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God, and not profane the name of their God : for the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God do they offer : therefore they shall be holy. You see that in the Levitical style, they denominated the meat of God, or the bread of God, not only the cakes which were offered upon the altar, not only the loaves of the shew-bread which were presented on the table in the Holy Place, but all the victims which were consumed by fire on the altar of burnt-offering.
Now, the manner in which those offerings were to be presented, had likewise been laid with singular precision. There was a general law respecting this point, which you will find in chap. iv. of Leviticus : it is enjoined that the victim should be without blemish ; and if you wish for a more particular detail on this subject, you may farther consult chap. xxii, of the same book. There we have enumerated ten imperfections, which rendered a victim unworthy of being offered unto God. Some place in this class, not only bodily, but mental imperfections, if this last epithet may be applied to brutes. For example, they durst not have presented unto God, animals of an obstinate, petulant, capricious disposition, and the like. Seruples, by the way, which the pagans themselves, and particularly the Egyptians entertained, respecting the victims which they offered to their gods. They set apart for them the choicest of the flock and of the herd. Herodotus informs us, that in Egypt there were persons specially appointed to the office of examining the victims.
Let us no longer deviate from the principal object of our text. If by the table of the Lord, we are to understand, as it is presumeable we ought, the altar of burnt-offerings, to offer unto God polluted bread, in the style of Malachi, to say, the
table of the Lord is contemptible, is to violate some of the rites prescribed, respecting the offerings which were presented unto God upon that altar. More especially, it is to consecrate to deity victims which had some of the blemishes that rendered them unworthy of his acceptance.
But was it indeed, then, altogether worthy of God to enter into details so minute? But of what importance could it be to the Lord of the universe, whether the victims presented to him were fat or lean, or whether the bread consecrated to him were of wheat or of barley, of fine or of course flour? And though the Jews were subjected to minuteness of this kind, what interest can we have in them, we who live in ages more enlightened ; 'we who are called to serve God only in spirit and in truth, John iv. 24. and to render bim none but a reasonable service ? Rom. xii. l. We sball devote the remainder of the time, at present permitted to us, to the elucidation of these questions : we shall endeavor to unfold the great aim and object of our text, and apply it more particularly to the use of our hearers. For this purpose it will be necessary to institute a twofold parallel.
I. We shall institute a parallel between the altar of burnt-offerings, or the table of the shew-bread, and the table of the Eucharist ; and shall endeavor to unfold the mystical views of both the one and the other.
II. The second parallel shall be, between the profanation of the altar, or the table of the shewbread, and the profanation of the Christian sacramental table: we shall indicate what is implied, with respect to the Jews, and with respect to Christians, in offering to God polluted bread, and
in looking on the table of the Lord as contemptible ; and we will endeavor to make you sensible of the keenness of the reproach conveyed by the mouth of the prophet : A son honoreth his father, and a servant his master : if then I be a father, where is mine honor ? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of Hosts unto you, () priesis, that despise my name.
And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar ; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible,
FOR A COMMUNION SABBATH.
MALACHI i. 6, 7.
A son honoreth his father, and a servant his master : if then I be a father, where is mine honor ? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of Hosts unto you, O priests, that despise
And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Te offer polluted bread upon mine altar ; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible.
HAVING endeavored to remove the difficulties
in which the text may seem to be involved, and shewn what we are to understand by polluted bread, by the table of the Lord, and by calling the table of the Lord contemptible, we proceed to institute the twofold parallel proposed.
I. Let us state a parallel between the altar of burnt-offerings, the table of the shew-bread, and the sacramental table of the Lord's supper; the offerings which were presented to God on the first,
and those which we still present to him on the second. The sacramental table of the supper, as the altar of burnt-offerings, and as the table of the shew-bread, is the table of the Lord. The viands, presented on both the one and the other, are the meat of God or the bread of God. And those sacred ceremonies, however they may differ as to certain circumstances, have been, nevertheless, destined to the same end, and represent the same mysteries : namely, the intimate union which God wishes to maintain with his church and people.
You will be convinced that this was the destination of the altar of burnt-offerings, and of the table of the shew-bread, if you have formed a just idea of the temple, and of the tabernacle. The tabernacle was considered to be the tent of God, as the Leader and Commander of Israel and the temple was considered as his palace. For this reason it is, that when God gave commandment to construct the tabernacle, he said to Moses: Let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell amongst them : Exod. xxi. 8. And when Solomon substituted the temple in room of the tabernacle, he was desirous of conveying the same idea of it: I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever. The following are the words of a very sensible Rabbi on this subject : “ God, to whom be all
glory inscribed, gave commandment to build for “ him an house, similar to the palaces of the kings “ of the earth. All these things are to be found in " the palaces of kings: they are surrounded by “ guards : they have servants to prepare their vic“ tuals ; musicians who sing to them, and play on « instruments. There are likewise chambers of .“ perfumes: a table on which their repasts are serv“ ed up: a closet into which favorites only are