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terrible institution spread upon the brows of Mount Sinai, amid blackness and darkness, and tempest, and the voice of words, so terrible that even Moses himself did quake; but it is the standing memorial of the greatest love that man ever experienced, or that God ever showed ; it is a standing act by which we express our trust in the Saviour, and our confidence in him.
There are many, also, who will not come, because they say they are not prepared. Why, what is preparation ? The way to heaven is just the way to a communion-table. I know no title that I have to eat that bread or to drink that wine, except this—that on him were laid my transgressions. The way to a communiontable is just the way to heaven. And what is that? Jesus said, “I am the way; no man cometh to the Father”-and no man cometh to a communion-table“except through me.” The most unworthy are they that think themselves the most worthy; and the most worthy are they who feel that they are so utterly unworthy that they wonder they have courage to come there. But, my dear friends, review it in its true light-as love, and peace, and hope, and joy, and sig. nificant of our attachment to the Saviour-and you, too, will come, singing, “On him were laid the transgressions of us all. Bless the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Who pardoneth my sins, who healeth my diseases, who satisfieth my mouth with good things, who crowneth me with loving-kindnesses and with tender mercies.”
CHAPTER 1. 28.
CHRIST'S WORK, MISSION, AND OBJECT.
“WHOM we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom ; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”
These words contain the great work, burden and aim of the Christian ministry. That work is from beginning to end Christ. In order to see the full import of the beautiful passage I have read, let us consider, first, Christ's work ; secondly, Christ's mission; thirdly, our commission in reference to it; and lastly, the great object to be achieved. First, let us see Christ's work, “whom (or which] we preach ;” secondly, Christ in his mission, or the end for which he comes into the world ; thirdly, our commission to preach it—"go forth and preach it,” “whom we preach ;” and lastly, the object of it all, “that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
The first thought it is important to bring forward is Christ's work. I will take for each heading a text that exactly expresses the idea I wish to convey. His work is given in the following brief but most pregnant epitome. “For God hath made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God by him.” Here is Christ's work; and what he has
done clearly and succinctly stated. What is it? He was made sin. He never was a sinner; he was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. In what sense, then, was he made sin ? The answer is given by Isaiah, “God hath laid on him the iniquities of us all;" not he inherited our sins, not he perpetrated our sins, but he took upon him, or bore our sins on his own body on the tree.
Now, says the apostle, just as he was made sin, and suffered all its consequences, we are made righteousness, and inherit all its magnificent issues. Christ was made sin, took upon him our sins, they were imputed unto him-man by nature a sinner, Christ by imputation a sinner; our sins are in us, and done by us; sin was upon him, neither thought, nor conceived, nor spoken, nor done by him. Because, without discussing the justice of it, of our sin laid upon that victim, God smote him, and he died ; our deathdeserving sin brought him to a cross, a grave, to his agony and bloody sweat. If that be the case—if Christ bore my sins, endured their penalty, exhausted their punishment by his agony, then what follows ? That I have no sin to suffer the bitterness of eternal death for; that nothing that I have done, or have said, or have thought, if I be a believer in Christ Jesus, ever can draw down upon me the judgments, the righteous judgments of Almighty God. If it be true that the penalty was borne and exhausted by Christ, it would be unjust in God to exact the penalty again from me, and to make me pay that which was fully and completely paid when he hung upon the cross, and died my substitute and representative, just to atone for and expiate my sins. If so, it would be as unjust in
God to condemn a believer who flees from luis sins to the sin-bearing cross of Christ, as it would be unjust in God to admit Judas Iscariot so the glories of heaven. This is not the statement of an extravagant thing; it is not using language that we do not weigh ; it would be as unjust in God to condemn to everlasting ruin a sinner who has fled to the month of sprinkling for forgiveness, as it would be to adinit, into everlasting heaven Judas Iscariot, or the greatest criminal that rejected and despised Christ, and died scorning and scoffing at him. What does the apostle say ? “ He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”
Mark that word, and take it home to your hearts; when God, through Christ, forgives my sins, he does an act not simply of mercy, not merely of love, but of justice, because Christ has paid the penalty, and exhausted the punishment; and having done so, God in Christ is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Christ not only bore and exhausted the punishment due to me because of my sins; he did more, he obeyed that law which I cannot obey, for it is the character of condemned humanity that we are as much without strength as we are without holiness. He obeyed God's holy law in my stead, and for me; and therefore surely I am not bound to obey the law; that does not follow ; but I am not bound, nor is it right, to obey God's law in order to earn heaven as the price of that obedience. For what is said of him? He became sin because of my sins laid on him ; I am made his righteousness because of his righteousness laid upon me. When Christ died, there was nothing in him worthy of death ; when I am admitted into the realms of glory there will be nothing in me or in you worthy
of one atom of eternal life ; but there will be plenty on me—that righteousness which is unto all and upon all them that believe—the righteousness which is of God by faith. My sins on him dragged him to death ; his righteousness on me lifts me to a throne of glory ; so that I am not only delivered from a curse that I deserved by his bearing it, but I am entitled to a glory which I forfeited by his earning it. As a sinner I deserved to die eternally, and Christ died for me ; as a creature I have forfeited heaven for ever, and Christ as my representative has earned it back, and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Here is the very substance and core of the Gospel ; the good tidings of that Christ whom we preach.
What follows from this ? Two short inferences : First, if Christ has expiated every sin of every Christian—that is, every believer—there is no more expiation for us to perform; there is no expiatory efficacy in the tears of the mourner ; there is no atoning force in the blood of the sainted martyr; nothing that man suffers in the least degree expiates ; and if it did expiate, it is totally unnecessary, for Christ has finished the expiation, and done all that was requisite for our restoration. Hence, when a Christian suffers affliction bereavement, distress, the affliction is not penal, as it is to a man who rejects the Gospel, but paternal. In a Christian's case it is not punishment, but chastisement. The difference is immense ; punishment is visiting a criminal man for his crimes ; chastisement is visiting the criminal son, to make that son wiser, and holier, and happier for ever and ever. Whatever you suffer, or whatever you may have suffered, or whatever you may be yet doomed to suffer in this world of great