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further than they looked through those sacrifices to Christ. How then can they derive any benefit from Christ, whom they pertinaciously reject? Conceive, for a moment, what they who partook of the Jewish altar professed. They professed, that they were sinners, deserving of God's righteous indignation : that they desired reconciliation with their offended God (for “ they must bring their offerings with their own hands8"): they must also “ lay their hands upon the head of their sacrifice," to shew that they transferred their guilt to him. It was in the due observance of these rites that they became partakers of the altar: and if they had neglected their duty in these respects, they would have derived no benefit from the altar, or from the sacrifices that were offered upon it. Now these are the very things which are to be done by us under the New Testament dispensation. We must view the Lord Jesus Christ as the appointed Sacrifice; and bring him to the altar, and transfer our sins to his sacred head, and found all our hopes of acceptance on him alone: but this is what a Jew, who is yet resting on the observance of his legal ceremonies, can never do; and, consequently, he can never, whilst continuing in his error, partake of the benefits of the Gospel salvation. Our blessed Lord has declared this in the plainest terms: “ If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins."]
Seeing, then, that we Christians exclusively enjoy this high privilege, let us contemplate, II. The duties arising from it
In fact, this is the proper foundation of all our duties : for, though it is true that we are bound to serve God as our Creator, yet, under the Christian dispensation, we should receive a still higher impulse from all the wonders of redemption : “ Being bought with a price, we should glorify God with our bodies and our spirits, which are hisi.” But, to speak more particularly: have we access to this altar ? 1. Let us live upon that altar
[The priests subsisted altogether on the provisions which were derived from the altar. Now we all, if we believe in Christ, are “ kings and priests unto God;" there is no difference in this respect between male and female; all are " a royal priesthood;" and all are entitled equally to a full participation of the Redeemer's sacrifice: “ The life which we now
8 Lev. vii. 29, 30.
. Lev. iv. 4, 15, 24, 33.
i 1 Cor. vi. 20. live in the flesh, we are to live altogether by faith in the Son of God, who has loved us, and given himself for usk.” There must be no depending on our works. Whilst living upon Christ, we must “ shew forth our faith by our works;" but our works must proceed from life already received, and by strength derived from Christ. It is from life, and not for life, that all our works must be performed.] 2. Let us present all our offerings upon it,
[There was not any thing presented to God, except the first-fruits', without a memorial of it being burnt upon the altar. The part which was there consumed was God's share; of which he, as it were, partook with the offerer : from whence it is called “ the food of the offering made by fire unto the Lordm.” Now, whatever we have to offer unto God, our prayers, our praises, our alms", our whole selves', we must lay it upon that altar. Never can it ascend up to God as a sweet savour, unless it be laid upon Christ, and ascend from him inflamed with fire that came down from heaven. “ It is the altar that sanctifies our every gift p :" and hence St. Peter gives us this plain direction; " To whom coming," that is, coming to Christ as “ the living foundation-stone" of God's spiritual temple, " ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ?." O! let us ever remember, that neither our persons nor our services can ever be accepted of God in any other way than this.]
3. Let us invite the whole world to a participation of it,
[There is no bar to our admission to it, but unbelief. The very murderers of our Lord were invited to accept the benefits of our Lord's sacrifice. It matters not whether we have been Jews or Gentiles; if only we come to Christ, we shall find acceptance through him: for he has told us that “ none shall ever be cast out who come unto God by him." Let us proclaim this to the very ends of the earth, that “from the rising of the sun, even to the going down of the same, God's name may be great among the Gentiles; that in every place incense may be offered to him, and a pure offering";" and that " all flesh may see the salvation of God."] Let me now ADDRESS a few words,
1. To those who place an undue reliance on these advantagesk Gal. i. 20.
i Lev. ii. 12.
m Lev, iii. 11. n ver. 15, 16.
o Rom. xii. 1. p Matt. xxii. 19. 9 1 Pet. ii. 4, 5. r Mal. i. 11.
s Luke üïi. 6.
[Many imagine, that because “ they have access to God through Christ," they shall, of necessity, find acceptance with God. But there must be a suitableness in the sacrifices which we offer to him. What if men had offered to God “the torn, the lame, the sick; would God have accepted it at their hands u?" No: nor will he accept us, if we do not offer to him such sacrifices as he demands: they must be "holy, if we would have them acceptable." There must be in us a penitent and contrite spirity: and if this be wanting, our every sacrifice will be abhorred: “ He that killeth an ox, will be as if he slew a man; and he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; and he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's bloodz." Let us then examine well our motives, our principles, our manner of drawing nigh to God; that He who searcheth the heart, and to whom the inmost recesses of it are “open a,” may approve of us as “ Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile."]
2. To those who are endeavouring to improve them aright
[I have said that your offerings must be holy. But be ye not therefore discouraged; as though you, on account of your imperfections, could never find acceptance with God: for “God knows whereof you are made, and remembers that you are but dust:” and, as under the law, if a man were poor, and unable to bring a lamb for a trespass-offering, God permitted him to bring two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons, " such as he could get,” (repeating it no less than four times, that he might bring such as he could get";) yea, if for a free-will offering he condescended to accept even “ leavened bread," and a mutilated beast', say, who amongst you needs to be discouraged? Nay, I will even ask, who amongst you has sincerely, however imperfectly, offered himself up to God, and not found some token of his acceptance, and some manifestations of his love, in his own soul? "Doubtless, as the Levites, when dedicating themselves to the Lord, were first sprinkled with the water of purifying, and then shaved their flesh, and washed their clothes, and then offered their sacrifice; so should you, as far as possible, put off the old man, and put on the new, whilst you are coming to Christ for pardon and acceptance: but, for real efficiency in holiness, this mode must be reversed: you must
t Eph. iii. 18. u Mal. i. 13, 14., . * Rom. xii. 1. y Ps. li. 17.
2 Isai. lxvi. 2, 3. & Heb.iv. 13. retpaxnalouéva. The sacrifices were not only flayed, but cut down the back-bone, to be inspected. b Lev. xiv. 22, 30–32.
Lev. vii. 13. d Lev. xxii. 21.-23. , . e Numb, viii. 7, 8, 21.
first lay hold on his promises of mercy, and then “ cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of God?.” Nevertheless, I still ask, have you not found God ever ready to hear and to accept your prayers? It is remarkable, that though a peace-offering was to be eaten on the day that it was presented, yet, if it were offered as a free-will offering in consequence of a vow, it might be feasted upon by the offerer both on that day and on the day following; though by no means on the third day. So I will ask, whether the savour of your religious exercises has not often abode upon your soul long after the hour in which they were presented unto God? If it continue not a third day, it is to teach you, that you are not to live upon your frames and feelings, but to be continually presenting yourselves to God afresh. Take ye then this encouragement from the Lord; and let the fire never go out upon your altar, and the altar never want a sacrifice to ascend up with an odour of a sweet smell before your God h.]
THE BURNI-SACRIFICES TYPICAL OF christ. Heb. xiï. 11–13. The bodies of those beasts, whose blood is
brought into the sanctuary by the high-priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
SUCH is the proneness of men to superstition, that they need to watch with care, lest, after having once shaken off its fetters, they be again subjected to its dominion. The Hebrew Christians in particular were liable to be drawn aside from the simplicity of the Gospel : their fond attachment to the law of Moses, seconded by the subtle arguments of Judaizing teachers, exposed them to continual danger. Hence the inspired author of this epistle cautioned them against returning to their former bondage. And, lest they should be led to think, that by renouncing the law of Moses, they deprived themselves of the blessings
which were procured by their sacrifices, he tells them, that this was by no means the case; yea, that, on the contrary, they were partakers of a better altar, to which the adherents to Judaism had no access; and that the very ordinances, in which the Jews trusted, pointed out this truth in a clear and convincing manner; for not even the high-priest himself was permitted to eat of the sacrifices whose blood he had carried within the vail; whereas every true Christian was permitted to eat of that sacrifice which alone could atone for sin; and therefore, so far from there being any necessity for them to revert to Judaism in order to partake of the Jewish sacrifices, the Jews themselves must be converted to Christianity in order to obtain the full benefit even of those sacrifices which they themselves had offered".
To illustrate this more fully, we shall point out, I. The correspondence between the death of Christ,
and the ordinances whereby it was prefiguredThe most minute particulars of the death of Christ were typified under the law: but we shall fix our attention at present on that only which is specified in the text.
The sacrifices on the great day of annual expiation were to be burnt without the camp
[The sacrifices on the great day of atonement were distinguished far above all others, and accompanied with circumstances of peculiar solemnity. Their blood was carried within the vail, and sprinkled upon the mercy-seat, as the means of propitiating the incensed Deity, and of obtaining pardon for the sins committed by the whole nation through the preceding year. A part of most other sacrifices belonged to the priest who offered them: but of this not the smallest portion was to be preserved for the use of man: all, except the fat which was consumed upon the altar, was carried without the camp in later ages, without the city of Jerusalem) to be destroyed by fireb. Probably this was intended to exhibit God's indignation against sin, and to shew how utterly they must be consumed
a This seems to be the true scope of the passage as connected with the context.
b Lev. vi. 30. and xvi. 27.