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is rather a prospective act than one which cancels and obliterates; and it does not in any degree put the offender on the same footing as if he had redressed the injury. Besides, how is God to be reconciled by repentance? What is to bring together the two estranged parties, the offender and the offended ? How is the sinner to get, as it were, into the presence of an angry God? or
on what grounds can he presume to demand an audience of him? There requires, therefore, a suitable offering to propitiate the offended Majesty of heaven, and some mode of ministration by which it shall be rendered meet for acceptance.
Hence we come to the office of a Mediator, which necessarily grew out of the alienated circumstances in which men stood to God. There wanted both a reconciler and a mode of reconciliation. Under the Jewish Law these were personified in the priest and the victim. But these were only shadows of good things to come, of which the substance in Christ. This is distinctly affirmed by the Apostle. “For the Law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered ? because that the worshippers once purged should have had more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year." He shows the temporary and shifting nature of the priestly office by the perpetual change and succession
in it occasioned by death, contrasting it with the permanent and abiding character of Christ's everlasting priesthood. “ And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” He proves that though the animal victims were appointed by God as substitutes for a more sufficient atonement, yet that in truth, God had no pleasure in them, but only bore with them, till “ the times of refreshing should come from the presence of the Lord.”
When, therefore, our blessed Lord came into the world, as the intended High Priest of the whole human race, he brought with him a body fitted, by the purity and excellence of its nature, for the high sacrifice he was about to offer, and altogether different from those bodies which had been hitherto in use.
This shows the reason of his uniting himself to our nature in the womb of the Virgin, that partaking of our infirmities, “he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God,” and have, like the Levitical priests, “ somewhat also to offer.” Any other body would have been unworthy of the Creator to accept, or of the heavenly Reconciler to present. With this “body, prepared for him,” he offered sacrifice, and taking it up with him into heaven, as the High Priest took the blood of the victim on the great day of annual atonement into the most holy place, he there presented it to God, and made satisfaction with it. In this his mediatorship consists. The one oblation of himself once offered upon the
cross, is a continual memorial of his death, inasmuch as it is ever present before the throne of God; and it is in virtue of this body that he is entitled to plead for man. Of the fulness and sufficiency of this sacrifice we may form some idea when we are told, that he is the only Mediator; “neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Hence sacrifice and offering have ceased, and the Levitical priesthood has been abolished, and now the sinner comes before the presence of God in the person and at the instance of the beloved Son. Every prayer which he utters is made in the name of Christ. Every hope which he indulges is founded on the merits of Christ. He views the great office of Mediator, which our Lord sustains, as the only key that unlocks to him the mansions of eternity; and whilst his own vast unworthiness is but exhibited in a stronger light by the price which it cost to redeem his soul, he yet has confidence toward God, because if that awful Being could send his onlybegotten Son into the world to die for it, this proves the magnitude of his mercy, and is, in short, nothing less than a strong invitation to us to turn unto him and be saved.
Thus you see the use and importance of the ministerial functions under the Law, and how plainly they figured out the holy offices of Christ. He fulfilled them all. To him they bore manifest allusion, and without this interpretation of them, they have no true value or significancy. He was the High Priest to make the requisite atonement; his body was the victim to be offered; his blood the instrument of cleansing and expiation; his mediatorship the only efficacious means of reconciliation and renewal of life. His death completed the types which foreshowed his passion; and his resurrection proclaimed his superiority over all precursors. “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. therefore come boldly unto the throne of we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
grace, that SERMON XVIII.
1 CORINTHIANS XV. 3, 4.
FOR I DELIVERED UNTO YOU FIRST OF ALL THAT WHICH I ALSO
RECEIVED, HOW THAT CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES ; AND THAT HE WAS BURIED, AND THAT HE ROSE AGAIN THE THIRD DAY ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES.”
THERE is no doctrine of our holy religion more valuable in itself, or of greater concern to the soul of man, than that which relates to the death of Christ. A right comprehension of this important subject, naturally involves, if not the security, at least the extent and efficacy of our faith ; and that operating love of righteousness, which results from a clear view of the great scheme of our salvation, must necessarily be more or less excited, in proportion to the solidity of the grounds on which it rests. A bare assent to the influential doctrines of religion, is a quite different thing to a full understanding and confession of them. In the former case, the practice depends upon the mere word of the commandment. In the latter, upon a conviction of its propriety and necessity. He who loves God, and obeys his will, because God has commanded him to do so, acts