Delivered on Sabbath Morning, December 12th, 1858, by
"When I see the blood, I will pass over you."Exodus 12:13.
OD'S PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS SAFE. "All the saints are in his hand;" and the hand of God is a place for safety, as well as a place of honour. Nothing can hurt the man who has made his refuge God. "Thou hast given commandment to save me," said David; and every believing child of God may say the same. Plague, famine, war, tempest,all these have received commandment of God to save his people. Though the earth should rock beneath the feet of man, yet the Christian, may stand fast, and though the heavens should be rolled up, and the firmament should pass away like a scroll that is burned by fervent heat, yet need not a Christian fear; God's people shall be saved: if they cannot be saved under the heavens, they shall be saved in the heavens; if there be no safety for them in the time of trouble upon this solid earth, they shall be "caught up together with the Lord in the air, and so shall they be ever with the Lord," and ever safe.
Sin had no foothold in him, never troubled him. The prince of this world came and looked, but he said, "I have nothing in Christ; there is no room for me to plant my footno piece of corrupt ground, which I may call my own." O sinner, the blood of Jesus is able to save thee, because he was perfectly innocent himself, and "he died the just for the unjust, to bring us to God."
But some will say, "Whence has the blood of Christ such power to save?" My reply is, not only because God appointed that blood, and because it was the blood of an innocent and spotless being, but because Christ himself was God. If Christ were a mere man, my hearers, you could not be exhorted to trust him; were he ever so spotless and holy, there would be no efficacy in his blood to save; but Christ was "very God of very God;" the blood that Jesus shed was Godlike blood. It was the blood of man, for he was man like ourselves; but the divinity was so allied with the manhood, that the blood derived efficacy from it. Can you imagine what must be the value of the blood of God's own dear Son? No, you cannot put an estimate upon it that should so much as reach to a millionth part of its preciousness. I know you esteem that blood as beyond all price if you have been washed in it; but I know also that you do not esteem it enough. It was the wonder of angels that God should condescend to die; it will be the wonder of all wonders, the unceasing wonder of eternity, that God should become man to die. Oh! when we think that Christ was Creator of the world, and that on his all-sustaining shoulders did hang the universe, we cannot wonder that his death is mighty to redeem, and that his blood should cleanse from sin. Come hither saints and sinners; gather in and crowd around the cross, and see this man, overcome with weakness, fainting, groaning, bleeding, and dying. This man is also "God over all, blessed for ever," Is there not power to save? Is there not efficacy in blood like that? Can you imagine any stretch of sin which shall out-measure the power of divinityany height of iniquity that shall overtop the topless steeps of the divine? Can I conceive a depth of sin that shall be deeper than the infinite? or a breadth of iniquity that shall be broader than the Godhead? Because he is divine, he is "able to save to the uttermost, them that come unto God by him." Divinity appointed, spotless, and divine, his blood is the blood whereby ye may escape the anger and the wrath of God.
4. Once more; the blood of which we speak today, is blood once shed for many for the remission of sin. The paschal lamb was killed every year; but now Christ hath appeared to take away sin by the offering up of himself and there is now no more mention of sin, for Christ once for all hath put away sin, by the offering of himself. The Jew had the lamb every morning and every evening, for there was a continual mention of sin; the blood of the lamb could not take it away. The lamb availed for to-day, but there was the sin of to-morrow, what was to be done with that? Why, a fresh victim must bleed. But oh, my hearer, our greatest joy is, that the blood of Jesus has been once shed, and he has said, "It is finished." There is no more need of the blood of bulls or of goats, or of any other sacrifice; that one sacrifice hath "perfected for ever them that are sanctified." Trembling sinner! come to the cross again; thy sins are heavy, and many; but the atonement for them is completed by the death of Christ. Look then to Jesus, and remember that Christ needs nothing to supplement his blood. The road between God and man is finished and open; the robe to cover thy nakedness is complete, without a rag of thine; the bath in which thou art to be washed is full, full to the brim, and needs nothing to be added thereunto. "It is finished!" Let that ring in thy ears. There is nothing now that can hinder thy being saved, if God hath made thee willing now to believe in Jesus Christ. He is a complete Saviour, full of grace for an empty sinner.
5. And yet I must add one more thought, and then leave this point. The blood of Jesus Christ is blood that bath been accepted. Christ diedhe was buried; but neither heaven nor earth could tell whether God had accepted the ransom. There was wanted God's seal upon the great Magna Charta of man's salvation, and that seal was put, my hearer, in that hour when God summoned the angel, and bade him descend from heaven and roll away the stone. Christ was put in durance vile in the prison house of the grave, as a hostage for his people. Until God had signed the warrant for acquittal of all his people, Christ must abide in the bonds of death. He did not attempt to break his prison; be did not come out illegally, by wrenching down the bars of his dungeon; he waited: he wrapt up the napkin, folding it by itself: he laid the grave-clothes in a separate place; he waited, waited patiently; and at last down from the skies, like the flash of a meteor, the angel descended, touched the stone and rolled it away; and when Christ came out, rising from the dead in the glory of his Father's power, then was the seal put upon the great charta of our redemption. The blood was accepted, and sin was forgiven. And now, soul, it is not possible for God to reject thee, if thou comest this day to him, pleading the blood of Christ. God cannotand here we speak with reverence toothe everlasting God cannot reject a sinner who pleads the blood of Christ: for if he did so, it were to deny himself, and to contradict all his former acts. He has accepted blood, and he will accept it; he never can revoke that divine acceptance of the resurrection; and if thou goest to God, my hearer, pleading simply and only the blood of him that did hang upon the tree, God must un-God himself before he can reject thee, or reject that blood.
And yet I fear that I have not been able to make you think of the blood of Christ. I beseech you, then, just for a moment try to picture to yourself Christ on the cross. Let your imagination figure the motley crew assembled round about that little hill of Calvary. Lift now your eyes, and see the three crosses put upon that rising knoll. See in the centre the thorn-crowned brow of Christ. Do you see the hands that have always been full of blessing nailed fast to the accursed wood! See you his dear face, more marred than that of any other man? Do you see it now, as his head bows upon his bosom in the extreme agonies of death? He was a real man, remember. It was a real cross. Do not think of these things as figments, and fancies, and romances. There was such a being, and he died as I describe it. Let your imagination picture him, and then sit still a moment and think over this thought: "The blood of that man, whom now I behold dying in agony, must be my redemption; and if I would be saved, I must put my only trust in what he suffered for me, when he himself did 'bear our sins in his own body on the tree.'" If God the Holy Spirit should help you, you will then be in a right state to proceed to the second point.
II. THE EFFICACY OF THIS BLOOD. "When I see the blood I will pass over you."
1. The blood of Christ hath such a divine power to save, that nothing but it can ever save the soul. If some foolish Israelite had despised the command of God, and had said, "I will sprinkle something else upon the doorposts," or, "I will adorn the lintel with jewels of gold and silver," he must have perished; nothing could save his household but the sprinkled blood. And now let us all remember, that "other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, Jesus Christ," for "there is none other name given among men whereby we must be saved." My works, my prayers, my tears, cannot save me; the blood, the blood alone, has power to redeem. Sacraments, however well they may be attended to, cannot save me. Nothing but thy blood, O Jesus, can redeem me from the guilt of sin. Though I should give rivers of oil, and ten thousand of the fat of fed beasts; yea, though I should give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul, all would be useless. Nothing but the blood of Jesus has in it the slightest saving-power. Oh! you that are trusting in your infant baptism, your confirmation, and your Lord's Supper, you are trusting in a lie. Nothing but the blood of Jesus can save. I care not how right the ordinance, how true the form, how scriptural the practice, it is all a vanity to you if you rely in it. God forbid I should say a word against ordinances, or against holy things; but keep them in their places. If you make then the basis of your soul's salvation, they are lighter than a shadow, and when you need them most you shall find them fail you. There is not, I repeat it again, the slightest atom of saving-power anywhere but in the blood of Jesus. That blood has the only power to save, and aught else that you rely upon shall be a refuge of lies. This is the rock, and this is the work that is perfect; but all other things are day dreams; they must be swept away in the day when God shall come to try our work of what sort it is. THE BLOOD stands out in solitary majesty, the only rock of our salvation.
2. This blood is not simply the only thing that can save, but it must save alone. Put anything with the blood of Christ, and you are lost; trust to anything else with this and you perish. "It is true," says one, that the Sacrament cannot save me, but I will trust in that, and in Christ too." You are a lost man, then. So jealous is Christ of his honour, that anything you put with him, however good it is, becomes, from the fact of your putting it with him, an accursed thing. And what is it that thou wouldst put with Christ? Thy good works? What! wilt thou yoke a reptile with an angelyoke thyself to the chariot of salvation with Christ? What are thy good works? Thy righteousnesses are "as filthy rags;" and shall filthy rags be joined to the spotless celestial righteousness of Christ? It must not, and it shall not be. Rely on Jesus only, and thou canst not perish; but rely on anything with him, and thou art as surely damned as if thou shouldst rely upon thy sins. Jesus onlyJesus onlyJesus onlythis is the rock of our salvation.
And here let me stop, and combat a few forms and shapes which our self-righteousness always takes. "Oh," says one, "I could trust in Christ if I felt my sins more." Sir, that is a damning error. Is thy repentance, thy sense of sin, to be a part-Saviour? Sinner! the blood is to save thee, not thy tears, Christ's death, not thy repentance. Thou art bidden this day to trust in Christ; not in thy feelings, not in thy pangs on account of sin. Many a man has been brought into great soul distress, because he has looked more at his repentance than at the obedience of Christ
Could thy zeal no respite know;
All for sin could not atone,
Christ must save and Christ alone."
"Nay," says another, "but I feel that I do not value the blood of Christ as I ought, and therefore I am afraid to believe." My friend, that is another insiduous form of the same error. God does not say, "When I see your estimate of the blood of Christ, I will pass over you; no, but when I see the blood." It is not your estimate of that blood, it is the blood that saves you. As I said before, that magnificent, solitary blood, must be alone.
"Nay," says another, "but if I had more faith then I should have hope." That, too, is a very deadly shape of the same evil. You are not to be saved by the efficacy of your faith, but by the efficacy of the blood of Christ. It is not your believing, it is Christ's dying. I bid you believe, but I bid you not to look to your believing as the ground of your salvation. No man will go to heaven if he trusts to his own faith; you may as well trust to your own good works as trust to your faith. Your faith must deal with Christ not with itself. The world hangs on nothing; but faith cannot hang upon itself, it must hang on Christ. Sometimes, when my faith is vigorous, I catch myself doing this. There is joy flowing into my heart, and after awhile I begin to find that my joy suddenly departs. I ask the causes, and I find that the joy came because I was thinking of Christ; but when I begin to think about my joy, then my joy fled. You must not think of your faith but of Christ. Faith comes from meditation upon Christ. Turn, then, your eye, not upon faith but upon Jesus. It is not your hold of Christ that saves you; it is his hold of you. It is not the efficacy of your believing in him; it is the efficacy of his blood applied to you through the Spirit.
I do not know how sufficiently to follow Satan in all his windings into the human heart, but this, I know, he is alway strying to keep back this great truththe blood, and the blood alone has power to save. "Oh," says another, "if I had such-and-such an experience then I could trust." Friend, it is not thine experience, it is the blood. God did not say, "When I see your experience," but "When I see the blood of Christ." "Nay," says one, "but if I had such-and-such graces, I could hope." Nay, but he did not say, "When I see your graces," but "When I see the blood." Get grace, get as much as you can of faith, and love, and hope, but oh, do not put them where Christ's blood ought to be. The only pillar of your hope must be the Cross, and aught else that you put to buttress up the cross of Christ is obnoxious to God, and ceases to have any virtue in it, because it is an anti-Christ. The blood of Christ, then alone, saves; but anything with it, and it does not save.
3. Yet again we may say of the blood of Christ, it is all-sufficient. There is no case which the blood of Christ cannot met; there is no sin which it cannot wash away. There is no multiplicity of sin which it cannot cleanse, no aggravation of guilt which it cannot remove. Ye may be double-dyed like scarlet, ye may have lain in the lye of your sins these seventy years, but the blood of Christ can take out the stain. You may have blasphemed him almost as many times as you have breathed, you may have rejected him as often as you have heard his name; you may have broken his Sabbath, you may have denied his existence, you may have doubted his Godhead, you may have persecuted his servants, you may have trampled on his blood; but all this the blood can wash away. You may have committed whoredoms without number, nay, murder itself may have defiled your hands, but this fountain filled with blood can wash all the stains away. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin. There is no sort of a man, there is no abortion of mankind, no demon in human shape that this blood cannot wash. Hell may have sought to make a paragon of iniquity, it may have striven to put sin, and sin, and sin together, till it has made a monster in the shape of man, a monster abhorred of mankind, but the blood of Christ can transform that monster. Magdalen's seven devils it can cast out, the madness of the demoniac it can ease, the deep-seated leprosy it can cure, the wound of the maimed, yea, the lost limb it can restore. There is no spiritual disease which the great Physician cannot heal. This is the great Catholicon, the medicine for all diseases. No case can exceed its virtue, be it never so black or vile; all-sufficient, all-sufficient blood.
4. But go further. The blood of Christ saves surely. Many people say, "Well, I hope I shall be saved through the blood of Christ;" and perhaps, says one here, who is believing in Christ, "Well, I hope it will save." My dear friend, that is a slur upon the honour of God. If any man gives you a promise, and you say, "Well, I hope he will fulfil it;" is it not implied that you have at least some small doubt as to whether he will or not. Now, I do not hope that the blood of Christ will wash away my sin. I know it is washed away by his blood; and that is true faith which does not hope about Christ's blood, but says, "I know it is so; that blood does cleanse. The moment it was applied to my conscience it did cleanse, and it does cleanse still." The Israelite, if he was true to his faith, did not go inside, and say, I hope the destroying angel will pass by me;" but he said, "I know he will; I know God cannot smite me; I know he will not. There is the blood-mark there, I am secure beyond a doubt; there is not the shadow of a risk of my perishing. I am, I must be saved." And so I preach a sure gospel this morning: "Whosoever believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ shall not perish but have everlasting life." "I give unto my sheep eternal life," said he, "and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand." O, sinner, I have not the shadow of a doubt as to whether Christ will save you if you trust in his blood. O no, I know he will. I am certain his blood can save; and I beg you, in Christ's name, believe the same; believe that that blood is sure to cleanse, not only that it may cleanse, but that it must cleanse, "whereby we must be saved," says the Scripture. If we have that blood upon us we must be saved, or else we are to suppose a God unfaithful and a God unkind; in fact, a God transformed from everything that is God-like into everything that is base.
5. And yet again, he that hath this blood sprinkled upon him is saved completely. Not the hair of the head of an Israelite was disturbed by the destroying angel. They were completely saved; so he that believeth in the blood is saved from all things. I like the old translation of the chapter in the Romans. There was a martyr once summoned before Bonner; and after he had expressed his faith in Christ, Bonner said "You are a heretic and will be damned." "Nay" said he, quoting the old version, "There is therefore now no damnation to them that believe in Christ Jesus." And that brings a sweet thought before us; there is no damnation to the man who has the blood of Christ upon him; he cannot be condemned of God anyhow. It were impossible. There is no such a thing; there can be no such thing. There is no damnation. He cannot be damned; for there is no damnation to him that is in Christ Jesus. Let the blood be applied to the lintel, and to the door-post, there is no destruction. There is a destroying angel for Egypt, but there is none for Israel. There is a hell for the wicked, but none for the righteous. And if there is none, they cannot be put there. If there is no damnation they cannot suffer it. Christ saves completely; every sin is washed, every blessing ensured, perfection is provided, and glory everlasting is the sure result.
I think then, I have dwelt sufficiently long upon the efficacy of his blood; but no tongue of seraph can ever speak its worth. I must go home to my chamber, and weep because I am powerless to tell this story, and yet I have laboured to tell it simply, so that all can understand; and I pray, therefore, that God the Spirit may lead some of you to put your trust simply, wholly, and entirely, on the blood of Jesus Christ.
III. This brings us to the third point, upon which I must be very brief, and the third point isTHE ONE CONDITION. What says one "Do you preach a conditional salvation?" Yes I do, there is the one condition "Where I see the blood I will pass over you." What a blessed condition! it does not say, when you see the blood, but when I see it. Thine eye of faith may be so dim, that thou canst not see the blood of Christ. Ay, but God's eye is not dim: He can see it, yea he must see it; for Christ in heaven is always presenting his blood before his Father's face. The Israelite could not see the blood; he was inside the house; he could not see what was on the lintel and the doorpost; but God could see it; and this is the only condition of the sinner's salvationGod's seeing the blood; not your seeing it. O how safe, then, is every one that trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not his faith that is the condition, not his assurance; it is the simple fact, that Calvary is set perpetually before the eyes of God in a risen and ascended Saviour. "When I see the blood, I will pass over you." Fall on your knees then in prayer, ye doubting souls, and let this be your plea:"Lord, have mercy upon me for the blood's sake. I cannot see it as I could desire, but Lord thou seest it, and thou hast said, 'When I see it, I will pass over you.' Lord, thou seest it this day, pass over my sin, and forgive me for its dear sake alone."
IV. And now, lastly, WHAT IS THE LESSON. The lesson of the text is to the Christian this. Christian, take care that thou dost always remember, that nothing but the blood of Christ can save thee. I preach to myself to-day what I preach to you. I often find myself like this:I have been praying that the Holy Spirit might rest in my heart and cleanse out an evil passion, and presently I find myself full of doubts and fears, and when I ask the reason, I find it is this:I have been looking to the Spirit's work until I put the Spirit's work where Christ's work ought to be. Now, it is a sin to put your own works where Christ's should be; but it is just as much a sin to put the Holy Spirit's work there. You must never make the Spirit of God an anti-Christ, and you virtually do that when you put the Spirit's work as the groundwork of your faith. Do you not often hear Christian men say, "I cannot believe in Christ to-day as I could yesterday, for yesterday I felt such sweet and blessed enjoyments." Now, what is that but putting your frames and feelings where Christ ought to be. Remember, Christ's blood is no more able to save you in a good frame than in a bad frame. Christ's blood must be your trust, as much when you are full of joy as when you are full of doubt. And here it is that your happiness will be in danger, by beginning to put your good frames and good feelings in the room of the blood of Christ. O, brethren, if we could always live with a single eye fixed on the Cross, we should always be happy; but when we get a little peace, and a little joy, we begin to prize the joy and peace so much, that we forget the source whence they come. As Mr. Brooks says, "A husband that loves his wife will, perhaps, often give her jewels and rings; but suppose she should sit down and begin to think of her jewels and rings so much that she should forget her husband, it would be a kind husband's business to take them away from her so that she might fix her affections entirely on him." And it is so with us. Jesus gives us jewels of faith and love, and we get trusting to them, and he takes them away in order that we may come again as guilty, helpless sinners, and put our trust in Christ. To quote a verse I often repeatI believe the spirit of a Christian should be, from his first hour to his last, the spirit of these two lines:
Simply to thy cross I cling."
That is the lesson to the saint.
But another minute; there is a lesson here to the sinner. Poor, trembling, guilty self-condemned sinner, I have a word from the Lord for thee. "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us," that is you and me, "cleanseth us from all sin." That "us" includes you, if now you are feeling your need of a Saviour. Now that blood is able to save you, and you are bidden simply to trust that blood, and you shall be saved. But I hear you say, "Sir," you said, "If I feel my need. Now I feel that I do not feel, I only wish I did feel my need enough." Well do not bring your feelings then, but trust only in the blood. If you can rely simply on the blood of Christ, whatever your feelings may be, or may not be, that blood is able to save. But you are saying, "How am I to be saved? What mush I do?" Well there is nothing that you can do. You must leave off doing altogether, in order to be saved. There must be a denial of all your doings. You must get Christ first, and then you may do as much as you like. But you must not trust in your doings. Your business is now to lift up your heart in prayer like this:"Lord, thou hast shown me something of myself, show me something of my Saviour." See the Saviour hanging on the cross, turn your eye to him, and say, "Lord, I trust thee I have nothing else to trust to, but I rely on thee; sink or swim, my Saviour, I trust thee." And as surely sinner, as thou canst put thy trust in Christ, thou art as safe as an apostle or prophet. Not death nor hell can slay that man whose firm reliance is at the foot of the cross. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned." He that believeth shall be saved, be his sins never so many; he that believeth not shall be damned, be his sins never so few, and be his virtues never so many. Trust in Jesus now! Sinner, trust in Jesus only.
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace,
Or wash away the stain.
But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they."