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was shed and all of it, and by blood shedding he was slain ; in this verse here is a man whose life was taken away, and his flesh rent, so the word implies in the original, his body and soul were plucked asunder by violence. That our Lord Jesus as slain is the way to heaven, and a living way, is what we would inquire into the sense of, and see what we are taught thereby
First, Christ as slain is a living way to heaven, because there was great life in his death, mighty power, mighty effects, it did great things. The apostle Paul was a great divine, you know; what a blessing were it to the world, if there were but one man in it that knew Jesus Christ but half as well as Paul did! Now, what was this great man's study all his life, but to know him? That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death, Philip. iii. 10. Observe, every body knew as well as Paul, that Christ had died and was buried, that Christ had suffered and had risen again ; but, says the apostle, I do not study that, that I know sufficiently; there is something else about it, there is power and virtue in that death, and suffering, and resurrection, that every day I am studying more and more. See now how the apostle does most excellently and elegantly vary the word. The general word is, That I may know him, that is, Christ: the particulars are various; that I may know his resurrection, and the power of it, that is one phrase ; that I may know his sufferings in their power, is another; and the third is, That I may know his death in being conformable to it. The fellowship of his sufferings, conformity to his death, and the power of his resurrection, are but various words expressing the same great fruit, that the apostle aimed at in his knowledge of Jesus Christ. When I am dead to sin as he was ; when I am like him in suffering and weanedness from this world; when I know his. resurrection, in being raised up to newness of life, as he was raised up, by the glory of the Father, to a new resurrection. There was never a death in this world, that had life and power in it, but Christ's; God be thanked, death is the way to life, and we pass through death unto life ; but there is no life in the death of martyrs, when slain for Christ's sake, as
Abel the righteous was; when they are dead, their blood cries for vengeance; but in the very death of our Lord there were great and mighty effects, there were great acts of life. I will name them for our study and use in our spiritual knowledge, for in this exercise of our faith should be our daily employment
Ist, There was life in Christ's death, for by it he reconciled us to God. There is a great word to this purpose : And having made peace, says the apostle, through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself, Col. i. 20. The greatest quarrel that ever was in the world, or ever will be, is that betwixt God and sinners, taking up of which is the greatest difficulty; the quarrel is just on God's side, for he is offended; the quarrel is unjust on man's side, for the fault is his ; the parties are mightily unequally matched, the Almighty God and a frail worm. But our Lord by death made up this quarrel, and there was no way of making it up but only this. Now, we commonly know this, and say it, that we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son; but this matter should be distinctly known, and narrowly thought upon; we should have our faith exercised so about it, as that we may be able to improve it a little. I would therefore shew you now, how Christ, by his death, reconciled us to God. He did this,
(1.) In that he satisfied divine justice by his death. There can be no peace betwixt God and men, as long as God's jus tice is demanding vengeance; as long as the justice of God has
any thing to crave, there is no man can stand before him. Now, there are only two ways of satisfying divine justice, and there will never be a third. If all the devils in hell or men on earth should study to devise one, it will be impossible to find it. Divine justice is either satisfied by falling upon the sinner himself, or the surety for him: when justice falls upon the sinner, and exacts payment of him, the poor wretch must be perpetually paying, because he can never pay to purpose : a great reason why heil's torments are eternal, is, because justice can never get enough of them. But the satisfaction that justice got of our Lord Jesus, was full measure heaped np and running over; he offered himself a sacrifice to God
for a sweet smelling savour; justice was pacified and satisfied, and love got a vent towards men.
(2.) The law must be fulfilled before there can be any reconciliation with God. The law of God is not to be shifted off or put by; God's holy law is a perpetual bar in the way of all men to heaven, unless Christ remove it and take it out of the way. God's law demands a perfect obedience or death. Our Lord Jesus comes in and gives both, on the behalf of those that he redeemed; he was made under the law, and came under the curse, that we might receive the blessing, and that the curse might be diverted from us.
(3.) Sin must be taken out of the way. Justice was not only to be satisfied, and the law honourably fulfilled, but sin must be taken away, in order to our salvation and to our reconciliation with God. About this great work of our Lord, and that he did it by his death, the word speaks great things : But now once in the end of the world, hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, Heb. ix. 26. He hath done it for ever; sin is sufficiently put away. But how is sin put away? Sin by Christ's death is not put out of the world, but remains still in the world, and is greatly aggravated by Christ's death: If I had not come and done amongst them the works that never man did, they had not had sin.
Small sins get great advantage this way, upon gospel-despisers. Christ did not come then to put sin out of the world, neither did his death put sin altogether out of his people. Where his death and the virtue of it is applied, sin is subdued, but is not expelled. The Canaanites were worsted, but were not quite put out of their coasts. Much less is sin by Christ's death put away as to its vile nature, but remains still wherever it is, a vile loathsome thing to God. Neither did Christ put away the deservings of sin. What then did he? Christ put away the condemning power of sin, that it shall no more be an impediment to the peace and reconciliation of believers. Therefore, says the apostle, There is therefore now no condemnation to them, which are in Christ Jesus, Rom. viii. 1. The second word of Christ's death about sin is, that he condemned sin, he condemned sin in his flesh. Sin is a word that is too well undenrood even by those that are unacquainted with both the
Hebrew and Greek. All sin requires a sacrifice for its expiation : He condemned sin in the flesh. There is nothing more reasonable in all the world, than for a poor creature to fear that sin should condemn him, that he should be condemned for sin, there is nothing more known in the scriptures than that Christ died for our sins. Then it would seem that sin condemned Christ; how they did he condemn it? Let us consider now for this where the strength of sin lies. The apostle tells us, The strength of sin is the law, 1 Cor. xv. 56. That which makes sin able to bind a man over to eternal vengeance, is the strength and power of God's law; and God's law is as strong as God himself, for almighty power is engaged to see the law fulfilled. Now, when Christ engages with sin's strength, and hath overcome that, may it not well be understood, that he did condemn sin ? All sin's power to condemn, is from the law. Our Lord hath taken that out of the way, he hath satisfied it fully. The law demands blood for transgression; it is granted, it is given, and blood of a high sort, even the blood of the Son of God. So much for this first thing, Christ as slain is a living way, for there was life in his death, as appears in his reconciling us to God by his death. But never shall a man, to the end of the world, if it should last as long as it hath already (and blessed be God, it shall never last long) get God's peace and favour, but that man whose peace with God was bought by this blood.
2dly, There was great power and life in Christ's death, in his overcoming the power of hell; he did it by his death. A great many words there are in the scripture about this. Hell never did act more like hell, than in slaying the Son of God; hell was never so rampant as it was at that time, Luke xxii. 53. says our Lord, This is your hour, and the power of darkness, your sad hour of temptation; the devil's great power is exercised now Christ is taken, and to be condemned. It is strange, if the devil were ignorant of the consequences of this thing; he that entered into Peter, and got hold of his tongue for to persuade Christ not to go to Jerusalem, where he was to die; our Lord perceives the devil's hand in it, and calls Peter Satan for his pains. Is it not marvellous now, that this wicked one should have entered into the heart
of Judas to betray him, and should have stirred up the chief priests and people to cry, Crucify him? Like enough the devil thought he had done a greater exploit than in throwing down the first Aclam; and what says our Lord concerning it? Now is the judgment of this world: Now shall the prince of this world be cast out, John xii. 31. Our Lord prophesied of his own death in these words, And I, if I be lifted up from the carth, will draw all men unto me, John xii. 32. And in another place he tells us, The prince of this world is judged, John xvi. 11. This now we would consider, what way this power of our Lord's death appeared in the conquering of Satan : and in order to this, we would shew where Satan's armour lies, if I may allude to that word, for that word is spoken of the same wicked person, the devil, Luke xi. 22. When a stronger than he sholl come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. Pray what is the devil's armour, think you? Where lies his strength. His strength lies in sin, which is his seed and offspring; his strength lies in the law, whereof he is the hangman and executioner; his strength lies in the justice of God, wherein sometimes he is the instrument: therefore, because of this, the apostle says expressly, Heb. ii. 14. that our Lord took part of flesh and blood, that through death he might destroy him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil. How came the devil to have the power of death ? According to his interest in sin, according to his interest in the executing of God's vengeance, he has the power of death ; but our Lord through death overcame him : Col. ii. 15. And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them spenly, triumphing over them in it. Though death and hell united their powers against him, he proved too strong for them, and by dying overcame them. Hereby also he rent the vail betwixt Jew and Gentile; and because the Spirit of God does expressly and particularly mention it, therefore we may. It was a greater matter at first than now, through time, it is with Christians; we do not sufficiently ponder this great blessing: For he is our peace, who hath made both one, ond hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments, contained in VOL. III.