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tuous sins," from which he prayed to be delivered. (Psal. xix. 13.) To" sin wilfully" is to sin with premeditation and design; not through any sudden temptation, so as to be taken unawares, as Peter was; but watching for an opportunity, and laying schemes for the accomplishment of a wicked purpose, like Judas; making provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." To sin wilfully is also to sin resolutely, without present reluctance or after relentings; being neither restrained by present difficulties, nor terrified by future consequences. Such was the conduct of some in Jeremiah's time, who said, "As for the word which thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee; but we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth." Jer. xliv. 16, 17.
2. Neither are sins of ignorance intended, but such as are against light and strong conviction. To sin against knowledge is one of the greatest aggravations, and that which leads on to perdition. The apostle, when describing such as are filled with all unrighteousness, says, Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." (Rom. i. 32.) By the knowledge of the truth however, mentioned in the text, appears to be meant that general acquaintance with the gospel, or the way of salvation by Christ, which is common to those who attend upon or profess the gospel, and not that which is special to such as are spiritually enlightened, and who are said to have received the love of the truth," as well as the knowledge of it, that they might be saved. The word here rendered knowledge also signifies an acknowledgment: so that persons warned were not only such as had been made acquainted with the truth, but appear to have made a profession of it; and therefore by sinning wilfully against such light, they had not only violated their
own consciences, but brought a reproach upon the cause, and were in danger of total apostacy. But whatever light they might have received, they had never felt the power of the gospel. Those who buy the truth will not sell it at any price.
3. The text speaks not of sins in general, though knowingly and presumptuously committed, but of some sin in particular, and such as excludes from the hope of salvation. Now this appears to be no other than an absolute and entire rejection of the truth which had been professedly received; and this is called a "treading under foot the Son of God, and counting the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and doing despite unto the Spirit of grace." (ver. 29.) This is not a mere defection from duty, as in the case of a backslider; but an apostacy from truth, from the truth of the gospel; a renunciation of the only ground of a sinner's hope-the sacrifice of atonement offered by the Son of God. It is not a mere departure from some important doctrines of the gospel, as was the case with some of the Corinthians and Ga latians, and others among the churches in Asia, but from that which is essential to the gospel, and to a sinner's acceptance with God. It not merely mars the edifice, but subverts the foundation of faith. Neither is it a rejection of the gospel only, or the way of sal vation by the sacrifice of Christ: it is a doing this with contempt, against the clearest light and evidence to the contrary-a treading under foot the Son of God, counting the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, doing despite to the Spirit of grace, and thus sinning wilfully after having received the knowledge of the truth. Peter also tells us that those who "deny the Lord that bought them, bring upon themselves swift destruction." Those who cast the Son of God from his throne must expect that he will cast them into hell. They divest him of his glory, and he will cover them with disgrace. Let those who deny the divinity of
Christ, or the atonement, tremble for the consequences! "This is the stone which is set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved-Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus." To reject the sacrifice of Christ therefore, is to set aside the foundation, and subvert the whole gospel. "There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins!" No relief is left for such; there is no other way of satisfying divine justice, of expatiating human guilt, or of providing for the exercise of mercy in a way of righteousness; and as God cannot exercise mercy but in a way of righteousness, so those who reject that way can have no ground to expect it. Typical sacrifices and ceremonial expiations are all abolished; and if Christ's once offering himself in the end of the world do not suffice, he will not offer himself again. "Being raised from the dead, he dieth no more: death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin ence: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God." There remaineth therefore no more sacrifice for sin. 2 Peter ii. 1. Acts iv. 11, 12. 1 Cor. iii. 11. Rom. vi. 9, 10.
Let us now proceed with the subject, which evidently contains the following propositions-that the death of Christ was a sacrifice for sin-that there is no other sacrifice-and that those who reject this are left without hope.
I. The death of Christ was a real and proper sacrifice for sin.
The sacrifices under the law were figurative: this was real and effectual. They were shadows: this was the substance. They were to consist of the best a person had, whether of the fruits of the field or of the
flock: and what could God give greater or better than his only-begotten Son? Neither heaven nor earth could provide such another lamb for a burnt offering! If the whole creation had been offered up, it would not have been a sacrifice of equal value with this. "God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son-He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all—Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts.". What was offered under the law was to be a person's own; for the Lord hateth rob bery for a burnt-offering. Hence David would not build an altar upon Araunah's ground, nor sacrifice those oxen which he would generously have given him for that purpose; but would make them his own property by giving a price equal to their value. So Christ laid down his own life" and "bore our sins in his own body upon the tree.' He did not offer that which cost him nothing; neither were we "redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot-By himself he purged our sins, and is set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.". -It is also included in the nature of a sacrifice that it be vicarious, or offered in the room and stead of another, so that the punishment due to the offender should be borne by the substitute. And such was the sacrifice of Christ. Not like the high priest under the law, had he to offer first for himself, and then for the sins of the people; for he himself knew no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth all he did and suffered was for our sakes, that he might bring us unto God. "The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself-He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed." Christ and his people were considered as one in the purposes and designs of God; and before
he actually gave himself for them he was given to them, to become their surety and representative, so that the punishment of their sins might be transferred to him, and the fruits of his obedience to them. Hence" he was made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in himHe died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us unto God." In short, the doctrine of salvation by the blood of the cross is what an apostle calls "the gospel." It is not to be considered as a component part, but as fundamental and essential to the truth; and that doctrine which does not embrace this is not the gospel of Christ, but another gospel. This is the "faithful saying, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, even the chief." This is "the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." This also is "the gospel, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures." Dan. ix. 26. Zech. xiii. 7. Isai. liii. 5. John iii. 16. Rom. viii. 32. 1 Cor. xv. 1-3. 1 Tim. i. 15. John v. 2.
II. The death of Christ is the only sacrifice for sin.
"Sacrifice and offering," says he, "thou wouldst not; but a body hast thou prepared me." Other sacrifices and offerings had been made, but the Lord could find no pleasure in them, for they could not take away sin. It was a reasonable inquiry that was made of old, "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God?" Or, as it is in the original, How shall I prevent or anticipate the Lord? "Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgressions, the fruit of my body for the sin of my Soul?" All this the awakened sinner would do, if he