Body of Divinity
By Thomas Watson
The Covenant of Grace and its Mediator
1. The Covenant of Grace
Question 20: Did God leave all mankind to perish in the
estate of sin and misery?
Answer: No! He entered into a covenant of grace to
deliver the elect out of that state, and to bring them into a state
of grace by a Redeemer.
"I will make an everlasting covenant with you." Man being
by his fall plunged into a labyrinth of misery, and having no way
left to recover himself, God was pleased to enter into a new covenant
with him, and to restore him to life by a Redeemer.
The great proposition I shall go upon is, that there is a
new covenant ratified between God and the elect.
What is the new covenant?
It is a solemn compact and agreement made between God and
fallen man, wherein the Lord undertakes to be our God, and to make us his
What names are given to the covenant?
(1.) It is called the covenant of peace in Ezek
37:26, because it seals up reconciliation between God and humble
sinners. Before this covenant there was nothing but enmity. God did not love
us, for a creature that offends God by its sin, cannot be loved by a holy
God. Also, we did not love him, since a God who condemns cannot be loved by
a guilty creature; so that there was war on both sides. But God has found
out a way in the new covenant to reconcile differing parties, so that it is
fitly called the covenant of peace.
(2.) It is called a covenant of grace, and well it
(1) It was of grace, that, when we had forfeited the
first covenant, God should enter into a new one, after we had cast away
ourselves. The covenant of grace is as a plank after shipwreck. Oh the free
grace of God, that he should parley with sinners, and set his wisdom and
mercy to work, to bring rebels into the bond of the covenant!
(2) It is a covenant of grace, because it is a royal
charter, all made up of terms of grace; that "God will cast our sins behind
his back;" that "he will love us freely;" that he will give us a will to
accept of the mercy of the covenant, and strength to perform the conditions
of the covenant. Ezek 36:27. All this is pure grace!
WHY should God make a covenant with us?
It is out of indulgence, favor, and regard to us. A
tyrant will not enter into a covenant with slaves, he will not show them
such respect. God's entering into a covenant with us, to be our God, is a
dignity he puts upon us. A covenant is the mark of distinction between God's
people and heathens. "I will establish my covenant with you." When
the Lord told Abraham that he would enter into a covenant with him, Abraham
fell upon his face, as being amazed that the God of glory should bestow such
a favor upon him. Gen 17:2.
God makes a covenant with us, to tie us fast to him; as
it is called in Ezekiel, the "bond of the covenant." God knows we have
slippery hearts, therefore he will have a covenant to bind us. It is horrid
impiety to go away from God, after covenant. If one of the vestal nuns,
who had vowed herself to religion, was deflowered, the Romans caused her to
be burnt alive. It is perjury to depart from God after solemn covenant.
How does the covenant of grace differ from the first
covenant made with Adam?
(1.) The TERMS of the first covenant were more strict and
(a) The least failing would have made the covenant with
Adam null and void—but many failings do not annul the covenant of grace. I
grant, the least sin is a trespass upon the covenant—but it does not make it
null and void. There may be many failings in the marital relation—but every
failing does not break the marriage bond. It would be dreadful, if, as oft
as we break covenant with God—that he should break covenant with us; but God
will not take strict justice with every failing—but in "anger remember
(b) The first covenant being broken, allowed the sinner
no remedy, all doors of hope were shut; but the new covenant allows the
sinner a remedy. It leaves room for repentance, and provides a mediator.
"Jesus the mediator of the new covenant." Heb 12:24.
(2.) The first covenant ran all upon "working," the
second is upon "believing." Rom 4:5.
But are not works required in the covenant of grace?
Yes. "This is a faithful saying, that those who believe
in God, should be careful to maintain good works." But the covenant of
grace does not require works in the same manner as the covenant of
works did. In the first covenant, works were required as the
condition of life; in the second covenant, they are required only as the
signs of life. In the first covenant, works were required as
grounds of salvation; in the new covenant, they are required as
evidences of our love to God. In the first covenant, they were required
to the justification of our persons; in the new covenant, to the
manifestation of our grace.
What is the condition of the covenant of grace?
The main condition is FAITH. "For it is by grace you have
been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the
gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9.
"Jesus said to the woman—Your faith has saved you; go in peace." Luke
Why is faith more the condition of the new covenant, than
any other grace?
To exclude all glorying in the creature. Faith is a
humble grace. If repentance or works were the condition of the
covenant, a man would say, "It is my righteousness which has saved me!" But
if it is of faith, where is boasting? Faith fetches all from Christ, and
gives all the glory to Christ! Faith is a most humble grace. Hence it is
that God has singled out this grace to be the condition of the covenant.
If faith is the condition of the covenant of grace, it
excludes desperate presumptuous sinners from the covenant. They say there is
a covenant of grace, and they shall be saved even if they have no faith. But
the condition of the covenant is faith, and if you have no faith, you have
no more to do with the covenant, than a foreigner has to do with the city
Use one: Of INFORMATION. See the amazing
goodness of God, to enter into covenant with us! He never entered
into covenant with angels when they fell. It was much condescension
in God to enter into covenant with us in a state of innocence—but
more so when we were in a state of enmity. In this covenant of grace, we may
see the cream of God's love, and the working of his affections to sinners.
This is a marriage covenant. "I am married to you—says the Lord." Jeremiah
3:14. In the new covenant, God makes himself over to us, and what can
he give more? He makes over his promises to us, and what better bonds
can we have?
Use two: Of TRIAL. Whether we are in covenant
with God. There are three characteristics of God's covenant people.
(1.) God's covenant people are a HUMBLE people.
"Be clothed with humility." 1 Pet 5:5. God's people esteem others
better than themselves; they shrink into nothing in their own thoughts. Phil
2:3. David cries out, "I am a worm, and no man:"Psalm 22:6. Though a saint,
though a king—yet a worm! When Moses' face shined, he covered it with a
veil. When God's people shine most in grace, they are covered with the veil
of humility. Pride excludes from the covenant, for "God resists the proud."
Surely, such as whom God resist, He will not take to be with Himself in
glory. Abraham the father of the faithful, confesses, "I am nothing but dust
and ashes." Genesis 18:27.
(2.) A people in covenant with God are a WILLING people.
Though they cannot serve God perfectly--they serve Him willingly.
They do not grudge God a little time spent in his worship. They do not
murmur at sufferings. They will go through a sea and a wilderness—if God
calls. "Your people shall be a willing people." This spontaneity and
willingness is from the attractive power of God's Spirit. The Spirit does
not force--but sweetly draws the will. This willingness in makes all our
services accepted. God does sometimes accept of willingness without the
work--but never the work without willingness.
(3.) God's covenant people are a CONSECRATED people.
They have "holiness to the Lord" written upon them. "You are a holy people
to the Lord your God." Deut 7:6. God's covenant people are separated from
the world, and sanctified by the Spirit. The priests under the law were not
only to wash in the great laver—but were arrayed with glorious apparel. Exod
28:2. This was typical, to show God's people are not only washed from gross
sins—but adorned with holiness of heart. They bear not only God's name—but
His image. Tamerlane refused a pot of gold, when he saw it had not his
father's stamp upon it—but the Roman stamp. Holiness is God's stamp; if he
does not see this stamp upon us, he will not own us for his covenant people.
Use three: Of EXHORTATION. To such as are out
of covenant—labor to get into covenant, and have God for your God. How glad
would the old world have been of an ark! How industrious should we be to get
within the ark of the covenant!
(1.) Consider—the misery of such as live and die outside
of covenant with God. Such have none to go to in an hour of
distress. When conscience accuses, when sickness approaches
(which is but a harbinger to bespeak a lodging for death), then what will
you do? Where will you flee? Will you look to Christ for help? He is a
mediator only for such as are in covenant. Oh, how will you be filled with
horror and despair! and be as Saul, when he said, "The Philistines make war
against me, and the Lord has departed!" Until you are in covenant with
God—there is no mercy. The mercy-seat was placed upon the ark, and the
mercy-seat was no larger than the ark. This was to show, that the mercy
of God reaches no further than the covenant.
(2.) Consider—the excellency of the covenant of grace.
1. It is a better covenant than the covenant made with
Adam—because it is more friendly and acceptable. Those
services which would have been rejected in the first covenant are accepted
in the second covenant. Here God accepts of the will for the deed, 2
Cor 8:12; here sincerity is crowned in the covenant of grace. Wherein
we are weak, God will give strength; and wherein we come short,
God will accept of a surety.
2. It is a better covenant—because it is surer.
"You have made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things—and
sure." The first covenant was not sure, it stood upon a tottering foundation
of works. Adam had no sooner a stock of righteousness to trade
with—than he lost it! But the covenant of grace is sure; it is confirmed
with God's decree, and it rests upon two mighty pillars—the oath of
God, and the blood of God.
3. It is a better covenant—because it has better
privileges. The covenant of grace brings great blessings. Our nature now
is more ennobled, we are raised to higher glory than in innocence, we are
advanced to sit upon Christ's throne. Rev 3:21. We are, by virtue of the
covenant of grace, nearer to Christ than the angels! They are his friends,
we his spouse! God is willing to be in covenant with you. Why does God woo
and beseech you by his ambassadors to be reconciled, if he were not willing
to be in covenant?
I would gladly be in covenant with God—but I have been a
great sinner, and I fear God will not admit me into covenant.
If you see your sins, and loathe yourself for them, God
will take you into covenant. "I, even I, am he who blots out your
transgressions." As the sea covers great rocks, so God's covenant mercy
covers great sins. Some of the Jews who crucified Christ, had their sins
washed away in his blood.
But I am not worthy that God should admit me into
It never came into God's thoughts to make a new covenant
upon terms of worthiness. If God should show mercy to none but such
as are worthy, then must he show mercy to none! But it is God's design in
the new covenant— to advance the riches of grace, to love us freely; and
when we have no worthiness of our own, to accept us through
Christ's worthiness. Therefore let not unworthiness discourage you; it
is not unworthiness which excludes any from the covenant—but
What shall we do that we may be in covenant with God?
(1.) Seek God by prayer. "Demand compassion from the
Lord," Augustine. "Lord, be my God in covenant." The Lord has made an
express promise, that, upon our prayer to him, the covenant should be
ratified, he will be our God, and we shall be his people. "They will call on
My name, and I will answer them. I will say: They are My people, and they
will say: The Lord is our God." Zechariah 13:9. Only it must be an
importunate prayer; come as earnest suitors, resolve to take no denial.
(2.) If you would be in covenant with God, break off the
covenant with sin. Before the marriage-covenant, there must be a
divorce. "If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid
yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to
the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the
Philistines." 1 Samuel 7:3. Will any king enter into covenant, with that man
who is in league with his enemies?
(3.) If you would enter into the bond of the covenant,
get faith in the blood of the covenant. Christ's blood is the blood of
atonement. Believe in this blood—and you are safely arked in God's mercy!
"You are made near by the blood of Christ."
Use four: Of COMFORT to such as can make out their
covenant interest in God.
(1.) You that are in covenant with God, all your sins are
pardoned. Pardon is the crowning mercy. "Who forgives your
iniquity, who crowns you." This is a branch of the covenant. "I will
be their God, and I will forgive their iniquity." Sin being pardoned,
all wrath ceases. How terrible is it when but a spark of God's wrath flies
into a man's conscience! But sin being forgiven, there is no more wrath. God
does not appear now in the fire or earthquake—but covered with a rainbow
full of mercy!
(2.) All your temporal mercies are fruits of the
covenant. Wicked men have mercies by Providence, not by virtue of
a covenant; they have their mercies with God's leave, not with his love. But
such as are in covenant have their mercies sweetened with God's love—and
they swim to them in the blood of Christ! As Naaman said to Gehazi, "Take
two talents," so says God to such as are in covenant, take two talents, take
health—and take Christ with it; take riches—and take my love with them; take
the venison—and take the blessing with it; take two talents.
(3.) You may upon all occasions plead the covenant.
If you are haunted with temptations, plead the covenant, "Lord, you
have promised to bruise Satan under my feet shortly; will you allow your
child to be thus harassed? Take off the roaring lion." If in need,
plead the covenant, "Lord, you have said, I shall lack no good thing; will
you save me from hell, and not from poverty? will you give me a kingdom,
and deny me daily bread?"
(4.) If in covenant with God, all things shall co-operate
for your good. Psalm 25:10. Not only golden paths—but his bloody
paths are for good. Every wind of Providence shall blow them nearer heaven.
Affliction shall humble and purify. Heb 12:10. Out of the bitterest
medicine, God distills your salvation. Afflictions add to the saints, glory.
The more the diamond is cut, the more it sparkles; the heavier the saints'
cross is, the heavier shall be their crown.
(5.) If you are in covenant once, then forever in
covenant. The text calls it an "everlasting covenant." Such as
are in covenant are elected; and God's electing love is unchangeable. "I
will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from
them; but I will put my fear in their heart, that they shall not depart from
me." Jer 32:40. God will so love the saints, that he will not forsake them;
and the saints shall so fear God that they shall not forsake him. It is a
covenant of eternity. It must be so; for whom is this covenant made with? Is
it not with believers? and have not they coalition and union with Christ?
Christ is the head, they are the body. Eph 1:22, 23. This is a near union,
much like that union between God the Father and Christ. "As you, Father, are
in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us." John 17:2I. Now, the
union between Christ and the saints being so inseparable, it can never be
dissolved, or the covenant made void; so that you may die with comfort.
(6.) You are in covenant with God, and you are going to
your God. Behold a death-bed cordial; death breaks the union
between the body and the soul—but perfects the union between Christ and the
soul. This has made the saints desire death as the bride the wedding-day.
Phil 1:23. "Lead me, Lord, to that glory," said one, "a glimpse whereof I
have seen, as in a glass darkly."
Use five: Of DIRECTION. To show you how you
who have tasted of covenant-mercy should walk, and live as a people in
covenant with God. As you differ from others in respect of dignity, so you
must in point of life-style.
(1.) You must love this God. God's love to you
calls for love. It is Amor gratiatus—a free love. Why should God pass
by others, and take you into a league of friendship with himself? In the
law, God passed by the lion and eagle, and chose the dove; so he passes by
the noble and mighty. It is Amor plenus—a full love. When God takes
you into covenant, you are his Hephzihah; Isa 62:4; his delight is in you;
he gives you the key of all his treasure, he heaps pearls upon you, he
settles heaven and earth upon you; he gives you a bunch of grapes by the
way, and says, "Son, all I have is yours!" And does not all this call for
love? Who can tread upon these hot coals, and his heart not burn in love to
(2.) Walk holily. The covenant has made you a
royal nation, therefore be a holy people. Shine as lights in the world; live
as earthly angels. God has taken you into covenant, that you and he may have
communion together; and what is it that keeps up your communion with God,
(3.) Walk thankfully. Psalm 103:1. God is your
God in covenant; he has done more for you than if he had made you ride upon
the high places of the earth, and given you crowns and scepters! Oh take the
cup of salvation, and bless the Lord! Eternity will be little enough to
praise him. Musicians love to play on their music where there is the loudest
sound, and God loves to bestow his mercies where he may have the loudest
praises. You that have angels' reward—do angels, work. Begin
that work of praise here, which you hope to be always doing in heaven.
2. Christ, the MEDIATOR of the Covenant
"Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant." Hebrews 12:24
Jesus Christ is the sum and quintessence of the gospel!
He is the wonder of angels; and the joy and triumph of saints. The name of
Christ is sweet—it is as music in the ear, honey in the mouth, and a cordial
at the heart!
I shall waive the context, and only speak of that which
concerns our present purpose. Having discoursed of the covenant of grace, I
shall speak now of the Mediator of the covenant, and the restorer of
lapsed sinners, "Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant."
There are several names and titles in Scripture given to
Christ, as the great restorer of mankind:
 Sometimes he is called a SAVIOR. "His name
shall be called Jesus." Matt 1:21. The Hebrew word for JESUS signifies a
Savior, and whom he saves from hell, he saves from sin; where Christ is a
Savior he is a sanctifier. "He shall save his people from their sins." Matt
1:21. There is no other Savior. "Neither is there salvation in any other."
Acts 4:12. As there was but one ark to save the world from drowning—so there
is but one Jesus to save sinners from damning. As Naomi said to her
daughters-in-law, "Are there yet any more sons in my womb?" Ruth 1:11, so
has God no other sons in the womb of his eternal decree, to be saviors to
us, besides Christ. "Where shall wisdom be found? The depth says, It is not
in me; and the sea says, It is not with me." Where shall salvation be found?
The angel says, It is not in me; mortality says, It is not in
me; the ordinance says, It is not in me. Christ alone is the
well-spring of life; the ordinance is the conduit-pipe which conveys
salvation—but Christ is the spring which feeds it. "Neither is there
salvation in any other."
 Sometimes Christ is called a REDEEMER.
"The Redeemer shall come to Zion." Some understand it of Cyrus, others of an
angel; but the most ancient Jewish doctors understood it of Christ, the
Redeemer of the elect. "My Redeemer lives." The Hebrew word for Redeemer
signifies such a one as is near akin, and has right to redeem a mortgage; so
Christ is near of kin to us, being our elder brother, therefore has the best
right to redeem us.
 Christ is called a MEDIATOR in the text.
"Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant." The Greek word for Mediator
signifies a middle person, one who makes up the breach between two
disagreeing parties. God and we were at variance by sin; now Christ
mediates and becomes umpire between us; he reconciles us to God
through his blood, therefore he is called the Mediator of the new covenant.
There is no way of communion and fellowship between God and man, but in and
through a Mediator. Christ takes away the enmity in us, and the wrath of
God, and so makes peace between us and God. Nor is Christ a Mediator of
reconciliation only—but intercession. "Christ has entered, not into the holy
place made with hands—but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence
of God for us." When the priest had slain the sacrifice, he was to go with
the blood before the altar and mercy-seat, and show it to the Lord. Now, in
Christ, our blessed Mediator, consider two things. 1. His person. 2: His
I. Christ's PERSON. His person is amiable; he
is made up of all love and beauty. He is the effigy of his Father. "The
express image of his person." Consider,
 Christ's person in two NATURES.
(1.) Look upon his HUMAN nature as incarnate.
Some deny his human nature; but John 1:14 says "The Word was made flesh." It
is spoken of Christ the promised Messiah. Christ took our flesh, that the
same nature which sinned, might suffer; and "The Word was made flesh," that
through the glass of his human nature we might look upon God.
Why is Christ called the Word?
Because, as a word is the revealer of the mind,
and manifests what is in a man's heart; so Jesus Christ reveals his Father's
mind to us concerning the great matters of our salvation. John 1:18. Were it
not for Christ's manhood, the sight of the Godhead would be
formidable to us; but through Christ's flesh we may look upon God without
And Christ took our flesh—that he might know how to pity
us; he knows what it is to be faint, sorrowful, tempted. "He knows our
frame." And he took our flesh, that he might (as Augustine says) ennoble our
human nature with honor. Christ having married our flesh, has exalted it
above the angelic nature.
(2.) Look upon Christ's DIVINE nature. Christ
may be fitly compared to Jacob's ladder, which reaches from earth to heaven.
Gen 28:12. Christ's human nature was the foot of the ladder, which
stood upon earth; his divine nature the top of the ladder, which
reaches to heaven. This being a grand article of our faith I shall amplify
it. I know the Arians, Socinians, and Ebionites would rob Christ of the best
jewel of his crown, his Godhead; but the Apostolic, Nicene,
Athanasian creeds, affirm Christ's Deity. The Scripture is clear for it. He
is called "the mighty God." "And in him dwells the fullness of the Godhead."
He is of the same nature and essence with the Father. Is God the Father
called Almighty? So is Christ. "The Almighty." Rev 1:8. Is God the Father
the heart-searcher? So is Christ. "He knew their thoughts." John 2:25. Is
God the Father omnipresent? So is Christ. "The Son of Man who is in heaven."
John 3:13. Christ as God was then in heaven, when as man he was upon the
Is Christ eternal? Christ is the everlasting Father, Isa
9:6, may be urged against the Cerinthian heretics, who denied the
pre-existence of Christ's Godhead, and held that Christ had no being until
he derived it from the Virgin Mary.
Does divine worship belong to the first person in
the Trinity? So it does to Christ. John 5:23. "Let all the angels of God
worship him." Heb 1:6. Is creation proper to the Deity? this is a
flower of Christ's crown. "By him were all things created." Col 1:16. Is
prayer proper to the Deity? this is given to Christ. "Lord Jesus, receive my
spirit." Is faith and trust peculiar to God the Father? this is given to
Christ. "You believe in God, believe also in me." Christ must needs be God,
not only that the divine nature might support the human from sinking under
God's wrath—but also to give value and weight to his
Christ being God, his death and passion are meritorious.
Christ's blood is called sanguis Dei, the blood of God, in Acts
20:28, because the person who was offered in sacrifice was God as
well as man. This is an invincible support to believers; it was God
who was offended, and it was God who satisfied. Thus Christ's
person is in two natures.
 Consider Christ's two natures in one person, God-man.
"God manifest in the flesh." 1 Tim 3:16. Christ had a twofold
substance, divine and human—yet not a twofold subsistence; both natures make
but one Christ. A scion may be grafted into another tree — like a pear-tree
into an apple tree; which, though it bears different fruits, is but one
tree; so Christ's manhood is united to the Godhead in an ineffable manner;
yet though there are two natures—yet but one person. This union of the two
natures in Christ was not by transmutation, the divine nature changed
into the human, or the human into the divine; nor by mixture, the two
natures mingled together, as wine and water are mixed; but both the natures
of Christ remain distinct, and yet make not two distinct persons—but one
person; the human nature not God—yet one with God.
II. Consider Christ, our Mediator, in his GRACES.
These are the sweet savor of his ointments, which make the virgins
love him. Christ, our blessed Mediator, is said to be "full of grace
and truth." John 1:14. He had the anointing of the Spirit without measure.
John 3:34. Grace in Christ is after a more eminent and glorious manner, than
it is in any of the saints.
 Jesus Christ, our Mediator, has PERFECTION in every
grace. Col 1:19. He is a panoply, treasury and storehouse of all
heavenly treasure, all fullness. This no saint on earth has; he may excel in
one grace—but not in all; as Abraham was eminent for faith, Moses for
meekness; but Christ excels in every grace.
 There is a NEVER-FAILING fullness of grace in Christ.
Grace in the saints is ebbing and flowing, it is not always in the same
degree and proportion; at one time David's faith was strong, at another time
so faint and weak, that you could hardly feel any pulse. "I said, I am cut
off from before your eyes." Psalm 31:22. But grace in Christ is a
never-failing fullness, it never abated in the least degree; he never lost a
drop of his holiness. What was said of Joseph in Gen 49:23, may more truly
be applied to Christ. "The archers shot at him—but his bow abode in
strength." Men and devils shot at him—but his grace remained in its full
vigor and strength; "his bow abode in strength."
 Grace in Christ is COMMUNICATIVE. His
grace is for us; the holy oil of the Spirit was poured on the head of this
blessed Aaron, that it might run down upon us! The saints have not
grace to bestow on others. When the foolish virgins would have bought oil of
their neighbor virgins, saying, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are
gone out," the wise virgins answered, "Not so, lest there be not enough for
us and you." The saints have no grace to spare for others; but Christ
diffuses his grace to others. Grace in the saints is as water in the
vessel, grace in Christ is as water in the spring. "Of his
fullness have all we received and grace for grace." John 1:16. Set a glass
under a still, and it receives water from it, drop by drop; so the saints
have the drops and influences of Christ's grace distilling upon them. What a
rich consolation is this to those who either have no grace, or their stock
is low! They may go to Christ, the Mediator, as a treasury of grace: "Lord,
I am indigent; but where shall I carry my empty vessel—but to a full
fountain? 'All my springs are in you.' I am guilty, you have blood to
pardon me; I am polluted, you have grace to cleanse me; I am sick
unto death, you have the balm of Gilead to heal me! Joseph opened all
the storehouses of grain; Christ is our Joseph, that opens all the
treasuries and storehouses of grace, and bestows to us. He is not
only sweet as the honey-comb—but drops as the honey-comb. In
Christ our Mediator there is a cornucopia and fullness of all grace; and
Christ is desirous that we should come to him for grace, like the full
breast which aches until it be drawn.
Use one: Admire the glory of this Mediator; he
is God-man, he is co-essentially glorious with the Father. All the Jews who
saw Christ in the flesh, did not see his Godhead; all who saw
the man did not see the Messiah. The temple of Solomon
within was embellished with gold; travelers, as they passed along, might
see the outside of the temple—but only the priests saw the
glory which sparkled within the temple. Just so, believers only, who are
made priests unto God, see Christ's glorious inside, the Godhead shining
through the manhood. Rev 1:16.
Use two: If Christ is God-man in one person, then look
unto Jesus Christ alone for salvation. There must be something of
the Godhead to fasten our hope upon; in Christ there is
Godhead and manhood hypostatically united. If we could weep rivers of tears,
out-fast Moses on the mount, if we were exact moralists, touching the law
blameless, if we could arrive at the highest degree of sanctification in
this life—all this would not save us, without looking to the merits of him
who is God. Our perfect holiness in heaven is not the cause of our
salvation—but the righteousness of Jesus Christ. To this therefore did Paul
flee, as to the horns of the altar. "That I may be found in him, not having
my own righteousness." Phil 3:9. It is true, we may look to our graces
as evidences of salvation—but to Christ's blood only as the
cause of salvation. In time of Noah's flood, all who trusted to the high
hills and trees, and not to the ark, were drowned. "Looking unto Jesus;" and
so look unto him, as to believe in him, so that Christ may not only be
united to our nature—but to our persons. Heb 12:2. "That believing, you may
have life through his name." John 20:31.
Use three: Is Jesus Christ God and man in one person?
This shows the dignity of believers, that they are so closely related and
united to Christ. "In him dwells the fullness of the Godhead
bodily," so it is of unspeakable comfort. Col 2:9. Christ's two natures
being married together, the divine and human, all that Christ in either of
his natures can do for believers, he will do. In his human nature he
prays for them, in his divine nature he merits for them.
Use four: Admire the love of Christ our Mediator; that he
should humble himself, and take our flesh, that he might redeem us.
Believers should put Christ in their bosom, as the spouse did. "Lie between
my breasts." Cant 1:13. What was said of Ignatius, that the name of Jesus
was found written in his heart, should be verified of every saint; he should
have Jesus Christ written in his heart.
3. Christ's PROPHETIC Office
"The Lord your God will raise up unto you a Prophet,"
etc. Deut 18:15.
Having spoken of the PERSON of Christ, we are next to
speak of the OFFICES of Christ. These are Prophetic, Priestly, and Regal.
"The Lord your God will raise up unto you a Prophet."
This is spoken of Christ. There are several names given to Christ as a
Prophet. He is called "the Counselor" in Isa 9:6. "The Angel of the
covenant." Mal 3:1. "A Lamp." 2 Sam 22:19. "The Morning Star." Rev 22:16.
Jesus Christ is the great Prophet of his church. The woman of Samaria gave a
shrewd guess. John 4:19. He is the best teacher; he makes all other teaching
effectual. "He opened their understanding." Luke 24:45 He not only
opened the Scriptures—but opened their understanding. He teaches to
profit. "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit." Isa 48:17.
How does Christ teach?
(1.) Externally, by his Word. "Your word is a
lamp to my feet." Such as pretend to have a light or revelation above the
Word, or contrary to it—never had their teaching from Christ. Isa 8:20.
(2.) Christ teaches these sacred mysteries, inwardly, by
the Spirit. John 16:13. The world knows not what this teaching
is. "The natural man receives not the things of God, neither can he know
them." 1 Cor 2:14. He knows not what it is to be transformed by the renewing
of the mind, Rom 12:2, or what the inward workings of the Spirit mean; these
are riddles and paradoxes to Him. He may have more insight into the things
of the world, than a believer—but he does not see the deep things of
God. A swine may see an acorn under a tree—but he cannot see a
star. He who is taught of Christ sees the the secrets of the kingdom
What are the lessons which Christ teaches?
He teaches us to see into our own hearts. Take
the most soaring wits, the greatest politicians, who understand the
mysteries of state, they know not the mysteries of their own hearts, they
cannot believe the evil that is in them. "Is your servant a dog—that he
should do such a thing?" The heart is a great deep, which is not easily
fathomed. But when Christ teaches, he removes the veil of ignorance, and
illuminates the way for a man to see into his own heart. And now that he
sees swarms of vile and vain thoughts, he blushes to see how sin mingles
with his duties, his stars are mixed with clouds; he prays, as
Augustine, that God would deliver him from himself!
The second lesson Christ teaches is the vanity of the
creature. A natural man sets up his happiness in earthly things,
and worships the golden image; but he who Christ has anointed with his
eye-salve, has a spirit of discerning; he looks upon the creature in its
night-dress, sees it to be empty and unsatisfying, and not commensurate to a
heaven-born soul. Solomon had put all the creatures into a still, and when
he came to extract the spirit and quintessence, all was vanity. Eccles 2:11.
The apostle calls it a show or apparition, having no intrinsic
goodness. 1 Cor 7:31.
The third lesson is the excellency of unseen realities.
Christ gives the soul a sight of glory, a prospect of eternity.
"We look not at things which are seen—but at things which are not seen."
Moses saw him who is "invisible." Heb 11:27. And the patriarchs saw a better
country, namely, a heavenly one, where are delights of angels; rivers of
pleasure; the flower of joy, fully ripe and blown. Heb 11:16.
How does Christ's teaching differ from other teaching?
(1.) Christ teaches the heart. Others may
teach the ear, Christ teaches the heart. "Whose heart the Lord opened." Acts
16:14. All that the dispensers of the word can do is but to work
knowledge; Christ works grace. They can but give the light
of the truth; Christ gives the love of the truth. They can only teach
what to believe, Christ teaches how to believe.
(2.) Christ gives us a taste of the word.
Ministers may set the food of the word before you, and carve it out to you;
but it is only Christ, who can cause you to taste it. "If so be you have
tasted that the Lord is gracious." "Taste and see that the Lord is good." It
is one thing to hear a truth preached, another thing to taste
it; one thing to read a promise, another thing to taste it.
David had got a taste of the word. "You have taught me: How sweet are your
words unto my taste! yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth." The apostle calls
it the savor of knowledge. 2 Cor 2:14. The light of knowledge is one
thing, the savor another. Christ makes us taste a savouriness in the
(3.) When Christ teaches, he makes us obey.
Others may instruct—but cannot command obedience. They teach to be
humble—but men remain proud. The prophet had been denouncing judgments
against the people of Judah—but they would not hear. "We will do whatever
goes out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven." Men
come as it were, with thick armor, which the sword of the word will not
enter; but when Christ comes to teach, he removes this obstinacy; he not
only informs the mind—but inclines the will. He does not only
come with the light of his word—but the rod of his strength, and makes the
stubborn sinner yield to him. His grace is irresistible.
(4.) Christ teaches easily. Others teach with
difficulty. They have difficulty in finding out a truth, and in inculcating
it. "Precept must be upon precept, and line upon line." Some may teach all
their lives, and the word take no impression. They complain, "I have spent
my labor in vain!" I have plowed on rocks! But Christ the great Prophet
teaches with ease. He can with the least touch of his Spirit convert; he can
say, "Let there be light;" with a word he can convey grace.
(5.) When Christ teaches, he makes men willing to learn.
Men may teach others—but they have no mind to learn. "Fools despise
instruction." They rage at the word, as if a patient should rage at the
physician when he brings him a remedy; thus backward are men to their own
salvation. But Christ makes his people a "willing people." They prize
knowledge, and hang it as a jewel upon their ear. Those who Christ teaches
say, "Come let us go up to the mountains of the Lord, and he will teach us
of his ways, and we will walk in them;" and "We are all here present before
God, to hear all things commanded."
(6.) When Christ teaches, he not only illuminates but
animates. He so teaches—that he quickens! "I am the light of the
world: he who follows me shall have lumen vitae—the light of life."
By nature we are dead, therefore unfit to be taught. Who will make an
oration to the dead? But Christ teaches those who are dead! he gives the
light of life. As when Lazarus was dead, Christ said, "Come forth," and he
made the dead to hear, for Lazarus came forth. Just so, when he says to the
dead soul, "Come forth of the grave of unbelief!" he hears Christ's voice,
and comes forth! The philosophers say, "heat and light increase together."
Where Christ comes with his light, there is the heat of
spiritual life going along with it.
Use one: Of INFORMATION.
(1.) See here an argument of Christ's Divinity.
Had he not been God, he could never have known the mind of God, or revealed
to us those secrets of Heaven, those deep mysteries, which no man or
angel could find out. Who but God can anoint the eyes of the blind, and give
not only light—but sight? Who but he, who has the key of David, can open the
heart? Who but God can bow the iron sinew of the will? He
alone who is God, can enlighten the conscience, and make the stony heart
(2.) See what a cornucopia, or infinity of wisdom is in
Christ, who is the great teacher of his church, and who gives saving
knowledge to all the elect. The body of the sun must needs be
full of clearness and brightness, which enlightens the whole world. Christ
is the great luminary; in him are hidden all treasures of knowledge. Col
2:3. The middle lamp of the sanctuary gave light to all the other lamps; so
Christ diffuses his glorious light to others. We are apt to admire the
learning of Aristotle and Plato; alas! what is this poor spark of
light, compared to that which is in Christ, from whose infinite wisdom both
men and angels light their lamps!
(3.) See the misery of man in the state of nature.
Before Christ becomes their prophet they are enveloped in ignorance and
darkness. Men know nothing in a sanctified manner, they know nothing as they
ought to know. I Cor 8:2. This is dreadful. Men in the dark cannot discern
colors; so in the state of nature they cannot discern between morality and
grace they take one for the other. In the dark the greatest beauty is
hidden. Let there be rare flowers in the garden, and pictures in the room,
in the dark their beauty is veiled over. Just so, though there is such
transcendent beauty in Christ as amazes the angels, man in the state of
nature sees none of this beauty. What is Christ to him? or heaven to him?
The veil is upon his heart. A man in the dark is in danger every step he
takes; so man in the state of nature is in danger, at every step, of falling
into hell. Thus it is before Christ teaches us; nay, the darkness in which a
sinner is, while in an unregenerate state, is worse than natural darkness;
for natural darkness affrights. "A horror of great darkness fell upon
Abraham." But the spiritual darkness is not accompanied with horror, men
tremble not at their condition; nay, they like their condition well enough.
"Men loved darkness." This is their dreadful condition, until Jesus Christ
comes as a prophet to teach them, and to turn them from darkness to light,
and from the power of Satan to God.
(4.) See the happy condition of the children of God.
They have Christ to be their prophet. "All your children shall be taught of
the Lord." "He is made to us wisdom." One man cannot see by another's eyes;
but believers see with Christ's eyes. "In his light they see light." Christ
gives them the light of grace, and the light of glory.
Use two: Labor to have Christ for your prophet.
He teaches savingly: he is an interpreter of a thousand, he can untie
those knots which puzzle angels. Until Christ teaches, we never learn any
lesson; until Christ is made to us wisdom, we shall never be wise to
What shall we do to have Christ for our teacher?
(1.) See your need of Christ's teaching. You
cannot see your way without this morning star. Some speak much of improving
the light of reason; alas! the plumb-line of reason is too short to
fathom the deep things of God; the light of reason will no more help a man
to believe, than the light of a candle will help him to understand. A man
can no more by the power of nature reach Christ, than an infant can reach
the top of the pyramids, or the ostrich fly up to the stars. See your need
of Christ's anointing and teaching in Rev 3:18. "I counsel you to buy from
me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to
wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your
eyes, so you can see."
(2.) Go to Christ to teach you. "Lead me in
your truth, and teach me." As one of the disciples said, "Lord, teach us to
pray," I, so say, "Lord, teach me to profit. Light my lamp, O great prophet
of your church! Give me a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that I may see
things in another manner than I ever saw them before; teach me in the Word
to hear your voice, and in the sacrament to discern your body. Give light to
my eyes!" Psalm 13:3.
That we may be encouraged to go to our great Prophet:
(1.) Jesus Christ is very willing to teach us.
Why else did he enter into the calling of the ministry—but to teach the
mysteries of heaven? "Jesus went about teaching and preaching the gospel of
the kingdom." Why did he take the prophetic office upon him? Why was Christ
so angry with those who kept away the key of knowledge? "Woe to you experts
in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves
have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering." Luke
11:52. Why was Christ anointed with the Spirit without measure—but that he
might anoint us with knowledge? Knowledge is in Christ, for us as milk in
the breast for the child. Oh then go to Christ for teaching. None in the
gospel came to Christ for sight—but he restored their eyesight; and surely
Christ is more willing to work a cure upon a blind soul, than ever he was to
do so upon a blind body.
(2:) There are none so dull and ignorant, but Christ can
teach them. Everyone is not fit to make a scholar of; but there
is none so dull but Christ can make him a good scholar. Even such as are
ignorant, and of low abilities, Christ teaches in such a manner that they
know more than the great sages and wise men of the world. The unlearned men
rise up, and take heaven; they know the truths of Christ more savingly than
the great admired Rabbis. The duller the scholar, the more is his skill seen
that teaches. Hence it is, that Christ delights in teaching the ignorant, to
get himself more glory. "The eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears
of the deaf shall be unstopped." Who would go to teach a blind or a deaf
man? Yet such dull scholars Christ teaches. Such as are blinded with
ignorance, shall see the mysteries of the gospel, and the deaf ears shall be
(3.) Wait upon the means of grace which Christ has
appointed. Though Christ teaches by his Spirit—yet he teaches in
the use of ordinances. Wait at the gates of wisdom's door. Ministers are
teachers under Christ. "Pastors and teachers." We read of pitchers, and
lamps within the pitchers. Judges 7:16. Ministers are earthen vessels—but
these pitchers have lamps within them to light souls to heaven. Christ is
said to speak to us from heaven now, by his ministers, as the king speaks by
his ambassador. Heb 12:25. Such as wean themselves from the breast of
ordinances seldom thrive; either they grow faint in their head, or lame in
their feet. The word preached is Christ's voice in the mouth of the
minister; and those who refuse to hear Christ speaking in the ministry,
Christ will refuse to hear speaking on their death-bed.
(4.) If you would have the teachings of Christ, walk
according to the knowledge which you have already. Use your
little knowledge well, and Christ will teach you more. "If any man will do
his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it is of God, or whether I
speak of myself." A master seeing his servant improve a little stock well,
gives him more to trade with.
Use three: If you have been taught by Christ savingly, be
THANKFUL. It is your honor to have God for your teacher, and that
he should teach you, and not others, is a matter of admiration and
congratulation. Oh how many knowledgeable men are ignorant! They are not
taught of God; they have Christ's Word to enlighten them—but not his Spirit
to sanctify them. But that you should have the inward as well as the outward
teaching, that Christ should anoint you with the heavenly unction of his
Spirit, that you can say, "One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I
see." Oh, how thankful should you be to Christ, who has revealed his
Father's bosom secrets unto you! "No man has seen God at any time; the only
begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him." If
Alexander thought himself so much obliged to Aristotle for the philosophic
instruction he received from him—oh, how are we obliged to Jesus Christ,
this great Prophet, for opening to us the eternal purposes of his love, and
revealing to us the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven!
4. Christ's PRIESTLY Office
Question 35: How does Christ execute the office of a
Answer: In his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to
satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making continual
intercession for us.
"Now once in the end of the world has he appeared to put
away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Heb 9:26.
What are the parts of Christ's priestly office?
Christ's priestly office has two parts— his satisfaction
I. Christ's SATISFACTION; this consists of two
 His ACTIVE obedience. "He fulfilled all
righteousness." Christ did everything which the law required; his holy life
was a perfect commentary upon the law of God; he obeyed the law for us.
 His PASSIVE obedience. Our guilt being
transferred and imputed to him, he suffered the penalty which was due to us;
he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. The paschal lamb
slain, was a type of Christ who was offered up in sacrifice for us. Sin
could not be done away without blood. "Without blood there is no remission
of sin." Christ was not only a lamb without spot—but a lamb slain.
Why was it requisite there should be a priest?
There needed a priest to be an umpire (a mediator), to
mediate between a guilty creature and a holy God.
How could Christ suffer, being God?
Christ suffered only in the human nature.
But if only Christ's humanity suffered, how could this
suffering satisfy for sin?
The human nature being united to the divine, the human
nature suffered, the divine satisfied. Christ's Godhead supported the human
nature that it did not faint, and gave virtue to his sufferings. The altar
sanctifies the thing offered on it. Matt 23:19. The altar of Christ's divine
nature, sanctified the sacrifice of his death, and made it of infinite
Wherein does the greatness of Christ's sufferings appear?
(1.) In the sufferings of his body. He suffered
truly, not in appearance only. The apostle calls it the death of the cross.
Phil 2:8. Cicero, when speaking of this kind of death, says, "How can I
describe being raised up on a cross?" Though he was a great orator he lacked
words to express it. The thoughts of this made Christ sweat great drops of
blood in the garden. Luke 22:24. It was an ignominious, painful, cursed
death. Christ suffered in all his senses. His eyes beheld two
dreadful objects, his enemies insulting, and his mother weeping. His ears
were filled with the revilings of the people. "He saved others, himself
he cannot save." Matt 27:42. His smell was offended when their
spittle fell upon his face. His taste; when they gave him gall and vinegar
to drink. His feeling; when his head suffered with thorns, his hands
and feet with the nails. His whole body was one great wound; now was this
white lily dyed with purple color.
(2.) In the sufferings of his soul. He was pressed
in the wine-press of his Father's wrath. This caused that vociferation and
outcry on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!" Christ
suffered a double eclipse upon the cross, an eclipse of the sun, and an
eclipse of the light of God's countenance. How bitter was this agony! The
evangelists use three words to express it. "He began to be amazed."
"He began to be faint." "To be exceeding sorrowful." Christ
felt the pains of hell in his soul, though not locally—yet equivalently.
Why did Christ suffer?
Surely not for any desert of his own. "The Messiah shall
be cut off—but not for himself," it was for us. One man sins, another takes
the punishment; he suffered, that he might satisfy God's justice for us. We,
by our sins, had infinitely wronged God; and, could we have shed rivers of
tears, offered up millions of holocausts and burnt-offerings, we could never
have pacified an angry Deity; therefore Christ must die, that God's justice
may be satisfied.
It is hotly debated among divines, whether God could
have forgiven sin freely without a sacrifice. Not to dispute what God
could have done, when he was resolved to have the law satisfied, and to
have man saved in a way of justice as well as mercy; it was
necessary that Christ should lay down his life as a sacrifice.
(1.) To fulfill the predictions of Scripture. "It was
written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again from
the dead on the third day."
(2.) To bring us into favor with God. It is one thing for
a traitor to be pardoned, and another thing to be made a favorite. Christ's
blood is not only called a sacrifice, whereby God is appeased—but a
propitiation, whereby God becomes gracious and friendly to us. Christ is our
mercy-seat, from which God gives answers of peace to us.
(3.) Christ died, that he might make good his last will
and testament with his blood. There were many legacies which Christ
bequeathed to believers, which would all have been null and void had he not
died, and by his death confirmed the will. Heb 9:16. A testament is in force
after men are dead; the mission of the Spirit, the promises, those legacies,
were not in force until Christ's death; but Christ by his blood has sealed
them, and believers may lay claim to them.
(4.) He died that he might purchase for us glorious
mansions; therefore heaven is called not only a promised—but a "purchased
possession." Eph 1:14. Christ died for our preferment; he suffered that
we might reign; he hung upon the cross that we might sit upon the throne.
Heaven was shut to us—but the cross of Christ is the ladder by which we
ascend to heaven. His crucifixion is our coronation!
Use one: In the bloody sacrifice of Christ, see the
horrid nature of sin. Sin, it is true, is odious as it banished
Adam out of paradise, and threw the angels into hell; but that which most of
all makes it appear horrid is this, that it made Christ veil his glory, and
lose his blood. We should look upon sin with indignation, and pursue it with
a holy malice, and shed the blood of those sins which shed Christ's blood.
The sight of Caesar's bloody robe incensed the Romans against those who slew
him. The sight of Christ's bleeding body should incense us against sin. Let
us not parley with it; let not that be our joy, which made Christ a man of
Use two: Is Christ our priest sacrificed? See God's mercy
and justice displayed. I may say as the apostle, "Behold the
goodness and severity of God."
(1.) The goodness of God in providing a sacrifice.
Had not Christ suffered upon the cross, we must have lain in hell forever,
satisfying God's justice.
(2.) The severity of God. Though it were his own
Son, the Son of his love, and our sins were but imputed to him—yet
God did not spare him—but his wrath did flame against him. Rom 8:32. If God
was thus severe to his own Son, how dreadful will he be one day to his
enemies! Such as die in wilful impenitence, must feel the same wrath as
Christ did; and because they cannot bear it at once, therefore they must
endure it forever.
Use three: Is Christ our priest, who was sacrificed for
us? Then see the endeared affection of Christ to us sinners. "The
cross," says Augustine, "was a pulpit, in which Christ preached his love to
the world." That Christ should die, was more than if all the angels had been
turned to dust; and especially that Christ should die as a malefactor,
having the weight of all men's sins laid upon him, and that he should die
for his enemies. Rom 5:10. The balm-tree weeps out its precious balm, to
heal those who cut and mangle it; just so, Christ shed his blood, to heal
those who crucified him.
He died freely. It is called the offering of the body of
Jesus. Heb 10:10. Though his sufferings were so great, that they made him
sigh, and weep, and bleed; yet they could not make him repent. "He shall see
of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied." Isa 53:1. Christ had hard
travail upon the cross—yet he does not repent of it—but thinks his sweat and
blood well bestowed, because he sees redemption brought forth to the world.
Oh infinite, amazing love of Christ! a love which passes knowledge! a love
which neither man nor angel can parallel. Eph 3:19. How should we be
affected with this love! If Saul was so affected with David's kindness in
sparing his life, how should we be affected with Christ's kindness in
parting with his life for us! At Christ's death and passion, the very
stones cleave asunder, "The earth shook, rocks split apart." Matt 27:51. Not
to be affected with Christ's love in dying, is to have hearts harder than
Use four: Is Christ our sacrifice? Then see the
excellence of his sacrifice.
(1.) Christ's sacrifice is perfect. "By one
offering, he has perfected those who are sanctified." Therefore, how impious
are the Papists, in joining their merits and the prayers of saints with
Christ's sacrifice! They offer him up daily in the mass, as if Christ's
sacrifice on the cross were imperfect. This is a blasphemy against Christ's
(2.) Christ's sacrifice is meritorious. He not
only died for our example—but to merit salvation. The person who suffered
being God as well as man, put virtue into his sufferings; our
sins were expiated, and God appeased. No sooner did the messengers say, "Uriah
is dead," but David's anger was pacified. No sooner did Christ die—but God's
anger was pacified.
(3.) Christ's sacrifice is beneficial. Out of the
dead lion, Samson had honey. Christ's sacrifice procures justification of
our persons, acceptance of our service, access to God with boldness, and
entrance into the holy place of heaven. Heb 10:19. Through the side of
Christ, a way to Heaven lies open to us. Israel passed through the Red sea
to Canaan; so through the red sea of Christ's blood, we enter into the
Use five: Let us apply this blood of Christ.
All the virtue of a medicine is in the application; though the
medicine is made of the blood of God, it will not heal, unless applied by
faith. As fire is to the chemist, so is faith to the Christian; the chemist
can do nothing without fire, so there is nothing done without faith. Faith
makes Christ's sacrifice ours. "Christ Jesus my Lord." It is not gold
in the mine which enriches—but gold in the hand. Faith is the
hand which receives Christ's golden merits. It is not a cordial in the glass
that refreshes the spirit—but a cordial drunk down. "By faith we drink the
blood of Christ," Cyprian. Faith opens the orifice of Christ's wounds, and
drinks the precious cordial of his blood. Without faith Christ himself will
not avail us.
Use six: Let us love a bleeding Savior, and let us show
our love to Christ, by being ready to suffer for him. Many
rejoice at Christ's suffering for them—but do not dream of their suffering
for him. Joseph dreamed of his preferment—but not of his
imprisonment. Was Christ a sacrifice? Did he bear God's wrath for us? We
should bear man's wrath for him. Christ's death was voluntary. "Lo, I come
to do your will, O God." "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how it
consumes Me until it is finished!" Christ calls his sufferings a baptism; he
was to be (as it were) baptized in his own blood, and how did he thirst for
that time! "How it consumes Me!" Oh then, let us be willing to suffer for
Christ! Christ has taken away the venom and sting of the saints' sufferings:
there is no wrath in their cup. Our sufferings Christ can make sweet. As
there was oil mixed in the peace-offering, so God can mix the oil of
gladness with our sufferings. Life must be parted with shortly; what is it
to part with it a little sooner, as a sacrifice to Christ, as a seal of
sincerity, and a pledge of thankfulness!
Use seven: This sacrifice of Christ's blood may
infinitely comfort us. This is the blood of atonement. Christ's
cross is the hinge of our deliverance; the hinge and fountain of our
(1.) This blood comforts in case of guilt! "Oh,
says the soul, my sins trouble me!" But Christ's blood was shed for the
remission of sin. Matt 26:28. Let us see our sins laid on Christ—and then
they are no more ours, but his.
(2.) In case of pollution. Christ's blood is a
healing and cleansing blood. It is healing. "With his stripes we are
healed." It is the best healing-salve, it heals at a distance. Though Christ
is in heaven, we may feel the virtue of his blood healing our corruptions.
Christ's blood is cleansing. It is therefore
compared to fountain-water. Zech 13:1. The word is a glass to show us our
spots, and Christ's blood is a fountain to wash them away; it turns leprosy
into purity. "The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all our sin." I John 1:7.
There is indeed one spot so black, that Christ's blood does not wash away,
namely, the sin against the Holy Spirit. Not but that there is virtue enough
in Christ's blood to wash it away; but he who has sinned that sin, will not
be washed; he despises Christ's blood, and tramples it under foot. Heb
10:29. Thus we see what a strong cordial Christ's blood is; it is the
anchor-hold of our faith, the spring of our joy, the crown of our desires,
and the only support both in life and death! In all our fears, let us
comfort ourselves with the sin atoning sacrifice of Christ's blood. Christ
died both as a purchaser and as a conqueror: as a purchaser
in regard of God, having by his blood obtained our salvation, and as a
conqueror in regard of Satan, the cross being his triumphant chariot,
wherein he has led hell and death captive.
Use seven: Bless God for this precious sacrifice of
Christ's death. "Bless the Lord, O my soul!" And for what does
David bless him? "Who redeems your life from destruction!" Christ gave
himself a sin-offering for us; let us give ourselves a thank-offering
to him. If a man redeems another out of debt, will he not be
grateful? How deeply do we stand obliged to Christ, who has redeemed us from
hell and damnation! "And they sang a new song, saying You are worthy
to take the book, and open the seals; for you were slain, and have redeemed
us to God by your blood." Let our hearts and tongues join in concert to
bless God, and let us show thankfulness to Christ by fruitfulness; let us
bring forth (as spice trees) the fruits of humility, zeal, and good works.
This is to live unto him who died for us. 2 Cor 5:15. The wise men not only
worshiped Christ—but presented him with gifts of gold, and frankincense, and
myrrh. Matt 2:11. Let us present Christ with the fruits of righteousness,
which are unto the glory and praise of God.
"Who also makes intercession for us."
II. Christ's INTERCESSION.
When Aaron entered into the holy place, his bells
gave a sound; so Christ having entered into heaven, his intercession
makes a melodious sound in the ears of God. Though Christ is exalted to
glory, he has not laid aside his affections of compassion—but is still
mindful of his mystic body, as Joseph was mindful of his father and
brethren, when he was exalted to the court. "Who also makes intercession for
us." To intercede is to make request in behalf of another. Christ is the
great Master of requests in heaven.
What are the QUALIFICATIONS of our intercessor?
(1.) He is holy. "For this is the kind of high
priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners,
and exalted above the heavens." Heb 7:26. "Christ knew no sin." He knew sin
in its weight, not in the act. It was requisite, that he, who
was to do away the sins of others, should himself be without sin. Holiness
is one of the precious stones which shine on the breast-plate of our high
(2.) He is faithful. "For this reason he had
to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a
merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he
might make atonement for the sins of the people." Heb 2:17. Moses was
faithful as a servant, Christ as a Son. He does not forget any cause he has
to plead, nor does he use any deceit in pleading. An ordinary attorney may
leave out some word which might help the client; or put in a word against
him, having received a fee on both sides; but Christ is true to the cause he
pleads. We may leave our matters with him, we may trust our lives and souls
in his hand.
(3.) He never dies. While the office of
the priests under the law lived, they themselves died. "They were not
allowed to continue, by reason of death." But "Christ ever lives to make
intercession." He has no succession in his priesthood.
Whom does Christ intercede for?
Not for all people—but only for the elect. "I pray for
them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me,
for they are yours." John 17:9. The efficacy of Christ's prayer,
reaches no further than the efficacy of his blood; his blood was shed
only for the elect, therefore his prayers reach them only. The high priest
went into the sanctuary with the names of the twelve tribes only upon his
breast; so Christ goes into heaven with the names of the elect only upon his
breast. Christ intercedes for the weakest believers, and for all
the sins of believers. John 17:20. In the law, there were some sins for
which the high priest was neither to offer sacrifice, nor prayer. "Anyone
who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the
Lord, and that person must be cut off from his people." Numb 15:30. The
priest might offer up prayers for sins of ignorance—but not of
defiance; but Christ's intercession extends to all the sins of the elect. Of
what a bloody color was David's sin; yet it did not exclude him from
What does Christ do in the work of intercession?
(1.) He presents the merit of his blood to his Father;
and, in the virtue of that price paid, pleads for mercy. The high
priest was herein a lively type of Christ. Aaron was to do four things:
Kill the animals.
Enter with the blood into the holy of holies.
Sprinkle the mercy-seat with the blood.
Kindle the incense, and with the smoke of it cause a
cloud to arise over the mercy-seat. Thus atonement was made. Lev 16:11-16.
Christ our high priest exactly answered to this type. He
was offered up in sacrifice, which answers to the priest's killing the
bullock; and he is gone up into heaven, which answers to the priest's going
into the holy of holies; and he spreads his blood before his Father which
answers to the priest's sprinkling the blood upon the mercy-seat; and he
prays to his Father, that for his blood's sake, he would be propitious to
sinners, which answers to the cloud of incense going up; and through his
intercessions God is pacified, which answers to the priest's making
(2.) Christ by his intercession answers all bills of
indictment brought in against the elect. Do what they can, sin,
and then Satan—accuses believers to God, and conscience accuses them to
themselves. But Christ, by his intercession, answers all these accusations.
"Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? it is Christ who makes
intercession for us!" When Esculus was accused for some rebellion, his
brother stood up for him, and showed the magistrates how he had lost his
hand in the service of the state, and so obtained his pardon. Thus, when
Satan accuses the saints, or when the justice of God lays anything to their
charge, Christ shows his own wounds, and by virtue of his bloody sufferings
answers all the demands and challenges of the law, and counterworks Satan's
(3.) Christ, by his intercession, calls for acquittance.
"Father," he says, "let the sinner be absolved from guilt!" In
this sense he is called an advocate. 1 John 2:1. He requires that the sinner
be set free in the court. An advocate differs much from an orator;
an orator uses rhetoric to persuade and entreat the judge to show
mercy to another; but an advocate tells the judge what is law. Thus
Christ appears in heaven as an advocate, he represents what is law. When
God's justice opens the debt-book, Christ opens the law-book. "Father," says
he, "You are a just God, and will not be pacified without payment; lo, here
my blood is shed, therefore in justice, give me a discharge for these
distressed creatures!" The law being satisfied, the sinner must be
acquitted. Upon Christ's plea, God sets his hand to seal the sinner's
In what manner does Christ intercede?
(1.) Freely. He pleads our cause in heaven,
and takes no fee. Any lawyer will have his fee, and sometimes a bribe too;
but Christ is not mercenary. How many causes does he plead every day in
heaven—and will take nothing! As Christ laid down his life freely—so he
intercedes freely. John 10:15, 18.
(2.) Feelingly. He is as sensible of our
condition as his own. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to
sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in
every way, just as we are—yet was without sin." Heb 4:15. Jesus pleads for
us—as a tender-hearted mother would plead with a judge for a child ready to
be condemned! Oh, how would her affections work! How would her tears trickle
down! What weeping rhetoric would she plead to the judge, for mercy!
So the Lord Jesus is full of sympathy and tenderness, that he might be a
merciful high priest. "For this reason he had to be made like his brothers
in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and
faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement
for the sins of the people." Hebrews 2:17. Though he has left his passion—yet
not his compassion. An ordinary lawyer is not affected with the cause
he pleads, nor does he care which way it goes; it is profit which
alone makes him plead, not affection. But Christ intercedes
feelingly; and that which makes him intercede with affection is—it is his
own cause which he pleads. He has shed his blood to purchase life and
salvation for the elect; and if they should not be saved, he would lose his
(3.) Efficaciously. It is a prevailing
intercession. Christ never lost any cause he pleaded. Christ's intercession
must needs be effectual, if we consider,
(1.) The excellency of his person. If the prayer of a
saint is so prevalent with God, as Moses' prayer bound God's hand,
"Now leave me alone so my anger can blaze against them and destroy them all.
But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God not to do it. Turn away from
your fierce anger. Change your mind about this terrible disaster you are
planning against your people! So the Lord withdrew his threat and didn't
bring against his people the disaster he had threatened." Exodus 32:10-14.
Jacob, as a prince, prevailed with God, Gen 32:28.
Elijah by prayer opened and shut heaven, James 5:17. Then what
prevalence has Christ's prayer! He is the Son of God, the Son in whom he is
well pleased. Matt 3:17. What will not a father grant a son! "I know that
you hear me always." If God could forget that Christ were a Priest,
he could not forget that he is a Son!
(2:) Christ prays for nothing but what his Father has a
mind to grant. There is but one will between Christ and his Father.
Christ prays, "Sanctify them through your truth;" and "This is the will of
God, even your sanctification." So then, if Christ prays for nothing but
what God the Father has a mind to grant, then he is sure to succeed.
(3:) Christ prays for nothing but what he has power to
give. What he prays for as he is man, that he has power to give
as he is God. "Father, I will." John 17:24. "Father," there he prays
as a man; "I will," there he gives as God. It is a great comfort to a
believer, when his prayer is weak, and he can hardly pray for himself, that
Christ's prayer in heaven is mighty and powerful. Though God may refuse
prayer as it comes from us—yet he will not as it comes from
(4:) Christ's intercession is always ready at hand.
The people of God have sins of daily occurrence; and, besides these, they
sometimes lapse into great sins, and God is provoked, and his justice is
ready to break forth upon them. But Christ's intercession is ready at hand,
he daily makes up the breaches between God and them; he presents the merits
of his blood to his Father, to pacify him. When the wrath of God began to
break out upon Israel, Aaron presently stepped in with his censer,
and offered incense—and so the plague was stayed. Numb 16:47. Just so, no
sooner does a child of God sin, and God begins to be angry—but immediately
Christ steps in and intercedes! "Father," he says, "it is my child who has
sinned; though he has forgotten his duty, you have not lost your affections.
Oh, pity him, and let your anger be turned away from him!" Christ's
intercession is ready at hand, and, upon the least failings of the godly—he
stands up and makes request for them in heaven!
What are the FRUITS of Christ's intercession?
(1.) Justification. In justification there are
two things. Guilt is remitted, and righteousness is imputed.
"The Lord our righteousness." We are counted not only as righteous as the
angels—but as righteous as Christ, having his robes put upon us!
2 Cor 5:21. But whence is it, that we are justified? It is from Christ's
intercession. "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?
It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who
died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God
and is also interceding for us." Romans 8:33-34. "Father," says Christ,
"these are the people I have died for! Look upon them as if they had never
sinned, and count them as perfectly righteous!"
(2.) The unction of the Spirit. "You have an
unction from the Holy One." This unction or anointing is
nothing else but the work of sanctification in the heart, whereby the Spirit
makes us partakers of the divine nature. 2 Pet 1:4. Such as speak of the
philosopher's magic stone, imagine it to have such a property, that when
it touches any metal—it turns it into gold. Such a property has the Spirit
of God upon the soul; when He touches the soul—it puts into it a divine
nature; it makes it to be holy and to resemble God! The sanctifying work
of the Spirit is the fruit of Christ's intercession! "The Holy Spirit
was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." Christ being
glorified, and in heaven, he prays to the Father—and the Father sends the
Spirit, who pours out the holy anointing upon the elect!
(3.) The purification of our holy things. It
is Christ's work in heaven, not only to present his own prayers to his
Father—but he prays our prayers over again! "Another angel, who had a
golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to
offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the
throne." Revelation 8:3. This angel was Christ; he takes the golden censer
of his merits, and puts our prayers into this censer, and with the incense
of his intercession makes our prayers go up as a sweet perfume in heaven! It
is observable in Lev 16:16. "Aaron will make atonement for the Most Holy
Place, because of the defiling sin and rebellion of the Israelites." This
was typical, to show that our holy duties need to have atonement made
for them. Our best services, as they come from us, are mixed with
corruption, as wine which tastes of the cask. Our best services are filthy
menstrous rags. Isa 64:6. But Christ purifies and sweetens these services,
mixing the sweet incense of his intercession with them; and then God accepts
and crowns them. What would become of our duties, without such a high
priest? Christ's intercession is to our prayers, as the fan to the chaff,
which winnows it from the grain. Just so, Christ winnows out all the chaff,
which intermixes with our prayers.
(4.) Access with boldness unto the throne of grace.
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with
our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as
we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with
confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our
time of need." Hebrews 4:15-16. We have a friend at court, who speaks a good
word for us, and is following our cause in heaven; let this animate and
encourage us in prayer. Do we think it too much boldness for such sinners as
we are, to come for pardon, and that we shall be denied? Surely this is a
sinful modesty. Did we indeed come in our own name in prayer, it
would be sinful presumption! But Christ intercedes for us in the force and
efficacy of his blood! To be afraid to come to God in prayer, is a dishonor
to Christ's intercession.
(5.) Sending the Comforter. "I will ask the
Father, and he shall give you another Comforter." The comfort of the
Spirit is distinct from the anointing. Here is sweet comfort, sweeter
than the honey-drops from the honey-comb; it is the manna in the golden pot!
A drop of this heavenly comfort is enough to sweeten a sea of
worldly sorrow! It is called the "pledge of the Spirit." A pledge assures us
of the whole sum. 2 Cor 1:22. The Spirit gives us a pledge of heaven in our
hand. Whence is this comforting work of the Spirit? Thank Christ's
intercession for it! "I will ask the Father, and he shall give the
(6.) Perseverance in grace. "I will remain in
the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to
you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name." John
17:11. It is not our prayer, or watchfulness, or grace which keeps us—but it
is God's care and preservation! He preserves us, that we do not fall away.
Whence is it that God preserves us? It is from Christ's intercession. "Holy
Father, protect them." The prayer of Christ for Peter, "Simon, Simon,
Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that
your faith may not fail." Luke 22:31-32. This is the copy of Christ's prayer
now in heaven. Peter's faith did fail in some degree, when he denied Christ;
but Christ prayed that it might not totally fail. The saints
persevere in believing, because Christ perseveres in praying!
(7.) Absolution at the day of judgment. Christ
shall judge the world. "God has committed all judgment to the Son." Those
for whom Christ has so prayed—he will absolve when he sits upon his throne
of judgment. Will Christ condemn those for whom he prays? Believers are his
spouse—will Jesus condemn his own spouse?
Use one: Of INSTRUCTION.
(1.) See here the constancy of Christ's love to the
elect. He not only died for them—but intercedes for them in
heaven. When Christ has done dying, he has not done loving. He
is now at work in heaven for the saints, he carries their names on his
bosom, and will never stop praying, until that prayer be granted. "Father, I
want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory,
the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the
world." John 17:24.
(2.) See whence it is, that the prayers of the saints are
so powerful with God. Jacob, struggled with God, and prevailed.
Moses' prayer tied God's hands. By his prayers he held God bound as if by
chains! "Let Me alone!" Exod 32:10. Whence is this? It is Christ's prayer in
heaven, which makes the saints' prayers so prevalent. Christ's divine nature
is the altar on which he offers up our prayers, and so they prevail. Prayer,
as it comes from the saints is but weak and languid; but when the arrow
of a saint's prayer is put into the bow of Christ's intercession—it
pierces the throne of grace!
(3.) It shows that a Christian when he prays, must
chiefly fix his eye on Christ's intercession. We are to look up
to the mercy-seat—but to hope for mercy through Christ's intercession. We
read in Lev 16 that Aaron made atonement by the incense, as well as
by the blood. So we must look to the cloud of incense, namely, the
intercession of Christ. Christian, look up to your Advocate, one to whom God
can deny nothing. A word from Christ's mouth, is more than if all the angels
in heaven were pleading for you! If a man had an important suit in the
Court—and had a skillful lawyer to plead, it would much encourage him.
Christ is at the court appearing for us, "For Christ has entered into heaven
itself to appear now before God as our Advocate!" Heb 9:24. He has great
power in heaven, which should much encourage us to look up to him, and hope
for audience in prayer. We might indeed be afraid to offer our petitions, if
we did not have Christ to present them!
(4.) See the dreadful condition of an unbeliever.
He has none in heaven to speak a word for him. "I do not pray for the
world." As good be shut out of heaven—as shut out of Christ's prayer! Christ
pleads for the saints, as Queen Esther did for the Jews, when they would
have been destroyed. "Let my people be spared at my request." When
the devil shows the blackness of their sins—Christ shows the redness of his
wounds! How dreadful is the condition of that man for whom Christ
will not pray, nay, against whom he will pray! Then Queen Esther
petitioned against Haman, and he grew pale with fright, and was led away to
execution. It is dreadful when the law, and conscience, and the judge shall
be against the sinner—and no friend to speak a word for him; there is no
way, then—but for the jailer to take the prisoner.
(5.) If Christ makes intercession, then we have nothing
to do with other intercessors. The Church of Rome teaches that
the angels intercede for us—and they pray to them! But Christ alone can
intercede for us! God has consecrated him as high priest. "You are a priest
forever." Christ intercedes by virtue of his merit—in the virtue of his shed
blood. He pleads his merits to his Father; but the angels have no
merits to bring to God, and therefore cannot be intercessors for us. Whoever
is our advocate must be our atoning sacrifice, to pacify God.
"But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus
Christ the righteous One. He Himself is the atoning sacrifice for our
sins." 1 John 2:1-2. The angels cannot be our atoning sacrifice, and
not therefore our advocates.
Use two: Of TRIAL. How shall we know that
Christ intercedes for us? They have little ground to think Christ prays for
them—who never pray for themselves! Well—but how shall we know?
(1.) If Christ is praying for us, his Spirit is
praying in us. "He has sent forth his Spirit into your
hearts, crying, Abba, Father." The Spirit helps us with sighs and groans;
not only with gifts but groans. "And the Holy Spirit helps us in our
distress. For we don't even know what we should pray for, nor how we should
pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be
expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts, knows what the
Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with
God's own will." We need not climb up the skies, to see if the sun is there;
we may see the beauty of it upon the earth. Just so, we need not go up into
heaven to see if Christ is there interceding for us; but let us look into
our hearts, if they are quickened and inflamed in prayer, and we can cry,
"Abba, Father!" By this interceding of the Spirit within us, we may
know Christ is interceding above for us.
(2.) If we are given to Christ, then he
intercedes for us. "I pray for those whom you have given me."
It is one thing for Christ to be given to us; it is another thing for
us to be given to Christ.
How do we know that we are given to Christ?
If you are a believer, then you are one given to
Christ—and he prays for you. Faith is an act of recumbency. We rest on
Christ as the stones in the building rest upon the corner-stone. Faith
throws itself into Christ's arms; it says, "Christ is my priest, his blood
is my sacrifice, his divine nature is my altar, and here I rest!" This faith
is seen by its effects; it is a refining work and a resigning
work. It purifies the heart, there is the refining work; it makes a
deed of gift to Christ, it gives up its love to him, there is the
resigning work of faith. They who believe are given to Christ, and have
a part in his prayer. "I am praying not only for these disciples but also
for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony." John 17:20.
Use three: Of EXHORTATION. It stirs us up to
(1.) If Christ appears for us in heaven—then we must
appear for him upon earth. Christ is not ashamed to carry our
names on his bosom, and shall we be ashamed of his truth? Does he plead our
cause, and shall we not stand up in his cause? What a mighty argument is
this to stand up for the honor of Christ, in times of apostasy! Christ is
interceding for us. Does he present our names in heaven, and shall not we
profess his name on earth?
(2.) If Christ lays out all his interest for us at the
throne of grace, we must lay out all our interest for him. "That
Christ may be magnified." Trade your talents for Christ's glory; there is no
man but has some talent to trade—one learning, another estate. Oh, trade for
Christ's glory! Spend and be spent for him. Let your heart study for
Christ, your hands work for him, your tongue speak for him. If
Christ is an advocate for us in heaven—we must be agents for him on earth;
everyone in his sphere must act vigorously for him.
(3.) Believe in this glorious intercession of Christ;
that he now intercedes for us, and that for his sake God will accept us, as
in the text, "Who makes intercession for us." If we believe not, we dishonor
Christ's intercession. If a poor sinner may not go to Christ as his high
priest, believing in his intercession, then we are Christians in a worse
condition under the gospel—than the Jews were under the law. When they had
sinned they had their high priest to make atonement; and shall not we have
our High Priest? Is not Christ our Aaron, who presents his blood and
incense before the mercy seat? Oh look up by faith to Christ's intercession!
Christ did not only pray for his disciples and apostles—but for the weakest
(4.) Love your Intercessor. "If anyone does
not love the Lord, that person is cursed." I Cor 16:22. God's kindness,
invites our love. Had you a friend at court, who, when you were questioned
for delinquency or debt, should plead with the judge for you, and bring you
off your troubles, would you not love that friend? How often does Satan put
in his bills against us in the court! Now Christ is at the judge's hand; he
sits at his Father's right hand, ever to plead for us, and to make our peace
with God. Oh, how should our hearts be fired with love to Christ! Love him
with a sincere and superlative love—above your possessions, and your family.
Our fire of love should be as fire on the altar—never to go out. Lev 6:13.
Use four: Of COMFORT to believers. Christ is
at work for you in heaven; he makes intercession for you.
"Oh! But I am afraid Christ does not intercede for me. I
am such a sinner! For whom does Christ intercede?"
"He made intercession for the transgressors." Did Christ
open his side for you, and will he not open his mouth to plead
"But I have offended my High Priest, by distrusting his
blood, abusing his love, grieving his Spirit! Will he ever pray for me?"
Which of us may not say so? But, Christian, do you mourn
for unbelief? Be not discouraged, you may have a part in Christ's prayer.
"The congregation murmured against Aaron;" but though they had sinned
against their high priest, Aaron ran in with his censer, and "stood between
the dead and the living." If so much affections in Aaron, who was but a type
of Christ, how much more affections are in Christ, who will pray for those
who have sinned against their High Priest! Did he not pray for those who
crucified him, "Father, forgive them"?
"But I am unworthy. What am I, that Christ should
intercede for me?"
The work of Christ's intercession is a work of free
grace. Christ's praying for us is from his pitying us. He
looks not at our worthiness—but our wants.
"But I am followed with dreadful temptations."
But though Satan tempts, Christ prays; and Satan shall be
vanquished. You may lose a single battle—but not the victory. Christ prays
that your faith will not fail; therefore, Christian, say, "Why are you cast
down, O my soul?" Christ intercedes. It is man who sins, it is God that
prays. The Greek word for advocate signifies comforter. It is
a sovereign comfort—that Christ makes intercession.
5. Christ's KINGLY Office
Question 26: How does Christ execute the office of a
Answer: In subduing us to himself, in ruling and
defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.
Let us consider now Christ's regal office. "And he has on
his vesture, and on his thigh, a name written, "King of kings, and Lord of
lords!" Rev 19:16. Jesus Christ is of mighty renown, he is a king:
(1.) He has a kingly title. "High and Lofty." Isa
(2.) He has his ensigns of royalty.
He has his crown; Rev 6:2; [a crown is the symbol
of royal power].
He has his sword, "Gird your sword upon your
He has his scepter, "A scepter of righteousness is
the scepter of your kingdom."
(3.) He has his escutcheon, or coat of armor; he
inserts the lion in his coat of arms. "The lion of the tribe of Judah." The
text says "he is King of kings." He has a pre-eminence of all other kings,
and is called, "The Prince of the kings of the earth." He must needs be so,
for "by him kings reign." They hold their crowns by immediate tenure from
this great King. Christ infinitely outvies all other princes; he has the
highest throne, the largest dominions, and the longest
possession. "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever." He has many
heirs—but no successors. Well may he be called "King of kings," for he has
an unlimited power! The power of other kings is limited—but Christ's power
is unlimited. "I know the greatness of the Lord—that our Lord is greater
than any other god. The Lord does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven
and earth, and on the seas and in their depths!" Psalm 135:5-6. Christ's
power is as large as his will. The angels take the oath of
allegiance to him. "Let all the angels of God worship him."
How did Christ come to be king?
Not by usurpation—but legally. He holds his crown by
immediate tenure from heaven. God the Father has decreed him to be king. "I
have placed my chosen king on the throne." God has anointed and sealed him
to his regal office. "Him has God the Father sealed." God has set the crown
upon his head.
In what sense is Christ king? Two ways:
1. In reference to his people.
2. In reference to his enemies.
I. In reference to his PEOPLE.
[1.] To govern them. It was prophesied of
Christ before he was born, "And you, Bethlehem, are not the least among the
princes of Judah; for out of you shall come a governor who shall rule
my people Israel." It is a vain thing for a king to have a crown on
his head, unless he has a scepter in his hand to rule.
Where does Christ rule as king?
His kingdom is spiritual. He rules in the hearts of men.
He sets up his throne where no other king does; he rules the will and
affections; his power binds the conscience; he subdues men's lusts. "He will
subdue our iniquities." Mic 7:19.
What does Christ rule by? By law, and by love.
(1.) He rules by LAW. It is one of the flowers of the
crown, to enact laws. Christ as a king makes laws, and by his laws he rules;
as the law of faith; "believe in the Lord Jesus;" and the law of sanctity;
"you must be holy in everything you do, just as God—who chose you to be his
children—is holy" 1 Pet 1:15. Many would admit Christ to be their
advocate to plead for them—but not their king to rule over them.
(2.) He rules by LOVE. He is a king full of mercy and
clemency; as he has a scepter in his hand, so an olive branch of peace in
his mouth. Though he is the Lion of the tribe of Judah for majesty—yet he is
the Lamb of God for meekness. His regal rod has honey at the end of it. He
sheds abroad his love into the hearts of his subjects; he rules them with
promises as well as precepts. This makes all his subjects become
volunteers; they are willing to pay their allegiance to him. "Your people
shall be a willing people."
[2.] Christ is a king to DEFEND his people. As
Christ has a scepter to rule them, so he has a shield to
defend them. "You, O Lord, are a shield for me." Christ preserves his
church—as a spark in the ocean, as a flock of sheep among
wolves. That the sea should be higher than the earth, and yet not drown it,
is a wonder; so, that the wicked should be so much higher than the church in
power, and not devour it, is, because Christ has this inscription on his
vesture and his thigh, KING OF KINGS. "If the Lord had not been on our side
when people rose up against us, they would have swallowed us alive because
of their burning anger against us." Psalms 124:2-3. They say that lions have
little or no sleep; it is true of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, he never
slumbers or sleeps—but watches over his church to defend it. "In that day we
will sing of the pleasant vineyard. I, the Lord, will watch over it and tend
its fruitful vines. Each day I will water them; day and night
I will watch to keep enemies away." Isaiah 27:2-3. If the enemies destroy
the church, it must be at a time when it is neither night nor day, for
Christ keeps it day and night.
Christ is said to carry his church, as the eagle her
young ones upon her wings. Exod 19:4. The arrow must first hit the eagle
before it can hurt the young ones, and shoot through her wings: the enemies
must first strike through Christ, before they can destroy his church. Let
the wind and storms be up, and the church almost covered with waves—yet
Christ is in the ship of the church, and there is no danger of shipwreck!
Nor will Christ defend his church only, as he is
king—but deliver it. "He delivered me out of the mouth of the
lion," namely, Nero. 2 Tim 4:17. "The Lord saved them by a great
deliverance." I Chron 11:14. Sometimes Christ is said to command
deliverance. Psalm 44:4. Sometimes to create deliverance. Isa 45:8. Christ
as a King commands deliverance, and as a God creates it. And
deliverance shall come in his time. "I the Lord will hasten it in his time."
When is the time that this king will deliver his people?
When the hearts of his people are most humble, when their
prayers are most fervent, when their faith is strongest, when their forces
are weakest, when their enemies are highest; then is the usual time that
Christ puts forth his kingly power for their deliverance. Isa 33:2, 8, 9.
[3.] Christ is a king to REWARD his people.
There is nothing lost by serving this king. He rewards his subjects in this
life. He gives them inward peace and joy; a bunch of grapes by the way; and
oft-times riches and honor. "Godliness has the promise of this life." But
the great reward is to come. "An eternal weight of glory!" Christ makes all
his subjects kings! "I will give you a crown of life!" This crown
will be full of jewels, and it will "never fade."
II. Christ is a king in reference to his ENEMIES,
in subduing and conquering them. He pulls down their pride, befools their
carnal policy, restrains their malice. That stone cut out of the mountain
without hands, which smote the image, was an emblem, says Augustine, of
Christ's kingly power, conquering and triumphing over his enemies. Dan 2:34.
Christ will make his enemies his footstool. Psalm 110:1. He can destroy them
with ease. "It is nothing for you, Lord, to help." 2 Chron 14:11. He can do
it with weak means, or without means. He can make the enemies
destroy themselves. He set the Persians against the Grecians; and the
children of Ammon helped to destroy one another. 2 Chron 20:23. Thus Christ
is king in vanquishing the enemies of his church.
It is a great ground of comfort to the church of God in
the midst of all the combinations of the enemy, that "Christ is king;" and
he cannot only bind the enemies' power—but break it. The
church has more with her—than against her; she has Emmanuel on her side,
even that great KING to whom all knees must bend!
Christ is called "a man of war." Exod 15:3. He
understands all the policy of warfare; he is described with seven eyes and
seven horns. Rev 5:6. The seven eyes are to discern the conspiracies
of his enemies, and the seven horns are to overpower and vex his
Christ is described with a crown and a bow.
"He who sat upon the white horse had a bow, and a crown was
given unto him, and he went forth conquering and to conquer." The crown
is an ensign of his kingly office, and the bow is to shoot his
enemies to death.
Christ is described with a vesture dipped in blood. Rev
19:13. He has a golden scepter to rule his people—but an iron rod
to break his enemies! "The ten horns you saw are ten kings; these shall
make war with the Lamb—but the Lamb shall overcome them; for he is the King
of kings." The enemies may set up their standard—but Christ will set up his
trophies at last. "So the angel swung his sickle on the earth and loaded the
grapes into the great winepress of God's wrath. And the grapes were
trodden in the winepress, and blood flowed from the winepress." Rev 14:19,
20. The enemies of Christ shall be but as so many clusters of ripe grapes,
to be cast into the great wine-press of the wrath of God, and to be trodden
by Christ until their blood comes out. Christ will at last come off victor,
and all his enemies shall be put under his feet.
(1.) It is no disparagement to serve Christ;
he is a king, and it is no dishonor to be employed in a king's service. Some
are apt to reproach the saints for their piety; but they serve the Lord
Christ, he who has this inscription upon his vesture, KING OF KINGS.
Theodosius thought it a greater honor to be a servant of Christ than the
head of an empire. Christ's servants are called vessels of honor; 2
Tim 2:21; and a royal nation, I Pet 2:9. Serving Christ ennobles us
with dignity; it is a greater honor to serve Christ—than to have kings serve
(2.) If Christ is king, it informs us, that all matters
must one day be brought before him for judgment. Christ has the
power of life and death in his hand. "The Father has committed all judgment
to the Son." He who once hung upon the cross shall sit upon the bench of
judicature; kings must come before him to be judged; they who once sat upon
the throne must appear at Christ's bar. God has committed all judgment to
the Son, and Christ's is the highest court of judicature; if this King once
condemns men, there is no appeal to any other court.
(3.) When we are foiled by corruption we must go
to Christ, for he is king; desire him by his kingly power to subdue our
corruptions, to bind these kings with chains. Psalm 149:8.
We are apt to say of our sins, "These sons of Zeruiah will be too strong for
us!" "We shall never overcome our corruptions!" Go to Christ—he is king.
Though our lusts are too strong for us—they are not for Christ
to conquer; for by his Spirit he can break the power of sin. When Joshua had
conquered five kings, he caused his servants to set their feet on the necks
of those kings; so Christ can and will set his feet on the necks of our
Use two: Is Christ King of kings? Let all these great
ones take heed how they employ their power against him. He
gives them their power, and if this power shall be made use of for
suppressing his kingdom and ordinances, their account will be dreadful. God
has laid the key of government upon Christ's shoulders, Isa 9:6, and to
oppose Christ in his kingly office is as if the thorns should set themselves
in battle array against the fire, or a child fight with an archangel!
Christ's sword on his thigh is able to avenge all his quarrels. It is not
good to stir a lion; let no man provoke the Lion of the tribe of
Judah, whose eyes are a lamp of fire, and "the rocks are thrown down by
him." "Let everyone bring tribute to the Awesome One. For he breaks the
spirit of princes and is feared by the kings of the earth." Psalm 76:11-12.
Use three: If Christ is a great king, submit to him.
Say not, as those Jews, "We have no king but Caesar!" "We have no king but
our lusts!" This is to choose the bramble to rule over you, and "out of the
bramble will come forth a fire." Submit to Christ willingly. All the
devils in hell submit to Christ; but it is against their will; they are his
slaves, not his subjects. Submit cheerfully to Christ's person and
his laws. Many would have Christ their Savior to save them from
hell—but not their King to rule them; such as will not have Christ to be
their king to rule over them, shall never have his blood to save them. Obey
all Christ's princely commands; if he commands love, humility, good works,
be as the needle which points whichever way the loadstone draws.
Use four: Let those admire God's free grace—who were once
under the power, and slavery and tyranny of Satan—and now Christ has made
them to become the subjects of his kingdom. Christ did not need
subjects, he has legions of angels ministering to him; but in his love he
has honored you to make you his subjects. Oh, how long was it before Christ
could prevail with you to come under his banner! How much opposition did he
meet with before you would wear this prince's colors! At last omnipotent
grace overcame you! When Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, an
angel came and took off his chains, Acts 12:7; so, when you were sleeping
in the devil's arms, Christ by his Spirit smote your heart, and caused
the chains of sin to fall off, and made you a subject of his kingdom. Oh
admire free grace! You are a subject of Christ, and are sure to reign with
6. Christ's Humiliation in His Incarnation
"Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in
the flesh." 1 Timothy 3:16. "And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled
Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Question 27: In what did Christs humiliation consist?
Answer: In his being born, and that in a low condition,
made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God,
and the cursed death of the cross.
Christ's humiliation consisted in his incarnation, his
taking flesh, and being born. It was real flesh that Christ took; not
the image of a body (as the Manichees erroneously held) —but a true body;
therefore he is said to be "made of a woman." As bread is made of wheat, and
wine is made of the grape; so Christ is made of a woman: his body was part
of the flesh and substance of the virgin. This is a glorious mystery, "God
manifest in the flesh." In the creation, man was made in God's image; in the
incarnation God was made in man's image.
How did Christ come to be made flesh?
It was by his Father's special designation. "God sent
forth his Son, made of a woman." God the Father in a special manner
appointed Christ to be incarnate; which shows how needful a call is, to any
business of weight and importance: to act without a call, is to act without
a blessing. Christ would not be incarnate, and take upon him the work of a
mediator until he had a call. "God sent forth his Son, made of a
But was there no other way for the restoring of fallen
man, but that God should take flesh?
We must not ask a reason of God's will; it is dangerous
to pry into God's ark. We are not to dispute, but adore. The
wise God saw it to be the best way for our redemption, that Christ
should be incarnate. It was not fit for any to satisfy God's justice but a
man; none could do it but God; therefore, Christ being both
God and man, is the fittest to undertake this work of redemption.
Why was Christ born of a woman?
(1.) That God might fulfill that promise in Gen 3:15,
"The seed of the woman shall break the serpent's head."
(2.) Christ was born of a woman, that he might roll away
that reproach from the woman, which she had contracted by being seduced by
the serpent. Christ, in taking his flesh from the woman, has honored her
gender; that as, at the first, the woman had made man a sinner; so
now, to make him amends, she should bring him a Savior.
Why was Christ born of a virgin?
(1.) For decency. It was not befitting for God to
have any mother but a virgin; and it was not befitting for a virgin to have
any other son but a God.
(2.) For necessity. Christ was to be a high
priest, most pure and holy. Had he been born after the ordinary course of
nature, he would have been defiled, since all who spring out of Adam's loins
have a tincture of sin. That Christ's substance might remain pure and
immaculate, he was born of a virgin.
(3.) To answer the type. Melchisedec was a type of
Christ, who is said to be "without father and without mother." Christ being
born of a virgin, answered the type; he was without father and without
mother; without mother as he was God, without father as he was man.
How could Christ be made of the flesh and blood of a
virgin, and yet be without sin? The purest virgin is stained with
This knot the Scripture unties. "The Holy Spirit will
come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the
baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God." Luke
1:35. "The Holy Spirit will come upon you," that is, the Holy Spirit did
consecrate and purify that part of the virgin's flesh whereof Christ was
made. As the alchemist extracts and draws away the dross from the gold, so
the Holy Spirit refines and clarifies that part of the virgin's flesh,
separating it from sin. Though the Virgin Mary herself had sin—yet that part
of her flesh, whereof Christ was made, was without sin; otherwise it must
have been an impure conception.
What is meant by the power of the Most High overshadowing
The Holy Spirit having framed Christ in the virgin's
womb, did, in a wonderful manner, unite Christ's human nature to his divine,
and so of both made one person. This is a mystery, which the angels pry into
When was Christ incarnate?
In the fullness of time. "When the fullness of time was
come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman." By the fullness of time we
must understand, the determinate time which God had set. More
particularly, this fullness of time was when all the prophecies of the
coming of the Messiah were accomplished; and all legal shadows and figures,
whereby he was typified, were abrogated. This may comfort us, in regard to
the church of God, that though at present we do not see that peace and
purity in the church which we could desire—yet in the fullness of time, when
God's time is come and mercy is ripe, then shall deliverance spring up, and
God will come riding upon the chariots of salvation.
Why was Jesus Christ made flesh?
(1.) The prime cause was free grace. It was love in
God the Father, to send Christ; and love in Christ that he came to be
incarnate. Love was the intrinsic motive. Christ is God-man, because he is a
lover of man. Christ came to us, out of pity and love. Not our deserts—but
our misery, made Christ take flesh. Christ's taking flesh was a plot
of free grace, and a design of pure love. God himself, though Almighty, was
overcome with love! Christ incarnate, is nothing but 'love'
covered with flesh! As Christ's assuming our human nature was a
master-piece of wisdom, so it also was a monument of free grace!
(2.) Christ took our flesh upon him, that he might take
our sins upon him. "He was," says Luther, "maximus peccator, the
greatest sinner, having the weight of the sins of the whole world lying upon
him." He took our flesh that he might take our sins, and so appease God's
wrath for us.
(3.) Christ took our flesh that he might make the human
nature appear lovely to God, and the divine nature appear lovely to man.
(1:) That he might make the human nature lovely to God.
Upon our fall from God, our nature became odious to him; no vermin is so
odious to us as the human nature was to God. When once our virgin nature was
become sinful, it was like flesh imposthumated, or running into sores,
loathsome to behold. It was so odious to God that he could not endure to
look upon us. Christ taking our flesh, makes this human nature appear lovely
to God. As when the sun shines on the glass it casts a bright luster, so
Christ being clad with our flesh makes the human nature shine, and appear
amiable in God's eyes.
(2:) As Christ being clothed with our flesh makes the
human nature appear lovely to God, so he makes the divine nature appear
lovely to man. The pure Godhead is terrible to behold, we could not see it
and live; but Christ clothing himself with our flesh, makes the divine
nature more amiable and delightful to us. We need not be afraid to look upon
God through Christ's human nature. It was a custom of old among shepherds to
clothe themselves with sheepskins, to be more pleasing to the sheep; so
Christ clothed himself with our flesh, that the divine nature may be more
pleasing to us. The human nature is a glass, through which we may see the
love and wisdom and glory of God clearly represented to us. Through the
lantern of Christ's humanity we may behold the light of the Deity. Christ
being incarnate makes the sight of the Deity not formidable—but delightful
(4.) Jesus Christ united himself to man, "that man might
be drawn nearer to God." God before was an enemy to us by reason of sin;
but Christ having taken our flesh, mediates for us, and brings us into favor
with God. As when a king is angry with a subject, the king's son marries his
daughter, and so mediates for the subject, and brings him into favor with
the king again; so when God the Father was angry with us, Christ married
himself to our nature, and now mediates for us with his Father, and brings
us to be friends again, and God looks upon us with a favorable aspect. As
Joab pleaded for Absalom, and brought him to King David, and David kissed
him; so Jesus Christ ingratiates us into the love and favor of God.
Therefore he may well be called a peacemaker, having taken our flesh upon
him, and so made peace between us and his Father.
Use one: Of INSTRUCTION.
(1.) See here, as in a glass, the infinite love of God
the Father; that when we had lost ourselves by sin, God, in the
riches of his grace, sent forth his Son, made of a woman, to redeem us! And
behold the infinite love of Christ, in that he was willing thus to
condescend to take our flesh! Surely the angels would have disdained to have
taken our flesh; it would have been a disparagement to them. What king would
be willing to wear sackcloth over his cloth of gold? But Christ did not
disdain to take our flesh. Oh the love of Christ! Had not Christ been made
flesh—we would have been made a curse! Had he not been incarnate, we
would have been incarcerate, and had been forever in the prison of hell.
Well might an angel be the herald to proclaim this joyful news of Christ's
incarnation: "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The
Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the
city of David!" The love of Christ, in being incarcerated, will the more
appear if we consider—
(1:) Consider where Christ came from. He came from
heaven, and from the richest place in heaven, his Father's bosom, that hive
(2:) Consider for whom Christ came. Was it to his
friends? No! He came for sinful man! Man who had defaced his image, and
abused his love; man who was turned rebel! Yet he came to man, resolving to
conquer our obstinacy with his kindness. If he would come to
any, why not to the angels which fell? "He took not on him the nature
of angels." Heb 2:16. The angels are of a more noble origin, more
intelligent creatures, more able for service! But behold the love of
Christ—he did not come to the fallen angels—but to sinful mankind! Among the
several wonders of the magnet, is that it will not draw gold
or pearl—but despising these, it draws the iron to it, one of
the most inferior metals. Just so, Christ leaves angels, those noble
spirits, the gold and the pearl—and comes to poor sinful man, and draws him
into his embraces!
(3:) Consider in what manner he came. He came not
in the majesty of a king, attended with his royal retinue—but he came poor;
not like the heir of heaven—but like one of an inferior descent. Consider
the place he was born in, was poor; not the royal city Jerusalem—but
Bethlehem, a poor obscure place. A feeding trough was his cradle, the
cobwebs were his curtains, the beasts were his companions; he descended of
poor parents. One would have thought, if Christ would have come into the
world, he would have made choice of some queen or personage of honor to have
descended from; but he comes of lowly obscure parents, for that they were
poor appears by their offering. "A pair of turtle-doves," which was the
usual offering of the poor. Lev 12:8. Christ was so poor, that when he
needed money, he had to work a miracle to obtain it. Matt 17:27. When he
died he made no will. He came into the world poor.
(4:) Consider why he came. That he might take our
flesh, and redeem us; that he might instate us into a kingdom. He was
poor—that he might make us rich. 2 Cor 8:8. He was born of a virgin—that we
might be born of God. He took our flesh—that he might give us his Spirit. He
lay in the manger—that we might lie in paradise. He came down from
heaven—that he might bring us to heaven. And what was all this but love? If
our hearts are not rocks, this love of Christ should affect us. Behold love
which passes knowledge! "May you experience the love of Christ, though it is
so great you will never fully understand it!" Ephesians 3:19
(2.) See here the astonishing humility of Christ.
Christ was made flesh. That Christ should clothe himself with our flesh—a
piece of that earth which we tread upon—oh infinite humility! Christ's
taking our flesh was one of the lowest steps of his humiliation. He humbled
himself more in lying in the virgin's womb than in hanging upon the cross.
It was not so much for man to die—but for God to become man was the wonder
of humility. "He was made in the likeness of men." For Christ to be made
flesh, was more humility than for the angels to be made worms. Christ's
flesh is called a veil, "Through the veil," that is, his flesh. Christ's
wearing our flesh veiled his glory. For him to be made flesh, who was equal
with God—oh what humility! "Who being in the form of God thought it not
robbery to be equal with God." He stood upon even ground with the Father, he
was co-essential and con-substantial with his Father—yet for all that, he
takes flesh. He stripped himself of the robes of his glory, and covered
himself with the rags of our humanity.
If Solomon wondered that God should dwell in the temple
which was enriched and hung with gold—how may we wonder that God should
dwell in man's weak and frail nature! Nay, which is yet more humility,
Christ not only took our flesh—but took it when it was at the worst, under
disgrace; as if a servant should wear a nobleman's livery when he is
impeached of high treason.
Besides all this he took all the infirmities of
our flesh. There are two sorts of infirmities; such as are sinful
infirmities without pain; and such as are painful infirmities without
sin. These sinful infirmities (such as to be covetous or ambitious)
Christ did not take upon him. But he took upon him painful
infirmities, such as—
(1.) Hunger. He came to the fig-tree and was
hungry. Matt 21:18, 19.
(2:) Weariness, as when he sat on Jacob's well to
rest. John 4:6.
(3:) Sorrow. "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even
unto death." Matt 26:38. It was a sorrow guided with reason—not disturbed
(4:) Fear. "He was heard in that he feared." Heb
A further degree of Christ's humility was, that he not
only was made flesh—but in the likeness of sinful flesh. "God made
him who had no sin—to be sin for us!" 2 Corinthians 5:21. He was like a
sinner; he had all sin laid upon him—but no sin lived in him.
"He was numbered among transgressors." Isa 53:12. He who was numbered among
the persons of the Trinity, is said "to bear the sins of many." Heb 9:28.
Now, this was the lowest degree of Christ's humiliation; for Christ to be
reputed as a sinner, was the greatest pattern of humility. That Christ, who
would not endure sin in the angels, should himself endure to have sin
imputed to him, is the most amazing humility that ever was!
From all this, learn to be humble. Do you see Christ
humbling himself, and are you proud? It is the humble saint, who is Christ's
picture. Christians, do not be proud of your fine feathers. Have you an
estate? Do not be proud. The earth you tread on, is richer than you. It
has mines of gold and silver in its depths. Have you beauty? Do not
be proud. It is but air mingled with dirt. Have you skill and
abilities? Be humble. Lucifer has more knowledge than you. Have you
grace? Be humble. It is not of your own making—it was given to you by
God. Would it not folly, to be proud of a ring that is merely lent to you?
"What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn't
given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have
accomplished something on your own?" 1 Corinthians 4:7. You have more sin
than grace, more spots than beauty. Oh look on Christ, this rare pattern of
humility—and be humbled! It is a sad sight, to see God humbling himself and
man exalting himself; to see a humble Savior and a proud sinner. God hates
the very semblance of pride! God would have no honey in the
sacrifice. Lev 2:11. Indeed, leaven is sour; but why no honey? Because, when
honey is mingled with meal or flour, it makes the meal to rise and swell;
therefore no honey. God hates the resemblance of the sin of pride! "I hate
pride and arrogance!" Proverbs 8:13. It is better to lack abilities—than
humility. "If God," says Augustine, 'spared not the angels, when they grew
proud, will he spare you, who are but dust and rottenness?"
(3.) Behold here a sacred riddle or paradox—"God
manifest in the flesh." That man should be made in God's image was a
wonder—but that God should be made in man's image is a greater wonder. That
the Ancient of Days should be born, that he who thunders in the heavens
should cry in the cradle; that he who rules the stars should suck the
breast; that a virgin should conceive; that Christ should be made of a
woman, and of that woman which he himself made; that the branch should bear
the vine; that the mother should be younger than the child she bore, and the
child in the womb bigger than the mother; that the human nature should not
be God—yet one with God; this is the most astonishing miracle! Christ taking
flesh is a mystery we shall never fully understand until we come to heaven,
when our light shall be clear, as well as our love perfect.
(4.) From hence, "God manifest in the flesh,"
Christ born of a virgin, a thing not only strange in nature—but impossible,
learn—That there are no impossibilities with God.
God can bring about things which are impossible; as that iron
should swim, that the rock should gush out water, and that the fire should
lick up the water in the trenches. I Kings 18:38. It is natural for water to
quench fire—but for fire to consume water—is impossible in the course of
nature; but God can bring about all this. "There is nothing too hard for
you." "This is what the Lord Almighty says—All this may seem impossible to
you. But do you think this is impossible for me, the Lord Almighty?" Zech
How should God be united to our flesh? It
is impossible to us—but not with God; he can do what transcends reason, and
exceeds faith. He would not be our God if he could not do more than we can
think. Eph 3:20. He can reconcile contraries. How apt are we to be
discouraged with seeming impossibilities! How do our hearts die within us
when things go contrary to sense and reason! We are apt to say as that
prince in 2 Kings 7:1-2, "Even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the
heavens, could this happen?" It was a time of famine—so how could a
bushel of wheat be sold for such a cheap price—how can this be? So, when
things are contrary, or strange, God's own people are apt to question—how
they could be brought about with success?
Moses, who was a man of God, and one of the brightest
stars which ever shone in the skies of God's church, was apt to be
discouraged with seeming impossibilities. "But Moses said—There are 600,000
foot soldiers here with me, and yet you promise them meat for a whole month!
Even if we butchered all our flocks and herds, would that satisfy them? Even
if we caught all the fish in the sea, would that be enough?" Numbers
11:21-22. As if he had said, in plain language, he did not see how the
people of Israel, being so numerous, could be fed for a month. "Then the
Lord said to Moses—Is there any limit to my power? Now you will see whether
or not my word comes true!" Verse 23.
That God who brought Isaac out of a dead womb, and
the Messiah out of a virgin's womb—what can he not do? Oh let us rest
upon the arm of God's power, and believe in him, in the midst of seeming
impossibilities! Remember, there are no impossibilities with God! He can
subdue a proud heart. He can raise a dying church. Christ born of a virgin!
The wonder-working God who wrought this, can bring to pass the greatest
Use two: Of EXHORTATION.
(1.) Seeing Christ took our flesh, and was born of a
virgin—let us labor that he may be spiritually born in our hearts.
What will it profit us, that Christ was born into the world—unless he is
born in our hearts? Marvel not that I say unto you—Christ must be born in
your hearts. "Until Christ is formed in you." Now, then—see if Christ is
born in your hearts. How shall we know that?
Are there pangs before the birth? So before Christ
is born in the heart, there are spiritual pangs; pangs of conscience, and
deep convictions. "They were pricked at their heart." I grant in the new
birth—some receive more, some less pangs—all have not the same pangs of
sorrow and humiliation; yet all have some pangs! If Christ is born in your
heart, you have been deeply afflicted for sin. Christ is never born in the
heart without pangs. Many thank God they never had any trouble of spirit,
they were always quiet; but this is a sign that Christ is not yet formed in
When Christ was born into the world, he was made flesh;
so, if he is born in your heart, he makes your heart a heart of flesh. "I
will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you
from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new
heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of
stone and give you a heart of flesh!" Ezekiel 36:25-26. Is your heart
flesh? Before, it was a rocky heart, and would not yield to God, or
take the impressions of the word; now it is fleshy and tender like
melted wax, to take any stamp of the Spirit. It is a sign that Christ is
born in our hearts, when they are hearts of flesh, when they melt in tears
and in love. What is it the better that Christ was made flesh, unless he has
given you a heart of flesh?
As Christ was conceived in the womb of a virgin;
so, if he is born in you—your heart is a virgin-heart, in respect of
sincerity and sanctity. Are you purified from the love of sin? If Christ is
born in your heart, it is a Sanctum Sanctorum—a holy of holies. If
your heart is polluted with the predominant love of sin, never think Christ
is born there, Christ will never lie any more in a filthy stable. If
he is born in your heart, it is consecrated by the Holy Spirit.
If Christ is born in your heart, then it is with you, as
in a birth. There is life. Faith is the vital organ of the soul. "The
life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and
gave himself for me." Gal 2:20. There is appetite. "As new-born
babes, desire the sincere milk of the word." The word is like
breast-milk—pure, sweet, nourishing; and the soul in which Christ is formed,
desires this breast-milk. Bernard, in one of his soliloquies, comforts
himself with this, that he surely had the new birth in him, because he found
in his heart such strong breathings and thirstings after God. After Christ
is born in the heart, there is great motion; there is a striving to
enter in at the strait gate, and offering violence to the kingdom of heaven.
Matt 11:12. By this we may know Christ is formed in us. This is the only
comfort—that as Christ was born into the world, so he is born in our hearts!
(2.) As Christ was made in our image—let us labor to be
made in his image. "Leaving you an example, so that you should
follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21. "The one who says he remains in Him
should walk just as He walked." 1 John 2:6. "I have set you an example that
you should do as I have done for you." John 13:15. Christ being incarnate
was made like us—let us labor to be made like him. There are five things in
which we should labor to be like Christ.
(1:) Be like Christ in DISPOSITION. He was of
a most sweet disposition. "He was the delight of humanity," Titus Vespasian.
He invites sinners to come to him. He has a heart to pity us, breasts to
feed us, wings to cover us. He would not break our heart—but with mercy. Was
Christ made in our likeness? Let us be like him in sweetness of disposition;
be not of a morose spirit. It was said of Nabal, "He's so ill-tempered that
no one can even talk to him!" 1 Samuel 25:17. Some are so ill-tempered, as
if they were akin to the beasts—they are fired with rage, and breathe forth
nothing but revenge! Or they are like those two men in the gospel,
"possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs. They were so violent that
no one could pass that way." Matt 8:28. Let us be like Christ in mildness
and sweetness. Let us pray for our enemies, and conquer them by love.
David's kindness melted Saul's heart. I Sam 24:16. A frozen heart will be
thawed with the fire of love.
(2:) Be like Christ in grace and HUMILITY. He
was like us in having our flesh, let us be like him in having his grace. We
should labor to be like Christ, in humility. "He humbled himself." He left
the bright robes of his glory—to be clothed with the rags of our humanity—a
wonder of humility! Let us be like Christ in this grace. "Humility," says
Bernard, "is a despising of self-excellence," a kind of a self-annihilation.
This is the glory of a Christian. We are never so lovely in God's
eyes—as when we are black in our own eyes. In this let us be like
Christ. True true religion is to imitate Christ. And indeed, what
cause have we to be humble—if we look within us, about us,
below us, and above us!
If we look within us—here we see our sins
represented to us in the looking-glass of conscience; lust, envy, passion.
Our sins are like vermin crawling in our souls. "How many are my
iniquities!" Job 13:23. Our sins are as the sands of the sea for number;
as the rocks of the sea for weight! Augustine cries out, "My heart,
which is God's temple—is polluted with sin!"
If we look about us—there is that which may humble
us. We may see other Christians outshining us in gifts and graces, as the
sun outshines the lesser planets. Others are laden with fruit—and perhaps we
have but here and there an olive-berry growing, to show that we are of the
right kind. Isa 17:6.
If we look below us—there is that may humble us.
We may see the mother earth, out of which we came. The earth is the most
ignoble element: "They were viler than the earth." Job 30:8.
"Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from
the ground." Genesis 2:7. "You will return to the ground from which you
came. For you were made from dust, and to the dust you will return." Genesis
3:19. You who are so proud, behold your pedigree—you are but walking dirt!
And will you be proud? What is man? The son of dust. And what is
dust? The son of nothing.
If we look above us; there is that which may
humble us. If we look up to heaven, there we may see God resisting the
proud. God pursues the proud in vengeance. The proud man is the mark which
God shoots at—and he never misses the mark. He threw proud Lucifer out of
heaven; he thrust proud Nebuchadnezzar out of his throne, and "he was driven
away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the
dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his
nails like the claws of a bird!" Daniel 4:33. Oh then—be like Christ in
(3:) Did Christ take our flesh? Was he made
like to us? Let us be made like him in ZEAL.
"Zeal for Your house has consumed Me, and the insults of those who
insult You have fallen on Me!" Psalm 69:9. He was zealous when his Father
was dishonored. In this let us be like Christ, zealous for God's truth
and glory, which are the two orient pearls of the crown of
heaven. Zeal is as needful for a Christian as salt for the sacrifice, or
fire on the altar. Zeal without prudence is rashness; prudence without zeal
is cowardliness. Without zeal, our duties are not acceptable to God. Zeal is
like the bow-strings, without which the lute makes no music.
(4:) Be like Christ, in the contempt of the WORLD.
When Christ took our flesh, he came not in the pride of flesh, he did not
descend immediately from kings and nobles—but was of lowly parentage. Christ
was not ambitious for titles or honor. He declined worldly dignity and
greatness—as much as others seek it. When they would have made him a king,
he refused it; he chose rather to ride upon the foal of an donkey, than be
drawn in a chariot; and to hang upon a wooden cross, than to wear a golden
crown. He scorned the pomp and glory of the world. He ignored secular
affairs. "Who made me a judge?" His work was not to arbitrate matters of
law; he did not come into the world to be a magistrate—but a Redeemer. He
was like a star in a higher orb, he minded nothing but heaven. Was Christ
made like us? Let us be made like him, in heavenliness and contempt of the
world. Let us not be ambitious of the empty honors and glories of the world.
Let us not purchase the world with the loss our soul. What wise man would
damn himself—to grow rich? or throw down his soul to hell—to build up an
earthly estate? Be like Christ in a holy contempt of the world.
(5:) Be like Christ in HOLINESS of life. Was
Christ incarnate? Was he made like us? Let us be made like him in holiness
of life. No temptation could fasten upon him. "The prince of this world
comes, and has nothing in me." John 14:30. Temptation to Christ, was like a
spark of fire upon a marble pillar, which glides off. Christ's life, says
Chrysostom, was brighter than the sunbeams. Let us be like him in this. "As
the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your
conduct." 1 Peter 1:15. "We are not," says Augustine, "to be like Christ in
working miracles—but in a holy life." A Christian should be both a magnet
and a diamond; a magnet—in drawing others to Christ; a diamond—in casting a
sparkling luster of holiness in his life. Oh let us be so just in our
dealings, so true in our promises, so devout in our worship,
so unblamably in our lives—that we may be the walking pictures of
Christ! Thus as Christ was made in our likeness, let us labor to be made in
(3.) If Jesus Christ was so abased for us; if
he took our flesh, which was a disparagement to him—a mingling dust with
gold; if he abased himself so for us—let us be
willing to be abased for him. If the world reproaches us for
Christ's sake, and cast dirt on our name—let us bear it with patience. The
apostles departed from the council, "rejoicing that they were counted worthy
to suffer shame for Christ's name!" That is—that they were graced to
be disgraced for Christ. That is a good saying of Augustine, "those
who take away a saint's reputation, shall add to his reward." While they
make his reputation weigh lighter—they will make his crown weigh heavier.
Oh, was Christ content to be humbled and abased for us, to take our flesh,
and to take it when it was in disgrace? Let us not think much to be abased
for Christ. Say as David, "If this is to be vile—I will yet be more vile!"
"If to serve my Lord Christ, if to keep my conscience pure—if this is to be
vile—I will yet be more vile!"
Use three: Of COMFORT. Jesus Christ, having
taken our flesh, has ennobled our nature. Our nature is now invested with
greater royalties and privileges, than in time of innocence. Before, in
innocence, we were made in the image of God; but now, Christ having
assumed our nature, we are made one with God; our nature is now
ennobled above the angelic nature. Christ taking our flesh, has made us
nearer to himself, than the angels. The angels are his friends;
believers are flesh of his flesh—his members. Eph 5:30, 1:23. The
same glory which is put upon Christ's human nature, shall be put upon
7. Christ's EXALTATION
"God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the
name that is above every name." Phil 2:9.
We have before spoken of Christ's humiliation; we shall
now speak of his exaltation. Before you saw the Sun of Righteousness in the
eclipse; now you shall see it coming out of the eclipse, and shining in its
full glory. "God exalted him to the highest place;" "Above all exaltation."
Question 28: What does Christ's exaltation consist of?
Answer: In his rising from the dead, his ascending into
heaven, and his sitting at the right hand of God the Father, etc.
In what sense has God exalted Christ?
Not in respect of his Godhead, for that cannot be exalted
higher than it is: as in his humiliation, the Godhead was not lower; so in
his exaltation, the Godhead is not higher: but Christ is exalted as
Mediator, his human nature is exalted.
How many ways is Christ exalted?
Five ways. God has exalted Christ,
1. In his titles.
2. In his office.
3. In his ascension.
4. To his right-hand.
5. In constituting him judge of the world.
I. God has exalted Christ in his TITLES.
 He is exalted to be a LORD. "The name of
the Lord Jesus was magnified." He is a Lord in respect of his sovereignty;
he is Lord over angels and men. "All power is given to him." Christ has
three keys in his hand, the key of the grave, to open the graves of men at
the resurrection; the key of heaven, to open the kingdom of heaven to
whomever he will; the key of hell, to lock up the damned in that fiery
prison. "I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever!
And I hold the keys of death and the grave." Revelation 1:18.
To this Lord all knees must bow. "That at the name
of Jesus every knee should bow." Name is here put for person;
to that holy Jesus, to the scepter of that divine person, every knee shall
bow. Bowing is put for subjection. All must be subdued to him as sons or
captives, submit to him as to the Lord or Judge. Psalm 2:12, "Kiss the Son"
with a kiss of love and loyalty. We must not only cast ourselves into
Christ's arms to be saved by him—but we must cast ourselves at his
feet to serve him.
 Christ is exalted to be a PRINCE. "At that
time Michael the great prince who stands watch over your people will
rise up." Some think it was a created angel—but it was Christ the angel of
the covenant. He is a great prince. "The prince of the kings of the earth."
Human kings hold their crowns by immediate tenure from him; his throne is
above the stars, he has angels and archangels for his attendants. Thus he is
exalted in his titles of honor.
II. God has exalted Christ in his OFFICE. God
has honored him to be Salvator mundi—the Savior of the world. "Him
has God exalted with his right hand, to be a prince and a Savior." It was a
great honor to Moses to be a temporal savior; but what is that, compared to
the Savior of souls? "He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal
line of his servant David." Luke 1:69. He saves from sin, Matt 1:21; from
wrath, I Thess 1:10. To save, is a flower belonging only to his crown.
"Neither is there salvation in any other." Acts 4:12. What an honor is this
to Christ! How did it make heaven ring with the praises of the saints! They
sing hallelujahs to Christ their Savior. "And they sang a new song—You are
worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and
with your blood you redeemed men for God from every tribe and
language and people and nation." Revelation 5:9.
III. God has exalted Christ in his ASCENSION;
for if he is ascended, then he is exalted. The Scripture plainly says he
ascended into heaven. Luke 24:51 and Eph 4:10. "Far above all heavens;"
therefore above the skies. He is ascended into the highest part of the
empyrean heaven, which Paul calls the third heaven. Concerning Christ's
ascension, two things may be observed:
 The MANNER of his ascension. When Christ
ascended he blessed his disciples. "He lifted up his hands, and blessed
them, and while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up
into heaven." Luke 24:50, 51. He did not leave them houses and lands—but he
left them his blessing.
He ascended as a conqueror, in a way of triumph. "You
have led captivity captive." He triumphed over sin, hell, and death; and his
triumph is a believer's triumph. He has conquered sin and hell for every
 The FRUIT of Christ's ascension. His
ascension to heaven causes the descension of the Holy Spirit into
our hearts. "When he ascended up on high, he gave gifts to men." Having
ascended up in the clouds, as his triumphant chariot, he gives the gift of
his Spirit to us; as a king at his coronation bestows gifts liberally on his
IV. God has exalted Christ to His right hand.
"After the Lord had spoken to them, he was received up into heaven, and sat
upon the right hand of God." "He raised him from the dead and seated him at
his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority,
power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the
present age but also in the one to come." Ephesians 1:20-21.
What is meant by Christ sitting at God's right hand?
God really has no right-hand or left; for being a Spirit,
he is void of all bodily parts. This is a metaphor taken from the manner of
kings, who were accustomed to advance their favorites next to their own
persons, and set them at their right hand. Solomon caused a seat to be set
for the queen his mother, and placed her at his right hand. So for Christ to
sit at the right hand of God, is to be in the next place to God the Father
in dignity and honor. The human nature of Christ, being personally united to
the divine nature, is now set down on a royal throne in heaven, and adored
even by angels!
By virtue of the personal union of Christ's human nature
with the divine, there is a communication of all that glory from the Deity
of Christ of which his human nature is capable. Not that the manhood of
Christ is advanced to an equality with the Godhead—but the divine nature
being joined with the human, the human nature is wonderfully glorified,
though not deified. Christ as mediator is filled with all majesty and honor,
beyond the comprehension of the highest order of angels. In his humiliation
he descended so low—that it was not fit to go lower; and in his exaltation
he ascended so high—that it is not possible to go higher. In his
resurrection he was exalted above the grave; in his ascension he
was exalted above the starry heavens; in his sitting at God's right hand he
was exalted far above the highest heavens, "Far above all heavens."
V. God has exalted Christ in constituting him JUDGE of
the whole world. "The Father has committed all judgement to the
Son." At the day of judgement Christ shall be exalted supereminently. "He
shall come in the glory of his Father." He shall wear the same embroidered
robes of majesty as the Father; and he shall come with all his holy angels.
Matt 25:31. He who was led to the bar with a band of soldiers, shall
be attended to the bench with a guard of angels. Christ shall judge
his judges, he shall judge Pilate who condemned him; kings must leave their
thrones and come to his bar. And this is the highest court of judicature,
from whence is no appeal.
Use one: Of INFORMATION.
(1.) See the different states of Christ—when he was on
earth—and now that he is in heaven. Oh how is the
scene altered! When he was on earth, he lay in a manger; now he sits on a
throne! Then he was hated and scorned of men; now he is adored by angels!
Then his name was reproached; now, "God has given him a name above every
name." Then he came in the form of a servant, and as a servant, stood with
his bason and towel, and washed his disciples' feet; now he is clad in his
princes' robes, and the kings of the earth cast their crowns before him. On
earth he was a man of sorrows; now he is anointed with the oil of gladness.
On earth was his crucifixion; now his coronation. Then his Father frowned
upon him in desertion; now he has set him at his right hand. Before, he
seemed to have no form or beauty in him; Isa 53:2; now he is in the
brightness of his Father's glory. Heb 1:3. Oh what a change is here! "Him
has God highly exalted."
(2.) Was Christ first humbled and then exalted? Hence
learn, that the way to true honor is humility. "He who humbles
himself shall be exalted." The world looks upon humility as that which will
make contemptible—but it is the sure way to honor. The way to rise is to
fall; the way to ascend is to descend. Humility exalts us in the esteem of
men, and it exalts us to a higher throne in heaven. "Whoever shall humble
himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of
heaven." He shall have a greater degree of glory in it.
(3.) Christ first suffered—and then was exalted.
See here, that sufferings must go before glory.
Many desire to be glorified with Christ—but they are not content to suffer
for him. "If we suffer with him, we shall reign with him." The wicked
first reign—and then suffer; the godly first suffer—and then reign.
There is no way to heaven—but through sufferings. There is no way to the
crown—but by the cross. Jerusalem above is a pleasant city, streets of gold,
gates of pearl; but we must travel through a dirty road to it, through many
reproaches and sufferings. Acts 14:22. We must enter into glory as Christ
did; who first suffered shame and death—and then was exalted
to sit at God's right hand.
Use two: Of COMFORT.
(1.) Christ, being so highly exalted, has ennobled our
nature, crowned it with glory, and lifted it above angels and archangels.
Though, as man, he was made a little lower than the angels—yet as the human
nature is united to the divine, and is at God's right hand—so the human
nature is above the angels. If God has so dignified our nature, what a shame
is it that we should debase it! God has exalted the human nature above the
angels, and the drunkard debases the human nature below the beasts!
(2.) Christ being exalted at God's right hand, the key of
government is laid upon his shoulders; he governs all the affairs of the
world for his own glory. Do you think that when Christ is so
highly advanced, and has all power in heaven and earth in his hand, he will
not take care of his elect, and turn the most astonishing providences to the
good of his church? In a clock, the wheels move contrary one to another—but
all make the clock strike. Just so, Christ being at his Father's right hand,
will make the most contrary providences tend to the salvation of his church.
(3.) Christ being at God's right hand, we may be assured
he has now finished the work of man's redemption. "This man,
after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right
hand of God." If Christ had not fully expiated sin, and satisfied God's law,
he would not have sat down at God's right hand—but had still lain in the
grave; but now he is exalted to glory; which is an evident token that he has
done and suffered all that was required of him, for working out our
(4.) Though Jesus Christ is so highly exalted in
glory—yet he is not forgetful of us on earth. Some, when raised
to places of honor, forget their friends; as the chief butler, when restored
to his place at court, forgot poor Joseph in prison. But it is not so with
Christ; though exalted to such glory in heaven, he is not unmindful
of his saints on earth. Our high priest has all the names and needs
of his people written upon his breast-plate. Are you tempted? Though Christ
is in glory, he knows how to pity and support you. "For we do not have a
high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one
who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin."
Hebrews 4:15. Do you mourn for sin? Christ, though in a glorified
state—hears your sighs, and bottles your tears!
(5.) Christ being exalted at God's right hand is for the
comfort of believers—that they will one day be exalted to that place of
glory where he is! Christ's exaltation is our exaltation. He has
prayed for this. "Father, I will that all those, whom you have given me, be
with me where I am." "There are many rooms in my Father's home, and I am
going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you
plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will
always be with me where I am." John 14:2-3. Christ is called the head,
and the church is called the body. Eph 1:22, 23. The head
being exalted to honor, the mystic body shall be exalted also. As
surely as Christ is exalted far above all heavens—so surely will he instate
believers in all that glory with which his human nature is adorned. "I have
given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are." John
17:22. As he here puts his grace upon the saints, so shortly will he
put his glory upon them!
This is comfort for the poorest Christian. Perhaps you
have scarcely a house to put your head in—yet you may look up to heaven, and
say, "There is my house, there is my country; I have already taken
possession of heaven in my head, Christ! He sits there, and it will not be
long before I shall sit there with him; he is upon the throne of glory, and
I have his word for it—I shall sit upon the throne with him" "To him who
overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I
overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne." Revelation 3:21.
Use three: Of EXHORTATION. Has God highly
exalted Christ? Let us labor to exalt him. Let us exalt, (1.) His person.
(2.) His truths.
(1.) Let us exalt Christ in our hearts—believe, adore and
love him! We cannot lift him up higher in heaven—but we may lif
him higher in our hearts. Let us exalt him in our lips; let us praise him.
Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, our tongues must be
the organs in these temples. By praising and commending Christ, we
exalt him in the esteem of others. Let us exalt him in our lives, by
living holy lives. This is true true religion—when men strive to live
blameless lives. Not all the doxologies and prayers in the world so exalt
Christ—as a holy life! It makes Christ renowned, and lifts him up indeed,
when his followers walk worthy of him.
(2.) Let us exalt Christ's truths. The nobles
of Polonia, whenever the gospel is read—they lay their hands upon their
swords, intimating by that they are ready to maintain the gospel with the
hazard of their lives. Let us exalt Christ's truths; maintain the truths of
Christ—against error; maintain the doctrine of free grace—against merit;
maintain the Deity of Christ—against Socinianism.
Truth is the most orient pearl in Christ's crown. Let us
contend for the truth, as one would for a large sum of money, that it should
not be wrested out of his hand. Christ takes it to be exalting him—when we
exalt his truths, wherein his glory is concerned.
8. Christ The REDEEMER
Question 30: How does the Spirit apply the redemption
purchased by Christ to us?
Answer: The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased
by Christ by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our
In this answer, there are two things. It is implied
that Christ is the glorious purchaser of our redemption, in the
words, "The redemption purchased by Christ". And it is declared that
the Spirit applies to us this purchased redemption, by working in us
The thing implied is—that Jesus Christ is the glorious
purchaser of our redemption. The doctrine of redemption by Jesus
Christ is a glorious doctrine; it is the marrow and quintessence of the
gospel, in which all a Christian's comfort lies. Great was the work of
creation—but greater the work of redemption; it cost more to
redeem us than to make us. In creation, there was but the speaking of
a word; in redemption, there was the shedding of blood. The creation
was but the work of God's fingers. Psalm 8:3. Redemption is the work of his
arm. Luke 1:51.
"Having obtained eternal redemption for us." Heb 9:12.
Christ's purchasing redemption for us implies that our sins mortgaged and
sold us. Had there not been some kind of mortgaging there had been no need
of redemption. When we were thus mortgaged, and sold by sin, Christ
purchased our redemption. He had the best right to redeem us, for he is our
kinsman. The Hebrew word for Redeemer, Goel, signifies a kinsman, one
who is near in blood. In the old law the nearest kinsman was to redeem his
brother's land. Ruth 4:4. Thus Christ being near akin to us, "Flesh of our
flesh," is the fittest to redeem us.
How does Christ redeem us?
By his own precious blood. "In whom we have redemption
through his blood." Among the Romans, he was said to redeem another, who
laid down a price equivalent for the ransom of the prisoner. In this sense
Christ is a Redeemer; he has paid a price. Never was such a price paid to
ransom prisoners. "You are bought with a price; and this price was his own
blood." So, in the text, "by his own blood he entered in once into the holy
place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." This blood being the
blood of that person who was God as well as man, is a price sufficient for
the ransom of millions.
From what does Christ redeem us?
From sin. To be redeemed from slavery is a great
mercy—but it is infinitely more to be redeemed from sin. There is
nothing that can hurt the soul but sin. Affliction cannot hurt it, it often
makes it better, as the furnace makes gold the purer; but it is sin that
damnifies. Now, Christ redeems us from sin. "Now, once in the end of the
world has he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."
But how are we redeemed from sin? Do we not see
corruption stirring in the regenerate? Do we not see much pride and
Redemption is either begun—or perfect. Sin
cannot stand with a perfect redemption; but here on earth, redemption
is only begun, and sin may stand with an imperfect redemption. There
may be some darkness in the air at the sun's first rising—but not when the
sun is at the full meridian. While our redemption is but begun, there may be
sin; but not when it is perfect in glory.
In what sense has Christ redeemed justified people from
(1.) A justified person is redeemed from the guilt
of sin—though not the stain of sin. Guilt is the binding a person
over to punishment. Now, Christ has redeemed a justified person from the
guilt of sin; he has discharged his debts. Christ says to God's justice, as
Paul to Philemon, "If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything,
charge that to my account." Verse 18.
(2.) A justified person is redeemed from the power
and dominion of sin—though not from the presence of sin. Sin may may
rage in a child of God—but not reign. Lust raged in David, and
fear in Peter—but it did not reign; they recovered themselves by
repentance. "Sin shall not have dominion over you." Rom 6:14. Sin lives in a
child of God—but is deposed from the throne; it lives not as a king—but a
(3.) A justified person is redeemed from the curse
due to sin. "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a
curse for us." Gal 3:13. Christ said to his Father, as Rebecca to Jacob,
"Upon me, upon me be the curse; let the blessing be upon them—but upon me be
the curse." And now, there is no condemnation to believers. "Therefore,
there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1.
An unbeliever has a double condemnation; one from the law
which he has transgressed, and the other from the gospel which he has
despised. But Christ has redeemed the believer from this malediction, he has
set him outside of the power of hell and damnation.
To what has Christ redeemed us?
Christ has redeemed us to a glorious inheritance. "For
God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in
heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay!" 1
(1.) Christ has redeemed us to an inheritance.
Christ has not only redeemed us out of prison—but he has redeemed us to a
state of happiness, to an inheritance. Heaven is not a lease which soon
expires—but an inheritance; and a glorious inheritance; called an
inheritance in light. Col 1:12. Light adorns and gilds the world. What would
the world be without light—but a prison? The heavenly inheritance is
irradiated with light. Christ, as a continual sun, enlightens it with his
beams. Rev 21:23.
(2.) Christ has redeemed us to an incorruptible
inheritance. It does not moulder away or suffer dissolution. Earthly
comforts are shadowed out by the tabernacle, which was transient. But
heaven is set out by the temple, which was fixed and permanent, built
with stone, overlaid with gold. This is the glory of the celestial
inheritance; it is incorruptible. Eternity is written upon the frontispiece
(3.) Christ has redeemed us to an undefiled
inheritance. The Greek word for undefiled, alludes to a precious
stone called Amiantus, which cannot be blemished. Such a place is
heaven, undefiled, nothing can stain it; there is no sin there to eclipse
its purity. For holiness and undefiledness, it is compared to pure gold, and
to the sapphire and emerald. Rev 21:19. "The sapphire has a virtue," says
Pliny, "to preserve chasteness, the emerald to expel poison." These are the
lively emblems of heaven, to show the sanctity of it; no fever of lust; no
venom of malice; none but pure virgin spirits inhabit it.
(4.) Christ has redeemed us to an unfading
inheritance. The Greek word is the name of a flower, Amarantus, which
keeps fresh and green for a long time. Such is the heavenly inheritance, it
does not lose its orient color—but keeps its freshness and greenness to
eternity; its beauty never fades away.
To this glorious inheritance has Christ redeemed the
saints; an inheritance which cannot be fully described or set forth by all
the lights of heaven, though every star were a sun. And that which is the
diamond in the ring, the glory of this inheritance—is the eternal
sight and fruition of the blessed God! The sight of God will be a most
alluring, heart-ravishing object; the king's presence makes the court. "We
shall see him as he is!" It is comfortable to see God showing himself
through the lattice of an ordinance, to see him in the Word and sacrament.
The martyrs thought it comfortable to see him in a prison. Oh then, what
will it be to see him in glory, shining ten thousand times brighter than the
sun! and not only see him—but enjoy him forever! Faith itself is not able
fully to comprehend this reward. All this blessedness has Christ purchased
for us, through the redemption of his blood.
Use one: Of INSTRUCTION.
(1.) See into what a wretched deplorable condition we had
brought ourselves by sin! We had sinned ourselves into slavery,
so that we needed Christ to purchase our redemption. Says Cicero, "Slavery
is the worst condition." But by sin we are in the worst slavery—slaves to
Satan, a merciless tyrant, who sports in the damnation of souls! We were in
this deplorable condition, when Christ came to redeem us.
(2.) See in this, as in a transparent glass, the love of
Christ to the elect. He came to redeem them; and died
intentionally for them. It would be great love for a king to pay a great sum
of money to redeem a slave. But if the king should willingly become a
prisoner in his stead, and die for his ransom—this would be a matter of
astonishment! Jesus Christ has done all this, he has written his love in
characters of blood! It would have been much for Christ to speak a good word
to his Father for us—but he knew that was not enough to redeem us.
Though a word speaking made a world—yet it would not redeem a sinner.
"Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin."
Use two: Of TRIAL. If Christ came to purchase
our redemption, then let us test ourselves—to see whether or not we
are the people whom Christ has redeemed from the guilt and curse due to sin.
This is a needful trial; for there is only a certain number whom Christ has
redeemed. "Oh," say sinners, "Christ is a redeemer, and we shall be saved by
him!" Beloved, Christ came not to redeem all, for that would overthrow the
decrees of God. Redemption is not as large as creation. I
grant there is a sufficiency of merit in Christ's blood to save all; but
there is a difference between sufficiency and efficiency. Christ's blood is
a sufficient price for all—but it is effectual only to those who believe. A
plaster may have a sovereign virtue in it to heal any wound—but it does not
heal any, unless applied to the wound. And if it is so, that all have
not the benefit of Christ's redemption—but only some—then it is a
necessary question to ask our own souls, "Are we in the number of those who
are redeemed by Christ, or not?"
How shall we know that?
(1.) Such as are redeemed are RECONCILED to God.
The enmity is taken away. Their judgments approve of God, and their
wills are inclined to God. Col 1:21. Are they redeemed—who are
unreconciled to God, who hate God and his people, who do all they can to
disparage holiness? Are they redeemed who are unreconciled to God? Christ
has purchased a reprieve for these; but a sinner may have a reprieve, and
yet go to hell. John 5:6.
(2.) Such as are redeemed by Christ are redeemed from the
WORLD. "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver (or
redeem) us from this present evil world." Gal 1:4. Such as are redeemed by
Christ—are risen with Christ, Col 3:1. As birds that land upon the ground to
pick up a little seed, immediately fly up to heaven again; so the redeemed
of the Lord use the world, and take the lawful comforts of it—but their
hearts are presently off these things, and they ascend to heaven. They live
here—and trade above. Such people as Christ has died for, are "dead to the
world." They are dead to its honors, profits, and preferments. What shall we
think of those who say they are redeemed of the Lord—and yet are lovers of
the world? They are like the tribes who desired to have their portion on
this side Canaan. "They mind earthly things." They pull down their souls—to
build up an estate. They are not redeemed by Christ—who are not redeemed
from the world.
Use three: Of COMFORT to such as are redeemed.
You are most blessed—the lot of free grace has fallen upon you! You were
once in the devil's prison—but God has freed you from that prison! You were
once bound in the chains of sin—but God has begun to beat off your chains,
and has freed you from the power of sin, and the curse due to it. What a
comfort is this! Is there any consolation in Christ? It is shine. Is there
any sweet fruit growing upon the promise? You may gather this sweet fruit.
Are there any glorious privileges in the gospel? They are yours—
justification, adoption, glorification. Is there any glory in heaven? You
shall shortly drink of that river of pleasure. Have you any temporal
comforts? These are but a pledge of more. Your meal in the barrel is but a
meal by the way, and a pledge of that angels' food which God has prepared
for you. How may you be comforted in all worldly afflictions, though your
fig-tree does not flourish! Death itself has lost its sting. Death shall
carry you to your Redeemer! Do not fear dying, since you cannot be perfectly
happy but by dying.
Use four: Of EXHORTATION. Long for the time
when you shall have a full and perfect redemption in heaven—an eternal
jubilee—when you shall be freed not only from the power but from the
presence of sin! Here a believer is as a prisoner who has broken
prison—but walks with a fetter on his leg. When the banner of glory shall be
displayed over you, you shall be as the angels of God! You shall never more
have a sinful thought; nor pain nor grief, nor aching head nor unbelieving
heart. You shall see Christ's face, and lie forever in his arms! Long for
that time, when you shall put off your prison garments, and change your
raiment, and put on the embroidered garment of glory! Oh long for it! Yet be
content to wait for this full and glorious redemption, when you shall be
more happy than you can desire! "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no
mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him." 1