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this misconduct, by the example of what a son is, conformably to the sentiment which I have owes to his father, and a servant to his master. detailed, to violate some of the rites which He employs this image, because the priests were to be observed in the offering of the cakes, were, in an appropriate sense, considered as placed, by divine command, on the table which belonging unto God; in conformity to what was in the holy place. God himself says in chap. viii. of the book of The generality of interpreters have adopted Numbers: “Thou shalt separate the Levites another opinion, which we have no difficulty from among the children of Israel: and the Le- in following. By "the table of the Lord," vites shall be mine: . . . . for they are wholly they here understand the altar of burnt-offergiven unto me, from among the children of ings. It is denominated “the table of the Israel . . . . instead of the first-born of all the Lord," in some other passages of Scripture; children of Israel, have I taken them unto me: particularly in chap. xli. of the prophecies of
. on the day that I smote every first-born Ezekiel. There, after a description of the altar in the land of Egypt, I sanctified them for my- of burnt-offerings, it is added, “ This is the self.” It is to you, 0. ye priests, says he to table that is before the Lord,” ver. 22. On them, that I address myself; * A son honoureth this altar were offered cakes of fine flour, as his father, and a servant his master: if then I we see in various passages, particularly in the be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be first verses of chap. ii. of the book of Leviticus. a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of These cakes are represented as if they were hosts unto you, o priests, that despise my the bread of God. The same name was given name. And ye say, wherein have we despised to every thing offered to Deity on that altar. thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine All was called "the bread of God," or "the altar; and ye say, wherein have we polluted meat of God;" for reasons which will be betthee? In that ye say, the table of the Lord is ter understood in the sequel. I shall, at precontemptible."
sent, satisfy myself with quoting a single pas: If any difficulty still remain, respecting the sage in justification of this remark. It is in general sense of the passage, it can be of no chap. xxi. of the book of Leviticus, the 6th considerable importance, as it prevents not our verse. Moses, after having laid down the dudiscerning the principal aim and design of the ties of the priests, adds these words: "they Holy Spirit
. It is not perhaps easy, I admit, shall be holy unto their God, and not profane to determine with exact precision, what we the name of their God; for the offerings of the are to understand by “the table of the Lord,” Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God by that contempt which was expressed for it, do they offer; therefore they shall be holy." 'and by the "polluted bread” which those un- | You see that in the Levitical style, they denomiworthy ministers offered upon it. There are nated “the meat of God,” or “the bread of two opinions on this subject, but which both God," not only the cakes which were offered issue in the idea we have suggested to you, of upon the altar, not only the loaves of the our prophet's sentiment.
show-bread which were presented on the table It is the opinion of some commentators, that in the holy place, but all the victims which by the table, of which Malachi speaks, is to be were consumed by fire on the altar of burntunderstood the table which corresponded to offering. that placed by Moses, by the command of God, Now, the manner in which those offerings in the part of the tabernacle denominated the were to be presented, had likewise been laid "holy place.”* The law enjoined that there down with singular precision. There was a should always be upon that table twelve general law respecting this point, which you loaves, or cakes, which we denominate the will find in chap. iv. of Leviticus: it enjoined “show-bread," otherwise called "the bread of that the victim should be "without blemish;" faces," not because these cakes were moulded and if you wish for a more particular detail on into several sides, or raised into small protube- this subject, you may farther consult chap. xxii. rances, according to the opinion of certain of the same book. There we have enumerated Jewish doctors, but because they were continu- ten imperfections, which rendered a victim unally exposed in the presence of Jehovah, who worthy of being offered unto God. Some* was considered as residing in the holy place. place in this class, not only bodily but mental
The law which enjoined the offering of them, imperfections, if this last epithet may be aphad likewise prescribed the rites which were to plied to brutes. For example, they durst not be observed in presenting that offering. They have presented unto God animals of an obstiwere to be placed on the holy table, to the nate, petulant, capricious disposition, and the number of twelve: they were to be composed like. Scruples, by the way, which the pagans of fine four kneaded into a paste: each cake themselves, and particularly the Egyptians enwas to contain an omer of flour. The Jews tertained, respecting the victims which they tell us,f that it must have passed eleven times offered to their gods. They set apart for them through the searse; and if St. Jeromet is to be the choicest of the flock and of the herd. Hecredited, it belonged to the priests to sow, to rodotus informs us, that in Egypt, there were reap, and to grind the corn, of which the cakes persons specially appointed to the office of exwere made, and to knead the dough. What- amining the victims. ever may be the truth as to some of these par- Let us no longer deviate from the principal ticulars, to treat the table of the Lord as com- object of our text. If by " the table of the temptible, to offer unto God "polluted bread,” Lord," we are to understand, as it is presuma* See Exodus xxv. 23, &c.
ble we ought, the altar of burnt-offerings, " to + See Mischna, tom. v. tit. de munere, cap. vi. sec. vi.
See Bochart Hieroz, Part I. Book II. chap. 46. p.522. * Hieron. tom. jii. in Mal. i. 6. p. 1810. Edit. Bened. + In Euterpe, cap. xxxviii. p. 104. Edit. Francof.
offer unto God polluted bread,” in the style of , and shown what we are to understand by “polMalachi, to say, " the table of the Lord is con- luted bread,” by “the table of the Lord,” and temptible,” is to violate some of the rites pre- by calling "the table of the Lord contemptiscribed, respecting the offerings which were ble,” we proceed to institute the twofold paralpresented unto God upon that altar. More es- lel proposed. pecially, it is to consecrate to Deity, victims I. Let us state a parallel between the altar which had some of the blemishes that rendered of burnt-offerings, the table of the show-bread, them unworthy of his acceptance.
and the sacramental table of the Lord's SupBut was it indeed, then, altogether worthy per; the offerings which were presented to God of God to enter into details so minute? But of on the first, and those which we still present to what importance could it be to the Lord of the him on the second. The sacramental table of universe, whether the victims presented to him the supper, as the altar of burnt-offerings, and were fat or lean, and whether the bread conse- as the table of the show-bread, is "the table crated to him were of wheat or of barley, of of the Lord.” The viands, presented on both fine or of coarse flour? And though the Jews the one and the other, are, “the meat of God," were subjected to minuteness of this kind, what or “the bread of God." And those sacred interest can we have in them, we who live in ceremonies, however they may differ as to cerages more enlightened; we who are called to tain circumstances, have been, nevertheless, serve God only " in spirit and in truth,” John destined to the same end, and represent the iv. 24, and to render him none but a
same mysteries: namely, the intimate union able service,” Rom. xii. 1. We shall devote which God wishes to maintain with his church the remainder of the time, at present permitted and people. to us, to the elucidation of these questions; we You will be convinced that this was the desshall endeavour to unfold the great aim and tination of the altar of burnt-offerings, and of object of our text, and apply it more particu- the table of the show-bread, if you have formed larly to the use of our hearers. For this pur- a just idea of the lerople, and of the tabernacle. pose it will be necessary to institute a twofold The tabernacle was considered to be the tent parallel.
of God, as the Leader and Commander of IsI. We shall institute a parallel between the rael, and the temple was considered as his paaltar of burnt-offerings, or the table of the lace. For this reason it is, that when God show-bread, and the table of the Eucharist: and gave commandment to construct the tabernashall endeavour to unfold the mystical views cle, he said to Moses, “Let them make me a of both the one and the other.
sanctuary; that I may dwell amongst them,” JI. The second parallel shall be, between the Exod. xxi. 8. And when Solomon substituted profanation of the altar, or the table of the the temple in room of the tabernacle, he was show-bread, and the profanation of the Chris- desirous of conveying the same idea of it: “I tian sacramental table: we shall indicate what have surely built thee a house to dwell in, a is implied, with respect to the Jews, and with settled place for thee to abide in for ever.” respect to Christians, in offering to God "pol- The following are the words of a very sensible luted bread," and in looking on “the table of Rabbi on this subject:* “God, to whom be all the Lord as contemptible;" and we will endea- glory inscribed, gave commandment to build vour to make you sensible of the keenness of for him a house, similar to the palaces of the the reproach conveyed by the mouth of the kings of the earth. All these things are to be prophet: “A son honoureth his father, and a found in the palaces of kings; they are surservant his master: if then I be a father, where rounded by guards; they have servants to preis mine honour? and if I be a master, where is pare their victuals; musicians who sing to them, my fear? saith the Lord of hos unto you, O and play on instruments. There re likewise priests, that despise my name. And ye say, chambers of perfumes; a table on which their wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer repasts are served up; a closet into which fapolluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, vourites only are admitted. It was the will of wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, God, that all these things should be found in the table of the Lord is contemptible.” his house, that in nothing he might yield to the
potentates of the earth. And all these things SERMON LXXVI.
are designed to make the people know, that our King, the Lord of hosts, is in the midst of us.”
This general idea of the tabernacle justifies FOR A COMMUNION SABBATH. that which we are going to give of the altar of
burnt-offerings, and of the table of the showPART II.
bread. MALACHI i. 6, 7.
1. That of the altar of burnt-offering: it was
denominated “the table of the Lord," and the A son honoureth his father, and a servant his mas- viands served upon it were denominated "the
ter: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? meat” or “the bread of Jehovah,” because the and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the end of the sacrifices there offered up by his Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise command, was to intimate, that he maintained my name. And ye say, Wherein have we de- with his people an intercourse as familiar as spised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon that of two friends, who eat together at the mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we pol- same table. This is the most ancient, and the luted thee? In that ye say, The table of the most usual idea of sacrifice. When alliances Lord is contemptible. HAVING endeavoured to remove the difficul
* Rabbi Schem Job Comment. in Mere Nevoch. Part ties in which the text may seem to be involved, III. cap. xliv. fol. 171. Venet. 5211.
were contracted, victims were immolated: and has not been a partaker in the sacrifices of the the contracting parties made a common repast idolatrous. In burnt-offerings, the part of the on their flesh, to express the intimate union victim consumed by fire, was considered as the which they formed with each other.
portion of Deity. Of this I shall adduce only This was the reason of all the rites which a single instance, that I may not load my diswere served between God and the people of course with too many quotations. Solinus reIsrael, in the alliance formed previous to the lates, * that those who offered up sacrifices to promulgation of the law. They are recorded idols on Mount Etna, constructed their altars in the twenty-fourth chapter of the book of on the brink of its crater: that they placed Exodus. Moses represented God; Aaron, Na- bundles of dried sprigs upon those altars, but dab and Abihu his two sons, and the three that they applied no fire to them. They prescore and ten elders represented the whole con- tended, that when the Divinity, in honour of gregation of Israel. Altars were reared; sacri- whom these rites were performed, was pleased fices were offered up; they feasted together on to accept the sacrifice, the bundles of sprigs the flesh of the victims. It is expressly related spontaneously caught fire; that the Aame apthat Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and those other 'proached the persons who were celebrating this venerable personages whom I have mentioned, sacred festivity; that it encompassed them went up into the mountain, “ also they saw round and round, without doing them any God, and did eat and drink,” ver. 11. And to harm; and thus was declared the acceptance make it apparent that the divine presence in- of their oblation. tervened, the history adds, that God vouchsafed In like manner, in the sacrifices which were to bestow sensible tokens of his presence: “And offered upon the altar of burnt-offerings, one they saw the God of Israel: and there was un- part of the victim was for the people, another der his feet as it were a paved work of a sap- part for the priests, and another part was conphire-stone, and as it were the body of heaven sumed by fire; this last was considered as the in his clearness,” ver. 10. A work paved with portion of God; this was particularly denomistars, resembling a composition of sapphire- nated the meat or the bread of God; and the stones: a symbol which, perhaps, God preferred | whole solemnity was intended, as has been said, to any other, because the sapphire was, among to represent the intimate union, and the fathe Egyptians, the emblem of royalty, as may miliar intercourse, which God wished to main be seen in their hieroglyphics, which the indus- tain between himself and his people. try of the learned have preserved to us. 2. The same was likewise the design of the
The pagans, likewise, had the same ideas of table of the show bread. It was natural that the sacrifices which they offered up. They did in the tabernacle, which was considered as the eat together the flesh of the victims, and this tent of Jehovah, and in the temple which was they called eating or feasting with the gods.* afterwards considered as his palace, there should They sometimes carried off part of it to their be a table replenished with provision for himhouses; sometimes sent a portion of it to their self and for his ministers. "It was the coinfriends; sometimes they partook of it in the mand of God, that twelve of those cakes temples themselves, in which tables were should be exhibited continually on the table of placed for the express purpose of celebrating the sanctuary, to denote the twelve tribes of festivals of this kind. Homer, in the Odyssey,t Israel. This same number was kept up even introduces Alcinous, speaking to this effect: after the revolt of the ten tribes; because there "The gods render themselves visible to us, were always worshippers of the true God, when we immolate hecatombs to them; they scattered over the whole twelve tribes. These eat with us, and place themselves by us at the cakes, exposed continually in the presence of same table.” The same poet, speaking of a Jehovah, were an invitation given to the resolemn festival of the Ethiopians, says, that volted tribes, to maintain his worship, and to Jupiter had descended among them, to be pre- serve him conformably to the rites, which he sent at a festival which they had prepared for himself had been pleased to prescribe by the him, and that he was attended thither by all hand of Moses. This was likewise the grand the gods.” In another places he tells us, that motive urged by Abijah, king of Judah, to Agamemnon sacrificed an ox to Jupiter, and bring back the Israelites to their allegiance," 2 that he invited several of the chieftains of Chron. xiii. 9, &c. the Grecian army, to eat the flesh of that vic- In this same sense is the table of the Euchatim. He relates something similar respecting rist, likewise, the table of the Lord. In this Nestor.||
same sense, we consider as the meat of God, or Hence it comes to pass that the phrase to as the bread of God, these august symbols which make a feast, is very frequently employed both are presented to us in the holy sacrament of the by sacred and profane authors, to express per- supper. These two solemn ceremonies have forming acts of idolatrous worship. In this exactly one and the same end in view. The sense it is that we are to understand it, in that end proposed by the table of the Eucharist, as passage of the prophet Ezekiel, where, enume- by that of the altar of burnt-offerings, or by rating the characters of the just man, this is the table of the show bread, is to form, and to laid down as one, "He hath not eaten upon maintain between God and us, an intercourse the mountains," chap. xviii. 6;T that is, who of familiar friendship; it is to form between
God and us the most intimate union which it Plato, tom. II. de Legibus II. p. 653. Edit. Steph. is possible to conceive as subsisting between Book V. ver. 202.
two beings so very different as are the Creator
lliad I. rer. 423. Iliad II. ver. 429, &c.
and the creature. What proofs of love can be Odyss. III. ver. 428, &c. See other examples, Exod. xxxii. 6.
* Polyh. cap. V. p. 15. Edit. Trajeet. 1689.
interchanged by two friends united in the ten- I loved the world, that he gave his only begotten derest bonds, which God and the believer do Son,” John iii. 16. “ Greater love hath no not mutually give and receive at the Eucharis- man than this, that a man lay down his life for tical table.
his friends," John xv. 13. Two friends intimately united, become per- Two friends intimately united, however well fectly reconciled to each other, when some in- assured they may be of reciprocal tenderness, terposing cloud had dimmed the lustre of friend- take pleasure in making frequent repetition of ship, and they repair, by warmer returns of af- the expressions of it. Friendship has its high fection, the violence which love had suffered festivals, its overflowings, its ecstacies. This under that fatal eclipse. This is what we ex- too is the experience of the saints at the table perience at the table of the holy sacrament.—of the Lord. There the soul of the believer That august ceremony is a mystery of recon- says to his Redeemer, “I am crucified with ciliation between the penitent sinner and the Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ God of mercy. On the one part, the penitent liveth in me: and the life which I now live in sinner presents unto God " a broken and con- the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, trite heart,” Ps. li. 17, for grief of having of- who loved me, and gave himself for me," Gal. fended him: he pours into the bosom of his ii. 20. And there it is, on the other hand, that God the tears of repentance; he protests that God communicates to the soul of the believer if the love which he has for his God has un- the full assurance of his love: “For the moundergone a temporary suspension, it never was tains shall depart, and the hills be removed: entirely broken asunder; and if the flame of but my kindness shall not depart from thee, that affection has been occasionally smothered neither shall the covenant of my peace be reunder the ashes, yet it was never entirely ex- moved, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on tinguished: he says to him with Thomas, reco-thee,” Isa. liv. 10. vered from his paroxysm of incredulity,“ My Thus it is, my brethren, that the altar of Lord and my God; my Lord and my God," burnt offerings, or the table of the show bread, John xx. 28, and with Peter, restored to favour and the Eucharistical table of the Lord's supper, after he had denied his Master, “Lord, thou present the self-same mysteries to the eye of knowest all things, thou knowest that I love faith. Thus it is that both the one and the thee," John xxi. 17. And on the other part, other are “the table of the Lord," and that the God of mercy extends his bowels of com- the repast served upon it, is "the meat of passion towards the believer; he gives him as- God,” or the bread of God. Thus it is, that surance that his repentance is accepted, and in both the one and the other of those solemn speaks peace inwardly to his conscience, say- ceremonies, the end which God proposes to ing, "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be for himself is to form with men a union the most given thee,” Matt. ix. 2.
intimate and the most tender. Two friends intimately united, lose sight, in Having thus stated the first parallel propossome sense, of the difference which there may ed, that of the altar of burnt offerings, or the be between their respective conditions. This table of the show bread, and the sacramental tatoo, is what the believer experiences at the ble of the Lord's Supper, we now proceed, Lord's table. On the one part, though there II. To state the parallel between the profamust ever be an immeasurable abyss between nation of the altar, or the table in the ancient God and us, we go to him as to our brother, sanctuary, and the profanation of the sacraas to our friend; shall I presume to add, as to mental table of the Eucharist: that is, to state our equal? And on the other part, God is the parallel between the duties prescribed to pleased to lay aside, in condescension to our the ancient Jews, and those which are preweakness, if the expression be lawful, the rays scribed to Christians, when they draw nigh to of his divine majesty, with which the eyes of God in the holy ordinance of the supper. As mortals would be dazzled into blindness. Je- they trace the same important truths, they ensus Christ clothes himself with our flesh and force the same practical obligations. What blood: and of that community of nature makes made the ancient Jews profane the table of up a title of familiarity with us; according to the Lord? How came they to say, “the tathose words of the apostle; “both he that ble of the Lord is contemptible?" How durst sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all they offer "polluted bread" on his altar? It of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to was, Because they formed not just ideas of call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy the end which God proposed to himself, when name unto my brethren,” Heb. ii. 11, 12. he enjoined the observance of those solemni
Two friends intimately united, blend their ties. It arose, 2. From their unwillingness to goods and fortune, in blending their condition. fulfil the moral engagements which the cereThis likewise the believer experiences in the monial observance imposed. Finally, 3. It holy sacrament of the supper. On the one hand, proceeded from their wanting a just sense of we devote to God all that we are; we promise the value of the blessings communicated by him that there is no band so tender but what these. Now the sources of unworthy commuwe shall be ready to break asunder; no passion nicating, so common in the Christian world, 80 dear, but that we are determined to sacri- are precisely the same. Want of illumination; fice it; no possession so precious but that we want of virtue; want of feeling. Want of ilare cheerfully disposed to resign, whenever his lumination, which prevents their knowing the glory requires it at our hands. And on the meaning and design of our sacred mysteries. other hand, God draws nigh to us with his Want of virtue, which prevents their immograce, with his aid, and to say all in one word, lating to God all the vices which separate behe comes to us with his son: he gives us this tween him and them. Want of feeling, which Bon, as the Son gives himself to us, “God so prevents their being kindled into gratitude, and
ing more perfect knowledge of his religion; 1. Want of illumination. The priests of who would rather continue to grovel in ignoMalachi's days did not form ideas sufficiently rance, than employ the means necessary to the just of the end which Jehovah promised to attainment of instruction. It is the crime of himself
, when he enjoined the presenting of that head of a family, who is so far from being offerings, on the altar of burnt offerings, and in a condition to communicate religious instrucon the table of the show bread. Expressly tion to his children, that he himself is a stranset apart for teaching those great truths to ger to it. It is the crime of that magistrate, others, they remained themselves in a state of who, under pretence of a load of public busiignorance. They had no other qualification ness, will not take time seriously to examine, to be the ministers of religion, except the tribe whether there be a God in heaven, and whefrom which they descended, and the habit ther the Scriptures are of divine origin and auwhich they wore. Our prophet upbraids them thority. It is the crime of that female, who, with this gross and criminal ignorance: “ The under pretence of the weakness of her sex, depriests' lips should keep knowledge, and they bases the dignity of her nature, and devotes should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the her whole attention to the management of messenger of the Lord of hosts: but ye are de- her domestic concerns. Look well to it, exaparted out of the way: ye have caused many mine yourselves carefully. Is there no one to stumble at the law,” chap. ii. 7, 8. They among you who can discern bis own resemhad not only conceived false ideas of religion blance in any of these characters? Is it a themselves, but they communicated these to knowledge of the truth, or the power of prethe people. The prophet does not indicate prejudice, or compliance with custom, which incisely respecting what points the ignorance of duces you to assume the livery of Christianity? those unworthy ministers was most conspicu- | Is it the decision of a learned divine, and the ous: but if we may form a judgment of the authority of your fathers; or is it the fruit of case from the character of their successors, it serious study, and an enlightened persuasion? was impossible to entertain ideas of religion Want of illumination; this is the first article more false than those which they propagated. of comparison between the profane priests of How wretched was the doctrine of the Rab- Malachi's days, and profane Christians of our bins who were contemporary with our blessed own times: “ you offer polluted bread upon Lord, and of those of modern times! Misera- mine altar: ye say the table of the Lord is conble conceits; insipid allegories; imaginary mys- temptible.” teries; puerile relations. These constituted the 2. The priests of Malachi's days profaned great body of the Rabbinical theology. Would the table of the Lord, in refusing to fulfil the to God that such whims were to be found only moral engagements which the ceremonial obamong Rabbins! But we must not pursue this servance imposed, in the symbols of a sacred reflection. Nothing more is wanting, many a union with Deity. While they were professtime, but a single ignorant, prejudiced pastor, edly uniting themselves to the Holy one of Isto perpetuate ignorance, and transmit preju- rael, they entertained sentiments the most cridice, for ages together in a church. This was minal, and were chargeable with practices the evidently the case in the times of our prophet: most irregular and impure. They participated and this it was which dictated these keen re- in the table of the Lord, while their hands proaches: "ye are departed out of the way: were defiled with the accursed thing; and they ye have caused many to stumble at the law: presumed, by offering to God a part of what ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith they had forcibly or fraudulently taken away the Lord of hosts,” chap. ii. 8.
from their neighbours, to make in some meaWant of illumination: the first head of com- sure, an accomplice in their injustice and rapaparison between the criminality of the priests city. With this they are reproached in the of Malachi's day, who said, the table of the Lord 12th and 13th verses of the chapter from which is contemptible, and the criminality of profess- our text is taken: ye have polluted my table, ing Christians, who profane the sacramental in presenting on it that which is torn or stolen. table. To profane the ordinance of the Lord's They were partakers of the table of the Lord, Supper, is to partake of the symbols there pre- at the very time when they were avowedly sented, without having maturely considered the living in forbidden wedlock with pagan women. great truths which they represent. To profane With this they are upbraided in the second the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, is to com- chapter of this prophecy, at the eleventh verse: municate, without having any other ideas of “ Judah had dealt treacherously, and an abomithe mysteries of the incarnation of the Son of nation is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: God, which are there unfolded, than those for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the which we had of them in the days of our Lord which he loved, and hath married the