Slaying the Sacrifice
“And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD.”— Leviticus i. 5.
You remember that last Sabbath day we spoke of two things vitally essential to a true sacrifice, and the first upon which we then enlarged was the laying on of the hands of the offerer upon the victim, by which he accepted it as his sacrifice, and made a typical transfer of his sin from himself to the victim. Now, the second essential thing, of which we are to speak this morning, was this,— that the victim thus bearing the guilt of the offerer must be killed: its blood must be shed before the Lord; nothing short of its death by violence would render it an atonement for the offerer: “He shall kill the bullock.” You will find this order continually repeated whenever a sacrifice is spoken of.
As I said on the last occasion, I feel great satisfaction in this time of my weakness in being permitted to speak to you about essential things. It was always a stigma upon the character of Caligula that he gathered his warriors, and fitted out his ships; and, when the people of Rome looked for some great addition to the empire by the vast naval expedition, he simply anchored his vessels near the sea-beach, and bade his legions advance upon the shore and gather shells and pebbles, and carry them home as trophies of their undisputed conquest. He trifled where he should have struggled; spent time and labour upon matters of no importance, and neglected the weighty business of his kingdom. We shall not do so to-day: we have nothing to do with shells and stones, we have to do with matters worth more than gold or pearls, things essential to eternal life, and vital to the salvation of the souls of men.
Neither have I this morning a controversial topic upon which to debate before you. However important controversy may sometimes be, we are glad to be away from its strife, and to consider a doctrine around which true believers gather in hearty unity,— a doctrine which must be taken for granted in the Christian church, which lies at the very root of truth, and in the very heart of true religion. Without controversy, great is this mystery of godliness, that Christ manifest m the flesh must die for sin, or otherwise sin cannot be put away. You remember what the Greek said when he heard an old philosopher with hoary head and grey beard disputing upon how to live. “Goodness!” said he, “if at his age he is disputing upon that subject, when will he be able to practise his conclusions should he arrive at any?” Truly, I may say to you to whom I have so long ministered, if we are for ever to be learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth, what will become of us? If we are to have nothing but questionable matters laid before us, when shall the time come for the actual possession and enjoyment of the blessings of the gospel? At this hour my theme is such that I speak to you without diffidence or hesitation. In this case “we believe and are sure.” Concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, the great sacrifice for sin, it was essential that he should die; for only through the blood which he shed on Calvary for human guilt can there be preached among men the remission of sins.
“What can wash away my stain?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
“This is all my hope and peace—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
This is all my righteousness—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”
May the Holy Spirit lay home the blood of atonement to our consciences at this time to the glory of God and our own peace!
I. Concerning the killing and slaying of the offering, our first point is that it was ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL. The pouring out of the blood of the victim was of the very essence of the type. The death of Christ by blood-shedding was absolutely necessary to make him an acceptable sacrifice for sin. “It behoved Christ to suffer.” He could only enter into the presence of God with his own blood. He could not be the grain of wheat which bringeth forth much fruit unless he should die.
Remember that although there were important matters about the victim, yet nothing would have availed if it had not been slain. The Israelite brought an unblemished bullock, but the fact of its being unblemished did not make it an atonement for sin; no doubt, many faultless bullocks and lambs still fed in the plains of Sharon. If the most perfect animal had gone away from the altar alive it would have effected nothing whatever by way of atonement. It must be unblemished in order to be an offering at all; still, its perfections did not make it a sacrifice until it was killed. No matter what could be said of that bullock; it may have been the most laborious animal throughout all Israel; it may have dragged the plough to and fro, or even drawn the waggon loaded with the harvest; but that was nothing to make it a sacrifice for sin. It must die, and its blood must be sprinkled upon the altar, or else the offerer has brought no acceptable oblation. All its life and its labour would not satisfy.
Nor would it be enough to bring the bullock there and dedicate it to God. Some animals which had been dedicated to the divine service were used in the drawing of the waggons which carried the sacred furniture through the wilderness; but they were not sacrifices for all that, neither did they avail for the bearing away of sin. It was indispensably necessary that the bullock should be without blemish; it was necessary that it should be voluntarily dedicated to God; but if it had not been killed, there would have been no presentation of an offering according to the divine law, nor any easing of the conscience of the Israelite. Even so, Jesus must die: his perfect nature, his arduous labour, his blameless life, his perfect consecration, could avail us nothing without the shedding of his blood for many, for the remission of sin. So far from his death being a mere adjunct and conclusion of his life, it is the most important matter connected with him; it stands in the foreground, it is the head and front of his redeeming work: We justly value him for his example, and for his living intercession; but in the business of atonement it is beyond all things needful that we view him as the Lamb slain.
Now notice that this was expressly declared by God in the Jewish law-book in express words. Kindly turn in this book of Leviticus to the seventeenth chapter, and there read in the eleventh verse, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” It is not the burning of the victim, it is not the flaying of it, nor the washing of it, it is the shedding of its blood,— that is to say, the taking of its life, which makes it an atonement for sin. I need not quote another Old Testament text, because this is so completely to the point, and so fully covers the whole of the ground. The atonement is not the animal itself, but the blood of the animal, which blood represents its life.
As to the entire Scriptures, they teem with statements of this truth. I will only call to your recollection a few prominent passages; to collect them all would be impossible. When a child doth gather flowers in the spring meadows when they are all golden with the kingcups, he fills his hand once, but he is almost persuaded to throw away what he has gathered that he may pluck yet more from the inexhaustible store around him; so do I feel that what I now bring before you might fitly be exchanged for another selection, ay, for many such, if time did not fail us.
In the Old Testament, one of the most instructive types of redemption ever given is that of the Passover lamb. When God was about to smite Egypt he promised to spare his people; and in order to their safety he bade each family take a lamb, and kill it, and sprinkle the blood upon the lintel and the two side posts of their door. Then they were to keep within the house till the morning, and the destroying angel should not touch so much as one of them. What is expressly said by God himself about this passing-over? Hear the words, and wonderingly drink in their teaching! And when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” There was never a fuller type of the redemption of Christ, I hardly think one so full, as that of the passing-over of Israel through the blood of the paschal lamb; but the essence of that passing-over is displayed to us in this sentence God’s eye resting upon—the “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” God’s eye resting upon the evidence of a life having been taken instead of the sinner’s life, is the reason why he passes over the sinner, so that he does not die.
When Isaiah, the great evangelical prophet, spake concerning him upon whom the Lord laid our iniquity, he mentions his death as the main cause of his glorious reward. The last verse of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah is the culminating point of the whole, and it runs thus: “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death.” It is a wonderful expression: it shows that Christ must die, or else he could not achieve the victory for us, nor share the spoil thereof. He must pour out his soul, he must relinquish life, must pour it out lavishly, as though he possessed much of it: he must make it to flow like water gushing in a river from the smitten rock. This, he must do voluntarily and without stint— “pouring out. his soul unto death” till none remained, and the bottom of the vessel was reached in death. It is clear that if he had not done this, he had done nothing; for the victory comes to him because of this; not because he kept his soul free from spot, not because he preached righteousness in the great congregation, not because of anything else which he did was he rewarded; but the victorious deed was that “he poured out his soul unto death.” This is the verdict, not only of the Holy Ghost in the inspired prophecy, but also of all that dwell with God above, for they sing with sweet accord before the throne,— “A new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof : for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”
In the New Testament the passages abound which set forth the doctrine upon which we are now speaking. Look at that passage in Hebrews ix. 12. v There we are told expressly, “Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” There is no remission by the life of Christ, no remission by the teaching of Christ, no remission by our repentance, no remission by our faith, apart from the shedding of the blood of Christ, by whom alone sin is put away. This is negative; but in this case the negative is as strong as the most positive statement could be; for if without shedding of blood there is no remission, then we see how all important that blood-shedding becomes. If you desire a positive statement, a sentence rises to our lips at once— “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Observe, not the life, not the incarnation, not the resurrection, not the second coming of the Lord Jesus, but his blood, his death, the giving up of his life, is that which cleanseth us from all sin. This is that purging with hyssop whereof David speaks when he laments his sin, and yet looks to be made whiter than snow by the free pardon of his God.
This truth is the subject of all true gospel preaching. Do you not know how Paul puts it,— “The preaching of the cross, is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God;” “for,” he says, “the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified.” It is not Christ, in any other position, but Christ as crucified, Christ as made a curse for us upon the tree, that is the first and most prominent fact that we are called to preach among the sons of men. “In whom we have; redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Take away this substitutionary death of our Lord, and you have taken all away: without the death of Jesus there remaineth nothing for us but death; forget the Crucified One, and you have forgotten the only name by which we can be saved. Oh, that all of you would trust in him “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”
My brethren, this is the cause of the saints being in heaven. In the first chapter of the Book of the Revelation, verse 5, we have the doxology, which begins, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” Thus say all the glorified. Farther on we are told concerning the saints, “They have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.” This is the true reading of the fourteenth verse of the last chapter of the Book of Revelation: “Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city.” Thus the passport to glory is the precious blood of Jesus. Access to God either on earth or in heaven is only by the blood of the Son of God. Now and then we meet with some squeamish person who says, “I cannot bear the mention of the word blood” Such individuals will be horrified this morning: and it is intended that they should be. Sin is such a horrible thing that God has appointed blood to wash it away, that the very horror which the thought of it causes may give you some notion of the terrible nature of sin as God judges it. It is not without a dreadful blood-shedding that your dreadful guilt could by any possibility be cleansed. Sin-bearing, and suffering for sin, can never be pleasant things; neither should the type which sets it forth be pleasing to the observer. On great days of sacrifice the courts of the tabernacle must have seemed like a shambles, and fitly so, that all might be struck with the deadly nature of sin.
If it be so, that the blood of Jesus is mentioned in the songs of heaven, let it not be forgotten in the hymns of earth.
“To him that loved the souls of men,
And wash’d us in his blood,
To royal honours raised our head,
And made us priests to God;
“To him let every tongue be praise,
And every heart be love!
All grateful honours paid on earth,
And nobler songs above!”
The church militant is called upon continually to commemorate the blood-shedding. So often as we gather to the Communion Table we may ask the question, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” At the sacred table we show the death of our Lord until he come. He says to us in express words, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” He bids you remember the blood as you drink of the fruit of the vine, saying, “This cup is the new testament in my blood.” Take the blood away, and the communion of the Lords Supper has gone; there remains nothing but the Popish mass which is so blasphemously called an unbloody sacrifice for the quick and dead.
Forget not that every person gathering to that table of communion is, if he be what he professes to be, a consecrated man, and how comes he to be so but for this reason— “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price”? We are redeemed unto God by the blood of Jesus. “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” It is the blood that makes you what you are, and the blood that permits you to enjoy what God has prepared for you; so that every way you see the absolute essentiality of the death of the great Sacrifice.
Here let us further consider that death is the result and penalty of sin — “The soul that sinneth it shall die.” “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” “The wages of sin is death.” It was meet that the Substitute should bear a similar chastisement to that which should have Mien upon the sinner. Our Saviour did not endure annihilation, for that is not the meaning of death; neither the first nor the second death should be so explained. Jesus was not annihilated, but he bore the pain, the loss, the ruin, the separation, the overwhelming which is intended by death. He was even forsaken of God, so that he cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The penalty was death, and therefore Jesus was exceeding sorrowful even unto death; he laid down his life for us, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. The law demanded death, and death has fallen upon our great Covenant Head. “In due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
There is great comfort to my soul in this; for if the Lord Jesus has paid the capital sentence nothing remains unpaid. “He that is dead is freed from sin;” that is to say, if the law has killed the man it can ask no more of him, he must be free from further charge of guilt. When the criminal has died he has suffered the last sentence of the law, and is now beyond its jurisdiction. Our Lord Jesus has died the just for the unjust, and as that which he has borne is nothing less than death, it must cover all that is due to sin.
“He bore on the tree the sentence for me,
And now both the Surety and sinner are free.”
Since Jesus has died unto sin once, he dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over him; he has borne the last and most far-reaching penalty of the law, and there can be nothing left upon the score. His atonement was a complete redemption. If you were in debt, and were bound to pay so much every month, you would be very grateful to a friend who should step in and pay several instalments for you; but if one of more liberal spirit discharged the whole amount your gratitude would be deep and overflowing. Let us rejoice that the Lord Jesus Christ has evidently by his substitutionary sacrifice put away, not a part and a portion of our sin, but the whole of it. By bearing death itself he has removed all our legal obligations, and has placed us beyond the reach of further demands. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” Now we may sing unto him who has removed our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west.
This death of Christ was absolutely necessary also for the clearing of the troubled conscience. An awakened conscience will never be quieted with anything less than the blood of the Lamb: it rests at the sight of the great Sacrifice, but nowhere else. A conscience smarting under a sense of sin is an unequalled fountain of misery. Let conscience once begin to scourge the sinner, and he will find it to be the most terrible tormentor out of hell. I do not know whether the prophet Isaiah was really sawn asunder by Manasseh, but we know that some of the saints suffered that torture; yet surely a saw that should gradually cut a mam in halves from head to foot is a faint picture of what conscience cam do when it begins to operate upon the mind with all its cutting force. What a divine atonement that must be which calms the storms of am accusing conscience and gives the soul a lasting peace. Some may trifle? with their consciences, but where God is at work men dare not attempt it. The most important thing in the world to a sensible man is the condition of his own conscience: if that be restless he is in an evil case. Thomas Fuller in his quaint way tells us that he one day asked a neighbouring minister to preach for him, when he called upon a short visit. “No,” said the other, “I cannot, for I am not prepared.” “But,” said Fuller, “though you are unprepared, I am sure you will preach well enough to satisfy my people.” His friend answered, “That may be true, but I could not preach well enough to satisfy my own conscience.” There’s the rub with a true man. We cannot live well enough to satisfy our conscience, and we cannot pray well enough to satisfy our conscience. A really tender conscience is as greedy as the horse-leech which crieth “Give! Give!”— perfection it asks, and as we? cannot render it by reason of sin, conscience will never cease its outcries till it is quieted with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Once let us see Jesus offered up upon the cross for sin, and our heart feels that it is enough. When God is well pleased we may well be satisfied, and go our way enjoying peace with God henceforth and for ever.
Thus much, then, upon our first point: for many reasons it was absolutely essential that our great Sacrifice should die.
II. Secondly, we will with great delight meditate upon the fact that the death of Christ is EFFECTUALLY PREVALENT. Other offerings, though duly slain, did nothing thoroughly, did nothing lastingly, did nothing really, by way of expiation; for the Scripture saith, “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins”: the true purification is alone found in the death of the Son of God. When our Lord was fastened to the tree, and cried, “It is finished,” and gave up the ghost, he had finished transgression, made an end off sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness. By offering one sacrifice for sins for ever the work was done, the accusing record was altogether blotted out. Why was there such cleansing power in the Redeemer’s blood? I answer, for several reasons.
First, because of the glory of his person. Only think who he was! He? was none other than the “Light of light, very God of very God.” He? counted it not robbery to be equal with God, yet he took upon himself our nature, and was born of a virgin. His holy soul dwelt in a perfectly pure body, and to this the Godhead was united: “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Now for this glorious, this sinless, this divine person, to die is an amazing thing. For the Lord of angels, Creator of all things, sustaining all things by the power of his word— for him, I say, to bow his head to death as a vindication of the law is an inconceivably majestic recompense to the honour of eternal justice. Never could justice be more gloriously exalted in the presence of intelligent beings than by the Lord of all submitting himself to its requirements. There must be an infinite merit about his death: a desert unutterable, immeasurable. Methinks if there had been a million worlds to redeem, their redemption could not have needed more than this “sacrifice of himself.” If the whole universe, teeming with worlds as many as the sands on the seashore, had required to be ransomed, that one giving up of the ghost might have sufficed as a full price for them all. However gross the insults which sin may have rendered to the law, they must be all forgotten, since Jesus magnified the law so abundantly, and made it so honourable by his death. I believe in the special design of our Lord’s atoning death, but I will yield to no one in my belief in the absolutely infinite value of the offering which our Lord Jesus has presented; the glory of his person renders the idea of limitation an insult.
Next, consider the perfection of our Lord’s character. In him was no sin, nor tendency to sin. He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” In his character we see every virtue at its best; he is incomparable. If he therefore died, “the just for the unjust,” what must be the merit of such a death? His righteousness has such sweetness in it that all the ill-savour of our transgression is put away thereby: it is no wonder that by the obedience of such an one as this second Adam many are made righteous.
Think next, dear friends, of the nature of the death of Christ, and you will be helped to see how effectual it must be. It was not a death by disease, or old age, but a death of violence, well symbolized by the killing of the victim at the altar. He did not die in his bed. sleeping himself out of the world; but he was taken by wicked hands, and scourged, and spit upon, and then fastened up to die a felon’s death. His was a cruel doom; human malice could scarcely have invented any method of execution more sure to create pain and anguish than death by hanging on a tree, fastened by nails driven through hands and feet. In addition to his physical pain, our Lord was sore vexed in spirit. His soul sufferings were the soul of his sufferings: “He was exceeding sorrowful even unto death.” Heaven refused its smile: his mind was left in darkness. To be frowned upon of God was a part of the punishment of our sin, and he was not spared that direst and bitterest woe. God himself turned away his face from him, and left him in the dark. He died a dishonourable death, yea, a cursed death— “As it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Now, for the Son of God to die, and die in such a manner, was a marvel. Never martyr died crying that he was forsaken of his God: that desertion was the lowest depth of the Saviour’s grief, and since he died thus I can well understand that he has thereby made an ample atonement for the sins of all who believe in him. Oh, great atonement of my blessed Lord, my sins are swallowed up in thee! Looking to the cross and to the pierced heart of Jesus my Lord, I am assured that if I am washed in his blood I shall be whiter than snow.
And then think of the spirit in which our Lord and Saviour bore all this. Martyrs who have died for the faith have only paid the debt of nature a little before its time, for they must have died sooner or later; but our Lord needed not to have died at all. He said of his life, “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.” The pouring out of his soul unto death was not in the power of man until the Lord was pleased to yield himself a sacrifice. “He gave himself for me.” He laid down his life for his sheep. Out of love to God and man he willingly drank of the appointed cup: the only compulsion which he knew was his own desire to bless his chosen. “For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame.” Oh, it was splendidly lived, that life of our Lord the spirit which guided it lights it up with an unrivalled brightness! Oh, it was splendidly died, that death of our Lord, for he went up to the cross with such willing submission that it became his throne! The thorn crown was such a diadem as emperor never wore, it was made of the ended sorrows of his people— sorrows ended by their encircling his own majestic head. On the cross he routed his enemies and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. In the act of death he nailed the handwriting of ordinances that was against us to his cross, and so destroyed the condemning power of the law. O glorious Christ, there must be infinite merit in such a death as thine, endured in such a style!
And then I bid you to remember once more the covenant character which Christ sustained: for when he was crucified we thus judge that one died for all, and in him all died. He was not slain as a private individual, but he was put to death as a representative man. God had entered into covenant with Christ, and he was the surety of that covenant; therefore his blood is called u the blood of the everlasting covenant.” Remember the expression of the apostle where he speaks of “the blood of the covenant wherewith we are sanctified.” Neither the first nor the second covenant was dedicated without blood; but the new covenant was established by no blood of beasts, but by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the sheep. When he offered himself he was accepted in that character and capacity in which God had regarded him from before the foundations of the world; so that what he did he did as the Covenant-head of his people. It was meet that he should die for us, seeing he had assumed the position of the second Adam, being constituted our federal Head and Representative. The chastisement of our peace was upon him because he condescended to be one flesh with us; and with his stripes we are healed because there is a covenant union between us. Thus much upon the effectual prevalence of that great Sacrifice: a theme so vast that one might enlarge upon it throughout all time.
III. Beloved friends, it seems to me that no one will now forbid my saying, thirdly, that the fact of the necessity for the death of the Lord Jesus is INTENSELY INSTRUCTIVE. Listen while I repeat the lessons very briefly: you can enlarge upon them when you go hence to meditate in solitude.
Must the victims die? must Jesus bleed? then let us see what is claimed by our righteous God. He claims our life: he claimed of the offering its blood, which is the life thereof: he justly requires of each of us our whole life. We must not dream of satisfying God with formal prayers, or occasional alms-deeds, or outward ceremonies, or a half-hearted reverence. He must have our heart, and soul, and mind and strength— all that makes our true self, the life of our being. Dead works are worthless before the living God. He claims our life, and he will have it one way or another; either by its being perfectly spent in his service, or else by its being smitten down in death as the righteous punishment of rebellion. Nor is the demand unjust. Did he not make us, and does he not preserve us? Should he not receive homage from the creatures of his hand?
Next, must the sacrifice die? then see the evil of sin. It is not such a trifle as certain men imagine. It is a deadly evil, a killing poison. God himself in human form took human guilt upon him: the sin was none of his, it was only imputed to him, but when he was made sin for us, and bare our iniquities, there was no help for it, he must die! Even he must die! It was not possible that the cup should pass from him. A voice was heard from the throne— “Awake, O Sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the Shepherd!” So unflinching is divine justice that it will not, cannot spare sin, let it be where it may; nay, not even when that guilt is not the person’s own, but is only taken up by him as a substitute. Sin wherever it is must be smitten with the sword of death: this is a law fixed and unalterable. Who, then, will take pleasure in transgression? Will not every man who loves his own life arouse himself to fight against iniquity? Sinner, shake off your sin, as Paul shook off the viper into the fire. Do not dally with it. Pray God that you may have done with it. It is a horrible and a grievous thing, and God saith to you “Oh, do not this abominable thing which I hate.” God help you to flee from all iniquity.
Next learn the love of God. Behold how he loved you and me! He must punish sin, but he must save us, and so he gives his Son to die in cur stead. I shall not go too far if I say that in giving his Son the Lord God gave himself, for Jesus is one with the Father. We cannot divide the Substance though we distinguish the Persons: thus God himself made atonement for sin committed against himself. The church as “the flock of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Wonder of wonders! Truly love is strong as death as we see it in the heart of God! “Scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This is a heaped-up marvel. Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us!
Next learn how Christ has made an end of sin. Sin is laid on him and he dies; then sin is dead and buried; if it be sought for it cannot be found. Speak of finality, this is the truest and surest finality that ever was, or shall be. “If a man die, shall he live again?” Not as before. If Christ died, what is there after death? Nothing but the judgment, and lo, he comes to that judgment: “being raised from the dead he dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over him.” This is our joy because neither sin nor death can have dominion over us for whom Christ died, and who died in him. Christ has made an end of sin. His one offering has perfected for ever the set-apart ones.
These are but a few of the great lessons which we may learn from the necessity that the Sacrifice should be slain. I pray you learn them well. May they be engraven on your hearts by the Holy Ghost.
IV. And so I shall close by saying that this blessed subject is not only full of instruction, but it is ENERGETICALLY INSPIRING.
First, this inspires us with the spirit of consecration. When I think that I could not be saved except by the death of Jesus, then I feel that I am not my own, but bought with a price. I remember reading of Charles Simeon, the famous evangelical clergyman of Cambridge, that he was one day thrown from his horse, and was fearful that he had sustained serious injury. When he had recovered from the force of the fall, he stretched out his right arm, felt it, and finding that there was not a bone broken, he consecrated that arm anew to the living God, who had so graciously preserved it. Then he examined his left arm and found it all right, and so held that up, and dedicated it anew unto the divine service. He did the same with his head, his legs, and his whole body. As I was thinking over this subject I felt as if I must go over my body, soul, and spirit, and dedicate all to that dear Saviour by whose blood I am altogether redeemed from death and hell. “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” As I am not cast away from God, as I am not destroyed, as I am not in torment, not in hell, I dedicate to God my blood-bought spirit, souk and body from henceforth to be the Lord’s as long as ever I live. Brothers and sisters, do you not feel the same? I pray God the Holy Spirit to make you do so in a very practical manner. This doctrine of the death of Christ ought to inspire you till you sing—
“Jesus, spotless Lamb of God,
Thou hast bought me with thy blood,
I would value nought beside
Jesus— Jesus crucified.
“I am thine, and thine alone,
This I gladly, fully own;
And, in all my works and ways,
Only now would seek thy praise.”
Next, this truth should create in us a longing after the greatest holiness, for we should say, “Did sin kill my Saviour? Then I will kill sin! Could I not be saved from sin except by his precious blood? Then, O sin, I will be revenged upon thee! I will drive thee out by the help of God’s Spirit. I will not endure thee, nor harbour thee. I will make no provision for the flesh. As sin was the death of Christ for me, so Christ shall be the death of sin in me.”
Does not this inspire you with great love for the Lord Jesus? Can you look at his dear wounds, and not be wounded with love for him? Are not his wounds as mouths which plead with you to yield him all your hearts? Can you gaze upon his face bedewed with bloody sweat, and then go away and be ensnared with the world’s painted beauties? Heard you ever of a wooer dressed in such robes of love as those which Jesus wore? Did ever love use such sacred means to win the beloved heart as Christ hath done? What can any one of us do but answer him thus—
“Here, Lord, I give myself away,
’Tis all that I can do”?
Do you not think that this solemn truth should inspire us with great zeal for the salvation of others? As Christ laid down his life for us, should we not lay ourselves out for perishing souls, and, if necessary, lay down our lives for the brethren? Should we not practise self-denial in our labours to bring men to Jesus? Should we not joyfully toil, and cheerfully bear reproach, if by any means we may save some?
Methinks if this subject should go home to our hearts it would be beneficial to us in a thousand ways, and make us better soldiers of the cross, closer followers of the Lamb. I pray that God the Holy Ghost may place it in the centre of our souls, and keep it there. It will bring with it peace and rest. Why should we be troubled, since Jesus died? It will fill Our mouths with praises. Hallelujah to the Lamb that was slain, who has redeemed us by his blood! It will draw us into closer communion with him. If he loved us and died for us, we must live with him, and in him, and to him. Surely it will also make us long to behold him! Oh, for the vision of the Crucified! When shall we see the face that was so marred for us? When shall we behold the hands and feet which bear the mail-marks still, and look into the wounded side bejewelled with the spear-wound? Oh, when shall we up and away from all our sins and griefs, for ever to behold him shine and see him still before us? Oh, when shall we be—
“Far from a world of grief and sin,
With God eternally shut in”?
Till then our hope, our solace, our glory, our victory, are all found in the blood of the Lamb, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.