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own homes. It required a good deal of sacrifice, both in point of time and other respects, in order to prosecute this journey to Jerusalem three times a year, especially on the part of individuals who lived at some distance from the city. But distance was overlooked, and time was overlooked, and every kind of personal and domestic sacrifice was overlooked by those, who in the language of this psalm felt - the tabernacles” of the Lord to be 66 amiable," and whose spirits were refreshed and strengthened by resorting to his temple. The text may be considered a description of the manner in which the journey of the pilgrims was prosecuted—the difficulties which they met with by the way—the blessings and refreshment they enjoyed to counterbalance these difficulties and trials; and finally, their happy arrival at Mount Zion as the city of their solemnities.” In a spiritual sense moreover, the same language is a beautiful representation of the tribes of Christian pilgrims passing through the wilderness of the world—refreshing themselves at the streams of the sanctuary as they go on, and as finally arriving at that Mount Zion, which is pre-eminently the city of the living God, the rest of the weary, and the repose of the pilgrim. In this acceptation it may do us good to review the subject. Are the “ tabernacles” of God on earth camiable” in our esteem? Is the worship of the sanctuary refreshing? Is the heart advanced in its holiness in this way? And so when the earthly worship is at an end, and the tabernacles of the Lord below are exchanged for his tabernacle above-our feet will stand upon Mount Zion in safety, and our loftiest ascriptions to the Lamb be addressed in the temple of his glory. We notice
I. The journey spoken of.
the rolling billows with impetuous sweep against the rock; -in every element of nature, whether on earth, in air, sea, or sky-whether it strike, as with the omnipotence of the thunderbolt, or perform its operations with gentler majesty,—all things tell of and every thing testifies to Him, who alone is God! I have asked you to think of this God. How worthy are his perfections! How amiable his character! How powerful his attributes ! Stooping to converse with creatures that have offended against Him, what is his language ? 66 Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord ; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” When we view the Almighty in this endearing character, we are reminded again of the provision he has made for the forgiveness of sins, consistently with his Divine purity. That forgiveness flows through the blood of Christ. The angels themselves desire to look into the mysteries of this redemption ; and its wonders unfolding and unfolding with the revolutions of eternity, are to constitute the unfailing attraction of the saints in heaven.
2. The subject presents us with another consideration for our instruction : viz. how humble our worship ought to be, either in the sanctuary, or in the closet. This remark has more especially to do with those who do worship God. Let us then remember that in our best estate on earth, we are far below the purity and holiness of the heavenly host. But these are nevertheless profoundly humble in the presence of God, and in the worship which they present to Him. Now a consciousness of what we are in the Divine sight—that we are less than the least of all things, ought to impress our minds, and by affecting our hearts lead to the deepest humility and abasement of soul. The very consciousness, I say, of what we are ought to have this tendency. But there is another consideration to be taken into the account, that although we stand not as the angels do, in the immediate presence of the Lord of hosts--yet nothing is concealed from his view. He knows the very thoughts of our hearts : and “every thing is open unto the eyes of Him, with whom we have to do.” Every song which is sung in the sanctuary is heard by him. Every prayer which is offered up in the great congregation, and every subject to which you are invited to listen there, has to do with the eye and the ear of Heaven. Nor is this all ; for every individual composing that congregation, or any congregation, is instantly inspected by the glance of Omniscience. And then, if we turn from the sanctuary to the closet, we find that however retired we may be from the world, and cut off from its pursuits and its fellowship, it is still the influence of Heaven that surrounds us. It is here where no other being can possibly penetrate, and yet it is here, where the darkest recesses of such a locality are open to Jehovah.
( Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there ; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea ; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me, even the night shall be light about me. For the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.” these sentiments, my friends, sufficiently impressed on our minds, it would then be that both the sanctuary and the
II. Their employment and experience by the way.
III. The progress of the journey and its final termination.
I. The journey spoken of. “ Who,” it is said, “passing through the valley of Baca.” The valley of Baca is otherwise translated," the place of mulberry-trees;” probably
as that referred to in the fifth chapter of the second book of Samuel. It was a barren place, and they who passed through it were compelled to dig pits for water. But the word “ Baca” is again translated—the place of weeping or misery; and if so it might further signify, the mournfulness of that valley, through which the Israelitish tribes had to pass from many parts of the country, in going up to Jerusalem for the purposes of worship. The circumstance however represents to us, that they whose hearts were set on the worship of God did not venture to neglect that worship, because there might happen to be some difficulties in the way; nor because the temple of Jerusalem was far from their dwellingplace. If these are difficulties with many in the present day, they were not so in the case alluded to. Whether Baca was a dreary or a barren place, there were those who passed through its valley in the character of faithful pilgrims ;-their God, who had been the God of their fathers, was to be enjoyed in his influences, either in the valley or on the mountain-top; from whose presence there emanated light in the darkness, and comfort adequate to their troubles. To have seen these individuals, thus passing through the valley of Baca, might have conveyed to the mind how hallowed was their feeling of reverence, in which they held the character and the worship of God. Their remembrance was toward his name—their affection
was the spring of their obedience. The heart was no solitary all the while, for it held communion with God ; whilst as in tribes they were accustomed to meet together in the valley, they enjoyed fellowship with each other. We have given us, in the one hundred and twenty-second psalm, a beautiful description of the holy city, and of the joy of those who delighted to go up to it. In that very psalm they are spoken of as going up in tribes,“Whither,” it is said, “ the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord.” His name was precious to the faithful in the days of the psalmist, as his name is precious to the faithful in the present day; and therefore to worship in the great congregation at Jerusalem, they submitted to fatigue and to hardship, assured that their privileges more than counterbalanced their endurances. God had his
eye upon every pilgrim as he passed through the valley—he was the witness of their piety, and ever was ready to encourage their hearts. They journeyed in his strengthhis servitude they loved, and to Him they were devoted. Let us now see whether the language of the text bears any resemblance to the Christian pilgrimage.-Will it apply to ourselves as Christians ? It will, if by “ Baca ” we may understand the wilderness of the world, where the church is still in her state of discipline, and “passing through” it to the Jerusalem that is above.
1. Baca was a barren place. Such is the world to believers. The application of “barren” to the present world, would, it is true, be altogether unmeaning to a natural man-his untutored eye would instantly rove abroad amongst the beauties and the scenery of nature ; and perhaps he would remind you of the glowing land