The Blood of the Testament
“This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.”— Hebrews ix. 20.
THE apostle declares that whenever God has entered into covenant with man it has not been without the shedding of blood. To a covenant a sacrifice, and to a testament a death, was evidently necessary. It was so when the arrangements of Israelitish worship were first published and established in the wilderness. Paul says, “Neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.” He, probably, had in his mind’s eye the twenty-fourth chapter of the book of Exodus, where we read that after the tribes had entered into covenant with God and promised to keep his law, Moses “sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.” As it was in the old dispensation so is it in the new: there could be no divine covenant, even though it be of grace, without the shedding of blood. Inasmuch as the new covenant was not the type, but the substance, a more precious sacrifice was needed, and nobler blood than any which is found in the veins of bulls or of goats. Jesus, the Son of God must die, or the covenant would be unsealed, the testament without force. No covenant blessing comes to us apart from the death of our great sacrifice, for “without shedding of blood is no remission,” and remission is one of the earliest of the gifts of grace. If we cannot even begin the heavenly life by receiving forgiveness of sins without coming into connection with the blood we may be sure that no further blessing can come to us apart from it. It seems to be absolutely necessary that when God comes into communication with guilty man it must be through an atonement, and that atonement must be made by blood, or by the sacrifice of a life.
I shall not dwell upon the blood-sheddings of the old covenant, for they are only intended to be types of the one great blood-shedding in the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. The death of a chosen victim was the emblem of the death of Christ, the sprinkling of the people with blood was the type of the application of the blood of Christ to the conscience of believers; and every single item of the ceremony, if looked into, would furnish points for edification; but of these we cannot now speak particularly, as the apostle said on a like occasion. It suffices us to meditate at this time upon the blood of our Lord Jesus, once for all shed on Calvary, trying to understand its relationship to us according to the tenor of the text,— “This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.” The words which Moses used in the wilderness concerning the typical sacrifice are far more emphatic as we point you to the bleeding Saviour on the cross, and say, “Behold, the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you.”
The wisdom of God had many ends to serve in connecting his covenants with blood-shedding, and this will be very evident if we think of its effect upon our own hearts. We all feel somewhat of awe in connection with the thought of blood. It is no light thing to see an animal slaughtered; at least, it is not so to me: I cannot endure the sight. As to our fellow-men, we can scarcely see the tiniest crimson stream issuing from a wound in their flesh without being distressed. Tender and sensitive natures, such as all should possess, regard the life of men with great care, and the blood, as its token, with great reverence. We view a corpse with awe, and if we were called to look upon one who had been slain we should view the body with horror. If any one of us should pass a spot stained with a man’s heart’s blood, we should tread lightly, and hurriedly, feeling “how dreadful is this place.” The Lord God intended that there should be much of awe about every covenant that he made with man, for it is a matter of great solemnity. The covenant of works might well be surrounded with dread, for by reason of our sin it was soon turned into a curse. The quaking mountain, the thick darkness, and the trumpet voice were fit accompaniments of the law which brings condemnation, and so also were the basons filled with blood. As for the covenant of grace, it also is rightly surrounded with awe, even with such awe as that which bows down at Calvary amid the mid-day midnight, the rending of rocks, the opening graves, and the groans of the expiring Son of God; for a God of love is nevertheless a God of holiness, and the God who passeth by transgression, iniquity, and sin, is also a God who first vindicates the honour of his broken law. The Lord intended that pardon and all other covenant blessings should come to us in such a way that we should never think sin a trifle, nor conclude from the freeness of grace that men were free to transgress. The death of Jesus manifests the solemnity of God’s dealings with sin, and is fitted to bow the soul in lowliest humility before God. The flowing of the blood and water from the wounded side, the wrapping of the dead body in the grave-clothes, the burial in the sepulchre,— these are those sad attendants of the covenant of grace which make us tender of heart while we rejoice in the divine favour. With holy trembling we think of every promise, for the shadow of the cross is over all.
Somewhat of aversion and shrinking crosses most minds at the thought of blood. One feels sickened and saddened. The sight of murdered Abel must have been terrible indeed to Adam and Eve, unused as they were to gaze on blood. If it would be so to them after the Fall, what would the sight have been to them had they remained pure and perfect beings? In proportion to purity will be the shock to the mind in the presence of death and blood. Cruel men might gloat over a battlefield, but to the most of us the sight of a single violent death would be horrible to the last degree. Manhood till it is brutalized has the greatest possible aversion to the sight of blood, and it is as though God had selected as the token of atonement that which would show to us his antipathy to sin. He would move us to aversion towards evil from a sight of its painful and deadly consequences. He as good as tells us that while a thing is stained with evil he will sooner destroy it than have it in his sight. Man, the masterpiece of the divine creation, shall sooner be slain and his life flow out upon the ground than be allowed to wallow in iniquity. It was intended that even while we are being pardoned we should feel horror at having been defiled with sin. But this aversion must not be used sinfully, as some have used it. I have heard of persons saying, when we preach of the blood of Christ, “I could not bear to hear so much about blood! It quite disgusted me.” I want you to feel shocked because your sin requires such an awful cleansing, but you must not be shocked at the great sacrifice itself. That would be grievous indeed to me, and fatal to you. Can you bear, then, to reject that which alone can save you? Are you so delicate that you turn away from the only cleansing that can purge you from soul-destroying stains? Dare you count the blood of the covenant to be a common, or even a disgusting, thing? I pray you be not so profane. Let a holy tremor seize you as you see the Crucified, and watch the pouring forth of his heart’s life-stream! Smite on your breast as you look on him whom you have pierced! Grieve that your sin should require such a dread atonement. Lament that you should be guilty of such a horrible thing that even God’s own brightest One must bleed ere trangression, with all its scarlet dye, could be washed out. But ever love and reverence the blood of Jesus Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.
The types of the old law were meant to excite horror at sin, and awe in the presence of its atonement. It must have been almost a shocking thing to enter into the tabernacle at the time of the great sacrifices, and, indeed, at any time, for year after year there never passed a day without blood being sprinkled on the holy curtains. All around, wherever the worshipper came, he saw tokens of the slaughter of bullocks and goats and calves and rams. Everywhere he saw that God could not be approached without atonement,— atonement by sacrificial death. The priests threw the blood of victims in bowls at the foot of the altar, and “almost all things were by the law purged with blood”; and all to make man see that God saw something horrible in sin, which only death could hide, and that sin was so intolerable to him that, unless a propitiation had been made, it had not been possible for his pure and holy mind to speak with man at all, or hold amicable commerce with him. If the aversion which seems natural to us at the sight of blood should lead us to shudder at the cause of its shedding, it will be well.
I beg you now to come with me to Calvary and see that great sight, even Jesus Christ himself offered up as a sacrifice for guilty men. Herein is a marvellous thing. We have heard so often of it that we do not note the miracle of it as we ought to do; but it is the most marvellous thing that ever happened, that ever can happen, or that ever can be imagined to happen,— that he who ever liveth, even God himself, should deign to take into union with himself a body like our own, and that, being found in fashion as a man, he should become obedient to death, even the death of the cross. All former ages are struck dumb with astonishment at this novelty of love,— the bleeding Son of God: and all the ages that are yet to come shall look back to Calvary as the centre of all the wonders that even the wonder-working God himself has ever wrought. The blood of Christ is the ruby gem of the ring of love. Infinite goodness finds its crown in the gift of Jesus for sinners. All God’s mercies shine like stars, but the coming of his own Son to bleed and die for rebel men is as the sun in the heavens of divine grace, outshining and illuminating all. It surpasses thought: how then shall I hope worthily to set it forth in words?
I. Of that death and of that blood we shall speak in a fourfold way; and first, we shall take the verse as it would most accurately be translated— the blood of Jesus Christ is THE BLOOD OF THE EVERLASTING COVENANT. There cannot be much doubt that the word, rendered “testament,” should be translated “covenant.” It is the word used for covenant in other passages, and though our translators have used the word “testament,” many critics go the length of questioning whether the word can bear that meaning at all. I think they are too rigid in their criticism, and that it does bear that meaning in this very chapter; but, still, all must admit that the first, and most usual meaning of the word, is “covenant.” Therefore, we will begin with that reading, and consider the blood of Jesus as the blood of the covenant.
First, looking from the cross to the covenant, the blood proves the intense earnestness of God in entering into covenant with man in a way of grace. The covenant of grace is on this wise: the well-beloved Son of God stood as our representative, as the second Adam, heading up in himself all those whom the Father gave him. He covenanted with God on our behalf that he would vindicate the broken law, and that he would also keep it in every jot and tittle on our behalf. As for the Father, he covenanted that because of the sacrifice which the Son would offer, and the obedience which he would render, he would put away the sin of his people, and they should be accepted in love. This is the covenant of grace and faithfulness, and to show that the august covenanters were not playing at covenant-making they sealed the compact with blood. How dreadfully in earnest was God the Father when he gave his Son! How deeply in earnest was the Son when he gave his life! You may play with these things if you dare, but God never will. You may sprinkle this blood upon the threshold, where never should it fall, and trample on it with careless feet, but God only sees it in the place of honour, on the lintel and the side posts, and looks upon it as something precious beyond all price. Sinner, you, perhaps, think that God will not really forgive you, and that his promises may only charm your ear to cheat your heart; but it cannot be so. God is in real earnest; if he did not mean mercy he would not have given up his beloved Son. The best possession of all his unsearchable riches was his Only-begotten, and he took him from his bosom, where he had dwelt serenely evermore, and bade him come below that he might live and die that we might be saved. God is in death-earnest for the salvation of sinners. Let us speak of the great atonement which he has provided with earnest hearts, for it is no light thing. I wish that we never thought about these things without the deepest possible solemnity, that never did preacher speak of them without heart-breaking emotions, and that never did we sing a hymn upon the great sacrifice without prostrating our spirits in the dust before the Most High. Whenever we think of atonement the place whereon we stand is holy ground. The blood of the everlasting covenant proved the earnestness of the great covenant-maker; let us be in earnest too.
Next, it displayed the supreme love of God to man. Seeing that he entered into a compact of grace with man, he would let man see how his very heart went forth with every word of promise; and, therefore, he gave up that which was the centre of his heart, namely, Jesus Christ. When Jesus wept over the grave of Lazarus they said, “Behold how he loved him!” but when God gave up his Only-begotten to bleed over the grave of our race, we may more heartily say, “Behold how he loved us!” Brethren, we have but a faint idea of how much the Lord our God loves us. “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” There was nothing lovable in us, we were enemies to God, polluted and polluting; there was everything in us that was obnoxious to the holy mind of God, and yet, because of the riches of his grace and the supremacy of his mercy, he would love us, and he did love us without bound. Passing by fallen angels, the sovereign Lord looked on the humbler creature, man, and so loved him that he gave up Jesus himself to die on his behalf. Oh that we were touched with some kind of tenderness towards God when we think of this! Man, hath God shown such love to man, and dost thou show such coldness to thy God? Jesus dies in agonies unutterable that the guilty may be pardoned, and do the guilty turn aside as if it were nothing to them that Jesus should die? Can men treat the cross as if it were either a fiction or a trifle? God hath manifested his love in the death of Christ in a way which must have astonished every inhabitant of heaven, and it ought to ravish every native of this lower globe. May the Holy Ghost enable us, as we think of this blood of the covenant, to behold the earnestness of God, and to admire the intensity of his love.
The blood of the covenant, next, speaks to us and confirms the divine faithfulness. The main object of thus sealing the covenant with blood is to cause it to be “ordered in all things and sure.” Men, in old times, when they made compacts that were intended to be solemnly observed, slaughtered certain beasts as a sacrifice, and when blood was thus spilt there was no drawing back from the engagements. It was a covenant made by cutting or dividing; they cleft the animals in twain, and then those who made the covenant passed in between the divided pieces. No revocation was permitted where agreements were thus ratified. It was a sort of registered contract that never could be changed when once there had been a sacrifice to confirm it. Now it is so with the covenant of grace. It is impossible for God ever to draw back from the covenant of grace, or to change it in any one of its particulars. He needed not to be held in this manner, for he cannot lie; but that we might have strong consolation who have fled for refuge to Christ Jesus, he has been pleased to give his covenant this seal. Well do we sing:—
“The gospel bears my spirit up;
A faithful and unchanging God
Lays the foundation for my hope,
In oath, and covenant, and blood.”
It would be blasphemy to suppose that God would be false to a treaty sealed with the blood of his own Son. A doubt about the love of God, and about the faithfulness of God, is treason against him, for it impugns his faithfulness, and treats him as a liar, or a covenant-breaker, which he can never be. We may think lightly of the dark mistrusts and suspicions of our hearts, but they are no light things after all, for they virtually impugn the sealing power of the blood, and question the faithfulness of God to the covenant, which has most solemnly been confirmed.
Oh thou that seekest after peace through Jesus Christ, it is not possible that God should refuse to accept thee, if thou comest to him through the blood of Jesus, for that were to break his covenant. Oh thou who art resting in Jesus, it is not possible that thy Father should ever forsake thee, or suffer thee to perish, for that were to make the blood-shedding of Christ to be void, and his sacrifice to be of none effect. Oh! blessed covenant, how sure art thou now that the blood of Jesus is shed!
But the blood of the everlasting covenant is more than this,— it is a guarantee to us of its infinite provision. There can be nothing lacking for a soul redeemed by Christ between here and heaven; for he that spared not his own Son, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? All that the Christian wants on the road to glory will be quite inconsiderable compared with what he has already received in the gift of Jesus Christ. Dost thou believe that God will deny thee any necessary thing, O heart, when he has already made his Son to bleed for thee? If he had held back anything, it would have been that costly alabaster box of his Son’s body which contained the most precious ointment that ever perfumed earth or heaven; but since he broke that precious casket and poured out the priceless contents, he will deny thee nothing. No good thing will he withhold from thee. He would break up heaven itself if thou shouldst require it, and pour out the whole creation at thy feet if there were need. Already has he given thee his angels to be thy servitors, and his courts to be thy dwelling-place, yea, and his throne to be thy shelter: what else dost thou seek? Yet, if thou askest more, there is more provided; for he gives thee himself to be thy portion. Is not this enough? Is not this all? When he gave thee his Son he gave thee all, for his Son is one with him. Oh, the breadth and length, the height and depth of covenant provisions! That roll of love which has for its seal this precious thing, the blood of Jesus, must contain treasures beyond all estimate. God will supply all our need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus; the blood of Jesus secures this fact.
I will not dwell longer upon this blood of the covenant when I have farther remarked that this blood manifests the depth of the need which the covenant was meant to meet. Many preachers nowadays seem determined to bring everything in God’s word down to their own little scale. They carry a foot-rule in their pockets with which to measure up eternal things. They have found out that everlasting does not mean unending; they will one day find out, I dare say, that infinite does not mean unlimited. Sin with them is an inconsiderable offence which it is not worth while to make a fuss about. Man, according to their account, is a poor creature who is struggling to be right, and his offences are the excusable blunders of a well-meaning child, the errors of a poor creature who cannot help making mistakes. Of course the punishment of sin with them is frittered away, and they claim to do this in the name of benevolence, as if it were benevolence to flatter, and a good deed to make sin appear less hazardous, and to take away the moral sanctions which God has set as barriers against evil. It follows in the nature of things that atonement becomes with them a very shadowy affair, something or other which in some way or other reconciles us to God, or has some bearing upon our standing with the divine Being: nobody knows quite what it is,— a misty, hazy, smoky nothing, which they cannot quite deny, but which they forget as much as possible. Brethren, I believe in a great revelation, and to my mind it is clear that, if God himself must become incarnate, and if when he is incarnate nothing else will do but that he must be nailed to a gibbet and die like a felon, there must have been some awful mischief to remove. The race of man must have fallen indeed to need such an expedient as this in order to restore it to holiness and God. If I measure the disease by the remedy, I conclude that the disease must have been deadly; and if when Christ stood in man’s stead, being perfectly innocent, nothing else would do as the substitutionary pain but that he should cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” then the desert of sin must have been dire indeed! In the presence of Calvary and its Christ I am persuaded that sin must be an evil so great that it is not possible to exaggerate its horrors. Oh sons of men, your transgressions are black indeed, since they can only be expiated by such a sacrifice! Oh sinful creatures, you required a dying God to save you! You cannot be safe for eternity, you cannot be happy with God in this life, unless the precious blood of Jesus Christ shall wash you. Deceive not yourselves with the notion that peradventure your moralities and your outward religiousnesses may suffice, or that your good intentions may be liberally interpreted; you must, if you would be acceptable with God, feel the sprinkling of the blood of the Son of God, for without shedding of blood there is no remission.
This much comes to us as the teaching of the blood of the everlasting covenant; if we are in covenant with God we shall know the power of the atonement of Christ.
II. But now, secondly, you will bear with me while I take our translator’s own words— “This is THE BLOOD OF THE TESTAMENT. Upon the whole, our translation is as nearly perfect as we can look for a human work to be. I do not know what the new translation will turn out to be, but the good men must have risen up very early, and they must have sat up very late if they have produced a version which will surpass that which has so long been used among us. I do not know, I cannot tell, because I have not seen it; but this translation very well satisfies me at present, and I notice that whenever the translators use a word which is disputed by scholars they have excellent reasons for it, and the more the matter is looked into the more is their judgment valued. They thought a good deal before they settled on their expressions, and as a rule they came to a sound conclusion. In this case there are reasons, and very good reasons, why the word “testament” should be used. Our translators were not inspired, but they were marvellously guided and directed when they made this version, and we may be content to take the text as it stands before us.
Jesus Christ has made a will, and he has left to his people large legacies by that will. Now, wills do not need to be sprinkled with blood, but wills do need that the testator should be dead, otherwise they are not of force. As it was not possible that Christ should die other than a violent death, seeing he must die as a sacrifice, the expression “blood” becomes in his case tantamount to “death.” And so, first of all, the blood of Jesus Christ on Calvary is the blood of the testament, because it is a proof that he is dead, and therefore the testament is in force. If there be a question about whether a man is alive or not, you cannot administer to his estate, but when you have certain evidence that the testator has died then the will stands. So is it with the blessed gospel: if Jesus did not die, then the gospel is null and void. Not without the sprinkled blood does the promise of salvation become yea and amen. Inasmuch as the soldier with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came thereout blood and water, there was the clearest evidence in that blood that Jesus was really dead, and that his testament is valid and operative. Therein we do rejoice; for though we sorrow that he died, yet are we glad that his legacy of love is all our own. He has died, and lives again, no more to die. Out of the thick cloud of blackest grief which veils our dying Lord there falls a silver shower of peace, more refreshing than all the brooks of earth can yield: the certainty of our eternal life is proven by the certainty of Jesus’s death: his blood is the blood of the testament, because it proves the testator’s death.
It is the blood of the testament, again, because it is the seal of his being seized and possessed of those goods which he has bequeathed to us: for, apart from his sacrifice, our Lord had no spiritual blessings to present to us His death has filled the treasury of his grace. He has pardon to bestow, and justifying righteousness to give, because he died. If he had not shed his blood he would not have completed his part of the covenant, nor have fulfilled the will of God; but when he died, with “It is finished!” upon his lips, then his blood became the seal that covenant mercies were his own, and that they were his to leave to us. Oh treasure up the death of Jesus in your hearts, believers; for, inasmuch as he has enriched you and given you all things necessary for this life of godliness, he has done this out of his own proper stores, which were given him as the reward of his passion.
The blood of the testament, again, is a direction as to his legatees. We see who are benefited under his will. To whom did Jesus Christ leave by will the blessings of grace? He must have left them to the guilty because he has left a will that is signed and sealed in blood, and blood is for the remission of sin. Jesus has made his testament in the character of a sin-atoning sacrifice, and we can only share in it by regarding him under that character. If I am not a sinner I have no interest in the legacy of a bleeding Redeemer. The blood-mark proves that the testament was made for those who need atonement by blood, and that its legacies are bequeathed to sinners. This is one of the most humbling and yet most blessed of all truths. It casts down, and yet lifts up. If I have any grace or any covenant blessing it did not come to me because I was heir to it by nature, or because I had purchased it, or because of any right intrinsic in myself: but because Jesus, when he died, had a right to make his will as he pleased, and he did so make it that he would give himself and all that he had to such a poor, needy, empty, lost, and guilty sinner as I am. Not because of any good in us do these blessings come to us, but all of our Lord’s good will who made the testament of love and sealed it with his heart’s blood.
Brethren, the legatees in Christ’s will are those who come and accept his atonement. There is nothing in Christ’s will for any person who will not trust his blood. I know of no mercy under heaven for any man who, knowing of the atoning sacrifice, wilfully puts it away. Certain teachers talk about a “larger hope.” I read nothing of this fancy in the Scriptures, and I dare not go beyond the word of the Lord, and I am content to say with Moses, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever.” “Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Other hope, large or small, I know not of from revelation, except this one,— “He that believeth in him is not condemned.” “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” “He that believeth in him hath everlasting life, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the Only-begotten Son of God.” Thus, then, the blood of the covenant is a direction as to the legatees.
And, as I said before, what an index it is of the value of the legacies, since even the seal upon the will is no less in value than the heart’s blood of the heir of all things! What treasures must be ours under such a covenant! What riches are yours and mine my brethren, if we are really trusting in Jesus!
III. But now, in the third place, I must speak for a minute or two upon that blood from another point of view. IT WAS THE BLOOD OF CLEANSING. “This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.” Moses sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry: the object of the sprinkled blood was to purify, so that the book and the people, and all things upon whom the blood fell might be allowed to stand in the presence of the thrice holy God, being regarded by him as cleansed. Think of this for a short time.
This blood of the covenant and of the testament is a blood of purification to us. Wherever it is accepted by faith it takes away all past guilt. Wonder of wonders! Years of sin vanish in a moment— encrustations of guilt disappear in a single instant, and man, hitherto guilty and condemned, is rendered perfectly clean in God’s sight, and accepted in the Beloved, because he believeth in Christ Jesus. So priceless a sacrifice as that of the Son of God is of boundless efficacy for the eternal removal of all evil once for all. And this is but the beginning of our purification, for that same blood applied by faith takes away from the pardoned sinner the impurity which had been generated in his nature by habit. He ceases to love the sin which once he delighted in: he begins to loathe that which was formerly his choice Joy. A love of purity is born within his nature; he sighs to be perfect, and he groans to think there should be about him tendencies towards evil. Temptations which once were welcomed are now resisted; baits which were once most fascinating are an annoyance to his spirit. The precious blood when it touches the conscience removes all sense of guilt, and when it touches the heart it kills the ruling power of sin.
The more fully the power of the blood is felt, the more does it kill the power of sin within the soul. I hope you are feeling it to be so. We ought to be ashamed, brethren, if we allow those sins to conquer us now which overcame us years ago; we ought to possess a growing strength against iniquity, a growing abhorrence of everything that is evil, and a growing likeness to Christ; and it will be so if this precious blood is really operating upon our nature, and imparting to it a fulness of life.
“The cross once seen is death to every vice:
Else he that died there suffered all his pain,
Bled, groaned, and agonized, and died in vain.”
If you are in any measure failing as to holiness, fly to the blood for help. Perhaps you have not thought enough of late of the dying love of your Lord. His death has a living power about it to breed and nourish holiness within you. Remember there is no slaying sin but by nailing it to the cross. The lance which pierced the heart of Jesus alone can kill the love of sin. You must overcome through the blood of the Lamb: other victory there is none. You will never avoid sin merely by believing it to be your duty to do so; law points the way, but cannot bear us along it. A sense of the great love of Christ to you in bearing your sin in his own body on the tree, and so removing it from you, will give you power to rise superior to temptation. It is charged against some of us, as preachers, that we do not urge men enough to their duties. We deny the charge, and yet we claim that we do better, for we touch secret springs that nerve to duty, and we point to the strength by which virtuous deeds are done. The acceptance of the atonement is the great source of virtue. The grace of God is seen in the atonement of Jesus, by which sin is put away, and thus the heart is won to God and led by gratitude to obey him. The blood of Jesus is the strongest restraint from transgression. We say to the pardoned,— Wilt thou so dishonour the blood which cleanseth thee as to go and live in sin; wilt thou go back to that from which thou hast been redeemed by the death of thy Saviour? Wilt thou roll again in that foul mire out of which Christ has lifted thee, and so do despite to the blood which cleanseth thee, and make it to be to thee as an unholy thing. It must not be. Let but the heart feel the power of the blood of Jesus, and it will growingly aspire after holiness and increasingly attain thereto.
The precious blood is our great security from backsliding, for by it we obtain daily access to God. It keeps the Christian from grievous relapses, and preserves him unto the coming of his Lord. Wherever the blood of Jesus Christ is really applied perfection must be its ultimate result. There will be battling and striving, but there must be victory ere long. The holier a man becomes the more he mourns over his unholiness. The operations of grace in his soul make him detect the more readily the motions of sin in his members. There is not the sin within him that there was, but he sees that which is there more clearly, and therefore he is more than ever grieved about it. No one calls himself so much a wretched man because sin is within him as he does who is also a thankful man, because God giveth him the victory. You must not judge that you are not growing in sanctification because you are not increasing in your sense of it. Your sense of your own holiness is a poor test, a very doubtful index of your state. Brothers and sisters, if you have really fixed your trust in the atoning blood, and known its power, you are destined to perfection: and all the devils in hell cannot keep you back from it. As sure as you believe, you shall one day stand whiterobed amongst the host that know no discord in their song, no wandering in their walk. From this spot where I have preached the Word I must, as a believer, rise to a higher spot, where I shall prove the power of Jesus’ blood in an immortality of perfection; and from that pew wherein you sit, believing in the precious blood, you also must pass onward through your pilgrimage until you also reach the fulness of life eternal, for your Lord has pledged himself to keep all those whom the Father hath given him, and you are among them if indeed you believe in him. Those who are justified shall also be glorified. All believers shall yet dwell at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens where there is pleasure for evermore because there is perfection without alloy. May we all through the Spirit by the blood of purging be made whiter than snow.
IV. And then, to close, it is THE BLOOD OF DEDICATION. On the day when Moses sprinkled the blood of the covenant on the people, and on the book, it was meant to signify that they were a chosen people set apart unto God’s service. The blood made them holiness unto the Lord. Moses stood upon an elevated place, and took the scarlet wool and hyssop and sprinkled the blood on all sides. Try and realize a part of the scene, A man just beneath him is wearing a white robe, and a spot of blood has fallen upon it. He sees it. There it is! Will he not prize the crimson sign? I would have preserved that robe as long as I lived, and the blood-spot too. But what would it mean? To the Israelite it meant consecration to God. He would say, “The blood of the covenant has fallen upon me, and I am henceforth a consecrated man, dedicated to God.” Now, unless the blood is upon you, my brother, you are not saved; but if you are saved you are by that very fact set apart to be God’s servant. “Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price.” “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” A saved man is a bought man; the property of Jesus. Believer, not a hair on your head belongs to you now— you belong to Jesus Christ as his servant as surely as you are redeemed by his blood. Now you are set apart; God’s own mark is put upon you. You have believed: that believing has applied the blood to you, and you are Christ’s. Cannot you see the private token which the Lord has set on you? Do you not feel it? Oh, then, own its claims in your daily life.
Being so set apart, you are henceforth ordained with due solemnity to be a servant of God, even as Aaron and his sons were consecrated to their priesthood. I have been sometimes asked, “Were you ever ordained?” Yes, I was; not by the laying on of the hands of any mortal man, but by that precious blood whose purchase-power I feel. When that blood fell upon me, and I rejoiced in its cleansing power, I longed at once to tell of its efficacy do others. I hope I can say most honestly to my Lord—
“Ere since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die!”
That same blood has fallen on you, brother, sister, and It has ordained you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain. Is it not written, “Thou wast slain, and hast made unto our God kings and priests”? The, slaying of Christ is the ground of our priesthood, and the claim for our perpetual service. Let us praise for ever the Lord who has wrought everlasting redemption for us. If we have not Milton’s power of song, at least let us come to the same resolve at which he arrived: —
“O unexampled love!
Love nowhere to be found less than divine!
Hail, Son of God, Saviour of men, thy name
Shall be the copious matter of my song
Henceforth, and never shall my harp thy praise
Forget, nor from thy Father’s praise disjoin.”
Because of all this we are to lead a separated life. It is not for us to live as others live, who walk in the vanity of their minds. We are not to seek the world’s pleasures, we are not to besmear ourselves with its folly and its selfishness. God’s people, if they act as they should do, are a separated people. It is written, "The people shall dwell alone, they shall not be numbered among the nations.” The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself, and as the shepherd marks his sheep, so, with the precious blood of Christ applied by faith, hath God marked his own elect, that they should abide in Christ, and go no more out, no more mingling with the sons of men, nor joying in their joys, nor serving their lusts. The Lord’s portion is his people, and his cry to them is, “Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate.” God give you to feel this blood of the covenant, this blood of the testament, this blood of cleansing, this blood of the setting apart, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.