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lem,” was continually assuming a blacker and a blacker complexion, from being foreseen, foreknown, and more keenly felt, as the hour drew nigh. Lo, he “ treads the wine-press alone.” The dreadful conflict is begun. What “strong crying with tears" do I hear? “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” What “great drops of blood” do I see, distilling from every pore, and “ falling to the ground ?" Ah!, the unrelenting executioner has begun to perform his infernal task : and yet, the bleeding " Lamb opens not his mouth.” What sigh is that which pierces my soul ? What strange accents burst upon my astonished ear ? " My God ! my God! why hast thoi forsaken me?" The conflict is at an end. He bows his head, “ It is finished." The victim has “poured out his soul unto death.” He has given up the ghost. These “ things the angels desire to look into.”
“O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and love of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out !” Who can "comprehend what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height :” who "can know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge!"
HISTORY OF MOSES.
EXODUS XII. 26, 27.
And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean you by this service ?
That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.
PSALM XCI. 5, 6, 7, 8.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold, and see the reward of the wicked.
The great JEHOVAH, in all the works of his hands, and in all the ways of his providence, is ever preparing still grander displays of his divine perfection than those which have been already submitted to our view. This visible creation, fair, and vast, and magnificent as it is, being composed of perishing materials, and destined, in the eternal plan, to a temporary duration, is passing away, to give place to “new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. He who made all things at first, saith, “ Behold, I make all things new.” The whole Jewish economy, “The adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises :" The patriarchs and the prophets, with all they said, acted and
wrote, were but “the preparation of the gospel of peace ;" and all issue in Christ the Lord, “in whom all the promises are yea, and amen, to the glory of God the Father.” And the kingdom of grace, under the great Redeemer, is only leading to the kingdom of glory.
It is both pleasant and useful, to observe the nature, the occasion and the design, of sacred institutions. A closer inspection generally discovers much more than is apparent at first sight. The ordinance of the passover owes its institution to an event of considerable importance in the history of mankind; and its abrogation to a still greater. Its celebration commernorates the destruction of all the first-born in Egypt, and the redemption of Israel Its abolition marks that most memorable era, the death of God's own eternal Son, and the redemption of a lost world, by the shedding of his precious blood. It is not therefore to be wondered at, if, in an ordinance which was intended to expire in the sacrifice of the great “ Lamb of Atonement," slain “ from the foundation of the world,” its divine Author should have thought proper to enjoin many particulars, which figuratively and symbolically pointed out “ good things to come,” as well as literally expressed good things present.
Several of these significant circumstances, we took occasion to point out to you in the last Lecture. The commencement of the year was changed. The memory of nature's birth was sunk as it were in the memory of the church's deliverance; and a joyful expectation was excited of the gradual approach of “ the fulness of time,” the day, the new year's day of the world's redemption. In that sacred festival was seen, God drawing nigh to his Israel, in loving kindness, tender mercy and faithfulness; and Israel drawing nigh to their God, in gratitude, love and obedience. The feast was prepared by the removal of all leaven, the emblem of “malice and wickedness;" and eaten with unleavened bread, the emblem of “ sincerity and truth.” The victim was appointed to be a “lamb of the first year, without bleinish,” chosen from among the flock, set apart and killed, to preserve the life of him who poured out, and sprinkled its blood; the figure of Him who was to come; "the Lamb of God, who beareth the sin of the world;" holy, harmless, gentle, patient; “delivered according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God :" “ suffering, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." We are now to continue the subject.
All Israel was engaged in the same service at the same instant of time, and for the self-same reason. All had descended from the same common stock, all were included within the bond of the same covenant, all were involved in the same general distress, all were destined of Heaven to a participation in the same salvation. They appear, in the paschal solemnity, a beautiful and an instructive representation of the great, united, harmonious family of God; who are "one body, one spirit, and are called in one hope of their calling :" " who have one Lord, one faith, one baptism :-one Gov and Father of all, who is above all, through all, and in all.” And they are all coming, “ in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."* ,
As the Church in general had one and the same sacrifice, a lamb of the description which has been mentioned ; so every particular family or neighbourhood, according to their number, had their own particular sacrifice, and in that their particular protection and repast. The charity which comprehended the whole Israel of God, was thus invigorated and enlivened by being collected and concentered ; and the sacred fire of love, which was in danger of being extinguished by being dispersed too extensively, being thus confined with
in a narrower circle, lighting on fewer and nearer objects, and aided by reciprocal sympathy and ardour, was blown up into a purer fame. A happy prefiguration of the blessed influence of the gospel, and of its sacred institutions, to rectify, to rivet, and to improve the charities of private life: to shed peace and joy upon every condition and relation ; gradually to expand the heart, through the progressive, continually enlarging circles of natural affection, friendship, love of country, love of mankind, love to all the creation of God.
What must it have been to an Israelitish parent, standing with his children around him, to eat the Lord's passover, to reflect, that while the arrows of the Almighty were falling thick upon the tents of Ham, his tabernacle was secured from the stroke : that while all the first-born in Egypt were bleeding by the hand of the destroying angel; of him, a holy and righteous God demanded no victim, but one from the flock; spared a darling son, and accepted the blood of a lamb! What must have been the emotions of the Israelitish firstborn themselves, at that awful hour, to reflect on the state of their unhappy neighbours, of the same description with themselves, and on their own condition, had justice, untempered with mercy, struck the blow ! Such as this, but superiour, as the deliverance is greater, must be the joy of a truly christian family, which has hope in God, through Christ Jesus the Lord, in reflecting on that grace which has made a difference between them and their sinful neighbours; which has seasonably warned them "to flee from the wrath that is to come;" which has “ delivered their souls from death, their eyes from lears, their feet from falling." What must be the inexpressible satisfaction of every believer in Christ Jesus, in the confidence of being sprinkled with the blood of atonement, of “ being at peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ," of being “ passed from death unto life ?” What a happy community is the redeemed of the Lord! Wherever scattered on the face of the whole earth; they are nevertheless gathered together in their glorious Head : separated by oceans and mountains but united in interest and affection : hated, despised, persecuted of the world ; yet cherished, esteemed, protected of the Almighty !
The sacrifices of the Mosaic dispensation were many because they were imperfect. The sacrifice of the gospel is ONE, because once offered, it “forever perfects them that are sanctified by it." The ancient institution prescribed a whole lamb for every several family; the gospel exhibits a whole and complete Saviour for every several elect sinner : and that Saviour at once a teacher, an atonement, a ruler : “ Wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption."
The application of the blood of the destined victim in this institution is a most remarkable circumstance. “ They shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side-posts, and on the upper door-post of the houses wherein they shall eat it.” It must not be spilt upon the ground as a worthless thing, nor sprinkled in the entering in of the door, to be trampled upon as an unholy thing; but above and on either side ; to be a covering to the head and a bulwark around. “ When I see the blood I will pass over you.” Could the alldiscerning eye of God stand in need of such a token, in order to judge between an Israelite and an Egyptian ?. No. But the distinctions of God's love avail not them who willfully and wickedly neglect the distinctions of faith and obedience. The blood in the bason is the same with the blood on the doorpost but it is no protection till it be believingly applied. The virtue is dormant till sprinkling call it forth. Surely, this part of the ceremony speaks to the christian world for itself. Why is mention still made of blood, blood ? “ the shedding of blood," “ the sprinkling of blood," " redemption through blood," and the like? It denotes the life, which consists in the blood of the animal; and it instructs us in this momentous doctrine, that life being forfeited by sin, the blood must be shed, that is, the life must be yielded up, before atonement to justice can be made : that the substitution and acceptance of one life in the room of another, must depend upon the will and appointment of the offended lawgiver : that the blood of slain beasts, having no value nor virtue of its own to take away sin, must derive all its efficacy from the appointment of Heaven, and from its relation to a victim of a higher order : and, that the blood or life of this one victim, yielded up to divine justice, is, through its intrinsic worth and the decree of God, of virtue sufficient to take away the sins of the whole world.
But as, in the original institution, the blood of the lamb slain was no protection to the house, till it was sprinkled with a bunch of hyssop on the parts of the building, and in the manner directed, so the sovereign balm appointed of the Most High for the cure of the deadly plague of sin, the price of pardon to the guilty, the life of the dead, becomes effectual to the relief of the guilty, perishing sinner, by a particular application of it to his own “wounds, bruises, putrefying sores." Faith, eyeing the coinmandment, the power of God and the grace of Christ, is like the bunch of hyssop in the hand of the paschal worshipper, sprinkling the blood of atonement upon “the upper doorpost, and the two side-posts," the understanding, the heart, the life, the ruling and the governing powers of our nature, that the whole may be accepted through the Beloved.
I conclude this part of my subject with quoting a passage from the Targum of Jonathan, respecting the sprinkling of the blood of the paschal lamb, as it was performed by the children of Israel in Egypt, which has struck myself as uncommonly beautiful and sublime.
" When the glory of the Lord was revealed in Egypt in the night of the passover, and when he slew all the first-born of the Egyptians, He rode upon lightning. He surveyed the inmost recesses of our habitations; He stopped behind the walls of our houses: His eyes observed the posts of our doors : they pierced through the casements. He perceived the blood of circumcision, and the blood of the paschal lamb, sprinkled upon us. He viewed his people from the heights of heaven, and saw them eating the passover roasted with fire: He saw, and had compassion upon us; He spared, and suffered not the destroying angel to hurt us.”
The inferiour circumstances respecting the sacrifice are these. The flesh of the victim was to be eaten in the night season, not in a crude state, nor bojled in water, but roasted with fire; no bone of it was to be broken; no remnant of it left until the morning; or else the remains were to be consumed by fire. I am unwilling entirely to pass over these circumstances as if they were of no especial meaning or importance; for I am thoroughly convinced every iota and little relating to this ordinance, has a specific meaning and design. But I frankly acknowledge I cannot discern that design in every particular; and am far from being satisfied with the fanciful and unsupported illustrations of some commentators upon the passage. Should I myself seem to any to have given too much into imagination and conjecture in my ideas of it, or in what is farther to be offered; the nature of the subject, the silence of scripture, the consciousness of honestly aiming at your rational entertainment and religious instruction, and the humble hope that these conjectures are and shall be conformed to the analogy of faith, and if erroneous, innocently so; these will, I am persuaded, secure me a patient hearing, and a candid interpretation.
The time of the feast was the night season ; the very juncture when the awful scene was acting, which marred the glory and blasted the strength of Egypt. Inconsiderate man must have his attention roused and fixed by strong and striking circumstances. The momenų of execution, the hour of battle, and the like, are awfully interesting to a serious, humane and public spirited person. Every son of Israel knew, that at the very moment he was eating his unleavened cake with gladness, and the flesh of lambs with a merry heart, “ Thousands were falling at his side, and ten thousand at his right hand.” What an alarming demonstration of divine justice! What an encouraging display of goodness and mercy! Were the eye opened to see God as he is, were the powers of an invisible world habitually felt, every creature, every season, every event, would possess a quickening, an active, a constraining influence over us. But blind, stupid, sluggish as we are, the midnight bell must toll to rouse us to reflection : death must assume the complexion of sable vight, and add artificial to natural horror, in order to force a way into our stony hearts. And God, who knows what is in man, vouchsafes to instruct his thoughtlessness and folly, by acting through the medium of powerful and awakening circumstances upon our imagination and senses. Hence possibly the injunction to eat the passover by night.
It was to be “roasted with fire," pot eaten raw, nor sodden with water, To eat flesh in a crude state is unnatural and unwholesome. And we never find the religious institutions of the living and true God, doing violence to innocent natural propensities and aversions, or encroaching on the health and life of his worshippers : for he saith, “ I will have mercy and not sacrifice.” Why the one method of preparing it was commanded of God in preference to the other, we pretend not satisfyingly to account for. Was it to secure an uniformity of practice in the minutest circumstances relating to his worship ? Was it to form his church and people to implicit obedience to his will, in points which they comprehend not, as in those which they well understand ; in all cases whatever, whether he be pleased to render or to withhold a reason ! Was it intended as a symbolical representation of their late condition ; tried, and prepared, and refined in the fire of Egyptian oppression ; purged, but not consumed by it? Was it a figurative view of the judgment of God then exccuting : Egypt scorched with the flame; Israel enlightened, seasoned, purified by it ? Did it look forward unto, and signify some particular circumstance in the person, the doctrine, or sufferings of the great evangelical sacrifice ? O Lord, thou knowest. “ Secret things belong to thee, but things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children.” We thank thee for what thou bast condescended to reveal to us, and would not presume to “be wise above what is written.”
" Not a bone” of the paschal lamb was to “ be broken." This, as well as some of the foregoing circumstances, is by sundry commentators supposed to be intended as a contradiction to various Pagan superstitions and particularly to the frantic behaviour of the votaries of Bacchus ; who, in the fumes of intoxication or of religious frenzy, cornmitted a thousand abominations and extravagancies; they fell into violent agitations, the pretended inspiration of their GOD ; they devoured the yet palpitating flesh of the victims which they had just killed, and broke all their bones to pieces. But, the idolatrous rites of the beathen nations were so various and so contradictory one to another, that we can hardly imagine the great Jehovan would condescend to express any concern, whether the rites of his worship were, in every instance, either conformed or opposed to the usages of idolatry. A very famous critick* assigns a very silly reason for this branch of the commandment. He alleges it was another indication of the extreme haste with which the passover was to be eaten. - Men in a hurry," says he," do not stand to pick bones; much less do they take leisure to break them, for the sake of the juice or marrow." As if it required more time to sever the joints, and break the bones by violence,
* Bochart, Hieroz, par. i. lib. ii. cap. 1. fol. 609.