lable, and his infinite hatred to sin, which is opposed to his own pure light, made manifest. There can be no relaxation of its claims on the part of justice, no speck or flaw must be admitted on God's pure truth or holiness: as the beams of the sun fall unsullied on the darkness and dross of this lower world, so he must appear

“ Full orb’d in his whole round of rays complete," as ineffable Light, without darkness, whilst he imparts his own light to the sinner, and establishes this communion and fellowship with him. Now, all this is done by the blood, that is, the death, of Jesus Christ. Follow, in your thought, your Redeemer to Mount Calvary ; view his crucifixion, and hear his cry, “It is finished !” The sun retires, there is darkness over the whole land, the earth quakes and trembles, the rocks rend, the graves are opened, and the bodies of the dead arise, and appear to many in the holy city ; the veil of the temple, which concealed the holy of holies, is rent from the top to the bottom, and the sacred place, into which it was death for any but the High Priest to enter, exposed to public gaze. Here mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other. Justice finds an infinite satisfaction ; holiness can appear with no more brilliant lustre; whilst all-conquering love throws open the fountain of eternal mercy to the penitent believer. Now is our Redeemer " set forth, to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past. To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; that he may be just, and the justifier of him that believeth on Jesus."

The universality and perpetuity of the efficacy of the blood of Jesus Christ is included in the expression, “ Cleanseth us from all sin.” This may relate to three points : The forgiveness of sins, the sanctification of our nature, and the maintenance and perpetuity of communion and fellowship established between God and the believer.

1. The forgiveness of sins is one of the great benefits procured for us by the blood of Christ; “in whom,” says the Apostle, “ we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” “It is your sins that separate between you and your God ;" but where sin is forgiven, the cause of separation ceases. Reconciliation with God, adoption into bis family, the Spirit of adoption, and a title to the kingdom of heaven, are its attendants. Blessed,” then, “is the man whose iniquity is forgiven, and whose sin is covered : blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not sin.” He is no longer far from God, but brought nigh by the blood of the cross; he is no more an alien and a stranger, but reckoned as a child; he has fellowship with God, by the Holy Ghost which is now given unto him; and he rejoices in hope of the glory of God: for if a child, then is he an heir

, an heir of God, and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ. The sole condi

[ocr errors]


tion of the forgiveness of sins, on our part, as laid down in holy Scripture, is that of faith. “ Be it known unto you, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” And, “ Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This doctrine is full of comfort for the penitent sinner : the efficacy of the precious blood of Christ, applied by living faith, is balm to his wounded conscience. Nor need the greatest transgressor despair : “Come, now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord : though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be wbite as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” The efficacy of this blood can be limited only by the extent of transgression, for it “cleanseth from all sin.” The most aggravated guilt can, therefore, be no insuperable hinderance to fellowship with God.

2. As the blood of Christ provides for the pardon of sin, and thus brings us nigh to God, so does it also for the sanctification of our nature, and fits us for the indwelling of God. “In that day,” says Zechariah, prophesying of our Lord's crucifixion, “there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.” The Apostle, also, directs our attention to the same subject, in these words : “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” The sanctification of believers by the blood of Jesus Christ is repeatedly referred to in holy Scripture : “Unto him that hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us Kings and Priests unto God; unto him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.” The inhabitants of heaven are described, in the Revelation, as having come out of great tribulation," and having “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” As, when every barrier is removed, the rays of the natural sun fill the interior of the edifice with light; so when sin, which prevents the intercourse between God and the soul, is taken away by the precious blood of Christ, the believer is filled by the true Light; the darkness of sin disappears; a new and holy nature is imparted; the Spirit of God, by his creative energy, renews the heart. The heart thus renewed is filled with God: “I will dwell in you, and walk in you." Communion and fellowship with him is now established. The deep prayer of Christ has its fulfilment : “ That they all may be one ; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.--I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” And again : “He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”

As no limit can be fixed to the virtue of Christ's blood in its removal of guilt, neither can its efficacy be restricted in the destruction of the carnal mind, and the sanctification of our nature. “ It cleanses

[ocr errors]

from all sin,” the root as well as branch. Neither is it limited in regard to time; nor does it require the agency of death to give it full efficiency ; but, the same at every period, it is the one only fountain for sin and uncleanness. Many of the objections against the doctrine of entire sanctification would give way, were the universal and perpetual efficacy of the blood of Christ but properly understood ; that its virtue remains the same, and is full and perfect, at every period. The all-sufficiency of God was the source of that Abrahamic perfection in which the father of the faithful walked ; and, cleansed by the all-efficacious blood of Christ, it is also the Christian's privilege now to “serve God without fear,” in that perfect love that casteth out fear, “in holiness and righteousness before him all our days." Not a few who believe that entire sanctification is a state now to be attained, are yet in great uncertainty as to the method in which it is to be sought

. Though they renounce the doctrine of salvation by works, yet there still lingers in their mind some shadowy, indistinct, indefinite idea that the attainment of this state of holiness depends on something in themselves, and that the mount must be scaled by their own effort. Two points are thus, in a great measure, left out of sight; namely, that entire sanctification is effected solely by the agency of the Holy Ghost, through the blood of Jesus Christ; and, that the power and grace which hallow the soul are apprehended by faith only. Then as it is of faith, so works are made void. No previous qualification, beyond a sense of our necessity, is required; and this is created in us by the Spirit of God; but at whatever moment our perfected faith, resting on the atoning blood, takes hold of the great promise, connected with the power of God, we awake up after his likeness. The act of believing is momentary ;


may time take place; but the moment of our thus believing is that of our entire sanctification.

3. The communion and fellowship thus established is maintained and perpetuated by the blood of Christ, which “cleanseth from all sin." The holiest actions of the greatest saints, when measured by the perfect law, are found deficient. Wh then, is to save the Christian from condemnation, and consequent separation from God? I answer, “The blood of Jesus Christ, that cleanseth from all sin." “ There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The merit of Christ's sacrifice, like the incense from the golden censer, (Rev. viii.,) comes up before God, and gives acceptance to their works; access to him is kept open, and communion and fellowship hereby maintained. Nay, such is the frailty and weakness of our nature, that too frequently, under the pressure of temptation, we do the things we ought not to do, and leave undone those that we ought to do; so that, by our own act, guilt is contracted, and fellowship with God marred and interrupted. The blood of Christ still remains our only remedy. “For if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father; and he is the

at any

[ocr errors]

propitiation for our sins ;” that is, for the falls of those in fellowship with him. “And not for ours only,” says St. John, “ but for the sins of the whole world,"—the world, the unconverted part of mankind, distinguished from the fellowship of saints. Let no one, however, abuse this view of the subject, so as to maintain the doctrine of the necessary continuance of the body of sin in the believer, and to prevent him from seeking now entire holiness, or to quiet his conscience under his occasional lapses in duty. On the contrary, “this is the will of God, even your sanctification,"—not merely partial, but entire. To make you entirely holy, to save you from all sin, is the end for which Christ shed his blood; and should you after any, even the least, conscious act of omission of duty, or commission of sin, neglect, by deep repentance, and a renewed act of faith, immediately to seek to be restored to the joy of your salvation, you run the risk of grieving God, and provoking him to take his Holy Spirit from you. Let the transgressor hasten again to the blood of Jesus Christ. Such, then, is the universal and perpetual efficacy of this precious blood. It meets every condition,—that of the deepest depravity, and the most aggravated guilt,-cleansing even“ all sin.” Wherever sin exists, it is also found : it is a fountain which always stands open, and from which not one of all Adam's contaminated posterity is prohibited: the ransom was given for all men. Having established, by its efficacy in the believer, communion and fellowship with God, it maintains the same, flowing downward through every period of life, always accessible, and ever efficacious.

1. We learn, from this subject, the character of a Christian. He is holy. He walks in the light as God is in the light, having fellowship with God, and being cleansed, by the blood of Jesus Christ, from all sin. Much stress has often been unduly laid on the ordinance of baptism ; it having been taught that all who have been baptized are regenerate, and as such the children of God; that the mere administration of the sacrament itself conveys grace. We admit that baptism is an ordinance of Christ, the gate of admission into the Christian church, and a recognition of membership; that parents are authorized to bring their children to this ordinance by the warrant of Christ, who has said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God;" that a great benefit is conferred hereby: but nowhere does holy Scripture teach the inseparable connexion between sprinkling the body with water, and cleansing the soul from sin ; and facts prove that many who have been baptized with water grow up in sin. Baptism is described as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace ;” but it is a fearful mistake to imagine that the thing signified must necessarily accompany

[ocr errors]

the sign.

[ocr errors]

Mere speculative knowledge is sometimes mistaken for spiritual illumination ; and an ability to define the doctrines and duties of

Christianity, for experimental and practical religion. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; they are foolishness to him, because they are spiritually discerned :" yet we cannot help feeling wonder that they who manifest so much discrimination on all subjects connected with the present life, should so fearfully mistake on subjects which involve their eternal interests; that a definition of repentance floating in the mind should be mistaken for godly sorrow in the heart ; a description of faith, for a humble reliance on Christ; and a definition of love, for a heartfelt obedience to the first and great commandment. Speculative notions, floating in the mind, produce no sanctifying change. The understanding has light, but the heart remains in darkness. Knowledge, without sanctification, dips transgression in a deeper dye. “The servant who knew his master's will, and did it not, was beaten with many stripes."

A form of religion, with attention to outward ceremonies, has frequently lulled the conscience to sleep, and deluded the unwary; and yet nothing is more severely reprehended or more strongly condemned in holy Scripture. The whole strain of our Lord's discourses aimed at the heart; the hypocrisy of the Pharisees is constantly exposed, and the nature of divine worship and service explained: “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." Through the blood of Jesus Christ, the believer is brought nigh to God; whilst the uncreated light, flowing from the Father of lights, fills his heart, transforms him, and makes him light in the Lord, by a life of holy obedience he walks in the light, and exhibits the divine nature in all holiness.

2. The church of Jesus Christ is a holy fellowship. “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." All the members are holy, having communion with God. The character of the true church has been greatly mistaken and misrepresented

. Different sects and denominations have set up most arrogant and exclusive claims. One set of professors pretend to antiquity, and that the kingdom of Christ upon earth, with its ministry, sacraments, and privileges, belong only to them; that their head is the visible representative of Christ on earth; and that all other churches, who differ from them, are cut off from the tree of life, and in a state of damnation. Another denomination, scarcely less modest, though differing from the former, in professing reformation of the abuses, yet denying the validity of any other ministry except what is episcopally ordained, claim the exclusive right of teaching and administering the sacraments, as if it were impossible for God to convey his saving grace except through this channel. It has always been the policy of the great adversary of God and man, to lead mankind off from the reality of religion, to put their trust in a shadow. The Jews claimed salvation because they were descended from him with whom God had established his covenant. The Papists hope for salvation through their

« VorigeDoorgaan »