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ON THE ARTIFICIAL OR INSTITUTED FIGURES
OF THE LAW OF MOSES.
TEXT in order to those figures of LECT. I the scripture which may be called i 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 thew us the intention of its ceremonies and precepts.
St. Paul, in his epistle to the Hebrews, gives us this general idea of the law, that
LECT. it had a shadow of good things to come ; * o 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 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 facrifices and priesthood; and the first and greatest facrifice 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 pasover is sacrificed for ust. This expression carries us back to the cause and end for which the passover was instituted; and it * Heb. X. 1, † 1 Cor, v. 7,
appears from this reference of the apostle, LECT. 1. That Christ is what the passover 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 paffover was sacrificed for the redemption 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 Naughter*, meek and unresisting. When John the Baptist pointed out Jesus to the Jews as the Messiah, he chose to do it in those words, bebold the lamb of Godt; see and acknowledge the true passover which
Ifaiah lič. 7. + John i. 29.
Lect. God himself hath provided, not for the
deliverance of a single nation, but to take away the fin 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 fame gospel of St. John we find another remarkable allusion to the institution of the paffover. 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 mould be fulfilled, a bone of him fhall 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 skall ye break a bone thereof.
If we look to the design or occasion of his facrifice, we find it the same in effect with that of the passover: for as that was fain for the Hebrews in Egypt, fo was He LECT. facrificed 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, hall 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 falvation of finners 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 fatan: out of which condition, they are not redeemed with silver and gold, as common captives, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot; that is, as the Hebrews were in Egypt by the blood of the passover.