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about the altar; and that of the great sacrifice of expiation seven times before the mercy-seat: and so the blood of Christ's sacrifice is to be considered, both as he offered it to God to make atonement for sin, and as it is sprinkled by the Spirit on the consciences of believers, to purge them from dead works. And hence it is called, with respect to our sanctification, the Blood of Sprinkling;' for we have 'the sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, through the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus.'
The blood of Christ, in his sacrifice, is still of the same efficacy as it was in that hour wherein it was shed. The blood of other sacrifices was always to be used immediately upon its effusion; for if it were cold and congealed, it was of no use, to be offered or sprinkled. Lev. xvii. 11. Blood was appointed to make atonement, as the life or animal spirits were in it. But the blood of the sacrifice of Christ is always warm, having the same spirit of life and sanctification still moving in it. Hence our way of approach to God thereby, is said to be always 'living' (Heb. x. 20.):' and yet always as newly slain. Every one, therefore, who at any time has an actual interest in the blood of Christ, as sacrificed, has as real a purifiGation from the defilement of sin, as he had typically who stood by the priest, and had blood or water sprinkled upon him; for the Holy Ghost diligently declares, that whatever was done legally or typically, by any of the sacrifices of old, for the expiation or purification of sin, was all done really and spiritually by that one sacrifice and sprinkling of the blood of Christ. Thereby is the gradual carrying on of our sanctification habitually effected, which was signified by the continual daily sacrifice. From thence is special cleansing virtue communicated to us by the ordinances of the Gospel, as is expressly affirmed (Eph. v. 25.) denoted by the doubling of the daily sacrifices on the Sabbath. By it are we purged from all our sins whatever, great or small, as was typified in the great sacrifice on the day of expiation; and to him we have continual recourse, on all occasions of our spiritual defilements whatever. Thus his blood, as to its purifying virtue, answers to, and accomplishes all the legal institutions, especially that of the ashes of thered heifer' (Num. xix.) whereby every one who was defiled might immediately be cleansed: and he who
would not make application thereto, was to be cut off from the people (ver. 20.); and it is no otherwise with respect to the blood of Christ, in our spiritual defilements; thence it is called a fountain opened for sin and uncleanness (Zech. xiii. 1.); and he who neglects application thereto, shall perish in his uncleanness, and that eternally.
We may further inquire, How does the blood of Christ thus cleanse us from our sins? and, How do we come to be interested therein? As to the first, it must be observed, that this uncleanness is not corporeal, but spiritual. It is the inconformity of sin to the holiness of God, whence it is loathsome to him, and attended with shame in us. Now, wherever there is an interest obtained in the purifying virtue of the blood of Christ, it takes away all loathsomeness in the sight of God (not from sin, but from the sinner;) so that he shall be as one absolutely washed and purified before him. It also takes away shame out of the conscience, and gives the soul boldness in the presence of God. Isa. i. 16, 18. Psalm li. 7. Heb. x. 19.
As to the way in which we become interested in the blood of Christ, we observe,
1. It is the Holy Spirit who discovers to us the pollution of sin, and our defilement by it. Something indeed of this kind will be wrought by the power of natural conscience, awakened and excited by outward means of conviction; but this alone will never guide us to the blood of Christ for cleansing. Such a sight and conviction of it as may fill us with self-abhorrence and abasement, is the work of the Holy Spirit. In a sense hereof the publican stood at a distance, as one ashamed, and destitute of any confidence for a nearer approach. So the holy men of old professed to God, that they blushed,, and were ashamed to lift up their faces to him.'
2. The Holy Spirit proposes and presents to us the only true remedy, the only means of purification. What false ways have been invented to this purpose, has been already declared; and every man is ready to find out a way of his own. Though the only fountain for cleansing be near us, yet we cannot see it till the Holy Ghost open our eyes, as he did the eyes of Hagar: he it is who shews it to us, and leads us to it. It is an eminent part of his office and work to glorify the Son;' and this he does by
shewing such things unto us. To have a true spiritual sense of the defilement of sin, and a gracious view of the cleansing virtue of the blood of Christ, is an eminent effect of the Spirit of grace.
3. It is he who worketh faith in us, whereby we receive Christ himself, and are actually interested in this, and in all the benefits of his mediation. He is our propitiation through faith in his blood as offered; and he is our sanctification through faith in his blood as sprinkled; and particular acting of faith on the blood of Christ, for the cleansing of the soul from sin, is required of us. A renewed conscience is sensible of pollution in every sin, and is not freed from the shame of it without a particular application to the blood of Christ. It comes by faith to this fountain, as the sick man to the pool of healing waters, and waits for a season to be cleansed in it: so David, on the defilement he had contracted by his great sins, cries to God, Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.' Ps. li. 7. He alludes to the purging of the leprous person, the ordinance whereof is instituted Levit. xiv.; or to that more general institution for the purification of all legal uncleanness, by the water of separation made of the ashes of the red heifer (Numb. xix.;) for both these purifications were made by the sprinkling of blood or water with hyssop. It is plain, I say, that he alludes to these institutions; but it is as plain they are not the things which he intends; for there was not in the law any purging with hyssop for persons guilty of such sins as he lay under; and therefore he professes, in the close of the Psalm, that 'sacrifice and offering, God would not accept' in his case: it was therefore that which was signified by those institu tions which he applied to, namely, to the blood of Christ, by which he might be justified from all things from which he could not be justified by the law of Moses.' In like manner do all believers make an actual application to the blood of Christ for cleansing them from their sins; before which they have a conscience of sin, that is, condemning them for sin, and filling them with shame and
This application consists in four things. (1.) A spiritual view of the blood of Christ in his sacrifice, as proposed in the promises of the Gospel for our purification.
'Look unto me,' saith he, and be ye saved;' which respects the whole work of our salvation, and all the means thereof. Our way of coming to our interest therein, is by looking to him; for as the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, so was he in his sacrifice on the cross lifted up;' and so in the Gospel is he represented to us. Now the means whereby they were healed in the wilderness, was by looking to the serpent that was lifted up: herein ith first acts itself, by a spiritual view of the blood of Christ, as proposed in the Gospel for the only means of our purification; and the more we abide in this contemplation, the more effectual will our success be in our application thereto. (2.) Faith actually relies on his blood for effecting that great end for which it is proposed; for as God sets him forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood as offered, so to be our sanctification through faith in his blood as sprinkled. (3) Faith works herein by fervent prayer, with respect to his promises; because for all these things God will be sought unto by the house of Israel. By this means the soul brings itself nigh to its own mercy; and this we are directed to in Heb. iv. 15, 16. (4.) An acquiescence in the truth and faithfulness of God, for cleansing by the blood of Christ; whence we are freed from perplexing shame, and have boldness in the presence of God.
4. The Holy Ghost actually communicates the cleansing purifying virtue of the blood of Christ to our consciences, whereby we are freed from shame, and have boldness towards God; for the whole work of applying the benefits of Christ's meditation to believers, is properly his: and these are the things that believers aim at, in all their fervent prayers for the purifying their souls by the sprinkling and washing of the blood of Christ; the persuasion of which gives them peace and holy boldness in the presence of God; without which they have nothing but shame and confusion of face in a sense of their own pollutions.
III FAITH is the instrumental cause of our purification: Purifying their hearts by faith. Acts xv. 9. The two unfailing evidences of sincere faith are, That within, it purifies the heart; and without, it works by love. These are the touch-stone whereon faith ought to be tried. We purify our souls in obeying the truth, through the Spirit, that is, by believing, which is our original obedience to the truth; and hereby our souls are
purified. Unbelievers and unclean are the same; for they have nothing in them whereby they might be instrumentally cleansed; and we are purified by faith, because (1.) Faith itself is the paincipal grace whereby our nature is restored to the image of God, and so freed from our original defilement. (2.) It is by faith that we receive the purifying virtue and influences of the blood of Christ, as before mentioned. Faith is the grace whereby we constantly adhere to Christ; and if the woman who touched his garment in faith, obtained virtue from him to heal her issue of blood, shall not those who cleave to him continually, derive virtue from him for the healing of their spiritual defilements? (3.) It is by the working of faith principally, that those lusts which are defiling, are gradually mortified and subdued. Faith derives supplies of the Spirit from Jesus Christ; on which alone these supplies depend. (4.) Faith takes in all the motives which are proposed to us to stir up our utmost endeavours for preventing the defilements of sin; such as the participation of the excellent promises of God at present, and the future enjoyment of God in glory.
IV. Purification from sin is likewise ascribed to AFFLIC TIONS. Hence they are called God's Furnace, whereby he takes away our dross. They are also called Fire, that tries the ways and works of men, consuming their hay and stubble,' and purifying their gold and silver; and this they do by an efficacy communicated by the Spirit of God; for by the cross of Christ they were cut off from the curse of the first covenant, to which all their evils belonged, and implanted into the covenant of grace. The tree of the cross being cast into the waters of affliction, has rendered them wholesome and medicinal. Christ being the head of the covenant, all the afflictions of his members are originally his; and they all tend to increase our conformity to himin holiness; and they work together for this blessed end in several ways. (1.) They bear some tokens of God's displeasure against sin, by which believers are led to a fresh view of its vileness: for though afflictions are an effect of love, yet it is of love mixed with care to prevent distempers; whatever else they are, they are always chastisements, and correction respects faults; and it is our safest course in every affliction, to lodge the adequate cause of it in our deserts. Now a view of sin,