« AnteriorContinuar »
Christian Scriptures, tend to the same point, and unanimously affirm that without shedding of blood there is no rémission of sins.
I. For what purpose then, we may ask, was the Law established ?
St. Paul answers this question by teaching us, that it was a shadow of good things to come:' that it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator : and that it was a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.3
From these assertions of the apostle we may deduce the following important propositions.
1. The Law is a dispensation preparatory to the Gospel.
2. It is equally built upon the doctrine of a mediator.
3. It scenically and darkly exhibits the benefits, which are enjoyed by Christians or rather by the faithful of all ages; such as the gracious offers of mercy held out to them through the merits of a Kinsman-Redeemer, their justification through his atoning blood, and their sanctification by the continual support and influence of the Holy Spirit.
4. And it is appointed to teach men practically their need of a Saviour, by acting the part of a tutor to all, who are willing to submit with humility, to its divine instructions.
II. On this point we shall do well to hear the decision of our venerable Anglican reformers.
! The Old Testament is not contrary to the New ; for, both in the Old and New Testament, everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only mediator between God and man, being both God and man : wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign, that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises.' • In fact, between our faith and theirs, the sole difference coösists in this. Their faith was prospective : ours is retrospective. They looked forward with eager expectation for the promised Saviour: we gratefully rejoice, that God's promises have been accomplished. They waited in firm confidence for the first manifestation of the Messiah : our faith is still exercised prospectively upon his second advent. But the time is fast approaching, when we shall both be placed upon an equal footing, and when faith shall be swallowed up in certainty. Abraham rejoiced to see the day of his Redeemer; he saw it, and was glad. Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. The ancient patriarchs all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off Through the type of the earthly Canaan, they were enabled to look forward, with the piercing eye of faith, to their celestial inheritance. Fully persuaded of the truth of God's promises, and heartily embracing them, they confessed, that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they, that
say :súch things, declare plainly, that they seek a country." And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned: but now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly. .. Hence it appears, to adopt the language of the Church, that all these fathers, martyrs, and other holy men, whom St. Paul spoke of, had their faith surely fixed in God, when all the world was against them. They did not only know God to be the Lord, maker and governor of all men in the world ; but also they had a special confidence and trust, that he was and would be their God, their comforter, aider, helper, maintainer, and defender. This is the Christian faith, which these holy men had, and we ought also to have. And, although they were not named Christian men, yet was it a Christian faith that they had ; for they looked for all benefits of God the Father, through the merits of his Son Jesu Christ, as we now do. This difference is between them and us, that they looked when Christ should come, and we be in the time when he is come. Therefore, saith St. Augustin, The time is altered and changed, but not the faith: for we have both one faith in Christ.
III. Now, as the more ancient dispensations, through their shadowy rites and ordinances, thus
looked forward to the Gospel of the Messiah : we may expect to find that better and consummating dispensation, obscurely, yet certainly, exhibited under the types and ceremonies both of Patriarchism and of the Law.
These general premises being laid down, I may now proceed to a more particular consideration of the typical language of Scripture ; which, I apprehend, will be found to have a very close connection with the prophetical hieroglyphics.
THE CEREMONIAL LAW.
From the earliest ages of the world down even to the present day, the inhabitants of the East seem to have delighted in employing a phraseology replete with allegory and metaphor. Unable to express their thoughts with the phlegmatic tameness of the more recently peopled West, they have ever been accustomed to clothe each idea in the most vivid and luxuriant imagery. The wide circle of universal nature lay before them : and, to minds strongly tinctured with poetic enthusiasm, every sound that was heard, every impression that was felt, every object that was beheld, served the purpose either of ornament or of illustration. Their whole language was a sort of speaking hieroglyphic: and things and persons were mentioned, rather by the names of their corresponding objects, than by their own literal and appropriate appellations.
Thus the whole host of heaven was sometimes employed to furnish suitable emblems of kings,