Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

pear above or between the cherubims, which were placed here upon the mercy seat which covered the ark; on which account the apostle in the epistle to the Hebrews calls them the cherubims of glory; and the Psalmist speaks of them as the proper seat of the divine Majesty-Thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.*.

There was this remarkable distinction between the two apartments of the tabernacle; that as the one was the place of God's residence, the habitation of his holiness; the other had a conformity with this present world; whence the apostle calls it a worldly sanctuary, or world-like sanctuary, that is, a sanctuary resembling this visible world; as must indeed be evident to those who consider what relation it bore to the other sanctuary: how it was distinguished in its use from the most holy place which was the habitation of God; and how it was furnished with lights, as the visible heavens are, the chief of which are seven in number, and the lights of the tabernacle were made to answer them. From this known relation between the visible world and the sanctuary, the heavens are called the tabernacle of the sun; the whole world itself, and the firmament of heaven, with its glorious furniture, being one great tabernacle, comprehending the luminaries of the day and night, represented in figure by the lamps of the taber, nacle. Josephus, in his Jewish Antiquities, has preserved a tradition, that this was the design of them, and that they had respect to the system of the heavens *. And this alliance between the furniture of the tabernacle and the furniture of the heavens, gives us a grand idea of the visible world ; the inhabitants of which are all to consider themselves as comprehended in one great sanctuary, where the first and best employment (by necessary inference) is the service of that God who has brought them into it. Therefore the indevout mind, which is either ignorant or insensible of this doctrine of a sacred alliance and communion betwixt God and his créatures, is a poor intruder into the great temple of the world; on whom we ought to look as we should upon the rude savage, who should come staring into a Christian church in the time of divine service, without understanding what the nature of the place is, and how the people are employed. · From this description of the tabernacle we must proceed to the figurative acceptation of it: for that it actually was à figure, and had respect to things beyond itself, is shewn by the reasoning of St. Paul throughout the Epistle to the Hebrews; who there speaks of a true tabernacle, of a nature superior to that of the law, but signified and shadowed out by it. The same appears from the words spoken to Moses, see thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount: which direction was preserved, and is quoted in the new testament twice, to teach us, that the visible tabernacle was nothing more than a copy from an heavenly original, which came down from God out of heaven (like the New Jerusalem in the Revelation) and was exhibited to

* If the reader wishes to enquire into the form and design of the Cherubim, more particularly than the intention of these Lectures will permit me to do, as being designed for general use, I must refer him to the last edition of Mr. Parkhurst's Hebrew Lexicon; the most useful work, without exception, that has ever been published on the Literature or Philology of the sacred Language.

* The Emperor Numa placed a sacred fire in his temple, with the like allusion to the fire of the heavens ; focum Vestae virginibus colendum dedit, ut ad similitudinem cælestium siderum costos imperii flamma vigilaret. Flor. Hist. 1.

Moses in a vision on the mount. Hence the apostle argues for a prophetic relation to heavenly things in the earthly tabernacle. As we hear of a Jerusalem that is above, corresponding to the earthly Jerusalemi so was there always understood to be a heavenly tabernacle; the eternal residence of God, as the taber nacle below was his temporary residence, while his presence was with Moses and the Jews. This heavenly original must be understood, where the Psalmist speaks of the dwelling of the righteous man in the secret place of the most High, under the shadow of the Almighty, covering him with his wings, as the cherubim of glory are said to spread forth their wings in the secret place of the earthly sanctuary *. So where he saith in the 15th psalm, Who shall dwell in thy tabernacle, or who shall rest upon thy holy hill a No man can be so ignorant as to think that the godly were to expect their rest and reward in a tabernacle, which had no existence after the days of David. The words must refer to that other tabernacle spoken of by Isaiah, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down, not one of the stakes thereof shall be removed t. As there is an eternal throne of David on which the Messiah sits and reigns for ever I; so is there an eternal tabernacle, in which he is exalted as the head and ruler in his church; and both are united on another occasion. - In mercy shall the throne be established, and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking judgment and hasting righteousness : which words cannot be understood of the literal taberpacle, though they refer to the mercy-seat in the most holy place, over which God appeared enthroned in glory above the cherubim ;

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

with which in Ezekiel's vision of them, there was a likeness of a throne, with the appearance of a man upon it; and the whole together is called the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord*: whence we collect, that what Ezekiel saw was a visionary appearance of that seat of glory in the holy place, which was the instituted likeness of the seat of the divine glory in the heavens. And in a like vision of Isaiah, the throne of God, and the display of his glory, is still present in his temple: I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple f. So, where the same prophet saith, Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory I; the words habitation and holiness and glory all refer to the earthly sanctuary as a pattern of the heavenly.

The tabernacle was also a figure of the church of Christ: and therefore the renovation and establishment of the church amongst the Gentiles by the preaching of the gospel, is described under the idea of a restoration of the tabernacle which had ceased from the time of David. The prophet Amos speaks of this gathering of the Gentiles into the church of Christ, as into the tabernacle taken in this new sense; and St. James made the proper application of it, when the great question was debated concerning the reception of the heathens. To this, says he, agree the words of the prophets, as it is written, I will return and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen downthat the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whommy name is called ş. To the same effect St. Stephen had observed in his apology to the Jews, that the tabernacle had originally been brought in with Jesus into the possession of the . * Ezekiel i. 26. Isaiah vi. 1. Ib. Ixiii. 15. § Acts xv. 6.

Gentiles; and therefore the church might reasonably go thither again; whereto the preaching of the gospel under the true Jesus should remove and settle it.

The propriety with which the Christian church is signified by this name, is too plain to be enlarged upon; inasmuch as we have already seen, that all things are there done in spirit and in truth, which were done in figure in the tabernacle of the law.

But the tabernacle, as well as the temple, is farther applied as a figure of the body of Christ; and this in a passage not open to common observation.

The word, saith St. John, was made flesh and dwelt amongst us ; where the true sense of the original is, he tabernacled amongst us: and then it is added, and we beheld his glory ; for where the true tabernacle is, there must be also the glory of it. Here then we have the manifestation of Christ in the flesh, signified by the dwelling of God's presence in the tabernacle; than which there can be no higher proof of his divinity to those that understand the thing in this light. As the glory of the Lord was once present in the tabernacle, so it is said with reference to the same, that in him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Well therefore might he say of his body, destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again; for it was both a tabernacle and temple in a stricter sense than had ever been before; the Godhead had occasionally dwelt in the buildings made with hands : but with him it abode continually. The use our Saviour made of this term amounted to an assertion of his Godhead to the Jews; but as the Jews did not then understand the sense of his expression, so are many Christians as blind to it at this day.

« AnteriorContinuar »