July 15: Put To Grief

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when you shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:10

In the person and work of Christ the holiness of God is revealed with equal power and luster. It is only through this medium that we possess the most clear and perfect demonstration of this divine and awful perfection. Where was there ever such a demonstration of God’s infinite hatred of sin, and His fixed and solemn determination to punish it, as is seen in the cross of Christ? Put your shoes from off your feet; draw near, and contemplate this “great sight.” Who was the sufferer? God’s only-begotten and well-beloved Son! His own Son!

In addition to the infinitely tender love of the Father, there was the clear knowledge of the truth, that He, who was enduring the severest infliction of His wrath, was innocent, guiltless, righteous—that He, Himself, had never broken His law, had never opposed His authority, had never run counter to His will; but had always done those things which pleased Him. At whose hands did He suffer? From devils? from men? They were but the agents; the moving cause was God Himself. “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.” His own Father unsheathed the sword: He inflicted the blow: He kindled the fierce flame: He prepared the bitter cup. “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, says the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd.” “The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And what were the nature and degree of His sufferings? Imagine, if we can, what must have been the outpouring of God’s wrath upon the whole church for all the sins of that church, through eternity! Can you compute the amount of her transgressions? can you conceive the degree of her punishment? can you measure the duration of her woe? Impossible!

Then, who can tell what Jesus endured, when standing in the place and as the Surety of His church, in the solemn hour of atonement, and in the day of God’s fierce anger? Never had God so manifested before, and never will He so manifest again, His essential holiness—His spotless purity—the inconceivable heinousness of sin—His utter hatred of it—and His solemn purpose to punish it with the severest inflictions of His wrath; never did this glorious perfection of His being blaze out in such overwhelming glory, as on that dark day, and in the cross of the incarnate God. Had He emptied the vials of His wrath full upon the world, sweeping it before the fury of His anger, and consigning it to deserved and eternal punishment, it would not have presented to the universe so vivid, so impressive, and so awful a demonstration of the nature and glory of His holiness, of His infinite abhorrence of sin, and the necessity why He should punish it, as He has presented in the humiliation, sufferings, and death of His beloved Son. What new and ineffably transcendent views of infinite holiness must have sprung up in the pure minds even of the spirits in glory, as, bending from their thrones, they fixed their astonished gaze upon the cross of the suffering Son of God!

October 25: The Infinite Value Of The Atonement

“So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, You are my Son, today have I begotten you.” Hebrews 5:5

The Atonement of Christ is of infinite value and efficacy. If Christ were a mere creature, if He claimed no higher dignity than Gabriel, or one of the prophets or apostles, then His atonement, as it regards the satisfaction of Divine justice, the honoring of the law, the pardon of sin, the peace of the conscience, and the salvation of the soul, would possess no intrinsic efficacy whatever. It would be but the atonement of a finite being—a being possessing no superior merit to those in whose behalf the atonement was made.

We state it, then, broadly and unequivocally, that the entire glory, dignity, value, and efficacy of Christ’s precious blood which He shed for sin rests entirely upon the Deity of His person. If the Deity of Christ sinks, the atonement of Christ sinks with it; if the one stands, so stands the other. How strong are the words of Paul, addressed to the Ephesian elders: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the church of God which He has purchased with His own blood.” How conclusive is this testimony!

The blood that purchased the church was Divine. It was indeed the blood of Christ’s humanity—for His human nature alone could suffer, bleed, and die—yet deriving all its glory, value, and efficacy from the union of the human with the Divine nature. It was the blood of the God-man, Jehovah Jesus—no inferior blood could have sufficed.

The law which Adam, our federal head, broke, before it could release the sinner from its penalty, demanded a sacrifice infinitely holy, and infinitely great: one equal with the Father—the dignity of whose person would impart infinite merit to His work, and the infinite merit of whose work would fully sustain its honor and its purity. All this was found in the person of Christ. In His complex person He was eminently fitted for the mighty work. As God, He obeyed the precepts and maintained the honor of the law; as man, He bore its curse and endured its penalty. It was the blending as into one these two natures; the bringing together these extremes of being, the finite and the infinite, which shed such resplendent luster on His atonement, which stamped such worth and efficacy on His blood.

Dear reader, treat not this subject lightly, deem it not a useless speculation; it is of the deepest moment. If the blood of Christ possess not infinite merit, infinite worth, it could never be efficacious in washing away the guilt of sin, or in removing the dread of condemnation. When you come to die, this, of all truths, if you are an experimental believer, will be the most precious and sustaining. In that solemn hour, when the curtain that conceals the future parts, and eternity lets down upon the view the full blaze of its awful realities—in that hour, when all false dependencies will crumble beneath you, and sin’s long catalogue passes in review before you—oh, then to know that the Savior on whom you depend is God in your nature—that the blood in which you have washed has in it all the efficacy and value of Deity—this, this will be the alone plank that will buoy up the soul in that awful moment, and at that fearful crisis.

Oh precious truth this, for a poor believing soul to rest upon! We wonder not that, fast anchored on this truth, amid circumstances the most appalling, death in view, wearing even its most terrific aspect, the believer in Jesus can survey the scene with composure, and quietly yield his spirit into the hands of Him who redeemed it.

October 20: Author Of Eternal Salvation

“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all those who obey him.” Hebrews 5:8, 9

The basis or cause of the completeness of Christ’s atonement arises from the infinite dignity of His person: His Godhead forms the basis of His perfect work. It was this that gave perfection to His obedience, and virtue to His atonement: it was this that made the blood He shed efficacious in the pardon of sin, and the righteousness He wrought out complete in the justification of the soul. His entire work would have been wanting but for His Godhead.

No created Savior could have given full satisfaction to an infinite law, broken by man, and calling aloud for vengeance. An obedience was required, in every respect equal in glory and dignity to the law that was violated. The rights of the Divine government must be maintained, the purity of the Divine nature must be guarded, and the honor of the Divine law must be vindicated. To accomplish this, God Himself must become flesh; and to carry this fully out, the incarnate God must die! Oh, depth of wisdom and of grace! Oh, love infinite, love rich, love free! Love

“Not to be thought on, but with tides of joy;
Not to be mentioned, but with shouts of praise.”

The pardon of a believer’s sins is an entire pardon. It is the full pardon of all his sins. It were no pardon to him, if it were not an entire pardon. If it were but a partial blotting out of the thick cloud—if it were but a partial canceling of the bond—if it were but a forgiveness of some sins only, then the gospel were no glad tidings to his soul.

The law of God had brought him in guilty of an entire violation. The justice of God demands a satisfaction equal to the enormity of the sins committed, and of the guilt incurred. The Holy Spirit has convinced him of his utter helplessness, his entire bankruptcy. What rapture would kindle in his bosom at the announcement of a partial atonement—of a half Savior—of a part payment of the debt? Not one throb of joyous sensation would it produce.

On the contrary, this very mockery of his woe would but deepen the anguish of his spirit. But go to the soul, weary and heavy-laden with sin, mourning over its vileness, its helplessness, and proclaim the Gospel. Tell him that the atonement which Jesus offered on Calvary was a full satisfaction for his sins;—that all his sins were borne and blotted out in that awful moment;—that the bond which Divine justice held against the sinner was fully cancelled by the obedience and sufferings of Christ, and that, appeased and satisfied, God was “ready to pardon.” How beautiful will be the feet that convey to him tidings so transporting as this!

And are not these statements perfectly accordant with the declarations of God’s own word? Let us ascertain. What was the ark symbolical of, alluded to by the apostle, in the ninth chapter of his Epistle to the Hebrews, which contained the manna, Aaron’s rod, and the tables of the covenant, over which stood the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy-seat? What, but the entire covering of sin? For, as the covering of the ark did hide the law and testimony, so did the Lord Jesus Christ hide the sins of His chosen, covenant people—not from the eye of God’s omniscience, but from the eye of the law. They stand legally acquitted.

So entire was the work of Jesus, so infinite and satisfactory His obedience, the law of God pronounces them acquitted, and can never bring them into condemnation. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus; who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” “Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”

October 18: Broken Hearted Captives

“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, has abounded unto many.” Romans 5:15

From the want of clear and spiritual views of the freeness of the atonement, the perfectly unconditional bestowment of the blessings of pardon and justification, many are kept, even among those “called to be saints,” from entering fully into the liberty and peace of the gospel. They have been convinced of their need of Christ; they have been made to hunger and thirst for pardon and acceptance; they have been brought, it may be, through a deep “law-work of the soul,” to stand as on the very borders of the land that flows with milk and honey; but looking more to themselves, and less to Christ—lingering on its margin, while the river flows so richly and so freely at their feet, waiting for some condition to be performed, some fitness to be experienced, or some price to bring—they are kept back from those rich and untold blessings which a closing in with Jesus the Savior of sinners would assuredly bring into their possession.

Where will be found more distinct and glorious views of the atonement—its nature, design, and freeness—than are found in the Old Testament writings? This is the testimony to the perfect freeness of the gift: “Ho! every one that thirsts, come you to the waters; and he that has no money, come you, buy and eat; yes, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price.” Behold the freeness of the rich and inestimable blessing! “Without money—without price.”

The simple meaning of which is—without worthiness, without fitness, without condition. So that the most unworthy, the most vile, the most penniless, may come and drink water freely out of the wells of salvation. This is the language of God by the mouth of His prophets. What a gospel then is here revealed! how full the supply! how free the gift! And if this was the language of God under the obscure exhibition of the gospel, what must be His free welcome to poor sinners under the full meridian glory of the gospel?

Now that Christ has come, and the atonement has been made, and the fountain has been opened, and the invitation has gone out, can we suppose that the blessing of pardon will be less freely bestowed? Again—”The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek: He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”

Mark the expressions as descriptive of the characters to whom our blessed Lord came—”broken-hearted”—”captives”—”those who are bound.” Where was the worthiness here? What price with which to purchase their redemption had these “broken-hearted,” these “captives,” these “bound”? See, then, how the glorious atonement received its stamp of freeness, even under the legal dispensation. Come we now to the clearer revelations of the new dispensation.

Take those remarkable words—”And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.” Oh sweet expression! “Nothing to pay”. Entirely bankrupt. Poor, wretched, penniless, bereft of all—nothing to pay, and yet frankly forgiven; that is, fully, freely, cordially forgiven—forgiven with all the heart of God.

But one other passage is adduced— “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” See how the word of God closes with the proclamation of a free-grace salvation. The last words that linger in sweet vibration on the ear, as the blessed canon of Scripture closes, are, “the water of life freely”!

October 7: While Yet Sinners

“But God commends his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

From what other and higher source could the atonement have proceeded, if not from the very heart of God? And from His heart it did proceed. And not more freely does the sun pour forth its streams of light, and not more freely does the air fan with its refreshing influence, and not more freely does the ocean-billow heave, than the atonement flows from the heart of God! “God is love;” and the seat of that love is His heart.

Towards a sinner standing in the righteousness of His Son, that heart is love, and nothing but love. Not an unkind thought lodging there; not a repulsive feeling dwelling there; all is love, and love of the most tender character. Yes, we dare affirm, that towards His chosen people there never has been, and there never will be, one thought of unkindness, of anger, of rebuke in the heart of God: from eternity it has been love, through time it is love, and on through eternity to come it will be love.

What! are not their afflictions, their chastisements, the rough and thorny path they tread, proofs of God’s displeasure? What! is that individual loved of God, whom I see yonder bearing that heavy and daily cross; against whom billow after billow dashes, to whom messenger after messenger is sent; whose gourds are withered in a night, and whose fountains are all broken in a day; who is poor, feeble, and dependent; what! is that individual beloved of God? Go and ask that afflicted saint; go and ask that cross-bearing disciple; go and ask that son and daughter of disease and penury; and they will tell you, their Father’s dealings with them are the most costly proofs of His love: that instead of unkindness in that cross, there was love; instead of harshness in that rebuke, there was tenderness; and that when He withered that gourd, and broke up that cistern, and removed that earthly prop, it was but to pour the tide of His own love in the heart, and satiate the soul with His goodness. Oh, dear cross! oh, sweet affliction! thus to open the heart of God; thus to bring God near to the soul, and the soul near to God.

Let it not be forgotten that the atonement had its origin in the heart of God; it follows, then, that it must be free. Does the sun need bribing in order to shine? does the wind need persuasion in order to blow? does the ocean-wave need argument in order to roll? is the sun-light purchased? is the air purchased? is the water that flows from the fountain purchased? Not less free is the love of God, gushing from His heart, and flowing down through the channel of the cross of Christ, to a poor repenting, believing sinner, without works, without merit, without money, without price, without a previous fitness.

Convictions do not merit it; repentances do not merit it; tears do not merit it; faith does not merit it. Pardon to the chief of sinners—forgiveness to the vilest of the vile—the blotting out of sins of the deepest dye—the justification and acceptance of the most unworthy—all, free as the heart of God can make it. The hungry and the thirsty, the poor and the penniless, the weary and the heavy-laden, may come to the gospel provision, for the heart of God bids them welcome.

The objects contemplated in the special and gracious design of the atonement establish its perfect freeness beyond all question. Who are they? Are they spoken of as the worthy, the righteous, the deserving, the rich, the noble? The very reverse. They are sinners, ungodly, unworthy. “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”

And see how our blessed Lord confirms this statement: “I am not come to call the righteous (that is, the self-righteous—those who were righteous in their own estimation, and despised others), but sinners to repentance.” And who did He save when upon earth? Were they the worthy or the most unworthy? were they the righteous or sinners?

Take the case of Saul of Tarsus. His own description of his previous character will certainly be believed: “which was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious.” And yet he “obtained mercy:” and why? “That in me Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them who should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.”

If Saul of Tarsus, then, obtained mercy—obtained it as a sinner of the deepest dye—obtained it fully, freely, aside from all human merit—penitent reader, so may you.

July 14: Christ Our Righteousness

“And if any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1

The work of our Lord as Priest was two-fold, atonement and intercession. The one He accomplished upon the cross, the other He now transacts upon the throne. “When He had by Himself purged our sins, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” The high priest, under the law, after that he had slain the sacrifice, took the blood, and, passing within the veil, sprinkled it on the mercy-seat, so making intercession for the people. “The Holy Spirit this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.” “But, Christ being come, an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

And what is He now doing? Presenting His own blood each moment before the mercy-seat on behalf of His redeemed people! “He ever lives to make intercession for us.” Oh, do not forget this, dear saint of God! This is spoken for the comfort of the mourners in Zion–for those who, knowing the plague of their own hearts, and deploring its constant tendency to outbreak, are humbled in the dust with deep godly sorrow.

Look up! Does sin plead loudly against you? the blood of Jesus pleads louder for you. Do your backslidings, and rebellions, and iniquities, committed against so much light and love, call for vengeance? the blood of Jesus “speaks better things.” Does Satan stand at your right hand to accuse you? your Advocate stands at God’s right hand to plead for you.

All hail! you mourning souls! you that smite on the breast, you broken-hearted, you contrite ones! “who is he that condemns! It is Christ who died, yes rather, who is risen again; who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”

Jesus is a glorious and a successful Advocate. He has never lost a cause entrusted to His advocacy, and never will. He pleads powerfully, He pleads eloquently, He pleads prevalently, because He pleads in behalf of a people unspeakably dear to His heart, for whom He “loved not His own life unto the death,” and presses His suit, on the ground of His own most precious blood and accepted person, and with His father and their Father, His God and their God.

July 13: Crown Him Lord Of All

“I have glorified you on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do. And now, O Father, glorify me with your own self, with the glory which I had with you before the world was.” John 17:4-5

His work being finished, the great atonement made, and salvation eternally secured to all the covenant seed, it was fit that the Son of God should return back to glory. Heaven was His original and proper place. He was but a stranger and a sojourner here. His mission accomplished, earth, which had once attracted Him to its bosom, attracted Him no longer.

As the field of His labors, and the scene of His humiliation, and the theater of His conflict, He had willingly bent His steps towards it. His labors now finished, His humiliation now passed, His battle now fought, and His victory won, He as readily hastened from all below. Oh, what stronger ties, what more powerful allurements, had earth than heaven for Jesus? All to Him had been toil and suffering, trial and sorrow. Wearisome had been His pilgrimage, laborious His life, humiliating its every scene, and painful its every incident.

Creatures the best and the fondest had disappointed Him, sources of created good the most promising had failed Him, and the hour of His deepest necessity and woe found Him treading the wine-press alone, forsaken by man, deserted by God! An atmosphere of sin had enveloped Him on every side; forms of suffering and pollution each moment flitted before His eye, and sounds of blasphemy and woe fell at each step upon His ear. At whatever point He turned, He saw His Father’s name dishonored, His Spirit grieved. His own dignity outraged, His teaching despised, His Gospel rejected, and His authority trampled under-foot, by men swearing allegiance to another and a rival sovereign.

What greater, sweeter, and holier attractions, then, had earth than heaven for Jesus? His resurrection from the dead was His preparative for glory. Leaving the garments of mortality in the forsaken tomb, He wrapped around Him the robe of immortality, and, poised upon the wing, awaited but the signal for His heavenly flight.

All that now remained for Him to accomplish was to authenticate the fact of His risen life, place His Church in a position to receive the promised Spirit, breathe His parting blessing, and then ascend to glory. Heaven was His home, loved and longed for! How sweet to Him were its recollections! how hallowed its associations, heightened by their contrast with the scene from which He was now retiring!

There, no curse; there, no sorrow; there, no suffering; there, no tears; there, no indignity, awaited Him. All was one expanse of glory, all one pavilion of happiness! Bright was the landscape stretched before His view; redolent the breezes, and soft the music that floated from its fields and bowers.

But far above all the glory suggested by the most splendid material imagery, rose, in spiritual and surpassing grandeur, the seat, the altar, and the throne which, as Prophet, Priest, and King, He sighed to occupy. A more perfect investiture of Him in these offices, a more complete establishment of His mediatorial dominion, awaited Him.

All power in heaven and on earth was to be placed in His hands: and all things were to be put in subjection under Him; and all beings, from the loftiest angel in heaven to the lowest creature on earth, were to acknowledge His government, submit to His sovereignty, worship, and “crown Him Lord of all.”

March 16: Glory In Your Redeemer

“He shall glorify me.” John 16:14.

One essential and important office of the Spirit is to glorify Christ. And how does He most glorify Christ, but by exalting His atoning work, giving to it the preeminence, the importance, and the glory it demands; leading the sinner, whom He has first convinced of sin, to accept of Jesus as a willing, an all-sufficient Savior; to cast away all trust in self, all reliance upon a covenant of works, which is but a covenant of death, and thus going entirely outside of himself, to take up his rest in the blood and righteousness of Immanuel, the God-man Mediator.

Oh, what sweet, holy delight must it be to the Spirit of God when a poor sinner, in all his conscious nothingness, is led to build upon Jesus, the “tried stone, the precious corner-stone, the sure foundation!”

Let the reader, then, imagine how grieving it must be to the Spirit, when there is any resting in His work in the soul, either for acceptance, or for comfort, or for peace, or for strength, or even for evidence of a state of grace, and not solely and entirely in the atoning work which Jesus has wrought out for the redemption of sinners. The work of the Spirit and the work of Christ, though they form parts of one glorious whole, are yet distinct, and to be distinguished in the economy, of grace and in the salvation of a sinner. It is the work of Jesus alone, His perfect obedience to the broken law of God, and His sacrificial death as a satisfaction to divine justice, that forms the ground of a sinner’s acceptance with God- the source of his pardon, justification, and peace.

The work of the Spirit is not to atone, but to reveal the atonement; not to obey, but to make known the obedience; not to pardon and justify, but to bring the convinced, awakened, penitent soul to receive the pardon, and embrace the justification already provided in the work of Jesus. Now, if there is any substitution of the Spirit’s work for Christ’s work- any undue, unauthorized leaning upon the work within, instead of the work outside of the believer, there is a dishonor done to Christ, and a consequent grieving of the Holy Spirit of God.

It cannot be pleasing to the Spirit to find Himself a substitute for Christ; and yet this is the sin which so many are constantly falling into. If I look to convictions of sin within me, to any motion of the indwelling Spirit, to any part of His work, as the legitimate source of healing, of comfort, or of evidence, I turn my back upon Christ, I remove my eye from the cross, and slight His great atoning work; I make a Christ of the Spirit! I make a Savior of the Holy Spirit! I convert His work into an atoning work, and draw the evidence and the consolation of my pardon and acceptance from what He has done, and not from what Jesus has done!

Oh, is not this, again we ask, dishonoring to Christ, and grieving to the Holy Spirit of God? Do not think that we undervalue the Spirit’s work- great and precious is it. Viewed as a Quickener- as an Indweller- as a Sanctifier- as a Sealer- as a Witness- as a Comforter- as the Author of prayer- His person cannot be too ardently loved, nor can His work be too highly prized; but the love we bear Him, and the honor we give Him, must not be at the expense of the honor and glory and love due to the Lord Jesus Christ, whom it is His office and His delight to glorify.

The crown of redemption must be placed upon the head of Jesus; He alone is worthy to wear it- He alone has a right to wear it. “You have redeemed us by Your blood,” is the song they sing in glory; and “You shall wear the crown,” should be the song echoed back from the redeemed on earth.

January 7

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” 2 Cor. 9:15.

The Atonement itself precludes all idea of human merit, and, from its very nature, proclaims that it is free. Consider the grandeur of the Atonement- contemplate its costliness: incarnate Deity- perfect obedience- spotless purity- unparalleled grace and love- acute and mysterious sufferings- wondrous death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession of the Savior, all conspire to constitute it the most august sacrifice that could possibly be offered. And shall there be anything in the sinner to merit this sacrifice? Shall God so lower its dignity, underrate its value, and dishonor Himself, as to ‘barter’ it to the sinner? And if God were so disposed, what is there in the sinner that could purchase it?

Where is the equivalent, where the price? “Alas!” is the exclamation of a convinced soul, “I am a spiritual bankrupt; I lost everything in my first parent who fell; I came into the world poor and helpless; and to the sin of my nature I have added actual transgression of the most aggravated character. I have nothing to recommend me to the favor of God; I have no claim upon His mercy; I have no price with which to purchase it; and if redemption is not free, without money and without price, I am undone.” The very costliness, then, of the Atonement puts it beyond all price, and stamps it with infinite freeness.

 

December 17

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.” Romans 3:24, 25

By a change of place with the Church, Christ becomes the “Lord our Righteousness,” and we are “made the righteousness of God in Him.” There is the transfer of sin to the innocent, and, in return, there is the transfer of righteousness to the guilty. In this method of justification, no violence whatever is done to the moral government of God. So far from a shade obscuring its glory, that glory beams forth with an effulgence which must have remained forever veiled, but for the redemption of man by Christ. God never appears so like Himself as when He sits in judgment upon the person of a sinner, and determines his standing before Him upon the ground of that satisfaction to His law rendered by the Son of God in the room and stead of the guilty. Then does He appear infinitely holy, yet infinitely gracious; infinitely just, yet infinitely merciful. Love, as if it had long been panting for an outlet, now leaps forth and embraces the sinner; while justice, holiness, and truth gaze upon the wondrous spectacle with infinite complacence and delight.

And shall we not pause and bestow a thought of admiration and gratitude upon Him, who was constrained to stand in our place of degradation and woe, that we might stand in His place of righteousness and glory? What wondrous love! what stupendous grace! that He should have been willing to have taken upon Him our sin, and curse, and woe! The exchange to Him how humiliating! He could only raise us by Himself stooping. He could only emancipate us by wearing our chain. He could only deliver us from death by Himself dying. He could only invest us with the spotless robe of His pure righteousness by wrapping around Himself the leprous mantle of our sin and curse. Oh, how precious ought He to be to every believing heart! What affection, what service, what sacrifice, what devotion, He deserves at our hands! Lord, incline my heart to yield itself supremely to You! But in what way does this great blessing of justification become ours? In other words, what is the instrument by which the sinner is justified? The answer is at hand, in the text, “through faith in His blood.”

Faith, and faith alone, makes this righteousness of God ours. “By Him all that believe are justified.” And why is it solely and exclusively by faith? The answer is at hand, “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace.” Were justification through any other medium than by believing, then the perfect freeness of the blessing would not be secured. The expressions are, “Justified freely by His grace;” that is, gratuitously—absolutely for nothing. Not only was God in no sense whatever bound to justify the sinner, but the sovereignty of His law, as well as the sovereignty of His love, alike demanded that, in extending to the sinner the greatest boon of His government, He should do so upon no other principle than as a perfect act of grace on the part of the Giver, and as a perfect gratuity on the part of the recipient—having “nothing to pay.” Therefore, whatever is associated with faith in the matter of the sinner’s justification—whether it be baptism, or any other rite, or any work or condition performed by the creature—renders the act entirely void and of none effect. The justification of the believing sinner is as free as the God of love and grace can make it.