« PreviousContinue »
of his death, and which in the fruit of his death, namely, the bearing away of the sins of the people. The first falls as a sin offering. The High Priest, having caught his flowing blood in a golden bowl, enters within the veil, and, alone, sprinkles it upon and before the mercy-seat. Coming forth, he goes up to the living goat; standing over it, he lays his hands upon its head; and, amid solemn silence, confesses over the dumb creature all the iniquities, and transgressions, and sins of the children of Israel. The prayer finished, that goat bears on its devoted head the guilt of the people as it has been ceremonially transferred from them to it by these blood-stained hands, and that holy prayer. And now, observe the act which foreshadowed how Jesus, by taking our sins upon him, bore them all away. The congregation opens, the vast crowd divides, forming a lane that stretches away right from the tabernacle into the boundless desert. While every lip is sealed, and every eye intent upon the ceremony, a man steps forth-a " fit” man ; and, taking hold of the victim, he leads it on and away through the parted crowd. All eyes follow them. Amid the haze of the burning sands and distant horizon, their forms grow less and less, and at length vanish from the sight. He and that goat are now alone. They travel on and further on, till, removed beyond the reach of any human eye, far off in the distant wilderness, nor man nor house in sight, he casts loose the sin-laden creature. And when, after the lapse of hours, the people descry a speck in the extreme distance, which draws nearer and nearer, until, in a solitary man who approaches the camp, they recognise the fit man who had led away the sin-laden victim, the people see, and we in figure also see, how
our Lord, when he was made an offering for sin, took the load of our guilt upon him-bearing it away, as it were, to a land that was not known. “ As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
Let faith seize the reality of which that ceremony was the shadow. Behold Christ suffering for his people, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God! He bore our sins away on his head in that thorny crown, and on his shoulder in that heavy cross; and, most of all, amid that awful darkness, when he was indeed alone, and, cast off by God as well as man, his heart broke in that awful cry, “ My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!” Relieved thus from his load of guilt, knowing that all his sins were then atoned for, and, in the witness of God's Spirit with his own, possessing evidence that they are now forgiven, how happy should the believer be! Envying no man's state, and coveting no man's goods, with God's peace in our heart and heaven in our eye, oh, may it be ours to say from sweet experience, “ Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."
The Image of God.
Who is the image of the invisible God.- COLOSSIANS i. 15.
“I am an old man, and have never seen God," said a gray-haired Indian to Sir John Franklin, when that distinguished traveler was pursuing one of his earlier expeditions into those arctic regions where he first won his fame, and afterwards found his grave. From that fact the old man argued that there is no God ; since, if there were any such being, he must have seen him sometime, and met him somewhere, in the course of his long life and wide wanderings. Stupid savage! He would not believe in God because he had never seen him. Yet he believed in the wind, which he had never seen, as it howled along the dreary waste, or whirled the snow-flakes, or roared through the pine-forest, or swept his light canoe over foaming billows, or roused the sea to burst its wintry chains, and float away from silent shores their fields and glittering bergs of ice.
We believe in many things we never saw, on the evidence of other senses than that of sight. We believe in music ; in invisible voices, that roll their waves of sound upon the ear, and by means of which our spirits, shut up within gross, material forms, telegraph their thoughts and hold intercourse, one with another. We believe in invisible odors—the fragrance of rose or lily, and the sweet-scented breath of a thousand other flowers. Nay, we believe in the existence of what we neither hear, nor see, nor taste, nor smell, nor touch. Though ignorant of what they are, and where they are, we believe in the life that animates our mortal bodies, and in the immortal spirits that inhabit them. Thus, with such knowledge and education as we have, there is no danger of our falling into the mistake of Franklin's savage, or doing anything so foolish and absurd as to doubt the being of God because his person is invisible. Still, though that circumstance may not lead us to deny his existence, alas ! how often does it tempt us, the best of us, to forget it! And as to the ungodly, God is not in all their thoughts. “ They break in pieces thy people, O Lord, and afflict thine heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. Yet they say, the Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it. Understand, ye brutish among the people ; and ye fools, when will ye be wise ? He that planted the ear shall he not hear ? He that formed the eye shall he not see? Let me, therefore, embrace the opportunity which the text presents, of dwelling for a little on that feature of the Divine Being, of which the apostle speaks, in setting Christ before us as the visible image of an invisible God.
I. I would warn you against allowing God to be out of mind because he is out of sight.
This is a fault to which we are all prone, a danger to which our very constitution exposes us. Hence the necessity of striving, making an earnest effort to “walk by faith, not by sight.” How difficult an acquirement! for we are to a great degree the creatures of sense. The sight of some companion of our boyhood, had been slumberin days, and rekindles are parted us,
from whom many years and wide seas have parted us, how that recalls old days, and rekindles affections that had been slumbering in their ashes ! We light on a letter written by a kind hand long mouldering in the dust, how that opens up wounds which time seemed to have healed, and renews forgotten griefs ! I have known a man far advanced in life, and standing, ripe for heaven, on the edge of another world, so moved by the picture of an early love, that, as he gazed on it, fountains long sealed burst open; and over the youthful and beautiful image of her whom the grave had long held for years in its cold embraces, he bowed his gray head, and wept and sobbed like a woman. And what effect mere sight has on other passions may be seen in the rout of yon battle-field, where the column that has stood the volleying shot, and faced the flashes of death 80 long as he came invisible in a shower of bullets, wavers, staggers, reels, breaks, scatters like a flock of sheep. The charge is made. They cannot stand seen death—this line that, with knit brows, and rapid rush, and terrible cheers, hurls itself on their ranks, their gleaming bayonets a horrid hedge of steel.
And is it not just because we are chiefly affected by the visible, that the grave comes to be the land of forgetfulness? The dead, being out of sight, are jostled out of mind ; thrust off like withered leaves from beech or oaken hedge by the green growth of spring ; buried in our hearts as in their tombs. It may be that they are now and then recalled, yet widows forget their husbands, and wear their weeds sometimes longer than their griefs ; parents forget their children, the living pushing out the dead ; and churches forget their ministers ; and nations forget the patriots whom they have entombed in marble and honored with sta