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A LITERAL SACRIFICE.
In reading the New Testament, especially the Epistles, we meet with language like the following, in relation to the author and finisher of our faith.' ' This is my blood of the New Testament which is shed for many, for the remission of sins.'*—Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.'T
'For even Christ, our passover, is sacrificed for us.'I
Who, his own self, bare our sins in his own body on the tree.'sChrist also hath loved us, and given himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God.'|| "We are sanctified through the offering up ofthe body of Jesus Christ.' 'This man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins.' - How much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the Eternal spirit offered himself, without spot, to God, purge your consciences.' 'He
1 Cor. v.7.
* Matt. xvi. 28. Luke xxii. 20.
| John i. 29.
appeared to put away sin, by the sacrifice of himself.' « Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many:'* with many other passages, not, perhaps, more strong and prominent, but of the same general character.†
The question very naturally arises in the mind of a serious reader of the scriptures, whether this language is to receive a literal, or a figurative construction. This is an important inquiry. If we say it is to be construed strictly or literally, the consequence seems irresistibly to follow, that Jesus Christ was offered, or that he offered himself, as an expiatory sacrifice for the sins of either a part or the whole of the human race: that by his blood the Creator was rendered propitious to his creatures; or that Jesus was, in the words of the Westminster divines, literally and properly, ' a sacrifice to satisfy divine Justice:' and we must receive that as the doctrine of the scriptures, and convert it as we may to our spiritual nourishment; and to the correction and clevation of our views of the divine character and government. But if, on the other hand, we are to give all this sacrificial language a metaphorical or figurative construction, the doctrine just stated will derive from it no support; and we shall be left free to understand it in a manner which shall accord with the known and ordinary principles of the moral government of God; with those views of his character which are given us in other parts of the scripture; and with the ordinary acceptation of the same or similar lan
* Heb. x. 10. 12. ix. 14. 26. 28. | See Mark xiv. 24. 1 Cor. xi. 24. 2 Cor. v. 21. 1 John ii. 2. iv. 10.
guage applied by the sacred writers to other persons and things.
In relation to the exposition of the scriptures there is no question more important than this now before us, whether the sacrificial language used by the sacred writers in respect to Jesus Christ is to be construed strictly or metaphorically. We ought, then, to come to the question as those who are to give an account ; who are to answer, at a future day, for our use or abuse of the treasures of heavenly wisdom which are entrusted to our charge: - for our use or abuse of those high faculties, to which the Divine Being has addressed the revelation of his charact and purposes contained in the sacred volume; and as those who ought to be ready to answer for that easy credulity which believes too much, not less than for that cautious skepticism which at last believes too little.
We begin the inquiry, then, by remarking that, if the passages in the New Testament which speak of Jesus as a sacrifice to God, when strictly construed, shall be found to harmonize with each other, and with other plain passages of the scriptures, and with known facts, then they may be construed literally; although at the same time, if, when understood figuratively, they be equally harmonious with known facts, with other parts of scripture, and with the usages of language, they may also be construed figuratively: and, in that case, it might still remain a question whether a figurative or a literal construction should prevail. But if these several passages, when construed literally, be found to contradict other passages of scripture, or certain