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fign and principal object, are just an history of " the Lamb flain from the foundation of the " world."
Before the coming of Christ to “ take away fin by the facrifice of himself;" there were especially three different ways in which atonement was made ; by the punishment of the guilty person, by the payment of a price, or by the substitution of the innocent for the guilty.
We sometimes read of atonement being made, when the guilty were punished in their own perfons. Thus, when Phineas flew the daring transgressors, who were committing fornication in the - camp,
it is said that he “ made an atonement for “ the children of Israel.” But it is to be observed, that the atonement in this instance was not made for the fin of the persons immediately concerned. For they perished in their iniquity. It was accepted of God for the congregation in general, for averting that wrath to which they were subjected by this iniquity. For the just God, as Governor of the world, demands from collective bodies the punishment of open transgressors; and if this be refused, he considers the society at large as chargeable with the guilt. So well pleased was he with the zeal of Phineas in executing judgment on this occasion, that the plague, which had gone forth against Israel, because of their transgression in the matter of Peor, was immediately stayed It was counted unto Phineas “ for righteousness " in all generations for evermore +;" and his family was confirmed in the possession of the priesthood. In like manner, God did not “ turn from “ the fierceness of his anger” against his people, till “ the accursed thing was destroyed from a
mily 9 Rev, xiii. 8. r Num. xxv. 6, 7. 13.
s Ver. S.
t Pa!. vi. 3.
mong them,” in the punishment of Achan and his family u.
Atonement was also made by the payment of a price. “ The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, “ When thou takelt the sum of the children of “ Israel, after their number, then shall they give
every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord “ when thou numberet them; that there be no
plague among them when thou numberest “them." Half a shekel, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which was the double of that commonly current, was to be given for every male who was twenty years old and above. This was called “ the atonement-money of the chil“ dren of Israel ;” and in paying thiş 'sum, they
gave an offering unto the Lord, to make an “ atonement for their fouls v." prefigured our being “ bought with a price w;" although “ not with corruptible things, as filver “ and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” The rich were not to give more, nor the poor less. For all souls are alike precious in the fight of God; and although some are greater finners than others, nothing less than an atonement of infinite value can be accepted for any one.
This price was to be paid by each individual whose age corresponded, every time the Israelites were number
ed; u Josh. vii. 12. 26. y Excd. xxx. 11.-16. w I Cor. vi. 29.
This payment ed, under the penalty of his losing his life by an immediate stroke of divine justice. Thus God testified, that when he makes inquisition, it is impossible for the finner to stand before him without an atonement.
But the principal mode of making atonement, was by the substitution and punishment of the innocent instead of the guilty ; or, to express it in one word, by facrifice. This kind of expiation being the most common among the Israelites, and containing the most striking figure of the true, it demands our particular attention. .
1. The doctrine of substitution was well known to the Church from the earliest period. As “ A“ bel offered by faith,” while we know that his offering was “ of the firstlings of his flock,” we may safely infer, that the worship of God by facrifice was of divine appointment. Now, every facrifice necessarily implied the idea of substitution. We cannot suppose, that the true worshippers of God were so stupid as to imagine that the offering of brutes could in itself be acceptable to him. They knew, that “ if he were hungry, “ he would not tell them, because the world is -his, and all the fulness thereof; that he would “not eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of "goats.” Did they offer by faith? Then they must have respected not merely the divine institution, but its design. That God, who required facrifice, would undoubtedly inform them, that what they inflicted on the innocent victims, which
they they presented to him, was only what themselves deserved.
When the people transgressed, by worshipping the golden calf, Moses, the typical Me. diator, who was innocent in this matter, under a deep sense of the necessity both of satisfaction and of substitution, proposed himself as a victim of divine vengeance, instead of the guilty congregation. “ Yet now,” he said, “ if thou
wilt, forgive their fin : and if not,” if there be no other mode of reconciliation, “ blot me, I pray “ thee, out of the book which thou hast written." But a better Mediator was neceffary.
As true worshippers could not apprehend that God took pleasure in facrifice for its own fake, they must have known that no victim they offered could have any merit ; that there was no proportion between the sacrifice of a beast, and the sin of a man. They could not indeed “ offer by “ faith,” without looking forward to a better substitute. Without the exercise. of faith in the suretiship of the Mefliah, their services could not have been accepted. When it is faid of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, that they “ all “ died in faith,” we learn what this grace principally respected. They had not, as to the substance, “ received the promises,” but they “ them afar off, and embraced them y." It was Christ as a Surety, whom, in the promises, they “ saw afar off.” All their facrifices bore a direct relation to his “one offering." For in the first
promise * Exod. xxxii. 32.
ly Heb. xi. 13.
promise he was expressly revealed as a suffering Saviour. Hence, when addressing the Father concerning that will, by which we are sanctified, through the offering of his own body, he says; “ At the head of the book it is written of me, I
delight to do thy will .”
11. The imposition of hands on the head of the victim, is a circumstance which particularly deserves our attention, as a farther proof of substitution in making atonement. This was the injunction with respect to any man who should
bring an offering. He shall put his hand upon " the head of the burnt-offering ; and it shall be “accepted for him, to make an atonement for “ him a." This was an emblem of his transferring his guilt, as far as this could be done, to the victim. If in any instance the whole congregation had finned ignorantly, and their offence was afterwards known to them, the congregation was to offer a young bullock for the fin, and the elders, as their representatives, were to “
lay their “hands on the head of the bullock before the “ LORD b." A similar rite was to be observed by the high-priest, on the great day of atonement. He was to “ lay both his hands on the head of “ the live-goat, and confess over him all the ini“quities of the children of Israel, and all their
transgressions, in all their fins, putting them on " the head of the goat ." This rite was unwor
thy z Psal. xl. 7, 8.
a Lev. i. 4
b Lev. iv. 14, 15,
Lev. xvi. 23.