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all the prophetical revealers of the will of God, and as he named none of them in particular, no more doth he here name Aaron ; but afterwards when he comes more largely to insist on the same matter again, he expressly makes mention of his name, as also of that of Moses.
And in both the things here ascribed to him as the great High Priest of his church doth be prefer him above Aaron. First, In that he purged our sins," that is, really and effectually before God, and in the conscience of the sinner, and that for ever. Whereas the purgation of sins about which Aaron was employed, was in itself but typical, external, and representative of that which was true and real, both of which the a. postle proves at large afterwards. Secondly, In that he did it by himself, or by the offering of bimself, whereas whatever Aaron did of this kind, he did it by the “ offering of the blood of bulls and goats," as shall be declared.
And hence appears also the vanity of the gloss of a learned man on these words; Postquam, saith he, morte sua causam dedisset ejus fidei per quam a peccatis purgamur, quod nec Moses fecerat, nec prophetæ. For as we shall see that Christ's purging of our sins, doth not consist in giving a ground and cause for faith, whereby we purge ourselves, so the apostle is not comparing the Lord Christ in these words with Moses and the prophets, who had nothing to do in the work of purging sin, but with Aaron, who by office was designed thereunto.
Let us then see what it is that is here ascribed to the Lord Christ : καθαρισμον ποιησαμενος. Kαθαριζω, doth most frequently denote • real actual purification,' either of outward defilements, by healing and cleansing, as Mark i. 40. vii. 19. Luke v. 12. or spiritual defilements of sin, by sanctifying grace, as Acts xv. 9. 2 Cor. vii. 1. Eph. v. 26. But it is also frequently used in the same sense with rætuigw and xabaigouas, to purge by expiation or atonement, as Heb. ix. 22, 23. And in the like variety 1s καθαρισμος also used. But καθαρισμού ποιησαι, “ to make a purgation' or purification of our sins, cannot here be taken in the first sense for real and inherent sanctification. First, Because it. is spoken of as a thing already past and perfected, “ having purged our sins,” when purification by sanctification is begun only in some, not all at any time; and is perfected in none at all in this world. Secondly, Because he did it, deixuts, by himself alone,'without the use or application of any other medium to them that are purged. Now real inherent sanctification is with “ washing of water by the word,” Eph. v. 26. or by “regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost,” Tit. iii. 5. And the gloss above mentioned, that Christ should purge us from our sins in his death, hy occasioning that faith whereby we are cleansed, is excluded, as was in part shewed before, by the con
text. That is assigned to the death of Christ, as done really and effectually thereby, which was done typically of old in the legal sacrifices by the priests, as is evident from the antithesis couched in that expression “ by himself.” But this was not the way whereby sins were of old purged by sacrifices, namely by the begetting a persuasion in the minds of men that should be useful for that purpose, and therefore no such thing is here intended.
Kebupoopeos then, is such a purging as is made by expiation, lustration and atonement. That is 10 or nas, incopos propitiatio ; atonement, propitiation. So is that word rendered by the LXX. Exod. xxix. 36. In spesga to xabagoones, 2017, the day of atonement, or expiation. They do indeed generally render 703, by incoxouci, and skinarrouset
, to propitiate,' 'to appease,' to atone ; but they do it also by xudapılw, to purge, as Exod. xxix. 37. and chap. xxx. 10. So also in other authors, xabagiquos is used for xuduque, asgizabaqust, that is, expiatio, expiamentum, piaculum ; expiation, atonement, diversion of guilt. So Lucian, ριψομεν μεν αυτον τε κρημνα καθαρισμου το στρατα εσομένου, • We cast him down headlong for an expiation of the army,' or as one that by his death should expiate, bear, take away the guilt of the army. And such lustrations were common among the heathen, when persons devoted themselves to destruction, or were devoted by others, to purge, lustrate, bear the guilt of any, that they might go free ; such were Codrus, Menæceus and the Decii, whose stories are known. This purging then, of our sins, which the apostle declareth to have been effected before Christ ascended and sat down at the right hand of God, consisteth not in the actual sanctification and purification of believers by the Spirit, in the application of the blood of Christ to them, but in the atonement made by him in the sacrifice of himself, that our sins should not be imputed to us. And therefore is he said to purge our sins, and not to purge us from our sins. And wherever sins, not sinners, are made the object of any mediatory acts of Christ, that act immediately respecteth God and not the sinner, and intends the removal of sin, so as that it should not be imputed. So chap. ii. 17. of this epistle, he is a merciful High Priest,” siç to inasxofa. tas iungtias T8 208, “to reconcile the sins of the people," that is, ιλασκεσθαι τον Θεον περι των αμαρτιων, • to make atonement or reconciliation with God for the sins of the people." And again, He underwent death, εις απολυτρωσιν των επι τη πρωτη διαθηκη Taq Badew, “ for the redemption of transgressions under the first covenant," that is, to pay a price for them, that transgressors might be set feee from the sentence of the law. So that xebeba εισμον ποιησαμενος των αμαρτιων ημων, is as much as
, “ having made atonement for our sins."
And this the apostle farther declareth by manifesting the way whereby he did it; that is, ao f&vTx by himselt,' that is, by the sacrifice and offering of himself, as chap. ix. 14. Eph. v. 2. The - high priest of old made atonement, and typically purged the sins of the people, by sacrificing of beasts according to the appointment of the law, Lev. xvi. This our high priest did by the sacrifice of himself, Isa. liii. 10. Heb. ix. 12. Of the nature of propitiatory or expiatory sacrifices, we must treat at large aiterwards. We keep ourselves now to the apostle's general proposition, expressing briefly the sacerdotal office of Christ, and the excellency of it, in that he really purged our sins, and that by the sacrifice of himself. And this was in and by his death on the cross, with his antecedent preparatory sufferings. Some distinguish between his death and the oblation of himself.
This they say be performed in heaven, when as the High Priest of his church, he entered into the holiest not made with hands, whereunto his death was but a preparation. For the slaying of the beast, they say, was not the sacrifice, but the offering of its blood on the altar, and the carrying of it into the holy place. But this utterly overthrows the whole sacrifice of Christ, which indeed is the thing by them aimed at. It is true the slaying of the beast was not the whole sacrifice, but only an essential part of it, as was also the offering of its blood, and the sprinkling of it in the holy place, in the anniversary sacrifice of atonement, but not in any other. And the reason why the whole sacrifice could not consist in any one action, arose nierely from the imperfection of the things and persons employed in that work. The priest was one thing, the beast to be sacrificed another, the altar another, the fire and the altar another, the incense added another, each of them limited and designed to its peculiar end, so that the atonement could not be made by any one of them, nor the sacrifice consist in them. But now in this sacrifice of Christ all these meet in one, because of his perfection. He himself was both priest, sacrifice, altar and incense, as we shall see in our progress; and he perfected his whole sacrifice at once, in and by his death and blood-shedding, as the apostle evidently declares, chap. ix. 12. 14.
Thus by himself did Christ purge our sins, making an atonement for them by the sacrifice of himself in bis death, that they should never be imputed to them that believe.
And this part of this verse will afford us also this distinct observation : --So great was the work of freeing us from sin, that it could no otherwise be effected but by the sacrifice of the Son of God himself.
Our apostle makes it his design in several places to evince that none of those things from whence mankind usually did, or might with any hopes or probabilities expect relief in this case, would yield them any at all.
The best that the Gentiles could attain, all that they had to trust to, was but the improvement of natural light and reason, with an attendance to those seeds and principles of good and evil, which are yet left in the depraved nature of man. Under the conduct and in obedience to these, they sought for rest, glory and immortality. How miserably they were disappointed in their aims and expectations, and what a woful issue all their endeavours had, the apostle declares and proves at large, Rom. i. 18. to the end.
The Jews, who enjoyed the benefit of divine revelations, having lost for the most part the true spiritual import of them, sought for the same ends by the law, and by their own diligent observance of it. They “ rested in the law," Rom. ii. 17. namely, in the hope, that by it they should obtain deliverance from sin, and acceptance with God, and “ followed after it,” chap. ix. 31. that is to attain righteousness and salvation by it. And this seemed to be a sufficient foundation for them to build on ; for having lost the spiritual understanding of the use and end of the law, as renewed to them in the covenant of Horeb, they went back to the primitive use and end of it, on its first giving in innocency, and foolishly thought, as many more yet do, that it would do the same things for sinners, that it would have done for men, if they had not sinned in Adam, that is, have given them acceptance with God here, and eternal life hereafter. Wherefore the apostle in many places takes great pains to undeceive them, to rectify their mistake, and to prove that God had no such design in giving them the law, as that which they would impose upon him.
And first, he asserts and proves in general, that the law would deceive their expectation; and that by the deeds of the law no flesh should be justified, Rom. iii. 20. and that it would not give them life, Gal. iii. 21. or righteousness. And that they might not complain, that then God himself had deceived them in giving a law that would not serve the turn for which it was given ; he declares, secondly, that they had mistaken the end for which the law was renewed unto them; which was not that it might give them life or righteousness, but that it might discover sin, exact obedience, and by both drive and compel them to look out after some other thing, that might both save them from their sin, and afford them a righteousness unto salvation. And furthermore, he thirdly, acquaints them whence it was, that the law was become insufficient for these ends, and that was, because it was become weak through the flesh, Rom. viii. 3. The law was able to continue our acceptance with God, in that condition wherein at first we were created; but after that
man by sin became flesh, or had a principle of enmity against God in him, bringing forth the fruits of sin continually, the law stood. aside, as weakened and insufficient to help and save such an one. And these things the apostle expressly and carefully insists upon, in his epistles to the Romans and Galatians.
But, thirdly, Though the law, and an earnest endeavour af. ter the observance of it in general, would not serve to save us from our sins, yet there were especial institutions of the law, that were appointed for that end and purpose ; as namely, the sacrifices in particular, which were designed to make atonement for the deliverance of sinners, and to procure their reconciliation with God. These the Jews principally rested on, and trusted unto ; and indeed to expect righteousness and justification by the Mosaic sacrifices, as they did, was far more rational, than to expect it by the works of the moral law as some now do, for all good works whatever are required in the law, and so far are works of the law. In the sacrifices, there was a supposition of sin, and an appearance of a compensation to be made, that the sinner might go free ; but in the moral law, there is nothing but absolute universal and exact righteousness required or admitted, without the least provision of relief for them who come short therein. But yet our apostle declares, and proves, that neither were these available for the end aimed at, as we shall see at large on the ninth and tenth chapters of this Epistle.
Now within the compass of these three, natural light or reason, with ingrafted principles of good and evil, the moral law, and the sacrifices thereof, do lie and consist, all the hopes and endeavours of sinners after deliverance and acceptance with God. There is nothing that they can do, or put any confidence in, but may be referred unto one of these heads. And if all this fail them, as assuredly they will, which we might prove by reasons and demonstrations innumerable, though at present we content ourselves with the testimonies above reported, it is certain that there is nothing under heaven can yield them in this case the least relief.
Again, This is the only way for that end which is suited to the wisdom of God. The wisdom of God is an infinite abyss, into which, as it lies in his own eternal breast, we cannot at all look. We can only adore it, as it breaks forth and discovers itself in the works that outwardly are of him, or in the effects of it. Thus David, in the consideration of the works of God, falls into an admiration of the wisdom whereby they were made, Psal. civ. 24. and Psal. cxxxvi. 5. The wisdom of God opens and manifests itself in its effects; and thence according unto our measure, do we learn what doth become it, and is suitable to it. But when the Holy Ghost cometh to speak of this work of our redemption by Christ, he doth not only call us to