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UNIVERSITY It will be obvious to every individual whe comparer les these passages of Holy Scripture together, that they are parallel to each other. If Peter does not quote precisely the words which Moses was commissioned to employ to the Jewish people, the correspondence be- . tween the
passages is yet so close, as to render it certain, that they were before his mind; and that he felt himself inspired to deliver a similar communication to the members of the Christain church. As an Apostle of Christ, however, he stood on more elevated ground than did Moses ; his eye took a wider range; and his lips describe a dignity and privilege, corresponding with the superior spirituality, elevation, and glory of the Christian dispensation. Bụt in this respect, that is first which is natural, and afterwards that which is spiritual. That also is more obvious which is natural, and its consideration will assist us in rising to that which is spiritual. The historical narratives, as well as the typical institutions of Judiasm, may in this way be made subservient to our instruction. Through the interesting and attractive medium of facts which are clear to every eye, and level to every understanding; which in common with all other historical events appeal to the sympathies of our nature ; and which have an additional charm derived from their marvellous, their supernatural, their miraculous character; we may be led into the easy apprehension of spiritual truth, and be enabled, as with a palpable grasp, to lay hold on Christian principle. Let us then go back to the words
which were delivered by Moses to the children of Israel, and show in what respects they were embodied in the facts of their history; und then we shall find a solid basis on which to rest our interpretation of Peter, and on which to raise a superstructure harmonious in its proportions, and sufficiently capacious to include the whole Israel of God.
Be it premised, that in what was official in the priesthood, in what pertained to the ministry at the altar, to the offering of sacrifices for sin, to the sprinkling of blood, to the presentation of incense, there could be no participation on the part of the people. Out of these services, from the highest to the lowest, they were decisively, and perpetually excluded. When therefore, Uzziah, elated by the prosperity which had attended his protracted reign, resolved to try whether he might not associate the sacerdotal with the regal office; and took a censer, and went into the temple to present it upon the altar of incense; he was struck with a leprosy, which compelled him to hasten from the place into which he had intruded, and to dwell apart from the congregation, cut off from the house of the Lord, during the remainder of his life.
Now an enlightened individual, instead of desiring, like Uzziah, to participate with the priests in what was merely official, and for the discharge of which, in a lineal descendant of Aaron, the absence of corporeal defects was the only essential qualification, would rather, like David, have been anxious to participate
with them in what was intellectual, moral, and spiritual; in that which is the firm and undecaying basis of true elevation, the sweet fountain of perpetual enjoyment. Here the participation was thrown open to all, and he might rise the highest in dignity and blessedness, whose meditations were most constant in God's law, and whose obedience was most exemplary to its precepts. How far David had advanced may be learned from his own words, which were employed, not ostentatiously before his fellow-men, but devotionally and gratefully in the retirement of bis closet before God. "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than my enemies : for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts."* We are prepared then, by this developement of David's experience, to understand, that in knowledge, and in separation to the service of God, by keeping his precepts, an individual, and if one individual any multitude of individuals possessing similar religious advantages, may become as a company,—as a kingdom of priests. Under these two aspects, this part of our general subject will, we trust, unfold itself clearly to the view,-will be seen to harmonize with the statements of the preceding parts, and will closely entwine itself with them, in the accordance and strength of a three-fold cord, not easily to be broken.
* Psalm cxix. 97-100.
IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, WHICH IS THE BASIS OF ALL
TRUE RELIGION, THE JEWISH PEOPLE, WHEN THEY WERE OBEDIENT, WERE A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, AND CHRISTIAN PEOPLE ARE A HOLY PRIESTHOOD.
It will be remembered, that at the period when God delivered the Jews from the bondage of Egypt, the knowledge of himself as the one living and true God, was nearly obliterated from the earth. How little men are to be trusted with the oral perpetuation of any thing which relates to God and his service, appears
from the fact that this first element of religious truth, though it was entitled, in antiquity and authority, to hold the highest place, having been communicated clear and full, from each successive fountain of human existence-Adam and Noah; though it was professed and taught, in their respective generations, by patriarchs of high renown; though it was declared from day to day by the heavenly bodies, in the regularity and harmony of their movements, and the unity of design apparent in the one great system which they compose ; was yet,—by those who, in time and place, were contiguous to the patriarchs, who made the heavens their study, and who boasted of their wisdom, either altogether unknown, or, what is worse, practically denied, and systematically excluded from the attention of the people. To none more fully than to the Egyptians, amongst whom the arts and sciences were cradled, and, as recent investigations demonstrate, were reared nearer to maturity than had once been supposed, do the statements of the Apostle, when writing to the Romans, apply : “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.”*
That generation of the Israelites which God delivered from Egypt, carried with them, together with many of the vices which slavery generates, the infection of the idolatries by which, in the land of their bondage, they had been encompassed.
This circumstance formed one reason why they were not immediately conducted by the direct and trodden route to the land of promise. It was necessary that they should be purified from the contagion of idolatry themselves, and be fully instructed in the knowledge of God, before they were led onward to dispossess the guilty nations
* Rom. i. 21-23.