« AnteriorContinuar »
where he set up the stone on which he had slept, for a sacred pillar ; at his communing with Laban on his return', when he offered sacrifice on the mount; after his interview with Esau', at which time he bought a field from the Shechemites, and built an altar; and again at Bethel?, we are told he built an altar, and called the place El-bethel. From all which it would appear, that Jacob settled in the country, and consequently had the opportunity of stated worship at some or other of these consecrated places, until his removal into Egypt“, when it is said he came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifice to the God of his father Isaac. Whether this was done on the altar which Isaac had built there before, or whether Jacob had a portable altar with him on his journey, is not mentioned ; though indeed it is probable that the patriarchs had such altars with them in their travels, for the convenience of daily worship; as we are not to imagine that these holy men never offered sacrifice or performed other acts of worship, but at the times and places which the scripture speaks of; since these are so few, constituting only the most remarkable solemnities of that kind, such as were holden on account of some extraordinary circumstance, or new revelation from God.
The history of these patriarchs being so particularly recorded, and God's calling himself so commonly the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, shews, that to them and their family the true church and pure worship of God were confined; in consequence of which restriction, their rearing altars, and offering sacrifices, and calling on the name of the Lord were a continued tradition handed down from Noah, which he had seen in practice before the flood, and which can be traced to no other original but the cherubic exhibition after the fall. Even subsequent to the flood, we find such an exhibition to have been continued upon the erection of an altar, in order to consecrate the place, and be a sanctuary or cherubim to the church, while it remained in that neighbourhood; and at all these times, when the patriarchs built an altar anew, we are told, the Lord appeared to, or was seen by, them'. The manner of this appearance, or how it was that the Lord was seen by them, deserves our attentive consideration. That he could be seen as God, is not to be supposed; such an appearance being contrary to the nature both of God and man, and being in direct opposition to the positive assertion of God himself to Moses", who, although he had found grace in a remarkable degree with God, and God had spoken to him as a man speaketh to a friend, yet on his ear
Gen, xexi. 54.
2 xxxiii. 19.
3 XXXV. 7.
4 xlvi. 1.
I See to this purpose Judges ii. 5. and particularly the history of Gideon, Judges vi. 22—24.
2 Exod. xxxiii. 29,
nestly desiring to see God's glory, was denied his request, and told, thou canst not see my face, for • there shall no man see my face and live.' And that this was a common belief among the Israelites, is evident from their behaviour at the delivery of the law from Mount Sinai ",' and from the history of Manoah, who said to his wife, • We shall surely
die, because we have seen God. Not only the Jews, but even the more ignorant Gentiles had the same opinion of God's being invisible ; for, through the whole of the Iliad, the work of their ancient poet Homer, and which is thought to contain a kystem of pagan theology, although their inferior deities are frequently made to descend and appear to the warriors on either side, yet their principal god, Jupiter, (whom the poet calls Ayağ or meetup are
Sowite O:w1ts, King, or Father of Gods, as well as • of men), seldom steps from his throne of majesty in heaven; or, if at any time he leaves Olympus, he approaches no nearer the earth than the top of Mount Ida ; whence the poet gives him the epithet of Ziv Tlærne 1899wv, Madswv, &c. Father Jupiter, who lookest from Ida, &c. And in conformity with this universally received notion among both Jews and Gentiles, the evangelist observes ', .No man • hath seen God at any time.'
time. Yet that the patriarchs had frequently visions of God exhibited to them, is certain ; and how to reconcile these seem
i Exod. xx. 19.
2 Judges xii. 22. 3 St John i. 18.
ing contradictions, the Lord was seen by. Abra
ham, Jacob,' &c. as the sacred historian expressly affirms, with this positive assertion of St John, we shall not easily find the means without having recourse to the cherubim, as exhibited to Adam at first, and described, by the prophet Ezekiel', with a likeness as the appearance of a man above them, whom St John * calls the soImuer@ szi T8 Spove, the person that sitteth upon the throne. This appearance of a man above the cherubim, the psalmist calls the
shepherd of Israel 3- O shepherd of Israel, that • dwellest between (or inhabitest) the cherubim,
shine forth. And, more expressly *, he terms him Jehovah, “Jehovah is king, he sitteth between the . cherubim 5. This Jehovah, (09375 Sun, jashub cherubim, that sitteth between the cherubim, as the psalmist describes him), was the Jehovah, the Lord that exhibited the cherubim to Adam; the Jehovah, from whose presence or face (as exhibited in the cherubim) Cain went forth; the Jehovah, who appeared to the old patriarchs under various manifestations, sometimes as Jehovah, sometimes under the appellation of a man, sometimes under that of an angel. Thus, it is said, 'the Lord Jehovah appeared to Abraham, yet we find ', 'three men stood by him, that is, by Jehovah, whom the patriarch addresses as the judge
i Ezek. i. 26.
2 Revel. iv, 2. 3 Psal. lxxx. I.
4 xcix. i. S See to this purpose 2 Sam. vi. 2. and i Chron, xiii. 6. 6 Gen, xviii. 1.
7 ver. 2.
of all the earth'; and to whom this title eminently belongs we are told by the evangelists*, “the Father ‘judgeth no man,' &c. compared with what St Paul says 3, . he will judge the world in righteousness by that man, whom he hath ordained '_' in that • he hath raised him from the dead. It was the same Jehovah, who afterwards appeared to Abraham, under the description of an angel, as is evident from the patriarch's calling the place of that appearance Jehovah Jireh, the Lord is seen ;' and from the angel's taking this name to himself, and saying,' by myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah ",' &c. In Jacob's return from Laban, he was singularly blest with a cherubic exhibition of the Jehovah Aleim“, where Jehovah again appears in the form or likeness of a man; and, after wrestling with the patriarch, gave him a remarkable benediction, and changed his name to Israel, * for as a prince hast * thou power with God and men.' Accordingly Jacob was convinced that this was an appearance of Jehovah, or of a divine person; for he called the name of the place Peniel, that is, the face of El; and the reason he assigns for so doing deserves our notice, I have seen the Aleim face to face, and
my life is preserved ®; an observation which, if we compare with the passages already quoted, about ‘no man seeing God at any time,' will ob
Ị Gen, xviii.
.25. 3 Acts xvii. 31. 5. Gen, xxxii. 24.
> St Matth. xxv. 31. St John v. 22.
4 Gen. xxii, 14. 15. 16.