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each other, as in its proper place shall be more fully shown. And as for denying that to God which we allow to men; you must know, that man and man stand on even ground: man is not capable of being wronged and injured by man, as God is by man: there is no comparison between the nature of the offences. Besides, man only can freely forgive man, in a private capacity, so far as the wrong concerns himself; but he ought not to do so in a-public capacity, as he is judge, and bound to execute justice impartially. God is our Law-giver and Judge; he will not dispense with violations of the law, but strictly demands complete satisfaction.
2. Man can render to God no satisfaction of his own, for the wrong done by his sin. He finds no way to compensate and make God amends, either by doing, or by suffering his will.
Not by doing : this way is shut up to all the world ; none can satisfy God, or reconcile himself to him in this way; for it is evident our best works are sinful; "All our righteousness is as filthy rags.” Isa. 64:6. And it is strange any should imagine that one sin should make satisfaction for another. If it be said, that not what is sinful in our duties, but what is spiritual, pure, and good, may ingratiate us with God ;-it is obvious to reply, that what is good in any of our duties, is a debt we owe to God, yea, we owe him perfect obedience; and it is not imaginable how we should pay one debt by another -cancel a former by contracting a new engagement. If we do any thing that is good, we are indebted to grace for it. John, 15:5; 2 Cor. 3:5; 1 Cor. 15:10. In a word, those that have had as much to plead as any now living, have utterly given up all hope of appeasing and satisfying the justice of God. It is likely that holy Job feared God and eschewed evil as much as any of you; yet he saith, "If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me;
I am perfect, it shall also prove
if I say
me perverse. Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul; I would despise my life.” Job, 9:20, 21. It is probable that David was a man as much after the heart of God as you; yet he said, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man be justified.” Ps. 143:2. It is likely that Paul lived as holy, heavenly, and fruitful a life as the best of you, and far, far beyond you; yet he saith, "I know (or am conscious to myself of) nothing, yet am I not hereby justified.” 1 Cor. 4:4. His sincerity might comfort him, but could not justify him. And what need I say more? The Lord hath shut up this way to all the world; and the Scriptures speak it plainly: "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight. Rom. 3:20. Compare Gal. 3:21; Rom. 8:3.
And as man can never reconcile himself to God by doing, so neither by suffering: this is equally impossible; for no sufferings can satisfy God, but such as are proportionable to the offence we suffer for. And if so, infinite suffering must be borne: I say infinite, for sin is an infinite evil, as it wrongs an infinite God. Now sufferings may be said to be infinite, either in respect to their weight, exceeding all bounds and limits; the letting out of the wrath and fury of an infinite God: or in respect to duration, being endless and everlasting. In the first sense, no creature can bear infinite wrath, it would swallow us up. In the second, it may be borne as the damned do; but then, ever to be suffering, is never to have satisfied. So that no man can be his own priest, to reconcile himself to God by what he can do or suffer. And therefore, one that is able, by doing and suffering, to reconcile him, must undertake it, or we perish. Thus you see plainly and briefly the general nature and necessity of Christ's priesthood.
INFERENCE 1. This shows the incomparable excellency
of the christian religion. What other religions seek, the christian religion alone finds, even a solid foundation for true peace of conscience. While the Jew seeks it in vain in the law, the Mohammedan in his external and ridiculous observances, and the papist in his own merits, the believer only finds it in the blood of this great Sacrifice; this, and nothing less than this, can give peace to a distressed conscience, laboring under the weight of its own guilt. Conscience demands no less to satisfy it, than God demands to satisfy him. The grand inquest of conscience is, Is God satisfied? If he be satisfied, I am satisfied. Woful is the state of that man that feels the worm of conscience gnawing the most tender part of the soul, and hath no relief against it; that feels the intolerable scalding wrath of God burning within, and hath nothing to cool it. Hear me, you that slight the troubles of conscience, that call them fancies and melancholy; if you had but one sick night for sin—if you had ever felt that shame, fear, horror, and despair, which are the effects of an accusing and condemning conscience, you would account it an unspeakable mercy to hear of a way for the discharge of a poor sinner from that guilt: you would kiss the feet of the messenger that could bring you tidings of peace: you would call him blessed, that should direct you to an effectual remedy. Now, whoever thou art, that pinest away in thine iniquities, that droopest from day to day under the present wounds and the dismal presages of conscience, know that thy soul and peace can never meet, till thou art persuaded to come to this blood of sprinkling.
The blood of this sacrifice speaks better things than the blood of Abel. The blood of this sacrifice is the blood of God, Acts, 20:28; invaluably precious blood. 1 Pet. 1:19. One drop of it infinitely excels the blood of all mere creatures. Heb. 10:4-6. Such is the blood that must do thee good. Lord, I must have such blood (saith conscience) as is capable of giving thee full satisfaction, or it can give me no peace.
The blood of the cattle upon a thousand hills cannot do this. What is the blood of beasts to God? The blood of all the men in the world can do nothing in this case. What is our polluted blood worth?
Yea, Christ's blood is not only the blood of God, but it is blood shed in thy stead, and in thy place and room. " He was made a curse for us,” Gal. 3: 13. And so it becomes sin-pardoning blood, Heb. 9 : 22; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1: 14; Rom. 3 : 26; and consequently consciencepacifying and soul-quieting blood, Col. 1 : 20; Eph. 2 : 13, 14; Rom. 3: 25. O bless God that ever the news of this blood came to thine ears. With hands and eyes lifted up to heaven, admire that grace that cast thy lot in a place where this joyful sound rings in the ears of poor sinners. Surely the pure light of the Gospel shining upon this generation, is a mercy never to be enough prized.
2. Hence also learn the necessity of faith, in order to a state and sense of peace with God : for to what purpose is the blood of Christ our sacrifice shed, unless it be actually and personally applied, and appropriated by faith? You know, when a scrifice under the law was brought to be slain, he that brought it was to put his hand upon
the head of the sacrifice, and so it was accepted for him, to make an atonement, Lev. 1:4 : not only to signify, that now it was no more his, but God's, the property being transferred by a kind of manumission; nor yet merely that he voluntarily gave it to the Lord as his own free act; but principally it signified the putting off his sins, and the penalty due to him for them, upon the head of the sacrifice: and so it implied in it an execration, as if he had said, Upon thy head be the evil. So the learned observe, the ancient Egyptians
were wont expressly to imprecate when they sacrificed, " If any evil be coming upon us or upon Egypt, let it turn and rest upon this head,” laying their hand, at these words, on the sacrifice's head. And upon that ground, says Herodotus the historian, none of them would eat of the head of any living creature. You must also lay the hand of faith upon Christ your sacrifice, not to imprecate, but to apply and appropriate him to your own souls, he having been made a curse for you.
To this the whole Gospel tends, even to persuade sinners to apply Christ and his blood to their own souls. To this he invites us,
Come unto me,
that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11 : 28. For this end our sacrifice was lifted up upon the altar; "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be listed up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John, 3 : 14, 15. The effects of the law, not only upon the conscience, filling it with torment, but upon the whole person, bringing death upon it, are here shadowed out by the stingings of fiery serpents; and Christ by the brazen serpent, which Moses exalted for the Israelites, that were stung, to look unto. And as by looking to it they were healed; so by believing, or looking to Christ in faith, our souls are healed. Those that looked not to the brazen serpent died infallibly ; so must all that look not by faith to Jesus our sacrifice. It is true, the death of Christ is the meritorious cause of remission, but faith is the instrumental, applying cause ; and as Christ's blood is necessary in its place, so is our faith also in its place. The death of Christ, the offer and tender of Christ, never in themselves saved one soul without being received by faith. But alas! how do I see sinners, either not at all touched with the sense of sin, and so feeling that they are whole and need not the phy. sician; or if any be stung and wounded with guilt, how