« EdellinenJatka »
than to dissect and disunite the parts without a fracture. The simple meaning of the precept seems to be, that what was once offered to God should not be unnecessarily disfigured and mangled. The blood must be shed, for that was the seal of God's covenant; the flesh might be eaten, for it was given for the sustenance of man's life; but the bones, forming no part either of food or sacrifice, were to be left in the state in which they were found, till consumed by fire with the remainder of the flesh, if any remained, the next morning. And is it not extremely probable that God might intend, by certain arbitrary tokens, to describe the Messiah; and that the prohibition to break the bones of the paschal lamb was designed to be a type of a remarkable circumstance attending the crucifixion of our Saviour which Providence watched over with special attention, and brought about by a miracle? "But when the soldiers came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs."* And it is clear from what follows, that the evangelist considered the precept of the law as a prophesy of Christ; "For these things were done," says he, "that the scripture should be fulfilled. A bone of him shall not be broken."+ In many cases it happens, that the prediction was either not attended to, or had not been understood, till the event has explained it.
Nothing of it was to be "left until the morning." This circumstance was not peculiar to the sacrifice of the paschal lamb, but common to almost every other kind of oblation. This will appear if we consult the general laws respecting sacrifice. Thus the prescription runs : "And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is offered; he shall not leave any of it until the morning." And again, "When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under the dam, and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall kill it and her young both in one day. And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thansgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will. On the same day it shall be eaten up; ye shall leave none of it until the morrow: I am the LORD." The solemn affix, "I am the LORD," seems to insinuate, that the reason of the commandment was to be sought in the majesty and authority of the lawgiver. And, independent of authority, decency seems to require, that what has once been devoted to a hallowed use should never afterwards appear in a mangled, impure or putrid state. Perhaps superstition was, by this precept, obliquely or intentionally reproved and repressed; superstition, which loves to feed upon scraps, and to hoard up relics, as if they were sacred things; superstition, which gives to the fragments of the sacrifice the veneration due only to the sacrifice itself, and to the great Author of it.
We must notice the remaining particulars of this service in the manner in which it was originally performed; "in haste," "standing," "with loins girded," "with staff in hand," ready to depart. The lamb was to be eaten with "bitter herbs." A representation, perhaps, of the mixed nature of every sublunary enjoyment; and of the wholesome uses of unpalatable adversity. The "standing posture, and the implements of travelling, speak, a plain and distinct language. "Arise ye, and depart, for this is not your rest." "Here we have no abiding city, but look for one to come." "Now we desire a better country, that is, an heavenly." Arise, let us go hence." A provision was graciously made for such as might be ceremonially unclean at the future seasons of celebration, and the door of mercy and communion was opened to strangers. Blessed prefiguration of the remedy provided for the chief of sinners of the refuge opened for the reception of "aliens from the common
wealth of Israel;" of the liberal, condescending, comprehensive spirit of the gospel! Christians, ye "are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." "Those who were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
Men and brethren, the time is at hand, when a more fearful midnight cry shall be heard than even that which smitten, groaning Egypt raised in the hour of vengeance. "The day of the Lord shall come as a thief in the night." "Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him." Behold, a careless, slumbering world, a world lying in wickedness, is threatened with a death infinitely more dreadful than that which destroyed the first-born; with "the second death," a living death of everlasting banishment "from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." From that last plague there is no security but one; that security, of which the "blood of sprinkling" under the law was but a type. "Run to your strong hold, ye prisoners of hope." "Flee, flee for refuge: lay hold of the hope that is set before you." "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." "If God be for us, who can be against us?" "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
How many things in the scriptures; in Moses, in the prophets, in the law, in the gospel, are dark and hard to be understood? But the hour cometh when the veil shall be removed from our eyes; when the truth as it is in Jesus shall stand confessed without a mystery; and shall be seen and read of all men. "What" he doth, "ye know not now, but ye shall know hereafter." "We know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that.which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known."+
Rom. viii. 32-34.
+1 Cor. xiii. 12.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
EXODUS XIII. 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22.
And it came to pass when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt. But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. And the Lord went before them, by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
ALL that weak, ignorant, erring man can know, is a few of the smaller objects which are immediately around him; and of these but a few of the more obvious qualities which they possess, and the relations in which they stand to one another. Remove them but a little as to space or time, and they gradually disappear, till they are at length involved in total darkness. The distance of a few leagues terminates our vision; the lapse of a few years erases all traces from our memory. The cloud of night conceals or changes the appearance of things the nearest to us, and the most perfectly known. Here, we are dazzled and confounded by an excess of light; there, we are checked and repulsed by dimness and obscurity. The sun forbids us to behold his face by reason of his splendour; the earth and the ocean present to us but their surface; and the heavens oppose to the eager eye a vault of chrystal, saying, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further." We feel ourselves hedged in, fettered, confined on every side. And our condition in this respect is that of every created, limited being. Open prospect after prospect; expand system upon system; add faculty to faculty; yet the prospect is bounded at length. Suns and worlds are capable of being numbered, and there is a height and depth still beyond, which the understanding of an angel cannot fathom.
There is only ONE Being whose duration is immeasurable-whose space is unconfined-whose power is uncontrolled-whose understanding is infinite. With JEHOVAH "a thousand years are as one day, and one day as a thousand years." He alone can "declare the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure."* He is "above all, and through all, and in all!" An impenetrable veil hides futurity from every created eye; but the Spirit of prophesy is pleased sometimes to remove it. Abraham saw the Redeemer's day afar off, and rejoiced. He saw in prophetic vision the servitude, the affliction, and the deliverance of his posterity, at the distance of four
Isa. xlvi. 10.
hundred years. To mortal man, whose longest span of existence is diminished to much under a century, four hundred years have something like the appearance of an eternity; but before God, time and space are contracted to a point, to a moment. With him, that which is to be done is already done. Men shape events according to their fancy, their fears, their wishes or their hopes. But the counsel of the Lord it shall stand, and he fulfilleth all his pleasure."
What was the word of the Lord to Abraham ? "And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety, that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them, and they shall afflict them four hundred years. And also that nation whom they shall serve will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance."* What was the doing of the Lord in conformity to that word? "And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat on his throne, unto the first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon, and all the first-born of cattle." "And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses: and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver and jewels of gold, and raiment. And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required: and they spoiled the Egyptians." Israel came into Egypt few in number, weak and indigent; but they go out from the land of their oppression greatly increased, mighty and formidable; laden with the spoils of their cruel oppressors, the well earned reward of the labours of many years, and of much sorrow.
It is repeatedly remarked, that the prediction relating to the deliverance of God's people was fulfilled to a single day. Of this we have a confirmation in the preceding chapter, and the 41st verse; "And it came to pass, at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day, it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out of the land of Egypt." Again, at the 51st verse; "And it came to pass, the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies." And yet on comparing numbers in the prediction and the history of its accomplishment, we find a difference of thirty years. The seventy interpreters were aware of this difficulty, and have obviated it by thus paraphrasing the passage in Exodus, "The sojourning of the children of Israel in the land of Canaan, and in the land of Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years." To justify which computation we need but to observe, that Moses in the four hundred and thirty years, includes all the time that Abraham had passed in Canaan, previous to the birth of Isaac. And a learned prelate of our own country, Archbishop Usher, in his valuable chronology, has proved this calculation to be just. For Abraham was exactly twenty-five years in Canaan before Isaac was born. From the birth of Isaac to the exodus from Egypt was four hundred and five, which completes the four hundred and thirtieth year mentioned in this passage, and by Paul in the third of the Galatians, 17th verse. Thus perfect are all the ways and works of God; thus absolute his power over all persons and all events! No skill, no ardour, no violent efforts on the part of Israel, could accelerate their enlargement. Nor could the combined strength of Egypt, of mankind, of created nature, retard it one single hour!
* Gen. xv. 13, 14.
Jacob was born to Isaac when he was sixty years old; and at the time he went down to Egypt, according to HIS OWN DECLARATION to Pharaoh, he was one hundred and thirty; which, added to the twenty-five years of Abraham's pilgrimage, from his leaving Ur of the Chaldees to the birth of Isaac, make two hundred and fifteen. He and his posterity continued in Egypt a like period of two hundred and fifteen years. So that it is plain Moses reckoned in the whole sum of four hundred and thirty years, all the pilgrimages of Abraham and his posterity, from his first leaving his kindred and father's house in Mesopotamia down to their triumphant exit from Egypt, and their setting out on the conquest of Cannan, whose iniquity though not before, was now full.”
In order to preserve to all generations the memory of a period so singular and so important in their history, the ordinance of the passover was to be honoured with an annual celebration; and, as positive and arbitrary institutions derive all their value and use from a right understanding of their meaning, and the design of their author, express words are put into the mouths of parents and heads of families for the instruction of generations to come, in the nature and reason of this solemn service. "And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done, because of that which the LORD did unto me, when I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be for a sign unto thee, upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Lord's law may be in thy mouth for with a strong hand hath the Lord brought thee out of Egypt. And it shall be when thy son asketh thee, in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the Lord brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage. And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the Lord slew all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both the first-born of man, and the first-born of beasts: therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the first-born of my children I redeem." Hence it appears that, besides this great annual sacrifice, a law was enacted at this time, though it was not to be enforced until they should be put in possession of the promised land, that in grateful remembrance of God's passing over their first-born when he destroyed those of Egypt, the first-born of the human species, and also of the brute creation, through every age, should be dedicated and set apart as a sacred property. The great Legislator was pleased afterwards, by a particular injunction, to appropriate to himself one whole tribe out of the twelve, in room of the first-born out of every tribe, to minister unto him in holy things; and in this ordinance the church of God, at that early period, both exhibited and enjoyed an emblematical representation of the evangelical priesthood; not vested in and exclusively belonging to a particular description of men, but the common character and dignity of all christians; a generation chosen of GoD, in Christ, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people-that they should shew forth the praises of Him, who hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light." And they are introduced before the throne, with this song of praise in their mouths, "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God Amen." and his Father; to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.
Is it not worth while to compare, seeing the Spirit of God has thought it meet to transmit to us the very numbers, the entire state of Israel, as it were, at the time of its descent into Egypt, and at its departure thence? The whole number which accompanied Jacob from Canaan, when driven thence by the famine, himself included, was sixty-six; which added to the family of Joseph already in Egypt, consisting of himself, Asenath, the daughter of the priest of On, adopted by marriage into the family of Abraham, and their two sons, the amount is seventy, when they left that country. In a period of little more than two hundred years, they are increased to the amazing sum of six hundred thousand men of military age, without reckoning females, children of both sexes under twenty, and old men of sixty and upward for that was the age of superannuation among this people. Taking therefore the calculation so low as four of all the other descriptions for one of the military age, that is, males from twenty to sixty, the whole number of the descendants of Abraham that left Egypt, must have been at least three millions. So that, dividing the whole time of their sojourning there into periods of twenty years, it appears that their number was multiplied nearly three times every twenty years. Now,
* Rev. i. 5, 6,