Page images

ness of God to save them. For though his goodness be as boundless as they are apt to imagine, and as it certainly is, yet it affords no ground of hope to them. They have no taste for it. The waters of life are bitter to them. Universal, disinterested benevolence loathes and abhors their selfishness; and their selfishness loathes and abhors that pure love. This they may know from what they see and observe of it, in respect to themselves and others. They think it does them too little good, and does too much good to others. It promises everlasting good to others; but denounces everlasting evil to them. It is sovereign goodness, and sovereign goodness they will not take and enjoy. It must therefore leave them wretched and forlorn.

6. If all who taste the goodness of God shall be saved; then the terms of salvation are as low as possible. The prophet says, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread ? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” Again we read, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. . And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” It is not conceivable, that salvation should be offered upon lower terms.

7. Let all inquire, whether they have tasted that the Lord is good. Have you ever tasted of the fountain, instead of the streams? Have you found the happy effects of tasting divine goodness?



“But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and

without spot."-1 Peter, i. 19.

The apostle Peter wrote this epistle to Christians in general, throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, with a principal design to encourage and animate them to perform the duties, and endure the trials of their pilgrimage on earth. Accordingly, he reminds them of their glorious hope of a future and eternal inheritance, reserved for them in heaven. He next turns their attention to their absent and invisible Redeemer, whom they had professed to love, and in whom they supremely rejoiced. But to make them more sensibly feel their strong and endearing obligations to pass the time of their sojourning here in fear, he tells them that they knew that they “ were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” The paschal lamb was a type of Christ, and for this reason, when John saw Jesus coming to him, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world !" The paschal lamb was to be perfect, and without blemish. This was designed to denote the immaculate purity and moral perfection of the life of Christ. And this is what is meant in the text, by his being a lamb without blemish and without spot. But it is worthy of peculiar notice here, that the apostle does not intimate to Christians that they had been redeemed by his pure and spotless life, but by his precious blood, or vicarious death. It was not the perfect, unblemished form of the paschal lamb, that made the ceremonial atonement; nor was it the unblemished and unspotted obedience of Christ, that made the atonement for the sins of the world. The text, therefore, plainly teaches us,

[ocr errors]


That it was not the perfect obedience, but the blood of Christ, which made atonement for the sins of the world.

I shall show,
I. In what Christ's perfect obedience consisted.
II. That he made no atonement by his obedience. And,
III. That he did make a complete atonement by his blood.

I. I am to describe the obedience of Christ, or show in what it consisted. Christ repeatedly professed to be perfectly obedient. He said, “I came down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me." Again he said, “The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” And the very day before his death, he said to his Father, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." He was perfectly "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners,” through the whole course of his life. From the beginning to the end of his life, he never deviated from the path of duty in a single instance. For,

1. He perfectly obeyed the moral law, which required him to love both God and man. He actually and constantly loved God supremely, and he as constantly loved mankind with pure and perfect benevolence. When he was a child, he obeyed his parents. When he was a man, he obeyed the laws of the land, and gave to Cæsar the things that were Cæsar's. He labored from day to day, and from year to year, in a lawful calling ; and every day perfectly performed the duties of the day. He was indefatigably industrious, and labored even to weariness.

2. He perfectly obeyed the ceremonial law. He attended the passover with great punctuality and strictness. He submitted to be baptized by John, and urged this reason for it, that “it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” As a Jew, he was holden to observe all the rites and ceremonies of divine appointment; though he resolutely refused to obey the traditions of the elders, which were repugnant to the laws of God. But lest his refusing to observe the vain traditions which the Scribes and Pharisees so superstitiously observed, should be misinterpreted, he declared that he came not to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfill them. He paid as strict a regard to every divine rite and ceremony, as to every precept of the moral law. Let him be in what part of Judea he would, he never failed to go up to the temple in Jerusalem three times in a year, after he was old enough to attend the passover. He likewise regularly attended the service of the temple and synagogue, and every religious institution enjoined by the laws of Moses.

3. He was no less obedient to the mediatorial, than to the moral and ceremonial law. The mediatorial law had respect

to him, and to him alone. This law required him to do many things which he was not required to do as a mere man, but only as mediator between God and man. It required him to preach the gospel to the poor, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. And in obedience to this command, immediately after he was baptized, he went into the principal towns and cities in Judea, declaring the glad tidings of salvation, and calling upon sinners to repent and believe the gospel. And he continued in this sacred work for about three years and a half; though it seems he met with very little success among the stupid and self-righteous Jews. Another mediatorial precept required him to work miracles; and this precept he perfectly obeyed with peculiar tenderness and dignity. The miracles which he wrought, were not only very various and numerous, but very great and marvellous. He healed the sick, when present and when absent. He caused the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, the lame to walk, and the dead to rise and live. He dispossessed those who were possessed of evil spirits, and made the devils obey his voice. He commanded the winds and waves into silent submission. And without speaking a word, he miraculously multiplied a few barley loaves and a few fishes so as to satisfy the craving appetites of more than five thousand persons. And we are told, that he would have wrought many more miracles, had it not been for the prejudice and unbelief of his enemies. But after he had wrought so many miracles, and preached in so many places, the mediatorial law required him to perform a far more arduous, painful, and self-denying act of obedience; and that was to lay down his life, and be obedient even to the death of the cross. This commandment, he expressly says, he had received of his Father. He knew that his Father had appointed the time, the place, and the circumstances of his death. Accordingly, when the appointed time was come, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and there make his soul an offering for sin. Though the prospect of this awful event filled his soul with sorrow, and caused him to sweat as it were great drops of blood, and his agonies finally extorted the exclamation, “Eloi, eloi, lama, sabachthani,-My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" yet he submissively gave up the ghost, and became obedient even unto the cruel death of the cross. Thus Christ paid perfect obedience to every moral, ceremonial, and mediatorial precept, from the beginning to the end of his life. And in this respect, he was as a lamb without spot and without blemish."

II. He made no atonement for sin by his perfect obedience.


[ocr errors]



It was neither designed nor adapted to make atonement for sin. For,

1. His obedience was not designed to make atonement, but for two other important purposes. It was necessary that he should be perfectly obedient to every moral, ceremonial, and mediatorial precept, in order to gain the approbation of his Father. Had he failed in obeying one precept of the moral law, God would have been displeased. Had he failed in obeying one precept of the ceremonial law, his Father would have been displeased. Or had he failed in obeying one precept of the mediatorial law, his father would have been displeased. And had he forfeited the favor of his father, and fallen under legal condemnation, he would have been totally incapable of performing the part of a mediator between God and his rebellious creatures. He would have needed a mediator himself, as much as mankind. His perfect obedience, therefore, was necessary on his own account, both as man and mediator. Besides, his obedience to the mediatorial law was necessary, to demonstrate to the world that he was the true and promised Messiah. God had foretold what the Messiah was to be and do; and had he not been and done what it was predicted he should be and do, it could not have been known that Jesus of Nazareth, who died on the cross, was the Saviour of the world. But the doctrines which he preached, and the miracles which he wrought, gave infallible evidence of his Divinity and Messiahship. Hence, Christ appealed to these as the highest credentials of his divine authority and mission. He did this, in answer to two of John's disciples, who said to him, “ Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another ? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see. The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached unto them.” This was as much as to say, that he was the true Messiah, who was both to preach and work miracles. When the Jews called his divine authority in question, he first appealed to the testimony of John concerning him, and immediately added, “But I have greater witness than that of John; for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me." And when his own disciples manifested their doubts respecting him, after his resurrection, he still appeals to his works, which he had done agreeably to the predictions concerning him. 66 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were

« PreviousContinue »