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Again: a lamb is an established emblem of innocence. What, then, could be more suitable to express the immaculate character of the Redeemer? Though he took not upon him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham, though “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” though he was made of a woman, and thus became our kinsman, our brother; yet such was the peculiarity of his generation that no stain of human depravity was attached to his person. Though he became subject, in common with us, to infirmities, temptations, and trials; yet was he without sin. The inspired testimony concerning him iš, “ He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” The untarnished purity of his character was continually inculcated on the minds of ancient believers, not only by the use of lambs in their typical sacrifices, but also by the care which they were required to exercise in choosing those that were without spot or blemish.
We may remark, further, that the figure under which our Lord is represented in the text, is adapted to remind us of his patience. Howvarious and severe were the sufferings which he endured, when as the man of sorrows hę tabernacled among us! but what an example of pa. tience did he leave for those that should come after! pressed, and he was afflicted; yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dunb, so he opened not his mouth.” Amidst all the reproaches and persecu. tions of his benevolent life, and even amidst all the torture and anguish of his bloody death, he never uttered an angry or a murmuring word. The meekness, innocence, gentleness, and patience of the Lamb were not more clearly inculcated by his precepts, than they were exemplified in his practice. As the incarnate Son of God, he united all the amia. ble virtues of sinless humanity, to all the glorious attributes of essential divinity.
But this emblematical title, so often applied to Christ, was much more significant to a Jewish ear, than it ordinarily is to our ears. Lambs were continually exhibited before their eyes in their expiatory sacri. fices, and hence became associated with all their ideas of acceptance with God. It was, therefore, with special reference to this fact, and the divine appointment on which it was founded, that the sacred writers represented the Savior under the figure employed in our text. They well knew that every sacrifice that was offered, that every lamb that was slain, that every victim that smoked on the altars of their religion, and that every priest who ministered at their temple, was a type of Christ, who “ through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God,” by his blood to purge our “ consciences from dead works to serve the living God.” Christ was the great antitype, to which they all referred. In his death the meaning of all previous victims was explained and fulfilled. And hence, as å
Second topic of consideration, I would remark, that the text points us not only to the lamb-like qualities that the Redeemer exhibited in his personal character, but also to the SACRIFICE FOR SIN that he made in his mediatorial office. It points us to his expiatory sufferings and death. "I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne.
stood a Lamb, as it had been slain.” Viewing him simply in the form of a lamb, the inspired revelator might have recognized him as his once living, and ever beloved Lord; but when he further saw that he bore the marks of death the scars of mortal wounds”--that there were the
prints of the nails and of the spear, he could not for a moment doubt that this was he, whose bloody agony he had once witnessed in the garden of Gethsemane-he, whom he had seen hanging on the accurs. ed tree--the bleeding, dying victim of Calvary as the grand object shadowed forth by all the Mosaic rites--the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth"-—" the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world !" 0, what a flood of emotions must have arisen in the bosom of this beloved disciple, while thus contemplating the scene that was disclosed to his view and with what a freshness and affecting tenderness would the whole history of his Lord's past sufferings now press on his recollection! And can we, my brethren,though not favored with the same sensible representation with which John was,—yet can we contemplate with indifference the record he has here given us of what he saw, especially when our contemplations are aided and strengthened by these affecting memorials of his body and blood? O, can our hearts be cold, and our devotions be formal, while we encompass this table, and, through the medium of the inspired testimony and of these sacramental symbols, look on the “ Lamb that was slain!" You will observe, it is not merely said, that he died. We do, indeed, in one view of the subject so speak; but such an expression, falls short of a full exhibition of the facts in the case. - He died not the common death of all men, nor was he visited after the visitation of
It is said that “ he was slain,” and there is force in the expression. He died a violent death, and it is so described on the sacred page, whether you consider the
of God or man. But why did the Prince of life thus ignominiously die! why was the Lamb of God thus slain? He, who could instantly have called more than twelve legions of angels to the defence of his life; He, who had the power to lay down his life and to take it again-He, who" thought it not robbery to be equal with God,” was not surely overpowered in conflict with his foes: his life was not surely wrested from hiṁ contra: ry to his will. No, my hearers. He came into the world designing to suffer the reproaches and cruelties of men, and to endure the wrath of God; designing to give himself to the shame and the pain that were due to our transgression; designing to resign himself as a lamb to the slaughter, that he might expiate the guilt that we had contracted, and avert the wrath that we had incurred. He was slain, as the only ades quate and effectual propitiatory sacrifice for our sins. Of no avail, in themselves considered, were the offerings under the law. It is not possible, saith the apostle, that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins; but, adds he, Christ appeared once in the end of the world, (that is, at the close of the Jewish economy) to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. But how, it may be asked, did he put away sin by the sacrifice of himself? What are we to understand by this expression? As it is in allusion to the ancient sacrifices, that he is denominated a Lamb, they will afford the correct illustration of the phrase. On turning, then, to the typical ceremonies of the law, we find on this subject, that when an individual offered a sacrifice of atonement for his offences, he was required to lay his hands on the head of the victim before it was slain, confessing over it his sins to sig. nify a transfer of them to the innocent animal; and that the victim, then slain, was considered as dying in his stead and for his sins. Ex. amine attentively the Levitical laws, and I think you cannot fail of
finding a clear exhibition of the doctrines of substitution, imputation, und vicarious suffering; and these are doctrines which, I conceive, are implied in our text. The Lord Jesus, as the Lamb slain, was the legal sugstiiute of his people, their sins were imputed to him, and by being sacrificed in their stead, he expiated their guilt--took away their sins. He w who knew no sin"--who had no sin of his ownbecame a sin. offering for us--and “his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree.” The Lamb that was slain, was slain for us. Here, my christian brethren, we will fix our faith-here we will venture our all -here we will encourage our hearts in hope-here, in view of the Lamb that was slain, will we lift up our heads in triumph.
3. The text suggests another topic, to which we must briefly advert: I mean the Redeemer's appearance and intercession in heaven. His official work in achieving the redemption of his people, was not con. summated when his sufierings were ended, -" He died for our sins, and rose again for our justification”—and henceforth ever liveth to make intercession for us.” John saw him, not only as bearing the marks of death, as a lamb that had been slain, but as again alive and stunding. John in another vision heard him say, “I am the first, and the last, I am he that liveth, and was dead, and, behold, I am alive for evermore.” The reproaches and suffering to which he was subject on earth, had now ceased, and he again shared the glory that he had with the Father before the world was.
It is indeed the babe of Bethlehem, and man of sorrows--but O how changed! Instead of the manger and the cross, he now has a throne, and a crown; yea, the throne of God and the crown of the universe. Instead of the cry, “ Away with him, crucify him,” is now heard the shout of many angels round about the throne, and the living creatures, and the elders--and the number of them is ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands)---saying, Worthy is -the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing."
But does he still remember us, amidst the splendors of this scene, and the worship of adoring throngs! Yes, my brethren. Unlike the little creatures of earth, who, in their advancement to wealth, or honor, are swelled into an imaginary self-importance, in which they forget the companions of their former condition. Jesus, remembers his humble disciples, who are yet in the flesh, following the lowly path which he once trod. He is not ashamed of the ignominy of the cross. hibits the marks of his former abasement before the throne of God, and amidst the miriails by which he is surrounded. He appears as our advocate with the Father, pleading our cause and presenting the scars in his hands, his feet and his side, as a standing memoriui of the sacrifice he once made for our sins. This, is the great argument by which he urges our acceptance with God. And can such an Interces. sor and such an argument, be disregarded! Can they be unavailing! Must not the Father be moved by the marks of death on the person of his beloved Son? O, then, let us draw near with humble boldness, notwithstanding all the number and the enormity of our sins, confidently believing that “he is able to save to the uttermost" all “ that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for us." Amen.
Psalm 122:6–Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
In the scriptures of the Old Testament much is said concerning the city of Jerusalem, and
and great encomiums are bestowed upon it. And in many respects it was certainly greatly distinguished and favored above all other cities. In the days of David, Jerusalem was wrested from the Jebusites, and made the seat of government; and from that time, ever after it was the capitol of Judea. It was the royal city, the residence of the kings of Judah, the centre of their political union, and the place where justice was administered.
« There were set the thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.” And among the kings, who reigned in Jerusalem, were some of the best that ever swayed a sceptre. As the capitol of the kingdom, the centre of their political union, and the seat of justice, it was dear to Israel.
But it was especially dear to them, as the Holy City. There was the temple, the place of their solemnities. There was a resting place for the ark, the symbol of the divine presence and glory, where Jehovah, in a special manner, manifested his presence. Thither theatribes of the Lord went up to worship, to receive instruction from the divine testimonies, and offer their prayers and praises. In this respect, it was the city of God, the city which, above all others, he had chosen for himself. It was the seat of his church, the place of his worship, and of his more immediate presence; and this it was that made Jerusalem so beautiful and glorious in the eyes of Israel, especially of those in
*Delivered at the opening of the last General Assembly of the Presbyterian Churoh
Israel who loved God, and took pleasure in his worship. To pray for the peace of Jerusalem, then, was to pray for the peace of God's church, of which Jerusalem was then the seat.
Jerusalem of old, was typical of the christian church; and the solemnities of Israel, were equivalent to our public ordinances, and em. blematical of that worship which we owe God through Jesus Christ. The name is therefore in the scriptures figuratively transferred to the christian church, embracing the redeemed of all nations, Jews, and Gentiles. In this sense we find the name Jerusalem frequently used, as designating the church of Christ, or the church as it now exists, under the reign of the Messiah. To pray for the peace of Jerusalem, then, is to pray for the peace of the Redeemer's kingdom, or of the church of Christ-a duty as important and binding on God's people now, as it was in the days of David.
The term peace, as used by the sacred writers, has several significations. In its literal and most general acceptation it means “respite from war;" also quiet, and rest from distress and trouble. Sometimes it is used to signify reconciliation. In this sense it is frequently used in the New Testament, to express our reconciliation to God, through faith in the blood of Christ, and to denote the fruit of that reconciliation, which is 66 peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is also used to denote general prosperity and happiness. In this sense the Jews were in the constant habit of using the word. Their ordinary mode of salutation was, “ Peace be with you," by which they meant to express their desire for the general prosperity and happiness of their friends. In this last sense,- denoting general prosperity, the word may be understood in our text.
The duty enjoined in the text, then, is this, “ To pray for the prosperity of the church.” And in further addressing you, I will now, in the
First place, consider, what is implied in the prosperity of the church, or, what is necessary in order to its prosperity; and
Second, Mention some reasons why we should pray for this.
1. What is implied in the prosperity of the church, or, what is necessary in order to its prosperity?