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appointed for them. This seems to have been the object of it, and hence it is said in the "he shall offer it of his own
third verse, voluntary will."
It might be a young bullock from the herd, or a ram or goat from the flocks, or even a turtle dove or young pigeon. The selection was to be made according to the rank and wealth of the offerer: and while these directions denoted that the rich should not offer a mean offering, it assured the poor that their humbler gift would be equally acceptable, and equally efficacious.
Whether it were taken from the herd or the flocks, whether it were bullock, ram, or goat, it was to be perfect in its kind, "a male without blemish." God hereby intimated to them the reverence and respect with which they should regard him, and all his service. It would be highly unbecoming to offer unto him any thing that was lame or blind, or diseased, or in any other way of little worth, and useless. We are hereby shewn what views we should entertain of God, and with what feelings we should make our
offerings to him; but this command had also a much higher signification, as we shall
It was also to be offered publicly, and at the appointed place; namely, "at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord." The place of sacrifice, as I have before said, was fixed. They might offer no
where but on the altar before the tabernacle. And they must offer it in the sight of their fellow-worshippers, whereby God was publicly honoured, and their own sense of their need of his mercy openly shewn.
Various were the ceremonies to be observed both by the offerer and the priests, which I now proceed to consider.
When the animal, or fowl, as the case might be, was brought to the door of the tabernacle, he who brought it was there to put his hand upon its head. This action was very significant. It was to intimate the offerer's desire that his transgressions might be put upon the animal thus presented, and that the death to which he now devoted it, might be instead of that death which he had
himself most justly deserved. It was intended to be a vicarious sacrifice, the substitution of one thing in the stead of another, and thus emphatically opened the way for one of the principal doctrines of the gospel.
It was then to be killed, as it seems by the offerer himself, though some think that this office was always performed by the Levites: probably the offerer sometimes did it himself, and sometimes the Levites assisted or did it for him. The skin was then stripped off, and the flesh cut in pieces, the inwards and legs being carefully washed with water. If the offering was of a fowl, the priest was himself to kill it, to separate and throw away the crop, and cleave it down the middle, without dividing it asunder.
In all cases the priest was to take the blood, and sprinkle it round about the altar, and this was probably the reason why the priest was even to kill the fowl at the altar, lest the blood, there being so little of it, should not be sprinkled. He was also to prepare the fire upon the altar, and lay the wood upon it, and then to place the pieces of flesh,
or the fowl, upon the wood, and "burn it all on the altar, to be a burnt-sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord."
Thus, it is said, "it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him." This was the great purport of the appointment, in hope of this the worshipper brought his offering, through it he sought pardon and reconcilement with God, and when he offered it rightly, it became an atonement for him, not for any value of its own, but by virtue of that great sacrifice, which it prefigured.
II. I proceed, in the second place, to shew you how that sacrifice was shadowed forth by the burnt-offering. For one of my objects, as I have before observed to you, in all these expositions and descriptions of the Jewish law and its ceremonies, is to mark how they represented our great and glorious Redeemer in the various parts of his saving office.
Nothing can be more clear than that the offering now described had special regard to the offering of Christ in a human body. It
is so stated in the Epistle to the Hebrews, "When he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me in burntofferings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me), to do thy will, O God." Here were the sins of a whole world to be atoned for; here were innumerable transgressions of innumerable persons which needed mercy. The time was come when the cattle upon a thousand hills would be no longer accepted, but the offering of the Son of God was to supersede them all. Then was he slain, slain by the hands of wicked men, not knowing what they did, but unconsciously fulfilling the great purposes of God.
Thus Christ was offered, and the intensity of his sufferings is not inaptly denoted by that burning of the whole burntoffering which was so expressly enjoined. He passed through many a fiery trial, the fire of Satan's temptation, the fire of the contradictions, scoffings, and revilings of sinners, the fire of agonizing pain, both in