THE PRECIOUSNESS OF CHRIST'S BLOOD
"The precious blood of Christ." 1 Peter 1:19
The Word of God is the only book that conveys to us a correct idea of the sanctity and meaning of blood. The instructions of God as to its nature and use in the Levitical economy present the spectacle to the mind invested with an impressiveness dreadful in its character, and profound in its meaning. In God's eye blood was a sacred thing. The solemnity with which He regarded, and the vigilance with which He shielded it, are remarkably striking. We marvel not at this. By the instrument of blood Jehovah was to unfold His Divine character, illustrate His moral government, and achieve His miracle of mercy in behalf of fallen man, in a way so wonderful and resplendent as the intelligent universe had never beheld. That one thing—BLOOD, was to fill the world with His glory, heaven with His redeemed, and eternity with His praise! Hence the sacredness and value of blood in God's view. What an impressive spectacle would meet the eye of the devout Israelite as he entered the temple to worship. He would see blood upon the altar—blood upon the sides of the altar—blood in the bowls of the altar—blood flowing around the altar; and in that blood, so profusely shed and minutely applied, his penitent heart would confront the truth, "Without shedding of blood there is no remission;" and his believing eye would behold the "precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot," "slain from the foundation of the world."
Such is the vital truth which is now to engage our thoughts. Among all the precious things of God there is not one so precious, so inestimable, so influential, as the "precious blood of Christ." All salvation, all purity, all peace, all holiness, all hope, all heaven, is bound up in the atoning blood of Immanuel. There is no acceptance for the sinner, no cleansing for the guilty, no pardon for the penitent, no sanctification for the believer, but in the vicarious sacrifice of the Son of God. With nothing are honesty and tenderness of conscience, soul-prosperity, the power of prayer, purity of heart, holiness of life, unreserved obedience, peace, joy, and hope, so intimately related, so closely entwined, as the "precious blood of Christ." It becomes, then, of the greatest moment that we should have scriptural, spiritual, realizing views of this great truth. The point at which we are liable to come short is, not so much our depreciatory views of the essential worth of atoning blood as of the necessity of the application of it to the conscience. How few there are of the Lord's people who are walking with the blood upon the conscience! "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." We detect this deficiency and defect in the experimental religion of many, by the absence of a wakeful conscience, of deep spirituality of mind, of minute confession of sin, of closeness of walk, and a Christ-like temper and spirit. Nor this alone. To what may we trace the doubt and uncertainty as to their personal salvation, the want of assured peace, joy, and communion with God, which imparts a sickly hue to the Christianity of so many, which dims their light, impairs their vigor, and makes them so easy a prey to Satan's assaults and the world's seductions, but to the absence of close dealing with the atoning blood? The application of blood was a truth distinctly seen, even amid the dim twilight shadows of the Levitical and prophetical dispensations. The blood of the sacrifice was of no avail until it was applied, brought into contact with the object. That object then—whether a person or a thing—became relatively holy. Touched by the sacrificial blood it was regarded as sanctified—as set apart for the holy Lord God; but until the blood was applied it was a common thing. How glorious the gospel of this! The believing soul must come in contact with the atoning blood of Christ; and in order to maintain holiness and closeness of walk with God—the essence of true religion—and to pass through life's duties, trials, and temptations, as a royal priest, realizing our high calling of God, there must be the constant application of the blood of Christ. We will not anticipate subsequent parts of this chapter, but proceed to lay the basis of our subject by directing the reader's attention to the essential dignity and worth of the "precious blood of Christ."
It would seem impossible, by any illustration or argument, to over-estimate the intrinsic value of Christ's atoning blood. There are some things in religion of which we may entertain a too exalted and exaggerated conception. For example, we may have too high a view of the Church of Christ, exalting it above Christ Himself. We may hold too exaggerated and too exclusive views of Church ordinances, displacing and magnifying them, substituting their observance for vital religion, for a change of heart, for faith in Christ exclusively for justification. But no such danger lies in our study of the blood of Christ. Here our views cannot be too high, our contemplation too profound, our hearts too loving and adoring.
Consider for a moment, beloved, the ends that were accomplished by the shedding of Christ's blood. We often estimate the value of a mean by the end it secures. The Atonement of Christ was to meet the claims of God's moral government. By man's sin its holiness had been invaded, its authority contemned, its sanctions, laws, and commands outraged. Over all its glory a cloud had passed. God's eternal purpose was to save man. But He could save him only by an expedient that would remove that cloud and cause the glory it shaded to shine forth with deeper and more resplendent luster. The expedient that would thus meet the claims of the Divine government must be Divine. The Atonement that would link justice with mercy, and holiness with love, in the salvation of the Church, must be infinite in its character, and priceless in its worth. Such, in a few words, were the two grand ends to be secured, and which were secured, by the offering up of the Lord Jesus Christ. Viewed only in this light, how precious does the blood of Christ appear! Blood that could harmonize the Divine attributes—uphold the righteousness of the Divine government, making it honorable and glorious in God to save sinful man—must be precious.
It is precious blood, because it is virtually the 'blood of God.' This is a strong but a scriptural expression. Paul, in his parting address to the Ephesian elders, employs it—"The Church of God, which He has purchased with His own blood." This it is which stamps the atoning blood of the Savior with such dignity and virtue—it is the blood of Jehovah-Jesus. It possesses all the worth and glory of the Godhead—all the divine virtue and efficacy of the Deity. From this it derived its power to satisfy, its virtue to atone, its efficacy to cleanse. And this is the reason why one drop of this precious blood, falling upon a sin-burdened conscience, in a moment dissolves the weighty load, and fills the soul with joy and peace in believing. And this is why there exists not a stain of human guilt which the atoning blood of Immanuel cannot utterly and forever efface. Why, in a word, it is blood that "cleanses from ALL sin."
But it follows that it is the blood of a pure and sinless humanity, and this by no means lessens our idea of its preciousness. A deep mystery, we admit, is the incarnation of God; but mystery confronts us everywhere, and in everything; therefore it would be un-philosophical, as unbelieving, to cavil at this fundamental doctrine of Christianity—the profoundest mystery in the universe—because it transcended, though it does not contradict, human reason. Our humanity is the incarnation of a spiritual nature; we are not one, but three parts—body, soul, and spirit—and yet we do not deny our own being. Let us go to Bethlehem, and see this great sight, not to reason, but believe, not to fathom, but adore. How great the folly of man in his endeavor to sound the depths of God's infinity! Here, then, exists an essential element of preciousness in Christ's blood—it flowed from arteries untouched, untainted by the virus of sin; from a humanity upon which not a breath of pollution had fallen. "He knew no sin." Begotten by the Holy Spirit, He was that "holy thing" born of a virgin. "Holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners," He came into the world, lived in it, died in it, and left it as pure and immaculate as the Deity He enshrined. His Godhead wore not the tainted fleece, was clad not in the leprous garment of our fallen, apostate, and sinful nature. A holy Savior offered up a sinless Atonement for unholy, sinful man. Hence the preciousness of His blood. Look at it, beloved, in this light, and let your hearts glow with love, adoration, and praise, as you kneel before the cross, and feel the distilling upon your conscience of that blood, that pardons, covers, cancels all your guilt. From this view of the essential preciousness of Christ's blood, let us consider its preciousness to God.
We have referred to the law of the Levitical dispensation relating to blood. The minute directions which God gave concerning it marked the sacredness and significance of blood in His holy eyes. Can we for a moment suppose that the blood of the Atonement offered upon the cross of Calvary should not be of yet more infinite worth and preciousness to God? Beloved, we believe that of all the great truths upon which in this volume we are expatiating, we shall find in the hour of death this to be the most essential, supporting, and comforting—the preciousness and acceptableness to God of that Divine sacrifice for sin upon which, in that dreadful moment, we are relying—to know then that God is well pleased with that blood upon which, as a poor, guilty sinner about to appear in eternity, we rest; and that in its acceptance we are accepted, by its virtue we are washed whiter than snow, and that through its merit we shall appear before God in righteousness—surely, with this truth witnessed to by the Holy Spirit in our souls, death will have no sting, and the grave no terror.
The atoning blood of Christ must be precious to the Father, because it is the blood of His own Son. There was an essential, close, and endearing relation between the Victim and the Offerer. Is the blood of a child precious to the heart of a parent? Thus precious was the blood of Jesus to God. Oh, methinks, if ever God loved His Son, He loved Him then! Gazing from His throne in glory upon the dreadful scene on earth, He saw the Son who dwelt in His bosom from eternity impaled upon the accursed tree, suffering the just for the unjust, vindicating the rectitude of His government, and pouring out His holy soul unto death, that He might bring us unto God.
But there was not only the yearning of parental affection in God, but in the sacrifice of His beloved Son He beheld the salvation of His Church fully and forever secured. In that vital stream He saw the life, the spiritual and eternal life, of His people. His everlasting love had found a fit and appropriate channel through which it could flow to the vilest sinner. Divine Mercy, in her mission to our fallen planet, approached the Cross of Calvary, paused—gazed—and adored. Then dipping her wings in the crimson stream, pursued her flight through the world, proclaiming, in music such as angels had never heard, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will to men!"
And when God raised His Son from the grave, exalted Him to glory, set Him at His own right hand, and then sent down the Holy Spirit, the seal of His acceptance was affixed to His own deep sense of the preciousness of Christ's blood. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Trembling soul! approach this Atonement. God has accepted it—will not you? Surely you may with confidence and hope rely upon that sacrifice with which He has thus declared Himself well pleased. You cannot come to it too hopefully, nor rely upon it too implicitly, nor believe in it too simply, nor rejoice in it too fervently. It is precious to God, and, in virtue of its preciousness, your person is precious, your prayers are precious, your offerings of love are precious—fragrant to Him as the "smell of a field which the Lord has blessed." Plead but the precious blood of Christ for renewed forgiveness, urge it as your argument in prayer, and draw from it your motive to self-surrender as a holy, living sacrifice to God, and you shall not fail of acceptance with the Holy One.
But there is another view of our subject which illustrates the endearing character of Christ's blood. It is not only precious to God, but it is also precious in the experience of the believer. God will make that precious to His people which is precious to Himself. He will endear to their hearts that which is dear to His own. It is precious to the saints, because it is the blood of their Great High Priest. There was no personal relation between the sacrifice and the priest under the Levitical dispensation. But here the Antitype transcends the type. We see in the blood of Christ the blood of one who stands to us in the varied and tender relations of a Priest, a Shepherd, a Friend, a Brother, a Kinsman, a Redeemer. Oh, to travel to the cross and behold in that illustrious Sufferer One who combined in Himself every endearing, tender, and precious relation! It was no stranger who hung there. It was no wayfaring man of grief who died there. It was our Elder Brother, our Goel, our Friend. How precious, then, to our penitent, believing, loving hearts must that blood be! With what reverence should we speak of it, with what faith should we trust in it, with what gratitude should we welcome it, and with what holiness of life should we show forth its praise!
As all his salvation it must possess an indescribable preciousness to the believer. There is no salvation for the soul but in the atoning blood of Immanuel. Whatever else presents itself as such is a delusion and a snare. Baptism is nothing here. Sacraments are nothing here. Priestly power is nothing here. Works of human merit are nothing here. The blood of Christ—God's own expedient—stands unrivaled and alone, the only hope of a lost sinner. The teaching and authority of God's Word are decisive and ultimate on this momentous and vital point. Christ's sacrifice is declared to be a "propitiation through faith in His blood" (Rom. 3:25); "Being justified by His blood" (Rom. 5:9); "We have redemption through His blood" (Eph. 1:7); "That He might sanctify the people with His own blood" (Heb. 13:12); "Who has washed us from our sins in His own blood" (Rev. 1:5); "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb: therefore are they before the throne" (Rev. 7:14). In these declarations it will be seen is inscribed the great essential truth—SALVATION ALONE BY THE ATONING BLOOD OF CHRIST. This is the 'Stone' which is set at nothing by all who seek some other way to heaven—who build their hope upon the sand—a way the end of which is death. But "neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." Before the power and glory of this one precious name, every false religion shall vanish, and to it every knee shall bow. Around a dying bed the scaffolding of all ecclesiastical systems falls, leaving the man who has reposed his all upon it, to his ghostly hope. But to that departing soul, to whom the savor, power, and preciousness of the name of JESUS is as ointment shedding its fragrance round the room where disease and death with united force are battling with life, oh how supporting, soothing, and hope-inspiring is the precious blood of Christ which is felt at that dreadful moment, when the transgressions of a life crowd upon memory, to "cleanse from ALL sin!"
The peace which flows from the application of the atoning blood of Christ increases greatly the believer's sense of its preciousness. Who can describe the repose of conscience, the mental serenity, the heart-ease which this blood seals upon the believing soul? It must be experienced to be understood. Beloved, as your eye traces this page, there may rage within your breast, unknown and unsuspected by others, the storm of sin's conviction. So sunlight and serene is, perhaps, the surface, not a shadow or a wavelet betrays the hidden and deep emotion. And yet you feel yourself a sinner—a lost sinner—the chief of sinners. You are filled with sin-loathing, self-abhorrence, sorrow, and grief. A deep conviction of your utter vileness, unworthiness, and hell-deserving is the cause. And what is the remedy? The precious blood of Christ! Brought beneath that blood, as like a crimson tide it flows from the cross, peace—perfect peace—the peace of God which passes all understanding, will flow into your soul, and there shall be a great calm. And then will you joyously exclaim, "I am at peace with God through Christ. The tempest is hushed; the thunder-cloud has passed away; the Sun of Righteousness pours its golden beams into my soul, and heaven and earth seem to meet and kiss each other."
The present efficacy of the atoning blood must form an endearing element to the heart whose pantings and breathings are for purity. This will need no argument to those of my readers who are used to keep a vigilant oversight of the spiritual state of their souls. You will feel, beloved, that you cannot close your day, in which, despite the greatest watchfulness and prayer, there will be found, in things done, or in things undone, much to produce contrition and humility, without a fresh application to the Fountain. The atoning blood of Jesus is of present efficacy. This, one of its essential elements, is much over looked. Many of the Lord's people postpone an immediate confession of sin and application to the blood. The effect is to produce searedness of conscience, and a kind of moral ossification of the heart, most injurious to personal holiness. The conscience thus losing its tenderness, and the heart its sensibility, sin comes to be seen in a light less abhorrent, sanctification less sought, and Christ less endeared. Remembering, then, that it is an open and a flowing Fountain—that no sin, no backsliding, however great and aggravated, dare interdict or intercept your approach, repair immediately in faith to the blood, wash, and be clean. The atoning blood of Immanuel is the Divine Has of the soul. Take an illustration. The physical man is kept healthy and vigorous only by perpetual ablution. And he is not acting in obedience to the laws of his being, as well as the commands of his Maker, who, deeming as unworthy his notice the claims of his physical structure to his regard, despises those precautionary measures, and refuses to employ those restorative and sanative means which God has imposed for the preservation and recovery of bodily health. We have no more right to trifle with the body than with the soul. If, as a professing Christian, suffering from wasting disease, you refuse to avail yourself of the sanative aids God has kindly placed within your reach, the skill and the appliances His providence has provided, you are, undoubtedly, acting presumptuously, and not in faith. God has ordained the mean as the end, and no man can attempt to sunder them without violence to his own best interests, and dishonor to God. With this we must blend the thought, that all means of recovery are futile without His blessing; but that, looking to Him in prayer and confidence, we shall realize the truth of His word—"And the prayer of faith shall save the sick." Or, if that petition is withheld, it is but to confer a blessing yet more precious—it may be, the soul's translation to that world of blessedness, "the inhabitants of which shall no more say, I am sick." And now let us return to the truth thus illustrated.
Infinitely more needful is the constant cleansing of the soul. We repeat the assertion, that atoning blood is the Divine laver of the believer. The existence of a fretting leprosy within, and the hourly contact with a raging plague without, necessitates perpetual soul-ablution. Let it not be supposed that we are advocating a habit calculated to impress the mind with light thoughts of sin, or to make Christ its minister. Far from this will be the effect of a constant and conscientious dealing with Christ's atonement—of frequent bathing in the blood. The blood of Christ is sanctifying, as well as purifying. It not only effaces the immediate stain of guilt, but it intensifies the heart's thirst for holiness. No believer can cultivate an intimate acquaintance with Christ, or bathe frequently in the fountain of His blood, and not experience a growing sanctification. It is the blood of a holy sacrifice, and it leaves the traces of holiness wherever it flows. And when he comes afresh and closely to the "blood of sprinkling," and again goes forth to the Christian conflict, it is to fight more successfully, to walk more circumspectly, and to yield himself more unreservedly unto God. How clearly and forcibly does the apostle put this truth—the sanctifying influence of the blood. "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will." (Heb. 13:20, 21.) Let it not, then, be supposed, that in pleading for frequent application of the Savior's sacrifice, a constant cleansing from sin, we advocate a lax, careless walk. We believe that the heart is only thoroughly examined, sin is only deeply known, principles, motives, and aims are only closely sifted, analyzed, and seen, by the power of the atoning blood of Christ. The blood not only cleanses, but it searches; it not only purifies, but it probes. Its influence is powerful and penetrating, imparting a keen perception of sin where its existence and taint were not seen or suspected. In proportion to the filtration of a lake, or the polish of a mirror, is the power of reflecting the object imaged upon the surface. Keep your heart, O believer, much beneath the cross, your conscience in frequent and close contact with the blood, and the slightest touch of sin will make you restless and unhappy until you have confessed, and God has forgiven. This is the secret—which, alas! few see, or care to know—of preserving the garments white amid pollution, the mind serene amid turmoil, the heart happy amid sorrow, the life radiant and transparent as the sun, and the spirit, temper, and carriage Christ-loving, and Christ-like. Oh the wonders of the precious blood of Christ! Who can exalt it too highly, adore it too profoundly, love, magnify, and honor it too deeply and exclusively? Will it not constitute the theme of our study, the burden of our song, and the source of our bliss as ages roll on, and never cease to roll? Beloved, the surprise then will be, that here below we should have prized it so little, traveled to it so infrequently, and glorified it so imperfectly, and have regarded it with an affection so fickle and so cold!
The last is not the least precious view, to the saints of God, of the atoning blood of Christ, which this chapter presents—viz., its voice and power in heaven. It is a delightful, sanctifying truth—the pleading of the blood within the veil that now separates the saints of the Most High on earth from the glory of the upper and inner sanctuary. Our great High Priest has passed within that veil, has entered into that sanctuary, bearing in His hands the blood He shed on Calvary. And with that blood—basing His intercession upon its divine and changeless efficacy—He pleads for the Church with an individual, momentary, and ceaseless intercession. Surely the present power of the blood in heaven will not admit of a moment's doubt in his mind who remembers its virtue ages antecedent to its oblation. God, in anticipation of this sacrifice, upon the promise of Christ to give Himself an offering, extended His full forgiveness to those who, amid types, and shadows, and symbols, believed in the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Upon Christ's bond to release His Church, long before the actual payment of the ransom, the "prey was taken from the mighty, and the lawful captive was delivered." God accepted the Savior's suretyship, and extended pardon to Adam, and Abel, and all the Old Testament believers, upon trust and credit of a future sacrifice. Thus did the atoning blood of Jesus do what the law never could have done—"redeem from transgressions under the first testament;" and, by its antecedent and anticipative merit, procure the "remission of sins that are past." If, then—and this is our argument—the blood of Christ was so efficacious ages before it was shed, how much more efficacious is it at the present moment, now that it is actually shed! The testimony of the Holy Spirit touching this truth is clear and conclusive:—"Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." (Heb. 9:11, 12.) "Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (ver. 24). "The blood of Christ, which speaks better things than the blood of Abel." Here, then, blood is one of the precious things of God—most precious! Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, enveloped in the incense-cloud of His merits, praying for you with a ceaseless and successful advocacy. Amid your trials and toils, your temptations and sins, your wants and woes, your fears and tremblings, the voice of Immanuel's blood speaks for you in heaven, and that voice is echoed back to earth in the succourings, upholdings, and soothings, in the strength, grace, and love which its pleadings secure for you below.
And what a balm for the sin-distressed conscience is the precious blood of Christ! There grows not in the universe another tree whose balsam can heal the wounded conscience but this Tree of Life—a crucified Savior. O beware, beloved reader, of a false healing! "They have healed the hurt of my people slightly," says God; that is, imperfectly, falsely. There is no balsam for a wounded conscience but that which exudes from the wounds of Christ. "With His stripes we are healed." Bring your wound to Christ's wounds, and it is in a moment healed. "Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed." David testifies, "I cried unto You, and You have healed me." And is not this the especial office and gracious mission of Jesus? Listen to His precious words: "He has sent me to heal the broken-hearted." Oh the luxury of a broken heart for sin, thus soothed, bound up, and healed by "the precious blood of Christ!" Who would not cry, "Lord, subdue, break, dissolve my heart for sin; let its grief be never so deep, pungent, and bitter, may it but be brought into contact with the virtue, the peace, and preciousness of Your most precious blood?" Again, we beseech you, beware of a spurious healing! Remember, no tear can heal a wounded conscience—no confession can heal it—no sacrament can heal it—no minister can heal it—nothing in this wide universe can heal it but the precious atoning blood of Christ. That can heal it in one moment. It can efface, not only the faintest breath of guilt from the troubled conscience, but it can wash out the deepest, darkest, foulest blot of sin that ever existed upon the human soul. Do you think there is no pardon for you? Deem you beyond the pale of salvation because you are so great, or so aged a sinner—"a sinner of a hundred years old," it may be? Look at Adam, the poisoner of his species, the murderer of his race. The precious blood of Christ availed for him, and in virtue of it he is now in glory, the greatest, the chief, the head of all sinners, hymning the high praises of the blood that brought him there. Will you, then, hesitate to believe? will you despond and despair while this monument of saving mercy, of sovereign grace, of Christ's atoning blood, stands as "a pattern to those who should hereafter believe on Him to everlasting life?"
Are you approaching the solemnities of a dying hour? Oh, turn you now from everything but the precious blood of Christ! Let go every object but the cross. Relax your hold of churches and creeds, duties and ordinances, ministers and saints, and let one object absorb every thought, and feeling, and desire—filling the entire scope of the brief and solemn space that now divides time from eternity—THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST! Cast yourself upon it in simple believing—look at it with the feeblest, dimmest eye of faith, and it will speak pardon, peace, and joy to your soul, unveiling to your departing spirit a hope radiant with immortality.
Beware of the false religions of the day. They are all designed and tend to veil the cross of Jesus. We want no other 'altar' than Christ. We need no other sacrifice but His. Christ is our only altar; Christ is our only sacrifice; Christ is our only door into heaven; Christ is all, and in all. Value ministers, churches, ordinances, means of grace, only as they are stepping-stones that lift you above themselves, and lead you upward and onward, closer and closer to Jesus. Around Him entwine the arms of your faith; clasp Him to your loving heart; and be you sure of this, that such is His grace, such His compassion, such His tenderness, sympathy, and love, He will never tear from His bosom the poor, trembling, penitent soul that has fled within it for shelter. Approach this divine Altar, this one finished Sacrifice, you poor in spirit—you that smite upon the breast—you that mourn for sin—you that cry, "Unclean, unclean!"—you that see your own righteousness to be but filthy rags—you that disclaim and abjure every other salvation, and lay your mouth in the dust, acknowledging your iniquity, transgression, and sin; draw near to this ATONING BLOOD, and behold your welcome in the free grace of a sin-forgiving, sin-pardoning God. This precious blood will give you liberty—this precious blood will give you peace—this precious blood will sign and seal you as one upon whom the 'second death' shall have no power. Then, when Christ is coming, and the trumpet is sounding, and the dead are rising, and the great white throne is unveiling, and all are pressing round it for judgment, then will be fulfilled, as never before, the precious promise of God—"AND WHEN I SEE THE BLOOD, I WILL PASS YOU BY." Sprinkled with that blood, sheltered by that blood, washed from every stain in that blood, not a drop of divine wrath will light upon you; and you shall hear the Judge of all pronounce you pardoned—accepted—saved! Then will it be said of you—"These are they who came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne." And from every heart and tongue of that goodly company of apostles, and prophets, and martyrs, and the spirits of just men made perfect, will the glorious anthem swell—"Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God; to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." Oh the bliss of that moment! May it be ours to join that number, and to unite in that song! Amen, and Amen.
"We have an ALTAR and a PRIEST
Within the riven veil—
All typal sacrifice has ceased,
Remove that 'altar rail!'
With holy boldness venture nigh;
The Golden Altar stands on high.
"'Tis sprinkled with the costly blood
On which the Father smiles,
That blood which from the Offerer flowed
For all whom sin defiles.
Look there, and meet your Father's eye,
THERE learn the priestly mystery.
"The bronze altar smokes no more
On which the Victim lay,
Where sin's unmeasured doom He bore,
When you had nothing to pay;
'Go forth without the camp,' and see
What God's High Priest has done for thee.
"Then look within 'the Inner Shrine,'
Where now He pleading stands,
Not God's High Priest alone, but thine—
What say those wounded hands?
The Father, when those scars He healed,
Once, and for aye, your pardon sealed.
"Though now in heaven, the Priestly King
Long ministered on earth;
His life one 'whole burnt-offering,'
Sweet-savored from his birth;
The fragrance of that life divine
Perfumes and fills 'the Inner Shrine.'
"No 'rood screen' shields it from the eye
Of those whose sight is true;
That 'Inner Shrine' in yon pure sky
Is open now for you.
All conscience-cleansed and free from sin,
The full-robed Priest says, 'Welcome in.'
"Behold those jewels on His breast,
Each as a signet graved!
Close to that bosom, warmly prest,
Lie those by Jesus saved;
And you are saved, whoe'er you art,
If Jesus has your willing heart.
"The golden frontlet on his brow,
With 'Holiness' inscribed,
Tells that the law is honored now,
In vain with tinsel bribed:
The perfect work of One alone
Will God's all-searching justice own.
"Hark to the music of those bells!
How sweet their silver voice!
Of Peace, Good-will, and Grace it tells—
How can you but rejoice,
When God Himself delights to hear
Those silver tones salute His ear!
"A golden lamp sheds forth its ray;
The Spirit is your guide;
He shows the New, the Living Way—
The rent veil opens wide:
A seven-fold light that lamp imparts,
And courage gives to trembling hearts.
"And say, have you not often regaled
Upon that living Bread,
Which, when all earthly comfort failed,
Your craving spirit fed?
That heavenly Manna, Show-bread sweet,
Which none but white-robed priests may eat.
"The Laver stands. If earth-defiled,
Go, wash your hands, your feet,
And simply as a pardoned child
Approach the Mercy-seat;
Within the veil your censer bring,
And burn sweet incense to the King.
"For know, that since God's Lamb was slain,
All typal rites have ceased;
Nor until MELCHISEDEK shall reign,
May earth behold a priest,
Save those who, washed in Jesus' blood,
Are now made white-robed priests to God.
"They walk 'the outer court' a while,
But live within the veil;
Look out and weep, look in and smile,
And chant the melting tale
Of Him who blessed the bread and wine—
'THE PRIEST' within 'THE INNER SHRINE.'
—By the Author of "Wild Thyme."