Imatges de pÓgina

it the knowledge and worship of the true God was preserved, and the wonderful plan of human redemption gradually unfolded. By it the way for the coming of the kingdom of God was prepared, and a better hope ushered in upon our despairing world.

In this the ceremonial law had not a little to do. 1st. It was the ritual observances which were most efficient in keeping the Jews together as a distinct and peculiar people. We may plainly trace up a studied opposition in all of them to the views and religious practices of all other nations. Most of the animals which were deified by the heathen were proscribed as unclean to the Jews. Those used most commonly for food by other nations were not even to be touched by the children of Israel lest they should become defiled. And so entirely contrary to the common usages of the nations were the Levitical ordinances, that it was not possible for a Jew to associate with them with any sort of familiarity. The ceremonial law drew a line around the camp of Israel, and around the Land of Canaan, which none within dared to cross without forfeiting every advantage which the Jewish religion held out. The conscientious Jew saw nothing in all the rites of heathen worship but abomination and uncleanness, and in many of his religious observances he outraged some of the most devout feelings of his idolatrous neighbors.

The tendency of such an institution is obvious. Just as Jehovah intended that it should, it separated the Jews from all other nations by the most impregnable of barriers. It severed them from other people so effectually, that no national or private intercourse, no political subjugation, no considerations of any sort were able to effect an amalgamation. It was the great instrument, the efficient working of which, more than anything else, brought about that astonishing national consolidation of the Jewish people which said to the uncircumcised—“ Stand off, for I am holier than thou.”

2d. The ceremonial law was also of essential service in impressing and preserving right views of the Divine character-his holiness—his justice-his mercy. As a God of power, wisdom, and benevolence, Jehovah was known from the foundation of the world, The wide spread earth and all that it contains, with its star spangled canopy held up these attributes to the view of men from age None could entirely evade their presence, none failed to feel their power. The living exemplification of them was everywhere seen.

to age.

Not so however, with the attributes of holiness, justice, and mercy. Though they had been partially and abstractly revealed, there was not an object in the material universe which exemplified them, or set them before the mind in a tangible form. In the ceremonial law a medium was found to convey to the minds of the Jews an idea of these perfections. It served to exemplify and impress them, as the material universe did to exemplify and impress the Divine power, wisdom, and benevolence.

The holiness or moral purity of God was set forth in the ceremonial law. “ In the outset, the animals common to Palestine were divided by command of Jehovah, into clean and unclean ; in this way a distinction was made, and the one class in comparison with the other was deemed to be of a purer and better kind. From the class thus distinguished, as more pure than the other, one was selected to offer as a sacrifice. It was not only to be chosen from the clean beasts, but, as an individual, it was to be without spot or blemish. Thus it was in their eyes purer than the other class, and purer than other individuals of its own class. This sacrifice, the people were not deemed worthy, in their own persons, to offer unto Jehovah; but it was to be offered by a class of men who were distinguished from their brethren, purified, and set apart for the service of the priests office. Thus the idea of purity originated from two sources; the purified priest and the pure animal purified, were united in the offering of the sacrifice. But before the sacrifice could be offered, it was washed with clean water—and the priest had in some cases to wash himself, and officiate without his sandals. Thus, when one process of comparison after another had attached the idea of superlative purity to the sacrifice—in offering it to Jehovah, in order that the contrast between the purity of God and the highest degrees of earthly purity might be seen, neither priest, people, nor sacrifice was deemed sufficiently pure to come into his presence ; but the offering was made in the couri without the holy of holies. In this manner, by a process of comparison, the character of God in point of purity, was placed indefinitely above themselves and their sacrifices.

“ And not only in the sacrifices, but throughout the whole Levitical economy, the idea of purity pervaded all its ceremonies and observances. The camp was purified—the people were purified everything was purified and re-purified; and each process of the


ordinances was designed to reflect purity upon the others; until finally that idea formed in the mind and rendered intense by the convergence of so many rays, was by comparison, referred to the idea of God and the idea of God in their minds, being that of an infinitely powerful and good Spirit, hence purity as a characteristic or attribute of such a nature, would necessarily assume a moral aspect, because it appertained to a moral being—it would become moral purity, or holiness. Thus they learned, in the sentiment of Scripture, that God was of too pure eyes to look upon iniquity.”

The justice of God was set forth in the ceremonial law. Justice is that attribute of the Divine character which determines his opposition to sin. The only way conceivable in which this opposition to sin can be exhibited is by the penalty to be inflicted upon the transgressor. A law-giver may be just, but we can have no proof of it until we see it in the penalties of his laws. In accordance with this constitution of things, the sacrificial rites of the Tabernacle constantly and most significantly set before the Jewish mind the fearful penalties for transgression. It was the business of each violator of the law to bring a sacrifice, and deliver it to the priest to be slain. He was then to lay his hands upon its head, confess his crime, and thus by a form well understood to transfer to it his sins. The life of the sacrifice was then taken as a substitute for his own life. The ceremony and signification was the same in nearly all the bloody offerings. And while the sinner stood praying in the outer court, and beheld the dark volume of smoke ascending from the fire that consumed the sacrifice which was burning in his stead, he saw God's deep liatred of, and uncompromising opposition to sin in a light most terrible. He saw there that death was the very lightest penalty which Jehovah purposed to inflict upon the perpetrator of the slightest offense against him. He there read in symbols as significant as the flames and thunders of hell itself, that “God is just, and will by no means clear the guilty.” The mercy

of God was also set forth in the ceremonial law. Mercy is that form of goodness which commiserates the suffering, and prompts to effort for their relief. It is plainly discernable in all the services of the Tabernacle. Though the rigid justice of God shone forth most prominently, yet the Jewish worshiper saw that God through them was to be rendered propitious, and that in view of the

"See “ Philosophy of the plan of Salvation,” page 75.

sacrifices offered, God was disposed to administer pardon to the guilty. In the services as well as the furniture of the Tabernacle, he saw that there was forgiveness with the Almighty. They represented to him a plan of salvation-a foundation for his hopes.Such then was the service of the ceremonial law in impressing and preserving right views of the Divine character.

3d. But it had another object-a great—a blessed object. It was to prefigure Christ, and redemption through his blood. Some writers in theology have ventured to question the typical nature of the ceremonial law; but it seems to me that they have in this manifested no little disregard to the plain language of the Holy Ghost, and no little unfairness in the management of argument. Nothing can be more explicit than the apostolic declaration, that these ordinances were shadows of good things to come. I have said that they are again and again called “patterns"_" figures”_"types" and.“ shadows.” And it was altogether to be expected, that in an economy like that of the Jews something of a moral significance should attach to their bloody ordinances, and that something of the blessed Gospel should be exhibited to them even before its literal proclamation. But how this could be without giving to the services of the Tabernacle a typical character, I am totally unable to conceive. I lay it down then as a correct position, that the ceremonial law represented to the ancient Jews all the most prominent and important doctrines of the Gospel, and that this is one of the great ends for which it was designed.

It will be necessary for us in the next Lecture to take up the comparison between the affairs pertaining to the Levitical priesthood, and those pertaining to the christian; and to inquire into their relative value. That will bring up sufficiently to our view the points of resemblance between the services of the Tabernacle, and the mediatorial services of Jesus Christ. With such a prospect before us, I will dispense with several remarks which would otherwise be important in this connection.

We come then in the third place, to inquire into the real efficacy of the Tabernacle services, and wherein it consisted. The text affirms that they “could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience." I do not conceive that we are to understand by this, that they were totally destitute of efficacy, or that they possessed in their typical relation no moral virtue. The

apostle in the 15th verse plainly declares that they had efficacy. The meaning is, that they were unable of themselves "to render the mind of the worshiper secure of pardon for sin, and to produce that quiet which was connected with a well grounded persuasion of this, and that moral purification which must accompany it.”I believe that the devout Jews did receive salvation, real-complete salvation, by their attention to the Mosaic ritual. But their salvation was not procured purely by the virtue of these services; it was imparted only in view of that great work of mediation which they typified. Irrespective of what Christ did and suffered, there was no sort of power in them to procure the remission of sins. They were only eficacious as means of bringing truth to bear upon the heart and life. Their whole virtue in reference to the Jews rested in their adaptedness to teach those truths essential to salvation, and their power to impress them upon the heart. This is the true test by which their efficacy is to be tried.

For men to worship God intelligently in any way, it is necessary that they have soine clear idea of his character. The way in which the ceremonial law exhibited the holiness, justice, and mercy

of God I have just pointed out. It held up these views of the Divine character in a manner more striking and impressive than anything else in the world.

It is further requisite for the intelligent worshiper to have a clear understanding of his own character and relations. He must see his obligation to serve God. He must feel his disease before he will see his need of a physician. He must be conscious of his guilt and pollution before he can desire forgiveness and renovation. And he must then have some conception of the way in which he is to be pardoned and cleansed before he can feel quiet on the subject of his salvation. In meeting these necessities the ceremonial law was peculiarly efficacious. It not only told him in cold words that such was his character and condition, but it enacted the whole thing before his eyes. The oblations reminded him continually of his entire dependence upon God, and his consequent obligations to serve him. The sacrifices and washings set before him his guilt and pollution, and the way in which he was to be pardoned and cleansed. And these were daily-monthly--and yearly repeated. Nor can I con

? Stuart in loc.

« AnteriorContinua »