Page images

a fallen creature; and aspire after a participation of that grace which adorned him. The glory of his person was a rare and singular attainment; but that of his spirit may be imitated and attained by all. His piety, resignation and obedience; his meekness, gentleness and compassion, present amiable patterns, and they are the ornaments suited to your present state. It is given but to a favoured few to exhibit heroic virtue, to perform splendid actions, to acquire extensive reputation; but none is excluded from the honour of simple modest worth, of habitual beneficence, of honest fame. And those are the most valuable and solid acquisitions, which “are in the sight of God of great price.”

-Steady and persevering intercourse with Heaven will infallibly transform the whole man into the image of God. The very exterior will be meliorated and improved, and the world itself will “ take knowledge” of the disciple who “ has been with Jesus.” The exercises of the closet will be seen and felt in the serenity of the countenance, the kindness of the eye, the melody of the voice, the affability and graciousness of the whole deportment. “ Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your

Father which is in heaven,” Matt. v. 16. -The time is at hand when the glory which irradiated the face of Moses shall be imparted to the whole company of the redeemed; when the name of God and the Lamb shall shine in every forchead. Behold, and wonder, behold, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God, “A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars," Rev. xii. 1. “They that be wise, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever,” Daniel xii. 3.

" The Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly," Psalm lxxxiv. 11.

[ocr errors]



According to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so

the children of Israel made all the work. And Moses did look upon all the work, and behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded, even so had they done it: And Moses blessed them.--EXODUS xxxix. 42, 43.

IF reason were to maintain its full dominion in man, were the senses perpetually under the control of the mind, a motive to religion would be continually supplied from the natural impulse of a grateful and affectionate heart. The vast universe would become one great temple; every pebble, every plant, every star would be a witness for God; and the heaven-born spirit would arise on the wing of every bird, of every breeze of air, to its glorious Author. But man, degraded by sin, . blinded by passion, involved in error; man, impaired in understanding, grovelling in affection, in captivity to sense, needs to be frequently admonished of his obligation to, and dependence upon God, his Creator and Preserver, He needs forms, and seasons, and places of worship; the heart must be approached through the channels of sense: and our acquaintance with the Father of spirits must be preserv. ed, by means of things seen and temporal. Hence a sabbath, a tabernacle, a temple; sacrifices, sacraments, scrmons, are the insitution of Heaven; are the ordinaces of Him who knows what is in man," and what is necessary to man.

It is easy to conceive what the world would be, destitute of the modes and offices of religion, when we consider what men are, with the advantage of “line upon line, precept upon precept,” revelation upon revelation. The religious cremonies and services in use among ancient nations, whatever were their origin, become respectable in our eyes, merely from their antiquity: but when to antiquity is superadded divine authority; when we behold the great JEHOVAH condescending to describe and to appoint the rites of his own worship, to exhibit a model of all the instruments to be employed in his service, we feel something more than respect; we are filled with veneration; we break out into the exclamation of Solomon, “Will God indeed dwell with men upon the earth?”

Moses had now finally descended from the mount, furnished with complete instructions for settling the €ivil government and the religious polity of the nation which God “chose, to place his name there.” Under the direction of men divinely inspired for the work, he addresses himself to the execution of the plan which God himself had vouchsafed to delineate. From the liberality and zeal of the people, materials are speedily and amply supplied. Through the skill and assiduity of the artists, the business is speedily and successfully dispatched: and, on the first anniversary of the departure out of Egypt, the tabernacle is ready to be reared up.

It is not my design to attempt a minute description of that sacred structure, and of its furniture. But I find it impossible to pass them by entirely, as I apprehend a few remarks of a practical nature, fall directly within the design of these exercises, and may, by the divine blessing, render the awful monuments of religion in the wilderness, instructive and useful in gospel times.

The name and the nature of the tabernacle were, perhaps, intended to be emblematical of the whole dispensation, of which it was a leading instrument. A tent, or tabernacle, is a temporary and portable habitation, suited to a state of journeying or warfare; and this, in particular, was to be the guide to Canaan, to give the signal of motion and of rest; to lead the way to victory and peace: and when full possession was at length given, the tabernacle transferred its transitory glory, to the stationary glory of the temple; or rather was consolidated into one glory with it. Thus, all the positive institutions of religion are designed to be our monitors, guides and comforters in the wilderness; to introduce us into the promised land; and then the objects of faith shall become objects of vision, and the redeemed of the Lord shall worship together in that temple, from which there is no more going out.

Jehovah declared himself not only the spiritual Head of the Israelitish church and nation, but also their temporal Sovereign, the supreme Head and Governor of their political economy. As such he gave commandment to pith a tent for the leader and commander of his people, from whence orders were expected and issued; over which the royal standard was seen perpetually hovering in the dreadful glory of a pillar of cloud by day, and of fire by night. And the final fulfilling of the scriptures is the gathering into one, to the standard of the Redeemer, “a great multitude, which no man can number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues," Rev. vii. 0; when at the sounding of the seventh angel, there shall be "great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever," Chap. xi. 15.

From the contemplation of a tabernacle constructed of

parts that might be separated, and joined together again, as occasion required, we are led to contemplate

the “ city of our solemnities,” Jerusalem that is above, “ a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby," Isaiah xxxiii. 20, 21.

The fabric in the wilderness was not a design of human skill, nor fashioned according to models seen in Egypt, but planned of infinite wisdom, erected, to a single .pin, according to a pattern shown to Moses on the mount. In things which relate to the management of this world, a latitude is given to the exercise of hu. man prudence and discretion; but in what regards the immediate worship and service of God, men are tied up to an iota and a tittle, “ Thus saith the Lord.” The work of God is perfect, his law is perfect, his word is perfect; none can with safety add thereto, or diminish from it. A holy and a jealous God has fenced himself and his ordinances as with a wall of fire, which presumption attempts to break through at its peril. “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book," Rev. xxii. 18, 19. When we consider the dreadful import of these words, who but must tremble to think on the rash, the irreverent, the profane use that is daily made of the name and the book of God. Is it thus ye requite your Maker, foolish creatures and unwise? “He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath bardened himself against him, and hath prospered?” Job ix. 4. The tabernacle consisted of three several apartments

2 x


« PreviousContinue »