The Mediator,-Judge and Savior
“And he commanded ns to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”— Acts x. 42, 43.
THESE two verses are an extract from a very remarkable sermon, a sermon preached by Peter in the house of Cornelius upon the occasion of the Gentile Pentecost. I think we are entitled to call the event by that name, for then upon the Gentiles was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. Peter preached at the first Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost fell upon the company of Jewish believers; and it is remarkable that he should be the preacher at the second Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost descended upon those of the uncircumcision while they were listening to the gospel. Philip was at Caesarea, and might have been called in, but God had determined that the strict Peter, the minister of the circumcision, should himself open the door of faith to the Gentiles. Paul was at that time converted, and it might have seemed to be more appropriate to have used him in enlightening this Italian officer, but the Lord thought not so: he would send the Spirit upon the Gentiles in connection with the same person who preached when this visitation blessed the converts of Israel. Peter preached as it were upon the ruins of the middle wall of partition which once divided the sons of men.
The occasion was very special, and hence the sermon is the more worthy of our earnest consideration. What kind of discourse is that which is likely to be sealed by the Holy Spirit? We may learn something upon that point from the instance before us.
Notice that it was a sermon “preached by request.” I have seen those words printed upon the title page of very poor sermons, as a sort of apology for their being printed. I have wondered who it was that did request them, and whether the requesters were pleased with what they got by their petition. I should think that they would hardly have asked that the same words should be spoken unto them again. But this request was a very honest and hearty one, for Cornelius sent many miles to fetch the preacher, and the preacher came a long day’s journey in order to deliver his discourse. It were devoutly to be wished that many such sermons would both be preached and published by request. When men are anxious to hear such discourses, and count the preacher to be their benefactor, there is every hope that the truth will work their salvation.
This discourse was delivered to a model congregation. One might be satisfied to preach in the middle of the night to such an assembly, for a devout family had come together at the earnest request of a leading kinsman to have the gospel preached to them. To that assembly not a single person came in late: every one was there before the speaker arrived. Late attendance frequently means heartless worship, disturbance, and distraction. “Now, therefore,” said Cornelius before Peter began, “are we all here present before God?” This was well: O that all hearers were punctual, that all worship might be undisturbed. Better still would it be if all our audiences felt that they were “before God this would create a solemn feeling and ensure devout attention. The hearers were all in a waiting and expectant mood, and all in a receptive condition, desiring, as Cornelius said, “to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.” Never was the ground better ploughed, nor in a finer condition for receiving the living seed.
Peter gave them a very plain and simple sermon: you cannot find a flourish in it, nor a metaphor, nor even the least attempt at oratory, as indeed you do not find in the sermons of inspired men. Those gentlemen who preach grandiloquently are uninspired, you may depend upon that, or else they would not attempt the high and mighty style. The inspiration which the Holy Ghost gives leads men to use great plainness of speech. Not in words only was Peter plain, but the truths which he taught were the first principles of the faith, and it is generally by these that men are saved: points of difficult theology are not often the means of conversion. What have we to do with the fireworks of rhetoric, or the playthings of controversy, when men are anxious to know the way of salvation? Simple as the discourse was it was a very powerful one; so powerful, indeed, that all that heard it were converted. I do not see any intimation that one of them remained unconvinced; for the fortyfourth verse says, “The Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” What a very remarkable occasion was this, when all who heard the truth felt the power of the Holy Spirit. What would I not give to be enabled to preach after that fashion, and to see such a result?
This sermon, however, was never finished: it remains for ever a homiletical fragment, a broken column of the temple of wisdom, a discourse of which we shall never know the conclusion intended by its author. I am sure that Peter felt full of matter that day, for so a minister usually feels when he knows that he is sent by the Lord himself with a special commission, and sees a people with open heart receiving all that he utters. He then feels like a vessel wanting vent, his heart is inditing a good matter, his tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Yet the sermon was never finished, but closed abruptly. Oh that our sermons were incomplete for the same cause that Peter’s was; for the Holy Spirit, who speaketh better by himself than by the most earnest voice, caused a divinely joyful interruption:— “The Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” The sermon was stopped while they heard the converts speak with tongues, and magnify God, and the preacher did not return to his sermon, but together with his converts attended to baptism and then enjoyed holy fellowship. Oh that the Spirit of God would in the same manner interrupt us! We have too much talk, and too little of those blessed silences which he is sure to cause. It were better for our lips to be sealed by the hour than for us to speak except as he opens our mouth to show forth the praises of the Lord. A sacred irregularity would be far better in our public services than the prim monotony of death. For all these reasons I think I have a claim upon your very earnest attention while we look at Peter’s sermon more intently: surely a sermon produced under such circumstances, leading up to such results, and interrupted so divinely, deserves to be reverently studied.
What was the subject? What was Peter preaching upon? He was preaching Christ and him crucified. No other subject ever does produce such effects as this. The Spirit of God bears no witness to Christless sermons. Leave Jesus out of your preaching, and the Holy Spirit will never come upon you. Why should he? Has he not come on purpose that he may testify of Christ? Did not Jesus say, “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you”? Yes, the subject was Christ, and nothing but Christ, and such is the teaching which the Spirit of God will own. Be it ours never to wander from this central point: may we determine to know nothing among men but Christ and his cross.
I think there were six heads in the sermon, though he spoke only of one subject, that is, Christ. The apostle spake of the Lord’s person. I will not enlarge, but simply give you his words. He said, “Preaching peace by Jesus Christ: he is Lord of all.” He did not teach the Socinian gospel, which sets forth a Christ who is not God. We love “the man Christ Jesus,” but we cannot endure the doctrine that he is no more than man. How could he save us? Could a mere man redeem us? “He is Lord of all,” and because he is thus supreme we feel we can trust him with the salvation of our souls. Peter is very clear upon the sovereign Godhead of Jesus. His words are few, but they are exceedingly explicit. Having spoken of his person, he then spoke of his life, and what a pithy summary it is: “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power.” There was the spring of his life’s power, his anointing from the Holy Ghost, who bare witness of him in Jordan and at other times. He saith, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for the Lord hath anointed me.” The tenor of his life is set out in the next sentence, “Who went about doing good.” That one stroke gives a full portrait of Christ. You have summed up in that sentence the biography of Jesus as he lived among men: he was an itinerant missionary, a travelling preacher, a general benefactor, and “he went about doing good.” Then Peter passed on to his third point, which was the Saviour’s death, of which he says, “Whom they slew and hanged on a tree.” He does not take away the offence of the cross, nor put it in smooth language, as some would have done; but he confesses that they hanged him on a tree. Hanging or crucifixion was an accursed and shameful death in the judgment of all mankind, and Peter confesses that his Lord thus died: there is no concealing, or even veiling of the matter; he acknowledges that he died by hanging upon a tree. I rejoice in this bold telling out of the doctrine of the cross in what some may call its baldness, but in what we will regard as its sublime simplicity. In Christ’s death the shame is honour, and the disgrace renown: to deck the cross with flowers and make crucifixion honourable is to rob the august transaction of its leading element, namely, the endurance of shame because of man’s shameful sin. Then Peter passed on to our Lord’s resurrection, for that is an essential part of the gospel, and the gospel is not preached where a risen Christ is forgotten. “Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly.” It was no fiction; he was openly shown on many occasions to those best able to recognize him. The risen Christ was seen, and seen clearly, yea, and spoken with, and touched with finger and hand by his disciples. He was not shown to all the people, for he was not to be exhibited to gratify curiosity, but to secure faith. The evidence of five hundred persons is quite sufficient to the establishment of an historical fact, and perhaps better for the purpose than the witness of unnumbered crowds. If you suppose those five hundred to have been deceived, you would just as readily believe that a whole nation was mistaken. Had the nation of the Jews received the truth of Christ’s resurrection they could not have given us better evidence than we have already that Christ is risen: rather it would have been said,— This is all an Israelitish fable: the Jewish nation, prejudiced in their own favour, have banded together to maintain the fiction of a risen Messiah in order to add to their own national repute. There is something far more convincing in the testimony of men who themselves were persecuted and put to death for bearing such witness, and died adhering unanimously to the truth of their common testimony. God gave to the whole world sufficient evidence to establish the resurrection of Christ, for many did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. Then Peter came to the last two points of his sermon, which were, the judgment, which he felt it necessary to preach— declaring that Jesus Christ who died and rose again is now designated the Judge of all mankind: and lastly, as the gem of all, Peter preached salvation by the Lord Jesus most fully and graciously when he said, “Through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” This was what he was driving at; and when he had reached this point enough truth had been taught to save a soul, and God, the Holy Spirit, at once used it.
I purpose this morning to confine your attention to those last two points of Peter’s sermon, for I am sure that there is much profitable matter in them. Not that I intend to bring out the meaning of each of these verses separately so much as the connection of the two, to show how Christ’s being made Judge of all mankind has a connection with his being the Saviour of all those who believe in him, to whom he forgives their sins. May God bless the meditation to our souls’ profit.
I. OUR DIVINE MEDIATOR’S POSITION INVOLVES TWO OFFICES. We are not now living under the immediate government of God, but under the reign of Jesus Christ the Mediator; for God hath committed all judgment unto the Son. Jesus now reigns, according to the word of the psalmist, “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.” We are living under a mediatorial dispensation, in which all power is delivered unto Jesus in heaven and in earth. God shineth upon us now through the person of his dear Son, not therefore with those fierce and strong beams which in justice must have consumed us, but through the medium of the accepted person of Jesus; with mild, soft, genial radiance for our comfort and our salvation. Inasmuch as Christ has thus received mediatorial power in its fulness, there are two offices in it.
The first is that of Judge, and the second is that of Saviour. First, Jesus Christ as mediator has become our Judge. “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” “To this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living, for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ;” mark that— “of Christ.” Jesus of Nazareth has become “Judge of quick and dead.” In this capacity he has judicial authority over all mankind. Offences now are offences against him, transgressions against the royal Son of God. He has authority over men, and he will try all of us at the last, as he is even now sitting in judgment upon all our acts and thoughts and intents. We shall all have to stand before him, “that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” He will sum up the evidence and decide the doom of all. We shall each one appear before his great white throne, and he shall divide the nations as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats. If any are condemned, his lips shall say, “Depart, ye cursed”: if any are glorified, from his lips shall proceed the sentence, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Yes, he that hung upon the cross sitteth now as King upon the holy hill of Zion, and he must reign till all his enemies are made his footstool, and he must come a second time without a sin offering unto the judgment of mankind. That judgment of our Saviour’s will be authoritative and final, and it will concern all the race of Adam. It is of divine appointing and can never be questioned, for God “hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” The Lord Jesus is Judge of the quick, that is, of the living, and of the dead. All that will be alive at his coming, kings and peasants, professing saints and avowed sinners, must alike stand before his bar; and all the myriads whose mouldering bodies have turned the world into one huge graveyard must live again, and all answer to his trumpet summons. The Jews that accused him, the Romans that executed him, the ancient Gentiles that persecuted his apostles, the scoffers of modern times who ridicule his claims, all kings and patriarchs before the flood, with all the numerous host destroyed by the deluge, and the myriads upon myriads of all the nations that have come and gone since then, and all that shall come and shall yet go, must all without exception put in a personal appearance before the bar of the Nazarene, who is also the Son of God. This is part of his work as Mediator between God and man, and well will he discharge the solemn trust.
The second part of his office is to be a Saviour, “that through his name whosoever believeth in him should receive remission of sins.” He is a Prince and a Saviour; power in him attends his grace. He has the sovereign right of condemnation or justification: the final judgment is with him: he saith, “Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be.” The powers of life and death are entrusted to Jehovah Jesus, the Son of God. He has authority to pass by transgression, iniquity, and sin in his own name, as in the name of the Eternal God. His atonement has made it possible for him to do this in perfect consistency with his character as Judge: he pardons, and when he pardons it is as just an act as when he condemns. If this seem a paradox to you, read the New Testament, and see how he can be just and yet the justifier of him that believeth: see how it is that in the atoning sacrifice “righteousness and peace have kissed each other,” and how God is severely just in all that he does, and yet aboundeth towards believers in richness of grace in passing by their sin.
It seems to me to be a very blessed thought that the same universality which pervades the Mediator’s dignified proceedings as judge, is to be seen in his condescending operations as Saviour; for it is not to the Jews alone that he has come, though to them he is preached; would God they did receive him: but he is come to the Gentiles also, that “whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Now, there is neither black nor white, nor male nor female, nor rich nor poor with him: humanity is one great family fallen, and out of it shall arise a great family restored, who come and trust the Saviour. Jesus Christ is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by him. As well of the ages past was he the Saviour of believers as of this age and of ages yet to come: he is mighty always to save; the anointed Saviour, yesterday, to-day, and for ever the same. See ye then, because Christ is the Interposer, and has intervened between God and man, and has royal authority so to do, he therefore takes upon himself the double work of judging and of pardoning. Let the two works dwell together in your minds: “He is a just God and a Saviour.”
II. Kindly follow me in the next consideration: BOTH THESE OFFICES REGARD MEN AS SINNERS. I am sick to the death of hearing men talk about the goodness which is latent in human nature. I read the other day an instruction to missionaries, that when they go to a foreign land they should always believe that men are good, that there is a natural religiousness in them, which, like sparks in the embers, only needs blowing up a little, and it will certainly flame up into a wonderful fire of true devotion, and so on. Pooh! There not a word of truth in all this flattery. No doctrine could be more untrue to the very existence of Christ. If natural religion would have sufficed, why need a divine Saviour to have descended among us? The best that the light of nature can do falls short of righteousness. The case of Cornelius in the chapter we have been reading makes it evident that the best natural religion needs to be illuminated by revelation and instructed by the doctrine of the cross; for there is Cornelius, a man worshipping the true God devoutly, and living correctly, and yet what must be done for him? Is he to be saved without Christ? Is he to find his own way to life by the development of his good qualities? No, but he must be told to fetch Peter, to tell him about Jesus the Saviour, and if no other means will answer an angel must descend to guide him to the appointed teacher. When he had gone as far as he could go, it became essential that he should hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, it is clear as noonday that if for this best of cases the gospel was absolutely needful, it must assuredly be required by the myriads who are not so excellent.
Brethren, Jesus Christ comes to judge mankind because there are sinners to be judged. If you find me a nation which has no tribunals, no punishments, no courts of justice, no judges, it must either be the scene of utter anarchy or else a nation where all obey the law, and such a thing as a criminal is unknown. The setting up of the last great assize, and the making of that assize to have reference to all men, the quick and the dead, and the appointment of the supremest person in existence, even the Son of God, to conduct that assize,— all these facts imply guilt somewhere, and abundance of it. If it is not thereby proved that every one of the quick and the dead have offended, it at least implies that they are all under suspicion: that they are all actually guilty we learn from other portions of God’s word. The judgment held by the Mediator is proof that the mediatorial office has reference to sin, and deals with men as transgressors of the law.
The second part of our Lord’s mediatorial office implies this most certainly; for he comes as Saviour, and such an office would be needless if there were no sin and ruin; it is idle to talk of saving those who have never fallen. He comes to remit sin, but there can be no remission of sins to those who have never transgressed. The largeness of the promise here used that “whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins,” goes to prove that there is sin in everybody. However wide the “whosoever” is, so wide, depend upon it, is the guilt: the remedy measures the disease. Remission is promised upon belief in Jesus Christ, because fallen man needs to be pardoned.
Putting the two things together, the very fact that there is a Mediator at all regards man as fallen. God could have dealt with us immediately, without an Intercessor had we been as the first Adam was before his fall. It is by reason of sin’s influence upon the race, the fall and corruption of the progeny of Adam, that it became necessary there should be a “daysman that might lay his hand upon both,” and deal with God in his divine person, and yet deal with fallen man in his humanity. Yes, Christ as Mediator deals with sinners on God’s behalf, and the point I want you practically to note is this— do not let us get away from the consciousness of being sinners, because we must then move away from Christ the Mediator. In proportion as you set up any righteousness of your own, in that proportion you become independent of the Saviour, and are divided from him. If you deny that you are liable to be judged and condemned you will deny also the necessity of your being forgiven, and while denying your guilt you never can be forgiven, for confession of guilt is a necessary preliminary to pardon. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” Put yourselves, then, with broken hearts beneath the covert of the Saviour’s wing. Come and stand before his majestic judgment-seat and plead guilty; there and then cry, “Remit my sin through thy great sacrifice and precious blood.” Do not try to disprove the accusation or to extenuate the guilt, but plead guilty, and, as guilty, sue for a free pardon. Do not labour against your conscience to deny your sin, but take the publican’s place and cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” That is the second point of the text, and it is clear enough. May we be wise enough to put it into practice. May the Holy Spirit work in us a tender, humble, and contrite spirit.
III. Notice a third consideration: THE QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED BY OUR LORD AS MEDIATOR TO FULFIL HIS FIRST OFFICE OF JUDGE MATERIALLY COMFORT US IN LOOKING AT HIM UNDER HIS SECOND OFFICE AS SAVIOUR.
Note, then, first, that as Judge the Lord Jesus has full authority: he is fully commissioned of God to acquit or to condemn. Oh, then, if he gives me pardon through his blood it is an authorised pardon, it is a free pardon under the King’s own hand and seal. I rejoice to think of this. If Jesus the Judge had said, “Depart, ye cursed,” I should be certain that it was true and sure, though I sank into unutterable despair for ever; and even so when he saith, “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins,” I am equally certain that his sentence is sure and fixed. Therefore, being justified by such a justifier, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. The pardon is as authorized as the condemnation would have been. Is not this sweet to think on? Is not this a solid pillar for hope to rest upon?
In order that our Lord might be a competent Judge, he possesses the amplest knowledge, A judge should be the most instructed among men, or otherwise he is not fit to decide in matters of great difficulty and importance. Jesus Christ as Judge is incomparably fit to judge men, for he knows men thoroughly. He is himself a man, and therefore he knows our temptations, and our weaknesses, in fact, he knows all about us by experience as well as by observation. He carries a man’s heart within him to the judgment-seat, and in man’s nature he sits there, to weigh us in the balances of truth. This fits him to judge the world with equity. Next, he knows the law. Hath he not said, “Yea, thy law is within my heart”? No one knows the law of God as Jesus did, for he kept it in every point: he has not merely read it and learned it, but obeyed it to the full. The law is written out in living characters in his holy life and obedient death. How qualified he is to judge, since he is Master of every line in the royal statute book! Moreover, he knows what sin is— not that he ever sinned, but he has lived among sinners as a Physician, and studied their complaints, making a specialty of the disease of sin. Though he had no sin of his own, yet all sin was laid on him. “He was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” The Lord Jesus also knows the punishment of sin. A judge must know what penalties to award. Jesus knows this well enough, for he himself also hath once suffered for sin, the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God. He knows the deserved penalty of human guilt, for on his shoulders the ploughers made deep furrows, and his very soul was crushed within him in the winepress of divine wrath.
Pause here and think awhile. In as much as this knowledge qualifies Christ to be thy Judge, O my soul, it equally qualifies him to pardon thee, for he knows thee thoroughly, and can cleanse thee thoroughly. He knows sin, dear brethren, your sin and mine, so that when he gives pardon it will be of all sin, of all manner of transgressions, iniquities, and crimes, of which all are open before him. He knows the law, and therefore he knows how legally to acquit, so that no further question can be raised. He will make no mistake about the matter, for he knows the ways of the courts of heaven. Since he knows the penalty, because he has borne it all, he will take care that none of it shall ever fall on us. The pardon of believers is not given by a blind God, nor granted in error: there are no flaws in the divine judgment, no schemes and quibbles by which to evade the meaning of the statute in that case made and provided, but all is done in justice and equity. The Lord doth not keep to the ear that which is avoided in fact, but all his judgments are done in truth. The Judge of all the earth must do right. If thou hast pardoned me, my Lord, thou hast known what thou hast done, and thou hast done it thoroughly and well, and wisely, and it will stand in the highest court against all gainsayers. I shall not be condemned when I am judged, but shall be cleared and justified even before the bar of God, for Jesus Christ the Judge himself has put away my sin: see here the full remission granted to my faith. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect since God hath justified? Do you see this?
Do you not also see, dear friends, that all the personal qualifications of our Lord to act as Judge remarkably tend to make the pardon of his people the more blessedly clear; for, first of all, as a Judge he is very just. “Thou lovest righteousness and hatest wickedness, therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” “He is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” He is impartial and unchanging, and sitting on the judgment-seat the highest and noblest qualities of humanity and deity are conspicuous in him. Well, then, when he forgives it must be just to forgive: when he pardons us it must be consistent with the holiness of God for us to be pardoned. Such an One as he whom God accounteth worthy to judge the sons of men at the last great day, when he saith “thy sins are forgiven thee,” has not perverted judgment, nor turned aside from right. Our pardon is affirmed and established by the wisdom and truth of the divine Judge, and its authenticity and correctness are proven by the same attributes. Who can dispute our acquittal since it comes from the Judge himself? If you have caught my thought, and seen the truth, it must tend to your comfort and delight: all the pomp of judgment, all the authority of the throne, all the justice of the statute-book, all the power of the mediatorial government, and all the holiness of the Judge himself are engaged to maintain the verdict of his grace, and make it as firm as the sentence of his wrath, Herein is ground for quiet assurance.
IV. Let us next notice the fact, that OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE FIRST OFFICE OF THE MEDIATOR IS EXCEEDINGLY NECESSARY TO OUR ACCEPTANCE OF HIM IN HIS SECOND CAPACITY. This was why Peter preached it: this was why Paul before Felix reasoned concerning righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come. This is why the Holy Spirit himself convinces the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Dear hearer, if you do not believe in Christ as your Fudge you never will accept him as your Saviour. Unless you set yourself before that awful throne, that great white throne, as John calls it, and realise yourself as standing there to give in your account, you will not fly to the Saviour for mercy. I would have every unconverted person set before his mind the hour of his death, the moment of the appearance of his naked spirit before the tribunal of Christ, and then the resurrection and the solemnities of that great day for which all other days are made, when heaven and earth shall pass away and all things melt like dreams, and the only real thing shall be the man, his deeds, his Judge, his future. Oh, think of this! Some of you are unpardoned this morning, and as sure as you live, unless you repent, you will stand before God to receive nothing but condemnation, condemnation irreversible and eternal. Let those who would bewitch you say what they will, you will receive a condemnation which will thunder after you throughout ages without end, to wither all your hopes and dry up the springs of comfort within your nature, and leave you an eternal desolation. I cannot speak upon this topic at any length, the theme is too dreadful. May none of you ever incur the doom of the last day. May it never happen that one who sat in the Tabernacle while we tried to preach the gospel shall be driven by the whirlwind of divine justice away from the presence of God and the glory of his power. And yet it will be so with some of you, I am afraid, for you do not turn to God; you do not seek the Saviour, and you are as likely as not to die in your sins, and, if you do, “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a fearful looking for of judgment and of fiery indignation” which must devour you.
Oh that you would feel this, and now under a sense of it come and trust in Jesus Christ the Saviour. He is never dear to any but to sinners. Christ is never valued by any but the guilty. He came into the world to save sinners; it is well he did, for no one else will have him but those who feel their sin and condemnation. Oh, come and take him as your Saviour, and let that blessed word “Whosoever believeth in him” be like a wide door to let you in. “Whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins why should you not at this moment obtain that full remission? Here are some lines which I would have you think upon when you are in your own chambers at home; may their concluding prayer be yours:—
“That day of wrath, that dreadful day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away,
What power shall be the sinner’s stay!
How shall he meet that dreadful day,
When, shrivelling like a parched scroll,
The flaming heavens together roll;
When louder yet, and yet more dread,
Swells the high trump that wakes the dead.
“O! on that day, that wrathful day,
When man to judgment wakes from clay,
Be THOU the trembling sinner’s stay,
Though heaven and earth shall pass away!”
V. The last observation is that THE SAVING WORK OF CHRIST’S MEDIATORIAL OFFICE IS THAT WHICH CONCERNS US MOST AT THIS PRESENT TIME. What does Jesus do as Mediator? He judges, but he also forgives. Note the words, “Shall receive remission of sins.” What is remission of sin? Hear it and be astonished that it is possible: it is the causing of sin to cease to be. Granted that you have sinned; lamented that you have sinned; granted also that your sin deserves the utmost punishment; yet God in wondrous mercy is prepared to forget your sin, to blot it out, to cast it behind his back, to cast it into the depths of the sea; all which Scriptural expressions go to set forth that he will put it quite away, so that he will regard you as if you had never offended at all. Guilty man, dost thou hear this? You that are not guilty, you self-righteous people, I do not care whether you hear it or not, for Christ did not come to call you, since the whole have no need of a physician, but O, ye guilty ones, who know that you are guilty, listen to this. There is remission, and it is preached to you in Jesus Christ’s name. God is a God of mercy, and he passeth by iniquity, transgression, and sin, and the guilty can be justly treated by him as if they were perfectly innocent.
Note this grand fact, and then observe that this is to be done ill Christ’s name. There is no other name in which pardon can be bestowed, but it can come in the name of Jesus. Without shedding of blood there is no remission, and this blood is the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s dear Son, which cleanseth us from all sin. It is in the name of Jesus the Nazarene, despised and rejected of men, who is also Lord of all,— it is in his name that pardon is freely presented to the most guilty of the human race. Be they where they may, God is ready to kiss away their sins, and to accept them through Jesus Christ.
According to the text this is to be had through faith, for the text saith, “he that believeth on him.” The plan is very simple. Every great discovery is very simple when it is complete. Did you ever notice that when a machine is complicated you feel sure that it is only in its infancy? The more perfect it becomes the more simple it becomes, till at last, when there is no improvement to be made, you can see it is so because all complications have been removed. Such is the gospel. It is not a science which needs to be learned at universities: it is not a mysterious doctrine which needs the intellect of a doctor of divinity to grasp it; it is just an A B C gospel which babes often receive when wise men miss it. It is, trust Jesus Christ: trust God in Jesus Christ, and you are reconciled to him, and your sins are blotted out for Christ’s sake.
Lastly, this blessed news has reference to every one in the whole world that will believe in Jesus. That great, comprehensive word, “whosoever,” is worthy of your devout notice. “Whosoever believeth in him.” This excludes no race of men, neither the most degraded Hottentot, nor the most intellectual Hindoo: this shuts out no king, and no beggar, no moralist, and no whoremonger, no adulterer, no swearer, no thief, no murderer. Blessed be the God of all grace, it does not shut out me. I greatly rejoice in this. I am one of the “whosoevers,” for I do believe in Jesus with all my heart. I have no hope but in him, and therefore I know that I have remission of my sins. I long for you all to have it too: not because of any merits of yours, not because of any feelings of yours, not because of any doings of yours, but for his dear sake who was hanged on a tree you shall have remission if you believe in him. Oh, trust ye him; trust ye him, and ye shall have pardon. My heart longs that you should at this moment accept Jesus and live. Why not? Often when we have spoken like this the Holy Spirit has cheered the hearts of men and brought them to Christ, and why should he not do it this morning? Pray for it, believers! This moment offer your intense prayers to heaven in silent ejaculations. The Spirit of God is here in this assembly, and he will work in answer to our warm desires. I have preached the gospel: I know it is the very gospel of the blessed God. Will he not bear witness to his own truth? Has he not pledged himself to do it? I have preached his truth as well as I can, relying only upon his help, and I have earnestly avoided all tawdry speech of human wisdom, telling you in all simplicity the old, old story of my blessed Lord, and therefore I confidently expect to see the word prosper. The Holy Spirit must bless the preaching of the cross: it is his office, his nature, his usual way to do so. He has not changed, nor ceased to be what he used to be, and therefore he will bless his people and make his gospel the power of God unto salvation. O my dear hearer, seize the blessing by an instant faith. God help you to do it, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.