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5. “ Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow his steps.” i Peter ii. 21.
Though I have placed this last, it is surely not the least in importance of the various purposes for which Jesus died. For unless we imbibe the temper with which he endured his sufferings, the other objects of his mission will be of little avail to us.
Twelve objects of the Messiah's sufferings have now been stated-seven mentioned by himself, and five by his Apostles. There may be others which have escaped my notice, and others still which are not revealed. Dr. Paley, in his sermons on the “ Efficacy of the Death of Christ,” observes,—“ Others have died martyrs as well as our Lord-others have suffered in a good cause as well as he. But that is said of his death and sufferings which is not said of any other. An efficacy and concern is ascribed to them in the business of our salvation, which is not ascribed to any other.” The dignity of the Savior and the various purposes for which he died may account for the facts mentioned by Dr. Paley. For it is believed that no other sufferer ever possessed such dignity, or ever sustained such a variety of interesting relations to the world, as did the Mediator of the New Covenant, the Captain of our salvation ;—and we may believe that no other person ever suffered for such a variety of important purposes subordinate to one grand and all-important purpose—human salvation. On his obedience unto death depended the ratification of the gospel covenant with its infinity of blessings for time and eternity.
Atonements under the Mosaic Dispensation.
As the Mosaic sacrifices were shadows or types of good things to come, it may be expected that correct views of these will afford light on the sacrifice made by the death of the Messiah. I shall therefore exhibit some facts relating to what are called atonements in the Old Testament.
First. The tenth day of the seventh month in every year was appointed to be observed as a day of atonement for the nation of Israel ;-on which day the people were to "afflict,” or humble themselves, and the priest was “to make an atonement for them, to cleanse them, that they might be clean from all their sins before the Lord.” The day was to be observed with great solemnity, and symbolical acts were to be performed, which seem to have been well adapted to impress the minds of the people with a sense of their guilt, and the pardoning mercy of the Lord. Lev. xxiii. 27-32.
Secondly. Atonements were instituted for particular offences of individuals. The ceremonies on these occasions were of a similar tendency to those of the annual atonements. The goodness of God is apparent in what was required to be offered by each individual, as respect was had to his ability. If able, he was to offer a lamb or a kid'; if not able for this, two doves or pigeons were to be accepted ; if this was too much for his ability, a tenth part of an ephah of fine flour was all that was required. It is then added--"and the priest shall make an atonement
for him, for his sin which he bath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him." Lev. v. 10,
Thirdly. On taking a census of the people, each person that was numbered, “twenty years old and above," was required to pay half a shekel as an atonement for his soul;” and the money was to be devoted to the service of the tabernacle. The money thus paid is called
a ransom for his soul”_" atonement for his soul," and atonement money.” Exodus xxx. 12–16.
Fourthly. After the conquest of the Midianites, it was found on inquiry, that not a man of Israel had perished in the war. The men of war, therefore, agreed to bring an offering to the Lord of the abundance of gold which they had taken—" to make,” as they said," an atonement for our souls before the Lord.” Numb. xxxi. 50.
Fifthly. An atonement was required at the induction of men to the offices of the priesthood. When Aaron and his sons were inducted, Moses officiated. The Levites were afterwards consecrated by an atonement. Lev. viii. and Numb. viii. 17-21.
Sixthly. Atonements were made for the sanctuary, the tabernacle, and the altar ; also for houses infected by the leprosy. Lev. xvi. 33; also xiv. 53.
Atonements different from any of the foregoing were made on special indications of God's displeasure. Four cases may be exhibited.
1. Moses having been long absent on the mount, the people became impatient, and prevailed on Aaron to make the golden calf. Moses soon appeared among them, and caused many of the transgressors to be slain. He then said to the survivors—“Ye have sinned a great sin, and now I will go up unto the Lord ; peradventure I shall make
an atonement for your sin. And Moses returned to the Lord, and said–O this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold ! yet now, if thou wilt, forgive their sin ; if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” Exod. xxxii. 30–33.
This confession and prayer were the atonement made by Moses on this awful occasion.
2. On the morrow after the destruction of Korah and his confederates, others dared to rebel. A plague immediately began to make its ravages among the people. By the direction of Moses, Aaron took a censer with fire and incense, and went forth into the midst of the congregation; and he put on incense and made an atonement for the people ; " and he stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stayed.” Numb. xvi. 48.
3. The conduct of Phinehas in slaying Zimri and the Midianitish woman, whom he had brought into the camp contrary to the command of God, is called an atonement. In rewarding Phinehas with a promise of the priesthood, the Lord assigned this reason, “because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel." Numb. xxv. 6–8. 13.
In this case the atonement was made by destroying the guilty.
4. In the days of David the land was afflicted with a famine three years. “David inquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered-It is for Saul and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites." David then inquired of the Gibeonites---- What shall I do for you ? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the Lord ? " The Gibeonites proposed that seven men of the sons of Saul should be given up to them to be hanged at Gibeah. David complied ; and thus the atonement was made to the Gibeonites. 2 Sam. xxi. 1-9.
It was a law in Israel that the son should not die for. the sin of the father ; we may therefore suppose that the persons who were thus delivered up, had been accessaries in the wrongs done to the Gibeonites; and this may be intimated by the words—“ Saul and his bloody house." This may then be a second
in which an atonement was made by destroying the guilty.
We have now in view various forms of making an atonement, and different senses in which the word was used. In the second Chapter of this work the general meaning of the word was explained to be at-one-ment, or reconciliation. It was also observed that atonement means cleansing or purification. That it does so when it was made for inanimate objects, the sanctuary, the tabernacle, perhaps no one will doubt; and this was doubtless the meaning when it is said in the Epistle to the Hebrews, “ almost all things are purged”-that is, cleansed—" by blood.” The idea of cleansing or purification was also implied in the annual atonements for the congregation. For the priest was expressly required "to make atonement for them, to cleanse them, that they may be clean before the Lord.”
The atonements made for the soul,” or the life, by paying the half shekel when the people were numbered, and when the men of war brought their offerings of gold, were, it seems to me, symbolical and grateful acknowledgments of dependence on God, as the Author and Preserver of life. However, when properly offered, they tend