in ver. 37. 66 And have also caused my sons whoin they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire to devour thein."
But here is a twofold wickedness of those actions of theirs held forth to us in the words. (1.) The wickedness of them considered in themselves; for who can express the horrid baseness of this their treatment of God, their husband ? (2.) An additional wickedness, resulting from the joining of these actions with sacred things. Beside the monstrous wickedness of these actions in themselves considered, there was this which exceedingly increased the guilt, that on the same day they came into God's sanctuary, or that they lived in such wickedness at the same time that they came and attended the holy ordinances of God's house, pretending to worship and adore him, whom they all the while treated in such a horrid manner; and so herein defiled and profaned holy things ; as in verses 38 and 39. “ Moreover, this have they done unto me; they have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my Sabbaths. For when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same day into my sanctuary, to profane it; and, lo! thus have they done in the midst of mine house."
Doctrine.—When they that attend ordinances of divine worship allow themselves in knowo wickedness, they are guilty of dreadfully profaning and polluting those ordinances,
By a divine ordinance, when the expression is used in its greatest latitude, is meant any thing of divine institution or appointment. Thus we call marriage a divine ordinance, because it was appointed by God. So civil government is called an ordinance of God: Rom. xiii. 1, 2. “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers; for there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God."
But the word is more commonly used only for an instituted or appointed way or mean of worship. So the sacraments are ordinances; so public prayer, singing of praise, the preaching of the word, and the hearing of the word preached, are divine ordinances. The setting apart of certain officers in the church, the appointed ways of discipline, public confession of scandals, admonition, and e communication, are ordinances.
These are called the ordinances of God's house, or of public worship ; and these are intended in the doctrine ; it is the 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," saith God. This doctrine 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 come and attend on the ordina ces 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 innmediately on him for spiritual good, as in hearing the word; or in both applying to God and receiving from him, as in the sarraments. 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 meet 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 exhibited and represented. In the preaching of the word, holy doctrines and the divine will are exbibited; in the sacraments, Christ Jesus and his 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 holy. The immediate end is to glorify God. They are instituted to direct us in the holy exercises of faith and love, divine fear and reverence, submission, thankfulness, holy joy and sorrow, holy desires, resolutions, and hopes. True worship consists in these holy and spiritual exercises ; and as these divine ordinances are the ordinances of worship, they are to help us, and to direct us in 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 Christ's own appointment; and be appointed, as he had received of the Father: John xii. 49. “I have not spoken of myself, but the Father which sent me, he
gave me commandinent whai 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 holy use; and it is God who, by bis 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 authorized ministers, they speak in God's name, 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, 1 Pet. iv. 11; and he is to be heard as one re. presenting Christ.
So in adıninistering 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 Christ, 2 Cor. ii. 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 profaned 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 cominemorate 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 che temple of God, and those sacred ordinances on which they attend. The truth of this proposition appears by the following considerations.
1. By attending ordinances, and yet living in allowed wickedness, they show great irreverence 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 a 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 allowed these ordinances. They show a contempt of that divine authority which instituted them. They show a horribly irreverent spirit towards that God into whose presence they come, and with whom they imm :diately 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 purer 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 abominable they come into his presence.
It shows horrid irreverence 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 had any reverence of God, and holy things, an approach into his presence, and an attendance on those holy things, would leave that awe upon their minds, that 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 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 Vol. VI.