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robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Oye troubled consciences ! O ye weary and heavy-laden ones! O ye that are groaning on account of sin ! the great redemption now proclaimed to you is all-snfficient for your wants; and though your numerous sins exceed the stars that deck the sky, here is an atonement made for thein all—a river which can overflow the whole of them, and carry them away from you for ever.
This, then, is the first measure of the atonement-the greatness of our guilt.
II. Now, secondly, we must measure the great redemption BY THE STERNNESS OF DIVINE JUSTICE. “God is love,” always loving ; but my next proposition does not at all interfere with this assertion. God is sternly just, inflexibly severe in his dealings with mankind. The God of the Bible is not the God of some men's imagination, who thinks so little of sin that he passes it by without demanding any punishment for it. He is not the God of the men who imagine that our transgressions are such little things, such mere peccadilloes that the God of heaven winks at them, and suffers them to die forgotten. No; Jehovah, Israel's God, hath declared concerning himself, “ The Lord thy God is a jealous God.” It is his own declaration, “I will by no means clear the guilty." The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Learn ye, my friends, to look upon God as being as severe in his justice as if he were not loving, and yet as loving as if he were not severe. His love does not diminish his justice, nor does his justice, in the least degree, make warfare upon his love. The two things are sweetly linked together in the atonement of Christ. But, mark, we can never understand the fulness of the atonement till we have first grasped the Scriptural truth of God's immense justice. There was never an ill word spoken, nor an ill thought conceived, nor an evil deed done, for which God will not have punishment from some one or another. He will either have satisfaction from you, or else from Christ. If you have no atonement to bring through Christ, you must for ever lie paying the debt which you never can pay, in eternal misery ; for as surely as God is God, he will sooner lose his Godhead than suffer one sin to go unpunished, or one particle of rebellion unrevenged. You may say that this character of God is cold, and stern, and severe. I cannot help what you say of it ; it is nevertheless true. Such is the God of the Bible ; and though we repeat it is true that he is love, it is no more true that he is love than that he is full of justice, for every good thing meets in God, and is carried to perfection, whilst love reaches to consummate loveliness, justice reaches to the sternness of inflexibility in him. He has no bend, no warp in his character ; no attribute so predominates as to cast a shadow upon the other. Love hath its full sway, and justice hath no narrower limit than his love. Oh! then, beloved, think how great must have been the substitution of Christ, when it satisfied God for all the sins of his people. For man's sin God demands eternal punishment ; and God hath prepared a hell into which he casts those who die impenitent. Oh! my brethren, can ye think what must have been the greatness of the atonement which was the substitution for all this agony which God would have cast upon us, if he had not poured it upon Christ. Look! look! look with solemn eye through the shades that part us from the world of spirits, and see that house of misery which men call hell ! Ye cannot endure the spectacle. Remember that in that place there are spirits for ever paying their debt to divine justice ; but though some of them have been for these four thousand years sweltering in the flame, they are no nearer a discharge than when they began; and when ten thousand times ten thousand years shall have rolled away, they will no more have made satisfaction to God for their guilt than they have done up till now. And now can you grasp the thought of the greatness of your Saviour's mediation when he paid your debt, and paid it all at once; so that there now remaineth not one farthing of debt owing from Christ's people to their God, except a debt of love. To ustice the believer oweth nothing ; though be owed originally so much that eternity would not have been long enough to suffice for the paying of it, yet, in one moment Christ did pay it all, so that the man who believeth is entirely ustified from all guilt, and set free from all punishment, through what Jesus hath done. Think ye, then, how great his atonement if he hath done all this.
I must just pause here, and utter another sentence. There are times when God the Holy Spirit shows to men the sternness of justice in their own consciences There is a man here to-day who has just been cut to the heart with a sense of sin. He was once free man, a libertine, in bondage to none; but now the arrow of the Lord sticks fast in his heart, and he has come under a bondage worse than that of Egypt. I see him to-day, he tells me that his guilt haunts him everywhere. The negro slave, guided by the pole star, may escape the cruelties of his master and reach another land where he may be free; but this man feels that if he were to wander the wide world over he could not escape from guilt. He that hath been bound by many irons, can yet find a file that can unbind him and set him at liberty; but this man tells you that he has tried prayers and tears and good works, but cannot get the gyves from his wrist; he feels as a lost sinner still, and emancipation, do what he may, seems to him impossible. The captive in the dungeon is sometimes free in thought, though not in body; through his dungeon walls his spirit leaps, and flies to the stars, free as the eagle that is no man's slave. But this man is a slave in his thoughts; he cannot think one bright, one happy thought. His soul is cast down within him; the iron has entered into his spirit, and he is sorely afflicted. The captive sometimes forgets his slavery in sleep, but this man cannot sleep; by night he dreams of hell, by day he seems to feel it; he bears a burning furnace of flame within his heart, and do what he may he cannot quench it. He has been confirmed, he has been baptised, he takes the sacrament, he attends a church or he frequents a chapel, he regards every rubric and obeys every canon, but the fire burns still. He gives his money to the poor, he is ready to give his body to be burned, he feeds the hungry, he visits the sick, he clothes the naked, but the fire burns still, and do what he may he cannot quench it. O, ye sons of weariness and woe, this that you feel is God's justice in full pursuit of you, and happy are you that you feel this, for now to you I preach this glorious Gospel of the blessed God. You are the man for whom Jesus Christ has died; for you he has satisfied stern justice; and now all you have to do to obtain peace and conscience, is just to say to your adversary who pursues you, "Look you there! Christ died for me; my good works would not stop you, my tears. would not appease you: look you there! There stands the cross; there hangs the bleeding God! Hark to his death-shriek! See him die! Art thou not satisfied now ?” And when thou hast done that, thou shalt have the peace of God which passeth all understanding, which shall keep thy heart and mind through Jesus Christ thy Lord; and then shalt thou know the greatness of his atonement.
III. In the third place, we may measure the greatness of Christ's Redemption by THE PRICE HE PAID.
It is impossible for us to know how great were the pangs of our Saviour; but yet some glimpse of them will afford us a little idea of the greatness of the price which he paid for us. O Jesus, who shall describe thine agony?
“Come, all ye springs,
To bear them out, and with my state agree." O Jesus! thou wast a sufferer from thy birth, a man of sorrows and grief's acquaintance. Thy sufferings fell on thee in one perpetual shower, until the last dread hour of darkness. Then not in a shower, but in a cloud, a torrent, a cataract of grief, thine agonies did dash upon thee. See him yonder! It is a night of frost and cold; but he is all abroad. It is night: he sleeps not, but he is in prayer. Hark to his groans! Did ever man wrestle as he wrestles? Go and look in his face! Was ever such suffering depicted upon mortal countenance as you can there behold? Hear his own words? My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” He rises: lie is seized by traitors and is dragged away. Let us step to the place where just now he was engaged in agony. O God! and wlat is this we see? What is this that stains the ground? It is blood! Whence came it? Had he some wound which oozed afresh through his dire struggle? Ah! no. “He sweat, as it were, great drops of blood, falling down to the ground.” O agonies that surpass the word by which we name you! O sufferings that cannot be compassed in language! What could ye be that thus could work upon the Saviour's blessed frame, and force a bloody sweat to fall from his entire body? This is the beginning ; this is the opening of the tragedy. Follow him mournfully, thou sorrowing church,
to witness the consummation of it. He is hurried through the streets; he is dragged first to one bar and then to another; he is cast and condemned before the Sanhedrim; he is mocked by Herod; he is tried by Pilate. His sentence is pronounced—“Let him be crucified !” And now the tragedy cometh to its height. His back is bared; he is tied to the low Roman column; the bloody scourge ploughs furrows on his back, and with one stream of blood his back is red-a crimson robe that proclaims him emperor of misery. He is taken into the guard room; his eyes are bound, and then they buffet him, and say, “ Prophecy, who it was that smote thee?” They spit into his face; they plait a crown of thorns, and press his temples with it; they array him in a purple robe; they bow their knees, and mock him. All silently he sits; he answers not a word. "When he was reviled, he reviled not again," but committed himself unto him whom he came to serve. And now they take him, and with many a jeer and jibe they drive him from the place, and hurry him through the streets. Èmaciated by continual fastings, and depressed with agony of spirit he stumbles beneath his cross." Daughters of Jerusalem! he faints in your streets. They raise him up; they put his cross upon another's shoulders, and they urge hiin on, perhaps with many a spear-prick, till at last he reaches the mount of doom, Rough soldiers seize him, and hurl him on his back; the transverse wood is laid beneath him; his arms are stretched to reach the necessary distance; the nails are grasped; four hammers at one moment drive four nails through the tenderest parts of his body; and there he lies upon his own place of execution dying on his cross. It is not done yet. The cross is litted by the rough soldiers. There is the socket prepared for it. It is dashed into its place: they fill up the place with earth; and there it stands.
But see the Saviour's limbs, how they quiver! Every bone has been put out of joint by the dashing of the cross into that socket! How he weeps ! How he sighs! How he sobs! Nay, more, hark how at last he shrieks in agony, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?” O sun, no wonder thou didst shut thine eye, and look no longer upon a deed so cruel! O rocks! no wonder that ye did melt and rend your hearts with sympathy, when your Creator died! Never man suffered as this man suffered. Even death itself relented, and many of those who had been in their graves arose and came into the city. This however, is but the outward. Believe me, brethren, the inward was far worse. What our Saviour suffered in his body was nothing, compared to what he endured in his soul. You cannot guess, and I cannot help you to guess, what he endured within. Suppose for one moment--to repeat a sentence I have often used-suppose a man who has passed into hell-suppose his eternal torment could all be brought into one hour; and then suppose it could be multiplied by the number of the saved, which is a number past all human enumeration. Can you now think what a vast aggregate of misery there would have been in the sufferings of all God's people, if they had been punished through all eternity? And recollect that Christ had to suffer an equivalent for all the hells of all his redeemed. I can never express that thought better than by using those oft-repeated words: it seemed as if hell was put into his cup; he seized it, and, " At one tremendous draught of love, he drank damnation dry.” So that there was nothing left of all the pangs and miseries of hell for his people ever to endure. I say not that he suffered the same, but he did endure an equivalent for all this, and gave God the satistaction for all the sins of all his people, and consequently gave him an equivalent for all their punishment. Now can ye dream, can ye guess the great redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ?
IV. I shall be very brief upon the next head. The fourth way of measuring the Saviour's agonies is this: we must compute them by THE GLORIOUS DELIVERANCE WHICH HE HAS EFFECTED.
Rise up, believer; stand up in thy place, and this day testify to the greatness of what the Lord hath done for thee! Let me tell it for thee. I will tell thy experience and mine in one breath. Once my soul was laden with sin; I had revolted against God, and grievously transgressed. The terrors of the law gat hold upon me; the pangs of conviction seized me. I saw myself guilty. I looked to heaven, and I saw an angry God sworn to punish me; I looked beneath me and I saw a yawning hell ready to devour me. I sought by good works to satisfy my conscience; but all in vain. I endeavoured by attending to the ceremonies of religion to appease the pangs that I felt within; but all without effect. My soul was exceeding sorrowful, almost unto death. I could have said with the ancient mourner, “ My soul choosetli strangling and death rather than life.” This was the great question that always
perplexed me: “I have sinned; God must punish me; how can he be just if he does not? Then, since he is just, what is to become of me?” At last mine eye turned to that sweet word which says, “ The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth from all sin.” I took that text to my chamber; I sat there and meditated. I saw one hanging on a cross. It was my Lord Jesus. There was the thorn-crown, and there the emblems of unequalled and peerless misery. I looked upon him, and my thoughts recalled that word which says. “ This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Then said I within myself, “Did this man die for sinners? I am a sinner; then he died for me. Those he died for he will save. He died for sinners; I am a sinner; he died for me; he will save me.” My soul relied upon that truth. I looked to him, and as I “viewed the flowing of his soul-redeeming blood," my spirit rejoiced, for I
“ Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to this cross I cling;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die!" And now, believer, you shall tell the rest. The moment that you believed, your burden rolled from your shoulder, and you became light as air. Instead of darkness you had light; for the garments of heaviness you had the robes of praise. Who shall tell your joy since then? You have sung on earth, hymns of heaven, and in your peaceful soul you have anticipated the eternal Sabbath of the redeemed. Because you have believed you have entered into rest. Yes, tell it the wide world over; they that believe, by Jesus' death are justified from all things from which they could not be freed by the works of the law. Tell it in heaven, that none can lay anything to the charge of God's elect. Tell it upon earth, that God's redeemed are free from sin in Jehovah's sight. Tell it even in hell, that God's elect can never come there; for Christ hath died for them, and who is he that shall condemn them?
V. I have hurried over that, to come to the last point, which is the sweetest of all. Jesus Christ, we are told in our text, came into the world “to give his lite a ransom for many." The greatness of Christ's redemption may be measured by the EXTENT OF THE DESIGN OF IT. He gave his life " a ransom for many." I must now return to that controverted point again. We are often told (I mean those of us who are commonly nicknamed by the title of Calvinists—and we are not very much ashamed of that; we think that Calvin, after all, knew more about the gospel than almost any man who has ever lived, uninspired)-We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our reply to this is, that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it: we do not. The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men ? They say, "No, certainly not.” We ask them the next questionDid Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer "No." They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say “No; Christ has died that any man may be saved if”—and then follow certain conditions of salvation. We say, then, we will just go back to the old statement-Christ did not die so as beyond a doubt to secure the salvation of any body, did he? You must say “No;" you are obliged to say so, for you believe that even after a man has been pardoned, he may yet fall from grace, and perish. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as to infallibly secure the salvation of any body, We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ's death; we say, “No, my dear sir, it is you that do it. We say Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ's death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved, and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.
Now, beloved, when you hear any one laughing or jeering at a limited atonement, you may tell him this. General atonement is like a great wide bridge with only half an arch; it does not go across the stream : it only professes to go half way; it does not secure the salvation of any body. Now, I had rather put my foot upon a bridge as narrow as Hungerford, which went all the way across, than on a bridge that was as wide as the world, if it did not go all the way across the stream. I am told it is my duty to say that all men have been redeemed, and I am told that there is a Scriptural warrant for it—“Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Now, that looks like a very, very great argument indeed on the other side of the question.
For instance, look here. “ The whole world is gone after him.” Did all the world go after Christ? “ Then went all Judea, and were baptized of him in Jordan." Was all Judea, or all Jerusalem baptized in Jordan? “ Ye are of God, little children,” and “ the whole world lieth in the wicked one.” Does “ the whole world” there mean everybody? If so, how was it, then, that there were some who were “of God?” The words "world" and " all” are used in some seven or eight senses in Scripture; and it is very rarely that “all" means all persons, taken individually. The words are generally used to signify that Christ has releemed some of all sorts—some Jews, some Gentiles, some rich, some poor, and has not restricted his redemption to either Jew or Gentile.
Leaving controversy, however, I will now answer a question. Tell me then, sir, who did Christ die for? Will you answer me a question or two, and I will tell you whether he died for you. Do you want a Saviour? Do you feel that you need a Saviour? Are you this morning conscious of sin? Has the Holy Spirit taught you that you are lost? Then Christ died for you, and you will be saved. Are you this morning conscious that you have no hope in the world but Christ? Do you feel that you of yourself cannot offer an atonement that can satisfy God's justice? Have you given up all confidence in yourselves? And can you say upon your bended knees, " Lord, save, or I perish?" Christ died for you. If you are saying this morning, “I am as good as I ought to be; I can get to heaven by my own good works,” then, remember, the Scripture says of Jesus, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." So long as you are in that state I have no atonement to preach to you. But if this morning you feel guilty, wretched, conscious of your guilt, and are ready to take Christ to be your only Saviour, I can not only say to you that you may be saved, but what is better still, that you will be saved. When you are stripped of everything but hope in Christ, when you are prepared to come empty-handed and take Christ to be your all, and to be yourself nothing at all, then you may look up to Christ, and you may say, “ Thou dear, thou bleeding Lamb of God! thy griefs were endured for me; by thy stripes I am healed, and by thy sufferings I am pardoned.” And then see what peace of mind you will have; for if Christ has died for you, you cannot be lost. God will not punish twice for one thing. If God punished Christ for your sin, he will never punish you. “Pay. ment, God's justice cannot twice demand, first, at the bleeding surety's hand, and then again at mine.” We can to day, if we believe in Christ, march to the very throne of God, stand there, and if it is said, “ Art thou guilty?" we can say, “ Yes, guilty." But if the question is put, “What have you to say why you should not be punished for your guilt?” We can answer, “Great God, thy justice and thy love are both our guarantees that thou wilt not punish us for sin; for didst thou not punish Christ for sin for us? How canst thou, then, be just—how canst thou be God at all, if tlou dost punish Christ the substitute, and then punish man himself afterwards ?" Your only question is, “ Did Christ die for me?" And the only answer we can give is—* This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ came into the world to save sinners.” Can you write your name down among the sinners--not among the complimentary sinners, but among those that feel it, bemoan it, lament it, seek mercy on account of it? Are you a sinner? That fels, that known, that professed, you are now invited to believe that Jesus Christ died for you, because you are a sinner; and you are bidden to cast yourself upon this great immovable rock, and find eternal security in the Lord Jesus Christ.