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I will conclude with an application of them to the truths of the gospel.
I. 1. On the first head I observe, in the first place, that this was the only day in the whole year on which the high priest was permitted to enter into the most holy place of the tabernacle. We read in the second verse, "And the Lord said unto Moses, speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil, before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark, that he die not." The apostle, writing to the Hebrews, notices this circumstance, and shews what it intimated, he says, "The priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and the errors of the people the Holy Ghost thus signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing." The ninth and tenth chapters of that epistle enter into a consideration of all the most remarkable ceremonies of this
great annual solemnity, and shew us how we are to view them as connected with the richer mercies and superior grace of the gospel. Several of these I shall notice to you as I proceed.
I observe, in the second place, that the object of the appointment of this day was, that a general atonement might be made upon it for all the sins of the people. It was, as the text says, to make an atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year," as is also expressed in the thirtieth verse, "On that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord." This was therefore to be an annual atonement for all their iniquities, transgressions, and sins, committed during the year. If it was duly observed, the Jews had an actual remission of all the temporal punishments to which they had become exposed, the guilt contracted by their omissions. of any ceremonial observancies was pardoned and removed, and the condemnation deserved by their moral offences was taken away
from all such of them as had grace given them to look forward by faith to that great and powerful atonement which was thus prefigured.
3. I observe, in the third place, that this was a day for repentance, a great national fast and day of humiliation. It was to be kept for this purpose, as a sabbath by a rest from all manner of work. We read, "It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls by a statute for ever." In the Acts of the Apostles it is emphatically called, "The Fast," for when St. Luke says that sailing was dangerous" because the fast was already past," he alludes to this particular day. They were all to occupy themselves entirely with deep humiliation and sincere contrition and humble confession, separating and consecrating the day altogether to penitential acts and acknowledgments of their offences.
4. In the fourth place the dress in which the high priest was to officiate and his ablutions are to be noticed. He was not to wear his rich habiliments, his golden robes as the
Jews called them, but only his plain white linen vestments. This was ordered in con
formity with the object of the day, and the feelings which ought to be awakened upon it. The whole service being intended as a recognition and confession of sin, with sacrifices of atonement for it, the high priest was thus to humble and abase himself before God. He was also to wash himself repeatedly with water, and was thereby taught how defiling was the nature of sin, and how it came upou him even in the performance of his most penitent and holiest duties. It shews us that our very repentances need to be washed in the blood of Jesus; and plainly pointed out to the Jews, as it does to us, the purity and holiness of that God to whom we approach in our religious services.
5. I observe, in the fifth and last place of this first head of my sermon, that in all this part of the day's service the high priest was to officiate alone, as we see in the seventeenth verse. So we well know that the whole work of atonement for our sins was performed by Christ alone. No one aided or
assisted him; no one participated with him; he bore all our sufferings; to him all the glory is due. He trod that wine-press of the wrath of God alone; and of the people there was none with him; his own arm brought salvation: "by himself he purged our sins;" "he his own self bear our sins in his own body on the tree." Blessed Jesus, we owe the whole of our salvation to thee. To thee be all our praise and all our service given.
II. Let us now go to our second head, and consider the ceremonies with which the day was to be observed.
1. In the first place the high priest was to take a young bullock as a sin-offering, and a ram as a burnt-offering for himself. Now, as I formerly observed, this strongly intimated that their high priest, distinguished and honoured as he was, was but a poor transgressor and sinner as were the rest of the people. The apostle notes this circumstance in his epistle to the Hebrews, observing that the law made men high priests, which had infirmity, and that he went in with blood, which he offered for himself and the errors of