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for any such plan to have originated with any other than God himself. When God's dealings with the fallen angels were considered, who would have imagined that man, partaking of their iniquity, should yet be rescued from their doom? Supposing that such a thought could have entered into the mind of man, who could have contrived such a way of maintaining the honour of the Divine government, and of making the discordant attributes of justice and mercy to harmonize in the salvation of man? If such an expedient as the substitution of God's own Son in the place of sinners could have been devised, who could have dared to propose it to the Deity; or have prevailed upon him to acquiesce in it? The more this is considered, the more will the salvation of man appear to be totally independent of man himself (as far as respects the contriving or the meriting of it), and to be the fruit of infinite wisdom, sovereign grace, and unbounded love". From the first laying of the foundation to the bringing forth of the top-stone, we must cry, Grace, grace unto ito]
2. From Christ's sacrifice as the means
[It might seem that men, under the law, were accepted on account of the sacrifices, which were offered according to the Mosaic ritual. But, not to mention the impossibility that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin P, the very repetition of those sacrifices shewed their insufficiency for the removal of guilt, or for the satisfying of men's consciences 9. They had no effect but as they led the offerers to the Lord Jesus Christ, or expressed their faith in his all-atoning sacrifice. All who have ever found acceptance with God, whether before the law, or under it, or since its abolition, have been admitted to mercy purely " through the one offering of Jesus Christ.” Nothing but that could ever satisfy Divine justice; notbing but that could ever atone for one single sin: nor can any creature, to the end of the world, ever obtain favour with God, but in consideration of that sacrifice presented to God for us, and pleaded by us as the one ground of our hope'. Here I cannot but call your attention to the minuteness and force of David's statement, and to the redoubled force and energy expressed in the Apostle's citation of it. David enumerates the different kinds of sacrifices, in order to shew, that none (whether those burnt without the camps, or those consumed on the altar, or those of which but a small part was burnt, and the rest was divided between the priest and the offerer") n 2 Tim. i. 9.
o Zech. iv. 6, 7. P ver. 4. 9 ver. i. 3. Heb. ix. 9. ' Acts iv. 12. 1 Cor. iii. 11. s Lev. xvi. 27.
t Exod. xxix. 38–42. u Lev. vii. 146, 19. The word “ all" includes the offerers. See Lev. vii. 15, 16. and Numb. xviii. 11.
were of any avail to take away sin. And twice does the Apostle repeat this enumeration of them, in order the more abundantly to manifest the eternal purpose of God to liberate us from the Jewish yoke, and to establish throughout the world the purer dispensation of the Gospel ; so that all, whether Jews or Gentiles, should henceforth “know nothing as a ground of hope, but Jesus Christ and him crucified."] INFER
1. How vain is men's confidence in any services of their own!
[To have been baptized in our infancy, to have attended punctually the outward duties of the Sabbath, and to have waited occasionally upon the Lord at his table, are deemed in general satisfactory evidences of our conversion to God, and sufficient grounds for our hope towards him. But, if the whole multitude of legal institutions, framed by God's own order, and according to a model shewn to Moses in the mount, were of no value as recommending men to God, how much less can the few services which we perform be sufficient to procure us acceptance with him? But it may be said, that moral services are more pleasing to God than ceremonial : true; but we are not told that God willed them, any more than the others, as means of effecting our reconciliation with him. It was the incarnation and death of Christ that God “ willed ;” and, in a remarkable correspondence with the text, he thrice, by an audible voice from heaven, said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Let every selfrighteous hope then be banished; and let us learn to glory in Christ alone.]
2. What encouragement have all to devote themselves to God through Christ!
[We have the united testimony of Prophets and Apostles that God willeth the salvation of men through the sacrifice of his own Son, and that Christ as willingly offered himself a sacrifice in order to effect their salvation. What more can be wanted but that we go to God in that new and living way, which is so clearly pointed out to us? We can have no doubt of God's willingness to save, or of the sufficiency of that salvation which he has provided for us. Let nothing then keep us back from God: but let us look to Christ as the propitiation for our sins?, and plead the merit of his all-atoning blood. Thus, sanctifying ourselves in his name, we shall be
* Oük evdóknaas, ver. 8. with év v kvòóknoa. Matt. iii. 17. y Gal. vi. 14.
z 1 John ii. 2.
perfected before Goda; being sanctified also by the Holy Ghost, we shall be acceptable in the sight of God and our Father for ever and everb.]
a ver. 14. with Heb. ix. 12. Rom. xv. 16.
MMCCCX. THE PERFECTION OF CHRIST'S SACRIFICE. Heb. x. 14–17. By one offering he hath perfected for ever
them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lorda, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
IT is a favourite sentiment with some, that we need not study any thing but the four Gospels, in order to attain a complete view of our holy religion. But whilst I acknowledge, that a person who studies the four Gospels may certainly learn the way of salvation from them, I must add, that his views of Christianity will of necessity be very imperfect, if he do not avail himself of the further light which is afforded him in the epistles. To what purpose has the Apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, written so argumentatively on the subject of justification by faith alone, if we do not derive from his statement a fuller knowledge of that fundamental doctrine, than we could have acquired without it? And who will say that he could have attained from the Gospels, or even from the Mosaic law itself, such clear views of the priestly office of Christ as are set before us in the Epistle to the Hebrews ? There the parallel between his and the Aaronic priesthood is drawn to our hands, and the superiority of his is pointed out with a fulness and precision which no uninspired man could ever have attained. The tabernacle in which the Levitical priests ministered was glorious; but Christ's was more glorious, being not made with hands, even his own sacred body. They
• If léyei Kóproç be translated, The Lord saith, the connexion with what follows will make the passage incomparably more clear.
were appointed to their office by a command; he, with an oath; they entered into a holy place on earth; he, into heaven itself; they, with the blood of beasts; he, with his own blood. Their sacrifices purified the patterns of heavenly things; his, the heavenly things themselves : theirs, legally, the flesh; his, really, the conscience. Their priests were only priests; he, a Priest to God, and a Testator to us. They offered often; he, only once: they stood; he sits: they offered for themselves first; he, for us only : they entered the vail to come forth again ; he, never to come forth till he shall come to judge the world : they obtained a temporary remission of some sins; he, an everlasting remission of all sin.
It is in this last view that his office is spoken of in the passage before us. The Aaronic priests offered often because their offerings could never take away sin : but he, “by his one offering, hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified: whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us.”
The peculiar solemnity with which his asseveration is here confirmed, even by an appeal to God himself, will lead me to consider, I. The truth attested
A more important truth than this can scarcely be conceived; it is, that Christ's one offering has done that which all the Levitical sacrifices never could have done; it has procured for all who trust in it a full and perfect and everlasting remission of all their sins. But,
Let us notice this truth as contrasted with the ordinances of the Mosaic law
[The Levitical sacrifices were renewed from year to year, because of their inefficiency: but Christ's was offered only once, because it completely answered every end for which it was designed. The Levitical sacrifices perfected no man, either as to his acceptance before God, or as to the peace of his own soul : as far as they had any efficacy, they prevailed only for a year; and then must be repeated, in order to obtain a further remission: but Christ's sacrifice rendered men perfect, both before God and in their own consciences. God was so satisfied with it, that he has nothing more to demand at the hands of those who trust in it: He considers it as a full discharge of all that the law requires of us, and a full price for all that our souls can need either in time or eternity. And the sinner who looks to it may well be satisfied, since God himself is satisfied, and all the demands of law and justice are satisfied. Thus, all who are " sanctified” to the service of their God, whatever their past sins may have been, are perfected, and that for ever: sins of the deepest die are purged by this sacrifice; and “ all who believe in it, are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses."] In this view, what a glorious truth it is!
[How honourable to Christ! how consoling to us! As it respects the Lord Jesus Christ, it shews how completely he has effected all which he came into the world to do. “He has made an end of sin, and made reconciliation for iniquity;" and “obtained eternal redemption for us." Nothing is wanting to complete his work : his one offering has effected all. As it respects us, we have in Christ's sacrifice all that we can desire. When once we recollect who he is, not man only, but God manifest in the flesh: when we recollect the covenant-engagements entered into between his Father and him; he on his part undertaking to make atonement for sin; and the Father undertaking to accept it in our behalf: when we recollect that he has been raised from the dead in proof of his having fulfilled all his engagements; and that he is now invested with all power in heaven and in earth to impart to sinners the blessings he has purchased for them: what can we want more? The soul acquiesces in this mysterious appointment, and confidently relies upon it, assured, that, if salvation is not to be found in him, it is not to be found at all.]
This truth being attested by the Holy Ghost, let us consider, II. The testimony adduced
The witness to this truth is no other than “ the Holy Ghost”
["' All Scripture is given by inspiration of God:” and whether the writers of it were Prophets or Apostles, “they all spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." Throughout the whole Scripture, too, that Divine Spirit has one great object, which is, to testify of Christ. By the prophets he testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and of the glory that should follow. Indeed, “ the testimony of Jesus was the spirit of prophecy” throughoutb, and in this light we should
6 Rev. xix. 10.