by Steven Charnock
For Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.—1 COR. 5:7.
THE words are a reason of the apostle's exhortation to the Corinthians to cast out the incestuous person, in regard of the contagion which might be by so ill an example dispersed to others, as a leaven spreads its vapours through the whole lump: ver. 6, 'Know you not, that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?' And having used this similitude of leaven, he pursues it in allusion to the custom of the Jews before the celebration of the passover, according to the command to have no leaven found in their houses at that time, upon the penalty of being cut off from the congregation of Israel; and with respect to the true design of that ceremonial injunction, exhorts the Corinthians to 'purge out the old leaven,' viz., that person from their society, lust from their hearts, every member of the old Adam, that they might be a new lump, answering their holy and heavenly calling. The reason of this exhortation is in the words: 'For Christ our passover is sacrificed for us,' and by his death hath taken away the sin of the world.'* As the sacrifice of the paschal lamb represented the sacrifice of Christ, so the manner wherein the Israelites celebrated that solemnity with unleavened bread represents the manner wherewith we ought to celebrate the death of the Redeemer of the world. As therefore our true passover, which is the Lord Jesus, hath been sacrificed for us, let us daily celebrate the memory of it in a manner worthy of so great a grace. As, therefore, the Jews abstained from all leaven in the time of the figure, let us not only abstain from, but purge out, all things contrary to God, because for this end Christ was sacrificed for us. As the passover was a type of Christ, so the unleavened bread was a type of Christians, and of their innocence and purity of life.† And that 'because you are unleavened,' i.e. de jure, you ought to be so; for that is said in Scripture sometimes to be de facto which ought to be, as 'the priest's lips preserve knowledge,' i.e. ought to preserve knowledge.‡Ἐκκαθάρατε, purge out, is more emphatical and pressing than a simple purging: purge it out wholly, that nothing may be left in you, that you may be such as a new lump did figuratively signify.
Christ our passover. The institution of this solemn figure is particularly set down Exod. 12:3–5, &c. It was appointed by God as a memorial,§both of the Israelites' slavery in Egypt and their deliverance from it. After they had been about two hundred years in that country, God, mindful of his promise, sets upon their delivery; and since all the former miracles had proved unsuccessful for the bending Pharaoh's heart to give the captives liberty to depart, God designs the slaying of the first-born of every Egyptian family, and thereby sending the greatest strength of the nation to another world. Upon this occasion he orders the Israelites, by Moses, to slay the lamb the fourteenth day of the first month (which answers to our March), and sprinkle the posts of their doors with the blood, and feast upon the flesh of it in their several families; and that night the angel comes and mortally strikes every first-born, none escaping but those who observed this, command of God, and had sprinkled their door-posts with the blood of the slain lamb; every house besides being made that night a house of mourning. It was an earnest of the Israelites' deliverance, and the Egyptians' calamity.
Obs. 1. God's greatest mercies to his church are attended with the greatest plagues upon their enemies. The salvation of man is the destruction of sin and the devil; the passover was the salvation of Israel and ruin of Egypt.
2. God provides for the security of his people before he lays his wrathful hand upon their adversaries. He provided a Moses to conduct them, an ordinance to comfort and refresh them, before he shoots his arrows into the Egyptians' hearts. God settles this passover as a standing ordinance in the church, a feast throughout their generations, to be kept by an ordinance for ever, Exod. 12:14; so that it was not only a memorial of a past and temporal deliverance, but the type of a future and spiritual one. As all the sacrifices were types of what was to be performed in the fulness of time in the person of the Messiah, so this was a great and signal type, and had its truth, reality, and efficacy in the death of the Redeemer.
Christ the passover, i.e. the paschal lamb. The lamb was called the passover; the sign for the thing signified by it: 2 Chron. 35:11, 'And they killed the passover,' i.e. the lamb; for the passover was properly the angel's passing over Israel, when he was sent as an executioner of God's wrath upon the Egyptians. So Mat. 26:17, 'Where shall we prepare for thee to eat the passover?' i.e. the paschal lamb.
Our passover: our paschal lamb. He is called 'God's Lamb,' John 1:29. God's in regard of the author, ours in regard of the end; God's Lamb in regard of designation, ours in regard of acceptation.
Our passover. Not only of the Jews, but of the Gentiles. That was restrained to the Israelitish nation, this extends in the offers of it to all, and belongs to all that are under the new administration of the covenant of grace.
For us, ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν. Not only for our good, but in our stead, to free us from eternal death, to purchase for us eternal life; sacrifices were substituted in the place of the transgressor, and received the stroke of death which his sin had merited. The title of the paschal lamb is given here to Christ, not only in regard of his meekness and innocence, but in regard of his being a sacrifice, whence he is called 'the Lamb slain,' Rev. 5:12; the Lamb that 'redeems us by his blood,' 1 Pet. 1:18. Here we have,
1. A description of Christ in the type, passover.
2. The end of his death.
(1.) Finis cujus, a sacrifice.
(2.) Finis cui, our, for us.
Three doctrines may be observed from the words,
1. Christ is our passover.
2. Christ is a sacrifice.
3. Christ is a sacrifice in our stead.
1. For the first, Christ is our passover. In allusion to this, he is so often called a Lamb, as also in allusion to the lambs offered in the daily sacrifice, but especially in relation to the paschal lamb, which did more fully express both the nature of his sufferings and the design of his office. You do not therefore find him expressed in the New Testament by the name of any of those other animals which were figures of him in the Jewish sacrifices, but only by this of a lamb, as being more significant of the innocence of his person, the meekness of his nature, his sufficiency for his people, than any other.
(1.) The design of the passover was to set forth Christ. All the sacrifices, which were appointed by God as parts of worship, were designed to keep up the acknowledgment of the fall of man, his demerit by sin, and to support his faith in the promised Redeemer; for they being instituted, not before the fall, but probably immediately after the first promise of the seed of the woman, did all refer to that seed promised, whose heel was to be bruised, as to the foundation of their institution; and being unable of themselves to purge the sin of a rational creature, and the spiritual substance of the soul, they must refer to that which was only able to do it: Heb. 10:8, 'Sacrifice and offering, and burnt-offerings, and offering for sin, thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; then said I, Lo, I come to do thy will:' the will of God manifested in the first draught and agreement in heaven, and shadowed in all the sacrifices under the law. When sacrifices of themselves were not, nor could be, grateful to God, for the blood of an animal give a due compensation to an offended God for the sin of man, then said Christ, 'Lo, I come,' as the person represented by those pictures, as the body signified by those shadows. All those institutions not being designed for any other virtue in themselves, but as notices of the intent of God, and the methods he designed for the taking away of sin by the promised seed; that it was to be by blood and death, that this was the agreement between God and the seed so promised; therefore they were in all those doleful spectacles of blood and slaughter to look through that veil to the calamities the promised seed should endure for the taking away of sin, and have a prospect of the heinousness of sin, and the sharpness of the sufferings of the Messiah, in the groans and strugglings of those dying creatures. So the design of this passover was ultimately to represent the Messiah to them, by whose blood they were to have a spiritual deliverance from sin and Satan, as by the blood of the lamb they had a deliverance from the sword of the destroying angel, and afterwards from Pharaoh and the Egyptian pressures. He is therefore called the Lamb of God, as being shadowed by the paschal lamb of the Old Testament. All things under the law were but shadows of things to come, Heb. 10:1. Christ is the real accomplishment of all; he is our mystical, spiritual, heavenly, perfect passover; therefore those words, which are immediately spoken of the paschal lamb, and did immediately respect the passover, Exod. 12:46, 'Neither shall you break a bone thereof,' and Num. 9:12, are said to be fulfilled in Christ the antitype, as if they had been immediately pronounced of him when they were spoken of the paschal lamb: John 19:36, 'For those things were done that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.' And, indeed, if we consider all the circumstances in the institution, they seem not worthy of the wisdom of God, nor are capable of having any reason rendered for them, if they be not referred to some other mystery; and what can that be but the Redeemer of the world represented thereby? Why should so much care be in the choice and separation of a lamb?* What virtue had the blood of a poor animal to secure the house and the life of the first-born against the sword of a strong and invisible angel? Was the sprinkling of the blood upon the posts a necessary mark for the angel, as though he had not understanding enough to distinguish between the houses and children of the Israelites and Egyptians? Gould not God have signified his pleasure to the angel without such a mark, and given him directions for the security of his people? How can we think God should appoint so many ceremonies in it, lay such a charge upon them for the strict observation of them, if he designed it not as a prop to their faith, a ground to expect a higher and spiritual deliverance by the blood of the Messiah, as well as a trial of their obedience, a memorial of their temporal deliverance, and a sign for the direction of the angel in the execution of his commission?
(2.) The believers in that time regarded it as a type of the Messiah: Heb. 11:28, 'Through faith he,' i.e. Moses, 'kept the passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the first-born should touch them.' It was an illustrious testimony of Moses his faith to rely upon the promise and good will of God, and keep the passover, when the blood of a lamb seemed so improbable a means of preserving the Israelites from the destroying angel's sword. Yet certainly Moses his faith pierced further, and looked through this shell to the kernel, through this sign to the thing signified by it. Moses could not have 'esteemed the reproach of Christ,' ver. 26, had he not known Christ; and we cannot suppose so illustrious a prophet, that had such an estimation of Christ as to value his reproaches, did terminate his faith upon the outward action and the bare type, but pierced further to the promised seed, as well as Abel in his sacrifice. It is not likely that his faith stuck only in the effusion of the blood of an animal, and did not see the effusion of the blood of the Messiah, whose reproach he had been so willing to bear. It had been too low a faith for so great a man, not to regard the spiritual deliverance promised to be wrought by the bruising the heel of the seed of the woman. Who can think Moses utterly ignorant of the design of that promise? And if not, who can think his faith should terminate in the outward sign, and that the apostle should give such encomiums to a faith of no higher an elevation than that which respected the command of God in that present affair? Moses his faith had been great in former commands; why should the apostle skip them, if he had not designed to shew his faith in the Messiah figured in the passover? The apostle doth not speak of faith in God simply considered in that chapter, but of faith in the mediator, or high priest, which he had discoursed of throughout that book. How could the ancient believers eat the same spiritual food, and drink of the same spiritual rock, which was Christ, without faith in him, and respecting him as the object of faith in that rock and manna, 1 Cor. 10:3, 4. Some of the Jews acknowledge that the Messiah is to come exactly on that day wherein the passover was offered when they fled out of Egypt;† and to redeem Israel the fifteenth day of the month Nisan, which was the day wherein Christ by his death redeemed the world. They came out of Egypt the first month, when the moon was at the full, and in the same month, and the same appearance of the moon, did Christ procure our spiritual liberty by his death.
(3.) The paschal lamb was the fittest to represent Christ. It was a sacrifice and a feast; a sacrifice in killing it and sprinkling the blood, a feast in their feeding upon it. It represents Christ as a victim satisfying God, as a feast refreshing us; he was offered to God for the expiation of our sins, he is offered to us for application to our souls. The apostle mentions one in the text, the other in the verse following, 'therefore let us keep the feast.' A lamb is both clothes and meat; Christ is clothing to as by his righteousness to cover our nakedness, and food to as by his body and blood to satisfy our appetite, a sacrifice and a feast for us.
The truth of this proposition will appear,
[1.] In the resemblance between the paschal lamb and the Redeemer.
[2.] In the effects or consequents of it.
[1.] In the resemblance between the paschal lamb and the Redeemer.
First, A lamb is a meek creature. It hurts none, is hurt by all; it hangs not back when it is led to the slaughter, it cries not when it is stuck; no greater emblem of patience to be found among irrational creatures. To this the prophet likens our Saviour, when he saith, Isa. 53:7, 'He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before the shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.' How strange was his humility in entering into such a life! How much more stupendous in submitting to such a death, as shameful as his life was miserable! For the Son of God to be counted the vilest of men, the sovereign of angels to be made lower than his creatures, the Lord of heaven to become a worm of the earth, for a creator to be spurned by his creatures, is an evidence of a meekness not to be paralleled. The soldiers that spat upon him and mocked him met not with a reproachful expression from him. He held his peace at their clamours, offered his back to their scourges, reviled them not when he lay under the greatest violence of their rage, was patient under his sufferings, while he was despised more than any man by the people. His calmness was more stupendous than their rage, and the angels could not but more unexpressibly wonder at the patience of the sufferer than the unmercifulness of the executioners. He was more willing to die than they were to put him to death; he suffered not by force; he courted the effusion of his blood when he knew that the hour which his Father had appointed, and man needed, was approaching. Neither the infamy of the cross, nor the sharpness of the punishment, nor the present and foreseen ingratitude of his enemies, could deter him from desiring and effecting man's salvation. He went to it not only as a duty, but an honour, and was content for a while to be the sport of devils, that he might be the spring of salvation to men. And when he was in the furnace of divine wrath, and deserted by his Father, he utters a sensible, but not a murmuring, expostulation; he received our sins upon his shoulders, to confer his divine benefits upon our hearts; he endured the contradiction of sinners against himself; he despised the shame, submitted to the cross; his own worldly reputation was of no value with him, so he might be a sacrifice for the redemption of forlorn man; and, in the whole scene, manifested a patience greater than their cruelty. From this paschal lamb typifying the Redeemer, the Jews might have learned not to expect a Messiah wading through the world in blood and slaughter, sheathing his sword in the bowels of his enemies, and flourishing with temporal victories and prosperity; but one meek, humble, and lowly, suiting the temper of the lamb which represented him in the passover.
Secondly, It was to be 'a lamb without blemish,' Exod. 12:5. It was to be entire in all its parts, sound, without bruise, scab, or maim; and the reason why it was separated four days before the killing of it was, that they might have time to understand whether it had any spot or defect in it. So is the Lamb of God; he was holy in the production of his nature, as well as in the actions of his life. Though he was of Adam's substance, he was not contained in Adam's seminal virtue; he was conceived by the Holy Ghost, therefore unblemished in his conception, unspotted in his birth. From the first moment of his conception, he was filled with all supernatural grace according to the capacity of his humanity; his union with the divine nature secured him against the sinful infirmities of our nature, and made all supernatural perfections due to him, whereby he might be fitted for all holy operations. As he was that holy thing in his birth, Luke 1:35, so he was righteous to the last moment of his life. The law of God was within his heart, signified by the tables of the law laid up in the ark, a type of his human nature, which possessed in a sovereign degree all the habits of the most accomplished righteousness that ever was in the world; to which Peter alludes, 1 Peter 1:19, 'a lamb without blemish and spot,' a divine idea of all virtue, who infinitely surpassed all the holiness of men or angels. The apostle multiplies expressions to declare it, and all little enough to express it: Heb. 7:26, 'Holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.' He was like us in our nature, but not in our blemishes; he had our flesh, but without the least stain of imperfection; he had the likeness of sinful flesh, but there was not any inherency of sin in him, or adherency of it to him in the assumption of our nature, Heb. 4:15; as the serpent upon the pole had the likeness, but not the venom of the serpent. He was not subjected to our sin, as he was to our natural infirmities; he had the form of a servant, without the impurities of our slavery, and in all the days of his flesh was not found guilty of one inobservance to God or man. It was necessary he should be so. Had he been obnoxious to sin, he had not been able to take away the sins of the world. No impure person could have made our peace with God, because he could not have made his own peace, nor have procured quietness in his own conscience; he could not have merited for himself, much less have wrought any righteousness for others.
Thirdly, The lamb was to be chosen and set apart three days, and killed the fourth in the evening, Exod. 12:6, or 'between the two evenings,' as it is in the Hebrew. Our Saviour was separate from men, manifested himself in the work of his prophetical office three years and upwards, before he was offered up as a sacrifice in the fourth year, after he had been solemnly inaugurated in the exercise of his office. Their keeping the lamb in custody, and tying it at the feet of their beds, that, being in view, it might mind them of their servitude in Egypt, and deliverance from thence by the mighty hand of God, noted the humiliation of Christ before his death, which is called his prison, and therefore the beginning of his exaltation is called a 'taking him from prison and from judgment,' Isa. 53:8. As the lamb was set apart the tenth day, so some observe* that, in answer to the type, Christ did on the tenth day solemnly and in triumph enter into Jerusalem, and by the same gate through which lambs were led to sacrifice; and he was crucified that very day and time wherein the paschal lamb was to be slain, between the two evenings, i.e. the declining of the sun from noon, which was the first evening, and the setting of it, which was the second; for it was about the ninth hour, or three in the afternoon, the usual time wherein they killed the passover, that Christ was offered up as a complete sacrifice to God, Mat 27:46–50. It was ordered by God to be killed in the evening, to signify the sacrifice of the Messiah in the evening of the world. He was crucified at the end of the second age of the world, the age of the law, and the beginning of the third age, that of the gospel, which is called in Scripture 'the last times,' Heb. 1:2; and 'the ends of the world,' 1 Cor. 10:11; which Peter alludes to when he resembles him to the paschal lamb without blemish, 1 Peter 1:19, 20, 'manifested in these last times for you.' The death of Christ was in the first evening of the world. The sun is turned; the world shall not last so long after the coming of Christ as it did before; the state of the world is far declined, and the consummation of all things is not far off, since more than sixteen hundred years are past since the first evening began.
Fourthly, The lamb was to be roasted with fire whole, Exod. 12:4, 8, 9, not sodden; to put them in mind of the hardship they endured in the brick kilns of Egypt, and as a type of the scorching sufferings of the Redeemer, whose 'strength was dried up like a potsherd,' and his 'tongue cleaved to his jaws,' Ps. 22:15, probably alluding to this roasting of the paschal lamb. He bore the wrath of that God who is a consuming fire, without any water, any mitigation or comfort in his torments. It may note also the gradual rising of the suffering of Christ. As his exaltation was not all at one time, but by degrees, so were his sufferings, by outward wounds, cutting reproaches, and inward agonies. The pains of the body are unexpressible in regard of the nervousness, and therefore sensibility of those parts, his hands and feet, which were pierced upon the cross. The consideration of those millions of sins laid upon him could not but be an unexpressible grief to the pure nature of Christ, had there been nothing of the wrath of God mixed with it. But his bodily death and grief was not all, the wrath of God dreadfully flamed out against his soul: there was the principal seat of the sufferings of Christ, because the soul is the principal seat of that sin for which he suffered. What should have been inflicted on us was inflicted on him; but we had not only merited the death of the body, but a death joined with the curse of God tormenting the soul. He tasted death, that death which the devil had the power of, that death which men feared, Heb. 2:9, 14, 15, which is the weight of that eternal death due to sin. How sharp must that be which had the bitterness of a thousand deaths, for those millions of sins which Christ bore in his body, every one of which had deserved an entire death from the hand of God! How grievous was that death, since he that was more courageous than all the martyrs sweat drops of blood at the approach of the cross, and when he was upon it uttered that terrible complaint, 'My God, my God,' &c., words which never came out of the mouth of any of the martyrs in the strength of their torments; so that the sufferings of Christ were of that weight that a mere creature would have sunk under them, not only the holiest man but the highest angel.*
Fifthly, Not a bone of the paschal lamb was to be broken, Exod. 12:46, which, according to the opinion of some,† signified that kind of death to which the breaking of the bones belonged, and that was crucifixion, it being the custom to break the bones of malefactors, that their punishment might be shortened. This was fulfilled in our Saviour, John 19:36. Death had not a full power over him, he was not broken to pieces by the greatness of his sufferings, but surmounted his enemies upon the cross, and was reserved entire for a resurrection.
There may be other resemblances noted. As the lamb was to be a male, which implies the perfection and strength of the sacrifice, not above a year old, the sufferings of Christ were in the prime of his age.
[2.] There is a resemblance in the effects or consequents of the passover.
First, The diverting the destroying angel by the sprinkling of the blood upon the posts, to be a mark to the angel to spare the firstborn of such houses, was the main end expressed in the institution, Exod. 12:12, 13. Their preservation could not be merited by the blood of an animal. It had a higher cause, the blood of Christ, which was represented by it; to which purpose the observation of Chrysostom is remarkable: As the statues of kings, though they are inanimate things, yet are sanctuaries to preserve those that fly to them, not because they are statues, but because they represent the prince, so the blood of the lamb preserved the families, not because it was blood, but because it represented the blood of the Messiah. This blood quenched that fire of wrath we had merited, turns away that vengeance which would else consume us. By virtue of this sacrifice we 'pass from death to life,' John 5:24. When God shall judge the world, he will pass over those whom he sees sprinkled with the blood of his well-beloved, and turn from them the edge of that consuming sword which shall strike through the hearts of those that are without this blood of sprinkling. It is only under the warrant of this blood that we can be safe. The Redeemer's blood shed for us and sprinkled on us preserves our souls to eternal life. As the destroying sword did not touch the Israelites, so condemning wrath shall not strike those that are under the protection of it; death shall have no power over them. The blood of the paschal lamb wrought a temporal deliverance, and this blood a spiritual and eternal one.
Secondly, Upon this succeeded that liberty God had designed for them, Exod. 12:31. As it secured them from death, so it was the earnest of their deliverance, and broke the chains of their slavery. The death of Christ is the foundation of the full deliverance of his people, and the earnest of the fruition of the purchased and promised inheritance. This was the conquest of Pharaoh, upon which soon after followed his destruction. Pharaoh's heart was not bent till the celebration of this passover; that which succeeded upon it laid him more flat than all the former plagues whereby he had smarted. The promises concerning the Messiah, and the sacrifices which were types of him, terrified the devil, Pharaoh's antitype; but only the blood of Christ shed conquers him and pulls captives from his chains. The Israelites' slavery ended when their sacrifices were finished; the efficacy of this divine passover delivers men from a spiritual captivity, under the yoke of sin and the irons of Satan, instates them in the liberty of the children of God, whereby they become a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a free and peculiar people. This strikes off the shackles, works an escape from the pressures of spiritual enemies, changeth a deplorable captivity into a glorious liberty, and reduceth Satan to so impotent a condition, that all his strength and all his stratagems cannot render him master of that soul that is once freed from his chains; as after this passover the Egyptian strength was so scattered that they were as ready to force that people to their liberty as before they were desirous to detain them their slaves, and were never able to reduce them to their former chains.
Thirdly, After this passover they do not only enjoy their liberty, but begin their march to Canaan, the promised and delightful land. They then turn their backs upon Egypt and their faces towards Canaan, and after a pilgrimage in the desert they enter the land flowing with milk and honey. So by the merit of the sacrifice of Christ the true Israelite turns his face from earth to heaven, from a world that lies in wickedness to an inheritance of the saints in light, and travels towards Canaan, whither he shall be sure to enter after he hath finished his pilgrimage, to feed upon the milk and honey, the glory and happiness proper to that state. Then shall all the ends of this passover be fulfilled and completed in the kingdom of God, Luke 22:16, and the soul remain for ever in a glorious state beyond the reach of its former tyrants, free from all fear of slavery, for ever rejoicing in the happy accomplishment of the promises of God. In short, as after the celebration of this passover in Egypt, all the promises of God to them began to take place and pass into performance, so by the death of Christ, the true passover, all the promises were made yea and amen in him, and began to be made good to every believer.
1. Of information, Is Christ called our passover? Then
(1.) The study of the Old Testament is advantageous. The apostle here writes to the Corinthians, among whom were not only Hellenists but Gentiles, who could not understand the nature and ends of the passover without the knowledge of the Old Testament. By this they are implicitly directed to the study of it. The Old Testament verifies the New, and the New illustrates the Old; the Old shews the promises of God, and the New the performance; what was predicted in the Old is fulfilled in the New. By comparing both together, the wisdom of God in his conduct is cleared, and the truth of God in his word confirmed. The Old Testament delivers the types, the New interprets them; the Old presents them like money in a bag, the New spreads them, and discovers the value of the coin. The Israelites in the Old felt the weight of the ceremonies, believers in the New enjoy the riches of them.
(2.) Upon what a slender thread doth the doctrine of transubstantiation hang. Christ is here called the passover. Was the paschal lamb therefore substantially the body of Christ? Were those lambs that were slain in Egypt, or at any other time, in the celebration of this ordinance, transubstantiated into Christ? Yet Christ is absolutely here called the passover, and in other places the Lamb, as the bread in the sacrament is called his body, or the wine his blood. Christ is said to be the rock of which the Israelites drank, 1 Cor. 10:4; was the rock, or the water that flowed from it, transubstantiated into Christ? But in Scripture the name proper to the thing represented is given to that which represents it. The lamb is called the passover, because it is a memorial of the angel's passing over the Israelites' families; and not only called so at the first institution, but above fifteen hundred years after that miraculous mercy. So the bread and wine are called the body and blood of Christ, because they are memorials and signs of his body and blood. If the church of the Jews spake figuratively in the case of the passover, what difficulty is it that Christ should call the memorials of his body and blood by the name of the things they signified?
(3.) It gives us a probable reason for the change of the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first. That it is changed is evident by apostolical example. It is probable that from the creation the year began in September, the autumnal equinox, the fruits being on the trees at the creation;* but now God orders the beginning of the year from the time of this first passover, and the consequences following upon it, their deliverance from Egypt, which was in March, the vernal equinox: Exod. 12:2, 'This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.' Had the year began from March at the beginning, it had not been so proper to command them to begin it from that month, which they had always observed before as the beginning of the year. The Israelites had been as it were buried in Egypt, and this being the month of their resurrection, should be the first month of the year. This change of the beginning of the year gives us a probable reason of the change of the Sabbath. If the beginning of the year were changed upon the account of the type, a day might well be changed upon the account of the antitype. If this in the figure were counted greater than creation, that the month of the world's creation must give place to it, the substance of this figure appearing might well be the cause of the change of a day, and the seventh day of the creation give place to the first day of the perfection of redemption.
(4.) The ancient Jews were under a covenant of grace. Christ was the end, the spirit, the life of their sacrifices. The passover, rock, sacrifices, manna, were the swaddling-bands wherein he was wrapped. They 'ate of the same spiritual meat, drank of the same spiritual drink;' the 'rock which followed them,' cherished them, and watered them, 'was Christ,' 1 Cor. 10:3, 4. Christ to come was set forth to them as an object of faith. Christ was the rock, the passover sacramentally. Their sacraments and ours were the same inre, though diverse in signs. Hence their sacraments are attributed to us, circumcision and the passover, spiritually; ours in the same manner to them, baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1 Cor. 10:2, 3. They indeed had Christ, as it were, in his infancy; we in his ripe and full age. They had him under the obscure veils of lambs, bullocks, goats; we have him in his person. They had the sun under a cloud; we the sun at noonday in his glory.
2. Comfort; in the security Christ procures. The destroying angel was not to enter into any sprinkled house, no passage was afforded to him. The wrath of God, or the malice of the devil, can have no power over them that are sprinkled with the blood of Christ. In the efficacy. The blood of the lamb was but a sign of that deliverance of the Israelites, but could not purge their defiled consciences; but the blood of our Lamb hath merited our salvation, can cleanse our consciences from dead and condemning works to serve the living God, and rejoice in him, who, without this sprinkling, will be to us a consuming fire. As the passover was killed, that he might be their food as well as their security, so was Christ crucified, that he might be our atonement and our nourishment, our shield and our food, to make us partakers of his benefits by a spiritual application, and a close incorporation of us with himself. This comfort is the greater, by how much the tyrant we are delivered from is more dreadful than Pharaoh; whose design is not only, like his, to afflict our bodies, but tumble our souls and bodies into the same hell with himself. It is from the wrath of God our passover hath delivered us; and what is the anger of Pharaoh to the fury of an offended Deity, kindled against us by our multiplied transgressions? It is true, deliverance is yet but begun; it is not yet perfect; miseries and spiritual contests are to be expected. Pharaoh will pursue, but shall not overtake; the sea shall ruin the Egyptians, but secure the Israelites; death shall not swallow up those who are sprinkled with this holy blood. Consider also, if God were so punctual to his word in so light an instance as the blood of the lamb, he will be as stedfast to it in so great an instance as the blood of his Son beheld cleaving to the soul.
(1.) Thankfully remember this passover. A redemption from divine wrath, a spiritual life and liberty, the fruits and purchase of this lamb, are incomparably beyond the temporal deliverance conferred upon the Jews. The giving thanks was a duty annexed to the eating of the paschal lamb, wherein they blessed God for the mercy shewed to their fathers in bringing them out of Egypt.* How infinitely more precious is the blood of the Son of God than the blood of a silly animal! How highly doth the benefit of the one surmount the immediate fruit of the other! And is it not fit our praises should surpass those of the Jews for the old passover? Remember it with bitterness. The Israelites ate the passover with bitter herbs; shall we be without it when we consider the cause of our slavery, and the means of our deliverance? A bitterness of soul will make the taste of the benefit of Christ more delicious.
(2.) Inquire whether he be our passover. He is our passover, but is he a lamb eaten by us, owned by us? He is ours by the gift of God, but is he ours by the acceptation of our souls? It is the most useful, most necessary inquiry we can make. All the comforts of possessions in the world consists in the word mine, ours, and the use as ours; all the comfort of spiritual mercy consists in property, possession, and fruition. If he be our Lamb, we must be like him, we must learn of him. As he is the cause of our expiation, he must be the copy of our imitation: Mat. 11:29, 'Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly, and you shall find rest unto your souls.' No rest without a sense of sin, and humiliation for it. This Lamb is ours in the liberty, life, glory, and rest he hath purchased, when we are like him, when we learn of him.
(3.) Have faith in the blood of Christ. The killing the lamb signified the death of Christ, the sprinkling the blood signified the application of it by faith. It was not the blood contained in the veins of the lamb, or shed upon the ground, that was the mark of deliverance, but sprinkled upon the posts;* nor is it the blood of Christ circulating in his body, or shed upon the cross, which solely delivers us, but as applied by faith to the heart. That was sprinkled upon every house that desired safety, and this upon every soul that desires happiness. Satan will have an undoubted right over all that are without the token of this blood, as the destroying angel had over every house that was not sprinkled with the blood of the passover. This was the sanctuary of the Israelites, the want of it, the death of the Egyptian firstborn, from the prince to the peasant, from him that sat upon the throne to him that was in the dungeon, Exod. 12:29. Without this blood of sprinkling, neither prince nor beggar can possibly escape; the one's grandeur cannot privilege, nor the other's misery procure a pity. The blood was to be taken and put upon the posts; this condition was requisite. To have a part in the great passover of our Lord, the condition is to 'sprinkle our hearts' by faith with his blood, 1 Pet. 1:2. Had an Israelite's family neglected this, it had felt the edge of the angel's sword; the lamb had not availed him, not by a defect of the sacrifice, but by their own negligence or contempt of the condition. Or had they used any other mark, they had not diverted the stroke; no work, no blood, but the blood and sufferings of the Redeemer, can take away the sin of the world; without it, every man in the world lies in the sin of his nature, under the wrath of God. If anything else in the world had a virtue for it, it could not prevail, unless God would accept it, because he did not appoint it. This only is designed to be our passover; where else can we find any remedy against the stings of our consciences, any ease under the weight of our sins, any consolation against divine wrath?
(4.) Let us leave the service of sin. The Israelites after this passover did no more work at the brick-kilns of Egypt; they ceased to be Pharaoh's slaves, and began to be the Lord's freemen. God intended no more to turn them to their former labour; he would have them eat their passover with their loins girt, in the habit of travellers. We must be in a readiness to leave the confines of Egypt, all commerce with, and service of sin and Satan, and have our faces set towards Canaan, our steps directed to observe his commands for our rule, to attain his promises for our comfort, and go forward rejoicing in his goodness, celebrating his name, offering our souls and bodies to him, which is a reasonable service to Christ our passover.
Doct. 2. Christ is a sacrifice, ἐθύθη. The word θύειν properly signifies to kill as a sacrifice.* Some dispute whether the paschal lamb was a sacrifice, because in a sacrifice something was offered to God, either in whole or in part, but the paschal lamb was not offered to God, but eaten by the people; it was killed to the end that the blood should be sprinkled upon the posts of the doors, and therefore it is rather a sacrament than a sacrifice. Again, the Jews did not sacrifice out of the temple, and therefore in their captivities they did not sacrifice, but both then and now they celebrate the passover. Others again think it a sacrifice, because the sprinkling of the blood upon the posts was, in a manner, an offering it to God to turn away his wrath (Exod. 34:25, 'Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven, neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left until the morning'), and a means of reconciliation to him: Deut. 16:2, 'Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the Lord.' But whether properly a sacrifice or no, yet it was significative of the propitiating blood of Christ, the future grand sacrifice, by virtue of which we have our deliverance. The apostle might here allude to the passover and other sacrifices, all which did prefigure the spiritual redemption by the Messiah. A sacrifice is defined to be a religious oblation of something consecrated and dedicated to God, by the ministry of a priest, according to God's institution, to be destroyed, for a testimony of the worship of God and an external symbol.†
I shall lay down some propositions for the illustrating this doctrine.
1. Sacrifices were instituted as types of Christ.
(1.) They were instituted by God. No satisfactory reason can be rendered of the custom of sacrificing, derived from the first age of the world, practised by all nations, till the appearance of the gospel abolished it in those places where it shone. It could not be a dictate of the law of nature inscribed in all men's hearts, for then they would have been of force still. Christianity doth not extinguish any beam of natural light, but adds a clearness to it; it abolisheth only what was corrupt, or only ceremonial. Though natural light could not invent them, yet it made them entertainable by all, while they were stung with the conscience of sin and expectations of vengeance. Men might know that they were unlike to what they were in their creation; they found their light darkened, their beauty defaced, and might suppose that a God of infinite goodness did not send them forth in such a shape out of his mint; this deformity must come upon them for some provocation, and by the means of their own sin. They also found the marks of God's anger upon them, saw and felt his thundering judgments in the world; they had a notion of the vindictive justice of God; they had frequent manifestations of it upon themselves and others. This the apostle affirms generally of the heathens: Rom. 1:32, 'They knew the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death;' they had a sentiment of God and revenging justice m their consciences, that it did not become the holiness and righteousness of the divine nature to let their rebellions remain unpunished. The apostle speaks not there of any supernatural revelation, but the natural manifestation by the creatures, whereby his justice was discovered, as well as his eternal power and Godhead. Upon this account sacrifices were practised among them, as seeming to them congruous means for the expiation of sin, and to put a stop to the wrath of God, either feared by them or already kindled among them. For by this action they confessed their desert of death for their crimes, acknowledged God's sovereignty and right over all they had, and owned his mercy in accepting in their stead the life of an irrational animal. For when men are sensible of the anger of God, the next thought in order is how to escape it. When men see a magistrate suffer murders and violences in a nation to go unpunished, they generally have an horror of it, and expect some judgment of God, till an expiation be made by the death of the offender. And could they reasonably think God to be void of that virtue of justice, which is commendable over all the world by the light of nature, when those perfections of human nature, left in the midst of corruption, are but as little sparks to those which are infinite in God? They were at first instituted by God; though we have not the institution of them in express words, yet we have the practice in Abel, Gen. 4:4; afterwards in Noah, Gen. 8:20, Noah offered burnt offerings on the altar. And since the apostle, Heb. 11:4, speaks of Abel's offering a sacrifice in faith, it must be God's command; for no act of worship of a human invention can please God. The demand might be made, Who hath required those things at your hands? It had not been formally good unless offered in faith; nor had it been a fit ground or medium of faith without a divine stamp upon it. If the foundation were not divine, the act could not be acceptable.
(2.) No other reason can be rendered of the institution of them, but as typical of the great sacrifice of the Redeemer. The Scripture gives us the only account of this; all nations in the world without the Scripture are in the dark as to the design of those sacrifices, though they practised them conformably to the sentiments of their consciences. The institution of them from the beginning of the world cannot reasonably be concluded to be for any other end than to prefigure some sufficient sacrifice, able to appease the wrath of God, and pacify the consciences of men, and to instruct men in what was to be brought upon the stage in time, in the exhibition of the person of the Redeemer. In the state of innocence we find no mention of them, nor could they have had any place had man continued in his created rectitude and integrity. The covenant of works, which then was the rule and ground of man's standing, required not faith in a Redeemer, and therefore implied no such act as sacrificing. Man then had no relation to God but as a creature, and persisting in obedience could not by the righteous law of God be subject to death, and therefore no other subjected to death for him; for to have any one to die for us implies that we had merited death ourselves. It cannot enter into the reason of man to imagine what use they could be for in that state. Death was not due to the righteousness of man's nature, but to his corruption. Adam stood upon his own bottom, and was the foundation of all his posterity, and no person was substituted in his room. What could sacrifices then represent? Whereof could they be typical? Could they be for the confession of sin? There was none to confess. Could they be to represent a death deserved? There was no crime committed whereby to merit it. Could it be to typify Christ to come? There was no revelation of him till after the fall, Gen. 3:15. And supposing (as some do) that Christ should have been incarnate had man persisted in his first integrity, yet none suppose that Christ should have been crucified in that nature without the entrance of sin. What end could be supposed of shedding his blood? For satisfaction of justice? Justice was not provoked. For example? Man, perfect in all virtue, needed none; besides, he was not capable of the exercise of suffering virtues, who was not capable of suffering in that state. They were appointed therefore after the fall, as the representations of this sacrifice, so necessary for the expiation of sin. And some conclude with probability that they were put in practice immediately after the making the promise of the seed of the woman (though there be no express scripture for it), from Gen. 3:21, 'God made them coats of skins,' which probably were the skins of slain beasts, very likely consumed by fire from heaven, as the Jews say Abel's sacrifice was, which was a token of God's acceptation of it. This was probably done for the confirmation of the truth of the promise, the clearer representing the design of it to them, by substituting another in the room of the offender, and comforting them thereby, since 'without shedding of blood is no remission,' Heb. 9:22. And of those sacrifices the skins were appointed to be the garments of the first man and woman, to put them in mind of their apostasy, and the way of their recovery, and the righteousness of another, wherein they were to stand before God. But howsoever it be, we cannot suppose Abel to be the first that offered sacrifice, and that 129 years should run without the offering of any.* It is likely Abel was slain in that year, because Seth was born in the 130th year of Adam's age, Gen. 5:3. Indeed sacrifices, as they looked backward, could be no other than a transcript of the agreement between the Father and the Son, of the one's paying, and the other's accepting the price of blood for the redemption of man;† and as they looked forward, a type of the real performance of the sufferings on the one part, and the acceptance of them on the other part, when the fulness of time should come wherein they were actually to be undergone. This tradition of sacrifices was handed down to all nations of the world, but the knowledge of the end of them was lost. Yet in an exercise of reason they might rise to a consideration, that this low blood could not be a compensation for sin, as not being proportioned to the dignity of him with whom they had to do. But as to the true end of them, the representation of a higher sacrifice, they were not able to discern it by all the reason in the world, after they had lost the revelation of it. By the way, this adds a credit to the Scripture, since it gives us an account of the reason of that which was practised by all nations, which they could not without revelation render any tolerable reason for. The Scripture makes it plain. God would have a representation of that which the Redeemer was to offer in the fulness of time for the abolition of sin. As men always need a satisfaction of the justice of God, so God would have it that in all their worship there should be a mark of this necessity, and some presage that one day there should be a sacrifice eternally efficacious, the reality of which was represented by this figure.‡
(3.) Christ did really answer to these types. They were all Christ in a cloud; the substance did answer to the shadows, and he was used in such a manner as the figures of him were. Christ was a victim put in the place of the sinner to appease the anger of God; and as sins were laid upon the head of the sacrifice, so God 'put upon him the iniquities of us all,' Isa. 53:6. In regard of this typicalness of the legal administration, Christ is often called a lamb, and 'the Lamb of God,' John 1:29, and 'a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,' not only in the decree, but in the type of him, the first sacrifice mentioned in Scripture, which was a firstling of the flock, Gen. 4:2, 4, Abel being a keeper of sheep. To those figures of him he seems to refer in his last speech upon the cross, John 19:30, 'It is finished.' The whole design of the daily and extraordinary sacrifices was completed, the demerit of sin and severity of divine justice were manifested, and the truth of God, as well as his love, made glorious therein; upon which followed the rending of the veil, and the setting heaven open for the entrance of all that believed in him, to approach to God upon the account of this sacrifice.
2. The sacrifices thus instituted were of themselves insufficient, and could not expiate sin, they must therefore receive their accomplishment in some other. Being but shadows by their institution, they could make nothing perfect, Heb. 10:1, 11, where, and in the following verses, the apostle lays the glory of the legal sacrifices in the dust; nor really atone, though they typically did, they did but evidence the guilt of sin and misery of men, whence the law is called a minister of death.
(1.) It was not consistent with the honour of God to be contented with the blood of a beast for an expiation of sin. How could there be in it a discovery of the severity of his justice, the purity of his holiness, or the grandeurs of his grace? How would he have been known in his infinite hatred of sin, if he had accepted the blood of an abject animal as an atonement for the sin of a spiritual soul? Was it becoming the majesty of God, who had denounced a curse in the law upon the transgressors of it, and published it with so terrible a solemnity, as thunders, lightnings, earthquakes, which made it pass under the title of a fiery law, Deut. 33:2, in regard of the severe menaces against the transgressor, to make so light of it, to accept of the mangling a few beasts in the place of the offender against it?* Should he appear on mount Sinai with ten thousand of his angels in the giving of it, to let all the threatenings of it vanish into smoke? Was it likely all those curses should be poured out upon a few irrational and innocent creatures, who had never broken that law? Can it be imagined, that after so terrible a proclamation, he should acquiesce in so light a compensation as the death of a poor beast? No man can reasonably have such despicable thoughts of the majesty, justice, and holiness of God, or the vileness of sin and greatness of its provocation, as to imagine that the one could be contented, or the other expiated, by the blood of a lamb or bullock. Our own consciences will tell us that if God will have a sacrifice, it must be proportioned to the majesty of him whom we have offended, and the greatness of the crime we have committed.
(2.) They have no proportion to the sin of man. The sin of a rational creature is too foul to be expiated by the blood of an irrational creature; nor could the blood of a human body, though the first-born, the strength and delight of man, Micah 6:7, much less of a beast, bear any proportion to the sin of the soul: Heb. 10:4, 'It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin.' The butchery of so poor a creature cannot be any compensation for that which is a disparagement of the Creator of the world. What alliance was there between the nature of a beast and that of a man? An inferior nature can never atone the sin of a nature superior to it. There is indeed in the groans of those dying creatures some demonstration of God's wrath, but no bringing in an everlasting righteousness, nor any vindication of the honour of the law.
(3.) The reiteration of them shews their insufficiency.† Had the wrath of God been appeased by them, why should the fire burn perpetually upon the altar? Why should it be perpetually with the carcases of beasts? As often as they were offered, a conscience of sin was excited in the presenter of them, iniquity was called to remembrance, Heb. 10:2, 3. The whole scene of that administration loudly published that the wrath against sin was not appeased, the guilt of the soul not wiped off. If a man had presented a sacrifice for his sin one day, and fallen into the same, or another, before night, he must have repeated his sacrifice for a new expiation; had there been ability in them to perform so great a thing, there had not been a repetition. They were rather a commemoration of sin, and confessions of it, than expiations of any; rather accusers than atoners.
(4.) God had often spoken slightly of them. He resembles them to the 'cutting off a dog's neck,' when done with an unholy heart, Isa. 66:3. While the temple stood, he struck their fingers off from hanging upon them, Isa. 1:11–13; indeed, he would 'not reprove them for their offering,' Ps. 50:8, but he would not have them place their justification in them. He professeth he had no delight in them, Ps. 40:6. If all sacrifices of the law were not of such value as love to him and fear of him, they could not expiate; and if that which was more excellent than those were too weak to effect it, an utter inability must remain in the other. He doth frequently predict the abolition of them, and hath destroyed the temple to which he had affixed them, which remains in desolation without a sacrifice to this day. Besides, he never provided a typical remedy for all sins in them; some transgressors were to be cut off without a sacrifice for them, according to the judicial law, the rule of the government of that people; upon which account David argues that God did not delight in them: Ps. 51:16, 'Thou desirest not sacrifice, thou delightest not in burnt-offerings,' because he had provided no sacrifices for those sins David at that time was guilty of; whereupon he desires, ver. 18, that God would 'do good to Sion in his good pleasure;' bring forth that Redeemer out of Sion which he had promised, whose sacrifice, being a sacrifice of righteousness, should be infinitely delightful to him. Since, therefore, it is unbecoming the majesty of God to be satisfied with the blood of a calf or goat, since it bears no proportion to the sin of man; since he never intended those institutions to be perpetual; since the threatening of the law must, if God be a God of truth, have their accomplishment either in the person offending, or in some undertaker for him, capable to hear them in his stead; there must be some other sacrifice suited to the majesty of God, able to make an expiation proportionable to the sin of man, a sacrifice able to remove the guilt and pacify the conscience, a rest for God and a security for the creature. The natural order of things requires, and the whole design of those legal institutions declares, that as he that keeps the law should have a reward from the goodness of God, so he that breaks it should endure a punishment from the justice of God; and every man being a breaker of the law, must either sink under the menaces of it, or present a sufficient sacrifice to God to avert his wrath, a precious blood that may quench the flames of his anger, that God may say to the sinner, 'I have found,' and accepted, 'a ransom' for thee. And what is said of this may be said of all our duties and performances, the staves upon which men naturally lean for acceptation of their persons. They can no more be acceptable in themselves to God, or remedies for man, than the legal sacrifices, which had no merit in themselves, but represented that which was grateful to God and meritorious for the creature; and whatsoever virtue and efficacy they had was not from themselves, but from that which they shadowed.
3. Proposition. Such a sacrifice, therefore, is necessary for a sinful creature. No creature can be such a sacrifice. As the apostle argues, 'If righteousness be by the law, then was Christ dead in vain,' Gal. 2:21. Upon the same account it may be concluded, if expiation could be made by a creature for himself, in vain did God send his Son to be a propitiation for sin. Had man himself been sufficient for it, God's sending his Son had rather appeared an act of cruelty to Christ than of mercy to us. Who could think God should expose the delight of his soul to our infirmities and a shameful death, if a sufficient sacrifice could have been found elsewhere? Besides, the wrath of God being so terrible that the human nature of Christ trembled at it, how is any creature ever able to bear the horror of it, and stand as a sacrifice under the weighty strokes of that justice?
(1.) What is a sacrifice for sin must be pure and sinless. God will not accept a defiled offering. He that provokes him by his own offence is not capable of appeasing him for his own or another's. The least blemish in a typical lamb rendered it unfit for the altar. God is infinitely pure who is offended; the law is exactly holy which is contemned. A compensation cannot be made to a holy God and a righteous law by the criminal without enduring an infinite penalty, which, because it cannot be intensive so, must be extensivè, infinite in point of duration, i.e. since it cannot be infinite it must be perpetual. As he would be always suffering, so he would be always sinning, and wrath can never be appeased by that which provokes it at the same time it endeavours to pacify it. What is displeasing can never be capable of pleasing an infinite holiness. If a man had but one sin, and thought to expiate that by anything he could do, he would still need another sacrifice to expiate the sin of the former, and so would be always satisfying and always sinning, since 'there is no man that doth good and sins not,' i.e. in the doing of it, Eccles. 7:20; he could not possibly find anything in himself or in any corrupted creature, where he might rest his foot with any content and security. Where any sin is, though but one, there can be no merit. Whatsoever is done after all our strength is gone is done by the grace of God. In that case God deserves service of us, but we deserve no acceptation from him. Since, therefore, we are not able since our fall to do one good work, we are not able to offer one acceptable sacrifice, how can man then satisfy for himself, any more than a man that owes a shilling pays that by borrowing two, whereby he is so far from paying his debt that he increaseth it?
(2.) An infinite sacrifice is necessary for a sin in some respects infinite; for every sin entrencheth upon the honour of an infinite God. An infinite sacrifice is due for an infinite offence. God is infinite in his glory, which is impaired, infinite in his sovereignty, which is degraded; the sacrifice must be of as great a dignity as the offence was of malignity. It must be fully proportioned to the sin of man and the majesty of God.* What man, nay, what creature is capable of such a proportion? The condition of his nature is too low, and the limits of his dignity too strait, to correspond with such an effect. The drop of a bucket and the dust of the balance are of too vile a nature to be a satisfactory sacrifice to God. All men are no more, Isa. 40:15–17, nay, 'worse than nothing and vanity,' and therefore all men in the world put together would be so far from redeeming themselves by a sufficient sacrifice, that as themselves, so their sacrifice, would be worse than nothing and vanity, and would be overwhelmed under the punishment due to their offence. Finite bears no proportion to infinite, therefore a finite sacrifice carries no equivalent compensation in it for an infinite wrong; so that neither length of time nor strength of nature can ever make a recompence for that offence, which increaseth in proportion according to the dignity of the person against whom it is committed. If every hair of our head were a soul, and every soul a sacrifice, all would be too poor an amends for that glorious God wronged by us, though it had been but by one act of rebellion; for man cannot do any act of that value in the nature of satisfaction, as one act of sin is injurious in the nature of wrong. Upon the same account of finiteness no angel could be a proportionable sacrifice to the justice of God for the sin of man; for, though the excellency of the angelical far transcends the nature of man, yet it cannot equal the dignity of God.* They are creatures, and an unconceivable distance is perpetually between creatures and the Creator; therefore saith Job, chap. 4:18, 'He puts no trust in his servants, and his angels he chargeth with folly.' All the excellency of the angelical nature is despicable compared with God, and if God did not secure them they would fall; if God did not preserve light in them, they would be darkness as well as we. If they could not because they are creatures, man could not because he was a sinful creature; 'Thousands of rivers of oil, and thousands of rams,' would have borne far less proportion to the Creator of them, or to sins against him, Micah 6:6, 7.
(3.) Necessary, in regard of the justice of God, which is an immutable and infinite perfection of the divine essence. As God is so infinitely holy as it is impossible ho should not but hate the least sin, so he is infinite in his justice, and cannot let any sin go unpunished, since he hath declared by his law, that 'cursed is he that continueth not in all things of the law to do them,' and that it was irrevocably passed, that 'in the day man ate of the forbidden fruit he should die the death,' Gen. 2:17. As the perfection of his nature requires that he should have for sin an implacable aversion, so the same perfection requires that justice be not appeased without punishment. Since God therefore would have a sacrifice for sin, to have one disproportioned to his infinite dignity and justice, had been the same as to have none at all. An infinite sacrifice cannot be offered but by an infinite person; it is necessary therefore that one of the persons of the Trinity should be this sacrifice, and it was most congruous to the wisdom of God, upon several accounts, that it should be the second. This sacrifice is necessary at least in point of becomingness. As God is the author of all things, and placed them in a rectitude from which they departed by their own folly, and sullied that glory they were created to manifest; it became him to bring things into order again by such a method as should manifest his hatred of that disorder sin had introduced into the world, and how strict a guardian he would be of the eternal order of things, and of those sacred laws whereby he governs the world: Heb. 2:10, 'It became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering.' As God had made all things for his glory, so it was fit his Son, becoming the head of the world, should be put in such a posture as to shew forth the glory of God in the most illustrious manner. Now, in the sufferings of Christ, the justice of God flames more bright than it could in any creature, and shews itself inflexible against sin; the treasures of his grace are wider opened than could be in any other act, and his wisdom sparkles more gloriously in bringing men to glory by punishment; and since he made all things, and that for himself, it became him after the apostasy of man and the defacing the creation, to restore things in such a way as might conduce most to his own glory and the happiness of the creature.
4. Proposition. Christ only was fit to be this sacrifice. Whatsoever any creature could have done had been a debt of duty, and that could not have made a compensation for a debt of rebellion. Whatsoever a mere creature could do was by the gift of God, and therefore could not merit anything at the hand of God. Whatsoever is meritorious must be our own, as well as that which is not due. Besides, from any other hand God would have received less than the offence merited; at the best, it would have been but a feigned and partial satisfaction, which had not been congruous to the wisdom and justice of God, since he determined it necessary to have a sacrifice. But Christ in his divine nature was 'equal with God,' Philip. 2:6, and therefore in his person was answerable to the dignity of the person offended; and as he was in the form of a servant and innocent, he offered that which was not due from himself and upon his own account to God; for though as a creature he was bound to the obedience of the precepts of the law, yet as an innocent creature he was not obliged to the penalties of the law: suffering was in no wise due upon his own account. And he was without blemish. Had he been a criminal, he could not have been a remedy. He had also an alliance with both parties; he could treat with God as partaking of his glory, and be a sacrifice for man as partaking of the infirmities of his nature. He had a body to bear the stroke due to a victim, and a divine nature to sustain him under it. He had a human nature to offer as a sacrifice, and a divine nature to render it valuable and infinitely meritorious; being God and man, he wanted not a fitness to accomplish so great an undertaking. If he had not been man, he could not have been a sacrifice; and if he had not been God, he could not have been a remedy.
5. It was necessary, in regard of his office of priesthood, that he should be a sacrifice. He was constituted as 'a priest for ever,' by an oath, Ps. 110:4. Now, he could not be a priest without a sacrifice; a priest and a sacrifice are relatives: Heb. 5:1, 'Every high priest taken from among men, is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. It is therefore of necessity that this man have something to offer,' Heb. 8:3. As he was a prophet, he was to have a doctrine to teach; as a king, he was to have subjects to govern; as a priest, he was to have a sacrifice to offer; as he was a prophet, he was to deliver something from God to men; as he was a priest, he was to present something for man to God; as a prophet, he was to teach men obedience to God; as a priest, he was to make God propitious to men; that which he was to offer must be expiatory, that is the proper notion of a sacrifice; the other offerings are termed gifts. If he had offered the blood of bulls and goats, we had been in the same case we were in before; the insufficiency of them had not been removed by the dignity of the offerer; they could never in their own nature be proportioned to the dignity of the wronged sovereign, or be adequate to the punishment the criminal had deserved. The impossibility of their taking away sin is positively asserted, Heb. 10:4. The transcendent excellency of the priest could never alter the disproportion between the justice of God provoked by sin, and the death of the miserable beast for it; though the person offering had been greater, the thing offered had been the same; besides, the offending nature had not suffered, but a nature inferior to it. They must have been always offered, the repetition of them must have been continued, and had that been a proper employment for the Son of God, to have been always imbruing his hands in the blood of animals? But a sacrifice must be offered by him (if he did not offer one, he was no priest), and none but himself was a sacrifice worthy to be offered by so great a priest. He offered but once, and it was himself he offered, Heb. 7:27. And this was so spotless, Heb. 9:14; and of so sweet smelling savour, Eph. 5:2, that it need not again be repeated, Heb. 9:28. His unblemished 'soul was made an offering for sin,' Isa. 53:10. For being a priest of another kind than the legal priests, he must have a sacrifice of another kind.
6. Proposition. Jesus Christ, then, was a sacrifice in his human nature. To this end a body was prepared for him, to be substituted in the place of those sacrifices wherein God had no pleasure: Heb. 10:5, 'Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me.' Cited out of Ps. 40:6, 'Mine ears hast thou opened' (as some* think figuratively, the ear being taken for the whole body, because obedience is learned by the ear, the instrument of hearing the will of another). The will of God was, that he should be an offering in this body: Heb. 10:10, 'By which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ once for all.' And his soul was an offering for sin, Isa. 53:10. The first promise evidenced, that though the seed of the woman should tear up the empire of the devil, which by the law he had over sinners, yet it should be by the suffering something from him, by having his heel bruised. There was an obedience to the law to be performed, without which he had not been capable of being a sacrifice; the penalty of the law to be endured, without which he could not be an actual sacrifice. Neither of those could be but in the human nature; obedience to the law is not consistent with the sovereignty of God; according to his divine nature he was under no law. Suffering was impossible to the Deity; it is the property of God to be immutable and impassible. His human nature therefore was the sacrifice; for as he was made of a woman, whereby he took our nature, as he was made under the law, whereby he subjected himself to our obedience, he 'redeemed us from under the law', from our condemnation, Gal. 4:5. He that was to break the serpent's head, i.e. to dissolve the power which, as an executioner, he had from an offended God, was to be the seed of the woman. And this he effected by his death and bloody sacrifice, appeasing the wrath of God, and thereby destroying the power of the jailor, which he obtained by the entrance of sin and the curse of the law: Heb. 2:14, 'Through death he destroyed him that had the power of death,' i.e. the devil. This sacrifice was both of soul and body, as the threatening was, 'In the day thou eatest thou shalt die the death,' i.e. be subject to the death and condemnation both of soul and body. As the reward of goodness respects the entire man, composed of soul and body, so doth the punishment of sin, which hath corrupted one as well as the other. The sacrifice therefore to be offered for the appeasing that wrath, and removing that curse, was to consist both of soul and body.
7. Proposition. That whereby this sacrifice was sanctified was the divine nature. Every sacrifice was sanctified by the altar, Mat. 23:19. There must be something to add an infinite value to the sufferings of his humanity,† which could be nothing but the divine nature, and union with it Nothing but that which is infinite can confer an infinite value on that which is finite. The infiniteness of dignity resides in the divine nature and essence, and the infiniteness of dignity is as incommunicable as the infiniteness of essence. For it hath its root and foundation in the infiniteness of being, and the one is but the reflection of the other. It is impossible to add a dignity without limits, but one must attribute an essence without bounds, as it is impossible that anything can possess the lustre and enlivening virtue of the sun but the sun itself. The human nature suffered, and the divine nature sanctified the humanity, and by reason of this admirable union, and the reflection of the divinity upon the humanity, what was done to the human nature upon the cross, is ascribed to the whole person. They 'crucified the Lord of glory,' 1 Cor. 2:8. And God 'purchased the church with his own blood,' Acts 20:28. It was this made his sufferings acceptable to God, whose justice was to be satisfied; and efficacious for man, whose happiness and commerce with God were to be restored, and his indigencies to be supplied. Thus some interpret Heb. 9:14, 'Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself to God,' understanding by eternal Spirit his Deity; not that he suffered in his divine nature, but by virtue of that presented himself to his Father a most acceptable sacrifice. So that he had a human nature to serve for a sacrifice, and an eternal spirit or divine nature, wherein he subsisted, from whence that sacrifice derived an infinite dignity, as gold, which hath a lustre of itself, hath a greater when the sun shines full upon it. We may see here how Christ was a priest, sacrifice, altar, in several respects: a priest in his person, a sacrifice in his humanity, the altar in his divinity. He was the offerer and the sacrifice, both are expressed: Eph. 5:2, 'He offered up himself.' Active as a priest, passive as a victim; as one, offering; as the other, offered. Upon this account of his blood being offered by his person, he is called God in the act of oblation of his blood for the redemption of the church, Acts 20:28, 'which he,' referring to God, 'hath purchased with his own blood.' The Jews and soldiers were not the priests, as some affirm. They were the instruments of slaying him, but not with the intention of a sacrifice. They were instruments in it, but could not force him to it. His death was intended by them; his death as a sacrifice intended by himself; his laying down his life was of himself, John 20:18, which is not meant barely of his death, but of his death as respecting his sheep, ver. 15, and indeed unless it had been voluntary, it had not been savoury.
8. Proposition. Upon the sacrifice of Christ all his other sacerdotal acts depend, and from thence they receive their validity for us. It is fit therefore we should well understand and often consider this sacrifice, which is the foundation of all our peace and comfort in reference to God. This was the chief thing God eyed in the first declaration of him, Gen. 3:15, in the serpent's bruising his heel; nothing but this spoken of. His resurrection was first represented in the safety of Isaac, after he was designed to death, and other things not till after that successively; God making the light to dawn upon them by degrees.
(1.) This was the ground of his ascension and entrance into heaven as a priest. The high priest was not to enter within the veil without blood; what was in the type, was to be answered in the antitype. An expiatory sacrifice was necessary to precede his ascension to heaven; the sacrifice must be offered upon the earth, as the legal sacrifies were without,—heaven was no place for slaughter,—and with his blood he was to enter. Heaven's gates had been shut against him without it. Death was the penalty threatened, if the legal high priest ventured to step into the holy of holies without blood. The apostle argues from this, Heb. 9:7, 'Into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people,' and ver. 25. According to this type, Christ by his own blood entered once into the holy place. How and in what order? After he had obtained redemption for us, Heb. 9:12, which is ascribed to his death, ver. 15. His entrance into heaven, and what he doth for us there, is laid upon the account of his death as a sacrifice upon the earth; by virtue of which he went to heaven to present it to God, and apply it to us. And besides, all his royalty and power, whereby we have security and protection from him, depends upon this; for it is because of that obedience to blood and death which he rendered to God, that he hath given him a name above every name, and advanced him to a sovereign power: Philip. 2:8, 9, 'Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him; wherefore,' referring to his death, ver. 8.
(2.) This is the foundation of his intercession. There are two functions of Christ's priesthood, oblation and intercession;* they are both joined together, but one as precedent to the other. The legal high priest, when he had first cut the throat of the sacrifice without (upon the day of the anniversary sacrifice), was not esteemed by that act to have completed his propitiation, till he had entered into the sanctuary, and sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice with his finger; so the propitiation made by our Redeemer was not fully complete till he entered into heaven to exercise his intercession. Yet the oblation precedes the intercession, and the intercession could not be without the oblation. It was with the blood of the victim, and no other blood, he was to enter. Without the oblation he would have had nothing to present in his intercession. They are placed in this order by the apostle, 1 John 2:1, 2. He is first a sacrifice for propitiation, then an advocate for intercession. What he doth as an advocate, is grounded upon what he did as a sacrifice; and, were it not so, the apostle's arguing would not be valid, who placeth our salvation by the life of Christ upon our reconciliation by the death of Christ, Rom. 5:10. Indeed, he could not have been admitted, according to the type, as an advocate, but as being the high priest, and a high priest he could not have been without a sacrifice.
(3.) This is the foundation of all the grace any have. The conveyance of all the gracious love of Christ is through this channel. In redemption by his blood, the riches of the grace of God abounded, and that with the marks of the highest wisdom, Eph. 1:7, 8. All had laid buried from the view of man, and the fruition of men, without this sacrifice. This did commend his love, as well as satisfy his justice. His wrath had not been appeased, nor his grace drawn out to us without it; nor could the Redeemer lay any claim to any grace and mercy for those for whom he came, unless he had suffered for them as well as taken flesh for them. His offering himself, Isa. 53:10–12, precedes his having a seed. The being and beauty of his seed depend upon the efficacy of his meritorious sacrifice. The offering his soul goes before the pardon of our sin; the payment of the ransom before the sprinkling it on us; the sealing of the covenant before the making good the covenant; his sufferings before his triumph, and the streams of his blood before the treasures of his grace. Upon the account of this sacrifice we enjoy the presence of God, protection against the enemies of our salvation, and receive the blessings necessary for our souls. By all this it appears that Christ is a sacrifice. This was his intent in coming. His death as a sacrifice was his intention in the assumption of our flesh; the prophecies predicted it, the types represented it; this he pursued, for this he thirsted. The accomplishment of this fiery baptism was the matter of his longing, his thoughts were never off from it, his will shrunk not from it; when his human will shewed some reluctance, it quickly returned to its fixedness: nothing could deter him, nothing could divert him. When he undertook to be mediator, he undertook to be a sacrifice, as a thing necessarily annexed to that office for the honour of God's justice, and the preservation of the rights of his sacred law. Upon which account, when the apostle speaks of this mediator, he adds with the same breath, 'who gave himself a ransom for all,' 1 Tim. 2:5, 6. After the title of mediator follows 'the blood of sprinkling,' Heb. 12:24. A mediator he was by means of his death, Heb. 9:15. It is with good reason, therefore, that in our creed there is so quick a passage from the nativity of Christ to his passion, without any mention of the acts of his life, because he was incarnate, that he might be crucified.
The essence of a sacrifice consisted,
[1.] In the slaying or destroying it. [2.] In the offering it to God. Both were done in Christ.
[1.] In the slaying or destroying it. The shedding of the blood, the seat of the spirits, which are the instruments of action, was necessary to an expiatory sacrifice. The scape-goat, indeed, is called a sacrifice, Lev. 16:5, which was not slain in the temple, nor burned, but sent into the wilderness; and, as the Jews tell us, destroyed by being thrown down a rock, to which purpose men were appointed, who were to give notice of it by some signals from hill to hill, at a convenient distance, before which notice the congregation at Jerusalem did not dissolve. But the other expiatory sacrifices were devoured by fire; fire being the highest representation in the world of the justice of God. The sufferings of Christ extended to soul and body. He was scorched by the wrath of God, Ps. 22; 'His soul poured out to death,' Isa. 53:12, alluding to the blood of the sacrifices poured out; and his human nature dissolved by the separation of the soul and body.
[2.] In the offering it to God. Oblation to God was a main part of the sacrifice; so 'Christ offered himself to God,' Eph. 5:2. To God, as essentially considered, whereby the whole right of rectorship and dominion was acknowledged belonging to God. Had the death of Christ been only for example, it had not been offered to God, who was not capable of any example to be set him. It being, therefore, offered to him, manifests it to be a sacrifice.
Doct. 3. Christ was sacrified for us. ὑπὲρ, when joined with suffering for another, always signifies in another's stead and place. It is so used, Rom. 5:7, 'For a good man some would even dare to die;' i.e. instead of a good man, to free him from the death he was designed to, not only for his sake; so Gal. 3:18, 'He was made a curse for us,' i.e. in our stead, suffering the curse due to us for our sins. He is called 'the Lamb of God,' in regard of God's designation of him; our lamb, our passover, in regard of his substitution in our place; as he died to appease the wrath of God, his death referred to the justice of God; as that justice flamed out against us, his death referred to us; he was a screen between the heat of wrath and the sufferings of the creature; a mediator, respecting God for his satisfaction and glory, respecting us for our reparation and grace.
This will be cleared, if we consider,
1. That Christ could not be a sacrifice for himself. The Messiah was to be cut off, but not for himself,' Dan. 9:26; he needed no sacrifice for himself, as the other high priests did; they were sinners, he was harmless; they being encompassed with infirmities, needed, or ought to offer sacrifices for themselves, Heb. 5:2, 3; he was 'a lamb without blemish,' 1 Peter 1:19, who 'knew no sin, nor was guile found in his mouth,' nor did he ever do any thing displeasing to his Father, John 8:29. He needed no glory to be purchased for him, for he was from eternity happy in the same essence with the Father, being 'God blessed for ever, over all,' Rom. 9:5, having the command over all, and wanting nothing to a perfect blessedness. The sacrifices, which were types of him, could not be for themselves; they were not capable of sinning, as wanting a rational nature, and therefore a sinful nature. A beast was not capable of sin, because not capable of a law, and therefore its blood was not due for any sin of its own. Christ had no sin, none actual; 'no guile was found in his mouth,' 1 Peter 2:22: nor original; that was stopped by his extraordinary conception by the Holy Ghost, which rendered him immaculate.
2. Sacrifices implied this. They had a relation to the offerer, and were substituted in his place. The substitution of the sacrifice in the place of the offenders, was always supposed by the heathen; hence did the offering of human victims arise, their opinion being that they could not present to God a nobler creature in their stead than one of their own nature. The notion of all sacrifices was, that they were in the place of a sinner to appease the offending* deity, and exempt the guilty person from punishment. And the actions about the Jewish sacrifices manifested this: the offerer laid his hand upon the head of the beast, signifying by that ceremony its consecration to God, and owning the translation of his guilt upon that creature, and putting it in his place to undergo the punishment deserved by his sin, Lev. 4:24–29. And in this action of laying on hands, both hands, and with all their strength, as the Jews tell us, confession of sin was made by the presenter of the sacrifice, which signified also the disburdening of his guilt upon the head of the victim. By those actions was manifested a transferring of sin from the offender to the sacrifice, and of the death due to the criminal in like manner; besides, the pouring out of the blood, wherein the soul of the beast was supposed to be, was destined for the expiation of the sin of the soul of the offerer, Lev. 17:11–14; not that the blood is properly the soul, but because the vital spirits, which are the instruments of action, and conveying the virtue of the soul to particular members, are seated in the blood.
3. The whole economy of Christ is expressed in the whole. Scripture to have a relation to us. All things preparatory to his sufferings were for us; some were first given to him, before he was given for them: John 17:9, he took flesh for us; Isa. 9:6, 'Unto us a child is born;' for us he had a 'fulness of grace' in his human nature, John 1:16; for our sakes he did dedicate himself, that we might be sanctified, John 17:19; for us he gave himself, Gal. 2:20; in the very moment of his sufferings, our iniquities were laid upon him, that health, by his stripes, might be derived to us. Christ was a common person for us, as the scape-goat was common to the whole congregation, Lev. 16:21, representing all of them; Christ was a common person for us, as Adam was, to whom, in this regard, he is compared: Rom. 5:14, 'Who is,' i.e. Adam, 'the figure of him that was to come.' The apostle compares one Adam and one Christ; he illustrates the condition and the actions of the one by the condition and actions of the other, what happened to us by Adam and what happened to us by Christ. This typicalness of Adam cannot be in any other regard than as he was a common person, representing all that were in his loins by natural generation. In this regard Christ is called 'the second man,' 1 Cor. 15:47: 'The first man is of the earth earthly, the second man is the Lord from heaven.' Not that he was the second man born in the world (for many ages were run before his incarnation) but the second common root in the world. As when Adam, being the first root of mankind in a natural way, fell, the curse came upon him and all his posterity, and the standing punishments pronounced against him did reach, and were meant of all his posterity, Gen. 3:19, not only of Adam personal, but of Adam as a representative, and so of all those who were not yet born into the world; as we sinned in Adam as a common root of natural generation, so we were all sacrificed in Christ as a common head of all that are in him by a spiritual union: the one merited death and damnation for all that descend from him; the other life and salvation for all that believe in him.
4. Our sins were imputed to him as to a sacrifice. Christ the just is put in the place of the unjust to suffer for them; 1 Pet. 3:18. Christ is said to bear sin as a sacrifice bears sin, Isa. 53:10–12. His soul was made an offering for it; but sin was so laid upon the victims, as that it was imputed to them in a judicial account, according to the ceremonial law, and typically expiated by them. Christ had not taken away our sins as mediator, had he not borne the punishment of them; as a surety, 'He was made sin for us,' 2 Cor. 5:21, and he bare our sins, which is evident by the kind of death he suffered, not only sharp and shameful, but accursed, having a sense of God's wrath linked to it.
(1.) It cannot be understood of the infection of sin. The filth of our nature was not transmitted to him. Though he was made sin, yet he was not made a sinner by any infusion or transplantation of sin into his nature. It was impossible his holiness could be denied with our filth.
(2.) But that our sin was the meritorious cause of his punishment. All those phrases, that Christ 'died for our sins,' 1 Cor. 15:3, and was 'delivered to death for our offences,' Rom. 4:23, clearly import sin to be the meritorious cause of the punishment Christ endured. Sin cannot be said to be the cause of punishment but by way of merit. If Christ had not been just, he had not been capable of suffering for us;* had we not been unjust, we had not merited any suffering for ourselves, much less for another. Our unrighteousness put us under a necessity of a sacrifice, and his righteousness made him fit to be one. What was the cause of the desert of suffering for ourselves was the meritorious cause of the sufferings of the Redeemer after he put himself in our place. The sin of the offerer merited the death of the sacrifice presented in his stead.
(3.) Our sins were charged upon him in regard of their guilt. Our sins are so imputed to him, as that they are not imputed to us, 2 Cor. 5:19, and not imputed to us, because he was made a curse for us, Gal. 3:13. He bore our sins, as to the punishment, is granted. If he were an offering for them, they must in a judicial way be charged upon him. If by being made sin be understood a sacrifice for sin (which indeed is the true intent of the word sometimes in Scripture), sin was then legally transferred on the antitype, as it was on the types in the Jewish service by the ceremony of laying on of hands, and confessing of sin, after which the thing so dedicated became accursed, and though it was in itself innocent, yet it was juridically and substitutivè nocent.† In the same manner was Christ accounted, as on the contrary believers are personally nocent, but by virtue of the satisfaction of this sacrifice imputed to them they are judicially counted innocent. Christ, who never sinned, is put in such a state as if he had; and we, who have always sinned, are put into such a state by him as if we never had. As we are made righteous in him, so he was made sin for us. Now, as justifying righteousness is not inherent in us, but imputed to us, so our condemning sin was not inherent in Christ, but imputed to him. There would else be no consistency in the antithesis: 2 Cor. 5:21, 'He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.' He knew no sin, yet he became sin. It seems to carry it further than only the bearing the punishment of sin. He was judicially charged in our stead with the guilt of sin. Our iniquities were laid upon him, Isa. 53:6. He had spoken, ver. 5, of his bearing the chastisement of our peace, the punishment of our sin, and then seems to declare the ground of that, which consisted in God's imputation of sin to him in laying upon him the iniquities of us all. What iniquities? Our goings astray, our turnings every one to his own way. He made him to be that sin which he knew not; but he knew the punishment of sin; the knowledge of that was the end of his coming. He came to lay down his life a ransom for many. He knew not sin by an experimental inherency, but he knew it by judicial imputation. He knew it not in regard of the spots, but he knew it in regard of the guilt following upon the judgment of God. He was righteous in his person, but not judicially or juridically pronounced righteous as our surety till after his sacrifice, when he was 'taken from prison and from judgment,' Isa. 53:8. Till he had paid the debt, he was accounted as a debtor to God.
[1.] The apostle distinguisheth his second coming from his first by this: Heb. 9:28, 'He shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation.' It is not meant of the filth of sin, for so he appeared at first without sin, but without the guilt of sin which he had at his first coining derived, or taken upon himself to satisfy for, and remove from the sinner. He shall appear without sin to be imputed, without punishment to be inflicted. At the time of his first coming, he appeared with sin, with sin charged upon him, as our surety arrested for our criminal debts. He pawned his life for the lives which we had forfeited, and suffered the penalty duo by law, that we might have a deliverance free by grace. In his first coming, he represented our persons as an undertaker for us; our sins were therefore laid upon him. In his second coming, he represents God as a vicegerent, and so no sin can be charged upon him.
[2.] He cannot well be supposed to suffer for our sins, if our sins in regard of their guilt be not supposed to be charged upon him. How could he die, if he were not a reputed sinner? Had he not first had a relation to our sin, he could not in justice have undergone our punishment. He must in the order of justice be supposed a sinner really, or by imputation; really he was not, by imputation then he was. How can we conceive he should be made a curse for us, if that which made us accursed had not been first charged upon him? It is as much against divine justice to inflict punishment where there is no sin, as it is to spare an offender who hath committed a crime, or to clear the guilty, which by no means God will do, Exod. 34:7. The consideration of a crime precedes the sentence, either upon an offender or his surety. We cannot conceive how divine justice should inflict the punishment, had it not first considered him under guilt. Though the first designation of the Redeemer to a suretyship or sacrifice for us was an act of God's sovereignty, yet the inflicting punishment after that designation, and our Saviour's acceptation of it, was an act of God's justice, and so declared to be: Rom. 3:26, 'to declare his righteousness, that he might be just,' that he might declare his justice in justification, his justice to his law. Can this highest declaration of justice be founded upon an unjust act? Had that been justice or injustice to Christ, to lay his wrath upon the Son of his love, one whose person was always dear to him, always pleased him; had he not stood as a sinner juridically in our stead, and suffered that sin, which was the ruin of mankind, to be cast with all the weight of it, upon his innocent shoulders? After by his own act he had engaged for our debt, God in justice might demand of him every farthing, which, without that undertaking, and putting himself in our stead, could not be done; which submission of his, and compliance with it, is expressed twice, Isa. 53:7, by his not opening his mouth; and no wrong is done to a voluntary undertaker. Add this too. It is from his standing in our stead as guilty that the benefit of his death doth redound to us. His death had had no relation to us, had not our sin been juridically adjudged to be his; nor can we challenge an acquittance at the hands of God for our debts, if they were not our debts that he paid on the cross. 'He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities,' Isa. 53:5. The laying hands upon the head of the sin-offering was necessary to make it a sacrifice for the offender, without which ceremony it might have been a slain but not a sacrificed beast. The transferring our iniquities upon him must in some way precede his being bruised for them, which could not be any other way than by imputation, whereby he was constituted by God a debtor in our stead, to bear the punishment of our sin. He being made sin for us, our sin was in a sort made his; he was made sin without sin, he knew the guilt without knowing the filth, he felt the punishment without being touched with the pollution. Since death was the wages of sin, and passed as a penalty for a violated law, Rom. 6:23, it could not righteously be inflicted on him had not sin first been imputed to him. In his own person, he was in the arms of his Father's love; as he represented our sinful persons, he felt the strokes of his Father's wrath.
5. The sufferings of this sacrifice are imputed unto us. He took our sins upon himself, as if he had sinned, and gave us the benefit of his sufferings, as if we had actually suffered and satisfied.* He 'offered one sacrifice for sin for ever,' Heb. 10:12, i.e. 'to take away sin,' if you compare it with ver. 11; to remove the wrath due to us by reason of iniquity was the end he aimed at. As our sins were imputed to him for punishment, so his sufferings are imputed to us for acceptation: Eph. 1:6, 7, 'Who hath made us accepted in the beloved, in whom we have redemption through his blood.' Christ had the relation of an undertaker for us, and we the relation of debtors to God. Our debts then being charged upon him, his payment must be imputed to us; the surety and the principal are legally regarded as one person, so are the representative and the persons represented by him. As Adam and all mankind were as one person, and as all Israel were called Jacob from the common root of them, so Christ and believers are as one person, and what he did, is as if a believer himself did it, as the suffering of the sacrifice was accepted in lieu of the life of the sinner. By the stripes of our sacrifice we are healed, Isa. 53:5, an exchange is made, stripes to him, health to us; he was made a curse that we might be freed from the curse, Gal. 3:13. The first thing rising upon faith from the sufferings of Christ is a non-imputation of sin: 2 Cor. 5:21, 'Not imputing their trespasses unto them.' They are not imputed to a believer, because borne by the undertaker for him. The main end of his death as a sacrifice was to communicate a righteousness to us: Gal. 2:21, 'If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.' If this were the main or only thing that would make the death of Christ a mere vanity, then the great and main end of his death was to procure a complete righteousness for us, a righteousness whereby he was to be glorified, a righteousness whereby we might be justified; his sufferings procured it, his resurrection endured it, Rom. 4:25. All the world stands guilty before God, cannot present God with a righteousness of their own commensurate to the law; not one act any man can do can bear proportion to it, all strength to do anything suitable to it was lost in Adam. Since no righteousness of our own can justify, it must be the righteousness of the Son of God which must be imputed to us, in the same manner our sins were imputed to him. As it is accepted by God for us, so it is accounted by God to us: 2 Cor. 5:21, 'He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.' Sin was in us, but charged upon Christ; righteousness is in Christ and imputed to us; therefore the apostle adds him, to signify that it is not our own righteousness, but another's, not inherent in us, but imputed to us.
The redounding of these sufferings to us ariseth,
1. From the dignity of the person undertaking to be a sacrifice for us, and the union of our nature with his. He assumed our nature that he might be a common person, and stand in our stead; he had not been a fit representative of us without it. But the main consideration is, 'the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him bodily,' Col. 2:9, and his being the man God's fellow, Zech. 13:7, whereby what he did and suffered in our stead became, according to the value of the person performing it, infinitely meritorious for those for whom he suffered, being infinitely more than all the obedience of men and angels, and more meritorious of happiness than sin could be of misery. As infinite sin deserves an infinite punishment, because it receives its aggravation from the dignity of the person against whom it is committed, so the sufferings of Christ, though finite in regard of his human nature, received an infinite value from the infiniteness of his person, equivalent to the debts of all that come to him. Sin is finite in regard of the subject, infinite in regard of the great God against whom it is. The sufferings of Christ are infinite in regard of the subject, and infinitely please the governor of the world, unto whom the offering is made, and therefore are of more force to convey a righteousness and beauty to the creature, than sin is to convey guilt and filth. Though sin abounded, grace did much more abound, Rom. 5.
2. From union with this infinite person by faith. All believers have a communion with him in his death: 2 Cor. 5:14, 'If one died for all, then were all dead.' All were accounted as dying, and bearing the wrath of God, by God's reckoning that death to them. As the sin of Adam is imputed to all his natural posterity, as being one with him in his loins, so are the sufferings of Christ imputed to all his spiritual seed, Rom. 5:18, as being one with him in a real union. Hence we are said to be 'crucified with Christ,' Rom. 6:6, and 'risen with him,' Eph. 2:6, as in the person representing us, as if the same wrath endured by Christ had been endured by us, and the same acquittance given to Christ had been given to us by God together with him; for all his meritorious passions were endured by him in the name of his elect, and for their use, and are fully belonging in the fruit and benefit of them to every believer. What Christ as a mediator did personally do, redounds in the benefit of it to Christ mystical, and is reckoned to every member of his body; we are made, we, and every one of us that believe, are made the righteousness of God in him. Well then, Christ bearing our iniquities is the cause of our justification: Isa. 53:11, 'By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities.' If our sin had not been imputed to him, his righteousness could not be accounted to us; the commutation is clear, he first bears our iniquities that we might partake of his righteousness.
Use. If Christ be a sacrifice,
1. We may see the miserable blindness of the Jews in expecting the Messiah as a temporal conqueror. The Jews wait for such a one to this day. Though the promises represent spiritual deliverances under temporal grandeurs, not to raise carnal hopes but spiritual apprehensions, yet are there not multitudes of places which speak of sufferings, misery, death? Is not his heel to be bruised, his garments to be parted, a restoration to be made by him of what he took not away? Are not the sacrifices of the law to be perfected, his soul to be made an offering for sin, wounds made for transgression, his hands and his feet to be pierced? It was not by the slaying the bodies of men that he is to 'make reconciliation for the iniquities' of men, Dan. 9:24. How can he be a conqueror of kingdoms who is to be cut off, and the city where he was to be destroyed as with a flood, and the desolations of it to be determined? ver. 25, כרת, penally cut off, as it signifies, Lev. 17:4, as one was cut off that had no sacrifice allowed for him.* The right apprehensions of the promises concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament, what he was to be, what he was to do, cannot let you be ignorant of him in the New. How do those poor people overturn at once the whole design of that divine law they seem to reverence in the highest degree! What blindness will seize upon the hearts of men, even under the oracles of God, if the Spirit of God doth not vouchsafe to enlighten them!
2. If Christ be a sacrifice, it shews the necessity of a satisfaction to the justice of God, and a higher satisfaction than men could perform. Blood must satisfy justice, and no blood but that of the Son of God could be a sufficient and valuable propitiation. If mere mercy could or would have pardoned, it might have done it with or without the blood of the poor creatures mangled under the law. But, alas! neither the blood of those, nor the blood of a rational creature, could take away sin. Less than death justice could not demand; death was settled by the immediate order of God as the penalty of the law. The law, then, after transgression, could not be vindicated in its honour without death. A God of infinite goodness delights not in the shedding the blood of his creatures, nor can we suppose him to be pleased with the effusion of the blood of animals. The institution of the legal sacrifices could not be exemplary to man. What virtue could the pangs of a dying beast represent to him? No other ends can be imagined but an acknowledgment of guilt, the desert of sin, the debt of death, the necessity of a higher satisfaction, and the raising them up to a faith in the promise of God, that another valuable sacrifice should be put in the room of the sinner, to take away that sin, which the blood of beasts and the eternal groans of men were not able to remove.
3. Christ, as sacrificed, is the true and immediate object of faith. We are revolted from God, and are made uncapable of performing the terms of the first covenant. The precepts of the law are too holy for our corrupt nature, the penalties of the law too grievous to be borne by our feeble nature; a remedy must be looked after. When the venom of sin begins to work in the conscience, and the thunder of the law alarms it to judgment, and the punishment due to sin is presented in the horrors of it, the question immediately is, Whether there be any remedy, and where? How forgiveness of sin is to be attained? The only remedy is proposed in Christ, and Christ as a sacrifice. It is not Christ risen, or ascended, or exalted; not Christ only as the Son of God, or the head of angels; not Christ as the creator of the world, or by whom all things consist; but Christ as answering the terms of the first covenant, as disarming justice: and this he did as a sacrifice. By this he bore the curse, by this he broke down the partition wall, by this he joined apostate man and an offended God. This is that true faith pitcheth on, daily revolves, and daily applies to. This is the first object of the soul, Christ made sin, Christ bearing the punishment, Christ substituted in the room of the offender. His resurrection and ascension come in afterward to ascertain the comfort. But as his being a sacrifice is the foundation of his being an advocate, a prince, a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins, so it is the foundation of peace in ourselves. This is that which pacifies God, and only what pacifies God can pacify conscience. This death as a sacrifice purchased our comfort, because it purchased the comforter. Christ begged not the Spirit before he died, John 16:7; he assures them he could not come, unless himself went; and he could not have gone with any success to heaven, if he had not shed his blood; justice would have stopped his entrance: Luke 24:26, 'Ought not Christ to have suffered those things, and to enter into his glory?' Suffering was to precede his glory. Besides, our comfort lies in his being an advocate. But how is he an advocate? With his blood in his hands. It is by his blood he speaks in heaven, and by his blood faith speaks to God. He paid the debt in his suffering, and pleads the payment in his glory. The payment went before the plea in order of nature, and our eyeing the payment precedes our eyeing the plea in order of faith. Both respect God as the rector. Christ, without his garments rolled in blood, could not be answerable to God, nor acceptable to a sinner. Faith is therefore called 'faith in his blood,' Rom. 3:25. As faith is the instrument of justification, so it must eye the cause of our justification, and under that notion wherein it is the cause; and that is Christ as groaning and offering up himself to God a ransom, a righteousness for many. The curse upon Adam is the lash wherewith an angry conscience scourgeth a sinner. The freedom from this curse is only found in the vengeance God exacted of the Redeemer for the sins of all that return to him by repentance. Both the death and resurrection of Christ concur to the same end, viz., our justification, Rom. 14:9, but in different manners; his death as the meritorious cause, his resurrection as declarative of the sufficiency of his death to that end, that as the Son of God and surety of men, he had performed whatsoever he undertook in his being a sacrifice. But the first act of relying faith is about him as a bloody victim. As often as the Israelites were stung by the fiery serpents, they were to look up for health to the serpent lifted up, a type and emblem of the death of Christ. Upon every sin of a believer, the sacrifice is pleaded in heaven by the priest, and ought, in the remembrance of it, to be renewed in the repeated acts of our faith.
4. It is no true opinion that Christ died only for an example. Wounded he was for the transgressions in Isaiah's time, when his example could reach only those that came after him; but the credit of his sufferings upon his promise to undergo them, might and did reach to the first ages of the world. The expressions in Isa. 53 sound his death higher than a bare pattern, or a testimony to the truth. The notion of expiation of sin was always implied in the notion of a sacrifice, even among the heathens. When they parted with the dearest first-born of their bodies to Moloch, it was not for an example, but for the sin of the soul, Micah 6:6. As Christ was the Son of God sent, he was a testimony of the love of God; as he was a sacrifice, he was our ransom from the curse of the law.
5. Comfort to every true believer. He was sacrificed for us; God counted him a sinner for our sakes, that he might count us righteous for his sake.
(1.) As Christ hath been sacrificed for them, so he has been accepted for them. He is no more to be made sin, iniquity no more to be charged upon him; his next appearance shall be without the imputation of sin, for the conferring salvation, Heb. 9:28, with all the bonds of a believer's sins cancelled. He is pronounced God's righteous servant, and from this declaration of his righteousness, and the true and believing knowledge of it, doth our justification arise, Isa. 53:11. Had it not been a perfect sacrifice, it could never have wrought such complete effects, and 'for ever have perfected those that are sanctified,' Heb. 10:14. He is gone with the smoke of his sacrifice to heaven, and was well entertained, which is a signification of the completeness and perfection of his righteousness for man, John 16:9, 10. The pure and piercing eye of divine justice could not perceive a spot in him. Had any blemish been, it could not have escaped an infinite knowledge. Nor could the justice of God, in turning over all the registers of the debts owing from the creatures, perceive one but might be cancelled upon the value of this payment, if the creature did not negligently or wilfully refuse his own delivery, and prefer his debts and captivity before it. It was a sacrifice offered according to God's heart, with which his soul was infinitely well pleased. The person of the Son of God made every gaping wound, every panting groan, and doleful agony, grateful to God, and profitable for us. The Godhead united to the manhood put an unexpressible value upon every pang. Not that every pang, or the least drop of blood, was sufficient for our redemption (the law required death, and death must be suffered); but all those passions preceding his death were meritorious in conjunction with his death.
(2.) This sacrifice unites all the attributes of God together for a believer's interest. The flood-gates of mercy are opened, and the fire of justice confined in its flames. The flames of the one centre in Christ, that the streams of the other might flow down to us; rivers of mercy quench not the flames of justice, nor the flames of justice suck up the rivers of mercy. As the sacrificing Christ is a vengeance against sin, it is an act of justice; as it is a means of remission of the sins of those for whom he was sacrificed, it is an act of mercy to the creature. Both justice and mercy join hands to help the fallen creature up. God is just in being merciful, and merciful in being just; so that we may well cry aloud with the psalmist, Ps. 116:5, 'Gracious is the Lord, and righteous.' Justice struck the sacrifice, that the streams of mercy might have a fuller scope. Compassion helped justice to a satisfaction more honourable than could have been had from creatures; and justice helped mercy to a fuller and more illustrious exercise of itself than ever it could have had without it. Justice is now a second to mercy, of an antagonist it is become an advocate. God must be unjust, if he be not merciful to a believer. Since our high priest hath been faithful to God, God will not be unfaithful to him, or those for whom he offered up himself. Happy must he be that hath mercy supplicating, and justice itself pleading for him.
(3.) This sacrifice is of eternal virtue. The virtue of the sacrifice is parallel to the office of his priesthood; a priest and a sacrifice are relatives. The immutable oath, then, that constituted him a priest for ever, settles for ever the value and virtue of the sacrifice; for without a sacrifice he could not be a priest; his office would expire if the virtue of his sacrifice did; they eternally live together in conjunction. It is 'the blood of an everlasting covenant,' Heb. 13:20. It is an everlasting covenant, because an everlasting blood whereby it was settled. The ground of its prevalency is, that it was not the sacrifice of a mere man, but of God, Heb. 9:14.
(4.) The effects of this sacrifice therefore are perfect, glorious, and eternal. It is our deliverance from wrath, the scorchings of hell, and terrors of punishment. The purity of this sacrifice expiates the impurities of our services. No sin so great but the value of this sacrifice, believed in, can answer it. The highest sin is the transgression of the law, and this is the satisfaction of the whole penalty of the law. Sin is an offence against God, and this sacrifice is the highest pleasure to him. None of our sins can be so great as those that met upon the back of this innocent lamb. It is enough to cross every book of accounts; 'Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth,' and 'Christ that died,' Rom. 8:33, 34. 'There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ,' because he hath as a sacrifice 'for sin condemned sin in the flesh,' Rom. 8:1–3. Not, no desert of condemnation, that there is; not, no condemnation because of something done by themselves; no, but because of something done by Christ, who hath obliterated the bloody roll of sin and curses by his blood. God will not refuse it to any that believingly plead it; he will not be unjust to the true value of it, nor to his own ordination. If it be unrighteous in God to 'forget the labour of a believer's love,' Heb. 6:10, it will be so to forget the obedience of his Son, and the person interested in it. God was not so ready to bruise him for us, but he will be as ready to apply the plaster of his blood to us.
How great, then, is the happiness of a believer on the account of this sacrifice! Whatsoever is lost by the sin of the first Adam, is gained by the sacrifice of the second; with what boldness may we enter into the holiest with this blood of Jesus in our hands and hearts, Heb. 10:19.
6. We must then lay hold on this sacrifice. The people were to be sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice, Exod. 24:8, so must we with the blood of our Lamb. Thus only can it save us, 1 Peter 1:2. Thus is our Saviour described by this part of his office: Isa. 52:15, 'He shall sprinkle many nations.' Our guilt cannot look upon a consuming fire without a propitiatory sacrifice; our services are blemished, so that they will rather provoke his justice than merit his mercy; we must have something to put a stop to a just fury, expiate an infinite guilt, and perfume our unsavoury services. Here it is in Christ, but there must be faith in us. Faith is as necessary by the ordination of God in a way of instrumentality, as the grace of God in a way of efficiency, and the blood of Christ in a way of meritoriousness of our justification. All must concur, the will of God the offended governor, the will of the sacrificing mediator, and the will of the offender. This will must be a real will, an active operative will, not a faint velleity. We must have a faith to justify our persons, and we must have an active sincerity to justify the reality of our faith. Christ was real in his sacrifice, God was real in the acceptation of it, we must be real in believing it. Rocks and mountains cannot secure them that neglect so great a sacrifice, that regard this atoning blood as an unholy thing. It is as dreadful for men to have this sacrifice smoking against them, and this blood calling for vengeance on them, as it is comfortable to have it pleaded for them and sprinkled on them. Why will any then despise and neglect a necessary sovereign remedy ready at hand? Is it excusable, that when we should have brought the sacrifice ourselves, or ourselves have been the sacrifice, we should slight him who hath voluntarily been a sacrifice for us, and cherish a hell merited by our sin, rather than accept of a righteousness purchased at no less rate than the blood of God? This sacrifice is full of all necessary virtue to save us, but the blood of it must be sprinkled upon our souls by faith. Without this we shall remain in our sins, under the wrath of God and sword of vengeance.
7. We must be enemies to sin, since Christ was a sacrifice for it. Unless sin die in us, we cannot have an evidence that this sacrifice was slain for us. He that hath an interest in Christ's blood must be planted 'into the likeness of his death,' Rom. 6:5. We are highly unjust, if we will not sacrifice a beloved sin for him, who sacrificed a precious life, of more value than heaven and earth, for us. We should empty ourselves of our filth, since he emptied himself of his glory. The very expression, sacrificed for us, carries a force and a spirit in it to animate us to this. We must be friends to the duties God enjoins us. It is disingenuity to put him off with a shred of our souls, or a grain of service, who became a holocaust for us. Scanty services are fit only for a scanty sacrifice. As God shews in this sacrifice his compassions to the sinner, so he declares the certainty and terror of his penalties upon the obstinate rebel. If the Son of God, undertaking to be a sacrifice, was not preserved from death upon the account of his filiation, men cannot expect but to sink under it upon the account of their rebellion. Well, then, let us not look upon the least sin without horror, since it is a crime not to be expiated by any lower price than an infinite blood. It should cause us to mourn also for sin. It was our unrighteousness made Christ's back and his soul to suffer; he had never felt the wrath of his Father, if we had not broke the law of his Father. When the death of Christ, our sacrifice, comes into our thoughts, the remembrance of our sins should bear it company. We should never consider that Christ died, but we should join also with sorrow the consideration of that for which he died.