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as it is God's throne, Matt, ami jesty and he is a temple
2. In this temple, this sanctuary, the Lord Christ contithe discharge of his office. See Heb. iv. 14-16. ix. 24. nueth gloriously to minister before the throne of grace, in As the high-priest went into the holy place to minister for the church unto God, before the ark and mercy-seat, which were types of the throne of grace; so doth our high-priest act for us in the real presence of God. He did not enter the holy place only to reside there in a way of glory, but to do temple-work, and to give unto God all that glory, honour, and worship, which he will receive from the church. And we may consider, both
(1.) What this work is, and
[1.] In general ; herein Christ exerteth and exerciseth all his love, compassion, pity, and care towards the church, and every member of it. This are we frequently called unto the consideration of, as the foundation of all our consolation, as the fountain of all our obedience. See Heb. ii. 17, 18. iv. 15, 16. v.2. Thoughts hereof are the relief of believers in all their distresses and temptations; and the effects of it, are all their supplies of grace, enabling them to persevere in their obedience. He doth appear for them as the great representative of the church to transact all their affairs with God. And that for three ends.
1st. To make effectual the atonement that he hath made
for sin. By the continual representation of it, and of himself as a ‘lamb that had been slain,' he procures the application of the virtues and benefits of it in reconciliation and peace with God, unto their souls and consciences. Hence are all believers sprinkled and washed with his blood in all generations; in the application of the virtues of it unto them, as shed for them.
2dly. To undertake their protection, and to plead their cause against all the accusations of Satan. He yet accuseth and chargeth them before God. But Christ is their advocate at the throne of grace, effectually frustrating all his attempts ; Rev. xii. 10. Zech. iii. 2.
3dly. To intercede for them; as unto the communica. tion of all grace and glory, all supplies of the Spirit, the accomplishment of all the promises of the covenant towards them, 1 John ï. 1, 2. This is the work of Christ in heaven. In these things, as the high-priest of the church, doth he continue to administer his mediatory office on their behalf. And herein is he attended with the songs and joyful acclamations of all the holy ones that are in the presence of God, giving glory to God by him.
(2.) As unto the manner of this glorious administration, sundry things are to be considered.
[1.] That this transaction of things in heaven, being in the temple of God, and before the throne of grace, is a solemn instituted worship at present, which shall cease at the end of the world. Religious worship it is; or that wherein and whereby all the saints above do give glory to God. And it is instituted worship, not that which is merely natural, in that it is God's especial appointment in and by Christ the Mediator. It is a church state which is constituted hereby, wherein these glorious ordinances are celebrated; and such a state as shall not be eternal, but hath its time allotted unto it. And believers at present, have, by faith, an admission into communion with this church above, in all its divine worship. For we are come unto mount Sion; and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things than that of Abel;' Heb. xii. 22–24. A church state doth the apostle most expressly represent unto us. It is Sion, Jerusalem, the great assembly: the names of the church-state under the Old Testament. And it is a state above, the heavenly Jerusalem, where are all the holy angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect; in themselves, though not in their state as to the restitution of their bodies at the resurrection. And a holy worship is there in this great assembly. For not only is Jesus in it as the Mediator of the covenant; but there is the blood of sprinkling' also, in the effectual application of it unto the church. Hereinto have we an entrance. In this holy assembly and worship have we communion by faith whilst we are here below; Heb. x, 19–22. O that my soul might abide and abound in this exercise of faith : that I might yet enjoy a clearer prospect of this glory, and inspection into the beauty and order of this blessed assembly. How inconceivable is the representation that God here makes of the glory of his wisdom, love, grace, goodness, and mercy, in Christ? How excellent is the manifestation of the glory and honour of Christ in his person and offices, the glory given him by the Father ? How little a portion do we know, or can have experience in, of the refreshing, satiating communications of divine love and goodness, unto all the members of this assembly; or of that unchangeable delight in beholding the glory of Christ, and of God in him; of that ardency of affections wherewith they cleave unto him, and continual exultation of spirit, whereby they triumph in the praises of God, that are in all the members of it? To enter into this assembly by faith, to join with it in the assignation of praises unto him that sits on the throne, and to the lamb for evermore,' to labour after a frame of heart in holy affections, and spiritual delight, in some correspondency with that which is in the saints above, is the duty, and ought to be the design, of the church of believers here below. So much as we are farthered and assisted herein by our present ordinances, so much benefit and advantage have we by them, and no more. A constant view of this glory, will
cast contempt on all the desirable things of this world, and deliver our minds from any dreadful apprehensions of what is most terrible therein.
[2.] This heavenly worship in the sanctuary above, administered by the high-priest over the house of God, is conspicuously glorious. The glory of God is the great end of it, as shall be immediately declared; that is, the manifestation of it. The manifestation of the glory of God consists really in the effects of his infinite wisdom, goodness, grace, and power; declaratively in the express acknowledgment of it with praise. Herein, therefore, doth the solemn worship of God, in the sanctuary above consist; setting aside only the immediate actings of Christ in his intercession. It is a glorious express acknowledgment of the wisdom, love, goodness, grace, and power of God, in the redemption, sanctification, and salvation of the church by Jesus Christ, with a continual ascription of all divine honour unto him in the way of praise. For the manner of its performance, our present light into it, is but dark and obscure. Some things have an evidence in them. As,
1st. That there is nothing carnal in it, or such things as are suited unto the fancies and imaginations of men. In the thoughts of heaven, most persons are apt to frame images in their minds of such carnal things as they suppose they could be delighted withal. But they are far remote from the worship of this holy assembly. The worship of the gospel, which is spiritually glorious, makes a nearer approach unto it, than that of the temple, which was outwardly and carnally so.
2dly. It is not merely mental; or transacted only in the silent thoughts of each individual person. For, as we have shewed, it is the worship of a church assembly wherein they have all communion, and join in the performance of it. We know not well the way and mannner of communication between angels and the spirits of just men made perfect. It is expressed in the Scripture by voices, postures and gestures; which although they are not of the same nature as absolutely ours are, yet are they really significant of the things they would express, and a means of mutual communication. Yea I know not how far God may give them the use of voice and words, whereby to express his praise, as Moses talked with Christ, at his transfiguration; Matt. xvii. 3. But the manner of it is such, as whereby the whole assembly above do jointly set forth and celebrate the praises of God. And the glory hereof consisteth in three things.
[1.] The blessed and beautiful order of all things in that sanctuary. Job describes the grave beneath to be a place without any order, and where the light is as darkness,' chap. x. 22. All above is order and light; every person and thing in its proper place and exercise.
1st. Heaven itself is a temple, a sanctuary, made so by the especial presence of God, and the ministration of Christ in the tabernacle of his human nature.
2dly. God is on the throne of grace; gloriously exalted on the account of his grace, and for the dispensation of it. To the saints above, he is on the throne of grace, in that they are in the full enjoyment of the effects of his grace, and do give glory unto him on the account thereof. He is so also with respect unto the church here below, in the continual communications of grace and mercy through Christ.
. 3dly. The Lord Christ, in his human nature, is before the throne, acting his mediatory office and power in behalf of the church.
4thly. All the holy angels in the various orders and degrees of their ministration, are about the throne continually. So,
5thly. Are the Spirits of just men made perfect, in the various measures of light and glory. And these things were obscurely represented in the order of the church at its first erection in the wilderness; for the ordinances of God among them were patterns or figures of heavenly things; Heb.ix. 23. (lst.) In the midst was the tabernacle or sanctuary which represented the sanctuary or temple above. (2dly.) In the most holy place, were the ark and mercy-seat representatives of the throne of grace. (3dly.) The ministry of the high-priest, a type of the ministry of Christ. (4thly.) The Levites who attended on the priest, did represent the ministry of angels, attending on Christ in the discharge of his office. And, (5thly.) round about them were the tribes in their order.
[2.] In the full, clear apprehensions which all the blessed ones have of the glory of God in Christ, of the work and