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in the Mosaic ritual, he had folded himself round, when, on the men of Bethshemesh daring to look into that guarded and inviolable ark on even the outside of which the Levites appointed to carry it were strictly forbidden to gaze, the wrath of Jehovah rushed forth from the insulted secret of his presence, and the death of fifty thousand of those rash intruders into the secret things belonging to the Lord our God, consumed by the hot thunderbolts of his kindled jealousy, proclaimed that God “ will be sanctified of them that come nigh him, and before all the people he will be glorified.” Now all these arrangements, brethren, by which, in the ancient tabernacle, Jehovah withdrew himself into august and inaccessible concealment, and shrouded the symbol of his presence and the ark of his covenant in mystery and awful gloom, were not merely “ for the time then present” to impress his worshippers with reverence and godly fear, but to serve for the time to come as the shadows and emblems of spiritual and eternal truth. The symbolic meaning of the arrangements we have just explained, we seem to be warranted by the expositions of this epistle in regarding as twofold :-1. As indicating the particular character of that dispensation with which they were directly connected; and, 2. As suggesting a general truth respecting the character of God, not only under the ancient, but under the present and all future economies.
The first of these two lessons, mystically taught
in the arrangements of the tabernacle, with its curtained sanctuary and doubly-curtained shrine, is thus expounded by the apostle, chap. ix. 6-8:“ Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God: But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the er. rors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing."
So long as the tabernacle, and the temple which came into its place, and, in the discussions of this epistle, is regarded as its continuation, stood, the one accepted place of Jehovah's worship, and the
symbol that the ordinances of the Mosaic law and the rites of the Levitical worship were still in force,-SO long that unrestricted and unexcepted liberty of spiritual access to the Father, which is so clearly revealed in the New Testament as the privilege of every believing man, of which he may avail himself with holy boldness in all circumstances, at all times, and in all places,-so long this high prerogative of the adoption was but imperfectly disclosed and but obscurely seen. Not that it was not in point of fact the privilege of those who, under the ancient dispensation, beca r.e the children of God by the submission of their minds and hearts to his testimony and his law, to be admitted into personal intercourse and fellowship with Jehovah as their Reconciled God and Father, the Propitiated Divinity, enthroned upon the sprinkled mercy-seat, but that the complicated formalities of the Jewish worship,its restrictions of time, and place, and circumstance,the difficulty of maintaining an exact and unfailing compliance with all its requirements of ritual duty, and of joining at all times in its holy institutions, “ cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary,”—all this fatiguing, and often perplexing complication of external ceremonial by which, under the Old Testament dispensation, the believer's internal communion with Jehovah had to be carried on, could scarcely fail to impart to that intercourse a character of dimness and of indirectness, and to make him feel his position in reference to God one of awful and unfamiliar remoteness, compared with that near and cordial communion, as if between a father and his affectionate children, which Christians under the Gospel are authorized and encouraged to maintain in spirit with “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,"-drawing near with filial boldness into the holiest of all, “ with true hearts, and in the full assurance of faith.”—Nor was this the only respect in which, during the subsistence of the ancient tabernacle, it might be said that “ the way into the Holiést was not yet made manifest;" for, not only did the peculiar nature of that institute of which the tabernacle was the local centre and the visible shrine, shed a certain degree of dimness and of distance over the devotions even of the accepted adorers, but it excluded from the opportunity, nay, from the possibility of sharing in the dignities and blessedness of that Divine communion of which it was the organ, multitudes of those who, under the new and more liberal economy, are permitted, without limitation and without restriction,-with no discrimination of age, or rank, or culture, or sex, or nation, to “come boldly to the throne of grace," to gaze on the unveiled beauty of the Lord their God, and to be satisfied with gladness from his countenance. For, “now in Christ Jesus, they who sometimes were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of” Jesus, so that they are “strangers and foreigners no more, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God;" and
through him we both,”—Gentile and Jew alike, "we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." It was, you are aware, by the death of Jesus, fulfilling and virtually abrogating the Mosaic law,-completing that accomplished righteousness by which he was perfected as the “one Mediator between God and man,”—and sealing with his blood that free and catholic dispensation which with its ample bond encompasses the earth, and embraces all the families of men,-it was thus that the condition of things which had endured so long,—through all the descending centuries that had elapsed since that majestic and mysterious pavilion was first erected in the wilderness,Jehovah's palace and his sanctuary,—whose character of restriction and exclusiveness was so expressively denoted by the structure and arrangements of the sacred tent,-covering over covering, -veil within veil,--all but the priests excluded from entering the Holy Place,--all but the high-priest from approaching the Holiest,—the darkness of the former illumined only by the flickering radiance of the golden candlestick, and the thick darkness of the latter unrelieved but by the beams of a strange unearthly light from the cloud that hovered above the cherub-guarded throne,- it was at the death of Jesus, we say, that this system of exclusion and obscurity was superseded by one of universal welcome and clear illumination; and therefore it is, that when that Mighty Sufferer cried, with a loud voice, “ 'Tis finished,” and “ bowed his head and gave up the ghost,”-among all the other signs and wonders in the darkened heaven and the astonished earth, which signalized that great event as the point of transition, the crisis of a mighty revolution to the universe, we are told that the veil of the temple was rent in sunder,-for the first time the light of heaven poured in upon the before unapproached sanctuary,--and the flame of the golden candlestick grew pale before the rising of a brighter radiance. Then, as in actual fact, so in visible symbol, “ the way into the Holiest of all was” first made manifest.