THE PATTERN OF THE ARK.—Moses is first shown, not the pattern of the tabernacle, but the patterns of those things which it was to contain—the ark, the table of shew-bread, and the seven-branched candlestick, or lamp-stand, with its appurtenances. The ark, as the very most essential part of the entire construction, is described first.
Thou shalt make an ark of shittim wood. Arks were an ordinary part of the religious furniture of temples in Egypt, and were greatly venerated. They usually contained a figure or emblem, of some deity. Occasionally they were in the shape of boats; but the most ordinary form was that of a cupboard or chest. They were especially constructed for the purpose of being carried about in a procession, and had commonly rings at the side, through which poles were passed on such occasions. It must be freely admitted, that the general idea of the "Ark," as well as certain points in its ornamentation, was adopted from the Egyptian religion. Egyptian arks were commonly of sycamore wood. Two cubits and a half, etc. As there is no reason to believe that the Hebrew cubit differed seriously from the cubits of Greece and Rome, we may safely regard the Ark of the Covenant as a chest or box, three feet nine inches long, two feet three inches wide, and two feet three inches deep.
Thou shalt overlay it with pure gold. Or, "cover it with pure gold." As gilding was well known in Egypt long before the time of the exodus, it is quite possible that the chest was simply gilt without and within. It may, however, have been overlaid with thin plates of gold (a practice also known in Egypt, and common elsewhere)—which is the view taken by the Jewish commentators. The crown of gold was probably an ornamental moulding or edging round the top of the chest.
Four rings of gold. These rings were to be fixed, not at the upper, but at the lower corners of the chest, which are called pa'amoth, literally "feet" or "bases." The object was, no doubt, that no part of the chest should come in contact with the persons of the priests when carrying it (see Exodus 25:14). As Kalisch notes, "the smallness of the dimensions of the ark rendered its safe transportation, even with the rings at its feet, not impossible."
Staves of shittim wood. Similar staves, or poles, are to be seen in the Egyptian sculptures, attached to arks, thrones, and litters, and resting on the shoulders of the men who carry such objects.
That the ark may be borne with them. The Hebrew ark was not made, like the Egyptian arks, for processions, and was never exhibited in the way of display, as they were. The need of carrying it arose from the fact, that the Israelites had not yet obtained a permanent abode. As soon as Canaan was reached, the ark had a fixed locality assigned to it, though the locality was changed from time to time (Joshua 18:1; 1 Samuel 4:3; 1 Samuel 7:1; 2 Samuel 6:10, etc.); but in the desert it required to be moved each time that the congregation changed its camping-ground.
The staves, when once inserted into the rings of the ark, were never to be taken from them. The object probably was that there might be no need of touching even the rings, when the ark was set down or taken up. The bearers took hold of the staves only, which were no part of the ark. On the danger of touching the ark itself, see 2 Samuel 6:6, 2 Samuel 6:7.
The testimony which I will give thee, is undoubtedly the Decalogue, or in other words, the two tables of stone, written with the finger of God, and forming his testimony against sin. (Compare Deuteronomy 31:26, Deuteronomy 31:27.) The main intention of the ark was to be a repository in which the two tables should be laid up.
Thou shalt make a mercy seat. Modern exegesis has endeavoured to empty the word kapporeth of its true meaning, witnessed to by the Septuagint, as well as by the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 9:5). It tells us that a kapporeth is simply a cover, "being derived from kaphar, to cover,"—used in Genesis 5:14, with respect to covering the ark with pitch. But the truth is that kapporeth is not derived from kaphar, but from kipper, the Piel form of the same verb, which has never any other sense than that of covering, or forgiving sins. In this sense it is used in the Old Testament some seventy times. Whether the mercy seat was the real cover of the ark of the covenant, or whether that had its own lid of acacia wood, as Kalisch supposes, is uncertain. At any rate, it was not called kipporeth because it was a cover, but because it was a seat of propitiation. On the importance of the mercy seat, as in some sort transcending the ark itself, see Le Genesis 16:2, and 1 Chronicles 28:11. Atonement was made by sprinkling the blood of expiation upon it (Le 1 Chronicles 16:14, 1 Chronicles 16:15). Of pure gold, Not of wood, plated with metal, or richly gilt, but of solid gold—an oblong slab, three feet nine inches long, two feet three inches wide, and probably not less than an inch thick. The weight of such a slab would be above 750 lbs. troy, and its value above 25,000l. of our money. The length and breadth were exactly those of the ark itself, which the mercy seat thus exactly covered (1 Chronicles 28:10).
Two cherubims. The form "cherubims,'' which our translators affect, is abnormal and indefensible. They should have said either "cherubim," or "cherubs." The exact shape of the Temple cherubim was kept a profound secret among the Jews, so that Josephus declares—"No one is able to state, or conjecture of what form the cherubim were" (Ant. Jud. 8.3, § 3). That they were winged figures appears from Exodus 25:28 of this chapter, while from other parts of Scripture we learn that cherubim might be of either human or animal forms, or of the two combined (Ezekiel 1:5-14; Ezekiel 10:1-22). These last have been with some reason compared to the symbolical composite figures of other nations, the andro-sphinxes and crio-sphinxes of the Egyptians, the Assyrian winged bulls and lions, the Greek chimaerae, and the griffins of the northern nations. But it is doubtful whether the cherubim of Moses were of this character. The most sober of recent inquirers (Bp. Harold Browne, Canon Cook, Kalisch, Keil),while admitting the point to be doubtful, come to the conclusion that they were in all probability, "winged human figures, with human face too." In this case their prototype would seem to have been the winged figures of Ma, the Goddess of Truth, frequently seen inside Egyptian arks, sheltering with their wings the scarabaeus or other emblem of the deity.. In the two ends. Rather, "From the two ends"—i.e; "rising," or, "standing up from the two ends."
On the one end on the other end … on the two ends. The preposition used is in every case the same as ,that of the last clause of Exodus 25:18—viz; min, "from." The idea is that the figures rose from the two ends.
The cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high. Compare Exodus 37:9. It would seem that the two wings of both cherubs were advanced in front of them, and elevated, so as to overshadow the mercy seat. This was a departure from the patterns furnished by the figures of Ma (see the comment on Exodus 37:18), since in them one wing only was elevated, and the other depressed. It is clear that in no case was any part of the Hebrew sacred furniture a mere reproduction of Egyptian models. Whatever was made use of was so transformed or modified as to acquire a new and independent character. Their faces, etc. The words are not without difficulty; but the generally received meaning appears to be correct that the faces were bent one towards the other, but that both looked downwards, towards the mercy seat. Thus the figures, whether they were standing or kneeling, which is uncertain, presented the appearance of guardian angels, who watched over the precious deposit below—to wit, the two tables.
Thou shalt put the mercy seat above the ark. Rather, "upon the ark"—"thou shalt cover the ark with it." This had not been expressed previously, though the dimensions (Exodus 25:17), compared with those of the ark (Exodus 25:10), would naturally have suggested the idea. In the ark thou shalt put the testimony. This is a mere repetition of Exodus 25:16, marking the special importance which attached to the provision.
And there I will meet with thee. The whole of the foregoing description has been subordinate to this. In all the arrange-meats for the tabernacle God was, primarily and mainly, providing a fit place where he might manifest himself to Moses and his successors. The theocracy was to be a government by God in reality, and not in name only. There was to be constant "communing" between God and the earthly ruler of the nation, and therefore a place of communing. Compare Exodus 29:42-45. The special seat of the Divine presence was to be the empty space above the mercy seat, between the two cherubim, and above the ark of the covenant.
The symbolism of the ark of the covenant.
The symbolical meaning of the ark of the covenant may be considered, either
I. SEPARATELY, AS TO ITS PARTS. These were
II. COLLECTIVELY, AS TO THE BEARING OF THE SEVERAL PARTS ONE UPON ANOTHER. The teaching of the ark in this respect was, primarily, that of David in the eighty-fifth psalm: "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." Mercy without justice is a weak sentimentality, subversive of moral order. Justice without mercy is a moral severity—theoretically without a flaw, but revolting to man's instinctive feelings. The synthesis of the two is required. The law, enshrined in the holiest place of the sanctuary, vindicated the awful purity and perfection of God. The mercy seat, extended above the law, assigned to mercy its superior directive position. The cherubic figures showed the gaze of angels riveted in astonishment and admiration on God's mode of uniting mercy with justice, by means of vicarious suffering, which he can accept as atonement. Finally, the Divine presence, promised as a permanent thing, gave God's sanction to the expiatory scheme, whereby alone man can be reconciled to him, and the claims both of justice and of mercy satisfied.
HOMILIES BY D. YOUNG
Exodus 25:10-16; Exodus 37:1-5
The ark of the testimony.
When Jehovah provided for Israel an abiding record of his holy will, it was needful that Israel should also provide an appropriate receptacle. Nor was it left to Moses and the people to determine what might be most appropriate. Jehovah arranged things so that all the religious service of the people gathered around the two tables of stone. An Israelite gazing upon the great holy place of another nation and inquiring what might be its innermost treasure hidden and guarded from all presumptuous approach, would get for answer that it was some image graven by art and man's device; and he would further learn that the supposed will of this deity found its expression in all licentious and abominable rites. But, on the other hand, a gentile, looking towards Israel's holy place and inquiring what might be behind the curtains of the tabernacle, and expecting perhaps to hear of some magnificent image, would be astounded with a very different reply. No image there! and not only no image, but words graven by God's desire which forbade fabrication of everything in the shape of an image. Within that gilded box of shittim wood there lie written the leading requirements for those who would obey the will of Jehovah. Litera scripta manet. The spot where that ark had a resting-place was a sacred spot, not approachable by the common multitude: but this was not because there was anything to conceal. The recesses of heathenism will not bear inspection. The character of the deity worshipped corresponds with the degradation of the worshippers. But here is the great distinction of that Divine service found in Israel, that however vile the people might be, and even the officiating priests, an exposure of the hidden things of their sacred place would have been an exposure of their apostasy. No Israelite needed to be ashamed of what lay within the ark on which he was bound to look with such veneration, which he was bound to guard with such assiduity; and if it be true that every human heart ought to be a sanctuary of God, then the very heart of hearts should be as the ark of the testimony in the sanctuary of old. Our hearts should be better than our outward services. We should have the consciousness that God's will has a real, an abiding, a cherished, a predominating place in our affections. All the actions of life should flow from the fountain formed by the ever living force of a Divine will within us. Let us ever consider the internal more than the external. If the internal be right, the external will come right in due time. If God's commandments—the full scheme of Christian virtues—are indeed written in our hearts, then all superficial hindrances and roughness can only last for a little time. The Divine life ruling within must subdue all things to itself.—Y.
Exodus 25:17-22; Exodus 37:6-9
The mercy seat and the cherubim.
The ark already indicated as the repository of the two tables, is now further indicated as the resting-place of the mercy seat and the cherubim. Thus there was presented to the thoughts of the people a Divinely constituted whole, a great symbolic unity which set forth the glory and the mystery of God's presence as no unaided human conception could have done, however sublime, however sincere. The ark, the mercy seat, and the cherubim once made and placed in position, were hidden away from the general gaze. Bezaleel looked no more upon his handiwork. But though the things behind the veil were themselves hidden, yet their general character and relations were known. Hidden in one sense, in another sense they were all the more manifest just because they were hidden. It was perfectly well known that behind the veil God made himself known as the God of the commandments, the God of the mercy seat, the God shining forth between the cherubim. The proximity of the mercy seat to the tables of the law was an excellent way of showing that the requirements inscribed on these tables were to be no dead letter. If they could not be honoured by a heartfelt and properly corresponding obedience, then they must be honoured by a heartfelt repentance for transgression, an adequate propitiation, and an honourable forgiveness. There was a place for profound and permanent repentance, and a place for real and signal mercy to the transgressor: but for a slurring over of disobedience there was no place at all. Very close indeed are the law and the gospel. The law, when its comprehensiveness and severity are considered, magnifies the gospel; and the gospel, when we consider how emphatically it is proclaimed as being a gospel, magnifies the law. Then we have also to consider what may be signified by the presence of the cherubim; and surely we shall not go far wrong in connecting these golden figures here with the presence of those awful guardians who prevented the return of Adam and Eve to the scene of earthly bliss which they had forfeited. The presence of these cherubim suggested a solemn consideration of all that man had actually lost; God looking from between the cherubim, was looking as it were from the scene of the ideal human life on earth; that life which might have been the real, if man had only persisted according to the original injunction of his Maker. Thus the cherubim are associated, first with the barrier against return, and then with the working out of a plan for glorious and complete restoration. There is here no word of the flaming sword. The cherubim seem to be regarded as contemplative rather than active, somewhat as St. Peter phrases it when he speaks of things which the angels desire to look into. Over against the delight of those faithful ones who guarded Eden, we must set the thought of those in whose presence there is such inexpressible joy over the repenting sinner. God looked forth from between these symbols of the unsullied creatures who serve him day and night continually, and towards those people whom, though at present they were disobedient, carnalised, and unsusceptible, he nevertheless called his own. Sinners may be so changed, renewed, and energised as to be joined in the most complete harmony of service even with the cherubim.—Y.
HOMILIES BY J. URQUHART
What must be found with every soul that is God's dwelling-place
I. THE ARK (Exodus 25:10-22). The place where the Lord meets and communes with us.
1. It contained the testimony. The light of the meeting-place with God is the word concerning righteousness and sin. There is no communion with God if that be left out. The law which searches and condemns us must be honoured as God's testimony.
2. Between God and the law we have broken is the mercy seat, sin's glorious covering, on which the cherubim—emblems of the highest intelligence and purity of creation—look, and before which we also bow, with adoring awe.
3. Over the mercy seat rests the cloud of God's glory. We shall meet God only as we seek him here. His glory can be fully revealed and the might of his salvation proved here alone.
II. THE TABLE OF SHEW-BREAD, THE SOUL'S ENTIRE CONSECRATION.
1. The bread was the emblem of God's people. The twelve cakes represented the twelve tribes. The fruit of the great Husbandman's toil is to be found in us.
2. God's joy is to be found in us. The Lord's portion is his people.
3. We are to be prepared and perfected for his presence, and to be for ever before him (Exodus 25:30).
III. THE CANDLESTICK, THE EMBLEM OF THE LORD'S PEOPLE, AND THEIR WORLD-SERVICE.
1. It is made of pure gold, the only metal that loses nothing, though passed through the fire and whose lustre is never tarnished.
2. It was the only light of the holy place. The true Christian Church the only light which in the world's darkness reveals the things of God and the pathway to his presence.—U.
HOMILIES BY J. ORR
The ark, the table, and the candlestick.
The instructions for the making of these essential parts of the tabernacle furniture occupy the remainder of the chapter. The directions for making the altar of incense are postponed to Exodus 30:1-10. The reason seems to be that the uses of this altar could not be described without reference to commands which were to be given respecting the altar of burnt-offering—to which the altar of incense stood in a certain relation of dependence—and to the ordinance for the institution of the priesthood. The instructions have respect to the internal relation of the parts.
I. THE ARK AND MERCY SEAT (Exodus 30:10-23). This was the heart of the sanctuary—the throne of Jehovah. As the nucleus of the whole structure, it is described first.
1. The ark proper (Exodus 30:10-17). For details, consult the exposition. A plain wooden box or chest, overlaid within and without with pure gold, and borne upon staves, for the insertion of which rings were provided in its feet or corners, its structure could not well have been simpler. On the resemblances and differences between this ark and the religious arks of the Egyptians, see the interesting article in "Kitto's Cyclopaedia." The ark, in the religion of Israel, was simply a depository for the two tables of stone—the tables of the covenant. In its freedom from idolatrous symbols (in this respect a contrast to the Egyptian arks), it was a testimony to monotheism; in the character of its contents, it testified to the ethical foundation of the religion—to the severe and stern morality which formed its basis. If ever doubt is cast on the pure moral character of the Hebrew faith, it should suffice to refute it, to point to the ark of the testimony. What a witness to the ruling power of the moral in this religion that, when the sacred chest is opened, the sole contents are found to be the two stone tables of the moral law (Exodus 30:16)! The deposition of these tables in the ark, underneath the mercy seat, had three ends.
2. The mercy seat (Exodus 30:17). The mercy seat, or propitiatory, made of pure gold, served as a lid or covering to the sacred chest. The name, however, as the Piel form implies, had more especial reference to the covering of sins. Sprinkled with blood of atonement, the mercy seat cancelled, as it were, the condemnatory witness of the underlying tables—covered sin from God's sight (Exodus 30:21). From above this mercy seat, and from between the two cherubim that were upon it, God promised to meet with Moses, and to commune with him (Exodus 30:22). The gracious element in the covenant with Israel here reaches its distinct expression. Jehovah could "by no means clear the guilty;" i.e; he could not call sin anything else than what it was, or tamper in the least degree with the condemnatory testimony of the law against it; but he could admit atonements, and on the ground of expiatory rites, could forgive sin, and receive the sinner anew to his favour. The mercy seat thus foreshadowed Christ, as, in his sacred Person, the great Propitiatory for man (Romans 3:25)—priest, sacrifice, and mercy seat in one. On the basis of mere law, there can be no communion between God and man. The blood-sprinkled mercy seat must intervene. Only on the ground of Christ's mediation and intercession, can God transact with sinners.
3. The cherubim (Exodus 30:18-23). The cherubic figures were formed from the same piece of gold which constituted the mercy seat, and rose at either end of it, with wings overspreading the place of propitiation, and faces turned inward. On the various interpretations, see the exposition. The view which finds most favour is that which regards the cherubim, not as real and actual, but only as symbolic and imaginary beings—hieroglyphs of creation in its highest grade of perfection. Egyptian and Assyrian art abound in similar ideal forms, most of them representative, not of qualities of the creature, as distinct from its Creator, but of attributes of God revealed in creation. This view, also, has been taken of the cherubim of Scripture, but it must be rejected as untenable. We confess that, after all that has been written of the purely ideal significance of these figures—"the representative and quintessence of creation, placed in subordination to the great Creator"—we do not feel the theory to be satisfactory. We incline very much to agree with Delitzsch: "The Biblical conception considers the cherub as a real heavenly being, but the form which is given to it changes; it is symbolical and visionary." It seems fair to connect the cherubim with the seraphs of the temple-vision in Isaiah 6:2; and this, taken with Genesis 3:24, points strongly in the direction of an angelic interpretation. The conception, however, unquestionably underwent development, and in the highly complex form in which it appears in Ezekiel may quite possibly take on much more of the ideal character than it had at first; may, in short, closely approximate to what is commonly given as the meaning of the symbol. Confining ourselves to the figures of the tabernacle, we prefer to view them, with the older writers, and with Keil and others among the moderns, as symbolic of the angel hosts which attend and guard the throne of Jehovah, zealous, like himself, for the honour of his law, and deeply interested in the counsels of his love (1 Peter 1:12). The angel-idea is so prominent in the theology of Israel that we should expect it to find some embodiment in this symbolism. And what finer picture could be given of angels than in these cherubic figures, who, with wings outspread and faces lowered, represent at once humility, devotion, adoration, intelligence, service, and zeal? On the angels at the giving of the law, see Deuteronomy 33:2. On the assembly or council of holy ones, see Psalms 89:6-9. The wings of the cherubs constituted, as it were, a protecting shade for those who took refuge under them in the Divine mercy (Psalms 91:1). Jehovah's guards, they appear in the symbol as ready to defend his Majesty against profane invasion; as avengers of disobedience to his will; as sheltering and aiding those who are his friends. They are, when otherwise unemployed, rapt in adoration of his perfections, and deeply attent on the study of his secrets. So interpreted, the cherubs are hieroglyphs of the heavenly spiritual world.
II. THE TABLE OF SHEW-BREAD (Psalms 89:23-31). The table was part of the belongings of the holy place. This shows it to have been primarily connected, not with the relation of God to Israel, but conversely, with the works and services of the people, in their relation to Jehovah. Like other articles in the sanctuary, the table was to present a golden exterior, and on it were to be placed twelve cakes of shew-bread (Psalms 89:30; Le Psalms 24:5-9), with flagons for purposes of libation (Psalms 89:29). The shew-bread had thus the significance of a meat-offering. The sense may be thus exhibited. Bread is the means of nourishment of the natural life. The twelve cakes represented the twelve tribes. The presentation of the bread on the table was, accordingly,
1. A recognition of Jehovah's agency in the bestowal of what is necessary for the support of life. Natural life is supported by his bounty. The cakes on the table were a grateful acknowledgment of this dependence. Spiritually, they pointed to the higher bread with which God nourishes the soul. They remind us of our duty to give thanks for this, not less than for the other. The true bread is Christ (John 6:32).
2. A dedication of the life so nourished to him whose goodness constantly sustained it. We take this to be the essential feature in the offering. The life-sustaining food and drink is placed upon the table of Jehovah. In the act of placing it there, the tribes offer, as it were, to God, the life which it sustains, and which is derived from his bounty. The meaning could not be better expressed than in words borrowed from St. Paul—"Unto which promise, our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come" (Acts 26:7). Perpetual consecration—a life fruitful in good works, and acts of holy service to God. This is the conception which is embodied in the shew-bread. Here, also, the symbolism points to a life higher than that nourished on material bread, and might almost be said to pledge to Israel the gift of the higher bread needed for it. Fed on this bread from heaven—i.e; on Christ, who gave himself for us (John 6:51), we are to live, not to ourselves, but to him who died for us, and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:15).
III. THE GOLDEN CANDLESTICK (Psalms 89:31-40). This sacred ornament was, like the mercy seat, to be made of pure gold. Art was to be allowed to do its best to make it massive, shapely, beautiful. Stem and branches were to be wrought with great artistic skill. The lamps, seven in number, fed with beaten olive oil (Exodus 27:20, Exodus 27:21), were to burn all night in the sanctuary. The immediate design of its introduction was, of course, to illuminate the holy place. Symbolically, the candlestick represented the calling of Israel to be a people of light. Compare, as regards Christians, Matthew 5:14, Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:15. The church is the abode of light. It has no affinity with darkness. The light with which it is lighted is the light of truth and holiness. The lamps are the gifts of wisdom and holiness, which Christ bestows upon his people. Their own souls being filled with light, they become, in turn, the lights of the world. The oil which feeds the light is the oil of God's Holy Spirit. Note—we cannot make a higher use even of natural girts, say of knowledge or wisdom, than to let their light burn in the sanctuary—in the service of God.—J.O.
HOMILIES BY G. A. GOODHART
He maketh the winds his messengers, and his ministers a flame of fire.
The cherubim were to be of one piece with the mercy seat, the whole a lid, or guard above the lid, to the ark or chest which contained the tables of the law.
I. THE CHERUBIM AND THEIR MEANING.
1. The symbol. They are not described here; but by comparing the various passages in which they are re[erred to we may get a general notion as to their appearance. Ezekiel, who must have been familiar with their appearance, describes them as seen in his vision (Ezekiel 1:1-28.), four wings, four faces, etc. In Revelation
4. the same idea is seen in a developed form, four creatures having each a different face, and each having six wings. This latter feature suggests identity with the seraphim in Isaiah's vision (Isaiah 6:1-13.), and the name "seraphim," which seems connected with fire or burning, reminds us of the "flaming sword" with which the cherubim are associated in Genesis 3:24. In any case wings, fire, and a mixture of the human and the animal in their appearance are characteristic features.
2. That which is symbolised. Wings in Scripture almost always represent the wind. The appearance of the cherubim is as fire. Their faces are those of the chief beasts—the lion, the bull-calf, the man, the eagle. Their form tends towards the human. On the whole, we may say they represent nature under her manifold aspects, nature as interpreted chiefly through the natural man in his perfection regarded as a part of nature. The cherubim shadow forth the natural creation according to the Divine ideal. The clause in the Te Deum—"To thee, cherubim and seraphim continually do cry," is the Benedicite condensed into a sentence!
II. POSITION AND OFFICE OF THE CHERUBIM.
1. Position. One piece with the mercy seat. Nature, in spite of appearances, is a manifestation of God's mercy to man. His voice may not be in the tempest or the fire, yet the tempest and the fire form a canopy to that throne whence issues the "still, small voice." If we regard the mercy seat as typical of Christ (cf. Romans 3:25), then we are reminded of the mysterious relation which exists between Christ and nature (Colossians 1:17; John 1:1, etc.).
2. Office. Here they protect the ark and its contents, as in Genesis 3:24, they "keep the way of the tree of life." The way of the tree of life is the way of righteousness, the way of the law of God. Thus the cherubim above the ark declare that nature, a manifestation of God's mercy, is also the guardian of God's law.
III. PRACTICAL CONCLUSIONS.
1. Nature does guard the way of the tree of life, the law of God. There is a tendency implanted in the very constitution of nature which "makes for righteousness." Break a law, and, by God's merciful ordinance, you are compelled to reap the penalty. Sin in secret, yet you cannot escape the cognisance of this vigilant, sleepless, unconscious sentinel [cf. Eugene Aram's dream]. It is "full of eyes within and without."
2. Nature is a manifestation of mercy. Undiscoverable transgression would be irretrievable damnation. Christ, too, is one with the mercy seat; nature is rooted in the Divine Word. If we go to that throne of grace we may still obtain mercy, and win, through Christ, peace with the avengers.—G.