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temple; and was a very learned man;
and so eminent a scribe in the law of his God, that Artaxerxes takes particular notice of it in his commission. He was perhaps the last, Malachi excepted, of the inspired writers.
Thus, by such an important epoch in the Jewish history was the commencement of this chronological period marked. And I have been the more particular in drawing the attention towards it, as well as to the character of Ezra, as it is less known and considered than the events which have distinguished the former periods; and also because it appears to be the proper and true point of time from whence to date the commencement of the period of 2300 years, relating to the more important cleansing of the same holy sanctuary.
With regard to the great event that terminates this 490 years, it is expressed too clearly to admit of a moment's doubt. There was only one event that ever happened in this world which could be said “to finish the transgression, make an end of sins, make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness;" and that event was the Death of Christ, the God-Man Mediator. It is a circumstance worthy of the closest observation-a circumstance that ought to arrest the attention of every son and daughter of Adam-that in naming the time when this allimportant transaction should take place, it should
thus be conveyed in language expressive of the GRAND ESSENTIALS of the Gospel, in opposition to every other scheme of salvation devised or trusted to by man. The essence of the New Testament is here most clearly revealed; and its most glorious truths are imbodied in a few words, to express or signify that one great act by which a full and complete atonement was made for sin, and by which the wells of salvation were opened for a guilty world. “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you : searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (1 Peter i. 10, 11.) The salvation thus wrought out by the blood and righteousness of Christ, was the anti-type of all that had been shadowed forth by the priests, in all their sacrifices and offerings, from the beginning of the world. It was the main thing that had been pointed at by the various institutions of the ceremonial law. It is the subject which runs throughout the whole of the Psalms, and all subsequent prophecy; and it finished the Levitical dispensation.
The first great truth of the Gospel is here implied --- viz., that by the fall and “transgression” of our first parents, sin and sorrow and
misery were entailed upon, and have followed, all their posterity, in all successive generations; so that not an individual has escaped the pollution : “Every imagination of the thought of his heart is evil, and only evil, and that continually” (Gen. vi. 5). But the penal effects of this original and hereditary guilt are cancelled by the death of Christ : for by this one great sacrifice " the transgression was finished.” “ As in Adam all died, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Wide and extensive as were the consequences of the Fall, so equally wide and extensive are the consequences resulting from the Atonement, as far as regards the curse entailed by INHERENT sin and pollution, irrespective of believing or disbelieving, and when unaccompanied by actual sin. Hence none are finally condemned and lost irrespective of their own actions, and their own sins; and hence the salvation of infants and ideots, who have never had the power of sinning.
But the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ extends likewise to actual guilt ; for He not only died to finish the transgression, but to “make an end of sins.” The condemnation therefore is, that“ light is come into the world, but men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.” For the invitation is to all : “ Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come, buy and eat;
yea, buy wine and milk without money, and with out price.” (Isai. Iv.) “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and as a cloud, thy sins” (Isa. xliv. 22). “ Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. i. 18). Through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ an innumerable company have washed in this overflowing fountain, opened for sin and uncleanness, and have been made whole. The Scriptures abound with examples, both under the Jewish and Christian dispensations, of
persons of all characters, and of all degrees of guilt, whose sins have been forgiven and blotted out through the blood of his cross. When the angel announced his birth, he said to Mary, “ Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for He shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. i. 21). And it is solemnly declared in Acts iv. 12, that “there is salvation in no other ; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” The Apostle might therefore well ask, after asserting that "
every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward,” “how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvavation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him?” (Heb. ij. 2, 3.)
It is further implied, however, that God does
not leave the sinner here: he is not only forgiven—not only saved from the awful consequences of sin—but he is reconciled, by the death of Christ, to Him from whom by sin he is so awfully estranged. Among the blessings enumerated by the Holy Spirit, through Daniel, it is therefore added, that this great event also was “to make reconciliation for iniquity.” It is most truly said that “God is love; ” and that in His love there is a height, and a length, and a breadth, and a depth, which pass knowledge. Hence He does not, in the salvation of sinners, merely rescue them from eternal damnation : He does not limit his mercy to what we poor mortals might often be satisfied with, when we say “Lord have mercy upon us :” He does not act like an earthly monarch in pardoning a criminal, -satisfying himself with delivering him from deserved punishment. No: He admits him to Divine favour, as the very idea of reconciliation implies ; to an intimate communion and friendship. He adopts him into his family, making him an heir of God and joint heir with Christ; for “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (2 Cor. v. 19). On considering these great things one is tempted to exclaim, Oh that we knew our privileges ! that we were duly sensible of our high and heavenly calling; that we could realize