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that we may not offer an offering of the Lord in his appointed season among the children of Israel ?
This was a most natural inquiry for a sincere and pious Israelite. The law, as recorded in Leviticus,* had determined, that whosoever ate of the flesh of a sacrifice, while in a state of uncleanness, should be cut“ off from his people,” and yet the dead must be buried, and the passover be eaten, upon pain of death. What then was to be done? Moses, with true wisdom, determines upon going to the Fountain of all wisdom.
8. And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you.
9. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
10. Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto the Lord.
11. The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
12. They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it : according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.
13. But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he
* Leviticus vii. 20.
brought not the offering of the Lord in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.
14. And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the Lord ; according to the ordinance of the passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.
All, therefore, were to partake of the passover, but the temporarily unclean were to eat of it“ in the second month,” giving them, therefore, ample time for cleansing “ according to the preparation of the sanctuary.”
What a useful suggestion may we not derive from this, as regards the Christian passover, the Lord's Supper! Is the difficulty presented to us, which so often disturbs the mind of the young Christian? to partake is an absolute, a positive duty, as plain as that of the Israelite's attendance at his Paschal feast. But to partake of the Lord's Supper in an unfit and unclean state, is obviously as positive a sin. May I then neglect the ordinance ? This must not, cannot be. What, then, is the alternative? Instead of complaining that you are unclean, go at once to Him who invites the unclean, yea, the very dwellers in the highways and hedges, to his wedding-feast. It is in that character, if you really abhor your uncleanness, if you hate your sins, if you desire
nothing so much as his cleansing blood and justifying righteousness, that you will be indeed a welcome guest. Go first, humbly and faithfully, to the Lord of the Supper, for cleansing, and then go boldly and thankfully to the Supper of the Lord, for refreshment and strength. You may, like the unclean Israelite, be late, but so coming, you will be in time, and so feeding by faith upon the body and blood of the Saviour, you will receive “ the strengthening and refreshing of your soul.”
NUMBERS ix. 15—23.
15. And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony : and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning.
16. So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.
We read for the first time of this wonderful provision of the Almighty, for the guidance and comfort of his chosen people, in the thirteenth
chapter of Exodus, where we were told that “ the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light; to go by day and night,” We hear that, at the completion * of the tabernacle, the pillar of fire and cloud took up its position on the sacred tent, and never thence removed, except as a signal for the departure or halting of the Israelites. Its continual residence there, is again repeated in the verses before us, and is often afterwards alluded to, as if to mark the honour which it pleased God thus to confer upon the tabernacle he had pitched among men. Most important, in a religion so full of outward ordinances as the Jewish; and valuable, in all ages, as marking the honour which the Almighty puts upon the religious services of his own appointment, and therefore the high degree of respect and veneration which they demand from us. It is in the sanctuary of God, that the presence of God may be said, in a peculiar manner, to rest, and to fill it with his glory ; and blessed is that soul which can feel, without any mingling of superstition, but from long and deep experience, with the holy psalmist, “ Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.” + * Exodus xl. 34.
† Psalm xxvi. 8.
17. And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed : and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents.
18. At the commandment of the Lord the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the Lord they pitched : as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents.
19. And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the Lord, and journeyed not.
20. And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle ; according to the commandment of the Lord they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of the Lord they journeyed.
21. And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.
22. Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not : but when it was taken up, they journeyed.
23. At the commandment of the Lord they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the Lord they journeyed : they kept the charge of the Lord, at the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses.
Very often is the obedience of the Israelites to this divine and miraculous symbol, repeated