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forfaken their fins, and fled for refuge in the divine mercy.

It is now worth while to confider the notice given to God's own people of this approaching evil, and the means which were appointed and employed to fecure them from being involved in the general ruin. The event fo deftructive to Egypt, was intended to be the era of their liberty, and the means of their deliverance. They had hitherto reckoned the beginning of their year from the month Tifti, which anfwers to our September; which, as they fuppofed, was the time when the creation was begun and completed; but they are now pofitively enjoined to begin to reckon from the month Abib or Nifan, that is March, in memory of a new creation; whereby their condition was totally changed, from fervitude of the most abject kind, into freedom the moft exalted and perfect, even the glorious liberty of the fons of GOD. They are diftinctly informed of the ftroke which Providence was meditating against Egypt, and of the precife time when the blow was to be ftruck. They are accordingly directed to two things: Firft, to provide for their own fafety; and, Secondly, to hold themfelves in perfect readiness to take advantage of the permiffion to depart, which the panic occafioned by the death of the firft-born fhould extort from Pharaoh. For the former of these purposes, every particular family, or the two adjoining, in proportion to their number, the loweft, according to the Jewish writers, being not under ten, nor the highest above twenty, were commanded to choose out, and to fet apart, every household, a male lamb, or kid, of a particular defcription, on the tenth day of the month, and to kill it on the evening of the fourteenth. The flesh of the victim was commanded to be eaten by every feveral household apart, roafted with fire. They were all enjoined carefully to keep within their houfes. And the blood of the facrifice was to be taken and fprinkled on the two fide-pofts, and the upper door


post of every house where it was eaten. This fprinkling of the blood was to be the token of God's covenant, and a protection to the families fo diftinguished, from the fword of the avenging angel.

But, a pofitive inftitution fo immediately from heaven, an inftitution fo full of meaning and inftruction, of fuch celebrity in the history of the world, and connected fo clofely with an ordinance of ftill greater notoriety, and of much more extenfive influence, an ordinance of much longer duration, and which commemorates an event of infinitely greater importance, furely demands the most minute attention, and the moft ferious inquiry. We pretend not to comprehend, and therefore undertake not to explain every particular circumftance of this folemn, divine inftitution: but the moral and religious defign is, in general, fo obvious, that a reader of ordinary capacity has but to run over it with a common degree of feriousness and attention, in order to understand what the Spirit of God is faying in it, for the edification of mankind.

And firft, GoD was about to distinguish Israel by fpecial marks of his favour. In order to this, they muft carefully distinguish themselves by a punctual obfervance of his command. Is more expected of an Ifraelite than of an Egyptian? Undoubtedly. The bleffings which come down from above, from the Father of lights, are not mere arbitrary and capricious effufions of liberality, falling upon one fpot, and paffing by another, without reafon or defign. No, they are the wife and gracious recompenfe of an intelligent, obferving and difcriminating Parent, to faithful, affectionate and obedient children. Ifrael had been forewarned of the enfuing danger to no purpose, had one iota or tittle relating to the ordinance of the pafchal lamb been neglected. Calamity is to be avoided, not by foreknowing that it draws nigh, but by running to a place of fafety. Salvation by Christ confifts, not merely in head-knowledge of his perfon, doctrine and work; but in a cordial receiving and refting upon


him alone for falvation, as he is freely offered to us in the gospel, for "wifdom, and righteoufnefs, and fanctification, and redemption." The careful felection, then, of a proper victim, and the exact application of it, according to the commandment, have a plain and an inftructive meaning.

Secondly, As Ifrael was to depart in hafte, the Spirit of God was pleased to enjoin a memorial of that hafte, in the quality of the bread which they were to ufe, during the celebration of this feftival. When liberty, dear liberty is in view, who fo filly as to care whether the tafte be gratified or not, for a few days, with a lefs palatable kind of food? Our moft perfect enjoyments in this world, and our highest attainments, have a mixture of bitterness or of infipidity attending them like the flesh of lambs eaten with bitter herbs, and unfermented bread. The Jews, we know, were fingularly diligent and curious, in fearching out and removing from their houfes every thing leavened, during this facred feafon. With fuperftitious fcrupulousness, they prepared unleavened bread for themselves, and the poor, for months before the folemn day arrived. A few days previous to the feast they cleansed all their veffels and furniture. What could ftand the fire, they purified with fire; what could not, they dipped in or rinfed with water. Their marble mortars they had hallowed anew. The night preceding the day of unleavened bread, they lighted wax tapers, and prepared for a general fearch after every remainder of leaven. The mafter of the family began the ceremony with this folemn address to God; "Bleffed art thou, O Lord, who haft commanded us to put away all that is leavened out of our houfes." All the males of the household; master, children, domeftics, affifted in fearching the whole houfe over, and examined into the most secret corners, left peradventure fome lurking particle of leavened bread, or fermented dough, might have been overlooked, in order to its being deftroyed. As if this


had not been fufficient, that the family might be purged of at least all intentional violation of the commandment, the father of it concluded the fearch with this folemn execration: "Let all the leaven that is in my house, and which I have not been able to find out or to remove, be fcattered, and become like the smallest duft of the earth." An inspired apostle is our interpreter of this part of the pafchal obfervance; fo that we can be at no lofs about the meaning of the Spirit in its inftitution. "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened For even Chrift our paffover is facrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feaft, not with old leaven neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness & but with the unleavened bread of fincerity and truth."* The fcrupulous exactness of the Jews, in their literal obedience to the commandment, is a severe and just reproof of many, too many profeffing chriftians, who rush to the celebration of the gospel paffover with little preparation or seriousness; and fome, alas! deliberately hoarding up in their hearts, and fecretly, greedily feeding upon "the old leaven of malice and wickednefs."

Thirdly, the victim itself claims our moft ferious 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 confiderations. "A lamb :" The moft innocent and gentle of animals; in the idea and the language of all ages and nations, another name for gentleness, harmlessnefs and fimplicity; removed early from its only comfort and protection, its fond mother's fide; deprived of liberty, and destined to bleed by the facrificing knife. Who can think of his plaintive bleatings, during the days of feparation, without being melted? What Ifraelitifh heart fo infenfible, as not to yearn at the thought, that his own life, and the comVOL. III.


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fort of his family, were to be preferved, at the expense of the life of that inoffenfive little creature, whom he had shut up for the flaughter, and which, in unfufpicious confidence, licked the hand lifted up to fhed its blood?

We have not long to fearch for the spirit and subftance of this part of the inftitution: for all scripture preffes upon our notice, "the LAMB OF GOD, who taketh away the fin of the world;" flain," in the eternal purpose, from and before the foundation of the world; holy, harmless, and undefiled;"" delivered by the determinate counfel and foreknowledge of God"*-suffering "the juft for the unjust, that he' might bring us to God." Who was wounded for cur tranfgreffions, who was bruifed for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his ftripes we are healed:" the Lord laying on him "the iniquity of us all;" withdrawn, feparated from the bofom of his Father-delivered into the hands of men-pouring out his foul unto death.

It was to be a lamb of the first year," eight days old at the leaft; a year at the moft. Not lefs than eight days, fay the Jews, that there might intervene one fabbath from the birth of the victim; and that fo the facredness of this holy feftival might render it worthy of being offered to GOD. More probably, because that, till then, the animal was confidered as too near a state of imperfection or impurity. It was not to exceed one year; becaufe to that age it retains its lamb-like harmlefsnefs and fimplicity. Superftition, which is ever finking the fpirit in the letter, has afferted, that a fingle hour beyond the year vitiated the victim, and rendered it profane.


But the figure, without ftraining for a refemblance, prefents unto us JESUS, "a Son born, and a Saviour given" ours from the manger, ours to the tomb. His days cut off in the midft; at that period of life when men are coming to their prime of vigour, beau

*Acts ii. 23.


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