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Simeon's Horae Homileticae Horae Homileticae
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Leviticus 2". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ shh/ leviticus-2.html. 1832.
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Leviticus 2". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
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Leviticus 2:1-3. And when any will offer a meat-offering unto the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour: and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon: and he shall bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests: and he shall take thereout his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord: and the remnant of the meat-offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’: it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire.
IN order to a judicious exposition of the types, it is necessary that we should have certain canons of interpretation, to which we should adhere: for, without them, we may wander into the regions of fancy, and cast an obscurity over those Scriptures which we undertake to explain. Now it must be remembered, that Christ and his Church, together with the whole work of salvation, whether as wrought by him, or as enjoyed by them, were the subjects of typical exhibition. Sometimes the type pointed more immediately at one part of this subject, and sometimes at another; and sometimes it applied to different parts at the same time. The tabernacle, for instance, certainly represented Christ, “in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily:” and it represented the Church also in which God’s presence is more especially manifested, and his service more eminently performed. The types being expressly instituted for the purpose of pre-figuring spiritual things, have a determinate meaning in their minutest particulars: and it is highly probable that they have always a two-fold accomplishment, one in Christ, and the other in the Church. For instance; every sacrifice undoubtedly directs our views to Christ: yet we ourselves also, together with our services, are frequently represented as sacrifices acceptable to him: which shews, that the sacrifices have a further reference to us also. But here, it is of great importance that we distinguish between those expressions of the New Testament which are merely metaphorical, and those which are direct applications of the types. St. Paul, speaking of the probability of his own martyrdom in the cause of Christ, says, “If I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.” Here he alludes to the drink-offerings, which were always poured out upon the sacrifices; and intimates that he was willing to have his blood poured out in like manner for the Church’s good. This, as a metaphor, is beautiful; but if we were to make the sacrifices typical of faith, and the drink-offerings typical of martyrdom, and from thence proceed to explain the whole type in like manner, we should bring the whole into contempt. The rule then that we would lay down is this; to follow strictly the apostolic explanations as far as we have them; and, where we have them not, to proceed with extreme caution; adhering rigidly to the analogy of faith, and standing as remote as possible from any thing which may appear fanciful, or give occasion to cavillers to discard typical expositions altogether.
The foregoing observations are particularly applicable to the subject of our present consideration. We apprehend that the meat-offering might be applied in every particular both to Christ and his Church: but in some instances the application would appear forced; and therefore we think it better to omit some things which may possibly belong to the subject, than to obscure the whole by any thing of a doubtful nature. Besides, there are in this type such a multitude of particulars, that it would not be possible to speak satisfactorily upon them all in one sermon, if we were to take them in the most comprehensive view: we shall therefore confine ourselves to such observations as will commend themselves to your judgment, without perplexing you by too great a diversity on the one hand, or by any thing fanciful or doubtful on the other.
That we may prosecute the subject in a way easy to be understood, we shall distinguish the meat-offering by its great leading feature, and consider it in that view only. The burnt-offering typified exclusively the atonement of Christ: the meat-offering typified our sanctification by the Spirit.
As for the meat-offerings which accompanied the stated burnt-offerings, they, together with their attendant drink-offerings, were wholly consumed upon the altar; but those which were offered by themselves, were burnt only in part; the remainder being given to the priests for their support. It is of these that we are now to speak. The different materials of which they consisted, will serve us for an easy and natural distribution of the subject.
The first thing to be noticed is, “The fine flour”—
[Whatever we see burnt upon the brasen altar, we may be sure was typical of the atonement of Christ: whether it were the flesh of beasts, or the fruits of the earth, there was no difference in this respect: it equally typified his sacrifice. This appears not only from the meat-offering being frequently mentioned together with the burnt-offering in this very view [Note: See Psa 40:6-8 and Hebrews 10:5-8.], but from its being expressly referred to as a means of expiating moral guilt [Note: 1 Samuel 3:14; 1 Samuel 26:19. The mincha is the offering spoken of in both these places.]. It is on this account that we number it among the propitiatory sacrifices, notwithstanding its use in other respects was widely different. There is indeed, in the mode of treating this fine flour, something well suited to shadow forth the sufferings of Christ: it was baked (in a pan or oven) or fried, and, when formed into a cake, was broken and burnt upon the altar. Who can contemplate this, and not see in it the temptations, conflicts, and agonies of the Son of God? We cannot but recognize in these things, him, “who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities;” who himself tells us, that “He was the true bread, of which whosoever ate, should live for ever.”
In the close of the chapter we are told, that, notwithstanding the first-fruits, when offered as the first-fruits, might not be burnt upon the altar [Note: 2.], yet, if offered as a meat-offering, they would be accepted [Note: 4–16.] ; and that in that case the ears must be dried by the fire, and the corn be beaten out, to be used instead of flour. The mystery in either case was the same: the excellency of Christ was marked in the quality of the corn, and his sufferings in the disposal of it.]
The next thing that calls for our attention is, “The oil”—
[Though the sacrifice of Christ is the foundation of all our hopes, yet it will not avail for our final acceptance with God, unless we be “renewed in the spirit of our minds,” and be rendered “meet for the heavenly inheritance.” But to effect this, is the work of the Holy Spirit, by whose gracious operations alone we can “mortify the deeds of the body,” and attain the divine image on our souls. Hence, in approaching God with their meat-offering, they were to mingle oil with the flour, or to anoint it with oil, after having previously made it into a cake. We do not deny but that this part of the ordinance might represent, in some respect, the endowments of Christ, who was anointed to his work, and fitted for it, by a superabundant measure of the Holy Ghost [Note: Luk 4:18 and John 3:34.]: but, as it seems designed more particularly to mark the sanctification of our souls, we the rather confine it to that sense. And in this we have the sanction of two inspired persons, a Prophet, and an Apostle, both of whom, refer to the mincha as expressive of this very idea. Isaiah, speaking of the conversion of the Gentiles in the latter days, says, “Men shall bring them for an offering (a mincha) unto the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering (a mincha) in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord [Note: Isaiah 66:20.].” And St. Paul, speaking of that event as actually fulfilled under his ministry, goes yet further into the explanation of it, and says, that the sanctification of their souls by the Holy Ghost corresponded with the unction wherewith that offering was anointed: “I am,” says he, “the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost [Note: Romans 15:16.].”
Here then we are warranted in saying, that all who would find acceptance with God, must “have an unction of the Holy One, even that anointing which shall abide with them and teach them all things [Note: 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27.].” We should “be filled with the Spirit,” and “live and walk under” his gracious influences [Note: Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:25.].]
In a subsequent part of this chapter there is an especial command to add to this, and indeed to every sacrifice, a portion of “Salt,”—
[Here we have no difficulty; for the very terms in which the command is given, sufficiently mark its import: “Thou shalt not suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat-offering [Note: 3.].” Had salt been mentioned alone, we might have doubted what meaning to affix to it; but, being annexed to the covenant of God, we do not hesitate to explain it as designating the perpetuity of that covenant. It is the property of salt to keep things from corruption: and the Scriptures frequently apply it to the covenant, in order to intimate its unchangeable nature, and duration [Note: See Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5.]. In this view of it, we are at no loss to account for the extreme energy with which the command is given, or the injunction to use salt in every sacrifice: for we cannot hope for pardon through the sacrifice of Christ, nor for sanctification by the Spirit, but according to the tenour of the everlasting covenant. Nay, neither the one nor the other of these, nor both together, would have availed for our salvation, if God had not covenanted with his Son to accept his sacrifice for us, and to accept us also as renewed and sanctified by his Spirit. We must never therefore approach our God without having a distinct reference to that covenant, as the ground and measure, the pledge and earnest, of all the blessings that we hope for. Even Christ himself owed his exaltation to glory to this covenant: it was “through the blood of the everlasting covenant that his God and Father brought him up again from the dead [Note: Hebrews 13:20.].” And it is because “that covenant is ordered in all things and sure,” that we can look up with confidence for all the blessings both of grace and glory.]
Together with these things that are enjoined, we find some expressly prohibited: there must be “No leaven, nor honey [Note: 1.] ”—
[Leaven, according to our Lord’s own explanation of it, was considered as an emblem of corruption either in doctrine or in principle [Note: Matthew 16:12; Luke 12:1.]: and honey seems to have denoted sensuality. Now these were forbidden to be blended with the meat-offering.
There were occasions, as we shall see hereafter, whereon leaven at least might be offered; but in this offering not the smallest measure of either of them was to be mixed. This certainly intimated, that, when we come before God for mercy, we must harbour no sin in our hearts. We must put away evil of every kind, and offer him only “the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” The retaining “a right hand or a right eye,” contrary to his commands, will be as effectual a bar to our acceptance with God, as the indulgence of the grossest lusts. If we would obtain favour in his sight, we must be “Israelites indeed, and without guile.”]
There was however one more thing to be added to this offering, namely, “Frankincense”—
[The directions respecting this were singularly precise and strong. This was not to be mixed with the offering, or strewed upon it, but to be put on one part of it, that, while a small portion only of the other materials was put upon the altar, the whole of this was to be consumed by fire [Note:, 16. “all, all.”]. Shall we say, that this was enjoined, because, being unfit for food, it was not to be kept for mere gratification to the priests, lest it should be brought into contempt? This by no means accounts sufficiently for the strictness of the injunction. We doubt not but that its meaning was of peculiar importance: that it was intended to intimate “the delight” which God takes in the services of his upright worshippers [Note: Proverbs 15:8.], of those especially who come to him under the influences of his Spirit, trusting in the Saviour’s merits, and in the blood of the everlasting covenant. Yes, their every prayer, their every tear, their every sigh and groan, comes up with acceptance before him, and is to him “an odour of a sweet smell,” “a sacrifice pleasing and acceptable unto him through Jesus Christ.” As the sacrifice of Christ himself was most pleasing unto God, so are the services of all his people for Christ’s sake [Note: Compare Eph 5:2 with Hebrews 13:16; Php 4:18 and 1 Peter 2:5.].]
There is yet one thing more which we must notice, namely, that a part only of this offering was burnt, and that
“The remnant” was given to the priests [Note:, 10.] —
[The handful which was burnt upon the altar, is repeatedly called “a memorial:” and it was justly called so, especially by those who had an insight into the nature of the offering which they presented: for it was a memorial of God’s covenant-engagements, and of their affiance in them. Such also is, in fact, every prayer which we present to God: we remind God (so to speak) of his promises made to us in his word; and we plead them as the grounds of our hope, and the measure of our expectations.
“The remnant was given to Aaron and his sons.” This, to the Israelites, would intimate, that all who would obtain salvation for themselves, must at the same time be active in upholding the interests of religion, and promoting the glory of their God. To us, it unfolds a deeper mystery. We are frequently spoken of in the New Testament as being ourselves “made priests unto God [Note: Isa 66:21 with 1Pe 2:5 and Revelation 1:6; Revelation 20:6.].” Since the veil of the temple was rent in twain, there is a way, “a new and living way, opened for us into the Holy of Holies [Note: Hebrews 10:19-22.] ;” and all of us, as “a kingdom of priests,” have free and continual “access thither with boldness and with confidence [Note: Ephesians 3:12.]:” and we also have a right to all the provisions of God’s house. It is our blessed privilege to feed upon that bread of life, the Lord Jesus, who has emphatically said, “My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed [Note: John 6:51-57.].” We may richly participate all the influences of the Spirit, and claim all the blessings of the everlasting covenant. Indeed, “if we feed not on these things, there is no life in us; but if we live upon them by faith, then have we eternal life.”
Behold then, Brethren, “the remnant” of the offering: here it is, reserved for us in this sacred treasury, the book of God. Take of it; divide it among yourselves; eat of it; “eat and drink abundantly, O beloved [Note: Song of Solomon 5:1.] ;” eat of it, and live forever. It is that “feast of fat things,” spoken of by the prophet, which all of you are invited to partake of [Note: Isaiah 25:6.]. Only let not any hidden abomination turn it into a curse. If the bread be received even from the Saviour’s hands, and you partake of it with an unsanctified heart, it will only prove an occasion of your more entire bondage to Satan, and your heavier condemnation at the last [Note: John 13:26-27.]. But, if you “draw nigh to God with a true heart, and full assurance of faith,” “he will abundantly bless your provision [Note: Psalms 132:15.],” and “your soul shall delight itself in fatness [Note: Isaiah 55:2.].”]
THE MEAT-OFFERING A TYPE OF CHRIST
Leviticus 2:13. Every oblation of thy meat-offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat-offering: with all thine offerings, thou shalt offer salt.
THERE certainly is need of much sobriety and caution in interpreting the typical parts of Scripture, lest, instead of adhering to the path marked out for us by the inspired writers, we be found wandering in the regions of fancy and conjecture. But there are some types, which, notwithstanding they be soberly explained, appear at first sight the mere creatures of one’s own imagination; which, however, on a more full investigation, evidently appear to have been instituted of God for the express purpose of prefiguring the truths of the Gospel. Of this kind is the ordinance now under our consideration: for the elucidating of which, we shall,
Explain the meat-offering—
The directions respecting it were very minute—
[Meat-offerings were annexed to many of the more solemn sacrifices, and constituted a part of them [Note: Numbers 28:0 throughout.]. But they were also frequently offered by themselves. They were to consist of fine flour, mixed with oil, and accompanied with frankincense [Note:, 2, 5.]. The quantity offered was at the option of the offerer, because it was a free-will offering. The wheat might be presented either simply dried and formed into flour, or baked as a cake, or fried as a wafer [Note:, 7, 14.]: but, in whatever way it was presented, it must by all means have salt upon it [Note: 3.]. It was on no account to have any mixture in it, either of honey, or of leaven [Note: 1.]. A part, or a memorial of it, was to be taken by the priest (but with all the frankincense), and to be burnt upon the altar [Note: 6.]: and the remainder was for the maintenance of the priest himself, as holy food. “When it was duly offered in this manner, it was most pleasing and acceptable to God.]
And this was altogether typical of things under the gospel dispensation.
It was typical,
Of Christ’s sacrifice—
[The meat-offering, or mincha, is often spoken of in direct reference to Christ, and his sacrifice. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, we have a long passage quoted from the Psalms, to shew that neither the meat-offering (mincha) nor any other sacrifice was to be presented to God, after that Christ should have fulfilled those types by his one offering of himself upon the cross [Note: Compare Psa 40:6-8 with Hebrews 10:5-10.]. And it is of great importance in this view to remember, that though the meat-offering was for the most part eucharistical, or an expression of thankfulness, it was sometimes presented as a sin-offering, to make an atonement for sin: only, on those occasions, it was not mixed with oil, or accompanied with frankincense, because everything expressive of joy was unsuited to a sin-offering [Note: Leviticus 5:11; Leviticus 5:13. See also 1 Samuel 3:14.]. This is a clear proof, that it must typify the sacrifice of Christ, who is the true, the only propitiation for sin [Note: 1 John 2:2.].
Now there was a peculiar suitableness in this offering to represent the sacrifice of Christ. Was it of the finest quality, mixed with the purest oil, and free from any kind of leaven? this prefigured his holy nature, anointed, in a superabundant measure, with the oil of joy and gladness [Note: Psalms 45:7; John 3:34.], and free from the smallest particle of sin [Note: 1 Peter 2:22.]. Its destruction by fire on the altar denoted the sufferings he was to endure upon the cross; while the consumption of the remainder by the priests, marked him out as the food of his people’s souls, all of them being partakers of the sacerdotal office, a kingdom of priests [Note: Exo 19:6 with 1 Peter 2:9.]. The frankincense also, which ascended in sweet odours, intimated the acceptableness of his sacrifice on our behalf.]
Of our services—
[The services of Christians are also frequently mentioned in terms alluding to the mincha, or meat-offering. Their alms are spoken of as a sacrifice well pleasing to God [Note: Hebrews 13:16.], an odour of a sweet smell [Note: Philippians 4:18.]. Their prayers are said to be as the evening sacrifice, that was always accompanied with the meat-offering [Note: Psa 141:2 with Numbers 28:4-5.]: and the prophet Malachi, foretelling that, under the Gospel, “all men,” Gentiles as well as Jews, “should pray everywhere [Note: 1 Timothy 2:8.],” uses this language; “I have no pleasure in you (Jews) saith the Lord, neither will I receive an offering (a mincha) at your hand: for from the rising of the sun even to the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles, and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering (mincha); for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts [Note: Malachi 1:10-11.].” In a word, the conversion of sinners, and their entire devoting of themselves to God, is represented under this image: “They shall bring all your brethren, says the prophet, for an offering (mincha) unto the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering (mincha) in a clean vessel unto the Lord [Note: Isaiah 66:20.].” And St. Paul (alluding to the flour mixed with oil) speaks of himself as ministering the Gospel to the Gentiles, “that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost [Note: Romans 15:16.].”
Nor is it without evident propriety that our services were prefigured by this ordinance. Was the flour to be of the best quality, and impregnated with oil? we must offer unto God, not our body only, but our soul; and that too, anointed with an holy unction [Note: 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27.]. Was neither honey, nor leaven, to be mixed with it? our services must be free from carnality [Note: If we are to annex any other idea than that of leaven to “honey,” that of carnality seems the most appropriate. Proverbs 25:16; Proverbs 25:27.], or hypocrisy [Note: Luke 12:1; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8.]. Was a part of it, together with all the “frankincense, to be burnt upon the altar, and the remainder to be eaten as holy food? thus must our services be inflamed with divine love, and be offered wholly to the glory of God; and, while they ascend up with acceptance before God, they shall surely tend also to the strengthening and refreshing of our own souls [Note: Isaiah 58:10-11.].]
There is, however, one circumstance in the meat-offering, which, for its importance, needs a distinct consideration; which will lead us to,
Notice the strict injunction respecting the seasoning of it with salt—
It surely was not in vain, that the injunction respecting the use of salt in this, and in every other offering, was so solemnly thrice repeated in the space of one single verse. But not even that injunction should induce one to look for any peculiar mystery (at least, not publicly to attempt an explanation of the mystery) if the Scriptures did not unfold to us its meaning, and give us a clew to the interpretation of it.
The whole ordinance being typical, we must consider this injunction,
In reference to Christ’s sacrifice—
[Salt, in Scripture, is used to denote savouriness and perpetuity. In the former sense, our Lord compares his people to good salt, while false professors are as “salt that has lost its savour [Note: Matthew 5:13.].” In the latter sense, God’s covenant is often called “a covenant of salt [Note: Numbers 18:19, and 2 Chronicles 13:5.].” Apply then these ideas to the sacrifice of Christ, and the reason of this reiterated injunction will immediately appear.
How savoury to God, and how sweet to man, is the atonement which Christ has offered! In the view of its acceptableness to God, and in direct reference to the meat-offering, it is thus noticed by St. Paul; “He gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour [Note: Ephesians 5:2.].” And, as having laid, by his own death, the foundation of his spiritual temple, he is said to be “precious unto man also, even unto all them that believe [Note: 1 Peter 2:7.].”
Moreover the efficacy of his atonement is as immutable as God himself. In this, as well as in every other respect, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever [Note: Hebrews 13:8.].” The virtue of his blood to cleanse from sin, was not more powerful in the day when it purified three thousand converts, than it is at this hour, and shall be to all who trust in it [Note: 1 John 1:7.].]
In reference to our services—
[Let the ideas of savouriness and perpetuity be transferred to these also, and it will appear that this exposition is not dictated by fancy, but by the Scriptures themselves.
A mere formal service, destitute of life and power, may be justly spoken of in the same humiliating terms as a false professor, “It is not fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill [Note: Luke 14:34-35.].” Hence our Lord says, in reference to the very injunction before us, “Every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost its saltness, wherewith will you season it? Have salt within yourselves [Note: Mark 9:49-50.].” What can this mean, but that there should be a life and power in all our services, an heavenliness and spirituality in our whole deportment? We should have in ourselves [Note: Matthew 16:23.], and present to God [Note: 2 Corinthians 2:15.], and diffuse on all around us [Note: 2 Corinthians 2:14.], a “savour of the knowledge of Christ.”
Nor is the continuance or perpetuity of our services less strongly marked: for in addition to the remarkable expressions of our Lord before cited [Note: Mark 9:49-50.], St. Paul directs, that our “speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt [Note: Colossians 4:6.].” There never ought to be one hour’s intermission to the divine life, not one moment when we have lost the savour and relish of divine things.]
In order to a due improvement of this subject, let us reduce it to practice—
Let us take of Christ’s sacrifice, and both present it to God, and feed upon it in our souls—
[All the Lord’s people are “kings and priests unto God [Note: Revelation 1:6.]:” all therefore have a right to present to him this offering, and to feed upon it: both of these things may be done by faith; and both must be done by us, if ever we would find acceptance with God. Let us think what would have been the state of the Jewish priests, if they had declined the execution of their office. Let us then put ourselves into their situation, and rest assured, that a neglect of this duty will bring upon us God’s heavy and eternal displeasure [Note: John 6:53.]. On the other hand, if we believe in Christ, and feed on his body and blood, we shall be monuments of his love and mercy for evermore [Note: John 6:54.].]
Let us devote ourselves to God in the constant exercise of all holy affections—
[All we have is from the Lord: and all must be dedicated to his service. But let us be sure that, with our outward services, we give him our hearts [Note: Proverbs 23:26.]. “What if a man, having good corn and oil, had offered that which was damaged? Should it have been accepted [Note: Malachi 1:8.] ? Or, if he had neglected to add the salt, should it have had any savour in God’s estimation? So neither will the form of godliness be of any value without the power [Note: 2 Timothy 3:5.] ; but, if we present ourselves [Note: Romans 12:1.], or any spiritual sacrifice whatever, it shall be accepted of God through Christ [Note: 1 Peter 2:5.], to our present and eternal comfort.]
GREEN EARS OF CORN TO BE OFFERED
Leviticus 2:14-16. If thou offer a meat-offering of thy first-fruits unto the Lord, thou shalt offer for the meat-offering of thy first-fruits green ears of corn dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of full ears. And thou shalt put oil upon it, and lay frankincense thereon. It is a meat-offering. And the priest shall burn the memorial of it, part of the beaten corn thereof, and part of the oil thereof. It is an offering made by fire unto the Lord.
AS there was a great variety of offerings under the Law, such as burnt-offerings, peace-offerings, trespass-offerings, sin-offerings, meat-offerings, so was there a variety of those which I have last mentioned—the meat-offerings. Some of these were constantly offered with and upon the burnt-offerings: some of them were offered separately by themselves: and these also were of two different kinds; some of them being ordinary, and appointed on particular occasions; and others of them extraordinary, and altogether optional, and presented only when persons particularly desired to “honour God with their substance.” The ordinary and appointed meat-offerings are spoken of in the beginning of this chapter [Note: Compare –3 with chap. 23:9–14.]: the extraordinary and optional are spoken of in my text. It is to the latter that I would draw your attention at this time. And for the purpose of bringing the ordinance before you in the simplest and most intelligible manner, I will set before you,
Its distinguishing peculiarities—
In some respects this meat-offering agreed with those which were common—
[It consisted of corn: it was accompanied with oil: frankincense also was put upon it. A part of it and of the oil were burnt upon the altar, together with all the frankincense, as a memorial to the Lord: and the remainder of the corn and oil was given to the priests, for their subsistence.
Thus far it was an expression of gratitude to God for the mercies he had begun to impart, and of affiance in him for a complete and final bestowment of the blessings so conferred.]
In other respects it differed from those which were common—
[In the common meat-offerings the corn used was ripe, and ground into flour: but in this the corn was unripe, and incapable of being ground into flour, till a certain process had been used in relation to it. “The ears of corn were” cut when “green:” they were then to be “dried with fire:” and then were they to be offered in the way appointed for common meat-offerings [Note: Compare, 3 with the text.].]
Contenting myself with barely specifying the peculiarities under my first head, I proceed to explain them under my second head; and to mark, in relation to this ordinance,
Its special import—
As far as its observances accorded with those of the common meat-offering, its import was the same—
[Burnt-offerings referred entirely to Christ, and shadowed forth him as dying for the sins of men. But the meat-offerings represented rather the people of Christ gathered out from the world, anointed with the Holy Spirit, and offered up upon God’s altar, as consecrated to his service, and inflamed with holy zeal and love, for the advancement of his glory in the world. In this view the Prophet Isaiah speaks of the whole Gentile world, who shall be consecrated to the Lord in the last day: “They shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord [Note: Isaiah 66:20.].” (The Mincha, or meat-offering, is that which is here particularly referred to.) To the same effect St. Paul also speaks in the New Testament of this very conversion as actually begun under his ministry: “I am,” says he, “the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the Gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost [Note: Romans 15:16.].” Here is not only the same mention of the meat-offering as we observed in the Prophet Isaiah, but a more distinct reference to it as accompanied with oil, and as denoting the sanctification of believers by the gift of the Holy Ghost. This, then, may be considered as marking the import of this ordinance, so far as it agreed with the common meat-offerings.]
But so far as this meat-offering was peculiar, its import was peculiar also—
[We cannot, indeed, speak with the same confidence on this part of our subject as respecting the meat-offerings in general; because the inspired writers of the Old and New Testament are silent respecting it: yet I cannot but feel assured in my own mind, that “the green ears” are intended to denote the younger converts, who by reason of their tender age seem almost incapable of being so dedicated to the Lord. God would have such to be presented to him: and, that their supposed incapacity to serve him might be no discouragement either to them or us, they are ordered to be gathered in, that so they may be prepared for the honour that is to be conferred upon them. Additional pains are to be taken with them, in order to supply by artificial means, as it were, what nature has not yet done for them; and to God are they to be presented, without waiting for that maturity which others at a more advanced period of life have attained. They are not to be desponding in themselves, as though it were not possible for them to find acceptance with God; nor are they to be overlooked by others, as though it were in vain to hope that any converts should be gathered from amongst them. God would have it known, that he is alike willing to receive all; and that he will be glorified in all, “the least as well as the greatest [Note: Jeremiah 31:34.],” in “little children, as well as in young men and fathers [Note: 1 John 2:12-14.].”]
Having elsewhere explained the different parts of the meat-offering, I forbear to dwell on them [Note: See the Discourse on Leviticus 2:1-3.], having no intention to speak of that ordinance any further than it is peculiar, and appropriate to the present occasion [Note: Confirmation, or Sunday Schools.]. But, as in that view it is very interesting,
I proceed to point out,
The instruction to be derived from it—
Assuredly it is highly instructive,
[Does it not shew you, that you should present your children to the Lord in early life? Yes; you should dedicate them to him even from the womb. See the examples of Hannah [Note: 1 Samuel 1:22; 1 Samuel 1:24; 1 Samuel 1:28.], and Elizabeth [Note: Luke 1:15.], and Lois, and Eunice [Note: 2 Timothy 1:5.]: are not these sufficient to guide and encourage you in this important duty? And is it no encouragement to you to be assured by God himself, “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it [Note: Proverbs 22:6.] ?” I say, then, labour with all diligence to promote the spiritual edification of your offspring; and whilst they are yet so green and young as to appear incapable of serving God with intelligence and acceptance, devote them to him, in the hope that, with the oil and frankincense put upon them, they may prove an offering well pleasing to God, and may come up with a sweet savour before him.]
[”The pastor after God’s own heart” will “feed the lambs,” as well as the sheep, of Christ’s flock. And we rejoice in the increased attention that has of late years been paid to the rising generation. But, after all, there is abundant occasion for augmented efforts in their behalf. Even the Apostles themselves had but very inadequate views of their duty in reference to persons in early life. When parents brought their children to Christ that he might bless them, the Apostles, judging that this was an unprofitable wasting of their Master’s time, forbade them. But our blessed Lord was much displeased with them, and said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them [Note: Mark 10:13-16.].” And who can tell what a blessing may attend the efforts of ministers, in reference to young people, even whilst the older and more intelligent reject their word? Certainly the appointment of the ordinance which we have been considering proclaims loudly the duty of ministers, and affords them all the encouragement that their hearts can desire.]
To young people—
[Persons in early life, though taken to God’s house that they may serve the Lord in his instituted ordinances, rarely imagine that they have any personal interest in any part of the service. They think that religion is proper for those only who have attained a certain age; and that it will be time enough for them to serve the Lord, when their understandings are more matured. But the corn cannot be too green, provided only “the ears be full [Note: 4.].” There must be integrity, whatever be the age: for an hypocrite can never find acceptance with God. But as to intellectual capacity, God both can and will supply that to the youngest child in the universe that has a desire to surrender himself up to him: yea, “the things which are hid from the wise and prudent, he will reveal to babes; for so it seemeth good in his sight [Note: Matthew 11:25-26.].” Nay more, to those in early life God has given an express promise, a promise made exclusively to them: “They that seek me early shall find me [Note: Proverbs 8:17.].” Why, then, should young people despond, as though they were incapable of serving God? I have no hesitation in saying, that they are as acceptable an offering as can possibly be presented to the Lord: yea, in some respects God is more glorified in them than in persons at a more adult age; because the power of divine grace is more conspicuous in proportion as it is seen to be independent of man. Nor am I sure that such early monuments of divine grace do not render peculiar service to the Church; because their exhortations and examples are preeminently calculated to affect both the old and young: the old, as putting them to shame; and the young, as shewing them the practicability of God’s service even at their tender age. I say, then, that this ordinance is particularly instructive to the young, and should inspire them with a holy zeal to surrender up themselves to God at the earliest period of their lives.]
[Methinks I see you with your heads erect, and yourselves in all the greenness of early life; and I hear you saying, ‘Leave me to myself; at least leave me till many more suns and showers have brought me to a maturity better suited to your use.’ But no, my young Brethren; I would not leave you another day. God has appointed that the green ears be dried by the fire, and so be fitted for his use: and gladly would I use all possible means to qualify you for the honour to which he calls you: nor can I doubt but that, if you be willing, you shall be accepted of him. And think, I pray you, of the advantage of being consecrated to the Lord in early life: think how many sins you will avoid: think what an advance you may hope to have made in the divine life, whilst others are only beginning their Christian course. Above all, think what an honour it will be to serve the Lord; and what happiness to be regarded by him as his peculiar people. O, let me not speak in vain: but now vie, as it were, with each other, who shall be foremost in this blessed race, and who shall consecrate himself to God at the earliest period of his life. Happy am I to assure you, that the oil and frankincense are ready, and that the fire is already kindled on God’s altar. Only be willing to be the Lord’s, and this very hour shall your offering come up with acceptance before him.]
Those who are more advanced in life—
[If the green ears be sought for the Lord, surely you can have no doubt respecting the proper destination of those that are more matured. Affect, then, the honour which is now offered you, of being the Lord’s. And remember, that, as a part only of the offering was consumed upon the altar, and the rest was given to the priests for their subsistence, so must ye gladly give yourselves to the Lord for the advancement of his glory, and the establishment of his kingdom in the world. It is for this that so many suns have shone upon you, and so many showers have been vouchsafed: and know, that in giving to God, ye give only what ye have received from him; and that, instead of conferring any obligation upon him, the more you do for him, the more you are indebted to him. Yes, know, that if the honour to which we call you were duly appreciated, there is not an ear in the whole field of nature that would not be anxious to attain it. May the meat-offerings, then, this day be multiplied on God’s altar; and his name be increasingly glorified amongst us, for Christ’s sake! Amen and Amen.]