the offerings which different persons were to bring; which distinction was intended to shew that the degrees, of criminality, attaching to the errors of different people, varied in proportion as the offenders enjoyed the means of information.

If a priest erred, he must bring a bullock for an offering;' if a ruler erred, he must offer a male kid;m if one of the common people erred, he must bring a female kid, or a female lamb, or, if he could not afford that, he might bring, two young pigeons. And, to mark yet further the superior criminality of the priest, his offering was to be wholly burnt, and its blood was to be sprinkled seven times before the vail of the sanctuary, and to be put upon the horns of the altar of incense; whereas the offerings of the others were to be only in part consumed by fire; and their blood was not to be sprinkled at all before the vail, and to be put only on the horns of the altar of burnt-offering.p Further still, if a person were so poor as not to be able to afford two young pigeons, he might be supposed to have still less opportunities of information, and was therefore permitted to bring only an ephah of fine flour; part of which, however, was to be burnt upon the altar, to shew the offerer what a destruction he himself had merited. And this is the excepted case to which the apostle alludes, when he says, with his wonted accuracy, that “almost all things are by the law purged with blood.”; *

But, under the gospel, there is no distinction whatever to be made. We must now say, without any single exception, that “ without shedding of blood there is no remission." We need Christ as much to bear. the iniquity of our holy things, as to purge our foulest transgressions: there is no other fountain opened for sin,t no other way to the Father," no other door of hope, no other name whereby we can be saved.y Christ is “the Ram,? • caught in the thicket,”a if we may so speak, who must be our substitute and surety, whether, our guilt be extenuated by ignorace, or aggravated by presumption.]. .

This point being clear, we proceed to II. Suggest such reflections as naturally arise from the

subject A more instructive subject than this cannot easily be proposed to us. It leads us naturally to observe

1. What a tremendous load of guilt is there on the soul of every man!

[ocr errors]

1 Lev. iv. 3. m Ib. 22, 23. n Ib. 27, 28, 32. o Ib. v. 7.. Lev. iv. 6, 7, 12. comp. with ib. 25, 26, 30, 31. 9 Ib. v. 72. Heb. ix. 22. s Exod. xxviii. 38. t Zech. xiii. 1.. u John xiv. 6. x John x. 9. y Acts iv. 12. 2 See the text. a Alluding to Gen. xxii. 13. [Let but the sins, which we can remember, be reckoned up, and they will be more than the hairs of our head. Let those be added, which we observed at the time, but have now forgotten, and o, how awfully will their numbers be increased! But let all the trespasses, which we have committed through ignorance, be put to the account; all the smallest deviations and defects which the penetrating eye of God has seen, (all of which he has noted in the book of his remembrance) and surely we shall feel the force of that question that was put to Job, “ Is not thy wickedness great? are not thine iniquities infinite?” If we bring every thing to the touchstone of God's law, we shall see, that " there is not a just man upon earth who liveth and sinneth not:"c and that “ in many things we all offend;”d so that there is but too much reason for every one of us to exclaim with the Psalmist, “Who can understand his errors? O cleanse thou me from my secret faults!" Let none of us then extenuate our guilt, or think it sufficient to say, “ It was an error:"f but let us rather humble oure selves as altogether filthy and abominable, as a mass of core ruption, a living body of sin.]

2. How awiul must be the state of those who live in presumptuous sinis!

[The evil of sins committed ignorantly, and without design, is so great, that it cannot be expiated but by the blood of atonement: what then shall we say of presumptuous sins? how heinous must they be! Let us attend to the voice of God, who has himself compared the guilt contracted by unintentional, and by presumptuous sin; and who declares that, though provision was made under the law for the forgiveness of the former, there was no remedy whatever for the latter: the offender was to be put to death, and to be consigned over to endless perdition.k Let none then think it a light matter to violate the dictates of conscience, and the cominands of God; for, in so doing, they pour contempt upon God's law, yea, and upon God himself also:1 and the time is quickly coming, when God shall repay them to their face;m and shall beat them, not like the ignorant offender, with few stripes, but, as the wilful delinquent, with many stripes. Let this consideration make us cry to God in those words of the Psalmist, “ Keep thy servant from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me; so shall I be undefiled and innocent from the great offence.”]

[ocr errors][merged small]

3. How desperate is the condition of those who make light of Christ's atonement!

[Under the law, there was no remission even of the smallest error, but through the blood of atonement. Nor can any sin whatever be pardoned, under the gospel dispensation, but through the sacrifice of Christ. Yet, when we speak of Christ as the only remedy for sin, and urge the necessity of believing in him for justification, many are ready to object, Why does he talk so much of justification by faith? But the answer is plain: “ You are sinners before God; and your one great concern should be to know how your sins may be forgiven: now God has provided a way, and only one way, of forgiveness; and that is, through the atonement of Christ: therefore we set forth Christ as the one remedy for sin; and exhort you continually to believe in him.” The true scope then of such objections is, to rob Christ of his glory, and your own souls of salvation. Remember this, and be thankful, that the atonement is so much insisted on, so continually set before you. Pour not contempt upon it: for, if they who despised Moses' law died without mercy, of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing?p Yes, to such wilful transgressors, " there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation to consume them.”!]

4. How wonderful must be the efficacy of the blood of Christ

[Let only one man's sins be set forth, and they will be found numberless as the sands upon the sea shore: yet the blood of Christ can cleanse, not him only, but a whole world of sinners, yea, all who have ever existed these six thousand years, or shall ever exist to the very end of time: moreover, his one offering can cleanse them, not merely from sins of ignorance, but even from presumptuous sins, for which no remedy was appointed by the law of Moses. What a view does this give us of the death of Christ! O that we could realize it in our minds, just as the offender under the law realized the substitution of the animal which he presented to the priest to be offered in his stead! Then should we have a just apprehension of his dignity, and a becoming sense of his love, Let us then carry to him our crimson sins, not doubting but that they shall all be purged away;t and we may rest assured that, in a little time, we shall join the heavenly choir in sing-, ing, “ Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, be glory and dominion for ever and ever.”]

p Heb. x. 28, 29. 8 Isai. i. 18.

4 Ib. 26, 27. ti John i. 7. .

r Acts xiii. 39. ,. a Rev. i. 5, 6.


Lev. xvi. 21, 22, And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the

head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat; and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a a land not inhabited.

OF all the types, under the Mosaic dispensation, there was not one more plain in its import, or more useful in its tendency, than that before us. Most other types receive light from their accomplishment in Christ; this reflects light on the gospel itself. The high-priest, having before offered a bullock and a ram, was to take two goats; and, having determined by lot which of them should be killed, and which be kept alive, was to kill the one, and to sprinkle its blood, with the blood of the bul. lock, within the sanctuary, and then to present the other before the Lord in the manner described in the text: he was to confess over it the sins of the people, and, by putting his hands upon its head, to transfer to it the people's sins; and then to send it into the wilderness that it might never more be seen of men. This ceremony pointed out to them the object, the operation, and the effects of faith. I. Its object

[When the high priest put his hands on the head of the scape-goat, the eyes of all present must of necessity be turned towards that devoted creature. They indeed who were endued with a spiritual discernment, would look through the type unto Christ the great Antitype: but still, the goat would be regarded by all as the immediate instrument used by God for the removal of their sins: their faith terminated on that as the instituted means of their deliverance.

Thus is Christ the one object to whom the eyes of all must be directed. He has been chosen of God from all eternity to bear in his own person, and to take away from his people, all their sins. In due time he was exhibited to the world in this very character:b the iniquities of all inankind were laid upon him:e and his command to every living creature is, Look unto Me and be ye saved.

a Rev. xiii. 8. c Isai. liii. 6.

b Rom. iii. 25. See also John i. 29, 2 Cor. v. 21. d Isai. xlv. 22.

There was indeed under the law another goat, whose blood was shed for the remission of their sins; which was therefore to be considered by them as a joint object of their faith. But, the two together were, in fact, but one sacrifice, the one representing the death of Jesus, and the other his resurrection. While therefore we view Christ as dying for our offences, we must also, in conformity with the type before us, regard him as rising again for our justification. ] II. Its operation

[The high priest confessed over the scape-goat the sins of. all Israel with their several aggravations, at the very time that he transferred them to him by the imposition of his hands. By this significant ordinance he clearly shewed how faith always operates. It leads us in the first place to transfer all our guilt to the sacred head of Jesus. While we see the impossibility of removing our sins in any other way, faith will incline us to avail ourselves of that inestimable privilege of carrying them to the Saviour, and thereby securing to ourselves an everlasting deliverance from them. But will it therefore cause us to think lightly of our iniquities, because they may be cancelled by such means? No: it will rather make them to appear exceeding sinful; and will dispose us to humble ourselves for them in dust and ashes. A true believer will not so much as desire pardon without being made to feel the evil and bitterness of sin: and the more sincerely he looks to Christ, the more unfeignedly will he bewail his manifold transgressions. While, with Mary, he boldly confesses Christ, with her he will kiss his feet, and wash them with his tears.5] III. Its effects

[No sooner was the ordinance before us duly performed, than the sins of all Israel were taken away, and God was reconciled to his offending people. This indeed being only a typical institution, the pardon obtained by means of it was neither perfect nor durable, except to them who looked through the type to Christ himself. But faith in Christ, whether exercised by them or us, will obtain a full and everlasting remission of all our sins. Under the law indeed, there were some sins for which no sacrifice was appointed, and which therefore could not be purged away by any ceremonial oblations whatever. But there is no sin from which we shall not be justified by faith in Jesus. From the very instant that we are enabled to lay them upon his head, they shall be carried into the land of oblivion, and never more be remembered against us: yea, they shall be cast into the very depths of ,

[ocr errors][merged small]
« 上一页继续 »