Page images

pleads,—the intercession which Jesus for ever makes within the veil before the throne of God, -that, when at last he shall come forth from that majestic and mysterious retirement, he may come to receive us to himself,—to introduce us, through the uplifted gates, into the heavenly sanctuary, that there we may contemplate for ourselves, and not another, the things which we have now been attempting dimly to imagine,—the things which“


hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived,"—to admit us into the Holiest of all, the very secret of the Lord's pavilion, that there we may see God face to face, and not be blasted with the glories of his brow.


HEBREWS, ix. 24.-" The holy places made with hands, which are the

figures of the true.”

WHEN in the last lecture of this series* we entered on the consideration of the important and interesting type here pointed out, the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle and the temple, viewed as the emblem of the Heaven of Heavens in the vast and various universe, we set out by explaining to you the place which the passage where the text occurs occupies in the general argument of this epistle, and mentioning some circumstances confirmatory of the fact, that the mystical and emblematic meaning which the apostle ascribes to the arrangements of the ancient sanctuary, was not a mere pious fancy or happy accommodation, but an analogy intended and indicated by God from the very beginning. We then proceeded to refer you to one or two points of re

• This discourse and that immediately preceding appear to have formed part of a series delivered by the author on facts and institutions of the Old Testament illustrated or referred to in the New.-ED.



semblance between the Holy of Holies, as arranged at first in the tabernacle of the wilderness and in the temple at Jerusalem, and that yet more august and hallowed Holiest of all, in which we Christians believe that our High Priest is ministering now.

And, in the first place, we observed, that the Holy of Holies resembled the Heaven of Heavens, in that it contained the throne and symbol of Jehovah's presence.

Secondly, We remarked that the Holy of Holies resembled the Heaven of Heavens, in that, as the former was the most magnificent part of the temple, the latter is the most magnificent region of the uni


These two particulars we then illustrated at considerable length and detail ; and we now proceed to remark,

T'hirdly, The ancient Holy of Holies was a striking representation of the Heaven of Heavens, in that the former was to those who worshipped in the exterior courts of the temple, as the latter is to us who worship Jehovah from afar in these distant regions of the universe,--a veiled, a hidden, and mysterious place.

Of all the arrangements in the ancient tabernacle and temple, there was none more remarkable than the special care displayed to cover from mortal gaze the secret pavilion in which the throne and mercy-seat of God were erected. Even from the

sanctuary itself, where the priests of Aaron's house, to whom Jehovah indulged a more intimate familiarity with himself, were wont to minister, it was partitioned by a thickly-woven, though magnificently-embroidered veil,—impervious and impenetrable. Often, no doubt, and often, they who ministered in this holy place directed the gaze of their intensest curiosity towards the secret shrine and oracle of the Most High, and, absorbed in awful wonder, endeavoured to conjecture the form and aspect of that glorious revelation by which Jehovah made his peculiar presence felt within the mystic darkness of the Holiest. But gazed they as intently as they might, their vision might not penetrate the heavy folded drapery of that jealous curtain, which hung unlifted and unrent age after age, presenting to the eye of the beholder a gorgeous spectacle of volumed vastness and cunning embroidery, yet leaving his eye and his heart unsatisfied, from the consciousness that beyond it lay something more majestic and interesting still,-more worthy of attracting,-more fitted for gratifying, our nature's ever-active and ever-restless powers, which mystery at once confounds and elevates,-the eye which “is not satisfied with seeing,”-the ambitious mind which would leave nothing undiscovered and unknown. While thus even to the priests,--the sons of Aaron, whom the Lord brought nearest to himself, his innermost abode of glory remained in awful and unpenetrated


secrecy,—the feelings which this circumstance were calculated to inspire, even in their minds, were greatly deepened and enhanced in those of the people at large, whose step was excluded by awful sanctions, and their gaze by a second overshadowing veil, not only from the Holiest, but from the Holy Place,-in which the sons of Aaron presented the sacred bread and kindled the holy lamps, and burnt the incense of sweet smell before the presence of Jehovah. Nor are you ignorant with what an intense consuming jealousy this character of secrecy and awful mystery,-forbidding the curiosity of man, and enhancing the majesty of God, was guarded and asserted by Jehovah himself under the old economy. You remember how, when Uzziah the king ventured with rash foot to tread the court appropriated to the priests, and to approach his unhallowed censer to the altar where only they might duly kindle the sacred fire, his crown and regal unction availed him nothing, but, smitten where he stood with the loathsome and white-crusted leprosy, he rushed in shame and anguish from the violated shrine, to spend the dreary remainder of his life sequestered from his kingly functions, and banished from Jehovah's house. Nor have you forgotten, that still more memorable and tremendous instance of the Almighty's vengeance against those whose adventurous curiosity presumed to violate those visible arrangements of mystery with which,

« PreviousContinue »