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ar human bone, or any thing that had been touched by an unclean person.) On the third day, and on the seventh, they were to be sprinkled on him; and then he was to be esteemed clean. These were typical of Christ's sacrifice, by which the greatest sins may be forgiven; and without which, not even the smallest pollution imaginable can ever be purged away.]
As types, these certainly were deserving of much re. gard
[While' they shadowed forth, and prepared men for, the Messiah that should come, they conveyed many real benefits to those who conformed to the rules which they prescribed. The penitents who bewailed their moral defilements, had their hopes of mercy and forgiveness revived and strengthened: and they who, on account of some ceremonial uncleanness, were separated for seven long days from the house of God, and from all intercourse with their dearest friends, were restored, as it were, to the bosom of the church, and to communion with their God. Doubtless these rites were burthensome; but every one who valued the favour of God, and the blessings of social converse, would thankfully use the means which God had prescribed for the renewed enjoyment of them.]
Nevertheless the things, which were glorious in them. selves, lost all their glory when contrasted with II. The superior excellence of the antitype
As, by a type, we mean a shadowy representation of something future and substantial; so, by an antitype, we mean that thing which corresponds to the type, and had before been represented by it. The antitype then, or the thing that has been before represented, is, the sacrifice of Christ: and this infinitely excels all the ordinances by which it had been shadowed forth. The superior excellence of this appears particularly in that 1. It purifies the conscience
[The legal offerings never could remove guilt from the conscience:d they were mere remembrances of sins;e and the constant repetition of them shewed that those, which had been before offered, had not availed for the full discharge of the persons who offered them. But the blood of Christ, once sprinkled on the conscience, “perfects for ever them that are sanctified."5 No other atonement is then wanted, or desired:
b Numbxix. 12.
c'AVTITUTOS. 1 Pet. iii. 21..
the sinner needs only to exercise faith on that, and he will have peace in his soul; “being justified by faith, he shall have peace with God.” How strongly does this mark the superia ority which we ascribe to the sacrifice of Christ!] 2. It sanctifies the life
[Though the Jewish ordinances availed for the restoration of men to the enjoyment of outward privileges, they never could renew and sanctify the heart. On the contrary, they rather tended to irritate the minds of men against both the law, and him that enjoined it. But the blood of Christ sprinkled on the soul, instantly produces a visible change in the whole man: the dead works” which were daily practised with delight, are now abandoned; and “ the service of the living God,” which before appeared irksome, is now its chief joy. It is undeniable that many in every place throughout the world (wherever the gospel is preached) have undergone a very great change in all their views, desires, and pursuits; they have become dead to the things of time and sense, and have devoted themselves in body, soul and spirit to the service of their God. Let the question be put to all of them, When did this change take place? there will be but one answer from them all: they will with one voice acknowledge, that it was effected by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ upon their hearts and consciences; that, till that blessed period, they were altogether carnal; and that from that time, they have been under the habitual influence of spiritual affections. What more can be wanting to establish the point before us?]
The pre-eminence of Christ above the legal offerings will yet further appear,
while we shew, III. How it is that the transcendent worth of the one may
be inferrred from the comparative trifling value of the other?
The apostle's argument in the text is this; If the Jewish sacrifices availed for the smallest good, how much more will the sacrifice of Christ avail for the greatest possible good? The force of this argument will appear by comparing 1. The nature of the offerings
[The blood that was sprinkled on men under the law, was merely the blood of worthless beasts: but what is that which is sprinkled on us? Let the voice of inspiration answer this question; It was “ GOD that purchased the church with his own blood.”h Astonishing mystery! “ the blood of Christ”
I Acts xx. 28.
was the blood, not of a mere man, but of one who was God as well as man. How plain is the inference in this view! Surely, if the blood of a beast, which was only externally spotless, availed for any thing, much more may the blood of Christ, that immaculate Lamb, avail for every thing.] 2. The persons by whom they were offered
[Under the law the offerings were presented by sinful men, who needed first to offer for their own sins, before they were permitted to offer for the people's. But our sacrifice was offered by God himself; Christ was both the sacrifice and the priest: yea, each person of the ever-blessed Trinity was engaged in this stupendous work: the Father was the person to whom the sacrifice was offered; Christ was the person who offered it; and “the Eternal Spirit" concurred and co-operated with him in this mysterious act. Let then the offerings be compared in this view, and how infinite will the superiority of Christ's appear! 3. The suitableness of each to the end proposed
(What was there in the blood of bulls and goats that could wash away the stain of sin! How could that satisfy the divine Justice, or avert his wrath from sinful man? there was not the least affinity between the means and the end. But Christ was
bone of our bune, and flesh of our flesh;” and he assumed our nature on purpose that he might stand in our place and stead. Here was a perfect suitableness between the means and the end. Must the penalty due to sin be endured? He became a curse for us, and submitted to endure its just deserts. Must the law be fulfilled and honoured? He magnified it by his perfect obedience. And being God as well as man, he was at liberty to do this for us; and his substitution in our place is justly available for our salvation. How plain then is the apostle's inference when viewed in this light! Surely, when these considerations are all combined, there will be a strength in his argument, and a force in his appeal, which must bear down every objection, and fix the deepest conviction on our minds. ]
This subject may further lead us to OBSERVE
1. How manifest is the doctrine of the divinity of Christ!
(We need not look to any passages that confirm this doctrine by direct assertions; since in the text it is contained with yet stronger evidence in a way of implication. Let it be supposed for one moment that Christ was a mere creature: how will the apostle's argument then appear? If the blood of one creature avails for the obtaining of a mere shadowy and tempo.
ral benefit, how much more shall the blood of another creature avail for the obtaining of all that God himself can bestow? This were as absurd as to say, if a child can lift a feather, how much more can a grown person lift a mountain? Such an appeal would be unworthy of any man that pretends to comman sense; and much more of an inspired apostle. But let the divinity of Christ be acknowledged, and the appeal is clear, convincing, incontrovertible. Indeed the doctrines of the atonement and of the divinity of Christ are so interwoven with each other, that neither of them can be denied without effectually subverting both. Let us seek then to be well established in these important truths.]
2. How necessary is it to trust entirely in Christ's atonement!
[It is not possible to state a case more strongly than this is stated in a chapter before 'referred to. We cannot conceive less guilt to be contracted by any act than by unwillingly touching a thing, which, unknown to us, had been before touched by an unclean person: yet nothing but the sprinkling of the ashes of a red heifer could ever remove the uncleanness contracted by it: if the person that had contracted it were the holiest man on earth, and were to shed rivers of tears on account of what he had done, and increase his circumspection in future an hundred fold, it would be all to no purpose: he must die as a defiler of God's sanctuary, if he did not use the purification which the law appointed. How much more then must that soul perish which is not purified by the blood of Christ! How impossible is it that even the smallest sin should ever be expiated in any other way! Let this then teach us to look unto Christ continually, and to have our consciences ever sprinkled with his precious blood.]
3. How inseparable is the connexion between faith and works!
[They greatly err, who think that the doctrines of faith are subversive of morality. The very faith that purges the conscience from guilt, purifies the life also from dead works, and animates us to serve the living God. Let this connexion then be seen in our lives; so shall we most effectually remove the calumny; and “ by well-doing put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”]
i Numb. xix.
CXXXIII. THE BURNT-SACRIFICES TYPICAL OF
Heb. xiii. 11–13. The bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest
for sin, are burnt without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
SUCH is the proneness of men to superstition, that they need to watch with care, lest, after having once shaken off its fetters, they be again subjected to its dominion. The Hebrew Christians in particular were liable to be drawn aside from the simplicity of the gospel: their fond attachment to the law of Moses, seconded by the subtile arguments of Judaizing teachers, exposed them to continual danger. Hence the inspired author of this epistle cautioned them against returning to their former bondage. And, lest they should be led to think, that by renouncing the law of Moses, they deprived themselves of the blessings which were procured by their sacrifices, he tells them, that this was by no means the case; yea, that, on the contrary, they were partakers of a better altar, to which the adherents to Judaism had no access; and that the very ordinances, in which the Jews trusted, pointed out this truth in a clear and convincing manner; for not even the high priest himself was permitted to eat of the sacrifices, whose blood he had carried within the vail; whereas every true Christian was permitted to eat of that sacrifice which alone could atone for sin; and therefore, so far from there being any necessity for them to revert to Judaism in order to partake of the Jewish sacrifices, the Jews themselves must be converted to Christianity in order to obtain the full benefit even of those sacrifices which they themselves had offered. *
To illustrate this more fully, we shall point out I. The correspondence between the death of Christ, and
the ordinances whereby it was prefigured.
a This seems to be the true scope of the passage as connected
with the context.