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The court of the Tabernacle is where the Jewish people all appeared as sinners. Here was the brazen altar at which they acknowledged their guiltiness by the presentation of their sacrifices. It is in this sinful condition that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ finds the whole race of Adam. Like the Jewish sacrifices wbich prefigured it, it was made in the midst of those for whose benefit it was intended. By believing in and relying on the efficacy of this sacrifice the sinner is passed over into a christian state. In the way of this transition, like the Jewish priest on his way to the Sanctuary, he is regenerated—washed from the pollution of sin—and inspired with a new life.
The symbolic Sanctuary of the Tabernacle, or the church now becomes his place of abode. Here he finds himself surrounded and edified by the light-denoted by the candlesticks, by the nourishment-denoted by the table of shew-bred, and the hope-denoted by the altar of incense, of the christian economy. Here his spiritual life is strengthened and expanded, and his soul inured to sacred society, discipline and employments, and prepared to enter into that better state which was prefigured by the holy of holies.
Passing through the veil of death, he now takes the place of the cherubic figures on the Ark. The glorious presence of God overshadows him—light ineffable glows upon his countenance—and with countless multitudes of the ransomed he joins in the mighty-the
“Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb !"
A subject like this, my brethren, needs no further application. The whole bearing of it is so obvious, that you need no help from me to be able to bring it down to your wants and feelings. I shall make but one simple remark more, and then leave the matter for your own private meditation.
You doubtless all are looking forward with some expectation of sharing in the joys of that happy world which was represented by the holy of holies in the Tabernacle. It is that hope which comforts you amid all the reverses of earthly fortune, and the only thing which saves you from utter despair as you anticipate the tomb. But there is but one way, and I mention this solemn fact for the parti. cular benefit of those who are not members of the christian church,
'Incense symbolizes prayer; but when we pray for an object, we always hope to receive it. The great object of christian prayer and hope is the kingdom of Christ.
there is but one way in which this hope is ever to be realized. There was no entrance into the holy of holies but through the Sanctuary. And my dear impenitent friends, there is no possible way for you to enter heaven, but through the church of the Redeemer. Talk not now of the heathen, you are no heathen. I say, for you there is no possible way to enter heaven but through the church of the Redeemer. You may think it an awful doctrine; but it is the truth of God. Unless you become real members of the church, and thus become united to its saving head, there is no salvation for you. Oh, that your hearts then may be inclined to confess Jesus on earth, that he also may confess you before his Father and his holy angels! But how distressing is the thought, that so many with whom our worldly associations and intercourse are of the most delightful character, should consent to remain in a situation so entirely hopeless as respects the endless state of being into which we are all soon to enter! When we look forward to the day of judgment, and the awful scenes that are to succeed it, what an intolerable burden does it impose upon our hearts! I appeal to you then, by the ties of tender relationships—by the dreadful separations at the bar of final reckoning—by the endless wailings of the unhappy damned-make baste to enter the ark of salvation-attach yourselves at once to the camp of Israel—and be zealous to secure your title to the promised rest.
THE SERVICES OF THE TABERNACLE.
Heb. ix. 6—10. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went
always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not niake him ihat did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience : Which slood only in meats and drinks, and divers waslıings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
In the foregoing Lecture your attention was called to the Tabernacle—its forms, its furniture, and its entire arrangement. The words now before us will necessarily lead me to speak of the services of the Tabernacle. In doing so I propose to myself first, to give you a general view of them ; second, to show the design of them; and third, to find out their real efficacy, and wherein it consisted. I agree that there are other subjects which some of you might relish more than this, but I contend at the same time, that if you enter into its consideration with a prayerful and inquiring mind, none of you will entirely fail to be instructed and edified.
The services of the Tabernacle, (and of the Temple, for the Temple was made after the pattern of the Tabernacle,) are distinguished as they were performed by the ordinary priests, or by the high priest alone. This is a distinction noticed in the text; but it is one, though important to be observed, which is not adequate to a clear and full exhibition of the Jewish ritual. There is however, another general division recognized by the apostle, which will much more conveniently serve us on the present occasion. There were parts of the Mosaic rites which related immediately to God as their object, and there were other parts which related imme. diately to man as their object. And though a reference is had in all of them to both God and man, this may yet be received as a correct and convenient distinction. The first embraced “gifts and sacrifices;" the second embraced meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances."
1st. The gifts or oblations were ordinary-voluntary—and prescribed.
The ordinary oblations were the shero-bread, and incense. Of these I had occasion to speak in the last discourse, and need add nothing more here.
The voluntary oblations were things freely vowed and consecrated to sacred uses, comprising all sorts of property, influence, children, time, and sometimes life itself.
The prescribed oblations were the first-fruits and the tithes. The former consisted of a portion of all grain, fruit, and animals, which the law required to be consecrated to the Lord. The latter consisted of the tenth part of the entire possessions of each Jew each year, which was given for the support of the priesthood.
2nd. The sacrifices were some of them bloody in their nature, the rest were not attended with the shedding of blood. Some of them were occasional and individual, others were national and regular.
The bloody sacrifices were either holocausts or burnt-offerings, peace-offerings, sin-offerings, or trespass-offerings. These again ran out into various diversities which we cannot now stop to examine.
The unbloody sacrifices were taken solely from the vegetable kingdom. “They consisted of meal, bread, cakes, ears of corn, and parched grain, with oil and frankincense prepared according to the Divine command. Regularly they could not be presented as sin-offerings, except in the single case of the person who had sinned being so poor, that the offering of two young pigeons or two turtle-doves exceeded his means."
Passing on to those of the Jewish ceremonies which related immediately to man as their object, we have enumerated by the apos, tle 1st "meats and drinks.” A large part of the Mosaic ordinances consisted of laws respecting fasts, and pertaining to what was lawful to eat and drink. The law was full of very nice distinctions between clean and unclean beasts, and minute arrangements concerning the food and drink of the Jews. This is probably what the apostle means by meats and drinks.”
2d. The Jewish services also comprehended “divers washings.” Bodily uncleanness was held by the Hebrews in just abhorrence.
'Horne's Introduction, Vol. II. page 119.
And though not in all instances held as criminal, yet all contaminations resulted in temporary exclusion from intercourse with the rest of the people. When the days of the uncleanness of defiled persons were fulfilled, the ritual prescribed for them certain ceremonies of purification to be attended to previous to their reinstatement into pure society.
Besides these there were various other lustrations and ablutions in the services of the tabernacle—some at the consecration of the priests—some in the sacrificial ceremonies---and in numerous other instances.
These purifications were for the most part performed with clear running water, sometimes with blood or oil, and occasionally with mingled water and blood, or water sprinkled with ashes. Sometimes the whole body was immersed in the water, sometimes the water was poured upon or otherwise applied to the body. These were the “divers baptisms” to which Paul refers in the text.
3d. There were also in the Hebrew ritual " divers carnal ordinances”—ceremonies pertaining to the flesh-rites of a mere external application. There were many things in the services of the Tabernacle which centered ultimately and solely in the body, the whole significance of which was temporal and carnal. Their entire advantage and effect as well as their observance concerned the flesh. And with this view of the Levitical services before us, we may see the reasonableness and force of the apostolic declaration, 6 that they could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience.”
We naturally come then to inquire into the real design of these enactments. That they were of Divine appointment is not to be questioned. What then was the object of their institution? What ends were they intended to subserve? Wherein are we to find a policy worthy of their infinite Author ? By Divine help I will answer these questions.
The Mosaic dispensation taken as a whole, in its moral, ceremonial, and judicial aspects, was a regular system complete in itself, and which accomplished various important purposes. The grand design of its institution was the fulfillment of the promise made in the garden of Eden, and repeated to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, concerning the recovery of man from his fall. In the accomplishment of this end it played a most brilliant and honorable part. By