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1. The ark was a chest of shittim wood, overlaid within and without with pure gold. Its dimensions were two cubits and a half in length, a cubit and a half in breadth, and a cubit and a-half in height. It had a crown, or ornamental cornice of gold round the top; and had four -sings of gold for the staves, to carry it ; two of the rings being on either side of the ark, in which the staves, which were of shittim wood, overlaid with gold, always remained, but out so far towards the veil, as to allow the ark to stand at the wall of the apartment. Into this ark were put, by Divine appointment, the three following things :--1st. A golden pots containing an Omer of the manna with which they were fed in the wilderness, to be kept as a testimony of that wonderful event. 2d. The testimony, or tables of the covenant. And 3d. Aaron's rod that budded. And in the side of the ark, in a place made for the purpose, Moses enjoined that a copy of the whole law should be kept. Such then, was the ark and the things contained in it.
2. The mercy seat appears to have been a covering to the ark; or, at least, it was of such a size as to fit the covering of it exactly: for it was ordered to be of pure gold, two cubits and a half in length, and a cubit and ahalf in breadth ; and was set above upon the ark.'
3. The last part of the furniture in the most holy place was the cherubim. These were figures of a singular appearance, each having four heads, viz. the face of a calf, the face of a lion, the face of a man, and the face of ar eagle: all attached to a human body with four wings, and four hands under the wings, and standing on feet resembling those of a calf or ox.. They were made of pure
*Ex. xxv. 10-15; Xxxvii. 1-5.
• Ex. xvi. 32-34. Ileb, ix 4. • Ex. xxv. 16-21. Deut. x. 1-5. Heb. ix. 4. d Numb. xvii. 6-11. Heb.is. 4.
è Deut. xxxi. 24.-.-26. Ex. xxv. 17--21; xxyi, 34; xxxvii. 6. & Ezek, 1.5-14. VOL. I.
beaten gold, two of their wings covered their bodies, and the other two were extended over the mercy seat; while their faces looked inward and downward
it. It was from between these, that Jehovah promised to meet the Israelites as their lawgiver and covenant God, and to deliver the commandments which he might think proper to give them.
Few subjects have given rise to more various opinions than the probable meaning of the cherubim; but the most generally received are the three following: either, that they were hieroglyphics of the Trinity, as they appear in the works of creation, providence, and redemption; or that they represent the character and office of the ministers of religion; or are descriptive of the general history of the church.
The first, which makes them hieroglyphics of the Trinity, is the opinion of the Hutchinsonians, or followers of the late John Hutchinson, Esq. of Oxford; and, as it is the most uncommon, it requires the fullest explanation. With respect to creation, then, the faces of the cherubim, according to them, form an epitome of the most distinguished tribes; for the bull is the head of the tame and graminivorous animals, the lion of the wild and carnivorous, the eagle of the winged tribes, and man of the rational. So that, when the whole is combined together, it is equivalent to saying, in symbolical representation, that the three-in-one God made them all. But, if you descend, say they, from creation to providence, you will see the same signs, equally expressive: for, what are the three great agents which God employs, for moulding the sluggish and inactive earth into all those innumerable forms, which it is constantly assuming? Are they not the solar fire, light, and air? And what could hieroglyphically
• Ex. xxv. 18-22; xxxvii. 7-9.
represent them better than the figures before us? Are not the horns, the curling locks on the forehead of the bull or ox, and his relentless fury, descriptive of the appearance and dreadful effects of fire? Are not the shining eyes, tawny gold-like colour, flowing mane, and the resistless strength of the lion, descriptive of the velocity and irresistibility of light? And is not the lofty skimming of the eagle peculiarly characteristic of air in motion? Nor ought the fourth face, or that of a man, to be overlooked; for it naturally indicates, that the constant operation of these principles is not, as some have asserted, the blind operation of a blind chance, but the constant result of wisdom and intelligence. Such is their explanation of the faces of these cherubic figures, as referring to the works of the Trinity in creation and providence. Let us next see how they apply them to the kingdom of grace, where, if possible, say they, they are more expressive still; for they were instituted immediately after the fall, when the plan of mercy was first made known, and are descriptive of the interest which each person of the Trinity took in the work of redemption. Accordingly, is not the first person of the Godhead called in Scripture a consuming fire, whose hieroglyphic, as we have seen, is the face of an ox or bull? Is not the second person as frequently called the light, whose hieroglyphic, as we have seen, is the face of a lion ? And is not the common name, by which the third person is designed, that of spirit, or air in motion, whose hieroglyphic we have seen to be the eagle? But what, it may be asked, are we here to understand by the fourth face, or the face of a man? This seeming difficulty, according to them, really appears to confirm the whole; for it is worthy of remark, say they, that in the cherubim the heads of the lion and
· Deut. iy. 24. Heb. xii, 29,
Luke ii. 32; John i. 9; vii, 12; is. 5.
the man were not only united to the common neck of the figure, as all the others were, but were next to each other, to shew that the second person in the Trinity should not only be truly God, but truly man likewise ; that he should be both God and man in one person. So much, then, for the faces of these extraordinary figures ; their other parts are explained by them in the following manner :-They had each four wings, two of which covered their feet, to shew that the ways of the Godhead are often but imperfectly understood by mortals; and two were extended, to shew that these sacred persons are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. Under the wings, and on the four sides, were the hands of a man, to shew that all that happens under the four quarters of heaven, is either performed or permitted by infinite wisdom. And the feet resembling those of a calf or ox, which we have seen were the hieroglyphic of the first person in the Trinity, serve to shew, that all that happens on this earth is in consequence of, and in subservience to, the Father's gracious intentions to sinful man : so that all the actions of the Trinity in creation, providence, and the kingdom of grace, are resolvable into, and dependent on this, as their only firm and
basis. Such, according to the Hutchinsonians, appears to have been the original intention of these apparently strange figures. They were intended to represent to our first parents, and their postérity, the ever-blessed Trinity in covenant to redeem a guilty world, by uniting the human nature with the second person. Accordingly the word “cherub" 2100 is evidently compounded of , a particle of resemblance, and 217 which signifies “the Majesty;" thereby intimating, that they were meant to be a representation of the Divine Majesty, in their revealed character of the three-in-one God.
Ezek, i, 10; xli. 18, 19.
In confirmation of the above reasoning, a new interpretation is given of Gen. iii. 24. where the cherubim are first mentioned. For, instead of representing them as angels sent to prevent our first parents from eating of the tree of life, they are made emblems of the Divine mercy ; remarking that the words, which our translators render - a flaming sword,” are not in construction, and that they literally mean, “ a flame and a sword;" which last word is not applied to a sword exclusively, but to any cutting instrument whatever, as a knife or any other sharp-edged weapon. And should the meaning of these emblems be asked, they answer, that as the cherubim were the representations of the Trinity, especially as appearing in the plan of redemption,--so these were intended to represent sacrifice, by which the knowledge of Christ's intended atonement was to be kept alive in the world; viz. the knife, to shed the innocent victim's blood, and the flame to consume it as a sacrifice for sin. In this point of view, the subsequent phrase of “ turning every way to keep the way to the tree of life,” will naturally refer to those symbols as the means which God used to lead men, by the general observance of sacrifice, to the real atonement during the period between the fall of man and the death of Christ. In farther explanation of this opinion, it may be remarked, that the position of these symbols ought not to be overlooked; for God set them, (the original word signifies, that he set them in a tabernacle or tent) on the east, or, according to them, on the east side of the garden of Eden; in order that believers, in approaching the sacred tabernacle, might have their backs turned to the rising sun, which God foresaw would but too generally become the object of idolatrous worship. It is, indeed, worthy of observation,
* Ezek. viii. 16. Job xxxi. 26-28.