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parts, constituting its perfection, signified by all the tribes of Israel engraven on these stones, and, as it were, enshrined in their glory. Further, this glory and perfection was borne on the heart and on the shoulders of the High Priest, in the ephod, and in the breast-plate,which were not to be separated from each other (chap. xxviii. 28). Inquiry is said, 1 Sam. xxii. 9, and xxx. 7, to be by the ephod; which privilege of inquiry (denominated 1 Sam. xxviii. 6, by Urim), appears from Num. xxvii. 21, to be allowed only to the person who, during the theocracy in Israel, was the deputed vicegerent of God; and it was, in a limited degree, the continuation of that special favour enjoyed by Moses, of familiar converse with Jehovah: for the answers to the inquiries by Urim (i. e. of the high priest, wearing the breast-plate and ephod), seem to have been made in an audible voice. Again, in Lev. viii. where every part of Aaron's dress is particularized, it is observable, that the twelve stones are not mentioned; but it is said that Moses put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim: and in Exod. xxxix. where every article likewise is distinctly specified, and the stones accurately described, the Urim and Thummim are not mentioned: which led Bishop Patrick to think they were one and the same; and he says, that Josephus and the Talmudic doctors were of the same opinion.
I also conclude, that the circumstance of the breast-plate (or rather breast-piece, for it was made of fine linen embroidered), being doubled, indicates, that the engraved stones (which formed a jewel, not larger than a small miniature picture), were placed within, i. e. between the fold; so that it might properly be said, Lev. viii. 8, he put in the breast-piece the Urim and Thummim. Compare Exod. xxxix. 10. If this was the fact, then that which represented the glory of the church was hidden, or veiled, like all the other representative glories of this
dispensation. If the robe of the ephod was (as its Hebrew name imports) the upper garment, then the engraved stones on the shoulders were also covered. It should be considered, that though these garments were made for glory and beauty, yet that they were scarcely seen by the people. The high priest wore them only when he ministered in the holy places (but not when he entered the most holy), and the people could only view him as they worshipped before the gate of the court where the brazen altar stood, i. e. the court of the priests. And it may be added, as every thing pertaining to the tabernacle and priesthood was typical of spiritual and heavenly things, it is congruous to understand the Urim and Thummim as being of the same kind; and this point, viz. that they were of material workmanship, would be decided, if the added clause in the Samaritan text be admitted as genuine : "Thou shalt make the Urim and the Thummim." But what I consider as the argument chiefly deserving attention is the following. It is generally agreed that the inquiry by Urim ceased about the time of Solomon. The building of the temple, honoured with special marks of Divine approbation, can never be assigned as the cause of the withdrawment of such a privilege. But the defection of the Ten Tribes in the subsequent reign furnishes a sufficient solution of this matter; since it is evident the high priest could not bear the names of the ten revolted and apostate tribes on his heart or on his shoulders, as a memorial before Jehovah.
At the return of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi, from the captivity in Babylon, great pains were taken to inquire into, and regulate, the genealogies, especially those of the family of Aaron; and some priests were necessarily suspended from their sacred functions through defect of proper documents to prove their pedigree. Upon this occasion, Nehemiah (chap. vii. 5, 6) said unto
Jehovah; nor could he, on the solemn day of yearly expiation, offer sacrifices for the house of Israel, collectively considered.
I think this view casts some light on Deut. xxxiii. 8. " And of Levi he said, Thy Thummim and thy Urim shall be with thy Holy One" (thy bountiful, gracious One, as in Ps. xvi. 10): even Him who will be the High Priest of good things to come, in a greater and more perfect tabernacle, by whom Gentiles, as well as Jews, may have access by one Spirit unto the Father, and be made perfect by becoming one. John xvii. 23. It is observable, that in this text, Thummim is placed before Urim.
On Esau's Birth-right, Gen. xv. 31. them, that " they should not eat of the most holy things till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim;" q. d. their title to the priesthood could not be ascertained but by an appeal to the sacred oracle, which the high priest, wearing the complete ephod and breast-plate, was alone authorized to make: from which it may be inferred, he did not then wear it; for this passage proves the privilege of inquiry by Urim was no longer vouchsafed, and also that its restoration was hoped for. Now it is certain the re-union of all the tribes of Israel was the subject of several prophecies which yet remain to be accomplished. (See Jer. xxxi. 1, 18, 20; Zech. ix. 10, 13; chap. x. 6. I agree with Mr. Mede, that there are strong internal proofs that the six last chapters inserted in Zechariah belong to Jeremiah, or to his time.) And if this event was, as I suppose, essential to the enjoyment of this favour, it holds forth to us most impressive information concerning the necessity of union, as constituting the perfection of the church, in order to the full participation of that light of truth, and freedom of access to God, which are its happiness and its glory. As the human body, when deprived of a single member, is thereby, though possessing life, yet impeded in some of its functions; so, whilst the church, through disunion, remains imperfect, the disunited parts, though living, all suffer a partial withdrawment of Divine communication, by reason of their divided state. God did not fill the Mosaic tabernacle, or the temple of Solomon, with his glory, till the whole was complete, by every part being united to each other, and every utensil and vestment prepared according to Divine command: and perhaps the reason why the second temple was not honoured at its consecration with the cloud of glory, may be sought for in the dispersed state of the tribes; during which state, the high priest could not bear their names in memorial before
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. IN your former volume, p. 539, a correspondent, who signs herself MARIA, proposes an inquiry respecting the probable import of Jacob's request to Esau, in Gen. xxv. 31. The chief difficulty which presents itself, on the examination of this transaction and its consequences, seems to arise from the diversified nature of the blessings conveyed by the birth-right. That the birth-right was, in some respects, a transferable property, the transaction itself sufficiently proves; and of this Jacob must, at the time, have been aware. Yet it appears, from the account given in chap. xxvii. that Isaac was far from considering himself bound, by the previous bargain between bis sons, to act conformably to it. It was only in consequence of a successful artifice, contrived by Jacob and his mother, that the patriarchal blessing was diverted from its regular, hereditary possessor, and that "the determinate counsel of God" came to be fulfilled. It is impossible to avoid implicating both the brothers in, perhaps, an equal degree of blame, though they acted from very different motives, on the occasion recorded in chap. xxv.— Covetousness, cruelty, deception, unbelief, were the characteristics of
Jacob's action. Esau displayed a "profane" contempt for the divine and the prophetic blessings which were naturally entailed upon the primogeniture. To substantiate these charges, we must recollect what those advantages were, which the one coveted, and the other "despised."-It has, indeed, been supposed (as your correspondent suggests), that "the honour of being progenitor of the Messiah was included in the birth-right;" but of this there seems no sufficient evidence, either in the way of promise, or of fact. It is, however, unquestionable, that the first-born possess ed an authority over the rest of the family, as is expressed in the words of the Most High to Cain, Gen. iv. 7; and signified by "the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power," Gen. xlix. 3; according to which he succeeded the father in the government of the family, or kingdom, 2 Chron. xxi, 3. He had likewise a double portion of the paternal inheritance (see Deut. xxi. 17, and 1 Chron. v. 1.) It is probable that these were the principal advantages which Jacob, by his unnatural and arbitrary conduct, aimed to secure, especially as confirmed by the paternal benediction. It may be urged, that his purpose of selfaggrandisement was by no means realised in the event, since, so far from possessing the dominion over Esau, he was soon obliged to flee from before his face, and, in process of time, to approach him with the most solicitous indications of inferiority and submission. This is true. But it is to be observed, that the ascendancy of Jacob took place, not so much immediately as progressively; not so much in his own person or family, as in his remote descendants. Among them, the divine declaration made to Rebekah, "The elder shall serve the younger," was for ages, and is to this day, remarkably verified. For though, according to the prophecy in chap. xxviii. 39, 40, Edom, the posterity of Esau, for a time enjoyed fertility, victory, and
other advantages, " yet at length," says Bishop Newton, "David imposed the yoke, which was very galling to the Edomites from the first; and towards the end of Solomon's reign, Hadad, the Edomite, of the blood royal, who had been carried into Egypt from his childhood, returned into his own country, and raised some disturbances, 1 Kings xi. but was not able to recover his throne, his subjects being overawed by the garrisons which David had placed among them; but in the reign of Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, the Edomites revolted from under the dominion of Judah, and made themselves a king, 2 Kings viii. 20-22. Jehoram made some attempts to subdue them again, but could not prevail. We find that the nation of the Edomites has, at several times, been conquered by, and made tributary to, the Jews, but never the Jews to the Edomites. And where is the name or nation now? They were swallowed up and lost, partly among the Nabathean Arabs, and partly among the Jews; and the very name, as Dr. Prideaux has observed, was abolished and disused about the end of the first century of the Christian era."
There were, moreover, certain religious or spiritual privileges connected with the birth-right, the contempt and easy sacrifice of which by Esau has brought on him the severe reprobation of the apostle in Heb. xii. 16. These seem chiefly to have consisted in the right to the domestic priesthood, and to the inheritance of the prophetic blessing. The former was, probably, exercised on occasion of the father's absence, sickness, or death (see Deut. viii. 16, 17, &c.) The latter, as having respect, not merely to temporal prosperity, but also to the setting up of God's kingdom; to the coming of the Messiah; or, in other words, to all those great things included in the covenant with Abraham; could not be slighted without the greatest profaneness and impiety. Nor could any truly good man have been in
different to the honour of being, as
FAMILY SERMONS. No. XXXIX.
Luke xv. 7.—" I say unto you likewise, joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.”
"THE words of the wise," says the Wise Man," are as goads" (fitted to rouse the heart), and as "nails" (to fix divine truths there), fastened by the masters (the guides) of assemblies. One, indeed, is our Master, the Lord from heaven; and that we might hear his words, and be instructed in his Father's will, he clothed himself with our nature. When we reflect that he is truth itself, and cannot lie, and that his boundless love made him come to seek and save us who were lost; we ought especially to weigh his words, and let them sink into our hearts. Now it is He who tells us, that "joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth."
Joy is that which all men seek after, and therefore it is a subject which must be interesting to all. But, alas! the joy which most men seek, is that which arises from pleasing their sensual appetites, or gratifying their malignant passions; a joy which has in it nothing solid, but must, sooner or later, end in sorrow and anguish. It is the joy of fools. Solomon, who applied himself to find out the utmost happiness which the world was capable of affording, and who withheld his heart from no worldly joy, found all to be
vanity and vexation of spirit. It is to turn us from this vain pursuit after empty joy, that God calls us, by the messages of his grace and the visitations of his providence, to recollection and penitential sorrow. And they who obey that call, though they may sow in tears, yet shall reap in joy. Nay, there shall be joy in heaven over them.
Heaven is the region and centre of joy, as the sun is of light. There is the kingdom of God; a kingdom of pure love and solid joy; a kingdom of such true and essential joy, that it is called "the joy of the Lord." "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." "In his presence is fulness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures for evermore." Thence, all sorrow and sighing flee away. There, the constant employment of angels and saints is hallelujahs and joyful songs of praise "to Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever." We find, at the birth of our Saviour, a multitude of the heavenly host coming down thence to "praise God, and to give glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." And a measure of the same joy we may suppose to be excited by every event which tends to the glory of God, and the good of man. In the text we hear of joy being caused in heaven by what passes on earth. In heaven, there is joy over even one sinner that repenteth. Over a sinner! a creature that has despised his Creator; a subject who has rebelled against his sopreme Lord and King; a son who has been disobedient to his heavenly Father; an indigent wretch, whe has been guilty of base ingratitude to his most bountiful Benefactor, from whom he has received his being and all he possesses; a bondslave, who has contemned his Redeener; one also who has obstinately persisted in his wickedness, notwithstanding all the Divine calls and warnings, so that no less than Infinite Patience could have borne with him:-that there should be
joy in heaven over such a creature, is a miracle of grace and mercy far surpassing that of curing the blind or the lame, or raising the dead. There is nothing more hateful to God than sin; and yet our Lord says, that there shall be joy in heaven over a sinner. Yes; but it is over a sinner that repenteth; a sinner who hates and forsakes his sins; who turns away from his wickedness both in heart and life; who is grieved at his heart for having despised so good and so merciful a God; who would not for a world turn again to such folly; who feels an indignation against himself on account of it; whose sorrow does not arise from worldly loss or disappointment, nor chiefly from the fear of endless torments, but from his having set at nought infinite goodness and love; who is above all things anxious to do so no more; who is afraid lest he should be drawn back to sin; and who, therefore, keeps a strict watch over bis heart, his tongue, his ways; and takes revenge as it were on himself, for having neglected and displeased his God. There shall be joy in heaven over such a sinner, how great and how many soever his sins may have been; for the Lord delighteth not in the death of a sinner: he is not willing that any sinner should perish, but that he should repent and live. When the Prodigal Son had spent in riotous living all that his father had given him, and in his misery came to himself, and arose to go to his father, in order to confess his sin, acknowledge his wretchedness, and beg only to be admitted as one of his hired servants; his father, while he was yet a great way off, saw him, and had compassion on him, and, running to meet him, fell on his neck and kissed him. He received him with joy, as his son who had been lost but was found, and he would have all the family to rejoice with him. Oh the infinite love and compassion of our heavenly Father! He rejoices at the conCHRIST. OBSERV. No. 123.
version of a sinner: he calls upon his angels to rejoice with him. Such an event fills them with joy and gladness: for among them there is no envy, but love; a love which makes them stoop to be ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation. They rejoice when the labour of their Lord and ours, has not been in vain.
Such is the benevolence which reigns in heaven, that joy is excited there even over one sinner that repenteth. One might suppose that the conversion of a whole city or nation might cause joy in heaven; but God and his holy angels rejoice over one sinner that repenteth, and this without respect of persons or rank. Here the rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the Maker of them all. It is not said that there shall be joy in heaven over a rich or a great man that repenteth, but over one sinner that repenteth, whether he be rich or poor, high or low, bond or free. Nay, if we may judge from some declarations of Scripture, it would appear that God delighted more especially in the recovery of the poor and mean. "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; for God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen; yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence. ." The . meanest and poorest sinner that repenteth, is as much the object of the Divine care and joy, as if there were no other to care for in the world.
God dwells in light inaccessible: no man hath seen God at any time; but the only begotten Son he hath revealed him, and hath revealed him to us by his beloved disciple as Love: "God is love; and love, when it loses a beloved object, becomes ardent in its desires to recover it, and will spare no pains and labour to