Hebrews 9:13
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, etc.

I. THE HUMAN NEED OF CLEANSING. By implication our text teaches the moral defilement of man. Both under the Mosaic and under the Christian dispensation the impurity was moral. But in the earlier dispensation the external and ceremonial uncleanness was made most conspicuous. A very small thing led to this defilement. If a man unwittingly walked over a grave, or touched a dead human body, he was accounted unclean seven days (cf. Numbers 19:11-22). This was designed as a parable of spiritual uncleanness. It was intended to lead men to feel the contamination of sin. So in the Christian economy it is the internal and moral impurity that is exhibited, and the need of spiritual cleansing that is insisted upon. Sin is the corrupting, defiling, separating thing. The great need is a clean heart and a right spirit.

II. THE DIVINE METHODS OF CLEANSING. Our text brings before us two methods, that of the Mosaic economy and that of the Christian, the ceremonial and the spiritual.

(1) Both were of Divine origin.

(2) Both involved sacrifice as an essential element.

But in other respects these methods were widely different. Let us notice the method:

1. In the earlier dispensation.

(1) The sacrifices were of animal life. "The blood of goats and of bulls, and the ashes of a heifer."

(2) The application of the sacrifices was external or corporeal. The use of the blood of goats and bulls was external and visible (Leviticus 16.). The use of the ashes of the red heifer was external and corporeal (Numbers 19.). Both the sacrifices themselves and the application of them came within the region of the senses.

2. In the Christian dispensation.

(1) As to the sacrifice.

(a) It was the sacrifice of a human life. "The blood of Christ, who... offered himself."

(b) It was the sacrifice of a holy human life. "Christ offered himself without blemish unto God"(cf. Hebrews 7:26, 27; 1 Peter 1:18, 19).

(c) It was the sacrifice of the holy human life of a Divine Person. "The blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God." By "the eternal Spirit" we understand, "not the Spirit of the Father dwelling in Christ, nor the Holy Spirit given without measure to Christ, but the Divine Spirit of the Godhead which Christ himself had, and was in his inner personality" (Alford, in loco). Our Lord's Divine nature acquiesced in the redemptive plan and purpose, and contributed to its fulfillment. "It was 'the blood of Christ; 'of the whole and undivided Christ," as Richard Watson observes, "who was both God and man. For though a Divine nature could not bleed and die, a Divine person could. This distinction is to be kept in mind: for, the person being one, the acts and sufferings of each nature are the acts and sufferings of the same person, and are spoken of interchangeably." "His blood, though not the blood of God, yet was the blood of him that was God." The chief value of our Savior's sacrifice was not in the physical life which was offered, although that was perfect, but in the spirit in which it was offered, he shed his blood for us in the spirit of uttermost and perfect obedience to the Divine Father, and of willing sacrifice for the accomplishment of human salvation. And this spirit of obedience and self-sacrificing love was eternal; not a transient mood or a temporary feeling, but his eternal disposition. "The sacrifice of Christ," says Ebrard, "could only be offered in the power of eternal spirit. Only the eternal spirit of absolute love, holiness, wisdom, and compassion was capable of enduring that sacrificial death."

(2) The application of this sacrifice is spiritual. Its efficacy can be realized only by faith. Not literally has the Christ carried his blood into the true holy of holies. Not literally is it sprinkled upon the consciences of men for their purification. The redemptive power of the death of Christ is a spiritual force, and must be spiritually appropriated. We realize it by the exercise of faith in him (Romans 3:24-26).

III. THE EFFICACY OF THESE METHODS OF CLEANSING.

1. The sacrifices of the Jewish ritual were efficacious in producing ritualistic purity. Doubtless there were persons who, regarding these sacrifices as types of a far higher sacrifice, and these cleansings as figures of a spiritual cleansing, derived spiritual and saving benefits through them. To these benefits the text does not refer, but to the national and ceremonial use of these institutions. They "sanctified unto the cleanness of the flesh." By means of them ceremonial impurity was removed, the separation consequent upon that impurity was brought to an end, and the cleansed person was restored to the congregation of Israel.

2. The sacrifice of Christ is far more efficacious in producing spiritual purity. "How much more shall the blood of Christ cleanse your conscience?" etc. By "conscience" in this place we do not understand any one faculty of our spiritual nature, but our entire moral consciousness in relation to God, our religious soul. "Dead works" are those which are regarded as meritorious in themselves, and apart from the disposition and motive which prompted them. They do not proceed from a heart alive by faith and love. No living spiritual sentiment breathes through them. And their influence on the soul is not inspiring, but depressing. They have no fitness for quickening spiritual affections and powers, but for crushing and killing them. They, moreover, tend to defile man's religious nature. As the touching of a corpse, or the bone of a dead body, or treading upon a grave, defiled a man under the Mosaic Law, so the contact of these dead works with man's soul contaminates it. The moral influence of the blood of Christ cleanses away this contamination (cf. 1 John 1:6-9). The holy and infinite love of God manifested in the death of Christ for us, when it is realized by us, burns up base passions and impure human affections and unholy desires. It acts within us as a fervent and purifying fire. And it inspires the soul for true spiritual service. It "cleanses the conscience from dead works to serve the living God." The word used to express this service indicates its religiousness. It "denotes in the New Testament the priestly consecration and offering up of the whole man to the service of God. . . the willing priestly offering of one's self to God." It does not signify service which is limited to religious duties, but the performance of every duty and all duties in a religious spirit. The whole life is consecrated to the living God, and all its occupations become exalted into a Divine service (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17). "How much more," then, "shall the blood of Christ?" etc. In the ceremonial cleansings the connection between the means and the end was merely symbolical and arbitrary; but in the redemptive influences of the gospel there is a beautiful and sublime fitness for the accomplishment of their end. The infinite righteousness and love manifested in the great self-sacrifice of the Savior are eminently adapted to redeem and purify man's soul from sin, and to inspire and invigorate him for the willing service of the living God. Our text corrects two errors concerning the sacrifice of Christ.

1. It corrects the error of those who make the essence of that sacrifice to consist in the physical sufferings and death of our Lord. God has no delight in mere pain, or blood-shedding, or death. In themselves these things cannot be pleasing to God. It was the spirit in which Christ suffered and died that made his death a Divine sacrifice and a mighty power of spiritual redemption.

2. It corrects the error of those who depreciate the expression of the Divine spirit of self-sacrifice in the life and death of our Lord. It was morally necessary that he should give himself as a sacrifice for us, in order that the mighty influence of the Divine righteousness and love might be brought to bear upon us and redeem us. "Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things?" "Thus it behooved the Christ to suffer," etc. (Luke 24:26, 46, 47). - W.J.







How much more shall the blood of Christ?
The sacrifice of our Lord admits of being considered from many different points of view. We may consider it as making atonement for our sins, and ask how any such transference and application of His merits to us, as is involved in this thought, is possible; or we may consider why any such atonement should have been necessary at all to satisfy the requirements of the Divine Righteousness in the moral government of the world. Both of these questions are legitimate, and the New Testament does in fact suggest answers to them. But there is another consideration, simpler perhaps than either of these, which is yet full of importance, and comes first in the order of thought; and that is, the nature of Christ's sacrifice, considered not in its effect on us, but simply in itself: of what sort was Christ's sacrifice, and wherein lay its acceptableness?

I. HE OFFERED HIS SELF, HIS PERSON, HIS HUMAN LIFE TO GOD. This human life of ours is meant to move in various directions. It moves out to the interpretation and appropriation of nature; and so man gains in natural knowledge, and develops the resources of civilisation. It moves out again from each man towards his fellows, and so the bonds of humanity are knit, and society advances. It moves out also towards God, to present itself before Him, and enter into communion with Him. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart." All the faculties of man are thus to be directed not only towards nature, towards his fellow men, but also deliberately Godward, and that first of all. It is " the first and great commandment." This was the original law of man's being. This is his ultimate goal in Christianity (Romans 12:1). This "reasonable service," which St. Paul calls a "sacrifice," though there be no death involved in it, is what is supremely exemplified in the human life of Jesus. It looked manward in love and ministry. "He went about doing good." But first of all it looked Godward in self-oblation. "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God." Aye, even before "Thy will be done " comes " Thy name be hallowed." For to please God, to present himself before God, to know God, this is the highest privilege and the primary duty of man.

II. HE OFFERED HIMSELF "WITHOUT SPOT" OR "BLEMISH." The metaphor is from the inspection of the victims prepared for sacrifice. In the Lamb of God the scrutiny of the all-seeing eye can detect no disqualifying flaw. A will always vigorous, single, unflagging; an intellect wholly unclouded and unsophisticated, of perfect receptivity and exquisite penetration; a heart of in. comparable tenderness and force, which yet never moved out in uncontrolled passion; a perfect humanity which yet showed its perfection in unresisting dependence upon the movement of the Divine Spirit which filled it and directed it; a humanity rich and full in experiences, passing through all sorts of vicissitudes of circumstance, yet found as perfect in one situation as in another, in failure as in success; a humanity in which nothing approaching to moral decadence is to be detected, glorious in its issue as in its inception. He offered Himself to God without blemish. He fulfilled the ideal of humanity. He was the beloved Son in whom the Father — the great Scrutiniser of human oblations — was well pleased.

III. THE SACRIFICE OF JESUS WAS A FULL, PERFECT, AND ADEQUATE SELF-OBLATION OF MAN TO GOD. It was perfectly "spiritual." He, the pattern Man, gave to God an undivided allegiance, an absolute homage. When His mission on behalf of truth, and meekness, and righteousness involved the martyr's death — He accepted the condition, and offered the shedding of His blood. But in God's sight the shedding of the blood had no value except as the symbol of obedience carried to an extreme. It is a great, a strange mistake to suppose that the death of Christ was, as it were, the act of God. It was the act in which (on the contrary) rebellion against God, the sin of man, showed itself in its true and horrible colours. What God does is to bear with this, as He has foreseen it, to spare not His only Son, to exempt Him by no miracle from the consequences of His loyalty to truth and meekness and righteousness — under the conditions of a sinful world, as things were, its inevitable consequences. God foresees, God bears with this, and He overrules it to the purposes of our redemption. But throughout, as St. Auselm says, in the greatest Christian treatise on the Atonement, what God the Father enjoined upon the Incarnate Son was, primarily. simple obedience; only as obedience in fact involved death, then, secondarily, did He enjoin upon Him to die. There are splendid instances in actual history, or imaginative history, of acts in which men have poured out their blood as a sacrifice for their fellow men. It is the deep moral feeling of Euripides which converts the unwilling sacrifice of Iphigenia in Aulis into a freewill offering for her country. "The whole of Greece, the truly great, is looking to me now," she cries to her mother,... "for all the Greeks and not for thyself alone, didst thou bear me; therefore for Greece I offer my body." So she gives herself to be sacrificed by the priest's knife, and the goddess Artemis accepts the freewill offering — but not the actual life; for as the knife is falling, the place of the maiden is, by the intervention of the goddess, taken by a doe. And of the maiden it is said that the same day beheld her dead and alive again. This is a splendid thought. But it is the nobility of the victim which is supposed to move the compassion of the goddess rather than the simple worth of a human life, and the atmosphere of religious conception as to the Divine nature is still far cloudier than among the Jews. On the Jewish stage a cognate but more truly historical scene is described in Maccabees, where the heroic martyrs for the honour and liberty of the chosen people offer up their lives to God. "And I," cries the youngest of the seven martyred brothers, "as nay brethren, offer up my body and life for the laws of our fathers, beseeching God that He would speedily be merciful unto our nation,... and that in me and my brethren the wrath of the Almighty which is justly brought upon all our nation may cease." This is a self-sacrifice which comes very near to Isaiah's conception of the vicarious self-oblation of Jehovah's righteous servant. But it has still accompanying it some ring of the false thought of God as demanding for sin some positive quantity of expiatory death. Now when we describe the sacrifice of our Lord as perfectly spiritual, we mean that it carries with it, in all its silent implications and in the spoken words in which it found expression, the perfect truth about God and about man, as the flawless homage of the self-surrendering will. Jesus taught the perfect truth in words — the truth about God's pure Fatherhood; the truth that what God asks of man, who is made for sonship, is not mere isolated acts of obedience or sacrifice, but simply and altogether the homage of an unqualified submission and dependence. He taught the truth about man's sin, about his rebellion, about his need of conversion. He taught the truth about the unity of the human race — bidding men see that they may not live each for himself, but are bound to live each for all. He taught all this in words; He taught it in deeds, in His own human relation to the Father; in His own relation to mankind. He taught it most of all in His sacrifice. For when obedience was shown to involve death, tie spared not Himself, even as the Father spared Him not: He used no miraculous power to exempt Himself, though He declared that He possessed it. For us, in our manhood, before God He shed His blood. And this blood-shedding has, in God's sight, a perfect value, because it is the expression of a flawless will, of truth unqualified — the truth about God's claim on man, the truth about humanity's proper homage, the truth about sin. And the self sacrifice of Jesus lives for evermore, over against all our lawlessness, our wilfulness, our slackness, our blindness, our self-sparing, as the perfect recognition in man's name and nature of the righteous claim of God, and of the responsibility of man for man.

IV. As THE SACRIFICE OF JESUS WAS PERFECTLY SPIRITUAL SO IT WAS OFFERED, NOT ONLY IN THE POWER OF THE PERFECT HUMANITY, BUT IN THE POWER ALSO OF THE ETERNAL SPIRIT. Truly was He acting in manhood, really under conditions of manhood: the sacrifice was genuinely human in its moral effort, in its moral and physical pain, in its genuine human faith. It was the Son of Man who offered Himself. But the mind and will expressed was also God's mind, God's will, and therefore the meaning and value of the act is unchangeable. It is true of all human action at its best that it has an eternal element. "The truly great have all one age." But the eternal element, the movement of God which lies hid at all times at the roots of humanity, is obscured and clouded by human independence of God, that is, human sin. In Jesus every human act is also the act of God. He who was acting under human conditions was very God; and the Divine Spirit which indwelt His humanity, indwelt Him perfectly, and found in Him a faultless organ in which His will could be done. Nothing, then, in the acts or sacrifice of Jesus is merely temporary, or imperfect, or inadequate. It belongs to all ages. It is eternal.

(Chas. Gore, M. A.)

Homilist.
I. THE GOD OF THE GOSPEL IS A LIVING PERSONALITY. This revelation of God as "living" stands opposed to —

1. Heathen idolatry.

2. Secular philosophy.

3. Mere logical divinity.

II. THE CHIEF END OF MAN'S EXISTENCE IS TO SERVE THE LIVING GOD.

1. This implies —

(1)That He has a will concerning our activities.

(2)A capacity on man's part to understand and obey the will of God concerning him.

2. There are three facts in relation to the service of God which we should always bear in mind, and which marks it off from all other service.

(1)That acceptability does not depend either upon the kind, or the amount, or the results of our activity, but upon its principles.

(2)That to serve God does not require that we should confine ourselves to any particular department of action.

(3)That to serve God is the only way either to serve ourselves or others.

III. MAN'S MORAL NATURE IS GENERALLY IN A STATE WHICH DISQUALIFIES HIM FOR THIS SERVICE.

1. The conscience is polluted.

2. The conscience is polluted through dead works.

IV. THE GREAT END OF CHRIST'S MEDIATION IS TO REMOVE THIS MORAL DISQUALIFICATION FOR THE SERVICE OF THE LIVING GOD.

1. By furnishing man with the most complete exhibition of what the service of the living God is.

(1)A personal consecration.

(2)A voluntary consecration.

(3)A virtuous consecration.

(4)A consecration Divinely inspired.

2. By supplying the most effective means to generate in the heart the principle of true service — supreme love to God.

3. By providing a medium which renders the service approvable to God.

V. CHRIST'S MEDIATION FOR THIS PURPOSE IS MOST UNQUESTIONABLY EFFICACIOUS. "If the blood," etc.

1. The object in the one case to be realised is of unspeakably greater importance than the other.

2. The means employed in the one case are immeasurably more costly than the other.

3. The agent employed in the one case to apply the means is infinitely greater than in the other.

(Homilist.)

I. MAN'S CONSCIENCE NEEDS PURIFYING. TO perceive this, contemplate the Jewish ceremonial, and that will shadow forth the spiritual truth. The man who had touched a corpse, or the grave dust, was regarded as defiled — he felt defiled, he trembled to enter the presence of God. Paul says this is the symbol of an eternal fact. The conscience feels the touch of death. It trembles in worship. Therefore it needs purifying from its dead works to serve the living God. The more bright and keen the conscience, the deeper and more awful is the feeling of death that cleaves to us.

II. THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST THE PURIFYING POWER.

1. A perfect and holy sacrifice. That awful expenditure of sinless agony is the only purification. The voice of condemnation pursues us through every path of life until it is hushed before the Cross. Then the death-stains of past sin are cleansed away. Then the spectral forms of the past are laid for ever. Then prayer loses its tremor, aspiration its sadness, praise its undertone of fear. We no more wish to escape from God, for we are made pure by the blood of Christ.

2. A new spirit of devotion; for we need not only absolution but inspiration before we can serve God freely, lovingly, joyously. "He offered Himself" — not in fear, but voluntarily. Suffering, shame, death, stood in His path. He might have refused to endure them, and from the first turned aside: but daily He chose to bear the daily cross. "Through the Eternal Spirit." His was not an offering from the human to avert the Divine anger, but an offering from Himself. There was the true spirit of worship when the Eternal Spirit became enshrined in Jesus. And through that Spirit He offered Himself.

III. THE PURIFIED CONSCIENCE RISES TO LIVING WORSHIP.

1. Living — in the reality of its spiritual emotions. The unpurged conscience is tempted to forget, to doubt, to deny God, or regard Him simply as some awful and mysterious power. The purified spirit feels Him near and can bear the glance of the Eternal without shrinking; for the dead past has been cleansed away by the blood of the Saviour. Thus prayer becomes real; it is no longer a vain cry breathed into the air; for the Spirit through which He offered Himself abides in us, constraining our devotion.

2. Living — for it pervades the whole life. The worship of fear is limited to time and place. But cleansed and inspired by Christ we feel He is everywhere. In suffering we bear His will, and our sighs become prayers. In sorrow, when the heart is weary, we feel ourselves near to the heavenly Friend who is leading us to find in Him rest for the restless and sad. In joys, He who hallowed social gladness by His first miracle — and amid the friendships of life, He who made friendship holy is close to our hearts. In our falls and failures we hear His voice in the hope of rising out of the gloom to a higher and purer slate beyond it.

(E. L. Hull, B. A.)

I. THE SPECIAL CHARACTER OF THE CHRISTIAN SACRIFICE, the grand atonement on which we all rest, is, that it is not the blood of the inferior animals, as in the former dispensation; but the blood of Christ.

1. It was the offering of a human being. The death of Christ, considering Him simply as a man, shows a justice in the visitation of sin, as much greater as human life is above the life of irrational animals.

2. He was an innocent and spotless man. Here the value is heightened. It was not the case of one offender selected from many to be an example. He had no part in the offence.

3. But that which carries the value of the offering to its true height, is, that it was "the blood of Christ"; of the whole and undivided Christ, who was both God and man. For, though a Divine nature could not bleed and die, a Divine person could.

II. ITS SPECIAL EFFICACY. It cleanses not the flesh, but "purges the conscience from dead works, that we may serve the living God." Two benefits are here marked as the foundation of, and leading to, all others.

1. The purification of the conscience. The " dead works," here mentioned, are sins; and the guilt from which we are purified is in another place termed "the conscience of sins." Sins are "dead works," because they expose us to present condemnation, and finally to eternal death. By " conscience" here is meant inward perception of such works as are chargeable upon us, with fearful apprehensions of the death they bring. But on this sacrifice you are to trust in order to salvation. To encourage you to this, think of the Father's love. Think of the love of the Son. Can you doubt of that love while He is evidently set forth crucified before your eyes? Think of the value of this sacrifice. If you can conceive of anything more valuable, then doubt the efficacy of this, and fear to trust. Then trust in it. Venture in the same vessel which has carried so many over the stormy waves which now surround you, and who shout to you from the shore beyond, and bid you trust, and not be afraid.

2. The second blessed consequence is, that we may "serve the living God." There is the service of worship. We have free access to God, and our services are acceptable. There is the service of obedience. We are delivered from the bondage of sin, and all our powers are consecrated to God.Learn:

1. The infinite evil of sin. It could not be forgiven without a Divine atonement.

2. The awful character of Divine justice.

3. The fulness of the blessings purchased by this sacrifice. The salvation corresponds with the sacrifice by which it was purchased, and comprehends every spiritual blessing, both in time and eternity.

(R. Watson.)

: —

I. THE AGENCY THROUGH WHICH CHRIST'S SACRIFICE WAS PRESENTED, AND THE CHARACTER OF THAT SACRIFICE. Christ offered Himself to God, both in obedience and in suffering. His whole life was one season of oblation.

II. THE EFFECTS OF THIS SACRIFICE. St. Paul's representation rather embraces a point than extends itself to the whole of the effects of the atonement: the expression " dead works," denotes sinfulness in general, by which all our consciences are polluted, in opposition to those things by which spiritual uncleanness was removed. We have, then, simply to inquire into the truth and meaning of the assertion, that the blood of Jesus cleanseth the soul of the believer from sin, and thus qualifies him for the service of the living God. And, first of all, we have full warrant for affirming that so soon as there is faith in the heart, binding a man to Christ as a member of the head, the sins of all men are swept completely away, being not only forgiven, but actually forgotten by God. It is membership with Christ which gives its might and its majesty to the gospel. Faith admits me into the invisible Church of Christ, and the members of the invisible Church make up one sinless body in the sight of the Father — the perfect righteousness of the Head being considered as belonging equally to the meanest of the members. So that when I have faith in Christ, I am literally one with Christ, and then where are my sins? The countless iniquities of my youth I the multiform transgressions of my. riper years! where are they? "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgression, for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." Oh! how unlike is His forgiveness to that of men, who may forgive but cannot forget! Oh! the word of the Lord is — "the blood of Jesus Christ shall purge your conscience from dead works."

III. THIS "PURGING OF THE CONSCIENCE" IS PREPARATORY TO "SERVING THE LORD." The man of whom much has been forgiven will love much, and loving without obeying is a paradox which never yet deformed practical Christianity. Like as Christ offered Himself through the Eternal Spirit unto God, so also must we through the same Spirit present ourselves as living sacrifices to the Most High. This is the service to which we are pledged; this is the consecration bound upon us by all that is most solemn in duty and glorious in hope.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

I. LET US DESCRIBE THE TYPE (see Numbers 19.). First, the type mentions ceremonial defilements, which were the symbols of the uncleanness caused by sin. The Israelites could very readily render themselves unclean, so as to be unfit to go up to the tabernacle of God. There were uncleannesses connected both with birth and with death, with meats and with drinks, with garments and with houses. A man might become unclean even in his sleep; so closely did the law track him into his most secret places, and surround his most unguarded hours. Even thus doth sin beset us. Like a dog at one's heels, it is always with us! Like our shadow, it follows us, go where we may. Yea, and when the sun shines not, and shadows are gone, sin is still there. Whither shall we flee from its presence, and where shall we hide from its power? When we would do good, evil is present with us. How humbled we ought to be at the recollection of this! The Israelite became unclean even in the act of doing good; for assuredly it was a good deed to bury the dead. Alas, there is sin even in our holy things. The evil of our nature clingeth to all that we do. The touching of the dead not only made the man unclean, but he became a fountain of defilement. Pollution went forth from the polluted. Do you and I sufficiently remember how much of evil we are spreading when we are out of communion with God? Every ungenerous temper creates the like in others. We never cast a proud look without exciting resentment and bad feelings in others. Somebody or other will follow our example if we be slothful; and thus we may be doing great mischief even when we are doing nothing. This uncleanness prevented the man from going up to the worship of God, and it separated him from that great, permanent congregation which was called to dwell in God's house by residing all around the holy place. He was, so to speak, excommunicated, suspended, at any rate, in his communion: he could bring no offering, he could not stand among the multitude and view the solemn worship, he was unclean, and must regard himself so. Do the children of God ever get here? Ah, so far as our consciences are concerned we too often come among the unclean. Until the pardoning blood speaks peace within your spirit, you cannot draw near unto God. We tremble, we find communion impossible until we are made clean. This much about the defilements described in the chapter; now concerning the cleansing which it mentions. The defilement was frequent, but the cleansing was always ready.. At a certain time all the people of Israel brought a red heifer to be used in the expiation. It was not at the expense of one person, or tribe, but the whole congregation brought the red cow to be slain. It was to be their sacrifice, and it was brought for them all. It was not led, however, up to the holy place for sacrifice, but it was brought forth without the camp, and there it was slaughtered in the presence of the priest, and wholly burnt with fire, not as a sacrifice upon the altar, but as a polluted thing which was to be made an end of outside the camp. Even as our Lord, though in Himself without spot, was made sin for us, and suffered without the camp, feeling the withdrawings of God, while He cried, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Then the ashes were collected and laid in a clean place accessible to the camp. Everybody knew where the ashes were, and whenever there was any uncleanness they went to this ash-heap and took away a small portion. Whenever the ashes were spent they brought another red heifer, and did the same as they had done before, that always there might be this purification for the unclean, There was no other method of purification from uncleanness but this. It is so with us. To-day the living water of the Divine Spirit's sacred influences must take up the result of our Lord's substitution, and this must be applied to our consciences. That which remaineth of Christ after the fire hath passed upon Him, ever the eternal merits, the enduring virtue of our great sacrifice, must be sprinkled upon us through the Spirit of our God. Then are we clean in conscience, but not till then.

II. LET US MAGNIFY THE GREAT ANTITYPE. "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ?" How much more? He doth not give us the measure, but leaves it with a note of interrogation. We shall never be able to tell how much more, for the difference between the blood of bulls and of goats and the blood of Christ, the difference between the ashes of a red cow and the eternal merits of the Lord Jesus, must be infinite. Let us help your judgments while we set forth the exceeding greatness of our mighty Expiator, by whom we are reconciled to God.

1. First, then, our defilement is much greater, for the defilement spoken of in the text is on the conscience, We cannot have fellowship with God while there is a sense of unconfessed and unforgiven sin upon us. "Be ye reconciled to God" is a text for saints as well as for sinners: children may quarrel with a father as well as rebels with a king. There must be oneness of heart with God, or there is an end to communion, and therefore must the conscience be purged. The man who was unclean could have come up to the tabernacle if there had been no law to prevent it, and it is possible that he could have worshipped God in spirit, notwithstanding his ceremonial disqualification. The defilement was no barrier in itself except so far as it was typical; but sin on the conscience is a natural wall between God and the soul. You cannot get into loving communion until the conscience is at ease; therefore, I charge you, fly at once to Jesus for peace.

2. Secondly, our sacrifice is greater in itself. I will not dwell upon each point of its greatness, but just notice that in the slaughter of the heifer blood was presented and sprinkled towards the holy place seven times, though it came not actually into it; so in the atonement through which we find peace of conscience there is blood, for "without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin." Death was our doom, and death for death did Christ render unto the eternal God. It is by a sense of our Lord's substitutionary death that the conscience becomes purged from dead works. Furthermore, the heifer itself was offered. After the blood was sprinkled towards the tabernacle by the priestly hand, the victim itself was utterly consumed. Read now our text: "Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered up Himself without spot unto God." Our Lord Jesus Christ gave not merely His death, but His whole person, with all that appertained unto it, to be our substitutionary sacrifice. Oh, what a sacrifice is this! It is added that our Lord did this "by the eternal Spirit." The heifer was not a spiritual but a carnal offering. The creature knew nothing of what was being done, it was the involuntary victim; but Christ was under the impulses of the Holy Ghost, which was poured upon Him, and He was moved by Him to render up Himself a sacrifice for sin. Hence somewhat of the greater efficacy of His death, for the willinghood of the sacrifice greatly enhanced its value. To give you another, and probably a better, interpretation of the words, there was an eternal spirit linked with the manhood of Christ our Lord, and by it He gave Himself unto God. He was God as well as man, and that eternal Godhead of His lent an infinite value to the sufferings of His human frame, so that He offered Himself as a whole Christ, in the energy of His eternal power and Godhead. One who is both God and man has given Himself as a sacrifice for us. Is not the sacrifice inconceivably greater in the fact than it is in the type? Ought it not most effectually to purge our conscience? After they had burnt the heifer they swept up the ashes. All that could be burnt had been consumed. Our Lord was made a sacrifice for sin, what remains of Him? Not a few ashes, but the whole Christ, which still remaineth, to die no more, but to abide for ever unchanged. He came uninjured through the fires, and now He ever liveth to make intercession for us. It is the application of His eternal merit which makes us clean, and is not that eternal merit inconceivably greater than the ashes of an heifer ever can be?

3. As the defilement and the sacrifice were greater, so the purging is much greater. The purifying power of the blood of Christ must be much greater than the purging power of the water mixed with the ashes of the heifer. For that could not purge conscience from sin, but the application of the atonement can do it, and does do it. Now, what is all this business about? This slain heifer — I understand that, for it admitted the unclean Israelites to the courts of the Lord — but this Christ of God offering Himself without spot by the eternal Spirit — what is that for? The object of it is a service far higher: it is that we may be purged from dead works to serve the living God. The dead works are gone, God absolves you, you are clean, and you feel it. What then? Will you not abhor dead works for the future? Sin is death. Labour to keep from it. Inasmuch as you are delivered from the yoke of sin, go forth and serve God. Since He is the living God, and evidently hates death, and makes it to be an uncleanness to Him, get you to living things. Offer to God living prayers, and living tears, love Him with living love, trust Him with living faith, serve Him with living obedience.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Christ offered up Himself. He was both Priest and Sacrifice. The atoning oblation was His perfect obedience, both in life and death, to the will of His Father. From Hebrews 10:5-7 we learn that the mystery of atonement began from the first act of humiliation, when He laid aside His glory, and was made in the likeness of men. It contains, therefore, His incarnation, His hope of earthly obedience, His spiritual and bodily sufferings, His death and resurrection. He overcame sin by His holiness, by perfect and perpetual obedience, by a spotless life, by His mastery in the wilderness, by His agony in the garden. His whole life was a part of the one sacrifice which, through the eternal Spirit, He offered to His Father; namely, the reasonable and spiritual sacrifice of a crucified will.

I. First we may learn INTO WHAT RELATION TOWARDS GOD THE CHURCH HAS BEEN BROUGHT BY THE ATONEMENT OF CHRIST. The whole mystical body is offered up to the Father, as "a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." Whatsoever was fulfilled by the Head is partaken of by the body. He was an oblation, and the Church is offered up in Him. Even now the Church is crucified, buried, raised and exalted to sit with Christ in heavenly places. In the same act of self-oblation He comprehended us, and offered us in Himself. And in this is our justification; namely, in our relation, as "a living sacrifice," to God through Christ, for whose sake we, all fallen though we be, are accounted righteous in the court of heaven.

II. The next truth we may learn is, THE NATURE OF THE HOLY SACRAMENTS. Under one aspect they are gifts of spiritual grace from God to us; under another they are acts of self-oblation on our part to God. They are the emphatic expressions and the efficient means of realising the great mystery of atonement in us. The faithful in early times, in the very act of offering up the living sacrifice of themselves, saw in the bread and wine of the eucharist an expressive symbol of self-oblation, and a fulfilment of the prophet's words (Malachi 1:11). PRACTICAL INFERENCES:

1. We may learn from this view of the great act of atonement, what is the nature of the faith by which we become partakers of it, or, in other words, by which we are justified. Plainly it is not a faith which indolently terminates in a belief that Christ died for us; or which intrusively assumes to itself the office of applying to its own needs the justifying grace of the atonement. "It is God that justifieth." All that faith does at the outset, in man's justification, is to receive God's sovereign gift.

2. We may thus learn what is the true point of sight from which to look at all the trials of life. We hear people perpetually lamenting, uttering passionate expressions of grief at visitations which, they say, have come on them unlooked for, and stunned them by their suddenness: one has lost his possessions, another his health, another his powers of sight or hearing, another "the desire of his eyes," parents, children, husbands, wives, friends; each sorrowing for their own, and all alike viewing their affliction from the narrow point of their own isolated being: they seem to be hostile invasions of their peace; mutilations of the integrity of their lot; untimely disruptions of their fondest ties, and the like. Now all this loose and faithless language arises from our not recognising the great law to which all these are to be referred. It is no more than this: that God is disposing of what has been offered up to Him in sacrifice: as, for instance, when a father or mother bewails the taking away of a child, have they not forgotten he was ,not their own? Did they not offer him at the font? Did not God promise to receive their oblation? What has He done more than take them at their word? And so likewise, when any true servants of Christ are taken away, what is it but a token of His favourable acceptance of their self-oblation? While they were with us they were not ours, but His: they were permitted to abide with us, and to gladden our hearts awhile; but they were living sacrifices, and ever at the point of being caught up to heaven. And so, lastly, in all that befalls ourselves, we too are not our own, but His; all that we call ours is His; and when He takes it from us — first one loved treasure, then another, till He makes us poor, and naked, and solitary — let us not sorrow that we are stripped of all we love, but rather rejoice for that God accepts us: let us not think that we are left here, as it were, unreasonably alone, but remember that, by our bereavements, we are in part translated to the world unseen. He is calling us away, and sending on our treasures. The great law of sacrifice is embracing us, and must have its perfect work. Let us pray Him, therefore, to shed abroad in us the mind that was in Christ; that, our will being crucified, we may offer up ourselves to be disposed of as He sees best.

(Archdeacon H. E. Manning.)

Stress must be laid on each of three particulars: Christ offered Himself; in offering Himself He presented a spotless offering; He offered Himself through an eternal spirit.

I. First, then, Christ's sacrifice possesses incomparable worth and virtue because the victim was HIMSELF. In this one fact is involved that Christ's sacrifice possessed certain moral attributes altogether lacking in the Levitical sacrifices: voluntariness and beneficent intention, the freedom of a rational being with a mind of his own and capable of self-determination, the love of a gracious personality in whom the soul of goodness dwells. Christ's sacrifice was an affair of mind and heart — in one word, of spirit.

II. Christ's sacrifice possesses incomparable worth and virtue, secondly, because in Himself He presented to God a SPOTLESS sacrifice — spotless in the moral sense. He was a perfectly holy, righteous Man, and He showed His moral purity precisely by being loyal and obedient even to the point of enduring death for righteousness' sake. The victims under the law were spotless also, but merely in a physical sense. Christ's spotlessness, on the contrary, was ethical, a quality belonging not to His body, but to His spirit.

III. We are now prepared in some measure to understand the third ground of the value attached to Christ's sacrifice; viz., that He offered Himself THROUGH AN ETERNAL SPIRIT. Putting aside for a moment the epithet "eternal," we see that Christ's sacrifice was one in which spirit was concerned, as opposed to the legal sacrifices in which flesh and blood only were concerned. It was a free, loving, holy spirit. But the writer, it is observable, omits mention of these moral qualities, and employs instead another epithet, which in the connection of thought it was more important to specify, and which there was little chance of his readers supplying for themselves. The epithet " eternal" suggests the thought: the act performed by Jesus in offering Himself may, as a historical event, become old with the lapse of ages; but the spirit in which the act was done can never become a thing of the past. The blood shed was corruptible; but the spirit which found expression in Christ's self-sacrifice is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, and in its eternal self-identity lends to the priestly deed imperishable merit and significance. This fitly chosen phrase thus makes the one sacrifice of Christ cover with its efficacy all prospective sin. But it does more than that. It is retrospective as well as prospective, and makes the sacrifice valid for the ages going before. For an eternal spirit is independent of time, and gives to acts done through its inspiration validity for all time. One virtue more must be ascribed to this magic phrase, "through an eternal spirit." It helps us over the difficulty created by the fact that Christ's real self-sacrifice took place on earth, and yet ideally belongs to the heavenly sanctuary. When we think of Christ's sacrifice as offered through an eternal spirit, we see that we may place it where we please, in earth or in heaven, on Calvary or on high, as suits our purpose. Do you insist that Christ's proper offering of Himself took place in the celestial sanctuary after the ascension, even as Aaron's proper offering was the blood-sprinkling within the most holy place? I reply, Be it so; but it took place there through an eternal spirit which gave to it its value; and if we want to know what that spirit was, we must look to the earthly life of obedience and love culminating in the crucifixion, wherein it found its perfect manifestation. Through this eternal spirit Christ offered Himself before He came into the world, when He was in the world, after He left the world. It was as a spirit He offered Himself, as a self-conscious, free, moral personality; and His offering was a spirit revealed through a never-to-be-forgotten act of self-surrender, not the literal blood shed on Calvary, which in itself possessed no more intrinsic value than the blood of Levitical victims. Thus interpreted, the term " spirit" unfolds the implicit significance of "Himself," and gives us the rationale of all real value in sacrifice. It can have no value, we learn therefrom, unless mind, spirit be revealed in it. Death, blood, in its own place, may have theological significance, but not apart from spirit. It goes without saying that the idea of spirit is essentially ethical in its import. Voluntariness and beneficent intention enter into the very substance of Christ's sacrifice. Another remark still may be added. In the light of the foregoing discussion we can see the vital significance of the death of Christ in connection with His priestly work. The least priestly act of the Levitical system becomes here the most important, the humble, non-sacerdotal first step the essence of the whole matter. Through the death of the Victim His spirit finds its culminating expression, and it is that spirit which constitutes the acceptableness of His sacrifice in the sight of God. On the epithet "eternal" attached to "spirit" it is not necessary further to enlarge. As the term "spirit" guarantees the real worth of Christ's offering as opposed to the putative value of Levitical sacrifices, so the term "eternal" vindicates for it absolute worth. It lifts that offering above all limiting conditions of space and time, so that viewed sub specie asternitatis it may, as to its efficacy, be located at will at any point of time, and either in earth or in heaven. "Eternal" expresses the speculative element in the writer's system of thought, as " spirit" expresses the ethical.

(A. B. Bruce, D. D.)

Purge your conscience
I. First, consider THE SAD HINDRANCE WHICH LIES IN THE WAY OF THE SERVICE OF GOD. The apostle does not say, purge your conscience from evil works, because he wanted to turn our minds to the type of defilement by death, and therefore he said, "dead works." I think he had a further motive; for he was not altogether indicating wilful transgressions of the law, but those acts which are faulty because they are not performed as the result of spiritual life. I see a difference between sinful works and dead works which we may perhaps be able to bring into light as we go on. Suffice it to say for the moment, that sin is the corruption which follows necessarily upon spiritual death. First, the work is dead, and soon it rots into actual sin.

1. Upon our consciences there rests, first of all, a sense of past sin. Even if a man wishes to serve God, yet until his conscience is purged, he feels a dread of God which prevents his doing so. He has sinned, and God is just, and therefore he is ill at ease.

2. On the back of this comes the consciousness that we ourselves are sinful, and inclined to evil. We say rightly, "Who shall bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one." We feel that we have not that perfect purity of heart and cleanness of hands which would fit us for the holy place; nor can we ever be saved from this fear, so as to take up our heavenly priesthood and serve God, till the precious blood of Christ shall be applied to the conscience, nor until we feel that in Christ we are accounted righteous.

3. But, besides this consciousness of sin and sinfulness, we are conscious of a measure of deficient life. About us there is a body of death. Dead works are the things we most require to be purged from. Without going into what the world calls actual sin, we carry death about us, from which we daily cry to be delivered. For instance, our prayer in its form and fashion may be right enough, bat if it lacks earnestness, it will be a dead work. An alms given to the poor is good as a work of humanity, but it will be only a dead work if a desire to be seen of men is found at the bottom of it. Are not the sins of our holy things glaring before our consciences this day? Unless we are purged therefrom by the blood of Christ, who offered up Himself without spot to God, how can we serve this living God, and be as priests and kings unto Him? Once more: I told you that the Israelites were defiled by even touching a dead bone, and this teaches us the easiness of being polluted. We have to come into contact with evil in our daily dealings with ungodly men. Can we think of them, can we speak to them, can we trade with them, without incurring defilement? Nay, I go further: do we, as Christian men washed by Christ, ever associate with one another without a measure of defilement? Can we meet together at our homes and feel, when we separate, that everything we have said was seasoned with salt and ministered to edification? Is there not some taint about our purest friends; and does not the touch of that corruption which still remaineth, even in the regenerate, tend to, defile us?

II. Now, I want to show, in the second place, WHAT IS THE TRUE PURGATION FROM THIS EVIL Under the law there were several methods of purification. These things did purify the flesh, so that the man who had formerly contracted impurity might mix with his fellow-men in the congregation of the Lord. Now, if these matters were so effectual for the purifying of the flesh, well does the apostle ask, "How much more shall the blood of Christ purge our conscience from dead works?" Why does he say, "How much more?"

1. First, because it is more truly purifying. There was not truly anything of purification about the blood of bulls and of goats. When the Lord Jesus gave His body, soul, and spirit a sacrifice for sin, then in that deed there was a real atonement made, a true and effectual expiation was offered. Therefore he says "How much more?" if the shadow cleansed the flesh, how much more shall the substance cleanse the spirit?

2. Moreover, our Lord Christ offered a much greater sacrifice. One reason why the precious blood has such power to put away sin is because it is the blood of Christ, that is, of God's Anointed, God's Messiah, the Sent One of the Most High. Notice, it is not put concerning Christ that His life is purifying, though it had a wonderful relation thereto; nor is it said that His prayers are purifying, albeit everything is ascribable unto the intercession of our risen Lord; nor is it said that His resurrection is purifying; but the whole stress is laid upon "the blood of Christ," signifying thereby death, death as a victim, death with reference to sin. See in His agony and His death your joy and life. It is the blood of Christ that alone can make you fit to serve the living and true God. Note what it was that Christ offered, and be sure that you lay great stress upon it. "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself?" "What a,, splendid word that is! Did He offer His blood? yes, but He offered "Himself. Did He offer His life? yes, but He specially offered "Himself." Now, what is "Christ"? The "anointed of God." In His wondrous complex nature He is God and man. He is Prophet, Priest, and King. He is — but time would fail me to tell you what He is; but whatever He is He offered Himself. The entire Christ was offered by Christ.

3. It is said in our text that this offering of Himself was "without spot." The sacrificial act by which He presented Himself was a faultless cue, without spot. There was nothing in what Christ was Himself, and nothing in the way in which He offered Himself, that could be objected to of God: it was "without spot."

4. Further, it is added that He did this "by the eternal Spirit." His eternal Godhead gave to His offering of Himself an extreme value which otherwise could not have been attached to it. Observe, then, the sacrifice was a spiritual one. He entered with His whole heart into the substitution which involved obedience unto death. "For the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross." It was by His Spirit that He offered up a true and real sacrifice; for He says, "I delight to do Thy will, O My God; yea, Thy law is within My heart." But then you must not forget that this Spirit was Divine — "by the eternal Spirit." The Spirit of Christ was an eternal Spirit, for it was the Godhead. There was conjoined with His deity the natural life of a perfect Man; but the eternal Spirit was His highest Self. What limit can you set to the merit of One who by the eternal Spirit offered up Himself? What bound can there be to a sacrifice Divine? You can no more set a limit to our Lord's sacrifice than to Godhead itself. Once more, I must call to your notice the use of that word "eternal," — "who by the eternal Spirit" — for it gives to the offering of Christ an endless value. Now, all this tends to make us feel how clean are they who are purged by this sacrifice which our Lord offered once for all to God.

5. Once more upon this point: as I have shown you that the sacrifice of Christ was more real and greater, so I want you to notice that it was better applied; for the ashes of an heifer mixed with water were sprinkled on the bodies of the unclean; the blood of bulls and of goats was sprinkled upon the flesh, but neither of them could reach the heart. It is not possible for a material thing to touch that which is immaterial; but the sufferings of Christ, offered up through His eternal Spirit, were not only of a corporeal but of a spiritual kind, and they reach, therefore, to the cleansing of our spirit. That precious blood comes home to us in this way: first, we understand somewhat of it. The Israelite, when he was purged by the ashes of the red cow, could only say to himself, "I am made clean by these ashes, because God has appointed that I shall be, but I do not know why." But you and I can say that we are made clean through the blood of Christ, because there is in that blood an inherent efficacy; there is in the vicarious suffering of Christ on our behalf an inherent power to honour the law of God, and to put away sin. Then again, we appreciate and approve of this way of cleansing. The Israelite could not tell why the ashes of a red heifer -purified him; he did not object to it, but he could not express any great appreciation of the method. We, as we see our Lord suffering in our stead, fall at His feet in reverent wonder. We love the method of salvation by substitution; we approve of expiation by the Mediator. Further, it comes home to us in this way: we read in the Word of God that "he that believeth in Him hath everlasting life," and we say to ourselves, "Then we have everlasting life, for we have believed in Him." We read, "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin," and our conscience whispers, "We are cleansed from all sin." Conscience finds rest and peace, and our whole consciousness becomes that of a forgiven and accepted person, with whom God is well pleased.

III. Consider THE KIND OF SERVICE WHICH WE NOW RENDER. After so much preparing, how shall we behave ourselves in the house of God? You should present unto the Lord the constant worship of living men. You see it is written, "Purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God." Are you not under bonds to serve Him? From this time forth you should not have a pulse that does not beat to His praise, nor a hair on your head that is unconsecrated to His name, nor a single moment of your time which is not used for His glory. Should not our service be rendered in the full strength of our new life? Let us have no more dead works, no more dead singing, no more dead praying, no more dead preaching, no more dead hearing. Let our religion be as warm, and constant, and natural as the flow of the blood in our veins. A living God must be served in a living way.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The offerings in the temple could not have satisfied the conscience; the offerings of Christ do. There are two aspects of sin which trouble the conscience. Sin by religious teachers is thought of as disturbing our relations with God. It stops our convictions, and prevents His Fatherly grace from coming to us. Another aspect of sin takes a place among the forces in the life of man to swell the sum of evil examples, to make virtue more difficult, and vice more natural. No repentance can ever recall what we have done, or make it cease to be a source of evil in the world. There is danger in the other extreme, but Christ is able to deal with the conscience, and set us right in our relations with God. There are principally three proposals for setting the relation right. They are — by man's contribution, by God's acceptance, and by Christ's transforming power. In the early ages of religion, when outward circumstances were held to be an indication of the favour or disfavour of God, the idea of propitiation took shape. They brought Him what they prized most, and supposed that He would prize it the same, and continued in this until the return of sunshine assured them that the Deity's wrath was assuaged. On the other side, some imagine that sin lapses after a term of years, or that by a certain system disorder in some things is balanced by the order in others. It is not that twenty years ago a certain deed was done: it is that in your sin you disclosed something in you which remains in you still. Let the same circumstances recur and your weakness reappears. In a very different age there grew up another theory of setting man right with God. Man had received life and power from God, and had used them against Him, and so they thought on the principle of displaying compensation against that which has to be compensated for. Thus there grew up acceptation, a sort of diminutive of acceptation. God takes it as the best that can be given, and declares the account clear. But conscience will not accept such assurance. It still recognises sin clinging to it, and so long as that sin is there, conscience is not cleansed. The third proposal is in the transforming power of Christ. The blood of Christ cleanses the conscience. "If any man be in Christ," says Paul, "he is a new creature." Paul's writings are full of similar verses, in which he expresses the reasonable and joyful satisfaction of conscience. He says that sin is forgiven to all men in Christ Jesus. The relation that ought to exist between God and the soul is then restored.

(W. M. Macgregor, M. A.)

Dead works.

1. Dead things stink. If we meet with a dead carcase by the way, we hold our noses: even so sins, blasphemy, profanations, pride, envy, hatred, malice, covetousness; these stink in the nostrils of God Almighty: therefore let them be detested by us.

2. Dead men are forgotten. "I am as a dead man out of mind." So let not our minds run on these dead works, on the profits of the world, the pleasures of the flesh: let these dead things be no more remembered.

3. That which is dead must be buried: "Give me a place to bury my dead out of my sight," as Abraham said to the sons of Heth (Genesis 23:4). Idolatry, blasphemy, all sins, are dead things, therefore let them be buried.

4. Dead things are abhorred of us. We shun dead things by the way, we will not come near them: so let these dead works be abhorred of us.

5. Dead things are heavy: a dead man. So these lie heavy on our consciences. Cain, Judas: they were not able to bear that intolerable burden.

(W. Jones, D. D.)

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