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).