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Let us review this last of the Mosaic institutions, and mark its reference to a clearer and more explicit dispensation : for it too is evidently “ a shadow of good things to come.”
.... The flying manslayer" is an affecting representation of what every man is by nature and by wicked works; an unhappy creature, who has offended against his brother, violated the laws of socfety, broken his own peace of mind, and trampled on the divine authority, not only accidently and unintentionally, but deliberately, presumptuously. His conscience, 66 like the troubled sea,” cannot rest.
What he feels is dreadful, what he fears is infinitely worse.
With trembling Cain, he apprehends that every one who meeteth him will slay him ; his multiplied crimes cry out of the ground for vengeance upon his head.... while eternal, inflexible justice, like the avenger of blood,” pursues him to the death. To flee from, or endure the wrath of an offended God, is equally impossible. All nature is up in arms against him; he is become a terror to himself; the king of terrors aims his fatal dart, and hell follows after.
.... The “refuge” provided by this statute for the unhappy man who had destroyed his brother, and troubled his own soul, prefigures the remedy prescribed by infinite wisdom for the reeovery of a lost, perishing world....that dispensation of Divine Providence in which “mercy and truth are met together, righteous. ness and peace have kissed each other.” Fear not, guilty creature, there is hope concerning thee: thou shalt not die. The God whom thou hast offended, even he, “hath found out a ransom;" he hath “laid help on One who is nighty to save, even to the uttermost, them who come unto God through him.” Cease from the anxious inquiry, “ Who shall ascend into heaven, to bring Christ down from above? Who shall descend into the deep, to bring up Christ again from the dead ?” “ The word is nigh thee,” and in this wordt the Lord “brings' near his righteousness,” and his salvation. The name of Jehovah is as a strong tower, whoso runneth into it is safe. Prophets, apostles, evangelists, with one accord, point to the sanctuary, saying, “ This is the way, walk ye in it.” “ Turn ye to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope. Here is an high way”.... s the way-faring men, though fools, shall not err therein." "The Saviour himself proclaims, “Look to me, and be saved." “ Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out."
.The very act of flying from “ the avenger of blood.” argued a consciousness of criminality, and an apprehension of danger; and the course directed to a city of refuge, indicated a knowledge of its appointment, and of the privileges pertaining to it. In this we behold the character of the convinced, penitent sinner, condemned of his own conscience, stripped of every plea of self-righteousness, alarmed with the ter. rors of “ the wrath to come,” encouraged by the de. clarations of the mercy of God in Christ, apprehending “salvation in no other,” perceiving no way to escape but this, he flees “for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before him,” even to “ Him who is mighty to save;” to that "blood which speaketh better things than the blood of Abel;” to “ the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world ;” saying, in the words of the Psalmist, “O Lord, thou art my refuge ; return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee." “In Jehovah alone have I righteousness and strength ;" " he also is become my salvation."
The safety of the manslayer depended, not on having arrived at, but on remaining in the city of his refuge. To leave it prematurely was as fatal as to be overtaken on the way ihat led to it. The
The grace of the gospel, int like manner, is extended, not to him who, convinced of sin, and trembling with apprehension of judgment to come, has fled for refuge, to the great Propitiation, for sin, but to him who abideth in Christ. As there is a “believing to the saving of the soul;" so there is a drawing back unto perdition :” and “no man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Hence the solemn injunction and warning of Christ himself, “ Abide in me, and I in you....if a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered : and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."
“ He that endureth unto the end, the same shall be saved. The great Apostle and High-Priest of our profession lives forever ; there is therefore “no more going out.”
“ In returning and rest shall we be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength.”
.... The sanctuary provided and opened, equally for the distressed Israelite and “the stranger,” is a happy prefiguration of the indiscriminating mercy, the unlimited extension of the gospel salvation. “In Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” He " came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh; and through him, we both have an access by one Spirit unto the Father.” The gospel of Christ is " the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” It announces “glory, honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.” “For there is no respect of persons with God.” Blessed dispensation, which hath abolished all invidious distinctions! " where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all, and in all !'' Who art thou then, Oman, who “ judgest thy bro. ther? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother ?”
He is a man like thyself, a criminal as thou art; for liim also Christ died, and for his admission, as for thine, the door of mercy stands open, the city of reluze strengthens its walls, expands its gates.
I conclucie with suggesting a few hints, which will serve to evince the glorious superiority of the object prefigured, over the figure; of “the very image of the things,” above “the shadow of good things to come.” The institution under review was a provision for cne particular species of offence and di: tress, and for a case which could occur but in rarer instances. Indeed ihe whole history of Israel furnishes not a single one. But the provisions of the “ better covenant ....established
upon better promises,” extend to every species, and to every instance of guilt and inisery. They are made not only for the heedless and the unfor. tunate, the weak and the helpless, but for the stouthearted and presumptuous, for deliberate offenders and backsliding children, for the very chief of sinners. Whatever, O man, be thy peculiar “ weight, and the sin that doth more easily be set thee;' whatever “ the plague of thine heart,” or the error of thy life, behold help laid for thee on One mighty to save.”
" Be. hold ihe Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” Hear, and accept his kind invitation, “Come to me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” “Look to me, and be saved, all the cons of the earth.” "Him that cometh I will in no wise cast out.” The cities of Israel served as a temporary reprieve írum a sentence of death, which, though the hand of the “ avenger” was restrained, the hand of nature was speedily to execute. The manslayer night be overtaken by it, in the very city of his refuge. But the believer's security under the gospel never fails, never terminates. He is “ passed from death unte life;" he “ shall never perish.” “There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is
God that justifieth : who is he that condemneih? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again.” “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand : my Father which gave them me is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” Under the law, the death of the high-priest, the final era of release to the manslayer, was an event entirely casual, often distant, always uncertain. Under the gospel, that death, which is the sinner's deliverance, the soul's ransom, is an event forever present, perpetually producing its effect. Christ, “by one offer ing, hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." “ This man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.”
“We ought, therefore, to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we let them slip.” For if the intentional mur. derer was to be dragged from God's altar, to suffer the punishment of his crime; and if the manslayer, who despised and neglected his refuge, fell a just sacrifice to the resentment of “ the avenger of blood,” and to his own presumption and neglect of the merciful ordinance of God; “how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation ?" “ He that despised Moses” law died without mercy, under two or three witnesses : of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace ?” “For if we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,”. Heb. x. 28, 29...26, 27...31. “ Seek ye the Lord. while he may be found, cail ye upon him while he is