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High-priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faitht.” Let us then inake this improvement of the subject ; so shall we, each in his appointed order, appear before God for ourselves, and dwell in his immediate presence for ever and ever.]
t Heb. ix. 19, 21, 22.
MMCCCVI. CHRIST'S APPEARANCE TO TAKE AWAY SIN. Heb. ix. 26. Now once, in the end of the world, hath he
appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. To obtain a just knowledge of the Gospel, we should view it in its connexion with the law; partly, in a way of comparison; and partly, in a way of contrast. From the comparison, we shall ascertain its nature: from the contrast, we shall learn its excellency. Compare it with the law; and you will find that it agrees with the law, as the seal with the impression on the wax: there is not the smallest feature in the law, to which there will not be found a corresponding lineament in the Gospel. But there are in the Gospel points which the law could by no means exhibit. Its priests were men, who needed first to offer for themselves. They officiated in an earthly tabernacle ; and presented only beasts, for offerings; and presented them often, on account of their inefficacy to expiate the sins of men. But the High-priest under the Gospel is no other than God himself; who, having assumed our nature, offered his own body, once for all; and is entered into heaven itself, there to carry on and perfect his work for all who come to God through him. It is in this view that the Lord Jesus Christ is spoken of in the passage before us.
He is contrasted with the priests under the law, as “ not having entered, like them, into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us :" and as “ not offering himself often, as the high-priest entered into the holy place every year, with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world. But now once, in the end of the world, hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
From these words I shall take occasion to shew, I. The insufficiency of the Mosaic sacrifices
By “the end of the world,” we are to understand, the end of the Mosaic dispensation“. During that period, sacrifices were offered. But they were insufficient for the removal of sin.
1. They had not in themselves any suitableness to that end
[What virtue could there be in the blood of bulls and of goats ? “ It was not possible for them to take away sin b."] 2. They were not ordained of God for that end
[They were intended only to prefigure Christ; and to direct the eyes of men to him, and to keep up the expectation of him in the world.]
3. The very repetition of them was an acknowledgment of this
[Had they fully expiated sin, there would have been no occasion for the repetition of them; and “they would therefore, of course, have ceased to be offeredd."]
In contrast with them, we here behold,
“To put away sin the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world." He was a proper sacrifice for sin
[He was altogether spotless, both in body and soule. In him, therefore, there was both a suitableness for a sacrifice, and sufficiency to make atonement for sin: a suitableness, because he was a partaker of our nature; and a sufficiency, because he was a partaker also of the divine nature. On him the iniquities of the whole world were laid?; and under the curse due to them he died.]
a That period is called the Fulness of Times, Gal. iv. 4. Eph. i. 10; and the Last Days, Heb. i. 2. 1 Pet. i. 20 ; and the Ends of the World, 1 Cor. x. 11. b Heb. x. 4. c Heb. viii. 5.
d Heb. x. 1, 2. e 1 John. iii. 5. Isai, liji. 6.
& Gal. iii. 13.
By his one offering of himself, he effected what the Mosaic sacrifices never could
[He put away sin from before God, “who is reconciled to us through the blood of the crossh:” and he put it away also from man, both in its guilt and power. So did he cancel the guilt of men, that " all who believe in him are justified from all thingsi:” and so did he break its power, that it never can have dominion over one of his redeemed peoplek.] INFER—
1. How highly privileged are we who live in the present age!
[We have not to present to God those poor and worthless sacrifices which left the conscience still burthened with guilt'; but can plead one which is a sufficient propitiation for the sins of the whole world m, and “perfects for ever all them that are sanctified"]
2. What infatuation are they guilty of, who hold fast their sins !
[Think what has been done to deliver us from them. God has laid them all upon his only-begotten Son, that they might be “
put away from us, as far as the east is from the west." But, in holding them fast, we say, in fact, “ “ Thou shalt never wash my soulo:" I regard not thy tender mercies : I prefer my sinful gratifications before all that thou canst do for me; and I will have them, in despite of all that thou hast threatened to do against me.'—Say, beloved, what will be your views of this conduct, in a short time? The Lord grant, that, ere it be too late, you may believe in Christ; lest“ the corner-stone, which you so ungratefully reject, should fall upon you, and grind you to powder!”] h Col. i. 21, 22.
i Acts xiii. 39. k Rom. vi. 14. ver. 9. m 1 John ii. 2.
n Heb. x. 14. o John xiii. 8.
CHRIST'S SECOND COMING. Heb. ix. 27, 28. As it is appointed unto men once to die,
but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation.
IT is probable that many in the first ages of Christiany wondered, as indeed many even at this time do,
how persons should be saved by the death of Christ, thousands of years before he came into the world ; more especially since the most solemn sacrifices under the Jewish economy were of no effect beyond the
year in which they were offered. But the Jewish sacrifices needed to be repeated, because they were worthless and inefficient : whereas the perfection of Christ's sacrifice gave it a retrospective and prospective efficacy, so that, at whatever period of the world it should be offered, it needed never to be repeated. This is the scope of the passage before us; and the Apostle illustrates his argument by an awful and acknowledged truth. To comprehend the force of his observations, we must consider, I. Man's destination to death and judgmentEvery man must die
[This is too obvious to need a proof. Whatever be our age, condition, pursuits, and prospects, we must die. If our life were protracted to the age of Methuselah, we must die at last: God has “appointed” it; nor shall his decree be either defeated or reversed. But it is only “once” that we can die. Though some few who have been miraculously restored to life, have died a second time, we must not expect to return from our graves. If the great work of salvation be not completed before we die, we shall be undone for ever] After death we shall all be judged
[God has appointed a day, wherein he will judge the world in righteousness, and reward every man according to his works. And this also shall be but " once :” for, though every man's state is fixed as soon as he goes into the invisible world, it is not till the general resurrection that his body shall participate the portion assigned to his soul. And, as there is no return from death to another state of probation, so there is no appeal from the sentence that shall be passed in that day.)
The Apostle having mentioned this, proceeds to
[Though in appearance our Saviour died like other men, yet in reality his death was altogether different from theirs.
a Eccl. ix. 10.
He died as a sacrifice for sin: his death was that very atonement which had been typically represented from the beginning of the world. But though he was to be “a propitiation for the sins of the whole world,” he died only “ once." The legal sacrifices were constantly repeated, because they were rather “remembrances of sins” than a real expiation of them: but “he, by one offering of himself, hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified b;" and “ many,” even all that believe in him, have their sins removed for ever by virtue of it.] He also will “
appear a second time” at the day of judgment
[At his first coming he appeared in the likeness of sinful flesho," and was treated as a sinner both by God and man: but at his second coming he will assume a very different appearance. As the high-priest, while offering the annual sacrifices, was clothed only in plain linen garments, but when he had completed his sacrifice, came forth in his splendid robes to bless the peopled; so our great High-priest will put off the garb of humiliation, and shine forth in all his majesty and glory. At his first coming, he saved not himself; but, at that day, he will impart “salvation" unto others, even to all who seek him in sincerity and truth.]
The Apostle having introduced God's appointment respecting man to illustrate that respecting Christ, we shall point out, III. The correspondence and connexion between
themThe mention of death and judgment as appointed unto man was not at all necessary to the Apostle's argument: but, as an illustration of it, it was very pertinent.
1. Death and judgment are the consequents of sin; and the first and second coming of Christ shall be the means of salvation.
[If there had been no sin, there would have been no death, nor any occasion for a day of judgment: and, if Christ had not come to bear the sins of men, there would have been no salvation : all must have inevitably and eternally perished. Moreover, as the law required that the High-priest, after having finished his work within the vail, should come forth to bless
b Heb. x. 14.
c Rom. viii. 3. d Lev. xvi. 23, 24. with viji. 7, 9. and Numb. vi. 23, 24. e Matt. xxv. 31.