by Horatius Bonar
THAT blood has been shed upon the earth, and that this blood was no other than the "blood of God," all admit who own the Bible. But admitting this, the question arises, how far is each one of us implicated in this blood-shedding? Does not God take for granted that we are guilty! Nay further, that this guilt is the heaviest that can weigh a sinner down!
If so, then is it not a question for the saint, how far have I understood and confessed my participation in this guilt incurred by my long rejection of the slain One? How far have I learned to prize that blood, which though once my accuser is now my advocate? How far am I now seeing and rejoicing in the complete substitution of life for life,—the divine life for the human,—which that blood-shedding implies?
Is it not also a serious question for the ungodly, is this blood-shedding really and legally chargeable against me? Is God serious in saying that he means to reckon with me for this? Is this blood at this present moment resting over me as a cloud of wrath ready to burst upon my head so soon as my day of grace runs out? Is it on account of my treatment of this blood that I am to be dealt with at the seat of judgment! Is my eternity really to hinge on this?
If so, what course can I pursue? Can I, like Pilate, take water and wash my hands saying "I am innocent of the blood of this just man"? No: that is hopeless My long rejection of it must involve at least something of the guilt; how much, remains yet to be seen. If I cannot clear myself, and if I cannot extenuate my crime, then I must either brave the trial and the sentence, or make haste to enter my protest against the deed as the only course now remaining for me.
In such a matter there is room neither for delay nor uncertainty. Let the matter at once be inquired into, and put beyond the reach of doubt. Is it possible that any one can rest with less than a certainty of forgiveness so long as such a charge is hanging over him. Either he does not understand its meaning, or he is resolved to set it at nought.
No certainty can be greater than that I am guilty of the crime. Can I rest satisfied with anything but an equal certainty that this crime has been cancelled? To be sure of guilt, and not to be sure of pardon, is a fearful condition indeed. To know that there is a Saviour whose blood cleanseth from all sin, and yet not to know with equal certainty that all the blessings flowing from his blood have become mine, must be misery beyond endurance. Uncertainty in such a case is the very mockery of my grief.
Was the gospel meant to bring us no certainty here? Is our believing it designed to give us no assured peace? Is this assured peace a plant not of this clime? Must we wait for it till we reach the land of peace? Is it not our portion here, and is it not by having this that we are enabled to face and battle with the darkest storms of life?
Did the sight of that blood assure us at once of our guilt, and shall not the sight of it now assure us equally of our forgiveness? Did it formerly speak certain terror, and shall it not now speak certain peace? Or do we say, but I am not sure whether I am really receiving it,—this is my difficulty. Be it so. Did you find the same difficulty in knowing whether you were rejecting it? Was it so easy to discover the rejection, and is it so hard to discover the reception? You knew when you put it from you, and do you not know when you would take it to you? Is there not something unnatural, something strange in this?
If you are not sure whether you have received or rejected the blood of propitiation, then in so far as your peace is concerned, it is all one as if you knew that you had rejected it. For uncertainty can bring no peace to the troubled spirit. It can heal no wounds; it can kindle no hope. It leaves the soul in sorrowful darkness, just as if the true light had not arisen, or had withdrawn itself from view; just as if the peace-bringing blood had never been shed, or had been hidden from your eyes. Uncertainty! Who that realises an accusing law, and a sin-hating God, can remain uncertain without also remaining most thoroughly and absolutely miserable!
God has provided for this certainty, and taken out of the way all that might mar it, or generate the reverse. He has not only shed the blood of his dear Son, but so presents it to us as sinners, as to leave us no alternative, but either to deny his testimony concerning it, or to be at peace with him in simply receiving it as that through which peace has been made by his Son upon the cross. Shall we then cleave to this uncertainty as if it contained some mysterious blessing? Or shall we remain contented with it, even for an hour, seeing we cannot but feel that it is no blessing, but a blighting curse?
The amount of uncertainty in the present day is great. Thousands who name the name of Christ are not ashamed to own it. Few seem to have firm and abiding peace. Few walk in the blessed consciousness of being forgiven, and saved, and reconciled. No wonder that we should be so feeble and sickly; no wonder that we should have so small success in labouring for God. Conscious of personal friendship between him and us, what is there that we will not do or dare? What is there that he will not do for us and by us?
Is this a time for uncertainty when judgments are darkening over us, and God has arisen to smite the nations for their sins? Nothing now will keep us calm but certainty. Such a storm will need a sure anchor. A man may cheat his soul into tranquillity when days are prosperous and skies are blue. He may say, "I hope it will go well with me at last," and sit down contented with that meagre hope. But when heaven and earth are shaken, he cannot but tremble. His peace gives way at the first ruffle of the tempest. He had no certainty to lean upon, and his false security was broken in an hour.
So must it be with every one in these days of evil, that is resting satisfied with less than a certainty—a certainty reared upon the one foundation. And how many hearts are secretly throbbing now, when they hear afar off the sound of advancing terror. They are confessing to themselves now that their rest was unreal, and their hope a fancy. They are filled with fear, and "grope for the wall as the blind." They feel that they have hitherto taken hold of an uncertainty, and flattered themselves with the idea that a man might very well be a Christian, and yet know it, not. But now they are moved. They feel that this is "a covering narrower than that a man can wrap himself in it." They had tried to make themselves believe that they were Christians of long standing, and now they find themselves no farther on than ten or twenty years ago, when first they awoke from their sleep of death.
It is well, however, that the discovery be made, however late. It matters not how roughly the sleeper is awakened, if only he be roused in time to flee from encompassing danger. It is not yet too late. The cross is still standing on the earth. The crucified One is still upon the mercy-seat. If the favour of God has hitherto been a dark uncertainty, it may yet be made sure. The way of reconciliation through the blood is as open as ever.
Reader! Rest not till you have got matters thoroughly settled between God and your soul. This settlement must be on solid and immoveable grounds. But these grounds God is presenting to you in the blood of his only begotten Son. Consider them well. They are your all for eternity! You need not fear risking your soul upon them. Oh! well for you, if you were but settled there. There would follow a lifetime of peace in this world, and an eternity of glory in the world to come.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER I: THE ACCUSATION
CHAPTER II: ISRAEL GUILTY
CHAPTER III: THE WORLD GUILTY
CHAPTER IV: GOD'S CONTROVERSY WITH THE WORLD
CHAPTER V: WHAT GOD THINKS OF THIS BLOOD
CHAPTER VI: WAYS IN WHICH GOD PROCLAIMS ITS VALUE
CHAPTER VII: THE CARELESS SINNER'S THOUGHTS CONCERNING IT
CHAPTER VIII: THE THOUGHTS OF THE AWAKENED SINNER CONCERNING IT
CHAPTER IX: THE THOUGHTS OF THE SAINT CONCERNING IT