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Thus Christ also imparts his nature to those whom he has chosen to share his benefits. He makes them "partakers of a divine nature," and transforms them into "the divine image in righteousness and true holiness:" "He himself lives in them;" "m and thus renders them meet for eternal life, even for the inheritance of the saints in light."
It is, however, proper to observe, that though all are said to die in Adam, and to be made alive in Christ, the benefits received from Christ do not extend to all that are affected by Adam's fall; the word "all" must, in the latter clause, be taken in a more limited sense, and import that, as they, who were represented by Adam and are partakers of his nature, die in him; so they, who were represented by Christ, and are partakers of his nature, shall live in him.]
1. How much of Christ may be seen even in the character of Adam himself!
[Adam is expressly said to be "a figure of him that was to come; " and Christ, in reference to him, is called the second Adam. Both of them were the representatives of their respective seeds; but, blessed be God! not with the same success: the one destroyed, the other saves, the souls committed to him. Let us then renounce, as far as possible, our connexion with him who has brought condemnation upon us, and seek an union with him," through whose obedience we may be made righteous."]
2. Of what importance is it to understand and receive the gospel!
[It is only by the gospel that we can be acquainted with the work of Christ, and obtain an interest in him: if we know him not, we remain under all the disadvantages of the fall. To dispute about this doctrine is to no purpose: we are dead in Adam, whether we will believe it or nor can we obtain life, but in and through Christ. Let us then not reject the gracious overtures of Christ, but turn to him in this our time of acceptance, this day of our salvation.]
3. How thankful should we be for God's distinguishing mercy to the sinners of mankind!
[When angels fell, there was no Saviour provided for them: they were punished for the first offence, and will remain monuments of God's indignation to all eternity: but we are spared, yea, are saved, by the mediation of God's co-equal Son. Let heaven and earth praise him! and let every tongue now, as surely we shall hereafter, adore him for such unmerited, incomprehensible love!]
k2 Pet. i. 4.
1 Eph. iv. 24. m Gal. ii. 20. n Col. i. 12. • Túzas. Rom. v. 14. P 1 Cor. xv. 45-47. q Heb. ii. 16.
CIII. ABEL'S SACRIFICE AND CHRIST'S COMPARED. Heb. xii. 22, 24. Te are come .
to the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things than that of Abel.
AS the Christian dispensation differs widely from that of Moses as to the manner in which it was promulgated, so does it most essentially differ with respect to the spirit and temper which it is calculated to produce in the minds of men. The terrors of Mount Sinai were suited to impress the Jews with a servile fear; as their whole system of rites and ceremonies was, to keep them under bondage. But the mild genius of the gospel introduces us at once to peace and liberty. In the passage before us the apostle exemplifies this remark in many particulars; the last of which demands our attention at this time. We propose to shew
I. The efficacy of Abel's blood
By "the blood of Abel" we are not to understand his own blood, but the blood of his sacrifice
[The generality of commentators indeed explain this as relating to Abel's blood, which cried for vengeance against his murderous brother. But to commend the blood of Christ in this view, would indeed be no commendation at all. The history of Abel informs us, that he offered one of the firstlings of his flock in addition to the same kind of offering as Cain brought, manifesting thereby not merely his obligations to God as a creature, but his conscious guilt as a sinner, and his faith in that Lamb of God, who was to take away the sin of the world. That sacrifice of his was honoured with very peculiar tokens of God's acceptance;d and may therefore fitly be referred to as illustrative of the sacrifice of Christ.]
It spake to him that offered it very excellent things
[Had not the marks of God's favour been such as were most desirable, Cain would not have so cruelly envied his brother the attainment of them. But they manifestly declared to Abel the acceptance of his person, and an approbation of his service. What could be more delightful than such a testimony to a pious soul? Had life itself been the price of such a blessing, it had been well bestowed.]
a Gen iv. 10.
b This is well proved by Dr. Kennicott in his dissertation on Cain and Abel. c Heb. xi. 4. d Perhaps fire might be sent from heaven to consume the sacrifice. See instances of this, Lev. ix. 24. 1 Kin. xviii. 38. 1 Chron. xxi. 26. and 2 Chron. vii. 1.
But the excellence of Abel's sacrifice is far surpassed
II. The superior efficacy of Christ's
The blood of Christ is here, as in other places, called "the blood of sprinkling"
[There is in this place an allusion to the sprinkling of blood on the book and on the people, when God made his covenant with the Jewish nation. The blood of Christ is sprinkled upon us, when we enter into covenant with God; and it binds God, if we may so say, to fulfil to us his promises, while it binds us on the other hand to obey his precepts.]
This speaks to us incomparably better things than the blood of Abel
[Great as the expressions of God's love to Abel were in consequence of the sacrifice which that righteous man had offered, they were not to be compared with those which we receive through Christ. There was no inherent virtue in his sacrifice; its efficacy was derived from the relation it bore to Christ; and the blessings, enjoyed by means of it, were rather typical than real. The continuance of God's favour to him was to be secured only by a constant repetition of the same sacrifices; nor could he obtain a full and perfect peace of conscience even by their means: but Christ, by his one sacrifice of himself, has perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Besides, whatever Abel's sacrifice spake, it spake to him alone: whereas the blood of Christ speaks to the whole world, and proclaims acceptance to all who will trust in it for salvation. Thus, while the good things which the blood of Abel spake, were only typical, temporary, and personal, those, which the blood of Christ speaks, are real, permanent, and universal.
Nor will our concern in this matter appear unimportant, if we consider
III. The interest which the believer has in it
Every believer" comes to" this blood of sprinkling
[The efficacy of the Redeemer's blood is not a matter of speculation, but of experience, to every true Christian. As Moses and the Israelites 66 came to❞ Mount Sinai in order to make a covenant with God, so do we come to the blood of sprinkling: they came as persons redeemed by God out of the house of bondage; we as redeemed from death and hell: they came to take God as their God, and to give up themselves to him as his people; and we come with precisely the same view: they offered sacrifices and were sprinkled with the blood, in token that they deserved to die, and could be cleansed only
e 1 Pet. i. 2. f Compare Exod. xxiv. 6—8. with Heb. ix. 18-22. g Heb. ix. 9. h Heb. x. 14.
by the blood of atonement; and we come in the same manner to the blood of Christ: they looked through the typical sacrifices to him, who was in due time to be offered; and we look to him, who in due time was offered for our sins upon the cross>]
In coming thus to Christ we experience all the efficacy of his blood
[Were we afar off? We are brought nigh to God: Were we enemies to God? We are reconciled to him Were we condemned for our iniquities? We are now justified: Were our minds filled with a sense of guilt and a dread of punishment? Our hearts are now sprinkled from an evil conscience, and enjoy peace with God:" Were we strangers to communion with God? We now have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus: Were we enslaved by evil habits? We are now purged from dead works to serve the living God:P Did a sentence of eternal misery await us? We now look forward to the fruits of an eternal redemption. Such is the interest that the Christian has in the blood of sprinkling; and in this sense it may be said of every believer, that he is "come to" it.]
1. Let us enquire whether we be indeed come to this blood of sprinkling
[It is not every nominal Christian, that has approached God in this ways" all are not Israel who are of Israel"—The outward form indeed which was observed by Moses is not required under the Christian dispensation; nor need we feel his terror, in order to obtain his comforts: but we must seriously draw nigh to God, sprinkling ourselves, as it were, with the blood of Christ, and professing our entire reliance upon that for our acceptance with Him. Yea, we must go to God in the very spirit and temper in which Abel offered his sacrifice; not merely thanking Him with Pharisaic pride, as Cain may be supposed to have done; but smiting on our breasts like the Publican, and imploring mercy for Christ's sake. Have we done this? Or rather, are we doing it yet daily? On this depends our happiness both in this world, and in the world to come. If God at this moment gives us the witness of his Spirit in our consciences that this is indeed our experience, let us rejoice in such a testimony, and be thankful for it. But if our consciences condemn us, oh! let us delay no longer, but instantly sprinkle ourselves with that precious blood, on account of which he will speak peace unto our souls.]
Rom. v. 9. • Heb. x. 19. 12X
12. Let us endeavour to fulfil the obligations which this blood entails upon us
[When Moses sprinkled the Jews, and read to them the book of the covenant, they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient:" O that there may be in us also such a
Wheart, such a heart, I'mean, not merely to promise, but
to perform our promises! Certainly this is the end for which Christ shed his blood; he died, not merely to bring us to the enjoyment of privileges, but to lead us to the performance of our duties; he gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works." Let us then strive to walk worthy of our high calling; and let "the love of Christ constrain us to live upto him, who died for us and rose again."]
CIV. NOAH'S ARK A TYPE OF CHRIST.
1 Pet. iii, 21. The like figure whereunto, even baptism, dath.
now save us.
GOD has marked the necessity of holiness no less by the dispensations of his Providence than by the declarations of his grace. His destroying of the whole world for their iniquity, evinced, as strongly as any thing could, that sin should never go unpunished, and that the righteous only should be saved. In this view St. Peter introduces the mention of that well attested fact, and declares that the salvation, experienced by Noah in the ark, was typical of that which we experience by Christ, and into which we are brought by our baptism. The text is by no means free from difficulties: to render it as intelligible as we can, we shall consider
I. The typical salvation here referred to
God had determined to overwhelm the world with a deluge
Though there had been so few generations upon earth, that Noah's own father (Lamech) had been contemporary with Adam for sixty years, and lived till within five years of the flood, so that Noah, and the people of that generation, had, for no less than six hundred years together, received instruction only at second hand from Adam himself, yet had "all flesh corrupted their way," insomuch that "God repented that he had made man," and resolved to destroy him from off the face of the earth.]