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When sacrifice was offered for all Israel, the legal innocence of the victim is represented as imputed to the whole congregation, Hence, with respect to the day of atonement, it is said ; “ On “ that day shall the priest make an atonement for
you, that ye may be clean from all your fins be“ fore the Lord."
11. The profeffors of religion were, in various instances, admitted to feast on the sacrifices they had offered unto God. This was a token of the acceptance of their persons, as legally justified through the imputation of the innocence of the victims whose blood they had shed. This, it would appear, was a very ancient custom. When Jacob entered into a covenant with Laban, he “ offered facrifice upon the mount, and called his “ brethren to eat bread f.” As a solemn pledge of complete reconciliation, they ate together of what had been offered in facrifice. Some indeed suppose, that the language means no more than that Jacob killed fome of his herd or flock for a feast. Bur the expression literally is, he “ sacri. “ ficed a facrifice;" which cannot, consistently with its ordinary use, be understood of preparation for a common meal. Before the law was given from Sinai, we find Aaron and the elders of Ifrael feasting in a religious manner on that sacrifice of thanksgiving, which had been made by Jethro the father-in-law of MosesBy the law, it was provided that the people should feast
& Lev. xvi. 30.
f Gen. xxxi. 54.
& Exod. xviji. 12.
on the peace-offerings, in that place which God was to select for the permanent residence of his fanctuary h. All the Israelites, who were not legally unclean, were, according to divine appointment, to feast on the paschal lamb, which had been offered to God in facrifice, as a figure of Christ. Now, this privilege was a token of divine acceptance, through the facrifice, as prefiguring that which should be offered for the actual espiation of fin. Something better is conferred
Because “ Christ our passover is sacrificed “ for us,” we are called to “ keep the feast," by faith to feed on him, to eat and drink his blood : and this is given us as a seal of all spiritual blesfings, and elpecially of the imputation of his righteousness. For “this cup,” saith Christ, " is the “ New Testament in my blood, shed for many, for “the remillion of sins.”
iv. All the patriarchs and faints under the Old Teftament were saved by imputation. This is evident from their history, as recorded in both parts of the sacred canon ; and especially from the beautiful and striking compend given of it in the Epistle to the Hebrews. They were saved, not by their own works, but by faith, as contradiftinguished from them all. This their faith respected a revealed righteousness, a righteousness without them, totally different from any internal work of the Spirit, or external holiness. They were not faved by their facrifices, as if these in themselves
Lev. vii, 15. ; Deut, sit. 5. 7.
had been worthy of divine acceptance ; nor by the act of sacrificing, as an act of obedience to the letter of God's commandment; but by means of faith, as respecting a better sacrifice, a perfect and everlasting righteousness. Noah was “an heir “ of the righteousness which is by faith i.” Abraham “ believed God, and it was counted unto him “ for righteousness,” or as afterwards, “ it was
imputed to him for righteousness k.” This can only be understood of faith, as embracing the righteousness of the promised seed ; not of faith as itself conftituting the righteousness of Abraham. For this would directly oppose the whole current of the Apostle's reasoning. This would be to convert faith into a legal work; to make justification an act of God respecting men as godly because of their believing; to exhibit the reward as, not of grace, but of debt. When it is said, that Noah “ became an heir of the righteousness “ which is by faith,” the very language used implies, that this righteousness is essentially distinct from all that which constitutes our fanctification, A man is not said to “ become an heir” of what he hath himself acquired. This expression denotes a legal transmission from another, of what is not primarily one's own. The language respects an adoption, proceeding wholly from grace, of those who are naturally aliens; and their admiffion through faith to a participation of that justifying righteousness which is “ unto all, and upon " all them that believe."
Blessed,” i llel. xi. 7.
k Rom. iv. 4. 5. 22.
“ Blessed" indeed " is the man to whom the “ Lord imputeth not iniquity!" May it be our great concern, and our distinguishing privilege, to partake of this blessedness! But it can be ours, only as enabled from the heart to renounce all our righteousnesses as filthy rags, and to say in faith, “ Surely in JEHOVAH have I righteouf“ ness."
The Neceffity of Almighty Power for changing
the Heart, illustrated from the History of Creation ;- from the Inefficacy of the fevereft Judgments ;-from the History of the promised Seed;
- from the nature of the Victories obtained by Ifrael ;- from their being fill taught to depend folely on God ;- from some Circumstances attending the rebuilding of the Temple ;~from the perfonal Ministry of Jesus,
Every man, who has carefully and impartially read the Holy Scriptures, must have remarked, that it is evidently the intention of the Spifit of inspiration, to prove in a variety of ways the inefficacy of external means, and to shew the indispensable necessity of almighty power in chan
ging the hearts of men. This is done, not merely of professed design, but often as it were incidentally. As the light of divine truth, with respect to this important subject, beams forth with the greatest lustre, in the express doctrines of revelation ; many of its precious rays are scattered through the history of the Church, and illuminate even the shadows which in part concealed her beauty during the early period of her exist
1. This doctrine is illustrated by the history of creation. It is said perhaps, What hath the original creation of man to do with his falvation from a state of fin ? But the connexion is very intimate. The work of God, in the renovation of the heart, is in Scripture frequently represented as a new creation. “ We are his workman
ship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works ?." “ If any man be in Christ, he is a new crea« tion m." This inspired language remits us to the history of the first creation, as exhibiting the pattern of the second.
All things were made of nothing. There was no pre-existent matter. This fitly represents the natural state of man, as ruined by fin. He hath no actual life, no latent principle of life, or disposition towards it. Or shall we view creation in its first appearance, when “ the earth was with“ out form and void,” or empty ; when “ dark“ ness was upon the face of the deep?" Have
1 Eph. ii. 102
m 2 Cor. v. 17.