« PreviousContinue »
procure a mitigation or abatement of the rigor or severity of the sentence, but to rescue his people fully from all degrees of wrath. So that there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ. Rom. 8:1.
3. This deliverance obtained for us by the death of Christ, is a special and distinguishing deliverance. Not common to all, but peculiar to some; and they by nature no better than those that are left under wrath. Yea, as to natural disposition, moral qualifications, and external endowments, oftentimes far inferior to them that perish. "You see your calling, brethren.” 1 Cor. 1:26.
4. It is a wonderful salvation. It would weary the arm of an angel to write all the wonders of this salvation. That ever such a design should be laid, such a project of grace contrived in the heart of God, who might have suffered the whole race to perish—that it should be for man, and not the angels, by nature more excellent than we—that Christ himself should
forth upon this glorious design—that he should effect it in such a way, by taking our nature and suffering the penalty of the law therein—that our deliverance should be wrought out and finished when both the Redeemer and his design seemed to be lost and to have perishedthese, with many more, are such wonders that it will employ eternity itself to search, admire, and render praise for them.
Before I part from this first end of the death of Christ, give me leave to deduce two useful inferences from it, and then proceed to a second.
INFERENCE 1. Hath Christ by his death delivered his people from the wrath to come? How ungrateful and disingenuous must it be for those that have obtained such a deliverance to repine at the light afflictions they suffer for Christ in this world. Alas! what are these sufferings, that we should complain of them? Are they like those which the Redeemer suffered for our deli
verance ? Did ever any of us endure for him what he endured for us? Or is there any thing you can suffer for Christ in this world, comparable to the wrath to come, which you must have endured, had he not, by the price of his own blood, rescued you from it?
Reader, wilt thou but make the comparison in thine own thoughts, and then pronounce when thou hast duly compared. What is the wrath of man to the wrath of God? What is the arm of a creature to the anger of Deity? Can man thunder with an arm like God? What are the sufferings of the vile body here to the tortures of a soul and body in hell? What are the troubles of a moment to that wrath which, after millions of years are gone, will still be called "wrath to come ?" Oh, what comparison between a point of time and the interminable duration of vast eternity ? What comparison between the transient sorrows and sufferings of this life, and the continued, uninterrupted wrath to come? Our troubles here are not constant; there are gracious relaxations, lucid intervals; but the wrath to come allows not a moment's mitigation. What light troubles are those which work, under the blessing of God, to the everlasting good of them that love him, compared with that wrath to come, out of which no good is possible to the souls on which it lies! And how much more comfortable is it to suffer in fellowship with Christ and his saints for righteousness' sake, than with devils and reprobates as the penalty of sin! Complain not then, O ye that are delivered by Jesus from wrath to come, of any thing ye suffer, or shall suffer from Christ, or for Christ, in this world.
2. If Jesus Christ have thus delivered his people, how little comfort can any man take in his present enjoyments whilst it remains a question whether he be delivered from the wrath to come? It is well for the present, but will it be so always! Man regards the future, and
it will not satisfy him that his present condition is comfortable, except he have some hopes it shall be so hereafter. It can afford him little content that all is
and pleasant about him now, whilst thus terrible hints of wrath to come are given him by his own conscience daily. Oh, methinks such a thought as this, What if I am reserved for the wrath to come ? should be to him as the fingers appearing upon the plaster of the wall were to Belshazzar in the height of his festivity. Give not sleep to thine eyes, reader, till thou hast good evidence that thou art of that number whom Jesus hath delivered from the wrath to come, till thou canst say Christ is mine. Three things may give thee evidence that this is thy happyportion :
If Jesus have delivered thee from sin, the cause of wrath, thou mayest conclude he hath delivered thee from wrath, the effect and fruit of sin. Upon this account the name Jesus was given to him, Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1:21. Whilst a man lies under the dominion and guilt of sin, he lies exposed to wrath to come; and when he is delivered from the guilt and power of sin, he is certainly delivered from the danger of this coming wrath. Where sin is not imputed, wrath is not threatened.
If thy soul do set an inestimable value on Jesus Christ, and be endeared to him on account of that inexpressible grace manifested in this deliverance, it is a good sign thy soul hath a share in it. Mark what an epithet the saints give Christ upon this account; "Giving thanks unto the Father, who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” Col. 1 : 12, 13. Christ is therefore dear, and dear beyond all expression to his people.
A disposition and readiness of mind to do or endure any thing for Christ, is a good evidence that you are delivered from the wrath to come. "That we may walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work.” Col. 1 : 10. There is a readiness to do for Christ. "Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness,” ver. 11. There is a cheerful readiness to endure any thing for Christ. And how both these flow from the sense of this great deliverance from wrath, the verses following, just cited, will show. Oh then, be serious and assiduous in gaining this evidence. Till this be, nothing can be pleasant to thy soul.
II. As the typical blood was shed and sprinkled to deliver from danger, so it was shed to make atonement : "He shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.” Lev. 4 : 20. The meaning is, that by the blood of the bullock, all whose efficacy consisted in its relation to the blood of Christ signified and shadowed by it, the people, for whom it was shed, should be reconciled to God by the expiation and remission of their sins. And what was shadowed in this typical blood, was really accomplished by Jesus Christ, in the shedding of his blood.
Our reconciliation to God is therefore another of the glorious results for which Christ travailed. So you find it expressly, Rom. 5 : 10; "If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." This if is not a word of doubting, but argumentation. The apostle supposes it a known truth, or principle yielded by all christians, that the death of Christ was to reconcile the redeemed to God. And again he affirms it with like clearness: "Having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things.' Col. 1 : 20. And that this was a main and principal end designed both by the Father and Son in the humiliation of Christ, is plain from 2 Cor. 5: 19; "God was in
Christ reconciling the world unto himself.” God filled the humanity with grace and authority. The Spirit of God was in him to qualify him. The authority was in him by commission, to make all he did valid. The grace and love of God to mankind was in him, and one of the principal effects in which it was manifested was this design upon which he came, namely, to reconcile the world to God. Upon which ground Christ is called the " propitiation for our sins." 1 John, 2 : 2. "Reconciliation or atonement is the making up of the ancient friendship between God and men which sin had dissolved, thus reducing these enemies into a state of concord and sweet agreement.
.” And the means by which this blessed design was effectually compassed, was the death of Christ, which made complete satisfaction to God for our sin. There was a breach made by sin between God and the fallen angels, but that breach is never to be repaired; since, as Christ took not on him their nature, he never intended to be a Mediator of reconciliation between God and them. But that which Christ designed, as the end of his death, was to reconcile God and man. Not the whole species, but those who were given to Christ and should believe in him.
INFERENCE 1. If Christ died to reconcile God and man, how horrid an evil is sin! And how terrible was that breach between God and the creature, which could be closed no other way but by the death of the Son of God!
2. How sad is the state of all who are not at peace with God, through the blood of his Son. To the impenitent unbeliever God is not reconciled; and if God be his enemy, how little avails it who is his friend ! He has an Almighty Enemy, whose very frown is destruction: "I hand to heaven and
I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and my hand take hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to my enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make mine arrows
lift up my