If it were only Dr. Bonar’s returning to his vile and miserable thought of Christ being banished, or the persevering insolence of mind with which he changes scripture to suit his own purpose, I should take no notice of his book, “The Rent Veil.” Christ has directed us what to do with the blind leaders of the blind—to let them alone. But the book is written with another object.
Dr. Bonar resists truth in every shape. In another book he mocked at the conflict of two natures in us, and that in a way which makes it mocking Paul’s own words on the subject. Here the object is to set aside the sure settled standing of the believer before God. Dr. Bonar is evidently not in the liberty wherewith Christ sets us free, and he naturally teaches from the ignorance in which he is as to it. Only it is a sorrowful thing when ignorance is taught. He gives no sort of heed to the statements of scripture. He invents views of his own, and sets them forth as truth, with entire neglect of the word. Happily this enables us to detect how utterly groundless his statements are.
Two things alone occupy me here—his view of the Hebrews, which in every particular is the opposite of the truth, and the effort to continue on the first Adam by uniting Christ with him, instead of basing all—the first Adam being judged and rejected—on the last Adam, Him risen from the dead, when redemption is accomplished, with whom alone, when glorified, there is union. These two are vital points at the present day. Dr. Bonar is seeking to destroy what the Spirit of God would press on the heart especially now. I shall, however, shew that his statements on all connected with these points are wholly unscriptural, that godly souls may distrust his statements, and be on their guard. He seems to allude to perfectionism of Mr. Pearsall Smith’s class. This I have met and answered in its place; and not only in print, but have had much to do with it where it is current. I should not notice it here, but to remark that, what is one great source of their errors, Dr. Bonar equally fails in the knowledge of the use of water for cleansing in scripture. They are really on the same ground; for both, if there be failure, there must be a re-application of the blood; of the water, the washing of the feet, they are alike wholly ignorant. It forms no part of their system.
But, to pursue our inquiry into the statements of the book, paradise is treated as the place of God’s dwelling, which there was no veil to hide. Man could go in to speak with God: God came out to speak with man. It was not till after man had disobeyed that the veil was let down which separated God from man, which made a distinction between the dwellings of man and the habitation of God. All this is a fable. There is no hint of paradise being the dwelling-place of God. “The Lord God took man, and put him into the garden of Eden, to dress it and to keep it” (pages 39, 40). You may see a still more definite statement, that God was there even when man was turned out. “Both the veil and the flame said, We guard the palace of the great King, that no sinner may enter; yet they said the King is within.” All this is a fable. One has only to read Genesis 3:22-24 to see it is pure invention. The cherubim and the flaming blade of a sword, turning on itself, were set at the east of Eden, to keep the way of the tree of life, with this express and only object. Dr. Bonar slyly leaves out the cherubim.
Now for him they are always the church; but to make the church keep the way of the tree of life against man, as God’s judicial watcher, would not have done; so it is left out. “God’s first words to man were those of grace” (p. 16). There is not a word of grace addressed to man at all—temporal judgment, and that only indeed. In the judgment on the serpent it is declared that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. But Adam was not the Seed of the woman. His faith may have laid, I trust did lay, hold of it; but it was laying hold of another, not grace addressed to himself: a difference of all importance because it brings forward the second Man, in whom all the promises of God are yea and amen, and is no setting up of the first again. We are told that (p. 17) “man was allowed to build his altar, and worship at its gate. At the gate of paradise the first altar was built,” etc. But man must remain outside meanwhile, he was not allowed to enter the place as holy; only he sacrificed at the gate of it. All a fable.
Page 19: “God then began to teach man by means of sacrifice. This method of teaching him concerning grace and righteousness widened and filled up age after age. For this fuller education the tabernacle was set up… Not till man, the sinner, should master the profound and wondrous lessons contained in that book (Leviticus) could the veil be removed, and access granted.” Was this so? There was no growth, but the whole thing established according to the pattern shewed in the mount. There was no such education. The apostle (2 Cor. 3) declares that from the very origin they could not, and never did, see the purport of this, in truth, most instructive system when we have the key. What the world learned of it Dr. Bonar must tell us. The whole thing is clean contrary to scripture. The importance is that it is, in Dr. Bonar’s scheme, bringing on and educating the first man, and so bringing in blessing. The apostle is proving, on the contrary, the impossibility of this with man; that is, he teaches the exact contrary of Dr. Bonar’s teaching..
We are told (page 22) “The second veil allowed any one to look in.” Not only is this untrue as a fact (they could not see through the veil at all, nor is there any trace that the ordinary Israelite ever went beyond the brazen altar—the brazen laver was for the priests only), but the word declares the contrary in the strongest possible way. If the most privileged class of Levites saw anything inside of the tabernacle, it was death to them. (Num. 4:20, and what precedes). That is, scripture carefully teaches, as to the essence of the position, the contrary of what Dr. Bonar teaches, and what he teaches as giving its character to the state of things, his whole system, of which this is a part, is the exact contrary of the truth.
I turn to the cherubim. “Doubtless,” we are told, “Abraham,” etc., “knew about them.” All this is to carry on the alleged teaching of man. It is naught: no trace of it in scripture; a false conception of the position of Abraham, the root of promise, not of law. The cherubim were in the pattern on the mount. “The cherubim aid the Messiah (p. 28) are all of one; the church is represented in the tabernacle as one with Christ,—members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. Israel was taught that the church in the wilderness (Acts 7:38) was as truly the body of Christ as the church at Pentecost.” “These cherubim symbolized the church of the redeemed.”
Page 55, where it is said, “He that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are all of one,” there is no thought of the unity of the body; indeed the assembly as the body of Christ is never spoken or thought of in the Hebrews. “They are all of one, for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren; saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the assembly will I sing praise unto thee.” All is carefully individual, even when the assembly or church is spoken of. Priesthood for men walking on earth, while the high priest is in heaven, is the subject of the epistle, not union with the head on high. But of this anon.
But the statement of page 28 has Dr. Bonar’s authority, but not even an attempt is made to found it on scripture. That there was an assembly in the wilderness, no one in his senses denies; but what assembly? The nation of Israel, and nothing else; a body which excluded Paul’s account of the founding of the church. That assembly in the wilderness was based on the middle wall of separation being strictly kept up 1 the assembly of which Paul speaks is based on its being wholly thrown down. “The church is represented in the tabernacle as one with Christ, members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.” “Israel was taught that the church in the wilderness (Acts 7:38) was as truly the body of Christ as the church at Pentecost.”
Paul tells us the mystery had been wholly hidden—hid in God. But Dr. Bonar does not tell us how Israel was taught it, or how it was represented; how even it was in the cherubim, and “they symbolized the church of the redeemed.” Would my reader take a Concordance, and trace the word cherub? The cherubim are the seat of divine authority in the exercise of judicial power. They are found when God judicially excludes man from the tree of life. They constituted the throne of God in the tabernacle. “He sitteth between the cherubim.” “They were made out of one piece with the golden cover of the ark.” There God judged and had His throne; therefore blood had to be brought to make propitiation. (See 2 Sam. 22:8, and following.) There the cherub is in the strongest way the seat of judicial power. “Jehovah thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered His voice. And he sent out arrows, and scattered them by lightning, and discomfited them,” etc. Let my reader turn to Ezekiel 1 and 10, where the judicial and throne character of the cherubim is displayed in so solemn a manner. If chapters 1-10 be read, the judgment of Jerusalem at that time will be clearly seen.123
It is evident that the cherub is the judicial throne or power of God. That the members of the church may come in as instruments of that power when they reign is very possible, as the angels may in their own time and place. But to make what kept the way of the tree of life—what fills the first scenes of Ezekiel’s vision—the throne in the tabernacle, or the careering judgments of 2 Samuel 22, the church, as such, evidently is simply absurd. The ground of it is that there were cherubim on the veil. It suits Dr. Bonar, because he can connect Christ with man in union, and make Israel the church, and deny the unique position of the church in union with Christ glorified. It sets up the first man, the great object of Satan in these days. Take Ezekiel. It could not be the church as now. That is clear then. Was God riding or sitting in Israel when He destroyed Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar? The statement of page 28 has no ground whatever to stand upon.
The next thing we have is the blood on the veil. “As often as the priest offered a sin-offering, the veil was wet again with the blood which dropped on the floor. Is this Christ bathed in the blood of atonement?” And he then refers to Christ’s circumcision and Gethsemane. Then “we see the blood-sprinkled veil.” The last sentence I must leave my reader to understand, if he can. “And all this for us, that the blood which was thus required at His hands should not be required of us.” What has that to do with His being bathed in blood?
I do not dwell now on the effect such statements and language produce. But all is wrong. It is not true that the blood was sprinkled, then, as often as the priest offered a sin-offering. It had no reference to the individual sins of the people; the blood for these was sprinkled at the brazen altar. What is here spoken of was done only when the anointed (that is, the high priest), or the whole congregation, sinned; and the whole ordinance was different; the bodies were burnt without the camp. There is no ground to change the translation. Before Jehovah, in front of or before the veil, is right in word and sense. At any rate Dr. Bonar is wrong. He speaks of the wet veil, and its dropping on the floor. Not both; the purpose is represented in the type. If it was the veil, not the floor; if the floor, not the veil. The point was, it was in front of the veil. All the statement in pages 29, 30 is entirely false.
It is part of Dr. Bonar’s system of preparing man by the partial apprehension, before Christ came, of the same divine things. The worshipper in the outer court saw nothing, could see nothing, was meant to see nothing. The whole statement is a fable. We have seen it was death, even for a Levite, to see the things in the outer part of the house. And even the descriptions had no prospective sense for Israel, as we have seen from 2 Corinthians 3. “The rending of the cherubim signified our identification with Christ in His death” —confusion twice confounded, and nothing else; as many errors as words. The church, as the body of Christ, was not to be rent. The figure is Christ’s personal death, a most important and weighty truth assuredly, but nothing to do with our dying with Christ. The rending of cherubim is never given as a symbol in scripture, or in any way. Dr. Bonar cannot even say that it materially happened; neither the thought nor the fact is scriptural. It is Dr. Bonar’s invention, connected with his invention that they are the church (itself a monstrous absurdity); but when we died with Christ, it is in no sense as members of the church: as such we shall never die. We died with Christ as Adam’s sinful children. Sin in the flesh was condemned there. “Our old man was crucified with Christ.” “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh” — “dead to law.” The idea of crucifying the church, when such, is as gross a perversion as can well be conceived. This part of truth is individual, as (save in the hortatory part) Romans always is. It was the condemnation of sin in the flesh, but by which we are dead to it for faith, being baptized to His death.
As regards the actual rending of the veil, it is sufficient that this momentous fact is stated as it is. The Jewish system set aside, access to the holiest is fully open to the believer. Dr. Bonar’s long dwelling on details only weakens by physical circumstances the immense moral weight of the symbolical act. It is in every way most unhappy. It drags down the details, which teach nothing, and force one to remember that there was then no true ark and no Shechinah in the temple at all, nor had there been since Babylon. When Christ was on the earth, He was the place of the Shechinah—the true temple. Dr. Bonar confounds the access of the worshipper and the call to the sinner, which makes even his treating of the rent veil false.
As regards propitiation and substitution, they are points of great importance, and important to distinguish; but, in order to deny the true import of these words, and the truth connected with them, Dr. Bonar has made confusion, and indeed most mischievous error, out of it. That Christ, for God’s glory, stood as the representative man before God, and in a certain sense took our place, and died for all, making propitiation for the whole world, is true; and I add that if Dr. Bonar chose to call this substitution, though I should regret it as unfitting, and enfeebling its use in other vital aspects, yet it would not be my place to prescribe words to him. But he does a great deal more than this. By his hatred of the truth and fondness for his own views, he has upset the whole gospel. “The blood brought within the veil,” he tells us (p. 109), “contained a world-wide message, so that each one hearing of that atoning blood might at once say, then God is summoning me back to Himself,” etc. Be it so; but then “propitiation,” he continues, “rests on substitution. In all these symbolical transactions we have one vast thought, the transference of guilt from one to another, legally and judicially.” If this be so, then if each one hearing of it could apply it, the guilt of all had been transferred to Christ, and it cannot be untransferred, or transferred back again, for Christ has died under it, a work “perfectly valid for all ends of justice”; consequently there can be no imputation of sins to anybody at all—the guilt has been transferred.
Scripture carefully distinguishes propitiation and the transfer of guilt, Jehovah’s lot and the people’s lot on the great day of atonement. Sin being come in, God’s glory was in question, and our sin too. The blood was brought under God’s eye as propitiation, and the sins of the people were laid by their representative on the head of the scape-goat. Both ends were met, God glorified in what He was, and the people’s guilt put away. So Christ appeared at the end of the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself; but besides that He was once offered to bear the sins of many.
Dr. Bonar confounds it all, and there is no sure gospel for the believer; for the transfer of his guilt to Christ does not assure his salvation, nor set him in divine righteousness before God; for this is equally true of the lost according to Dr. Bonar, and there is no true gospel for the sinner, for propitiation and transfer of guilt are the same; and the latter is not true, or all the world is saved. God has been perfectly glorified in the work of atonement, and that in the very place of sin, that is, Christ made sin, His righteousness against sin, His love to sinners, His majesty, all He is. God has been, then, glorified in the Son of man; and the testimony of grace founded on propitiation can go out to all the world. But, besides that, in the same work He has borne the sins of many, and they are cleared for ever. Propitiation, by the force of the term, refers to God—substitution to men. And though propitiation is by reason of man’s sin, yet it refers to what God is. His nature and character, and God’s glory, is involved in it. It goes a great deal farther than meeting the sin which may have occasioned it. Substitution takes up the sins it is occupied with as its whole subject and measure. But on this I will say no more here. If blessed truth is to be spoken of, it must not be in answering such a book as Dr. Bonar’s.
Only a point or two remains before I say a few words on Hebrews. He quotes the beautiful Psalm (of confidence) 16: “Therefore my heart is glad, yea, my glory rejoiceth” (p. 88). Here is his commentary, “He speaks as an exile far from home, weary, troubled, exceeding sorrowful even unto death “(p. 94). “Looking upwards to the happy heaven which He had left, He could say, ‘How many servants in my Father’s house have bread and to spare, and I perish with hunger.’ “(p. 97). The statements in pages 152, 153 are all utter confusion and mistake. In 1 Corinthians 3 the apostle is insisting on the responsibility of man in the work; and where it was of wood, hay, and stubble, all would be burned. Nay, more; if a man corrupted the temple, he would be destroyed. It is the temple of God, not now such as is spoken of here by Dr. Bonar, but that temple under man’s responsibility. And Paul speaks of laying the foundation of it. Strange if Old Testament saints were in it! It is confounding what Christ builds and what comes of man’s responsibility;—just what God is carefully distinguishing now, and which Dr. Bonar confounds together, without finding out the difference, which stares us in the face in the passage he quotes.
How completely the work of Christ is looked at as completing the progressive operation of God in the education of the old man may be seen in page 79: “The ages of delay are over; the day of expectation has come to an end. The purpose of Jehovah is now consummated. The Father now delights in the accomplishment of His eternal design. Now grace and righteousness are one. So long as one burnt-offering remained unpresented, there was something wanting—something unfinished. But now the last of the long series has arrived. The type is perfected, the last stone has been laid; the last touch has been given to the picture; the last stroke of the chisel has fallen upon the statue. The imperfect has ended in the perfect—the unreal in the real.” It is arrant nonsense; but what a place it puts the previous series of sacrifices and Christ’s in!
But I turn to Hebrews, my main object in all these lines; and very few words will suffice. “It assumes throughout,” says Dr. Bonar (Preface), “that the present condition of the church on earth is one continually requiring the application of the great sacrifice for cleansing. The theory of personal sinlessness has no place in it. Continual evil, failure, imperfection, are assumed as the condition of God’s worshippers on earth during this dispensation… Personal imperfection on the one hand, and vicarious perfection on the other, are the solemn truths which pervade the whole. There is no day nor hour in which evil is not coming forth from us, and in which the great blood-shedding is not needed to wash it away… God’s purpose is that we should never while here get beyond the need of expiation and purging… They who, whether conscious or unconscious of sin, will take this epistle as the declaration of God’s mind as to the imperfection of the believing man on earth, will be constrained to acknowledge that the blood-shedding must be in constant requisition, not (as some say) to keep the believer in a sinless state, but to cleanse him from his hourly sinfulness.”
Now that the blood of Christ is the eternal security of all blessing, even in the new heavens and new earth, I wholly believe; and that no saint is personally perfect, I entirely accept. I see no perfection for a Christian but likeness to Christ in glory. That is before his soul now, and hence the intelligent Christian can have no thought of perfection here. He purifies himself as He, Christ, is pure. That in many things we all offend, as a fact, I believe—not taking my own failure as a rule from scripture itself. But the necessity, as “God’s purpose,” that we should be always sinning here, as Dr. Bonar would have it, I reject. We should be walking always in communion, and manifesting the life of Christ in our bodies, always bearing about in the body His dying. That, and that only, is the normal state of the Christian. To say that we do fail is a very different thing from saying we must. I can never excuse myself, for Christ’s grace is sufficient for me, and His strength made perfect in weakness; and God is faithful not to suffer me to be tempted beyond that we are able. If we are vicariously perfect, that is, perfect through Christ before God in God’s sight, we cannot, in coming to Him, come with a bad conscience.
I have given thus fully, with a short clearing up of the point as to personal perfection, the statement of Dr. Bonar, to shew that it is in every point exactly the contradiction of the epistle he is speaking of. Our imperfection in sinning is never spoken of in the Hebrews. When sinning is spoken of, it is unbelief; as Israel in the wilderness sinning wilfully after the knowledge of the truth, apostasy, and profaneness, and in every case final, hopeless, and irrecoverable ruin. When sinning is spoken of in this epistle, it leaves a man without remedy, as chapters 3, 6, 10, 12. Priesthood, as now exercised by Christ (I do not speak of the work of the great high priest on the day of atonement, that is finished), is not for sins in the Epistle to the Hebrews. It is for grace to help in time of need, mercy and goodness in all our temptations and trials, that we may be sustained, and not sin, but not for sins. The doctrine as to a perfect conscience, taught in chapters 9 and 10, would make it wholly out of place here. The conscience, in direct contradiction of Dr. Bonar’s statement, is always perfect. For him the blood-shedding is in constant requisition. “There is no day nor hour in which … the great blood-shedding is not needed to wash its evil away.” The epistle is just to shew that in contrast with Judaism, where such repetition went on, it is not the case.
Let us ask the epistle itself. Chapters 9 and 10 are the special chapters on this point. I beg my reader to read them through, and see how, once for all, “eternal” is repeated. I can only quote a few texts directly to the point; and note, the question is purging the conscience, not merely putting away the sins before God, which of course must be done to purge it. He begins his great thesis in chapter 1. “When he had by himself purged our sins, sat down.” And this sitting down he emphatically uses afterwards. “We have such an high priest, who is set down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.”
And now for the conscience—the value of Christ’s work as to it. “Christ entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption. How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge our conscience?” That is its character and value. “He is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” “Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others, for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world.” But I must be more precise. The point in question (chap. 9:9) is making him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience. What meets this is (v. 12): “By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place.” This blood (v. 14) purges the conscience.
Further, “Without shedding of blood is no remission.” “Christ is entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (v. 23)—always there in the virtue and efficacy of that which He has wrought. Nor can He “offer himself often as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others, for then must he often have suffered.” There can be no renewal of imputation or guilt, no expiation, no blood-purging, but by taking the guilt, and drinking the cup. If Christ expiates and purges (that is, with blood), He must suffer. But He “hath appeared once in the end of the world to put away sin,” been “once offered to bear the sins of many,” and “appears the second time to them that look for him “without sin (choris amartias), having nothing more to do with it for them. Could anything more distinctly exclude repetition of purging, or repeated purifying, to make the conscience perfect?
But is there not a repeated application of what is here spoken of as done once for all? Let us see the next chapter, where this comes practically up. Dr. Bonar insists on repeated purging, repeated application of the great blood-shedding; that it is in constant requisition to cleanse him, is needed to wash evil away, and that in order to the worshippers drawing nigh. I read that the old Jewish sacrifices could not make the comers thereunto perfect, the repetition being a remembrance that sin was there; but, if it had made them perfect, the purging and offering would cease, as Christ’s sacrifice did, because the worshippers once purged would have no more conscience of sins. Does this look like admitting a perpetual cleansing with blood—once purged have no more conscience of sins?
But it is more explicit still. Christ comes to do God’s will in grace. “By the which will we are sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all,” chap. 10:10. The Jewish priests were daily standing to accomplish a never-finished work; “but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.” For His friends He had no more to do as to this conscience-cleansing work. “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” And this word “for ever,” in verses 12 and 14, is not the word “for ever” used when it is said a priest for ever, eis ton aiona, it is eis to dienekes—uninterruptedly, without discontinuance. Thus those sanctified by Christ’s offering are continuously, perpetually, perfect, as Christ sits continuously at God’s right hand.
There is no interruption in that perfectness, no more conscience of sins, and this gives them boldness to enter into the holiest. There is not only no hint of reapplication of the blood, but a declaration of no more conscience of sins, that the sanctified ones were continuously perfect, uninterruptedly so, so that they had boldness to enter into the holiest. It is not personal perfectness, but it is perfectness of conscience uninterrupted; Christ appearing before God for us, sitting continuously at God’s right hand, because all is done, and we are perfected for ever—hence, in going to God, no more conscience for sins. It was the church not holding this fast that laid it open from the beginning to absolution and sacramental grace, and, till absolution was invented, that there was forgiveness for one sin after baptism; after this you must leave a sinner in God’s hands. This is clear that the teaching of the Hebrews is formally, in a set and purposed way, the positive denial of Dr. Bonar’s teaching; its object is to teach exactly the contrary to what he ascribed to it. There is, we learn elsewhere, a sprinkling of blood to seal the covenant, to cleanse the leper, to consecrate the priest; but not repetition. The repetition of the application of the blood is a denial of the gospel. And this truth comes in here, which I will notice to make all clear.
When it is not a question of conscience, and imputation, and guilt, which does require blood-shedding to put it away, but of communion, there is a cleansing of the state of the soul, but this is by water. The righteousness and propitiation remain unchanged in their value, and are the foundation of the other. In 1 John communion is spoken of. There, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins.” But an idle thought interrupts communion, and that has to be restored, and Christ’s advocacy comes in. So, in John 13, referring to what He does on high, He washes the disciples’ feet, once washed, and in this sense for ever clean (this also with water). Bathed as the high priest was, they have need only to wash their feet, when they have picked up dirt in their walk. But it is no repetition of blood applied; there is no such thing in scripture for a Christian. Practical cleansing for communion there is, but imputation, guilt, has no place; expiation, propitiation, no place; “Jehovah imputeth no sin.” Christ must suffer often. If the sin is borne, put away, and He has washed us from our sins in His own blood, all that is done once for all; but to clear the conscience by blood, Christ must suffer. But this is done once for all. He sits at God’s right hand, because the sanctified are perfected for ever. Dr. Bonar has no idea of anything but personal holiness, or perpetual cleansing by blood. If he will read the Hebrews, he will find perpetual perfectness, no more conscience of sins. There is besides this a washing of the feet with water, a kind of cleansing, which all who do not see the perfectness of conscience taught in the Hebrews always leave out—do not apprehend. The apprehension of what is taught in Hebrews takes the cleansing out of the domain of righteousness, as to which we are perfect, and places it in that of holiness and communion with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Water is the remedy for that; the word, that is, in the power of the Spirit, as blood is for expiation and remission.
I will only add further, that Hebrews never contemplates the church as such, but the people of God walking in weakness on the earth, and Christ for them a separate person on high. Union with Christ is not its subject, and it is just this gives it its preciousness. Nor does it speak of the Father, but how we believers stand with God, and how we approach; and that is with a perfect conscience through Christ’s one offering, so that the worshippers once purged should have no more conscience of sins. If the reader examine the statements of the Epistle to the Hebrews, he will find that it is the work itself, or the offering of Himself, or it by Christ to God, not the process of application to us, which is spoken of; the effect is, but not the application. Thus we have, through the Eternal Spirit, offering Himself without spot to God, blood-shedding, the sacrifice of Himself, one offering, entering once into the holy place, not without blood, or in the power of His own blood, into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. It is the offering of Himself, or entering into the holy place, but no trace of application to us as the means of its efficacy, still less repeated application. By one offering He hath perfected for ever, in perpetual continuance, them who are sanctified. They have no more conscience of sins.
123 Save the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28, these are all the cases of the use of cherubim, besides the instructions for the tabernacle and the temple, in the Old Testament, or allusions, as Psalm 80:1; 1 Samuel 4:4. In the New Testament, the cherubim and seraphim in Revelation 4, though the word be not used, are a most instructive connection, because it gives judicial power, not only as governmental on the earth, but final according to the holy character of God.