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pease, by the offering of sacrifices, and shedding of the blood of animals. Yet, according to the words of the apostle, "it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." Heb. x. 4. Notwithstanding this, God, in the laws given to Moses, prescribed different kinds of sacrifices to be offered: Yet these offerings could not serve in the least to take away the sins of men, as is evident from the above words of the apostle; and also from Heb. x. 11. which words, in particular, refer to the Jewish sacrifices: "And every priest standeth daily ministering, and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins." It is therefore necessary, to find out the reasons why God appointed such sacrifices.
In the Holy Scriptures, we find two reasons given, 1. That man might confess his guilt before God; and that he has deserved nothing but to be slain by the wrath of God, as the animals offered in sacrifice were slain. Hence, God. commanded the offerers of the sacrifice, to lay their hands upon the head of the beast to be slain, Lev. iv. 15. This silent confession of guilt, pointed out to man the necessity of seeking for a Deliverer and Mediator. 2. That these sacrifices might prefigure that glorious sacrifice which should come, the Lamb, Jesus Christ, without
blemish, who died for our sins on the cross. The prefiguration consisted in this: If the shedding of blood is calculated to produce in every one the feeling of compassion, how much more is the pure blood of the Son of God calculated to excite the compassion of our heavenly Father towards us, who is offended because of our iniquities? If the blood of beasts could sanctify to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ wash our souls from the filthiness of sin? Such are the reasonings of St Paul to the Hebrews, chap. ix. and x. where, amongst other things, it is written, "The law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices, which they offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect," chap. x. 1. And even Heathen sacrifices might have been useful in this way, if men had thereby been led to a confession of their guilt before God, and to seek a better way of justification in his sight.
In respect to the rites, or holy ceremonies of the Jews, they also, as visible signs, prefigured the invisible blessings of the gospel. Thus, for instance, spiritual circumcision; that is, a cutting off of the corrupt passions, and the destruction of sin, through the grace of Christ. The
paschal lamb was a sign also of our partaking by faith, of the most holy Lamb Jesus Christ.
brazen serpent in the wilderness, likewise, prefigured our Saviour hanging on the cross, &c.
The different states of the Church.
The church of Jesus Christ being founded at the beginning of the world, was first governed by oral and traditionary revelations of the will of God; afterwards by the written law, and the doctrines of the prophets; and at last is governed by the Gospel.
The three states of the Church.
1. Above, in Section iii. we have shewn, that it is necessary to go back to the foundation of the world for the beginning of the church of Jesus Christ. There is, therefore, nothing in this world more ancient, than the faith which we profess, and the church which preserveth the treasure of faith in herself. This church, from the very beginning of the world, is one and the same, and will remain such till the end of time; even so the faith which she holds is unchangeable: "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." Heb. xiii. 7.
But the conditions of the church have been various. They are reckoned three. The first includes the state of the church from Adam to
Moses; the second, from Moses to Christ; and the third, from Christ to the end of time.
The first state of the church God governed by his oral revelations, which Adam having received, communicated to his posterity, even to Noah : this was easy for him to do, on account of his long life. Noah communicated them to his children and posterity. All the ancient patriarchs, according to the testimony of Paul, were in the faith; Heb. xi. 2. But sometime after the flood of Noah, by reason of the wickedness of mankind, the revelations of God began to be forgotten or disregarded, and then idolatry, hateful to God, began to be introduced; Joshua xxiv. 2. Therefore God was pleased, as the only means of saving the human race, to renew these revelations of his will to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their posterity, even to the days of Moses. All these revelations were made in the strength of the gospel, that is, they pointed at faith in Jesus Christ, as the Mediator and reconciler of God and man. Hence the divinely wise Paul, having enumerated the ancients from the beginning of the world, and having borne witness to their belief, at last concludes, that Jesus was the author and finisher of their faith; Heb. xii. 2.
Why was a written law given?
2. The great confusion that exists among men, and their proneness to forget honesty and virtue, though these feelings are stamped on the heart of every one, excited the most merciful God to give unto erring mankind assistance, and this assistance is the written law. This law contains in itself perfect rules to regulate the actions of men, and is a most evident representation of the internal law of the heart, which had been darkened by men's evil deeds.
God made choice of that most zealous man Moses, to whom he delivered this law, and through whom it was more immediately communicated to the children of Israel, and intended for mankind in general. But as this law was not sufficiently powerful to keep men from following the bent of their corrupt inclinations, so God sent prophets, who, by declaring the divine wrath, as well as by a strict personal observance of the law, and by promises, strove to reform the children of men.
Thus began the second state of the church from Moses to Christ, governed by the written law, and the doctrine of the prophets. It is also necessary to keep in remembrance, that the law of Moses, and all the prophets, and all who lived under the law, were founded in Jesus Christ, as