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The several considerations of the death of Christ as to the expiation of our sins thereby, and the satisfaction made therein — First, Of it as a price; secondly, As a sacrifice.
I. The death of Christ in this business is a price, and that properly so called: 1 Cor. vi. 20, Ἠγοράσθητε τιμῆς, — “Ye are bought with a price.” And if we will know what that price was with which we are bought, the Holy Ghost informs us, 1 Pet. i. 18, 19, “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” It is the blood of Christ which in this business hath that use which silver and gold have in the redeeming of captives; and paid it is into the hand of him by whose power and authority the captive is detained, as shall be proved. And himself tells us what kind of a price it is that is so paid; it is λύτρον, Matt. xx. 28, “He came to lay down his life λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν·” which, for its more evidence and clearness, is called ἀντίλυτρον, 1 Tim. ii. 6, “a price of redemption” for the delivery of another.
The first mention of a ransom in the Scripture is in Exod. xxi. 30: “If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid on him.” The word in the original is פִּדְיֹן; which the LXX. there render λύτρα Δώσει λύτρα τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ. And it is used again in the same sense, Ps. xlix. 9; and in both places intends a valuable price, to be paid for the deliverance of that which, upon guilt, became obnoxious to death. It is true, the word is from פָּדָה, “redimere, vindicare, asserere in libertatem,” by any ways and means, by power, strength, or otherwise; but where-ever it is applied to such a kind of redemption as had a price going along with it, the LXX. constantly render it by απολυτροῦν and sometimes λυτρώσασθαι, otherwise by ῤύομαι, and the like.
It is, then, confessed that פָּדָה; in the Old Testament is sometimes taken for redemit in a metaphorical sense, not strictly and literally by the intervention of a price; but that λυτρώσασθαι, the word whereby it is rendered when a price intervened, is ever so taken in the New Testament, is denied. Indeed, Moses is called λυτρωτής, Acts vii. 35, in reference to the metaphorical redemption of Israel out of Egypt, — a deliverance by power and a strong arm; but shall we say, because that word is used improperly in one place, where no price could be paid, where God plainly says it was not done by a price but by power, therefore it must be so used in those places where there is express mention of a price, both the matter of it and its formality as a price, and speaketh not a word of doing it any other way but by the payment of a price? But of this afterward.
There is mention of “a ransom” in ten places of the Old Testament; 420“to ransom” and “ransomed” in two or three more. In two of these places, Exod. xxi. 30 and Ps. xlix. 9, the word is פִּדְיֹן, from פָּדָה, as before, and rendered by the LXX. λύτρον. In all other places it is in the Hebrew כֹּפֶר, which properly signifies a propitiation, as Ps. xlix. 9; which the LXX. have variously rendered. Twice it is mentioned in Job, chap. xxxiii. 24 and xxxvi. 18. In the first place they have left it quite out, and in the latter so corrupted the sense that they have rendered it altogether unintelligible. Prov. vi. 35 and xiii. 8, they have properly rendered it λύτρον, or a price of redemption, it being in both places used in such business as a ransom useth to be accepted in. Chap. xxi. 18, they have properly rendered it to the subject-matter, περικάθαρμα. Περικαθάρματα are things publicly devoted to destruction, as it were to turn away anger from others, coming upon them for their sakes.
So is κάθαρμα, “homo piacularis pro lustratione et expiatione patriæ devotus;” whence the word is often used, as scelus in Latin, for a wicked man, a man fit to be destroyed and taken away. Γρύζειν δὲ καὶ τολμᾶτον ὦ καθάρματε, says he in the poet.461461 Aristoph. in Plut. v. 454. Καθαρμός is used in the same sense by Herodotus:462462 Lib. vii. 197. Καθαρμὸν τῆς χώρης ποιευμένων Ἀχαιῶν, Ἀθάμαντα τὸν Αἰόλου, — “Athamas was made a piaculum, or a propitiation for the country.” Whence Budæus renders that of the apostle, Ὡς περικαθάρματα τοῦ κόσμου ἐγενήθημεν, “Nos tanquam piacula mundi facti sumus, et succedaneæ pro populo victimæ,” — “We are as the accursed things of the world, and sacrifices for the people,” 1 Cor. iv. 13; reading the words, ὥσπερ καθάρματα, not ὡς περικαθάρματα: the Greek scholiast, who reads it as we commonly do, rendering it by ἀποσαρώματα, as the Vulgar Latin “purgamenta,” to the same purpose, — such as have all manner of filth cast upon them. And Isa. xliii. 3, they have rendered the same word ἄλλαγμα, “a commutation by price.” So Matt. xvi. 26, Τὶ δώσει ἄνθρωπος ἀντάλλαγμα τῆς ψυχῆς, “a price in exchange.” Now, in all these places and others, the Hebrews use the word כֹּפֶר, “a propitiation,” by way of allusion; as is most especially evident from that of Isaiah, “I will give Egypt a propitiation for thee.” That is, as God is atoned by a propitiatory sacrifice, wherein something is offered him in the room of the offender, so will he do with them, — put them into trouble in room of the church, as the sacrificed beast was in the room of him for whom it was sacrificed And hence does that word signify a ransom, because what God appointed in his worship to redeem any thing that by the law was devoted, which was a compensation by his institution (as a clean beast in the room of a first-born was to be offered a sacrifice to God), was so called. And the word “satisfaction,” which is but once used in the Scripture, or twice together, Num. xxxv. 31, is כֹפֶר in the original. כֹפֶר, indeed, is originally 421“pitch” or “bitumen;” hence what God says to Noah about making the ark, וְכָפַרְתָּ, Gen. vi. 14, the LXX. have rendered ἀσφαλτώσεις τῇ ἀσφάλτῳ, — “bituminabis bitumine.” כִפֶּר. in pihel is “placavit, expiavit, expiationem fecit;” because by sacrifice sins are covered as if they had not been, to cover or hide being the first use of the word.
And this is the rise and use of the word “ransom” in the Scripture, both פִּדְיֹן, פָּדֹה and כֹפֶר, which are rendered by λύτρον περικάθαρμα ἀντίλυτρον ἄλλαγμα. It denotes properly a price of redemption, a valuable compensation made by one thing for another, either in the native signification, as in the case of the first word, or by the first translation of it from the sacrifice of atonement, as in the latter. Of this farther afterward, in the business of redemption. For the present it sufficeth that the death of Christ was a price of ransom, and these are the words whereby it is expressed.
II. It was a sacrifice; and what sacrifice it was shall be declared:—
That Christ offered a sacrifice is abundantly evident from what was said before, in the consideration of the time and place when and wherein Christ was a high priest. The necessity of this the apostle confirms, Heb. viii. 3, “For every high priest is ordained to offer both gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.” If he be a priest, he must have a sacrifice; the very nature of his employment requires it. The whole and entire office and employment of a high priest, as a priest, consists in offering sacrifice, with the performance of those things which did necessarily precede and follow that action. It is of necessity, then, that he should also have somewhat to offer as a sacrifice to God.
For the other part of our inquiry, namely, what it was that he sacrificed, I shall manifest in this order of process (taking leave to enlarge a little in this, intending not so much the thing, proved before, as the manner of it):—
1. He was not to offer any sacrifice that any priest had offered before by God’s appointment; 2. He did not actually offer any such sacrifice; 3. I shall show positively what he did offer. 1. He was not to offer any sacrifice that the priests of old had appointed for them to offer. He came to do another manner of work than could be brought about with the blood of bulls and goats. It cost more to redeem our souls. That which was of more worth in itself, of nearer concernment to him that offered it, of a more manifold alliance to them for whom it was offered, and of better acceptation with God, to whom it was offered, was to be his sacrifice. This is the aim of the Holy Ghost, Heb. x. 1–7, “For the law.” etc.
This is the sum of the apostle’s discourse: The sacrifices instituted by the law could not effect or work that which Christ, our high priest, was to accomplish by his sacrifice; and therefore he was not 422to offer them, but they were to be abolished, and something else to be brought in that might supply their room and defect.
What was wanting in these sacrifices the apostle ascribes to the law whereby they were instituted. (1.) The law could not do it; that is, the ceremonial law could not do it. The law which instituted and appointed these sacrifices could not accomplish that end of the institution by them. And with this expression of it he subjoins a reason of this weakness of the law: “It had a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things” themselves, — an obscure representation of those good things which, when they were instituted and in force, were μέλλοντα, to come, though now actually exhibited and existent; that is, Jesus Christ himself, and the good things of the gospel accompanying of him. It had but a “shadow” of these things, not the “image,” — that is, the substance of them; for so I had rather understand “image” here substantially, as that may be called the image of a picture by which it is drawn, than to make σκιά and εἰκών here to differ but gradually, [i.e., in degree,] as the first rude shape and proportion and the perfect limning of any thing do. The reason, then, why all the solemn, operose, burdensome service of old could not of itself take away sin, is because it did not contain Christ in it, but only had a shadow of him.
(2.) The apostle instances, in particular, by what means the law could not do this great work of “making the comers thereunto perfect;” τοῦς προσερχομένους, — that is, those who come to God by it, the worshippers; which is spoken in opposition to what is said of Christ, Heb. vii. 25, “He is able to save to the uttermost τοὺς προσερχομένους,” those that come to God by him.” The word expresseth any man under the consideration of one coming to God for acceptation; as chap. xi. 6, “He that cometh unto God,” — Δεῖ τὸν προσερχόμενον. These it could not make perfect; that is, it could not perfectly atone God, and so take away their sins that the conscience should no more be troubled or tormented with the guilt of sin, as chap. x. 2–4. By what could not the law do this? By those sacrifices which it offered year by year continually.
Not to speak of sacrifices in general, the sacrifices of the Jews may be referred to four heads:—
(1.) The daily sacrifice of morning and evening, which is instituted Exod. xxix. 38, 39; which being omitted, was renewed by Neh. x. 33, and wholly taken away for a long season by Antiochus, according to the prophecy of Dan. xi. 31. This is the juge sacrificum, typifying Christ’s constant presence with his church in the benefit of his death always.
(2.) Voluntary and occasional, which had no prefixed time nor matter; so that they were of such creatures as God had allowed to be sacrificed, they were left to the will of the offerer, according as occasion 423and necessity were by providence administered. Now, of these sacrifices there was a peculiar reason, that did not, as far as I can find, belong unto any of the rest. The judicial government of that nation being, as their own historian, Josephus, calls it, Θεοκρατία, and immediately in the hand of God, he appointed these voluntary sacrifices, which were a part of his religious worship, to have a place also in the judicial government of the people; for whereas he had appointed death to be the punishment due to every sin, he allowed that for many sins sacrifice should be offered for the expiating of the guilt contracted in that commonwealth of which himself was the governor. Thus for many sins of ignorance and weakness, and other perversities, sacrifice was offered, and the guilty person died not, according to the general tenor of the law, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all these things.” Hence David, in his great sin of murder and adultery, flees to mere mercy, acknowledging that God had appointed no sacrifice for the expiation of those sins as to the guilt political contracted in that commonwealth, though otherwise no sins nor sinners were excluded from the benefit of sacrifices, Ps. li. 16. This was their political regard; which they had and could have only on this account, that God was the supreme political governor of that people, their lord and king.
(3.) Sacrifices extraordinary on solemn occasions, which seem some of them to be mixed of the two former kinds, stated and voluntary. Such was Solomon’s great sacrifice at the dedication of the temple. These partly answered the sacrifice instituted at the dedication of the altar and tabernacle, partly the free-will offerings which God allowed the people, according to their occasions, and appointed them for them.
(4.) Appointed sacrifices on solemn days; as on the sabbath, new moons, passover, feast of weeks, lesser and greater jubilee, but especially the solemn anniversary sacrifice of expiation, when the high priest entered into the holy place with the blood of the beast sacrificed, on the tenth day of the month Tisri. The institution of this sacrifice you have Lev. xvi. throughout. The matter of it was one bullock, and two goats, or kids of goats, verses 3, 5. The manner was this:— [1.] In the entrance, Aaron offered one bullock peculiarly for himself and his house, verse 6. [2.] Lots were cast on the two goats, one to be a sin-offering, the other to be azazel, verses 8, 9. [3.] The bullock and goat being slain, the blood was carried into the holy place. [4.] Azazel, having all the sins of the people confessed over him, was sent into the wilderness to perish, verse 21. [5.] The end of this sacrifice was atonement and cleansing, verse 30. Of the whole nature, ends, significancy, and use of this sacrifice, as of others, elsewhere; at present I attend only to the thesis proposed.
Now, if perfect atonement and expiation might be expected from any of the sacrifices so instituted by God, certainly it might be from 424this; therefore this doth the apostle choose to instance in This was the sacrifice offered κατ ἐνιαυτόν and εἰς τὸ διηνεκές. But these, saith he, could not do it; the law by them could not do it. And this he proves with two arguments:—
1st. From the event: Heb. x. 2, 3, “For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there was a remembrance again made of sins every year.” The words of the second verse are to be read with an interrogation, conclusive in the negative: “Would they not have ceased to have been offered?” that is, certainly they would. And because they did not do so, it is evident from the event that they could not take away sin. In most copies the words are, Ἐπεὶ ἂ ἐπαύσαντο προσφερόμεναι. Those that add the negative particle οὐκ put it for οὐχί,. as it is frequently used.
2dly. From the nature of the thing itself: Verse 4, “For it was not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” The reason in these words is evident and plain, especially that of verse 4. There is a twofold impossibility in the thing:—
(1st.) In regard of impetration. It was impossible they should really atone God, who was provoked. First, the conjunction between the sinner and the sacrificed beast was not such or so near (being only that of possessor and possessed) that really, and beyond representation and type, the blood of the one could satisfy for the sin of the other. Much less, secondly, was there an innate worth of the blood of any beast, though never so innocent, to atone the justice of God, that was offended at sin, Mic. vi. 6, 7. Nor, thirdly, was there any will in them for such an undertaking or commutation. The sacrifice was bound with cords to the horns of the altar; Christ went willingly to the sacrifice of himself.
(2dly.) In regard of application. The blood of common sacrifices being once shed was a dead thing, and had no more worth nor efficacy; it could not possibly be a “living way” for us to come to God by, nor could it be preserved to be sprinkled upon the conscience of the sinner.
Hence doth the apostle make it evident, in the first place, that Christ was not to offer any of the sacrifices which former priests had offered, first, Because it was utterly impossible that by such sacrifices the end of the sacrifice which he was to offer should be accomplished. This also he proves, secondly, Because God had expressly disallowed those sacrifices as to that end. Not only it was impossible in the nature of the thing itself, but also God had absolutely rejected the tender of them as to the taking away sin and bringing sinners to God.
But it may be said, “Did not God appoint them for that end and purpose, as was spoken before? The end of the sacrifice in the day 425of expiation was to atone and cleanse: Lev. xvi. 30, ‘On that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you’ (for the priest made an atonement actively, by offering the sacrifice; the sacrifice itself passively, by undergoing the penalty of death: Christ, who was both priest and sacrifice, did both.)” I answer, They were never appointed of God to accomplish that end by any real worth and efficacy of their own, but merely to typify, prefigure, and point out, him and that which did the work which they represented; and so served, as the apostle speaks, “until the time of reformation,” Heb. ix. 10. They served the use of that people in the under-age condition wherein God was pleased to keep them.
But now that God rejected them as to this end and purpose, the apostle proves by the testimony of David, speaking of the acceptance of Christ: Ps. xl. 6, 7, “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come,” etc.; which the apostle insists on, Heb. x. 5–9. There are several accounts upon which God in Scripture is said to disregard and not to approve or accept of sacrifices which yet were of his own institution:— First, In respect of the hypocrisy of the offerers. That people being grown formal and corrupt, trusted in sacrifices and the work wrought in them, and said that by them they should be justified: God, expressing his indignation against such sacrifices, or the sacrifices of such persons, rejects the things themselves wherein they trusted, that is, in reference to them that used them. This is the intention of the Holy Ghost, Isa. i. 12, 13. But this is not the cause of their rejection in this place of the psalmist, for he speaketh of them who walked with God in uprightness and waited for his salvation, even of himself and other saints, as appears in the context, verse 1, etc. Secondly, Comparatively. They are rejected as to the outward work of them, in comparison of his more spiritual worship, as Ps. l. 12–14. But neither are they here rejected on that account, nor is there mention of any opposition between the outward worship of sacrifice and any other more spiritual and internal part thereof, but between sacrifice and the boring of the ears, or preparing of the body of Christ, as expressly, verse 6.
Their rejection, then, here mentioned, is in reference to that which is asserted in opposition to them, and in reference to the end for which that is asserted. Look to what end Christ had a body fitted and prepared, for and to that end, and the compassing of it, are all sacrifices rejected of God. Now, this was to take away sin, so that as to that end are they rejected.
And here, in our passage, may we remove what the Racovian Catechism gives us as the difference between the expiation under the old testament and that under the new; concerning which, cap. de Mun. Chris. Sacer. q. 5, they thus inquire:—
426Q. What is the difference between the expiation of sin in the old and new testament?
A. The expiation of sins under the new testament is not only much different from that under the old, but also is far better and more excellent; and that chiefly for two causes. The first is, that under the old testament, expiation by those legal sacrifices was appointed only for those sins which happened upon imprudence and infirmity; from whence they were also called infirmities and ignorances: but for greater sins, such as were manifest transgressions of the command of God, there were no sacrifices instituted, but the punishment of death was proposed to them; and if God did forgive such to any, he did not do it by virtue of the covenant, but of singular mercy, which God, beside the covenant, did afford when and to whom he would. But under the new covenant, not only those sins are expiated which happen by imprudence and infirmity, but those also which are transgressions of most evident commands of God, whilst he who happened so to fall doth not continue therein, but is changed by true repentance, and falleth not into that sin again. The latter cause is, because under the old testament expiation of sins was so performed that only temporal punishment was taken away from them whose sins were expiated; but under the new the expiation is such as not only takes away temporal but eternal punishment, and in their stead offers eternal life, promised in the covenant, to them whose sins are expiated.463463 “Quodnam eat discrimen inter veteris, et novi fœderis peceatorum expiationem? — Expiatio peccatorum sub novo fodere non solum distat ab expiatione peccatorum sub vetere plurimum, verum etiam longe præstantior et excellentior est: id vero duabus potissimum de causis. Prior est, quod sub vetere fœdere, iis tantum peccatis expiatio, per illa legalia sacrificia, constituta fuit, quæ per imprudentiam vel per infirmitatem admissa fuere, unde etiam infirmitates et ignorantiæ nuncupabantur. Verum pro peccatis gravioribus, quæ transgressiones erant mandati Dei manifestsæ, nulla sacrificia instituta fuerant, sed mortis pœna fuit propesita. Quod si talia Deus alicui condonabat, id non vi fœderis fiebat, sed misericordia Dei singulari, quam Deus citra fœdus, et quando et cui libuit exhibebat. Sub novo vero fœdere peccata expiantur, non solum per imprudentiam et infirmitatem admissa, verum etiam ea quæ apertissimorum Dei mandatorum sunt transgressiones, dummodo is cui labi ad eum modum contigerit, in eo non perseveret, verum per veram pœnitentiam resipiscat, nec ad illud peccatum amplius relabatur. Posterior vero causa est, quod sub prisco fœdere ad eum modum peccatorum expiatio peragebatur, ut pœna temporaria tantum ab iis quorum peccata expiabantur tolleretur; sub novo vero ea est expiatio, ut non solum pœnas temporarias, verum etiam æternas amoveat, et loco pœnarum, æternam vitam, in fœdere promissam, iis quorum peccata fuerint expiata, offerat.”
Thus they. Some brief animadversions will give the reader a clear account of this discourse:— Sundry things are here splendidly supposed by our catechists, than which nothing could be imagined or invented more false; as, that the covenant was not the same for substance under the old and new testament, before and after the coming of Christ in the flesh; that those under the old testament were not pardoned or saved by Christ; that death temporal was all that was threatened by the law; that God forgave sin, and not in or by the covenant; that there were no promises of eternal life under the old testament, etc. On these and the like goodly principles is this whole discourse erected. Let us now consider their assertions.
The first is, That expiation by legal sacrifices was only for some sins, and not for all, as sins of infirmity and ignorance, not great crimes: wherein, First, They suppose that the legal sacrifices did by themselves and their own efficacy expiate sin; which is directly 427contrary to the discourse of the apostle now insisted on. Secondly, Their affirmation hereon is most false. Aaron, making an atonement for sin, “confessed over the goat all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins,” Lev. xvi. 21; and, besides, all manner of sins are comprised under these expressions, “ignorances and infirmities.”
Secondly, They say, “For greater sins there was then no expiation, but death was threatened to them.” But, First, Then none that ever committed such sins were saved; for without expiation there is no salvation. Secondly, Death was threatened and inflicted without mercy for some sins, as the law with its judicial additaments was the rule of the judaical polity, and for those sins there was no sacrifice for a deliverance from death temporal; but death was threatened to every sin, small and great, as the law was a rule of moral obedience unto God; and so in respect of sacrifices there was no distinction. This difference of sacrifices for some sins, and not for others, in particular, did depend merely on their use by God’s appointment in the commonwealth of that people, and had no regard to the spiritual expiation of sin, which they typified.
Thirdly, That God forgave the sins of his people of old by singular mercy, and not by virtue of his covenant, is a bold figment. God exercises no singular mercy but in the covenant thereof, Eph. ii. 12.
Fourthly, Their condition of expiation (by the way) under the new testament, “That the sinner fall not again into the same sin,” is a matter that these men understand not; but this is no place to discuss it.
Fifthly, That the expiation under the old testament reached only to the removal of temporal punishment is another imagination of our catechists. It was death eternal that was threatened as the punishment due to the transgression of the law, as it was the rule of obedience to God, as hath been proved, even the death that Christ delivered us from, Rom. v. 12, etc.; Heb. ii. 14, 15. God was atoned by those sacrifices, according to their way of making atonement, Lev. xvi. 30; so that the punishment avoided was eternal-punishment. Neither is this, indeed, spoken by our catechists as though they believed any punishment should be eternal; but they only hide themselves in the ambiguity of the expression, it being annihilation they intend thereby. The πρῶτον ψεῦδος of this discourse is, that expiation by sacrifices was no other than what was done really by the sacrifices themselves; so everting their typical nature and institution, and divesting them of the efficacy of the blood of Christ, which they did represent.
Sixthly, It is confessed that there is a difference between the expiation under the old testament and that under the new, but this is of application and manifestation, not of impetration and procurement. This is “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” 428But they plead proof of Scripture for what they say, in the ensuing question:—
Q. How dost thou demonstrate both these?
A. That the sins which could not be expiated under the old testament are all expiated under the new, Paul witnesseth, Acts xiii. 38, 39; and the same is also affirmed Rom. iii. 25, Heb. ix. 15: but that sins are so expiated under the new testament as that also eternal punishment is removed, and life eternal given, we have Heb. ix. 12.464464 “Qua ratione vero utrumque demonstras? — Peccata quæ sub vetere fœdere expiari non potuere omnia sub novo expiari, testatur apostolus Paulus in Act. cap. xiii. 38, 39, idem habetur, Rom. iii. 25, Heb. ix. 15. Quod vero ea ratione expientur peccata sub novo fœdere ut etiam æterna pœna amoveatur, et vita æterna donetur, habetur Heb. ix. 12, ubi sup.” — Q. 6.
This work will speedily be at an issue. First, It is denied that Paul, Acts xiii. 38, 39, makes a distinction of sins, whereof some might be expiated by Moses’ law, and others not. He says no more there than in this place to the Hebrews, — namely, that the legal sacrifices, wherein they rested and trusted, could not of themselves free them or their consciences from sin, or give them peace with God, being but types and shadows of good things to come, the body being Christ, by whom alone all justification from sin is to be obtained. Absolutely, the sacrifices of the law expiated no sin, and so were they rested in by the Jews; typically, they expiated all, and so Paul calls them from them to the antitype (or rather thing typified), now actually exhibited.
Secondly, The two next places, of Rom. iii. 25, Heb. ix. 15, do expressly condemn the figment they strive to establish by them, both of them assigning the pardon of sins that were past and their expiation unto the blood and sacrifice of Christ. Though there were, then, purifications, purgations, sacrifices, yet the meritorious and efficient cause of all expiation was the blood of Christ; which manifests the expiation under the old and new testament for substance to have been the same.
Thirdly, That the expiation under the new testament is accompanied with deliverance from eternal punishment and a grant of life eternal is confessed; and so also was that under the old, or it was no expiation at all, that had respect neither to God nor the souls of men. But to proceed with the sacrifice of Christ.
This is the first thing I proposed: Christ being to offer sacrifice, was not to offer the sacrifices of the priests of old, because they could never bring about what he aimed at in his sacrifice. It was impossible in the nature of the thing itself, and they were expressly as to that end rejected of God himself.
2. Christ as a priest did never offer those sacrifices. It is true, as one made under the law, and whom it became to fulfil all righteousness, he was present at them; but as a priest he never offered 429them: for the apostle expressly affirms that he could not be a priest that had right to offer those sacrifices (as before); and he positively refuses the owning himself for such a priest, when, having cured the leprous man, he bade him go show himself to the priest, according to the law.
3. What Christ did offer indeed, as his sacrifice, is nextly to be mentioned. This the apostle expresseth in that which is asserted in opposition to the sacrifices rejected: Heb. x. 5, “But a body hast thou prepared me.”
The words in the psalm are in the sound of them otherwise: Ps. xl. 6, אָזְנַים כָּרִיתָ לִּי; — “Mine ears hast thou digged;” which the LXX. render, and the apostle from them, Σῶμα κατηρτίσω μοι, — “A body hast thou prepared me.” Of the accommodation of the interpretation to the original there is much contention. Some think here is an allusion to the custom among the Jews of boring the ear of him who was, upon his own consent, to be a servant for ever. Now, because Christ took a body to be obedient and a servant to his Father, this is expressed by the boring of the ear; which therefore the LXX. render by “preparing a body” wherein he might be so obedient. But this to me seems too curious on the part of the allusion, and too much strained on the part of the application; and therefore I shall not insist on it.
Plainly, כָּרָה signifies not only, in its first sense, to “dig,” but also to “prepare;” and is so rendered by the LXX. Now, whereas the original expresseth only the ears, which are the organ by which we hear and become obedient (whence to hear is sometimes as much as to be obedient), it mentions the ears synecdochically for the whole body, which God so prepared for obedience to himself; and that which the original expressed synecdochically, the LXX., and after them the apostle, rendered more plainly and fully, naming the whole body wherein he obeyed, when the ears were only expressed, whereby he learned obedience.
The interpretation of this place by the Socinians is as ridiculous as any they make use of. Take it in the words of Volkelius:—
Add hereto that the mortal body of Christ, which he had before his death, yea, before his ascension into heaven, was not fit for his undergoing this office of priesthood or wholly to accomplish the sacrifice; wherefore the divine writer to the Hebrews, chap. x. 5, declareth that then he had a perfect body, accommodated unto this work, when he went into the world that is to come, which is heaven.465465 “Adde quod corpus mortale, quo Christus ante mortem, imo ante suum in cœlum ascensum præditus erat, ad hoc sacerdotium obeundum et sacrificium penitus absolvendum aptum non fuit; ideoque tunc demum corpus, huic rei accommodatum perfectum ei fuisse, divinus author indicat, Heb. x. 5, cum in mundum, nempe futurum illum, qui cœlum est, ingrederetur.” — Volkel, de Vera Relig. lib. iii. cap. xxxvii. de sac. Christi, p. 146.
430A heap of foolish imaginations! First, The truth is, no body but a mortal body was fit to be this sacrifice, which was to be accomplished, according to all the types of it, by shedding of blood; without which there is no remission. Secondly, It is false that Christ had a mortal body after his resurrection, or that he hath any other body now in heaven than what he rose withal. Thirdly, It is false that “the world,” spoken of simply, doth anywhere signify the world to come, or that “the world” here signifies heaven. Fourthly, It is false that the coming into the world signifies going out of the world, as it is here interpreted. Fifthly, Christ’s bringing into the world was by his incarnation and birth, Heb. i. 6, according to the constant use of that expression in the Scripture; as his ascension is his leaving the world and going to his Father, John xiii. 1, xiv. 12, xvi. 28.
But I must not insist on this. It is the body that God prepared Christ for his obedience, — that is, his whole human nature, — that is asserted for the matter of Christ’s offering; for the clearing whereof the reader may observe that the matter of the offering and sacrifice of Christ is expressed three ways:—
(1.) It is said to be of the body and blood of Christ, Heb. x. 10. The offering of the body of Jesus and the blood of Christ is said to purge us from our sins, that is, by the sacrifice of it, and in his blood have we redemption, Eph. i. 7, 1 John i. 7; and by his own blood did he enter into the holy place, Heb. ix. 12, and most expressly chap. xiii. 12.
(2.) His soul: Isa. liii. 10, “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.”
(3.) It is most frequently said to be himself that was offered, Eph. v. 2, Heb. i. 3, ix. 14, 25, 26, vii. 27. Hence it appears what was the matter of the sacrifice of this high priest, even himself: he sacrificed himself, — his whole human nature; he offered up his body and soul as a propitiatory sacrifice to God, a sacrifice for atonement and expiation.
Farther to clear this, I must desire the reader to take notice of the import of this expression, “He sacrificed himself,” or Christ sacrificed himself. “He,” in the first place, as it is spoken of the sacrificer, denotes the person of Christ, and both natures therein; “himself,” as the sacrificed, is only the human nature of Christ, wherein and whereof that sacrifice was made. He makes the atonement actively, as the priest; himself passively, as the sacrifice:—
[1.] “He” is the person of Christ, God and man jointly and distinctly acting in the work:—
1st. As God: Heb. ix. 14, “Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself to God.” His eternal Spirit or Deity was the principal agent, offering; and wherever there is mention of Christ’s offering himself, it relates principally to the person, God-man, who offered.
4312dly. The free will of his human nature was in it also; so Heb. x. 7, “Lo, I come to do thy will.” When God had prepared him a body, opened his ears, he says, “Lo, I come to do thy will,” as it was written of him in the volume of God’s book. And that this expression, “Lo, I come to do thy will,” sets out the readiness of the human will of Christ, is evident from that exposition which is given of it, Ps. xl. 8, “Yea, thy law is within my heart,” or “in the midst of my bowels;” — “Thy law, the law of the mediator, that I am to undertake, it is in the midst of my heart;” which is an expression of the greatest readiness and willingness possible.
He, then, that offers is our mediator, God and man in one person; and the offering is the act of the person.
[2.] “Himself,” offered as the matter of the sacrifice, is only the human nature of Christ, soul and body, as was said; which is evident from the description of a sacrifice, what it is.
A sacrifice is a religious oblation, wherein something by the ministry of a priest, appointed of God thereunto, is dedicated to God, and destroyed as to what it was, for the ends and purposes of spiritual worship whereunto it is instituted. I shall only take notice of that one part of this definition, which asserts that the thing sacrificed was to be destroyed as to what it was. This is clear from all the sacrifices that ever were; either they were slain, or burned, or sent to destruction. Now, the person of Christ was not dissolved, but the union of his natures continued, even then when the human nature was in itself destroyed by the separation of soul and body. It was the soul and body of Christ that was sacrificed, his body being killed and his soul separated; so that at that season it was destroyed as to what it was, though it was impossible he should be detained by death.
And this sacrifice of Christ was typified by the two goats: his body, whose blood was shed, by the goat that was slain visibly; and his soul by azazel, on whose head the sins of the people were confessed, and he sent away into the wilderness, to suffer there by a fall or famishment.
This also will farther appear in our following consideration of the death of Christ as a punishment, when I shall show that he suffered both in soul and body.
But it may be said, “If only the human nature of Christ was offered, how could it be a sacrifice of such infinite value as to [satisfy] the justice of God for all the sins of all the elect, whereunto it was appointed?”
Ans. Though the thing sacrificed was but finite, yet the person sacrificing was infinite, and the ἀποτέλεσμα of the action follows the agent, that is, our mediator, Θεάνθρωπος, — whence the sacrifice was of infinite value.
432And this is the second consideration of the death of Christ, — it was a sacrifice. What is the peculiar influence of his death as a sacrifice into the satisfaction he hath made shall be declared afterward.
From what hath been spoken, a brief description of the sacrifice of Christ, as to all the concernments of it, may be taken:—
1. The person designing, appointing, and instituting this sacrifice, is God the Father, as in grace contriving the great work of the salvation of the elect. “A body did he prepare him;” and therein “he came to do his will,” Heb. x. 5, 7, in that which he did, which the sacrifices of old could not do. He came to fulfil the will of God, his appointment and ordinance, being his servant therein, made βραχύτι less than the Father, that he might be obedient to death. God the Father sent him when he made his soul an offering.
2. He to whom it was offered was God, God essentially considered, with his glorious property of justice, which was to be atoned: “He gave himself an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour,” Eph. v. 2; that is, to atone him, being provoked, as we shall see afterward.
3. The person offering was Christ, the mediator, God and man: “He offered himself to God,” Heb. ix. 14. And because he did it who was God and man, and as God and man, God is said to “redeem his church with his own blood,” Acts xx. 28.
4. The matter of the sacrifice was his whole human nature, body and soul, called “himself,” as I have showed in sundry particulars.
5. The immediate efficient cause of his offering, and the destruction of that which he offered unto God, as before described, was his own will: “Lo, I come,” saith he, “to do thy will,” Heb. x. 7; and, “No man,” saith he, “taketh my life from me, but I lay it down of myself: I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again,” John x. 18. What men and devils did to him, or what he suffered from the curse of the law, comes under another consideration, — as his death was a penalty; as it was a sacrifice, his own will was all the cause immediately effecting it.
6. The fire that was to set this holocaust on a flame was the Holy Spirit: Heb. ix. 14, “Through the Eternal Spirit.” That the fire which came down from heaven and was always kept alive upon the altar was a type of the Holy Ghost might easily be demonstrated. I have done it elsewhere. Now, the Holy Spirit did this in Christ; he was offered through the Eternal Spirit, as others were by fire.
7. The Scripture speaks nothing of the altar on which Christ was offered; some assign the cross. That of our Saviour is abundantly sufficient to evince the folly thereof, Matt. xxiii. 18, 19. If the cross was the altar, it was greater than Christ, and sanctified him; which is blasphemy. Besides, Christ himself is said to be an altar, Heb. xiii. 10; and he is said to sanctify himself to be an offering or a 433sacrifice, John xvii. 19. So that, indeed, the deity of Christ, that supported, bore up, and sanctified the human nature as offered, was the altar, and the cross was but an instrument of the cruelty of man, that taketh place in the death of Christ as it was a penalty, but hath no place in it as a sacrifice.
That this sacrifice of Christ was a sacrifice of propitiation, as made by blood, as answering the typical sacrifices of old, and that the end and effect of it was atonement or reconciliation, shall elsewhere be more fully manifested; the discovery of it, also, will in part be made by what in the ensuing discourse shall be spoken about reconciliation itself.
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