Lecture 2. - Leviticus 16:5-10

Its General Principle compared with Christ’s Work.

That which comes before us now is the distinction between the two goats. Everyone can see on the face of scripture that there is a very marked difference between them. It is vain for any one to suppose that God did not intend a definite truth to be taught by each. One may notice that they were decided by lot, the disposal being in the hand, therefore, of the Lord exclusively; and this was quite an exceptional thing. As a general rule, the choice of the victim, under certain expressed conditions, was ordinarily left to the offerer. In some cases there was no latitude whatever: a positive command was laid down that such or such an animal should be offered under given circumstances. In other cases there is a gracious consideration of the poor in the offering. Poverty is taken into account on the one hand, and ample means, with a large heart, had their full opportunity on the other side. But in this case all was prescribed, and specially decided by the Lord.

Two goats, no other animals, were demanded to be brought by the children of Israel. But even the high priest himself was not allowed to choose which of the goats should be Jehovah’s lot, and which should be the people’s. This was left absolutely in the hands of God. The reason may be that there is no offering in all the ritual of Israel that has so Godward a character as those that were presented on the great Day of Atonement. It was God dealing with sin; and He accordingly moves in the matter — God alone. The high priest himself is the only other that is permitted to appear. On other days he had the sons of his house; the subordinate priests took their suited part. On that day he acted, and he only. The bearing of these things on our Lord Jesus is manifest: propitiation was His work alone.

Jesus was the high priest, but as yet in an altogether exceptional position — a high priest not so much in what was intercessional, as for what was representative before God in sin-bearing. He was identifying himself thus with Israel, and not for the people only, but for the sons of Aaron as well as for himself. It is clear therefore that the place is altogether different from that which regularly became the high priest in the sanctuary of God. Intercession in no way fulfilled the type of this great day, but laying a righteous basis for it rather. It was not as a martyr, nor identification in sympathy, to which some would lower the atonement; neither was it any question only of moral government, still less a simple display of love or of absolute pardon. These features, perhaps, may in a just measure and true light be found in the death of our Lord. He was indeed the holiest of martyrs, and in this view beyond all in His death. And therein did He make good God’s moral government, as it never was nor could be save in His own person, and under His own hands. His obedience in love was absolutely perfect. Yet had He been tempted as none other was. No temptation common to man had He been spared; but it is never said that the Lord was not tempted far beyond all. Suppose you that any man was tempted as the Lord during the forty days?

Possibly, nay, probably, the last three great trials of our Lord may be known in measure and spirit by not a few of His followers, and accordingly they present the only details of His temptation that are given us. But what do we know of what passed during the forty days? Why are there no details? Because none will ever be put in such a position again. A man may, on the one hand, imitate it in part as an impostor, and we may have heard of the like; on the other, we read of Moses sustained on high, and of Elijah going on earth in the strength of divinely supplied food. But oh! how different were even their holy fasts from His, Who alone resisted the enemy in the wilderness, with no companions except the wild beasts, till angels came to minister at the close! The Holy One of God triumphantly resisted, but in resisting suffered to the uttermost. Is this the case with what men call “temptation?” How sadly we know that we have too often yielded instead of resisting, and that we gratify ourselves because we do not suffer! We “enter into temptation,” as Peter did, instead of watching and praying as we should. Our Lord “suffered being tempted.” He kept the evil outside; yet the spiritual sensibilities of His holy nature were wrung by the temptation which Satan presented. But there was nothing within that answered to the temptation without; and Satan finding nothing in Him was completely foiled. Was that in vain? It was a part of the necessary fitting of our blessed Lord to be the sympathising High Priest. He had learnt obedience by the things which He suffered. Before He became man on earth’ He knew what it was to command. He was now, albeit glorified in heaven, yet still man, able more tenderly and more powerfully to sympathise with the tried and tempted saints than if He had not so been here below. For we are not to suppose that the love is less because He is risen from the dead. We are indeed assured that He lives for ever to intercede for them. At the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens He is the channel of tender mercy and grace for seasonable help. His sympathy is ever flowing freely. and fully from above. Such is the way in which the Holy Spirit presents it in the Epistle to the Hebrews and elsewhere.

But on the Day of Atonement there was no question of sympathy, but of identification with sinful men in grace to bear the judgment of sin at God’s hand. What is wanted for sin is not sympathy, but suffering for it. Not that, if any one sin, he is without a blessed resource; for we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And yet more, as a foundation, He is the propitiation for our sins. In this lay the answer to the deepest of all need. Sin had put shame on God, and done violence to His will, nature, and glory. God, therefore, must be vindicated in a]1 His ways and His nature about sin. He had been glorified as Father in the life here below of His Son, our Lord Jesus. There He had found the only man that perfectly and always met, not His every requirement only, but His mind and affection in an obedience and dependence that never quailed under sorrow and suffering. But a new question arose, not whether the Father found His joy in the perfect walk of His Son, a man in lowly dependence and obedience here below; but would this Holy One of God bear to be made sin? Would He bow His head under that intolerable burden? Would He, for God’s glory, take up sin in all its enormity, in all its hatefulness, and in all its dread unutterable consequences to Himself? Would He give Himself up at all cost to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself?

The judgment of sin entails abandonment on God’s part. Would He take and drink that cup? He that would suffer for sins could only undertake it, because in Him was no sin. A man tainted with the least sin must suffer for His own evils; it was therefore a condition indispensable for atonement that the victim should be without spot or blemish. Where was the man then who could suffer for sins without question of his own? Man had been challenged to convince Him of sin. God had borne witness of His complacency in Him. Jesus along could suffer atoningly; and this is what our Lord did, and what the high priest’s action that day represented.

Doubtless no one type is quite sufficient to set forth our Lord. He was both the high priest who offered, and the victim that was offered. Scripture is perfectly plain in setting both forth in Him. The Epistle to the Hebrews, in the verse already referred to, incontrovertibly testifies the full truth; and one might almost equally refer to the witness borne by the First Epistle of St. John: “And He is the propitiation (
ἱλασμὸς) for our sins” (1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10). There we have the very word which describes the relation of our Lord to the day of atonement as the victim. More than this, Rom. 3 declares that God sot Him forth as “the propitiatory,” or mercy-seat (
ἱλαστήριον). No wonder scripture says that “Christ is all.” Even this- expresses but part of what He is; but it is a rich and plain witness, and most conspicuously, that Christ was “all” in the essential and solemn transactions of the Day of Atonement. If we looked at other types, we should see that Christ is “all” in them also. But it is quite enough to occupy us now if we only look into this single part of the varied ceremonies on that unique day of interest for Israel.

Accordingly, then, the goat on which Jehovah’s lot fell was beyond question to meet the exigencies of Jehovah’s character. For this reason we find that the blood had always to be brought, not before man that needed its atoning virtue, but to God where He is. The same truth substantially appears on the paschal night. When the first passover was instituted, the blood was put, not within the door, but without. That precious blood was not for man to look on in order to extract comfort from his sight of it. Comfort, indeed, he was perfectly entitled to draw from it, but not by his looking at it. The blood was expressly and only outside the door; the Israelitish family was to be as expressly within. “When I see the blood, I will pass over,” said the Lord; and Israel could eat the flesh in security, but not without bitter herbs.

So the true, deep, and all-important aspect of propitiation is ever that the blood is offered to God. No doubt it is for man; but the essential truth is, that it is put before God. Faith, therefore, acts on His estimate of the blood, not on man’s. This is so true; that when the goat for Jehovah’s lot comes forward, and the high priest deals with it, we have in this, the foundation of all for Israel, not a word said of laying his hands on its head, or of confessing Israel’s sins. It is not affirmed that he did not — the Jews say that he did; but we need not mind what old Jewish tradition says, any more than what men say today. In scripture we have our lesson, and thus we have it from God, and thank God for it; and we know the value and safety of resting on what He says. Woe be to the man who attempts to speak for God without His word! The silence of God is to be respected in the next place to His utterance. What He deigns to speak, of course, has its own supreme place; but reverent faith binds us to abstain from filling up the blank that God leaves. We are assured that He perfectly knew and provided for all the wants of those for whom He meant His revelation. There we bow our heads and worship; there we are content to ask, “What does God intend by withholding what His people are so ready to speak for Him? “

Men may venture to say a great deal on what the high priest did; but it is remarkable that, although it was a fundamental provision for the children of Israel, not a word is breathed of the high priest laying his hands upon Jehovah’s lot. This was an ordinary practice, as in the case of a burnt-offering that was killed, and a striking comfort for the offerer; but here silence reigns about it. Why? Is it inexplicable? In no way. Hands were laid on, where it was a question of man prominently. In an ordinary sin-offering it was the transfer of his confessed sin to the victim; in the burnt-offering, of the acceptance of the offering to the offerer.

Here Jehovah’s glory is alone in view. His majesty had to be vindicated, and His moral nature. The clearance of the sinful people was graciously given and carried out to the full on the day of Atonement; but it was on Azazel, the second goat. The first goat is stamped throughout and indelibly with the truth, that not man, not Israel, but God’s glory is primarily in question, and must be fully maintained. The first requirement for atonement is that God be glorified; there is nothing sure, stable, or righteous without this. It is not the mind of God in scripture when a creature’s necessity, instead of God’s moral glory, is allowed the first place.

The absence of confession over the first goat is no less marked, however quick man is to interpolate it. There was the most comprehensive and abject confession over the second goat, but not a word of the sort as to the first. Doubtless the reason is similar: confession is where man’s sins are in full view. Confession is due to God, in order to give righteous comfort to man; it is the needed and just expression of self-judgment before God, that he may be forgiven. But there is, and must be, a deeper thing — that God’s justice and honour be secured in atonement. There is Do adequate or holy basis without. meeting His glory or character: how and where is this scoured? In an offering for sin that speaks to Him of Christ, without reserve, devoted to His glory, not in life only, but in sacrificial death, giving Himself up absolutely to bear all the consequences of sin in God’s unsparing judgment.

Man, though the object of compassion to the uttermost, here disappears. Christ, the sin-bearer, is alone before God. Man does not like either. The first man is all-important in his own eyes; and he becomes all the more sensitive when be is awakened to his need of forgiveness. He is slow to understand that everything should not be about himself. Man needs pardon urgently and profoundly: why should he not have the answer to his own grievous wants in the first goat? God has judged otherwise, and He is wise and holy. God has laid down what is due to His own glory in atonement as the first of all questions, in the clearest and most convincing way, except as to the infatuated persons who imagine that they can understand the things of God better than God Himself, and so are as ready to take from scripture as to add to it. Even in the shadow, not yet the very image, God anticipated and excluded all this vanity and pride. He has here attested to those who tremble at His word that, while the fulness of the blessing is designed for man, this cannot be but through what the first goat means, and not the second alone. Both must be heeded, and in God’s order. There is no other way of blessing: the soul receives by faith and rejoices that God has been glorified in His Son. In order that it should be so, the race vanishes, and God deals with a representative in Aaron. In the anti-type it was Christ, the Son of man.

This was shown strikingly when the only occasion in which Scripture represents our Lord Jesus saying, “My God,” was on the cross, until He said it in the resurrection. When He was here below, He always said “Father.” He never acted, spoke, thought, save in the perfect communion of the Son with the Father. No wonder the Father was glorified in the Son. But now a total change came in, and the Lord prepares us for this, conveyed in that wondrous expression of His, already so often quoted: “Now is the Son of man glorified, and” — the Father? No! — “God is glorified in Him.” That this is not casual appears beyond dispute from the words that follow: “If God” — not the Father as such, but God - “be glorified in Him, God shall glorify Him in Himself, and shall glorify Him straightway.” Why? Because it was a question of the bearing of sin, and God as God is judge of sin, rather than the Father as such.

We all know that the theologians talk about our “reconciled Father” (and it is allowed they mean the truth of atonement, where all one’s heart goes with them); but no man can justify such language from Scripture. It is God that needs atonement. Sin is hateful and intolerable to His nature. If it is expiated, it can only be through a divine and unsparing judgment of it. The Father brings in quite another range of facts and truths, thoughts and feelings. It is His gracious relation to the Son, and now by grace to the family of faith (for one does not here dwell on His more general Fatherhood that pertains to every creature). Hence this watchful discipline and holy chastening, as a father towards his children.

But, where the judgment of sin is concerned, all consideration of gracious relationship and its fruit is shut out entirely. God is the judge of sin, and there cannot be in this the least kindly mitigation. What sin deserves ought not to be impaired. Mercy is here wholly out of place. Sin must be punished duly: all must be out, and the truth, holiness, and righteousness of God be vindicated at all cost in the execution of the judgment of sin. In the cross of Christ not one ray of light from the Father broke the darkness that surrounded Him — Who knew no sin — made sin there for us. Never was His perfection so precious in God’s eyes as when bearing our sins He cried, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” But it was the time for dealing with all evil laid on Him, not for the enjoyment or expression of communion.

This may enable the believer to see how complete was the change of our Lord’s position on the cross. Was He not the eternal Son? This was unalterable. He could no more cease to be the Son in the Father’s bosom, than the Father could cease to be His Father. Had it been possible indeed, His atonement had been in vain for God or man; but He could not be otherwise. Was He not God Himself? He Who is God can never cease to be God; just as one that is a mere man can never become God. All such notions are the dreams of human vanity and profane folly. He Who had deigned to become man was now on the cross made sin. And Who made Him to be sin? God alone: man never thought of such a thing. God, the Judge of sin, gave His beloved Son that He might become man, not merely to exhibit perfect dependence and obedience as a man in all “the days of His flesh” in communion with the Father, but above all to suffer to the uttermost all that God could expend of His most solemn unsparing judgment of sin on the cross. Yet was it all one unbroken obedience.

Therefore it was that darkness supernatural surrounded our Lord so suffering at that moment. It was not that He ceased to be the Son: He said “Father” on the cross, not only before He exclaimed “My God,” etc., but afterwards, as if expressly to show that the relationship never ceased for a moment. Notwithstanding, He then became the victim for sin; and it was no make-believe. He suffered once for sins, not merely once on a time, but once for all, Just for unjust, that He might bring us to God. He had been a sufferer through His life in love and kindness and zeal for God. Now it was from God for sins, a new and wholly distinct suffering for Him, and on Christ’s part only; for no other ever endured it. If anything be real since the world began, His sin-bearing was. As all had been true in the life of our Lord, so all must be and was equally so in His suffering and death for sin. How blessed for us! Yet, that the blessing might be as righteous as full, it was Jehovah’s lot, and not for His people in the first place. Such is the unquestionable force of the first goat. Consequently, if one word could describe properly the distinctive principle of this first act, must we not say it is “propitiation”?

When we come to the second goat, the word is “substitution.” In these two will be found some help towards any just appreciation of the Day of Atonement, and the truth which is so fully revealed in the New Testament. At the present time there is a very active body of men who pronounce themselves “thinkers,” and would gladly deny both of these altogether, who wish to fritter all down to the manifestation of gracious feeling in our Lord, to a display of love in martyrdom, or to some kindred departure from God’s dealing with sin in His cross. It is the old Socinian idea in a new shape on the part of men who shrink from professing to be Socinians.

All such theories are utterly short of, and opposed to, what was wrought by God in that work of our Lord Jesus. They even contradict the shadows set forth by the type. Yet the revealed truth of the New Testament alone gives the full light of God. A type is like a parable in this — that it never runs on all-fours. What is given in either is but a striking analogy (in the type contrast no less than resemblance) of some grand principle, but never the complete truth, or image, as it is called in Hebrews 10. For evidently, and of course, a type must be either human material, or lower than human, such as a goat, ox, ram, a pair of pigeons, or something of that kind. So a parable speaks of a sower, or a marriage feast; or any suitable comparison.

But these figures, being of a creature kind, are necessarily limited; what we have in our Lord Jesus is infinite, and therefore the necessity of an infinite revelation as the inspired key. Had our Lord Jesus been a hair’s-breadth less God than the Father, He could not have been an adequate sacrifice for sins before God, the Judge of sins; neither else could He have declared God to man. Only God could and can perfectly meet what God requires. That the Son did this in man, and as man, was part of His perfection. Do you ask, “How can God meet God?” You can understand that a man can meet a man. If you argue that there is unity in the Godhead, it is granted; while it is affirmed that there are persons in the Godhead, even the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

This shows the importance of the truth. He who allows no more in the Godhead than three aspects of one person is not a Christian, but a deceiver and an antichrist. He does not confess the fully revealed and true God, Whose is Godhead not in three aspects but in three Persons, so distinct that the Father could send the Son, and the Holy Ghost descend on that Son in the presence of the Father, and in the consciousness of the Son, as it was, indeed, before man also. Such is the early and immense fact recorded in the Gospels, the clear witness to “the Trinity.” What sympathy can one have with those who, overlooking such a fact, stumble over the word? Why be so servile to the letter, and so anxious to get rid of a word because it is not in the Bible? The thing is in the Bible; the truth, not only open in the New Testament, but pervading (in a more veiled form, like the Old Testament in general) the Bible from the first chapter to the fait. You cannot now read the first chapter of Genesis intelligently without seeing that there are more persons than one in the Godhead. You cannot read the first verse of the first chapter without having a positive though gradual preparation for divulging it, at least after it was revealed.

Do you ask, how can this be? “In the beginning God created.” It is notoriously true, that in the original Hebrew “God” stands in the plural, and naturally points to more than one person; yet “created” is in the singular. This is not found where it is a question of heathen gods, but only of the living God. When scripture speaks about the gods of the nations, the verb is plural. When scripture speaks about the true God, although the subject be in the plural, the verb is often in the singular. Cases like Gen. 20:13, where the verb is also plural, prove that God (Elohim) was known to be a true plural. Could anything more truly answer to the unity of the nature and the plurality of the persons? It is allowed that none in the Old Testament could certainly see the three persons as revealed later: even the believer had to wait for the New Testament for full light and truth. But when it came in Christ and by the Spirit, the peculiar grammatical concord of God’s names could not but strike those who heed every word of holy writ.

Under the law God was not yet manifested, but on the contrary bidden behind a veil and certain: God was dwelling, as He says, in the thick darkness. Is that the case now? When. God sent His own Son, it was no longer so, as St. John bears witness. Far from dwelling in the thick darkness, the true light came in His person. Then the darkness apprehended it not; but here it did shine when Christ was here, as it shone out through the rent veil when He died on the cross. All that lay concealed behind — incense, priests, shadows, offerings, sacrifices, as well as the tabernacle itself, with its different measures of access to God — all is closed for the letter in the death of Christ. The Levitical system is clean gone, that the spirit, the truth couched under it all, and more still, might be known clearly. In the birth of Christ God had come to man; but now, in His death, the way lay open for man to come to God; and this the believer sees and knows to be the very essence and distinctive privilege of the gospel. For it is the unmistakeable truth of Christ that God did come to man in the person of His Son (Emmanuel); but the revealed effect of the atoning work of Christ is that the way is now made manifest into the holies. The veil of the temple was then rest from the top to the bottom.

If the striking type of the Day of Atonement falls short of the truth, assuredly it gives no small witness to the truth. Even the blood of the first goat was carried into the holiest of all. It was no emblem of carrying in blood after Christ died on the cross, as the letter would say. Carrying Christ’s blood! The literal idea is indeed offensive. There was no other Jewish way, of course, but to carry in the blood then shed, and there was no other person than the high priest to carry it in. But to imagine that Jesus should have to do some subsequent act in order to make His blood available before the throne in the heavens is a strange doctrine. The truth is, that the moment the blood was shed, the effect of His atonement was infinitely felt above, before He entered there as the great High Priest in person. The veil of the temple was rent — not from the bottom to the top, as if it were by an earthquake or any influence from below; it was from the top to the bottom. It was God, Who was glorified in Christ’s work of propitiation. It was God, Who signified the consequences of that expiation in His own eyes even then, as He afterwards caused the blessed result to be proclaimed in the gospel.

For, suppose that a Jew had looked in through the rent veil, what would be seen there? Never was it allowed before; no priest even could enter; but when the veil was rent, what was there to see? The blood upon the mercy seat. The blood once sprinkled “upon” the mercy seat was enough for God. But man requires the utmost means to assure him, and God graciously vouchsafes it: seven times the blood was sprinkled “before” the mercy seat, to give complete evidence for man that he may safely and surely draw near to God. For God it was simply put upon it. It represented the atoning blood of His Son, Who had so surely taken the place of the victim for sin, that He cried out from the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? “

Alas! for those who misuse those wondrous words of the Atoning Victim, as an excuse for their own unbelief, and dare to compare their darkness with His. It is false that God ever forsook His saints. Is such unbelief excusable? Assuredly it supposes the densest ignorance of the gospel. But it is also the grossest irreverence to compare your “hours of darkness”1 with that which shrouded the Sin-bearer then, and then only. Search the New Testament through, and the Old too, and you will never find an excuse for the darkness of doubting. I do not say that he who torments his soul with fears may not be a believer; but he is a believer who does dishonour to his faith by his unfaithfulness inwardly if not outwardly. Can you conceive that God gave His word for you to hesitate? Or do you think that the doubt of a child of God is not worse and more shameful than that of an unbelieving man?

Look at things according to God; consider what doubting Him means; what an insult to His truth and love in Christ! Say not what the child pleads when it has done some bad or foolish thing, “Mother, I never meant it.” Nobody charges the child with wicked intent. But why meddle with what she ought not to have touched? So it is with those who are but children in the faith and spiritual understanding, sadly ignorant of God and of themselves. It is for want of simple rest in His Son and His word. Has not God given us the most ample grounds on which we should confide in Him? What could match with the truth now before us — the Son of God after taking on Himself the full consequences of sin at the hand of God? Was it not that God might be glorified in the Son of man made sin? I put it now in its most abstract and absolute form; and what is the blessed result for the soul that bows to God in faith? Not only that the believer is saved by grace, but that the gospel can go out to every creature under heaven. What does the gospel declare as its ground and justification? That He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world (1 John 2:2).

Do you observe that certain words, printed in the italics of the Authorised Version, are here left out? The reason is, because they ought never to have been in. They are not required for the sense in our idiom; nay, their insertion conveys a wrong meaning, and makes the version say what inspiration does not either here or anywhere else. It is no pleasure to make such a remark on the common English Version: they are the words of a friend, of one who, as a whole, values the plain English Bible beyond any other version in general use. But let God be true, Who did not write those words: indeed they are printed in a character to show that they are not in the original Greek. There is therefore a marked distinction between the two clauses. “He was the propitiation for our sins.” Who are the “our”? The family of God, you will answer, as this is the ordinary “we” of scripture (not, as is known, the only “we” there, but beyond just doubt the prevailing usage). For “we,” as a general rule, unless there be modifying circumstances clearly marked, regularly means the family of faith, as “we know,” “we believe.” Does everybody know or believe? Certainly not; but only the faithful, or Christians. So in that case Christ is “the propitiation for our sins.” But is this all? He is, thank God, “also for the whole world” — not “for the [sins of the] whole world.” If Christ had been the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, as He is for the sins of believers, the whole world would have been saved. If they were borne away, what would remain for judgment? It is not so. There is a weighty difference. What, then, is the preacher of the gospel entitled to say? There is eternal life in Christ, and there is redemption through His blood. He is life eternal, His work no less before God. But for whom is this work? For all that repent and believe the gospel. Not a hair’s breadth more does God allow. There is the revealed reply in its simplicity and its distinction and its fulness. You are not entitled to tell an unbeliever, “Christ bore your sins in His own body on the tree:” when he believes, God’s word assures him of it.

Scripture is most precise as to the difference between propitiation and substitution. We may have another opportunity of going into substitution with more detail when we come to a subsequent lecture; but for the present I am content just to indicate, in passing, the distinctive truth of each. Propitiation, as being Godward by the work of Christ, takes in not merely what God is towards His people, but what He is towards sinners, wherever and whatever they may be. Would you limit God, as the Jews did? He will not sanction it. The work of Christ’s propitiation, being infinite before God, opens consequently the door to God’s love in beseeching every creature on earth. Doubtless the type here or anywhere fails to set forth such love, such righteousness, as is in Christ. No Jew could possibly understand it, nor did God reveal it then. There was yet the reason of the reserve mentioned before; the law stood in the way. Yet have we seen some dim confirmation in the fact that there was nothing said or done to limit the efficacy of Jehovah’s lot, as there was in the people’s lot. There was a not insignificant difference, as already pointed out, in the then absence of express confession of Israel’s sins, and of laying on of hands. It was, no doubt, in the people’s view, to bring down a shower of blessing upon them only; but in God’s mind much more. His nature, word, majesty, and character, were met in the offering for sin. The effect of the antitype is that now God delights in sending His glad tidings to every creature. But still the fact remains that some who hear the gospel are saved, and some are not. Sinners who hear it are the more guilty if they believe not, and they must perish everlastingly.

Is it then that the saved are better men than the unsaved? Do you presume that your superiority is the ground why you stand in the favour of God? Suffer me to have doubts of you, if such is your plea. You will not find scripture to support but condemn you. Not that one forgets for a moment that there is the most decided difference in every soul that is born of God from every other that is not; but does man’s superior goodness earn the life of Christ, or draw down the remission of your sins? It is just because I love you, and would be faithful to the truth as revealed, that I say, God forbid! Look at the effect of such a thought. It flatly contradicts His word and nullifies Christ’s work. If it were true, God’s favour must be turned away from every believer the moment he did not fully answer to the character of Christ; His advocacy would be at an end. Is this true? Is the access to God’s presence and grace a fluctuating condition? Does it change like the cloudy face of the sky? Is not the believer’s nearness stable and constant? According to the Epistle to the Hebrews, approach to God for the believer is as unbroken as the efficacy of the work of Christ for his sins. But, you say, God chastises. Certainly. So you chastise your child when it is needed; but you do not love it the less, nor is it less your child. On the contrary, it is because you are its father, and love it dearly, that you have the rod, and are called to use it.

It is a wonderfully blessed thing to know that God has been pleased to bring us who believe into nothing but favour; if it were not so, even after pardon, we should be lost over and over again. But salvation is a status that attaches to the believer through his course; and bow is this marked? That there is, not only propitiation to meet the character of God, that He may proclaim His love in Christ to every creature; but also substitution to secure an absolute cleansing away of all the sins of every believer. Hoping to expound this more minutely, I purposely put the two things together now to give an adequate view of the difference between propitiation and substitution, which together constitute the atonement.

You will find that there is a continual tendency of the different classes, even of believers, in Christendom to ignore one or other of these truths. Take, for instance, those that maintain that the gospel ought to go out to every creature. It is notorious that such men habitually deny God’s special favour to the elect. They overlook or pare down any positive difference on God’s part towards His own children. They hold that a man may be a child of God today and not to-morrow, throughout his course. Now this destroys substitution. They hold propitiation, and there they are right and therefore are quite justified in preaching the gospel unrestrictedly to every creature, as the Lord indeed enjoined. But how their one-sidedness enfeebles the proper portion of the saints! They cannot but reduce to a minimum the rich unfoldings of divine love in the settled relationships of faith, as He has revealed in the Apostolic Epistles generally, whence they try to cull out appeals to the unconverted, or to attenuate what is meant for God’s children, if they do not dangerously extend their privileges to the unsaved.

But look now for a moment at the opposite side. There are those who hold that all God has done and now reveals is in view of the elect only, that all He has wrought in Christ Jesus is in effect for the church, and that He does not care a pin about the world, except to judge it at the last day. This may be put rather bluntly; and I care not to present such grievous unfeelingness for man and dishonour of God and His Son in as polished terms as those might desire who cherish notions so narrow and unsavoury. Yet a certain respectable class around us do see but the elect as the object of God. Such go not in doctrine beyond the second goat, or the people’s lot. They see the all-importance of substitution; as their adversaries are absorbed in the effect of propitiation.

How come the two contending parties of religionists not to see the truth of both the goats? There both are distinctly in the word of God. Why is it that those, who rightly urge that the message of God’s grace should freely go out to every creature, fail to hold the security of the believer too? What a blotting out of Christ’s love to the church! Such is the inevitable result of taking up one part of the truth and setting it against another. Thus we see the importance of holding, not merely a truth, but the truth. Here plainly there are two sides. The goat of propitiation provides in the fullest manner for the glory of God; even where sin is before Him. In doing it, what was the consequence? Christ was forsaken of God that the believer should never be forsaken. Christ bore the judgment of sin that God’s glory might be immutably established in righteousness. Thus grace in the freest way can and does now go out to every creature here below.

But besides this opening of the sluices that divine love might flow freely over the sand, however barren in itself, we also find another line of truth altogether; the fullest and nicest care that those who are His children should be kept in peace and blessing. They had been guilty as any, as indifferent as others to God. They were the children of wrath and served Satan as truly as the worst of those vitro refuse the gospel. And see how God has provided for their evil, when we come to the goat of substitution. “Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquity of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their iniquities.” Language seems almost to fail, in order to express the fulness of grace in securing relief to the guilty people, whatever might be their sins and iniquities. God took care, not only of His own glory and nature, but to give them knowledge of salvation by the remission of their sins.

Thus even the type demonstrates that we require these two distinct truths to maintain the balance of God’s word. It is a blessed thing to hold the outgoing of God’s grace to every creature, but not at the sacrifice of the security of those who believe. Thus only is maintained in any measure of truth that firm Rock on which the elect stand. Their salvation is as secure as the message of grace is free. Supposing you blur the difference between the two goats, and crush them up, if one may say so, into one indistinguishable mass — the dead and the live goat — so that the difference between them is gone, what follows? Either that you become exclusively devoted to the gospel that God sends to every sinner under heaven, or that you shut yourself up to think only of the elect and their salvation. The worst is that each virtually makes out God to be such an one as themselves in their short-sightedness. It is plain that these two things are of exceeding importance if not taken up exclusively. As parts of the truth, they are admirably held together and so they compose God’s truth. In the first goat God has secured His majesty, His love, and His righteousness, in the going forth of His message to every creature. In the second goat He has equally cared for the security of each one of His people, in knowing that all his sins, transgressions, and iniquities, are completely borne away. Can one conceive how the truth of atonement could be more admirably shown by types beforehand?

Only let us preserve the order of the subjects as much as possible. Therefore, on the next occasion on which I hope to address you, it will devolve on me to point out the way in which the blessed truth of atonement exceeds the type of both goats. It may seem hard for some to admit such a possibility; but it will be a privilege to show you that there is a further truth connected with “the bullock,” which has its own peculiarity for those who are the object of that great offering; and this is not without its perfect answer and solution in the New Testament. For the present I trust that the general distinction between the two goats has been sufficiently cleared, and the necessity seen for them both.

Let me only finish now what I would say by drawing your attention to a verse which is given rightly in the Authorised Version, but with grievous defect in the Revised Version. This is rather a serious charge, when one thinks of a work which was produced by a considerable company (some of them really learned); afterwards introduced with no small blowing of trumpets; and received with abundant cordiality, if we may judge by the tons of the New Testament copies sold immediately. The matter is not on any recondite point, nor really open to any serious doubt or difficulty. The truth is here plain, and intimately connected with the subject before us.

In Rom. 3:22 we read these words: “Even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe.” In the two clauses we have the principle of the two goats. The truth which answers to the first is “The righteousness of God unto all.” This is what follows from Jehovah’s lot. God is not the God of Israel only, as the Jews have always sought to make out. Is He not the God of the Gentiles also? It is exactly what the apostle says in this chapter a little farther on: “Yes, of the Gentiles also, if at least God is one who shall justify circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through their faith.” But here we have it in the form, “The righteousness of God, by faith in Jesus Christ unto all,” after which words there ought to be a comma to make it strictly correct. Next comes in the fruit of the second goat — “and upon all them that believe.” Here is stated, as it were, the security of the believer. It is not “unto all them that believe.” “Unto” thus distinguished is merely a tendency or direction; and, even when not so, it may not reach all. It expresses whither the gospel goes — “unto all.” The gospel addresses itself to every creature, as also every soul is bound to receive the testimony of God’s grace, which puts upon them the responsibility of bowing in their hearts to it as from God. It is “unto all”; and the man who does not preach it “unto all” misunderstands his duty as a herald of the gospel.

But on the other hand, the righteousness of God is not merely “unto (
εἰς) all them that believe,” but upon (
ἐπὶ) them. What does “upon” represent there? The effect produced, and this is not upon all mankind, but “upon all that believe.” You have, therefore, to distinguish objects in this verse: the universal aspect of the gospel in going out to every creature; and the positive effect upon all them that believe.

Here, as it appears to me, the Authorised Version gives the truth; what do the Revisers? Led away by a mistake very common in some ancient copies, of which certain of their company were almost idolators, they follow the oldest blindly. ż!-- --> A B C P. with two juniors and some ancient versions, would ordinarily have the greatest weight; but here, by a merely clerical blunder, the scribes seem to have passed from the first
πάντας (“all”) to the second, with the fatal effect we have described. That later copyists invented the admirably correct and comprehensive distinction, which the common text intimates, is too much to conceive. The distinction too is especially Pauline, which none of the copyists even understood, any more than some modern commentators. Theodoret may interpret unwisely, but he writes unhesitatingly about the two clauses; as indeed they are attested by ancient versions older than any existing MSS. A real conflation is ever feeble, if not false. A slip, if made, might naturally ruin a nicely poised and fully stated truth, which was entirely beyond mediaeval mind to construct or even understand.

The result at, any rate is, “The righteousness of God unto all them that believe.” This is the form given in the Revised Version. What is the consequence? That they have unwittingly taken away from scripture a double truth. The two branches of the truth are mixed up, so that one cannot get at either. Thus is produced a hotch-potch of both clauses, which destroys the exact sense of each.

For the effect of the reading adopted is that there is not a word “unto all” sinners as such; and to the believer is brought merely an offer of the gospel. Is not this exactly what remains? There is “the righteousness of God unto all them that believe,” if they like to accept it. On the one hand the blessing of the gospel is not made sure for the believer; on the other the unbeliever has no gracious overture from God, because His righteousness is only said to be “unto all them that believe.” Yet the words omitted state the double truth in perfection, which the Revisers virtually treat as a blunder of the scribes; whereas no mere man ever did invent so perfect a statement of the truth. Thus the change does not here leave the smallest ground-work for preaching the gospel to the unconverted, whilst it takes away the safety and settled comfort of the believer. Yet the verse is read as if a perfectly adequate authority sustained it, although there is a simple and sure way of explaining why the intervening words were omitted. The transcriber’s eye might readily pass from one “all” (
π.) to the other and thus give, for the large truth of God, a poor word of man, which is not really scripture. But why did the Revisers adopt the error? Through their excessive confidence in the external evidence without adequate consideration of the internal. They have, as I believe, marred and maimed the double statement of God’s truth in the passage, and furnished that which answers neither to the first goat nor to the second. How important to have the truth represented by the twofold type!

1 “If the Master,” wrote Bishop Horne, “thus underwent the trial of a spiritual desertion, why doth the disciple think it strange, unless the light of heaven shine continually on his tabernacle? Let us comfort ourselves in such circumstances with the thought that we are thereby!! conformed to the image of our dying Lord that sun which set in a cloud to arise without one.” ( A Commentary on the Book of Psalms, Irving’s edition, i. 223, 4, Glasgow, 1825). Their name is Legion who repeat the same error.