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his atoning death, which was in fact the only true and efficacious sacrifice ever made; while all before it were mere pictures of its precious reality. Thus he was himself, at the same time, priest and victim. The typical priests before him stood daily ministering, and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which could never take away sins; but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God. (Heb. vii. 27. x. 11, 12.) In this sacrifice there was value enough to make full expiation for all the sins of the whole world; and to as many as embrace its advantage, by faith, it will be found till the end of time, completely availing to remove the heaviest pressure of guilt, and to deliver them from its deepest condemnation, into a state of peace and reconciliation with a Holy God. Because the death of Jesus Christ was thus truly an atoning sacrifice, he is called the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. (John i. 29.) And in vision he appeared to the beloved disciple as a Lamb that had been slain : (Rev. v. 6:) his blood also, which we are told cleanseth from all sin, is represented to be like that of a lamb, without blemish and without spot. (1 Pet. i. 19. 1 John i. 7.) We find his death, accordingly, all along spoken of as being on account of sin, and to make satisfaction for its guilt-sin that was not his own, but which he consented to bear in the room of his people, and to take away on their behalf, by becoming a sin offering for them, and pouring out his soul beneath the awful pressure of infinite justice. Besides the 53d chapter of Isaiah, the following passages may be consulted on this point: viz. Matt. xx. 28. xxvi. 28. Rom. iii. 25, 26. viii. 3. 2 Cor. v. 21. Eph. v. 2. 1 Pet. ii. 24. iii. 18.
The death of atonement, then, which the son of God died for our redemption, was that to which all sacrifices, from the earliest times, had respect as their great termination, and without which they would have been as destitute of reason, as they were, in their very nature, of all actual value in the sight of Heaven. If holy men of old made an acceptable use of them, in drawing near to God, it was only by looking through them to this all-perfect and sufficient sacrifice which they prefigured. This great sacrifice, accordingly, being offered up in due time, all that were before it
were completely done away, and all that ancient sort of worship went for ever out of use.
2. THE ORIGIN OF SACRIFICES. Having thus discovered the true meaning of sacrifices, we cannot hesitate in deciding the question, whether they were of divine, or of merely human origin. It is in fact decided already. For if the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was the only one that ever had any proper and substantial reality, and all others were entirely unmeaning, except as faint images and pictures of this, it is manifest that the whole system must have been derived altogether from the appointment of God. As the original idea of atonement by blood, which in the fulness of time became realized in the death of the Son of God, was conceived from the beginning in the divine mind alone, so we are to trace back to the same source the entire plan of that preparatory representation by which it was held up for the encouragement and assistance of faith, in unsubstantial type, so many ages before its actual development. The great Pattern Sacrifice being altogether of heavenly device, and in its glorious nature a mystery, completely hidden from human knowledge till revealed in its own season, it would be absurd to suppose that other sacrifices before it, I which answered so strikingly as shadows to its wonderful reality, and viewed in any other light, had no meaning or reason whatever, might have come into use notwithstanding, through mere human fancy, and without any regard at first to the end which afterwards they were made to respect.
However, therefore, some have imagined that the use of sacrifices originated at first from men themselves, without any divine direction, and have attempted to show how they might have been led to adopt the strange and unnatural service; it is clear, that as reason finds such a supposition attended with much difficulty, and feels dissatisfied with every explanation brought for its relief, so the whole representation of the bible urges us to embrace a different sentiment. True, we are not told explicitly that God directed men in the beginning to worship him in this way: but the nature and design of the service are declared, and are found to be such as to forbid all thought of its having sprung from any other source than the express appointment of the
Most High. And what is thus indirectly discovered, with almost irresistible evidence, is still farther confirmed by the historical account, as far as it reaches, which we have of ancient sacrifices. All along, before the age of Moses, we find them constantly employed by the people of God, as an essential part of true religion, and honoured and accepted, and in certain cases ordered, of the Lord himself, as being not mere indifferent rites, but acts of piety of the first importance, and peculiarly well pleasing in his sight: all which would be strange indeed, if they had originally started out of human will-worship, and had no respect at all in their design at that time to the GREAT SACRIFICE to come, (as on such a supposition it must be believed,) but were used altogether according to some different view that led at first to the practice of them, which view must necessarily be considered at the same time to have been mistaken and false. But we are not left with the mere information that these early sacrifices were in use, to imagine that they might have been offered with a view altogether different from what was most particularly contemplated afterwards in those that were prescribed by the Jewish law. We have satisfactory evidence, that before, as well as after, the introduction of that law, the shedding of blood in sacrifice was regarded as an expiatory rite, having reference to guilt, and signifying that without atonement there could be no forgiveness or divine favour bestowed upon the sinner. That such was the fact, is abundantly manifest from the notion found to have been entertained among heathen nations in every age, that the anger of Heaven was to be appeased by bloody sacrifices, and that they could avail to do away the offensive guilt of injury and crime; for these heathen sacrifices, that have been common in every quarter of the world, were not borrowed in any measure from those of the Jews, but had their origin much farther back from those that were in use in the earliest times, when the family of man was not yet multiplied into different nations, or scattered over the face of the earth. Besides all this, too, we are expressly informed that the Patriarch Job, who was accustomed to worship God with these ancient sacrifices, offered them with a special reference to sin; and that the Lord himself required burnt offerings from his three friends, to make
expiation for their offence, and to turn away his wrath, that was kindled against them. (Job i. 5. xlii. 7-9.) It being clear, therefore, that while sacrifices, before the time of Moses, were held to be an essential part of religious worship, they were regarded to be such, especially on account of their expiatory meaning, the same by which they were so remarkably distinguished under the law,- -we are furnished with very conclusive evidence that they were suggested and enjoined from the first, by no other than that God who formed the design of the True Atonement, before the foundation of the world, and employed them so extensively and systematically, to shadow forth its mystery in the Ceremonial system of the Jews.
This conclusion, as far as it rests on historical grounds, becomes still clearer, when we go backward, under the guidance of revelation, and find this service in use, not merely before the flood, (as appears from the distinction of animals thus early into clean and unclean, and also by Noah's sacrifice when he came out of the ark, that was so acceptable to the Lord,) but in the family of Adam himself, in the earliest age of the earth. We read of Cain and Abel offering sacrifices; and it is so mentioned as to leave the impression that such worship was not a new thing in this case it had been practised undoubtedly before that, if not by these brothers themselves, yet at least by their father. But can it for a moment be imagined, that Adam should, of his own accord, have conceived the notion, directly after the fall, that God would be pleased with having the blood of peaceful animals poured out before him in solemn offering, when as yet, the liberty of using their flesh in any way for food, had not been granted? Are we not rather, in order to account for his practice in this respect, driven to the conclusion, that God himself, immediately after his ruin, when He revealed even then the promise of the New Covenant, appointed sacrifice to be a standing pledge of its grace, and the special means by which faith should be enabled to lay hold upon its blessings, until the fulness of time should come for the full manifestation of that great Roal Atonement, on which the whole plan of mercy was to be builded and secured? Thus, while the institution became a continual monument of guilt and death, introduced by sin, ever
calling them into remembrance, it was ordained to be at the same time a sure sign of salvation and life-a SACRAMENTAL MEMORIAL, as one has expressed it, showing forth the Lord's death until he came, by the believing use of which, the full benefit of that death might be secured to the soul. In this way our first father, it seems, was instructed to exercise his faith and find spiritual encouragement, when there was yet none but himself and his guilty partner in the world. It has been supposed, with much probability, that the animals whose skins were employed at first to make garments for them, were slain and offered up as sacrifices by the direction of God. What was thus required to be observed by the first man, as a necessary part of acceptable religious worship, was appointed at the same time to be observed by his posterity, and it became his duty accordingly, to acquaint his immediate descendants with its meaning and obligation, so as to have the use of it handed down from generation to generation. Thus it was made a solemn duty to worship the Lord by this method-to make penitent acknowledgment of sinfulness and desert of death in the symbolic substitution of an unoffending victim to bleed at the altar, and to show at the same time a believing confidence in the divine plan for taking away guilt, though it was not yet understood, by looking in this way, with simple obedience, for reconciliation and acceptance.
To make use of sacrifice, then, according to the commandment of God, and with the temper that has just been mentioned, was in any case an evidence of piety and faith. Thus did Abel bring an offering of the best of his flock, and presented it as a bloody sacrifice to the Lord: and hence he is commended to our notice as an example of faith, by which, it is said, his sacrifice was more acceptable on this occasion than that of his brother Cain. (Heb. xi. 4.) This faith clearly supposes a divine appointment, to which it had respect, and in the end of which it had full confidence, showing both by a mple obedience to the direction that had been given, in the whole manner of its service. Cain, on the other hand, evinced no such faith: he offered a sacrifice, but there was something in the service that was wrong--not in conformity with the divine direction, and accordingly it was not accepted. Now if we inquire