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* admitted. It was the will of God, that all these “ things should be found in his house, that in no" thing he might yield to the potentates of the “ earth. And all these things are designed to make “ the people know, that our King, the Lord of “ hosts, is in the midst of us."
This general idea of the tabernacle justifies that which we are going to give of the altar of burntofferings, and of the table of the shew-bread.
1. That of the altar of burnt-offerings : it was denominated the table of the Lord, and the viands served up on it were denominated the meat or the bread of Jehovah, because the end of the sacrifices there offered up by his command, was to intimate, that he maintained with his people an intercourse. as familiar as that of two friends, who eat together. at the same table. This is the most ancient, and the most usual idea of sacrifice. When alliances were contracted, victims were immolated : the contracting parties made a common repast on their flesh, to express the intimate union which they formed with each other.
This was the reason of all the rites which were observed between God and the people of Israel, in the alliance formed previous to the promulgation of the law. They are recorded in the twenty fourth chapter of the book of Exodus. Moses represented God; Aaron, Nadab and Abihu his two sons, and the threescore and ten elders represented the whole congregation of Israel. Altars were reared; sacrifices were offered up; they feasted together on the flesh of the victims. pressly related that Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and those other venerable personages whom I have mentioned, went up into the mountain, also they saw God, and did eat and drink: ver. 11. And to make it apparent that the divine presence inter
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vened, the history adds, that God vouchsafed to bestow sensible tokens of his presence : And they saw the God of Israel: and ihere was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire-stone, and as it were the body of heav-n in his clearness, ver. 10.
A work paved with stars, resembling a composition of sapphire-stones; a symbol which, perhaps, God preferred to any other, because the sapphire was, among the Egyptians, an emblem of royalty, as may be seen in their hieroglyphics, which the industry of the learned have preserved
The pagans, likewise, had the same ideas of the sacrifices which they offered up. They did eat together the flesh of the victims, and this they called eating or feasting with the gods. They sometimes carried off part of it to their own houses ; sometimes sent a portion of it to their friends; sometimes they partook of it in the temples themselves, in which tables were placed for the express purpose of celebrating festivals of this kind. Homer, in the Odyssey, introduces Alcinöus, speaking to this effect : The gods render themselves visible to us, when we immolate hecatombs to them, they eat with us, and place themselves by us at the same table. The same poet, speaking of the solemn festival of the Ethiopians, says that Jupiter had descended among them, to be present at a festival which they had prepared for him, and that he was attended thither by all the gods. In another place he tells us, that Agamemnon sacrificed an ox to Jupiter, and that he invited several of the chieftains of the Grecian army, to eat of the flesh of that aniinal. He relates something similar respecting Nestor.
Hence it comes to pass, that the phrase, to make a feast, is very frequently employed by sacred and profane authors, to express performing acts of idolatrous worship. In this sense it is that we are to understand it, in that passage of the prophet Ezekiel, where, enumerating the characters of the just man, this is laid down as one, He hath not eaten upon the mountains, chap. xviii. 6; that is, who hath not been a partaker in the sacrifices of the idolatrous. In burnt-offerings, the part of the victim consumed by fire, was considered as the portion of Deity. Of this I shall adduce only a single instance, that I may not load my discourse with too many quotations. Solinus relates, that those who offered up sa rifices to idols on Mount Etna, constructed their altars on the brink of its crater: that they placed bundles of dried sprigs upon those altars, but that they applied no fire to them. They pretender, that when the Divinity, in honor of whoin these rites were performed, was pleased to accept these sacrifi:es, the bundles of sprigs spontaneously caught fire : that the flame approached the persons who were celebrating the sacred festivity : that it encompassed them round and round, without doing them any harm; and thus was de
; clared the acceptance of their abolition.
In like manner, in the sacrifices which were offered upon the altar of burnt-offerings, one part of the victim was for the people, another part for the priest, and another part was consumed by fire : this last was considered as the portion of God : this was particularly denominated the meat or the bread of God; and the whole solemnity was intended, as he had said, to represent the intimate union, and the familiar intercourse, which God wished to maintain between himself and his people.
2. The same was likewise the design of the table of the shew-bread. It was natural that in the tabernacle, which was considered as the tent of Jehovah, and in the temple which was afterwards considered as bis palace, there should be a table replenished with provision for himself and for his ministers. It was the command of God, that twelve of those cakes should be exhibited continually on the table of the sanctuary, to denote the twelve. tribes of Israel. This same number was kept up even after the revolt of the ten tribes: because there were always worshippers of the true God, scattered over the whole twelve tribes. These cakes, exposed continually in the presence of Jehovah, were an invitation given to the revolted tribes, to maintain his worship, and to serve him conformably to the rites which he himself had been pleased to prescribe by the hand of Moses. This was likewise the grand motive used by Abijah, king of Judah, to bring back the Israelites to their allegiance : 2 Chron. xiii. 9, &c.
In this same sense is the table of the Eucharist, likewise, the table of the Lord. In this same sense, we consider as the meat of God, or as the bread of God, these august symbols which are presented to us in the holy sacrament of the supper. These two solemn ceremonies have exactly one and the same end in view. The end proposed by the table of the Eucharist, as by that of the altar of burnt-offerings, or by the table of the shew-bread, is to form, and to maintain between God and us, an intercourse of familiar friendship; it is to form, between God and. us, the most intimate union which it is possible to conceive as subsisting between two beings so very different as are the Creator and the creature. What proofs of love can be interchanged by two friends united in the tenderest bonds, which God and the believer do not mutually give and receive at the Eucharisticas table !
Two friends intimately united, become perfectly reconciled to each other, when some interposing
cloud had dimed the lustre of friendship, and they repair, by warmer returns of affection, the violence which love had suffered under that fatal eclipse. This is what we experience at the table of the holy sacrament. That august ceremony is a mystery of reconciliation between the penitent sinner and the God of mercy. On the one part, the penitent, sinner presents unto God a broken and contrite heart, Psa. li. 17. for grief of having offended him : he pours into the bosom of his God, the tears of repentance; he protests that if the love which he has for his God has undergone a temporary suspension, it never was entirely broken asunder; and if the flame of that affection has been occasionally smothered under the ashes, yet it was never entirely extinguished : he says to him with Thomas, recovered from his paroxysm of incredulity : My Lord and my God; my Lord and my God, John xx. 28: and with Peter, restored to favor after he had denied his master : Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee, John xxi. 17. And on the other part, the God of mercy extends his bowels of compassion toward the believer : he gives him assurance that his repentance is accepted, and speaks peace inwardly to his conscience, saying: Son be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee, Matt. ix. 2.
Two friends intimately united, lose sight, in some sense, of the difference which there may be between their respective conditions. This, too, is what the believer experiences at the Lord's table. On the one part, though there must ever be an immeasurable abyss betsveen God and us, we go to him as to our brother, as to our friend; shall I presume to add, as to our equal ? And on the other part, God is pleased to lay aside, in condescension to our weakness, if the expression be law