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apostolical Epistle were to be directed to us, it ought to be inscribed, To the ignorant, profane, malicious, &c. as he, who at the hearing of the gospel read, said, "Either this is not the Gospel, or we are not christians;" so either these characters, given in the inscription of these Epistles, are not true characters, or we are not true christians.
Ver. 2. Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.
In this verse we have their condition, and the causes of it. Their condition, sanctified, and justified; the former expressed by obedience, the latter by sprinkling of the blood of Christ. The causes, 1. Eternal election. 2. The execution of that decree, their effectual calling, which (I conceive) is meant by election here, the selecting them out of the world, and joining them to the fellowship of the children of God". The former election is particularly ascribed to God the Father, the latter, to the Holy Spirit, and the blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God is here the cause of their justification; and so the whole Trinity concurring, dignify them with this their spiritual and happy es
First I shall discourse of these separately, and then of their connexion. 1. Of the state itself; and first of justification, though named last.
This sprinkling has respect to the rite of the legal purification by the sprinkling of blood, and that appositely; for these rites of sprinkling and blood did all point out this blood and this sprinkling, and exhibited this true ransom of souls, which was only shadowed by them.
As the use and end of sprinkling was purification and expiation, because sin merited death, and the pollutions and stains of human nature were by sin; such is the pollution, that it can be no manner
n John xv. 19.
of way washed off but by blood. Neither is there any blood able to purge from sin, except the most precious blood of Jesus Christ, which is called the blood of God".
That the stain of sin can only be washed off by blood, intimates, that it merits death. And that no blood, but that of the Son of God, can do it, intimates, that this stain merits eternal death; and it had been our portion, except the death of the eternal Lord of life had freed us from it.
Filthiness needs sprinkling; guiltiness (such as deserves death) needs sprinkling of blood; and the death it deserves being everlasting death, the blood must be the blood of Christ, the eternal Lord of life, dying to free us from the sentence of death.
The soul (as the body) hath its life, its health, its purity; and the contrary of these, its death, diseases, deformities, and impurity, which belong to it as to their first subject, and to the body by participation.
The soul and body of all mankind is stained by the pollution of sin. The impure leprosy of the soul is not a spot outwardly, but wholly inward ; hence as the corporal leprosy was purified by the sprinkling of blood, so is this. Then by reflecting, we see how all this that the Apostle St. Peter expresseth is necessary to justification. 1. Christ the Mediator betwixt God and man, is God and man. 2. A Mediator not only interceding, but also satisfying. 3. This satisfaction doth not reconcile us, unless it be applied. Therefore there is not only mention of blood, but the sprinkling of it. The Spirit by faith sprinkleth the soul, as with hyssop, wherewith the sprinkling was made: this is it of which the Prophet speaks", So shall he sprinkle many nations. And which the Apostle to the Hebrews prefers above all legal sprinklings, both as to its duration, and as to the excellency of its effects.
• Heb. ix. 22.
P Acts xx. 28.
Eph. ii. 16.
Men are not easily convinced and persuaded of the deep stain of sin; and that no other laver can fetch it out, but the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Some that have moral resolutions of amendment, dislike at least gross sins, and purpose to avoid them, and it is to them cleanness enough to reform in those things; but they consider not what becomes of the guiltiness they have contracted already, and how that shall be purged, how their natural pollution shall be taken away. Be not deceived in this; it is not a transient sigh, or a light word, or a wish of, God forgive me; no, nor the highest current of repentance, nor that which is the truest evidence of repentance, amendment: it is none of these that purifies in the sight of God, and expiates. wrath; they are all imperfect and stained themselves, cannot stand and answer for themselves, much less be of value to counterpoise the former guilt of sin; the very tears of the purest repentance, unless they be sprinkled with this blood, are impure; all our washings without this are but washings of the blackmoor, it is labour in vain. There is none truly purged by the blood of Christ, that doth not endeavour after purity of heart and conversation; but yet it is the blood of Christ by which they are all fair, and there is no spot in them. Here it is said, elect to obedience; but because that obedience is not perfect, there must be sprinkling of the blood too. There is nothing in religion further out of nature's reach, and out of its liking and believing, than the doctrine of redemption by a Saviour, and a crucified Saviour, by Christ, and by his blood, first shed on the cross in his suffering, and then sprinkled on the soul by his Spirit. It is easier to make men sensible of the necessity of repentance and amendment of life, (though that is very difficult) than of this purging by the sprinkling of this precious blood. Did we see how needful Christ is to us, we would esteem and love him more.
It is not by the hearing of Christ, and of his blood d Jer. ii. 22. Job ix. 30, 31.
in the doctrine of the gospel; it is not by the sprinkling of water, even that water that is the sign of this blood, without the blood itself, and the sprinkling of it. Many are present where it is sprinkled, and yet have no portion in it. Look to this, that this blood be sprinkled on your souls, that the destroying angel may pass by you. There is a generation (not some few, but a generation) deceived in this; they are their own deceivers, pure in their own eyes. How earnestly doth David pray, Iash me, purge me with hysop? though bathed in tears', that satisfied not, wash thou me. This is the honourable condition of the saints, that they are purified and consecrated unto God by this sprinkling; yea, have on long white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb. There is mention indeed of great tribulation, but there is a double comfort joined with it. 1. They come out of it, that tribulation hath an end. And 2. They pass from that to glory; for they have on the robe of candidates, long white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, washed white in blood; as for this blood, it is nothing but purity and spotlessness, being stained with no sin; and besides, hath that virtue to take away the stain of sin, where it is sprinkled. My well-beloved is white and ruddy, saith the spouse, thus in his death, ruddy by bloodshed, white by innocence, and purity of that blood.
Shall they then that are purged by this blood return to live among the swine, and tumble with them in the puddle? What gross injury is this to themselves, and to that blood by which they are cleansed? They that are chosen to this sprinkling, are likewise chosen to obedience; this blood purifieth the heart; yea, this blood purgeth our consciences from dead works to serve the living God.
2. Of their Sanctification, elect unto obedience.] It is easily understood to whom; when obedience to God is expressed by the simple absolute name of Obedience, it teacheth us, that to him alone belongs e Prov. xxx. 12. f Psal. vi. 6. g Heb. ix. 14.
absolute and unlimited obedience, all obedience by all creatures. It is the shame and misery of man that he hath departed from this obedience, that we are become sons of disobedience: but grace renewing the hearts of believers, changeth their natures, and so their names, and makes them children of obedience, as afterwards in this chapter. As this obedience consists in the receiving Christ as our Redeemer, so also at the same time, as our Lord or king, an entire rendering up of the whole man to his obedience. This obedience then of the only begotten Jesus Christ, may well be understood not as his actively, as Beza, but objectively, as". I think here it is contained, yea chiefly understood to signify that obedience, which the Apostle to the Romans calls the obedience of faith, by which the doctrine of Christ is received, and so Christ himself, which uniteth the believing soul to Christ; he sprinkles it with his blood to the remission of sin, and is the root and spring of all future obedience in the christian life.
By obedience, sanctification is here intimated: it signifies then, both habitual and active obedience, renovation of heart, and conformity to the divine will; the mind is illuminated by the Holy Ghost, to know and believe the divine will; yea, this faith is the great and chief part of obedience'. The truth of the doctrine is first impressed on the mind, hence flows out pleasant obedience, and full of love; hence all the affections, and the whole body, with its members, learn to give a willing obedience, and submit unto God; whereas before they resisted him, being under the standard of satan.
This obedience, though imperfect, yet hath a certain, (if I may so say) imperfect perfection. It is universal three manner of ways. 1. In the subject. 2. In the object. 3. In the duration, the whole man subjected to the whole law, and that constantly, and perseveringly.
The first universality is the cause of the other: