In that day shall there be on the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD…
These words describe the purity and holiness of the gospel church in such terms and notions as are proper to the Old Testament dispensation. Notice the inscription, or impress, — "Holiness to the Lord." The things inscribed are particularly enumerated, the horse bells; the bowls, the pots. What was used in the kitchens of the temple; and the utensils of every ordinary house and family. Notice the time. "In that day." The whole state of things under the Gospel, which is as it were but one day. But where is this universal holiness to be found? Prophecies of things belonging to our obedience are to be often understood of our duty, rather than of the event. As to the event, it is to be understood comparatively, not absolutely. And the Gospel state hath its ebbs and flows in several ages. Doctrine — God in and by the Gospel will effect an eminent and notable sanctification both of things and persons.
I. THAT DEGREE OF HOLINESS WHICH IS HERE PROPHESIED OF.
1. All such things as were before employed against God should be then employed and converted to His service, for the horse bells shall be inscribed.
2. Upon all the utensils of the temple there shall be "Holiness to the Lord," whether pots or bowls.
3. The expressions imply a proficiency and growth in holiness; for the pots of the kitchen of the temple shall become as the bowls of the altar for purity and holiness.
4. As it is a progressive holiness, so it is also a diffusive holiness, which spreadeth itself through all actions, civil and sacred; in things which belong to peace and war.
II. OF HOLINESS IN THE GENERAL. Consider it —
1. Relatively. Four things are in it. An inclination towards God. From this tendency towards God ariseth a dedication of ourselves, and all that we have to the Lord's use and service. From this dedication there results a relation of the persons so dedicated to God, so that from that time forth they are not their own, but the Lord's. There is another thing, and that is the actual using of ourselves for God. We are vessels set apart for the master's use.
2. Positive holiness may be considered either with respect to our persons or actions. Our persons, when we are renewed by the Spirit, or there is an inward principle of sanctification wrought in our hearts. As a person is holy by his principle, so an action is holy by the rule, when it agreeth with it as to manner and matter and end.
III. REASONS WHY THIS EMINENT HOLINESS, BOTH OF PERSONS AND ACTIONS, SHOULD TAKE PLACE IN THE GOSPEL, ABOVE THE TIMES OF THE LAW.
1. Because of our principle, the new nature wrought in us by the Spirit of God, which is suited to the whole will of God.
2. Because of the exactness of our rule, which teacheth us how to walk in our several businesses and employments.
3. Because of our pattern and example, Jesus Christ, who was exact in all His actions.
4. Because of our obligations to Christ; partly because of His dominion as the Lord and Redeemer by right of purchase. In all conditions and states of life He hath a right in us, therefore in every state of life we should glorify Him. Partly from our gratitude to Christ as Saviour as well as Lord. Use — To persuade us to this universal obedience. None enter upon God's service but with a consecration. Sundry directions.
(1) Undertake nothing but what will bear this inscription upon it.
(2) Be sure to exercise your general calling, as a Christian, in your particular. Your particular calling is that way of life to which God hath designed you by your abilities and education.
(3) Turn all second-table duties into first-table duties,
(4) Go about your earthly business with a heavenly mind.
(5) Content not yourselves with the natural use of the creature, as brute beasts do, but see God in all.
(6) In all your ways acknowledge God, depending upon Him for direction and success, and consulting with Him, and approving thy heart and life unto Him.
(7) God should be worshipped by every faithful person in His own house in as God-like a manner as He was worshipped by the Jews in the temple. A Christian must be alike everywhere, at home and abroad.
( T. Manton.)
Parallel VersesKJV: In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD'S house shall be like the bowls before the altar.