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the Testament-he sprinkled with blood the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministryand almost all things are by the law purged with blood.' When it is considered that this is the language of the Holy Spirit, it must be felt that it is used with wisdom and design.
But why was this necessary to the remission of sin? The law of God required it—the truth of God required it-the honour of God required it-the character of God required it. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.' Wondrous economy! God glorified while the sinner is saved! The law magnified while the guilty is pardoned! Heaven sounding with praises while earth is redeemed from sin.
So also in the gospel. Marked attention is paid to the shedding of the blood of Christ. In the agony of the garden his 'sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.' At the time of his death the blood poured freely from his hands and feet, rudely lacerated by the nails that fastened him to the cross, as well as by For in the one appointment of the shedding of the injury of the thorns with which, in mockery, blood a provision is made to meet the evil of sin he was crowned. And the incident is particu- in all its bearings. Here is pardon, and peace, larly noticed that as he hung on the cross, a soldier and purity, and redemption. The blood of Christ pierced his side with a spear, so that there came is alike a title to heaven, and a motive to holithence blood and water. Does there not seem to ness. 'There is no condemnation to them that be a design to teach that all the blood which had are in Christ.' And upon all such is it enjoined, flowed in the body of Christ was poured out un-'ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price, til life became completely extinct? And when therefore glorify God in your body and spirit, he died, and ordinances were instituted to com- which are his.' memorate his death, these are so ordered as still to keep the shedding of his blood prominently in view. Witness the water in baptism, and wine
in the supper.
But let us inquire what meaneth this? What is the mystery in the shedding of blood? The principle of interpretation is thus given in the law of Moses, the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar, to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul,' Lev. xvii. 11. By pouring out the blood the life was given up, and by giving up the life, in the room of another, atonement was made. Under the law this was figuratively and typically declared, and only so, for the blood of bulls and of goats could never take away sin. But under the gospel this was literally and really accomplished when Jesus Christ poured out his soul unto death, and presented it an offering for sin. The ceremonies of the law were only the shadow, while his death was the substance. And so important is this doctrine, that the entire epistle to the Hebrews was written for its elucidation.
And what was there so peculiar in the shedding of Christ's blood as to render it thus efficacious? This is explained by John saying, 'the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.' He was the Son of God. As Son he was an equal partaker of the nature and glory of the Godhead with the Father and the Spirit. Hence the efficacy of his death—its merit is infinite-enough to satisfy for the sins of an apos
Am I in Christ? Does the holiness of my life evidence the reality of my faith? O! my soul, the blood of Christ now speaketh peace. Let it be sprinkled on the conscience by the Holy Spirit, whose office it is to apply it to the sinner. But it may be disregarded, and neither its necessity nor worth may be known, and if so, the day cometh when it shall cry for vengeance, worse than that of Abel-when the charge shall be, guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.' And then shall the punishment be that of him '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.'
'Behold the Saviour on the cross,
a spectacle of woe!
Till death's pale ensigns o'er his cheek
''Tis finish'd-was his latest voice;
for sins, but not his own;
and crown'd him with their spoils.
All old things now are past away,
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you,
Ezek. xxxvi. 25.
THIS promise is addressed to the Jews, and contains an assurance of their final restoration to the favour and service of God, as is manifest from the context, Ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God,' ver. 28. Then the heathen, that are left round about you, shall know that I the Lord build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate; I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it,' ver. 36.
Viewed in this application, the promise is singularly rich and precious. For how great is the guilt of Israel! Yet shall it be removed. How deep their depravity! Yet shall it be healed. How inveterate their sinfulness! Yet shall it be overcome. They crucified the Lord of glory, and cried out, 'His blood be upon us, and upon our children;' for eighteen hundred years they have continued to 'trample under foot the blood of the Son of God;' and by an obstinate perseverance in iniquity they have done despite to the Spirit of his grace. Yet is there mercy in store for them. The blood which they shed shall be applied to them for cleansing. This is the clean water spoken of in the promise. It can, and will make even guilty Israel clean. 'There shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.'
What exalted views does such a promise give us of the redeeming power and love of God! It is, indeed, a satisfying evidence of the precious doctrine of the apostle Paul, 'Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.'
And does it not encourage and require us diligently to seek the recovery of Israel? God has thoughts of mercy towards them, and we should labour to see them blessed with his favour. for more of the prophet's spirit in the Christian church, breathing its anxieties for the ancient people of God in his words, 'For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.'
But it is not Israel only that is concerned in such a promise as this. The dealings of God
towards them are illustrative of his dealings towards us. They are a living exemplification of the depth of the divine love, and the power of divine grace. Hence Christians are addressed, Ye are come to mount Zion, and the city of the living God' to all the promises and privileges of ancient Israel. The clean water of Calvary has healing virtue for the souls of men in all ages and countries. And the rich promise upon which we dwell may be pleaded wherever there is guilt to pardon, or impurity to cleanse, or ungodliness to change. The address is to sinners, ‘ye shall be clean.' And O how various and valuable the blessings which it contains.
It is a promise of pardon. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.' 'In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. There is no amount of crime beyond the reach of pardon. In this respect well might Jehovah say by the prophet, My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.' He pardoned Saul of Tarsus and Mary Magdalene. There may be defilement which water cannot cleanse, but there is no guilt which the blood of Christ cannot remove.
It is a promise of purity. And hence is it accompanied with this explanation, 'A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.' The blood of Christ is the 'laver of regeneration,' in which the soul is washed, and in which, while its guilt is removed, its nature is changed. However hardened in sin before, it becomes tenderly alive to the claims of God and the obligations of his service. Its views, and dispositions, and purposes undergo a complete revolution. It may truly be said, 'If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.'
It is a promise of external holiness, as well as inward purity. For it is added, 'I will cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.' When sin is pardoned, it is not that it may be contracted afresh. On the contrary, a powerful motive arises hence to avoid it in future. A sense of pardoning mercy is a mighty sanctifying principle. And when the heart is renewed, this is the qualification for a godly life. Till then the inclination is wanted; but as soon as this is done, holiness becomes the delight of the soul. As Jesus is loved,
so is he imitated and obeyed. The more his work is considered, the more powerful its influence in determining to walk after his precepts. The very habit of the Christian is always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in his body.' He feels the force of the poet's sentiment—
'Talk they of morals? O thou bleeding Lamb!
But let us not omit to notice that it is a promise upon which we have been meditating. A promise! Therefore we must come to God by prayer, and plead it with him. His language is, 'I will for this be enquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them.' A promise! Therefore we must receive the blessing gratuitously. We cannot purchase it. While we dream of a price, we hinder our reception of it. We are to ask and receive. It is the office of the Holy Spirit to apply the blood of Christ to the conscience, and this is the exhortation of Jesus, 'If your fathers, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto their children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?'
be 'holy, and just, and good.' Holy! distinguishing in every instance between right and wrong, good and evil. Just! determining the claims and duties of all intelligent creatures. And good! securing the best interests of all who obey it. Now to this law are all subject, at all times, and in all things. None can escape from its observation, or evade its requirements. Nor can it relax its demands, nor forego its obligations. Wherever sin is found, the law detects and condemns it. It is the guardian of Jehovah's character, while it is the expression of his will. Nothing, therefore, can it tolerate that is contrary to the nature and the will of God.
And how illustrative of both the nature and the law of God have all his dealings towards mankind been. His law was published with a solemn sanction, 'in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.' And since it has been violated, the history of guilty man has been a record of 'weeping, and lamentation, and woe.' 'By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation.
One sin involved a world in ruin. And as in this sinful world iniquity has abounded, so have the divine judgments been poured out. These have sometimes been general, as when the waters of the deluge swept away, in one awful destruction, the guilty inhabitants of the earth. At other times they have been more special, as when, provoked by special transgression, God destroyed the cities of the plain with fire and brimstone. And still are they manifest in the individual his
'That will by no means clear the guilty,' Exod. tory of sinners, who have been plainly warned,
'By no means!' The phrase is intended to be a strong expression of that which is affirmed. But the expression is not stronger than the reality. God cannot-will not-on no account-by no means clear the guilty.'
His nature forbids it. They who know him must join with the prophet in saying, 'thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity. How hateful sin is to a good man when he turns his eyes from the sight of it, loathing it in his very soul, and feeling towards it only hatred and disgust. But feeble are the emotions of the purest hearts when compared with the displeasure of a pure and holy God. "Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness; neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight; thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing; the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceit
The law of God forbids it. This law is correctly and beautifully described by the apostle Paul to
'be sure your sin will find you out,' and who have usually found, sooner or later, that verily there is a God who judgeth in the earth. To all which must be added the day of righteous retribution, when God will lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet, and detect, and expose, and punish the guilty.
Nor will the mercy of God extinguish the attribute of his justice. Let us particularly observe the connection in which we find the subject of our meditation. The Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.' The highest expression of mercy is joined with the strongest assertion of justice. And these are obviously brought together for the sake of warning and instruction. Let us carefully weigh the truths which are thus presented for our consideration.
We learn that while God delighteth in mercy
he will yet maintain the claims of his justice. In the gospel, which is the brightest display of love, we have the most awful expression of justice. The very same act, even the gift of his Son, proclaims at the same time both these attributes. 'God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son;' yet it became him to make the Captain of our salvation perfect through suffering.' This way of salvation was chosen, because it was the only one by which the divine attributes could be harmonized in the redemption of sinners. 'God hath set him forth to be a propitiation though faith in his blood; that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.'
when they sin against him. This is among the promises he has given them, I will visit your iniquity with stripes.' And has he not ever done so? How has he exposed and humbled his erring servants! The sin of Abraham, when he deceived Abimelech, was detected, and is recorded to his shame. David sought to cover his sin, but God made both it and its punishment public. An ungodly man may be allowed to conceal his crime, for it will be punished hereafter; but God will not permit his own servants to escape. Let us learn to be watchful. God is jealous of the holiness of his people. And may we never forget what may be interpreted either as a warning or a promise, 'he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.'
We learn that notwithstanding the mercy of God and the gracious provision which it has made for sinners, they who continue in sin shall not escape the righteous judgments of God. Such as have fled to Christ are looked upon in him. God is well-pleased with them for his sake, and he can and does justify them freely through him. But they who have not been united with him,. and must therefore be treated upon the ground of their own worthiness, cannot stand before him when he ariseth to judge terribly the earth. For as his nature is still opposed to sin, and his law In this passage the prophet states comprehenstill condemnatory of it, the transgressor cannot sively the doctrine of our Lord's atonement, setescape either his cognizance or his wrath. As ting forth in few and simple words its origin, and the provision of the gospel has not been embraced nature, and extent. Let us follow him in the by him, the wrath of God abideth on him.' views which he has so well expressed. may their contemplation warm our cold hearts!
We learn that the mercy of the gospel aggravates the guilt of the sinner. After describing its provisions, the apostle Paul exclaims, 'how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?' Unbelief is a sin of the greatest magnitude. The fullness, the freeness, and the grace of the gospel, are its high aggravations. The unbeliever makes Jesus, the Friend, the Saviour of sinners, his enemy. He has rejected the proffers of his love, and he shall meet the terrors of his displeasure. And it becomes him to ponder well the question, "Who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth?'
The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,' Isa. liii. 6.
1. What took place is ascribed to the Lord. He it was who laid the iniquity of sinners upon Christ. The wonderful scheme originated with God himself, nor could it have been conceived by any finite mind. In the wonderful person and the atoning work of his own Son, he saw how pardon might be dispensed to the guilty consistently with justice; how the law might be magnified, while the transgressor was acquitted; how God might be glorified, and the sinner saved. What divine wisdom devised, his un
bounded love consented should be done. "God Finally, we learn that God will visit for sin, so loved the world that he gave his only-beeven in his own people. In them, indeed, it is gotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him specially hateful to him. It is said with great should not perish, but might have everlasting emphasis, 'Our God is a consuming fire. The God life.' He gave his Son-his only-begotten Son— of the believer is a consuming fire to him, for he to death-to the most cruel, cursed, and ignowill not suffer sin upon him, but will burn it up minious death-for men, for sinners, for enemies, with the breath of his judgment. How heavy for their sin, their salvation, their redemption. was his hand upon ancient Israel when they dis-Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that obeyed him! And his judgments upon them he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiawere heavy because they were dear to him. And what is still more to the point, he visits not merely his professing people, but those who are really his,
tion for our sins.'
But justice was not meanwhile relaxed. When the Son of God took the place of sinners, the hand of his Father was
heavy upon him. The commission went forth, | unto his sorrow. He said, 'My soul is exceed'Awake, O sword, against the Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow; smite the Shepherd.' On the cross he was constrained to utter the distressing cry, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' He endured the wrath of his heavenly Father.
Thus conspicuous was the hand of God in the whole scheme, originating, executing, and consummating it. O! how they misrepresent our views who think we make Jehovah a hard master, requiring to be pacified towards his sinful creatures by a sacrifice that should satisfy his justice. True, his holiness and truth required that an atonement should be made for sin, in order that it might be pardoned; but let us not forget that the atonement he required was by himself provided, that in the depth of his counsels, and the infinity of his love, he found the remedy, and proclaimed, 'Deliver from going down to the pit, for I have found a ransom.' We find the origin of the scheme for man's deliverance in the doctrine of the psalmist, The Lord is full of compassion;' or in the same truth, more strongly expressed, by the apostle John, 'God is love."
2. But let us clearly understand what it was Jehovah did for sinners. He laid our iniquity upon him.' Words could not more clearly express the idea of substitution. In the most literal sense, our iniquity was laid upon Christ. This was required by the nature of the case, for sin must be punished in the nature in which it was committed; and as Christ took our nature to qualify him to stand in our place, he took also our sin that he might suffer in our room. In this doctrine alone do we find the meaning of the Mosaic ceremonies. To instance one out of many, let us remember the design of the scapegoat on the solemn anniversary of expiation, as described by the pen and authority of inspiration, ‘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, and all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. Perhaps it would not be possible, in any other arrangement, more completely to exhibit the doctrine of substitution. Nor is it less manifest in the personal history of Christ himself. He was sinless; yet was there no sorrow like
ing sorrowful, even unto death;' language which could arise only from the pressure of suffering under sin. We may, and must acquiesce in the plain testimony of the apostle Paul, God hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him;' not a sin-offering merely, as some would have it, but sin, inasmuch as our sin was reckoned to be his, and he was treated as though it were his own. This is the plain doctrine of the scriptures; simple and satisfactory, the Son of God in our nature, taking our sin, bearing its punishment, and bearing it away to the land of forgetfulness. What a provision! Meeting all the necessities of the case, as respects the honour of God, the character of his law, and the safety of sinners.
3. And for whom did the Lord make such a provision? We are told, ‘He laid upon him the iniquity of us all. The expression is certainly designed to declare the infinite efficacy of the atonement. In the death of Christ there is merit enough to satisfy for the remission of sins unto millions of apostate worlds. Are we then to infer that all the iniquity of all men was literally laid upon Christ? This cannot be, else none would suffer for sin, for Christ's death has availed to atone for all the iniquity laid upon him. Are we taught, then, that only some iniquity of every sinner was laid upon him? This cannot be admitted, for then none would be saved, as against every one some iniquity would lie. We are shut up to one interpretation—the Lord laid upon him the iniquity of all whom he represented, of all whom the Father gave unto him, of all who should be united to him, of all who would believe upon him. And thus interpreted, this mode of expression is worthy of the Spirit by whom it is employed. It is so universal as to hold out a warrant to all who will, that they may come and trust in him. Yet is it so limited as to remind us, that except we believe in him we cannot be saved. Let us then consider ourselves addressed in the solemn, searching question of our Lord, to the blind man whom he had healed, 'Dost thou believe upon the Son of God?' And may we be enabled to reply, Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.'