Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

66

FOR WHERE A TESTAMENT IS, THERE MUST ALSO OF NECESSITY

BE THE

DEATH

OF THE TESTATOR.

FOR

A TESTAMENT IS OF FORCE

AFTER MEN ARE DEAD : OTHERWISE IT IS OF NO STRENGTH AT ALL WHILE THE TESTATOR LIYETH.”

In considering the history of Jesus Christ, and proving the truth of his character, and the reality of his pretensions to be the Messiah, it becomes exceedingly important, that we should find the most entire and exact agreement between the types of the old dispensation and the realities of the new; an agreement not partial and occasional, depending upon a few striking coincidences, but precise, full, complete, and accurate. If he came to fulfil the Law, every tittle of that Law, which had a symbolical and emblematical reference, must have received in him its accomplishment. For the truth of his character is not to be ascertained by any detached and prominent points of resemblance between him and the figures of old, however striking or illustrious, but by a just and natural conformity in all things.

The argument on which the Gospel stands for

[ocr errors]

its defence, rests on the necessity of a new and final revelation of God's will to man, owing to the incompleteness and obvious imperfection of the Law of Moses. There is no other foundation for it. If perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the Law,)” there could have been no necessity for any farther revelation from God. But the whole structure of that dispensation shows it to bave been a temporary and shifting institution, adapted to a particular end, limited to a particular people, and incapable, from its very nature, of benefiting all mankind. Its enactments were local and arbitrary, restricted to the age, the country, and the people to which it was addressed. It bore evident marks of the effects and alterations of time. It had many characteristics which under no circumstances whatever could have become general, and have been continued to be practised, with effect, as the world improved. Besides, its very nationality was a bar to its success. But not only was its character of a fading and evanescent nature, but its most sublime and exalted professors had, in numerous passages, and on various occasions, declared its insufficiency By the Spirit of God they had foretold that a new and better economy was to follow, and they had marked out the time and the circumstances when the Levitical covenant was to cease. When, therefore, the Gospel was introduced to the world, and the reason for its introduction was stated and explained, both the blessed Author of this light, and the immediate propagators of it, founded its claim to acceptance, on the invalidity of the Law. In the disputes which he held with the unbelieving Jews, he constantly maintained the necessity of the sacrifice of himself for the sins of the world, which clearly implied that no such sacrifice was made under the Law; and the Apostles and first teachers of Christianity lay it down as an incontrovertible position, that the Law of ordinances was to cease, because God would have all men to be saved, which could not have been done by the old economy. But the particular points to which I wish to draw your attention, as elucidating the truth of Christ's character, and the reality of his pretensions to be the Messiah, are those which are stated so ably and so forcibly by St. Paul in the passage from whence my text is taken. He there observes, that a testament or will is of no force till the testator dies,—that the first testament was ratified by an effusion of blood,that the second was likewise confirmed by a similar but holier sacrifice,—and, finally, that blood is the only instrument of atonement.

The subject, therefore, may be comprised under these three heads, the nature, the mode, and the object of sacrifice. And, First, with regard to the nature of sacrifice.

I. Now, the Apostle's first position is obvious to every one of common

of common understanding, namely, that à testament is of no force till the testator be dead.

The will by which any one devises his estate, continues inoperative during the life of the deviser. It is not meant to take effect till after his decease. Then it is published, and the parties therein considered come into possession of its several benefits.

The Levitical law, though in strictness a covenant, partook of the nature of a testament. It proclaimed God's will to the family whom he had chosen and adopted, and it contained a full declaration of his views and requirements respecting them. All wills are of a conventional nature. They suppose the party to be benefited by them, as in some sense interested in the testator's regards, and they imply, very clearly, a condition, that the advantages accruing to them are not to be wantonly wasted or misemployed. A will, therefore, differs from a covenant in no very material degree, and St. Paul in arguing this subject, uses the terms testament and covenant as of equivalent signification.

Now, in order to ratify the first testament, which is called the Jewish dispensation, a very solemn and imposing ceremony was adopted. As the death of the disposing party was a necessary step to the ratification of the covenant, Moses, having rehearsed to all the people every precept of the Law, took certain animals and slew them before the assembled hosts, thus confirming the bond by the destruction of life, and then taking “the blood, he sprinkled” with it “ both the book and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.

Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.” He did this both to sanctify and to purify them, and by this act he confirmed and ratified the contract. The people had already promised obedience to the Law. God accepted this promise, and thus sealed and concluded. the agreement with them. But it is quite evident that all this solemn ceremony and service was only symbolical, and looked to some future occurrence of an analogous nature. It could not be construed, and was not meant to be considered, as a real, permanent, and absolute token of God's final covenant with his creatures. It referred but to one race of men on the whole earth, and was, therefore, very partial in its benefits. St. Paul points out the right signification of it, when he applies it to the only true and legitimate object for which it was ordained, namely, the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. 6 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh : how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” That is, as Moses was the mediator between God and the Israelites, and offered those victims whose deaths were the ratifying tokens of the covenant

« ÎnapoiContinuați »