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These offerings, which God required of his cho sen people, constituted the meat of his house, and were emblematical of those provisions of a spiritual nature, provided for all people in the gospel of divine favour. They figured forth, in a most striking manner, the doctrine of grace of which Jesus spake, as recorded in the 6th of John, where he says; “I am the bread of life. This is that bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever : and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Whosoever eateth my flesh, and drinketh my.blood, hath eternal life ; and i will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” All this, the Saviour explains in the following words; “It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” That is, the doctrine which Jesus preached is the soul's spiritual meat; it is eternal life; it is the life of the world.
As the tithes under the law, which were brought into the house of the Lord, and there eaten before the Lord, were the natural life of those who ate them, as they constituted their flesh and blood, and were the aliment necessary to their support, they were bright emblems of those moral and divine principles revealed through the Saviour, which constitute the spiritual life of the soul, and are the necessary aliment by which it is quickened, and by which it lives. And as those tithes were brought into the house of the Lord, where God chose to put his name, it shows us that nothing but the living bread of life, the pure doctrine of eternal life should ever be brought into our christian worsh or into the house of prayer, which is dedicated to the name of the living God. And as those tithes were eaten in the house of the Lord, by those who of fered them, and by their families, we are instruct
ed, that in our christian devotion we are to offer no principles, no doctrine, no sentiments which we cannot feed upon ourselves, or on which our households cannot feed and be nourished. And furthermore, as those tithes were to be eaten with rejoicing, we are reminded that no doctrine which issues in mourning and sorrow, should ever defile the house dedicated to christian devotion.
Preceding our text, God complains of the house of Israel, as follows; “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation." But we are not to conclude that there were no offerings ; for this prophet in chapter 1st, accuses the priests of offering polluted bread, of offering the blind, the lame, and the sick; and says to them; "offer it now unto thy governor: will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person ? saith the Lord of hosts.”
My brethren, as the priests under the legal dispensation robbed God, by withholding the tithes and offerings which were required; and as they polluted his altars with meat which was unsavory, so the priesthood under the gospel dispensation, have robbed God of those spiritual tithes and of. ferings which the law of Christ requires, and they have polluted the table of the christian sanctuary with unwholesome meat ; such as they cannot eat themselves, such as no one can eat with rejoicing, and such, of which if a man eat he must die. Therefore, in our future inquiries on this subject, on this interesting occasion, we shall,
1st. Examine the meat which has been offered in the sanctuary of christian devotion, and en deavour to show that, in some instances at least, it isnot the true spiritual tithes which Christ requires.
2. We shall attempt to bring forward the true and living bread, that there may be meat in the house of the Lord, and give some true tokens that
we are not deceived in the bread which we place on the table of the Lord. And,
3. By proving God herewith we shall, if we make no mistake, see the windows of heaven open,
and a blessing poured out until there be not room ihm enough to receive it.
By proposing this method your humble servant would, by no means, wish to indicate a satisfaction in finding fault with the religious sentiments, which have been long venerated in the christian church, farless in pursuing the inquiry would he manifest an invidious spirit towards those whom he may view to be in error. The devout and fervent desires of his soul are, faithfully to pursue the path pointed out by the great apostle and high priest of the. christian dispensation, and cautiously to keep his feet in the bright and shining way, in which the captain of our salvation walked in the days of his flesh. It was not because the blessed Saviour took a pleasure in exposing the errors of the superstitious scribes, pharisees, and doctors, that he 50 faithfully pointed them out to the people, but like a faithful and skilful surgeon, who probes the rankled wound, he directed his quick and powerful word in a way to search the most covered recesses of the heart, that the cure might be effectual, and place the patient beyond the reach of danger. With feelings then of the warmest charity towards all men, let us, without the least hesitation, enter the sanctuary of christian devotion, let us inspect with a holy jealousy, the corn, the oil, and the wine which our doctors of divinity have placed on the table of the Lord, and if the unclean be found there, though the hand of a father, or a brother have thus polluted the altar of our God, or although we ourselves have brought the vain oblation, let us in the name and spirit of Christ purge our Father's house.
That religious sentiment which represents that an unalterable decree existed in the mind of the divine Being, from all eternity, pursuant to which
a large portion of the human family were doomed to endless misery, even before creation, is the first Particular which is proposed for examination. It is not necessaray to state this article in the words in which it stands in the creed of the church, nor is it expedient to notice any of the methods by which it has been defined or defended; it being a fact of general notoriety, that this sentiment is an essential article of the christian faith and doctrine, according to what has for ages been esteemed sound orthodoxy ; it belongs to our present inquiry to examine it in relation to any divine evidence by which it is supported. Or to indulge in the figurative language of our text, we may ask what this sentiment is the tithe of.
The hearer will carefully recollect that God re quired no tithes but of the blessings and bounties of his providence, with which he had enriched his people. When the tithe of corn, oil, or wine was brought into the house of God, it was there presented before the Lord as a perfect, a fair sample of what God in his divine goodness had bestowed. The question now before us is, what has our heav. enly Father bestowed on our christian clergy and doctors, the tithes of which is this doctrine of partial election to everlasting life, and the reprobation of countless millions to a state of endless woe. The fruits of the spiritual land of promise are enumerated by a faithful scribe, and are the following: “Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” If we truly tithe these heavenly fruits shall we find this doctrine of election, which we have described ? Let us begin with love. But caution is here necessary, Does the gospel of Christ require that we love all men, or only a part ? Answer, " It hath been said unto you, by them of old time, thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy; but I say unto you, love your enemies, pray for them that hate you, and do good to them that persecute you, that you may be the children of your Father which is
in heaven ; who maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth his rain upon the just and upon the unjust.” Here carefully observe that the Saviour requires the tithe of that same love which our heavenly Father has bestowed on us, and does, most impartially exercise towards all men. If we could ask every individual who loves all men, whether that love which exercises his affections dictates a single desire for the endless misery of any of the human family, is there one who would answer in the affirmative? Is there a real Christian on earth or in heaven, who can say, that the love of God constrains him to choose some of Adam's posterity to enjoy with him, his Saviour, his heaven and his God, and others to welter in torment world without end ?
No, my Christian friends, there is not such a Christian in the world. Therefore this sentiment now under examination is not the tithe of the fruit of the love of God.
in the next place we may examine the inestimable fruit of the spirit, which the apostle places next to that of love. This is joy. Will any, whose heart has been made to rejoice in God, and to joy in the God of their salvation say, that they rejoice in the belief that millions of their fellow creatures are doomed to everlasting torment beyond the shades of mortality ? Remember, it was strictly required under the law, and the law was a shadow of good things to come, that the tithes should be eaten with rejoicing. But has this doctrine, under examination, ever been feasted on with joy and gladness? Would it not be mockery worse than the captive sons of Israel endured, when by the dark waters of Babylon, their enemies asked of them the mirthful songs of Zion, to insist that Christian people should rejoice in the doctrine of endless torment ?
Look ye, my dear friends, contemplate parents and children in the house of the Lord, eating the tithe-offering and all rejoicing together in the good