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the Lord appeared in the bush to Moses, the children of Israel did not know so much as the name of God: and it was to promote this extinction that they were brought into Egypt, and permitted to remain there for so long a period, without any manifest communication with the Lord and heaven.
When the children of Israel quitted Egypt, they were faithful to the oath which Joseph had made them swear; for we read in the 13th of Exodus, that “ Moses took the bones of Israel with him : for he had straightly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you."
Now, then, has the host of Israel moved from the land of bondage and commenced their journey, wonderful in itself and its accompaniments, and deeply mysterious and sublimely instructive in its inward meaning. To follow them in this divinely appointed and conducted journey, and mark and ponder on the various circumstances that occurred to them, the giving of their laws and the appointment of their institutions and ordinances, were a most instractive employment; but this is at present inadmissible. Thus far, however, we may accompany them, to see from their laws and ordinances the nature of the dispensation. And it is easy to perceive that duties were required of them from which their hearts were far removed, and that ceremonies were instituted, or rather authorized, of the meaning of which they were entirely ignorant. Thus, to them it was truly a system of external worship and obedience without any corresponding internal. It was, as the apostle expresses it, the shadow of good things to come; the mere form without the substance; or, to use the figure in our text, it was the mere bones without the flesh and the animating life: in comparison with an internal church, it was as a mere skeleton when compared to a living man.
Yet lifeless and external as the institutions of that dispensation were to the Jews themselves; we cannot reflect without wonder and gratitude, that divine providence should so order it, that the whole might involve typically and representatively, and thus inwardly contain, the spirit of true holiness and internal worship ; which, while concealed from the carnal Jews, might be revealed to the spiritual Christian.
While, therefore, the true laws and principles of internal worship were entirely removed from the knowledge of the Israelites, those laws and principles were not removed from the earth, but
lay stored up in the external laws and rituals themselves, and were thus preserved for the future use of mankind. This was beautifully represented in the embalming of Joseph and putting him in a coffin in Egypt. Joseph himself representing what is internal, while his death denoted the extinction of what was internal among the Israelites; his being embalmed denoted that nevertheless it was preserved for the use of posterity; and that it should be laid or stored up, and concealed in the scientifics of the church, is signified by Joseph's being put in a coffin or ark in Egypt. Joseph was not, therefore, buried in Canaan, but remained in Egypt, because Egypt signifies science, and the coffin or ark signified scientifics therefrom.
When the Lord came into the world, this internal substance and glory, which had lain concealed from the view and conceptions of the Jewish people, was brought forth and openly presented to the disciples of the manifested God, the internal was conjoined to the external from which it had been severed, and the flesh being thus brought up again upon the hones and animated by the spirit of the Lord, the Levitical law was exhibited in all the beauty of inward holiness and the vigour of spiritual life. This resurrection of the internal law, which for ages had been entombed, but yet embalmed in the scientific ark of Egypt or of the church, was represented by the magnificent vision presented to Ezekiel, commonly called the vision of the dry bones. The bones in that vision, like those of Joseph, represented the external truths of the Jewish church, while the valley in which they lay scattered, dry, and disjointed, represented the Jewish church itself, which our Lord when on earth called the valley of the shadow of death. The restoration of the internal of the ceremonial dispensation was represented by the clothing of the bones with sinews, flesh, and skin, and their being filled with spiritual life was denoted by God breathing into them and causing them to live an exceeding great army. And the ultimate truths of the Jewish dispensation, thus connected, thus replenished with substantial truth and good, thus animated by the spirit of the Lord, will, to the Christian prophet be an exceeding great army-an army that will enable him to wage a successful war with the enemies of his own heart and life, that he may enter by victory into the eternal kingdom of the prince of peace.
If the observations which have been offered may have the effect of inspiring those who have listened to them with
to pursue the divine theme; if they increase in any degree their veneration for the sacred volume, and give a clearer perception of its divinity and spirituality; they will have accomplished no unimportant use; and that such may be the use, both in design and in effect, of all our investigations into the Word of eternal truth, may the Lord in his mercy and his wisdom grant! To whom be all the glory and praise. Amen.
BY THE REV. T. CHALKLEN.
John iii. 3.
of God.” When our thoughts are seriously directed towards the realities of the other life, how unreasonable appears the indifference with which these all-important matters are treated by the majority of men, and the readiness with which the more seriously disposed will lay aside the exercise of their own judgments in reference to such things, and repose with implicit confidence upon the opinions and assertions of others. One would suppose that when the Lord hath assured us, for instance, that “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;" that all who profess to believe the declaration as the Word of God, would be in the greatest degree careful not to be deceived in so weighty a matter ; that the sentiments which others offer upon the subject would be diligently and rigidly scrutinized before they came to be regarded as the truth : but so far from this being the case we find that, generally speaking, the anxiety on this subject is much more from a desire to experience what the creeds of men describe as regeneration, than to make use of their rational powers for examining the Word of God, and learning from its instructions what is really signified by being born again.
Having, in a former discourse from these words, investigated the doctrines commonly received upon this subject, and found them to disagree with the Word of God, and to be inconsistent with the character of that state which the Lord would bring us into, and which is described as the image and likeness of God; we will now endeavour to understand the true nature of regeneration, the importance of which is taught in the text,-“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
The reason why a man cannot enter the kingdom of heaven ex
cept he be born again, is, because, as he first comes into the world, the propensities of his nature are altogether evil. He grows up into the love of self and of the world, and the persuasions of his understanding are all in favour of these affections, and consequently the actions of his life have all a regard to these as the motives of their performance. Without the influences of goodness and truth from heaven, he would become incapable of loving any except for the sake of himself alone, or of understanding a single doctrine of truth. A fully regenerated man looks to the Lord as the source of all his existence and support, and has every faculty buth of mind and body properly submitted to the divine will ; accordingly, every thing he does is done for the sake of God and thence for the sake of his neighbour. But a man who has disregarded the divine influence, and made himself the centre of all his desires, thoughts, and actions, has suffered his natural inclinations to exert their power over him, has eagerly embraced any opinions that favoured his indulgence in covetousness, sensuality, or self-importance :—such a one is in a state altogether opposite to a regenerated state ;-he is merely a natural man, his delights are all confined to this world, or, if he thinks of another world, he is indulging in the hope of finding heaven a place where he may more fully gratify the selfishness of his heart; or, he thinks of it as a mere incomprehensibility, about which it is in vain to think of forming a single definite idea. Such a one bas become the opposite of what the Lord desires him to be. He was created that he might become an angel of heaven, and, notwithstanding the evils of his nature and the evil influences which have surrounded him, the means were continually afforded him for turning away from them; the power of choosing to turn himself unto the Lord has been perpetually supplied, and nothing but his own determination to follow the suggestions of an evil heart has prevented his becoming regenerated. Affections which should have been subdued into the lowest place, and held down in due subjection, have obtained the pre-eminence, and, consequently, all the higher and nobler dispositions and inclinations of bis mind are closed up within his soul, so that nothing heavenly can enter to purify and regulate his disordered condition. Thus, instead of growing up into the image and likeness of God, he has become an image and likeness of hell. The tyrant, self, holds despotic sway over all the powers of his nature, and desires of self-gratification rage with cruel thirst in his ever unsatisfied breast. However we may deceive ourselves, such will be the condition to which we