« PreviousContinue »
heavy upon him. The commission went forth, unto his sorrow. He said, “My soul is exceed“Awake, O sword, against the Shepherd, and ing sorrowful, even unto death;' language which against the man that is my fellow; smite the could arise only from the pressure of suffering Shepherd.' On the cross he was constrained to under sin. We may, and must acquiesce in the utter the distressing cry, “My God, my God, plain testimony of the apostle Paul, ‘God hath why hast thou forsaken me?' He endured the made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, wrath of his heavenly Father.
that we might be made the righteousness of God Thus conspicuous was the hand of God in the in him;' not a sin-offering merely, as some would whole scheme, originating, executing, and consum- have it, but sin, inasmuch as our sin was reckmating it. O! how they misrepresent our views oned to be his, and he was treated as though it who think we make Jehovah a hard master, re- were his own. This is the plain doctrine of the quiring to be pacified towards his sinful creatures scriptures; simple and satisfactory, the Son of by a sacrifice that should satisfy his justice. True, God in our nature, taking our sin, bearing its his holiness and truth required that an atonement punishment, and bearing it away to the land of should be made for sin, in order that it might be forgetfulness. What a provision! Meeting all the pardoned; but let us not forget that the atone necessities of the case, as respects the honour of ment he required was by himself provided, that God, the character of his law, and the safety of in the depth of his counsels, and the infinity of sinners. his love, he found the remedy, and proclaimed, 3. And for whom did the Lord make such a * Deliver from going down to the pit, for I have provision? We are told, “He laid upon him the found a ransom.' We find the origin of the iniquity of us all. The expression is certainly scheme for man's deliverance in the doctrine of designed to declare the infinite efficacy of the the psalmist, “The Lord is full of compassion; atonement. In the death of Christ there is or in the same truth, more strongly expressed, by merit enough to satisfy for the remission of sins the apostle John, God is love.'
unto millions of apostate worlds. Are we then 2. But let us clearly understand what it was to infer that all the iniquity of all men was Jehovah did for sinners. He laid our iniquity literally laid upon Christ? This cannot be, else upon him. Words could not more clearly ex- none would suffer for sin, for Christ's death has press the idea of substitution. In the most availed to atone for all the iniquity laid upon literal sense, our iniquity was laid upon Christ. him. Are we taught, then, that only some This was required by the nature of the case, for iniquity of every sinner was laid upon him? sin must be punished in the nature in which it This cannot be admitted, for then none would be was committed; and as Christ took our nature to saved, as against every one some iniquity would qualify him to stand in our place, he took also lie. We are shut up to one interpretation—the our sin that he might suffer in our room. In Lord laid upon him the iniquity of all whom he this doctrine alone do we find the meaning of represented, of all whom the Father gave unto the Mosaic ceremonies. To instance one out of him, of all who should be united to him, of all many, let us remember the design of the scape- who would believe upon him. And thus intergoat on the solemn anniversary of expiation, as preted, this mode of expression is worthy of the described by the pen and authority of inspira- Spirit by whom it is employed. It is so unition, ' Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the versal as to hold out a warrant to all who will, head of the live goat, and confess over him all that they may come and trust in him. Yet is it the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all so limited as to remind us, that except we betheir transgressions, and all their sins, putting them lieve in him we cannot be saved. Let us then upon the head of the goat, and shall send him consider ourselves addressed in the solemn, away by the hand of a fit man into the wilder- searching question of our Lord, to the blind ness.' Perhaps it would not be possible, in any man whom he had healed, “Dost thou believe other arrangement, more completely to exhibit upon the Son of God?' And may we be enabled the doctrine of substitution. Nor is it less mani- to reply, 'Lord, I believe, help thou mine unfest in the personal history of Christ himself. belief. He was sinless; yet was there no sorrow like
Let us then for a little, contemplate the passover First Day.-MORNING.
as illustrative of Christian doctrine.
1. And who will not here think of the paschal *Christ our passover is sacrificed for us,'1 Cor.v.7. lamb? It must be chosen from the flock with Were an inspired teacher to go through the Old care,—the best of its kind,-—-free from every blemTestament in a series of comments upon it, there ish,—and in due time sacrificed and eaten. We can be little doubt that he would find and preach have not been left to conjecture in finding here Christ in every part of it, and that he would dis- an emblem of Jesus Christ. Even the apparently cover types of his person and work where, did trivial command, 'neither shall ye break a bone an uninspired interpreter find them, he would thereof,' is afterwards quoted in the history of expose himself to the charge of following his Christ, as having been designed to have reference own fancies. Who, for example, would have to him, and a whole train of circumstances is put seen a type of our Lord's death in the elevation into order and motion to bring about the intended of the brazen serpent in the wilderness, or of his allusion. These things were done,' saith the lying in the grave, in the history of Jonah, had historian, “that the scripture should be fulfilled, not our Lord himself condescended to notice it! A bone of him shall not be broken. We would True, the interpreter of scripture must beware not have seen this meaning had it not been pointed that he do not yield to his imaginations, where out. And O! how fitting is the type. Jesus is he has not an inspired guide to lead him. But indeed well set before us as “the Lamb of God the necessity of this caution arises only from his which taketh away the sin of the world.' The incompetency. And we are well persuaded, that emblem is tenderly illustrative of his character, when the light of the upper world bursts upon and history, and work, and well expresses his inour view, and when in it we contemplate the an- nocence, and patience, and sacrifice. Particularly cient law in its ceremonies and institutions, it will does it exhibit him as the satisfying food of the bebe found to reflect the glory of Christ in a much liever's soul, and in this point the lines of the Jewish fuller degree than we ever saw it before, that it and the Christian passover meet, and both prowill be seen to exhibit his person and work in claim that the slain Lamb is the sacrifice to be eaten. places where these did not formerly appear to us; 2. Equally clear and united is their testimony in short, that in the law, as in every thing else, to the great blessing that has been obtained by Christ is all. He is the treasure hid in the word the sacrifice which has been offered. They both of God, and it is only when we find him there commemorate deliverance. Of the one we are that our search for it has been successful. told, “it is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover,
But our attention is now confined to a single who passed over the houses of the children of type or illustration, the ancient passover. And Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, how striking the form of expression used to point and delivered our houses. That was a great deout its reference to Christ. He is called our liverance. They cried by reason of their taskPassover, intimating that the substance of the masters, and God heard them and rescued them ceremony was Jesus Christ, that whatever other from bondage. But even that deliverance was purposes it may have served, it was designed only typical of a better. How largely is the lanmainly to be typical of him, and illustrative of his guage descriptive of it employed to set forth the person, and history, and work. Hence, the mind higher deliverance of the soul from the dominion of the apostle naturally passes away from the an- of sin and satan! Often do the prophets comcient ceremony to the great feast of the gospel, in mence with the one theme, and then rise to the which Christ is manifestly set forth crucified other, elevating our minds from things temporal among us.
And both are represented as having to those that are spiritual, and teaching us to see all their meaning and design in setting forth his in the former the greater blessings of the latter. truth and glory. They are two spectators, gazing 3. The very manner of deliverance is strikingly upon the same object; two witnesses, testifying in unison, under both dispensations. The last to the same person; two columns, bearing like and awful judgment upon Egypt was the death inscriptions; two signs, pointing the same way. I of the first-born. There was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there language, yet containing the profoundest sentiwas not one dead. And who will not think of ments, truly “apples of gold in pictures of silver.' him, by whose death it was that deliverance has The Son of God-declared to be the Son of Godbeen obtained for guilty men? The blood of Jesus with power—according to the Spirit of holinessChrist cleanseth us from all sin, because he is the by the resurrection from the dead. Help us, O Son of God. He is the only begotten of the Spirit of truth, to apprehend and receive these Father, his first-born, and therefore did his sacri- gracious announcements. fice avail to procure the freedom of his people. · The Son of God. A title which belongs
4. The very sign employed in the time of Is- exclusively to Jesus Christ. True, Adam is raeľs deliverance is full of meaning and instruc- called the son of God, so are angels, and even sintion. “Ye shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip ful men; but not in the sense in which Christ it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the is so called. He is the only Son of God, in the lintel and the two side-posts with blood.' This sense of being a partaker of his nature, and an was the sign to the destroying angel to pass by equal sharer of his glory. The phrase is habituand leave the inhabitants within unhurt. And it ally so employed in the scriptures, and was underis by the sprinkling of blood the sinner must now stood in this highest acceptation by the Jews. be preserved from the destroyer. The mark of For when Christ called himself by the name of Christ's blood forbids his entrance upon the se- the Son of God, they charged him with blascurity and peace of the believer.
phémy, alleged that he thus made himself equal 5. Nor let us omit to notice in what manner with God, and proceeded to inflict the punishthe passover must be eaten. "Thus shall ye eat ment of the law for blasphemy, even to stone it , with your loins girded, your shoes on your him to death. In this name let us receive and feet, and your staff in your hand; ye shall eat it adore him forin haste.' Emblem of the believer's condition He has been declared to be the Son of God.' upon earth! He is a pilgrim and a stranger here. Declared ! The term is well chosen, and is Earth is only a lodge, heaven is his home, and he fraught with meaning and deep allusions. By must maintain the spirit of one who is travelling the resurrection he has been declared, not made, to Zion.
to be the Son of God, as some would teach. 6. In the passover they must use unleavened And this peculiar style of language accords with bread, with bitter herbs. And the meaning here what we observe in another place, where the is plain. Bitterness of soul, in exercises of deep angel, announcing the miraculous conception and humiliation, is well becoming in him who com- birth of Christ, says that holy thing which shall memorates the death of Jesus as the sacrifice be born of thee shall be called the Son of God for his sins. While towards others there must called, not made the Son of God at that time, be the suppression of evil passion, and no leaven nor by that means. In all such passages the of iniquity allowed to disturb the soul, well is allusion is to the eternal generation of the Son of it enjoined by the apostle, “let us keep the feast, God. As Son he is eternal. And it is only not with old leaven; neither with the leaven of upon this principle we can interpret many pormalice and wickedness, but with the unleavened tions of the word of God. It is written, ‘God bread of sincerity and truth. And this agrees to gave his only begotten Son.' Then he must have our Lord's own lesson, ‘if thou bring thy gift to been the Son of God when the Father gave him, the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother and this was from eternity. How blessed is our hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift, first privilege to have such a Saviour, one whom we go and be reconciled to thy brother, and then call the Son of God, and with whose name we come and offer thy gift.'
associate the honours of the Godhead. And for
is he thus announced? Glorious reply!
He is declared to be the Son of God with FIRST DAY.-EVENING.
power.' As Son of God he is proclaimed to be
Mediator, and as Mediator all power is given to And declared to be the Son of God with power, him in heaven and in earth. As Son all power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the re- belongs to him essentially, but as Mediator all surrection from the dead, Rom. i. 4.
power is delegated to him for the salvation of How many and how weighty are the themes of his people. How often are these two thoughts meditation here. The passage bears the ordinary brought together in the scriptures, the sufficiency mark of the word of God, clothed in the simplest of Christ, and the security of his people. “It
pleased the Father that in him should all full- to commemorate the event, has come down ness dwell—and by him to reconcile all things to our time, an imperishable monument, bearing to himself.' 'In him dwelt the fullness of the upon it, indelibly engraven by the finger of Godhead bodily—and ye are complete in him history, the fact of Christ's resurrection. which is the Head of all principality and power.' In this fact of the resurrection we are furHis glorious title now is, “ Head over all things nished with the proof that the work of Christ is to the church. Not over the church merely, but complete and accepted with the Father. He over all things for the church's benefit. Over said on the cross, “It is finished,' and he proved the material world—all its elements which he his saying true when he rose from the dead. employs as he will. Over all mankind—influ- Now, therefore, may we come to him with conencing them according to his pleasure. Over the fidence for the ends of his mission. He is exalted devils—for they are all subject to his control. a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Over angels-for he is at the right hand of God, Israel and remission of sins.' angels, and principalities, and powers being subject We too shall be raised from the grave in virtue unto him. His power is unlimited, sovereign, of his resurrection. The hour is coming, when and absolute. So testifies the great Being whose all that are in the grave shall hear his voice, and office it is to bear witness unto Christ. For we come forth ; they that have done good to the reread
surrection of life, and they that have done evil He is declared to be the Son of God with to the resurrection of damnation.' Gracious power, “according to the Spirit of holiness. Such God! enable us to embrace Jesus as our Satestimony is borne to him by the Holy Spirit viour now, that we may meet him at last with according to his office and custom. For he has joy as our Judge. May we be found in him always been engaged in so witnessing to Christ. now by faith, and at length be partakers of his It was he who dwelt in the ancient prophets, and glory! instructed them in the knowledge of the coming Saviour. Their predictions are his testimonies. He met him when he appeared in the flesh, and publicly announced him to Israel, visibly descend
SECOND DAY.-MORNING. ing on him as a dove, while the Father declared him to be his beloved Son. He attended him in · Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that all his ministry, in which we see the accomplish
he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiament of ancient prophecy, enabling him in his
tion for our sins,' 1 John iv. 10. humanity to utter predictions, work miracles, and Love is not strictly an attribute of God, it is sustain the burthen of his ministry. Hence, saith more correct to say that the nature of God is Christ, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, be- love. Hence when the apostle, who speaks most cause he hath anointed me.' He continued with of love, exhausts his thoughts upon it, he relieves him in his sore conflicts, his bloody sweat, and himself, and sums up the whole subject, saying, his bitter death, ever sustaining his own charac- "God is love.' How then shall we meditate ter as the Spirit of holiness, and recommending upon the love of God? Canst thou by searchJesus as the Saviour of men. But the best and ing find out God? canst thou find out the Alsurest evidence which he gave was subsequent to mighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven, his death. He was declared to be the Son of what canst thou know? Deeper than hell, what God with power, according to the Spirit of holi- canst thou do? The measure thereof is longer
than the earth, and broader than the sea. The * By the resurrection from the dead. And as apostle Paul discovers the same incapacity to that was the grand proof, how clearly has the grasp the theme of divine love. His for Spirit caused it to be substantiated. The evidence the Ephesians is that they may be enabled, with is irresistible. The witnesses were numerous— all saints, to comprehend what is the length, and they were intelligent—they were honest—they breadth, and depth, and height of the love of endured hardship for the truth—they suffered God,' adding, which passeth knowledge. And death for their testimony, and could not be in- so in the passage before us the form of expresduced to conceal the fact of the resurrection of sion is very peculiar, “Herein is love.' Herein, which they were witnesses. They who denied it as though in nothing else it could be found. were obliged to forge the most absurd stories in And, comparatively speaking, this is true, for order to evade the force of evidence. And the there is no love like the love of God. It is like Christian sabbath, then established, and designed himself, and the vast, incomprehensible character of this love will soon be felt by us, while we | its guilt. By this mediation he became a proendeavour to catch some of its features.
pitiation, reconciling his people to their offended 1. It is eternal. How deep the thoughts, God. He provided that the sentence of death how elevated the conceptions of the apostle Paul should be reversed under which they lay; that when, meditating on the love of God, as exercised their souls should be quickened and made alive towards man in eternity, he exclaims, Blessed unto God; that they should have opened before be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, them the prospect of eternal life; and that, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings finally, they should be possessors of an inheritin heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath ance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that chosen us in him before the foundation of the fadeth not away.' Surely herein is love! Well world, that we should be holy and without blame may we acquiesce in the emphatic language of before him in love!' Here is love in all its con- our Lord, “God so loved the world that he gave descension, entering into the case of man, long his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth before he had existence; love in all its ingenuity, in him should not perish but might have everproviding against his condition as a sinner. What lasting life. importance this view attaches to the expression 4. And for whom did God thus signify his of Jehovah's love. It made sure the redemption love? For sinners. And how is it enhanced of his people before they became men or sinners. by this consideration! Hear how an inspired The whole plan was laid and fixed in eternity. apostle regards it, When we were yet without
2. As the love of God is eternal in its origin, strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.' sv is it immutable in its nature. This is only God commendeth his love toward us, in that, what should be expected as a natural and neces- while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. sary consequence. For if God set his love in Helpless, ungodly, sinful—these were the features eternity upon his people, it is not to be expected of that creature upon whom God set his love. that he would suffer its great design to be frus- Not only was there nothing to attract, but everytrated by the accidents of time. His love is thing to repulse. How lothesome to a renewed occupied in time carrying out and consummating mind is the conduct of the ungodly; and how the plans it formed in eternity. Those whom he distressing to be obliged to hold communion with then chose, he now effectually calls. And having them. And if this be the case with believers, called them in his sovereign pleasure, he keeps who are still men encompassed with infirmity, them by his almighty grace. It is thus we are and bearing about a body of sin and death, how to account for their still abiding the objects of must it be with that pure and holy God who his love, notwithstanding their provocations and cannot behold evil nor look upon iniquity. This unworthiness. “I am the Lord, I change not; truly is the mystery of mysteries, the love of God therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. for sinners. Having loved his own which were in the world, O that this love may be shed abroad in our he loved them unto the end.' Saints are kept hearts, and that we may live continually under by the power of God through faith unto salva- its constraining and sanctifying power! tion. But let us not abuse this feature of the divine love. In eternity it chose its objects that they might be holy, and its immutability maintains and confirms their holiness. If the love of
SECOND DAY.-EVENING. God changes not, that is not merely an argument why our love should not change, but it is a
• We love him, because he first loved us,' 1 John security that it shall not change. And our Lord
iv. 19. makes our perseverance an essential mark of our The great secret of the gospel, in its influence discipleship, saying, “If ye continue in my word, upon the sinner, consists in its use of the principle then are ye my disciples indeed.'
of love. God is there manifested to the soul in the 3. In the exercise of this eternal and immut- exercise of love, and that discovery produces love. able love, God sent his Son to be the propitia- The apostle Paul, proceeding upon this principle, tion for our sins.' His Son was chosen; for no thus states the great burthen of his ministry, ‘God other being was competent to the work, and the was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, Father freely gave him up.
He came as the not imputing their trespasses unto them; and messenger of the Father's love; and to carry out then on the ground of this revelation, addresses the purposes of his grace he assumed our nature, himself to sinners, saying, “we pray you in Christ's stood as our surety, bare our sin, and expiated stead, be ye reconciled to God. So close is the