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A SERMON

BY

THE REV. MARCUS RAINSFORD,

Preached on Sunday Morning, April 3rd, 1870.

“But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”—HEB. ix. 11, 12.

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UT Christ being come.” It is the language of exult

ing and unspeakable joy. Before sin separated between God and his people, man enjoyed direct, immediate, and uninterrupted communion with his God; but when sin entered into his nature and his heart, man lost this privilege and all power of obtaining the restoration of it for ever

But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; and God promised to restore that fellowship which sin has interfered with, and to establish it on even a more perfect and permanent footing than had previously existed. A Saviour was to be provided ; a new and a living way of access to God to be opened ; sin was to be cancelled, Satan destroyed, and the God of all grace again to dwell with man, and men to dwell with God, and God himself to be their God, and to wipe away all tears from off all faces, and to banish death, sin, sickness, sorrow, and crying from the face of the earth ; old things were to pass away, and all things to become new. And thus did God surround with the rainbow of promise the dark cloud in which sin had involved our race.

Having made the promise, God forthwith proceeded to instruct mankind in the principles upon which he had determined to proceed, in order to bring about this great salvation. The promise was founded upon the purpose conceived in the everlasting love of God, to give his only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, to undertake as man's security the payment of man's tremendous debt, to enter the lists with man's tremendous Foe, to abolish death, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in an everlasting righteousness, and to add to his many crowns—the highest and the brightest of them all—the crown of the salvation of his lost people.

Accordingly we find, in the earliest annals of our religious history, God instituted sacrifice. The sentence against the sinner was this : “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die." And God instituted sacrifice as the means whereby, alone, man, as a sinner, could approach unto his Creator; as the medium by which alone the all holy God could descend to have fellowship and communion with sinful creatures; and accordingly—wondrous record—the first death in creation was the Lord Jesus Christ in type. For the first death we read of was a sacrifice: The lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. Thus the Lord began to teach his creatures as we teach our children, with the alphabet, and then with words. The alphabet, with which God began to teach the sinner his great plan of salvation, was sacrifice. First, we find man taught to erect altars : Abraham had his altar; Noah, his altar; Jacob, his altar ; and by the altar alone did they attempt to enter into covenant with God, or God condescend to enter into covenant with them. Upon the altars their offerings were laid, and upon their altars the tokens of God's acceptance of them descended. Never could they approach to God with propitiation but by the altar, and never did God descend to them with communications but by the altar. We find that whenever there was a victory bestowed an altar was erected, whenever a danger was threatened an altar was erected; and Bethels, and Ebenezers, and Jehovah-Jirehs, and Jehovah-Nissis, marked the early pilgrimages of his people. Afterwards, we find God enlarging this idea, and establishing and instituting a priesthood upon earth. Oh! what an office of mercy the priesthood was! The priest was a man taken from among men, and ordained for men in things pertaining to God. His business was to deal with sin and sinners; to transact the affairs of God with men, and the affairs of men, as sinners, with God. There was no access to God, when once the priesthood was appointed, but by the priest, and there was no descending from God to the people but through the priest, nor through the priests but by the blood of sprinkling, nor any blood of sprinkling accepted but by the altar.

Afterwards, God more fully developed the great plan he had in view : he ordered the tabernacle to be constructed. “Command the people of Israel,” he says, in the 25th of Exodus, “ to get them precious stones, and gold, and silver, and purple, and fine linen, and scarlet, and let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” The tabernacle in the wilderness was God's tent pitched among men, where he was graciously pleased to meet with sinners, and hold fellowship with those whose fellowship with God had been interfered with by sin. And in that tabernacle the high priest ministered, and into that tabernacle the blood of sprinkling was carried, and from that tabernacle ascended the incense; and there, between the wings of the cherubim over the mercy seat, Jehovah's presence was vouchsafed ;

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