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case she offered two doves, one for a burntoffering and the other for a sin-offering. This law taught the necessity of mortification and humiliation on account of that hereditary corruption which is conveyed to every child which is born into the world by its parents, (Ps. li. 7) whereby children are rendered “ unclean" (1 Cor. vii. 14) and “ children of wrath." (Eph. ii. 3.) For “ who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
Not one. (Job xiv. 4.) As an indication and continual memorial of the hereditary corruption which we derive from our descent as the offspring of Adam, it was required not only that the child (if a male) should be circumcised, but also that the mother should be cleansed from her impurity by sacrifice for sin. Some even of the Jewish Doctors appear to have understood the spiritual meaning of this institution; for one of them, viz. R. Menachem on Levit. 12, has observed, that “no “ sin-offering is brought but only for sin:” and he adds, “ It seemeth to me that there is a “ mystery in this matter concerning the sin of “ the old serpent. '
The importance which is attached to the doctrines of " original or birth sin,” and of redemption by vicarious sacrifice, appears not only from the verbal statements of the New Testament, but also from the figurative rites and ceremonies of the Old. For as these doctrines are interwoven with every page of the former, so are they symbolically represented in every ordinance of the latter. Every sacrifice that was offered, and every act of purification which was performed, taught that “ original
See Ainsworth on Levit. 12.
sin is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit; and" that “therefore in every person born into this world it deserveth God's wrath and damnation.”* And every branch of the ceremonial law, moreover, testifies, that “ we are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works and deservings.”+ The Old Testament may be considered as a volume of emblematical or hieroglyphic paintings, to which the New Testament is the explanatory key.
There was another law in the Jewish code relative to the first-born, with which the commemoration of this day is connected. For after that the destroying angel, in consequence of Pharaoh's obstinacy in refusing to dismiss the children of Israel, had cut off all the first-born of the Egyptians, by which judgment Pharaoh was constrained to comply with the requisitions of Jehovah, God ordained that all the Jewish first-born males, both of men and beasts, should be dedicated to Him. The firstlings of clean beasts were set apart for sacrifice; as the firstborn male children were for the service of the tabernacle, until the selection of the tribe of Levi rendered their service unnecessary.
After that selection the first-born male children were redeemed by a ransom paid into the treasury of the Lord. This signified that the preservation of their lives was vouchsafed to them through
* Article ix.
† Article xi.
the ransom of the great atonement, of which the blood of the paschal lamb was a lively representation; and that the lives thus redeemed were consecrated to God.
Exemption from eternal death is the result of a ransom paid for us by Him who is “the first-born of every crea“ ture;' through whom all His people become members of “the church of the first-born whose “ names are written in heaven," and are enabled
present their bodies a living sacrifice, boly “ and acceptable to God, which is their rea“sonable service.” (See Exod. xiii. 2.)
It has been questioned whether our Lord and his virgin mother were subject to these laws of the Mosaic code, as the supernatural mode of His birth exempted both from any polution thereby. However this question be solved, it is certain that a compliance with these requisitions was right; for it became our Lord, as made under the law for man, “ to fulfil all righteous“ ness” according to its most rigid demands. Our Lord was therefore " presented in the tem
ple," and His niother made the usual offering of a pair of doves, her poverty precluding the more costly sacrifice of a lamb.
Let'us pause for the purpose of admiring this instance of the love and condescension of our Divine Saviour. Though He was “ without sin,' hereditary or contracted, yet having undertaken to bear our sins, He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, and treated accordingly.* His
* The Alexandrian and some other copies in. Luke ii. 22, for autns réad autwy, referring the purification to be made in the temple both to the mother and child. 66 And as it must be owned that both, for a while after the birth, were looked upon as ceremonially unclean, it might not be
aproper (with Erasmus and some of the most considerable expositors) to admit this reading, and to render it "their purification, as referring to them both. For notwithstanding it is true that Christ had no moral impurity from which He needed to be cleansed; yet we may well enough suppose Him, as
own precious life, which was to be the ransom for ours, was 'redeemed at the price of five shekels (Num. xviii. 15, 16). as though it had been forfeited by transgression. He“ was pre“ sented in the temple in substance of our flesh;” being thus dedicated to God as both the priest and sacrifice whereby our sins were to be expiated, our persons rendered acceptable, and our souls sanctified and saved. If the motive and end of His presentation in the temple be asked, His own declaration will explain both. “ For “ their sakes,” He says of His disciples, “I “ sanctify myself, that they also might be sanc“ tified through the truth.” This our Lord did by several successive acts, of which His presentation in the temple is one.
His self-dedication in the everlasting covenant, when He offered Himself to do the will of God, (Ps. xl. 7, 8). and His assumption of our nature, (Heb. x. 5–7) may be considered as the first steps in His career of loving-kindness. To these succeeded His circumcision and presentation in the temple, which were followed by His baptism, and terminated in His sacrifice and the effusion of His blood, which is called (Heb. x. 29) "the “ blood of the covenant by which He was " sanctified,"
He bore our sins,' to have submitted to this ordia nance as well as circumcision; and, as He came into the world • made of a woman, made under the law,' He would be ready to coniply with any institution of the law, that He might thus · fulfil all righteousness”.”—Doddridge's Expositor. VOL. III.
Did Christ thus solemnly set Himself apart to the work of redemption? Did He repeatedly renew His sacred vows? By various acts rę. quired in the law did He devote Himself to the great work He had undertaken? Surely then it becomes us to :« present our bodies a living “ sacrifice holy and acceptable to God.” Surely this is “ our reasonable service.” Considering the frailty of our nature and our propensity to start aside from God like a broken bow, surely it becomes us to renew our acts of self-oblation continually; nor can any additional tie by which we can bind ourselves be deemed superfluous. :. To the obligations of the baptismal covenant we should add those of confirmation; and to those of confirmation we should add the obligations which arise from a participation of the mystic supper, repeating this last act of selfdedication • till the Lord come,” as often as it may be in our power.
The prayer which in our collect follows the mention of our blessed Lord's presentation in the temple, is founded on the end for which He was thus dedicated to God. « For their sakes, says He, “I sanctify myself, that they also
might be sanctified through the truth.” Keeping this glorious object in view, we pray that “we may be presented unto God with
pure and clean hearts by the same His Son « Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The presentation of our persons with acceptance before God in His heavenly temple is the final object of Christian hope. “ In His pre“ sence is fulness of joy, and at His right hand “ are pleasures for evermore.” Of this joy and of these pleasures believers have the antepast in