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taking away the guilt of sins of every kind, which had been formerly committed, and not expiated. But it was not confined to these. As the atonement was made for the whole congregation, both priests and people ; it would seem to have been meant for all their former fins, for there is no exception of any. Thus it at once proclaimed the imperfection of the legal sacrifices, and in a very striking manner prefigured the efficacy of that atonement to be made by the antitypical Highpriest, when he should“ remove the iniquity of * the land in one daya."
vil. Even the defective nature of the ceremonial institute directed the worshippers to a better atone. ment. Sacrifice was appointed for some fins, and not for others; appointed for the smallest offences, and not for the greatest. Thus, according to the law, no atonement was provided for idolatry or murder. These crimes, indeed, and others of a like nature, admitted of no legal expiation ; because the transgressor was to be punished with death. But as God proclaimed that he was merciful and gracious, pardoning iniquities of every kind, and yet appointed no expiation in some cases; it shewed, that he had a better atonement provided, the efficacy of which might extend even to those who could find no mercy from the law. Of this we have an example in the case of David. God desired not facrifice or burnt-offering ; because none had been appointed for the expiation
a Zech. iii. 9.
of such crimes. Yet he intimated to him, that he had “taken away his fin.” This intimation being made by Him who “ will by no means clear the “guilty,” plainly fignified, that divine mercy was exercised in relation to a better atonement than any the law could provide.
VIII. The mercy-seat was a permanent figure of a true atonement. As the ark contained the two tables of the law, its lid or covering was overlaid with pure gold ; and on this the cloud of glory rested. This was called the covering mercy-seat, from a word which primarily fignifies to cover, or to overlay with pitch; and in a secondary sense, to expiate, to make reconciliation, and also to pardon. As it interposed between the glory of God and the tables of testimony; it signified the work of Christ, in covering our breaches of the law from the holiness and justice of God, by interposing himself as a Surety. We thus perceive the reason why the same word, which signifies to cover, is used to express the blessing of forgiveness: for when our sins are pardoned, they are covered from the eye of God as a condemning Judge, the perfect righteousness of our Elder Brother being cast over them. It is perhaps not unworthy of observation, that this word occurs but once in its literal and primary signification, to denote the covering of pitch given to the ark in which Noah and his family were saved b. As this was necessary for preserving them from the “
waters + Gen. vi. 14
waters by which the wicked were destroyed; the covering given to another ark represented the necessity of a better defence, as it was a type of the same falvation prefigured by the deliverance of the Church from the deluge .
The word, used to denote the covering of the ark, is by our translators very properly rendered mercy-seat. For the Spirit of inspiration employs a term precisely of this meaning, in the New Testament, when Christ is called a propitiatory d; the same term indeed, which often occurs in the Septuagint, as expressing the sense of the Hebrew. The literal mercy-seat was a striking emblem of him, “ whom God hath set forth to be a propitia
tory.” For not only are our transgressions of the law covered by his righteousness; but as the typical mercy-feat as it were united the law of God and the visible symbol of his presence in the Church, fo in Christ“ mercy and truth are met “ together, righteousness and peace have kissed “ each other."
On the day of atonement, the mercy-seat was to be sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifices e. This shews how we are accepted. It is only because of the atonement which our Redeemer hath made by the sacrifice of himself. Is he “ set forth “ to be a propitiatory," that is, “ a mercy-feat?" It is only “ through faith in bis blood, to declare “ God's righteousness in the remiffion of fins." The blood of the legal facrifices was to be sprinkled before the mercy-seat seven times. This be
ing e Lev. xvi. 14.
Ci Pet. iii.
d Rom. jii. 21.
ing used in Scripture as a mystical number, expressive of perfection, it intimated that he, who " is our propitiation,” should give complete satisfaction to divine justice.
When the high-priest entered the most holy place with the blood of the sacrifices, the cloud of incense was to cover the ark and mercy-seat f. This testifies, not only that the facrifice of Christ is “ of a sweet-smelling favour ;” but that, on the ground of his own oblation, he still effectually intercedes for his people; nay, that all the benefit they derive from his oblation, is immediately the effect of his eternal life as an interceding High-priest.
Wherefoever the professors of the true religion were scattered, they were still to pray towards the mercy-seat. Thus are we taught, that our prayers and other duties can be accepted only through the antitypical propitiatory. Whatever we ask the Father, it must be in the name of Christ; that is, in the exercise of faith in his facrifice and interceflion.
All the fellowship with God, which the Church of Ifrael enjoyed, was in relation to this type, according to his promise ; " There I will meet with “ with the Father," only as he hath “ called us " to the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our “ Lord.”
thee, and I will commune with thee from above “ the mercy-feath.” In like manner, there can be no communion with God, no reception of any covenant blessing, no intimation of his love, but through the one Mediator. Our“ fellowship is
16 with g 1 Kings vi. 16. 19. ; viii, 47, 48.; Pial. h Exod. xxv. 22.
f Lev, xvi. 13. xxvüi. 2,;
Dan. vi. 10.
IX. As the Old Testament contains a symbolical representation of the atonement, we have, in the New, a distinct and complete history of the real expiation made for sin, by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. From this history it is evident, that the one corresponds with the other, as the substance with its shadow. Under the law, the most usual sacrifice was a lamb, which fitly represented the innocence and meekness of the “ Lamb of God,” as well as his usefulness to the Church, supplying her both with food and raiment. Was this offering to be without blemish? Jesus was “ holy, harmless, “ undefiled and separate from finners.” Was it to be taken out of the flocki? Jesus was “ raised
up from among his brethren.” Strength and youth were requisite in the typical victim ; and our Saviour suffered in the prime of life. The sacrifice, in the passover, was separated for some time before it was offered. Jesus was separated or set apart, as the Surety for finners, in the eternal purpose and covenant, in his miraculous conception, and in his folemn inauguration at Jordan. The paschal lamb was thus separated four days ; and it has been observed, that Christ made his solemn entry into Jerusalem, nearly about the same time before his sufferingk. Were the sacrifices under the law hallowed or sanctified, in their be
ing i Exod. xii. s.
Joho xii. 1. 12.