The Blood Shed for Many
“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”— Matthew xxvi. 28.
THE Lord Jesus Christ was then alive, sitting at the table, and yet, pointing to the cup filled with red wine, he said, “This is my blood, which is shed for many.” This proves that he could not have intended that the wine was literally his blood. Surely it is no longer necessary to refute the gross and carnal dogma of transubstantiation, which is obviously absurd. There sat the living Lord at the supper, with his blood in his veins, and therefore the wine could not literally be his blood. Value the symbol, but to confound it with the thing symbolized would draw into the idolatrous worship of a piece of bread.
Our Lord spoke of his blood as shed when as yet the nails had not pierced his hands and feet, and the spear had not broached his side. Is not this to be accounted for by the fact that our Lord was so taken up with the thought of our redemption by his death that he speaks of that as done which he was so resolved to do? Enjoying loving intercourse with his chosen disciples, he spake freely; his heart did not study accuracy so much as feeling; and so, in speech as in feeling, he antedated his great work of atonement, and spoke of it as done. To see forth the future intent of the blessed ordinance of the Lord’s Supper he must of necessity treat his death as an accomplished fact; and his complete absorption in his work made it easy and natural for him to do so. He ignores moods and tenses; “his work is before him.”
By the use of such language, our Lord also shows us the abiding presence of the great sacrifice as a power and an influence. He is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” and therefore he speaks of his blood as shed. In a few hours it would be literally poured forth; but long ages before, the Lord God had regarded it as done. In full confidence in the great Surety that he would never draw back from the perfect fulfilment of his engagements, the Father saved multitudes in virtue of the future sin-offering. He communed with myriads of saints on the strength of the purification which would in the fulness of time be presented by the great High Priest. Could not the Father trust his Son? He did so, and by this act set ns a great example of faith. God himself is in very deed the Father of the faithful, seeing that he himself reposed the utmost confidence in Jesus, and because of what he would yet do in the pouring out of his soul unto death, he “opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.” What, my soul! canst thou not trust the sacrifice now that it has been presented? If the foresight of it was enough for God, is not the consummation of it enough for thee? “Behold the Lamb of God,” who even before he died was described as taking away the sin of the world. If this was so before he went to Calvary, how surely is it so now that he has said in verity and truth, “It is finished”!
Dear friends, I am going to preach to you again upon the corner-stone of the gospel. How many times will this make, I wonder? The doctrine of Christ crucified is always with me. As the Roman sentinel in Pompeii stood to his post even when the city was destroyed, so do I stand to the truth of the atonement though the church is being buried beneath the boiling mud-showers of modern heresy. Everything else can wait, but this one truth must be proclaimed with a voice of thunder. Others may preach as they will, but as for this pulpit, it shall always resound with the substitution of Christ. “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Some may continually preach Christ as an example, and others may perpetually discourse upon his coming to glory: we also preach both of these, but mainly we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but to them that are saved Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
You have before you a cup, filled with wine, which Jesus has just blessed, and presented to his disciples. As you look into its rosy depths, hear him speak of the cup as his blood; for thus he would teach us a solemn lesson.
I. Note, first, THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST. The vital importance of the great truth of the death of Christ as a vicarious sacrifice, is set before us in this cup, which is the memorial of his blood shed for many.
Blood represents suffering; but it goes further, and suggests suffering unto death. “The blood is the life thereof,” and when blood is too copiously shed death is suggested. Remember that in the sacred supper you have the bread as a separate emblem of the body, and then the wine as a separate symbol of the blood: thus you have a clear picture of death, since the blood is separated from the flesh. “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death.” Both acts are essential.
Upon the death of Christ you are invited to fix your attention, and upon that only. In the suffering of our Lord unto death we see the boundless stretch of his love. “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus could not be more loving to us than to yield himself unto death, even the death of the cross. O my Lord, in thy bloody sweat, and in the piercing of thy hands, and feet, and side, I see the highest proof of thy love! Here I see that Jesus “loved me, and gave himself for me.” Beloved, I beg you to consider often and lovingly the sufferings of your Redeemer, unto the pouring out of his heart’s blood. Go with him to Gethsemane, and thence to the house of Caiaphas and Annas, and then to Pilate’s hall, and Herod’s place of mockery! Behold your Lord beneath the cruel scourges, and in the hands of the executioners upon the hill of shame. Forget not one of the sorrows which were mingled in the bitter cup of his crucifixion— its pain, its mockery, its shame. It was a death reserved for slaves and felons. To make its deep abysses absolutely bottomless, he was forsaken even of his God. Let the darkness of “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani,” bear down upon your spirit till, as you sink in awe, you also rise in love. He loved you better than he loved himself! The cup means love, even to the shedding of his blood for you.
It means something more. We have called our Lord, in our hymn, “Giver of life for life,” and that is what this cup means. He gave up his life that we might live. He stood in our place and stead in the day of Jehovah’s wrath, receiving into his bosom the fiery sword which was unsheathed for our destruction. The pouring out of his blood has made our peace with God. Jehovah made the soul of his only-begotten an offering for sin, that the guilty might be cleared. “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” That is what the wine in the cup means: it means the death of Jesus in our stead. It means the blood poured out from the heart of the incarnate God, that we might have fellowship with God, the sin which divided us being expiated by his death.
Our blessed Saviour would have us hold his death in great reverence: it is to be our chief memory. Both the emblems of the Lord’s Supper set forth the Saviour’s death. This peculiarly Christian ordinance teaches nothing if it does not teach this. Christ’s death for men is the great doctrine of the church. We profess ourselves partakers of the merit of his death when we come to this table; our Lord’s death is then remembered, shown, declared, testified, and trusted in. Evidently the Lord Jesus means us to treat the fact of his death as a truth to be made pre-eminently prominent: he would not have instituted an ordinance specially to remind us of the shedding of his blood, if he had not regarded it as the forefront of his whole earthly career.
The other ordinance of our holy faith also sets forth our Lord’s death. Are we not “Buried with him by baptism into death?” Is not baptism an emblem of his being immersed beneath the waves of sorrow and death? Baptism shows us that participation in Christ’s suffering by which we begin to live; the Lord’s Supper shows us that participation in Christ’s suffering by which that life is sustained. Both institutions point to his death.
Besides, beloved, we know from Holy Scripture that this doctrine of the death of Christ is the very core of Christianity. Leave out the cross, and you have killed the religion of Jesus. Atonement by the blood of Jesus is not an arm of Christian truth; it is the heart of it. Even as the Lord said of the animal, “The blood is the life thereof,” so is it true of the gospel, the sacrificial death of Jesus is the vital point of our profession. I know nothing of Christianity without the blood of Christ. No teaching is healthy which throws the cross into the background. The other day, when I was enquiring about the welfare of a certain congregation, my informant told me that there had been few additions to the church, although the minister was a man of ability and industry. Furthermore, he let me see the reason for failure, for he added, “I have attended there for several years, and during all that time I do not remember hearing a sermon upon the sacrifice of Christ. The atonement is not denied, but it is left out.” If this be so, what is to become of our churches? If the light of the atonement is put under a bushel, the darkness will be dense. In omitting the cross you have cut the tendon Achilles of the church: it cannot move, nor even stand, when this is gone. Holy work falls to the ground: it faints and dies when the blood of Jesus is taken away. The cross must be put in the front more than ever by the faithful, because so many are unfaithful. Let us endeavour to make amends for the dishonour done to our divine Master by those who deny or dishonour his vicarious sacrifice: let us abide steadfast in this faith while others waver, and preach Christ crucified if all else forbear. Grace, mercy, and peace be to all who exalt Christ crucified!
This remembrance of the death of Christ must be a constant remembrance. The Lord’s Supper was meant to be a frequent feast of fellowship. It is a grievous mistake of the church when the communion is held but once in the year, or once in a quarter of a year; and I cannot remember any Scripture which justifies once in the month. I should not feel satisfied without breaking bread on every Lord’s-day. It has come to me even oftener than once a week; for it has been my delight to break bread with many a little company of Christian friends. Whenever this Supper is celebrated, we declare that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” We cannot think of that death too often. Never was man blamed in heaven for preaching Christ too much; nay, not even on earth to the sons of God was the cross ever too much spoken of. Outsiders may say, “This man harps only upon one string.” Do you wonder? The carnal mind is enmity against God, and it specially shows its hatred by railing at the cross. Saintly ones find here, in the perpetual monotony of the cross, a greater variety than in all other doctrines put together. Preach you Christ, and Christ, and Christ, and Christ, and nothing else but Christ, and opened ears shall find in your ministry a wondrous harmony of linked sweetnesses, a charming perfectness of all manner of delicious voices. All good things lie within the compass of the cross; its outstretched arms overshadow the whole world of thought; from the east even unto the west it sheds a hallowed influence; meanwhile, its foot is planted deep in the eternal mysteries, and its top pierces all earth-born clouds, and rises to the throne of the Most High. Christ is lifted up upon the cross, that he may draw all men unto him; and if we desire to draw them, this must be our magnet.
Beloved, the precious blood of Christ should be had by us in vivid remembrance. There is something to me most homely about that cup filled with the fruit of the vine. The bread of the Supper is the bread of our common meal, and the wine is the usual attendant of feasts. That same pure blood of the grape which is set on our sacramental table I drink with my friend. Look at those ruby, ruddy drops, suggesting your Lord’s own blood. I had not dared to invent the symbol, nor might any man of mortal mould have ventured on such a thing, lest he should seem to bring that august death down to our lowly level; but in infinite condescension Jesus himself chooses the symbol, and while by its materialism he sets forth the reality of the sacrifice, by its commonness he shows how freely we may partake thereof. He would not have us know him after the flesh, and forget the spiritual nature of his griefs; but yet he would have us know that he was in a real body when he bled, and that he died a real death, and became most truly fit for burial; and therefore he symbolizes his blood, not by some airy fancy, or mystic sign, but by common wine in the cup. Thus would he reach us by our eye and by our taste, using two gates of our nature which lead up to the castle of the heart, but are not often the King’s roadway thereto. O blessed Master, dost thou arrange to teach us so forcibly? Then let us be impressed with the reality of the lesson, and never treat thy passion as a thing of sentiment, nor make it a myth, nor view it as a dream of poesy. Thou shalt be in death most real to us, even as is that cup whereof we drink.
The dear memorials of our Lord’s blood-shedding are intended for a personal remembrance. There is no Lord’s Supper except as the wine touches the lip, and is received into the communicant’s own self. All must partake. He says, “Drink ye all of it.” You cannot take, the Lord’s Supper by deputy or representative; you must each of you approach the table, and personally cab and drink. Beloved, we must come into personal contact with the death of Christ. This is essential. We must each one say, “He loved me, and gave himself for me.” In his blood you must be personally washed; by his blood you must be personally reconciled to God; through his blood you must personally have access to God; and by his blood you must personally overcome the enemy of your souls. As the Israelite’s own door must be smeared with the blood of the Paschal lamb, so must you individually partake of the true Sacrifice, and know each one for himself the power of his redemption.
As it is personal, it is a charming fact that it is a happy remembrance. Our remembrance of Christ is chastened with repentance, but it is also perfumed with faith. The Lord’s Supper is no funeral meal, but a festival; most fitly do we begin it with the giving of thanks, and close it with a hymn. It is by many called the “Eucharist,” or the giving of thanks: it is not a fast, but a feast. My happiest moments are spent with the King at his table, when his banner over me is love. The death of Christ is a well-spring of solemn joy. Before our great Sacrifice died, the best token of his death was the blood of bulls and of goats. See how the victims writhe in death! The sacrificial knife does terrible work at the foot of the altar; it is hard to stand by, and see the creatures bleed. After our Lord’s death was over, the blood of animals was not the type, but the blood of the grape. That which was terrible in prospect is joyous in remembrance. That which was blood in the shedding is wine in the receiving. It came from him with a wound, but it comes to us with a blessing. His blood is our song in the house of our pilgrimage, and it shall add the best music to our heavenly harmonies as we sing before the throne: “Unto him that hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood; to him be glory for ever and ever.” If our Lord Jesus has made the memory of his love to be more sweet than wine, let us never turn from it as though it had become a distasteful theme. Let us find our choicest pleasures at the cross.
Once more, our Saviour meant us to maintain the doctrine of his death, and the shedding of his blood for the remission of sins, even to the end of time, for he made it to be of perpetual remembrance. We drink this cup “until he come.” If the Lord Jesus had foreseen with approbation the changes in religious thought which would be brought about by growing “culture,” he would surely have arranged a change of symbols to suit the change of doctrines. Would he not have warned us that, towards the end of the nineteenth century, men would become so “enlightened” that the faith of Christendom must of necessity take a new departure, and therefore he had appointed a change of sacramental memorials? But he has not warned us of the coming of those eminently great and wise men who have changed all things, and abolished the old-fashioned truths for which martyrs died. Brethren, I do not believe in the wisdom of these men, and their changes I abhor; but had there been any ground for such changes, the Lord’s Supper would not have been made of perpetual obligation. The perpetuity of ordinances indicates a perpetuity of doctrine. But hear the moderns talk— “The Apostles, the Fathers, the Puritans, they were excellent men, no doubt, but then, you see, they lived before the uprise of those wonderful scientific men who have enlightened us so much.” Let me repeat what I have said. If we had come to a new point as to believing, should we not have come to a new point as to the ordinances in which those beliefs are embodied? I think so. The evident intent of Christ in giving us settled ordinances, and especially in settling this one which so clearly commemorates his bloodshedding, was that we might know that the truth of his sacrifice is for ever fixed and settled, and must unchangeably remain the essence of his gospel. Neither nineteen centuries, nor nineteen thousand centuries, can make the slightest difference in this truth, nor in the relative proportion of this truth to other truths, so long as this dispensation lasts. Until he comes a second time without a sin-offering unto salvation, the grand work of his first coming must be kept first and foremost in all our teaching, trusting, and testifying. As in the southern hemisphere the cross is the mariner’s guide, so, under all skies, is the death of our Redeemer the polestar of our hope upon the sea of life. In life and in death we will glory in the cross of Christ, and never be ashamed of it, be we where we may.
II. Secondly, note well THE CONNECTION OF THE BLOOD OF CHRIST WITH THE COVENANT. Read the text again: “This is my blood of the new testament.” The translation would be better, “This is my blood of the covenant.”
What is this covenant? The covenant is that which I read to you just now in Jeremiah xxxi. 33: “This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” See also Jeremiah xxxii. 40: “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” Turn also to Ezekiel xi. 19: “I will put a new spirit within; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh.” Look in the same prophecy at xxxvi. 26: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” What a Magna Charta is this! The old covenant saith, “Keep the law and live.” The new covenant is, “Thou shalt live, and I will lead thee to keep my law, for I will write it on thine heart.” Happy men who know their standing under this covenant!
What has the blood of Jesus Christ to do with this covenant? It has everything to do with it, for the covenant could never have been made apart from the blood of Jesus. Atonement was taken for granted in the establishment of the covenant. No one else could have stood as our representative, to fulfil our side of the covenant, except the Lord Jesus Christ; and even he could only have performed that covenant by shedding his blood. In that cup you see the emblem of the blood which made the covenant possible.
Moreover, the blood of Jesus makes the covenant sure. His death has fulfilled man’s side of the covenant, and God’s part standeth sure. The stipulation of the covenant is fulfilled in Christ, and now the tenor of it is pure promise. Note how the “shalls” and “wills” follow each other in quick succession. An arrangement of absolute grace on God’s part towards the undeserving sons of men is now in full action through the sacrifice of Christ.
This covenant of grace, when rightly understood, exerts a blessed influence over the minds of men conscious of sin. The chaplain of a jail, a dear friend of mine, once told me of a surprising case of conversion in which a knowledge of the covenant of grace was the chief instrument of the Holy Spirit. My friend had under his charge a man most cunning and brutal. He was singularly repulsive, even in comparison with other convicts. He had been renowned for his daring, and for the utter absence of all feeling when committing acts of violence. I think he had been called “the king of the garotters.” The chaplain had spoken to him several times, but had not succeeded even in getting an answer. The man was sullenly set against all instruction. At last he expressed a desire for a certain book, but as it was not in the library the chaplain pointed to the Bible, which was placed in his cell, and said, “Did you ever read that Book?” He gave no answer, but looked at the good man as if he would kill him. The question was kindly repeated, with the assurance that he would find it well worth reading. “Sir,” said the convict, “you would not ask me such a question if you knew who I was. What have I to do with a Book of that sort?” He was told that his character was well known to the chaplain, and that for this very reason he recommended the Bible as a Book which would suit his case. “It would do me no good,” he cried, “I am past all feeling.” Doubling up his fist he struck the iron door of the cell, and said, “My heart is as hard as that iron; there is nothing in any book that will ever touch me.” “Well,” said the chaplain, “You want a new heart. Did you ever read the covenant of grace?” To which the man answered sullenly by enquiring what he meant by such talk. His friend replied, “Listen to these words — ‘A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.’” The words struck the man with amazement, as well they might; he asked to have the passage found for him in the Bible. He read the words again and again; and when the chaplain came back to him next day, the wild beast was tamed. “Oh, sir,” he said, “I never dreamed of such a promise! I never believed it possible that God would speak in such a way as that to men. If he gives me a new heart it will be a miracle of mercy; and yet I think,” he said, “he is going to work that miracle upon me, for the very hope of a new nature is beginning to touch me as I never was touched before.” That man became gentle in manner, obedient to authority, and childlike in spirit. Though my friend has nothing left of the sanguine hopes he once entertained of converted criminals, he yet believes that in this case no observer could have questioned the thorough nature of the work, and yet the only means was the doctrine of the covenant. My rebellious heart is not affected by the fact that God commands me to do this or that; but when he declares free and full forgiveness, and goes on to promise love and favour, and renewal of nature, I feel broken down. How can I rebel against one who does such wonders in me, and designs such great things for me?
“Dissolved by his goodness, I fall to the ground,
And weep to the praise of the mercy I’ve found.”
How dear and precious this makes the blood of Christ, since it is the blood of the everlasting covenant! Coming under this blessed covenant, we henceforth adore the fulness of that grace which, at the cost of the most precious of all lives, has made this arrangement for unworthy men.
You will perhaps say to me, “Why did our translators use the word ‘testament’ in our Authorized Version?” They were hardly so wise as usual in this instance, for “covenant” is the better word of the two to set forth the original; but yet the idea of a testament is there also. The original may signify either or both. The word “settlement,” which has dropped out of use nowadays, was often employed by our Calvinistic forefathers when they spoke of the everlasting arrangement of grace. The word settlement might take in both covenant and testament— there is a covenant of grace, but the covenant stipulation being fulfilled by our Lord Jesus, the arrangement becomes virtually a testament, through which, by the will of God, countless blessings are secured to the heirs of salvation. The blood of Jesus is the seal of the covenant, and transforms its blessings into bequests of love, entailed upon believers. The settlement or arrangement, by which God can be just and yet the Justifier of the ungodly, and can deal with believers, not on terms of law, but on terms of pure grace, is established by the sacrifice of our Lord. O my brethren, as God ’s covenanted ones, drink ye of the cup with joy, and renew your pledge with the Lord your God!
III. A third point comes up in the text very manifestly: THE BLOOD HAS AN INTIMATE CONNECTION WITH REMISSION. The text says, “This is ray blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Jesus suffering, bleeding, dying, has procured for sinners the forgiveness of their sins.
Of what sins? Of all sins of every sort and kind, however heinous, aggravated, and multiplied. The blood of the covenant takes every sin away, be it what it may; there was never a sin believingly confessed and taken to Christ that ever baffled his power to cleanse it. This fountain has never been tried in vain. Murderers, thieves, liars, adulterers, and what not, have come to Jesus by penitence and faith, and through the merit of his sacrifice their sins have been put away.
Of what nature is the remission? It is pardon, freely given, acting immediately, and abiding for ever, so that there is no fear of the guilt ever being again laid to the charge of the forgiven one. Through the precious blood our sins are blotted out, cast into the depths of the sea, and removed as far from us as the east is from the west. Our sins cease to be; they are made an end of; they cannot be found against us any more for ever. Yes, hear it, hear it, O wide earth! Let the glad news startle thy darkest dens of infamy, there is absolute remission of sins! The precious blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin: yes, turns the scarlet into a whiteness which exceeds that of the newly-fallen snow— a whiteness which never can be tarnished. Washed by Jesus, the blackest of sinners shall appear before the judgment-seat of the all seeing Judge without spot.
How is it that the blood of Jesus effects this? The secret lies in the vicarious or substitutionary character of our Lord’s suffering and death. Because he stood in our place the justice of God is vindicated, and the threatening of the law is fulfilled. It is now just for God to pardon sin. Christ’s bearing the penalty of human sin instead of men has made the moral government of God perfect in justice, has laid a basis for peace of conscience, and has rendered sin immeasurably hateful, though its punishment does not fall upon the believer. This is the great secret, this is the heavenly news, the gospel of salvation, that through the blood of Jesus sin is justly put away. Oh, how my very soul loves this truth! Therefore do I speak it in unmistakable terms.
And for what end is this remission of sins secured? My brethren, if there were no other end for the remission of sins but its own self, it would be a noble purpose, and it would be worth preaching every day of our lives; but it does not end here. We mistake if we think that the pardon of sins is God’s ultimatum. No, no; it is but a beginning, a means to a further purpose. He forgives our sins with the design of curing our sinfulness. We are pardoned that we may become holy. God forgives the sin that he may purify the sinner. If he had not aimed at thy holiness, there had not been so imperative a necessity for an atonement; but to impress thee with the guilt of sin, to make thee feel the evil which sin hath wrought, to let thee know thine obligation to divine love, the Lord has not forgiven thee without a sacrifice. Ah, what a sacrifice! He aims at the death of thy sinfulness, that thou mayest henceforth love him, and serve him, and crucify the lusts which crucified thy Lord. The Lord aims at working in thee the likeness of his dear Son. Jesus hath saved thee by his self-sacrificing obedience to justice, that thou mayest yield thy whole soul to God, and be willing to die for the upholding of the kingdom of love and truth. The death of Christ for thee pledges thee to be dead to sin, that by his resurrection from the dead thou mayest rise into newness of life, and so become like thy Lord. Pardon by blood aims at this. Dost thou catch the thought? If thou believest in the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s intent is to make thee like the Firstborn among many brethren, and to work in thee everything that is comely and of good report. Even this is not all: he hath a further design to bring thee into everlasting fellowship with himself. He is sanctifying thee, that thou mayest behold his face, and that thou mayest be fit to be a comrade of his only-begotten Son throughout eternity. Thou art to be the choice and dear companion of the Lord of love. He has a throne for thee, a mansion and a crown for thee, and an immortality of such inconceivable glory and blessedness that, if thou didst but form even a distant conception of it, no golden apple of earth would turn thee aside from pursuing the prize of thy high calling. Oh, to be for ever with the Lord! For ever to behold his face! I fail to reach the height of this great argument! See, my brethren, to what the blood of your Lord destines you. O my soul, bless God for that one cup, which reminds thee of the great sacrifice, and prophesies to thee thy glory at the right hand of God for ever!
IV. I cannot forget to notice, in closing, THE CONNECTION OF THE BLOOD WITH MEN. We are told in the text that this blood is shed “for many for the remission of sins.” In that large word “many” let us exceedingly rejoice. Christ’s blood was not shed for the handful of apostles alone. There were but eleven of them who really partook of the blood symbolized by the cup. The Saviour does not say, “This is my blood which is shed for you, the favoured eleven;” but “shed for many.” Jesus did not die for the clergy alone. I recollect in Martin Luther’s life that he saw, in one of the Romish churches, a picture of the Pope, and the cardinals, and bishops, and priests, and monks, and friars, all on board a ship. They were all safe, every one of them. As for the laity, poor wretches, they were struggling in the sea, and many of them drowning. Only those were saved to whom the good men in the ship were so kind as to hand out a rope or a plank. That is not our Lord’s teaching: his blood is shed “for many,” and not for the few. He is not the Christ of a caste, or a class, but the Christ of all conditions of men. His blood is shed for many sinners, that their sins may be remitted.
Those in the upper room were all Jews, but the Lord Jesus Christ said to them, “This blood is shed for many,” to let them see that he did not die alone for the seed of Abraham, but for all races of men that dwell upon the face of the earth. “Shed for many.” His eye, I doubt not, glanced at these far-off islands, and at the vast lands beyond the western sea. He thought of Africa, and India, and the land of Sinim. A multitude that no man can number gladdened the far-seeing and foreseeing eye of the Redeemer. He spoke with joyful emphasis when he said, “shed for many for the remission of sins.” Believe in the immeasurable results of redemption. Whenever we are making arrangements for the preaching of this precious blood, let us make them on a large scale. The mansion of love should be built for a large family. Let us not sing—
“We are a garden walled around,
Pray keep the walls most tight and sound,”
Let us expect to see large numbers brought within the sacred enclosure. We must yet break forth on the right hand and on the left. The masses must be compelled to come in. This blood is shed for many. A group of half-a-dozen converts makes us very glad, and so it should; but oh, to have half-a-dozen thousand at once! Why not? This blood is shed “for many.” Let us cast the great net into the sea. You young men, preach the gospel in the streets of this crowded city, for it is meant for many! You who go from door to door, do not think you can be too hopeful, since your Saviour’s blood is shed for many, and Christ’s “many” is a very great many. It is shed for all who ever shall believe in him— shed for thee, sinner, if thou wilt now trust him. Only confess thy sin, and trust Christ, and be assured that Jesus died in thy place and stead. It is shed for many, so that no man or woman born shall ever trust Christ in vain, or find the atonement insufficient for him. Oh, for a large-hearted faith, so that by holy effort we may lengthen our cords, and strengthen our stakes, expecting to see the household of our Lord become exceeding numerous! He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; by his righteousness shall he justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities. Dwell on that word “many,” and let it nerve you for far-reaching labours.
V. Now note THE CONNECTION OF THE BLOOD WITH OURSELVES. Dear hearer, are you among the many? Why are you not? May his grace bring you to trust in him, and you may not doubt that you are among the many. “Ah,” say you, “that is what I am listening for! How can I partake in the effect of this sacrifice?” Seest thou that wine-cup which I set before thee just now? How art thou to enjoy that wine which fills the cup? Its ruddy drops, how are they to be thine? The matter is very simple. I think I see thee take the chalice in thine hand, and raise it to thy mouth. Thou drinkest, and the deed is done. This is no mystery. Bread and wine are ours by eating and drinking; Christ is ours by our receiving him. The merit of his precious blood becomes ours by that simple child-like faith which accepts Jesus to be our all. We say, “Here it is; I believe in it; I take it; I accept it as my own.” It is yours. No man can take from you that which you have eaten and drunk. Christ is yours for ever if you receive him into your heart.
If you have any question as to whether you have drunk, I will tell you how to solve it— drink again! If you have been eating, and you have really forgotten whether you have eaten or not— such things do occur to busy men, who eat but little; if, I say, you would be sure that you have eaten, eat again! If thou wilt be assured that thou hast believed in Jesus, believe again! Whenever thou hast any doubt about whether Christ is thine, take him over again. I like to begin again. Often I find the best way of going forward is to go back to my first faith in Jesus and as a sinner renew my confidence in my Saviour. “Oh,” says the devil, “thou art a preacher of the gospel, but thou dost not know it thyself.” At one time I used to argue with the accuser; but he is not worth it, and it is by no means profitable to one’s own heart. We cannot convert or convince the devil; it is better to refer him to our Lord. When he tells me I am not a saint. I answer, “Well, what am I, then?” “A sinner,” says he. “Well, so are you!” “All!” saith he, “you will be lost.” “No,” say I, “that is why I shah not be lost, since Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and I therefore trust in him to save me.” This is what Martin Luther calls cutting the devil’s head off with his own sword, and it is the best course you can follow.
You say, “If I take Christ to myself as a man takes a cup and drinks the contents, am I saved?” Yes, thou art. “How am I to know it?” Know it because God says so. “He that believeth in him hath everlasting life.” If I did not feel a pulse of that life (as I did not at first), I nevertheless would believe that I had it, simply on the strength of the divine assurance. Since my conversion, I have felt the pulsings of a life more strong and forcible than the life of the most vigorous youth that ever ran without weariness; but there are times when it is not so. Just now I feel the heavenly life joyously leaping within me; but when I do not feel it, I fall back on this: God has said “He that believeth in him hath everlasting life.” God’s words against all my feelings! I may get into a fainting fit, and my circumstances may operate upon my heart, as this hot weather operates upon my body, and make me feel dull and sleepy; but this cannot make the Word of God of none effect. I go back to the Book, and believe the bare Word of the Lord, “He that believeth in him hath everlasting life.” That is enough for me. I believe, and therefore I live. Our inward experience is fine corroborative evidence, but God’s testimony is the best foundation our confidence can have.
I recollect a story told of William Dawson, whom our Wesleyan friends used to call Billy Dawson, one of the best preachers that ever entered a pulpit. He once gave out as his text, “Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.” When he had given out his text he dropped down to the bottom of the pulpit, so that nothing could be seen of him, only there was a voice heard saying, “Not the man in the pulpit, he is out of sight, but the Man in the Book. The Man described in the Book is the Man through whom is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.” I put myself and you, and everybody else out of sight, and I preach to you the remission of sins through Jesus only. I would sing with the children, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” Shut your eyes to all things but the cross. Jesus died, and rose again, and went to heaven, and all your hope must go with him! Come, my hearer, take Jesus by a distinct act of faith this morning! May God the Holy Ghost constrain thee to do so, and then thou mayest go on thy way rejoicing! So be it in the name of Jesus.