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There are other particulars connected with this celebrated Jewish feast which we might dilate upon with advantage; but what has been said will be sufficient to show you its singular bearing on the high sacrifice of Christ upon the cross, and its complete ratification and fulfilment in him, as in its end and object. Regarded by itself it is inadequate and incomplete, for as the blood of a lamb could not by any possibility, merely for its own sake, procure their deliverance from Pharaoh's yoke, or be instrumental in saving their lives when the Egyptians perished, so all the circumstances under which they marched out,
the termination of their long and calamitous bondage by a signal and surprising catastrophe,-their passage through the Red Sea whose waters fell back to admit them, and then rushed together again upon their hardened enemy, - their long journey through the wilderness, - their miraculous support under every possible deprivation of food and raiment for forty years, and their final settlement in the land of Canaan,-were plainly types and shadows of better things to come, and had an obvious reference to the times of the Messiah. And, hence, one cannot but see the reasonableness and consistency of the divine appointments, and the impossibility of all these ends being accomplished otherwise than by the birth of Jesus in Judea, and of Jewish parents. As a Jew his life is a complete key to their national history, and it opens to us and explains the strange incidents in their Law and polity. He was the Victim fore-ordained to make satisfaction for human transgression, and slain in all the victims under the old dispensation. He was the High Priest of which order, Aaron was the federal head, and of whom all others, the successors of Aaron, were living types. He was the Prophet whom Moses resembled when he said, “ The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a PROPHET from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me.” And he will be the Judge of quick and dead, a future office and appointment which no man has ventured to assume, and none will question. It is in this last quality, of a judge, that it behoves us to examine his province, and to weigh his power and authority, that we may become acquainted with the extent of our responsibility, and ascertain what we may look for at his hands. We have already known him as a peace-maker, he having reconciled us to God by the blood of his cross. Soon must we view him in a more awful character, as one who is to try our lives, and decide our destiny, and who has declared, that though he is mighty to save, he is also fearful to punish. If he has died a bitter death for our redemption, and done all that could be done by God or man for us, the greater the exertion that has been made in our behalf, the more dreadful will be the reckoning should it have been made in vain. “If,” says an Apostle, “we sin wilfully,” that is, obstinately, perseveringly, and impenitently, “after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."
Let us lay up this truth and ponder it in our hearts. “We have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” With bended knees and penitent hearts, let us beseech Almighty God not to call our sins to remembrance, but, for his great love wherewith He loved us when he gave his Son to suffer in our stead, to blot them out as a thick cloud, and to receive us again into his favour and protection. Let us dwell on the gracious promise, that however frail may have been our hearts, and however aggravated our offences, if only we put off our evil doings, and begin with sincerity to lead a new life, he, who is to be our judge, will still be likewise our Saviour and Intercessor, and blending his mercy with his justice, deliver us in our time of need, and count us, unworthy as we are, members of his Church, and sharers of his glory and blessing.
WHEN Nicodemus spoke these words, the fame of our Lord's miracles, and the extraordinary nature of his character, had begun to be spread abroad, and to attract public attention. He had gone up to Jerusalem to keep the feast of the Passover, and observing how the holy Temple was profaned to all sorts of secular purposes, he made a whip of small cords, and with an assumption of authority which greatly astonished the people, he drove out all the traders from its sacred precincts, exclaiming with the indignant zeal of a devout and offended worshipper, “Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.” This high tone of action, and this mandatory form of expression, were calculated to raise public curiosity respecting him, and to lead to the very natural enquiry, by what authority he presumed to interfere in so official a manner. He was then standing in the Temple, and pointing, it is probable, to his body, he said in mystical terms, “ Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” They mistook, as was to be expected, the meaning of his words, from having no just conception of the resurrection of the body, and supposing that he alluded to the building before them, expressed their surprise in the language of unbelief. How long he remained at Jerusalem does not appear, but the feast lasted eight days, and he took the opportunity whilst the city was filled with strangers from all parts, to perform a variety of miracles, and to make himself known. “Many,” says the Evangelist, “ believed in his name, when they saw the miracles he did.” Among those who were thus wrought upon by the testimony of their senses, and became converts to his divine mission, was Nicodemus, a Ruler of the Jews. 6 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi,” a title of respectful address commonly applied to persons of consideration, “ we know that thou art a teacher come from God:” thy credentials are manifest; “for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.”
It is to be observed, that the power of working miracles had been withdrawn from the Church for several hundred years. It seems to have ceased with the destruction of Solomon's Temple, and the captivity of the Jews by Nebuchadnezzar, for there is no account of any miraculous agency from that period to the birth of Christ. The revival, therefore, of