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had never been recorded. It is our duty then to read with reverence, to pray for gracious understanding, and to compare things spiritual with spiritual. In this consisted the holy learning of ancient believers, and not in systems excogitated and drawn forth by human reason and invention, which have produced all the present errors and uncertainties in religion: and in this study of the spirit and language of the Bible, to the end of time, will consist all the true knowledge, in divine things, of every real Christian in the world. The rest, as it comes from man, will be found like him-altogether vanity.
As the tabernacle signified the church, so the curtains, and other parts of the tabernacle, stood for members or branches of the church. The curtains were expressly to be joined by the edge or lip, a woman to her sister, (for so is the Hebrew phrase) plainly denoting, that all the members of Christ are spiritually conjoined together, in one true confession of him, and in a real consociation with each other. The bars, the boards, the taches, the sockets, &c. forming expressly the ONE tabernacle,† appear to imply other members or means of perfecting
It is an unpleasant truth to say, that there are people among us, who would not be thought uninformed in divine things, but who are almost as ignorant of and averse to the Old Testament, as Lord Whitworth, in his account of the Russians, represents that people to be, who, with equal superstition and ignorance, will by no means read it publicly, nor yet so much as suffer it to lie upon their altars. They forget, that Christ hath referred to this very book for the truth of his mission, and that, without it, the New Testament would lose its first and great recorded evidence and foundation,
† Exod. xxvi, 6.
this sacred consociation; so that (as the apostle expresses it) the whole building might be fitly framed together in Christ-for an habitation of God through the Spirit.*
None but the priests could enter into the tabernacle, and see what was in it. So, into the true tabernacle, none but those, who are made priests spiritually unto God,† are admitted or can experimentally know the things, that are freely given of God. This is plainly intimated by the Psalmist, who, though he was outwardly a secular man, could say of himself, as being one of these spiritual priests; in the time of trouble the Lord shall hide me in his pavilion; in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me. He not only could enter into the tabernacle by faith, but even into the secretplace of it; and that this is the common privilege of God's people, unaltered and unalterable by dispensation or time, he shows, in another psalm, by saying; he that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty§ or, as it is expressed in other places, the shadow of his wings; plainly alluding to the sense typified by the wings of the cherubim, who covered first the mercy-seat, or Christ, and under him the whole ark or church of God.
It is also worth observing, though it can only be hinted here, that there is a beautiful train and arrange ment of circumstances, in the letter of the law, and in
† Rev. v. 10.
* Eph, ii. 21, 22.
§ Psalm xci. 1.
|| Psalm xvii. 8. To this our Lord may possibly point in Matt, xviii, 37.
the things signified, correspondent with each other, and illustrative of both, when brought into comparison.
1. Thus, no person could approach the tabernacle of the Lord, nor eat of the Lord's passover, who had not undergone the sacrament of circumcision, which (as Maimonides observes) had a tendency" to diminish and weaken the natural appetite," and "which in its operation, abhorrent to nature, was no slight matter, like the hurt of a leg, or burning of an arm, but a very difficult and painful affair."*-So spiritually; no man can partake of Christ, whose heart is uncircumcised, and whose old man is not put off with his superfluity of naughtiness; the doing which is so painful to nature, as to be called crucifixion and death. The Spirit of God performs this work by the sharpness of the law, as by a knife or two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. And as circumcision was outwardly performed in one part, as a token for all the old man, Iwith his heart, or his affections and lusts; so the believer, in this life, is not wholly subdued in the old man, or at once, but partially and by degrees, as an earnest of the whole, until the full redemption of the purchased possession.
2. The circumcised person under the law brought his sacrifice, confessed his sins upon its head, and pleaded the atonement.-Under the gospel; the sinner, convinced, circumcised, and cut down by the spirituality of the law, confesses his sins and sinfulness, and confides
in the great sacrifice of Christ once offered, and at one time for all times,* as his only propitiation and atonement.
3. Under the law; the priests washed at the laver, which stood between the altart and the tabernacle, before they entered into the holy place.-Under the gospel; the spiritual priests, or true believers, having received the atonement by Christ,+ are washed by the water of regeneration, or renewing of the Holy Ghost; so that they put on the new man, who is created in righteousness and true holiness; and then are they illuminated indeed, and enter into the true tabernacle, out of the view, understanding, fellowship, and spirit of this evil world, where they are fed by Christ the bread, enlightened by Christ the light, and offer up all their duties upon the golden altar, Christ, nearest to the holiest of all.
4. Under the law; the Holy Ghost signified, by the entrance of the high priest only once every year into the second part of the tabernacle, that the WAY [Christ]
* Heb. x. 10. εφαπαξ.
† It is observable, that this altar and the laver were of brass, un, a word which stands for the serpent, the author of sin: and here the sins of the people were to be done away, by him, who was to come in the likeness of sinful flesh. But when the priests, representing the faithful, entered into the holy place, there no utensil of brass, no memorial of sin, was to be found; but all were of gold, the emblem of righteousness, and of Christ's righteousness, under which they were there considered as righteous, and not as sinners. This also shows the proper use of the word saints, persons separated to God and cleansed from sin, through Christ, and therefore holy. 1 Pet. ii. 5.
Rom. v. 11.
into the holiest of all, was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing, which was a figure for the time then present.*-Under the gospel; this sign was fulfilled by the true high-priest, Jesus Christ, who by one offering hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified, and therefore imparts to his people boldness, or liberty, to enter into the holiest by his blood, (for the high-priest did not enter without blood) through the vail, that is to say, his flesh; so that they may now draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having their hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, i. e. by his blood, and their bodies washed with pure water, i. e. by his Spirit.†
Thus, as the way to the Holy and to the Holiest under the law was by the altar and laver; so the plan of the gospel is, that, by propitiation and regeneration, the redeemed enter into the spiritual church here, and into glory hereafter.
All the services of this tabernacle were carrying on, in some respect or other, daily; and particularly, there was then, or daily sacrifice, which was a standing memorial or exhibition of Christ's death, till he should come into the world. No service was presented, or accepted, without reference to atonement. The daily sacrifice preached the continual efficacy of Christ's atone ment, and of our continual support and acceptance by him. Faith always pleads this; and therefore (as Cocceius hath well observed) when the opinion of another sacrifice and of human performances being acceptable
*Heb. ix. 7, 8, 9.
↑ Heb. x. 19, &c.