Imágenes de páginas

plan of these lectures will admit: for I do not undertake to explain all that is referred to in the law : my meaning is to shew, by several examples, in what manner the scripture itself applies the institutions of the law; and by so doing, I put a light into the hands of those who read the bible, with which they may go farther, and examine things for themselves. Yet, among the offerings of the tabernacle and temple, there are two more for which I shall have room in this discourse; I mean the first fruits and the burning of incense.

In 1 Cor. xv. Christ, as risen from the dead, is called the first fruits ; but now, saith St. Paul, is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. From the term thus applied he confirms and opens in a wonderful manner, the doctrine of the Resurrection; and therefore it is proper we should have a right understanding of it. When the harvest was ripe, and ready for the sickle, a first sheaf was reaped and carried into the temple, where the priest waved it before the Lord to be accepted; and till this was done, the rest of the harvest was not sanctified to the use of the people, nor had they any right to partake of it.

The use the apostle makes of this is very extensive. In the first place, the growing of grain from the earth where it was buried, is an exact image of the resurrection of the body; for as the one is sown, so is the other, and neither is quickened, except it first die and be buried. — Then the whole harvest, from its relation to the first fruits, explains and ensures the order of our resurrection. For, is the sheaf of the first fruits reaped ? Then is the whole harvest ready. Is Christ risen from the dead? Then shall all rise in like manner. Is he accepted of God as an holy offering,


and lifted up in his heavenly sanctuary? Then shall every sheaf that has grown up with him be taken from the earth and sanctified in its proper order ; Christ the first-fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

If there seems any impropriety in making Christ the first fruits, when we know that others were raised to life before him; as the Shunamite's son by Elisha, and Lazarus by Christ himself: it is to be observed, that they were raised; he only rose from the dead by his own power, as the grain springeth from the ground of itself. – Besides, though they were raised, they died again; but Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over him ; He was the first who rose to life eternal. Nothing followed to mankind from the resurrection of others; but he sanctified the harvest of the whole field, and had the efficacy as well as the appearance of the firstfruits.

Saint Paul in his apology before King Agrippa pleaded in defence of his doctrine, that he said none other things than those which the Prophets and Moses did say should come ; that Christ should suffer *, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead. Now these things are no where said by Moses in the letter; therefore they were foretold figuratively and in the spirit. Christ, according to the doctrine of Moses, was to suffer in the Pussover, and to rise again in the first fruits of the harvest. And as this assertion of the Apostle shews us the style and manner in which Moses preached the Gospel, it is of great importance to us in our present enquiry.

The other offering which I proposed to speak of;

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

is that of the daily incense. Morning and evening it was to be offered up upon an altar of gold, where no bloody sacrifice was to come * This offering the Psalmist refers to in his devotions, and explains its meaning by his application of it: Let my prayer be set forth in thy sight as the incense. As the smoke and odour of this offering was wafted into the holy place, close by the veil of which stood the altar of incense; so do the prayers of the faithful ascend upwards, and find admission into the highest heaven. Cornelius, said the angel, thy prayers are come up for a memorial before God t. The prayer of faith is acceptable to God, as the fragrance of incense is agreeable to the senses of man: and as the incense was offered twice a day, in the morning and evening, the spirit of this service is to be kept up at those times throughout all generations. The prophet Malachi foretold that it should be observed throughout the world : from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles, and in every place incense shall be offered to my name I. In the Revelation we hear of this incense as now actually carried up and presented in heaven: where the elders fall down before the Lamb with golden vials in their hands, filled with odours (of incense) which are the prayers of saints . Happy are they'who fulfil this service; and at the rising and going down of the sun send up this offering to heaven, as all Christians are supposed to do, at least twice in every day. What then are they, and to whom do they belong, who do not pray? What is their incense ? Perhaps it is nothing but a faithless murmuring and complaining against the Providence they ought to bless and adore. Perhaps,

[ocr errors]

they call upon God for curses upon themselves and others; and then their mouth, instead of offering incense, is an open sepulchre, sending forth the filthy oodurs of death and uncleanness. From this unprofitable and most miserable state, may God deliver all Christian families, who look for any blessing upon themselves and their affairs: may his grace open their lips, and dispose their affections ; that they may meet together in peace, and make a morning and an evening sacrifice to that God whose eyes are upon them all the day long; who made them, and redeemed them, and is alone able to save those that call upon him through Jesus Christ,




Next in order to the offerings and the priesthood of the law, is the place of divine worship, wherein these services were accomplished, called the tabernacle; to which the Scriptures both of the Old and New Testament refer us in many figurative passages, for the right understanding of which, we must first enquire what the tabernacle was in itself.

It was a moveable habitation ; like a large tent, first erected in the wilderness, when the Israelites were on their pilgrimage to Canaan. It contained two apartments; the first of which was called the Holy Place, appointed for the daily services of sacrifice and prayer; beyond which there was an inner apartment, called the most Holy Place, in which a service was performed once in a year by the high priest only: and these two apartments were separated by a veil reaching from the top to the bottom. In the most holy place, the presence of God was manifested, and his glory is said on some occasions to have filled the tabernacle: but it was usual for this glory to ap

« AnteriorContinuar »