« AnteriorContinuar »
by the fire of his wrath, who should not be interested in this atonement. But the words before us reflect a light on this ordinance, which it is of great importance to observe. The burning of the whole of these sacrifices shewed that no legal services whatever could entitle a person to partake of them : not even the high-priest himself, who carried their blood within the vail, had any privilege beyond the poorest and meanest of the people. They could obtain an interest in them only by faith ; nor could he taste of them in any other way: though his services were the most sacred, and his access to God far more intimate than any other person, or even he himself at any other period, could enjoy, yet had he no more part in this atonement than every other person might have by the exercise of faith : and consequently they, who, under the Christian dispensation, should trust in the sacrifice of Christ, would participate the benefits, from which the high-priest himself should be excluded, if he rested in the outward services without looking through them to the great, the true atonement.]
Agreeably to this typical ordinance, our Lord suffered without the gate of Jerusalem
[The death of Christ was that which the annual sacrifices typically represented. He died for sin, and, after he had offered himself upon the cross, entered into heaven itself with his own blood, there to present it before the Father on our behalf: and it was by this means that he " sanctified," or consecrated to himself, a peculiar people, who should for ever enjoy the virtue of his atonement ---- But, in order that his death might produce the full effect, it was necessary that it should be conformed in every respect to the ordinances whereby it had been prefigured : hence it was accomplished “ without the gate" of Jerusalem ; so strictly did it accord with the most minute particulars that had been before determined in the Divine counsels.
Whether there was any mystery couched under this event, we cannot absolutely determine. We should not indeed have discerned perhaps any thing particular in it, if light had not been thrown upon it by an inspired writer. But, as we are certain that this event was a completion of the pre-existing ordinance, it is not improbable that it might have some further signification. While it shews us to what a degree “ Christ became a curse for us,” it may also intimate, that the virtue of his sacrifice was not to be confined to those who were within the pale of the Jewish Church, but rather to extend to those who were without it, even to the whole Gentile world.]
The exhortation, which the Apostle grounds upon these circumstances, leads us to point out,
II. The conformity which Christians also are to bear,
both to the law and to him who fulfilled itDoubtless, every thing which Christ has done for us, entails on us an obligation to conform ourselves to his mind and will. But the circumstances before considered, SUGGEST
to us some appropriate and important duties1. We must renounce all legal hopes, that we may depend on Christ
[The particular injunction to go forth to Christ without the camp, intimates, that we must turn our back upon all the legal services, and trust alone in that sacrifice which he offered without the gate. The importance of this observation would be more strongly felt by an Hebrew convert, who was assailed with arguments respecting the obligations of the Mosaic law, But it is, in reality, no less important to us: for, if we do not trust in the blood of bulls and goats, we are ever ready to substitute something in the place of Jesus, as the ground of our confidence. But services, of whatever kind, whether ceremonial or moral, must be renounced in point of dependence. They must not even be blended in any degree with the atonement of Christ, as though the performance of them could procure us an interest in this. We must be “justified by his blood,” and by that alone. If St. Paul himself desired to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness", much more must we. Let us remember then what, not the Gospel only, but even the law itself, speaks to us on this subject; and let us look for a participation in the great Sacrifice, not for, or by our works, but by faith only.]
2. We must forsake all worldly lusts, that we may walk with Christ
[What a perfect deadness to the world did Jesus manifest, when he went forth to the place of execution, giving up himself to that accursed death, from which he could have been so easily delivered! But the world had nothing that could fascinate him : its cares, its pleasures, its honours, its society, were all alike indifferent to him: He had one only wish, to fulfil his Father's will, and finish the work he had been commissioned to perform. In turning his back on that devoted city, he felt no regret, except indeed for the blindness and hardness of the people's hearts. Thus must we come out
c Phil. ii. 9.
of the world which lieth in wickedness : we must be "crucified to the world, and the world must be crucified to usd.” “ All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life," must be abandoned as objects of indifference, as objects of abhorrence. The things that are dearest to flesh and blood, if they stand at all in competition with Christ, are to be hated and forsaken. Our former companions, if they will not travel with us in the heavenly road, are to be left behind; for “what communion hath light with darkness, or a believer with an unbeliever? Wherefore, saith God, come out from among them, and be separate.” Even father and mother, and wife and children, yea, and our own lives also, are to be of no account with us', if they interfere with our duty to God, or retard the execution of his commands.]
3. We must submit to all indignities, that we may resemble Christ-
[This is the principal point to which the text refers. Jesus, when carrying his cross from the city to Mount Calvary, was an object of universal execration. Thus, in a measure, must we also be, if we will be his disciples. The world will hate, revile, and persecute us, as soon as ever we become his faithful adherents. “If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, so will they those of his household.” But we must not be deterred from our duty by these things: we must “ follow our Lord without the camp, not only bearing his reproach,” but esteeming it our riches, and rejoicing that we are counted worthy to suffer shame for his sakeh. He has told us beforehand, that "in the world we shall have tribulation," and that, in proof of our attachment to him, we must “take up our cross daily and follow him.” Expecting this therefore, we must “count the cost;" that, if we be treated “ as the filth of the world and the off-scouring of all things," we may, like him, “ endure the cross and despise the shamei." Nor should it ever seem hard to us to go in the path which he has trodden before us. On the contrary, to be conformed to him should be our highest ambition : "for if we suffer with him for a time, we shall reign also with himk” in glory for evermore.]
Heb. xiii. 14. Here have we no continuing city; but we seek
one to come. ACCUSTOMED as we are to expect a future state of existence, we scarcely ever reflect on the source from which we have attained the knowledge of such a state. It was not from reason that we derived it; for the wisest philosophers of Greece and Rome could arrive at no certainty respecting it: it is “ the Gospel which has brought life and immortality to light," and has thereby given us an unerring standard, by which to try every occurrence, of whatever kind. From a view of eternity, we learn neither to indulge undue complacency in what is gratifying to our feelings, nor, on the other hand, to yield to dejection under the pressure of what is painful. We learn simply to approve ourselves to God; and to look for his approbation in a future world, as a recompence for all that we can either do or suffer for him in this present life. This thought reconciled the Apostle to shame and reproach for his Redeemer's sake; for he knew that “ here he had no continuing city : but he sought one to come;" and regarded the possession of that as an ample reward for all that man could inflict upon him.
The words before us will lead me to shew,
[If any thing could have been expected to continue, it would have been the city of Jerusalem : because it was, beyond all others in the universe, " the city of God," and because « its foundations were like the great mountains.” But that was soon to be destroyed, so that not one stone should remain upon another that should not be thrown down: and, with the city, the whole civil and religious polity of the nation should be dissolved. Thus it had been with the great empires which had successively been established in Chaldea, Persia, and Greece: and thus, in due season, it should be with Rome also, though it was now the mistress of the world. Even this globe itself, and all which it contains, shall ere long be burnt up with fire, and utterly dissolved; so that nothing under the sun can be considered as of abiding continuance.]
This is a matter of daily experience to us all
[We may know but little either of history or prophecy ; but who does not with his own eyes behold the transitory nature of every thing around him? The seasons come, and pass away; and in like manner the generations of men vanish from the earth in quick succession. It was but the other day, and those who are now in the meridian of life were children : and in a few more days they will be swept away, to make room for others who shall hereafter arise. Since the beginning of the present year, how many have been removed into the eternal world! and before the expiration of another year, how many, who are now in health, will be taken to their long home! Truly, we are like the shadow of a cloud sweeping over the plain ; and soon shall vanish, to be seen no more.]
This will account for,
(God himself has prepared it for bim: yea, God himself has built it: and its foundations are laid so deep, that nothing can ever shake thema. To that city the Christian is already so far come, that he is entitled to all its privileges; and has, in a state of actual preparation for him, a mansion, in which he is to dwell for ever. In comparison of that city, all earthly edifices are unworthy of a thought. Not only are its walls and its foundations inconceivably superior to all that man can construct, but the very light that lightens it is altogether different: for, instead of needing the rays “ of the sun or of the moon, the glory of God does lighten it, and the Lamb is the. light thereof."]
To this he constantly directs his steps
[He is careful to inquire his way thither, and to prosecute his journey towards it every day he lives. Like the Patriarchs, he considers himself as a pilgrim and sojourner here: and, like them, whatever difficulties he meets with in the way, he presses forward, determining not to turn aside, or stop, till he has arrived within its gatesd. He looks to it as the rest that
a Heb. xi, 10, 16.
b Heb. xii. 22. with John xiv. 2, 3.