« ZurückWeiter »
falter, and expire by degrees; but Christ stood under the pains of death in his full strength. His life was whole in him. This was evident by the mighty outcry he made when he gave up the ghost, which showed him to be full of strength, contrary to the experience of men, and made the centurion, when he heard it, conclude, " Surely this was the Son of God." Mark, 15: 37, 39.
6. It was an unalleviated death. Sometimes they gave to malefactors, amidst their torments, vinegar and myrrh, to blunt, dull, and stupify their senses; and if they huug, long, would break their bones to despatch them out of their pains. Christ had none of this favor. Instead of vinegar and myrrh, they gave him vinegar and gall to drink to aggravate his torments. And he died before they came to break his legs. For the Scriptures must be fulfilled, "Not a bone of him shall be broken."
This was the kind of death he died. Even the violent, painful, shameful death of the cross. An ancient punishment both among the Romans and Carthaginians. But in honor of Christ, who died this death, Constantine the Great abrogated it by law, ordaining that none should ever be crucified any more, because 'Christ died that death.
II. Ás to the manner of the execution, they that were condemned to the death of the cross bore their cross upon their own shoulders to the place of execution. They were stripped of all their clothes, and then were fastened to the cross with nails.
And that the equity of the proceedings might the better appear to the people, the cause of the punishment was written in capital letters, and fixed to the tree over the head of the malefactor. Of this I shall speak distinctly in the next discourse, there being so much of providence in this circumstance, as invites us to spend more than a few transient thoughts upon it.
III. Among the reasons why Christ died this, rather than any
other kind of death, three are obvious. 1. Because Christ must bear the curse in his death, and a curse was by law affixed to no other kind of death, as it was to this. Christ came to take away the curse from us by his death; and so must be made a curse. On him must lie, all the curses of the moral law which were due to us. And that nothing might be wanting to make it a full curse, the very death he died must also have a ceremonial curse upon
it. 2. Christ died this death, to fulfil the types and prefigurations that of old were made with respect to it. All the sacrifices were lifted up from the earth, upon the altar. But especially the brazen serpent prefigured this death, "Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole.” Numb. 21:9. And, saith Christ, " As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up,” John, 3: 14, that so he might correspond with that type of him in the wilderness.
3. He died this death, because it was predicted of him, and in him must all the predictions, as well as types, be fully accomplished. The psalmist spake, in the person of Christ, of this death plainly, as if he had been writing the history rather than a prophecy of what was done: "For dogs have compassed me about, the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and feet ; I may tell all my bones ; they look and stare upon me.
.” Psalm 22:16, 17. Which has a manj. fest reference to the distension of all his members upon the tree, as on a rack. So, " They shall look upon me whom they have pierced.” Zech. 12:10. Yea, our Lord himself foretold the death he should die, John, 3: 14, saying he "must be lifted up,” that is, hanged between heaven and earth. And the Scriptures must be fulfilled.
INFERENCE 1.-Is Christ dead ? and did he die the
violent, painful, shameful, cursed death of the cross ? Then surely there is forgiveness with God, and plenteous redemption for the greatest of sinners, that by faith apply the blood of the cross to their poor guilty souls. So speaks the apostle, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." Col. 1:14. " The blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John, 1:7. Two things will make this demonstrable.
That there is a sufficient efficacy in the blood of the cross to expiate and wash away the greatest sins, is manifest, for it is precious blood," Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold; but with the precious blood of the Son of God.” 1 Pet. 1: 18. This preciousness of the blood of Christ riseth from the union it hath with that person, who is over all, God blessed for ever.” And on that account it is styled the blood of God. Acts, 20:28. On account of its invalu. able preciousness, it becomes satisfying and reconciling blood to God. So the apostle speaks, "And (having made peace through the blood of his cross) by him to reconcile all things to himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Col. 1:20. The same blood which is redemption to them that dwell on earth, is confirmation to them that dwell in heaven. Before the efficacy of this blood, guilt vanishes, and shrinks away as the shadow before the glorious sun. Every drop of it hath a voice, and speaks to the soul trembling under its guilt, better things than the blood of Abel. Heb. 10:24. It sprinkles us from all evil, that is, from an unquiet and accusing conscience. Heb. 10:22. For having enough in it to satisfy God, it must have enough in it to satisfy conscience.
And as there is sufficient efficacy in this blood to ex. piate the greatest guilt; so it is manifest that the virtue and efficacy of it is intended and designed by God for the use of believing sinners. Such blood as this was
shed, without doubt, for some weighty end; and who they are for whom it is intended, is plain enough from Acts, 13:39, "And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses."
That the remission of the sins of believers was the great thing designed in the pouring out of this precious blood of Christ, appears from all the sacrifices that prefigured it to the ancient church. The shedding of tha typical blood spoke a design of pardon. And the putting of their hands upon the head of the sacrifice spoke the way and method of believing, by which that blood was then applied to them, and is still applied to us in a more excellent way. Had no pardon been intended, no sacrifices had been appointed.
Moreover, let it be considered, this blood of the cross is the blood of a surety, that came under the same obli. gations with us, and in our name or stead shed it: and so of course frees and discharges the principal offender, or debtor. Heb. 7:22. Can God exact satisfaction from the blood and death of his own Son, the Surety of believers, and yet still demand it from believers? It cannot be. " Who (saith the apostle) shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth: who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died.” Rom. 8: 33, 34. And why are faith and repentance prescribed as the means of pardon ? Why doth God every where in his word call upon sinners to repent, and be. lieve in this blood; encouraging them so to do, by so many precious promises of remission; and declaring the inevitable and eternal ruin of all impenitent and unbelieving ones, who despise and reject this blood? What, I say, doth all this speak, but the possibility of a pardon for the greatest of sinners; and the certainty of a free, full, and final pardon for all believers ? Oh what a joy. ful sound is this! What transporting words of peace,
pardon, grace, and acceptance, come to our ears from the blood of the cross!
The greatest guilt ever contracted upon a trembling conscience, can no more stand before the efficacy of the blood of Christ, than the sinner himself can stand before the justice of the Lord, with all that guilt upon him.
Reader, the word assures thee, whatever thou hast been, or art, that sins of as deep a dye as thine have been washed away in this blood. "I was a blasphemer, a persecutor, injurious; but I obtained mercy,” saith Paul. 1 Tim. 1:13. But it may be thou wilt object, This was a rare and singular instance, and it is a great question whether any other sinner shall find such grace as he did. No question of it at all, if you believe in Christ as he did; for he tells us, verse 16, "For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first, Jesus Christ might show forth all long suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." So that
upon the same grounds on which he obtained mercy, you may obtain it also. Nothing but unbelief and impenitency of heart can bar thy soul from the blessings of this blood.
2. Did Christ die the cursed death of the cross for believers ? Then though there be much of pain, there is nothing of curse in the death of the saints. It still wears its dart, by which it strikes; but hath lost its sting, by which it hurts and destroys. Death poured out all its poison, and lost its sting in Christ, when he became a curse for us.
But what speak I of the harmlessness of death to believers ? It is their friend and benefactor. As there is no curse, so there are many blessings in it. "Death is yours.” 1 Cor. 3:22. Yours as a special privilege and favor. Christ hath not only conquered it, but is more than a conqueror; for he hath made it beneficial, and