The ashes of a heifer. (1-10) Used to purify the unclean.
The heifer was to be wholly burned. This typified the
painful sufferings of our Lord Jesus, both in soul and body, as
a sacrifice made by fire, to satisfy God's justice for man's
sin. These ashes are said to be laid up as a purification for
sin, because, though they were only to purify from ceremonial
uncleanness, yet they were a type of that purification for sin
which our Lord Jesus made by his death. The blood of Christ is
laid up for us in the word and sacraments, as a fountain of
merit, to which by faith we may have constant recourse, for
cleansing our consciences.
Why did the law make a corpse a defiling thing? Because
death is the wages of sin, which entered into the world by it,
and reigns by the power of it. The law could not conquer death,
nor abolish it, as the gospel does, by bringing life and
immortality to light, and so introducing a better hope. As the
ashes of the heifer signified the merit of Christ, so the
running water signified the power and grace of the blessed
Spirit, who is compared to rivers of living water; and it is by
his work that the righteousness of Christ is applied to us for
our cleansing. Those who promise themselves benefit by the
righteousness of Christ, while they submit not to the grace and
influence of the Holy Spirit, do but deceive themselves; we
cannot be purified by the ashes, otherwise than in the running
water. What use could there be in these appointments, if they do
not refer to the doctrines concerning the sacrifice of Christ?
But comparing them with the New Testament, the knowledge to be
got from them is evident. The true state of fallen man is shown
in these institutions. Here we learn the defiling nature of sin,
and are warned to avoid evil communications.