Page images

heard there was such a thing; but to us the whole secret is opened, by the scripture accommodating all nature to things spiritual and intellectual; and whoever sees this plan with an unprejudiced mind, will not only be in a way to understand the Bible, but he will want no other evidence of the Christian doctrines.

Sabbath, could be the original of this philosophy mentioned by Plato.

That certain characteristics of divine truth are legible in the works and ways of nature, is no new doctrine. It hath been supposed by some, and lightly touched upon by others; but never pursued (as I have found) to any good effect. The two preceding Lectures give some little prospect of it as it stands in scattered passages of the scripture. But I am so much affected to the plan, that I have drawn out two Lectures upon it, under the title of The Natural Evidences of the Christian Religion, not yet published.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Next in order to those figures of the scripture which may be called natural, as being taken from nature, we are to examine those which are borrowed from the institutions of the law, and may be called artificial, as being ordained and accommodated to this purpose by the Lawgiver himself.

The chief ordinances of the law are referred to in the Prophets, the Psalms, and the New Testament, and many passages are cited from thence, and treated of by Christ and his apostles, which will serve as a key to the language of the law, and shew us the intention of its ceremonies and precepts.

Şt. Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, gives us this general idea of the law, that it had a shadow of good things to come ;* by which he means to teach us, that it was in its ordinances a figure of the blessings of the gospel. It was, as a shadow is, just and descriptive in its

* 米。

* Heb. X. I.

lineaments, but it had in itself neither substance nor life. When the gospel refers us to the law, it refers us to a shadow of itself; and such references will necessarily be figurative and want an interpretation; of which I shall now proceed to give some examples.

Among the institutions of the law, the first place is due to its sacrifices and priesthood; and the first and greatest sacrifice of which we have any particular description is that of the passover. From this the apostle instructs us in the benefits of Christ's death, together with the qualifications necessary to a participation of them; and in so doing he uses the terms of the institution itself; Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.* This expression carries us back to the cause and end for which the passover was instituted; and it appears from this reference of the apostle, 1. That Christ is what the apostle was, a lamb taken from the flock of his people. 2. That he was a sacrifice, put to death as an offering to God. 3. That this was done for us, for our redemption and deliverance from the divine wrath; as the passover was sacrificed for the redemp. tion of the Hebrews, when the first-born of Egypt were destroyed.


All this is comprehended in the use the apostle has made of those terms: and this will be still plainer, if we attend to the particulars. For the character of our blessed Saviour was answerable in all respects to that of the paschal lamb: he was without blemish, innocent and perfect in his nature; and, as the prophet describes him, like the lamb when brought to the slaughter,* meek and unresisting. When John the Baptist pointed out Jesus to the Jews as the Messiah, he chose to do it in those words, Behold the Lamb of God;t see and acknowledge the true passover which God himself hath provided, not for the deliverance of a single nation, but to take away the sin of the world. Whatever the law had ordained concerning the offering of lambs in the passover, and in the daily sacrifices of the morning and evening, all is explained in this short reference of John the Baptist, applying the sacrifices of the law to the true lamb of God. In the same gospel of St. John, we find another remarkable allusion to the institution of the pass

From the circumstance which happened at our Saviour's death, that his legs were not broken with those of the two malefactors, the evangelist observes, these things were done that the scripture should be fulfilled, a bone of him shall not be broken; at which passage the margin of our best editions of the Bible refers us to Exodus xii. 46. where this direction is given concerning the passover, neither shall


* Isaiah liii. 7.

+ John i. 29.


break a bone thereof.

If we look to the design or occasion of his sacrifice, we find it the same in effect with that of the passover: for as that was slain for the Hebrews in Egypt, so was He sacrificed for us. The first-born of Israel would have been destroyed with those of Egypt, but for the blood of the paschal lamb upon the doors of their houses, and we also who are, as the Hebrews were, in a land of bondage, among sinful people devoted to destruction, shall not escape the divine wrath in that night when the destroyer shall be sent out, but in virtue of the true passover: therefore we are said to have redemption through his blood. The term redemption, as applied to the salvation of sinners by Jesus Christ, is taken in a figurative sense. It signifies literally the release of a captive or guilty person, in consideration of something accepted in lieu of him. All men are in a state of forfeiture, sold under sin, and captives of Satan: out of which condition, they are not redeemed with silver and gold, as common cap

« PreviousContinue »