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called, are, in all essential points, the same.
The heart of man being much depraved, and his understanding darkened in consequence of the full of Adam, God had been pleased to renew the impression of the general law of nature from time to time, by occasional communications of his will; and he now confirmed and explained it by an express Revelation, which he commanded to be recorded in writing for the use of all future ages. This moral law, founded in the natural relation subsisting between God and man, being originally declared to Adam, either through the medium of his reason, or by some sensible impression upon his mind, or by the audible voice of God himself, is of universal and eternal obligation (f). The ceremonial or positive law
(f) We are to remember that the change which sin produced in the nature of inan, weakened the faculties with which he was originally created, and obscured the light of reason. We may conceive that perfect reason would direct man to right conclusions concerning the nature of God and of man, and the duties which he owes to God and to his fellow creatures. Still, while man, as a free agent, had, as necessarily belonging to that character, the power of opposing the suggestions of will to the deductions of reason, his state of happiness must have been insecure. Whether we consider the knowledge of this moral law as derived from perfect human reason, of, which is the same thing under another name, from the ..N3
relates to the priests, the tabernacle, the sacrifices, and other religious rites and services. God commanded that those who should be employed about the tabernacle, or in the offices of public worship, should be of the posterity of Levi; and hence this law is sometiines called the Levitical law; but the priesthood itself was to be confined to Aaron and his descendants. The principal objects of the ceremonial law were, to preserve the Jews from idolatry, to which all the neighbouring nations were addicted, and to keep up in their minds the necessity of an atonement for sin, The civil law relates to the civil government of the Israelites, to punishments, marriages, estates, and possessions. The ceremonial and civil laws are intermixed with each other, and being adapted to the particular purpose of separating from the rest of the world one nation, among whom the
original nature of man given him by his Creator, (and in this sense the moral law would be justly termed the law of nature) or whether we suppose the knowledge of this law communicated by some impression upon the mind, some mode of divine inspiration, like that by which the prophets were enabled to distinguish clearly and positively the declarations of God from the dictates of their own reason, or by the audible voice of God himself, accompanied by some visible inark of the divine presence, the divine origin of this law is equally established, and its immutable truth is equally apparent.
knowledge of the true God, and the promise of a Redeeiner, might be preserved, were designed for the sole use of the Israelites, and were to be binding upon them only till the coming of the Messiah.
At this time God commanded Moses to make a tabernacle, or tent, for public worship, and gave him directions respecting its materials, dimensions, utensils, and every thing relative to it. In the tabernacle (g) was placed the ark, or chest, in which were deposited the two tables of stone, whence it is frequently called the Ark of the Covenant. The lid of the ark was called the mercy-seat, upon the ends of which were two cherubim, with expanded wings, in the attitude of worship. Upon the mercy-seat the Shechinah (h), or symbol of the Divine presence,
rested (8) Aaron's rod, which was indeed the testimony of his divine appointment to the priesthood, and an omer of manna, were also deposited in the tabernacle “ to be kept for the generations of Israel."
(h) Frequent mention is made in Scripture of the appearance of the Lord in the earliest ages of the world. To be “banished from his presence," to be excluded “ from the light of his countenance,” and many other expressions, seem evidently to allude to some appearance of the Divine glory, either occasional or stationary, upon earth, at fixed times, probably on the sabbaths, or at appointed places, whither men went to worship, and to "enquire
rested in the appearance of a luniinous cloud, and thence the divine oracles were either audibly given, or communicated by the Urim and Thummim (i), as often as God, who condescended to be their king and their judge, was
of the Lord,” in cases of doubt or distress. See Patrick's Commentary, Shuckford's Connection, and Jennings’s Jewish Antiquities.
(i) Ex.c. 28. v. 30. Lev. c. 8. v. 8. Num. c. 27. v.21. The Urim and Thummim, which words signify Light and Perfection, are applied to a miraculous ornament worn on the breast of the high priest, and erroneously supposed by some to be descriptive of the twelve jewels in the breastplate of the high priest, but which in reality meant something distinct from these : compare Exodus C. 39. v. 10. with Lev. c. 8. v.8. Some imagine that they were oracular figures that gave articulate answers; others, that they implied only a plate of gold, engraven with the Tetragrammaton, or sacred name of Jehovah. Whatever the ornament was, it enabled the high priest to collect divine instruction upon occasions of national importance, and even of private concern. Some conceive that the intelligence was furnished by an extrae ordinary protrusion or splendor of the different letters; but others, with more reason, think that the Urim and Thummim only qualified the high priest to present himself in the holy place, to receive answers from the mercy, seat within the veil in the tabernacle and temple, and in the camp from some consecrated place, whence the divine voice might issue. Vide Prideaux's Connexion, part i. book 3. Jennings's Antiq. b. 3. c. 9. Phil. Jud. lib. 2. Spençer's Urim and Thummim.-Gray.
consulted by the high priest. Thus God is said " to dwell between the cherubim." After the tabernacle was finished, Moses anointed Aaron to be high priest, and his sons to be priests, as the family selected for the priesthood; and God was pleased to accept their first offerings with signal marks of approbation. The people were then numbered ; and having now been in the neighbourhood of Mount Sinai nearly a year, they marched thence, and proceeding through the wilderness, they arrived in about three months, at Kadesh Barnea (k), not far from the south border of Canaan. During this march, the discontent and mutinies of the people occasioned great uneasiness to Moses, and finding much difficulty in governing them, he applied to God for relief; and by the command of God he chose seventy elders, who were immediately endowed with the holy Spirit, and began to prophesy. These seventy elders afterwards assisted Moses in the government of the Israelites; and it is generally believed that this was the origin and foundation of the great national council of the Jews, called in future ages the Sanhedrim (1).
(k) The distance from Mount Sinai or Horeb to Kadesh Barnea was only such as might have been performed in eleven days.
(1) Vide Home's Scripture Hist. b. 2. c. 5.