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ject, 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 publicspirited 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 satisfactorily 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 to or 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: Egypt 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 sufferings 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 phrenzy, 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 na
tions 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 critic* 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, than to dissect and disunite the parts without a fracture. The simple meaning of the precept seems to be, that what once is 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 in 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," John xix. 33. And it is clear from what follows, that the evangelist considered the precept of the law as a prophecy of Christ; "For these things were done," says he, "that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not
* Bochart, Hieroz, par. i. lib. ii. cap. 1. sol. 609.
be broken," Verse 36. 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," Lev. vii. 15. 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 henceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the Lord. And whether it be cow, or ewe, ye shall not kill it and her young both in one day. And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving 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," xxii. 27-30. 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
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." "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 commonwealth 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 night." "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