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Ixxx. 1. The cherubim formed, as it were, the retinue or attendants of the God and King of Israel. While he dwelt in Zion, they were stationary; but now he was about to depart from his abode, and therefore his retinue are represented as in a moveable position, connected with a kind of wheel chariot, or moveable vehicle. This accords with the glory of God departing from the temple, and standing upon the threshold. Ezek. X. 4. This also would render the exclamation, ‘Oh wheel,' very affecting, as the sight of a chariot ready to take away your dearest friend. Chap. x. 13.
4. With respect to this retinue, perhaps it may be interpreted by a reference to the living creatures' in the Revelation, who, as we have noticed, appear to be redeemed men. Who then amongst men were the attendants of God? The priests and prophets under the old testament, and evangelical ministers under the new. By the living creatures' therefore in Ezekiel, may be understood those servants of God who attended him in that day, of which the cherubims in the temple were emblematical; and by those of John, the ministers of the gospel who attended him under that dispensation, and took the lead in the worship and progress of the church.
The stationary situation of the cherubim in the temple, might afford a constant lesson to the servants of God. Their figure and position would point out to them their duty. And the appearance of them to Isaiah and Ezekiel in vision, would impress them with a lively sense of the importance of that office they were going to assume.
Perhaps, after all, the retinue of the God and King of Israel included not only the priests and prophets, but the holy angels. The seraphim in Isaiah's vision seems most easily applied to them; and in allusion to the stooping posture of the cherubim over the ark and mercyseat in the temple, the angels are said to look into' the things of the gospel. 1 Pet. i. 12.
Remarks on Public Collections
BUILDING PLACES OF WORSHIP.
Written in 1795.
It may not be amiss to communicate some thoughts, which, I apprehend, may serve to prevent a too common grievance. I mean, that of [public] collections for repairing and building places of religious worship, among the three denominations of Protestant Dissenters. To me it has been a grievance for some years past, the number of applications has been so great; as I feel a pain in refusing to countenance them, and am hurt at treating any of my brethren with coolness and indifference.
The expenses of some edifices have been surprising, from one to two thousand pounds. The plea has been this: We had a large congregation, but they were all poor, and we were forced to have a spacious building. As to repairs, the reason assigned is, They came to much more than we apprehended, by some scores of pounds; but we judged it best to do the business effectually, and to subscribe what we could ; then we concluded, we could easily collect the rest among the churches. Ano. ther plea has been, Our salary for the minister was but small, and we resolved on the attempt to build him a parsonage house; and though we could do but little towards it ourselves, we did not doubt but we could raise the sum among other congregations.
Far be it from me to do any thing to injure or obstruct that spirit of liberality which prevails among my brethren: I only wish to prevent the abuse of it. Permit me then to ask the following questions
1. Ought not congregations to be contented with places of worship suited to their circumstances ? I remember in my young time to have worshipped for many years in a barn, that was fitted up for the purpose; and I believe there was as much of truth, fervour and edification, as is to be found now in many pompous temples.
2. Is there not often more zeal exercised about the outward building, to gratify a popular taste, and appear with a sort of secular grandeur to the world, than there is manifested to enlarge, beautify, and build up that truly spiritual edifice, the church of God.
3. If professors have a proper regard for real christianity, personal and social, they will not be at a loss for a place to assemble in, to observe the laws of Christ. When this was the case in the first age, and the greatest part of the second, do we read of any such thing as collections for building houses of public worship? They had no stately temples ; their collections were only for their poor brethren, and the expenses of several of theirsocieties.
4. Is there not oftentimes as much money spent by our modern collectors, in travelling from town to town, as would provide a decent place of worship for most of our congregations ?
5. Are the monies thus collected, always invested in hands which the majority of the society most approve ? I am misinformed, if this be universally the case.
6. Would it not be better to confine these collections to districts, where the state and circumstances of the congregation are known ?....
7. Should not ministers and respectable persons be very careful in signing recommendations of petitions, when they are not well acquainted with the particulars of the case ?
I have known this to be too often done, in order to get rid of the petitioners, and send them off to another congregation.
The subject appears to me in such a point of view, that
I must for the future decline attending to applications of this sort, unless some one should convince me that I have mistaken it. But I must assure you, that I would never wish to discourage, in myself or others, any kind of liberality that might in any way conduce to promote the real cause of Christ; for I think it my greatest honour to endeavour to sustain the character of a disciple of Christ, both in word and deed; and the deed of generous liberality is, I apprehend, its distinguishing property and glory.
DOCTRINE OF IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS.
This is the name wherewith She shall be called, The Lord our righteousuess, Jer. xxxiii. 16.
It may seem too much for the church of Christ to bear a name which is properly applicable only to Christ himself, and is expressly given to him in chap. xxiii. 6, of the same prophecy. Interpreters have attempted to account for this in different ways. Some have rendered the words, · And this is the name of Him that shall call her, as we should say, by his grace, 'The Lord our righteousness. But the words clearly import an appellation given to the church. Others have supposed the church to be called after the name of Christ, on account of her intimate union with him, as a woman is called after the name of her husband, But this is a modern practice, to which therefore there can be no allusion,
The name in the Hebrew is Jehovah-tsidkenu ; and if I am not mistaken, the use of several other of these compound terms in the old testament will determine the meaning of the passage in question. When Abraham was about to offer up his son, in the very moment of extremity his hand was stayed, and a lamb was provided. Abraham, in commemoration of this signal interposition, called the name of the place Jehovah-jireh, the Lord will see or provide. When God gave Israel the victory over Amalek, Moses built an altar, and called it Jehovah-nissi, the Lord my banner. When Gideon, having seen an angel of God, was apprehensive that he should die, and the Lord comforted him, saying, Peace be unto thee, fear not; he built an altar, and called it Jehovah-shalom, the Lord send peace. Finally, when the church in the latter day, under the form of a city, is described in prophecy, it is said that its name shall be called Jehovah-shammah, the Lord is there.* Now the place where Abraham received the lamb was not Jehovah, nor either of the altars erected by Moses and Gideon. They were only memorials of what Jehovah had wrought. Neither will the city, described by Ezekiel, be Jehovah; but the presence of Jehovah shall be so sensibly and manifestly with it, that this shall be its name, or distinguishing character. Thus it is that the church, under the gospel dispensation, shall be called Jehovah-tsidkenu, the Lord our righteousness ; not because she is Jehovah, but because her justification, by the righteousness of Jehovah, forms a kind of prominent feature in her countenance. This leading truth is inscribed upon her in deep and legible characters, like those upon the altars of Moses and Gideon. She is even a standing memorial of it to all generations. - Such, I take it, is the meaning of this prophecy. Let us next enquire whether it accords with fact. If there be a leading principle which distinguishes the gospel church more than any other, it may be expected to occupy a conspicuous place in the new testament. It is true, the oldtestament church was accepted of God through the same medium that we are ; but the righteousness of Jesus not being actually wrought, it does not form so prominent a feature in that dispensation. As soon as our Lord entered