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His presence. Above all, with what a collected sense of His nearness ought we to fulfil our function in offering the memorial of His one only sacrifice, by taking, blessing, breaking the bread of life to His people! If only we could apprehend by a living faith, and realise the very truth of what we do, we should feel that after His sacramental Presence, and our standing there to serve before Him, nothing remains but the homage of the blessed in the vision of His face in heaven.
THE ONLY SACRIFICE.
HEB. X. 12-14.
• This Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever
sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”
ment for the sin of the world crifice of the death of Christ. This alone is in itself meritorious, propitiatory, and of infinite price and
And this is, in fact, the whole argument of the Epistle to the Hebrews. St. Paul is shewing that the law of Moses was in itself of no power or price; that it could make no propitiation, no true atonement in the eternal world; that the vileness of the sacrifices was enough to shew their impotence: “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” If the vileness of the sacrifices confessed their impotence, much more did their perpetual repetition : “For then would they not have ceased to be offered ? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.” This very iteration, like the repeated use of medicines in sickness, proved that they were of no avail: for when medicines heal, they are no longer needed. Nay, those sacrifices did more, they directly declared the sin which they could not take away.
“ In those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. .” They were a shadow and promise of a sacrifice yet to come, which in itself should be full, final, and absolute. “ Sacrifice and offering and burnt-offerings and offering for sin Thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein ; which are offered by the law; then l
r said he, Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins : but this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever
1 Heb. x. 2-3.
sat down on the right hand of God.”! Such is the whole idea of this divine argument. These many priests, many sacrifices, daily offerings, were shadows of the one only true Priest, the one only and continual Sacrifice for sin, which is Jesus Christ.
In this we see the true and full perfection of the sacrifice of the cross; and that perfection may be expressed in two words,—that it is one, and that it is continuous. Let us, by His help, dwell a while on this blessed mystery.
1. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ, then, is one. There is no other like it, or second after it. It is not the highest of a kind, or the perfecting of any order of oblations ; but like His person, a mystery sole and apart : “for such an high-priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” And as with the priest, , so with the sacrifice. In what does this unity consist? In the nature, the quality, and the passion of Him who offered Himself. It is one and unapproachable, because He was a Divine Person, both God and man. In Him was not only the blood of the animal life, nor the blood of man made in the image of God, but the blood of a Man who is God: why shall we fear to say with St. Paul, the Blood of God ?2 Never was such oblation as this offered up before, since the world was made. Man had sinned against God, and God as man offered Himself up for man.
Heb. x. 8-12.
2 Acts xx. 28.
The guilt was against an infinite love, and infinite was the atonement. The broken law was infinite in sanctity, the price which healed the breach was infinite in worth. A world's ransom must be divine, and God gave it when He
Himself. In like manner the sacrifice is one, and above all, in the quality of the person who, as God, was holy, as man, was sinless. It was not the obedience only of man for man, but of man without sin; nor only of sinless man for sinners, but the obedience of God. The obedience unto death was both human and divine. He who was born of the EverVirgin Mother was God, He who hung upon the tree was God, spotless and holy, the fountain of holiness, the sanctifier of the world.
And further, as the nature and the quality, so the passion of Christ gives to His sacrifice an unity of transcendent perfection. Being sinless as man, and being also God, He suffered all the sorrows of the fall, and died. All that was due to sin, the sinless bare in Himself; all that was due to us, but as far as the breadth of eternal righteousness from Him, He willingly endured. Wonderful and stupendous mystery. God “made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the