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from forfeiture or other cause, would the thirty-nine articles cease along with it? If such a covenant had been made, and the commandments been made along with it, there might have been a presumption, but certainly no proof, that they were to be coeval. But how stands the case here? The ten commandments were delivered some time before that supposed covenant was made. When they were spoken on Mount Sinai, there was no covenant in existence except the Abrahamic covenant; and it is extraordinary, that immediately before the giving out of the commandments, they are exhorted to keep that covenant, and promised that they should be a kingdom of priests for the communication of it to all the nations, Exod. xix. 5, 6. The commandments were given under that covenant, as I shall show on another occasion, as part of a covenant of grace. Afterwards, on the partial renewal of the forfeited covenant, they were also added, but in a different spirit, as part of a covenant of works, requiring strict and undeviating obedience. It is true they are, according to the Scripture idiom, called the covenant itself, as being the conditions of it, just as circumcision is called the covenant, although nothing more than its sign.
It is a great error to suppose, that because revelations were made to the Israelites, they were exclusively intended for them. It could not be expected that a revelation should have been made to each particular nation, and it would have been useless to have made it to those nations which did not acknowledge the true God, which was the case at that time with all other parts of the world except the Jews. It was necessary, therefore, to select some one nation which acknowledged the true God, and would accept a revelation as coming from him. The Israelites were the only such nation, and we know how difficult it was to keep even them from falling into idolatry. It was necessary
that there should be some one people selected as the depository of God's law, and as the organ and instrument for communicating that revelation to others, as they should be willing to receive it. And we have sufficient proofs that all these objects were kept in view in the selection of that people and in the communications with them, and such proofs I hope to give in a subsequent section. · Instead, therefore, of saying that all the laws and commandments delivered to them were to be abrogated with their national polity, (which, by-the-bye, were not to have been abrogated at all, according to the original intentions when the commandments were delivered,) the cautious and candid inquirer will diligently endeavour to separate the general laws intended for all mankind, from the national laws peculiar and appropriated to that people. It may be difficult to draw the exact line between the two, but with that distinction we have nothing to do at present; if any of the laws delivered to them were intended for general obligation, surely the commandments were those laws, and our present inquiry relates only to them. And I do not think that we shall have much difficulty in proving to any unprejudiced person that they were intended for all mankind.
The difference between the commandments and the law, appears from the different mode of their promulgation. The commandments alone were delivered with lightning's and thunderings and voices, and with the sound of a trumpet and a loud voice, as if to proclaim them to all nations. When they were given out, Moses and Aaron alone were admitted into the monnt, the people and the priests were forbidden even to touch the mountain. But when the other laws were to be given out, not only Moses and Aaron, but Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders were called up. The commandments were written by the finger of God, and on tables of stone, to represent their permanency. The rest of the law was written by Moses, and in a book. And again, ch. xxxiv., when the second tables were given, they were written by God, and no man but Moses was allowed to come up, not even Aaron; and no man was to be seen throughout all the mount.
The precautions for preserving these two tables show also the intentions of the Lord as to their duration. Moses was directed to make an ark for keeping them, of shittim wood, the most durable kind known. It was to be overlaid with gold within and without, the staves also of gold, the most precious, pure, and durable of metals; with a crown (a rim or parapet) of gold round about; and into this ark Moses was to put the two tables of testimony, or the ten commandments, written with the finger of God. Ex. xxv. 16. This ark was afterwards called the ark of the covenant and of the testimony; and the next direction will show with what covenant it was connected, and will also show the great value of the commandments. Moses was next directed to make a mercy-seat, of the very same dimensions in length and breadth as the ark, (two and a-half cubits long, and one and a half broad,) cherubim were to be placed at each end. This mercy-seat was an emblem of the mediator of the covenant. St. Paul calls both it and our Saviour by the same word, daotnplov. Rom. iii. 25. On this the divine glory was to descend, and did descend, and from hence did the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Mediator of the covenant, hold communications with his people. The ark itself was nothing, it derived all its importance as the bearer of the commandments; and with it,—or rather with the commandments,—was connected the mercy-seat, the symbol of the everlasting covenant. Thus were the tables of the decalogue kept in close connexion with the mercy seat, and the future dispensation of grace and mercy, and manifestly they were intended to be coeval, and of course to be permanent. The ark and the mercy-seat constituted the glory of the Holy of Holies, which was the emblem as well of heaven as of the Christian dispensation.*
The outer tabernacle was called the tabernacle of the congregation. In it were the altar of incense, the table for the shewbread, and the golden candlestick. In it 66 Aaron and his sons were to order it morning and evening before the Lord, a statute for ever unto their generations, on the behalf of the children of Israel.” On the altar of incense in the outer tabernacle, Aaron was to burn incense morning and evening, and to make an atonement on the horns of it once a year, previous to his entering the Holy of Holies. Into the Holy of Holies, the high priest entered once a-year. See Lev. xvi. 1–17. The punishment of death was denounced against him if he entered at any other time. He was, at the time of his entrance, to burn incense, that the cloud arising from it should cover the ark and the mercy-seat, “ lest he die.” No other person was allowed to enter at any time; nor was any person allowed to remain in the outer tabernacle of the congregation when he entered.
St. Paul teaches us to consider all these things as typical,-as figurative and prophetical illustrations of the dispensations of Providence; the different parts of the
* It might seem from our translation of Heb. ix. 4, as if the golden pot of manna and Aaron's rod were in the ark, but that was not the case, the manna was to be laid up before the Lord, and also the rod; the golden censer also was kept in the Holy of Holies to be ready to burn incense when the high priest entered. We read in 1 King viii. 9, that when the ark was moved into the temple of Solomon, “ there was nothing therein, save the two tables of stone which Moses put there at Horeb.”
tabernacle showing the difference between the Jewish and Christian covenants. Heb. ix. 1, &c. “ The first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary; for there was a tabernacle made, the first, wherein was the candlestick and the table and the shewbread, which is called the sanctuary; and after the second veil the tabernacle, which is called the Holiest of all, which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant, and over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat. 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 errors 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 (the outward one) was yet standing, which was a figure for the time then present, (of the Jewish dispensation,) in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, &c.”
It is manifest from this quotation and the remainder of the chapter, that the outward part of the tabernacle was a figure of the Jewish dispensation, and the inner of the Christian: the outward with its Jewish ceremonies and sacrifices—the inner with its ark and mercy-seat, and commandments, into which the high priest alone,-as the
* The high priest entering alone into the holy place where the commandents were kept, and all persons, even the priests, being removed at that time from the outer tabernacle, furnish a beautiful similitude of Moses entering alone into the mount and the glory, to receive the commandments, and all the people, and even the priests, being prohibited at that time from coming within the boundaries of the mountain.