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but "the righteousness of God in him." 2 Cor. 5:21.
3. Being so precious in itself, and so efficacious to expiate sin, it must needs be a most gruteful oblation to the Lord, highly pleasing and delightful in his eyes. And so indeed it is said, "He gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling savor." Eph. 5:2. Not that God took any delight in the bitter sufferings of Christ, simply and in themselves considered; but with relation to the end for which he was offered, even our redemption and salvation. Hence arose the delight and pleasure God had in it; this made him take pleasure in bruising him. Isa. 53: 10. His offering was "a sweet-smelling savor" unto God. The meaning is, that as men are offended with a nauseous smell, and on the contrary delighted with sweet odors and fragrance, so the blessed God, speaking after the manner of men, is offended, and filled with loathing and abhorrence by our sins; but infinitely pleased and delighted in the offering of Christ for them, which came up as an odor of sweet-smelling savor to him, whereof the costly perfumes under the law were types and sha dows. This was the oblation.
III. This oblation he brings before God, and to him he offers it up so speaks the apostle, "Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself without spot to God." Heb. 9:14. As Christ sustained the capacity of a surety, so God of a creditor, who exacted satisfaction from him; that is, he required from him, as our surety, the penalty due to us for our sin. And so Christ had to do immediately with God, yea, with a God infinitely wronged, and incensed by sin against us. To this incensed Majesty, Christ our High Priest approached, as to a devouring fire, with his sacrifice.
IV. The persons for whom, and in whose stead he offered himself to God, were the whole number given him of the Father; all who should believe in him. He laid
down his life for the sheep, John, 10: 15; for the church, Acts, 20:28; for the children of God, John, 11:50-52. It is confessed, there is sufficiency of virtue in this sacrifice to redeem the whole world; and on that account some divines affirm he is called the "Saviour of the world." John, 4:42, &c. But that the efficacy and saving virtue of this all-sufficient sacrifice is applied only to believers, is too clear in the Scriptures to be denied. Eph. 5:23; John, 17: 2, 9, 19, 20; John, 10:26-28; 1 Tim. 4: 10.
V. The design and end of this oblation was to render to God a full satisfaction for our sins: so speaks the apostle, "And having made peace, through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." Col. 1: 20. So "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself." 2 Cor. 5: 19. Reconciliation is the making up of that breach, caused by sin, between us and God, and restoring us again to his favor and friendship. For this end Christ offered up himself to God.
INFERENCE 1. Hence it follows that actual believers are fully freed from the guilt of their sins, and shall never more come under condemnation. The debt of sin is perfectly abolished by the virtue of this sacrifice. When Christ became our sacrifice, he both bare and bare away our sins. They were laid upon him, and then expiated by him: so much is implied in the words, Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." Heb. 9:28. To bear, is a full and emphatical word, signifying not only to bear, but to bear away. So John, 1:29, "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world;" not only declaratively, or by way of manifestation to the conscience; but really, "by himself purging our sins." Hebrews, 1:3. Now, how great a mercy is this, "that, by him, all that believe
should be justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." Acts, 13: 39. "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." Ps. 32. Who can express the mercy, comfort, happiness of such a state as this? Reader, let me beg thee, if thou be one of this pardoned number, to look over the cancelled bonds, and see what vast sums are remitted to thee. Remember what thou wast in thy natural state: possibly thou wast in that black list. 1 Cor. 6:9, 10. What, and yet pardoned! fully and finally pardoned, and that freely, as to any hand that thou hadst in the procurement of it! What canst thou do less than fall down at the feet of free grace, and kiss those feet that moved so freely towards so vile a sinner? It is not long since thy iniquities were upon thee, and thou pinedst away in them. Their guilt could by no creature-power be separated from thy soul. Now they are removed from thee, as far as the east from the west. Ps. 103: 12.
2. From this oblation Christ made of himself to God for our sins, we infer the inflexible severity of Divine justice, which could be no other way diverted from us, and appeased, but by the blood of Christ. If Christ had not presented himself to God for us, justice would not have spared us: and if he do appear before God as our surety, it will not spare him; "He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up to death for us all." Rom. 8:32. If forbearance might have been expected from any, surely it might from God, "who is very pitiful, and full of tender mercy," James, 5: 11; yet God in this case spared not. If one might have expected sparing mercy from any, surely Christ might most of all expect it from his own Father; yet you read, God spared not his own Son. Sparing mercy is the lowest degree of mercy, yet it was denied to Christ; though in the garden Christ fell upon the ground, and sweat great
drops of blood, and in that unparalleled agony cried, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass;" and though he brake out upon the cross, in that heart-rending complaint, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" yet there is no abatement; justice will not bend; but having to do with him on this account, resolves upon satisfaction from his blood.
If this be so, what is the case of thy soul, reader, if thou hast no interest in this sacrifice? For if these things be done in (Christ) the green tree, what will be done to (thee) the dry tree? Luke, 23:31. Thus Theophylact beautifully paraphrases that passage: "That is, if God so deal with me, that am not only innocent, but like a green and fruitful tree, full of all delectable fruits of holiness; yet if the fire of his indignation thus seize upon me, what will be your condition, that are both barren and guilty, void of all good fruit, and full of all unrighteousness," and so like dry, sear wood, fitted as fuel to the fire? Consider with thyself, how canst thou imagine thou canst support that infinite wrath that Christ bore in the room of his people! He had the strength of Deity to support him, "Behold my Servant whom I uphold." Isa. 42: 1. He had the fulness of his Spirit to prepare him. Isa. 61: 1. He had the ministry of an angel, who came down from heaven to relieve him in his agony. Luke, 22:43. He had the ear of his Father to hear him, for he cried, "and was heard in that he feared." Heb. 5:7. He was assured of the victory before the combat; he knew he should be justified, Isa. 50:8; and yet for all this he was sore amazed, and sorrowful even to death, and his heart was melted like wax. If Christ thus sunk under the wrath of God, how dost thou think, a poor worm as thou art, to dwell with everlasting burnings, or contend with devouring fire? Luther saw ground enough for what he said, when he cried out, "I will have nothing to do with an absolute
God," that is, with a God out of Christ: for, "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Wo and alas for evermore to that man who meets a just and righteous God without a Mediator!
Whoever thou art that readest these lines, I beseech thee, by the mercies of God, by all the regard and love thou hast to thy own soul, lose no time, but make quick and sure work of it. Get an interest in this sacrifice quickly; what else will be thy state when vast eternity opens to swallow thee up? what wilt thou do, when thine heart-strings are breaking? Oh, what a fearful shriek will thy conscience utter when thou art presented before the dreadful God, and no Christ to screen thee from his indignation! Happy is that man who can say in a dying hour, as William Lyford did, who being desired, a little before his dissolution, to give his friends a little taste of his present hopes, and the grounds of them, cheerfully answered, I will let you know how it is with me then stretching forth his hand, said, "Here is the grave, the wrath of God, and devouring flame, the just punishment of sin, on the one side; and here am I, a poor sinful soul, on the other side: but this is my comfort, the covenant of grace, which is established upon so many sure promises, hath saved all. There is an act of oblivion passed in heaven: 'I will forgive their iniquities, and their sins will I remember no more.' This is the blessed privilege of all within the covenant, among whom I am one." Oh, it is sweet at all times, especially at such a time, to see the reconciled face of God through Jesus Christ, and hear the voice of peace through the blood of the cross.
3. Hath Christ offered up himself a sacrifice to God for us? Then let us improve, in every condition, this sacrifice, and labor to get our hearts duly affected with such a sight of it as faith can give. Whatever the condition or complaint of any christian is, a beholding the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world,