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begotten, Christ, to be sacrificed and devoted to the curse, in commutation for all those, who by grace should claim this benefit. Thus Abraham, upon his acknow. ledging God's right and justice in the proposed sacrifice of his son, found deliverance by a substitute of the Lord's providing, and, cleaving in faith to the divine appointment, obtained the blessing.
This, by the way, proves, that Jehovah, who appeared to Abraham, to Moses, and to the fathers, was the second person in the divine essence, and who, when united to human flesh, became the long-expected Mes.. siah or Christ..
The selection of Israel from all other nations to this distinction, was a typical lesson or example, that God chooses whom he wills, and that his elect are but a part redeemed, therefore called the first-born or most excellent and valuable to himself, out of all the world. Thus they are named, the general assembly and church of the first-born, written, or enrolled, in heaven.* Their names were there inscribed in the book of life from the foundation of the world. They were Christ's own, given to him by the Father ;t and for these, as being his own, he laid down his invaluable life. I
This typical lesson was carried on through the whole of the Jewish dispensation, and particularly in the contest between the Lord and Pharaoh, and in all the consequences of that important history.
The first-born of Egypt were destroyed, in order to declare, that as no paschal lamb was slain for the Egyp
* Heb, xii. 23.
+ John xvii. 2. John X. 14, 15,
tians, so there was no redemption for them; nor is there, in the spiritual sense, for the hardened and unbelieving world, whom they représent. All expectation of that kind (no other substitute or sacrifice for sins remaining, upon their rejection of what God hath ordained) shall be entirely cut off. The paschal lamb was limited to the family, for which it was slain; and every one of that family was shut up or confined to the house till the morning: so Christ did not so much as pray, much less die, for any but those of his family; and unto them that look for him, more than for the morning watch, shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation.
The first-born of Israel were saved from destruction, only by the blood of a lamb slain, sprinkled npon the lintels and door-posts * of their houses; that is, by a substitute, whose blood should answer for them in the hour of general vengeance. This lamb was to be unblemished, and of the first year, thereby representing the holy Lamb of God, who, in the divine purpose, was slain from before the foundation of the world; and who also was to stand as the great first-born, or priest, bearing sin, atoning
* Exod. xii. 22. The lintel, nipon from apu, to see, wat either the upper beam which covered the door, or (as some suppose) a small window over it to afford light-nie, sid e-posts, from 717, to mode; the posts, on which the doors were hung to move, or to which they were fastened. The former of these may possibly, in a spiritual view, intend the intellectual faculty, or spirit, and the latter imply the animal soul and body, or that which outwardly acts. These must be sprinkled by the blood of the lamb, according to the apostle's prayer; The very God of
peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God, your whole spirit, - and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thess, v. 83,
and making offerings for all his family. He, and he only, was capable of being both priest and sacrifice together. To keep this great and momentous truth in constant view, the first-born son was enjoined to be given to the Lord.* God would not spare his only begotten Son for the sake of his people; and this claim upon the first-born of that preaching and prophetic people the Jews, was an apt memorial of his goodness. But as their first-born, being naturally sinful and defiled, differed from his, it could not be accepted in that condition, but must neces. sarily be redeemed. On the contrary, the first-born of clean animals were acceptable, and on being presented became typically sin a curse or devoted thing to Jehovah, as a substitution for the unclean first-born of man. The first-born of unclean beasts were to be redeemed, or destroyed. All this preached that solemn truth, which man by nature is unwilling to learn; that he is considered, in his fallen state, unclean and ignorant, as the beasts before God; that he cannot be accepted in his own person, or in that natural state; that he must be redeemed by the blood or death of a clean substitute, shed or offered in his behalf; that this substitute can only be Christ, the pure Lamb, who died for sin, and became si a curse, devoted to divine justice, and thereby, as well as by his infinite merit brought in, so altered the condition of those for whose sins he died and became a curse, as to be for and amongst them the headt of a new creation, or the
first * Exod. xxii. 29. f Jer. xxx. 21. with Gen. xlix. The ass is particularly mentioned as unclean. Our Lord rode upon one, at the true proclamation of the great Hosanna, for a sign, not of his humility
first-born of every creature ; that man, thus redeemed; is rendered a spiritual first-born, or new creature in Christ Jesus, being sealed, changed, and new-born of the Spirit, and so in Christ become the spiritual first-fruits of the creatures unto God; and that all this comes to pass, in consequence of a reciprocal transfer of man's sin to the Redeemer and of his righteousness to the redeemed, and by the operation of the Holy Spirit, uniting, in that event, the Redeemer to the redeemed so intimately, as to be considered as one in the sight of the Father, and, as that one, to possess together the everlasting inheritance, once lost but now amply re-purchased, in the kingdom of glory.. · The chief things of the antient mountains, or the great truths thus revealed of old, representing these precious things of the lasting hills, * are witnessed by all the scriptures, and are indeed a very considerable part of their subject and burden.
The first-born males of cattle appear also to have been devoted to God under the law, as memorials of this great redemption. The first-born of clean cattle (as was observed ) were the Lord's, to be entirely dedicated to him
only, but of his humiliation. His church, for whom he came and to which he was united, was by nature like that poor and unclean animal on which he rode; and he was contented to present himself in conjunction with it before God, as the pure Lamb, appointed to be slain in its stead and so to redeem it. Herein was his grace, that though he was rich, yet for the sake of his redeemed he became poor (he emptied himself,) that they through his poverty might be made rich. Zech. ix. 9. 2 Cor. viii. 9. . * Deut. xxxiii. 15. That these were spiritual blessings, it is evident from the subsequent verse, where earthly things are mentioned in apposition,
in sacrifice, * as repeated figures of the Saviour's dying atonement, and by no means or pretence to be exempted from the altar. Thus they showed, not only the Lord's death till he came, but the absolute necessity of his mediatorial sufferings, and the antient purpose of the Godhead to prepare for him a body for that vicarious sacrifice, and to bruise it with sorrows greater than any man's when prepared. So the first-born of unclean cattle † were to be redeemed by a lamb, or by five shekels presented to the divine service as an equivalent atonement, probably 'paid if a lamb could not so easily be procured; or else slich first-born were to be destroyed. These first-born from the unclean denote the redeemed from the earth, who are by nature children of wrath even as others, but are saved by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, that paschal Lamb who was sacrificed for them, and by whom they pass over from death to life, and from satan to God. The first-born only were redeemed, not all; and this explains whom Christ redeemed and who to him are the all in all, and therefore called the whole world, or that which he considers as the whole to him in it. Isa. Ixiii. 19. And it may be observed, that the price, and means, and extent, of redemption are every where specifically laid down in the law, with a specific application: a plain proof, among others, that the blood of Christ was also specifically determined, and not
* Lev. xxvii. 26. + They were called unclean, because they represent certain moral vices or defects, which are odious in moral agents; for as to the beasts themselves (as Maimonides observes) they neither gave nor received pollution, when alive; but man only. Porta Mosis, p. 288,