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THE SACRIFICES OF THE LEVITICAL LAW WERE
TYPICAL OF CHRIST.
HEBREWS xiii. 11, 12.
The bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought
into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burnt without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
o unprejudiced person, who reads these words, would ever doubt, that the author's design was to express an intentional correspondence between the sacrifices for sin, under the levitical law, and the death of Christ.
Some parts of the Epistle to the Hebrews require great attention, in order to perceive and follow the train of reasoning which is used. Some passages are rendered difficult to be understood from the use of uncommon words, or an unusual collocation of them. But the words themselves are here so simple, and their connection so obvious, that we might have imagined no one who reads them could have mistaken the writer's - meaning, and no one who is satisfied of his inspiration, could doubt the truth of his conclusion. But who shall say to the pride of reason, hitherto shalt thou come, and no further? The most positive assertions are eluded, the plainest conclusions are denied, when they oppose the preconceived opinions of a favourite system. With those who would deny the Divine authority of the writings, in which this assertion is contained, we have, for the present, no concern. We know in what we have believed: and should, I trust, be ready to give to any one who asked us a reason of our belief. But our observations will be directed against the errors of those, who, allowing all Scripture to be given by inspiration of God, do yet either extenuate, or distort, or deny the conclusions, to which the plain interpretation of Scripture necessarily leads.
It has already been concluded, upon the authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews, that the levitical high priest, the tabernacle, and the services performed in it, were intended to prefigure the priesthood of Christ, the place, and the manner of his heavenly ministry. It will now be our object to shew, that the sacrifices under the law, were, in like manner, intended to prefigure the sacrifice which Christ offered for the sins of the whole world.
We need not attempt the discussion of the difficult question respecting the origin of sacrifice; whether it were derived from the dictates of natural reason, or established in obedience to the direct command of God. Whatever opinion is formed respecting the patriarchal sacrifices, no one doubts, that those under the levitical dispensation were expressly enjoined, as part of the very peculiar laws under which the Israelites were to live.
Neither will it be requisite to enquire, whether sacrifice were adopted as part of the law of Moses, in compliance with a custom, to which the people had long been habituated in their intercourse with idolatrous nations; or as an additional sanction to a divine rite, established by patriarchal tradition. It is not disputed, that the sacrifices under the law were accompanied with circumstances which characterized no other sacrifices; all distinguished with scrupulous care in the book of the levi. tical law, and observed through a succession of ages with corresponding accuracy. It is in these peculiarities that the principal proofs of a designed prefiguration must be looked for : and they are neither few in number, nor doubtful in degree.
The animal sacrifices under the Mosaic dispensation were of various kinds, differing in
the object for which they were offered, and all bearing some reference to the great sacrifice of the death of Christ.
1. The most ancient kind was, doubtless, the burnt-offering, in which the whole of the victim was consumed and went up before God, as the name imports, either as an expression of gratitude for past favours, or as adding weight to the prayers which accompanied the sacrifice, to deprecate evil, or to supplicate good. Under the levitical law, the whole burnt-offering was often expiatory;" it was expressly required on several specific occasions;d and was permitted as a votive, or a free-will-offering, either by a Jew, or by a stranger. The peculiarity of this sacrifice was its completeness: and to this is almost exclusively applied the assertion, that it is, with reference to the Almighty, a sweet-smelling savour.'
2. The second kind of sacrifice was the peace-offering; of which part was consumed in the fire, and part divided between the priest
.ascendit עלה from עולה *
d Lev. xii. 8. xiv. 19, 20. xv. 15, 30. xvi. 24. Numb. vi. 11, 14.
e Lev. iv. 31.
who officiated, and him who brought the offering. It was either made on the occassions enjoined by the law, or brought for a thanksgiving, or for a vow, or for a voluntary offering."
3. But the most numerous and important sacrifices were those of an expiatory nature, offered in acknowledgment of sin, and as the means appointed by God to avert its fatal consequences.
Whether it were a sin-offering, or whether it were a trespass-offering, the immediate object was similar, to atone for the guilt of some offence committed either against God, or against man.
Now, in the Scriptures of the New Testament, the death of Christ is frequently spoken of in terms appropriated to the sacrificial worship of the Jews: and that, not only by allusion, or figure, but in such a pointed manner, as to indicate a designed connection between those sacrifices and that of Christ. Some passages in Scripture intimate the general connection of sacrifice with Christ's death: others refer, especially, to the peculiar rites with which sacrifice of a particular kind was accompanied
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews argues from the fortieth Psalm, that all the
& Exod. xxix. Numb. vi. 14,
Lev. vii. 12, 16.