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that at the price of his blood he will buy it for us. Hence,
Jesus Christ dedicated, and wholly set himself apart to
the work of a Mediator, for the elect's sake.
This point is a glass, wherein the eye of your faith may see Jesus Christ preparing himself to be offered up to God for us, fitting himself to die. We shall consider what his sanctifying himself implies, and how it respects us.
I. What is implied in the phrase, "I sanctify myself."
1. It implies the personal union of the two natures in Christ; for what is that which he here calls himself, but the same that was consecrated to be a sacrifice, even his human nature? This was the sacrifice. And this also was himself: so the apostle speaks, "He through the eternal Spirit offered up himself to God without spot." Heb. 9: 14. So that our nature, by that assumption, is become himself. Greater honor cannot be done it, or greater ground of comfort proposed to us, as has been already shown.
2. This sanctifying, or consecrating himself to be a sacrifice for us, implies the greatness and dreadfulness of that breach which sin made between God and us. You see no less a sacrifice than Christ himself must be sanctified to make atonement. Judge of the greatness of the wound by the magnitude of the remedy. "Sacrifice, and offering, and burnt-offering for sin, thou wouldest not; but a body hast thou prepared me." Heb. 10:5. All our repentance, could we shed as many tears for sin as there have fallen drops of rain since the creation, could not be our atonement: "But God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself." And had he not sanctified Christ to this end, he would have sanctified himself upon us, in judgment and fury for ever.
3. This sanctifying himself, implies his free and voluntary undertaking of the work. It is not, "I am sanc
tified," as if he had been merely passive in it, as the lambs that typified him were, when plucked from the fold; but, "I sanctify myself." He would have none think that he died out of a necessity of compulsion, but out of choice: therefore he is said to "offer up himself to God." Heb. 10: 14. And he says, "I lay down my life of myself; no man taketh it from me." John, 10: 18. Though it is often said his Father sent him, and gave him; yet his heart was as much set on that work as if there had been nothing but glory, ease, and comfort in it; he was under no constraint but that of his own love. Therefore, as when the Scripture would set forth the willingness of the Father to this work, it saith, God sent his Son, and God gave his Son; so when it would set forth Christ's willingness to it, it saith, He offered up himself, gave himself, and, here in the text, sanctified himself. A sacrifice that struggled, and came not without force to the altar, was reckoned ominous and unlucky by the heathen: our Sacrifice dedicated himself; he died out of choice, and was a free-will offering.
4. His sanctifying himself implies his pure and perfect holiness: that he had no spot or blemish in him. Those beasts that prefigured him, were to be without blemish, and none else were consecrated to that service. So, and more than so, it behoved Christ to be: "Such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." Heb. 7:26. And what it became him to be, he was. Therefore, in allusion to the lambs offered under the law, the apostle calls him a Lamb without blemish or spot. 1 Pet. 1: 19. Every other man hath a double spot on him, the heart spot and the life spot; the spot of original, and the spots of actual sins. But Christ was without either: he had not the spot of original sin, for he was not by man; he came in a peculiar way into the world, and so escaped that: nor yet of actual sins; for, as his nature, so his life was
spotless and pure; "He did no iniquity." Isa. 53:9. And though tempted to sin externally, yet he was never defiled in heart or practice.
5. His sanctifying himself for our sakes, speaks the strength of his love and largeness of his heart to poor sinners, thus to set himself wholly and entirely apart for us: so that what he did and suffered must all of it have a respect and relation to us. He did not (when consecrated for us) live a moment, do an act, or speak a word, but had some tendency to promote the great design of our salvation. His incarnation respects you; "for to us a child is born, to us a son is given." Isa. 9:6. And he would never have been the Son of man, but to make you the sons and daughters of God. God would not have come down in the likeness of sinful flesh, in the habit of a man, but to raise up sinful man unto the likeness of God. All the miracles he wrought were for you, to confirm your faith. When he raised up Lazarus, "Because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me." John, 11:42. While he lived on earth, he lived as one wholly set apart for us: and when he died, he died for us; he was made a curse for us." Gal. 3:13. When he hung upon that cursed tree, he hung there in our room, and did but fill our place. When he was buried, he was buried for us; for the end of it was, to perfume our graves, against we come to lie down in them. And when he rose again, it was, as the apostle says, "for our justification." Rom. 4: 25. When he ascended into glory, he said it was to prepare a place for us. John, 14: 2. And now he is there, it is for us that he there lives; for he ever liveth to make intercession for us." Heb. 7:25. And when he shall return again to judge the world, he will come for us too. He comes (when ever it be) "to be glorified in his saints, and admired in them that believe." 2 Thess. 1: 10. He comes to ga
ther his saints home to himself, that where he is, there they all may be in soul and body with him for ever.
6. His sanctifying himself for us plainly speaks the vicarious nature of his death: that it was in our room or stead. When the priest consecrated the sacrifice, it was set apart for the people. So it is said of the scapegoat, "And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness." Lev. 16: 21. Thus, Isa. 53: 6, 7, he stood in our room, to bear our burden. And as Aaron laid the iniquities of the people upon the goat, so were ours laid on Christ. His death was in our stead, as well as for our good. So much his sanctifying himself "for us" imports.
7. His sanctifying himself imports the extraordinariness of his person; for it speaks him to be both Priest, Sacrifice, and Altar, all in one: a thing unheard of in the world before. So that his name might well be called "Wonderful." I sanctify myself: I sanctify, according to both natures; myself, that is, my human nature, which was the sacrifice, upon the altar of my Divine nature; for it is the altar that sanctifies the gift. As the three offices never met in one person before, so these three things never met in one priest before. The priests, indeed, consecrated the bodies of beasts for sacrifices, but never offered up their own souls and bodies as a whole burnt-offering, as Christ did.
II. I shall show you briefly the relation that all this has to us for unto us the Scriptures every where refer it. So in 1 Cor. 5: 7, "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us." Eph. 5: 25, "He loved the church, and gave himself for it." See Tit. 2: 14.
1. Let it be considered, that he was not offered up to
God for his own sins; for he was most holy. No iniquity was found in him. Isa. 53:9. Indeed the priests under the law offered for themselves, as well as the people; but Christ did not so, "He needed not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's," Heb. 7:27. And indeed had he been a sinner, what value or efficacy could have been in his sacrifice? He could not have been the sacrifice, but would have needed one. Now, if Christ were most holy, and yet put to death and cruel sufferings, either his death and sufferings must be an act of injustice and cruelty, or must respect others, whose persons and cause he sustained in that suffering capacity. He could never have suffered or died by the Father's hand, had not our sins been imputed to him. As the prophet Isaiah speaks, all our sins were made to meet upon him; and as the Apostle, "He was made sin for us, who knew no sin." 2 Cor. 5:21.
2. It is not to be forgotten here, that the Scriptures frequently call the death of Christ a price, 1 Cor. 6: 20, and a ransom, Matt. 20: 28, or counter-price. To whom then does it relate, but to them that were and are in bondage and captivity? If it was to redeem any, it must be captives: but Christ himself was never in captivity; he was always in his Father's bosom; but we were in cruel bondage and thraldom, under the tyranny of sin and Satan; and it is we only that have the benefit of this ransom.
3. Either the death of Christ must relate to believers, or else he must die in vain. As for the angels, those that stood in their integrity needed no sacrifice, and those that fell are totally excluded from any benefit by it: he is not a Mediator for them. And among men that have need of it, unbelievers have no share in it, they reject it; such have no part in it. If, then, he neither died for himself, nor for angels nor unbelievers; either