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in humble reliance on our gracious Mediator, be enabled “to lay hold on the hope set before us;” and prove it to be as “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.”
IN concluding this compendium of Scriptural instruction, it may be desirable, for the sake of the youthful reader, to remark on the manner in which the most important doctrines of the gospel are frequently inculcated, both by Christ and his Apostles, in figurative language. To have a right understanding of such modes of expression is of great importance to us; being a safeguard against the suggestions of infidelity on the one hand, and against the obscurities of mysticism on the other; each of these errors, however speciously presented, being calculated to undermine the foundation of our faith. The New Testament teaches us that the Lord Jesus, who is called “the Lamb of God,” is, in his propitiatory death, the antitype of the sacrifices under the law; and clearly unfolds the blessed and heart-consoling truth, that “through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all,” the penitent and believing sinner, yielding obedience to the manifested will of God, is freely forgiven and sanctified.
In describing this great change, from our naturally corrupt and fallen condition to a state of acceptance with a pure and holy God, the Apostolic writers allude to it, as being “redeemed from our vain conversation” by “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”—They address the believers as being “chosen of God,”—“through sanctification of the Spirit,” and “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ”—“the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel”—“the blood of Jesus Christ” which “cleanseth us from all sin.” These expressions “sprinkling of blood”—“the blood of sprinkling”—the “blood that cleanseth,” &c., are figurative terms, but they denote a most blessed literal truth, and evidence the deep sense, with which these servants of God were impressed, of the infinite value of the death of Christ, as being the reality of that redemption, which was typified by the sprinkling of the blood of the paschal lamb, and of the sacrifices on the holy altar; Christ giving His life a ransom for the world being the medium of access to the Father —the only true offering of atonement, of which those of the old covenant were but the shadows. By using these metaphorical terms, the Apostles were clearly understood by the Jews, who were constantly instructed that “without shedding of blood there is no remission” of sin; and the application of these terms to Christ unfolded to them the great truth which they were slow to learn—that by the death of Christ the sacrifices of the Mosaic ritual were done away, and that through Him alone could the sinner be justified or pardoned. The Gentiles also were accustomed to offer living creatures to their imaginary deities; therefore the use of this metaphorical language was fitted to meet their conceptions of propitiation and atonement. And, on the heart of every repentant and believing Christian, it is calculated to impress a joyful and most reverent sense of the unutterable mercy of God, who graciously provided the means of redemption, and who “so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but should have everlasting life.” Other Christian doctrines of most weighty import are similarly inculcated in the New Testament. John, the forerunner of our Lord, when explaining to the Jews the nature and purpose of his elementary or water baptism, contrasts it with that of Christ, who should baptize “with the Holy Ghost and with fire,” and “burn up the chaff:” indicating that Christ's baptism should operate on the heart, eradicating our sinful nature. The Lord Jesus also, when alluding to the suffering which he was to endure for us, speaks of it as a cup, of which He must drink—“a baptism to be baptized with.” And the apostle Paul, describing the manner in which the fathers were introduced into the dispensation of the old covenant, and made partakers by faith, of the blessings of redemption, says, they “were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” A clear perception of the scope and meaning of the
importance to the spiritually-minded follower of Christ; inasmuch as it affords an unspeakably blessed confirmation of faith, and a solid ground for his hope of salvation. Yet this enlightenment of the understanding is not an absolute essential in the experience of the devoted soul. Many there be who have few opportunities of becoming instructed in the glorious truths of the Christian religion, who nevertheless receive the kingdom in the simplicity of little children, who know the Holy Spirit—the blessed Agent in the work of conversion and sanctification—to work in them, “both to will, and to do, of His own good pleasure; ” these “eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood;” in other words, partake of the benefit of His propitiatory offering on Mount Calvary; their hearts are sprinkled from an evil conscience by the blood of Jesus; or, to use language not symbolical, they experience the pardoning love of God, for Christ's sake, to remove the consciousness of sin.
In contemplating the ineffably glorious redemption provided for fallen man, we may, in deepest humility, be assured that, even to the most enlightened and divinely instructed spirit, there are solemn mysteries, which will only be comprehended when, in the unveiled presence of the Almighty Jehovah—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—we may, through infinite mercy, be permitted to mingle with the beatified host around the throne, who sing the new song, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.”