Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

anxiously-expected Messiah-in all these rites? - Possibly not; and there is no more reason to require that the types of Scripture should be clearly comprehended prior to their fulfilment, than that the prophecies of Scripture should be perfectly understood before their accomplishment. It is sufficient to know that the ceremonial law was intended, not only to be efficacious through Christ, but to lead men to Christ, and to keep alive in the world a continual expectation of, and looking forward to, Him whom all these things were designed to prefigure and to represent. And it did preserve this expectation. David spoke of Christ, as if already present. The prophets saw him, as if already come; and many, no doubt, were the devout men, who, from age to age, were anxiously and eagerly "waiting for redemption in Jerusalem "."

1

If we ask, then, what is the reason of this marked distinction between the Mo

1 St. Luke ii. 38.

K

saic and the Christian dispensations? why the one should be unfettered and free, yet the other burdened with a tedious and expensive ritual and a long train of ceremonial observances? or, in the words of the apostle, Wherefore serveth the law? We answer with the same apostle : It was added because of transgression. - Not, as I understand the passage, because of the transgression of the Jews, nor to punish their disobedience; for it was not till afterwards that they became disobedient and rebellious; but, because of the transgressions of all mankind; because of the vast spread of idolatry, superstition, and wickedness, which covered the whole face of the earth, as the waters cover the sea. It was added as a safeguard and preservative against contagion; to provide an immediate remedy for the sins of one chosen people; to keep alive some sparks of Divine truth, and prepare the way for the acceptance of that universal redemption which should be offered unto every creature through Christ; and to be a

shadow of good things to come, an anticipation of the brighter glories of the Christian dispensation.

The law of ceremonies, therefore, is taken away-rendered unnecessary by that more complete expiation-abolished by that more effectual atonement-eclipsed by that more shining light, which accompanied the Christian covenant of reconciliation. But that law of righteousness, written with the finger, proclaimed by the voice of God himself, abides for ever. It remains to be a perpetual memorial against transgression. This law is not abolished by Christ, it has not even been weakened by his coming; rather, confirmed, and strengthened, and ratified. Our obligations to observe and do it are increased; while at the same time he extends the efficacy of his own all-perfect holiness, and all-powerful intercession, and all-atoning sacrifice, to those who embrace his mediation with faith, who come to him in repentance and contrition, who strive, by the assistance of his Holy Spirit, to walk with him in light. If we

reject his mediation, and despise his intervention—if, in the pride of human self-sufficiency, we rush into the presence of God, confiding in our own merits, trusting in our own works-if we demand our trial by the law; by the law we shall be judged. And who among the sons of men can abide that judgment? Who can undergo that trial? Who can stand before the terrors of that tribunal? Who shall presume to step within that awful fence which circles round the majesty of the Eternal; and dare to encounter, face to face, the Lord of Righteousness upon his own most holy ground? Israel could not endure steadfastly to behold the face of Moses, the minister of the law, for the glory of his countenance: how much more shall we fear to meet the Giver of the law himself, when he shows us the full effulgence of his glory, in all its exterminating power?

Let us then turn to the blessed hope which is given, and embrace the repeated

1 Exod. xix. 12.

Let us

offers of mercy held out to us. approach the throne of grace, not pleading our own righteousness, but the forgiveness of our unrighteousness, for the sake of him who came to purchase salvation for the penitent. Let us labour diligently to keep the sacred law of God; to be pure as he is pure; perfect as he is perfect; holy as he is holy. Yet ever mindful of our own infirmity, ever conscious of our own weakness, ever sensible of the utter unworthiness even of our best, and purest, and holiest deeds, let us implore that grace which cometh from above to supply our deficiences, and strengthen our resolutions; and, having done all, having fought our fight, and run our race, and wrought out our salvation with fear and trembling, prostrate at the throne of mercy, let us acknowledge that, in all our obedience, it was God that worked in us, and let us seek our justification only in the blood, and the merits, and the mediation of Christ Jesus our Lord.

« ForrigeFortsæt »