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make atonement. Sin, therefore, rendered it necessary. If so, it must have had some connexion with the pardon of sin. Offerings among the Jews were very nume
Of these, at large, it is not my intention to treat. But particularly of their shedding the blood of some chosen victim, with very solemn circumstances, as a typical expiation for sin.
By atonement is meant a satisfaction offered for an offence that had been committed. The import is the same as the term ransom. Christ is said to give his life a ransom for many: i. e. for the redemption of many. The sacrifice is the offering, and the atonement the effect of that offering or sacrifice. For it was by sacrifice the priests made atonement. We proceed then to inquire,
1. For the origin of offerings, sacrifices, or shedding the blood of animals as a religious rite ; and here we must search the Jewish scriptures, because they are the most ancient in the world, and of divine authority.
The text gives us the first hint of this religious and expressive rite. “Unto Adam also, and to his wife, did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” This took place after the fall, and after the Lord had denounced the sentence of punishment against them.
These skins, it is generally believed, were taken from beasts that had been slain in sacrifice; which the Lord had taught them to offer as types of Christ, who was to appear in the end of the world, to put away sins by the sacrifice of himself.
They could not be slain for food, because they were not allowed to eat animal food till after the flood. Their food before the fall was the fruit of the trees of the garden of Eden. Gen. iii. 18. “ And thou shalt eat of the herb of the field.” The first grant to man to eat flesh, - says one, as his common food, was after the flood. Gen. xi. 3. “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you : even as the green herbs have I given you all things."
If not slain for food, then we may conclude that these beasts were offered in sacrifice. God himself is the author of this practice. And as it is not a natural idea, that the Deity would be pleased with the slaying of beasts, we must look for its origin in God.
This practice has prevailed among all nations. No doubt the whole was derived from the same source. The first sinners received it from Jehovah, and all others from them, until it was in. corporated with the Jewish ritual, from which it is probable many other nations derived the practice.
The first time we find the word atonement in the sacred scriptures, is in Exod. xxix, when the priests were consecrated. On this occasion a bul. lock and two rams were offered, The victims were brought before the tabernacle of the congregation. Aaron and his sons put their hands on their heads, before they were killed. By which we are taught that they were to be viewed as a substitute, and as typically bearing sin. Through the whole of the Old Testament we find that the victims were considered as bearing sin, and thus satisfying the affronted Deity.
The heathen had some idea of atonement ; for in the horrid act of offering up their children and other human victims, they meant to appease an offended Deity.
I think, my brethren, we are authorized to believe that these skins with which Jehovah clothed Adam and Eve, as was said before, were taken from beasts thus offered in sacrifice. The text leads us to remark,
1. That our first parents were, at this time, in a guilty and naked condition. Sin had disrobed them of their original righteousness, and robbed them of their innocence.
2. That the Lord Jehovah condescended to provide a covering for them, though they deserved to be banished forever from his presence. This part of the divine conduct leads us to admire his patience and mercy to sinners.
3. That man could not provide for himself. He was as helpless as he was guilty. His naked soul must have been sent down to regions of dark despair, had not mercy interposed.
4. We are here taught also that this covering was the price of blood. The beasts were slain in sacrifice; and pointed to Christ, who once suffered the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.
5. We may also remark, that this covering for our fallen parents may with propriety prefigure the perfect righteousness of Christ, which is unto all, and upon all them who believe. The father of the returning prodigal commanded ta put the best robe upon him.
6. We remark once more, that these first of. fenders were reduced to a very debased condi. tion, being indebted to the beasts that were sac
rificed for clothing. When they viewed themselves thus clothed in the skins of slaughtered animals, how must they have felt the state of degradation into which sin had plunged them! So it is with all sinners, when brought to the knowledge of the truth ; they see that the whole plan of salvation is calculated to bring down the lofty looks of man. “ The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down; and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” Because it is such a plan, it was “ to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but unto them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
In the preceding remarks we reason from circumstances, that these skins were taken from beasts offered in sacrifice; but the instance of Abel, to which we pass, is plain; nothing is left to reasoning or conjecture. It is said, Gen. iv. 4. “ And Abel offered the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof;" compared with Heb. xi. 4.
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excel. lent sacrifice than Cain."
This is the first explicit account of offering sacrifice. I may ask with propriety, how came Abel to think that God would be pleased with the offering of an animal ? It is confessed that it is not a natural idea. Whence then did Abel obtain a knowledge that it was his duty to offer such a sacrifice? I hesitate not to say, that he was taught it by God himself. And this remark is confirmed by the issue. Jehovah accepted his of. fering, which he certainly would not have done, if it had not been agreeable to his will.
Paul says, he offered it by faith. By faith of what? I answer, by faith that to offer sacrifice would be acceptable to Jehovah; and by faith that such sacrifice pointed to another and a greater one, to be offered in due time. For though Abel did not in his day understand the doctrine of sacrifices as we do in this, he no doubt did believe that there was an important meaning in these offerings, which would be better understood at a future period. Paul says that the ancient believers received not the promise, but were persuaded of it and embraced it. They rejoiced to see Christ's day, though afar off; and they saw it and were glad; but they saw through a glass darkly.
After this, offering of sacrifice became a general religious rite throughout the Jewish nation.
II. The nature and design of these sacrifices are now to be considered, because it hath been said that they pointed to the atonement, or the one glorious sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Out of the many sacrifices of the Jews, I shall confine myself to two, that we may not be tedious. These two are the paschal lamb, and the scape-goat.
The paschal lamb. My present intention is to show that this sacrifice was typical, not only of Christ, but of his atonement, or the pardon of sin by his blood. This will appear from an attention to the passover; so called, because the destroying angel passed by the houses of the Israelites without injury, while the houses of the Egyptians were visited with the death of the first-born. The particulars of which you have in Exod. xii. They were to take every man a lamb, according