« PreviousContinue »
conveyed instruction by a variety of ceremonies, calců. lated to distinguish Him as the SUPREME GOD, and them as His peculiar church, which was to shew forth His name and honour to the world, by such forms of worship as bore evident marks of holiness, dignity, and purity, in opposition to the worshippers of idols, who had introduced into their sacrifices the most shocking absurdities that can be imagined.
We have reason to suppose, as has been observed before, that from the beginning of the world, while the worship of the LORD God remained uncorrupted, some particular place was distinguished by a visible token of the Divine Presence; for we read, that in the days of Enos, men began to całt upon the name of the Lord*, or, as it is understood to mean, united publicly in worshipping the LORD God.
When the Israelites were separated from the idolatrous nations, they received evident proofs that God was among them, by the appearance of the cloudy pil. lar ; and as the Lord promised to display His glory to them in a distinguishing manner, He required them to make a Sanctuary, or Holy Place, in which He promised to manifest His Divine Presence on solemn occasions,
God could undoubtedly have received the adorations of His people in Heaven ; but as the LORD vouchsafed to be the KING of the Israelites, He chose to have an earthly palace, or Tabernacle, to which they should repair to do Him homage, by offering the sacrifices He was pleased to ordain, accompanied with prayer and thanksgiving. During his long abode in the mount, Moses received ample instructions concerning the tabernacle, its appurtenances, and the ceremonies which
* See Section iv.
the Lord required to be observed in His worship; of which we shall give an account in a following section.,
As soon as God had finished the works of creation He sanctified and blessed the seventh day, because on it He rested from all his work; and, without doubt, the Sabbath was observed by Seth, and all the descendants of Adam, as long as they retained the worship of the true God; but long before the time of the Israelites sojourning in the wilderness, idolatry had taken place, and many nations had quite set aside this insti. tution, and forgotten the occasion of it; but the strict observance of the Sabbath day was enforced upon the Israelites, as soon as they were separated from heathen nations, as God's peculiar people ; and the Lord GOD appointed the keeping the Sabbath day holy as a sign to distinguish them from idolators, and as a lasting token of His covenant, so that it might be considered ab the ground-work of all their ordinances; and it seems probable from several passages in Scripture, as well as from the analogy of the Divine dispensations, that the Statutes, the Ordinances, and the Judgments of the Mosaic religion, were for the most part a restoration of the primitive religion after the Fall.
As the people of Israel had so much work assigned them to be done with expedition, they might have imagined themselves exempted for a time from a regular observance of the Sabbath; therefore Moses was com. missioned to tell them expressly, that they must on pretence profane it.
The Tables of Testimony contained the Ten Com. mandments; and were, in all probability, a counterpart of the Testimony written by Moses. These tables are said to have been written with the finger of God, because the writing was impressed on them by His im. mediate power, not by human instruments.
This section furnishes us with an additional proof, that there is in the GODHEAD a visible Image, who is to be honoured as God. It also teaches us the great importance of a religious observance of the Sabbathday, to those who call themselves the people of God.
If Christians lay aside worldly pursuits, and spend this holy season in works of piety and charity (as the LORD directs) it will be regarded by Him as a sign that they love and honour Him ; and the inward satis. faction and other blessings which He will infallibly bestow on them for doing so, will be a sign that God loves them. Nothing will more effectually separate us froin wicked and profligate persons, nor more eminently recommend us to the favour of the good part of the world, as the servants of the living God, than a strict regard to the Sabbath day. If so, ought it not to be our great concern, not only to employ it well ourselves, but to instruct the ignorant to do the same ? May no Christian then slight the opportunity of doing $0, which the institution of Sunday-schools affords.