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in the morning and the other at evening; and they were commanded to prepare them according to order; for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the Lord. These sacrifices and offerings made by fire were “a sweet savour unto the Lord." Now, how could those sacrifices and burnt-offerings made by fire be a sweet savour unto the Lord, if the fire which consumed them, which was a token of acceptance, were the fire of divine wrath?
God called Abraham out of the land of Ur, of the Chaldees, and promised him the land of Canaan. Abraham requested the Lord that he would give him some token by which he might know that he should inherit it. God readily granted him his request. And he said unto him, “Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she-goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtle dove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abraham drove them away And it came to pass that when the sun went down and it was dark behold a smoking furnace end a burning lamp, or a lamp of fire, that passed between those pieces.” The lamp of fire, which passed between those pieces which were divided in the midst, was a token to Abraham that he should inherit the land of Canaan. This fire therefore, could not in any sense, or in any manner express divine wrath toward him, or toward any one else; nay, it was an expression of covenant love; it was a token to Abraham of divine fidelity, that God would most certainly give that landinto which he called him, an inheritance to his posterity. This is evident, because, on that same day the Lord made a covenant with Abraham, saying, unto thy seed have I given the land from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates. *
* Gen. xv, 9,
God commanded Moses to consecrate Aaron and his sons to the work of the ministry, to serve at the altar. And as an outward expression of his divine appoint-, ment, and consecration to the work, Moses was ordered to put of the blood of the ram of consecration upon the tip of their right ears, and upon the thumbs of their right hands, and upon the great toes of their right feet; "and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about." Aaron was commanded to remain seven days in the tabernacle of the congregation, until the days of his consecration should be at an end: "for seven days shall he consecrate you. As he hath done this day so the Lord hath commanded to do to make an atonement for you. So Aaron and his sons did all things which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses.” (Lev. viii.) After a solemn and magnificent consecration of Aaron and his sons to the work of the Lord; they entered upon their work at the consecrated altar. And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel; and he said unto Aaron, Take thee a young calf for a sin-offering, and a ram for a burnt-offering without blemish, and offer them before the Lord. And unto the children of Israel thou shalt speak, saying, Take ye a kid of goats for a sin-offering: and a call and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, for a burnt-offering, also a bullock and a ram for a peace-offering, to sacrifice before the Lord; and a meat-offering mingled with oil; for to-day the Lord will appear unto you.—And they did as they were were commanded.- And Moses said unto Aaren, Go upto the altar.-Aaron, therefore went unto the altar –And he brought the burnt offeringAnd he brought the meat-offering-He slew also the bullock and the ram. Apd saron lifted
his hands towards the people, and blessed them; and came down from offering the sin offering and the burntoffering and the peace-offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of
the Lord appeared unto all the people. AND THERE CAME A FIRE OUT FROM BEFORE THE LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt-offering and the fat: which when all the people saw they shouted, and fell on their faces. (Lev. ix) Now, it is most manifest that the sacrifice of the people, was accepted of the Lord. And a fire coming out from the Lord, which consumed their offerings upon the altar, was a very striking expression of divine acceptance. When the people saw the fire which came out from the Lord consuming their burnt-offering upon the altar, they expressed their joy by shouting, and fell upon their faces. This fire from the Lord which consumed the sacrifice, was by no means an expression of divine wrath: but on the contrary a clear expression of divine approbation, and, therefore, of love, grace and mercy. The fire which consumed this sacrifice, which was a sweet savour unto the Lord, was not the fire of wrath;—it was te fire of divine love.
To the same purpose see 2 Chron. chap. 7, ver. 1 3. Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifice; and the glory of the Lord filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord's house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying. For he is good; for his mercy endureth forever.
Between the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal there was a mighty contest. Elijah says of himself, that he only remained a prophet of the Lord; but that the prophets of Baal were four hundred and fifty. To determine, therefore, whether any among the prophets of Baal were true prophets, and whose God was the true God, Elijah proposed that each party should make his preparation for a burnt-offer
ing. The prophets of Baal were to take and cut in pieces a bullock, and lay it on wood, "and put no fire under.” “1,” said Elijah, “will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under. And call ye upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord; and the God that answereth by fire let him be God. And all the people answered and said it is well spoken.” The prophets of Baal made preparation accordingly, “and called upon the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us! But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made—And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their manner, with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.” They continued their exertions until it was found “that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.” Then Elijah took his turn, and made preparation for his sacrifice. “And he repaired the altar which was broken down.” And he put all things in order, "and said, Pour four barrels of water on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood. And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Jacob, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord, and that ihou hast turned their hearts back again. THEN THE FIRE OF THE LORD fell and consumed the burnt-sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces, and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God."* lt
to me that no one can suppose, that the fire of the Lord which consumed Elijah's
burnt-sacrifice, was the fire of divine wrath; but that every one, who candidly attends to the subject, will view it as expressive of divine love; and toward Elijah and the people of God, it was a must striking manifestation of divine grace and mercy.
It was the love of God which sent Jesus Christ into the world; it was the love of God which delivered him
up for us all; and it was the same divine love which consumed him as a lamb for sacrifice; who, through the Eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, to redeem us from sin, and to save us from everlasting death, the wrath which is to come.
When God makes use of fire to express his indignation towards his enemies, and his determination to destroy them, it is the fire of wrath; but when it is used to express favour to his people, and as a defence against their enemies, it is the fire of love. Hence, in the latter day glory of the people of Israel, it is said that “Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, for the multitude of men and cattle therein." “For I," saith the Lord, “will be upto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.” Zech. xi, 15.
Being provoked with the Prophet Elijah, Ahaziah the king sent a captain with fifty men to take him; finding him on the top of a hill, the captain said unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down. And Elijah answered and said to the Captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy filty. And there came down fire from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty: and he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly. And Elijah answered and said unto him, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. He sent