Sivut kuvina

When we profess to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, we explicitly renounce all pretensions or hopes of obtaining admittance by any other means. We acknowledge the forfeiture we have incurred by our guilt, and subscribe to the justice of the sentence that condemns us; we confess, that we have done, and can do, nothing to recommend us to the favour of God, or that may found the remotest claim to pardon and acceptance. All our own righteousness we throw aside as filthy rags. In short, we plead guilty at a tribunal of justice, and adopt the language of the publican, as expressing our true character, and the only form of address that befits our state, God be merciful to me a sinner!

When the Jew brought the sacrifice which the law had appointed for his offence, to the door of the tabernacle ; when he laid his hand upon the head of the victim, confessing bis sin over it, and then delivered it to the high-priest, that its blood might by shed for the expiation of his guilt; what was the true meaning and intent of that service? Did not the offender present the victim that it might be substituted in his place? Did he not thereby acknowledge that he had incurred the penalty of death; and that the dying agonies of the devoted animal were only a faint representation of what was strictly due to himself? Was not this a virtual renunciation of any right to the continuance of life, but what arose from the acceptance of the sacrifice in his room, and the gracious promise of remission annexed to that acceptance? And can any thing less than this be meant by drawing near to God by the blood of Jesus ? Was there more virtue in the typical than in the real atonement? Or is less to be expected from the substance than from the shadow ? Did the offending Jew, when he made his confession over the head of the victim, look back to any instances of past obedience, or even forward to any purposes of future amendment, and conjoin these with the blood of the sacrifice, for rendering it more effectual to obtain pardon and acceptance? Surely none who attended to the nature and form of the institution, could be led by it to dream of any mixture of this kind. And can we suppose that the blood of Jesus, by which we have boldness to enter into the holiest, is only a joint cause with our own imperfect obedience, of our obtaining admission into the heavenly sanctuary? Is no more meant by his consecrating for us a new and living way, than that he hath repaired the old way which sin had broken; and by removing some obstructions, rendered it more smooth and accessible than originally it was? Hath he, instead of paying to the last mite what justice demanded, done no more by bis sacrifice, than purchased an easy composition of the debt, that an hundred pence might be accepted for the ten thousand talents ? Is it

possible that human pride and vanity can give such a colouring to this motley scheme, as to make it pass with any reasonable creature, for that marvellous doing of the Lord, that highest exertion of wisdom and


which angels themselves desire to look into? To account for this, we must have recourse to what the apostle Paul writes, (1 Cor. ii. 14.) “ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can be know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” He is become vain in his imaginations, and his foolish heart is darkened. But they whose eyes are opened by the Spirit of truth, will cordially join with the same Apostle, and say as he did, (Philip. iii. 7, 8, 9.) “ What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the know


3 B

ledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: and do account them but dung that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ the righte. ousness which is of God by faith.” This is the language of a true heart, in drawing near to God by the blood of Jesus; which may suffice to explain the first qualification here mentioned. I do not say that no more is included in it; but this I affirm, that such an absolute renunciation of every other ground of hope, is one princi. pal thing implied in the true heart, as it stands connected with the Apostle's reasoning, if not the very thing he had most directly in his eye.

2dly. To a true heart, the Apostle adds the full ussurance of faith.

This leads us back to the great objects of faith that have already been presented to our view, viz. the highpriest over the house of God; the rail of his human nature, which is the passage into the sanctuary; and the blood of his sacrifice, that emboldens us to enter in : And it is required, that our faith in this way of access be full and assured.

The true heart, giving a faithful verdict upon the demerit of sin, and subscribing to the justice of the sentence, whereby the sinner is excluded from the presence of God, acknowledgeth this to be the only way. But faith advanceth a step farther, and presents it to the enlightened mind, as a safe, a sure, and infallible way. Hear its genuine language from the mouth of our Apostle, (1 Tim. i. 15.) “ This is a faitbful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” Faith, contemplating the dignity of the High-Priest, and the nature and design of the sacrifice he offered, can have no doubt of the merit of his blood; but may conclude firmly, and without hesitation, that it hath sufficient efticacy to cleanse from all sin. But when it proceeds farther, and reads the commission he received from the Father; when it weighs the evidence that ariseth from his resurrection and ascension, of the Father's infinite delight in him, and his perfect satisfaction with his whole conduct as Mediator; above all, when it follows him into the heavenly sanctuary, wbither he hath carried his atoning blood, and sees the reward conferred upon him for his voluntary obedience unto death, a name given him above every name, and all things in heaven and on earth put under his feet: What shall I say? from this entire view of God in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, can any other conclusion be drawn, than what the apostle John hath done before us, viz. God is love? So complete is the evidence afforded us in the gospel of God's merciful nature, and of the good-will he bears to the children of men, that the most entire credit to his declarations upon this bead is in effect no more than a setting to our seal, to what one should think the most obvious and self-evident of all propositions, that God is true. And is there a man to be found that denies this proposition ? Dare any be so outrageously insolent and injurious as to call God a liar? Let me refer you to the same Apostle, who testified that God is love, for an answer to this question, and he will inform you, (1 John v. 10.) that every one who believeth not the record that God hath given of his Son, maketh him a liar. This is a repetition of the first transgression, with peculiar circumstances of aggravation. Unbelief was the root of Adam's sin; for had he truly believed that the threatening was to be executed, he would not have dared to incur the penalty. And can it be less criminal to charge God with falsehood in a profession of kindness than in a threatening of displeasure? Nay, is it not a worse species of deceit to flatter with delusive hopes than to frighten with unreal terrors? and yet an unbeliever of gospel-grace doth in effect charge God with this very species of deceit; and that not only in the face of the strongest repeated declarations of good-will, but against every kind of confirmation that the most distrustful suspicion could require or devise. Adam had no other restraint buta naked threatening; he had seen no exertion of punitive justice; every thing around him was expressive of the perfect goodness of its Author; and there was no precedent or example of the penalty with which the prohibition was enforced. But what have we in support of the gospel record? or rather, let me ask, What addition could be made to the evidence already afforded us, that it is faithful and true? We have the promise of God confirm. ed by his oath; we have the gift of his own Son to be the propitiation for our sins; we are not only permitted, but invited, nay commanded, to come to the Saviour, with this most endearing declaration, that such as come to him shall in no wise be rejected or cast out by bim. And shall not this accumulated, this superabundant evi. dence, deter us from the presumption of calling God a liar? or rather, shall it not produce in us that full as. surance of faith, with which the Apostle exhorteth us to draw near to God by the blood of Jesus?

The third qualification, expressed in these words, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, is an advance upon the other two, and implies a personal application of the blood of Christ to ourselves; for it is this alone that, (as we read verse 14. of the preceding chapter) can purge the conscience from dead works, and

« EdellinenJatka »