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SECTION CXL. LEVITICUS XXIII.
TITLE.—The Scriptures can only be rightly understood, when they are received
as written with reference to the happiness of an immortality anticipated and illustrated by events, forming one progressive system of Providence, and by institutions directing the mind to the same immortality. In Christianity, privileges are duties, and duties privileges. The seven great objects of all the Jewish and all the Christian revelation are illustrated and described by the
seven great festivals and chief institutions commanded in this Section. INTRODUCTION.-Two systems of Scriptural interpretation are beginning to divide asunder the Church and the world. The first may be called Theology. This is the old and only right system, which is common, in its first principles and ancient foundations, to the Jews, the primitive Church, the Church of Rome, the Church of England, the Greek Church, and to all the sects and parties who believe that the Creator impressed supernaturally, and thus inspired, the minds of men. The other, which may be called Neology, is common to the Deists of England, the Rationalists of Germany, the philosophers of anti-christian France, and to infidelity in all its forms, at all times, and in all places, and which despises this doctrine of inspiration. The first is founded on the principle, that God, having created man, rules him and teaches him by un-uniform as well as by uniform laws. The second is founded on the principle, that God, having created man, left him to find his way from the merely animal to the better intellectual life, without Divine assistance; by necessity guiding him to society; and by sorrow, care, and danger, gradually leading him to experience, and to the arts and comforts of the life of civilization. If man had been so created, that he should have been neither a religious nor immortal being; if conscience had not been within him, as certainly a component part of his nature as the power
of comparing, reflecting, and anticipating ; or if he had been so created, that his mind could have been contented with all that this world could afford him of honour, wealth, or pleasure, then there might have been some solid basis for the truth of Neology. When, however, we compare the nature of man with the nature of the animals around him, and believe that God has ordained the laws of mental happiness to the beast, the bird, the fish, and the meanest insect, according to the nature and to the place in creation which His creating power has assigned to them; we are compelled to believe that He would give to a being capable of religion and immortality, some law of guidance and direction to happiness, according to his nobler nature and higher rank in creation. Theology, therefore, or the belief in an interfering God, is much more reasonable, philosophical, or worthy of reception, than any theory, however seemingly defensible, which represents the Creator of the world as slumbering after the creation, or ruling by an organized or passive providence, which having, as it were, wound up the clock of the universe, left it to go on for ever of itself. We cannot believe that the world is so governed ; and if we are required, by the very nature and constitution of man, to believe that his Creator would guide and direct him to the only true happiness which his mind solicits, then we must believe also, that such guidance and direction would be granted, according as the human race demanded the Divine interference. The conclusion, that is, of the true philosopher who compares the nature of man with the benevolence of God, would be expressed in the well known words, “God at sundry times “ and in divers manners spake unto ” His world ; that is, God provided for the present religious happiness, and for the future immortal happiness of His creatures, by events such as the revelation of His creation, the punishment of the deluge, the separation of the chosen family, and the impartation of prophecy. To enable men also to remember those events, He ordained institutions which, while they contributed to the present happiness of man, directed his attention to the future and better happiness. By thus contemplating the chief institutions of the Old Testament, as contributing to the felicity of the people to whom they were given, and by considering the ultimate object of those institutions to be the more complete instruction of man as to the future, we reconcile much of the reasoning by which Neology is defended, with the more important object for which Theology may be said to be revealed. The present Section, for instance, informs us of the institution of seven great commemorations of events to be observed by the Jews. The rejecter of the spiritual Theology of Scripture may say of some of these, that they were common, before the time of Moses, to the patriarchs, who celebrated the ingathering of the harvests, and the seasons for sowing and reaping; and he may say, with Michaelis and others, that the Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles ', promoted internal commerce and great political union amongst the tribes of Israel. All this doubtlessly is true : but neither the early commemoration of the gifts of the Creator, nor the temporal felicity of the tribes, can be compared in importance with such objects as the believer in the uniform providence of God, leading His creature man, in all ages, to a better than political or commercial happiness, can discover in their institution. Seven observances are mentioned in this Section; and they all respectively correspond in the most remarkable manner with those seven great objects of all true religion which most intimately relate to man as a religious and immortal being, and which we may believe, therefore, that the Creator would design to enforce by events and by institutions. These seven objects are—the remembrance of God as the Creator; the knowledge of God as a Saviour; gratitude to God, founded upon that remembrance and that knowledge; the necessity of the Divine assistance, that these three sources of thought be rendered influential; the consciousness of the flight of time; the nature of that deep feeling of repentance, which may be said to be the unavoidable suggestion of the natural but enlightened conscience; and the inward change from the natural to the spiritual, which results from all. These seven gradations of the spiritual life are respectively indicated by the seven institutions which are here commanded; and we cannot imagine, therefore, that the coincidence was undesigned, and that the Giver of revelation requires them to be regarded merely as ancient usages, useful only for temporary union and temporary political advantage. The seven institutions are the Sabbath (ver. 3), the passover (ver. 4-8), the offering of the firstfruits (ver. 9—14), Pentecost (ver. 15-22), the feast of trumpets (ver. 23-25), the fast of atonement (ver. 26–32), and the feast of tabernacles (ver. 33 —44). The command of the Sabbath was given to commemorate the creation. The feast of the passover was designed to point out the only mode in which sinful man could be reconciled to his Creator. The offering of the first-fruits was the expression of gratitude for the fruits of the earth, in its original meaning; but it was received in after-ages, on the interpretation of St. Paul, as the type of the resurrection of Christ, after He had completed the atonement which reconciled man to God. The feast of Pentecost instructed the Church in the necessity of Divine assistance to serve God rightly. The feast of trumpets was observed on the first day of the ancient seventh month, which was now commanded to be regarded as the commencement of the new year; and reminded the people, therefore, of the flight of time. The fast of the atonement, which required the afflicting of the soul for the errors and the faults committed in that lapse of time, explained the nature of repentance : while the observance of the feast of tabernacles, the last of the great institutions which were commanded to be observed, no less represented the joy of the deliverance of the Israelite from Egypt, than of the Christian from the world. The rest in the wilderness afforded the earnest of that better “rest which remaineth for the people of God," which was formerly beyond the wilderness, and which is now beyond the present life. The feast of tabernacles has been generally interpreted as the emblem of the birth of Christ, who tabernacled in this life. It is so;—but its better interpretation, as the seventh and last, and, therefore, the most perfect of these institutions, which are all capable of personal application, seems to be, that it typified that perfection of the spiritual principle, which is called “ Christ in us, the Hope of glory”—the earnest and foretaste of our spiritual felicity; and the portion which the religious and immortal soul shall attain from the Creator of the world, and the God of the passover. Such is the way in which the seven great spiritual wants of man seem to be provided for by the seven institutions related in this Section; and I only add—that as it is the duty of man to labour, and the privilege of man to cease from labour, the observers of these seven institutions were uniformly required to cease from labour during their observance. Their duty to abstain from labour was their privilege. Their privilege became their duty. Our observance of God's laws, our gratitude to the Son of God, and our anticipation of our immortal destiny, are at once both our bounden duty, and our best privilege.
LEVITICUS XXIII. 1-8.
• Exod. 12. 6,
3, 10. & 23.15.
& 34. 18. Numb. 9. 2,
2 Kings 10.
20. Ps. 81. 3.
1-8. Josh. 5. 10.
• Exod. 20. 9. & 23. 12. & 31.
1 And the Lord spake 5 ° In the fourteenth day unto Moses, saying, of the first month at even
2 Speak unto the chil- is the Lord's passover. dren of Israel, and say un
6 And on the fifteenth 4, 18. & 13. * ver. 4, 37. to them, Concerning a the day of the same month is
feasts of the Lord, which the feast of unleavened 3. & 28. 16, • Exod. 32. 5. ye shall proclaim to
be bread unto the Lord: seven Deut. 16. holy convocations, even days ye must eat unleavthese are my feasts. ened bread.
3 Six days shall work 7 f In the first day ye 15. & 34. 21. be done : but the seventh shall have an holy convoca- Numb. 28.
day is the sabbath of rest, tion: ye shall do no servile Luke 13 14. an holy convocation ; ye work therein.
shall do no work therein: 8 But ye shall offer an
4 qThese are the feasts the seventh day is an holy
f Exod. 12.
ch. 19. 3. Deut. 5. 13.
ver. 2. 37. Exod. 23. 14.
LEVITICUS XXIII. 9, TO THE END.
& Exod 23. 19, 19. & 34.
22. 26. Numb. 15. 2,
Josh. 3. 15. | Or, hand
ful. + Heb. omer. h Rom. 11.
9 And the Lord spake a burnt offering unto the unto Moses, saying,
Lord. 10 Speak unto the chil. 13 k And the meat offer- ch. 2. 14, 15, dren of Israel, and say un- ing thereof shall be two to them, & When ye be come tenth deals of fine flour
into the land which I give mingled with oil, an offering 18. & 28. 26. unto you, and shall reap made by fire unto the Lord Deut. 16.9: the harvest thereof, then for a sweet savour : and the
ye shall bring a || +sheaf of drink offering thereof shall
11 And he shall i wave 14 And ye shall eat liev. 14.4.* the sheaf before the Lord, neither bread, nor parched
to be accepted for you: on corn, nor green ears, until
unto your God: it shall be
1 Cor. 15. 20.
Ich. 25. 8.
26. Numb. 15.
Deut. 26. 1.
ich. 25. 9.
from the morrow it shall be a statute for
22 And when ye reap
the harvest of your land, 16 Even unto the mor- thou shalt not make clean
row after the seventh sab- riddance of the corners of m Acts 2. 1. bath shall ye number mfifty thy field when thou reap• Numb. 28. days; and ye shall offer na est, neither shalt thou · Deut. 24. 19.
new meat offering unto the gather any gleaning of thy
harvest: thou shalt leave
they shall be baken with spake unto Moses, saying,
18 And ye shall offer the u seventh month, in the Numb. 29. 17. & 28:26. with the bread seven lambs first day of the month, shall
without blemish of the first ye have a sabbath,
25 Ye shall do no ser-
LORD savour unto the LORD. spake unto Moses, saying, 19 Then
shall sacri- 27 y Also on the tenth ch. 16.30. ch.4.23, 28. fice Pone kid of the goats day of this seventh month
for a sin offering, and two there shall be a day of
and ye shall afflict your
offering before the LORD, work in that same day: for * Numb. 18. with the two lambs : "they it is a day of atonement, to Deut. 18. 4. shall be holy to the LORD make an atonement for you for the priest.
before the LORD your God. 21 And ye shall pro- [29 For whatsoever soul claim on the selfsame day, it be that shall not be that it may be an holy con- afflicted in that same day, vocation unto you: ye shall 7 he shall be cut off from . Gen. 17. 14. do no servile work therein : among his people.
Numb. 29. 7.
qch. 3. 1.