« السابقةمتابعة »
of the christian religion. What other religions seek, the christian religion alone finds, even a solid foundation for true peace of conscience. While the Jew seeks it in vain in the law, the Mohammedan in his external and ridiculous observances, and the papist in his own merits, the believer only finds it in the blood of this great Sacrifice; this, and nothing less than this, can give peace to a distressed conscience, laboring under the weight of its own guilt. Conscience demands no less to satisfy it, than God demands to satisfy him. The grand inquest of conscience is, Is God satisfied? If he be satisfied, I am satisfied. Woful is the state of that man that feels the worm of conscience gnawing the most tender part of the soul, and hath no relief against it; that feels the intolerable scalding wrath of God burning within, and hath nothing to cool it. Hear me, you that slight the troubles of conscience, that call them fancies and melancholy; if you had but one sick night for sin-if you had ever felt that shame, fear, horror, and despair, which are the effects of an accusing and condemning conscience, you would account it an unspeakable mercy to hear of a way for the discharge of a poor sinner from that guilt: you would kiss the feet of the messenger that could bring you tidings of peace: you would call him blessed, that should direct you to an effectual remedy. Now, whoever thou art, that pinest away in thine iniquities, that droopest from day to day under the present wounds and the dismal presages of conscience, know that thy soul and peace can never meet, till thou art persuaded to come to this blood of sprinkling.
The blood of this sacrifice speaks better things than the blood of Abel. The blood of this sacrifice is the blood of God, Acts, 20:28; invaluably precious blood. 1 Pet. 1: 19. One drop of it infinitely excels the blood of all mere creatures. Heb. 10:4-6. Such is the blood
that must do thee good. Lord, I must have such blood (saith conscience) as is capable of giving thee full satisfaction, or it can give me no peace. The blood of the cattle upon a thousand hills" cannot do this. What is the blood of beasts to God? The blood of all the men in the world can do nothing in this case. What is our polluted blood worth?
Yea, Christ's blood is not only the blood of God, but it is blood shed in thy stead, and in thy place and room. "He was made a curse for us," Gal. 3: 13. And so it becomes sin-pardoning blood, Heb. 9: 22; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1: 14; Rom. 3: 26; and consequently consciencepacifying and soul-quieting blood, Col. 1: 20; Eph. 2: 13, 14; Rom. 3:25. O bless God that ever the news of this blood came to thine ears. With hands and eyes lifted up to heaven, admire that grace that cast thy lot in a place where this joyful sound rings in the ears of poor sinners. Surely the pure light of the Gospel shining upon this generation, is a mercy never to be enough prized.
2. Hence also learn the necessity of faith, in order to a state and sense of peace with God for to what purpose is the blood of Christ our sacrifice shed, unless it be actually and personally applied, and appropriated by faith? You know, when a scrifice under the law was brought to be slain, he that brought it was to put his hand upon the head of the sacrifice, and so it was accepted for him, to make an atonement, Lev. 1 : 4 : not only to signify, that now it was no more his, but God's, the property being transferred by a kind of manumis. sion; nor yet merely that he voluntarily gave it to the Lord as his own free act; but principally it signified the putting off his sins, and the penalty due to him for them, upon the head of the sacrifice: and so it implied in it an execration, as if he had said, Upon thy head be the evil. So the learned observe, the ancient Egyptians
were wont expressly to imprecate when they sacrificed, "If any evil be coming upon us or upon Egypt, let it turn and rest upon this head," laying their hand, at these words, on the sacrifice's head. And upon that ground, says Herodotus the historian, none of them would eat of the head of any living creature. You must also lay the hand of faith upon Christ your sacrifice, not to imprecate, but to apply and appropriate him to your own souls, he having been made a curse for you.
To this the whole Gospel tends, even to persuade sinners to apply Christ and his blood to their own souls. To this he invites us, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11: 28. For this end our sacrifice was lifted up upon the altar;
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John, 3: 14, 15. The effects of the law, not only upon the conscience, filling it with torment, but upon the whole person, bringing death upon it, are here shadowed out by the stingings of fiery serpents; and Christ by the brazen serpent, which Moses exalted for the Israelites, that were stung, to look unto. And as by looking to it they were healed; so by believing, or looking to Christ in faith, our souls are healed. Those that looked not to the brazen serpent died infallibly; so must all that look not by faith to Jesus our sacrifice. It is true, the death of Christ is the meritorious cause of remission, but faith is the instrumental, applying cause; and as Christ's blood is necessary in its place, so is our faith also in its place. The death of Christ, the offer and tender of Christ, never in themselves saved one soul without being received by faith. But alas! how do I see sinners, either not at all touched with the sense of sin, and so feeling that they are whole and need not the physician; or if any be stung and wounded with guilt, how
do they lick themselves whole with their own duties and reformations! Physicians say of wounds, let them be kept clean, and nature will find balsam of its own to heal them. If it were so in spiritual wounds, what need Christ to have left the Father's bosom, and come down to die as a sacrifice for us? Oh, if men can but have health, pleasure, riches, honor, and any way still a disturbing conscience, that it may not check or interrupt them in these enjoyments, they care nothing for Christ. And I am assured, till God show you the face of sin in the glass of the law; make the scorpions and fiery serpents, that lurk in the law and in your own consciences, come hissing about you, and smiting you with their deadly stings; till you have had some sick nights and sorrowful days for sin, you will never go up and down seeking an interest in the blood of his sacrifice with tears. But, reader, if ever this be thy condition, then wilt thou know the worth of a Saviour, then wilt thou value the blood of sprinkling.
3. Is Christ your High Priest, and is his priesthood so indispensably necessary to our salvation? Then freely acknowledge your utter impotency to reconcile yourselves to God by any thing you can do or suffer; and let the whole glory of your recovery be ascribed to Christ. It is highly reasonable that he that laid down the whole price, should have the whole praise. If any man say or think he could have made an atonement for himself, he doth therein cast no light reproach upon that profound wisdom which laid the design of our redemption in the death of Christ. But of this I have spoken elsewhere. And therefore,
4. In the last place, I rather choose to persuade you to see your necessity of this High Priest, and his most excellent sacrifice; and accordingly to make use of it. The best of you have polluted natures, poisoned with sin; those natures have need of this sacrifice, they must
have the benefit of this blood to pardon and cleanse them, or else be eternally damned. Hear me, ye that never spent a tear for the sin of your nature; if the blood of Christ be not sprinkled upon your natures, it had been better for you that you had been the offspring of beasts or of dragons. They have a mean, but not a vitiated, sinful nature as you have.
Your actual sins have need of the great High Priest and his sacrifice to procure remission for them. If he take them not away by the blood of his cross, they can never be taken away; they will lie down with you in the dust; they will rise with you, and follow you to the judgment-seat, crying, We are thy works, and we will follow thee. All thy repentance and tears, couldst thou weep as many as there be drops in the ocean, can never take away sin. Thy duties, even the best of them, need this sacrifice. It is in virtue thereof that they are accepted of God. And were it not that God had respect to Christ's offering, he would not regard thee, nor any of thy duties. Thou couldst no more come near to God, than thou couldst approach a devouring fire, or dwell with everlasting burnings. Well, then say, I need such a price every way. Love him in all his offices. See the goodness of God in providing such a Sacrifice for thee. Meat, drink, and air are not more necessary to maintain thy natural life, than the death of Christ is to give and maintain thy spiritual life.
Oh, then, let thy soul expand whilst meditating on the grace and excellency of Christ, which is thus displayed and unfolded in every branch of the Gospel: and with a deep sense upon thy heart, let thy lips say, Blessed be God for Jesus Christ.