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it will not satisfy him that his present condition is comfortable, except he have some hopes it shall be so hereafter. It can afford him little content that all is easy and pleasant about him now, whilst thus terrible hints of wrath to come are given him by his own conscience daily. Oh, methinks such a thought as this, What if I am reserved for the wrath to come? should be to him as the fingers appearing upon the plaster of the wall were to Belshazzar in the height of his festivity. Give not sleep to thine eyes, reader, till thou hast good evidence that thou art of that number whom Jesus hath delivered from the wrath to come, till thou canst say Christ is mine. Three things may give thee evidence that this is thy happy portion:
If Jesus have delivered thee from sin, the cause of wrath, thou mayest conclude he hath delivered thee from wrath, the effect and fruit of sin. Upon this account the name Jesus was given to him, Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." Matt. 1: 21. Whilst a man lies under the dominion and guilt of sin, he lies exposed to wrath to come; and when he is delivered from the guilt and power of sin, he is certainly delivered from the danger of this coming wrath. Where sin is not imputed, wrath is not threatened.
If thy soul do set an inestimable value on Jesus Christ, and be endeared to him on account of that inexpressible grace manifested in this deliverance, it is a good sign thy soul hath a share in it. Mark what an epithet the saints give Christ upon this account; "Giving thanks unto the Father, who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." Col. 1: 12, 13. Christ is therefore dear, and dear beyond all expression to his people.
A disposition and readiness of mind to do or endure any thing for Christ, is a good evidence that you are
delivered from the wrath to come. "That we may walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work." Col. 1: 10. There is a readiness to do for Christ. "Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness," ver. 11. There is a cheerful readiness to endure any thing for Christ. And how both these flow from the sense of this great deliverance from wrath, the verses following, just cited, will show. Oh then, be serious and assiduous in gaining this evidence. Till this be, nothing can be pleasant to thy soul.
II. As the typical blood was shed and sprinkled to deliver from danger, so it was shed to make atonement: "He shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them." Lev. 4:20. The meaning is, that by the blood of the bullock, all whose efficacy consisted in its relation to the blood of Christ signified and shadowed by it, the people, for whom it was shed, should be reconciled to God by the expiation and remission of their sins. And what was shadowed in this typical blood, was really accomplished by Jesus Christ, in the shedding of his blood.
Our reconciliation to God is therefore another of the glorious results for which Christ travailed. So you find it expressly, Rom. 5: 10; "If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." This if is not a word of doubting, but argumentation. The apostle supposes it a known truth, or principle yielded by all christians, that the death of Christ was to reconcile the redeemed to God. And again he affirms it with like clearness: "Having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things " Col. 1:20. And that this was a main and principal end designed both by the Father and Son in the humiliation of Christ, is plain from 2 Cor. 5: 19; "God was in
Christ reconciling the world unto himself." God filled the humanity with grace and authority. The Spirit of God was in him to qualify him. The authority was in him by commission, to make all he did valid. The grace and love of God to mankind was in him, and one of the principal effects in which it was manifested was this design upon which he came, namely, to reconcile the world to God. Upon which ground Christ is called the
propitiation for our sins." 1 John, 2: 2. "Reconciliation or atonement is the making up of the ancient friendship between God and men which sin had dissolved, thus reducing these enemies into a state of concord and sweet agreement." And the means by which this blessed design was effectually compassed, was the death of Christ, which made complete satisfaction to God for our sin. There was a breach made by sin between God and the fallen angels, but that breach is never to be repaired; since, as Christ took not on him their nature, he never intended to be a Mediator of reconciliation between God and them. But that which Christ designed, as the end of his death, was to reconcile God and man. Not the whole species, but those who were given to Christ and should believe in him.
INFERENCE 1. If Christ died to reconcile God and man, how horrid an evil is sin! And how terrible was that breach between God and the creature, which could be closed no other way but by the death of the Son of God!
2. How sad is the state of all who are not at peace with God, through the blood of his Son. To the impenitent unbeliever God is not reconciled; and if God be his enemy, how little avails it who is his friend! He has an Almighty Enemy, whose very frown is destruction: "I lift up my hand to heaven and say, I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and my hand take hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to my enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make mine arrows
drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy." Deut. 32 40-42.
Yea, God is an unavoidable Enemy. Fly to the uttermost parts of the earth, there shall his hand hold thee. Psa. 139 10. The wings of the morning cannot carry thee out of his reach. If God be your enemy, you have an immortal Enemy, who lives for ever to avenge himself upon his adversaries. What wilt thou do when he departs from thee, even in this world, as from Saul? 1 Sam. 28: 15, 16. Alas, whither wilt thou turn? To whom wilt thou complain? And what wilt thou do when thou shalt stand at his bar and see that God, who is thine Enemy, upon the throne? Sad is their case indeed, who are not comprehended in the articles of peace with God.
3. If Christ died to reconcile us to God, give diligence to be assured of your interest in this reconciliation. If Christ thought it worth his blood to purchase it, it is worth your care and pains to obtain it. And what better evidence can you have than a conscientious tenderness lest you sin against him? Ah if reconciled, you will say, as Ezra, 9: 13, 14, "And now our God, seeing thou hast given us such a deliverance as this, should we again break thy commandments?" If reconciled to God, his friends will be your friends, and his enemies your enemies. If God be your friend, you will be diligent to please him. John, 15: 10, 14. He that makes not peace with God is an enemy to his own soul. And he that is at peace, but takes no pains to be assured of it, is an enemy to his own comfort.
III. But I must pass from this to the third end of Christ's death, namely, The sanctification of his people. Typical blood was shed to purify them that were unclean; and so was the blood of Christ to purge away the
sins of his people: He "gave himself for the church that he might sanctify and cleanse it." Eph. 5: 25, 26. "For their sakes I sanctify myself," that is, consecrate or devote myself to death, "that they also might be sanctified through the truth." John, 17: 19. This benefit received by the blood of Christ, is the theme of that doxology, which, in a lower strain, is now sounded in the churches, but will form the song of the Lamb in heaven; "To Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,-be glory and honor for ever." Rev. 1:5, 6. The evil of sin consists not only in its punishment, but in its pollution. Justification properly removes the former, sanctification the latter; but both justification and sanctification flow unto sinners from the death of Christ. And though it is proper to say the Spirit sanctifies, yet it is certain it was the blood of Christ that procured for us the Spirit of sanctification. Had not Christ died, the Spirit had never come down from heaven upon any such design.
The pouring forth of Christ's blood for us obtained the pouring forth of the Spirit of holiness upon us. Therefore the Spirit is said to come in his name, and to "take of his, and show it unto us." Hence it is said, he came both by blood and by water, 1 John, 5:6; by blood, washing away the guilt; by water, purifying from the filth of sin. Now this fruit of Christ's death, even our sanctification, is a most incomparable mercy. Do but consider a few particular excellencies of holiness.
1. Holiness is the image and glory of God. His image, Col. 3: 10, and his glory, Exod. 15: 11. "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, glorious in holiness ?" Now, when the guilt and filth of sin are washed away, and the soul clothed with the beauty of God by sanctification, Oh what a beautiful creature is the soul now! It is a beam of Divine glory upon the creature.