LIGHT FOR THEM THAT SIT IN DARKNESS;
A DISCOURSE OF JESUS CHRIST:
AND THAT HE UNDERTOOK TO ACCOMPLISH BY HIMSELF THE ETERNAL REDEMPTION OF SINNERS:
ALSO, HOW THE LORD JESUS ADDRESSED HIMSELF TO THIS WORK; WITH UNDENIABLE DEMONSTRATIONS THAT HE PERFORMED THE SAME.
OBJECTIONS TO THE CONTRARY ANSWERED.
‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.’—Galatians 3:13.
by John Bunyan—1674
ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR.
This solemn and searching treatise was first published in 1674, a copy of which is in the Editor’s possession. The author’s object is to correct some fatal errors which then peculiarly abounded, and to recommend the gospel in its purity to the acceptation of his fellow-sinners. Possessing that inward peace, serenity, happiness, and safety, arising from a scriptural knowledge of Christ and him crucified, he proclaims, ‘I have ventured my own soul thereon with gladness,’ and ‘if all the souls in the world were mine, I would venture them all.’ His prayer is that others may receive the same light and life by faith.
Every age has had its peculiar delusions for the trial of the spirit—mysticism in Bunyan’s time, Puseyism in our days. Prior to the Reformation, the clergy, called the church, claimed implicit obedience from the laity as essential to salvation, and taught that inquiry was the high road to eternal ruin. After the Bible had been extensively circulated, many regarded it as the letter which killeth—that it was of no importance, compared with the light within, which alone was essential. These were not the notions of any one or two sects, but had spread their influence to a considerable extent over the Christian church. To check the growth of these errors, and to recover those who had been misled by them, Bunyan published this ‘Light for them that sit in darkness.’ His object is to prove that all our knowledge of the Saviour must be received directly from the written Word—that to understand these holy oracles, we must seek and obtain Divine light. By this light we shall find that Christ took upon himself our nature, and, by his holy and perfect obedience to the law, and sacrifice of himself as a sin-atoning offering, he redeemed all his saints, paid the FULL price of their redemption, and will present them unblameable, unreprovable, and acceptable to him that is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. Their robes are washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb; they are perfect as Christ is perfect; there is no condemnation to them; their salvation is sure. To those whose spirits are dismayed under a fear that they have sinned the unpardonable sin, the arguments on the following pages are most consoling. Those who are under that awful curse are sunk in a deathly state of insensibility, while they sit in the seat of the scorner. To be alarmed with the fear of having so offended the Saviour, is the best evidence that no such sin can have been committed. The closing chapter is full of striking solemnity. May its beneficial effects be felt, to the glory of God and the reader’s solid peace.
THE AUTHOR TO THE READER.
It was the great care of the apostle Paul to deliver his gospel to the churches in its own simplicity, because so it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. And if it was his care so to deliver it to us, it should be ours to seek so to continue it; and the rather, because of the unaptness of the minds, even of the saints themselves, to retain it without commixture. For, to say nothing of the projects of hell, and of the cunning craftiness of some that lie in wait to deceive even the godly themselves, as they are dull of hearing, so much more dull in receiving and holding fast the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ. From their sense, and reason, and unbelief, and darkness, arise many imaginations and high thoughts, which exalt themselves against the knowledge of God and the obedience of Jesus Christ, wherefore they themselves have much ado to stand complete in all the will of God. And were they not concerned in electing love, by which they are bound up in the bundle of life, and blessed with the enjoyment of saving grace, which enlighteneth their souls and maintaineth their fath and hope, they would not only be assaulted and afflicted with their own corruptions, but, as others, overcome thereby.
Alas! how ordinary a thing is it for professors to fall from the knowledge they have had of the glorious gospel of the blessed God, and to be turned unto fables, seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, through the intoxications of delusions and the witchcraft of false preachers.
Now, this their swerving from the gospel ariseth, 1. Either from their not having, or, having, not retaining, the true knowledge of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ; or, 2. From their not believing the true causes of his coming into the world, with his doing and suffering there. Upon one or both these accounts, I say, it is that they everlastingly perish; for if they have not, and do not also retain the knowledge of his person, they want the HE, on whom, if they believe not, they must die in their sins; and if they know not the reason of his coming, doing, and suffering, they are in the same condition also.
Now, those professors that have had some knowledge of these things, and yet have lost them, it hath come thus to pass with them because they first lost the knowledge of themselves and of their sins. They know not themselves to be such nothing ones as the Scriptures reporteth them to be, nor their sins to be so heinous as the law hath concluded; therefore they either turn again with the dog to his vomit, or adhere to a few of the rags of their own fleshly righteousness, and so become pure in their own eyes, yet are not purged by blood from their filthiness.
For the person and doings of Jesus Christ are only precious to them that get and retain the true knowledge of themselves, and the due reward of their sins by the law. These are desolate, being driven out of all; these embrace the rock instead of a shelter. The sensible sinner receiveth him joyfully.
And because a miscarriage in this great truth is the most dangerous and damning miscarriage, therefore should professors be the more fearful of swerving aside therefrom. The man that rejecteth the true knowledge of the person of the Lord Jesus, and the causes of his doing and suffering in the world, takes the next way to be guilty of that transgression that is not to be purged with sacrifice for ever; that fearful transgression for which is left no offering at all, nor anything to be expected by the person transgressing but fearful judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversary.
Now, for their sakes that have not sinned this sin, for their sakes that are in danger thereof, but yet not overcome, for their sakes have I written this little book, wherein is largely, and yet with few words, discovered the doctrine of the person, and doings, and sufferings of Christ, with the true cause thereof, also a removal of those objections that the crafty children of darkness have framed against the same.
And I have been the more plain and simple in my writing, because the sin against the Holy Ghost is in these days more common than formerly, and the way unto it more beautified with colour and pretence of truth. I may say of the way to this sin, it is, as was once the way to Jerusalem, strewed with boughs and branches; and by some there is cried a kind of hosanna to them that are treading these steps to hell. O the plausible pretences, the golden names, the feigned holiness, the demure behaviours, mixed with damnable hypocrisy, that attend the persons that have forsaken the Lord Jesus, that have despised his person, trampled upon him, and counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing! They have crucified him to themselves, and think that they can go to heaven without him; yea, pretend they love him, when they hate him; pretend they have him, when they have cast him off; pretend they trust in him, when they bid defiance to his undertakings for the world.
Reader, let me beseech thee to hear me patiently; read, and consider, and judge. I have presented thee with that which I have received from God; and the holy men of God, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, do bear me witness. Thou wilt say, All pretend to this. Well, but give me the hearing, take me to the Bible, and let me find in thy heart no favour if thou find me to swerve from the standard.
I say again, receive my doctrine; I beseech thee, in Christ’s stead, receive it; I know it to be the way of salvation. I have ventured my own soul thereon with gladness; and if all the souls in the world were mine, as mine own soul is, I would, through God’s grace, venture every one of them there. I have not writ at a venture, nor borrowed my doctrine from libraries. I depend upon the sayings of no man. I found it in the Scriptures of truth, among the true sayings of God.
I have done, when I have exhorted thee to pray, and give heed to the words of God as revealed in the Holy Writ. The Lord Jesus Christ himself give thee light and life by faith in him; to whom, with the Father and the good Spirit of grace, be glory and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
LIGHT FOR THEM THAT SIT IN DARKNESS.
‘OF THIS MAN’S SEED HATH GOD, ACCORDING TO HIS PROMISE, RAISED UNTO ISRAEL A SAVIOUR, JESUS.’—ACTS 13:23.
These words are part of a sermon which Paul preached to the people that lived at Antioch in Pisidia, where also inhabited many of the Jews. The preparation to his discourse he thus begins— ‘Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience’ (v 16); by which having prepared their minds to attend, he proceeds and gives a particular relation of God’s peculiar dealings with his people Israel, from Egypt to the time of David their king, of whom he treateth particularly—
That he was the son of Jesse, that he was a king, that God raised him up in mercy, that God gave testimony of him, that he was a man after God’s own heart, that he should fulfil all his will (v 22).
And this he did of purpose both to engage them the more to attend, and because they well knew that of the fruit of his loins God hath promised the Messiah should come.
Having thus therefore gathered up their minds to hearken, he presenteth them with his errand—to wit, that the Messiah was come, and that the promise was indeed fulfilled that a Saviour should be born to Israel— ‘Of this man’s seed,’ saith he, ‘hath God, according to his promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.’
In this assertion he concludeth—1. That the promise had kept its due course in presenting a Saviour to Israel—to wit, in David’s loins— ‘Of this man’s seed.’ 2. That the time of the promise was come, and the Saviour was revealed— ‘God hath raised unto Israel a Saviour.’ 3. That Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph, was he— ‘He hath raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.’
From these things we may inquire, for the explication of the words, First. What this Jesus is? Second. What it was for this Jesus to be of the seed of David? Third. What it was for Jesus to be of this man’s seed according to the promise? And, Fourth, what it was for him to be raised unto Israel? These things may give us light into what shall be spoken after.
Quest. First. What this Jesus is?
He is God, and had personal being from before all worlds; therefore not such an one as took being when he was formed in the world; he is God’s natural Son, the Eternal Son of his begetting and love— ‘God sent forth his Son.’ He was, and was his Son, before he was revealed— ‘What is his name, and what is his Son’s name, if thou canst tell?’ (Prov 30:4; Eze 21:10). He hath an eternal generation, such as none can declare, not man, not angel (Isa 53:8). He was the delight of his Father before he had made either mountain or hill. While as yet he had not made the earth or the fields, or the highest part of the dust of the world, all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made, and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. It is he with whom the Father consulted when he was about to make man, when he intended to overthrow Babel, and when he sent Isaiah to harden the hearts of Israel (Prov 8:26; John 1:3; Heb 1:2,3; Col 1:17; Gen 1:26, 11:7; Isa 6:8). This is the person intended in the text. Hence also he testifies of himself that he came down from the Father; that he had glory with him before the world was. And ‘what and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?’ (John 6:62, 16:28, 17:5).
Quest. Second. What was it for Jesus to be of David’s seed?
To be of David’s seed is to spring from his loins, to come of his race according to the flesh; and therefore as he is David’s God, so likewise is he David’s Son; the root and also the offspring of David. And this the Lord himself acknowledgeth, saying, ‘I am the root,’ or God, ‘and the offspring,’ and Son, ‘of David, and the bright and morning star’ (Rev 22:16). This is indeed the great mystery, the mystery of godliness. ‘If David then call him Lord, how is he his Son?’ (Matt 22:45; Luke 2:4; Rom 1:3; 2 Tim 2:8). And hence it is that he is said to be ‘wonderful,’ because he is both God and man in one person— ‘Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful’ (Isa 9:6). Wonderful indeed! Wonderful God, Wonderful man, Wonderful God-man, and so a Wonderful Jesus and Saviour. He also hath wonderful love, bore wonderful sorrows for our wonderful sins, and obtained for HIS a wonderful salvation.
Quest. Third. What was it for Jesus to be of this man’s seed according to the promise?
This word ‘promise’ doth sometimes comprehend all the promises which God made to our fathers, from the first promise to the last, and so the Holy Ghost doth call them— ‘The promise made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children’ (Acts 13:32,33). But the word ‘promise’ here doth in special intend that which God made to David himself— ‘Men and brethren,’ said Peter, ‘let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ,’ &c. (Acts 2:29,30).
Quest. Fourth. What was it for Jesus to be raised thus up of God to Israel?
Here we have two things to consider of—1. Who Israel is. 2. What it was for Jesus to be raised up unto them.
1. Who Israel is. By ‘Israel’ sometimes we should understand the whole stock of Jacob, the natural children of his flesh; for that name they have of him, for he obtained it when he wrestled with the angel, and prevailed, and it remained with his seed in their generations (Gen 32). By ‘Israel’ we are to understand all those that God hath promised to Christ— ‘The children of the promise are counted for the seed,’ the elect Jews and Gentiles. These are called ‘the Israel of God,’ and the seed of Abraham, whom Jesus in special regarded in his undertaking the work of man’s redemption (Rom 9:8; Gal 6:16; Heb 2:14-16).
2. What it was for Jesus to be raised up unto them. This word ‘raised up’ is diversely taken in the Scripture. (1.) It is taken for ‘sending’; as when he saith he raised them up judges, saviours, and prophets, he means he sent them such, and thus he raised up Jesus—that is, ‘he sent him’ (Judg 2:16,18, 3:9,15; Amos 2:11). ‘I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment’ (John 12:49). (2.) To be raised up, intimateth one invested with power and authority. Thus he raised up David to be the king of Israel, he anointed him and invested him with kingly power (1 Sam 16:13; Acts 13:22). And thus was Jesus Christ raised up. Hence he is called ‘the horn of salvation’— ‘He hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David’ (Luke 1:69). (3.) To be raised up, intimateth quickening and strengthening, to oppose and overcome all opposition. Thus was Jesus raised up from under sin, death, the rage of the world, and hell, that day that God raised him out of the grave.
Thus, therefore, was Jesus raised up to Israel—that is, he was sent, authorized, and strengthened to, and in the work of, their salvation, to the completing of it.
The words thus opened do lay before us these two observations—FIRST. That in all ages God gave his people a promise, and so ground for a believing remembrance, that he would one day send them a Saviour. SECOND. That when Jesus was come into the world, then was that promise of God fulfilled.
To begin with the first, THAT IN ALL AGES GOD GAVE HIS PEOPLE A PROMISE, AND SO GROUND FOR A BELIEVING REMEMBRANCE, THAT HE WOULD ONE DAY SEND THEM A SAVIOUR.
This Zacharias testifies when he was filled with the Holy Ghost; for, speaking of the Messiah or the Saviour, he saith that God spake of him by the mouth of all the prophets which have been since the world began; to which I will add that of Peter, ‘Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel, and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days’ (Luke 1:69,70; Acts 3:24).
From these texts it is evident that in every generation or age of the world God did give his people a promise, and so ground for a believing remembrance, that he would one day send them a Saviour; for indeed the promise is not only a ground for a remembrance, but for a believing remembrance. What God saith is sufficient ground for faith, because he is truth, and cannot lie or repent. But that is not all; his heart was engaged, yea, all his heart, in the promise which he spoke of sending us a Saviour.
From this observation I shall make inquiry into these three things—FIRST. What it is to be a Saviour. SECOND. How it appears that God in all ages gave his people a promise that he would one day send them a Saviour. THIRD. That this was ground for believing remembrance that a Saviour should one day come.
FIRST. What it is to be a Saviour.
First. This word ‘Saviour’ is easy to be understood, it being all one with Deliverer, Redeemer, &c. ‘A Saviour, Jesus,’ both words are of the same signification, and are doubled, perhaps to teach us that the person mentioned in the text is not called ‘Jesus’ only to distinguish him from other men—for names are given to distinguish—but also and especially to specify his office; his name is Saviour, because it was to be his work, his office, his business in the world. His name shall be called Jesus, ‘for he shall save his people from their sins’ (Matt 1:21).
Second. This word ‘Saviour’ is a word so large that it hath place in all the undertakings of Christ: for whatever he doth in his mediation he doth as a Saviour. He interposeth between God and man as a Saviour; he engageth against sin, the devil, death, and hell, as a Saviour, and triumphed over them by himself as a Saviour.
Third. The word ‘Saviour,’ as I said, is all one with Redeemer, Deliverer, Reconciler, Peace-maker, or the like; for though there be variation in the terms, yet Saviour is the intendment of them all. By redeeming he becomes a Saviour, by delivering he becomes a Saviour, by reconciling he becomes a Saviour, and by making peace he becometh a Saviour. But I pass this now, intending to speak more to the same question afterwards.
SECOND. How it appears that God in all ages gave his people a promise that he would one day send them a Saviour.
It appears evidently; for so soon as man had sinned, God came to him with a heart full of promise, and continued to renew, and renew, till the time of the promised Messiah to be revealed was come.
[First.] He promised him under the name of ‘the seed of the women,’ after our first father had sinned— ‘I will also put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel’ (Gen 3:15). This the apostle hath his eye upon when he saith, ‘When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law’ (Gal 4:4,5).
Second. God renewed this promise to Abraham, and there tells him Christ should be his seed, saying, ‘In thy seed shall all families of the earth be blessed’ (Gen 12:3). ‘Now,’ saith Paul, ‘to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ’ (Gal 3:16).
Third. He was promised in the time of Moses under the name of a ‘prophet’— ‘I will raise them up,’ saith God to him, ‘a prophet from among their brethren like unto thee’ (Deut 18:18). This Peter expounds of Christ, ‘For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you’ (Acts 3:22).
Fourth. He promised him to David under the title of a ‘son,’ saying, ‘I will be his Father, and he shall be my Son’ (2 Sam 7:14). For this the apostle expounded of the Saviour, saying, ‘Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee’; and again, ‘I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son’ (Heb 1:5).
Fifth. He was promised in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah—
1. By the name of a ‘branch’— ‘In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious’ (Isa 4:2).
2. Under the name of the ‘son of a virgin’— ‘Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’ This Matthew expounds of Christ (Isa 7:14; Matt 1:23).
3. He was promised under the name of a ‘rod’— ‘There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots, and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him.’ This answereth the text, David was the son of Jesse, and Christ the Son of David (Isa 11:1,2).
4. He is promised under the title of a ‘king’— ‘Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, - and a man shall be as an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land’ (Isa 32:1,2).
5. He was promised under the name of an ‘elect servant’— ‘Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench’ (Isa 42:1-3; Matt 12:17-20).
6. He was promised to Jeremiah under the name of ‘the Lord our Righteousness’— ‘Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper; and shall execute judgment - in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ (Jer 23:5,6).
7. He was promised by the prophet Ezekiel under the name of ‘David, a shepherd’— ‘And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it’ (Eze 24:23; John 10:1-3).
8. He was promised by the prophet Daniel under the name of ‘Messiah, or Christ, the most holy’— ‘And after threescore and two weeks shall the Messiah be cut off, but not for himself’ (Dan 9:26).
9. He was promised by the prophet Micah under the name of the ‘ruler in Israel’— ‘But thou, Bethlehem-Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come - that is to be ruler in Israel’ (Micah 5:2; Matt 2:6).
10. He was promised to Haggai as ‘the desire of all nations’— ‘I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts’ (Hagg 2:7).
11. He was promised by Zechariah under the name of ‘servant and branch’— ‘For, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.’ And again, ‘Behold the man whose name is the BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory’ (Zech 3:8, 6:12,13).
12. He was promised by Malachi under the name of ‘the Lord, and the messenger of the covenant’— ‘Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts’ (Mal 3:1).
Indeed, the Scriptures of the Old Testament are filled with promises of the Messias to come, prophetical promises, typical promises; for all the types and shadows of the Saviour are virtually so many promises.
Sixth. Having therefore touched upon the prophetical, I will briefly touch the typical promises also; for as God spake at sundry times to the fathers, so also in diverse manners, prophetically, providentially, typically, and all of the Messias (Heb 1:1). The types of the Saviour were various—1. Sometimes he was typed out by men; 2. Sometimes by beasts; 3. Sometimes by insensible creatures.
1. He was typed forth sometimes by men. Adam was his type in many things, especially as he was the head and father of the first world. He was ‘the figure of him that was to come’ (Rom 5:14). Moses was his type as Mediator, and as builder of the tabernacle (Heb 3:2,3). Aaron was his type as he was high-priest, and so was Melchisedec before him (Heb 5:4,5, 7:1,21). Samson was his type in the effects of his death; for as Samson gave his life for the deliverance of Israel from the Philistines, Christ gave his life to deliver us from sin and devils. Joshua was his type in giving the land of Canaan to Israel, as Jesus will give the kingdom of heaven to the elect (Heb 4:8). David was his type in many things, especially in his subduing of Israel’s enemies, and feeding them [Israel]: hence he is sometimes called David their king, and David their shepherd (Eze 34:23,24). Solomon was his type in his building the temple, and in his peaceable kingdom. Hence it is said, ‘He shall build the temple of the Lord’; and again, ‘Of his government and peace there shall be no end.’
2. Beasts were his types. To instance some—
(1.) The paschal lamb was his type (Exo 12). In its spotlessness; Christ was ‘a lamb without blemish and without spot’ (1 Peter 1:18,19). In its being roasted it was a figure of the cursed death of Christ; for to be roasted bespake one accursed (Jer 29:22; Gal 3:13). In that it was to be eaten— ‘Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood,’ saith Christ, ‘hath eternal life’ (John 6:54). In that its blood was to be sprinkled upon the doors of their houses, for the destroying angel to look on; the blood of Christ is sprinkled upon the elect for the justice of God to look on (Heb 9; 1 Peter 1:2). By eating the paschal lamb, the people went out of Egypt; by feeding upon Christ by faith we come from under the Egyptian darkness, tyranny of Satan, &c.
(2.) The red cow was his type (Num 19:2, &c.). In that she was to be without blemish. In that she was to be slain without the camp— ‘Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate’ (Heb 13:12). In that her flesh was to be burnt; a type of the grievous death of Christ. Her ashes were to be carried into a clean place without the camp; a type of the clean sepulchre where the body of Jesus was laid (John 19:38-41).
There were also divers other sacrifices, as bulls, goats, and birds, which were types of him, which I here omit.
3. Insensible creatures were his types. As,
(1.) The man in the wilderness (Exo 16). And that as it came down from heaven, for so did Christ— ‘I came down from heaven,’ saith he; and again, ‘I am the living bread which came down from heaven’ (John 6:51). The manna was to be eaten; so is Christ by faith— ‘If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world’ (John 6:51). The manna was to be gathered daily; so is Christ to be daily eaten. The manna was all the bread that Israel had in the wilderness; Christ is all the bread that believers have in this life for their souls. The manna came not by Moses’ law, neither comes Christ by our merits— ‘Moses gave you not that bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven’ (John 6:32).
(2.) Again; the rock that gave them out water for their thirst was a type of him (Num 20). They ‘did all drink the same spiritual drink, for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ’ (1 Cor 10:4). This rock was his type in four things—
(a.) It gave drink to the people in the wilderness when they were come out of Egypt; Christ gives drink to them that forsake the world for him. (b.) The rock yielded water by being smitten by Moses’ rod; Christ giveth drink, even his blood, by being stricken by Moses’ law (Num 20:11; Isa 53). (c.) The water out of this rock was given to the thirsty— ‘I will give unto him that is athirst,’ saith Christ, ‘of the fountain of the water of life freely’ (Rev 21:6). (d.) The water of the rock in the wilderness ran after the people; they drank of that rock that followed them— ‘He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out, they ran in the dry places like a river’ (Psa 110:41). Christ also is said by that type to follow us— ‘They drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ’ (1 Cor 10:4).
(3.) Again, the mount Moriah was his type. That mount stood in Jerusalem; Christ also stands in his church. Upon that rock was built the temple (2 Chron 3:1)— ‘And upon this rock,’ said Christ, ‘I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ (Matt 16:18).
Other things might be urged, but these being virtually of the force of the promises, and also as a key to open them, therefore I thought good to place them here with the promises; because, as they are standing with them, so they are written to beget faith in the same Lord Jesus Christ.
THIRD. I come now to the third thing—to wit, That these promises were ground for a believing remembrance that a Saviour should one day come.
There is a remembering, and a believing remembering, or such a remembering that begetteth and maintaineth faith in the heart. Jacob had a believing remembrance when he said, ‘I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord’ (Gen 49:18). And so had David when he cried, ‘O that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion’ (Psa 53:6). These, with Simeon and Anna, had not a remembrance only, but a believing remembrance that God would send them a Saviour. They had the promise not in the book only, but in their hearts; this gospel was mixed in them with faith; therefore they with their fellows remembered and believed, or made the promise the ground of their believing that God would one day send them a Saviour.
Let me make some
Use of this Doctrine.
Here we may see how much the heart of God was set upon the salvation of sinners—he studied it, contrived it, set his heart on it, and promised, and promised, and promised to complete it, by sending one day his Son for a Saviour (2 Same 14:14; Eph 1:3; Titus 1:2). No marvel, therefore, if when he treateth of the new covenant, in which the Lord Jesus is wrapped, and presented in a word of promise to the world, that he saith, I will do it ‘assuredly with my whole heart, and with my whole soul’ (Jer 32:41).
Now this is of singular comfort to sensible sinners; yea, what greater ground of consolation to such than to hear that the God against whom they have sinned should himself take care to provide them a Saviour. There are some poor sinners in the world that have given such way to discouragement, from the sense of the greatness of their sins, that they dare not think upon God, nor the sins which they have committed; but the reason is, because they are ignorant that God’s heart was wrapt up in this good work of providing and sending a Saviour. Let such hearken now to the call of God— ‘Return unto me, for I have redeemed thee’ (Isa 44:22). Ho! turn again, hearken; the heart of God is much set upon mercy; from the beginning of the world he resolved and promised, aye, and sware we should have a Saviour.
I now proceed to the second observation—THAT WHEN JESUS WAS COME INTO THE WORLD, THEN WAS THE PROMISE OF GOD FULFILLED—namely, THAT HE WOULD ONE DAY SEND US A SAVIOUR.
Take three texts for the confirmation of this point—1. ‘This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world’ (John 6:14). These words were spoken of them that were present at that miracle of Jesus, when he fed five thousand with five barley loaves, which a lad had about him in the company; for these men, when they had seen the marvel, being amazed at it, made confession of him to be the Saviour. 2. ‘Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world’ (John 11:27). 3. ‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ (1 Tim 1:15).
For the explaining of this observation I will briefly handle three questions—FIRST. How this Jesus is to be distinguished from others of that name. SECOND. What it was for this Jesus to come into the world. THIRD. What it was for him to come to be a Saviour.
[HOW THIS JESUS IS TO BE DISTINGUISHED FROM OTHERS.]
QUEST. FIRST. For the first, the Jesus in the text is distinguished from all others of that name.
First. By the manner of his birth; he was born of a virgin, a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph; but he ‘knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born son, and he called his name JESUS’ (Matt 1:25).
Second. He is distinguished from others of that name by the place of his birth—to wit, Bethlehem, the city of David; there he must be born, there he was born (John 7:42; Matt 2:4-6).
Third. He is distinguished by his lineage—he came ‘of the house and lineage of David’ (Luke 2:4-6).
Fourth. He is distinguished by the time of his birth—to wit, the time of the prophets prefixed (Gal 4:4).
Fifth. But his common distinction is Jesus of Nazareth; by this name he is distinguished one and twenty times in the New Testament—1. His enemies called him ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ (Matt 26:71; Mark 14:67; John 18:5). 2. His disciples called him ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ (Matt 21:11; Luke 24:19; John 1:45; Acts 2:22). 3. The angels called him ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ (Mark 16:6). 4. And he calleth himself ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ (Acts 22:8). 5. Yea, and he goeth also by the name of ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ among the devils (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34).
He was called ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ because he dwelt there with his mother Mary and her husband. Nazareth was his city, where he had been brought up, whither for shelter Joseph carried him when he came out of Egypt with him; in Nazareth was his common abode until the time that John was cast into prison; wherefore he might well say, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth’ (Luke 4:16; Matt 2:23, 4:12,13). Yea, though he was now in heaven, for heaven shall not make us forget what countrymen we were when we lived in the world. Jesus, you see here, though glorified in heaven, yet forgets not what countryman he was when he dwelt in the world. ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth,’ saith he; I am the Jesus that thou persecutest; and that thou mayest know I am he, I tell thee I dwelt once in the city of Nazareth in Galilee; Joseph and my mother Mary brought me up there, and there I dwelt with them many years. ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest’ (Acts 22:8).
[WHAT IT WAS FOR JESUS TO COME INTO THE WORLD.]
QUEST. SECOND. What it was for Jesus to come into the world.
Answ. Not his coming in, or by his Spirit in his people; for so he was never out of the world. Neither is it his appearance in his ordinances. Nor that coming of his by which he destroyeth Antichrist. Nor his appearing in his dreadful providences or judgments. But by the coming of Jesus, according to the text, we are to understand that, or such a coming, whereby he was manifest to be God-man in one person; God in our flesh without us, or distinct in his own person by himself; such a coming by which he was manifested to be in all points like as men are, sin only excepted; such a coming wherein, or by which, the Son of God became also the Son of man.
[First.] For the further clearing of this, you find it expressly said, he was ‘born into the world’; Mary, ‘of whom was born Jesus.’ Now, when Jesus was born, it is said, ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews?’ Herod ‘demanded of them where Christ should be born’ (Matt 1:16, 2:1,2,4; Luke 1:35, 2:11).
Now, that this was fulfilled according to the very word of the text, without any juggle, evasion, or cunningly-devised fable, consider—
1. He is called the first-born of this woman; the male child that opened her womb (Luke 2:7,23).
2. He was not born till nourished in her womb the full time, according to the time of life: ‘And so it was, that while they were there [at Bethlehem], the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling-clothes, and laid him in a manger’ (Luke 2:6,7).
3. She also continued in her separation at the birth of Jesus, as other women at the birth of their children, until ‘the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished’ (Luke 2:22).
4. Himself also, as other Hebrew children, was brought to Jerusalem to present him unto the Lord— ‘As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’ (Luke 2:23,24).
5. Thus Jesus also, as other Hebrew children, when the set day was come, was circumcised— ‘And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb’ (Luke 2:21).
6. After this he is often called the young child, the child Jesus; and further, it is said of him, that he grew, that he increased in wisdom and stature (Matt 2:20,21; Luke 2:40,52).
Behold with what diligence, even to a circumstance, the Holy Ghost sets forth the birth of the Lord Jesus, and all to convince the incredulous world of the true manner of the coming of the Saviour into the world.
Second. The reality of the manhood of this Lord Jesus is yet further manifest, and that, 1. By those natural infirmities that attend human flesh; 2. By the names the prophets gave him in the days of the Old Testament and the New.
1. By those natural infirmities that attend human flesh. As, at his birth he could not go but as carried by his parents. He was sensible of hunger (Luke 4:2). He was sensible of thirst (John 19:28). He was sensible of weariness (John 4:6). He was nourished by sleep (Mark 4:38). He was subject to grief (Mark 3:5). He was subject to anger (Mark 3:5). He was subject to weep (John 11:35; Luke 19:41). He had joy as a man, and rejoiced (Matt 11:25; Luke 10:21). These things, I say, Jesus was subject to as a man, as the son of the Virgin.
2. The reality of his manhood is yet made manifest by the names the prophets gave him, both in the Old Testament and in the New. As,
(1.) He is called the ‘seed’—the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the seed of David, by which is meant he was to come of their children (Gen 3:15, 12, 22; Gal 3:16,17; Rom 1:3).
(2.) Therefore it is added (where mention is made of the fathers), ‘of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came.’ He was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and hence again he calleth himself the offspring of David; therefore, I say, he is said to be of their flesh, their loins, and is called their Son (Rom 1:3, 4:5; Acts 2:30; Rev 22:16).
(3.) He therefore is frequently called ‘a man, and the Son of man’— ‘Then shall you see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven.’ ‘When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him.’ ‘This man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.’ ‘Wherefore, it is necessary that this man have somewhat also to offer’ (Matt 25:31, 26:64; Heb 7:24, 8:3, 10:12).
(4.) What shall I say? He himself gave undeniable demonstration of all this when he said he ‘was dead’; when he called to Thomas to put his finger to, and behold his hands, to reach to him his hand and thrust it into his side, and bid him he should not be faithless, but believing. At another time, when he stood in the midst of the eleven, as they were troubled with the thoughts of unbelief, he said, ‘Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have’ (John 20:27; Luke 24:39).
Thus have I showed you what it was for Jesus to come into the world—namely, to be born of a woman, to take flesh, and to become God-man in one person. I come now to the third question; but before I speak particularly to that, I will produce further testimony that we find upon record concerning the truth of all this.
Particular testimonies that this coming of Jesus is his coming to save us.
The Testimony of Simeon.—Simeon the Just gives testimony of him: ‘And the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, - for mine eyes have seen thy salvation’ (Luke 2:25-32).
The Testimony of Anna.—Anna, a prophetess, one ‘of a great age, - which departed not from the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers night and day. And she, coming in at that instant, gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem’ (Luke 2:36-38).
The Testimony of John Baptist.—John Baptist, as he fulfilled his ministry, he cried concerning this Jesus, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. - And he,’ saith John, ‘that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining’ or abiding, ‘the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God’ (John 1:29-34).
The Testimony of the Star and Wise Men.—The star that appeared at his birth in the east, and that coasted through the heavens till it came over the place where the young child Jesus was, that star gave testimony that he was the Saviour. This star alarmed many, especially the wise men of the east, who were brought by it from afar to worship him: ‘And lo, the star which they saw in the east, went before them till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child, with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh’ (Matt 2:9-11).
The Testimony of the Angels.—1. To Mary herself— ‘And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, - and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured. - And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end’ (Luke 1:26-33). 2. The angels’ testimony to the shepherds, as they were feeding their flocks in the fields by night— ‘And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:9-11). 3. How the angels solemnized his birth among themselves— ‘And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men’ (vv 13,14).
The Testimony of God the Father.—1. When he was baptized— ‘And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and, lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’ (Matt 3:16,17). 2. The Father’s testimony of him at his transfiguration— ‘And he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.’ And there appeared Moses and Elias talking with him, and a cloud from heaven overshadowed them; at which the three disciples began to be afraid. Then ‘there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son, hear him’ (Luke 9:28-35). This is that testimony of God which Peter speaks of, saying, ‘We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount’ (2 Peter 1:16-18). 3. God gave testimony of him by signs and wonders— ‘Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father, that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.’ ‘God also bearing them witness,’ that preached salvation by Jesus, ‘both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will’ (John 14:10; Heb 2:4).
Concerning Jesus, how he put himself upon the test among his adversaries.
The Lord Jesus also putteth himself upon the test among his adversaries divers ways.
First. He urgeth the time of the appearing of the Messias to be come— ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel’ (Mark 1:15).
For this he had a threefold proof—1. The heathens had invaded and taken the land, according to that of Daniel (9:25,26). 2. The sceptre was departed from Judah, according to that of Jacob (Gen 49:10). To which also suited that prophecy: ‘Before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings’ (Isa 7:16). 3. The Roman emperor had not only subdued the nation, and put down the kingly race of the Jews, but had set up and established his own power over them. In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea; Herod was tetrarch of Galilee; Philip, tetrarch of Iturea; and Lysanias, tetrarch of Abilene; all heathens, and of Tiberius’ making.
Besides, the kingly race of Judah was at this time become so low by reason of the Roman oppression, that the chief of them were put to get their living by their own hands; even Joseph, the supposed father of Jesus, was then become a carpenter. Poor man! when Jesus was born, he was fain to thrust into a stable, for there was in the inn no room for such guests as they. The offering also which was brought unto God at the time when Jesus was presented unto the Lord, was two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons—a sacrifice allowed only for them that were poor, and could provide no bigger— ‘And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons, the one for the burnt-offering, and the other for a sin-offering’ (Lev 12:8). Besides, Jesus himself saith, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.’
Now, I say, all these things were so apparent to the Jews, that they could not object; they felt the Romans were come, they knew the sceptre was gone, they smarted under the Roman tyranny, and knew the kingly race of Judea was overthrown. How, then, could they object that the time was not come for Christ to be born?
Further, the people were generally convinced that the time was come, and therefore, saith the text, they were in expectation. ‘And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ or not’ (Luke 3:15). The unbiased people, observing the face of things, could do no other but look for the Messias. And hence it is that the Lord Jesus gives the Pharisees, those mortal enemies of his, such sore rebukes, saying, ‘O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky, but can ye not discern the signs of the times?’ The kingdom is lost, the heathens are come, and the sceptre is departed from Judah. ‘Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky, and of the earth, but how is it that ye do not discern this time?’ (Matt 16:3; Luke 12:56).
Second. He yet again puts himself upon the test by the miracles which he wrought before them— ‘Believe me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me, or else believe me for the very works’ sake’ (John 14:11). ‘For the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me’ (John 5:36.
This proof they could not withstand, but granted that he did many miracles, while they did nothing. ‘Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him, and the Romans shall come, and take away both our place and nation’ (John 11:47,48).
Yea, so did Jesus confound them, that by their own records and laws, by which they were to prove persons clean or unclean, they, in reading their lectures, did justify him, and overthrow themselves.
For instance, it was written in their law, ‘If he that hath an issue spit upon him that is clean,’ that spittle should make him unclean (Lev 15:8). Now Jesus, whom they counted most unclean, because he said he was the Son of God, as they thought, speaking blasphemy, he spits upon people, and makes them whole. He spat, and made clay with the spittle, and with that clay made a blind man see (John 9:6). Also he spat on the eyes of another, and made him see (Mark 8:23-25). Again, he spat, and with his spittle touched the tongue of one that was dumb, and made him speak immediately (Mark 7:33-35). Thus he proved himself clear of their accusations, and maintained before them that by their law he was guiltless, and the Son of God; for the miracles which he wrought were to prove him so to be.
Again, in their law it was written that whoso toucheth the altar of incense should be holy (Exo 29:37). A woman with a bloody issue touched him, and is whole of her plague (Mark 5:28). Yea, they brought to him many diseased persons, ‘and besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment; and as many as touched were made perfectly whole’ (Matt 14:36).
Thus was he justified before them out of their own law, and had his glory manifest before their faces, to their everlasting confusion and contempt.
Indeed, the Jews did make one objection against Jesus Christ that seemed to them to have weight in it, and that was, because he first began to appear and manifest his glory in Cana of Galilee. At this, I say, they stumbled. It was their sore temptation; for still, as some affirmed him to be the Christ, others as fast objected, ‘Shall Christ come out of Galilee?’ ‘Art thou also of Galilee? Search and look; for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet’ (John 2:1,11, 7:40-42,52).
But this their stumble might arise either from the cruelty of Herod, or from their own not observing and keeping mind the alarm that God gave them at his birth.
1. It might arise or be occasioned through the cruelty of Herod; for Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the city where David dwelt. But when Herod sent out to kill him, and for his sake killed all the young children in Bethlehem, then was Joseph warned by an angel of God to take the young child and his mother, and fly into Egypt, and so he did, and was there till the death of Herod (Matt 2:1,13,16). After this, the angel comes to them in Egypt, and bids them take the young child, and return into the land of Israel; wherefore they arose and went. But hearing that Herod’s son, that tyrant, ruled in the room of his father, they were afraid to go to Bethlehem, but turned aside into the parts of Galilee, where they remained till the time of his showing to Israel (Matt 2:19-23).
2. This stumble of theirs might arise from their not observing and keeping in mind the alarm that God gave them of his birth. (1.) God began to give them the alarm at the birth of John the Baptist, where was asserted that he was to go before the face of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare his ways. ‘And fear came on all that dwelt round about them, and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judea’ (Luke 1:65). (2.) Again, what a continuation of this alarm was there also at the birth of Jesus, which was about three months after John Baptist was born? Now come the angels from heaven. Now comes a strange star over the country to lead the men of the east to the stable where Jesus was born; now was Herod, the priests, the scribes, and also the city of Jerusalem, awakened and sore troubled; for it was noised by the wise men that Christ the King and Saviour was born. Besides the shepherds, Simeon and Anna gave notice of him to the people. They should, therefore, have retained the memory of these things, and have followed God in all his dark providences, until his Sun of Righteousness should arise among them with healing under his wings.
3. I may add another cause of their stumble—they did not understand the prophecies that went before of him. (1.) He was to come to them out of Egypt— ‘Out of Egypt have I called my Son’ (Matt 2:15; Hosea 11:1). (2.) He turned aside into Cana of Galilee, and dwelt in the city of Nazareth, ‘that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene’ (Matt 2:23). (3.) That saying also was to be fulfilled, ‘The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light, and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up’ (Matt 4:15,16; Isa 9:2, 42:7).
At these things, then, they stumbled, and it was a great judgment of God upon them. Besides, there seemed to be a contradiction in the prophecies of the Scripture concerning his coming. He was to be born in Bethlehem, and yet to come out of Egypt. How should he be the Christ, and yet come out of Galilee, out of which ariseth no prophet? Thus they stumbled.
Hence note, that though the prophecies and promises be full and plain as these were, that he should be born in Bethlehem, yet men’s sins may cause them to be fulfilled in such obscurity, that instead of having benefit thereby, they may stumble and split their souls thereat. Take heed then; hunt not Christ from plain promises with Herod, hunt him not from Bethlehem, lest he appear to your amazement and destruction from Egypt, or in the land of Zabulon! But this much to the second question; to wit, What it was for Jesus to come into the world.
I come now to the third question.
[WHAT IT WAS FOR JESUS TO COME TO BE A SAVIOUR.]
QUEST. THIRD. What it was for him to come to be a Saviour.
For the further handling of this question I must show—First. What it is to be a Saviour. Second. What it is to come to be a Saviour. Third. What it is for Jesus to come to be a Saviour. To these three briefly—
First. What it is TO BE a Saviour. 1. A saviour supposeth some in misery, and himself one that is to deliver them. 2. A saviour is either such an one ministerially or meritoriously.
Ministerially is, when one person engageth or is engaged by virtue of respect or command from superiors, to go and obtain, by conquest or the king’s redemption, the captives, or persons grieved by the tyranny of an enemy. And thus were Moses and Joshua, and the judges and kings of Israel, saviours— ‘Thou deliveredst them into the hands of their enemies, who vexed them: and in the time of their trouble, when they cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and according to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hand of their enemies’ (Neh 9:27). Thus was Jesus Christ a Saviour; he was engaged by virtue of respect and command from God to obtain, by conquest and redemption, the captives or persons grieved. God sent his Son to be ‘the Saviour of the world’ (John 4:42).
Meritoriously is, when the person engaging shall, at his own proper cost and charge, give a sufficient value or price for those he redeemeth. Thus those under the law were redeemed by the money called the redemption-money— ‘And Moses gave the money of those that were redeemed unto Aaron and to his sons’ (Num 3:46-51). And thus was Jesus Christ a Saviour. He paid full price to Divine justice for sinners, even his own precious blood— ‘Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ’ (1 Peter 1:18,19).
And forasmuch as, in man’s redemption, the undertaker must have respect, not only to the paying of a price, but also to the getting of a victory; for there is not only justice to satisfy, but death, devil, hell, and the grave, to conquer; therefore hath he also by himself gotten the victory over these. He hath abolished death (2 Tim 1:10). He hath destroyed the devil (Heb 2:14,15). He hath been the destruction of the grave (Hosea 13:14). He hath gotten the keys of hell (Rev 1:18). And this, I say, he did by himself, at his own proper cost and charge, when he triumphed over them upon his cross (Col 2:14,15).
Second. What it is TO COME to be a Saviour.
1. To come to be one, supposeth one ordained and fore-prepared for that work— ‘Then said he, Lo, I come, a body hast thou prepared me’ (Heb 10).
2. To come to be a Saviour supposeth one commissionated or authorized to that work— ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me,’ authorized me, ‘to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent met to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised’ (Luke 4:18). And upon this account it is that he is so often called Christ, or the Anointed One; the anointed Jesus, or Jesus the Anointed Saviour. ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.’ ‘This Jesus whom I preach unto you is Christ.’ He ‘testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ,’ ‘and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving’ by the Scriptures ‘that this is very Christ’ (John 11:27; Acts 9:22, 17:3, 18:5); the very anointed of God, or he whom God authorized and qualified to be the Saviour of the world.
3. To come to be a Saviour supposeth a resolution to do that work before he goeth back— ‘I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction; repentance shall be hid from mine eyes’ (Hosea 13:14).
And as he resolved, so he hath done. He hath purged our sins (Heb 1:3). By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (Heb 10:14). He hath obtained eternal redemption for them (Heb 9:12; 2 Tim 1:10; Heb 9:26; Col 2:15; Heb 6:18-20).
Third. I come now to the third question—What it is for JESUS to come to be a Saviour.
1. It is the greatest discovery of man’s misery and inability to save himself therefrom that ever was made in the world. Must the Son of God himself come down from heaven? or can there be no salvation? Cannot one sinner save another? Cannot man by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him? Cannot an angel do it? Cannot all the angels do it? No; Christ must come and die to do it.
2. It is the greatest discovery of the love of God that ever the world had, for God so to love the world as to send his Son! For God so to commend his love to the world as to send it to them in the blood of his Son! Amazing love! (John 3:16; Rom 5:8).
3. It is the greatest discovery of the condescension of Christ that ever the world had, that he should not come ‘to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many’ (Matt 20:28). That he should be manifest for this purpose, ‘that he might destroy the works of the devil’ (1 John 3:8). That he should come that we ‘might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly’ (John 10:10). That the Son of God should ‘come to seek and to save that which was lost’ (Luke 19:10). That he should not come ‘to judge the world, but to save the world’ (John 12:47). That ‘Christ Jesus should come into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief’ (1 Tim 1:15). That he should ‘love us, and wash us from our sins in his own blood’ (Rev 1:5). What amazing condescension and humility is this! (Phil 2:6-9).
HOW JESUS CHRIST ADDRESSED HIMSELF TO THE WORK OF OUR REDEMPTION.
I come, then, in the next place, to show you how Jesus Christ addressed himself to the work of man’s redemption.
The Scripture saith, ‘he became poor,’ that he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, that he humbled himself unto death, even the death of the cross. But particularly, FIRST. He took upon him our flesh. SECOND. He was made under the law. THIRD. He took upon him our sins. FOURTH. He bore the curse due to our sins.
[HE TOOK UPON HIM OUR FLESH.]
FIRST. He took upon him our flesh. I showed you before that he came in our flesh, and now I must show you the reason of it—namely, because that was the way to address himself to the work of our redemption.
Wherefore, when the apostle treated of the incarnation of Christ, he added withal the reason—to wit, that he might be capable to work out the redemption of men.
There are three things to be considered in this first head. First. That he took our flesh for this reason—that he might be a Saviour. Second. How he took flesh, that he might be our Saviour. Third. That it was necessary that he should take our flesh, if indeed he will be our Saviour.
[He took our flesh, that he might be a Saviour.]
[First.] For the first. That he took our flesh for this reason—that he might be a Saviour: ‘For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh’ (Rom 8:3).
The sum of the words is, Forasmuch as the law could do us no good, by reason of the inability that is in our flesh to do it—for the law can do us no good until it be fulfilled—and because God had a desire that good should come to us, therefore did he send his Son in our likeness, clothed with flesh, to destroy, by his doing the law, the tendency of the sin that dwells in our flesh. He therefore took our flesh, that our sin, with its effects, might by him be condemned and overcome.
The reason, therefore, why he took flesh is, because he would be our Saviour— ‘Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage’ (Heb 2:14,15).
In these words it is asserted that he took our flesh for certain reasons.
1. Because the children, the heirs of heaven, are partakers of flesh and blood— ‘Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same.’ Had the children, the heirs, been without flesh, he himself had not taken it upon him; had the children been angels, he had taken upon him the nature of angels; but because the children were partakers of flesh, therefore leaving angels, or refusing to take hold of angels, he took flesh and blood, the nature of the children, that he might put himself into a capacity to save and deliver the children; therefore it follows, that ‘through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.’
2. This, therefore, was another reason—that he might destroy the devil.
The devil had bent himself against the children; he is their adversary, and goeth forth to make war with them— ‘Your adversary, the devil.—And he went to make war with the remnant of her seed’ (1 Peter 5:8; Rev 12:17). Now the children could not destroy him, because he had already cast them into sin, defiled their nature, and laid them under the wrath of God. Therefore Christ puts himself among the children, and into the nature of the children, that he might, by means of his dying in their flesh, destroy the devil—that is, take away sin, his [the devil’s] work, that he might destroy the works of the devil; for sin is the great engine of hell, by which he overthroweth all that perish. Now this did Christ destroy by taking on him the similitude of sinful flesh; of which more anon.
3. ‘That he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them.’ This was the thing in chief intended, that he might deliver the children, that he might deliver them from death, the fruit of their sin, and from sin, the sting of that death— ‘That he might deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.’
He took flesh, therefore, because the children had it; he took it that he might die for the children; he took it that he might deliver the children from the works of the devil— ‘that he might deliver them.’ No deliverance had come to the children if the Son of God had not taken their flesh and blood; therefore he took our flesh, that he might be our Saviour.
Again, in a Saviour there must be not only merit, but compassion and sympathy, because the children are yet to live by faith, are not yet come to the inheritance— ‘Wherefore it behoved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High-priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people’ (Heb 2:17,18).
Two reasons are rendered in this text why he must take flesh—namely, that he might be their priest to offer sacrifice, to wit, his body and blood for them; and that he might be merciful and faithful, to pity and preserve them unto the kingdom appointed for them.
Mark you, therefore, how the apostle, when he asserteth that the Lord Jesus took our flesh, urgeth the reason why he took our flesh—that he might destroy the devil and death, that he might deliver them. It behoveth him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be merciful and faithful, that he might make reconciliation for the sins of the people. The reason, therefore, why he took our flesh is declared—to wit, that he might be our Saviour. And hence you find it so often recorded. He hath ‘abolished in his flesh the enmity.’ He hath ‘slain the enmity’ by his flesh. ‘And you that were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable - in his sight’ (Eph 2:15,16; Col 1:21,22).
How he took flesh.
Second. I come now to the second question—to wit, How he took our flesh. This must be inquired into; for his taking flesh was not after the common way; never any took man’s flesh upon him as he, since the foundation of the world.
1. He took not our flesh like Adam, who was formed out of the ground; ‘who was made of the dust of the ground’ (Gen 2:7, 3:19). 2. He took not our flesh as we do, by carnal generation. Joseph knew not his wife, neither did Mary know any man, till she had brought forth her first-born son (Matt 1:25; Luke 1:34). 3. He took flesh, then, by the immediate working and overshadowing of the Holy Ghost. And hence it is said expressly, ‘She was found with child of the Holy Ghost.’ ‘Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost’ (Matt 1:18). And hence again, when Joseph doubted of her honesty, for he perceived she was with child, and knew he had not touched her, the angel of God himself comes down to resolve his doubt, and said, ‘Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost’ (Matt 1:20).
But again, though the Holy Ghost was that by which the child Jesus was formed in the womb, so as to be without carnal generation, yet was he not formed in her without, but by, her conception— ‘Behold, thou shalt conceive in they womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS’ (Luke 1:31). Wherefore he took flesh not only in, but of, the Virgin. Hence he is called her son, the seed of the woman; and hence it is also that he is called the seed of Abraham, the seed of David; their seed, according to the flesh (Gen 12, 13:15, 22; Luke 1:31, 2:7; Rom 1:3, 9:5; Gal 3:16, 4:4).
And this, the work he undertook, required, 1. It required that he should take our flesh. 2. It required that he should take our flesh without sin, which could not be had he taken it by reason of a carnal generation; for so all children are conceived in, and polluted with, sin (Psa 51). And the least pollution, either of flesh or spirit, had utterly disabled him for the work, which to do, he came down from heaven. Therefore, ‘such an High-priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens’ (Heb 7:26).
This mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God was thus completed, I say, that he might be in all points like as we are, yet without sin; for sin in the flesh disableth and maketh incapable to do the commandment. Therefore was he thus made, thus made of a woman; and this the angel assigneth as the reason of this his marvellous incarnation. ‘The Holy Ghost,’ saith he, ‘shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God’ (Luke 1:35).
The overshadowing of the Holy Ghost and the power of the Highest—the Father and the Holy Ghost—brought this wonderful thing to pass, for Jesus is a wonderful one in his conception and birth. This mystery is that next to the mystery of three persons in one God; it is a great mystery. ‘Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.’
The conclusion is, that Jesus Christ took our flesh that he might be our Saviour; and that he might be our Saviour indeed, he thus took our flesh.
That it was necessary that he should take our flesh if he will be our Saviour.
Third. I come now to the third thing—namely, that it was necessary that he should take our flesh if he will be our Saviour.
1. And that, first, from the nature of the work; his work was to save, to save man, sinking man, man that was ‘going down to the pit’ (Job 33:24). Now, he that will save him that is sinking must take hold on him. And since he was not to save a man, but men, therefore it was necessary that he should take hold, not of one person, but of the common nature, clothing himself with part of the same. He took not hold of angels, ‘but he took on him the seed of Abraham’ (Heb 2:16). For that flesh was the same with the whole lump of the children to whom the promise was made, and comprehended in it the body of them that shall be saved, even as in Adam was comprehended the whole world at first (Rom 5).
Hence we are said to be chosen in him, to be gathered, being in him, to be dead by him, to be risen with him, and to be set with him, or in him, in heavenly places already (Rom 7:4; Eph 1:4,10; Col 2:12,13, 3:1-3). This, then, was the wisdom of the great God, that the Eternal Son of his love should take hold of, and so secure the sinking souls of perishing sinners by assuming their flesh.
2. The manner of his doing the work of a Saviour did call for his taking of our flesh.
He must do the work by dying. ‘Ought not Christ to have suffered? Christ must needs have suffered,’ or else no glory follows (Luke 24:26; Acts 17:3). ‘The prophets testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow’ (1 Peter 1:11). Yea, they did it by the Spirit, even by the Spirit of Christ himself. This Spirit, then, did bid them tell the world, yea, testify, that Christ must suffer, or no man be blest with glory; for the threatening of death and the curse of the law lay in the way between heaven gates and the souls of the children, for their sins; wherefore he that will save them must answer Divine justice, or God must lie, in saving them without inflicting the punishment threatened. Christ, then, must needs have suffered; the manner of the work laid a necessity upon him to take our flesh upon him; he must die, he must die for us, he must die for our sins. And this was effectually foretold by all the bloody sacrifices that were offered under the law—the blood of bulls, the blood of lambs, the blood of rams, the blood of calves, and the blood of goats and birds. These bloody sacrifices, what did they signify, what were they figures of, but of the bloody sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ? their blood being a shadow of his blood, and their flesh being a shadow of his flesh.
Therefore, when God declared that he took no pleasure in them, because they could not make the worshippers perfect as pertaining to the conscience, then comes Jesus Christ to offer his sinless body and soul for the sin of the people— ‘For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin. Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifices and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me; in burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God.’ Since burnt-offerings cannot do thy will, my body shall; since the blood of bulls and goats cannot do thy will, my blood shall. Then follows, By the will of God ‘we are sanctified, through the offering up of the body of Jesus Christ once for all’ (Heb 10:4-10).
3. The end of the work required that Christ, if he will be our Saviour, should take upon him our flesh.
The end of our salvation is, that we might enjoy God, and that he by us might be glorified for ever and ever.
(1.) That we might enjoy God. ‘I will dwell in them, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.’ This indwelling of God, and consequently our enjoyment of him, begins first in its eminency by his possessing our flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. Hence his name is called ‘Immanuel, God with us’; and ‘the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.’ The flesh of Christ is the tabernacle which the Lord pitched, according to that saying, ‘The tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God’ (Rev 21:3). Here God beginneth to discover his glory, and to be desirable to the sons of men.
God could not communicate himself to us, nor take us into the enjoyment of himself, but with respect to that flesh which his Son took of the Virgin, because sin stood betwixt. Now this flesh only was the holy lump, in this flesh God could dwell; and forasmuch as this flesh is the same with ours, and was taken up with intent that what was done in and by that, should be communicated to all the children; therefore through that doth God communicate of himself unto his people— ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself’ (2 Cor 5:19). And ‘I am the way,’ saith Christ, ‘no man cometh unto the Father but by me’ (John 14:6).
That passage to the Hebrews is greatly to our purpose. We have boldness, brethren, ‘to enter into the holiest,’ the place where God is, ‘by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh’ (Heb 10:19,20).
Wherefore by the flesh and blood of Christ we enter into the holiest; through the veil, saith he, that is to say, his flesh.
(2.) As the end of our salvation is that we might enjoy God, so also it is that he by us might be glorified for ever— ‘That God in all things might be glorified, through Jesus Christ our Lord.’
Here indeed will the mystery of his grace, wisdom, justice, power, holiness, and glory, inhabit eternal praise, while we that are counted worthy of the kingdom of God shall admire at the mystery, and see ourselves, without ourselves, even by the flesh and blood of Christ through faith therein, effectually and eternally saved. Oh, this will be the burden of our eternal joy—God loved us, and gave his Son for us; Christ loved us, and gave his flesh for our life, and his blood for our eternal redemption and salvation!
THAT CHRIST WAS MADE UNDER THE LAW.
SECOND. But, secondly CHRIST WAS MADE UNDER THE LAW— ‘When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law’ (Gal 4:4).
Of right, being found in flesh, he must needs be under the law, for that there is not any creature above or without law to God; but this is not to the point in hand. Christ was not therefore under the law because he was found in flesh, but he took flesh, and designedly put himself, or was made under the law; wherefore it is added, He was made under the law to ‘redeem,’ to redeem them that were under that law. Wherefore, here is a design, a heavenly contrivance and device on foot; Christ is made—that is, by design subjected—under the law, for the sake and upon the account of others, ‘to redeem them that were under the law.’
Made under the law—that is, put himself into the room of sinners, into the condition of sinners; made himself subject to the same pains and penalties we were obnoxious to. We were under the law, and it had dominion over us, bound us upon pain of eternal damnation to do completely all things written in the law. This condition Christ put himself into that ‘he might redeem’; for assuredly we had else perished.
The law had dominion over us, and since we had sinned, of right it pronounced the curse, and made all men subject to the wrath of God. Christ, therefore, did not only come into our flesh, but also into our condition, into the valley and shadow of death where we were, and where we are, as we are sinners. He that is under the law is under the edge of the axe. When David was to go to visit his brethren, and to save them from the hand of Goliath, he was to look how his brethren fared, and to ‘take their pledge’ (1 Sam 17:18). This is true of Jesus Christ when he came to save us from the hand of death and the law; he looked how his brethren fared, took to heart their deplorable condition, and put himself into the same plight—to wit, under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law.
I told you before that he came sinless into the world, that he had a miraculous conception, and wonderful birth; and here you see a reason for it, he was to be put, or made, under the law, ‘to redeem.’ He that will be made under the law to redeem, had need be sinless and spotless himself; for the law findeth fault with the least, and condemneth man for the first beginning of, sin.
Without this, then, there could not have been redemption, nor any the sons of God by adoption: no redemption, because the sentence of death had already passed upon all; no sons by adoption, because that is the effect of redemption. ‘God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.’ Christ, then, by being made under the law, hath recovered his from under the law, and obtained for them the privilege of the adoption of sons.
For, as I told you before, Christ stood a common person, presenting in himself the whole lump of the promised seed, or the children of the promise; wherefore he comes under the law for them, takes upon him to do what the law required of them, takes upon him to do it for them.
He began, therefore, at the first tittle of the law, and going in man’s flesh, for man, through the law, he becomes ‘the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.’ The END of the law—what is the end of the law but perfect and sinless obedience? that is the end of the law, both with respect to its nature, and the cause of its being imposed. God gave the law, that complete righteousness should by that be found upon men; but because sin was got into man’s flesh, therefore this righteousness, by us, could not be completed. Now comes Christ the Lord into the world, clothes himself with the children’s flesh, addresseth himself to the work of their redemption, is made under the law; and going through every part of the law without sin, he becometh ‘the end of the law for’ justifying ‘righteousness to every one that believeth’ (Rom 10:4). For he obeyed not the law for himself, he needed no obedience thereto; it was we that needed obedience, it was we that wanted to answer the law; we wanted it but could not obtain it, because then the law was weak through the flesh; therefore God sent his own Son, and he did our duty for us, even to become the end of the law to every one that believeth. In this, therefore, Christ laboured for us, he was made under the law to redeem. Therefore, as I said before, it behoved him to be sinless, because the law binds over to answer for sin at the bar of the judgment of God. Therefore did his Godhead assume our human flesh, in a clean and spotless way, that he might come under ‘the law, to redeem them that were under the law.’
For, consisting of two natures, and the personality lying in the Godhead, which gave value and worth to all things done for us by the manhood, the obedience takes denomination from thence, to be the obedience of God. The Son’s righteousness, the Son’s blood; the righteousness of God, the blood of God (Heb 5:8,9; Phil 3:9; Acts 20:28; 1 John 3:16).
Thus Jesus Christ came into the world under the law to redeem, not simply as God, but God-man, both natures making one Christ. The Godhead, therefore, did influence and give value to the human flesh of Christ in all its obedience to the law, else there would have been wanting that perfection of righteousness which only could answer the demands and expectation of the justice of God; to wit, perfect righteousness by flesh.
But the second Person in the Godhead, the Son, the Word, coming under the law for men in their flesh, and subjecting himself by that flesh to every tittle and demand of the law; all and every whit of what was acted and done by Jesus Christ, God-man, for us, it was and is the righteousness of God; and since it was not done for himself, but for us, as he saith in the text, ‘to redeem,’ the righteousness by which we are set free from the law is none other but the righteousness that alone resideth in the person of the Son of God.
And that it is absolutely necessary thus it should be, is evident, both with respect to God and also with respect to man.
With respect to God. The righteousness is demanded by God; therefore he that comes to redeem must present before God a righteousness absolutely perfect; this can be done by none but God.
With respect to man. Man was to present this righteousness to God; therefore must the undertaker be man. Man for man, and God for God, God-man between God and man. This daysman can lay his hand upon us both, and bring God and man together in peace (Job 9:33).
Quest. But some may say, what need of the righteousness of one that is naturally God? Had Adam, who was but a mere man, stood in his innocency, and done his duty, he had saved himself and all his posterity.
Answ. Had Adam stood, he had so long secured himself from the wages of sin, and posterity so long as they were in him. But had Adam sinned, yea, although he had not defiled his nature with filth, he could never after that have redeemed himself from the curse of the law, because he was not equal with God; for the curse of the law is the curse of God; but no man can deliver himself from the curse of God, having first transgressed. This is evident, because angels, for sin, lie bound in chains, and can never deliver themselves. He, therefore, that redeemeth man from under the law must not only do all the good that the law requireth, but bear all the penalty that is due by the law for sin.
Should an angel assume human flesh, and in that flesh do the law, this righteousness would not redeem a sinner; it would be but the righteousness of an angel, and so, far short of such a righteousness as can secure a sinner from the wrath of God. But ‘thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy soul, with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy strength.’ If there were no more required of us now to redeem ourselves, it would be utterly impossible for us to do it, because in the best there is sin, which will intermix itself with every duty of man. This being so, all the heart, all the soul, all the strength, and all the mind, to the exact requirement of the justice of the law, can never be found in a natural man.
Besides, for this work there is required a perfect memory, always to keep in mind the whole duty of man, the whole of every tittle of all the law, lest sin come in by forgetfulness; a perfect knowledge and judgment, lest sin come in by ignorance; an everlasting unweariedness in all, lest sin and continual temptation tire the soul, and cause it to fail before the whole be done.
For the accomplishing of this last, he must have—1. A perfect willingness, without the least thought to the contrary. 2. Such a hatred of sin as is not to be found but in the heart of God. 3. A full delight in every duty, and that in the midst of all temptations. 4. A continuing in all things to the well-pleasing of the justice of God.
I say, should the penalty of the law be taken off, should God forgive the penalty and punishment due to sins that are past, and only demand good works now, according to the tenor of the law, no man could be saved; there would not be found that heart, that soul, that mind, and that strength, anywhere in the world.
This, therefore, must cease for ever, unless the Son of God will put his shoulder to the work; but, blessed be God, he hath done it— ‘When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.’
CHRIST TOOK UPON HIM OUR SINS.
THIRD. But thirdly, CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR TAKES UPON HIM OUR SINS. This is another step to the work of our redemption. ‘He hath made him to be sin for us.’ Strange doctrine! A fool would think it blasphemy; but Truth hath said it. Truth, I say, hath said, not that he was made to sin, but that God made him to be sin— ‘He hath made him to be sin for us’ (2 Cor 5:21).
This, therefore, showeth us how effectually Christ Jesus undertook the work of our redemption—He was made to be sin for us. Sin is the great block and bar to our happiness; sin is the procurer of all miseries to men both here and for ever. Take away sin, and nothing can hurt us; for death temporal, death spiritual, and death eternal, are the wages of sin (Rom 6:23).
Sin, then, and man for sin, is the object of the wrath of God. If the object of the wrath of God, then is his case most dreadful; for who can bear, who can grapple with the wrath of God? Men cannot, angels cannot, the whole world cannot. All, therefore, must sink under sin, but he who is made to be sin for us; he only can bear sins, he only can bear them away, and therefore were they laid upon him— ‘The Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all’ (Isa 53:6).
Mark, therefore, and you shall find that the reason why God made him to be sin for us was, ‘that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.’ He took our flesh, he was made under the law, and was made to be sin for us, that the devil might be destroyed, that the captives might be redeemed, and made the righteousness of God in him.
And forasmuch as he saith that God ‘hath made him to be sin,’ it declareth that the design of God and the mystery of his will and grace was in it. ‘He hath made him to be sin.’ God hath done it, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. There was no other way; the wisdom of heaven could find no other way; we could not by other means stand just before the justice of God.
Now, what remains but that we who are reconciled to God by faith in his blood are quit, discharged, and set free from the law of sin and death? Yea, what encouragement to trust in him, when we read that God ‘made him to be sin for us.’
Quest. But how was Jesus Christ made of God to be sin for us?
Answ. Even so as if himself had committed all our sins; that is, they were as really charged upon him as if himself had been the actor and committer of them all. ‘He hath made him to be sin,’ not only as a sinner, but as sin itself. He was as the sin of the world that day he stood before God in our stead. Some, indeed, will not have Jesus Christ our Lord to be made sin for us; their wicked reasons think this to be wrong judgment in the Lord; it seems, supposing that because they cannot imagine how it should be, therefore God, if he does it, must do it at his peril, and must be charged with doing wrong judgment, and so things that become not his heavenly Majesty; but against this duncish sophistry we set Paul and Isaiah, the one telling us still, ‘the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all’; and the other, that ‘God made him to be sin for us.’
But these men, as I suppose, think it enough for Christ to die under that notion only, not knowing nor feeling the burden of sin, and the wrath of God due thereto. These make him as senseless in his dying, and as much without reason, as a silly sheep or goat, who also died for sin, but so as in name, in show, in shadow only. They felt not the proper weight, guilt, and judgment of God for sin. But thou, sinner, who art so in thine own eyes, and who feelest guilt in thine own conscience, know thou that Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God in flesh, was made to be sin for thee, or stood sensibly guilty of all thy sins before God, and bare them in his own body upon the cross.
God charged our sins upon Christ, and that in their guilt and burden, what remaineth but that the charge was real or feigned? If real, then he hath either perished under them, or carried them away from before God; if they were charged but feignedly, then did he but feignedly die for them, then shall we have but feigned benefit by his death, and but a feigned salvation at last—not to say how this cursed doctrine chargeth God and Christ with hypocrisy, the one in saying, He made Christ to be sin; the other in saying that he bare our sin; when, in deed and in truth, our guilt and burden never was really upon him.
Quest. But might not Christ die for our sins but he needs must bear their guilt or burden?
Answ. He that can sever sin and guilt, sin and the burden, each from other, laying sin and no guilt, sin and no burden on the person that dieth for sin, must do it only in his own imaginative head. No scripture, nor reason, nor sense, understandeth or feeleth sin when charged without its guilt and burden.
And here we must distinguish between sin charged and sin forgiven. Sin forgiven may be seen without guilt or burden, though I think not without shame in this world; but sin charged, and that by the justice of God—for so it was upon Christ—this cannot be but guilt and the burden, as inseparable companions, must unavoidably lie on that person. Poor sinner, be advised to take heed of such deluded preachers who, with their tongues smoother than oil, would rob thee of that excellent doctrine, ‘God hath made him to be sin for us’; for such, as I said, do not only present thee with a feigned deliverance and forgiveness, with a feigned heaven and happiness, but charge God and the Lord Jesus as mere impostors, who, while they tell us that Christ was made of God to be sin for us, affirm that it was not so really, suggesting this sophistical reason, ‘No wrong judgment comes from the Lord.’ I say again, this wicked doctrine is the next way to turn the gospel in thy thoughts to no more than a cunningly-devised fable (2 Peter 1:16), and to make Jesus Christ, in his dying for our sins, as brutish as the paschal lamb in Moses’ law.
Wherefore, distressed sinner, when thou findest it recorded in the Word of truth that Christ died for our sins, and that God hath made him to be sin for us, then do thou consider of sin as it is a transgression against the law of God, and that as such it procureth the judgment of God, torments and afflicts the mind with guilt, and bindeth over the soul to answer it. Sever not sin and guilt asunder, lest thou be an hypocrite like these wicked men, and rob Christ of his true sufferings. Besides, to see sin upon Christ, but not its guilt; to see sin upon Christ, but not the legal punishment, what is this but to conclude that either there is no guilt and punishment in sin, or that Christ bare our sin, but we the punishment? for the punishment must be borne, because the sentence is gone out from the mouth of God against sin.
Do thou therefore, as I have said, consider of sin as a transgression of the law (1 John 3:4), and a provoker of the justice of God; which done, turn thine eye to the cross, and behold those sins, in the guilt and punishment of them, sticking in the flesh of Christ. ‘God condemned sin in the flesh’ of Christ (Rom 8:3). He ‘bare our sins in his own body on the tree’ (1 Peter 2:24).
I would only give thee this caution—Not sin in the nature of sin—sin was not so in the flesh of Christ; but sin in the natural punishment of it—to wit, guilt, and the chastising hand of justice. ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed’ (Isa 53:5).
Look, then, upon Christ crucified to be as the sin of the world, as if he only had broken the law; which done, behold him perfectly innocent in himself, and so conclude that for the transgression of God’s people he was stricken; that when the Lord made him to be sin, he made him to be sin for us.
HE WAS MADE A CURSE FOR US.
FOURTH. As he was made flesh under the law, and also sin, SO HE WAS MADE A CURSE FOR US— ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; as it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.’ This sentence is taken out of Moses, being passed there upon them that for sin are worthy of death— ‘And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and thou hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in anywise bury him that day, for he that is hanged is accursed of God’ (Deut 21:22,23). By this sentence Paul concludeth that Jesus Christ was justly hanged, because sin worthy of death was upon him; sin, not of his own, but ours. Since, then, he took our sins, he must be cursed of God; for sin is sin wherever it lies, and justice is justice wherever it finds it; wherefore since Jesus Christ will bear our sin, he must be ‘numbered with the transgressors,’ and counted worthy to die the death.
He that committeth sin is worthy of death. This, though Christ did not personally do, his members, his body, which is his church did; and since he would undertake for them with God, and stand in their sins before the eyes of his justice, he must die the death by the law.
Sin and the curse cannot be severed. Sin must be followed with the curse of God. Sin therefore being removed from us to the back of Christ, thither goes also the curse; for if sin be found upon him, he is the person worthy to die—worthy by our sins.
Wherefore Paul here setteth forth Christ clothed with our sins, and so taking from us the guilt and punishment. What punishment, but the wrath and displeasure of God?— ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.’
In this word ‘curse’ are two things comprised,
1. The reality of sin; for there can be no curse where there is no sin, either of the person’s own, or made to be his by his own consent or the imputation of Divine justice. And since sins are made to be Christ’s by imputation, they are his, though not naturally, yet really, and consequently the wages due. He hath made him to be sin; he was made a curse for us.
2. This word ‘curse’ compriseth, therefore, the punishment of sin, that punishment properly due to sin from the hand of God’s justice, which punishment standeth in three things—(1.) In charging sin upon the body and soul of the person concerned; and hence we read that both the body and soul of Christ ‘were made an offering for sin’ (Isa 53:10; Heb 10:10). (2.) The punishment standeth in God’s inflicting of the just merits of sin upon him that standeth charged therewith, and that is death in its own nature and strength; to wit, death with the sting thereof— ‘The sting of death is sin.’ This death did Christ die because he died for our sins. (3.) The sorrows and pains of this death, therefore, must be undergone by Jesus Christ.
Now there are divers sorrows in death—such sorrows as brutes are subject to; such sorrows as persons are subject to that stand in sin before God; such sorrows as those undergo who are swallowed up of the curse and wrath of God for ever.
Now so much of all kinds of sorrow as the imputation of our sin could justly bring from the hand of Divine justice, so much of it he had. He had death. He had the sting of death, which is sin. He was forsaken of God; but could not by any means have those sorrows which they have that are everlastingly swallowed up of them. ‘It was not possible that he should be holden of it’ (Acts 2:24).
For where sin is charged and borne, there must of necessity follow the wrath and curse of God. Now where the wrath and curse of God is, there must of necessity follow the effects, the natural effects—I say, the natural effects—to wit, the sense, the sorrowful sense of the displeasure of an infinite Majesty, and his chastisements for the sin that hath provoked him. There are effects natural, and effects accidental; those accidental are such as flow from our weakness, whilst we wrestle with the judgment of God—to wit, hellish fear, despair, rage, blasphemy, and the like; these were not incident to Jesus Christ, he being in his own person every way perfect. Neither did he always endure the natural effects; his merits relieved and delivered him. God loosed the pains of death, ‘because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.’
Christ then was made a curse for us, for he did bear our sin; the punishment therefore from the revenging hand of God must needs fall upon him.
Wherefore by these four things we see how Christ became our Saviour—he took hold of our nature, was born under the law, was made to be sin, and the accursed of God for us. And observe it—all this, as I said before, was the handiwork of God. God made him flesh, made him under the law, God made him to be sin, and also a curse for us. The Lord bruised him, the Lord put him to grief, the Lord made his soul an offering for sin (Isa 53:10). Not for that he hated him, considering him in his own harmless, innocent, and blessed person, for he was daily his delight; but by an act of grace to us-ward, were our iniquities laid upon him, and he in our stead was bruised and chastised for them. God loved us, and made him a curse for us. He was made a curse for us, ‘that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through [faith in] Jesus Christ’ (Gal 3:14).
FURTHER DEMONSTRATION OF THIS TRUTH.
Before I pass this truth, I will present thee, courteous reader, with two or three demonstrations for its further confirmation.
First. That Christ did bear our sins and curse is clear, because he died, and that without a mediator.
He died— ‘The wages of sin is death’ (Rom 6:23). Now if death be the wages of sin, and that be true that Christ did die and not sin, either the course of justice is perverted, or else he died for our sins; there was ‘no cause of death in him,’ yet he died (Acts 13:28). He did no evil, guile was not found in his mouth, yet he received the wages of sin (1 Peter 2:22). Sin, therefore, though not of his own, was found upon him, and laid to his charge, because ‘he died.’ ‘Christ died for our sins,’ Christ ‘gave himself for our sins’ (1 Cor 15:1-3; Gal 1:4).
He, then, that will conclude that Christ did not bear our sin, chargeth God foolishly, for delivering him up to death; for laying on him the wages, when in no sense he deserved the same. Yea, he overthroweth the whole gospel, for that hangeth on this hinge— ‘Christ died for our sins.’
Object. But all that die do not bear the curse of God for sin.
Answ. But all that die without a mediator do. Angels died the cursed death because Christ took not hold of them; and they for whom Christ never prayeth, they die the cursed death, for they perish everlastingly in the unutterable torments of hell. Christ, too, died that death which is the proper wages of sin, for he had none to stand for him. ‘I looked,’ saith he, ‘and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me.—And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore his arm brought salvation unto him, and his righteousness it sustained him’ (Isa 63:5, 54:16).
Christ then died, or endured the wages of sin, and that without an intercessor, without one between God and him; he grappled immediately with the eternal justice of God, who inflicted on him death, the wages of sin; there was no man to hold off the hand of God; justice had his full blow at him, and made him a curse for sin. He died for sin without a mediator, he died the cursed death.
Second. A second thing that demonstrateth that Christ died the cursed death for sin; it is, the frame of spirit that he was in at the time that he was to be taken.
Never was poor mortal so beset with the apprehensions of approaching death, as was this Lord Jesus Christ; amazement beyond measure, sorrow that exceeded, seized upon his soul. ‘My soul,’ saith he, ‘is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.’ ‘And he began,’ saith Mark, ‘to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy’ (Matt 26:38; Mark 14:33).
Add to this, that Jesus Christ was better able to grapple with death, even better able to do it alone, than the whole world joined all together. 1. He was anointed with the Spirit without measure (John 3:34). 2. He had all grace perfect in him (John 1:16). 3. Never none so soaked in the bosom of his Father’s love as himself (Prov 8:23-30). 4. Never none so harmless and without sin as he was, and, consequently, never man had so good a conscience as he had (Heb 7:26). 5. Never none prepared such a stock of good works to bear him company at the hour of death as he. 6. Never none had greater assurance of being with the Father eternally in the heavens than he. And yet, behold, when he comes to die, how weak is he, how amazed at death, how heavy, how exceeding sorrowful! and, I say, no cause assigned but the approach of death.
Alas! how often is it seen that we poor sinners can laugh at destruction when it cometh; yea, and ‘rejoice exceedingly when we find the grave,’ looking upon death as a part of our portion; yea, as that which will be a means of our present relief and help (Job 3:22; 1 Cor 3:22). This Jesus Christ could not do, considered as dying for our sin, but the nearer death, the more heavy and oppressed with the thoughts of the revenging hand of God. Wherefore he falls into an agony, and sweats; not after the common rate as we do when death is severing body and soul— ‘His sweat was as it were great drops [clodders] of blood falling down to the ground’ (Luke 22:44).
What, I say, should be the reason, but that death assaulted him with his sting? If Jesus Christ had been to die for his virtues only, doubtless he would have borne it lightly, and so he did as he died, bearing witness to the truth, ‘He endured the cross, despising the shame’ (Heb 12:2). How have the martyrs despised death, and, as it were, not been careful of that, having peace with God by Jesus Christ, scorning the most cruel torments that hell and men could devise and invent! but Jesus Christ could not do so, as he was a sacrifice for sin; he died for sin, he was made a curse for us. O my brethren, Christ died many deaths at once, he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death. Look how many thousands shall be saved—so many deaths did Jesus die; yet it was but once he died. He died thy death, and my death, and so many deaths as all our sins deserved who shall be saved from the wrath to come.
Now, to feign that these sorrows and this bloody agony, was not real, but in show only, what greater condemnation can be passed upon Jesus Christ, who loved to do all things in the most unfeigned simplicity? It was, therefore, because of sin, the sin that was put into the death he died, and the curse of God that was due to sin, that made death so bitter to Jesus Christ— ‘It is Christ that died.’ The apostle speaks as if never any died but Christ, nor indeed did there, so wonderful a death as he (Rom 8:34). Death, considered simply as it is a deprivation of natural life, could not have these effects in a person, personally more righteous than an angel. Yea, even carnal, wicked men, not awakened in their conscience, how securely can they die! It must therefore also be concluded that the sorrows and agony of Jesus Christ came from a higher cause, even from the guilt of sin, and from the curse of God that was now approaching for that sin.
It cannot be attributed to the fear of men; their terror could not make him afraid; that was contrary to his doctrine, and did not become the dignity of his person; it was sin, sin, sin, and the curse due to sin.
Third. It is evident that Christ did bear and die the cursed death for sin, from the carriage and dispensations of God towards him.
1. From the carriage of God. God now becomes as an enemy to him. (1.) He forsakes him— ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ Yea, the sense of the loss of God’s comfortable presence abode with him even till he gave up the ghost. (2.) He dealeth with him as with one that hath sinned, he chastiseth him, he bruiseth him, he striketh and smiteth him, and was pleased—that is, his justice was satisfied—in so doing. ‘It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief’ (Isa 53:10).
These things could not be, had he only considered him in his own personal standing. Where was the righteous forsaken? Without the consideration of sin, he doth not willingly afflict nor grieve the children of men—that is, not out of pleasure, or without sufficient cause.
Jesus Christ, then, since he is under this withdrawing, chastising, bruising, and afflicting displeasure of God, he is all that time under sin, under our sins, and therefore thus accursed of God, his God.
2. Not only the carriage of God, but his dispensations, his visible dispensations, plainly declare that he stood before God in our sins. Vengeance suffered him not to live. Wherefore God delivered him up— ‘He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all’ (Rom 8:32). (1.) He delivered him into the hands of men (Mark 9:31). (2.) He was delivered into the hands of sinners (Luke 24:7). (3.) He was delivered unto death (Rom 4:25). (4.) Yea, so delivered up as that they both had him to put him to death, and God left him for that purpose in their hands; yea, was so far off from delivering him, that he gave way to all things that had a tendency to take his life from the earth.
Now many men do what they will with him, he was delivered to their will—Judas may sell him; Peter may deny him; all his disciples forsake him; the enemy apprehends him, binds him, they have him away like a thief to Caiaphas the high-priest, in whose house he is mocked, spit upon, his beard is twitched from his cheeks; now they buffet him and scornfully bow the knee before him; yea, ‘his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men’ (Isa 52:14).
Now he is sent to the governor, defaced with blows and blood; who delivereth him into the hand of his soldiers; they whip him, crown him with thorns, and stick the points of the thorns fast in his temples by a blow with a staff in their hand; now he is made a spectacle to the people, and then sent away to Herod, who, with his men of war, set him at nought, no God appearing for his help.
In fine, they at last condemn him to death, even to the death of the cross, where they hang him up by wounds made through his hands and his feet, between the earth and the heavens, where he hanged for the space of six hours—to wit, from nine in the morning till three in the afternoon. No God yet appears for his help; while he hangs there some rail at him, others wag their heads, others tauntingly say, ‘He saved others, himself he cannot save’; some divide his raiment, casting lots for his garments before his face; others mockingly bid him come down from the cross, and when he desireth succour, they give him vinegar to drink. No God yet appears for his help.
Now the earth quakes, the rocks are rent, the sun becomes black, and Jesus still cries out that he was forsaken of God; and presently boweth his head and dies (Matt 26, 27; Mark 14, 15; Luke 22, 23; John 18, 19).
And for all this there is no cause assigned from God but sin— ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed’ (Isa 53:5).
The sum then is, that Jesus Christ the Lord, by taking part of our flesh, became a public person, not doing or dying in a private capacity, but in the room and stead of sinners, whose sin deserved death and the curse of God; all which Jesus Christ bare in his own body upon the tree. I conclude, then, that my sin is already crucified and accursed in the death and curse Christ underwent.
[Objections to this doctrine.]
I come now to some objections.
Objection First. Christ never was a sinner, God never supposed him to be a sinner, neither did our sins become really his; God never reputed him so to have been; therefore hate or punish him as a sinner he could not; for no false judgment can belong to the Lord.
Answer.—First. That Christ was not a sinner personally, by acts or doings of his own, is granted; and in this sense it is true that God did never suppose him to be a sinner, nor punished him as such a sinner, nor did he really, if by really you understand naturally, become our sin, nor did God ever repute him so. Second. But that Christ stood before God in our sins, and that God did not only suppose him so to stand, but set him in them, put them upon him, and counted them as his own, is so true that he cannot at present be a Christian that denies it— ‘The Lord hath laid upon him the iniquities of us all’ (Isa 53:6; 1 Peter 2:22). Third. So, then, though God did not punish him for sin of his own committing, yet he punished him for sin of our committing— ‘The just suffered for the unjust’ (1 Peter 3:18). Fourth. Therefore it is true, that though Christ did never really become sin of his own, he did really become our sin, did really become our curse for sin. If this be denied, it follows that he became our sin but feignedly, that he was made our curse, or a curse for us but in appearance, show, or in dissimulation; but no such action or work can proceed of the Lord. He did then really lay our sin and his curse upon him for our sin.
Objection Second. But if Christ indeed hath suffered for our sins, and endured for them that curse that of justice is due thereto, then hath he also endured for us the proper torments of hell, for they are the wages of our sins.
Answer. Many things might be said in answer to this objection; but briefly—First. What God chargeth upon the soul for sin is one thing, and what followeth upon that charge is another. Second. A difference in the person suffering may make a difference in the consequences that follow upon the charge. Let us then consider of both these things.
First. The charge is sin—God charge him with our sins. The person then stands guilty before the judgment of God. The consequences are—1. The person charged sustains or suffereth the wrath of God. 2. This wrath of God is expressed and inflicted on body and soul.
The consequences are—God forsaketh the person charged, and being left, if he cannot stand, he falleth under the power of guilt and horror of the same.
If the person utterly fall under this charge, as not being able to wrestle with and overcome this wrath of God, then despair, horror of hell, rage, blasphemy, darkness, and damnable anguish, immediately swallow him up, and he lieth for ever and ever in the pains of hell, a monument of eternal vengeance.
Now that Christ underwent the wrath of God it is evident, because he bare our curse; that God forsook him, he did with strong crying and tears acknowledge; and therefore that he was under the soul-afflicting sense of the loss of God’s favour, and under the sense of his displeasure, must needs flow from the premises.
[Second.] But now, because Christ Jesus the Lord was a person infinitely differing from all others that fall under the wrath of God, therefore those things that flow from damned sinners could not flow from him.
1. Despair would not rise in his heart, for his flesh did rest in hope; and said, even when he suffered, ‘Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell’ (Acts 2:27).
2. The everlastingness of the punishment, therefore, nor the terrors that accompany such, could not fasten upon him; for he knew at last that God would justify him, or approve of his works that they were meritorious.
And mark, everlasting punishment is not the proper wages of sin but under a supposition that the person suffering be not able to pay the debt— ‘Thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite’ (Luke 12:59).
The difference, then, of the persons suffering may make a difference, though not in the nature of the punishment, yet in the duration and consequences of it.
Christ under the sentence was, as to his own personal acts only, altogether innocent; the damned only altogether sinners. Christ had in him even then the utmost perfection of all graces and virtues; but the damned, the perfection of sin and vileness. Christ’s humanity had still union with his Godhead; the damned, union only with sin. Now, an innocent person, perfect in all graces, as really God as man, can better wrestle with the curse for sin than either sinful men or angels.
While they despair, Christ hopes. While they blaspheme, Christ submits. While they rage, Christ justifies God. While they sink under the burden of sin and wrath, Christ recovereth by virtue of his worthiness— ‘Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.’ He was God’s Holy One, and his holiness prevailed.
So that it follows not, that because Christ did undergo the curse due to our sins, he therefore must have those accidental consequences which are found to accompany damned souls.
Objection Third. But the Scripture saith, that the wages of sin is everlasting punishment: ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Matt 25:41).
Answer. This objection is partly answered already in the answer to that foregoing. But further,
First. Consider, the wages of sin is death, and punishment under the wrath of God—till those that die the death for sin have paid the utmost farthing (Matt 5:26; Luke 12:58,59).
Second. So, then, the everlastingness of the punishment lieth here, if the person suffering be not able to make amends to justice for the sins for which he suffereth; else justice neither would nor could, because it is just, keep such still under punishment.
Third. The reason, then, why fallen angels and damned souls have an everlastingness of punishment allotted them is, because, by what they suffer, they cannot satisfy the justice of God.
Fourth. The conclusion then is, though the rebukes of God for sin by death, and punishment after, be the rebukes of eternal vengeance, yet the eternity of that punishment is for want of merit. Could the damned merit their own deliverance, justice would let them go.
Fifth. It is one thing, therefore, to suffer for sin by the stroke of eternal justice, and another thing to abide for ever a sufferer there: Christ did the first, the damned do the second.
Sixth. His rising, therefore, from the dead the third day doth nothing invalidate his sufferings, but rather showeth the power of his merit. And here I would ask a question, Had Christ Jesus been more the object of faith, if weakness and endless infirmity had kept him under the curse, than by rising again from the dead; want of merit causing the one, sufficiency thereof causing the other?
Seventh. If men will not believe that Christ hath removed the curse because he is risen again, they would much more strongly have doubted it had he been still in the grave. But, O amazing darkness! to make that an argument that his sufferings wanted merit, which to God himself is sufficient proof that he hath purged our sins for ever— ‘For this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God’ (Heb 10:12).
Objection Fourth. But the Scripture saith, Christ is our example, and that in his very death (1 Peter 2:21).
Answer. Christ in his sufferings and death is both sacrifice and example.
First. A sacrifice— ‘Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.’ And again, ‘He gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling savour.’ And thus he made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting righteousness (1 Cor 5:7; Eph 5:1,2; Dan 9:24).
Second. He was also in his sufferings exemplary, and that in several particulars—(1.) In his meek deportment while he was apprehended (Isa 53:7). (2.) In doing them good that sought his life (Luke 22:50,51). (3.) In his praying for his enemies when they were in their outrage (Luke 23:34). (4.) ‘When he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously’ (1 Peter 2:23).
In these respects, I say, he was exemplary, and brought honour to his profession by his good behaviour; and O how beautiful would Christianity be in the eyes of men, if the disciples of our Lord would more imitate him therein!
But what? because Christ is our pattern, is he not our passover? or, because we should in these things follow his steps, died he not for our sins? Thus to conclude would not only argue thee very erroneous, but such a conclusion would overthrow the gospel, it being none other but a great sleight of Satan to shut out the whole by a part, and to make us blasphemers while we plead for holiness.
Look, then, upon the death of Christ under a double consideration—1. As he suffered from the hand of God. 2. As he suffered from the hand of men. Now, as he suffered by God’s hand, so he suffered for sin; but as he suffered from men, so he suffered for righteousness’ sake.
Observe, then, that as he suffered for sin, so no man took away his life; but as he suffered for righteousness, so they slew him by wicked hands. What is it then? Christ must needs have suffered, and the wisdom of God had so ordained that ‘those things which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled’ (Acts 3:18). Thus, therefore, we ought to distinguish of the causes and ends of the death of Christ.
Again; as Christ suffered for sin, so he would neither be taken at man’s pleasure, nor die at man’s time. 1. Not at man’s pleasure; and hence it was that they so often sought his life in vain, ‘for his hour was not yet come’—to wit, the hour in which he was to be made a sacrifice for our sin (John 13, 17:1,2, 18:1,2). 2. Not at their time; but, contrary to all expectation, when the due time was come, ‘he bowed his head and gave up the ghost’ (John 19:30).
And for this last work, he had power given him of God—that is, power to die when he would. ‘I have power,’ said he, ‘to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again.’ This power never man had before. This made the centurion wonder, and made Pontius Pilate marvel; and indeed well they might, for it was as great a miracle as any he wrought in his life; it demonstrated him to be the Son of God (Mark 15:38,39). The centurion, knowing that according to nature he might have lived longer, concluded therefore that his dying at that instant was not but miraculously. And when he ‘saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.’
And the reason why he had power to die was, that he might offer his offering willingly, and at the season. 1. Willingly— ‘If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord’ (Lev 1:3). 2. He must offer it at the season— ‘Thou shalt keep this ordinance,’ the passover, ‘in his season’ (Exo 13:10).
Now, both these offerings having immediate respect to the offering of the body of Christ for sin—for he came in the room of all burnt sacrifices—the passover also was a type of him (Heb 10:3-6; 1 Cor 5:7,8). Therefore, he being now the priest as well as sacrifice, must have power and will to offer his sacrifice with acceptation; and this the Scripture testifieth he did, where it saith, ‘In due time Christ died for the ungodly’ (Rom 5:6). In due time, that is, at the time appointed, at the acceptable time.
Thou must, therefore, unless thou art willing to be deceived, look upon the sufferings of Christ under a double consideration, and distinguish between his sufferings as our example and his suffering for our sins. And know, that as he suffered as our example, so he suffered only for righteousness’ sake from the hands of wicked men; but as he suffered for our sins, so he suffered, as being by God imputed wicked, the punishment that was due to sin, even the dreadful curse of God. Not that Christ died two deaths, one after another; but he died at the same time upon a double account—for his righteousness’ sake from men, for our sins from the hand of God. And, as I said before, had he only suffered for righteousness’ sake, death had not so amazed him, nor had he been so exceeding heavy in the thoughts of it; that had never put him into an agony, nor made him sweat as it were great drops of blood. Besides, when men suffer only for righteousness’ sake, God doth not use to hide his face from them, to forsake them, and make them accursed; ‘but Christ hath delivered us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.’
Objection Fifth. But if indeed Christ hath paid the full price for us by his death, in suffering the punishment that we should have done, wherefore is the Scripture so silent as not to declare that by his death he hath made satisfaction?
Answer. No man may teach God knowledge; he knoweth best how to deliver his mind in such words and terms as best agree with his eternal wisdom, and the consciences of those that are truly desirous of salvation, being overburdened with the guilt of sin. Perhaps the word ‘satisfaction’ will hardly be found in the Bible; and where is it said in so many words, ‘God is dissatisfied with our sins?’ yet it is sufficiently manifest that there is nothing that God hateth but sin, and sinners for the sake of sin. What meant he by turning Adam out of paradise, by drowning the old world, by burning up Sodom with fire and brimstone from heaven? What meant he by drowning of Pharaoh, by causing the ground to swallow up Korah and his company, and by his destroying Israel in the wilderness, if not to show that he was dissatisfied with sin? That God is also satisfied, yea, more than satisfied, by Christ’s sufferings for our sins, is apparent; for, granting that he died for them as these scriptures declare—Isaiah 49:4-6, 53; 1 Corinthians 5:8, 15:1-4; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 1:4, 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24, 3:18; 1 John 2:2, 3:16, 4:14; Revelation 1:5, 5:9.—
First. It is apparent, because it is said that God smelled in that offering of the body of Christ for our sins a sweet-smelling savour— ‘He gave himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling savour’ (Eph 5:2).
Second. It is apparent, because it is said expressly that God for Christ’s sake doth now forgive— ‘Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you’ (Eph 4:32).
Third. It is apparent that God is satisfied with Christ’s blood for our sins, because he hath declared that he can justify those that believe in, or rely upon, that blood for life, in a way of justice and righteousness— ‘Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus’ (Rom 3:24-26).
Now, I say, to object against such plain testimonies, what is it but to deny that Christ died for sin; or to conclude, that having so done, he is still in the grave; or, that there is no such thing as sin; or, no such thing as revenging justice in God against it; or, that we must die ourselves for our sins; or, that sin may be pardoned without a satisfaction; or, that every man may merit his own salvation? But ‘without shedding of blood is no remission’ (Heb 9:22).
To avoid, therefore, these cursed absurdities, it must be granted that Jesus Christ by his death did make satisfaction for sin.
But the word ‘satisfaction’ may not be used by the Holy Ghost, perhaps for that it is too short and scanty a word to express the blessedness that comes to sinners by the blood of Christ.
1. To make satisfaction amounts to no more than completely to answer a legal demand for harms and injuries done. Now this, when done to the full, leaveth the offender there where he was before he committed the injury. Now, if Christ had done no more than this, he had only paid our debt, but had not obtained eternal redemption for us.
2. For a full satisfaction given by this man for harms done by another may neither obtain the love of the person offended, nor the smallest gift which the person offending hath not deserved. Suppose I owe to this man ten thousand talents, and another should pay him every farthing, there remaineth over and above by that complete satisfaction not one single halfpenny for me. Christ hath therefore done more than to make satisfaction for sin by his blood. He hath also ‘made us kings and priests unto God and his Father,’ and we ‘shall reign with him for ever and ever’ (Rev 1:6, 22:5).
[Additional scriptures in proof of this doctrine.]
But take a few more scriptures for the proof of the doctrine before asserted.
First. ‘We have redemption through his blood’ (Col 1:14). 1. Redemption from sin (Eph 1:7). 2. Redemption from death (Heb 2:14,15; Hosea 13:14). 3. Redemption from Satan (Heb 2:14). 4. Redemption from the world (Gal 1:4). 5. Redemption to God (Rev 5:9). 6. Eternal redemption— ‘Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us’ (Heb 9:12).
Second. We are said also to be washed in his blood. 1. Our persons are washed—He ‘loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood’ (Rev 1:5). 2. His blood washeth also our performances— ‘Our robes are washed, and made white in the blood of the Lamb’ (Rev 7:14).
Third. We are said to be purged by his blood. 1. Purged from sin before God— ‘When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of God’ (Heb 1:3). 2. Purged from evil consciences— ‘How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?’ (Heb 9:14).
Fourth. We are said to be made nigh to God by his blood— ‘But now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ’ (Eph 2:13).
Fifth. Peace is said to be made by his blood. 1. Peace with God (Col 1:20). 2. Peace of conscience (Heb 10:19-23). 3. Peace one with another (Eph 2:14).
Sixth. We are said to be justified by his blood. ‘Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him’ (Rom 5:9). Justified, that is, acquitted—1. Acquitted before God (Eph 5:26,27). 2. Acquitted before angels (Matt 28:5-8). 3. Acquitted by the law (Rom 3:21-23). 4. Acquitted in the court of conscience (Heb 9:14).
Seventh. We are said to be saved by his blood (Rom 5:8,9).
Eighth. We are said to be reconciled by his blood (Col 1:20-22).
Ninth. We are said to be sanctified by his blood (Heb 13:12).
Tenth. We are said to be admitted into the holiest by his blood (Heb 10:19).
Eleventh. We are said to have eternal redemption by his blood (Heb 9:12).
Yea, lastly, this blood which was once spilt upon the cross, will be the burden of our song in heaven itself for ever and ever (Rev 5:9).
Now, if we be redeemed, washed, purged, made nigh to God, have peace with God; if we stand just before God, are saved, reconciled, sanctified, admitted into the holiest; if we have eternal redemption by his blood, and if his blood will be the burden of our song for ever; then hath Christ paid the full price for us by his death, then hath he done more than made satisfaction for our sins.
SEVERAL DEMONSTRATIONS MORE, PROVING THE FORMER DOCTRINE.
But before I conclude this answer, I will give you nine or ten more undeniable demonstrations to satisfy you, if God will bless them to you, in the truth of this great doctrine—to wit, that Jesus Christ, by what he hath done, hath paid the full price to God for the souls of sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them.
THE FIRST DEMONSTRATION.
FIRST. And, first, I begin with his resurrection. That God that delivered him up unto death, and that made him a curse for sin, that God raised him up from the dead— ‘But God raised him from the dead’ (Acts 3:15, 13:30). Now, considering that at his death he was charged with our sins, and accursed to death for our sins, that justice that delivered him up for them must have amends made to him before he acquits him from them; for there can be no change in justice. Had he found him in our sins in the grave, as he found him in them upon the tree (for he had them in his body on the tree), he had left him there as he had left him upon the tree; yea, he had as surely rotted in the grave, as ever he died on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). But when he visited Christ in the grave, he found him a holy, harmless, undefiled, and spotless Christ, and therefore he raised him up from the dead— ‘He raised him up from the dead, having loosed the pains of death; because it was not possible that he should be holden of it’ (Acts 2:24).
Quest. But why not possible now to be holden of death?
Answ. Because the cause was removed. Sin was the cause— ‘He died for our sins.—He gave himself for our sins’ (1 Cor 15:1-3; Gal 1:4). These sins brought him to death; but when God, that had made him a curse for us, looked upon him in the grave, he found him there without sin, and therefore loosed the pains of death; for justice saith, this is not possible, because not lawful, that he who lieth sinless before God should be swallowed up of death; therefore he raised him up.
Quest. But what did he do with our sins, for he had them upon his back?
Answ. It is said he took them away— ‘Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.’ It is said he put them away— ‘Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself’ (John 1:29; Heb 9:26). That is, by the merit of his undertaking he brought into the world, and set before the face of God, such a righteousness that outweigheth and goeth far beyond that sin, and so did hide sin from the sight of God; hence, he that is justified is said to have his sins hid and covered— ‘Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered’ (Psa 32:1). Covered with the righteousness of Christ— ‘I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness,’ thy sins (Eze 16:8). Christ Jesus, therefore, having by the infiniteness of his merit taken away, put away, or hidden our sins from the face of God, therefore he raised him up from the dead.
You find in that sixteenth of Leviticus mention made of two goats, one was to be slain for a sin-offering, the other to be left alive; the goat that was slain was a type of Christ in his death, the goat that was not slain was a type of Christ in his merit. Now this living goat, he carried away the sins of the people into the land of forgetfulness— ‘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 hands of a fit man into the wilderness; and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited’ (Lev 16:21,22). Thus did Jesus Christ bear away by the merit of his death the sins and iniquities of them that believe; wherefore, when God came to him in the grave, he found him holy and undefiled, and raised him up from the dead.
And observe it, as his death was for our sin, so his rising again was for our discharge; for both in his death and resurrection he immediately respected our benefits; he died for us, he rose from the dead for us— ‘He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification’ (Rom 4:25). By his death he carried away our sins, by his rising he brought to us justifying righteousness.
There are five circumstances also attending his resurrection that show us how well pleased God was with his death.
First. It must be solemnized with the company, attendance, and testimony of angels (Matt 28:1-8; Luke 24:3-7; John 20:11,12).
Second. At, or just upon, his resurrection, the graves where many of the saints for whom he died lay asleep, did open, and they followed their Lord in full triumph over death— ‘The graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many’ (Matt 27:52,53). These saints coming out of their graves after him, what a testimony is it that he for them had taken away sin, and destroyed him that had the power of death; yea, what a testimony was it that he had made amends to God the Father, who granted him at his resurrection to have presently out of the grave, of the price of his blood, even the bodies of many of the saints which slept! He was declared to be the Son of God with power by the Spirit of holiness, and the resurrection from the dead (Rom 1:4). It saith not, by his resurrection, though that be true; but by the resurrection, meaning the resurrection of the bodies of the saints which slept, because they rose by virtue of his blood; and by that he was with power declared to be the Son of God. They, I say, were part of his purchase, some of them for whom Christ died. Now for God to raise them, and that upon and by virtue of his resurrection, what is it but an open declaration from heaven that Christ by his death hath made amends for us, and obtained eternal redemption for us?
Third. When he was risen from the dead, God, to confirm his disciples in the faith of the redemption that Christ had obtained by his blood, brings him to the church, presents him to them alive, shows him openly, sometimes to two or three, sometimes to eleven or twelve, and once to above five hundred brethren at once (Acts 1:3, 10:40; Luke 24:13-16; John 20:19, 21:1-23; 1 Cor 15:3-8).
Fourth. At his resurrection, God gives him the keys of hell and of death (Rev 1:18). Hell and death are the effects and fruits of sin. ‘The wicked shall be turned into hell,’ and the wages of sin is death. But what then are sinners the better for the death and blood of Christ? O! they that dare venture upon him are much the better, for they shall not perish, unless the Saviour will damn them, for he hath the keys of hell and of death. ‘Fear not,’ saith he, ‘I am the first and the last, I am he that liveth, and was dead, and, behold, I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hell and death.’ These were given him at his resurrection, as if God had said, My Son, thou hast spilt thy blood for sinners, I am pleased with it, I am delighted in thy merits, and in the redemption which thou hast wrought; in token hereof I give thee the keys of hell and of death; I give thee all power in heaven and earth; save who thou wilt, deliver who thou wilt, bring to heaven who thou wilt.
Fifth. At Christ’s resurrection, God bids him ask the heathen of him, with a promise to give him the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. This sentence is in the second Psalm, and is expounded by Paul’s interpretation of the words before, to be spoken to Christ at his resurrection— ‘Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.’ I have begotten thee—that is, saith Paul, from the dead (Acts 13:33,34).
He hath raised up Jesus again, as it is also written in the second Psalm— ‘Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.’ Now mark, at his raising him from the dead, he bids him ask, ‘Ask of me,’ and that ‘the heathen’; as if God had said, My Son, thy blood hath pacified and appeased my justice; I can now in justice, for thy sake, forgive poor mortals their sin. Ask them of me; ask them, though they be heathens, and I will give them to thee, to the utmost ends of the earth. This is, then, the first demonstration to prove that Jesus Christ, by what he hath done, hath paid full price to God for the souls of sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them—namely, his being raised again from the dead.
THE SECOND DEMONSTRATION.
SECOND. A second thing that demonstrateth this truth is, that he ascended and was received up into heaven. ‘So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, he was received up into heaven’ (Mark 16:19). This demonstration consisteth of two parts—First, Of his ascending. Second, Of his being received.
First. For his ascending— ‘He ascended up on high’ (Eph 4:8). This act of ascending answereth to the high-priest under the law, who, after they had killed the sacrifice, he was to bring the blood into the most holy place—to wit, the inner temple, the way to which was ascending or going up (2 Chron 9).
Now, consider the circumstances that attended his ascending, when he went to carry his blood to present it before the mercy-seat, and you will find they all say amends is made to God for us.
1. At this he is again attended and accompanied with angels (Acts 1:10,11).
2. He ascendeth with a shout, and with the sound of a trumpet, with ‘Sing praises, sing praises, sing praises’ (Psa 47:6).
3. The enemies of man’s salvation are now tied to his chariot-wheels— ‘When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive’ (Eph 4:8). That is, he led death, devils, and hell, and the grave, and the curse, captive, for these things were our captivity. And thus did Deborah prophesy of him when she cried, ‘Arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam’ (Judg 5:12). This David also foresaw when he said, ‘Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive’ (Psa 68:18).
4. The apostles must be the beholders of his going up, and must see the cloud receive him out of their sight (Acts 1:9-12).
The consideration of these things strongly enforceth this conclusion, that he hath spoiled what would have spoiled us, had he not by his blood shed taken them away. And I say, for God to adorn him with all this glory in his ascension, thus to make him ride conqueror up into the clouds, thus to go up with sound of trumpet, with shout of angels, and with songs of praises, and, let me add, to be accompanied also with those that rose from the dead after his resurrection, who were the very price of his blood; this doth greatly demonstrate that Jesus Christ, by what he hath done, hath paid full price to God for the souls of sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them; he had not else rode thus in triumph to heaven.
Second. I come now to his being received— ‘He was received up into heaven.’ The high-priest under the law, when he ascended into the holiest, he was there to offer the blood, which holiest was the type of heaven (Exo 19:10,11; Heb 9:24). But because the sacrifices under the law could not make them that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience, therefore they were to stand, not to sit; to come out again, not tarry there. ‘For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me), to do thy will, O God’ (Heb 10:4-6).
Christ, therefore, in his entering into heaven, did it as high-priest of the church of God; therefore neither did he go in without blood. Wherefore, when he came to be ‘an high-priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood; he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us’ (Heb 9:12-14). He entered in, having obtained, or because he obtained, eternal redemption for us. But to pass that.
[Glorious circumstances attending his entrance into heaven.]
Consider ye now also those glorious circumstances that accompany his approach to the gates of the everlasting habitation.
First. The everlasting gates are set, yea, bid stand open—Be ye open, ‘ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in.’ This King of glory is Jesus Christ, and the words are a prophecy of his glorious ascending into the heavens, when he went up as the high-priest of the church, to carry the price of his blood into the holiest of all. ‘Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in’ (Psa 24:7,9).
Second. At his entrance he was received, and the price accepted which he paid for our souls. Hence it is said, he entered in by his blood—that is, by the merit of it. ‘To receive’ is an act of complacency and delight, and includeth well-pleasedness in the person receiving, who is God the Father; and considering that this Jesus now received is to be received upon our account, or as undertaking the salvation of sinners—for he entered into the heavens for us—it is apparent that he entered thither by virtue of his infinite righteousness, which he accomplished for us upon the earth.
Third. At his reception he received glory, and that also for our encouragement— ‘God raised him up, and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God’ (1 Peter 1:19-21). He gave him glory, as a testimony that his undertaking the work of our redemption was accepted of him.
1. He gave glory to his person, in granting him to sit at his own right hand; and this he had, I say, for or upon the account of the work he accomplished for us in the world. When he had offered up one sacrifice for sins for ever, he sat down on the right hand of God, and this by God’s appointment— ‘Sit thou at my right hand’ (Heb 10:12,13). This glory is the highest; it is above all kings, princes, and potentates in this world; it is above all angels, principalities, and powers in heaven. ‘He is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him’ (1 Peter 3:32).
2. He gave glory to his name, to his name Jesus, that name being exalted above every name— ‘He hath given him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’ (Phil 2:9-11).
This name is said, in another place, to be a name above every name that is named, ‘not only in this world, but also in that which is to come’ (Eph 1:21).
But should JESUS have been such a name, since he undertook for sinners, had this undertaker failed in his work, if his work had not been accepted with God, even the work of our redemption by his blood? No, verily; it would have stunk in the nostrils both of God and man; it would have been the most abhorred name. But Jesus is the name; Jesus he was called, in order to his work— ‘His name shall be called JESUS, for he shall save’; he was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb; and he goeth by that name now he is in heaven; by the name Jesus— ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ because he once dwelt there. This name, I say, is the highest name, the everlasting name, the name that he is to go by, to be known by, to be worshipped by, and to be glorified by; yea, the name by which also most glory shall redound to God the Father. Now, what is the signification of this name but SAVIOUR? This name he hath, therefore, for his work’s sake; and because God delighted in his undertaking, and was pleased with the price he had paid for us, therefore the Divine Majesty hath given him it, hath made it high, and hath commanded all angels to bow unto it; yea, it is the name in which he resteth, and by which he hath magnified all his attributes.
(1.) This is the name by which sinners should go to God the Father.
(2.) This is the name through which they obtain forgiveness of sins, and ‘anything’— ‘If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it’ (John 14:14).
(3.) This is the name through which our spiritual services and sacrifices are accepted, and by which an answer of peace is returned into our bosoms (1 Peter 2). But more of this anon.
(4.) At this name devils tremble, at this name angels bow the head, at this name God’s heart openeth, at this name the godly man’s heart is comforted; this name, none but devils hate it, and none but those that must be damned despise it. ‘No man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed,’ or accounteth him still dead, and his blood ineffectual to save the world.
3. He hath also given him the glory of office.
(1.) He is there a priest for ever, intercepting betwixt the Divine presence and all that hate us, by his blood; sin, Satan, death, hell, the law, the grave, or the like, cannot be heard, if his blood be presented to God as the atonement for us. This is called the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel (Heb 12:24). By this blood he entered into heaven, by this blood he secureth from wrath ‘all that come unto God by him.’ But should his blood have had a voice in heaven to save withal, had it not merited first, even in the shedding of it, the ransom and redemption of souls? It is true, a man whose blood cannot save, may, with Abel’s, cry out for vengeance and wrath on the head of him that shed it. But this blood speaks for better things, this blood speaks for souls, for sinners, for pardon, ‘having obtained eternal redemption for us.’
(2.) He is there a forerunner for us— ‘Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus’ (Heb 6:20). This office of harbinger is distinct from, though it comes by virtue of, his priestly office; therefore they are both mentioned in the text— ‘Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high-priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec.’ He is therefore our forerunner by virtue of his priesthood, his blood giving worth to all he does.
In this office of harbinger or forerunner, he prepareth for believers their dwelling-places in the heavens; their dwelling-places according to their place, state, calling, service, or work, in his body, the church— ‘In my Father’s house,’ saith he, ‘are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you’ (John 14:2).
This is that mentioned in the forty-seventh Psalm— ‘He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob, whom he loved.’ But should he have had power to choose our inheritance for us, to prepare for us our dwelling-places; should he have power to give even heaven itself to a company of poor men, had he not in the first place obtained by his blood the deliverance of our souls from death?
(3.) He is there a prophet for us, by which office of his he hath received to communicate the whole will of the eternal God, so far as is fit for us to know in this world, or in that which is to come. Hence he is called the prophet of the church— ‘The Lord shall raise you up a prophet,’ ‘and this is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.’ But this office he hath also now in heaven, by virtue of the blood he shed for us upon earth. Hence the new testament is called, ‘the new testament in his blood’; and his blood is said to be ‘the blood of the everlasting covenant’ or testament; yea, such virtue doth his blood give to the new testament, or covenant of grace, as that severed from that it is nothing worth; ‘for a testament is of force after men are dead; otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth’ (Heb 9:17). So that every word of God which he hath by Christ given to us for our everlasting consolation, is dipped in blood, is founded in blood, and stands good to sinners purely—I mean with respect to merit—upon the account of blood, or because his blood that was shed for us on the cross prevailed for us for the remission of our sins. Let not man think to receive any benefit by Christ’s prophetical office, by any of the good words of grace, and forgiveness of sins that are sprinkled up and down in the new testament; that looketh not for that good to come to him for the sake of that blood by which this testament is established; for ‘neither was the first testament dedicated without blood; for when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you’ (Heb 9:18-20).
The prophetical office of Christ standeth of two parts—first, in promises of grace: secondly, in directions of worship. But neither is this last—to wit, the doctrine of worship, or our subjection to that worship—of any value any further than as sprinkled also with his blood; for as in the first testament, the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry were sprinkled with blood, and it was necessary that so it should be, so the heavenly things themselves must be also purified with sacrifices, but yet ‘with better sacrifices than these’; for now, not Moses, but Christ, doth sprinkle, not with blood of calves, but with his own blood; neither as entered into places made with hands, but from heaven doth Jesus sprinkle all that doctrine of worship, and subjection of his saints thereto, which is of his own instituting and commanding (Heb 9:23-26).
(4.) He hath received there the office of a king, by which he ruleth in the church, and over all things for her sake. ‘The government shall be upon his shoulder’; the Lord God hath given him the throne of his father David. Hence it is that he saith, ‘All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth’; but now this kingly office, he hath it by his blood, because he humbled himself to death, therefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him the highest name. And hence, again, he is called a Lamb upon the throne— ‘In the midst of the throne, and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns’; a demonstration of kingly power. But mark, he was a Lamb upon the throne, he had his horns as a lamb. Now by ‘Lamb’ we are to understand, not only his meek and sweet disposition, but his sacrifice; for he was as a lamb to be slain and sacrificed; and so his having a throne and seven horns, as a lamb, giveth us to understand that he obtained this dignity of king by his blood (Rev 5). ‘When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high’ (Heb 1:3). When ‘he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, he sat down on the right hand of God’ (Heb 10:12).
Now, put all these together—to wit, his resurrection from the dead, his ascension, and exaltation to office; and remember also that the person thus exalted is the same Jesus of Nazareth that sometime was made accursed of God for sin, and also that he obtained this glory by virtue of the blood that was shed for us, and it must unavoidably follow that Jesus Christ, by what he hath done, hath paid a full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them.
THE THIRD DEMONSTRATION.
THIRD. But to proceed. A third demonstration that Jesus Christ, by what he hath done, hath paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them, is, because he hath received for them the Holy Spirit of God.
‘This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof,’ said Peter, ‘we all are witnesses. Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear’ (Acts 2:32,33).
The receiving of the Holy Ghost at the hand of the Father, who had bruised him before for the transgressions of his people; the receiving of it, I say, upon his resurrection, and that to give them for whom, just before, he had spilt his blood to make an atonement for their souls, argueth that the Divine Majesty found rest and content in that precious blood, and found it full price for the sinners for whom he shed it.
And if you consider the necessity of the giving of this good Spirit to men, and the benefit that they receive by his coming upon them, you will see yet more into the truth now contended for. First, then, Of the necessity of giving this good Spirit; and then, Second, Of the benefit which we receive at his coming.
First. Of the necessity of its being given.
1. Otherwise, Jesus could never have been proved to be the Saviour; for the promise was, that Messias should have the Spirit given him; given him to communicate— ‘As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord, My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth,’ meaning the Redeemer, ‘shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever’ (Isa 59:20,21).
Here is the promise of the Spirit to be given to Christ, and by him to his seed for ever. And this was signified long before in the anointing of Aaron and his sons— ‘And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them’ (Exo 30:30).
This Spirit Jesus promised to send unto his at his exaltation on the right hand of God; the Spirit, I say, in the plentiful pourings of it out. True, the church in all ages had something of it by virtue of the suretyship of the Lord Jesus; but this, in comparison of what was to come into the church after his resurrection, is not reckoned a pouring forth; therefore pourings forth are reserved to the time of the ascension and exaltation of this Jesus. ‘I will pour out of my Spirit in those days.’
Hence Jesus reserves it till his going away, and it is expressly said, ‘The Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.’ Accordingly did the apostles wait after his resurrection for the pouring forth of the Holy Ghost, and at the set time did receive it; by the giving of which he declared himself to be the Son of God and Saviour of the world (John 7:39, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7; Acts 1:4,5, 2:16,17; Joel 2:28; Rom 1:4).
2. Without the giving of the Holy Ghost, there had wanted a testimony that his gospel was the gospel of Messias. Moses’ ministration was confirmed by signs and wonders and mighty deeds, both in Egypt, in the wilderness, and at the Red Sea; wherefore it was necessary that the doctrine of redemption by blood, which is the doctrine of the gospel of this Jesus, should be also ‘confirmed with signs following.’ Hence both himself and apostles did as frequently work miracles and do mighty deeds as his ministers now do preach; which signs and miracles and wonders confirmed their doctrine, though themselves, both master and scholar, were in appearance the most considerable mean [in outward show the meanest of men]; yea, they by the means of the Holy Ghost have so ratified, confirmed, and settled the gospel in the world, that no philosopher, tyrant, or devil, hath been able hitherto to move it out of its place. He confirmed ‘the word with signs following’ (Mark 16:20; Heb 2:4).
3. As the giving of the Holy Ghost was necessary thus, so was it necessary also to strengthen them that were intrusted with the gospel, (1.) To preach it effectually; (2.) To stand to it boldly; and (3.) To justify it to be the doctrine of Messias incontrollably. (1.) To preach it effectually, in demonstration of the Spirit (1 Cor 2:4; John 16:8,9; Acts 8:13). (2.) To stand to it boldly— ‘Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said.’ ‘And they saw the boldness of Peter and John’ (2 Cor 6:4-6; Acts 4:8,13). (3.) To justify the doctrine incontrollably— ‘I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist’ (Luke 21:15). ‘And they were not able to resist the wisdom and spirit by which he spake’ (Acts 6:10).
Now I say, that God should give the Holy Ghost to Jesus to confirm this gospel, redemption from sin by his blood, what is it but that by his blood he hath paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them?
[Second.] But again; the benefit which we receive at the coming of the Holy Ghost doth more demonstrate this truth; hath Christ purchased sinners, and are they the price of his blood? Yes. But how doth that appear? Why, because by the Holy Ghost which he hath received to give us, we are fitted for the inheritance which by his blood is prepared for us.
1. By the Spirit of God we are quickened and raised from a state of sin, but that we could not be were it not that an atonement is made for us first, by the blood of Christ our Saviour. This is true; for they that are quickened by the Holy Ghost are quickened by it through the word of the gospel, which offereth justification to sinners through faith in his blood; yea, we are said to be quickened together with him, dead and risen with him, yet so as by the Spirit of God.
2. We are not only quickened by the Holy Ghost, but possessed therewith; it is given to dwell in our hearts— ‘Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts’ (Gal 4:6). Which Spirit is also our earnest for heaven, until the redemption of the purchased possession—that is, until our body, which is the purchased possession, be redeemed also out of the grave by the power of the same mighty Spirit of God (Eph 1:13,14).
3. By this Holy Spirit we are made to believe (Rom 15:13).
4. By this Holy Spirit we are helped to pray and call God Father.
5. By this Holy Spirit we are helped to understand and apply the promises.
6. By this Holy Spirit the joy of heaven and the love of God is shed abroad in the heart of the saved.
7. By this Holy Spirit we are made to wait for the hope of righteousness by faith; that is, to stand fast through our Lord Jesus in the day when he shall judge the world.
And all this is the fruit of redemption by blood, of redemption by the blood of Christ.
This is yet further evident, (1.) Because the work of the Spirit is to lead us into the sayings of Christ, which, as to our redemption from death, are such as these— ‘I lay down my life, that you may have life’; ‘I give my life a ransom for many’; and, ‘The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world’ (John 6:51). (2.) Because the Spirit, in the wisdom of heaven, is not counted a sufficient testimony on earth, but as joined with the blood of Christ— ‘There are three that bear witness on earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood’; these are the witnesses of God. The Spirit, because it quickeneth; the blood, because it hath merited; and the water—to wit, the word—because by that we are clean as to life and conversation (1 John 5:8; Eph 5:26; Rom 8:16; Psa 119:9).
(3.) Because, as by the Spirit, so we are sanctified by faith in the blood of Jesus (Heb 13:12). (4.) Because, when most full of the Spirit, and when that doth work most mightily in us, we are then most in the belief and admiring apprehensions of our deliverance from death by the blood of Jesus (Rev 5:9, 15). (5.) The Holy Ghost breatheth nowhere so as in the ministry of this doctrine, this doctrine is sent with the Holy Ghost from heaven; yea, as I have hinted, one of the great works of the Holy Ghost, under the Old Testament, was to testify ‘of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow’ (1 Peter 1:11,12).
Put all these things together, and see if Jesus Christ, by what he hath done, hath not paid full price to God for sinners, if he ‘hath not obtained eternal redemption for them?’
THE FOURTH DEMONSTRATION.
FOURTH. That Jesus Christ, by what he hath done, hath paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them, is evident, if you consider how the preaching thereof hath been, from that time to this, a mighty conqueror over all kinds of sinners. What nation, what people, what kind of sinners have not been subdued by the preaching of a crucified Christ? He upon the white horse with his bow and his crown hath conquered, doth conquer, and goeth forth yet ‘conquering and to conquer’ (Rev 6:2). ‘And I,’ saith he, ‘if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me’ (John 12:32). But what was it to be lifted up from the earth? Why, it may be expounded by that saying, ‘As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life’ (John 3:14,15).
He was then lifted up when he was hanged upon a tree between the heavens and the earth, as the accursed of God for us. The revelation of this, it conquers all nations, tongues, and people. ‘And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation’ (Rev 5:9). Hence the apostle Paul chose above all doctrines to preach up a crucified Christ, and resolved so to do; ‘for I determined,’ saith he, ‘not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified’ (1 Cor 2:2).
First. The doctrine of forgiveness of sin conquered his very murderers; they could not withstand the grace; those bloody ones that would kill him, whatever it cost them, could stand no longer, but received his doctrine, fell into his bosom, and obtained the salvation which is in Christ Jesus— ‘They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born’ (Zech 12:10). Now was this scripture eminently fulfilled, when the kindness of a crucified Christ broke to pieces the hearts of them that had before been his betrayers and murderers. Now was there a great mourning in Jerusalem; now was there wailing and lamentation, mixed with joy and rejoicing.
Second. Though Paul was mad, exceeding mad against Jesus Christ of Nazareth; yea, though he was his avowed enemy, seeking to put out his name from under heaven, yet the voice from heaven, ‘I am Jesus,’ &c., ‘I am the Saviour,’ how did it conquer him, make him throw down his arms, fall down at his feet, and accept of the forgiveness of sins freely by grace, through redemption by faith in his blood!
Third. They at Samaria (though before Philip preached to them) worshipped and admired the devil in Magus, yet when they believed Philip’s preaching of Christ unto them, and forgiveness of sins through faith in his name, great joy was amongst them, and they were baptized, both men and woman (Acts 8). ‘He preached,’ saith the text, ‘the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ’—that is, all the blessings of life, through the name of Jesus Christ; for he is the Mediator, and without his blood come no spiritual blessings to men.
Fourth. How was the sturdy jailer overcome by a promise of forgiveness of sins by faith in Jesus Christ! It stopped his hand of self-murder, it eased him of the gnawings of a guilty conscience and fears of hell-fire, and filled his soul with rejoicing in God (Acts 16:30-34).
Fifth. How were those that used curious arts, that were next to, if not witches indeed; I say, how were they prevailed upon and overcome by the word of God, which is the gospel of good tidings, through faith in the blood of Christ! (Acts 19:17,18).
Sixth. How were the Ephesians, who were sometimes far from God; how, I say, were they made nigh by the blood of Christ! (Eph 2:13).
Seventh. The Colossians, though sometimes dead in their sins, yet how were they quickened by God, through the forgiveness of all their trespasses; and they had that through his blood! (Col 1:14, 2:13).
What shall I say? No man could as yet stand before and not fall under the revelation of the forgiveness of sins through a crucified Christ, as hanged, as dying, as accursed for sinners; he draws all men unto him, men of all sorts, of all degrees.
Shall I add, how have men broken through the pricks to Jesus when he hath been discovered to them! Neither lions, nor fires, nor sword, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril, ‘neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Rom 8:35-39).
THE FIFTH DEMONSTRATION.
FIFTH. That Jesus Christ, by what he hath done, hath paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them, is evident, by the peace and holiness that by that doctrine possesseth men’s souls; the souls of men awakened, and that continue so. By awakened men I mean such as, through the revelation of their sin and misery, groan under the want of Jesus to save them, and that continue sensible that they needs must perish if his benefits be not bestowed upon them; for otherwise the gospel ministereth neither peace nor holiness to any of the souls of the sons of men; that is to say, not saving peace and holiness. The gospel of grace and salvation is above all doctrines the most dangerous, if in word only it be received by graceless men; if it be not attended with a revelation of men’s need of a Saviour; if it be not accompanied in the soul by the power of the Holy Ghost. For such men as have only the notions of it are of all men liable to the greatest sins, because there wanteth in their notions the power of love, which alone can constrain them to love Jesus Christ. And this is the reason of these scriptures—They turn the grace of God into wantonness. ‘They turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness’ (Jude 4).
For some, when they hear of the riches of grace through Christ, that hearing not being attended with the faith and love which is in Christ Jesus, those men receive the notions of this good doctrine only to cloak their wickedness, and to harden themselves in their villainies.
Others, when they hear, being leavened before with the leaven of some other doctrine, some doctrine of the righteousness of the world, or doctrine of devils, forthwith make head against and speak evil of the blessed doctrine; and because some that profess it are not cleansed from their filthiness of flesh and spirit, and do not perfect holiness in the fear of God, therefore others conclude that all that profess it are such, and that the doctrine itself tendeth to encourage, or at least to tolerate, licentiousness, as they imagined and affirmed of Paul that he should say, ‘Let us do evil, that good may come’ (Rom 3:8).
The ground of that wicked conclusion of theirs was, because he by the allowance of God affirmed that, as sin had reigned unto death, so grace reigned unto life in a way of righteousness by Jesus Christ our Lord. Nay, then, says the adversary, we may be as unholy as we will, and that by the doctrine you preach; for if where sin abounds grace abounds more, the consequence of a wicked life is but the heightening, advancing, and magnifying of grace. But what saith the apostle? My conclusions are true that grace doth reign above sin, but to say, ‘Let us therefore sin,’ that man’s damnation is just; because such an one abuseth and maketh the most devilish use of the blessedest doctrine that ever was heard of in the world amongst men. Besides, it is evident that such know not the power thereof, nor have felt or savoured its blessedness; for where this gospel cometh in truth, it naturally produceth peace and holiness.
First. Peace. He is our peace, he is the Prince of peace, he giveth peace in his high places. This word ‘peace’ hath in it a double respect.
1. It respecteth God—He hath ‘made peace by the blood of his cross’; that is, he hath made peace for us with God, having appeased the rigour of his law, and satisfied justice for us. Hence it is said, ‘The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus’ (Col 1:20; Phil 4:7). ‘The peace of God’—that is, the doctrine of reconciliation by Christ’s being made to be sin for us, THAT shall keep the heart—that is, from despair or fainting, under apprehensions of weakness and justice. But yet this peace of God cannot be apprehended, nor be of any comfort to the heart, but as the man looks for it through Christ Jesus; therefore that clause is added, ‘through Christ Jesus’; for he is peace-maker, it is he that reconcileth us to God ‘in the body of his flesh through death’; for by his doing and suffering he presented God with everlasting righteousness, with everlasting righteousness for sinners. Upon this we have peace with God. Hence Christ is called King of righteousness first; ‘first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace’ (Heb 7:1,2). For he could not make peace with God betwixt us and him but by being first the Lord of righteousness, the Lord our righteousness; but having first completed righteousness, he then came and preached peace, and commanded his ambassadors to make proclamation of it to the world, for it was want of righteousness that caused want of peace (2 Cor 5:19-21). Now, then, righteousness being brought in, it followeth that he hath made peace. ‘For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father’ (Eph 2:14-18).
2. This word ‘peace’ respecteth our inward quietness of heart which we obtain by beholding this reconciliation made by Christ with God for us— ‘Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Rom 5:1). ‘The God of peace fill you with all joy and peace in believing’ (Rom 15:13).
This peace is expressed diversely—(1.) Sometimes it is called ‘quietness,’ for it calms the soul from those troublous fears of damning because of sin— ‘And the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever’ (Isa 32:17). (2.) Sometimes it is called ‘boldness’; for by the blood of Christ a man hath encouragement to approach unto God— ‘Having, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh’ (Heb 10:19,20). (3.) It is sometimes called ‘confidence’; because by Jesus Christ we have not only encouragement to come to God, but confidence, that if we ask anything according to his will, he not only heareth, but granteth the request which we put up to him (1 John 5:14,15). ‘In whom we have boldness and access with confidence, by the faith of Jesus’ (Eph 3:12). (4.) Sometimes this peace is expressed by ‘rest’; because a man having found a sufficient fulness to answer all his wants, he sitteth down, and looks no further for satisfaction— ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matt 11:28). (5.) It is also expressed by ‘singing’; because the peace of God when it is received into the soul by faith putteth the conscience into a heavenly and melodious frame. ‘And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away’ (Isa 35:10). (6.) Sometimes it is expressed or discovered by a heavenly glorying and boasting in Jesus Christ; because this peace causeth the soul to set its face upon its enemies with faith of a victory over them for ever by its Lord Jesus— ‘Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord’ (Jer 9:23,24). And, ‘My soul shall make her boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad’ (Psa 34:2). (7.) Sometimes it is expressed or discovered by joy, ‘joy unspeakable’: because the soul, having seen itself reconciled to God, hath not only quietness, but such apprehensions do now possess it of the unspeakable benefits it receiveth by Christ with respect to the world to come, that it is swallowed up with them— ‘Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory’ (1 Peter 1:8). (8.) Lastly, it is expressed or discovered by the triumph that ariseth sometimes in the hearts of the believers, for they at times are able to see death, sin, the devil, and hell, and all adversity, conquered by, and tied as captives at the chariot-wheels of Jesus Christ; taken captive, I say, and overthrown for ever. ‘Thanks be unto God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ’ (2 Cor 2:14). ‘O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph’ (Psa 47:1).
[The Authors of this peace.]—Now that all this should be a cheat is impossible—that is, it is impossible that believers should thus have peace with God through the blood of his cross, he having not paid full price to God for them; especially if you consider that the authors of this peace are all the three in the Godhead, and that upon a double account.
1. In that they have given us a gospel of peace (Rom 10:15). Or a new testament which propoundeth peace with God through the redemption that is in Christ. Now as this is called the gospel of peace, so it is called the gospel of God (1 Thess 2:9). The gospel of Christ (Rom 15:19; 2 Thess 1:8). A gospel indited by the Holy Ghost (1 Thess 4:8). I say, therefore, that redemption and salvation being that through Christ, and the truth thereof proclaimed by the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, in the word of the truth of the gospel, it must needs be that we who believe shall be saved, ‘if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.’
2. As the three in the Godhead are the authors of this peace by inditing for us the gospel of peace, or the good tidings of salvation by Jesus Christ, so they are the authors of our peace by working with that word of the gospel in our hearts. And hence, (1.) The Father is called the God of peace, ‘Now the God of peace be with you all’ (Rom 15:33). ‘And the very God of peace sanctify you’ (1 Thess 5:23). And because he is the God of peace, therefore he filleth those that believe in his Christ with joy and peace through believing (Rom 15:13). (2.) Again, Christ is called the Prince of peace; therefore the prayer is, ‘Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Thess 1:2). (3.) The Holy Ghost also is the author of this peace, this inward peace, even ‘righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost’ (Rom 14:17).
And I say, as I also already have said, the procuring or meritorious cause of this peace is the doings and sufferings of Christ; therefore by his doings and sufferings he paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them; else God would never have indited a proclamation of peace for them, and the tenor of that proclamation to be the worthiness of the Lord Jesus; yea, he would never have wrought with that word in the heart of them that believe, to create within them peace, peace.
Second. [Holiness.] As peace with God is an evidence—the blood of Christ being the cause thereof—that Christ hath by it paid full price to God for sinners, so holiness in their hearts, taking its beginning from this doctrine, makes its fifth demonstration of double strength.
1. That holiness, true gospel holiness, possesseth our hearts by this doctrine it is evident, because the ground of holiness, which is the Spirit of God in us, is ministered to us by this doctrine. When the apostle had insinuated that the Galatians were bewitched because they had turned from the doctrine of Christ crucified, he demands of them whether ‘they received the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?’ (Gal 3:1-4). That is, whether the Spirit took possession of their souls by their obedience to the ten commandments, or by their giving credit to the doctrine of the forgiveness of their sins by faith in this crucified Christ, strongly concluding, not by the law, but by the hearing or preaching of faith—that is, of the Lord Jesus as crucified, who is the object of faith.
2. As this doctrine conveyeth the ground or groundwork, which is the Spirit, so also it worketh in the heart those three graces, faith, hope, love, all which as naturally purify the heart from wickedness as soap and nitre cleanseth the cloth. He purified ‘their hearts by faith,’ by faith in Christ’s blood. ‘And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure.’ And also love, you shall see what that doth if you look into the text (Acts 15:9; 1 John 3:3,4; 1 Cor 13). Now, I say, this faith groundeth itself in the blood of Christ; hope waiteth for the full enjoyments of the purchase of it in another world; and love is begot, and worketh by the love that Christ hath expressed by his death, and by the kindness he presented us with in his heart’s blood (Rom 3:24; 1 Cor 15:19; 2 Cor 5:14).
Besides, what arguments so prevailing as such as are purely gospel? To instance a few—(1.) What stronger than a free forgiveness of sins? ‘A certain man had two debtors, the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty; and when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both; tell me therefore which of them will love him most?’ (Luke 7:41,42,47). (2.) What stronger argument to holiness than to see that though forgiveness comes free to us, yet it cost Christ Jesus heart-blood to obtain it for us. ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.’ And this love of God in giving his Christ, and of Christ in dying for us, there is no argument stronger to prevail with a sensible and awakened sinner to judge ‘he should live to him that died for him, and rose again’ (2 Cor 5:15). (3.) What stronger argument to holiness than this: ‘If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous?’ (1 John 2:1). Unsanctified and graceless wretches know not how to use these words of God; the hypocrites also fly in our faces because we thus urge them; but a heart that is possessed with gospel ingenuity, or, to speak more properly, that is possessed with gospel grace, and with divine considerations, cries, If it be thus, O let me never sin against God, ‘for the love of Christ constraineth me’ (2 Cor 5:14). (4.) What greater argument to holiness than to see the holy Scriptures so furnished with promises of grace and salvation by Christ, that a man can hardly cast his eye into the Bible but he espieth one or other of them? Who would not live in such a house, or be servant to such a prince, who, besides his exceeding in good conditions, hath gold and silver as common in his palace as stones are by the highway side? ‘Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God’ (2 Cor 7:1). (5.) What greater argument to holiness than to have our performances, though weak and infirm from us, yet accepted of God in Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-6). (6.) What greater argument to holiness than to have our soul, our body, our life, hid and secured with Christ in God? ‘Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry’ (Col 3:1-5). (7.) What greater argument to holiness than to be made the members of the body, of the flesh, and of the bones of Jesus Christ? ‘Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid’ (Eph 5:30; 1 Cor 6:15).
Now all these, and five times as many more, having their foundation in the love, blood, and righteousness of Christ, and operating in the soul by faith, are the great arguments unto that holiness to which is annexed eternal life. It is worth our observing, that in Acts 26:18, the inheritance belongs ‘to them which are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ’; for all other pretences to holiness, they are but a stolen semblance of that which is true and acceptable, though it is common for even that which is counterfeit to be called by the deluded the true, and to be reckoned to be in them that are utter strangers to faith, and the holiness that comes by faith. ‘But whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people’ (Exo 30:23). God knoweth which is holiness that comes by faith in forgiveness of sins, and acceptance with God through Christ; and God knows which is only such feignedly; and accordingly will he deal with sinners in that great day of God Almighty.
THE SIXTH DEMONSTRATION.
SIXTH. That Jesus Christ, by what he hath done, hath paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them, is evident, because prayers are accepted of God only upon the account and for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ— ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you’ (John 16:23). In my name, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, in the name of him that came into the world to save sinners, by dying for them a grievous, bloody death; in his name that hath by himself put away sin, and brought unto God acceptable righteousness for sinners; in his name. Why in his name, if he be not accepted of God? why in his name if his undertakings for us are not well-pleasing to God? But by these words, ‘in my name,’ are insinuated that his person and performances, as our undertaker, are accepted by the Father of spirits. We may not go in our own names, because we are sinners; not in the name of one another, because all are sinners. But why not in the name of an angel? Because they are not those that did undertake for us; or had they, they could not have done our work for us. ‘He putteth no trust in his saints, yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight’ (Job 4:18, 15:15). It may further be objected—
Since Jesus Christ is God, equal with the Father, and so hath naturally the same power to give us the Father, why should the Father rather than the Son be the great giver to the sinners of the world? and why may we not go to Christ in the name of the Father, as well as to the Father in the name of Christ? I say, how can these things be solved, but by considering that sin and justice put a necessity upon it that thus must our salvation be obtained. Sin and justice could not reconcile, nor could a means be found out to bring the sinner and a holy God together, but by the intercepting of the Son, who must take upon him to answer justice, and that by taking our sins from before the face of God by bloody sacrifice, not by blood of others, as the high-priests under the law— ‘For every high-priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices; wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer’ (Heb 8:3). Which offering and sacrifice of his being able to perfect for ever them that are sanctified and set apart for eternal life, therefore the name of the person that offered—even Jesus, made of God a high-priest—is acceptable with God; yea, therefore is he made for ever, by his doing for us, the appeaser of the justice of God, and the reconciler of sinners to him. Hence it is that HIS name is that which it behoveth us to mention when we come before God, for what God hath determined in his counsels of grace to bestow upon sinners, because for his name’s sake he forgiveth them. ‘I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake’ (1 John 2:12). ‘To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins’ (Acts 10:43).
They therefore that would obtain the forgiveness of sins must ask it of God, through the name of Jesus; and he that shall sensibly and unfeignedly do it, he shall receive the forgiveness of them— ‘Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.’ Hence it is evident that he hath not only paid full price to God for them, but also obtained eternal redemption for them.
And it is observable, the Lord Jesus would have his disciples make a proof of this, and promiseth that if they do, they shall experimentally find it so— ‘Hitherto,’ saith he, ‘have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full’ (John 16:24). As who should say, O my disciples, you have heard what I have promised to you, even that my Father shall do for you whatsoever ye shall ask him in my name. Ask now, therefore, and prove me, if I shall not make my words good: ask, I say, what you need, and see if you do not receive it to the joying of your hearts. ‘At that day ye shall ask in my name, and I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you.’ I do not bid you ask in my name as if the Father was yet hard to be reconciled, or unwilling to accept you to mercy; my coming into the world was the design of my Father, and the effect of his love to sinners; but there is sin in you and justice in God; therefore that you to him might be reconciled, I am made of my Father mediator; wherefore ask in my name, for ‘there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). Ask in my name; love is let out to you through me; it is let out to you by me in a way of justice, which is the only secure way for you. Ask in my name, and my Father will love you— ‘The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God’ (John 16:27). My Father’s love is set first upon me, for my name is chief in his heart, and all that love me are beloved of my Father, and shall have what they need, if they ask in my name.
But, I say, what cause would there be to ask in his name more than in the name of some other, since justice was provoked by our sin, if he had not undertook to make up the difference that by sin was made betwixt justice and us? For though there be in this Jesus infinite worth, infinite righteousness, infinite merit, yet if he make not with these interest for us, we get no more benefit thereby than if there were no mediator. But this worth and merit is in him for us, for he undertook to reconcile us to God; it is therefore that his name is with God so prevailing for us poor sinners, and therefore that we ought to go to God in his name. Hence, therefore, it is evident that Jesus Christ hath paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them.
THE SEVENTH DEMONSTRATION.
SEVENTH. That Jesus Christ, by what he hath done, hath paid full price to God for sinners, &c., is evident, because we are commanded also to give God thanks in his name— ‘By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name’ (Heb 3:15).
‘By him therefore.’ Wherefore? Because he also, that he might ‘sanctify us with his own blood, suffered without the gate’ (v 12).
He sanctified us with his blood; but why should the Father have thanks for this? Even because the Father gave him for us, that he might die to sanctify us with his blood— ‘Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son; in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins’ (Col 1:12-14). The Father is to be thanked, for the contrivance was also his; but the blood, the righteousness, or that worthiness, for the sake of which we are accepted of God, is the worthiness of his own dear Son. As it is meet, therefore, that God should have thanks, so it is necessary that he have it in his name for whose sake we indeed are accepted of him.
Let us therefore by him offer praise first for the gift of his Son, and for that we stand quit through him in his sight, and that in despite of all inward weakness, and that in despite of all outward enemies.
When the apostle had taken such a view of himself as to put himself into a maze, with an outcry also, ‘Who shall deliver me?’ he quiets himself with this sweet conclusion, ‘I thank God through Jesus Christ’ (Rom 7:24,25). He found more in the blood of Christ to save him than he found in his own corruptions to damn him; but that could not be, had he not paid full price for him, had he not obtained eternal redemption for him. And can a holy and just God require that we give thanks to him in his name, if it was not effectually done for us by him?
Further, when the apostle looks upon death and the grave, and strengtheneth them by adding to them sin and the law, saying, ‘The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law,’ he presently addeth, ‘But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory, through Jesus Christ’ (1 Cor 15)—the victory over sin, death, and the law, the victory over these through our Lord Jesus Christ: but God hath given us the victory; but it is through our Lord Jesus Christ, through his fulfilling the law, through his destroying death, and through his bringing in everlasting righteousness. Elisha said to the king of Israel, that had it not been that he regarded the presence of Jehoshaphat, he would not look to him nor regard him (2 Kings 3:14); nor would God at all have looked to or regarded thee, but that he respected the person of Jesus Christ.
‘Let the peace of God [therefore] rule in our hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful’ (Col 3:15). The peace of God, of that we have spoken before. But how should this rule in our hearts? He by the next words directs you— ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly’—that is, the word that makes revelation of the death and blood of Christ, and of the peace that is made with God for you thereby.
‘Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Eph 5:20). For all things; for all things come to us through this name Jesus—redemption, translation, the kingdom, salvation, with all the good things wherewith we are blessed.
These are the works of God; he gave his Son, and he brings us to him, and puts us into his kingdom—that is, his true body, which Jeremiah calleth a putting among the children, and a ‘giving us a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations’ (Jer 3:19; John 6).
‘Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ’ (2 Cor 2:14).
See here our cause of triumph is through Christ Jesus; and God causeth us through him to triumph, first and chiefly, because Christ Jesus hath done our work for us, hath pleased God for our sins, hath spoiled the powers of darkness. God gave Jesus Christ to undertake our redemption; Christ did undertake it, did engage our enemies, and spoiled them—He ‘spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them’ upon the cross (Col 2:14,15). Therefore it is evident that he paid full price to God for sinners with his blood, because God commands us to give thanks to him in his name, through his name— ‘And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him’ (Col 3:17).
Take this conclusion from the whole: no thanks are accepted of God that come not to him in the name of his Son; his Son must have the glory of conveying our thanks to God, because he was he that by his blood conveyeth his grace to us.
THE EIGHTH DEMONSTRATION.
EIGHTH. In the next place, that Jesus Christ, by what he hath done, hath paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them, is evident, because we are exhorted to wait for, and to expect, the full and glorious enjoyment of that eternal redemption, at the second coming of the Lord from heaven— ‘Let your loins by girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, - that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately’ (Luke 12:35,36).
Jesus Christ hath obtained by his blood eternal redemption for us, and hath taken it up now in the heavens, is, as I have showed, preparing for us there everlasting mansions of rest; and then he will come again for us. This coming is intended in this text, and this coming we are exhorted to wait for; and that I may more fully show the truth of this demonstration, observe these following texts—
First. It is said, he shall choose our inheritance for us— ‘He shall choose our inheritance for us; the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah. God is gone up with a shout,’ &c. (Psa 47:4,5). These latter words intend the ascension of Jesus Christ; his ascension, when he had upon the cross made reconciliation for iniquity; his ascension into the heavens to prepare our mansions of glory for us; for our inheritance is in the heavens; our house, our hope, our mansion-house, and our incorruptible and undefiled inheritance is in heaven (2 Cor 5:1,2; Col 1:5,6; John 14:1,2; 1 Peter 1:3-5).
This is called the eternal inheritance, of which we that are called have received the promise already (Heb 9:14,15).
This inheritance, I say, he is gone to choose for us in the heavens, because by his blood he obtained it for us (Heb 9:12). And this we are commanded to wait for; but how ridiculous, yea, how great a cheat would this be, had he not by his blood obtained it for us.
Second. ‘We wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus [Christ], which delivered us from the wrath to come’ (1 Thess 1:10). He delivered us by his blood, and obtained the kingdom of heaven for us, and hath promised that he would go and prepare our places, and come again and fetch us thither— ‘And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also’ (John 14:3). This, then, is the cause that we wait for him, we look for the reward of the inheritance at his coming who have served the Lord Christ in this world.
Third. ‘For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ’ (Phil 3:20). We look for him to come yet as a Saviour—a Saviour he was at his first coming, and a Saviour he will be at his second coming. At his first coming, he bought and paid for us; at his second coming, he will fetch us to himself. At his first coming, he gave us promise of the kingdom; at his second coming, he will give us possession of the kingdom. At his first coming, he also showed us how we should be, by his own transfiguration; at his second coming, ‘he will change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body’ (Phil 3:21).
Fourth. Hence therefore it is that his coming is called our blessed hope— ‘Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ’ (Titus 2:13). A blessed hope indeed, if he hath bought our persons with his blood, and an eternal inheritance for us in the heavens; a blessed hope indeed, if also at his coming we be certainly carried thither. No marvel, then, if saints be bid to wait for it, and if saints themselves long for it. But what a disappointment would these waiting believers have, should all their expectations be rewarded with a fable! and the result of their blessed hope can amount to no more, if our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ either denieth to come, or coming, bringeth not with him the hope, the blessed hope that is laid up for us in heaven, whereof we have certainly been informed by ‘the word of the truth of the gospel’ (Col 1:5).
Fifth. ‘For Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation’ (Heb 9:28). Here we have it promised that he shall come, that he shall appear the second time, but not with sin, as he did before—to wit, with and in the sin of his people, when he bare them in his own body; but now without sin, for he before did put them away by the sacrifice of himself. Now, then, let the saints look for him, not to die for the purchasing of their persons by blood, but to bring to them, and to bring them also to that salvation that before when he died he obtained of God for them by his death.
These things are to be expected therefore by them that believe in and love Jesus Christ, and that from faith and love serve him in this world; they are to be expected by them, being obtained for them by Jesus Christ. And he shall give the crown, saith Paul, ‘not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing’ (2 Tim 4:8,9).
Now forasmuch as this inheritance in the heavens is the price, purchase, and reward of his blood, how evidently doth it appear that he hath paid full price to God for sinners! Would God else have given him the heaven to dispose of to us that believe, and would he else have told us so? Yea, and what comfort could we have to look for his coming, and kingdom, and glory as the fruits of his death, if his death had not for that purpose been sufficiently efficacious? O ‘the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that shall follow!’ (1 Peter 1:11).
THE NINTH DEMONSTRATION.
NINTH. That Jesus Christ, by what he hath done, hath paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for sinners, is evident, because of the threatenings wherewith God hath threatened, and the punishments wherewith he punisheth those that shall refuse to be saved by Christ, or seek to make insignificant the doctrine of righteousness by faith in him.
This demonstration consisteth of three parts—First. It suggesteth that some refuse to be justified or saved by Christ, and also seek to make insignificant the doctrine of righteousness by faith in him. Second. That God doth threaten these. Third. That God will punish these.
[First.] That some refuse to be saved by Christ is evident from many texts. He is the stone which the builders have rejected; he is also disallowed of men; the Jews stumble at him, and to the Greeks he is foolishness; both saying, This man shall not rule over us, or, How can this man save us? (Psa 118:22; Matt 21:44; Luke 19:14; 1 Cor 1:23; 1 Peter 2:4).
The causes of men’s refusing Christ are many—1. Their love to sin. 2. Their ignorance of his excellency. 3. Their unbelief. 4. Their deferring to come to him in the acceptable time. 5. Their leaning to their own righteousness. 6. Their entertaining damnable doctrines. 7. Their loving the praise of men. 8. The meanness of his ways, his people, &c. 9. The just judgment of God upon them. 10. The kingdom is given to others.
Now these, as they all refuse him, so they seek, more or less, some practically, others in practice and judgment also, to make insignificant the doctrine of righteousness by faith in him. One does it by preferring his sins before him. Another does it by preferring his righteousness before him. Another dies it by preferring his delusions before him. Another does it by preferring the world before him.
Now these God threateneth, these God punisheth.
Second. God threateneth them.
1. Whosoever shall ‘not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from amongst the people’ (Acts 3:23). The prophet is Jesus Christ; the doctrine that he preached was, that he would lay down his life for us, that he would give us his flesh to eat, and his blood to drink by faith; and promised, that if we did eat his flesh, and drink his blood, we should have eternal life. He therefore that seeth not, or that is afraid to venture his soul for salvation on the flesh and blood of Christ by faith, he refuseth this prophet, he heareth not this prophet, and him God hath purposed to cut off. But would God thus have threatened, if Christ by his blood, and the merits of the same, had not paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them?
2. ‘Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool’ (Psa 110:1; Matt 22:44; Heb 1:13). The honour of sitting at God’s right hand was given him because he died, and offered his body once for all. ‘This man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool’ (Heb 10:12,13). Expecting, since God accepted his offering, that those that refused him should be trodden under foot; that is, sunk by him into and under endless and insupportable vengeance. But would God have given the world such an account of his sufferings, that by one offering he did perfect for ever them that are sanctified? yea, and would he have threatened to make those foes his footstool that shall refuse to venture themselves upon his offering—for they are indeed his foes—had not his eternal Majesty been well pleased with the price he paid to God for sinners; had he not obtained eternal redemption for them?
3. He shall come ‘from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Thess 1:7,8).
Here he expressly telleth us wherefore they shall be punished; because ‘they know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ’; where also is notably intimated that he that obeyeth not the gospel of Christ knoweth not God, neither in his justice nor mercy. But what is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ but good tidings of good things—to wit, forgiveness of sins by faith in his blood, an inheritance in heaven by faith in his blood, as the whole of all the foregoing discourse hath manifested? Now, I say, can it be imagined that God would threaten to come upon the world with this flaming, fiery vengeance to punish them for their non-subjection to his Son’s gospel, if there had not been by himself paid to God full price for the souls of sinners, if he had not obtained eternal redemption by his blood for sinners?
4. ‘And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him’ (Jude 14,15).
The Lord that is here said to come with ten thousands of his saints is Jesus Christ himself; and they that come with him are called his saints, because given to him by the Father, for the sake of the shedding of his blood. Now in that he is said to come to execute judgment upon all, and especially those that speak hard speeches against him, it is evident that the Father tendereth his name, which is Jesus, a Saviour, and his undertaking for our redemption; and as evident that the hard speeches intended by the text are such as vilify him as Saviour, counting the blood of the covenant unholy, and trampling him that is Prince of the covenant under the feet of their reproachful language; this is counted a putting of him to open shame, and a despising the riches of his goodness (Heb 6:10; Rom 2). Time would fail to give you a view of the revilings, despiteful sayings, and of the ungodly speeches which these abominable children of hell let fall in their pamphlets, doctrines, and discourses against the Lord the King. But the threatening is, he shall ‘execute judgment upon them for all their ungodly deeds, and for all the hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’
5. ‘Beware therefore, lest that come upon you which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which you shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you’ (Acts 13:40,41).
This work is the same we have been all this while treating of—to wit, redemption by the blood of Christ for sinners, or that Christ hath paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them. This is manifest from verses 23 to 29 of this chapter.
Now, observe, there are and will be despisers of this doctrine, and they are threatened with the wrath of God— ‘Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish.’ But would God so carefully have cautioned sinners to take heed of despising this blessed doctrine, and have backed his caution with a threatening that they shall perish, if they persist, had not he himself received by the blood of Christ full price for the souls of sinners?
Third. As God threateneth, so he punisheth those that refuse his Son, or that seek to vilify or make insignificant the doctrine of righteousness by faith in him.
1. He punished them with the abidings of his wrath— ‘He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him’ (John 3:36).
The wrath of God for men; for sin stands already condemned by the law; and the judgment is, that they who refuse the Lord Jesus Christ shall have this wrath of God for ever lie and abide upon them; for they want a sacrifice to pacify wrath for the sin they have committed, having resisted and refused the sacrifice of the body of Christ. Therefore it cannot be that they should get from under their present condition who have refused to accept of the undertaking of Christ for them.
Besides, God, to show that he taketh it ill at the hands of sinners that they should refuse the sacrifice of Christ, hath resolved that there shall be no more sacrifice for sin. Therefore ‘if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins’ (Heb 10:26). God doth neither appoint another, neither will he accept another, whoever brings it. And here those sayings are of their own natural force: ‘How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?’ And again, ‘See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth (Moses), much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him (Christ) that speaketh from heaven’ (Heb 2:3, 12:25).
This therefore is a mighty demonstration that Christ by what he hath done hath paid full price to God for the souls of sinners, because God so severely threateneth, and also punisheth them that refuse to be justified by his blood: he threateneth, as you have heard, and punisheth, by leaving such men in their sins, under his heavy and insupportable vengeance here.
2. ‘He that believeth not shall be damned,’ damned in hell-fire (Mark 16:16). ‘He that believeth not.’ But what should he believe? Why,
(1.) That Jesus is the Saviour. ‘If,’ saith he, ‘ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.’
(2.) He that believeth not that he [Jesus] hath undertaken and completely perfected righteousness for us, shall die in his sins, shall be damned, and perish in hell-fire; for such have no cloak for their sin, but must stand naked to the show of their shame before the judgment of God, that fearful judgment. Therefore, after he had said, ‘there remaineth’ for such ‘no more sacrifice for sin,’ he adds, ‘but a certain fearful looking for of judgment’; there is for them left nothing but the judgment of God, and his fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. ‘He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace’ (Heb 10:28,29).
See here, if fury comes not up now into the face of God; now is mention made of his fearful judgment and fiery indignation. Now, I say, is mention made thereof, when it is suggested that some have light thoughts of him, count his blood unholy, and trample his sacrificed body under the feet of their reproaches; now is he a consuming fire, and will burn to the lowest hell. ‘For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people’ (Heb 10:30). These words are urged by the Holy Ghost on purpose to beget in the hearts of the rebellious reverend thoughts, and a high esteem of the sacrifice which our Lord Jesus offered once for all upon Mount Calvary unto God the Father for our sins; for that is the very argument of the whole epistle.
It is said to this purpose, in one of Paul’s epistles to the Thessalonians, that because men receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved; ‘for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they might be damned’ (2 Thess 2:11,12).
‘The truth’ mentioned in this place is Jesus Christ. ‘I am the truth,’ saith he (John 14:6). The love of the truth is none else but the love and compassion of Jesus Christ in shedding his blood for man’s redemption. ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13). This, then, is the love of the Truth (of Jesus), that he hath laid down his life for us. Now, that the rejecters of this love should by this their rejecting procure such wrath of God against them, that rather than they shall miss of damnation, himself will choose their delusions for them, and also give them up to the effectual working of these delusions, what doth this manifest but that God is displeased with them that accept not of Jesus Christ for righteousness, and will certainly order that their end shall be everlasting damnation? therefore Jesus Christ hath paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them.
THE USE OF THE DOCTRINE.
I come now to make some use of and to apply this blessed doctrine of the undertaking of Jesus Christ, and of his paying full price to God for sinners, and of his obtaining eternal redemption for them.
THE FIRST USE.
[FIRST.] By this doctrine we come to understand many things which otherwise abide obscure and utterly unknown, because this doctrine is accompanied with the Holy Ghost, that revealer of secrets, and searcher of the deep things of God (1 Peter 1:2; Eph 1:17; 1 Cor 2). The Holy Ghost comes down with this doctrine as that in which it alone delighteth; therefore is it called ‘the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge’ of Jesus Christ. He giveth also ‘the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’ (2 Cor 4:6). Little of God is known in the world where the gospel is rejected; the religious Jew and the wise Gentile may see more of God in a crucified Christ than in heaven and earth besides; for in him ‘are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,’ not only in his person as God, but also in his undertakings as Mediator (Col 2:3). Hence Paul telleth us, that he ‘determined not to know anything among’ the Corinthians but ‘Jesus Christ and him crucified’ (1 Cor 2:2). I say, more of God is revealed to us in this doctrine than we can see of him in heaven and earth without it.
First. Here is more of his WISDOM seen than in his making and upholding all the creatures. His wisdom, I say, in devising means to reconcile sinners to a holy and infinite Majesty; to be a just God, and YET a Saviour; to be just to his law, just to his threatening, just to himself, and yet save sinners, can no way be understood till thou understandest why Jesus Christ did hang on the tree; for here only is the riddle unfolded, ‘Christ died for our sins,’ and therefore can God in justice save us (Isa 45:21). And hence is Christ called the Wisdom of God, not only because he is so essentially, but because by him is the greatest revelation of his wisdom towards man. In redemption, therefore, by the blood of Christ, God is said to abound towards us in all wisdom (Eph 1:7,8). Here we see the highest contradictions reconciled, here justice kisseth the sinner, here a man stands just in the sight of God while confounded at his own pollutions, and here he that hath done no good hath yet a sufficient righteousness, even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ.
Second. The JUSTICE of God is here more seen than in punishing all the damned. ‘He spared not his own Son,’ is a sentence which more revealeth the nature of the justice of God than if it had said, He spared not all the world. True, he cast angels from heaven, and drowned the old world; he turned Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, with many more of like nature; but what were all these to the cursing of his Son? Yea, what were ten thousand such manifestations of his ireful indignation against sin, to that of striking, afflicting, chastising, and making the darling of his bosom the object of his wrath and judgment? Here it is seen he respecteth not persons, but judgeth sin, and condemneth him on whom it is found; yea, although on Jesus Christ his well-beloved (Rom 8:32; Gal 3:13).
Third. The mystery of God’s WILL is here more seen than in hanging the earth upon nothing, while he condemneth Christ, though righteous, and justifieth us, though sinners, while he maketh him to be sin for us, and us the righteousness of God in him (1 Peter 3:18; 2 Cor 5:20).
Fourth. The POWER of God is here more seen than in making of heaven and earth; for one to bear, and get the victory over sin, when charged by the justice of an infinite majesty, in so doing he showeth the height of the highest power; for where sin by the law is charged, and that by God immediately, there an infinite majesty opposeth, and that with the whole of his justice, holiness, and power; so then, he that is thus charged and engaged for the sin of the world, must not only be equal with God, but show it by overcoming that curse and judgment that by infinite justice is charged upon him for sin.
When angels and men had sinned, how did they fall and crumble before the anger of God! they had not power to withstand the terror, nor could there be worth found in their persons or doings to appease displeased justice. But behold here stands the Son of God before him in the sin of the world; his Father, finding him there, curseth and condemns him to death; but he, by the power of his Godhead, and the worthiness of his person and doings, vanquisheth sin, satisfieth God’s justice, and so becomes the Saviour of the world. Here, then, is power seen: sin is a mighty thing, it crusheth all in pieces save him whose Spirit is eternal (Heb 9:14). Set Christ and his sufferings aside, and you neither see the evil of sin nor the displeasure of God against it; you see them not in their utmost. Hadst thou a view of all the legions that are now in the pains of hell, yea, couldst thou hear their shrieks and groans together at once, and feel the whole of all their burden, much of the evil of sin and of the justice of God against it would be yet unknown by thee, for thou wouldest want power to feel and bear the utmost. A giant shows not his power by killing of a little child, nor yet is his might seen by the resistance that such a little one makes, but then he showeth his power when he dealeth with one like himself; yea, and the power also of the other is then made manifest in saving himself from being swallowed up with his wrath. Jesus Christ also made manifest his eternal power and Godhead, more by bearing and overcoming our sins, than in making or upholding the whole world; hence Christ crucified is called ‘the power of God’ (1 Cor 1:23,24).
Fifth. The LOVE and MERCY of God are more seen in and by this doctrine than any other way. Mercy and love are seen, in that God gives us rain and fruitful seasons, and in that he filleth our hearts with food and gladness; from that bounty which he bestoweth upon us as men, as his creatures. O! but herein is love made manifest, in that ‘Christ laid down his life for us.’ ‘And God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’ (1 John 3:16; Rom 5:8).
Never love like this, nor did God ever give such discovery of his love from the beginning to this day. ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins’ (1 John 4:10).
Here is love, that God sent his Son, his darling, his Son that never offended, his Son that was always his delight! Herein is love, that he sent him to save sinners, to save them by bearing their sins, by bearing their curse, by dying their death, and by carrying their sorrows! Here is love, in that while we were yet enemies, Christ died for us; yea, here is love, in that while ‘we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly’ (Rom 5:6).
THE SECOND USE.
[SECOND.] But as this doctrine giveth us the best discovery of God, so also it giveth us the best discovery of ourselves and our own things.
First. It giveth us the best discovery of ourselves. Wouldst thou know, sinner, what thou art? look up to the cross, and behold a weeping, bleeding, dying Jesus: nothing could do but that, nothing could save thee but his blood; angels could not, saints could not, God could not, because he could not lie, because he could not deny himself. What a thing is sin, that it should sink all that bear its burden! yea, it sunk the Son of God himself into death and the grave, and had also sunk him into hell-fire for ever had he not been the Son of God, had he not been able to take it on his back, and bear it away! O this Lamb of God! Sinners were going to hell, Christ was the delight of his Father, and had a whole heaven to himself; but that did not content him, heaven could not hold him; he must come into the world to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15). Aye, and had he not come, thy sins had sunk thee, thy sins had provoked the wrath of God against thee, to thy perdition and destruction for ever. There is no man but is a sinner, there is no sin but would damn an angel, should God lay it to his charge. Sinner, the doctrine of Christ crucified crieth therefore aloud unto thee, that sin hath made thy condition dreadful. See yourselves, your sin, and consequently the condition that your souls are in, by the death and blood of Christ; Christ’s death giveth us the most clear discovery of the dreadful nature of our sins. I say again, if sin be so dreadful a thing as to break the heart of the Son of God, for so he said it did, how shall a poor, wretched, impenitent, damned sinner wrestle with the wrath of God? Awake, sinners; you are lost, you are undone, you are damned, hell-fire is your portion for ever, if you abide in your sins, and be found without a Saviour in the dreadful day of judgment.
Second. For your good deeds cannot help you; the blood of Christ tells you so. For by this doctrine, ‘Christ died for our sins,’ God damneth to death and hell the righteousness of the world. Christ must die, or man be damned. Where is now any room for the righteousness of men? room, I say, for man’s righteousness, as to his acceptance and justification? Bring, then, thy righteousness to the cross of Jesus Christ, and in his blood behold the demands of justice; behold them, I say, in the cries and tears, in the blood and death of Jesus Christ. Look again, and behold the person dying; such an one as never sinned nor offended at any time, yet he dies. Could a holy life, an innocent, harmless conversation, have saved one from death, Jesus had not died. But he must die; sin was charged, therefore Christ must die.
Men, therefore, need to go no further to prove the worth of their own righteousness than to the death of Christ; they need not be waiting to seek in that matter till they stand before the judgment-seat.
Quest. But how should I prove [or try] the goodness of mine own righteousness by the death and blood of Christ?
Answ. Thus: if Christ must die for sin, then all thy righteousness cannot save thee. ‘If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain’ (Gal 2:21). By this text it is manifest that either Christ died in vain, or thy righteousness is vain. If thy righteousness can save thee, then Christ died in vain; if nothing below or besides the death of Christ could save thee, then thy righteousness is in vain; one of the two must be cast away, either Christ’s or thine. Christ crucified to save the world, discovereth two great evils in man’s own righteousness; I mean, when brought for justification and life. 1. It opposeth the righteousness of Christ. 2. It condemneth God of foolishness.
1. It opposeth the righteousness of Christ, in that it seeketh itself to stand where should the righteousness of Christ—to wit, in God’s affection for the justification of thy person; and this is one of the highest affronts to Christ that poor man is capable to give him: right worthily, therefore, doth the doctrine of the gospel damn the righteousness of men, and promiseth the kingdom of God to publicans and harlots rather.
2. It condemneth God of foolishness; for if works of righteousness which we can do can justify from the curse of the law in the sight of God, then are not all the treasures of wisdom found in the heart of God and Christ; for this dolt-headed sinner hath now found out a way of his own, unawares to God, to secure his soul from wrath and vengeance; I say, unawares to God, for he never imagined that such a thing could be; for had he, he would never have purposed before the world began to send his Son to die for sinners. Christ is the wisdom of God, as you have heard, and that as he is our justifying righteousness. God was manifest in the flesh to save us, is the great mystery of godliness. But wherein lieth the depth of this wisdom of God in our salvation, if man’s righteousness can save him? (Job 40:10-14).
Yea, wherefore hath God also given it out that there is none other name given to men under heaven whereby we must be saved? I say again, why is it affirmed ‘without shedding of blood is no remission,’ if man’s good deeds can save him?
This doctrine, therefore, of the righteousness of Christ being rightly preached, and truly believed, arraigneth and condemneth man’s righteousness to hell; it casteth it out as Abraham cast out Ishmael. Blood, blood, the sound of blood, abaseth all the glory of it! When men have said all, and showed us what they can, they have no blood to present God’s justice with; yet it is blood that maketh an atonement for the soul, and nothing but blood can wash away from us our sins (Lev 17:11; Rev 1:5; Heb 9).
Justice calls for blood, sins call for blood, the righteous law calls for blood, yea, the devil himself must be overcome by blood. Sinner, where is now thy righteousness? Bring it before a consuming fire, for our God is a consuming fire; bring it before the justice of the law; yea, try if aught but the blood of Christ can save thee from thy sins, and devils; try it, I say, by this doctrine; go not one step further before thou hast tried it.
Third. By this doctrine we are made to see the worth of souls. It cannot be but that the soul is of wonderful price, when the Son of God will not stick to spill his blood for it. O sinners, you that will venture your souls for a little pleasure, surely you know not the worth of your souls. Now, if you would know what your souls are worth, and the price which God sets them at, read that price by the blood of Christ. The blood of Christ was spilt to save souls. ‘For ye are bought with a price,’ and that price none other than the blood of Christ; ‘therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Cor 6:20). Sinners, you have souls, can you behold a crucified Christ, and not bleed, and not mourn, and not fall in love with him?
THE THIRD USE.
[THIRD.] By this doctrine sinners, as sinners, are encouraged to come to God for mercy, for the curse due to sin is taken out of the way. I speak now to sinners that are awake, and see themselves sinners.
There are two things in special when men begin to be awakened, that kill their thoughts of being saved. 1. A sense of sin. 2. The wages due thereto. These kill the heart; for who can bear up under the guilt of sin? ‘If our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?’ (Eze 33:10). How indeed! it is impossible. So neither can man grapple with the justice of God. ‘Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong?’ They cannot (Eze 22:14). ‘A wounded spirit who can bear?’ (Prov 18:14). Men cannot, angels cannot. Wherefore, if now Christ be hid, and the blessing of faith in his blood denied, woe be to them; such go after Saul and Judas, one to the sword, and the other to the halter, and so miserably end their days; for come to God they dare not; the thoughts of that eternal Majesty strike them through.
But now, present such poor dejected sinners with a crucified Christ, and persuade them that the sins under which they shake and tremble were long ago laid upon the back of Christ, and the noise and sense and fear of damning begins to cease, depart, and fly away; dolors and terrors fade and vanish, and that soul conceiveth hopes of life; for thus the soul argueth, Is this indeed the truth of God, that Christ was made to be sin for me? was made the curse of God for me? Hath he indeed borne all my sins, and spilt his blood for my redemption! O Blessed tidings! O welcome grace! ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.’ Now is peace come; now the face of heaven is altered; ‘Behold, all things are become new.’ Now the sinner can abide God’s presence, yea, sees unutterable glory and beauty in him; for here he sees justice smite. While Jacob was afraid of Esau, how heavily did he drive even towards the promised land? but when killing thoughts were turned into kissing, and the fears of the sword’s point turned into brother embraces, what says he?— ‘I have seen thy face as though it had been the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me’ (Gen 33:10).
So and far better is it with a poor distressed sinner at the revelation of the grace of God through Jesus Christ. ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.’ O what work will such a word make upon a wounded conscience, especially when the next words follow— ‘For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him!’
Now, the soul sees qualifications able to set him quit in the sight of God; qualifications prepared already. Prepared, I say, already; and that by God through Christ; even such as can perfectly answer the law. What doth the law require? If obedience, here it is; if bloody sacrifice, here it is; if infinite righteousness, here it is! Now, then, the law condemns him that believes before God no more; for all its demands are answered, all its curses are swallowed up in the death and curse Christ underwent.
Object. But reason saith, since personal sin brought the death, surely personal obedience must bring us life and glory.
Answ. True reason saith so, and so doth the law itself (Rom 10:5); but God, we know, is above them both, and he in the covenant of grace saith otherwise; to wit, that ‘if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved’ (Rom 10:9).
Let reason, then, hold its tongue, yea, let the law with all its wisdom subject itself to him that made it; let it look for sin where God hath laid it; let it approve the righteousness which God approveth; yea, though it be not that of the law, but that by faith of Jesus Christ.
God hath made him our righteousness, God hath made him our sin, God hath made him our curse, God hath made him our blessing; methinks this word, ‘God hath made it so,’ should silence all the world.
THE FOURTH USE.
[FOURTH.] By this doctrine, sufficiency of argument is ministered to the tempted to withstand hereby the assaults of the devil.
When souls begin to seek after the Lord Jesus, then Satan begins to afflict and distress, as the Canaanites did the Gibeonites, for making peace with Joshua (Josh 10:1,6).
There are three things that do usually afflict the soul that is earnestly looking after Jesus Christ. First. Dreadful accusations from Satan. Second. Grievous defiling and infectious thoughts. Third. A strange readiness in our nature to fall in with both.
First. By the first of these, the heart is made continually to tremble. Hence his temptations are compared to the roaring of a lion, for as the lion by roaring killeth the heart of his prey, so doth Satan kill the spirit of these that hearken to him (1 Peter 5:8); for when he tempteth, especially by way of accusation, he doth to us as Rabshakeh did to the Jews; he speaks to us in our own language; he speaks our sin at every word, our guilty conscience knows it; he speaks our death at every word, our doubting conscience feels it.
Second. Besides this, there doth now arise, even in the heart, such defiling and foul infectious thoughts that putteth the tempted to their wits’ end; for now it seems to the soul that the very flood-gates of the flesh are opened, and that to sin there is no stop at all; now the air seems to be covered with darkness, and the man is as if he was changed into the nature of a devil; now if ignorance and unbelief prevail, he concludeth that he is a reprobate, made to be taken and destroyed.
Third. Now also he feeleth in him a readiness to fall in with every temptation; a readiness, I say, continually present (Rom 7:21). This throws all down. Now despair begins to swallow him up; now he can neither pray, nor read, nor hear, nor meditate on God, but fire and smoke continually bursteth forth of the heart against him. Now sin and great confusion puts forth itself in all; yea, the more the sinner desireth to do a duty sincerely, the further off it always find itself; for by how much the soul struggleth under these distresses, by so much the more doth Satan put forth himself to resist, still infusing more poison, that if possible it might never struggle more, for strugglings are also as poison to Satan. The fly in the spider’s web is an emblem of the soul in such a condition—the fly is entangled in the web; at this the spider shows himself; if the fly stir again, down comes the spider to her, and claps a foot upon her; if yet the fly makes a noise, then with poisoned mouth the spider lays hold upon her; if the fly struggle still, then he poisons her more and more. What shall the fly do now? Why, she dies, if somebody does not quickly release her. This is the case of the tempted; they are entangled in the web, their feet and wings are entangled; now Satan shows himself; if the soul now struggleth, Satan laboureth to hold it down; if it now shall make a noise, then he bites with blasphemous mouth, more poisonous than the gall of a serpent; if it struggle again, then he poisoneth more and more, insomuch that it needs, at last, must die in the net, if the man, the lord Jesus, help not out.
The afflicted conscience understands my words.
Further, though the fly in the web is altogether incapable of looking for relief, yet this awakened, tempted Christian is not. What must he do therefore? How should he contain hopes of life? If he look to his heart, there is blasphemy; if he look to his duties, there is sin; if he strive to mourn and lament, perhaps he cannot; unbelief and hardness hinder. Shall this man lie down and despair? No. Shall he trust to his duties? No. Shall he stay from Christ till his heart is better? No. What then? Let him NOW look to Jesus Christ crucified, then shall he see his sins answered for, then shall he see death a-dying, then shall he see guilt borne by another, and there shall he see the devil overcome. This sight destroys the power of the first temptation, purifies the heart, and inclines the mind to all good things.
And to encourage thee, tempted creature, to this most gospel duty, consider that when Jesus Christ read his commission upon the entering into his ministry, he proclaimed, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord’ (Luke 4:18,19).
These things therefore should the tempted believe; but believing is now sweating work; for Satan will hold as long as possible, and only steadfast faith can make him fly. But O, the toil of a truly gracious heart in this combat! If faith be weak, he can scarce get higher than his knees; Lord, help! Lord, save! and then down again, till an arm from heaven takes him up, until Jesus Christ be evidently set forth crucified for him, and cursed for his sin; for then, and not till then, the temptation rightly ceaseth, at leastwise for a season. Now the soul can tend to look about it, and thus consider with itself: if Christ hath borne my sin and curse, then it is taken away from me; and seeing thus to take away sin was the contrivance of the God of heaven, I will bless his name, hope in his mercy, and look upon death and hell with comfort. ‘Thine heart shall meditate terror,’ thou shalt see the land that is very far off (Isa 33:16-18).
THE FIFTH USE.
[FIFTH.] this doctrine makes Christ precious to the believers— ‘Unto you therefore which believe, he is precious’ (1 Peter 2:7).
This head might be greatly enlarged upon, and branched out into a thousand particulars, and each one full of weight and glory. 1. By considering what sin is. 2. By considering what hell is. 3. By considering what wrath is. 4. By considering what eternity is. 5. By considering what the loss of a soul is. 6. What the loss of God is. 7. What the loss of heaven is. 8. And what it is to be in utter darkness with devils and damned souls for ever and ever. And after all to conclude, from all the miseries the Lord Jesus delivered me.
Further, this makes Christ precious, if I consider, in the next place,
1. How he did deliver me; it was with his life, his blood; it cost him tears, groans, agony, separation from God; to do it he endured his Father’s wrath, bore his Father’s curse, and died thousands of deaths at once.
2. He did this while I was his enemy, without my desires, without my knowledge, without my deserts; he did it unawares to me.
3. He did it freely, cheerfully, yea, he longed to die for me; yea, heaven would not hold him for the love he had to my salvation, which also he hath effectually accomplished for me at Jerusalem. Honourable Jesus! precious Jesus! loving Jesus! Jonathan’s kindness captivated David, and made him precious in his eyes for ever. ‘I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan,’ said he; ‘very pleasant hast thou been unto me; thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women’ (2 Sam 1:26). Why, what had Jonathan done? O, he had delivered David from the wrath of Saul. But how much more should he be precious to me who hath saved me from death and hell! who hath delivered me from the wrath of God! ‘The love of Christ constraineth us.’ Nothing will so edge the spirit of a Christian as, ‘Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.’ This makes the heavens themselves ring with joy and shouting. Mark the words, ‘Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.’ What follows now? ‘And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever’ (Rev 5:9-14).
Thus also is the song, that new song that is said to be sung by the hundred forty and four thousand which stand with the Lamb upon Mount Sion, with his Father’s name written in their foreheads. These are also called harpers, harping with their harps: ‘And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth’ (Rev 14:1-3).
But why could they not learn that song? Because they were not redeemed: none can sing of this song but the redeemed; they can give glory to the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain, and that redeemed them to God by his blood. It is faith in his blood on earth that will make us sing this song in heaven. These shoutings and heavenly songs must needs come from love put into a flame by the sufferings of Christ.
THE LAST USE.
If all these things be true, what follows but a demonstration of the accursed condition of those among the religious in these nations whose notions put them far off from Jesus, and from venturing their souls upon his bloody death? I have observed such a spirit as this in the world that careth not for knowing of Jesus; the possessed therewith do think that it is not material to salvation to venture upon a crucified Christ, neither do they trouble their heads or hearts with inquiring whether Christ Jesus be risen and ascended into heaven, or whether they see him again or no, but rather are for concluding that there will be no such thing: these men speak not by the Holly Ghost, for in the sum they call Jesus accursed; but I doubt not to say that many of them are anathematized of God, and shall stand so, till the coming of the Lord Jesus, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1. In this quotation, Bunyan has followed the Genevan or Puritan version. It was a favourite version with our pilgrim forefathers, and is in many texts more faithful than our authorized translation; but, in this passage, our present version is more literal. The same Hebrew word, to ‘break’ or ‘bruise,’ is used as to Satan’s head and the Saviour’s heel.—Ed.
2. Genevan or Puritan version.—Ed.
3. ‘Common’ means public. ‘Not doing nor dying in a private capacity, but in the room and stead of sinners.’—Ed.
4. It was common with the Reformers and Puritans, when condemning the absurdities of Aquinas and the schoolmen, to call it ‘Dunsish sophistry,’ from one of the chief of these writers named Duns, usually called, from the place of his birth, Duns Scotus.—Ed.
5. The apostle evidently means by ‘Christ made sin for us,’ that he was made an offering or sacrifice for our sins. He was made sin who knew no sin. Our sins were laid upon him; he bore them away in his own body on the tree. The clean animals sacrificed by the patriarchs, and under the law, were types of this great sacrifice of Christ.—Ed.
6. ‘I hid myself when I for flies do wait,
So doth the devil when he lays his bait;
If I do fear the losing of my prey,
I stir me, and more snares upon her lay,
This way and that her wings and legs I tie,
That sure as she is caught, so she must die.’—Bunyan’s Divine Emblems, No. XVIII. ‘Dialogue between a spider and a sinner.’
7. Here is faithful dealing! This is a most solemn and awful appeal to the consciences of those who, forsaking the fountain of salvation, venture to build their hopes of pardon upon some other foundation than Jesus Christ, the Rock of Ages. They seek refuge in lies, which, at the great and trying day, will be fearfully and swiftly swept away, leaving them, with all their guilt upon their heads, to suffer under the curse. Reader, do not indulge in vain imaginations as to whether any sect is here alluded to; Bunyan’s appeal is to persons—to you and me. If WE, either by secret or open sins, or by carelessness of eternal realities, or by departing from a simple and entire reliance by faith in the work and merits of Christ—we trample under foot the blood of the covenant, there is nothing left us but a fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation to devour us. May we appeal to our God, Lord, is it I? Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. O lead me in the way everlasting.—Ed