Master Sermon List
Attendance in Places of Religious Worship Encouraged
by John Gill
Exodus 20:24: "In all places, where I record my name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee."
THIS chapter begins with an account of the giving of the law of the Decalogue, or ten commands, on mount Sinai, to the children of Israel. A very compendious system of morality this, and was peculiarly calculated for that people; as the preface to it shows, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the laud of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; Thou shalt have no other God, and was admirably adapted to their tempers, dispositions, and circumstances; and exceedingly well suited to correct their minds and manners; and to guide and direct them in matters of religion, and in their duty to God and man: not but that all of it, that is of a moral nature, is binding upon the Gentiles, and especially ought to he regarded by us Christians, who profess ourselves to be the followers of Jesus; since most of the precepts of it have been recited and urged by him, (Matt. 19:17-19) and the whole by him reduced to these two heads, love to God, and love to our neighbour; saying, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; this is the first and great commandment: and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matt. 22:37-40)
And the apostle Paul, a disciple of his, and one that had the mind of Christ, having mentioned the several laws of the second table, observes; that if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.-Therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law: (Rom. 13:8-10) and elsewhere he says, all the law is fulfilled in one word; (Gal. 5:14) even this Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
And the rather this law should he attended to by us, since our blessed Redeemer and Saviour came not to destroy it, but to fulfill it, (Matt. 5:17) by his subjection to it, both to the precept and penalty of it; whereby, though he has delivered us from the curse and condemnation of it, yet he has not exempted us from obedience to it; so that we are not without law to God, though freed from obligation to punishment for the transgression of it, through the satisfaction of our surety; but are under the law to Christ, (1 Cor. 9:21) as lie is head, king, and lawgiver in his church. And it is with pleasure we can behold the law fulfilled for us by his obedience, sufferings, and death, and held forth in his hand, as king of saints, as a rule of walk and conversation unto us: in which view of it, every believer may say of it, as the apostle did, I delight in the law of God, after the inward man. (Rom. 7:22)
The delivery of this law, indeed, was attended with very terrifying circumstances: such as a dark, thick, tempestuous cloud, fire, and smoke; thunders, lightnings, and earthquakes; which not only made the children of Israel to tremble, and to stand at a distance; but Moses himself said, I exceedingly fear and quake. (Heb. 12:21) These were emblems of the dreadful things uttered by the law, against the transgressors of it; and of the terrible consequences of their transgressions; and of the terrors raised by it in the consciences of awakened sinners; wherefore the apostle says, Tell me ye that desire to be under the law; (Gal. 4:21) that is, as a covenant of works, do ye not hear the law? the voice and language of it, its menaces and curses, what it saith to them who are under it, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (Rom. 3:19)
It accuses of breaches and violations of it; it effectually supports its charges it convicts of guilt, and confounds the sinner; and says enough to the silencing of all objections; so that nothing can be said why judgment should not proceed, and the sentence be pronounced and executed. To them who are of the works of the law; who seek for justification, salvation, and eternal life, by obedience to it; it says, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, which are written in the book of the law, to do them. (Gal. 3:10) In short, it is a cutting and killing letter, and the ministration of condemnation and death.
Hence a Mediator was found necessary, and desired by the people of Israel, at the time the law was given; They said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die, ver. 19. This office Moses undertook, at their request, and drew near unto the thick darkness, where God was, ver. 21, and became a Mediator between God and them; and has the name of one given him. Hence the law is said to be ordained by angels, in the hand of a Mediator; (Gal. 3:19) that is, Moses, who was a type of Christ, the Mediator between God and man; by whom we have access to him, with boldness and confidence, through his being the fulfilling end of the law for righteousness, (Rom. 10:4) by obeying the precept, and bearing the penalty of it.
Now, though this law, as to the manner of its delivery was so terrible; yet, as to the matter of it, it was holy, just, and good; a transcript of the divine nature, and a revelation of the will of God; and it was an high favour; and a peculiar privilege to be indulged with it: hence, says Moses, What nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law that I set before you this day? (Deut. 4:8) And the psalmist David also takes notice of this as an instance of the distinguishing goodness of God to the people of Israel; he sheweth his word unto Jacob; his statutes and his judgments unto Israel; he hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for his judgments they have not known them; praise ye the Lord. (Ps. 147:19, 20)
And the apostle Paul reckons, among many special privileges of the Jewish nation, that to them pertained the covenant, the giving of the law, and the service of God. (Rom. 9:4) Wherefore, since Jehovah condescended to speak with them from heaven, and favoured them with a divine revelation; they were laid under obligation to serve and worship him, in the manner he should direct them, as well as in places where they should do it. You have seen, says he, ver, 22, 23. that I have talked with you from heaven: ye shall not make with me gods of silver: neither shall you make unto you gods of gold; and then directs them to make an altar, to offer on it sacrifice unto him, ver. 24. an altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, thy sheep and thine oxen; which altar was a type of Christ, who is that altar we christians, or believers in Christ, have; have a right unto, to use it, and partake of it; whereof they have no right to eat, that serve the tabernacle, (Heb. 8:10) or keep up the Jewish forms of worship, now abolished: that altar, that sanctifies every spiritual gift, presented on it by faith, and which renders every spiritual sacrifice of prayer or praise acceptable to God. (Matt. 23:19; Isai. 56:7)
Also the sacrifices offered up on the altar of earth, were typical of better; even of the sacrifice of Christ, which is of a sweet smelling savour to God; thereby sin being made an end of, and reconciliation and atonement made for it. Now, the Lord, to encourage the people of Israel to worship him in his own way, and where he would have them, promises his presence with them, and his blessing on them, in the words I have read to you; In all places where I record my name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. As yet no particular places were appointed for worship ; and, therefore, he says, where I record, or am about to record, or shall record. The tabernacle was not now erected, nor orders given for it, which afterwards were Let them make a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. (Exod. 25:8)
Nor as yet was the ark of the testimony made, over which was the mercy-seat; on which were the cherubim; between which Jehovah took up his residence; nor were any place or places, pointed at as yet, where the tabernacle, or the things in it, when made should he set up: and, though after this, the Lord did signify there was a place he should choose to put his name in, and cause it to dwell there; and where, and where only, they should come and offer their sacrifices, and keep their passover, and other feasts; yet he did not presently express this by name; eventually, and in the issue, it appeared to be the city of Jerusalem; though before that, the tabernacle and the ark in it, were at other places, as Gilgal, Shiloh, but this was a fixed and stable place for it: here Solomon, by divine direction, built a magnificent temple, where the worship of God was continued some hundreds of years: this was destroyed by the Chaldeans, which occasioned an intermission of service for some time; and then it was rebuilt by Zerubbabel, which continued till the coming of Christ, and was a little time after demolished by the Romans; and ever since, the worship of God is not limited and restrained to any certain place; neither at Jerusalem, nor any other particular place, are men obliged to worship the Father; but they may worship him any where, so be it they worship him in spirit and in truth. (Gal. 4:21, 23, 24)
Under the gospel-dispensation, men may lift up holy hands every where, without wrath or doubting; (1 Tim. 2:8) they may pray and preach, and administer the ordinances of Christ, wherever they can find a place proper and convenient; the only description of places, and the only direction to us, where we should meet and worship, is, where God records his name: And, in this light and view of things, I shall consider the above words, by observing,
I. What those places are which God has a regard unto; and where his people have encouragement to serve and worship him ; and these are, where he records his name.
II. The regard he has to such places, and the encouragement he gives to persons that worship him lie promises his presence and his blessing; I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.
I. The place, or places where the people of God are directed to worship him, and he shews a regard unto, are where his name is recorded. Under this head I shall shew, what Is meant by the name of the Lord; what by recording his name; and point at the places where this may be done.
First, What may be intended by the name of the Lord; which admits of various significations. 1. By it is sometimes meant the Lord himself; as, when it is said, The name of the God of Jacob defend thee; (Ps. 20:1) that is, God himself who is Jacob's God; for who else is the defence of his people? He is a wall of fire round about them; he is their place of defence; which is the munition of rocks; and being so, they may sing unto God their strength, and say unto him, as David did, God is my defence, and the God of my mercy. (Ps. 59:17) Again, when it is said, The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. (Prov. 18:10)
The meaning is, the Lord himself is a strong tower; and such the Psalmist often calls him, saying, he is my salvation and my high tower, a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. (Ps. 18:1 and 61:3) Hither do the saints betake themselves, in times of distress and danger; and here they remain safe until the calamities be overpast. So the name of Christ signifies Christ himself; In his name shall the Gentiles trust; (Matt. 12:17-21) that is, in himself; in his person for acceptance; in his righteousness for justification; in his blood for pardon; and in his fulness for all supply. Nor is any other the proper object of trust and confidence; not any creature or creature-act: Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. (Jer. 17:7)
2. The name of the Lord sometimes intends his perfections; as, when it is said of Christ, the angel of God's presence; the angel that went before the Israelites, and guided and guarded them through the wilderness, to the land of Canaan, Beware of him, and obey his voice :-for my name is in him; (Exod. 23:21) The nature and perfections of God: the whole fulness of the Godhead dwells in him; every perfection of Deity; all that the Father hath, he has; he is the express image of his person; and so like him, having the whole divine nature in him, that he who sees the one sees the other.
And, as these are in him, as God, as a divine person; so they are displayed in him as a mediator; in whom God has proclaimed his name; that is, his perfections of mercy, grace, goodness, justice, and holiness particularly; since it follows, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; (Exod. 33 and 34:5-7) for these divine perfections are more especially glorified in our redemption and salvation by Christ; where mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. (Ps. 85:10)
Once more, where it is said, O Lord our God, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! (Ps. 8:1) The sense is; "What a glorious display of thy perfections is made in the earth, through the preaching of the gospel! whereby, in the first times of it, to which this passage belongs, was given the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face, or person, of Jesus Christ?" (2 Cor. 4:6) that is, of the glorious perfections of God, as they are set forth in the person of Christ, and in the work of redemption: and so in the latter day, by the same means, will the earth be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Hab. 2:14)
3. By the name of the Lord may be meant, any or every name of the Lord, by which he is revealed, manifested, and made known to the sons of men. The first name of his we meet with, is that of Elohim; In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth; (Gen. 1:1) which name has the signification of worship and adoration in it; being derived from a root which signifies to worship; God being the sole object of religions worship; and to which the apostle may be thought to have some respect, when he explains Deity, by that which is worshipped; for, speaking of antichrist, he says, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or is worshipped. (2 Thess. 2:4)
And the word Elohim being of the plural number, may with propriety enough be rendered, the adorable ones; and very well he thought to denote a plurality; which, according to divine revelation, is a Trinity of persons, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; which three are one; and who manifestly appear in the creation of all things: The Father, who created all things by Jesus Christ; and the Word, who spake, and it was done; who commanded, and it stood fast; who said, Let such and such a thing be, and it was: and the Spirit of God, who garnished the heavens, and moved upon the face of the waters; and brought the confused and indigested chaos into the beautiful order the earth since was: So true is that of the Psalmist, By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath, or spirit, of his mouth. (Ps. 33:6)
The next name by which God made himself known, is that of God Almighty; of which he himself says; I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty; (Exod. 6:3) referring, no doubt in the first place, and particularly to his appearance to Abraham, when ninety years of age; to whom he said, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. (Gen. 17:1) A name that well agrees with him; as is clear by his making all things out of nothing; by upholding, and maintaining in Being the things he has made; by the redemption and preservation of his people; and by fulfilling his purposes, prophecies and promises.
And there is no name or title by which he makes himself known, that is more suited to encourage the faith and hope of his children, in times of difficulty and danger; since his hand is not shortened, that it cannot save. (Isai. 59:1) Another name following this, by which the divine Being has thought fit to manifest himself, is that of Jehovah; which it was not his pleasure to make himself known by to the above Patriarchs; for, he says, But by my name Jehovah was I not known to them. (Exod. 6:3)
This is expressive of his existence; of him as the Being of beings; of his immutability and eternity; and is referred to, when Moses, having asked of God, what he should say to the children of Israel, should they inquire of him who sent him to them, saying, What is his name? He is bid to say, I am that I am, hath sent me to you; (Exod. 3:13, 14) or, "I am that I was; and I am that I shall be;" or, as John well deciphers it, which is, and which was, and which is to come; (Rev. 1:4) taking in all time and tenses, past, present. and future.
And this being a name peculiar to the most high God, and yet given to Christ, Jehovah our righteousness, is no inconsiderable proof of his proper and supreme Deity. Another name of God is, The Lord of hosts; and by which he is frequently called; The portion of Jacob is not like unto them, the idols of the Gentiles, the Lord of hosts is his name; (Jer. 10:16) The Lord of Sabaoth; (James 5:4) and James retains the Hebrew word untranslated, and our version of him; which is not to he pronounced and understood, as it often wrongly is, of the Lord of Sabbath; but of the Lord of hosts, or armies, both above and below; and not only of the sun, moon, and stars, sometimes called the host of heaven; but of the angels; the heavenly militia; that multitude of the heavenly host; part of which attended at our Lord's incarnation; these are at his beck, will, and command, as well as all the hosts and armies of men on earth; for, he doth according to his will, in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What dost thou? (Dan. 4:35)
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The name of the Lord God of Israel, is frequently given him in the prophetic writings, especially of Jeremiah, who often prefaces his prophecies with it; and is very properly given him; since he chose the people of Israel, above all people, to he his special people; and distinguished them from others, by many peculiar favours; he avouched them to be his people; and they avouched him to be their God; this was his Old Testament name and title; and was almost out of date, as one observes; when Zechariah, the father of John Baptist, used it, who is the last that did; saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people; (Luke 1:68) for, quickly after, another name of his took place; which is, his New-Testament name and title; the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (2 Cor. 1:3; Ephes. 1:3,17 and 3:14; 1 Peter 1:3) used by the apostles Paul and Peter.
God is the God of Christ, as Christ is man; the human nature of Christ is a creature of God, the true tabernacle, which God pitched and not man; and which he anointed, filled, and adorned with the gifts and graces of the Spirit, without measure; and Christ, as such, loved him, as his God, and obeyed his commands, from a law of love in his heart; him he hoped in from his mother's womb; and in him he believed, and had the strongest confidence in him, that he was near him, would help him, stand by him, and justify him; to him he prayed most fervently and frequently; sometimes a whole night together; and gave him thanks and praise for divers things, particularly for hiding the mysteries of grace from the wise and prudent, and revealing them to babes; and was in all things obedient to his God, throughout the whole course of his life, even unto death.
God is the Father of Christ, as Christ is a divine person; and in such sense his Father, as he is to no other; and Christ is in such sense his Son, and in such a class of filiation and sonship, as none others are, angels, or men ; angels are the sons of God by creation, saints by adoption: but to which of them, one or another, said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. (Heb. 1:5) Christ is his own proper, natural Son; of the same nature with him; the Son of himself; the Son of the Father, in truth and love; (2 John 3) and not in an improper, figurative, and metaphorical sense; as magistrates, by office, are called the sons of God.
Christ himself may be signified by the name of the Lord; in and by whom he is so clearly made known and revealed to men; and in whom his name, his nature, and perfections are, as before observed; and to whom belong all the same glorious names; as the true God, God Almighty, Jehovah, the Lord of hosts, and the holy One of Israel; and who, besides these, has various precious and excellent names, worthy to be recorded. The first of these we meet with is Shiloh, in the famous prophecy in Jacob, The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, till Shiloh come; (Gen. 49:10) who is the true Messiah; which name, whether it has the signification of prosperous or peaceable, it agrees with Christ; in whose hands the pleasure and will of God, respecting the salvation of men, prospered; and who succeeded in all his conflicts with sin, Satan, and the world, and got the victory over them: and he is the prince of peace; the man, the peace; with whom the covenant of peace was made; on whom the chastisement of our peace was laid, and who has made peace by the blood of his cross.
His name Immanuel, given him before his birth, when prophesied of, to he born of a virgin, is a very precious one; which is, by interpretation, God with us; (Matt. 1:23) "God in our nature, God manifest in the flesh;" and through which, being made, he dwelt among men; which is a most wonderful instance of condescending grace. Another name with which it is said he should be called is, the Lord our righteousness, (Jer. 23:6) because as a surety, he undertook to bring in everlasting righteousness; and, therefore, it became him to fulfill all righteousness and for this purpose, he came in the likeness of sinful flesh, to obey the law in our nature, and condemn sin in the flesh, by the sacrifice of himself, that the righteousness of the law might be completely fulfilled in us; and he is become the fulfilling end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believes; and to whom he is also made righteousness, and they made the righteousness of God in him and, not to forget that delightful name of Jesus, given to him because he saves his people from their sins; nor Messiah, which signifies Christ, or anointed; he being anointed as prophet, priest, and king, with the oil of gladness, the holy Ghost, and his grace, above his fellows; and, from whom the saints receive the unction, that anointing, which teaches all things, and are denominated christians. To this name of Christ the church seems to allude, when she says, Thy name is as ointment poured fort h, therefore do the virgins love thee. (Song 1:3)
5. The name of the Lord sometimes designs the gospel; as, when Christ says to his divine Father, I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gayest me out of the world; (John 17:6) that is, his mind and will, which he revealed unto his disciples, having lain in his bosom, and being fully acquainted with it ; the mysteries of his love and grace, which lay hid in his heart; the several doctrines of grace and truth, which relate to the great design of God in man's salvation, and came from God by him; for, this he afterwards explains, by saying, I have given unto them the words which thou gayest me; (John 17:8) namely, the words of eternal life, or the doctrines respecting the everlasting welfare and salvation of men so the Lord said to Annanius, concerning the apostle Paul, he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and Kings, and the children of Israel; (Acts 9:15) which was no other, than to carry the gospel, and spread it, not only in Judea, but in the Gentile world; and abide by it, and continue preaching it; and bear a testimony to it, in the face of all opposition, from men of every rank, and of every nation.
Now, from all this we may learn. in some measure what we are to understand by the name of the Lord; which may be taken in the most comprehensive sense; as to include himself, his nature, and perfections, and every appellation by which he is manifested and known; his son, his person, offices, and grace, and all things relating to him; the gospel, the various doctrines of it: all which, as they serve to celebrate the praise and glory of God, they are to be recorded and remembered in every place, where the worship of God is set up; which leads me to observe,
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Secondly, What is meant by the Lord's recording his name, or causing it to he remembered; for so the words may he rendered, Where I make mention of my name, or where I cause to remember my name; or, you to remember it; that is, cause it to he remembered, or refresh the memories of men with it: which is done by appointing and setting up memorials of it.
1st, Under the legal dispensation, this was done by ordering the ark, mercy-scat, and cherubim, to be made, and to he placed first in the tabernacle, and then in the temple. These were symbols of the divine presence; here the Shekinah, or the divine Majesty, took up its abode: from hence God communed with men, and gave them intimations of his mind and will; by which they were put in mind of him, and directed where to apply to him, in every time of need; and so possessed were the Israelites of this notion, that God was where these were, that they would sometimes take the ark with them when they went to battle; promising themselves thereby protection, safety, and victory. And these were each of them, the ark and the mercy-seat, memorials of Christ, and served to put such as had knowledge of the Messiah, true faith in him, and expectation of his coming, in mind of him.
The ark was a type of Christ, in the matter, form, and use of it; it was made of Shittim wood, and overlayed with pure gold, denoting the incorruption, purity, glory, excellency, and duration of Christ; its principle use was, to contain in it the testimony of the will of God, the two tables of stone, with the law of the ten commandments on them; which were renewed by the Lord, after they were broken by falling out of the hands of Moses, as he came down from the mount, when the people had sinned, and transgressed this law. The putting of that into the ark, signified the law being not only in the hands, but in the heart of Christ; his voluntary subjection to it; his perfect fulfillment of it, whereby it was magnified and made honorable; all its demands being answered by him, its precepts obeyed, and its sanction yielded to; and in whom it is preserved and continued, in all its perfection and lustre, and remains in full force, to answer the purposes for which it was given.
The mercy-seat is also a type of Christ, and a memorial of him; bringing him to remembrance, and refreshing the minds of true believers in him; leading them to some delightful views of the grace and mercy of God, as displayed in him. The same word which the Greek interpreters render the Hebrew word by, for the mercy-seat, is used by the apostle Paul concerning Christ, when he says of him, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, (Rom. 3:25) "a mercy seat."
This was over the ark, in which the law was, a cover to it; and of the same length and breadth with it; shewing that Christ's obedience and propitiatory sacrifice, are commensurate to the law, and its requirements, and a covering of all the sins of God's people, for whom this sacrifice is offered, which are transgressions of the law, and through which God is gracious and merciful to sinners; for though he has proclaimed his name, a God gracious and merciful, it is only in Christ; the special mercy of God is only communicated through Christ; there is no mercy to be expected but by him; the poor publican was in the right, when he prayed, God be merciful, or be propitious, or shew mercy through the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, to me a sinner. (Luke 18:13)
The stores of mercy are laid up in Christ; it is for him, for his sake, and with him, that he keeps his mercy, his covenant-grace and mercy, for evermore: (Ps. 89:28) he is the throne of grace, or the mercy-seat, to which the saints should have recourse in all their times of need; and where, and where only, they may expect to find grace and obtain mercy; (Heb. 4:16) yea, it is to this mercy-seat, to the mercy of one Lord Jesus Christ, and for it., and to the mercy of God, displayed in him, they are to look for, and unto eternal life. (Jude 21)
Moreover the altar, and the sacrifices offered on it, were typical of Christ, and memorials of him, and the means of recording the name of the Lord, and causing it to be remembered; the altar was a type of Christ, as before observed; both the altar of burnt offering, and the altar of incense; the one served to put believers in mind of the sacrifice and satisfaction of Christ for sin; and the dolorous sufferings he underwent on that account, under a sense of the wrath of God, and to deliver, his people from it, by bearing it in their room and stead, when he became a whole burnt-offering for them; and the other was of use, to observe unto them the intercession of Christ, founded on his propitiatory sacrifice; through whose much incense, or all prevailing mediation, the prayers of the saints become acceptable unto God, and the blessings of grace are brought down upon them, and applied to them.
The various sacrifices offered at the Jewish altar, were typical of the sacrifice of Christ; and were designed to put the sacrificers in mind of it, and to lead their faith to it, without which theirs were unacceptable to God. The lambs of the daily sacrifice, in the morning and evening, were remembrancers of Christ the Lamb of God, who taketh, continually takes away the sins of men, committed by them. So the slaying of the passover-lamb, the burning of the red heifer, with all other sacrifices, whether offered every day, every month, or every year; they all pointed at Christ, and his sacrifice, whereby he has put away sin, and perfected for ever them that are sanctified: and now, by appointing and continuing these, Jehovah caused his name to he remembered; whose perfections were displayed and glorified in the sacrifice of his Son; to which the faith of his people were by these directed.
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Secondly, Under the gospel-dispensation, God records his name by the ministry of the word, and by the administration of ordinances.
1. By the word, and by the ministers of it whose descriptive character is, that make mention of the Lord; (Isai. 62:6) or cause him to be remembered, or are his remembrancers which is much the same phrase that is here used: a principal part of their business is, to admonish; to be the monitors of men; to put them in mind, as the word used signifies; (1 Thess. 5:12) to put them in mind of their privileges and duties; to put them in mind of the grace of God, and the blessings of it of Christ, his person, offices, and grace, and of the several doctrines of the everlasting gospel, for their comfort and edification.
So the apostle Peter determined, whilst he was in this tabernacle, in the body, in the present state of things, so long as he remained in the world, to stir up the saints, by putting them in remembrance of these things, though they knew them, and were established in them; (2 Peter 1:12, 13) and then may the ministers of the gospel be said to record the name of the Lord, and the Lord to record it, by them; or cause it to he remembered, when,
(1.) They put those in mind, to whom they minister, of the love, grace, and mercy of God, displayed in salvation by Jesus Christ; when, as God has proclaimed his name, "a God gracious and merciful, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin;" they also publish and proclaim the same grace and mercy of his, as it is shewn forth in the several parts and branches of salvation; or, in other words, when they ascribe salvation, both in whole and in part, to the free grace and sovereign mercy of God in Christ.
For instance, when they declare, that God's choice of men to holiness here, and happiness hereafter, is wholly owing to his everlasting love, and sovereign will and pleasure; when they assert there is such an act in God; and that this is eternal; that it passed before men had done either good or evil, and had no respect to either; that the moving cause of it, is not the faith, or holiness, or obedience, and good works of men; nor the foresight of any, or either of them; that it does not stand upon the works of man, but upon the will of God; and therefore truly called the election of grace and which the apostle most clearly evinces, by arguing in such a strong and nervous manner about it; if by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace; but if it be of work's, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work. (Rom. 11:5, 6)
Likewise, when they attribute the mission of Christ into this world, in order to obtain salvation for men, purely to the good-will, grace, and mercy of God, as the scriptures do; which assure us, that it is owing to the tender mercy of our God, his bowels of compassion to sinful, miserable creatures, that the day-spring from on high, the Messiah, the Son of righteousness, whose rising and coming here, made the glorious gospel-day, has visited us; (Luke 1:78) by the beamings-forth of his love and grace, in the assumption of our nature; by sending forth the light of truth abroad in the world; and dispelling the darkness of error, ignorance, and infidelity; the design of whose appearance was not merely to deliver a system of doctrines, and to recommend them by his own example, but to suffer and die for us; and, by so doing, redeem us from sin and death, and everlasting ruin and, his coming on such an errand, is entirely the fruit and effect of divine love; God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, and sent him into the world, to be the propitiation, Saviour, and Redeemer; and in this the love of God is manifested to us; herein is love; (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9, 10) this is a full proof and demonstration of it; and it appears the more illustrious and free, when it is observed, the persons that God gave his Son for, into the hands of justice, and death, and Christ died for, are represented, not only as without strength, but as ungodly, sinners, and enemies in their minds, by wicked works.
Now, when the love, grace, and mercy of God, in this instance, are published, then is the name of the Lord proclaimed and recorded, as a God gracious and merciful. Also, when the blessings of justification, and pardon of sin, are referred to the same source and origin, spring and fountain, even the unmerited grace of God in Christ; for, though upon the account of the righteousness of Christ, and the imputation of it, God is just, whilst he is the justifier of him that believes in Jesus; and as justification proceeds upon, and through the redemption that is in Christ; yet this hinders not but that is freely by the grace of God; (Rom. 3:24-26) for it is grace that provided this righteousness, accepts of it, and imputes it; and it is the free gift of God to man; and so is faith itself, which receives it; ungodly men are justified by it; and this is imputed, without works, unto them and then is the grace of God, in this article, exalted and magnified, when it is roundly declared, for which there is the greatest authority, that by the deeds of the law, no man is, or can be justified; but that justification is by faith in Christ's righteousness, without the works of it.
And so pardon of sin, though through the blood of Christ, which was shed for it, it is an act of justice in God to forgive it: and he is just and faithful in doing it on that account; yet it is according to the riches of his grace, and the multitude of his tender mercies, (1 John 1:9; Ephes. 1:7; Ps. 51:1) that he forgives sin, even for Christ's sake, and then is the name of the Lord recorded, when forgiveness of sin is preached in the name of Christ; and the name of God is published and proclaimed, a God forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, freely and fully, on his account.
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In short, this is done, when salvation is asserted to he not according to men's works, but according to the purpose and grace of God; when it is affirmed, that it is not by works of righteousness the best men have done, and in the best manner, they are saved; but by the abundant mercy of God, through Christ; that it is by grace alone that salvation is, and not by works, lest any should boast; and that it is through faith; and that not of ourselves, for it is the gift of God.
In a word; the name of God is recorded, when not the merits of men, but the mercy of God, is magnified; when not free-will, but free grace, is preached; when salvation is said to be, not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God, that sheweth mercy; when regeneration is ascribed, not to the might and power of man, but to the Spirit of the Lord of hosts; when men are taught to attribute all they have, and are, and do, to the grace of God; and to say with the apostle, by the grace of God, I am what I am; (1 Cor. 15:10) and when it is the drift of the ministry, and the concern of those in it, to display the riches of divine grace, and the glory of it; which is the ultimate end of God, in the predestination, redemption, and salvation of men.
(2) Then do ministers of the word record, make mention of, and cause to be remembered, the name of the Lord; and God does it by them, when they preach Christ, and him crucified, as God's alone way of salvation. This was the course the first ministers of the gospel steered; they preached not themselves; as they did not seek themselves, so neither did they exalt themselves and others; they did not preach up the purity of human nature, the power of man's free-will, the sufficiency of good works to justify before God, and to render acceptable in his sight; but Christ Jesus the Lord, (2 Cor. 4:5) as the only redeemer and saviour of lost sinners.
Particularly, this was the resolution and determination of the great apostle of the Gentiles: for so he says, writing to the Corinthians, I determined to know, that is, to make known, nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified; (1 Cor. 2:2) meaning, in the great affair and business of salvation; and this determination he abode by, notwithstanding all the opposition made unto him, and contempt that was cast on him for it: We preach, says he, Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness. (1 Cor. 1:23)
Thus did he, and other preachers of the gospel, record the name of the Lord to good purpose wherever they came; and so do all such who make mention in their ministry of the glorious person of Christ, as God over all blessed for ever, as the true God and eternal life; as the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person; whose glory is the glory of the only-begotten of the Father; being in the glorious form, and having all the glorious perfections of deity in him.
When they describe him as the God-man, as white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousands, and altogether lovely in his person and offices; when they speak of him, and direct unto him as the only mediator between God and man; in whom the saints are blessed with all spiritual blessings; through whom they have a participation of all grace here, and have both a right unto, and meetness for, eternal glory hereafter; who is now the way of access to the father, and of acceptance with him; and by whom all the sacrifices of prayer and praise are to be offered to God, and become acceptable to him; as well as he will be the medium of all that glory that shall he enjoyed hereafter: then also do they record the name of the Lord, and he by them, when they declare there is no other name given among men whereby they must be saved, than the name of Christ; that there is salvation in none but him; that it is in vain to hope for it in the multitude of hills and mountains, or from men's works, be they ever so many; even though they were piled up as mountains aiming at heaven, and seeking to reach it: and when this is the subject of their ministry, the faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; of whom, says the apostle, I am chief. (1 Tim. 1:15)
When also they make mention of the righteousness of Christ, and him only, as the matter of a sinner's justification before God; when they preach, that through Christ and his righteousness believers are justified from all things they could not be by the law of Moses, and obedience to it: and then may they be said to turn many to righteousness; (Dan. 7:3) or to justify many, that is, by guiding and directing them alone to Christ for righteousness: likewise when they speak well of the precious blood of Christ, and direct souls to deal with it, for the remission of their sins and shew that both justification and sanctification are through it; that peace and reconciliation are made by it; and a way is opened by means of it, into the holy of holies: moreover, when they exalt the sacrifice of Christ, and observe that all others, let them be of what nature they will among men, yet are insufficient to atone for sin; even thousands of rams, or ten thousand rivers of oil; yea, though the first-born should he given for transgression, and the fruit of the body for the sin of the soul; and that Christ's sacrifice alone has taken away sin: made an end of it, and made reconciliation for it; and that Christ, the Lamb of God, is only to be looked unto as the sin-bearing, and sin-atoning Saviour: To which may he added, that this is the case, when the advocacy of Christ is preached up; or he is represented as the advocate with the Father; who appears in the presence of God and ever lives to make intercession for his people; introduces their persons into the presence of his Father; presents their petitions, and pleads for the blessing's of grace to be applied to them they want; and the supplies of grace to be granted them they stand in need of.
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To say no more, then do faithful dispensers of the word record the name of the Lord, and he by them, when they preach the pure gospel of Christ free, unmixed, and unadulterated; when they do not corrupt the word, but sincerely preach it, as in the sight of God and Christ; when their ministry is not yea and nay, but all of a piece; consistent with itself, and with the word of God; when the trumpet does not give an uncertain sound; when only the joyful sound is heard; peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation, are clearly, openly, without reserve or disguise, published and proclaimed.
2. Under the gospel-dispensation God records ins name, by appointing ordinances, and by the administration of them, as memorials of his love and grace; and particularly the ordinance of the Lord's-supper; and where that is truly administered, and carefully attended to, and the design of it answered, there the name of the Lord is caused to be remembered; and the memories of men are sweetly and comfortably refreshed with it. This ordinance is a commemorative ordinance, causing to remember, or bringing to remembrance. The design of it is to put in mind of the love of God in Christ; of the love of God in the gift of his Son, and of the love of Christ in the gift of himself; and it is hard to say which is the greatest instance of love, for God to give his Son, his only begotten Son, or for Christ to give himself, his soul and body, and both in union with his divine person; to lay down his life, to shed his blood, to offer himself a sacrifice unto God for us.
The ordinance of the supper brings to our remembrance the love of the Father in providing his Son a lamb for a burnt-offering; in sending him into this world to be a Saviour of his people; in not sparing him, but delivering him up into the hands of justice and death for us all; and all this, when and while we were sinners. It refreshes our memories with the love in of Christ, in giving himself an offering and a sacrifice unto God, of a sweet-smelling savour. It is not a reiteration of the sacrifice, an offering up again the body and blood of Christ; but a commemoration of it, and of the love of Christ in it: Hereby we perceive his love to us. It is very plain and evident that he laid down his life for us; it leads us to observe it has such an instance of love that is not to be found among men.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) But Christ has shewn greater love than this, by laying down his life for his enemies. Now, the elements or symbols in the Lord's-supper, the bread and wine, are memorials of what Christ has done and suffered for his people; of his body being bruised and broken for them; of his blood being shed, and his soul poured out unto death on their account: and of his being stricken and smitten for their transgressions, and wounded for their sins; and of his bearing them and the punishment due unto them: and when the bread is eaten and the wine drank; they are both to be done by our Lord's direction, in remembrance of him, and of the above things, and of his love in all: and then is his name recorded, when his love is remembered more than wine; (Song 1:3) when saints call upon their souls, and all within them, to bless his holy name, and not forget his benefits; (Ps. 103:1-4) especially the redemption of their lives from destruction by him. Now,
Thirdly, The places which God has a regard to, and where his people should meet and worship him, are where his name is recorded: This appears from what has been said. They are such where his free grace is set forth, magnified and exalted in the salvation of men; where Christ crucified is preached, and the ordinances are truly and faithfully administered: and when this is the case, it matters not what or where they are. Under the former dispensation there were particular places for worship, namely, wherever the tabernacle and ark were, and especially the city of Jerusalem, where the temple was built. But now we are not obliged to go to Shiloh, or Gilgal, or Jerusalem.
The only descriptive character which points out a place to us, and directs us where to go and worship, is where the Lord records his name; or his ministers record it, by faithfully preaching his gospel, and administering his ordinances: and these are not limited and restrained to any place. It matters not whether the edifice we worship in, is greater or smaller, built in a less or more pompous manner; nor what names it is called by; whether a meeting-house, church or chapel; a conventicle, or a cathedral: the only point is, is the name of the Lord recorded there? For we find under the gospel dispensation, the word has been used to be preached indifferently any where.
Thus we may observe at one time, that our Lord sat upon a mountain, and delivered those excellent discourses contained in the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of Matthew. At another time he sat in a ship, and taught the multitude as they stood on the shore. And elsewhere we read of him preaching in a private house; as well as he sometimes went into the temple, the then public place of worship; and sat and taught there. (Matt. 5:1 and 13:3; Mark 2:1, 2; John 8:2) And so his apostles and disciples not only preached in the synagogues of the Jews as they had opportunity, but in other places not used before for religious worship.
The apostle Paul disputed and discoursed in the school of Tyrannus, and continued this practice for the space of two years there; so that all Asia had the opportunity of hearing the word of the Lord: And he also was two other whole years in his own hired house at Rome, preaching the kingdom of God, and the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 19:9 and 28: 30, 31) I should now have entered on the second general head, but the consideration of that must be left to the afternoon.