« PreviousContinue »
censer, in which the high-priest used to burn incense on the great day of atonement; and over it the cherubims of glory, shadowing the mercy-seat: St. Paul adds,“ of which we cannot here speak particularly;” (Heb. ix. 4,5;) pretty clearly implying, that a very particular explanation of the meaning designed to be conveyed by these figures might be given. That the apostle, however, should avoid entering into any comments on types that appear solely to relate to the invisible world, and with which we have found (should our conception of this wonderful subject be deemed just) that stupendous event the death of Christ so very intimately connected, is not at all to be wondered at, when we consider his own declaration of being all things to all men, and that he was then addressing those prejudiced Jewish converts, of whose ignorance in a preceding chapter we find him complaining, and reproving.
« We have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing; for when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again, which be the first principles of the oracles of God.” (Heb. v. Il, 12.) The same circumspect discrimination was also eminently practised by our sapient Lord, who uniformly adapted his instructions to the faculties and attainments of his different hearers. To some He spake the word only in parables, as they were able to bear it. (Mark iv. 33.) And without a parable spake he not unto them, but when alone with his intimate and constant companions he expounded all things; to them it was given to understand the mysteries
of the kingdom of God. (Matt. xiii, 11,) whilst with others he expostulated, saying, If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe me not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things? (John iii. 12.) And when his gracious visit on our earth was point of termination, he informed his disciples that he had yet many things to say unto them, but that they could not bear them then, (John xvi. 12,) at the same time giving them this assurance, “ Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.” (John xvi. 13.) That this blessed promise has been gloriously fulfilled, the subsequent writings of the apostolic penmen fully establish; and as a right understanding of that grand introductory, the Mosaic institution, is the key which unfolds the mysterious discourses of these highly enlightened Christian philosophers, we shall--(no part of the sacred volume being intended to remain in private interpretation, and all Scripture having been given by inspiration of God, and declared to be profitable, first, for doctrine, (2 Pet. i. 20; 2 Tim. jii. 16,) that our faith may be founded on a rational basis)—take occasion to offer some observations illustrative of the aptness of the signification which its types represent, the irresistible evidence they exhibit, the high importance of the ends to which they point, and the grand object in which they centre.
There are two distinct subjects of contemplative research, neither of which, when dwelt on separately, will clearly elucidate the gospel of
truth. Philosophy too often confines its inquiries to the visible creation, whilst meditative piety, apparently unmindful of this, is continually soaring far above these sublunary heavens, fixing the eye of faith on those sublimer regions which Revelation presents to view. And when the practice of its precepts superinduces the best of all evidences, that internal witness which is promised unto all sincere performers of the will of God,
for if any man will do his will he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, or whether the gracious imparter of it spake of himself, (John vii. 17,)-by the divine influence it hath on their mind and conduct, and they are happily piloted (as thousands have been,) into the celestial port by this best and safest method, far be it from us to draw their attention from those bright realms towards which all inquiry ought to point, and to the attainment of which all inquiry that does not tend is useless and vain. But the greatest proficients in the school of Christ are always the slowest to censure the conduct of others, and as philosophy is the rock on which faith has been so frequently and fatally shipwrecked, if the contemplation of those angelic climes is working out its proper effect, by transforming their minds into a resemblance to their blest inhabitants, they will, like them, rejoice at any attempt, how feebly soever it may be executed, whose object is to pen fresh proselytes within the Christian fold, by leading them, as Scripture most evidently directs, through those things that are seen, though temporal, to those things that are not seen, but eternal. And as
ofttimes through wisdom the world knows not God, the fairest chance of removing that obstacle to the reception of divine truth, is by convincing the human understanding by this means of its reality. Should our conclusions, however, not meet the immediate approbationary awards of this age
of reason, we must then consign over the determination of their justness, to that slower, but most unerring critic, Time; who may perhaps at some future period admit our philosophy not to be vain, should a new and very satisfactory evidence to the truth of our religion be derived from finding the book of nature the best and clearest expositor of the book of God.
FROm observations in a former chapter, we have already inferred its being wholly improbable that our infantine sight should have been now so formed, as to explore the infinitude of space. (p. 4.) Dr. Watts very justly remarks, that “ wheresoever God displays his glory, that is heaven." The prophetic and apostolic writers describe the Deity as filling heaven and earth with his presence, as a being whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, and as the high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity. These sublime descriptions are eminently calculated to convey vast ideas of the immensity and omnipresence of God. But though the whole creation is ever visible unto Him, and He is not far from any one of us, yet still we know that He does not reveal his glories to every order of created beings. We find Adam, even in his holy, honourable, and innocent estate, only blessed with occasional visits; and from the parity observable between the nature of our world, and the other globes of our solar system, there is much reason to suspect that their inbabitants may be similarly circumstanced with