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subject? It informs us that God is holy, just and true, and that therefore a reparation of the dishonour done to His law by sin, and a full saa tisfaction to His justice, are indispensably requisite in the method of salvation. But, while the eye of the criminal, wild with despair, is looking round for hope without discovering a single ray, a voice full of sweetness and dis, tinctly audible, proceeds from mount Calvary, crying, “ It is finished.” “I have finished the s transgression, and made an end of sins; I “ have made reconciliation for iniquity and “ brought in everlasting righteousness. (Dan. ix. 25.) “ God is just and the justifier of him s that believeth in me.” “I have paid the “ ransom: deliver then from going down to the “
pit." “ Let justice make its utmost demand, “ I have a receipt in full to shew, signed with " the Creditor's royal signature, and attested by "credible witnesses."
The obedience and sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ constitute the sole cause of our justification before God. The gospel excludes from its system every notion of human worthi
By thine agony and bloody sweat; by thy cross and passion ; by thy precious death “ and burial; by thy glorious resurrection and “ ascension, good Lord deliver us,” will be the only plea of conscious sinners in relation to jus tification before God.
But it may be asked, if the obedience of Christ unto death be the sole and all-sufficient cause of our justification before God, what has His resurrection to do with the subject? And why has the Apostle and our collect asserted that Christ was raised for our justification ? In solving this difficulty it will be sufficient to
observe that though the tower-stamp adds no intrinsic value to a piece of gold, yet it is necessary to certify its value and to give it currency. In like manner our Lord's resurrection added nothing to the merit of His sufferings, which arose from the Divinity of His person ; but it was necessary to assure us that His offering hath been accepted, and the work of redemption assigned to Him fully accomplished. Surety undertaken to pay your debt, and been committed to prison till he had fulfilled his engagement, his liberation would be necessary to prove that the debt was actually liquidated. The resurrection of Christ demonstrated both the Divinity of His mission, and the fulfilment of His arduous work.
Having made these brief remarks on the doctrine of justification, a doctrine which from its importance and extent requires a volume instead of an essay, we proceed to consider the prayer which our collect founds on the foregoing preface. We pray that our “ Almighty Father" would “grant us so to put away the leaven of “ malice and wickedness, that we may always “ serve Him in pureness of living and truth, “ through the merits of the same His Son Jesus “Christ our Lord."
The idea of this request is suggested by the exhortation of St. Paul, (1 Cor. v. 7, 8)
Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a
new lump as ye are unleavened. For even “ Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. There« fore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, “ neither with the leaven of malice and wicked
ness ; but with the unleavened bread of sins “ cerity and truth.” This exhortation of the Apostle our collect has converted into a prayers which, as we have frequently observed, is the result of true wisdom, since obedience can only be produced by grace communicated to our hearts. We shall not discuss the analogy between Christ and the paschal lamb, remarkable and instructive as that analogy is, because it does not lie at present in our way. Nor shall we review the typical connection between the paschal feast and the Lord's supper, though the Apostle in the foregoing exhortation plainly intimates such a connection. But we shall confine our attention to the prayer of our collect.
We pray for grace that we may “put away “ the leaven of malice and wickedness.” In order to explain the phraseology which is here used, it is necessary to observe that the Jews were required by the Divine law, under pain of death, to forbear the use of leaven,* and to put it away out of their houses, for seven days during the paschal solemnity. (Exod. xii. 15—19.) This ceremonial requisition was designed to teach the necessity of moral purity in those who partake of the true passover. In obedience to this command, the Jews were very careful in scrutinizing their houses, as their own writers inform us, for the purpose of removing every particle of leaven from them.t And should we be less diligent and anxious in purging our hearts from the corrupted and corrupting leaven of sin, seeing we profess to be true Israelites, and to be partakers of an interest in the antitypical paschal Lamb, and of salvation through His blood from a worse bondage than that of Egypt?
* Leaven is sour fermenting matter, used for the purpose of lightening bread. Figuratively applied, it is any mixture which makes a general change in the mass, and generally means something which depraves or corrupts that with which it is mixed.
* « The Jews began to cleanse their houses from all leaven on the 13th of Nisan ; every place was carefully examined, lest any thing leavened should remain in corners, or in cupboards : so that on the 14th of Nisan at noon there was none in the house. The Jews at this day religiously observe this practice; to which St. Paul in some places alludes, saying, “ A little leayen leaveneth the whole lump;'
But this we know our inability to do, if indeed we are taught of God; and therefore we address Him in the language of supplication, that He would grant us His grace whereby we may be enabled to do it. It was easy
It was easy for an Israelite who was solicitous to comply with the Divine command, to discover and remove every crumb of leaven from his house. But it is impossible for us either to discover or remove “ the leaven of malice and wickedness" from our hearts by our wisdom and strength. And hence arises a necessity of joining in the Psalmist's prayer. (Ps. cxxxix. 23, 24.) “ Search “me, O God, and know my heart: try me, “ and know my thoughts, and see if there be
any wicked way in me, and lead me in the
way everlastiág. Or, as he elsewhere expresses the same desire, (Ps. xix. 12)
66 Who can understand his errors ? cleanse thou me - from secret faults.” Divine light is necessary to the discovery of sin, and Divine power to its subjugation.
This will appear still clearer, if we consider the nature of the evil which we are to “put i. e. if there were but a small portion of leaven in a quantity of bread or paste during the passover, it was thereby corrupted and rendered unclean: it was thrown away and burned.”_Calmet's Dictionary.
See also Ainsworth's Annotations on Exodus xii. 15, &c. where the reader will find some large quotations from Maimonides and other Jewish Doctors on this subject.
"away" from us. The words « malice and
to “ mortify our” own “memo bers.” To unleaven a mass which hath been leavened is difficult, but to purge out the old leaven of sin from our hearts is impossible to human ability. We see therefore the propriety with which the Apostolic exhortation is converted into prayer.
It is supposed that those persons who use our collect are under the influence of earnest desire after purity of heart and life. Let the reader inquire whether this supposition be just respect. ing himself. The gospel, while it affords new grounds of hope, suggests also new motives of action, and as it is credited effectually enforces those motives. The end of redemption is sanctification. If indeed we believe that “Christ “our passover is sacrificed for us,” we shall be solicitous to put away the old leaven.”
* Kania, malice or maliciousness, is used in this general sense, 1 Peter ii. 16. And troumpia is generally so used. Kaxia est naturalis vitiositas. Torripic est aliquid pejus : Malus est quisquis malè agit, nequam qui cum dolo malo agit, vel qui accersitâ et voluntariâ pravitate peccat contra conscientiam : Unde et Diabolus Toympos dicitur. Poli Syi.. in i Col. V, 8.