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which the times and circumstances of the Israelites would admit. That heaven is a place of perfect and everlasting happiness is a doctrine so consistent with our best feelings and desires, and so well supported by Scripture, that doubts upon the subject are scarcely ever entertained.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.' But that celestial happiness does not consist in inactivity and indolence is equally clear; for, like certain of the worshippers in the ancient tabernacle, the inhabitants of heaven are said to serve God day and night in his temple.
The service in the ancient tabernacle was conducted chiefly, sometimes exclusively, by the priests, who went into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God: and, in allusion to them, believers are said to be made kings and priests unto God, and to draw near to him in that character;f nor do men enter into the service of God above, any more than they do acceptably on the earth, without being first purified with blood and water.
But the principal service of the tabernacle was that performed by the High Priest alone in the most holy place, which he entered with the blood of the slaughtered animal, and presented for the sins of the nation : thus representing Jesus Christ, who, by virtue of his own precious blood, has entered into heaven, and * Rev. vii, 17.
+ Rev. i. 6.
now appears to plead its efficacy in the presence of God for us.
The design of the Mosaic dispensation was not more to teach new principles with regard to sacred things, than to develope those which had been already revealed. The leading features of true religion are always the same; and there has never been but one way for a sinner to be accepted with God. We find that, from the time when Adam fell to the incarnation of Christ, there were very few, if any original properties of God's plan of mercy brought out, and just because there were none to disclose.
They had been made known at the beginning of our apostacy; the knowledge of them being as much required for the salvation of the first sinner as for that of the last who will be rescued from pending destruction. Nevertheless, like the day whose increasing light is the same in its nature in the morning as at its meridian, those properties became more clearly manifested as time rolled on; and as in vegetation the shooting corn contains the future ear, and the full corn in the ear, so the gracious disclosure made to Adam, when it was said, the seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent, included in itself all the blessings which were afterwards preached to the fathers by the types, figures, and shadows of the Mosaic law, and ultimately to the world by Christ and his Apostles.
The above remarks will apply with equal propriety to the places in which God's worship has been performed. That there were other sacred erections prior to the tabernacle in the wilderness, seems highly probable; indeed they were what men's own sense of propriety and desire for convenience would suggest to them; and there appears to be some allusion in the Scriptures to such places as existing in the earliest ages of the world, particularly where the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord.* The first construction of this kind, however, of which we have any distinct and full account, was the tabernacle; and after that had continued in use for many years, and been located in a number of places, it was succeeded by a much more splendid edificethe temple. The building of this was first projected by David, who appears to have set his heart upon the work, and had collected many materials for it. As, however, he had spent a large portion of his time in war, and had shed much blood, an exception was taken by the Almighty to his carrying out his design; and the full accomplishment of it was reserved for Solomon, his son and successor.f
The temple of Solomon considered simply as a structure, was one of the greatest national ornaments the Jews possessed, and it was not only the glory of the people to whom it belonged, but was also the admiration and envy of surrounding nations; but it is chiefly as the dwelling of the Most High that it becomes interesting to the servant of God. It was forty * Job i. 6.
+ 2 Sam. vii. 1.
and six years in building, and when completed, dedicated by the king himself to that Almighty Being to whose honour it had been raised.
The design and use of the tabernacle being the same as those of the temple, since we have noticed them in the former to dwell upon them in the latter seems unnecessary. As this was designed chiefly to carry out and teach more clearly and fully the great truths which that had set forth, we shall notice now only those particulars in which the temple may be considered, as to its design, an advance upon the tabernacle. It was so,
I. In regard to the foundation on which it rested.
In the case of the tabernacle, there was very little or no particular attention paid to this. It was set up as occasion required, on the sand of the desert; but it was not so with the temple, —that was founded upon a rock. This rock formed a part of that locality which in the Scriptures is sometimes designated Moriah, or Calvary; but the most common name by which it is known is Mount Zion.
.While this difference in regard to the foundations of the two edifices was rendered necessary by the difference in the situations and the structures themselves; it tended to point out the contrast between the ancient Jewish church and that of Christ. The former was transitory -destined soon to pass away; while the latter is to remain for ever, and therefore founded on a basis that will sustain it, which is Christ himself ; who, in reference to the foundation of the temple, is called, “ the chief corner-stone-the
headstone of the corner," * and “a tried stone." op It was probably in allusion to the same thing that our Lord said, when pointing perhaps to his own person, “Upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," I and the same circumstance, no doubt, was present to the mind of the Apostle, when writing to the Ephesians he addressed them as “ built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone."
In perfect harmony with the foundation was the whole of the structure, an impression of the strength of which was conveyed to every beholder by two remarkable pillars, by which it was adorned, and its upper stories supported, called in the Scriptures Jachin and Boaz || (stability and strength.)
The temple was an advance upon the tabernacle,
II. In respect to the liberality displayed in the choice of the agents by whom it was erected.
The tabernacle was built by true-born Israelites, with the exception only of such persons of other nations whom they may have had among them, who were slaves or domestic servants. But in building the temple, the labour was divided between Jews and Gentiles. With a view to facilitate its erection, an alliance was formed by the great Hebrew monarch with Hiram, king of Tyre, who in the most friendly manner contributed of the produce of his country to the fullest extent required. In this * Psa. cxviii. 22. + Isa. xxviii. 16. Matt. xvi. 18. § Eph. ii. 20.
|| 1 Kings vii. 21.
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