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violent, painful, shameful, cursed death of the cross? Then surely there is forgiveness with God, and plenteous redemption for the greatest of sinners, that by faith apply the blood of the cross to their poor guilty souls. So speaks the apostle, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." Col. 1:14. "The blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin." 1 John, 1:7. Two things will make this demonstrable.
That there is a sufficient efficacy in the blood of the cross to expiate and wash away the greatest sins, is manifest, for it is precious blood, "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold; but with the precious blood of the Son of God." 1 Pet. 1: 18. This preciousness of the blood of Christ riseth from the union it hath with that person, who is "over all, God blessed for ever." And on that account it is styled the blood of God. Acts, 20:28. On account of its invalu able preciousness, it becomes satisfying and reconciling blood to God. So the apostle speaks, "And (having made peace through the blood of his cross) by him to reconcile all things to himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." Col. 1:20. The same blood which is redemption to them that dwell on earth, is confirmation to them that dwell in heaven. Before the efficacy of this blood, guilt vanishes, and shrinks away as the shadow before the glorious sun. Every drop of it hath a voice, and speaks to the soul trembling under its guilt, better things than the blood of Abel. Heb. 10:24. It sprinkles us from all evil, that is, from an unquiet and accusing conscience. Heb. 10:22. For having enough in it to satisfy God, it must have enough in it to satisfy conscience.
And as there is sufficient efficacy in this blood to expiate the greatest guilt; so it is manifest that the virtue and efficacy of it is intended and designed by God for the use of believing sinners. Such blood as this was
shed, without doubt, for some weighty end; and who they are for whom it is intended, is plain enough from Acts, 13: 39, "And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses."
That the remission of the sins of believers was the great thing designed in the pouring out of this precious blood of Christ, appears from all the sacrifices that prefigured it to the ancient church. The shedding of tha typical blood spoke a design of pardon. And the putting of their hands upon the head of the sacrifice spoke the way and method of believing, by which that blood was then applied to them, and is still applied to us in a more excellent way. Had no pardon been intended, no sacrifices had been appointed.
Moreover, let it be considered, this blood of the cross is the blood of a surety, that came under the same obligations with us, and in our name or stead shed it: and so of course frees and discharges the principal offender, or debtor. Heb. 7:22. Can God exact satisfaction from the blood and death of his own Son, the Surety of believers, and yet still demand it from believers? It cannot be. "Who (saith the apostle) shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth: who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died." Rom. 8: 33, 34. And why are faith and repentance prescribed as the means of pardon? Why doth God every where in his word call upon sinners to repent, and believe in this blood; encouraging them so to do, by so many precious promises of remission; and declaring the inevitable and eternal ruin of all impenitent and unbelieving ones, who despise and reject this blood? What, I say, doth all this speak, but the possibility of a pardon for the greatest of sinners; and the certainty of a free, full, and final pardon for all believers? Oh what a joyful sound is this! What transporting words of peace,
pardon, grace, and acceptance, come to our ears from the blood of the cross!
The greatest guilt ever contracted upon a trembling conscience, can no more stand before the efficacy of the blood of Christ, than the sinner himself can stand before the justice of the Lord, with all that guilt upon him.
Reader, the word assures thee, whatever thou hast been, or art, that sins of as deep a dye as thine have been washed away in this blood. "I was a blasphemer, a persecutor, injurious; but I obtained mercy," saith Paul. 1 Tim. 1: 13. But it may be thou wilt object, This was a rare and singular instance, and it is a great question whether any other sinner shall find such grace as he did. No question of it at all, if you believe in Christ as he did; for he tells us, verse 16, "For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first, Jesus Christ might show forth all long suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." So that upon the same grounds on which he obtained mercy, you may obtain it also. Nothing but unbelief and impenitency of heart can bar thy soul from the blessings of this blood.
2. Did Christ die the cursed death of the cross for believers? Then though there be much of pain, there is nothing of curse in the death of the saints. It still wears its dart, by which it strikes; but hath lost its sting, by which it hurts and destroys. Death poured out all its poison, and lost its sting in Christ, when he became a curse for us.
But what speak I of the harmlessness of death to believers? It is their friend and benefactor. As there is no curse, so there are many blessings in it. "Death is yours." 1 Cor. 3:22. Yours as a special privilege and favor. Christ hath not only conquered it, but is more than a conqueror; for he hath made it beneficial, and
very serviceable to the saints. When Christ was nailed to the tree, then he said, as it were, to death, which Csame to grapple with him there, O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction:" and so he was; for he swallowed up death in victory, spoiled it of its power. So that, though it may now affright some weak believers, yet it cannot hurt them at all.
3. If Christ died the cursed death of the cross for us, how cheerfully should we submit to, and bear any cross for Jesus Christ! He had his cross, and we have ours; but what are ours compared with his? His cross was a heavy cross indeed, yet how patiently and meekly did he support it! He endured his cross:" we cannot endure or bear ours, though they be not to be named with his. Three things should marvellously strengthen us to bear the cross of Christ.
We shall bear it but a little way. It should be enough to me, says one, that Christ will have joy and sorrow sharers in the life of the saints; and that each of them should have a share of our days, as the night and day are kindly partners of time, and take it up between them. But if sorrow be the largest sharer of our days here, I know joy's day shall dawn, and will more than recompense all our sad hours. Let my Lord Jesus (since he will do so) weave my bit-and-span length of time with white and black; weal and wo. Let the rose be neighbor with the thorn. Sorrow and the saints are not married together; or suppose it was so, heaven shall make a divorce. Life is but short, and therefore crosses cannot be long. Our sufferings are but for a while. 1 Pet. 5: 10. They are but the sufferings of the "present time." Rom. 8: 18.
As we shall carry the cross of Christ but a little way, so also Christ himself bears the most of it. He takes the largest share himself. "The reproaches of them that reproached thee, are fallen upon me." Psa. 64: 9. Nay.
to speak as the thing is, Christ doth not only bear half, or the greater part, but the whole of our cross and burden. Yea, he bears all, and more than all; for he bears us and our burden too, or else we should quickly sink and faint under it.
It is reviving to think what an innumerable multitude of blessings and mercies are the fruit and offspring of a sanctified cross. Since that tree was so richly watered with the blood of Christ, what store of choice and rich fruits doth it bear to believers!
"I know (says one) no man hath a velvet cross, but the cross is made of what God will have it; yet I dare not say, Oh that I had liberty to sell Christ's cross, lest therewith also I should sell joy, comfort, sense of love, patience, and the kind visits of a Bridegroom. I have but small experience of sufferings for Christ, but I find a young heaven, and a little paradise of glorious comforts and soul-delighting visits of Christ in suffering for him and his truth. My prison is my palace, my sor row is full of joy; my losses are rich losses, my pain easy pain, my heavy days are holy days and happy days. I may tell a new tale of Christ to my friends. Oh what owe I to the file, and to the hammer, and to the furnace of my Lord Jesus! who hath now let me see how good the wheat of Christ is, that goes through his mill and his oven, to be made bread for his own table. Grace tried is better than grace, and more than grace. It is glory in its infancy. Who knows the truth of grace without a trial? And how soon would faith freeze without a cross! Bear your cross, therefore, with joy."
4. Did Christ die the death, yea, the worst of deaths for us? Then it follows that our mercies are procured with great difficulty; and that which is sweet to us in the fruition, was costly and hard to Christ in the acquisition. "In whom we have redemption through his blood." Col. 1: 14. Upon which a late writer says,