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The points in respect to which Christians are exalted to higher privileges than those of the ancient people of God, may be reduced, perhaps, to the three following. In the first place, though we are not favored with a large amount of new, unrevealed truth; those truths which were but dimly seen before, are brought forth into much clearer light. They are presented in a way to be more impressive, commanding, and powerful. Instead of the type, we have received the antitype. In place of the shadow, we have got the substance. What the patriarchs saw through a glass darkly, we see as it were face to face. A vast amount of prophecy has been fulfilled. The great Redeemer of his church has come. The world has been blessed with his personal ministry, and that of his Apostles. Life and iinmortality have been brought to light in the gospel.
Then, in the second place, the ordinances of religion are much less numerous and onerous now, than formerly. As the old dispensation was one of symbols, typical rites and institutions were greatly multiplied. The circumstances of the church required that they should be. And yet this extended ritual is spoken of by the Apostles as a yoke-a heavy yoke—which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear, Acts 15: 10. It is a mercy to the Christian church, that this yoke of ceremonies, being no longer demanded, has been removed, and that the simple rites of the gospel have taken its place.
But the great blessing of the new dispensation consists in this : it is emphatically a dispensation of the Spirit. The Spirit of God was indeed operating in the earth, ages before the coming of Christ. He was then, as now, the origin and cause of all the holiness which exisied among men. But since the resurrection of Christ, and the ushering in of the new dispensation, the Spirit of God bas been poured out upon the world in richer and more glorious effusion. A new and wonderful efficacy has been given to the truth. A new impulse has been added to the cause and kingdom of Christ. Revivals of religion are frequent, converts are multiplied, and the influence of the gospel, instead of being confined to a single family and people, is being diffused all over the earth.
We are not in the number of those who are accustomed to think or speak diminutively of the privileges of God's ancient covenant people. Compared with the world around themcompared with the notions which not a few, at this day, entertain of them—their privileges were very great. But in several important respects, ours are much greater ; laying us under higher responsibilities ; demanding that we be much wiser and holier persons; more heavenly in spirit, more conformed to the Divine image and will, more devoted to the cause of Christ, more useful in the world. Whether any of us really are more eminent saints than some who lived before the coming of Christ, may admit of a question. Or rather I fear it will not admit of a question. Instead of rising above them, my apprehension is that, in instances not a few, we fall far below them. But whatever our spiritual attainments may actually be, there can be no question as to what they should be. They ought to rise in proportion to our light and advantages, and ought to be as much superior to those of the ancient saints, as our means and privileges are the more valuable.
8. From the ark and its appendages, Christians may learn what their feelings and conduct should be in regard to their places of public worship. The place of deposit for the ark, both in the tabernacle and temple, was emphatically a holy place. It was holy, because the Lord was there. It was holy, because the blessed angels were there. The symbols of heaven were brought down to earth, and here was the place of their abode. And we know with what reverence this sacred place was regarded, by those who lived under the former dispensation. They would no more have obtruded into it, for any common or secular purpose, than they would have obtruded into heaven itself.
But if the Jewish sanctuary was a holy place, the same may be said of the Christian sanctuary; and for the same reasons. The Lord is still in his holy temple; not indeed by a visible Shekinah, but by spiritual manifestations of not less awful import. The holy angels, too, who, by their appointed symbols, waited around the mysterious ark, and seemed to fill the whole sanctuary with their presence, are still present in the assemblies of God's people, beholding the order of their worship, and ministering to them who shall be heirs of salvation. The Apostle Paul uses it as an argument for the strictest decorum in the house of God, that the holy angels are there as witnesses, 1 Cor. 11: 10.
When Moses was about to approach into the near presence of God, he was commanded to take the shoes from his feet, be, cause the ground on which he stood was holy. And he Divine injunction still is, “Keep thy foot when thou goest into the SECOND SERIES, FOL. X. NO. II.
house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools." “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of his saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.” “I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people will I be glorified.” These senti. ments are equally true and applicable under the new dispensation as under the old; and should lead us, when we come into the sanctuary of the Most High, to feel as Jacob did when he said, “How dreadful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven !"
9. The ark and its appendages teach another lesson, and it is the last to which I shall here direct attention. It refers to the traits of character which Christians must exhibit, in order that they may be like the angels. The cherubim which Ezekiel saw had each of them four faces; that of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. The faces of the cherubim connected with the ark were, probably, the same in kind, though the same number of faces seems not to have been attached to each. It has been often remarked, and I think justly, that these faces were indicative of the characteristics of angels; the human face denoting their intelligence and wisdom; that of the lion, their courage, generosity, power, strength; that of the ox, their patience and submission, their readiness to bear burdens and perform labors in the service of Christ; while the face of the eagle denoted their lofty purposes, their exalted aims, and the rapidity of their movements in discharging their commissions of vengeance or of love. Now these are the very traits of character, which should distinguish every child of God. They are the traits of character which all Christians will possess, when they arrive at heaven, and are made like the angels. Accordingly, the living creatures which John saw in heaven, and which (with the elders) were the representatives of redeemed saints, appeared with the same faces as the cherubim. In this respect, they were like the cherubim.
The traits of character to which I have referred—those which belong to the holy angels, and will belong to the saints when they arrive at heaven, and are made like the angels should be assiduously cultivated by every Christian, while here on the earth. We should be aiming to grow in all knowledge and spiritual wisdom; in nobleness of disposition, courage, and strength; in patient submission, and fidelity to Christ; in the elevation of our views and purposes, and the activity of our endeavors to promote His cause, till we arrive, in these respects, to the stature of angels, and are permitted, in connexion with them, to bend and worship before the eternal throne.
The Lord strengthen and assist all who read these pages, in their endeavors thus to grow in knowledge and in grace! The Lord bless them abundantly in this most important of all the labors of life! The Lord graciously receive them, as they pass, one after another, from this to the eternal state, and make them as the angels of God in heaven!
HELPS IN PREACHING.
By Rev. Miles P. Squier, Geneva, N. Y.
Great simplicity characterizes the instructions of the Bible. It presents truth in forms adapted to the common apprehensions and general reading of men; and freed from those limitations of meaning, which oblain in books of science, and attend an abstract and technical phraseology. Its statements are direct, obvious, and unencumbered. They meet our consciousness, and find a response in the principles of our being. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Reason and conscience are with divine truth. Its appeal is to the giant principles of the soul. Its resources of influence are such as should give it sway over mind, and as entitle it to success everywhere.
Corresponding results have often been witnessed in its history. The preaching of our Lord was attended with large success, as was the Baptist's before him. Thousands were converted on the day of Pentecost. The people of Samaria gave heed, “with one accord,” to the preaching of Philip ; a precious revival of religion gave great joy in that city. The same encouraging fact is illustrated along the track of apostolic instruction through Asia Minor, and into Europe-in the conversion of Lydia and the jailer-among the Bereans—and in the rapid spread of Christianity, even to the city and palace of ihe Cæsars.
Similar fruits have been witnessed in later times, quite down to our own. We may refer to them under the preaching of Edwards, and the Tennants-of Brainerd among the Indian tribes, and of Whitefield. The Sandwich Islands are now an example of the triumphant success of divine truth over rude mind; and such would seem to be but the legitimate effects of the Gospel wherever preached. It is attended with every resource of conviction; every ground of belief; every argument for submission and trust ; and yet the results above referred to do not uniformly attend the labors of the Christian ministry. Often, alas ! very often, are they far otherwise. Nor would it seem legitimate to ascribe the want of success to the Holy Ghost. The office-work of the Spirit is embraced in the economy of the gospel. We live under the dispensation of the Spirit. He was given to abide with the church always, and may not be supposed to be now wanting, where all else is as it should be, in the appliances of the gospel. We fully acknowledge the obstacles which the truth meets in the rugged soil of the heart, as well as in the constitution of society, and the state of the world. But the conversion of such hearts, and of such a world, is the object proposed in the gospel, and in the love which has commissioned it unto all nations for the obedience of faith. For this is it adapted, and sent, and making all requisite allowance for the varied circumstances in which the recipients of Christian effort are found, may not something of the diminished success of the word, so often witnessed, be set over to its defective application ? May it not be, that the church pursues her work of disciplining men to Christ, with too little intelligence and discrimination ? May she not be unapprized of the exact fastnesses of the heart, or too little studious of the best methods of reaching its sources of feeling and action ? May she not sometimes muffle the edge of the sword of the Spirit, disarm the thunderbolt from on high, and misdirect the artillery of heaven ? If so, she does well to look accurately at the more appropriate features of the work to be accomplished ; to keep her eye on the landmarks of her agency, as the pillar and ground of the truth ; and which may help her in its administration, as i "worker together with God.”