“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”— Hebrews x. 10.
DEAR friends, ever since the Lord has quickened us by his grace we have begun to look into ourselves and to search our hearts to see our condition before God. Hence many things which once caused us no disquietude now create in us great anxiety. We thought that we were all right, and felt it to be enough to be quite as good as others. We dreamed that if we were not quite as good as we should be we should certainly grow better, though we did not stop to enquire how or why. We took stock of our condition and concluded that we were rich and increased with goods, and had need of nothing. A change has come over the spirit of the scene; the grace of God has made us thoughtful and careful. We dare not take things at haphazard now. We test and prove things, for we are very anxious not to be deceived. We look upon eternal realities as being of the utmost consequence, and we dare not take them for granted as being certain to be right. We are afraid of being presumptuous; we long to be sincere. We hold an assize within our spirits, and we are so afraid that we may be partial, as probably we shall be, that we ask the Lord to search us and try us, to see if there be any wicked way in us, that he may lead us out of such a way into the way everlasting. This is all very wise and very proper, and I would not for a moment try to take off the people of God from a proper measure of this state of heart; and yet let it never be forgotten that we are in the sight of God other in some respects than we shall ever see ourselves to be if we look through the glass of feeling and consciousness. There are other matters to be taken into consideration, matters which our anxiety may lead us to overlook, and our inward search may cause us to forget.
Faith reveals to us another position for the people of God besides that which they occupy in themselves. Some call it an evangelical fiction, and the like; but, thank God, it is a blessed fact that, sinners as we are in ourselves, yet believers are saints in God’s sight, and that sinful as they feel themselves to be, yet they are washed, cleansed, and sanctified in Jesus Christ. Notwithstanding all that we mourn over, the very fact that we do mourn over it becomes an evidence that we are no longer what we once were, and do not stand now where we once stood. We have passed from death unto life. We have escaped from under the dominion of law into the kingdom of grace. We have come from under the curse, and we dwell in the region of blessing. We have believed on him that justifieth the ungodly, and our faith is counted for righteousness. (Romans iv. 5). There is therefore now no condemnation to us, for we are in Christ Jesus our Lord, and walk no longer after the flesh but after the Spirit. That your hearts may be gladdened, I want you to think of the noble position into which the grace of God has lifted all believers— the condition of sanctification which is spoken of in the text— for by the “will of God we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
We shall, first, speak of the eternal will; secondly, of the effectual sacrifice by which that will has been carried out; and, thirdly, of the ever lasting result accomplished by that will through the sacrifice of the body of Christ. May the Holy Spirit who has revealed the grand doctrine of justification now enable us to understand it and to feel its comforting power.
I. First, then, THE ETERNAL WILL “By the which will we are sanctified.”
This will must, first of all, be viewed as the will ordained of old by the Father— the eternal decree of the infinite Jehovah, that a people whom he chose should be sanctified and set apart unto himself. The will of Jehovah stands fast for ever and ever, and we know of it that it is altogether unchangeable, and that it has no beginning. It is an eternal will, we have no vacillating deity, no fickle God. He wills changes, but he never changes his will. “He is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.” The will of God is invincible as well as eternal. We are told in the Ephesians that he worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. “Who can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” The good pleasure of his will is never defeated: there cannot be such a thing as a vanquished God. “His purpose shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure.” In fact, the will of God is the motive force of all things. “He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.” His word is omnipotent because his will is at the back of it, and it puts force into it. He said “Light be,” and there was light, because he willed that there should be light. He bade creatures come forth, numerous as the drops of dew, to people the world that he had made, and forth they came, flying, leaping, swimming, in varied orders of life, because of his own will he did create them. His will is the secret power which sustains the universe, and threads the starry orbs, and holds them like a necklace of light about the neck of nature. His will is the Alpha and the Omega of all things. It was according to this eternal, invincible will of God that he chose, created, and set apart a people that should show forth the glory and riches of his grace, a people that should bear the image of his only-begotten Son, a people that should joyfully and willingly serve him in his courts for ever and ever, a people who should be his own sons and daughters, to whom he would say, “I will dwell in them and walk in them, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” Thus stood the eternal will of old. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
But the people concerning whom this will was made were dead in sin, defiled with evil, polluted by transgression. The old serpent’s venom was in their veins. They were fit to be set apart for the curse, but not to be set apart for the service of the thrice holy God. And the question was, how then should the will of the Immutable Invincible ever be carried out? How shall these rebels become absolved? How shall these fountains of filth become clear as crystal, pouring forth floods of living water and divine praise? How shall these unsanctified and defiled ones become sanctified unto the service of God? It must be,— but how shall it be? Then came the priests, with smoking censers, and with basins full of blood, steaming as it came fresh from the slaughtered victims, and they sprinkled this blood upon the book and upon the people, upon the altar, and upon the mercy-seat, and upon all the hangings of the tabernacle, and all the ground whereon the worshippers walked, for almost all things under the law were sanctified by blood. Everywhere was this blood of bulls and of goats. Fresh every morning and renewed every evening. Still, God’s will was not done, the chosen were not thus sanctified, and we know they were not, because it is written, “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not.” His will was not fulfilled in them. It was not his will that they should sanctify the people. They were inefficacious to such an end, for, as the Holy Ghost has said, it was “not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins:” and so, if these offerings had been all, centuries of the house of Aaron and of the priests of the tribe of Levi might have come and gone, and yet the will decreed by the eternal Father would not have been an accomplished fact.
Thus we are landed at our second point, which is, that this will by which we are sanctified was performed of the ever blessed Son. It was the will of God the Father, but it was carried out by the divine Son when he came into the world. A body was prepared for him, and into that body, in a mysterious manner which we will not attempt even to conceive of, he entered, and there he was the incarnate God. This incarnate God, by offering his own blood, by laying down his own life, by bearing in his own body the curse, and in his own spirit enduring the wrath, was able to effect the purpose of the everlasting Father in the purging of his people, in the setting of his chosen apart, and making them henceforth holiness unto the Lord. Do you not see what the will of the Father was— that he should have a people that should be sanctified unto himself? But that will could not be carried out by the blood of bulls and of goats, it must be achieved by the offering up of the body of Jesus Ghrist once for all. Our Lord Jesus Christ has done whatsoever that will of the Father required for its perfect achievement. This is our satisfaction. We will not enter at this time into a detailed account of our Lord’s active and passive obedience by which he magnified the law and set apart his people. I pray you, however, never fall into the error of dividing the work of Christ as some do, and saying, “Here he made atonement for sin, and there he did not.” In these modem times certain brethren have invented refinements of statement of so trivial a character that they are not even worth the trouble of thinking over, and yet, like babes with a new rattle, they make a noise with them all day long. It is amusing how these wise professors make grave points out of mere hairsplitting distinctions, and if we do not agree with them they give themselves mighty airs, pitying our ignorance, and esteeming themselves as superior persons who have an insight into things which ordinary Christians cannot see. God save us from having eyes which are so sharp that we are able to spy out new occasions for difference, and fresh reasons for making men offenders for mere words. I believe in the life of Christ as well as in his death, and I believe that he stood for me before God as much when he walked the acres of Palestine as when he hung on the cross at Jerusalem. You cannot divide and split him in sunder and say, “He is so far an example, and so far an atonement,” but you must take the entire Christ, and look at him from the very first as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. “Oh, but,” they say, “he made no atonement except in his death,” which is, let me tell you, an absurdity in language. Listen a minute. When does a man die? I cannot tell you. There is the minute in which the soul separates from the body; but all the time that a man may be described as dying he is alive, is he not? A man does not suffer when actually dead. What we call the pangs of death are truly and accurately pangs of life. Death does not suffer; it is the end of suffering. A man is in life while he suffers; and if they say, “It is Christ’s death that makes an atonement, and not his life,” I reply that death, alone and by itself, makes no atonement. Death in its natural sense, and not in this modern non-natural severance from life, does make atonement; but it cannot be viewed apart from life by any unsophisticated mind. If they must have distinctions we could make distinctions enough to worry them of such an unprofitable business, but we have nobler work to do. To us our Lord’s death seems to be the consummation of his life, the finishing stroke of a work which his Father had given him to do among the sons of men. We view him as having come in a body prepared for him to do the will of God once, and that “once” lasted throughout his one life on earth. We will not, however, dwell on any moot point, but unfeignedly rejoice that whatever was wanted to make God’s people wholly sanctified unto God, Christ has wrought out. “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once.” It is finished, Does the divine law require for our acceptance perfect submission to the will of the Lord? He has rendered it. Does it ask complete obedience to its precepts? He has presented the same. Does the fulfilled will of the Lord call for abject suffering, a sweat of blood, pangs unknown, and death itself? Christ has presented it all, whatever that “all” may be. As, when God created, his word effected all his will; so, when God redeemed, his blessed and incarnate Word has done all his will. In every point, as God looked on each day’s work and said “It is good,” so, as he looks upon each part of the work of his dear Son, he can say of it, “It is good.” The Father joins in the verdict of his Son, that it is finished: all the will of God for the sanctification of his people is accomplished.
Beloved, this work must be applied to us by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Ghost who brings us to know that Jesus Christ has sanctified us, or set us apart, and made us acceptable with God. It is the Holy Spirit who has given us the New Testament, and shed a light upon the Old. It is the Holy Spirit who speaks to us through the ministers of Christ when he blesses them to our conversion. Especially is it the Holy Ghost who takes away from us all hope of being sanctified before God by any means of our own, brings us to see our need of cleansing and reconciliation, and then takes of the things of Christ and reveals them unto us. Not without the going forth of his sacred power are we made to take the place of separation, and dedication, to which the Lord of old ordained us.
Thus it is by the will of the Father, carried out by the Son, and applied by the Holy Spirit, that the church of God is regarded as sanctified before God, and is acceptable unto him.
I do not tarry longer on any one point, because these great things are best spoken of with few words: they are subjects better fed upon by quiet thought than exhibited in speech.
II. I invite you, dear friends, in the second place, to consider THE EFFECTUAL SACRIFICE by which the will of God with regard to the sanctity of his people has been carried out. “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ.”
This implies, first, his incarnation, which of course includes his eternal deity. We can never forget that Jesus Christ is God. The church has given forth many a valiant confession to his deity; and woe be to her should she ever hesitate on that glorious truth! Yet sometimes she has great need earnestly to insist upon his humanity. As you bow before your glorious Lord, and adore him with all the sanctified, yet remember that he whom you worship was truly and really a man. The gospel of his incarnation is not a spiritual idea, nor a metaphor, nor a myth. In very deed and truth the God that made heaven and earth came down to earth, and hung upon a woman's breast as an infant. That child, as he grew in stature and wisdom, was as certainly God as he is at this moment in glory. He was as surely God when he was here hungering and suffering, sleeping, eating, drinking, as he was God when he hung up the morning stars and kindled the lamps of night, or as he shall be when sun and moon shall grow dim at the brightness of his coming. Jesus Christ, very God of very God, did certainly stoop to become such as we are, and was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. It is a truth you all know, but I want you to grasp it and realize it. It will help you to trust Christ if you clearly perceive that, divine as he is, he is bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh— your kinsman, though the Son of God.
All this is implied in the text, because it speaks of the offering of the body of Christ. But why does it specially speak of the body? I think to show us the reality of that offering; his soul suffered, and his soul’s sufferings were the soul of his sufferings, but still, to make it palpable to you, to record it as a sure historical fact, he mentions that there was an offering of the body of Christ.
I take it, however, that the word means the whole of Christ— that there was an offering made of all of Christ, the body of him, or that of which he was constituted. It is my solemn conviction that the deity co-worked with his humanity in the wondrous passion by which he has sanctified his elect. I am told that deity cannot suffer. I am expected to subscribe to that because theologians say so. Well, if it be true, then I shall content myself with believing that the deity helped the humanity by strengthening it to suffer more than it could otherwise have endured: but I believe that deity can suffer, heterodox as that notion may seem to be. I cannot believe in an impassive God as my Father. If he pities and sympathizes, surely he must have some sensibilities. Is he a God of iron? If he wills it he can do anything, and therefore he can suffer if he pleases. It is not possible for God to be made to suffer, that would be a ridiculous supposition; yet if he wills to do so he is certainly capable of doing that as well as anything else, for all things are possible to him. I look upon our Lord Jesus as in his very Godhead stooping down to bear the weight of human sin and human misery, sustaining it because he was divine, and able to bear what else had been too great a load. Thus the whole of Christ was made a sacrifice for sin. It was the offering, not of the spirit of Christ, but of the very body of Christ— the essence, subsistence, and most manifest reality and personality of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High.
And this was wholly offered. I do not know how to bring out my own thought here; but to accomplish the will of God in sanctifying all his people Christ must be the offering, and he must be wholly offered. There were certain sacrifices which were only presented to God in part, so far as the consumption by fire was concerned. A part was eaten by the priest or by the offerer, and so far it was not a whole burnt offering. In this there was much precious truth set forth, of which we will not speak at this present; but as our sin-offering, making expiation for guilt, our blessed Lord and Master gave himself wholly for us, as an atoning sacrifice and offering for sin: and that “himself ” sums up all you can conceive to be in and of the Christ of God; and the pangs and griefs which like a fire went through him did consume him, even to the uttermost of all that was in him. He bore all that could be borne, stooped to the lowest to which humility could come, descended to the utmost abyss to which a descent of self-denial could be made. He made himself of no reputation: he emptied himself of all honour and glory. He gave up himself without reserve. He saved others, himself he could not save; he spares us in our chastisements, but himself he spared not. He says of himself, in the twenty-second Psalm, “I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” You do not know, you cannot imagine, how fully the sacrifice was made by Christ. It was not only a sacrifice of all of himself, but a complete sacrifice of every part of himself for us. The blaze of eternal wrath for human sin was focussed upon his head! The anguish that must have been endured by him who stood in the place of millions of sinners to be judged of God and smitten in their stead is altogether inconceivable. Though himself perfectly innocent, yet in his own person to offer up such a sacrifice as could honour the divine justice on account of myriads of sins of myriads of the sons of men was a work far beyond all human realization. You may give loose to your reason and your imagination, and rise into the seventh heaven of sublime conception as with eagle wing, but you can never reach the utmost height. Here is the sum of the matter— “Thanks be unto-God for his unspeakable gift,” for unspeakable, inconceivable it certainly is when we view the Lord Jesus as a sacrifice for the sins of men.
This offering was made once, and only once. The pith of the text lies in the finishing words of it, “through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Those words “for all” are very properly put in by the translators; but you must not make a mistake as to their meaning. The text does not mean that Christ offered himself up once for all,— that is, for all mankind. That may be a doctrine of Scripture, or it may not be a doctrine of Scripture, but it is not the teaching here. The passage means “once for all” in the sense of— all at once, or only once. As a man might say, “I gave up my whole estate once for all to my creditors, and there was an end of the matter,” so here our Lord Jesus Christ is said to have offered himself up as a sacrifice once for all— that is to say, only once, and there was an end of the whole matter. His sacrifice on behalf of his people was for all the sins before he came. Think of what they all were. Ages had succeeded ages, and there had been found amongst the various generations of men criminals of the blackest dye, and crimes had been multiplied ; but the prophet said in vision concerning Christ, as he looked on all the multitude, “All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” That was before he came. Reflect that there has been no second offering of himself ever since, and never will be, but it was once, and that once did the deed. Let your mind conceive of this, nearly two thousand years have passed since the offering, and if the prophet were to stand here to-night and look back through those eighteen hundred years and more, he would still say, “All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Oh! it is a wonderful conception— the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus was the reservoir into which all the sin of the human race ran, from this quarter, and that, and that, and that, and that. All the sin of his people rolled in a torrent unto him, and gathered as in a great lake. In him was no sin, and yet the Lord made him to be sin for us. You may have seen a deep mountain tarn which has been filled to the brim by innumerable streamlets from ail the hillsides round about. Here comes a torrent gushing down, and there trickles from the moss that has overgrown the rock a little drip, drip, drip, which falls perpetually: great and small tributaries all meet in the black tarn, which after the rain is full to the brim, and ready to burst its banks. That lone lake pictures Christ, the meeting-place of the sin of his people. It was all laid on him, that from him the penalty might be exacted. At his hands the price must be demanded for the ransom of all this multitude of sins.
And it is said that he did this once for all. I have no language with which to describe it: but I see before me the great load of sin, the huge, tremendous world of sin. No, no, it is greater than the world. Atlas might carry that, but this is a weight compared with which the world is but as a pin’s head. Mountains upon mountains, alps on alps, are nothing to the mighty mass of sin which I sec before my mind’s eye: and lo, it all falls upon the Well-beloved. He stands beneath it, and bows under it till the bloody sweat starts from every pore, and yet he does not yield to its weight so as to get away from the burden. It presses more heavily, it bows him to the dust, it touches his very soul, it makes him cry in anguish, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and yet at the last he lifts himself up and flings it all away, and cries, “It is finished!” and it is gone. There is not a wreck of it left: no, not an atom of it left. It is all gone at once, and once for all. He has borne the immeasurable weight and cast it off from his shoulders for ever; and as it lies no more on him so also it lies no more on them. Sin shall never be mentioned against his people any more for ever. Oh, wondrous deed of deity! Oh, mighty feat of love accomplished once for all. The Redeemer never offered himself to death before. He never will do it again.
Look this way, my brethren, the reason why it never will be done again is because there is no need for it. All the sin that was laid upon Jesus is gone: all the sin of his people is for ever discharged. He has borne it: the debt is paid. The handwriting of ordinances against us is nailed to his cross: the accuser’s charge is answered for ever. What, then, shall we say of those who come forward and pretend that they perpetually present the body of Christ in the unbloody sacrifice of the mass? Why, this— that no profane jest from the lip of Voltaire ever had even the slightest degree of God-defiant blasphemy in it compared with such a hideous insult as this horrible pretence. It is infernal. I will say no less. There can be nothing more intolerable than that notion: for our Lord Jesus Christ has offered himself for sin once, and once for all; and he who dares to think of offering him again insults him by acting as if that once were not enough. I cannot believe any language of abhorrence to be too strong if the performers and attendants at the mass really knew what is implied in their professed act and deed. In the judgment of Christian charity we may earnestly pray, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Our words fail and our conceptions faint at the thought of the great Substitute with all the sins of his people condensed into one black draught and set before him. How shall we think of him as putting that cup to his lip, and drinking, drinking, drinking all the wrath till he had drained the cup to the bottom and filled himself with horror? Yet see, he has finished the death-drink and turned the cup upside down, crying, “It is finished.” At one tremendous draught the loving Lord has drained destruction dry for all his people, and there is no dreg nor drop left for any one of them; for now is the will of God accomplished— “by the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Glory be to God! And yet again, glory be to God!
“He bore on the tree the sentence for me,
And now both the Surety and sinner are free.
In the heavenly Lamb thrice happy I am;
And my heart doth rejoice at the sound of his name.”
III. Now I close with our third head, and that is THE EVERLASTING RESULT.
The everlasting result of this effectual carrying out of the will of God is that now God regards his people’s sin as expiated, and their persons as sanctified. Our sin is removed by expiation. Atonement has been offered, and its efficacy abides for ever. There is no need of any other expiation. Believers repent bitterly, but not in the way of expiation. There is no penance to be exacted of them by way of putting away guilt. Their guilt is gone; their transgression is forgiven. The covenant is made with them, and it runs thus: “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more for ever.” Their sins have, in fact, been ended, blotted out, and annihilated by the Redeemer’s one sacrifice.
Next, they Are reconciled. There is no quarrel now between God and those who are in Christ Jesus. Peace is made between them twain. The middle wall that stood between them is taken away. Christ by his one sacrifice has made peace for all his people, and effectually established an amity which never shall be broken.
“Lord Jesus, we believing
In thee have peace with God,
Eternal life receiving,
The purchase of thy blood.
Our curse and condemnation
Thou bearest in our stead;
Secure is our salvation
In thee, our risen Head.”
Moreover, they are not only accepted and reconciled, but they are; purified; the taint that was upon them is taken away. In God’s sight they are regarded no more as unclean; they are no longer shut without the camp, they may come to the throne of the heavenly grace when they will. God can have communion with them. He regards them as fit to stand in his courts and to be his servants, for they are purified, reconciled, expiated through the one offering of Christ. Their admission into the closest intimacy with God could never be allowed if he did not regard them as purged from all uncleanness, and this has been effected not at all by themselves, but alone by the great sacrifice.
“Thy blood, not mine, O Christ,
Thy blood so freely spilt,
Has blanched my blackest stains,
And purged away my guilt.
“Thy righteousness, O Christ,
Alone does cover me;
No righteousness avails
Save that which is in thee.”
Now, what has come of it? That is the point. I want you now just to let me leave the doctrine and try and bring out the experience arising from it. What Christ has done in the carrying out of the great will of God has effected salvation for all his chosen; but this is applied to them actually and experimentally by the Holy Ghost’s dwelling in them, by which indwelling they know they are now God’s people. The Israelites were God’s people, after a fashion; the Levites were more peculiarly so, and the priests were still more especially so, and these had to present perpetual sacrifices and offerings that God might be able to look upon them as his people, for they were a sinful people. You and I are not typically, but truly and really his people. Through Jesus Christ’s offering of himself once for all we are really set apart to be the Lord’s people henceforth and for ever, and he says of us— I mean, of course, not of us all, but of as many as have believed in Jesus, and to whom the Holy Ghost has revealed his finished work— “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” You, believers, are sanctified in this sense, that you are now the set-apart ones unto God, and you belong wholly to him. Will you think that over? “I a m now not my own. I do not belong now to the common order of men, as all the rest of men do. I am set apart. I am called out. I am taken aside. I am one of the Lord’s own. I am his treasure and his portion. He has through Jesus Christ’s death made me one of those of whom he says— ‘They shall dwell alone, they shall not be numbered among the people.’” I want you to feel it so that you may live under the power of that fact; that you may feel, “My Lord has cleansed me. My Lord has made expiation for me. My Lord has reconciled me unto God, and I am God’s man, I am God’s woman. I cannot live as others do. I cannot be one among you. I must come out. I must be separate. I cannot find my pleasure where you find yours. I cannot find my treasure where you find yours. I am God’s, and God is mine. That wondrous transaction on the cross of which our minister has tried to speak, but of which he could not speak as he ought,— that wondrous unspeakable deed upon the cross, that wonderful life and death of Jesus, has made me one of God’s people, set apart unto him, and as such I must live.”
When you realize that you are God’s people, the next thing is to reflect that God in sanctifying a people set them apart for his service, and he made them fit for his service. You, beloved, through Christ’s one great offering of his body for you, are permitted now to be the servants of God. You know it is ail awful thing for a man to try and serve God until God gives him leave: there is a presumption about it. Suppose that one of the Queen’s enemies, who has sought her life, and has always spoken against her, were to say, “I mean to be one of her servants, I will go into her palace and I will serve her,” having all the while in his heart a rebellious, proud spirit; his service could not be tolerated, it would be sheer impudence. Even so, “Unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes?” A wicked man, pretending to serve God, stands in the position of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, trying to offer incense; because he is not purified and not called to the work, and has no fitness for it. But now, beloved, you that are in Christ are called to be his servants. You have permission and leave to serve him. It ought to be your great joy to be accepted servants of the living God. If you are only the Lord’s shoeblack you have a greater privilege than if you were an emperor. If the highest thing you ever will be allowed to do should be to loose the latchet of your Master’s shoe, or to wash his servants’ feet, if that master be Christ, you are favoured above the mightiest of the mighty. Men of renown may envy you: their orders of the Garter or the Golden Fleece are nothing compared with the high dignity of being servitors of King Jesus. Look upon this as being the result of Christ’s death upon the cross, that such a poor, sinful creature as you are, that were once a slave of the devil, are now suffered to be the servant of God. On the cross my Master bought for me the privilege to preach to you at this time; and he bought for you, dear mother, the privilege to go home and train your little child for the great Father in heaven; in fact, he bought for us a sanctification which has made us the Lord’s people, and has enabled us to engage in his service. Do we not rejoice in this?
Next to that we have this privilege, that what we do can now be accepted. Because Jesus Christ by the offering of his body once has perfected the Father’s will, and has sanctified us. therefore what we do is now accepted with God. We might have done whatever we would, but God would not have accepted it of a sinner’s hands— of the hands of those that were out of Christ. Now he accepts anything of us. You dropped a penny into the box: it was all that you could give, and the Lord accepted it. It dropped into his hand. You offered a little prayer in the middle of business this afternoon because you heard an ill word spoken; and your God accepted that prayer. You went down the street and spoke to a poor sick person; you did not say much, but you said all you could: the great God accepted it. Acceptance in the Beloved, not only for our persons, but for our prayers and our work, is one of the sweetest things I know of. We are accepted. That is the joy of it. Through that one great, bloody sacrifice, once for all offered, God’s people are for ever accepted, and what his people do for him is accepted too; and now we are privileged to the highest degree, being, sanctified— that is to say, made into God’s people, God’s servants, and God’s accepted servants. Every privilege which we could have had, if we had never sinned, is now ours, and we are in him as his children. We have more than would have come to us by the covenant of works; and if we will but know it, and live up to it, even the very privilege of suffering and the privilege of being tried, the privilege of being in want, should be looked upon as a great gift, for methinks an angel spirit, seated high alone there, meditating and adoring, might say within himself, “I have served God: these swift wings have borne me through the ether on his errands, but I never suffered for him. I was never despised for him. Drunkards never called me ill names. I was never misrepresented as God’s servant. After all, though I have served him, it has been one perpetual joy. He hath set a hedge about me and all that I have.” It an angel could envy anybody, I think he would envy the martyr who had the privilege of burning quick to the death for Christ, or such as Job, who, when stripped of everything and covered with sores, could sit on a dunghill and yet honour his God; because such as these achieved a service unique within itself, which has sparkling diamonds of the first water glittering about it, such as cannot be found in an unsuffering ministry be it as complete as it may. You are favoured sons of Adam, you who have become sons of God. You are favoured beyond cherubim and seraphim in accomplishing a service for the manifestation of the riches of the grace of God, which unfallen spirits never could accomplish. Rejoice and be exceeding glad that this one offering has put you there.
And now you are eternally secure. No sin can ever be laid to your door, for it is all put away, and sin being removed every other evil has lost its fang and sting. Now you are eternally beloved for you are one with him who can never be other than dear to the heart of Jehovah. That union never can be broken, for nothing can separate us from the love of God, and hence your security can never be imperilled. Now are you in some measure glorified, for “the spirit of glory and of Christ doth rest upon you,” and our conversation is in heaven, from whence we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus, who hath already raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenlies. Heaven is already ours in promise, in price, and in principle, and the preparation for it has also begun. I feel at this hour that—
“All that remains for me
Is but to love and sing,
And wait until the angels come
To bear me to their King.”
In such a spirit would I always live. Brethren and sisters, are you dispirited at this time? Have you a great trouble upon you? Are you alone in the world? Do others misjudge you, or does the iron of scandal pierce your very soul? Do fierce coals of juniper await those vicious tongues that wrong you? Do you feel bowed into the dust? Yet, what art thou at to be despairing? Child of God, and heir of all things, why art thou cast down? Joint heir with Christ, why grovellest thou? Why liest thou among the pots when thou hast already angels’ wings about thee? Up, man, up. Thy heritage is not here among the dragons and the owls. Up! Thou art one of God’s eagles, born for brighter light than earth could bear— light that would blind the blear-eyed sons of men if they were once to get a veiled glimpse of it. Thou, a twice-born man, one of the imperial family, one that shall sit upon a throne with Christ as surely as Christ sits there, what art thou at to be moaning and groaning? Wipe thy eyes and smooth thy brow, and in the strength of the Eternal go to thy life-battle. It will not be long. The trumpet of victory almost sounds in thy ears. Wilt thou now beat a retreat? No. Play the man and win the day. “Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed,” till he comes to catch thee away where thou shalt see what Jesus did for thee when he made his body once for all a sacrifice, that he might fulfil the will of the eternal Father, and sanctify thee and all his people unto God for ever and ever. May the best of blessings rest upon all who are in Christ Jesus.