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the sea, and be put away from us as far as the east is from the west.']
From hence we may LEARN
1. The different offices of repentance and faith
[Repentance can never make atonement for sin. However penitent we be, we must lay our hands upon the head of the scape-goat, and transfer our guilt to him. On the other hand, faith does not supersede repentance, but rather encourages and invites us to it. We must repent, in order to prepare our hearts for a grateful acceptance of pardon, and a diligent improvement of it in our future life: but we must believe in order to obtain pardon; that being bestowed solely on account of Christ's vicarious sacrifice. Repentance stirs us up to exercise faith on Christ; and faith stimulates us to further acts of penitence, for the honouring of the law, the justifying of God, the exalting of Christ, the purifying of the heart, the adorning of our profession, and the rendering of us meet for glory. To be in a state pleasing to God, we must be believing penitents, and penitent believers.]
2. The folly of delaying to repent and believe
[Impenitence and unbelief keep us from Christ, and rivet our sins upon us. We must all resemble either the oblation, or the offerer: we must either, like the goats, die under the wrath of God, and be for ever banished, as accursed creatures, from his presence; or we must go with penitence and contrition to our living Surety, and cast our iniquities on him. And can there be a doubt which state we should prefer? Or would we continue another hour under the guilt of all our sins, when there is such a way provided for the removal of them? Let us then behold the Scape-goat, as in our immediate presence, and go instantly to lay our sins on him. It cannot, as under the law, be done by the priest for us; it must be done by every one of us for himself. Let us then go to him with penitence and faith, and rest assured that we shall not repent or believe in vain.]
Mic. vii. 19.
1 Ps. ciii. 12.
CXXXVII. CHRIST THE LAMB OF GOD.
John i. 29. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
IN the general estimation af the world, they are reputed great who bear sway over their fellow-creatures, and are surrounded with pomp and splendor. But with God men are accounted great according as they possess a
knowledge of his ways, and advance the ends of his government. Hence we are told by our Lord himself that John the Baptist, a plain rustic man, clothed with coarse raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle, and subsisting on the spontaneous produce of the wilderness, was ths greatest of all men that had ever been born. And what was it that so exalted him, not only above all the monarchs of the mightiest empires, but above Abraham, or Moses, ór David, or any other of the prophets? It was this: they had seen Christ only at a distance, and spoken of him only in dark prophecies; but he beheld him personally; and having discovered him by an infal lible sign from heaven, pointed him out to others as that Lamb of God, who should take away the sin of the world. Through the goodness of God, we may be as much exalted above him, as he was above others, if we behold Jesus in the character which is here assigned him; because the completion of his sacrificial work, together with the more perfect revelation of it, which we have in the New Testament, enables us to enter far more deeply into the mystery of redemption; and more fully to comply with the ends and designs of God in it. To forward therefore your truest advancement, we shall
I. Illustrate the character of our Lord as it is here described
[Under the law, there were lambs offered every morning and evening in sacrifice to God; and it is to these, and not to the Paschal Lamb, that St. John refers. They were to be of the first year, and without blemish: and by the continual offering up of them God was pacified, as it were, so that his wrath did not break forth to destroy his people on account of their daily transgressions. Such a Lamb was Christ: he was the Lamb, whom all the others typified. He was truly without spot or blemish; and was offered on the altar of his cross, not merely for the good, but in the stead, of sinners." He was really a propitiatory sacrifice, inasmuch as he bore in his own body the curse due to sin, and expiated all its guilt. As there was no variation of the daily sacrifices, but only a repetition of the same, so his one offering of himself is the sole cause of our acceptance with God: nor need that to be repeated, because the virtue of it extends from the beginning to
a Matt. xi. 11.
e 1 Pet. i. 19. VOL. II.
b Exod. xxix. 38-41. Numb. xxviii. 3-8.
the end of time; "he is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Nor is it the sin of one nation only that he takes away, but the sin of the whole world. He was eminently the Lamb of God, having been chosen to that office by God, and being accepted by him on our behalf in the discharge of it: He was 66 an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour."h]
II. Call more particularly your attention to him
1. Let the careless sinner "behold" him
[It is but too evident that they, who live in the neglect of God and their own souls, know little of the evil and malignity of sin. But let such persons view the Son of God leaving the bosom of his Father, and assuming our nature to atone for sin: let them go to Gethsemane and behold him bathed in a bloody sweat through the agonies of his soul: let them follow him to Calvary, and hear him crying in the depths of dereliction, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Let them view him expiring under the curse and condemnation of the law; and then let them judge, whether sin be so light and venial an evil as they imagine? Let them bethink themselves, "if such things were done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" Let them behold him, whom they have pierced, yea, whom they are daily crucifying afresh, and mourn. Let them know that what he suffered was for them; and that, if they be only willing to humble themselves for their iniquities, the benefits of his death shall extend to them. O that we might all so behold him, as to experience the efficacy of his blood in the removal of our sins!]
2 Let the self-righteous moralist "behold" him
[How strange is it that any one, who bears the name of Christ, should expect salvation by the works of the law! Why should that Lamb of God have come down from heaven to expiate our guilt, if sin could have been taken away by means of any repentance or righteousness of ours? What truth could there be in the Baptist's assertion, if pardon were to be obtained in any other way than through the sacrifice of Christ? Yea, for what end could so many thousands of lambs have bled upon the altar, but to shew, that "without shedding of blood there could be no remission;" and consequently, to lead the attention of all to that Lamb of God, that should in due time be offered on the cross? Let such indignity then be no longer shewn to the Saviour of the world: but, as it is his office to take away our sin, let us renounce all self-righteous hopes, and trust entirely in his all-atoning sacrifice.]
f Rev. xiii. 8.
g1 John ii. 2.
k Zech. xii. 10.
h Eph. v. 2. Heb. ix. 22.
3. Let the mourning penitent "behold" him
[No sight under heaven can be so welcome to a contrite soul as a sight of Jesus dying in the place of sinners: for, can we suppose, that he was appointed of God to make atonement for us, and that he executed his commission by dying on the cross, and that, after all, he is unable or unwilling to take away our sin? Was he designed to be a "propitiation for the sins of the whole world," and is there such malignity in the sins of any individual; that there is not a sufficiency in his blood to atone for them? Let us put away such disparaging thoughts of this Lamb of God: let us view him as infinite both in power and grace: let us listen to his encouraging invitation, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth:"m and let us, whatever be our state, trust in him, as "able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him."]
4. Let the professor of godliness "behold" him
[Well may you rejoice in the sufficiency of your Saviour's merits; well may you glory in the security which his blood affords you. But remember, it is not the guilt of sin only that he removes, but the power of it also: and the experience of the latter is our only evidence that we have experienced the former. "To redeem us from the love and practice of iniquity, and to purify us unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works," was no less the intent of his death, than to deliver us from condemnation." While therefore we behold the Lamb of God as the ground of our hope, let us also behold him as a pattern for our imitation. Let us follow his steps in all meekness and patience, in all purity and holiness: and let us convince the world that faith in Christ, so far from relaxing our zeal for good works, is the strongest incentive to the performance of them.]
Isai. xlv. 22. a Tit. ii. 14. 1 Pet. ii. 24.
o Ib. ver. 21.
CXXXVIII. REDEMPTION FROM A VAIN CONVER
1 Pet. i. 18, 19. Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish, and without spot.
THE Christian's duty is by no means easy to be performed. It requires the exercise of much firmness and
self-denial. The inspired writers aware of this, enforce it by every consideration that can influence our minds. In the passage before us the apostle is recommending an holy fear and jealousy lest we should be drawn back into the love of this present world. He first urges this duty from a regard to the impartial tribunal of God," and then from the very intent of Christ's death. This latter and most powerful argument calls for our attention at this time. To illustrate it we shall consider
I. The extent of man's redemption
The "conversation" of men in all ages and in all places has been the same
[Different customs indeed have obtained in different countries: but all have walked after the imagination of their own hearts: they have prohibited such things as they thought injurious to the welfare of society, but left themselves at liberty to consult their own inclinations in every thing else. Their practices in time formed a kind of law. What was sanctioned by one generation was followed by another. And the “ conversation received by tradition from their fathers" was that which was adopted by every succeeding age.]
It is almost superfluous to observe that such conversation has been "vain"
[Let any one ask himself what has his past conversation profited him? Has it given him any solid satisfaction? No: the remembrance of it cannot at all assuage the anguish of a mind bowed down with affliction, much less of a mind burthened with a sense of guilt. Has it brought honour to God, or any real benefit to mankind? It has been the means of almost shutting out the knowledge of God from the world; but has never honoured him in any single instance: and as for mankind, if it have in any respect advanced their temporal interests, it has blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts, and encouraged them to walk in the broad way that leadeth to destruction.]
From this however the true Christian has been redeemed
[It is not only from hell that the Christian is delivered, but from sin. He once indeed "walked according to the course of this world (which is the Devil's course) fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind even as others:" but now he has seen the vanity of such a life: he proposes to him