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made efficacious and well-pleasing by something added to it to bear it upward and recommend it before the throne; he felt that his prayers in themselves were too feeble and impure to come up with acceptance before the Lord, and saw with gratitude, in the symbol of the sanctuary, a divine assurance that provision was made to remedy the defect: the nature and manner of the provision he could not indeed comprehend, but still he reposed confidence in its certainty, and by grace was enabled, through the sign, to lay hold of its consolation and benefit. It was natural, therefore, and certainly proper, to feel that the time of the going up of the morning and the evening incense was peculiarly suitable to be employed in prayer, and that there was an advantage in directing the desires of the heart toward heaven at the very moment that the fragrant cloud was rising from the altar; not because the incense in itself could give value to any prayer, much less sanctify a hypocritical one, but because it was a divinely appointed ordinance admirably adapted to encourage and assist faith and devotion by its typical meaning. Many pious persons accordingly, who lived in Jerusalem, used often to go up to the temple, (which took, we know, the place of the tabernacle,) at these particular seasons, to put up prayers before God's holy house while the priest was ministering at the golden altar. Hence there was commonly a great multitude standing in the different courts of the temple at such times. When the priest went into the holy place to perform the service, notice was given by striking a great instrument that sounded like a bell, and might be heard all over Jerusalem; and then immediately the priests that were without, the Levites, and the whole multitude, addressed themselves in deep and solemn silence to the business of devotion. Thus it was on that memorable occasion when Zacharias ministered in the sanctuary, and suddenly beheld the angel Gabriel standing close beside him on the right side of the altar. (Luke i. 8-22.)
We are now prepared to look into the second apartment of the tabernacle-the most holy place. Beyond the second veil no mortal might ever pass but the high-priest; and only on one great occasion in each year, was it lawful even for him to do so; and then, only with the most solemn
preparation and the most reverential care. The holiest of all was clothed with the solemnity of another world, and filled with unearthly grandeur. The whole tabernacle was the sanctuary of God, but here was the awful residence of his PRESENCE-the special dwelling-place of his visible glory. Well might sinful man tremble to move aside the veil, and present himself within so holy a place.
6. At the backside of the apartment, the western end of the whole tabernacle, rested the Ark of the Covenant. It was in form a box, a cubit and a half broad and high, and two cubits and a half long, made of shittim wood, and covered within and without with the purest gold. Like the table of shew-bread and the golden altar, it was crowned with an ornamental border or rim, round about its top. Above upon it was the mercy-seat. This was made of solid gold of the best sort, exactly answering in length and breadth to the ark, on which it rested as a flat cover or lid, so as completely to close it over. On each end of it was fixed a cherub, wrought in like manner, of pure solid gold, rising above it, and overshadowing it with wings stretched forth on high. The faces of these sacred figures were turned toward each other, bending somewhat downwards towards the mercy-seat, on which they stood. Between these cherubims dwelt the uncreated glory of God. "There," He said to Moses, "I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony."
In this ark Moses was required to put the two tables of stone on which the ten commandments were written with the finger of God. These were called the testimony, because they were the testimony, or evidence and witness, of the covenant between God and the Israelites; whence the ark was styled sometimes the ark of the testimony, and sometimes the ark of the covenant. We are expressly told, that the ark contained nothing besides these tables. (1 Kings viii. 9.) By the side of it, however, that is, at one end, in a coffer it seems, made for the purpose, there was deposited a copy of the five books of Moses, while a golden pot full of manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, were laid up as memorials before it. (Ex. xvi. 32-34. Numb. xvii. 10. Deut. xxxi. 26.) The Apostle Paul nevertheless seems
to say, that the golden pot and the rod were in the inside of the ark itself, with the tables of the covenant. (Heb. ix. 4.) Either we must understand him to mean simply, that these things belonged to it, and were laid up for security beside it; or else we must suppose, that they were really placed within the ark at first, but afterwards were taken out by some presumptuous hand, and so lost, during its captivity and unsettled condition, before it was carried into Solomon's temple :-at which time, we are told in the passage referred to above, "there was nothing in it save the two tables of stone which Moses put there at Horeb."
What was the particular form and appearance of the cherubim over the ark, we are not told. In the first chapter of Ezekiel a description is given of four living creatures, as they appeared to the prophet in vision, which supported the throne of God, and bore it in majesty from place to place. Each of them had four faces, the face of an ox, the face of a lion, the face of an eagle, and the face of a man; all attached to a body resembling that of a man, which was furnished with four wings, together with hands such as men have, under them, and stood upon feet like those of a calf. These are called cherubim. (Ez. x. 15, 20.) Some have imagined, that the appearance which they are represented to have had, was the common and proper appearance that belonged to all figures of cherubim; and so, of course, that we are to consider those which stood over the mercy-seat to have been made after the same fashion. But it seems more natural, from the account that is given of these last, to suppose that they had each only a single face; for it is said that their faces were made to look one toward another, which could not well be if they had more than one a piece. No intimation is given, either, that these had more than two wings, though it is not asserted that they had only the one pair, and may be imagined, that, while they stretched these before them, so as to meet over the sacred covering of the ark, they were furnished with others to cover the lower parts of their bodies, in token of reverence and humility. (Is. vi. 2. Rev. iv. 8.)
It appears most probable, therefore, that the cherubim mentioned in scripture were not, in every case, of the same form. We are not to imagine, that in any case their
figure and appearance were such as actually belong to any kind of existing creatures. They were mere emblems, intended to represent something else by symbolical sign, whether seen in vision, as they appeared to Ezekiel and to the Apostle John, or formed by art, as they were for the tabernacle and the temple. They appear evidently to have been designed to represent the holy angels, who attend continually before the throne of God, and delight to perform his will. Their wings signified the readiness and swiftness with which they execute the divine commands. Their faces, which seem always to have been one or more of those four that have been mentioned, denoted wisdom and power, activity and irresistible strength. Those which Ezekiel and John saw, were full of eyes, to express the great knowledge that belongs to the ministering spirits of heaven, the quickness of understanding with which they receive every intimation of God's most holy pleasure, and the clear unerring certainty with which they instantly move to carry it into accomplishment. (Ex. xi. 12. Rev. iv. 6-8.) To present still more significantly their characters as ministering servants, and to emblem, at the same time, the unutterable grandeur of the Divine Majesty, they were represented as bearing the Almighty with immeasurable speed wherever it was his will to go. In the vision of the prophet, he saw, stretched forth over the heads of the cherubim above, the likeness of a firmament as the colour of the terrible crystal; and above upon the firmament, was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Jehovah, throned in magnificent splendour. The cherubim lifted up their wings, when directed, and bore the whole whithersoever the Spirit was to go, with movement of awful sublimity; when they went, the noise of their wings was like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of a host! In another magnificent description of the majesty and power of the Most High, it is said; He rode upon a cherub, and did fly; yea, he rode upon the wings of the wind! (Ps. xviii. 10.)
The Glory of the Lord visibly displayed above_the mercy-seat, was in the appearance of a cloud. "The Lord said unto Moses, speak unto Aaron, thy brother, that he
come not at all times into the holy place within the vail, before the mercy-seat which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy-seat." (Lev. xvi. 2.) This manifestation of the Divine Presence, was called among the Jews, the Shechinah. Its appearance was attended, no doubt, with an excellent glory, of which we can form no proper conception, and such as it was exceedingly awful for dying sinful man to look upon. Out of this cloud, the voice of God was uttered with deep solemnity, when he was consulted in behalf of the people, so as to be heard through the vail in the Holy Place. (Numb. vii. 89.) This was the appointed way of holding direct intercourse with the Holy One of Israel; There 1 will meet with thee, was his declaration, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat. There is some reason to think, that it was on this account the tabernacle was called, at times, the Tabernacle of meeting, (translated, also, Tabernacle of the congregation:) this name, however, may have been given to it, because it was the great centre of worship round which the congregation was wont to be assembled. From the situation of the glorious Shechinah, God is spoken of as dwelling between the cherubim. (Ps. lxxx. 1. xcix. 1.) Hence, also, the ark is represented as his footstool, above which he sits, enthroned, as it were, upon the wings of the cherubim. (1 Chron. xxviii. 2. Ps. xcix. 5.)
The Holiest of all, was a figure of Heaven, where God dwells in infinite and eternal glory; where his throne is established in righteousness and in judgment; where thousand thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand, all pure and happy spirits, minister before him, and contemplate, with adoring wonder, the perfections of his character, as they unfold upon their vision, with ever new discovery, age after age, without end. Thus we are taught by the Apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Hebrews.
As God was, in a peculiar sense, the King of the Israelitish nation, it may not be improper, perhaps, to look upon the tabernacle as being, in some sort, the royal palace in which he was pleased to dwell among the people; from which he issued his laws, and to which his subjects were required to come to do him honour, presenting themselves