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particle of leavened bread, or fermented dough, might have been overlooked, in order to its being destroyed. As if this had not been sufficient, that the family might be purged of at least all intentional violation of the commandment, the father of it concluded the search with this solemn execration: “Let all the leaven that is in my house, and which I have not been able to find out or to remove, be scattered, and become like the smallest dust of the earth.” An inspired apostle is our interpreter of this part of the paschal observance; so that we can be at no loss about the meaning of the Spirit in its institution. “ Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven ; neither with the leaven of malice-and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."* The scrupulous exactness of the Jews, in their literal obedience to the commandment, is a severe and just reproof of many, too many professing christians, who rush to the celebration of the gospel passover with little preparation or seriousness; and some, alas ! deliberately hoarding up in their hearts, and secretly, greedily feeding upon “ the old leaven of malice and wickedness."
Thirdly, the victim itself claims our most serious attention. “ A male lamb, of the first year,”_" without blemish,” to be taken, on the tenth day of the month from his dam, kept apart for four days, and then killed! These are all tender and touching considerations. " A lamb:" the most innocent and gentle of animals; in the idea and language of all ages and nations, another name for gentleness, harmlessness and simplicity ; removed early from its only comfort and protection, its fond mother's side; deprived of liberty, and destined to bleed by the sacrificing knife. Who can think of his plaintive bleatings, during the days of separation, without being melted? What Israelitish heart so insensible, as not to yearn at the thought, that his own life, and the comfort of his family were to be preserved, at the expense of the life of that inoffensive little creature, whom he had shut up for the slaughter, and which, in unsuspicious confidence, licked the hand lifted up to shed its blood ?
We have not long to search for the spirit and substance of this part of the institution: for all Scripture presses upon our notice, “the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world;" slain, “ in the eternal purpose, from and before the foundation of the world; holy, harmless, and undefiled ;" “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God"t-suffering "the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God."
Who was wounded for our transgressions, who was bruised for our iniquities : the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed :" the Lord laying on him “the iniquity of us all;" withdrawn, separated from the bosom of his Father-delivered into the hands of men-pouring out his soul unto death.
It was to be “a lamb of the first year," eight days old at the least; a year at the most. Not less than eight days, say the Jews, that there might intervene one Sabbath from the birth of the victim; and that so the sacredness of this holy festival might render it worthy of being offered unto God. More probably, because that, till then the animal was considered as too near a state of imperfection or impurity. It was not to exceed one year; because to that age it retains its lamblike harmlessness and simplicity. Superstition, which is ever sinking the spirit in the letter, has asserted, that a single hour beyond the year vitiated the victim, and rendered it profane.
But the figure, without straining for a resemblance, presents unto us Jesus, “a Son born, and a Saviour given ;" ours from the manger, ours to the tomb.
* 1 Cor. v. 7, 8.
| Acts ii, 23.
His days cut off in the midst : at that period of life when 'men are coming to their prime of vigour, beauty and usefulness. “ A lamb without blemish." Those who love to fritter away the spirit and meaning of divine institutions in literal interpretation, have gone into a particular enumeration of the various kinds of blemishes which disqualified a sacrifice upon this occasion; and these they have multiplied to considerably above fifty. And what folly has taken pains to invent, superstition has been idle and weak enough to follow. The later Rabbins tell us, that the lamb was set apart four days before the sacrifice, in order to afford time and opportunity to inquire into its soundness and perfection; that if any unobserved spot should appear, there might be time to reject it, and to substitute another in its room. The law itself is plain and simple ; and no good Israelite, of common sense, with the sacred charter in his hand, could possibly mistake its meaning; which is simply to signify, that the good God is to be served with the choicest and best of every thing. But the law evidently looked further than to the mere corporeal perfection or defects of a silly lamb: and we should but ill understand both the text and the commentary, did we not look through the whole type to Him who is “ without spot and blemish ;” who, though born of a sinful mother, “ did no sin ;" who lived many years in the “midst of a sinful and adulterous generation,” without contracting any taint of moral pollution : in whom “the prince of this world, when he came, found nothing;" and whom his agents, Judas and Pontius Pilate, the instruments of his condemnation and death, were constrained to acquit. “I have sinned and betrayed innocent blood;" said the one. “ Take ye him, and crucify him, for I find no fault in him," said the other. " And when the centurion saw what was done he said, Surely this was the Son of God!"
The very act of selecting the one victim from among many, must have been an affecting office. Why should this innocent creature bleed and die, rather than another ? Why should the notice of my eye, or his accidentally presenting himself first of the flock, or his superiour beauty and strength, or the determination of the lot, doom him, in preference to the slaughter ? must die. Here the choice is fixed; and pity must not spare what heaven has demanded. These emotions of compassion must have been frequently excited during the four days of separation. The plaintive bleating, issuing from a tender, aching heart, robbed at once of its natural food, protection and comfort; feeling the bitterness of death in the deprivation of maternal care and tenderness; the mournfully pleasing employment of supplying the devoted victim with aliment, up to the appointed hour; the cherishing and sustaining with solicitude, that life to-day, which the strong hand of necessity must take away to-morrow; all these awaken a thousand undescribable feelings. How the heart is wrung, as often as the eye, or the ear, or the hand, is attracted to attend or to minister to the little trembling prisoner! At length the fatal moment is come: and the afflicting alternative presses,
- This innocent, or my own first-born must suffer. If my heart relent, lo, the flaming sword of the destroying angel is within my habitation. My resolution is formed. There is no room for deliberation. Die thou, that my son may live.”
But the paschal victim could have no presentiment of its approaching fate. Happy in its ignorance, it could die but once. Christians, need your eyes be directed to your great gospel passover? Behold your atonement-deliberately chosen of God; fixed upon, in the maturity of eternal counsels ; under the pressure of the great decree; voluntarily presenting and surrendering himself!-Behold him continually admonished of his approaching sufferings and death ; by his own divine prescience, by the perpetual insults and violence of wicked men, by the descent of Moses and Elias to the mount of transfiguration. “The decease which he should accomplish" at length, “ at Jerusa
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 thou 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."
" 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 pesti
lence 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. 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 ihings 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 timc,” 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 blemish,” 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
Eph. iv. 4, 5, 6, 13,
in a narrower circle, lighting on fewer and nearer objects, and aided by reciprocal sympathy and ardour, was blown up into a purer flame.
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 P. 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 forfeit