« PreviousContinue »
“it is by the cross of Christ alone that the world is crucified unto them, and they unto the world.")
On the other hand, What truly regenerate man does not effect it ?
[Every one that is born of God does effect it. Whatever be his age or condition in life, it makes no difference; whether he be a king on his throne, or a beggar on the dunghill, this is his spirit, and this his conduct. In the external habits of men there must, of necessity, be a great difference: because it is not possible for a monarch to live precisely in the style and manner of a private man: but, in the internal principles and feelings there will be no difference whatever between the rich man that lives in splendour, and the poor Lazarus that lies at his gate. The hearts of all, whether young or old, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, will rise superior to the world; they will all account themselves " pilgrims and sojourners here;" and "have their conversation in heaven4,” where their treasure is, and where they hope to spend a blissful eternity in the presence of their God] Behold then here, 1. A test, whereby to try your state
[You cannot wish for a better touchstone than this. You see that every Christian in the universe will stand this trial; and that no other person whatever can. To a certain extent, the unregenerate and unbelieving may resemble the regenerate believer: but when you bring them to this test, the difference between them will instantly appear. I would not speak disrespectfully of any person, or any body of men; nor would I presume to sit in judgment upon them. But I will submit a question to you, which I think deserves consideration. It is well known that names of reproach are given to those who are more religious than their neighbours, and names of honour assumed by those who differ from them. At the present day, their respective titles are, the orthodox, and the evangelical : (what they may be at a future period, we know not: in every age they vary: and my object is, not to designate persons, but characters :) and these are supposed to differ very widely from each other in principle : but it is in practice, rather than in principle, that they differ: for you may hold what principles you will; and if you will be of the world, you will be reputed orthodox: but if you will not be of the world, whatever your principles may be, you may be infallibly sure that you will be ranked with the evangelical. Here, in fact, is the true point of distinction between the nominal and the real Christian: the nominal Christian is of this world : and the real Christian is not of this world, nor has any desire to be of it: for he knows, that even “ to desire its friendship, is to be an avowed enemy of God*.'] 2. A rule, whereby to regulate our conduct
i Gal. vi. 14.
u Heb. xi. 13. and Phil. ii. 20.
[“ We must be dead unto the world,” even as our Lord himself was. And does this appear unreasonable, or impracticable? Let any one imagine a number of angels, sent down from heaven, to occupy different stations in the world for a season: how would they conduct themselves? They would take each his station, whether it were to rule a kingdom, or to sweep the streets. They would look down with contempt upon all the vanities of the world; and would stand at the remotest distance from its contagion. They would be intent only on serving God in their respective places, that they might be approved by him when they should be called to give up their account. Now, what should hinder us from considering ourselves in this precise point of view ? True, we have corruptions, which the angels have not: but these corruptions are to be mortified, and not indulged: and though our duty is rendered the more difficult by means of them, it is not a whit altered. Nor need we despair of attaining at least some measure of victory over the world ; because the Spirit within us has always this bearing; and because the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we believe, has said, “My grace shall be sufficient for thee.” This, then, I would recommend to every regenerate soul; “ Love not the world, nor any thing that is in the world y." but let the same mind be in you as was in Christ Jesus, and endeavour in all things to “walk as he walked 2.”]
x Jam. iv. 4. the Greek. y 1 John ii. 15, 16. z 1 John ii. 6.
MMCCCCLXIV. JUSTIFICATION AND SANCTIFICATION BY CHRIST. 1 John v. 6. This is he that came by water and blood, even
Jesus Christ ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
THERE are in the Scriptures, and especially in the history of our blessed Lord, many circumstances recorded, which appear to have been accidental and of no moment, whilst they were in reality ordained of God, and of the utmost importance for the advancement of his glory. For instance, the soldiers offering him vinegar upon the cross, and dividing some of our Lord's clothing, and casting lots for the remainder ; what trifles do these circumstances appear, when compared with all the other events of that day! Yet by means of them were the most improbable prophecies fulfilled, and the strongest possible testimony given to the Messiahship of Jesus. Another circumstance I will mention as deserving of particular notice, namely, that of the soldier, without any order from his superiors, piercing our Lord with his spear
after he was dead. This, as far as respected the soldier, was a mere wanton act either of cruelty or contempt; of cruelty, if he doubted whether he was not yet alive; and of contempt, if he believed him to be really dead. But that act of his, whilst it fulfilled a very remarkable prophecy, was productive of consequences which are replete with instruction to the whole world. On his inflicting the wound, there came forth from our Saviour's side both water and blood, not blended together, but in streams visibly distinct from each other. St. John, who was the only Disciple present, took particular notice of this. He saw it with his own eyes: and, in his Gospel, he records it as a most remarkable event, to which he could bear the most assured testimony, and of which he was extremely anxious that every one should be informed : “One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side : and forth with came thereout blood and water. And he that saw it bare record; and his record is true : and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe." It is to this that the Apostle alludes in the words of our text; “ This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood :" and the same anxiety does he manifest to impress it deeply on our minds, when he adds, “The Spirit beareth witness to it; and the Spirit is truth.” Let me then, in conformity with his example, call your attention to,
a John xix. 34, 35.
I. The truth here specified
In this event there was a deep stupendous mystery, inasmuch as it declared, in a very striking way, the great ends of our Saviour's death. Take the Apostle's assertion, 1. As simply declared
[Our Lord “ Jesus Christ came by water and blood." He came as “ a teacher sent from God," to instruct us in the knowledge of his will, to lead us also by his own example, and by the gift of his grace to strengthen us for the attainment of universal holiness. This is called "coming by water :" for, as water is of use to cleanse and purify, so his doctrine was to cleanse and purify our souls from every species of defilement.
But it was not merely as a teacher that Jesus came, but to make an atonement also for sin. This he was to do by offering himself a sacrifice for us upon the cross : and this he did, shedding his own most precious blood, that through it we might be purged from guilt, and be reconciled to our offended God. In this he differed from all who had ever come before him. The different prophets that had been sent from God, came solely for the former purpose : and John the Baptist, who baptized such multitudes in the Wilderness, professed that the whole scope of his ministry was to lead men to repentance. But Jesus had a higher end in view. Repentance, however deep, and reformation, however extensive, would have been of no avail, if an atonement had not been offered to God for the sins of men: and this office neither men nor angels could undertake : he alone was sufficient for it: his Divine nature would give a virtue and efficacy to his blood, which no other blood could have, and would render it a sufficient propitiation for the sins of the whole world. For that end therefore he assumed our nature, and died upon the cross; so that, as my text expresses it, “ he came by blood.”] 2. As solemnly confirmed
[There is a peculiar emphasis to be observed in the Apostle's mode of repeating his assertion. The circumstance of the blood and water flowing in distinct streams from the wounded side of our Saviour, was intended emblematically to declare the united ends of his death. The Apostle therefore would not suffer it to be overlooked, lest by a partial view of Christ, as a Prophet only, we should lose the blessings which he came to purchase for us. The mode appointed by the law for the purifying of the leper, will place this matter in a just point of view. Two birds were taken: one of them was killed over running water, and his blood was mingled with the water. The blood and water were then sprinkled seven times upon the leper, and the living bird, being dipped in the blood and water, was let loose into the open field, and the leper was pronounced clean. This was intended to shew how man should be cleansed from sin. The Lord Jesus Christ should shed his blood as an atonement for sin: he should also send forth his Spirit upon man: by neither of these separately should he fulfil the office of a Saviour; and by neither of these separately should man be restored to the favour of his God. The union of the two was necessary for all; and the two united should be effectual for all : so that, however deep any one's leprosy may have been, he shall, the very instant he has been so purified, be pronounced clean.
This then all must carefully notice, if they would possess the full benefits of Christ's salvation.]
In addition to his own testimony, the Apostle further confirms his assertion, by adducing, II. The testimony which the Holy Spirit bears to
itIn two ways the Holy Spirit, “ the Spirit of truth," has borne witness to the doctrine inculcated in our text:
1. By established ordinances in the Church of God
[This doctrine was not unknown to the Church of Israel in the wilderness; for there were ordinances appointed on purpose that it might be known, and be kept in everlasting remembrance. T
Paschal Lamb which was slain from year to year reminded them, as indeed all the daily sacrifices did, that they were redeemed by blood.
And, in their passage through the Red Sea, they were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, to shew them, that they must also be washed from their pollutions by the Spirit of God; as indeed all the washings and lustrations appointed by the law yet further taught them. Under the Christian dispensation, the same truths are constantly inculcated by the two sacraments appointed for our observance. Our baptismal washing reminds us, that “ Christ came by water;" and the sacramental cup, which is emblematic of his blood which he shed for the remission of our sins," reminds us, that “ he came by blood." And our Apostle himself, in the second verse after my text, declares, that these ordinances were appointed for these very ends by the Spirit of God, who by them, and with them, bears
b Lev. xiv. 447.