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Christ. Christ, our Passover, says the apostle, is sacrificed for us. But, of all the sacrifices prescribed by the law of Moses, that which was offered on the great day of atonement was the most striking and expressive. When the Jewish high priest entered upon this solemn service, he laid aside his splendid pontifical robes, and put on a linen vestment, such as the other priests usually wore: so Jesus Christ, the great High Priest of our profession, laying aside his robes of light and majesty, appeared in the mean attire of human nature, and was in all things made like unto his brethren, sin only excepted. The Jewish high priest having offered the appointed sacrifices, entered into the holy of holies, to make intercession for the people: and our great High Priest having presented his one all sufficient sacrifice, ascended into heaven, to appear in the presence of God, and to open for us a new and living way into the holiest of all, that, in and through him, we may draw nigh to the throne of grace, the mercy-seat of our reconciled God.
Thus it appears, that the omniscient Jehovah instituted the splendid ritual and ceremonial observances of the Mosaic dispensation, to shadow forth the subsequent blessings of the gospel, and particularly the great atoning sacrifice of the Messiah. Independent of this momentous end, these rites would lose all their value and dignity. But in this view of them, they display the manifold wisdom of God, and exhibit a beautiful harmony and indissoluble connexion subsisting between the Old and
New Testament dispensations; so that the belief of the one naturally leads to the belief of the other. Well then does our Lord argue with the Jews, and say, Do not think that I accuse you ; there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed
As we advance in the sacred volume the prospect gradually enlarges and brightens. One prophet arises after another, each testifying beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. The family from which he should descend; the place and precise time of his birth; the offices he should sustain; the miracles he should perform ; the price for which he should be sold; the death he should die; the parting of his garments; the scoffs of the multitude; his behaviour under these indignities ; his last words; his honourable interment; his resurrection, ascension, and subsequent dominion and glory, were all marked out beforehand by the Spirit of prophecy.
In connexion with this great design, we find that, after the Babylonish captivity, the copies of the law and of the prophets were greatly multiplied; and that in every city where there was any considerable number of Jews, synagogues were erected, in which they were publicly read every Sabbath. The translation of the scriptures into the Greek language, about sixty years after Alexander's conquests, contributed greatly to make known the expected coming of the Messiah. This translation, which goes by the name of the Septuagint, and remains to this day, had become necessary to many of the Jews, who were born in foreign countries where the Greek language was spoken or understood. By this means the people of these countries had an opportunity of perusing the scriptures, or of hearing them read in a known tongue.
At length, between sixty and seventy years before the coming of Christ, the Romans conquered the country of Judea; and, soon after, the Roman empire was established in its greatest extent, and the nations of the world were united under its government. Another circumstance was now ordered, in the course of Divine Providence, to prepare
the way for Him who was the desire of all nations. The Roman government, towards the end of the republic, although it had subdued the rest of the world, was itself in a very unsettled state. But about thirty years before the birth of Christ, Augustus Cæsar having succeeded in putting down his rivals, became the first Roman emperor. He continued, however, with some intermissions, to be engaged in wars, in subduing his enemies, and in settling the affairs of his government, till the very year in which Christ was born, when all was terminated in tranquillity ; and, in token of peace, which lasted for some time, the temple of Janus, at Rome, was shut. Thus the world, which had been in a continual convulsion for many hundred years, was, at this important period, settled in universal quiet. Learning and philosophy had risen to their greatest height. A full trial was therefore made, of what human wisdom and science could effect in discovering the way to happiness, which was the great enquiry among the philosophers. But all of them wandered in the dark, amidst an endless variety of absurd and contradictory opinions.
After a proof had thus been given, that the world by wisdom knew not God, the time arrived when the Sun of Righteousness was to arise with healing in his wings. That child was now to be born, whose name, or nature, was to be Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Father of the everlasting age, the Prince of peace. And thus, at the end of four thousand
years from the creation of the world, and in an age of science and history, all that concerned the coming of the Saviour of the world, and that method which God had devised for sinners of mankind to escape from condemnation and death, and to attain eternal life, was to be made known in the fullest manner, and so as to give every opportunity for the immediate investigation and the future transmission of the testimony of so astonishing and interesting an event.
But, when the Desire of all nations appeared, his own received him not. In passing from the Old to the New Testament, we find that, instead of deliverance from the penal consequences of sin, and the possession of an everlasting inheritance, they expected from the Messiah emancipation from the Roman yoke, and a temporal kingdom, accompanied with much outward grandeur and extensive dominion. Finding their expectations disappointed, they rejected and persecuted him even unto death. And though his own disciples had a belief in him as the long predicted Deliverer of Israel, yet this belief was occasionally obscured by painful doubts and suspicions. It had not, during his life, taken such deep root as to eradicate their preconceived notions of worldly power and dominion. · During the awfully interesting period between the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, the disciples were wandering about, like sheep without a shepherd. Their fond illusions were dispelled, and their hopes lay buried with their Lord in the grave. Of their mournful feelings on this occasion we may judge from the conversation which our Lord, after his resurrection, had with two of them, on their way to Emmaus. And it came to pass, that while they communed together, and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad ? And one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering, said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things ? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted, that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and, beside all this, to-day is the third day since these things were done. Such were the desponding sentiments of all the disciples of our Lord. They seem to have had