« PoprzedniaDalej »
before described, do really mistake our Lord's meaning in the declaration which we have been considering, is this : the metaphor born again, or re-begotten (regenerated) cannot be said to favour the idea of a sudden and complete conversion, because the new-born have only nascent powers; seeds, as it were, of faculties, which are, by a long series of improvements, depending upon assiduous care and culture, to come gradually to maturity. A man does sometimes indeed persuade himself that he can fix a time from which his reformation may be dated; and certainly a calamity, a long sickness, a deliverance from imminent danger, a coincidence of strik-iing events, or an attentive and deep meditation, a forcible and seasonable warning or exhortation, may make a very strong impression on the mind ; may give a turn to the sentiments and purposes : but I see no likeness between such a change and a new birth : immediately on the reformation, the penitent is able to act upon his new resolutions and principles; whereas a new born human being, whether new-born in a natural or spiritual sense must be first an helpless infant, then a child, then a youth, and at last a man. (See I Cor. iii. 1, 2.) And I conceive St. Paul to have had ideas not very remote from this when he wrote Epl. iv. verses 11-16.–Virtue consists of good habits, as well as of good principles; and habits can never be formed at once: nay he that thinketh he standeth must take heed lest he fall. Nor does it seem to me that, there is any good, or any certainty, in dating reformation from a certain period : there is a great deal to be done after the first good resolutions are taken ; it has been remarked, that no one gets to the extreme of wickedness at once; but the advances towards the perfection of goodness are much slower than those towards the extreme of vice. During the progress towards perfect virtue, danger attends every step, and some steps are retrograde, . though that is apt to be forgotten. A person recovering froin sickness loves to date his recovery ; but he is very apt to forget the slow advances, the partial relapses, the uncertainties, the apprehensions under which he has laboured. Some sudden conversions are recorded in Scripture, such as that of the keeper of the prison in which St. Pauland Silas were confined, (Acts xvi.) but these are no way applicable to common life. Indeed all that the jailor did, was to join the “way,” or “ heresy"
of Christians; and to that he was impelled by a tremendous earthquake, and an evidently miraculous interposition of divine power, striking externally his senses.
But the effect of all our reasonings may be frustrated by an enthusiastic teacher saying to his disciple, “ How can the blind talk of colours, or the deaf of harmony? This reasoner has never felt the spirit converting his soul." I own I have not, in the way I conceive the enthusiast to mean; nor do I believe that any man has. God alone knows the whole truth. If any one will say, in plain terms (and where is the good of slippery larguage? of different modes of expression to different persons ?) that he certainly has experienced an unchangeable conversion, wrought upon his mind by what he knew to be a divine power; I shall only reply, “ God is the judge." As to myself, I have, at present, much more reason to think him deceived, than to believe the thing to be as he reports. It is utterly unlike probation ; it destroys the duties of watchfulness, or vigilance, of circumspection, of fear and trembling, of diligence to make calling and election sure. In the sight of God I declare, that I think it my duty not to trust to such representation. I think myself bound most solemnly to warn others against trusting to it. Yet I honour and commend the devout affections, when under the guidance of reason, prudence, and conscience. I hold the Father of all, and his Son our Lord, to be proper objects of Love, as well as of fear, gratitude, and admiration; though their incomprehensible greatness, their infinite purity, compared with human weakness and sinfulness, may retard the flights of passion in our present state.'
Finally, I judge, that the Scriptures, rightly understood, encourage no enthusiasm, no presumption of supernatural intercourse (at this time) with the Deity; no Hightiness or extravagance of any kind; on the contrary, that our Holy Religion is, what St. Paul stiles it, when he says to the Roman governor, in the presence of king Agrippa, (Acts xxvi. 25.) “I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soBERNESS."
X Churchn. Mag. for Feb. 1306.
For THE ORTHoDox CHURCH MAN's MAGAZINE.
An ACCOUNT of the CEREMONIES performed on the DAY of EXPIATION. Levit. xvi.
THIS was one of the most solemn days amongst the people of the Jews. It was celebrated on the 10th day of the month Tisri, which was the first month of their civil year; and was named the great fast, or the fast, only, because they fasted all the i. long, and began, even the day before ; but, especially, because this was the only fast enjoined by the law. It is probable this is the same as mentioned, Acts xxvii. 9, where it is said, that they were afraid of a storm, because the fast was already past ; that is, it was about the beginning of October, when sailing becomes dangerous. It may, however, be understood of a fast of the Heathens, which was celebrated about this time. The institution of this day of expiation, and the ceremonies performed upon it, are related in the xvith chapter of Leviticus. Of these ceremonies, some were to be observed both by the priest and people; as the abstain- .# from all kinds of food, and all manner of work: others related only to the high-priest, who, seven days before the feast, left his house, and went into the temple to purify and prepare himself for the approaching solemnity. See Lev. xvi. 29, and xxiii. 27, 28. On the 3d and 7th of those days, some of the ashes of the red heifer were put upon his head, which was a kind of expiation. The night before the feast, he washed several times his hands, his feet, and his whole body, and changed his garments every time. When the day, was come, after the usual sacrifice, he offered several others, both for the priests in general, and for himself and his family in particular +. For his family he offered a young bullock, on which he laid his hands, and confessed his own sins, and those of his house. He afterwards cast lots upon two goats, which were offered for the people ; one whereof was to be sacrificed, and the other sent into the desert. See Lev. xvi. 8. This done, he slew the calf and the ram that were appointed for the expiation of his own sins, and those of his brethren the priests. + They offered on that day fifteen sacrifices, viz. Twelve whole burntofferings, and other expiatory sacrifices both for the people and priests.
at the veil whin the basis old seven times: head o
When all these preparations were over, he went into the holy of holies, in the dress of a common priest, because this was a day of affliction, and burned before the mercy-seat the perfumes which he had brought from the altar. This perfume raised a kind of a cloud, that hindered people from looking into the ark, which was reckoned an heinous offence, 1 Sam. vi. 19. He then came out to receive from one of the priests the blood of the young bullock, and carried it into the holy of holies, where, standing between the staves of the ark, he sprinkled some of it with his finger on the mercy-seat; and by this ceremony made himself fit to atone for the sins of the people : afterwards he came out of the holy of holies, to take the blood of the goat which he had slain. This he sprinkled upon the mercy-seat, as he had done that of the bullock before. He then once more came out of the holy of holies, and took some of the blood of the goat and bullock, which he poured into the horns of the inner altar (made hollow for that purpose) near the veil which divided the holy place from the most holy; and also on the basis of the outer altar. Each of these sprinklings was repeated seven times. Lastly, the high-priest laid both his hands upon the head of the other goat, and had him conveyed into the wilderness, by a fit person, after he had confessed over him the sins of the people, and laid them upon his head.
This was a very expensive ceremony. The sins of the people were done away by the sacrifice of the first goat; and, to shew that they would be no more had in remembrance, the second was loaden with them *, and carried them with him into the wilderness, which was thought by the ancient Hebrews to be the abode of devils, the authors of all vice and iniquity (see Matt. xii. 43 Rev. xviji. 2.) and therefore the people were wont to insult over and curse him, to spit upon him, to pluck off his hair; and, in short, to use him as an accursed thing. There appear no footsteps of this usage in the law ; but it is certain that it was very ancient, since St. Barnabas, who was contemporary with the apostles, makes
* This goat was called Azazel, which the LXX have rendered by a word which signifies to remove or turn away evil. The word may also signify an emissary or scape-goat, from the word yx, [az] which signifies a goat, and Syr, [azal] to separate. See Prid. connect. P. II, B. 1. under the year 291.
express mention of it in his Ep. p. m. 22. which epistle must have been written not long after the destruction of
Jerusalem. The ill treatment which Jesus Christ met
with from the Jews, had great conformity with this custom; and it is evident, #. his enemies dealt with him in the same manner, as they were used to do with the goat, azazel, as Tertullian observes, adv. Jul. lib. III. cap. 3. It is very probable, that the ancient Jews took occasion from some passages out of the prophets (as Isai. i. 6, 1.6, liii. 3,) to bring in the custom of this insulting the goat azazel, and crowning him with a red ribbon ; or, as Lamy observes, a piece of red stuff, which was in the shape of a tongue. It was also the custom among the heathens to load with curses and imprecations those human sacrifices that were offered for the public welfare, and to crown them with red ribbons. §. Virgil, AEn. lib. II. ver. 133. If it be asked, for what reason God was pleased to chuse the vilest and most despicable of those animals that were clean, to be offered on the day of expiation, we shall answer with some learned authors, that the IEgyptians entertaining a very great veneration for goats, and the Israelites themselves i. worshipped them in Ægypt (Lev. xvii. 7,) God's design was to turn them from this kind of idolatry, by appointing the one to be offered for a sacrifice, and the other to be loaden with the iniquities of the people. See Bochart de animal. sac. ser, lib T. cap. 53. When the high-priest had performed all these functions, he went into the court of women, and read some part of the law. Lastly, he came the fourth time into the holy of holies to fetch back the censer, and the pan wherein was the fire. When therefore it is said in Scripture”, that the high-priest entered only once a year into the holy of holies, it must be understood of one day in the year, and not once on that day. Every thing was done in order, and when one function was over, he was obliged to come out and perform other ceremonies; which, according to the law, could not be done in the *most holy place; as washing himself, changing his cloaths, slaying the sacrifices, &c. We have dwelt the longer upon this solemnity, because it hath a greater conformity with the Christian re* Exod. xxx. 10, Lev. xvi. 34. Heb. xix. 7.