Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

with the Divine Direction in planning and carrying on the work; having built the walls with hewn-stone, and lined them with cedar; having carved and adorned the doors and linings with gilded Cherubims, and palm-trees, and knots ancà full-blown flowers; having overlaid the holiest places, such as the Oracle, the Altar and the Sanctuary with plates of massy gold; having furnished the whole house with tables, and candlesticks, and lamps, and tongs, and basons, and bowls, and censers, made also of gold, and curiously embossed with flowers; together with such an immense quantity of bases, and lavers, and pots, and other vessels of polished brass-work as was not to be weighed*;—the day was now come when this superb edifice, with all its costly apparatus of furniture, was to be Dedicated, Consecrated, and Set Apart for ever to the name of the Lord!

On that memorable day, the Elders and Judges of cities, the Heads of tribes and Chiefs of families, assembled themselves before king Solomon, and began the solemnity with a grand procession from Jerusalem to Mount-Zion, in order to bring from thence the Ark of the Covenant, containing the two Tables of the Law; which had been deposited there by Da. vid, (when he brought it from the housef of ObedEdom) in a temporary tabernacle, until a fixed house should be prepared for its reception.

In the like solemn manner did they return from Mount-Zion, to the mount of the Temple at Jerusalem, the Priests bearing the Ark with the Law, and

1 Kings, chap. vi. vii.

† 2 Sam. vi. 12. 17.

the Levites the Tabernacle in which it had been placed, with all the holy vessels of the Sanctuary;* that there might remain no occasion for idolatry, nor pretence for schism, or worship in any other place save that which was now dedicated to the Lord.

Solomon and his grand retinue being arrived at the temple, in the midst of sacrifices of sheep and oxen innumerable; the Priests, whose privilege it was (leaving their attendants in the outer courts, and before the house) entered first into the holy place, and then into the most holy, and there with solemn awe they deposited the Ark in the place prepared for it, under the wings of the golden Cherubims, that expanded themselves from wall to wall, shading the Mercy-seat and the Cherubims of Moses.

But behold now a most stupendous appearance! No sooner had the priests retired from the most holy place to begin the service at the Altar; no sooner had the trumpeters and singers become as one, and lifted up the voice in full chorus witht trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, to be heard in praising and thanking God, than lo! a cloud of thick darkness, declaring the immediate presence of the glory of the Lord, filled the whole house; so that the priests durst not stand to minister by reason thereof, but retreated to the outer courts with the utmost consternation.

And here let us pause, ponder and reflect on the nature of this wonderful phænomenon. Strange it may seem that a God, who is Light itself, should

2 Chron. 5, 13.

• 1 Kings, chap. viii. VOL. II.

3 A

appear in thick darkness. But, as he knows whereof we are made, this is in compassion to our weakness.

We are not, however, to think that this Darkness was nothing more than the Pillar of Cloud, in which the* Schechinah, or presence of the Divine Glory, usually manifested itself; for this, it is to be presumed, would not have terrified to the degree here spoken of. No, my brethren. But, on the contrary, as we know that the Glory on this occasion was superior to that of former ones; so we may believe its veiling

• As the Son of God, when he came into the world to redeem mankind, did, of his infinite condescension, take upon him their nature as a veil to his dignity, that he might thereby converse with them face to face; so the great Jebovah, in conversing with the Israelites, did it by his di. vine Schechinah or the presence of his Glory, abiding under the form of à pillar of cloud and pillar of fire.

This well-known appearance it was that went before the Israelites in the Wilderness; that called Moses up into the Mount; that spoke to Aaron and Miriamt in the door of the tabernacle; and that finally rested over the most holy place within the veil; and thence spoke from off the Mercyseat, that was upor. the Ark of the testimony, from between the two Che. rubims."I And this former dwelling of God among the Israelites by the Schechinah, was all along a most luminous type of his son's future dwel-, ling in human nature.

Now, outwardly this habitation of the presence of the Divinity looked as a cloud, but inwardly as a Fire; and the fire, or inward part, was that which was more immediately termed the Glory, and put on different appearances according to different circumstances. Sometimes it shone through the cloud in such serene and softened lustre, that it might be looked upon by common eyes. Sometimes it prevailed so much over the cloud, that only the eyes of a favoured few could behold it, and that too by repeated efforts and by gradual approaches. And sometimes it broke out so intensely strong, eclipsing the sun, the cloud and the whole face of things, that no human eye could behold it, or any thing else that fell within its overwhelming splendors.

Beautifully has the Jewish Rabbi, Jehudah, expressed himself on this subject, as he is quoted by Bishop Patrick. “Of the Glory mentioned in Scripture, there is one (saith he) which all the Israelites saw, such as the Cloud and consuming Fire; another of such a nature that the eyes of the Prophets could sustain it; but another so pure, and bright to such a degree, that no Prophet is able to apprehend it, but if he venture to look on it, his composition is dissolved.”

Num. xii. 5.

1 Num. vii. 89.

Of the first or milder Glory, I have mentioned sundry instances, and it seems referred to in Psalm xcvii. 2, 3. “ Clouds and Darkness are round about Him, and fire goeth before Him". Of the second kind, where the Fire or Glory so far prevailed over the Veil or Cloud, that only a favoured few could behold it, and that at a distance, or by gradual approaches, we have a most grand description in Exodus xxiv. 10, as it was seen by Moses and Aaron, Nadab and abihu, and the seventy eiders~" And they saw the God of Israel, and there was under His feet, as it were a paved work of sapphire-stone, and as it were the Body of Heaven in his clcarness"or the united splendors of all the heavenly Luminaries. And when Moses was to be called nearer to this glory, the others being commanded to remain afar off, six days was he in his approach towards it; while the Lord kindly veiled it before him, nor was it till the seventh day that he was taken into the midst of it; while it appeared like a devouring fire, on the top of the mount, to those at a distance.

But as to the third Glory, which, in its unveiled splendors, eclipses all the created luminaries of the universe, seeing no human eye has been able to behold it, so no human language has been able to describe it, otherwise than by the negative terms of Darkness, or “-Light which no man can approach, or behold and live.”+ For that which overwhelms and hides the view of all things else, and yet is itself beyond the power of all view, must, in respect to us, be the same as total Darkness.

This high degree of Glory is that in which the more immediate presence of the Godhead seems to have been manifested on special occasions. This it appears to be that broke in upon St. Paul at noon-day, so intensely strong that the sun shone to him in vain; for " he could not see for the glory of that Light, but was led by the hand of those that were with him,” who, it is presumed, saw only a lesser degree of this astonishing and overwhelming Light. This too it was that filled the whole body of the tabernacle, at the consecrating thereof, so that Moses, who had entered into the second Glory and beheld it, was not able to enter into this.

Can we doubt, then, but that it was the same superior Glory, dazzling and overwhelming all things besides, that astonished the Priests at the consecration of the Temple? Had it been the more usual appearance of the

+ 1 Tim. vi. 16. Expd. xxxiii, 18.

darkness was superior also; or peradventure, if entirely unveiled, the same would be the effect of the unsufferable power of Light itself, and the Darkness be such as our sublime poet speaks of

« Dark with excessive Bright"

Suppose a person long pent up in a gloomy dungeon, where scarce a single ray had penetrated to cheer his lonely hours; and suppose him liberated at once, and turning his eye to the noon, day sun; would not the whole face of things appear to him dark and without distinction, till by repeated efforts

Cloud and the Glory together, it is not to be imagined that they would have been driven by it from the service at the Altar as they now were;with a view, no doubt, in the conduct of Providence, to “ intimate that their Ministry and way of Worship should cease when the Messiah came, in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily.” Indeed, we are expressly told •hat the Glory did, on this occasion, break entirely out of the Cloud; and after it had filled the whole house, “ dazzling rather than en. lightening (saith the learned Bishop Patrick) so that nothing else could be seen, while it continued there, it settled at last in the most holy place."

No person seems to have had more beautiful and accurate conceptions on this subject than our sublime poet, Milton, in the passage already reArred 10

“ Fountain of Light! Thyself invisible
" Amidst the glorious brightness where Thou sit'st
- Thrond inaccessible; save when Thou shad'st
- The full blaze of Thy bears, and through a cloud,

Drawn round about Thee like a radiant shrine,
• Dark with excessive Bright, Thy skirts appear,

Yet dazzle Heaven, that brightest seraphim
Approach not, but with both wings veil their eyes!"

These remarks, as far as the Author's knowledge extends, he thinks suficiently warranted. But, if he should be mistaken in any of them, they contain no burtful position, and therefore may be submitted with all deference to the correction of those, who have had more leisure, than hath ever been his lot, to attain an exact and critical skill in oriental literature.

« ZurückWeiter »