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Christ the Substance of the Ancient Sacrifices of the Law.

HEBREWS X. 5, 6, 7.

Sacrifice and offering thou nouldest not: but a body

hast thou prepared me. In burnt-offerings, and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure: Then said I, Lo! I come, (in the volume of the book it is wrillen of me,) to do thy will, O God.

To take Jesus Christ for our Redeemer and for our example is an abridgment of religion, and the only way to heaven.

If Jesus Christ be not taken for our Redeemer, alas! how can we bear the looks of a God, who is of purer eyes than to behold evil? Hab. i. 13. How can we hope to please, with prayers debased by numberless imperfections; with a repentance, in which a regret for not daring to repeat a crime too often mixes with a sorrow for having committed it; with a love of which self-interest is always the first spring; how, I say, can we hope with our sinful services to please a God, before whom seraphims vail their faces, and in whose sight the heavens themselves are unclean?

If we do not take Jesus Christ for our example, with what face can we take him for our Redeemer? Should we make the mysteries of religion mysteries of iniquity? Should we wish, that he, who came into the world on purpose to destroy the works of the devil, would re-establish them, in order to fill up the communion with this wicked spirit that void, which communion with Christ leaves? But to take Jesus Christ for a Redeemer and to take him for a model, is to unite all that can procure our supreme felicity; it is, as I said before, an abridgment of religion, and the only way to heaven.

In these two points of light St. Paul presents our divine Saviour to the view of the Hebrews, in this chapter, from which we have taken the text, and in some following chapters. It was necessary to convince men, educated in Judaism, new converts to Christianity, and greatly prejudiced in favour of the magnificence of the Levitical service, that the most pompous parts of the Mosaic ritual, the altars and the offerings, the priests and the sacrifices, the temple and all its ceremonies, were designed to prefigure the sacrifice on the cross. It was necessary to convince men, who were as little acquainted with the morality of the gospel as with the divinity of it, that, far from using this oblation to diminish in the least degree the motives which engage every intelligent creature to devote himself to his Creator, it was employed to give them all new and additional influence. St. Paul intended to convince the Jewish converts of these truths in this epistle in general, and in my text in particular. But is the doctrine of my text addressed to new converts

only? Suppose the doctrine addressed particularly to them, does it follow, that it is needless to preach it in this pulpit? We will not examine these questions now. However averse we are to consume the precious moments of these exercises in scholastic debates, the words, that we have read, furnish us with a most specious pretext for a minute discussion of them. Are the words of my text to be considered as the language of Jesus Christ, as the far greater number of expositors, for very strong reasons, maintain? Are they the words of David, who, considering the many reasons, which persuade us to believe, that the dedications of our persons to the service of God are the most acceptable of all sacrifices to him, vows to devote himself to his service? We answer they are the words of Jesus Christ; they are the words of David; and they express the sentiments of all true believers after him. We are going to prove these assertions.

First, We will consider the text, as proceeding from the mouth of Jesus Christ. We will shew you Jesus substituting the sacrifice of his body instead of those of the Jewish economy.

Secondly, We will put the words of the text into your mouths, and we will endeavour to convince you, that this second sense of the text is clearly deducible from the first, and necessarily connected with it. Having excited your admiration in the first part of this discourse, at that inestimable gift of God, his beloved Son, we will endeavour, in the second, to excite suitable sentiments of gratitude in each of your hearts.

Great God! What bounds can I henceforth set to my gratitude? Can I be so stupid as to imagine, that I express a sufficient sense of thy beneficence by singing a psalm, and by performing a lifeless ceremony? I feel irregular propensities. Great God! to thee I sacrifice them all. My body rebels against thy laws. To thee I offer it in sacrifice. My heart is susceptible of fervour and flame. For thee, my God! may it for ever burn! "Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not: but a body hast thou prepared me. In burnt-offerings, and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure: then said I, Lo! I come, (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will. O God!" Accept this dedication of our selves to thee, O God! Amen.

I. Let us consider our text in relation to Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Three things are necessary. 1, Our text is a quotation; it must be verified. 2. It is a difficult passage; it must be explained. 3. It is one of the most essential truths of religion; it must be supported by solid proofs.

1. Our text is a quotation, and it must be verified. It is taken from the fortieth psalm. St. Paul makes a little alteration in it, for which we will assign a reason in a following article. In this, our business is to prove, that the psalm is prophetical, and that the prophet had the Messiah in view. In confirmation of this notion we adduce the evidence that arises from the object, and the evidence that arises from testimony.

In regard to the object we reason thus. All the fortieth psalm, except one word, exactly applies to

the Messiah. This inapplicable word, as it seems at first, is in the twelfth verse, mine iniquities have taken hold upon me. This expression does not seein proper in the mouth of Jesus Christ, who, the prophets foretold should have no deceit in his mouth, Isa. liii. 9. and who, when he came, defied his enemies to convince him of a single sin, John viii. 46. There is the same difficulty in a parallel psalm, I mean the sixty-ninth, O God! thou knowest my foolishness, and my sins are not hid from thee, ver. 50. The same solution serves for both places. Some have accounted for this difficulty by the genius of the Hebrew language, and have understood by the terms, sins and iniquities, not any crimes, which the speaker means to attribute to himself: but those which his persecutors committed against him. In the style of the Jews, my rebellion sometimes signifies the rebellion that is excited against me. In this manner we account for an expression in Jeremiah, My people are attached to my rebellion, that is to say, My people persist in rebelling against me. So again, we account for an expression in the third of Lamentations, O Lord, thou hast seen my wrong. That is, the wrong done to me. In like manner are those words to be explained, my foolishness, my sins, my iniquities, ver. 59.

But, if the idiom of the Hebrew language could not furnish us with this solution, we should not think the difficulty sufficient to engage us to erase the fortieth psalin from the list of prophecies, if other solid reasons induced us to insert it there. Jesus Christ on the cross was the substitute of sinners, like the scape

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