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beloved disciple, with his own eyes, saw blood and water issue from his Lord's pierced side, which affecting sight must have made his heart likewise bleed within him. This faithful witness relates it to us, that we may also believe. Therefore, 'Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.'
Fifthly and lastly, The Evangelist mentions the counsel of God concerning this matter: "These things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled.'Hereupon St. John quotes the prophecy in which it is said; They [the Jews] will one day, look on him, whom [by the Roman soldier's spear] they pierced,' (Zech. xii. 10.) Hence it appears, that this incident had been predicted in scripture; and consequently that it did not happen fortuitously, and from the mere insolence of a licentious soldier, but that the counsel of God was likewise concerned in the accomplishment of it.
But the principle view of Providence in ordering this event, and causing it to be foretold by the Prophet, seems to be this; namely, that the certainty of Christ's death might be confirmed and ratified by it. Some may perhaps say, is it of such very great importance for us to know that Jesus Christ really died on the cross? to which it may be answered that it greatly concerns us. For if Christ be not really dead, the power of death is not really destroyed; since this was to be effected by the Mediator's death. If he did not die in reality, so neither is he risen in reality. But if his resurrection be merely a delusion, St. Paul's inference is, that our faith is vain and we are yet in our sins,' (1 Cor. xv. 17.)
But if it be asked, what was the purpose of God in ordering, that our blessed Saviour's side discharged both blood and water? In answering this question, it must be pre-supposed that blood and water represented the two principal benefits which Christ has acquired for us. The blood represents the benefit of atonement, which is applied to us in justification. For
in him we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins,' (Col. i. 14.) The water represents the benefit of sanctification and cleansing from sin, of which Jesus Christ has laid the foundation, by obtaining and sending on his disciples the Holy Ghost, which is often represented in scripture under the figure of water, as softening, cleansing, and fertilizing the heart. Hence the Messiah says by the mouth of the Prophet, (Ezekiel xxxvi. 25, 26, 27.) Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them.'
In order to enter deeper into the consideration of this mystery, we must,
First, Take a view of the condition to which we are reduced by the fall. By the transgression of our first parents, we are sunk into a two-fold evil, both of which are very deplorable. For, by the transgression of the Divine command, we have brought on ourselves a heavy guilt; and by reason of our disobedience are obnoxious to the sentence of death which God passed on our first parents, and the punishment contained in this threatening, 'Thou shalt surely die.' We have likewise sustained a great loss by forfeiting the glorious image of God; so that our whole nature is defiled by sin. In order to recover this Divine similitude which we had lost, we must apply to another to deliver us from the guilt and punishment, and to repair that immense loss and damage we had sustained by the fall. Now this has been done by Jesus Christ the Son of God. He is come in his mediatorial office with BLOOD, without which there can be no forgiveness of sins, (Heb. ix. 22.) Therefore he shed his blood, and with it, at the same time, poured out his soul to death; and by his death our debt is blotted out,
God's justice is satisfied, remission of sins is obtained, and thus one evil is removed. But he also came with WATER, i. e, with the Holy Ghost, by which the defilements of our nature are done away, its impurity effaced, good resolutions imparted, the loss of the Divine image restored, and by this means the second evil is removed; and this is the key for understanding those words of St. John: This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ, not by water only, but by water and blood,' (1 John v. 6.)
Secondly, We are likewise in this mystery to turn our thoughts to the design of the whole Levitical economy, in which these two benefits acquired by Christ are adumbrated by many types. There were particularly two things expressive of the future benefits conferred in the New Covenant.
1. Water, with which those who were under any bodily pollution were to wash and cleanse themselves from their legal impurities.
2. The blood of the animal that was slain as a sacrifice, which was shed in great quantities under the Mosaic dispensation. Both these means were used sometimes separately, sometimes together, (Lev. xiv. 2-8. Heb. ix. 19.) Blood was the means of atonement, and represented the atoning power of Christ's. blood, the true sacrifice for the sins of the world, (Heb. ix. 13, 14. x. 4.) Water was the means of purification, and prefigured the true purifying of the heart by the spirit of Christ, (Heb. x. 22.) The priests by the Levitical law were, at their consecration, cleansed with water and blood, (Lev. viii. 6, 22, 23.) But the real High Priest of the New Covenant, who is holy and without sin, stands in no need of being first purified and cleansed with water and blood of atonement; he having himself acquired those benefits for us. In this he has not like the Levitical priests, made use of blood of victims and water from without; but he is come with blood and water issuing from his own body, and thus by himself has cleansed us from our sins, (Heb. i. 2. ix. 12.)
3. This circumstance should likewise direct our thoughts to the two sacraments of the New Covenant, which are manifest and powerful memorials of these two benefits procured for us by Jesus Christ; by means of which the treasure of the death and merits of our Saviour are appropriated to us. For the water, which flowed out of his side, alludes to the laver of baptism, in which by water and the Holy Ghost we are cleansed from all our sins and impurities, (Acts xxii. 16.) But the blood which issued from his side alludes to the sacrament of the Lord's supper, which represents the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for the forgiveness of our sins, (Matt. xxvi. 28.) O the depth of the wisdom and adorable mystery of the counsel of God in this event, which was apparently so inconsiderable! We shall now conclude with the following observations.
1. Jesus Christ, by this insult committed on his breathless body, intended to sanctify all the insults and indignities done to his martyrs and confessors after their death.
Whoever will look back a little to the history of the martyrs, will find that the persecutors of the Christians (so insatiable was their ra cour) frequently treated in an approbrious manner the bodies of the saints, after they had been cruelly tortured to death. The most usual indignities were as follows: Their bodies were exposed naked and without burial, and at the same time the persecutors prohibited the Christians to fetch them away, and deposit them in the earth. Sometimes they threw the bodies of deceased martyrs into the water, and sometimes into the fire; others were thrown to be devoured by dogs and birds of prey, to wild beasts, &c. But all these indignities done to the bodies of Christians are sanctified, by Christ's suffering his sacred body to be wounded by a profane hand, after his death.
2. As our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has suffered a fountain for sin and uncleanness to be opened Y y
for us in his body on the cross, we should diligently make use of it in order to obtain eternal salvation.
By this blood and water which flowed out of our Saviour's side, is obtained what all the Levitical purifications and sprinklings with blood and water typified, indeed, but could not in reality perform. Let us then with joy draw water out of this well of salvation, (Isaiah xii. 3.) Let us approach this free and open fountain with an heart convinced, both of the dreadful guilt of sin, and of the infinite loss we sustained thereby; that we may find forgiveness of the guilt of sin in the blood of Jesus Christ, and be washed from the uncleanness of sin in this pure water. Let us attentively consider St. Paul's exhortation to the Hebrews: Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled, [with the blood of atonement of the New Covenant] from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water, (Heb. x. 19. 22. Heb. ix. 14. 1 Peter i. 1, 2.)
O FAITHFUL Saviour, we praise thee for all the tokens of thy love, and for all the several kinds of insults and indignities which thou wast pleased to endure for our sake, both before and after thy death.Grant that we may hasten to the streams of blood and water which flowed out of thy side, and obtain remission of sins by a worthy participation of the sacraments, which they represented. Amen.
THE BLOOD OF THE SACRIFICE OF ATONEMENT, A TYPE OF THE ELOOD OF JESUS CHRIST.
THE life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it unto you upon the altar, to make an atone