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God," 1 Pet. 1:19: and such it behooved him to offer. For it being offered as an expiatory sacrifice, it ought to be equivalent, in its own intrinsic value, to all the souls and bodies that were to be redeemed by it. And so it was, and more also. But surely as none but God can estimate the weight and evil of sin, so none but he can comprehend the worth and preciousness of the blood of Christ, shed to expiate it. And being so infinitely precious a thing which was offered up to God, it must needs be,
2. A most complete and all-sufficient oblation, fully to expiate the sins of all for whom it was offered, in all ages of the world. The virtue of this sacrifice reacheth backward as far as Adam, and reacheth forward to the last person springing from him who shall ever believe. That the efficacy of it thus reacheth back to Adam, is plain : for, on account thereof, he is styled, "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Rev. 13:8. And in the same sense Calvin understands those words of Christ, "Before Abraham was, I am.” John, 8:58. It is therefore but a rain cavil that some make against the satisfaction of Christ, when they say many are saved without it, even as many as were saved before the death of Christ. For they say the effect cannot be before the cause, which is true of physical, but not of moral causes; and such was Christ's satisfaction. As for example, a captive is freed out of prison from the time that his surety undertakes for him and promises his ransom ; here the captive is actually delivered, though the ransom that delivered him be not yet actually paid. So it was in this case; Christ had engaged to the Father to satisfy for them, and upon that security they were delivered.
And the virtue of this oblation not only reaches those believers that lived and died before Christ's day, but it extends itself forward to the end of the world. Hence
Christ is said to be " the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” Heb. 13:8.
To the same sense are those words, Heb. 11:40, rightly paraphrased ; "God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” As if the apostle had said, "God hath appointed the accomplishment of the promise of sending the Messiah, to be in the last times, that they (namely, that lived before Christ) should not be perfected, that is, justified and saved by any thing done in their time, but by looking to our time, and Christ's satisfaction made therein ; whereby they and we are perfected together." No length of time can wear out the virtue of this eternal sacrifice. It is as fresh, vigorous, and potent now, as the first hour it was offered And though he actually offer it no more, yet he virtually continues it by his intercession now in heaven; for there he is still a Priest. And therefore, about sixty years after his ascension, when he gave the Revelation to John, he appears to him in his priestly garment; " Clothed in a garment down to the feet, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle," Rev. 1:13; in allusion to the priestly ephod and curious girdle.
And as the virtue of this oblation reaches backward and forward, to all ages, and to all believers, so to all the sins of all believers, which are fully purged and expiated by it: this no other oblation could do. The legal sacrifices were no real expiations, but rather remembrances of sins. Heb. 9:9, 12; 10:3. And all the virtue they had, consisted in their typical relation to this sacrifice. Gal. 3:23; Heb. 9:13. Separate from it, they were altogether weak, unprofitable, and insignificant. Heb. 7: 18., But this blood cleanseth from all sins. 1 John, 1:7. It expiates all fully, without exception, and finally, without revocation. So that by his being made sin for us, we are made not only righteous, but "the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Cor. 5:21.
3. Being so precious in itself, and so efficacious to expiate sin, it must needs be a most grateful oblation to the Lord, highly pleasing and delightful in his eyes. And so indeed it is said, " He gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling savor.” Eph. 5:2. Not that God took any delight in the bitter sufferings of Christ, simply and in themselves considered; but with relation to the end for which he was offered, even our redemption and salvation. Hence arose the delight and pleasure God had in it; this made him take pleasure in bruising him. Isa. 53:10. His offering was a sweet-smelling savor unto God. The meaning is, that as men are offended with a nauseous smell, and on the contrary delighted with sweet odors and fragrance, so the blessed God, speaking after the manner of men, is offended, and filled with loathing and abhorrence by our sins; but infinitely pleased and delighted in the offering of Christ for them, which came up as an odor of sweet-smelling savor to him, whereof the costly perfumes under the law were types and sha dows. This was the oblation.
III. This oblation he brings before God, and to him he offers it up: so speaks the apostle, " Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself without spot to God.” Heb. 9:14. As Christ sustained the capacity of a surety, so God of a creditor, who exacted satisfaction from him; that is, he required from him, as our surety, the penalty due to us for our sin. And so Christ had to do immediately with God, yea, with a God infinitely wronged, and incensed by sin against us. To this incensed Majesty, Christ our High Priest approached, as to a devouring fire, with his sacrifice.
IV. The persons for whom, and in whose stead he offered himself to God, were the whole number given him of the Father; all who should believe in him. He laid down his life for the sheep, John, 10:15; for the church, Acts, 20:28; for the children of God, John, 11:50-52. It is confessed, there is sufficiency of virtue in this sacrifice to redeem the whole world ; and on that account some divines affirm he is called the Saviour of the world.” John, 4:42, &c. But that the efficacy and saving virtue of this all-sufficient sacrifice is applied only to believers, is too clear in the Scriptures to be denied. Eph. 5:23; John, 17:2, 9, 19, 20; John, 10 : 26–28; 1 Tim. 4: 10.
V. The design and end of this oblation was to render to God a full satisfaction for our sins : so speaks the apostle, " And having made peace, through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Col. 1:20. So "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.” 2 Cor. 5 : 19. Recon. ciliation is the making up of that breach, caused by sin, between us and God, and restoring us again to his favor and friendship. For this end Christ offered up himself to God.
INFERENCE 1. Hence it follows that actual believers are fully freed from the guilt of their sins, and shall never more come under condemnation. The debt of sin is perfectly abolished by the virtue of this sacrifice. When Christ became our sacrifice, he both bare and bare away our sins. They were laid upon him, and then expiated by him: so much is implied in the words, " Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." Heb. 9:28. To bear, is a full and emphatical word, signifying not only to bear, but to bear away. So John, 1:29, "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away
the sins of the world;" not only declaratively, or by way of manifestation to the conscience; but really, "by himself purging our sins." Hebrews, 1:3. Now, how great a mercy is this, "that, by him, all that believe should be justified from all things from which they eould not be justified by the law of Moses.” Acts, 13: 39. "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Ps. 32. Who can express the mercy, comfort, happiness of such a state as this? Reader, let me beg thee, if thou be one of this pardoned number, to look over the cancelled bonds, and see what vast sums are remitted to thee. Remember what thou wast in thy natural state : possibly thou wast in that black list. 1 Cor. 6:9, 10. What, and yet pardoned! fully and finally pardoned, and that freely, as to any hand that thou hadst in the procurement of it! What canst thou do less than fall down at the feet of free grace, and kiss those feet that moved so freely towards so vile a sinner? It is not long since thy iniquities were upon thee, and thou pinedst away in them. Their guilt could by no creature-power be separated from thy soul. Now they are removed from thee, as far as the east from the west. Ps. 103: 12.
2. From this oblation Christ made of himself to God for our sins, we infer the inflexible severity of Divine justice, which could be no other way diverted from us, and appeased, but by the blood of Christ. If Christ had not presented himself to God for us, justice would not have spared us: and if he do appear before God as our surety, it will not spare him; "He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up to death for us all.” Rom. 8:32. If forbearance might have been expected from any, surely it might from God, "who is very pitiful, and full of tender mercy," James, 5:11; yet God in this case spared not. If one might have expected sparing mercy from any, surely Christ might most of all expect it from his own Father; yet you read, God spared not his own Son. Sparing mercy is the lowest degree of mercy, yet it was denied to Christ; though in the garden Christ fell upon the ground, and sweat great