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that cause he obtained mercy," yet he considered himself as "the chief of sinners." This truth is directly taught us by the ceremony which now in its turn comes before us; and I pray God that the consideration of it may tend to impress us all with a deeper sense of the evil of sin.
The sin-offering was expressly appointed for those cases in which any one had sinned through ignorance; that is, without having sufficient knowledge of the law of God respecting that particular point, whatever it might be, or without being aware of the consequence of his own action. Sin was nevertheless contracted, and an atonement must be made, that the offender might find mercy. Now there was a considerable difference made in the value of the sacrifice to be offered, according to the station of the transgressor. A priest might fall into a sin of this kind; and he was required, in such case, to bring the greatest sacrifice, because he was least excusable of all men if he knew not the law of God, or did any thing contrary to it incautiously; he must offer for his sin-offering
a young bullock without blemish." He must bring it to the door of the tabernacle, he must lay his hand upon its head, and kill it before the Lord: some of its blood must be sprinkled seven times before the veil of the sanctuary, some of it must be put upon the horns of the altar of incense which was within the tabernacle, and all the rest must be poured at the foot of the altar of burntoffering. Then the inward fat, as in the ceremony of the peace-offering, must be burnt upon the altar, but the skin, and all the remaining parts of the bullock were to be carried without the camp, and there to be wholly consumed with fire.-The whole congregation might sin through some ignorance or misconception of the law, and not in wilful transgression, or contempt of it. In this case the offering was the same," a young bullock without blemish ;" the elders of the congregation were to lay their hands upon its head, and the same ceremonies were to be used in the disposal of the blood and the body, as in the sin-offering of the priest.When a ruler had thus sinned, and his sin
afterwards came to his knowledge, he was to
bring a kid of the goats, a male without blemish."-If one of the common people sinned, he was to bring a kid of the goats or a lamb, a female without blemish. As before, they were to put their hands on the head of their offering, and to kill it. But the blood of the offerings in these last two cases was not to be sprinkled before the veil, nor was it to be put upon the horns of the golden altar of incense, but upon the horns of the brazen altar of burnt-offering, which stood in the court without the tabernacle, and the rest poured out at the bottom of it. Moreover, of these offerings of the rulers and the common people, the whole carcase, except those parts which were burnt unto the Lord, were to be given to the priests, and were to be eaten by them in the court of the tabernacle. But none might in any way touch the flesh but such as were clean, that is, without any ceremonial defilement; if any of the blood should be sprinkled upon any of the garments it must be carefully washed out; if the flesh was sodden in an
earthen vessel, that vessel being porous, and imbibing some of it, must be broken, and if it was sodden in a brazen vessel, that must be scoured and rinsed with water. These minute directions were to teach them, that even after the atonement was made, sin must not be permitted to cleave to them in the smallest degree. The sprinkling of the blood on the golden altar within the tabernacle and the burning of the whole animal in the case of a sin-offering for a priest or the congregation, while in the other cases the blood was sprinkled on the brazen altar without the tabernacle, and part of the animal was given to the priests, shews that in the former cases the sin against the Lord was more heinous, and also that in every thing that relates to his holiness there must be kept up a studious regard to a suitable connection in all its parts. The law is explicitly laid down in the last verse of the sixth chapter. "No sin-offering, whereof any of the blood is brought into the tabernacle of the congregation to reconcile withal in the holy place, shall be eaten, it shall be burnt in the fire."
In proceeding now to make some reflections upon this subject, let me again remind you from it of the infinite holiness of God. He is so opposed to sin, that even the slightest degree of it incurs his wrath, and would eternally ruin our souls without an atonement. He sees sin in things in which we do not perceive it; nay, even the very "heavens are not clean in his sight, and he charges his angels with folly." How circumspect should we therefore be! How careful to examine the nature and tendency of all our actions, and how diligent in endeavouring to learn the whole of God's will! Most appropriate are the words of the Psalmist, "Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from my secret faults." Many and various are the happy effects which an enlarged view of the holiness of God will have upon us. It will inspire us with fear of offending him, and with awe of his glorious majesty; it will even fill us with greater admiration and love; it will make us feel more strongly that" without holiness no man shall see the Lord;" it will bring the admonition more