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other retreat, and the latter to command respect for the character of that distinguished individual whose dissolution was of such account, and to add interest to the loss which the nation would sustain at his death. It would rather seem, however, that this connecting the safety of the fugitive with the most religious cities in the commonwealth, and particularly with the decease of him who was at the head of them all, was designed to prefigure the refuge for sinners from the wrath of God, and the dependence it has on the death of him of whom the high priest himself was a type,
Such, moreover, seems to be taught by the words of the Apostle, Heb. vi. 17, 18, where, speaking of the strong consolation believers have from the oath and promise of God, he describes them as having “Aed for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before them;" and again, when writing to the Philippians, iii. 9, expresses it as his great concern to be found in Christ, which seems to be an allusion to the anxiety of the man-slayer to be found in one of the cities of refuge.
Taking these considerations, then, as sufficient to establish the claims of this institution to the character of a type, let us now proceed to inquire in what respects it was so intended. It appears, first, in the character of the institution itself; and second, in some of the circumstances connected with the enjoyment of its advantages.
I. In the character of the institution itself.
1. It was designed to facilitate, and not to defeat, the ends of justice. The person by whom blood had been shed did not find this an indiscriminate refuge, at least as to its continuance, but only an asylum until his case should be fairly inquired into, with a view to future proceedings; and if, upon examination, it should be found that he was verily guilty of blood, then nothing could screen him, but he was to be put to death by the very persons by whom he had for a time been protected. Thus a regard to justice and integrity was maintained in connection with a due allowance for the infirmities of human nature.
So far as the possible innocency of the refugee was concerned, our case, with regard to the Gospel refuge, bears no analogy to his; for we are guilty, and the stricter the inquiry that is instituted the more fully will our crimes appear. But the grand truth which it seems to have been the design of this institution to set forththe equity of the Divine proceedings in regard to us-is one which cannot be too deeply impressed on the mind; for nothing is more common than for men to lose sight of Divine justice in the expectation of Divine mercy. God, however, is a just God, as well as a Saviour. * It was by magnifying the law, and making it honourable, that Christ redeemed his people; † and hence “ his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past is declared through the forbearance of God.” I And now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets : “ Even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and
• Isa. xlv. 21. † Isa. xlii. 21. Rom. iii. 25,
upon all them that believe.”* In the sufferings and death of the Son of God all the Divine attributes are harmonized; and hence the glorious proclamation is made, “ There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”* This institution taught,
2. That our spiritual safety can only be obtained in one divinely-appointed way, and in compliance with certain specified conditions and arrangements.
The distance between the place in which a man might happen to be slain and a city of refuge was no doubt, in many instances, great, and numerous were the dangers and difficulties to be encountered before a secure retreat could be found. In such cases, the person who had endangered his life might probably think the security should have been made more eligible, and the conditions less strict; nor might he be able to see why one place was singled out for an asylum rather than another, yet to that one he must come, nor was he safe any longer than he continued within its walls. This must remind us how the natural disposition of man to choose a refuge for himself, and his ignorance of the character of God and of his duty, often leads him to wonder that salvation can be found in no other way than that in which we are taught to expect it; but as the absolute necessity existed in the one case, so it does in the other. There is, however, one difference between the * Rom. iii. 22,
† Rom. viii. 1.
cities of refuge and Christ, which must be carefully noticed. The appointment of the former partook very much of an arbitrary character. Those places appear to have had no means of defence which were not to be found in others perhaps nearer to the individuals who might be desirous of gaining an entrance in them; nor was there any cause, except the Divine will, why this honour should be conferred on some cities more than others. The appointment, which makes our salvation depend upon Christ, however, is not entirely or chiefly of an arbitrary character, for there is that in his person, the relation to God which he sustains, and the merits of his work and sufferings, which possesses peculiar efficacy, and constitutes a consideration equal to the demands of Divine justice. “ It became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
3. That the salvation which God has provided for us is not to be enjoyed apart from our own efforts, but in connection with them, and in such a way as to make us set the highest possible value on the blessing.
In order to maintain that peculiarity of his conduct in which he adapts his dealings with his creatures to their nature and capacity, God does not often preserve them by miracle, but having given them a rational and intelligent nature, and made each capable of using exertions for securing his own safety and defending
* Heb. ii. 10.
himself, He saves all through the use of means and their own instrumentality. Thus, in the instance before us, the person whose life was sought was not allowed to dispense with his own efforts in making his escape ; but advantage was taken of the fear and dread which would naturally follow any one who had shed blood in such circumstances to induce him to fly to a place of safety.
In like manner the salvation procured for us by the death of Christ, might have been secured without
solicitude on our part; but we are saved, as rational, intelligent beings, and there are certain conditions with which we must comply, or perish by the hand of Divine Justice.
This institution taught,
4. The settled and permanent security that is afforded to us in Christ.
It was not to the care of a single individual, or a few persons, that the refugee committed himself, or to a house, or castle, however well fortified; but he fled to a city, defended and organized, and possessing all the comforts and conveniences which were to be found in such a place, nor was there any kind of unnecessary restriction laid on him.
Like this, the refuge to which sinners are to fly is characterized by every feature expressive of security and peace.
Christ is a rock-a stronghold. It is in vain the wrath of God seeks to intrude upon our retreat here; nor need any fear be entertained of the safety and comfort arising from the decay of the refuge itself, for Christ has declared “They shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.”