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regard all that the prophets have written. We should consider their words, not merely as the words of the Holy Ghost, but as a testimony given by the Holy Ghost, in order to shew us what we should believe respecting the Lord Jesus, and to increase our faith in him. And, whatever his testimony be, we should give the most implicit credit to it, adoring him for his wonderful goodness in thus condescending to teach the inquiring, and to confirm the doubting, soul. On this occasion] His testimony is most convincing
[The passage cited by the Apostle, is taken from the prophecies of Jeremiaho. He has before cited it in a preceding chapter d. There it is adduced more at length, in order to shew that the Jews under the Mosaic dispensation were taught to look forward to a new covenant, and to regard their own as waxing old. In the passage before us, a smaller portion of it only is adduced, in order to mark in a peculiar manner the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Its force will be best seen by contrasting it with the provisions made for the forgiveness of sin under the Mosaic dispensation. There was no actual forgiveness of sins obtained by the sacrifices which the law prescribed: they were pardoned, so to speak, for a year only; at the expiration of which time, the same sacrifices were to be again offered, in order to the obtaining of a protracted pardon. Thus the very sacrifices which were offered for sin, were rather a remembrance of sins than a real expiation of them; so that the conscience of the sinner was never relieved from a sense of guilt, and never brought to the enjoyment of solid peace. But, under that very dispensation, the Holy Ghost testified, that provision was made by the new covenant, for the full and everlasting remission of all sin, since God expressly engaged, “ Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more:” and consequently no further sacrifice was wanted to be offered for them. This testimony comes exactly to the point. The Aaronic priests repeated annually the same sacrifices; because the sins for which they were offered, were still kept in remembrance by God: but, in consequence of the offering which Christ has made, the sins of those who believe in him shall “ never be remembered :” and consequently, without any repetition of his sacrifice, his people are a perfected for ever," being brought into perfect peace with God, and perfect peace in their own consciences.] Hence we see, 1. How amply the Scripture testifies of Christ !
• Jer. xxxi. 31–34. Heb. viii. 8—12.
consequent believe in her which Chance by
[It is not merely of his Messiahship that the prophets speak: they enter fully into every part of his character, and work, and offices. There is not any thing which we are concerned to know respecting him, which is not revealed in the Old Testament. The revelation of him is indeed less clear than in the New Testament, but not a whit less glorious. When the true sense of the different passages is ascertained, there will be found truths, of which the superficial reader has no conception.
Our blessed Lord says, “ Search the Scriptures; for they are they that testify of me.” And if we would fulfil that duty with care and diligence, and with earnest prayer to God for the teachings of his Spirit, we should find in the Scriptures an inexhaustible mine of wealth, and be enriched by them with all “ the unsearchable riches of Christe."]
2. What loss they sustain who receive not its testimony !
[It is a lamentable fact, that the generality of Christians are looking out for some other offering to present to God, in order to effect their reconciliation with him. Every considerate person will sometimes put this question to himself, “ Wherewith shall I come before the Lord ?" And the ignorant conceit of Balak is that which then presents itself to his mind; “Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old ? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or ten thousands of rivers of oil ? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul ?" But if men read even the Jewish Scriptures with attention, they might see how erroneous such views were, and how vain such hopes. They would see that the new covenant, which has been ratified by the blood of Christ, prescribes a very different method of acceptance with God: they would see that the one offering of Christ is a sufficient propitiation for the sins of the whole world, and that all attempts to add to it are vain. Dear brethren, believe, I pray you, the witness of the Holy Ghost on this all-important subject. “ Make not God himself a liar," as St. John expresses it, by denying or doubting this record. Be assured that he will not deceive you. If this were the testimony of a fallible man, you might well question it: but when Prophets and Apostles, all inspired by the Holy Ghost, concur in it, you should embrace it with your whole hearts, and rely upon it with your whole souls.]
3. How exalted are the privileges of every true believer!
e Prov. ii. 1-6.
[All who are interested in the one offering of Christ upon the cross, are “ perfected for ever.” God has cast all their sins behind his back into the very depths of the sea. He has not only forgiven, but, if I may so speak, has forgotten, all their sins. They are blotted out as a morning cloud. True it is, that they still need the application of the same blood to their consciences, because they are yet compassed with infirmities, so that even their holy things need to be cleansed from the iniquity that cleaveth to them. They are like persons who have been washed in a bath; they are clean every whit; yet need they to wash their feet, because they contract defilement in walking even from the bath? But as to all their former sins, they are altogether blotted out of the book of God's remembrance. Yet let it not therefore be supposed that they should be forgotten by us. No: they should be ever before us as a ground of humiliation, though not as a ground of fear: and the more assured we are that God is pacified towards us, the more should we lothe ourselves; and pant the more to “be sanctified wholly, in body, soul, and spirit."]
* John xiii. 8—10.
MMCCCXI. THE WAY OF ACCESS TO GOD THROUGH THE VAIL. Heb. x. 19-22. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter
into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh; and having an High-priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
MAN, by the fall, lost that intercourse with God which he had maintained in his state of innocence. The intent of Christianity is to restore him to the enjoyment of his privilege. Hence the inspired writers urge the great doctrines of the Gospel, not merely as truths which are to be believed, but as motives which are to animate and direct our conduct. The author of this epistle has set forth at large the correspondence between our blessed Lord, and the typical representations which were given of him under the Mosaic law. He now proceeds to the practical improvement of his subject. In the words before us he opens, I. The grounds of our access to God
They who are ignorant of their own extreme guilt and helplessness, imagine, that they can come to God without any mediator. But the Scriptures uniformly declare that the way of access to him is, 1. Through the atonement,
[The original way of access to God by the covenant of works was shut up for ever upon the first transgression. Nor does that typical way which was appointed under the law continue any longer. There is “ a new way" now opened to us through the vail. The human nature of Christ was represented by the vail of the temple. At the very instant that his body expired upon the cross, the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. That being the precise time of the evening sacrifice, all the worshippers in the temple had a perfect view of the holy of holies. Thus an intimation was given to them, that, by the rending of Christ's body, the way into the most holy place was opened indiscriminately to all. As the high-priest went into the typical sanctuary with the blood of the sacrifice, so might all from henceforth go into the very heaven of heavens, as it were, with the blood of Jesus. This way was now "consecrated for them" by Jesus himself. It was a new way, not only because it was different from that which had existed before, but because it should never wax old or vanish as the other had doneb. And it was a living way, because, while the former way prohibited access to all, except the high-priest, under the penalty of death, this infallibly imparts life to all who come to God in it.] 2. Through the intercession of Christ
[The Church of God is that "house" which the temple of Solomon prefigured. In it God dwells in a more immediate manner than he ever did by the Shechinah upon the mercyseat. Christ, as the great High-priest, presides over this house. He is gone with his own blood into the holy of holies a. He is there sprinkling it on our behalf in the presence of his heavenly Father. There also is He offering the incense of his continual intercession. Under the law, the hopes of the Israelites were founded on the intercession of their high-priest. In vain was the sacrifice killed, if its blood was not carried within the vail: and in vain would it be carried thither, if it were not sprinkled before the mercy-seat, and accompanied with the clouds of incense. Thus not even the death of Christ is, of itself, a sufficient warrant for us to draw nigh to God. But his intercession added to it gives us boldness, and access with confidence. We may go to God upon this ground as to a reconciled father. Nor need any sinner whatever deem himself too unworthy to approach his throne. All are now constituted priests unto God? And all who bring the blood of Christ with them, and rely on his prevailing intercession, shall surely find acceptance with him.]
a Matt. xxvii. 51. c 2 Cor. vi. 16.
5 Heb, viii. 13. d Heb. ix. 12.
There is however something further which the worshippers of God must attend to, namely, II. The manner in which we should approach him
Christians are not to go to God with a rude and inconsiderate familiarity. They should consider the majesty of Him before whom they come; and should draw near to him with,
A sincere heart,
[To go before God and declare things which we neither feel nor believe, is to mock and insult him. If our confessions be without humility, our petitions without fervour, and our thanksgivings without gratitude, how is it possible that God should hear us? If we draw nigh to him with our lips while our hearts are far from him, we worship him in vain. To have imbibed true notions, is not sufficient. God requires truth in our inward partsh. And they alone can worship him acceptably, who worship him in spirit and in truth'.] An assured faith
[When we go to God in prayer, we should not doubt whether He be willing to accept us. We should be thoroughly persuaded that “ Christ is the way, the truth, and the life k," and that he will save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him. To be assured of our own personal interest in him is not necessary. But we should have the most assured belief of the sufficiency of his atonement and intercession. Nor should we limit his power and grace under an idea of our own unworthiness. To ask with a doubtful mind, is to cast a reflection upon him at the very time that we are imploring his favour. And we are warned by God himself that such wavering petitions never shall prevail'.]
e Heb. vii. 25.
f1 Pet. ii. 9. Rev. i. 6.
& Matt. xv. 8, 9.