Noble's 'Appeal': VIII. The Atonement, Sacrifice, And Mediation Of Jesus Christ::
A. Atonement in General, and Atonement by Sacrifices, especially by the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
I am now to address to the Candid and Reflecting some remarks on the Atonement, Sacrifice, and Mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are subjects on which tomes innumerable have been written; and, certainly, to present our views respecting them with such fulness, as the labours which have been bestowed on building up and fortifying the commonly received sentiments might seem to demand, would require at least a whole volume of moderate dimensions. As, however, I have determined, in this work, to treat at greatest length those subjects in regard to which our views are generally thought most strange, which are those relating to the eternal world and state, and to the claims of the enlightened Swedenborg to attention as a particular Instrument for making known the truths to be discovered at the Lord's second coming; I shall treat this, like the other principal doctrinal sentiments which I am called here to discuss, with comparative brevity. I shall simply propose and explain what we believe to be the truth: I shall offer the system which, in our estimation, explains all the phenomena of the case in its principal branches; and shall leave the reader, for himself, to apply it to the detection of the fallacies, which compose, or support, the more prevailing doctrines.
"All things," says a great authority, "are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit; that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them" (2 Cor. v. 18, 19).
The Apostle here delivers, in one single sentence, the whole doctrine of the Atonement; and, to call attention to it, he propounds it in the most express and formal manner. "God hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ:" and the ministry of this reconciliation, committed to the Apostles, was, to declare this truth; "to wit that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." The word here translated reconciliation, is the same as is elsewhere rendered atonement: it cannot then be denied, that the Atonement of Scripture is nothing else but our reconciliation with God, effected by the dwelling of God in the Person of Jesus Christ.
The word translated reconciliation being the same as is elsewhere translated atonement, the above text might therefore, with equal propriety, be rendered thus: "All things are of God, who hath atoned us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath committed unto us the word of atonement; to wit, that God was in Christ, atoning the world unto himself," &c. Had it been given thus, the ground of some prevailing mistakes would have been taken away. At present, the word atonement occurs only once in the New Testament. That is in Rom. v. 11, where the apostle says, "And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." It is not a little extraordinary, that a word which occurs but once in the whole of the New Testament, from which, more especially, Christians profess to derive their creed, should have come to occupy so great a space in the language of the theology of the day. And it is more extraordinary still, that it should have come to be supposed, that the Lord made an atonement to the Father, thus that the atonement was received by the Father, when yet it is said, in the only text of the New Testament where the word occurs, that it is we who have received the atonement, The reason of the mistake is, because the proper meaning of the word has been little attended to; which is, as just stated, reconciliation. This was the only meaning which the word bore when, the Scriptures were translated; although, like the words person, ghost, and others, it has since assumed a different signification; and men have been too much influenced, in their religious sentiments, by the changes which have gradually taken place in the meaning of words. In every other place, the same word, and its corresponding verb, are translated reconciliation, and to reconcile. Thus in the verses preceding that just quoted from the Romans, our translators say, "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life:" then follows, "And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the atonement." Here then atonement is used as the answering substantive to the verb to reconcile. Atonement, is literally, at-one-ment;—the state of being at one, or in agreement.* Though the word atonement occurs but once in the New Testament, it is often used in the Old, but always in the sense of reconciliation. Doubtless, then, the atonement of Christian doctrine is reconciliation with God, including the means by which reconciliation is effected.
The writer whom I chiefly follow is pleased to affirm, that we deny this ministry of reconciliation; and quotes, as if they were against us, instead of being, as is the fact, entirely confirmatory of our doctrines, such texts as speak of the Lord Jesus Christ as having become a sacrifice for us, or as having, as Paul in one place explicitly states, "given himself as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour."+ And he says, "If we may not, as Baron Swedenborg would teach us, view Christ as a sacrifice for sin, then we require of the Swedenborgians to tell us, what the Mosaic sacrifices were types of: for according to their doctrine, those sacrificial types had no antitypes."$ This sentence displays that utter ignorance respecting what our doctrines are, which so eminently distinguishes most of those who undertake to write against them. Our doctrines never teach that we may not view Christ as a sacrifice for sin; but they show, on the contrary, how he truly was such, and rectify the great mistakes which many entertain in regard to what a Scriptural sacrifice is: and, so far from making the Mosaic sacrifices types without antitypes, they bring their antitypes to view in a more clear and satisfactory manner than was ever before accomplished.
* See Acts vii. 26; 1 Macc. xiii. 50; 2 Macc. i. 5, vii. 33. + Eph. v. 2. # P. 35.
first, then, we will show, That the Sacrifices of the Mosaic law were not meant to represent the punishment of sin; but, on the contrary, That they represented the hallowing of every affection and principle of the mind, and thus of the whole man, to the Lord. secondly, That the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ did not consist in his suffering the punishment due to sin, but in his hallowing every principle of his Human Nature to the Godhead, till at length his Human Nature became a living sacrifice, or thing fully consecrated, sanctified, and hallowed, by perfect union with his Divinity. thirdly, we will answer some objections, and further elucidate this Doctrine respecting Sacrifices in general, and the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ in particular.
I. first, then, we are to show, That the sacrifices of the Mosaic law were not meant to represent the punishment due to sin; but, on the contrary, That they represented the hallowing of every affection and principle of the mind, and thus of the whole man, to the Lord.
The prevailing opinion in regard to the Levitical sacrifices is that first stated; that the slaying of the animal, and the burning of him, or of part of him, on the altar, represented the punishment due to the offerer, and that, in sacrificing the animal, the offerer was considered as intreating, that the suffering inflicted upon it might be accepted in lieu of the punishment deserved by himself. This is the notion which the Jewish Rabbins have of the subject; who say also, that a confession of sins was made over the victim, when the offerer laid his hand upon its head, and thus that the sins were considered as transferred, to the animal, and punished in him instead of the offerer. It is however certain, that this is merely one of the traditions of the Jews, by which, as in so many other instances, they have perverted the divine law; for although the offerer was commanded to lay his hand upon the head of the victim, not one word is said in the Scriptures of any confession of sins to be then made. The only instance in which a confession of sins accompanied the laying on of the hand, is that of the scape-goat; respecting which Moses commanded, that "Aaron should lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat" (Lev. xvi. 21). But this goat, being thus representatively loaded with sins, was considered as unclean, and, instead of being sacrificed, was sent away into the wilderness. even the man that was employed to send him away was considered as contaminated by the operation, and rendered unclean also, so that be was required to wash his clothes and bathe his flesh in water, before he was allowed to return into the camp (Ver. 26). Seeing then, when it was intended that a confession of sins should be made over a victim, the command for it is so expressly given, can it be supposed that a similar confession was intended to be made over all the victims, when it is never commanded at all ? And when the representative effect of this confession of sins over an animal was to render him unclean, so that to have offered him up in sacrifice would have been an abomination, and the only orderly way of disposing of him was to send him away into the wilderness, to denote the rejection of man's sins, separated from himself, to hell from whence they came; can it be supposed that the animals actually sacrificed were in like manner rendered unclean, by a similar confession of sins being made over them, and thus a similar representative transfer of sins to them ? The idea is monstrous in the extreme; it is such as could only have been invented by the Jews who wrote upon the ceremonies of the ancient law long after those ceremonies had ceased to be performed. The books of Jewish writers are full of similar groundless fancies, which either originated with themselves, or, if they are traditions handed down from others, belong to the class of those traditions which are condemned by the Lord Jesus Christ, as making the law of God of none effect (Mark vii. 13). Accordingly, the learned, who long mistakenly looked to the Jews as the natural expositors of the law of Moses, are now generally convinced, that to follow them is to follow blind guides indeed, and that the only way of learning how the laws of Moses were originally obeyed, is, by studying the laws themselves, as they are still extant in the books of Moses, and to take nothing upon the mere authority of the Jewish scribes which is not there clearly implied.+ But, alas! the learned had not made the discovery, that Jews are very unsafe guides for Christians, before they had transferred a great portion of their doctrines into their system of Christianity. The Rabbinical notion that the animal slain in sacrifice was put to death in lieu of the offerer as a substituted victim, the sins of the offerer being considered as transferred to him, has entered very deeply into most systems of modem theology, and forms in them so fundamental a part, that you cannot take it away without throwing down the whole. Christian teachers, indeed, do not, with the Jews, consider that the slaying of an animal in sacrifice had any virtue in itself, but they transfer to the sufferings and death of Jesus on the cross, all that the Jews have feigned respecting their animal sacrifices. They consider that he died to appease, by his sufferings, the wrath of the Father; that the sins of all mankind, that is, of all who have faith, were representatively transferred to him, and that he suffered the punishment of them in their stead: all which doctrines are drawn from the Jewish notions of sacrifices, and belong to those traditions, by which the law of God is made of none effect.
+ See Michaelis's "Commentaries on the Laws of Moses," passim.
The reason then why, in all sacrifices, he that offered the sacrifice was directed to put his hand upon the head of the victim, was not by that act representatively to transfer his sins,—for to do this the sins were to he confessed over him, and that by positive command, as in the case of the scape-goat,—hut to express comnmnication between the offerer and his sacrifice, which was necessary to give the animal its representative efficacy. The animals offered in sacrifice represented the good affections of various kinds from which the Lord is to be worshipped; hut without this symbol of communication between the offerer and the animal, the latter would not represent any good affection presented by him: to imply that the offerer himself wished to worship the Lord by and from the good affection which the animal represented, it was necessary that he should perform the representative rite of putting his hand upon its head; after which the animal represented a good affection cherished by him, and presented by him to the Lord, from a sincere acknowledgment that everything good is from the Lord alone.
Now, that this is the true idea of sacrificial worship, is evident from many parts of Scripture: We will just select one which is completely conclusive.
That the putting of the animal to death, with the burning of it upon the altar, does not represent the punishment due to the offerer, is clear from this circumstance, that the altar, on which the sacrifices were offered, is called, in various places, "the table of the Lord." Thus the Lord says by the prophet to the priests, because they brought blind, lame, sick, and torn animals for sacrifice, "Ye have profaned it (that is, the name of the Lord) in that ye say, The table of the Lord is polluted and the fruit thereof, even his meat" (the meat, observe of the Lord) "is contemptible." Again: "Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar: and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee?" The answer is, "In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible" (Mal. i. 7—14). Nothing can be more clear, from these and numerous other instances, than that the things offered in sacrifice, and burnt upon the altar, were considered as constituting a feast,— were presented as upon a table for the Lord, to eat; which he was considered to do when they were consumed by fire. This is the reason why it is so often said in Leviticus, that, they were to be burnt "for a sweet smelling savour to the Lord." They are expressly called the Lord's bread, and his meat. Can, then, that which He is considered to accept as food, be the punishment and torments of sinners ? Could it be the punishment and torments of his own Son ? To suppose that this is what is meant by the slaying of the animals and burning of them on the altar, is indeed to pollute and profane the Lord's table: it is to suppose the altar to be a type of the regions of eternal misery, and to regard Him who accepts the offerings upon the altar as the being who presides over, and enjoys with delight, the torments of the lost. Indeed, when we consider the sacrifices in. the light of food spread upon the Lord's table for his acceptance, as we find they are represented in the Word, we must necessarily see, that no idea of punishment and torments is in them represented. The death of the victim is not regarded as to the idea of punishment, nor is its dying ever spoken of in the appointment of the ceremonial: but the slaying of it is merely considered as a necessary part of the preparation of it for food, and no more conveys the idea of the punishment due to the person who offers it, than that idea is conveyed by the reaping of the corn which was to be presented in the offering of the first-fruits, and which, as well as the animal sacrifices, was consumed upon the altar. Preparation for food is in both cases what is implied. And when the sacrifices, whether consisting of the flesh of animals, or of corn, flour, or cakes, are placed upon the altar or table of the Lord, they are considered simply in the light of viands of which the Lord is invited to partake.
What then are the viands of which the Lord can partake in reality ? When any allusion is made in Scripture to his hunger, it means, his intense desire that his goodness and love should be received by mankind. On the occasion of his temptation in the wilderness it is said, that "when he had fasted forty days, he was afterwards a hungered" (Matt. iv. 2); where his fasting refers to the depraved state of mankind and of the church in its entire desolation, and his hungering is his intense desire for man's salvation. The hunger of the Lord, then, is satisfied, when his love and goodness are received by mankind; and this is done, when man receives affections of goodness and truth from him, and returns them to him in sincere adoration, with the heartfelt acknowledgment that they are from him alone.+
+ See the above view of the sacrifices, and of the
nature of the divine hunger,
Here then we have a clear idea of the purport of the sacrifices in use in the representative church,—an idea which explains the whole system, and banishes obscurity from every part; whereas, on the supposition that they represent the punishment due to sinners, and transferred from them to the Lord Jesus Christ, we find ourselves stumbling amid extravagances and inconsistencies at every step.
But it may perhaps be objected, that this view of the subject excludes all reference of the sacrifices to the Lord Jesus Christ. The direct contrary, however, is the fact. All the Mosaic law of sacrifices was fulfilled in, and by, the Lord Jesus Christ, in a supereminent manner, and thus, in its highest sense, it has reference to him: it is only in a subordinate sense, and as followers of him, that it has a spiritual fulfilment in us. We, in our subordinate degree, as walking after him, are to be sacrifices too: but he is the great sacrifice of all.
When man continually receives from the Lord the graces of which He is the author, and ascribes all to him, in the manner represented by the sacrificial worship of the Mosaic law; when every affection and perception of his heart and mind of which the various kinds of sacrifices were representative, or himself in regard to such affections and perceptions, is thus continually hallowed to the Lord; it follows, that when his sanctification is completed, the whole man is thus devoutly consecrated. This is the state which the Apostle exhorts us to attain, when he says, "I beseech you, brethren, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable, unto God; which is your reasonable service" (Rom. xii. 1). Such a living sacrifice is a man wholly devoted to the Lord, who is wholly renewed by the reception of new principles of love, thought, and action, from him: whose selfish life is extinct, whilst he lives by a new life, which is life indeed. This, the same apostle speaks of as being his own state, when he says, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me:" (Gal. ii. 20) where, by the flesh, and, in the preceding quotation, by the body, the Apostle, as in other parts of his writings, does not merely mean the material body, but all that is called the natural or external man. Here then he clearly describes a state of renovation of the whole man, in which he is made a living sacrifice unto God.
II. We now shall be enabled to see the truth of our second proposition: That the sacrifice of Jesus Christ did not consist in his suffering the punishment due to sin,—for if, as we have seen, nothing relating to punishment is included in the Scripture idea of sacrifices, nothing of this could be included in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ;— but That his sacrifice consisted in the hallowing of every principle or element of his Human Nature to the Godhead, till at length his whole Human Nature became a living sacrifice, or thing fully consecrated, sanctified, and hallowed, by perfect union with his Divinity.
We have seen in the last section, that whilst the human form which the Lord assumed by birth of the virgin, necessarily partook,, at first, of her infirmities, its soul, from conception, was no other than the indivisible Jehovah. So long, then, as has also been shown, as the human form, thus assumed, partook at all of what is derived from the mother, it could only receive the communications of the Divine Essence with more or loss of limitation: in order to its receiving the whole, and becoming properly the Divine form of the Divine Essence, it was necessary that it should be entirely renewed, by the successive extirpation of the disorderly and finite human forms, and the bringing down, from the Divinity within, of divine forms, into the human and natural degree, to supply their place. To this operation the Lord Jesus alludes on various occasions. Sometimes he refers to the painful part of it, which was the extirpation of what he had from the mother; as when he says, "I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!"* At other times he speaks of the glorious part; as when he says, "Father, glorify me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."+ And that this was necessary for man's salvation, he declares when he says, "For their sakes I sanctify myself: that they also may be sanctified through the truth:"# where, by sanctifying himself, the Lord means, his purifying his Humanity from the infirmities inherited from the mother, and thus making it Divine. The same thing is frequently spoken of by the Apostles: as by Paul, when he speaks of Jesus as being "made perfect through sufferings:"$ the sufferings were the temptations and conflicts by which he put off the imperfections inherited from the mother: and the making perfect was his rendering the Humanity the perfect image, the appropriate Form and proper Person of his Divine Soul. The last suffering, by which he wholly put off all that he had received from the mother, was the passion of the cross. By this, all the merely natural life of the finite and material nature was extinguished: and when this was done, the Divine Life flowing from within (every thing uncongenial with it being extinct), descended into the most extreme forms of the human nature, extirpated all that was yet left from the mother, clothed itself with divine forms, still belonging to the human and natural degree, put on in place of what was put off, and so raised his Body from the tomb, no longer finite, no longer liable to any of the accidents of the mere creature, but wholly Divine, the adequate form for the reception and in-dwelling of the whole Divine Essence. This is his "Glorious Body," as it is called by the Apostle, after the image of which our spiritual bodies are to be fashioned. Some idea of it may also be conceived from the glorious view granted to the three disciples at the transfiguration: || what was seen by them was the Divine Person in the sphere immediately within, and above, that of the material frame. In this Divine Form and Person, therefore, as the Apostle declares, "all the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily:"—in any form and body not altogether divine, it is obviously impossible that all the fulness of the Godhead—the whole infinitude of the Divine Nature—can dwell. It all is centred in the Person of Jesus; demonstrating that his Person, since his resurrection, is altogether Divine; how vain then must it be to look for the Godhead anywhere else, than in that Divine Form in which the whole of it dwells!
* Luke xii. 50. + John xvii. 5. # Ver, 19. $ Phil. iii. 21, || Matt. xvii. 2.
Now, admitting this view of the completeness of the sanctification, glorification, or deification, of the Lord's Human Nature to be correct; and admitting at the same time the view above developed of the nature and effect of real spiritual sacrifices as offered by man; and we clearly see how truly the Lord, as to his Humanity, is called a sacrifice. The series of the Mosaic sacrifices, in their complete order, represents the entire sanctification of man, insomuch, that the man who spiritually offers them becomes himself a sacrifice—a thing or being wholly devoted to God, and wholly assimilated, in his finite degree, to the divine image: so, in a higher sense, it represents the complete sanctification or glorification of the Lord's Humanity, whereby this was really devoted to the Divine Essence itself, and entirely assimilated to the Divine Nature, so as to be the actual Form for its bodily indwelling. And this is correctly said to be done for us; for us this sacrifice was offered, to effect atonement, or reconciliation, between man and God: as Jesus says, "for their sakes I sanctify myself;" and as Paul declares, "Christ our pass-over is sacrificed for us:" not because the Father's anger required appeasing, or could be appeased by the sight of the Son's sufferings; but because, when the Humanity was thus sacrificed, that is sanctified, and united to the Essential Divinity, the divine influences were accommodated to man's state so as to be operative to the renewal of his heart and mind,—to his sanctification also. Thus it is most true, as the Apostle observes, that "he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." It is to put away sin from the mind which receives him that the Holy Spirit is given: and of this it is said, while Jesus was engaged in his ministry on earth, "the Holy Ghost was not yet, because that Jesus was not yet glorified:"*—not that no divine influences hud ever before been afforded; but that suck us were adapted to reach and affect man in the state to which he had then fallen, could not be imparted, till the Humanity of Jesus, the only Divine Principle from which such influences can be given,—was glorified, that is, sacrificed, that is, deified.
The above observations may also sufficiently explain, how it is that man is saved through the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus Christ; or through his blood, which, in the Apostolic writings, is constantly used, according to the phraseology of the Jews, as a figurative expression for his sufferings and death. These were not inflicted on him as the proper punishment of our sins yet were they most truly undergone by him for us, and were indispensable to; our salvation. They, and especially his last suffering of death, were the means by which his Humanity was glorified. They thus were the means by which we are delivered from hell and raised to heaven, through our reception of the saving graces communicated by the life-giving energies of the Holy Spirit; which could only be imparted to us from the Eternal Jehovah in his glorified Humanity. Thus it is most strictly true, according to our apprehensions of the subject, that "by his stripes, we are healed."
* John vii. 59. Our translators have said, "was not yet given;" but they have marked the word given by Italics, to intimate that there is nothing answering to it in the original.
III. In the first edition of this work, I here concluded my observations on this subject, conceiving that I had offered enough to make our views of it intelligible, and to evince that they are satisfactory. Yet, the ideas being so new to the generality of readers, I have experienced that it is possible, even for some of the Candid and Reflecting, to retain doubts on some of the points advanced. A writer of this description, taking the signature of Omega, propounded some objections and inquiries, in the Intellectual Repository. Owing to the small degree of acquaintance which is possessed, even by readers of the Scriptures, with those parts of them which treat of sacrifices, it is more than probable, that the solution of the questions proposed by Omega will be useful to many more. I will therefore insert, here, with slight omissions and alterations, the article which I wrote in reply to that friendly inquirer; * and will thus, as proposed, in the third place, answer some objections, and further elucidate this Doctrine respecting Sacrifices in general, and the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ in particular.
"The first difficulty proposed by 'Omega' is upon the following passage of the 'Appeal:' 'The sacrifices of the Mosaic law were not meant to represent the punishment of sin, but, on the contrary, the: hallowing of every affection and principle of the mind, and thus to the whole man, to the Lord.' On this Omega writes, 'This appear to me eminently clear and beautiful in regard to the free-will offerings; but not exactly so in respect to the sin-offerings. Mr. Noble, I think, makes no distinction between these,' &c.
"I was somewhat surprised, on reading the above, that the writer should have thought that I considered there to be no distinction between the sin and free-will offerings. In the 'Appeal' (p. 481),+ I had written thus: 'The series of the Mosaic sacrifices, in their complete order, represents the entire sanctification of man,' &c. I meant to say, that this was not fully represented by any one species of sacrifice, but by them all together, one stage of the process of regeneration being represented by one, and another by another. So far from wishing to confound together the sin-offering, the burnt-offering, and the peace-offering, with the various kinds of each, I am of opinion that the existence of so many kinds of sacrifices affords one of the strongest arguments against the common notion, that they all typify, simply, the death of Jesus Christ, and the sufferings therein undergone by him as a substitute for sinners. The following is an extract from a Lecture, composed and delivered prior to the publication of the Appeal, in which I urge this argument, together with that arising from the manner in which the Lord's crucifixion took place.
* Int. Rep. for Sept, 1832, pp. 229, &c. + In the present edition, p. 427.
" 'It really seems extraordinary that it should ever have been imagined, that the sacrifices of the Levitical law represented the punishment due to the sins of man as transferred to a substitute, and had reference to the death of the Lord Jesus Christ and nothing more, when there are so many circumstances connected with them which are utterly incompatible with either supposition. For instance: If they were all instituted merely to pre-figure the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ, how came there to be so much variety in them ? The crucifixion of the Lord was performed in one particular manner, and was one single act. If then Divine Wisdom designed to prefigure it by the sacrifice of animals, why was not one instituted which should answer to it with some degree of nearness ? "What occasion for a multitude of ceremonies connected with each, none of which bore any resemblance, in any respect, to the crucifixion of the Saviour ?
" 'But, further: The sacrifices of the law are considered as being offered by the real members of the church, as means of obtaining the divine favour for themselves. They were regarded as acts of sincere worship and true veneration for their God; and the actual sacrificing was executed by the priests, considered as the Lord's chosen servants. Whereas the crucifixion of Jesus was procured by the greatest enemies to God and goodness, and involved, on their parts, an absolute denial of their Maker as well as, of the Redeemer; whilst the immediate execution was performed by Roman soldiers, profane Gentiles. Thus the idolatrous soldiers must be considered as performing the part of the sacrificing priests, the consecrated sons of Levi: whilst the traitor Judas and the accusing chief priests and scribes, being the parties by whom the sacrifice was offered, were the true worshippers on the occasion! How groundless, then, must be the notion, that the Jewish sacrifices strictly represent the death of the Lord, when we see what absurd consequences result from such a supposition!
" 'Another circumstance which proves that the death of Jesus on the cross could not be strictly represented by the sacrifices of the Mosaic law, is this. A great part of those sacrifices consisted, not of slaughtered animals, but of offerings upon the altar of flour and oil. Indeed, these were the most essential part of the sacrificial worship: for while these, denominated meat-offerings, might be presented without any animal sacrifice, no animal sacrifice could be accepted without an accompanying meat-offering.* There were also offerings of the first-fruits of the harvest. Now, it certainly is impossible to conceive how such offerings as these could have any reference to the death on the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Does it not then appear unquestionable, that the sacrifice of animals must have represented things of the same nature, though with a variety as to their kind, as the offerings of cakes and fruits; and as these cannot strictly represent the literal death of Jesus on the cross, so neither can the other.'
"I know not whether, from the sort of distinction which 'Omega' seems inclined to recognise between the sin-offering and the other sacrifices, he is of opinion that, though the sacrifices in general represent the worship of the Lord from the good affections typified by the animals sacrificed, yet the sin-offering may have a particular reference of a different nature, and may represent the death of Jesus Christ as a vicarious suffering for the sins of mankind. If so, it perhaps may be sufficient to observe, that the principal sin-offering was a bullock, and no other animal than a bullock could be accepted as a sin-offering for the whole congregation,+ except the goat on the annual day of expiation.! A lamb was only allowed to be used as a substitute for a kid, and merely as the sin-offering of a private individual; and then it was required to be a female.$ If then, of all the sacrifices, the sin-offering was that which chiefly or alone referred to the Lord Jesus Christ and his death,—when John pointed him out to the Jews, instead of saying, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world,' || he ought to have said, 'Behold the Bullock?' or 'Goat.' As the Divine Saviour is never called, or compared to, a bullock or goat, the proper animals of the sin-offering, it is quite plain that the sin-offering could have no particular reference to him, and to his death on the cross; and it becomes very certain that the sin-offering could not be intended at all to typify this, considered as a vicarious suffering for the sins of mankind. He is called a Lamb, among other reasons, because the lamb was the animal sacrificed in the continual burnt-offering; and a whole burnt-offering represented something wholly devoted and consecrated to the Lord, as was his Humanity to his Divinity; whereas, in the sin-offerings, a small part of the animal only was consumed upon the altar. The common doctrine of the vicarious nature of the Lord's sufferings and death, and of the reference thereto of the ancient sacrifices, certainly requires, that, of all the sacrifices, the sin-offering should have the most pointed relation to that subject: and yet, of all the sacrifices, the sin-offering is that in which it is most difficult to trace any relation to it whatever.
* Numb. xv. 2 -12. + Lev. iv. 14. # Ch. xvi. 5, 1 5. $ Ch. iv. 28, 32. || John i. 29.
"On the nature of the distinction between the various kinds of offerings, I will submit another extract from the Lecture cited before:
" 'The Jewish sacrifices were intended to represent the worship of the Lord from the affections and perceptions of a purified heart and mind; which essentially consists in the ascription of all heavenly graces to the Lord as their Author. But what is the effect of such a worshipping of the Lord ? what, but the renewal of the heart and mind, so that it is filled with heavenly graces derived from him, and justly acknowledged to be from him alone ? And what is this but regeneration; that is, the passing from a merely natural state to a spiritual one, the whole man being renewed by the reception and appropriation of heavenly graces from the Lord ? This renewal, or this regeneration, is then represented by the sacrifices of the Levitical code, considered in their regular series.
" 'The sacrifices consisted, in general, of three kinds,—sin-offerings (to which general class the trespass-offering also belonged), burnt-offerings, and peace-offerings. In the sin-offerings, part of the animal sacrificed was burnt upon the altar, and the other parts were either burnt without the camp or eaten by the priests, according to circumstances; but in no case was any of it eaten by the offerer. In the burnt-offering, the whole was consumed upon the altar, and none was eaten either by the offerer or by the priest. In the peace-offering, the same parts as in the sin-offering were burnt upon the altar, part of the remainder was given to the priest, and the rest was eaten by the person who offered it. And it is to be observed, that this was the order in which the sacrifices, when all the kinds were offered, took place; first a sin-offering, next a burnt-offering, and lastly a peace-offering; as is particularly directed on occasion of the consecration of the high priest (Ex. xxix). Now, to those who are acquainted with the order in which the regeneration of man proceeds, it is easy to discern herein a picture of the whole. The order in which man proceeds is from externals to internals, and afterwards from internals to externals, he being then in both together. When he begins to do the work of repentance, there is an inward principle of love and faith from the Lord, which prompts him to resist evils and to live as the divine commandments enjoin: but to do so he feels as a laborious effort; because, at the beginning, he is only sensible of natural delights, to resist which appears irksome and painful. Still there must be, in the interiors of the soul, a love of the opposite good, from which he acts; though this is as yet unattended with delight in the seat of his conscious perceptions. This state then is represented by the sin-offerings. The part of the animal which was burnt upon the altar, represented the inward good received from the Lord, from which man does the work of repentance; though the smallness of its quantity denotes that this is as yet but little; while the large quantity which was either burnt without the camp or given to the priest, according to circumstances, none coming to the share of the offerer, denotes the imperfect degree in which the lower principles of the mind are yet purified. The next great state attained in the regenerate life, is, when the influence of natural loves is entirely destroyed, and when man is consequently enabled to look to the Lord with his whole heart, both in the interiors and exteriors of his mind, thus, when the union of good with truth is effected, and truth is no longer, as in the former state, the apparently reigning principle. Still, though there is thus a great increase in the reception of good within the soul, there is not a full sensation of delight in it in the lower regions of the mind; and though man is enabled to elevate the whole to the Lord, still this is not attended with a full perception of blessedness in doing so. This is represented by the burnt-offerings, in which the whole of the animal was consumed upon the altar, and no share was returned to the offerer himself. The final state is that, in which the external man, being entirely brought into order, and no longer retaining either affections or delights at variance with those of the internal, is renewed and vivified by the reception in it of the affections and delights of the internal; when love to the Lord and charity to man, in company with a pure and exalted faith, are not only become the ruling motives of the heart, but when the practice of the conduct which such motives prescribe is not only adopted by the external as a matter of duty and necessity, but is felt to be attended with the utmost enjoyment and delight. This was represented by the sacrifices of peace-offerings, in which the inward parts were burnt upon the altar, and the flesh was eaten by the offerer. This is expressive of a state of complete regeneration, being the same as is spoken of by the Lord in the Revelation, when he says, 'I will sup with him, and he with me.' The Lord sups with man, when he infuses into him the heavenly affections and views of which He is the sole author; and man sups with the Lord, when he feels what is thus imparted to him as if it were his own, willing what the Lord wills, and taking delight in all that the Lord's will requires.
" 'Thus, then, it is evident, that the performance of the Levitical sacrifices represented the offering up of man's self to the Lord; first, in the sin-offering, partially; next, in the burnt-offering, wholly; and finally, in the peace-offering, is seen the result of his full renewal into the divine image, when what he had offered is, as it were, given back to him; or rather, something far better in its place.' *
* The above, I believe, will be found to agree in substance, though popularly expressed, with what Swedenborg has taught upon the subject. I have noticed above, that a sacrifice of each kind was directed to be offered at the consecration of Aaron, Exod. xxix.; and that chapter is explained at large via the beginning of the last volume of the Arcana Coelestia."
"I have dwelt at some length on the first of Omega's paragraphs of difficulties, as containing the whole essence of the subject: the remainder may be more briefly disposed of.
"He next cites a passage from the 'Appeal,' in which it is stated, that 'in all sacrifices, he that offered the sacrifice was directed to put his hand upon the head of the victim.' He asks whether this assertion is not incorrect; and refers to twenty-five places in Levi-ticus, in which he states, 'we read of the sacrifices without any accompaniment of the laying on of hands;' upon which he says,
'Concerning these I would ask, as Mr. N. does of confession, 'Seeing then, when it was intended that hands should be laid upon a victim, the command for it is so expressly given, can it be supposed that a similar laying on of hands was intended in all these places, where it is never commanded at all ? '
"If I could have been guilty of such an oversight as to make a general assertion in the face of such a host of passages proving the contrary, I should very justly have deserved to have my own words turned against myself, as is here done by 'Omega.' I believe, however, that not one of his twenty-five texts proves the circumstance for which he refers to them. There were, we have seen, in the whole, but three general classes of sacrifices,—sin-offerings, burnt-offerings, and peace-offerings. The trespass-offering was only a species of sinoffering, and is expressly declared to be a sin-offering.* The law respecting the burnt-offering is given in Lev. i.: and it is there said of the offerer, 'He shall put his hand on the head of the burnt--offering.'+ The law of peace-offering is prescribed in Lev. iii.: and it is there said of the offerer, 'He shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering.'# The law of the sin-offering is delivered in ch. iv. Respecting the sin-offering for a priest, it is commanded, that 'he shall lay his hand upon the bullock's head.' $ Respecting that for the whole congregation, that 'the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock.' || Respecting that for a ruler, that 'he shall lay his hand upon the head of the goat.'@ Respecting that for one of the common people, which was to be a female kid or lamb, that 'he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin-offering.' ** Respecting the trespass-offering, which, as already noticed, was a species of sin-offering, it is commanded, 'As is the sin-offering, so is the trespass-offering: there is one law for them,'++ "We find it then expressly commanded, respecting all the kinds of animal sacrifices, that the offerer should lay his hand upon the head of the victim. How is it, then, that Omega has been able to discover twenty-five instances, in which this was not required ? An examination of any one of his instances will evince his mistake.
* Lev. v. 6, 7, 8, 9. + Ver. 4. # Ver. 2, 8, 13. $ Ver. 4. || Ver. 15. @ Ver. 24. ** Ver. 20, 33. ++ Ch. vii. 7.
"His first instance is from Lev. v. 5, 6: 'And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing; and he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord for his sin which he hath sinned, a female of the flock, a lamb, or a kid of the goats, for a sin-offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.' Here, certainly, nothing is said about the offerer's laying his hand upon the head of the victim: neither is any thing said respecting the slaying of it, the putting of the blood upon the horns of the altar, the pouring out of the remainder at the bottom of the altar, the burning of certain parts upon the altar, and the like. Did none of these things then take place ? In other words, was not the animal sacrificed at all ? Unquestionably it was, and with all proper ceremonials. But these are not repeated here, because they are contained in the directions before laid down as to the mode of proceeding in the sacrificing of a sin-offering. The manner in which a sin offering was to be made having once been described, it were superfluous indeed to repeat the description on every occasion when a sin-offering is commanded to be presented. All the other instances referred to by Omega are of the same description: they are only specific occasions on which a trespass or sin offering,* or a burnt offering,+ is directed to be offered:# of course, the mode of making the offering was to be that which is prescribed where the law upon the subject is expressly delivered. The name of the sacrifice was a sufficient direction as to the mode of offering it.
"The statement, then, that in all sacrifices the offerer was directed, to put his hand upon the head of the victim, remains unaffected by all the places in which, Omega says, we read of the sacrifice of animals without this accompaniment. There is, however, one instance, not noticed by him, in which there might be room to doubt whether this was intended. This is in the command about burnt-offerings of the flock.$ Respecting a burnt-offering of the herd, it is directed in a passage already cited, that the offerer should put his hand upon its head: || but this command is not repeated when directions are given, immediately afterwards, about the burnt-offering of the flock. But whatever was the reason for this omission, it seems unquestionable that the command was intended to apply in both cases: indeed we find a command to the effect in Ex. xxix. 15; and the accordant practice in Lev. viii. 18.
* Ch. v. 16, 18; vi. 6; xii. 6, 8; xiv. 13, 22, 25, 31; xv. 30; xvi. 6, 11, 15; xix. 22. + Ch. xii. 6, 8; xiv. 19, 20, 22, 31; xv. 30; xxiii. 27.
# "Some of the places relate to offerings of
birds. Respecting these it is uever commanded that the offerer should lay his
hand upon their head, because this action could only be conveniently performed
upon a quadruped, and the presenting of the bird with his own hand to the
priest had the same signification."
"Omega next cites a passage from AC 10023, in which it is said, that 'by the laying of their hand upon the burnt-offering and sacrifice was signified the all of the worship of him who offered, viz. the acknowledgment of sins, confession,' &c. But because, in the case of the scape-goat, the imposition and confession over him rendered him unclean, and unfit for the purpose of sacrifice, he asks, 'How are we to understand the confession implied in the laying on of hands, here spoken of; the tendency of which was to cleanse, not to defile the animal?'
"Respecting the scape-goat, the command is, 'And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their trangressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat' (Lev. xvi. 21). Here is not merely an implied, but an actual and particular confession, accompanied with a suitable action, expressly intended to transfer, representatively, the sins of the people to the animal: whereas nothing of the kind is involved in the acknowledgment and confession mentioned by Swedenborg, as forming part of the worship included in the representation of laying the hand of an offerer upon his sacrifice. There can be no worship at all without acknowledgment and confession, either express or implied: if therefore the sacrificing of an animal represented the worship of the offerer, and derived this representation from his laying his hand upon it, it must represent his acknowledgment and confession as part of his worship. What was thus representatively transferred to the animal was, not the worshipper's sins, but the good from which all self-acknowledgment proceeds,—the good of humility and of innocence.
" 'In Lev. v. 1—6,' says Omega, 'there is a specification of several sins, with directions that the offender should confess his sin, and bring an offering to the Lord; but there is no mention of the laying on of hands' and he asks, 'How is this passage to be understood ?'
"Part of it has been cited above, and the error corrected of supposing, that, in this case, there was no laying on of hands. What has been observed just above, about confession as a part of worship, will apply here. A person has been in a state of evil or defilement, either knowingly or otherwise. In the latter case, when it comes to his knowledge, he is to employ the means of purification, as well as in the former. No one can be purified from any evil who does not acknowledge it to be an evil. Such acknowledgment then is meant by his being required to confess it. He is then enabled to worship the Lord from the good of that confession, or from the good of repentance: which was represented by the trespass-offering which he was then directed to bring.
"Omega finds his last difficulty in Ps. xxxvii. 20: 'But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs; they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.' But the only difficulty arises from supposing, that the fat of lambs, as consumed in divinely representative sacrifices, is what is meant: and there would indeed be a difficulty in seeing how this could be a proper symbol of the enemies of the Lord. But there is nothing either in the text or context to intimate, that the fat of lambs is here spoken of in reference to 'its application to the most holy use.' Most things in the Word admit of opposite significations: and if, in its good sense, the fat of lambs signifies the good of innocence of celestial love, in its contrary sense it will denote an evil which is opposite to such innocence. If there is here any reference to the burning of fat in sacrifices at all, the sacrifices alluded to must be those of the enemies of the Lord, offered to false gods and idols.
"I hope that the above remarks may be received as tending to show, that no solid objection can be raised to the New Church Doctrine of Atonement, and that no support for the common erroneous doctrine can be derived from any just view of the sacrifices of the Mosaic law."
From the whole, then, that has been offered on the subject of Sacrifices, I trust we may now discern, how truly atonement or reconciliation was made between God and man by the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The enmity, or contrariety, between man and God, was first abolished in his own person, and in him man, or human nature in general, was reconciled to God:* and then, by his agency and influence, it is abolished in us also, and we are reconciled, and restored to agreement with God, in and by him. In the expressive language of the Apostle (Rom. v. 10); "If, when we were enemies"—when human nature in general was in a state of contrariety,—"we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,"—the separation was abolished by the glorification of the Human Nature of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Son of God, and of which glorification his death was the immediate cause,—"much more being reconciled, shall we be saved by Ms life,"—much more, now that the utter separation no longer exists, shall we be endowed with saving graces through the life-giving influences proceeding from Him, who ever liveth to make intercession for us.—What reason then have we to "joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement" (Ver. 11) Blessed be God, who "hath atoned its to himself by jesus christ!" Adored be the mercy by which "god was in christ atoning the world unto himself!"
* See this truth, which is usually so entirely overlooked, largely proved and insisted on in Sherlock on Happiness and Punishment in the Next World, ch. v. Sect. 3.