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pectation was excited of the gradual approach of “ the fulness of time,” 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 selfsame 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 a one body, one spirit, and are called in one hope of their calling:" who have “ one Lord, one faith, one baptism -one God 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,” Eph. iv. 4, 5, 6, 13.
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 within 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 prefigu. ration 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 first-born 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 superior, 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 bem tween them and their sinful neighbours, which has sea
sonably warned them “ to flee from the wrath that is to come;" which has “ delivered their souls from death, their eyes from tears, 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 in perfect. The sacrifice of the gospel is one, because once offered it “for ever 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 split upon the ground as a worthless thing, nor sprinkled in the entering 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? No. But the distinctions of God's love avail not them who wilfully and wickedly neglect the distinctions of faith and obedience. The blood in the bason is the same with the blood on the door post; 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 forfeited 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 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 s.nner, by a particular application of it to his own “wounds, bruises, putrifying sores.". Faith, eying the commandment, 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 “the upper door-post, and the two side-posts,” the understanding, the heart, the life, the ruling and the governed powers of our pa.
ture, that the whole may be accepted through the Be. loved.
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 inferior 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 by fire. 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 sub.