A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, July 7, 1867, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
But now once in the end of the world he has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:26)
When the conscience is unenlightened and the heart is rebellious, man
is separated from his God by a false sense of personal righteousness.
He imagines that God deals harshly with him, that he looks upon his
sin in too severe a light, and that, although he may be offended,
yet, in some other respects, he has a claim upon the consideration of
his Maker. As soon, however, as the Spirit of God illuminates the
understanding, this self-righteousness disappears: it is a flimsy
cobweb which the besom of the law soon sweeps away; it is no more
substantial than the mist of the morning, and it is at once
dissipated by the rising sun of grace. Then man feels himself
separated from his God by another and more real barrier: he has given
up his self-righteousness, but now he is painfully conscious of his
sinfulness, which appears to him to be an impassable gulf, parting
him for ever from the just and holy God. The more the conscience
becomes quickened, and the more fully the understanding is
enlightened, the more desponding does the man become concerning any
hope of his ever becoming acceptable to the Most High. He puts
himself into God’s position; his enlightened understanding enables
him to look upon sin in some degree as God would regard it, and he is
horrified to think that he should have been so ungrateful to so kind
a Father; he is ashamed that he should have broken laws so perfectly
just, and altogether out of heart with himself for having done
despite to a government so generous and righteous in every way as the
moral government of God. The awakened sinner says within himself, “I
can never make compensation for the injury which I have done to God’s
honour; it is not possible that any doings or sufferings of mine to
compensate for my continued rebellion and obstinacy. Even if I could
cease from sin in the future, yet I cannot hope to meet my God with a
peaceful mind when I remember the unhallowed and disgraceful past.”
And thus the very enlightenment of conscience, which is one of the
best signs of hope in a quickened sinner, causes in him a consciousness
of sin which becomes to him the basis of self-despair. I have no
doubt I have some such in this congregation. Even among you who have
believed in Jesus there may be some such; for every now and then we
go back to first principles, we receive again a distressingly vivid
sight of sin, and need once more to understand how God can be just
and yet the justifier of him who believes. Brethren, if you are now
desirous to be at one with God, if your spirit longs for his embrace,
and yet you feel as if you could not come to God by reason of the sin
which troubles you, it will be a great joy to you to know that
eternal wisdom has devised a plan, and carried it out too, for the
effectually putting away of sin. This is a wonder of wonders, which
will create for ever enthusiastic gratitude among celestial spirits.
Eternity shall not diminish the amazement of our minds at the thought
that the impenetrable partition wall of our sin has been broken down,
and the awful veil of thick darkness which shut us out from the mercy
seat has been for ever removed. Belshazzar’s knees knocked together,
and the joints of his loins were loosened, when he saw the
handwriting on the wall which declared his condemnation. What joy
would have filled his despairing spirit, if suddenly that writing had
been blotted out, and another hand had written “I have loved you with
an everlasting love!” Can you conceive the joy of that astonished
monarch, the transport of that frightened throng? Yet, this morning,
I have as good news to tell to the penitent as though such were their
position, and such was the act of pardoning mercy. Jesus has blotted
out the handwriting which was against us, and written words of love
concerning us. The angel of wrath once stood over Jerusalem, having a
drawn sword in his hand; but Jehovah has put away the sin of his
people, and now the avenging sword is returned to the scabbard, and
God regards his Zion with everlasting love. I have said that this is
a wonder, and so it is, when you remember that the angels fell. The
sons of the morning did not keep their first estate, but for fallen
angels, there is no putting away of sin. Shut up for ever, chained
with adamantine bands, their sufferings shall know no pause, their
anguish shall find no end; and yet we, creatures of inferior
mould, we have enlisted the sympathy of the ever Blessed, who
undertook to make atonement for our sin, and has achieved the purpose
by his grace. Brethren, it might have been easy enough for God to
have put away human sin itself by the destruction of our race. It
would no more need an effort of power on God’s part to destroy us,
than for us to tread upon a moth—indeed, his mere will could have
done it; and I do not know that one of the crowns of his glory would
have lost a jewel. He might instantly have created another race
superior to ourselves if it had so pleased him, and every gap which
the destruction of mankind might have caused in the universe, might
have been at once filled up; but, wonder of wonders, he spares us at
a vast expense: he did not spare his own Son, but freely delivered him
up for us all! It has sometimes been asked why God did not pardon sin
without an atonement. That is a question which we must leave those to
answer who propound it. We know that God might have done so if he had
so willed—we doubt whether he ever would have willed to do so, for
our view of the constitution of his glorious character seems to
require that sin should be punished—but that is not a question for
us: we know that the Lord has not willed to let sin escape. He
has been pleased to make the display of his grace to sinners an
opportunity for the revelation of all his other attributes, that—
God, in the person of his Son,
Has all his mightiest works outdone.
Without raising questions which would minister no profit to us, it is
ours to behold the great love by which the Lord has loved us, in that
he sent his Son to redeem us from our iniquities, by the shedding of
his own most precious blood.
Oh! fathomless abyss,
Where hidden mysteries lie:
The seraph finds his bliss,
Within the same to pry;
Lord, what is man, thy desperate foe,
That thou shouldest bless and love him so?
2. I propose, this morning, as God may help me, to comfort those who are longing for reconciliation with God, by showing them that no difficulties exist, since Jesus Christ has for ever put away the sin which would have separated a penitent soul from its God. We shall look at the text carefully, and I think we shall notice in it several things which minister comfort to seeking sinners. Jesus Christ has appeared once, in the end of the age, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
3. I. Let us consider, first, THE TIME OF THIS GREAT PUTTING AWAY OF SIN, in the end of the world, or the age—“in these last days,” as one of the apostles words it.
4. Why was that time selected? Was it not in order to exercise the faith of ancient saints, who, like Abraham, saw Christ’s day in vision—saw him and were glad? They were denied the great privilege which we possess. Prophets and kings long desired it, but died without the seeing it. Nevertheless, over above the mausoleum of ancient saints we read this inscription, “These all died in faith.” They rested in confidence in the Messiah who was to come, and their faith received its reward. Did not God place the putting away of sin at the close of the age, in order to glorify his Son, by letting us see that the very anticipation of his death was sufficient for the salvation of men? Before Peter touched the sick, we find that his shadow had a healing efficacy, and so, before Jesus literally took upon himself our flesh, we find that the shadow of his advent saved the chosen sons of men. Long before the sun has risen, in these summer mornings, the twilight begins; before its wheel has touched the horizon, its refracted light banishes the darkness; and so, before the Saviour actually came, there was a blessed twilight of gospel grace, in the light of which, patriarchs found their way to Jerusalem the golden. Let us glorify the blood of Jesus, which in God’s decree was shed from before the foundations of the world; let us magnify the divine sacrifice which, when led to the slaughter, was capable of redeeming from death and hell unnumbered thousands of God’s elect.
5. Was this sacrifice not placed at the end of the age to be, as it were, the crown of all Jehovah’s works? I see before me a stupendous pyramid; the base of it is exceedingly broad: it is the inanimate creation. Innumerable stars lie close together at its base, like the sands of the Libyan desert; ponderous masses of matter underlie the whole amazing structure, all radiant with the glory of God, with a light like a most precious stone, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Measureless fields of space, and all but infinite leagues of matter, form the grosser basis of the pyramid which now rises before my astonished vision. Overlying this, as though it were a layer of malachite or emerald, veined with blue, and scarlet, and vermilion, I see the vegetable creation with all its beauty of form and splendour of colour, cedar and hyssop, olive and lily, oak and bramble. No art of man, or polished jewels of the mine, can rival its magnificence. Over these, sparkling like the stone which was full of eyes, I see the animal kingdom with its mingled varieties of symmetry and strength, energy and vitality. Here on high the pyramid is narrower, but its light is far more excellent, for the likeness of the living creatures sparkles and flashes like burning coals of fire, with an energy unseen in the broader foundations which are placed beneath. Beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying fowl, all magnify the Master builder who has ordained for them their place in the pyramid of his revealed glory. Higher still, I see man, who is made to have dominion over all the lower works of God—man, of whom it is written, “You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold.” (Ezekiel 28:13)
6. Above these, I see men twice made, the regenerated men, the precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, the particular portion and crown jewels of Jehovah: but can my eyes endure to gaze upon the glowing brightness which forms the apex of the glittering pyramid? I looked, and lo! above the firmament, higher than the heaven of heaven, I saw the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone, and upon the throne there sat the Son of Man in all the brightness of his Father’s glory, encircled with a rainbow like an emerald, and hymned by innumerable spirits in strains like these: “You are worthy, oh Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11) Oh my soul, are you not overwhelmed with the vision of Man upon the throne of God, Man most true and manlike, born of a virgin, the woman’s promised seed, and yet God over all blessed for ever! When that pyramid was crowned with such a matchless top stone, well might the morning stars sing together, and all the sons of God shout for joy; well might there be from men and angels joyous shoutings of “Grace! grace! to it.” The great Master of the feast has kept the best wine until now. Richest and rarest of the wines on the lees, well refined, is what was set abroach on Calvary by the soldier’s spear. Rich was the store which the glorious monarch of the ages placed upon the table of his benevolence; but in these last days he brings out the choicest of his dainties, the bread of heaven, the wine which makes glad the heart of God and man. “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.”
7. The practical point I emphasize in referring to the period of our Lord’s sacrifice is just this, you and I live in a period when the putting away of sin has been perfectly accomplished. Beloved, sin is put away. We have not to exercise the faith of a Noah, or an Isaac, or a David, in looking forward to the expiation as a blessing yet to come, but the testimony of the Holy Spirit is that Jesus has once and for all finished transgression, and made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness. Jesus has been led like a lamb to the slaughter: the passover is slain, the propitiation is made. It is a recorded fact; it is a fact that never can be blotted from the annals of time, that redemption is finished. Sin is put away by the one great sacrifice, and we may come to God, who is reconciled through the death of his Son.
May I press this upon those of you who would come to God, but are
afraid? Come back, poor prodigal, the heart of God towards you, is
that of a loving Father; you need not fear. Come back, you wanderer,
however far you may have gone.
Sprinkled now with blood the throne,
Why beneath thy burdens groan?
On my pierced body laid,
Justice owns the ransom paid.
Bow the knee, and kiss the Son;
Come and welcome, sinner, come.
If, in the earliest ages, you had come in the faith that this atonement would be offered, you would have been accepted; but how can you linger when the atonement is already presented? Once, in the end of the ages, the work of grace has been done. You do not have to wait until the bridge spans the gulf; you do not have to enquire who shall roll away the stone, for, behold, one greater than an angel has descended and rolled away the stone from heaven’s gate, and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. There are no barriers now between a seeking soul and God, except such as unbelief shall set up. I urge you to build no barricades to exclude yourself from happiness, Christ has dashed down all the partition walls that your sin had erected, and there is a straight path from your present position right up to God’s greatest glory. Come now, even now, to the Lord, believing in the atonement which is achieved.
9. II. Secondly, let us meditate upon THE PERSON ACCOMPLISHING THE WORK.
Once, in the end of the age, HE has appeared. Remember who it was
that came to take away sin, so that you may find solid and
substantial ground for comfort, and may the Holy Spirit help you to
stand upon it. He who came to take away sin did not come unsent. He
was appointed and delegated by God. As Toplady has put it in his hymn—
The God for your unrighteousness
Deputed to atone.
11. He was not only so appointed and elected, but he was also qualified by God. The Spirit of the Lord was upon him. He came in his Father’s name, clothed with his Father’s authority: “I do not do my own will,” he said, “but the will of him who sent me.” He continually calls it his Father’s work and business which he came to do. This ought to give us richest consolation. Jesus is no amateur Saviour, who has no right to appear as our representative: he comes in a legal and proper manner. The King of kings has appointed him, and what he does he does in the name and by the authority of God. God has sent his Son into the world. His death, though voluntary on his own part, was not without the consent and will of his Father. It pleased the Father to bruise him: he has put him to grief. Should we not, when God has set him forth as a propitiation for sin, should we not cheerfully accept whom God appoints?
12. Attentively observe the constitution of his person. He who came to save men is none other than God; therefore capable of viewing sin from God’s point of view, capable of understanding what was due to God: by coupling his Godhead to his manhood he was capable, in his twofold nature, of sustaining pangs which humanity could not have endured apart from the Godhead, and of receiving into his infinite mind a sight of sin, and a horror concerning it, such as no finite mind ever could have endured. You think you comprehend sin: my brethren, you cannot. It is an evil too monstrous for the human mind fully to know its heights and depths, its lengths and breadths; but Christ, who is God incarnate, knew what sin meant; he plumbed it to its very depths, and knew how deep it was; he gazed upon it, and felt all the horror of its unrighteousness, ingratitude, and vileness. Its sinfulness struck his mind with all its force, and overwhelmed his holy soul with a horror which no one except he could bear. He was a perfect Man, and therefore had no need to die, otherwise his death would be for himself. It behoved him to suffer, not because he was the Son of God, or the Son of Man, but because he was the Redeemer, the Sponsor and the Surety of men. Can you not trust him? When I have felt the burden of my sin, I do confess I have at times felt as if it were too great to be taken away by any conceivable power, but, on the other hand, when I have seen the excellence of my Master’s person, the perfection of his manhood, the glory of his Godhead, the wondrous degree of his anguish, the solid value of his obedience, I have felt as if my sin were too little a thing to need so vast a sacrifice. I have felt like John Hyatt who, when dying, said he could not only trust Christ with one soul, but he could trust him with a million souls if he had them. Were my sins greater than they are, and God forbid they should be—were my sense of them ten thousand times more vivid than that sense is—and I could wish I had a more clear and humbling view of my own iniquity, yet even then I know my Lord and Master is a greater Saviour than I am a sinner. From the constitution of his person as God and Man, I am certain that if I had heaped up my iniquities until they assailed the skies, though like the giants in the ancient mythology, I had piled Pelion upon Ossa, (a) mountain of sin upon mountain of rebellion, and had thought to scale the very throne of God in my impious rebellion, yet the precious blood of Jesus could cleanse me from all sin.
13. My dear hearer, if you are trembling because of your guilt, do not try to be rid of a sense of the guilt of sin, but study much and devoutly the person of God, the Sin Bearer; let your thoughts dwell upon the great Saviour and his work, and so you shall be able to say, I will, even I will believe that Jesus Christ is able to save to the uttermost those who come to him, and I will cast myself upon him. I will rest in his atonement now.
14. I feel as if I must pause to say to some here, how anxiously do I wish that they would, this morning, stop seeking for rest where no rest is to be found. Stop relying upon anything within or anything without, except the Son of God. God himself puts away sin. (Hebrews 9:26) What more do you want? You have a God to be your Saviour, and will you link your pitiful weakness with his omnipotence? Would you yoke an ant with a cherubim? Will you join your rags to the fair white linen of the righteousness of Christ? Your nothingness—shall that contribute to his fulness? Your strength! it is perfect weakness, and your merit is a lie; will you bring these to put them side by side with Jesus? Indeed, sinner, may the Holy Spirit constrain you now to rest on him who, in such a glorious manner, has put away sin in the end of the ages by the sacrifice of himself.
15. If those two points do not yield you comfort, I will gladly hope and pray that a third consideration drawn from the text may do so.
16. III. Note in the text THE APPEARANCE MENTIONED. “Now once in the end of the world he has appeared to put away sin.” Dwell on this.
17. The way by which God has put away sin is one which is not obscure, concealed, abstruse, inexplicable, but one which is eminently plain and obvious. You will remember that when the high priest made atonement for sin, he took the basin filled with blood, and passed within the veil. No one saw him there; and while he stood before the mercy seat and sprinkled blood, no human eye saw it—his typical work was a thing of mystery. But, my brethren, the great High Priest and Prophet of our profession has torn the veil and appeared publicly, and the putting away of sin by him is an obvious thing which can be seen by the understanding; indeed, in some respects, it was even seen by human eyes and heard by mortal ears. Christ appeared, that is to say, when he came down among men, he lived for no less than thirty-six years under daily human inspection. He was seen as a child in the manger by shepherds and by Eastern wise men; he was not concealed and put away like Moses, hidden from the Egyptian murderers, but he was seen by all observers. As a child, no doubt, his upbringing was well known, so that they said, “His sisters and his brothers, are they not all with us?” “As for this man, we know where he comes from.” That short portion of his life which was allotted to public ministry was public in the highest degree. “In secret,” he said, “I did nothing.” “I taught openly in your streets.” For “the Word was made flesh, and lived among us,” John says, “and we saw his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Indeed, more not only was his manhood apparent, but his Godhead too. Did he not raise the dead with his voice? When he walked the sea, when he healed the leper, when he opened the blind eye, when he opened the deaf ear, were not all these gleams and glimpses of his eternal power and Godhead? These things were not seen by a few priests set apart to enter into the sacred circle, and then to bear witness, but throughout all Galilee and Judea it was publicly proclaimed everywhere that the Messiah had come, and “these things were not done in a corner.”
18. And further, brethren, the great act by which our Lord redeemed us was a public act. True, there were inward depths into which the human mind cannot dive. God knows, and God alone, all that his Beloved suffered; but still, the scourging and the mocking, the spitting and the crowning with thorns, the nailing and the crucifixion, and the death—these were public and obvious things. Did not all Jerusalem ring with the news that Jesus of Nazareth, a man sent by God, had been put to death?
And I will proceed a step further. Not only were the incarnation of
Christ, and his Deity, and his death, obvious things, but the way in
which these things relate to the forgiveness of sin is also clearly
revealed to us. We do not come to you this morning, and say, “Believe
in Jesus Christ—it is a great mystery, you cannot understand it, but
if you trust in Jesus Christ, God will save you,” but we tell you
that there is a basis for your trust which your reason may apprehend:
it is this, that Jesus Christ stood in the room, place, and stead of
sinners; that God visited him with the stripes which were due to us;
that, to use the words of our hymn—
He bore, that we might never bear
His Father’s righteous ire.
Now, this is a clear explanation of the plan of salvation. It is not so with the mummeries of superstition. The priests of Baal tell us that when they take an infant in their arms, and put water on its face, using a certain ritual, that the unconscious babe becomes then and there a member of Christ, a child of God, and an heir of the kingdom of heaven: can they tell us how this marvellous change is done upon a dormant intellect, a slumbering soul? No; they can only mutter that it is by some occult influence! Occult indeed! For the child grows up to live as others live, and perhaps to die in unbelief. Such mummeries, with their base pretensions to occult influences, are worthy to be ranked with the whisperings and incantations of the witch of Endor, or the dealings of Balaam, the son of Peor. But we can tell you how it is that sin is put away by the sacrifice of Christ. There is nothing occult in the cross, The doctrine of atonement appeals to the understanding and the judgment. Christ pays the debt—then, of course, the believer is free. Christ suffers for me. Then how can two suffer for the one offence? Here is something for men in their wits to think about; something for the most profound intellect to ponder over. As for the shams of confession, priestly absolution, etc., which Baal’s priests are continually thrusting in your way instead of our blessed Lord and Master—such shams that my soul boils at the very thought of them—do not regard them, neither endure them. With their vestments, their genuflections, and their ceremonies, they are as wizards that peep and mutter, and forge a lie to deceive. They would use an unknown language if they dared, like Babylon’s priests; as it is, their intonings make plain words hard to be understood. Their religion is not a revelation, but an obvelation; not a manifestation of God, but a veiling of his face. Like the children of the old covenant of bondage, they have a veil over their faces, and they do not see the truth; but we who preach Jesus Christ in the fulness of his gospel, use great plainness of speech, for we tell you good news which you can comprehend, which appeals to your understanding and intellect—for once in the end of the age Jesus Christ has appeared; has brought life and immortality to light, and has revealed to you how God can be just, and yet the justifier of the ungodly. Surely there is no one here who does not understand the plan of substitution; if there were, I would try to elucidate it still further. Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, stood in the place of men—in your place, dear hearer, if you trust him, he suffered for you. You can understand how God is just in taking this voluntarily offered sacrifice instead of your sacrifice, punishing Christ instead of you, and then saying to you, “I have vindicated the honour of my government; I have magnified my law and shown that it must not be trifled with, and now I forgive you—I freely pardon you for Jesus died.” I urge you to receive with your heart what you have accepted with your understanding. My dear hearer, do not kick against a gospel so simple, so just to God, so safe for you. Yield to it, I urge you, yield now, and remember, if you believe in the appointed Saviour, you are saved. If you will trust yourself now with Jesus Christ, he will not fail you; he will cover you with his righteousness, cleanse you with his blood, protect you by his power, and, by and by, enshrine you in his glory, world without end. But we must pass on.
20. IV. A fourth matter which should yield us consolation is, THE SACRIFICE ITSELF. “Once in the end of the world has he appeared to put away sin”—how? “By the sacrifice of himself.”
21. Observe, brethren, Christ did not come into the world merely to put away sin by his example—his example is most blessed, and if we follow it, it becomes a potent means of promoting virtue. Jesus did not come into the world merely to put away sin by his teaching—although his teaching does do that wherever it is received, since in the strength of his doctrine men become mighty through his Spirit to overthrow their inbred sin; but we are told in the text that he came to put away sin by sacrifice. Oh! how some people writhe and rage at this. Those Socinians who sat at the foot of the cross when Jesus Christ died, and said, “Let him come down from the cross, and we will believe in him,” held the same creed as their successors, who will admire Jesus anywhere except as a sacrifice for sin. Many men kick at the crucified Son of God. “No,” they say, “the doctrine of the atonement, the doctrine of suffering for sin, sin being put away by blood—it is what we cannot endure.” Know, then, you proud objectors, that this is the gospel, the sum and substance, and essence of mercy’s message; this is the good news from heaven, that Jesus Christ has put away sin—not by his teaching, nor by his example alone, but by making a bloody sacrifice of himself.
22. I fear that this doctrine is covertly assailed by a school of men who mingle with the orthodox, and are much admired for their cleverness and boasted liberality. In some way or other they try to get rid of this sacrifice by blood. Substitution, atonement by suffering, they cannot believe in, but I urge you, dear friends, since you wish to be saved, hold this truth. Indeed, do more, build your soul’s only hope upon it, for other foundation can no man lay than this—the foundation of salvation through faith in Jesus’ blood. “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin”; and nothing but the blood. Take the blood of Jesus away, and you have removed the only effectual consolation from a troubled conscience.
Notice that the text affirms that our Lord took away sin by the
sacrifice, not of his honour, though he left that and forsook the
courts and courtiers of heaven; not by the sacrifice of his wealth,
for though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor; it does not
say that he took away sin by the sacrifice of his reputation, though
he did make a sacrifice of that, and made himself of no reputation,
and took upon himself the form of a servant—but it was the sacrifice
of himself—his body and his soul. It was that sacrifice, my
brethren, which began in Gethsemane, when the bloody sweat bedewed
him from head to foot, when every portion of his body and every power
of his soul was full of anguish and dismay; it was that sacrifice
which was carried on in the halls of Pilate, before the judgment seat
of Caiaphas, at the judgment bar of blustering Herod; a sacrifice
which he offered when they scourged him, when they plaited a crown of
thorns, when they spat upon him, when they struck him with their
fists and mocked him, a sacrifice which culminated when he hung upon
the cross in the extreme of thirst, and shrieked, “My God, my God,
why have you forsaken me?” Oh sinner, oh that you would stand at the
foot of the cross, and think of Jesus until you could find comfort! I
believe the shortest way to faith is to consider well the object of
faith. The true way to get comfort is not to try and comfort yourself
away from the cross, but think of Christ dying for you until you are
comforted; say to your soul, “I will never leave the cross until I
am washed in this precious blood:
Blest Saviour, at thy feet I lie,
Here to receive a cure or die;
But grace forbids that painful fear,
Almighty grace, which triumphs here.”
You know the healing came to the sin bitten by looking at the serpent, not by looking at their own wounds, nor even by hearing about the cure of others; and, even so, healing will come to you, not by looking at sin, nor hearing about Christ, so much as by fixing your mind’s eye upon the cross, and meditating upon him who died on it, until, as by considering his merits, you believe on him, and so are saved.
24. Beloved, do put these two or three thoughts together. God comes into the world as Man—the Mediator dies. Easily said, but what a weight of meaning in it! Now, what merit there must be in the suffering and death of the dying Mediator! What power there must be in the blood of him who, while he is Man, is nevertheless God! Come, you guilty sinner, plunge into this fountain filled with blood, and you shall be made clean, or else God does not speak the truth. Come, you blackest, foulest, filthiest, most defiled of all the human race, come now and look to Jesus, dying, bleeding, and you must be saved, for God’s word is pledged to it. He cannot cast into hell the soul that rests upon the sacrifice of Christ. Only let us be well persuaded that sin is put away by nothing but by the Lord Jesus making himself a sacrifice.
25. V. Still, if this should not yield comfort, though I hope it may, for one moment I ask you to think, in the fifth place, of THE THOROUGHNESS OF THE WORK WHICH WAS CONTEMPLATED.
26. In the end of the world Christ was revealed to put away sin. He did not come into the world to palliate it merely, or to cover it up, but he came to put it away. Observe, he not only came to put away some of the attributes of sin, such as the filth of it, the guilt of it, the penalty of it, the degradation of it; he came to put away sin itself, for sin, you see, is the fountain of all the mischief. He did not come to empty out the streams, but to clear away the fatal source of the pollution. He appeared to put away sin itself, sin in its essence and being. Do not forget that he did take away the filth of sin, the guilt of sin, the punishment of sin, the power of sin, the dominion of sin, and that one day he will kill in us the very being and existence of sin, but do remember that he aimed his stroke at sin itself. My Master seemed to say, as the king of Syria did of old, “Fight neither with small nor great, except only with the king.” He aimed his shafts at the monster’s head, struck his vital parts, and laid him low. He put hell itself to flight, and captives were led captive. What a glorious word—our Lord put away sin! We read in the Word of God, sometimes, that he cast it into the depths of the sea; that is glorious, no one can ever find it again—in the shoreless depths of the sea, Jesus drowned our sins. Again, we find he removed it as far as the east is from the west. Who can measure that distance? Just as infinite leagues divide the utmost bounds of space: so far has he removed our transgressions from us. We read again that he has made an end of sin. You know what we mean by making an end of a thing, it is done with, annihilated, utterly destroyed and abolished. We read here that Jesus has put sin away, he has divorced it from us. Sin and my soul are no longer married. Christ has put sin away—he has borne it away as the scapegoat carried the iniquity of the people in type and shadow. He has literally taken upon himself the sins of all his people, and, stronger than Atlas, has borne the load and carried it away and hurled it into his sepulchre, where it lies buried for ever. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Sin is completely gone. If you believe in Christ, there is nothing that can be laid to your charge. The past, the present, the future—every sin was laid on Christ; sins of tongue, and brain, and heart, and hand, and thought, were all laid on him. Sins against men, sins against God, adultery, murder, blasphemy, everything, all were laid on Jesus. He became, as it were, the common reservoir for all the sin of his people to drain into, and then he emptied it all out by his atoning sacrifice; so that the filth of his people is removed. He has crossed the Kidron and put away the filth of sin, you and I may sing concerning sin as Israel sang concerning Egypt, when the ransomed nation stood upon the shore of the Red Sea. “The depths have covered them: there is not one of them left.” Oh for a sweeter voice than Miriam’s! Oh for virgins more joyful and more musical than the daughters of Israel! Oh for high sounding cymbals and lofty timbrels, to resound with our exulting song! “Sing to Jehovah Jesus, for he has gained the victory for himself; he has appeared and put away sin by the sacrifice of himself; and now, as for our iniquities, the depths have covered them, there is not one, not one, not one of them left. They sank to the bottom like a stone; they sank like lead in the mighty waters. Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously!”
27. VI. Oh that some soul may get a ray of light from the last consideration, if all others shall have failed. THE EVIDENT COMPLETION of this work, upon which we have already touched, demands a word because of its being rendered conspicuous by the word “once.” “Once in the end of the world he has appeared to put away sin.”
If he had not put away sin, he would have come again to do it, for
Jesus Christ never leaves his work unfinished. What he undertakes he
achieves. The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands. My
brethren, Christ’s one offering put away all sin for ever. Away, away
with those priests of Baal with their bloodless sacrifice, as they
call it, offered daily for the propitiation of sin. Traitors to God’s
truth, traitors to the souls of men, may they never dominate in this
land, but may their barefaced impertinencies be cast forth as dung
upon the face of the earth, and may they themselves be rejected as
salt which has lost its savour. What right have they to eat the bread
of a Protestant people while doing the Pope’s work? Our Lord has once
and for and all made an atonement, and all attempts to tamper with
his finished work is treason, such as shall be answered for in the
court of heaven; and terrible shall be the doom of those who have
dishonoured Christ in the point where he is most jealous of his
honour. Brethren, Christ’s being in heaven today, is a proof that
there is nothing to separate a sinner from God on God’s part.
If Jesus had not paid the debt,
He ne’er had been at freedom set.
He would have still remained in the vile prison of the tomb to this very moment, if he had not discharged all the debts and liabilities of his people; and his exaltation in heaven is the evidence that he has completed his work. There he takes his seat, because the work is done. If the work had not been accomplished, he would be suffering, suffering often, until at the last he could say, “It is finished.” But his redemption is complete, sin is put away, and believers are saved.
What I have to say, in conclusion, is this. Will you not come, poor,
guilty, empty, needy sinners, will you not come and partake of the
glorious fulness of Christ’s merit this morning? Oh why do you stand
back? You need no fitness. Do not wait for it. No goodness is
required from you. Do not look for it. All goodness dwells in him.
Come with your hard hearts, he will soften them; come with the stone
that is within, he will take it away and give you a heart of flesh.
Come to Jesus now.
True belief; and true repentance,
Every grace that brings us nigh,
Without money, come to Jesus Christ and buy.
30. Oh! if I knew how to preach my Master to you more plainly, I would. If the words would be called vulgar, I should not care for that, as long as I could make men see what is the mystery of Christ Jesus, which was hidden in the past ages, but now is revealed in him. Oh trust him, souls, trust him, and you shall be saved!
31. I heard the day before yesterday what greatly cheered me. I heard that at a recent meeting of believers at Chicago, one came from the far west, who asked for a missionary to preach in a newly formed district, and the reason he gave for wishing for the missionary was this, that they had read my sermons on the Sunday, and that no less than two hundred souls had been converted to God by the reading of those sermons. When I read that report I did exceedingly rejoice, but then I thought, “Alas! there are many who hear those sermons first hand, and get no blessing from them.” and I thought of some of you who had heard me these many years, and I have been faithful to you—I trust I have—God knows I desire to be—and yet you are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity. While across the blue Atlantic, the echo of our words has called men from the grave of sin to life in Christ, you, though you love to listen to us, have not heard our voice in the depths of your soul. Shall it always be so? It will be I fear with some of you, for I foresee your ruin. You will go down to hell with the gospel sounding in your ears, and wake up in the pit with this to aggravate your woe, that you knew the gospel and refused it. How shall you escape if you neglect so great salvation, so great that angels cannot describe its greatness, and human tongues are dumb at best when they attempt to speak of the excellent glory of it? Why will you reject it when it is at hand, when, if you with your hearts believe and with your mouths confess Christ, you shall be saved? Why those hard hearts? Why those silent mouths? May the Eternal Spirit bring you to Jesus, and his shall be the praise, world without end. Amen.
(a) Ossa and Pelion: In Greek mythology, Mount Pelion (which took its name from the mythical king Peleus, father of Achilles) was the homeland of Chiron the Centaur, tutor of many ancient Greek heroes, such as Jason, Achilles, Theseus and Heracles. It was in Mount Pelion, near Chiron’s cave, that the marriage of Thetis and Peleus took place. The uninvited goddess Eris, to take revenge for having been kept outside the party, brought a golden apple with the inscription “To the Fairest.” The dispute that then arose between the goddesses Hera, Aphrodite and Athene resulted in events leading to the Trojan War. When the giants Otus and Ephialtes attempted to storm Olympus, they piled Mount Pelion upon Mount Ossa, which became a proverbial allusion for any huge but fruitless attempt. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelion"