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ed by sin, the blood must be shed, that is, the life must be yielded up, before atonement to justice can be made : that the substitution and acceptance of one life in the room of another, must depend upon the will and appointment of the offended lawgiver : that the blood of slain beasts, having no value nor virtue of its own to take away sin, must derive all its efficacy from the appointment of Heaven, and from its relation to a victim of a higher order : and, that the blood or life of this one victim, yielded up to divine justice, is, through its intrinsic worth and the decree of God, of virtue sufficient to take away the sins of the whole world.
But as, in the original institution, the blood of the lamb slain was no protection to the house, till it was sprinkled with a bunch of hyssop on the parts of the building, and in the manner directed, so the sovereign balm appointed of the Most High for the cure of the deadly plague of sin, the price of pardon to the guilty, the life of the dead, becomes effectual to the relief of the guilty, perishing sinner, by a particular application of it to his own “ wounds, bruises, putrefying sores.” Faith, eyeing the cornmandment, the power of God and the grace of Christ, is like the bunch of hyssop in the hand of the paschal worshipper, sprinkling the blood of atonement upon upper
doorpost, and the two side-posts," the understanding, the heart, the life, the ruling and the governing powers of our nature, that the whole may be accepted through the Beloved.
I conclude this part of my subject with quoting a passage from the Targum of Jonathan, respecting the sprinkling of the blood of the paschal lamb, as it was performed by the children of Israel in Egypt, which has struck myself as uncommonly beautiful and sublime.
“When the glory of the Lord was revealed in Egypt in the night of the passover, and when he slew all the first-born of the Egyptians, He rode upon lightning. He surveyed the inmost recesses of our habitations; He stopped behind the walls of our houses : His eyes observed the posts of our doors : they pierced through the casements. He perceived the blood of circumcision, and the blood of the paschal lamb, sprinkled upon us. He viewed his people from the heights of heaven, and saw them eating the passover roasted with fire: He saw, and had compassion upon us; He spared, and suffered not the destroying angel to hurt us.
The inferiour circumstances respecting the sacrifice are these. The flesh of the victim was to be eaten in the night season, not in a crude state, nor boiled in water, but roasted with fire; no bone of it was to be broken; no remnant of it left until the morning; or else the remains were to be consumed
I am unwilling entirely to pass over these circumstances as if they were of no especial meaning or importance; for I am thoroughly convinced every iota and tittle relating to this ordinance, has a specific meaning and design. But I frankly acknowledge I cannot discern that design in every particular; and am far from being satisfied with the fanciful and unsupported illustrations of some commentators upon the passage. Should I myself seem to any to have given too much into imagination and conjecture in my ideas of it, or in what is farther to be offered; the nature of the subject, the silence of scripture, the consciousness of honestly aiming at your rational entertainment and religious instruction, and the humble hope that these conjectures are and shall be conformed to the analogy of faith, and if erroneous, innocently so; these will, I am persuaded, secure me a patient hearing, and a candid interpretation.
The time of the feast was the night season ; the very juncture when the awful scene was acting, which marred the glory and blasted the strength of Egypt. Inconsiderate man must have his attention roused and fixed by strong and striking circumstances. The moment of execution, the hour of battle,
and the like, are awfully interesting to a serious, humane and public spirited person. Every son of Israel knew, that at the very moment he was eating his unleavened cake with gladness, and the flesh of lambs with a merry heart, * Thousands were falling at his side, and ten thousand at his right hand.” What an alarming demonstration of divine justice! What an encouraging display of goodness and mercy! Were the eye opened to see God as he is, were the powers of an invisible world habitually felt, every creature, every season, every event, would possess a quickening, an active, a constraining influence over us. But blind, stupid, sluggish as we are, the midnight bell must toll to rouse us to reflection : death must assume the complexion of sable night, and add artificial to natural horror, in order to force a way into our stony hearts. And God, who knows what is in man, vouchsafes to instruct his thoughtlessness and folly, by acting through the medium of powerful and awakening circumstances upon our imagination and senses.
Hence possibly the injunction to eat the passover by night.
It was to be “roasted with fire," not eaten raw, nor sodden with water, To eat flesh in a crude state is unnatural and unwholesome. And we never find the religious institutions of the living and true God, doing violence to innocent natural propensities and aversions, or encroaching on the health and life of his worshippers : for he saith, “ I will have mercy and not sacrifice.” Why the one method of preparing it was commanded of God in preference to the other, we pretend not satisfyingly to account for. Was it to secure an uniformity of practice in the minutest circumstances relating to his worship? Was it to form his church and people to implicit obedience to his will, in points which they comprehend not, as in those which they well understand ; in all cases whatever, whether he be pleased to render or to withhold a reason ? Was it intended as a symbolical representation of their late condition; tried, and prepared, and refined in the fire of Egyptian oppression ; purged, but not consumed by it? Was it a figurative view of the judgment of God then executing: Egyft scorched with the flame; Israel enlightened, seasoned, purified by it? Did it look forward unto, and signify some particular circumstance in the person, the doctrine, or sufierings of the great evangelical sacrifice ! O Lord, thou knowest. “ Secret things belong to thee, but things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children.” We thank thee for what thou hast condescended to reveal to us, and would not presume to “be wise above what is written."
“Not a bone" of the paschal lamb was to “ be broken.” This, as well as some of the foregoing circumstances, is by sundry commentators supposed to be intended as a contradiction to various Pagan superstitions and particularly to the frantic behaviour of the votaries of Bacchus; who, in the fumes of intoxication or of religious frenzy, committed a thousand abominations and extravagancies ; they fell into violent agitations, the pretended inspiration of their God; they devoured the yet palpitating flesh of the victims which they had just killed, and broke all their bones to pieces. But, the idolatrous rites of the heathen nations were so various and so contradictory one to another, that we can hardly imagine the great JEHOVAH would condescend to express any concern, whether the rites of his worship were, in every instance, either conformed or opposed to the usages of idolatry. A very famous critick* assigns a very silly reason for this branch of the commandment. He alleges it was another indication of the extreme haste with which the passover was to be eaten. “ Men in a hurry,” says he, “ do not stand to pick bones; much less do they take leisure to break them, for the sake of the juice or marrow.” As if it required more time to sever the joints, and break the bones by violence,
* Bochart, Hieroz, par. i. lib. ii. cap. 1. fol. 609.
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 iu 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, - 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."
6. 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 commonnight.”
* John xix. 33.
+ Verse 36.
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 “ 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
“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.
t1 Cor. xlii. 12.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
EXODUS XIII, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22.
Andit 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 be 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 fecl 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.