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THE FOUNDATION OF DEPENDENCE ON CHRIST FOR PARDON
So important is it that man should place a full dependence upon Christ for the pardon of his sins that God has been pleased to confirm the declaration of his ability to save, by an unusual degree of evidence. He has displayed, as we have already seen, the divinity of his person, the merit of his death as an atonement, and the unbounded freeness of his invitation, in order to encourage man to put his trust in him. But besides these there are still further evidences of his power and willingness to
Let me refer you to the intercession of Jesus, who is become our great High-Priest: and to the declarations of Scripture, that every one who depends on him shall abundantly receive the blessings which he needs. What a sure foundation for confidence to the humble repenting sinner does the office of Jesus, as High-Priest afford! “Every high-priest,” says the Scripture, “taken from among men, is ordained for men;" for their spiritual interest and advantage; all his influence and power are to be employed in their behalf. With a view to the benefit of man was the office originally and entirely ordained of God. And the things appointed for him to do prove this. He was to “offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin;" sacrifices, to make an atonement; and gifts, on account of which God might vouchsafe to continue his forfeited favour. With the same view the grand qualification, indispensably necessary for the execution of this office, was a heart that knew how to have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way of duty and safety.
Now this office of high priest, and all the functions belonging to it, we are taught were only designed to serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things: in other words, to be an outward and visible way of instructing us in the nature of the office which the Lord Jesus Christ sustains in the highest heaven for sinners, and of the benefits they may expect from him. He is made a High-Priest of good things to come: he is entered, not with the blood of goats and calves into the holy place, which was the figure of the true, but into heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us. He is therefore under the strongest engagements of office, to mediate for all that shall come to God by him. And lest we should imagine ourselves too mean to engage his pity, particular mention is made, that he is touched with a feeling of our infirmities; having been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, from an experimental knowledge of the same difficulties and distresses as we are now enduring, he has that exquisite tenderness of sympathy with us, which would not otherwise have been possible. What then can warrant an unshaken confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ for pardon, if the knowledge of Him as our great High-Priest fails to do it? Is your heart broken for sin, your spirit wounded within you? Parley not with your fears, listen not to the accuser; look unto Jesus, your propitiation, your intercessor; as the wounded, tormented, dying Israelites looked unto the brazen serpent. Look unto him for healing and for life: look unto him who appears as your advocate, ever living to make intercession for sinners in your distressed condition.
He must fail in the engagements of his office, and do violence to that mercy which constitutes his fitness for that office, before the humble dependence of a penitent sinner, on his blood and intercession, shall be disappointed.
If any thing more can be added, to engage your confidence in the Redeemer for the remission of your sins, when
you are sorrowing for them; and to convince you on what a strong foundation it is built; it must be the solemn repeated declarations in the word of God, that the sacrifice of his only begotten Son is accepted in his sight, as a complete atonement for the sins of those who believe on his name; and that it shall be imputed to them, in its incomparable efficacy, to save them from deserved wrath. Declarations of this purport are (blessed be God for his abounding grace!) many in number. It will be sufficient to select a few of the most striking ones, relating to the vicarious death and sacrifice of Jesus.
Isaiah, in his most affecting detail of the Messiah's sufferings, after having expressly affirmed that Jesus suffered as a surety and substitute for us, “wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquity;" that
it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and put him to grief," in order that by bearing the tremendous curse in his own body, it might pass over the heads of the faithful: thus magnificently declares the efficacy of his sacrifice. “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities:”—Isaiah liii. that is, bear them as the scape-goat did, carrying them away into the pathless inaccessible wilderness, so that they shall not be found when sought for by the malicious tempter.
In another place we are informed by the angel Gabriel, commissioned to revive the heart of the greatly-beloved Daniel; that when Messiah the prince was “ cut off,” in that oblation of himself on the cross, he accomplished a work suitable to his own infinite glory: " He finished the transgression," by an expiation of it, and by redeeming all who should believe in him from its curse. " He made an end of sin,” by delivering from its detestable dominion all who should fee to him for succour. " He made reconciliation for iniquity,” by bringing the faithful to possess peace with God, and by replacing them in his forfeited favour. “He brought in everlasting righteousness, a righteousness whose virtue will continue to justify all that believe throughout all ages; and with which eternal life stands connected by the promise of God.-Dan. ix. 24.
These glorious effects of the Redeemer's sacrifice were perfectly known to the innumerable millions of the heavenly host; therefore, so soon as Jesus appeared in our flesh, they filled the air with their presence, breaking forth into this congratulatory song of praise, the same in import with Gabriel's message to the beloved Daniel, saying, “ Glory to God in the highest, on earth, peace, good-will towards men.”
To the testimony of prophets and angels, the immediate voice of God from heaven must be joined: “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” It is he, who by his life and death magnifies my law, restores my ruined
creatures to life and happiness, and accomplishes a work of all others most pleasing in my sight.
The same strong attestations does the Redeemer himself give to the efficacy of his atoning death. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,” (gave him up, to suffer on the cross,) “ to the end that all who believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” In another discourse he declares, “ He gave his flesh for the life of the world:” and just before his departure, that “ He shed his blood for the remission of the sins of many."
Consider and weigh well the force of all these testimonies, and you will be constrained to say, that nothing more could have been done to engage those who feel the guilt and misery of their sins, to place their whole dependence on Jesus Christ for pardon. It is not now possible for a penitent sinner to make a single objection which is not evidently answered. With equal propriety and mercy therefore is this call addressed to sinners of every denomination, who feel their misery and are athirst for pardon. “Come unto me,
that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. It was my body which bore
your sins on the tree, when I suffered, the just for the unjust. It was my blood which was shed by the sword of Justice, when I stood in your stead. It was I, who being the brightness of my Father's glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of my power, purged away your sins by the sacrifice of myself, and then sat down as your Mediator on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Believe, therefore, on me, and you shall receive remission of sins.”
Rémission of sins, however, though a blessing most necessary to man, reaches but a part of his wants. As Adam's first disobedience sprung from his impious desire to be like God in knowledge, so the just punishment of his sin was the extinction of all divine light in his soul. Hence we, his fallen offspring, are born blind to God, and the things of God; though the knowledge of them is far preferable to life. Hence we are liable to perpetual delusion, and prejudice against the truth.
For our relief, therefore, in this case, we are commanded by God to depend on the Lord Jesus for instruction
66 for a
and spiritual knowledge. If you ask on what ground you may build such dependence, and what there is in Christ Jesus to assure you of success? The answer which the divine record returns, is fully satisfactory. God proclaims in the Old Testament, that he has given his Son, light of the Gentiles;—to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison," Isa. xlii. 6,7. By his prophet Malachi he gives him a name most emphatically significant of his power to communicate knowledge. He calls him “ The Sun of righteousness;” to assure us, that as the sun in the firmament dispenses its invigorating influence through all parts of the earth, unveils the face of every object in the visible creation, and discovers it in its true aspect; so the Redeemer, by his word and Spirit, disperses
darkness of the human mind, makes divine truth visible and intelligible, and strengthens our dim faculties to behold the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God. The same representation of the office of Jesus as a teacher, is again repeated by Zacharias, when, full of the Holy Ghost, he celebrates Christ's coming into the world in the gracious character of an instructor of those who were lying in gross darkness. He exalts our opinions of Jesus as “ The day-spring from on high, who, through the tender mercy of our God, came to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; and to guide our feet in the way of peace.” Luke i. 79. Attestations of the same truth are frequent in the Scriptures. The beloved disciple, who lay in Jesus's bosom, expresses his ability to inform and teach us, by calling him “ The Word;” by pointing him out as “ The true light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world;" in other words, as that matchless person, from whose word and Spirit proceeds all the divine knowledge which ever was, or shall be found amongst the children of men. To add confirmation to these testimonies, the Redeemer bears record of himself in expressions of the same kind, and of the strongest import: “I, Jesus," says he, “ am the bright and morning star;" chasing the darkness of sin and error from the mind, as that star ushers in the brightness of the day, Rev. xxii. 16. In a discourse with the Jews, who were endeavouring to ensnare him by subtilty, Jesus said, “ I am the light of the world: he that follow