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doctrine. They had grown up with a strong impression, which all their education tended to fix deeply in the mind, that God had shut out all other people entirely from his regard, and that the blessings of the true religion were, by his unalterable purpose, to be confined to their own nation; so that no gentile could ever be admitted to the friendship of God, except by numbering himself with the Jews as a proselyte to their church. When the gospel, therefore, declared that all difference was taken away, and invited all alike to embrace its benefits, many needed no other objection to lead them to reject it at once. (Acts xxii. 21, 22.) Even those who were truly converted to receive its truth, were slow in coming to a clear understanding of this point. It was hard for them to feel that the door of grace stood as widely and as freely open to the gentile, without any respect to the law. of Moses, as it did to the circumcised Jew. (Acts x. 10-16, 28, 45. xi. 1-18.) Hence we find it declared so often in the New Testament with a sort of peculiar emphasis, as a thing new, wonderful, and contrary to former prejudice, that the gospel offered its blessings to the gentiles-to all-to the world-to the whole world, without distinction of nation or place. (Matt. xxviii. 19. Luke xxiv. 47, 48. Acts xiii. 46, 47. xvii. 30, 31. xxvi. 17, 18. xxviii. 28. Rom. i. 16. iii. 29, 30. 1 Tim. ii. 4-6. Tit. ii. 11. 1 John ii. 2.) Paul speaks of it as a glorious mystery. (Eph. ii. 3-6.)-The word mystery in this case, as generally in his epistles, means simply something that was utterly unknown before God revealed it by the gospel-a thing that was for a long time hidden; not implying that there was any thing in its nature which could not be explained or understood, as the term commonly means with us.
Neither was it easy for the converted Jew, even when he had learned that the gospel unfolded its privileges equally to all, either to cast off all regard himself to the system of religion, which he had so long been accustomed to reverence as appointed of Heaven, or to be satisfied that the Gentile converts should be entirely free from its observances. We are not able fully to enter into the difficulty which he naturally felt on this point. It is not therefore strange, that we find such persons still clinging to some of their ancient rites in the christian church, making it a matter
of conscience to observe them. (Acts xxi. 20, 21. Rom. chap. xv.) With feelings of this sort, it is not strange likewise that they should sometimes have insisted upon it as a duty for others also, even those who had never been Jews, not to neglect them. False teachers, from various motives of pride or worldly policy, were very ready to take advantage of this prejudice, and to spread it with all their might in different churches; endeavouring to persuade those who had been Jews, that they should hold fast part of their old religious usages, and those who were Gentiles, that they ought to be circumcised and pay some regard to the Ceremonial law. (Acts xv. 1, 24. Gal. ii. 3-5. vi. 12, 13.) Hence arose, generally, the first errors in the churches. The Galatian church was turned away almost altogether from the truth of the gospel by this means, as we learn from the severe letter which Paul wrote to them on account of it. In his other epistles, we find notices of a similar evil at work in other places also. It took, however, different forms. A vain philosophy endeavoured to connect its new and wild opinions with a portion of the Jewish law, and then under this mixed character crept into the Christian church, showing various features of error in different congregations. "Men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth," "proud and knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words," "unruly and vain talkers," deceived" themselves, and worse 66 deceiving" others, introduced these corruptions, spoiling the tranquillity of churches, and turning men aside from true godliness. (Col. ii. 8-23. 1 Tim. i. 3-7. iv. 1-8. vi. 3-5. 2 Tim. ii. 1418. 23. iii. 6-9. Tit. i. 10-16. ii. 9.)
The Apostle Paul did not in every case forbid, as sin, all compliance with Jewish observances. When they were such as not to interfere with the spirit of the gospel, or were not used as entering into the substance of true religion, he suffered the conscientious scruples of weak Christians in regard to them to be indulged. He exhorted others also, who felt no such scruples themselves, to give way in their practice to such prejudices of their brethren around them, as far as the things which they respected were in their nature indifferent. (Rom. xiv. 14-23.) He himself acted on this principle, forbearing to use his Christian liberty in
all lawful cases, whenever it was likely to give offence. (Acts xvi. 3. xviii. 18. xxi. 21-26. Rom. xv. 1. 1 Cor. ix. 20.) But when a disposition was discovered to rely upon these observances as a ground of confidence toward God, and as entering essentially into his plan of salvation, the Apostle condemned them in the strongest terms, and would not countenance such as clung to them, with the smallest indulgence. To such he said, If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing; for I testify to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. Thus he expostulated with the Galatians, who had been drawn aside from the simple truth of the gospel, by false teachers, into this ruinous error. Especially, he thought it necessary, steadfastly to resist all compliance on the part of Gentile Christians with the Ceremonial law. The considerations which made it proper to allow some indulgence to the Jewish converts, had no place with such as had not been educated from childhood in the Jews' religion: a converted Jew might be supposed to cleave to some of his ancient usages, under the force of conscientious prejudice, without falling from or abandoning the doctrine of free grace through faith, while the observance of the same usages on the part of a Gentile convert, who had no such natural prejudice to entagle his conscience, would argue a deliberate confidence in the Jewish law as a method of obtaining favour with God, and so give reason to fear a fatal departure from the great fundamental truth of the gospel, that a man is justified by the faith of Jesus Christ alone, and not by the works of the law. The apostle, therefore, would not give place to such as wanted to draw the Gentiles into the observance of Jewish rites, no, not for an hour; and he anxiously guarded against every thing, in example as well as precept, among Christians of this class, which might have the smallest influence to make them think that any thing of this sort belonged to true religion. He thought it necessary, accordingly, on one occasion at Antioch, to withstand Peter to the face, and publicly to reprove him for his unfaithfulness on this point, in the most solemn manner. (Gal. ii. 10-14.)
THE TABERNACLE was made in the wilderness, according to the commandment of God. By a solemn covenant, the Israelites had engaged to be his obedient people, and he had taken them, as a nation, out of all the nations of the earth, to be a holy kingdom for himself. They were to be under his special and extraordinary care, and to be governed in their whole civil and religious state by his peculiar and extraordinary direction. They were to be his church, and the whole frame of their commonwealth was to be constructed with reference to the great interest for which the church was established. Accordingly, the Most High gave them a law, and agreed to dwell among them with his continual and special presence, in a sanctuary which he directed to be prepared for this high and solemn Thus the Tabernacle had its origin.
It was required to be made, together with all its furniture, from the offerings which the people might be willing to present for the purpose. All were invited to contribute something for an end so important; but it was left to each individual to act in the matter with perfectly free choice. The offering of every man was to be given willingly with his heart. By reason of the great readiness of the people to offer, materials more than enough were soon collected. Men and women united in showing their zeal, by contribu tions of every various sort that could be useful, till an order had to be publicly given for them to bring no more. (Ex. xxv. 1-8. xxxv. 4-29. xxxvi. 3-7.)
As the work to be accomplished needed various of the most costly sort, so it called for peculiar skill to execute it in the way which its magnificent design required. Accordingly, God raised up Bezaleel, the son of Uri, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, filling them with wisdom and understanding in all manner of workmanship, to have
the entire charge of the whole business. They were qualified, with more than ordinary or merely natural ability, to perform themselves the most difficult and curious sorts of work, such as belonged to arts entirely different, and also to teach others, who might be employed, under their direction, to help forward in various ways the general labour. (Ex. xxxi. 1-6. xxv. 30-35.)
It was not left, however, to these workmen, or even to Moses, to contrive the form or manner of the sacred building in any respect. No pattern of earth was to be regarded-no device of man was to be followed, in its whole construction and arrangement. It was to be the dwelling-place of God, symbolical, in all its visible and material order, of realities infinitely more grand and glorious; God himself therefore devised its entire plan, and unfolded it with most particular direction, in all its parts, to his servant on Mount Sinai. Careful and minute instruction was given relative to the materials to be used, the manner of workmanship to be employed, the form and size of the building, and every article of sacred furniture that was to belong to it. And more than this, there was presented to the eyes of Moses a pattern, or model, of the whole, as the Lord intended it to be made and arranged, with a solemn injunc tion to have all finished exactly according to it. "According to all that I show thee," was the charge of the Almighty, "the pattern of the Tabernacle and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it :" and again, "Look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount." (Ex. xxv. 9-40. Heb. viii. 5.) There was no wisdom wanted in the work. men, therefore, to contrive any part of the work to be done, but merely to execute it according to the divine plan which Moses was appointed to explain.
The very great care which God showed about the manner in which this holy tabernacle was to be made, teaches us that it was designed to have a meaning in all its parts vastly more important than any mere visible and outward use. Something far more exalted than what struck the eye of sense, was intended in its construction. Under its earthly and material show, there was designed to be a re