by JOSEPH IRONS
Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Sunday Morning, March 2nd, 1851
A very considerable portion of this Epistle to the Hebrews is devoted by the apostle, writing under Divine inspiration, to mark the contrast between the priesthood of the law and the priesthood of the gospel. He was addressing Hebrews, descendants of Abraham, who prided themselves on their attachment to Moses' law, and to the Levitical priesthood, and to the offerings and sacrifices connected therewith. Paul's object, or, rather, the design of the Holy Ghost, was to wean and withdraw those among the Hebrews who were brought to the faith of Jesus from their attachment to legal observances and to the law of Moses in its ceremonial character, and to the sacrifices, which were but typical, and which, (as we have been reading), "could never make the comers thereunto perfect." This is urged at great length in the seventh chapter, and the apostle goes on to speak of the disannulling of the law through the weakness and unprofitableness thereof; and as the law was disannulled so was the priesthood, that it might be succeeded by a superior one. Another priesthood, he tells us, has arisen, "after the order of Melchisedec, and not after the order of Aaron." I think this important truth in the days in which we live ought to be rehearsed in every sermon, because we are living at a period when an ungodly priesthood is becoming rampant, the curse of the earth, leading millions of souls blindfold to hell, and yet assuming a character of importance and dignity, as if they were a superior race of beings. They must and they shall be protested against, while I have a breath left. Blessed be God for a knowledge of our great and glorious High Priest, or whom we can say, as the apostle said, "Of the things we have spoken, this is the sum," we have such a High Priest as is not to be found amongst men, a High Priest ministering in the tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
In connection with the passage I have read as the subject of our discourse, the apostle is insisting that the priests under the law imposed on the people ordinances of carnal observance until the time of the coming of Christ; but now, says he, we have nothing to do with such things. Now Christ being come our High Priest, with His own precious blood, we have a more perfect tabernacle, "not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building." Quite a distinct thing. Theirs is all natural and material, ours is supernatural, divine, and spiritual. "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood." Here pause a moment before I enter on the text. Whoever will be a priest under the gospel dispensation is bound, in honour to God and man, to shed his own blood. The priests, now-a-days, want to shed our blood instead of their own; but let us keep to Scripture, and insist upon it, that our High Priest shed His own blood, and therefore entered the tabernacle with authority, entered, having completed His work, "having obtained eternal redemption for us." Before I enter upon the subject, I must beg of my hearers not to mistake the wording of the text. It is not said, having obtained universal redemption for us, you cannot find such a thing in the whole word of God, but it says, "Having obtained eternal redemption," and, "for us."
Now there are two things to which I desire to invite your prayerful attention, from this short passage. The first is, the work which Christ has accomplished, and must have accomplished before He could enter into the holy place; the second is, the evidences upon which we may claim it. "For us." For I get no sweetness, no savour, from either doctrines, or promises, or privileges that I read of in the word of God, until I can put in my claim, until I can come to the point, "It is for me." And I want you to join with me, and then put it in the plural, as the apostle has done, "for us;" and I trust there will be evidences adduced that will find an echo in your hearts, and constrain you to say, "For us."
I. First of all, let us turn our attention to the work which Christ hath done, which He must, of necessity, have done before He could enter into the holiest of all. The proclamation had never gone forth, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, that the King of glory may come in," if He had not done His work. He must have gone back to finish it. But it is, "Having obtained eternal redemption for us." A few prominent features of this work I have been dwelling upon with sacred delight, though in much bodily affliction, and in the prospect of realizing its consummation. I have been so musing on this work that I would not put a finger on it to touch it. It is the finished work of Christ that I rejoice in.
Now the first thing I mention in this great work of His is, that He has conquered sin, and Satan, and sinners. There is no redemption without this. I do not mean to put them in order as theologians generally do, but touch upon the few things, as they may illustrate one another; and I first of all dwelt on the conquest which I seem to snatch from the passage I have cited; "Lift up your heads, O ye gates and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, that the King of glory may come in." The question is put, "Who is the King of glory?" "The Lord strong in battle," is the answer, the man of war, who has gained the victory, the Captain of our salvation. Now do observe that He combated these enemies and still combats them single-handed. If you mark His conflicts with the powers of darkness for forty days during His temptation in the wilderness, He was led there by the Spirit, but none of the crowd could even witness Him, none of His disciples attempted to put forth a helping hand or give one answer to Satan's devices. He must be alone. The prophet said this of Him long before. "I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with me." "His own arm brought salvation to Him." Nor do we find the powers of darkness let loose on our precious Lord till He had been forty days without eating or drinking, and then the temptation is put before Him to make bread of a stone. There was no harm in His making bread of a stone any more than in His feeding five thousand with a few loaves and fishes on another occasion, but it would have been an act of obedience to Satan that He could by no means yield to. He vanquishes the prince of darkness and says, "Get thee hence, Satan, thou art an offence to me," He draws the sword of the Spirit with, "It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." This was asserting His own Godhead and silencing His accuser.
Moreover, it was His as Redeemer to conquer sin. He conquered it in the flesh, and He conquered it by death, as the apostle has set it down, and this He did by consenting to die. He would enter into the territories of death, the regions of death, and grapple with death, and draw out its sting so that is should never touch His elect family. He vanquished death; and, beloved, I wish you to bear in mind that to a real Christian there is no sting in the strictest sense of the word. It is but, "the valley of the shadow of death," that is left for the family of God to pass through. And who is to be frightened at the shadow? God Almighty keep you and me from, through fear of death, being all our lifetime subject to bondage. Rather let us sing the song which the apostle has set down by the Holy Spirit's teaching, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" Let us feel that it is removed and taken away, and then let us exclaim with him, "Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory," (as well as obtained it Himself), "through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Moreover, in His redemption-work He has to conquer sinners. This is the most brilliant conquest of all, and without this, both the others were vain, they would be of no use. If Jesus were to come down on this earth, and to preach to you and to the whole world, and to say that He had, "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself," and had vanquished the prince of darkness, and yet did nothing towards conquering your heart, you would go to hell after all. Well, but suppose He were to propose salvation to you, or to offer it to you, or to state some very easy terms for you to accept. You would reject them, be they as small as possible. Nothing will do but the redeemed soul being conquered by Omnipotent grace. Hence He sends forth His Spirit, to convince of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, and when His Spirit convinces the sinner's heart it is then that the Psalmist's prayer is answered. His, "arrows are sharp in the hearts of the king's enemies," and the poor sinner falls under them, falls at His feet, convinced and self-condemned, cries for mercy, and puts forth the solemn moan, "Woe is me, for I am undone." He feels it and owns it before God. This is the way Christ redeems, though I grant it is not the first feature in point of order, yet it is the first in our knowledge of it.
Then observe, that our precious Christ in the work of redemption liberates all His elect. I choose the word liberates because it is a very extensive one, and though in a political sense there is no word in our vocabulary so awfully abused as the word liberty, yet with regard to Christianity there is no word so important. It is extensive, it takes in a vast range, and all His elect are by Himself liberated from the curse of His law, He having cancelled it, from His justice and vengeance, He having satisfied it, from the love and reign of sin, He having conquered them, and lifted up his banner widely unfurled, "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace." Do you remember reading, beloved, that when Jesus came forth to liberate His people from the law it is written, "In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son, to redeem them that were under the law," and in order to this, He must become a curse in the eye of the law, and receive the curse of the law, in all its agonizing smart, bear it in His own person, and have it thrown at Him, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree," and so, having been made a curse for His elect, He looks to their being made the, "righteousness of God in Him." In removing the curse of the law, our glorious Christ has given full liberty to His saints who are brought to enjoy it to exclaim, "We are not under the law," not subject to the law, as a covenant of works, and satisfied that the law has no charge to make against us, because every iota of its demand was met, and paid, and cancelled by our glorious Redeemer. We must not and we will not lose sight of Paul's exultation, that that was dead in which He was once held, "I am dead to the law," said he, "that I might live to God;" but we must not lose sight of his other exultation, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." Bear with me while I insist that no child of Adam ever did, can, or will rejoice in the law of God, till he knows it can neither curse him at all nor bless him at all, till he knows he is delivered from that wherein he was once held. So long as the law sends its curse, and condemnation, and spiritually, and power into his heart, he cannot delight in it, but when it is seen satisfied, and cancelled, and sealed, so that it shall never be opened against him, then he can, "delight in it after the inner man."
Moreover, our Redeemer liberates His elect from all liability to the vengeance of justice, having met it Himself. Oh, that blessed doctrine of suretyship and substitution, how it cheers my heart. He could not be a Redeemer without it. To be a Redeemer He must meet the awakened sword of justice, and allow it to be sheathed in His heart, He must offer Himself a sacrifice for sin, and bear sin, and the curse, and the vengeance due to it, in His own body on the tree. What mean those years of sorrow and contradiction of sinners against Himself which He spent in Judea? What mean those cruelties inflicted upon Him in Gethsamane, in Pilate's hall, and on Calvary's top? Whence those strong cries and tears? Whence that weakness, induced in the flesh by His sufferings? Just simply to appease stern justice, just to satisfy, and exhaust, and drink up the vengeance due to the transgressions of His Church. Oh, precious, precious Christ, help us to love thee more while thus musing upon what thou hast done as our Redeemer.
Now go on to observe, that He liberates His Church, (this third particular is essential to prove an interest in the two former). He liberates His Church one by one from the reigning power of sin in their lives. He nowhere promises that there should be a reconciliation between the sinner and his sins, but just the reverse. He would not have furnished us with a complete panoply, He would not have given us the whole armour of God, if there had been nothing to fight with; and, whatever we may have to fight with, in fighting with the world and the prince of the power of the air, we have more to fight against within. We should have nothing to fear from all the devils in the universe if we had no devils within. But it is the den of thieves, it is the cage of unclean birds, it is the habitation of dragons, it is the vile corruptions of our poor fallen natures, that constantly deep up the conflict which every believer in Jesus is acquainted with. And I once more inform you, my hearers, that if you are strangers to the conflict between flesh and spirit you are strangers to Christ. I want no parley with the enemy, no flag of truce; but sure I am, that it is as true as it was in Paul's day that the flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other; so much so, and so violent is the warfare, that we cannot do the things which we would. But it is our precious Christ prerogative to liberate us from this, to give supplies from His own fullness, to make His grace victorious in the soul, to cause humility, and meekness, and patience, and love, and zeal, to have their perfect work, and contend earnestly for the glory of Christ and for the advancement of Christianity in our personal experience. May I ask you how the war has been going on in the week that is past? If you meet almost any man, now-a-days, you are ready to ask, in breathless eagerness, how things are going on in the cabinet, how they are going on in politics, they cannot make one hair white or black after all, but how has the war been going on in your soul, for the purpose of mortifying, crucifying, and putting off the old man with his deeds? That is what I want in my own soul, that I may go on shouting victory through the blood of the Lamb; and knowing, that when I drop this clumsy carcase I shall drop all its corruptions and evils, and enter into the presence of my Lord, where sin and sorrow cannot come. This is part of His redeeming.
Now let us come a little closer, His atonement. In order to redeem His Church He has atoned for our transgressions; and, be it remembered, that all who He has atoned for must escape the corruption that is in the world, must reach everlasting glory; for His atonement is all-sufficient. It required not to be repeated, "that He should die often," as we have just been reading, nor that He should enter more than once into the holy place with His own blood. He did it once for all, because the efficacy, the merit, the efficiency of that precious blood which He shed is quite equivalent to all the demands of the Divine perfections in behalf of the whole Church of God; and, therefore, that Church is represented as Jehovah's sheep going astray, and the Lord laying upon Him the iniquities of all His sheep, all His Church, and He as a scape-goat, bearing them away into the land of forgetfullness. Jesus had shed blood enough, and that blood was precious enough to atone for all the transgressions, and all the iniquities, and all the sins, even in the holy things among the Israel of God.
Moreover, it is an accepted atonement. God the Father declared that He was well pleased with it, that He had glorified Him and would glorify Him again; and when that atonement was made, and He just allowed Himself time enough to show Himself to His disciples that they might be witnesses of His resurrection, He ascended up to God, and went within the veil, where He could not have gone if His sacrifice had not been accepted; for there stands the prohibition still, "not without blood," "not without blood;" and while the priest under that typical dispensation might not go there without blood, for without shedding of blood is no remission, the very receiving of Christ into glory is proof positive that His atonement was accepted.
And then it must be applied. We have been reading, in the earlier part of our service, that Moses typified this when he took the blood of atonement and sprinkled with it the book of the law, and also all the vessels of the sanctuary and the people. Here was the application, it was not enough to shed, it must be applied. This was also typified when the children of Israel were under the heathen bondage. It was not enough that the Lamb should be slain, but it must be eaten, and the blood sprinkled upon the lintel and the door-post, not upon the threshold, or the destroying angel would have entered. My hearer, what think you of the application of blood Divine to your conscience? What think you of its speaking to you, and speaking better things than that of Abel? What think you of it being the blood of sprinkling, to cleanse you from dead works to serve the living God? What think you of its power to seal pardon, and peace, assure us of acceptance, fix our confidence, and with all this invariably communicating a deep-rooted and abiding hatred of the very nature of sin? It has never been applied to your conscience if it has never done that.
Then, again, this atonement of our precious Christ is absolute, allowing of no interference. It was without the merit of the creature, without even being asked for by mortals, absolutely the stipulated amount, the given sum, the meritorious price for the redemption of the entire Church of God.
Moreover, it is an absolving atonement, or there would be no redemption; and I allow no man to say to me, except the God-man Christ Jesus, "I absolve thee from all thy sins." Nor would I give a straw for all the absolutions men could pronounce, nay, more, I would not allow myself to be present where God was so mocked and insulted. But when the voice of my precious Christ, the atoning Lamb, my Mediator, says to me, "Son, daughter, thy sins which are many are forgiven thee," when Jesus brings home with His precious voice the application of His atoning blood, there is joy introduced to the experience that none of the abominable hypocrites that pronounce absolution to fellow mortals ever could impart.
Nay, more, it was alone: "He trod the winepress alone, and of the people there were none with Him." All attempts to offer sacrifice, satisfaction, atonement, appeasement to God, except that one offering, are direct mockeries to Christ's sufferings, insults to God, and the most diabolical impositions that can be practiced among men. We have His satisfaction alone, we rejoice in His complete work alone.
Moreover, according to my text our precious glorious Redeemer has immortalized it. This brings me to dwell a little on the word, "eternal." It is not a temporary redemption, nor a temporary deliverance merely, but it is eternal, that which can never be abolished. It is so infinitely valuable and important as to be abiding, immutable, eternal, in the presence of God. Infinitely precious, and precious to the rejection of all others. Nay, more, it is so lasting, from one eternity to another, that it went back when Jesus offered Himself a sacrifice for sin, and atoned for all the election of grace that had lived upon earth from Adam's day. It included all the election of grace who were then upon earth, or who shall live upon earth to the end of time; and its blessings, its comforts, its joys, the sacred realities it imparts to the soul, and the glories it shall by-and-bye throw open and reveal to our experience, are all without limitation, without date, of everlasting duration, and extend as far as the very existence of Deity. If you can tell me when God began to exist, or if you can tell me when Jehovah will cease to be, then I can tell you of the beginning and end of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. It is eternal in the engagements that were entered into, in the accomplishment of what is done, in the glory that shall be revealed; and, consequently, the redeemed of the Lord are represented around the throne as singing and rejoicing; as saying, "Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood." Oh! The blessedness of viewing the redemption that is in Christ Jesus as immortal and eternal. "There remaineth no more sacrifice for sin;" nay, we want no more. This one remains and must remain to all eternity; and all His redeemed shall return and come to Zion with singing, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.
I pass on to one thing more under this part of our subject, that having immortalized His work, so as to be insulted by any attempts to repeat it, so that His very honour and name are injured by all the mockery that is put on it by creatures, who would have a contingent redemption and salvation, He has gone within the veil, and there He is mediating with God, on this ground that His work is perfect; there He ever lives to make intercession, there, "having obtained eternal redemption," presenting the efficacy of His own blood, He is, "able to save to the uttermost," "able to save." But who? "All who come unto God by Him." Have you really come again and again, pleading His merits and righteousness only, and casting yourself wholly at His feet to obtain life and salvation? Then He is able to save you, for He is able and willing to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.
And now a word or two about His mediation. This He carries on meritoriously, and I deny that any merit can be found anywhere but in Him that can be acceptable to God. If you would have mediatorial characters among mortals, say, for instance, that one owes a vast sum to a creditor, and the creditor is very angry, and threatens, I do not know what vengeance upon him; there comes in a mediator, and he determines upon a rescue of the poor creature. "But he owes me such an amount." "There it is;" and the mediator pays down the sum and gets a receipt. "But he owes me such another account." "There it is;" and the sum is paid, and a receipt is given; and so of all the rest till the book is cleared. "Now I want a reconciliation," the mediator says; "nothing stands in the way, he does not owe a farthing." This is just the way with my Mediator. He does not ask law or justice to abate a single mite, or to give up anything in the way of compromise, but its full demand, every jot and tittle of it, fulfilled and paid, and the entire requisition of inflexible justice met, and its vengeance endured; and now Jesus is mediating that the Father may smile, that the souls of His people may be welcomed to His presence, and admitted to the enjoyment of paternal love.
Moreover, it is a mutual mediation He is carrying on, for it is that which is known and understood on earth as well as in heaven, and while He mediates meritoriously before the throne He mediates most condescendingly with the souls of His people. He meets them in their closet, He meets them at the family altar, He meets them in His house, reveals the Father's will, shows them the promises, endears Himself to them by His lovely countenance, to the eye of faith, and gives them His own mind and spirit, so that as He is, so are they, in this world. He tells all His people what they want on high, and He tells all they want on earth through the promises. He says all that is needful for them meritoriously before the throne, He says all to them in personal experience as they approach His footstool.
Just advance to mark, that this mediation is most merciful. It is from the Mediator's crown that the attribute of mercy displays her glory so fully. If you want the attribute of justice displayed, cast your eye to Gethsemane and Calvary, look at the scars upon His hands and feet, and say, "Justice is satisfied." But if you want a display of mercy, see it emblazoned where the crown of thorns once hung, and shining in His countenance like the sun in the firmament, to cheer, and animate, and comfort the followers of the Lamb on earth. O how He thus manifests the riches of His grace! O how He here puts aside, rejects, and disregards all the pretensions of creatures to human merit, free-will, and contingency. Is Jesus my Redeemer, and has He left His work contingent? Then I shall never be sure that He is my Redeemer till I get to heaven, and I am sure I shall never get there if He has left anything contingent. One single contingency in the great Redeemer's work would ruin the world to all eternity, and therefore, the advocates for a contingent or a material salvation and religion are the greatest enemies to God and to man that can live. May God Almighty deliver you from anything like contingency in these great matters.
II. Let us go on, in the second place, to investigate some of the evidences which will authorize us to say, it was for us. "Having obtained eternal redemption for us."
The first evidence I shall name is that of translation; and I am sure, if the ransom-price were paid down for captives under a foreign yoke, and their liberty was proclaimed, there would none of them say, "It was for us," until they were translated from their dungeons, from their chains, from their galleys, from their miseries, from their privations. I would not have you, beloved, deceive your own souls by claiming any interest in the redemption which Christ has obtained without this translation. It is a scriptural phrase. If you look at the Colossians you will find the apostle saying, "He hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son." Now, whatever use you may make of the word translate, or the word translation, (it is sometimes shamefully abused), we will keep to that statement of the Holy Ghost by the apostle, "translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son." Why what kingdom is it? It is opposed to the kingdom of darkness, and the power of darkness, it is the kingdom of light, it is the kingdom of liberty. You have it given in a condensed view. It is a kingdom of, "righteousness, and peace, and joy, in the Holy Ghost." There is a translation from wickedness, and fear, and depression, and condemnation, to a righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Now, such a mighty change as this can never take place without being known. Surely you cannot be at loss to ascertain whether this translation has been effected for you. It is by Omnipotent grace, it is without consulting your will, it is without asking your aid, yea, it is without waiting for you to ask for it. It is an act of sovereign grace alone, emanating from the decretive enactments of God the Father accomplished by God the Son, rendered effectual in personal experience, by the mighty operations and invincible communications of God the Holy Ghost in the sinner's heart, taking him from one kingdom to another, removing him from the oppression of a tyrant, to love, and serve, and honour the sovereign king Jesus, who is, "King of kings, and Lord of lords." What say you to this evidence? Is it really, "for us?" Has He wrought this translation? Then I am sure He has obtained your redemption, for the translation is consequent upon redemption.
Again, heavenly birth is essential as an evidence. The apostle John was directed by the Holy Ghost to point to this in the very opening of his gospel, when he says, "He came to His own, and His own received Him not, but to as many as did receive Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God to as many as believe on His name." Now mark, "which were born," stop there, and you have no information, "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." If Jesus has given you a translation from the kingdom of darkness into His own kingdom, He has given you a heavenly birth, or you would not be capable of enjoying that kingdom if you got there. For an unregenerate man to think of going to heaven is the greatest folly in the world, it would be a hell to him if he got there in his unregeneracy. No man is born of God who cannot enjoy the things of God now. There must be a naturalization, as the worldling would call it, I should call it spiritualization, to entitle men to all the immunities, and liberties, and privileges of the kingdom, and to give them a capacity to enjoy the kingdom. O the blessedness of being able to enjoy the righteousness of the Son of God as mine, to enjoy, "the peace of God which passeth all understanding," and to enjoy, "the joy of the Holy Ghost calling His graces into exercise." You cannot enjoy these things without a heavenly birth. The same apostle in the third chapter represents the Lord Jesus as saying, in His conversation with Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Satan, knowing this to be a fundamental point, has taken all pains to pervert it, and throw it into materialism, so that superstitions, and forms, and ceremonies, and water gods, and wafer gods, and woman gods are to be substituted for it. He knows, if he carries that point, which he has done with millions, he has frittered away everything essential to Christianity. We mean to maintain it soundly, God helping us, that the heavenly birth is essential to prove that we are redeemed, to render us capable of enjoying the blessings of redemption here and hereafter.
Moreover, instruction is essential also. This is given us in a variety of places in the prophet's time. "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be thy peace." And again, "I will instruct thee and teach thee," as said the Psalmist, "in the way that thou shalt go." Moreover, our precious Redeemer told His disciples that when He, the Spirit of truth, was come, He should teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance. And the beloved John in his epistle says, "We have an unction from the Holy One," and consequently, we, "know all things, and need not that any man should teach us, but as that Anointing teacheth us." It is supernatural, it cometh from above, and none of the race of Adam are, or can be, wise unto salvation without Divine teaching. God forbid that I should undervalue human instruction or attainments, I never did, and never intend, if you will but keep them in their proper place. To cultivate human intellect, to inform the untutored mind, to train the youth in those principles that are tangible to creatures is quite right aye, and even to set before them the theory of the principle of the gospel, but the teaching of all the divines, and all the school-masters, and all the leaders of colleges, and heads of houses put together, will never make a Christian, will never make a man wise unto salvation, without the immediate operation and mighty teachings of God the Holy Ghost. How sweet then is that promise which says, "I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way in which thou shalt go." Beloved, are you accustomed to ask for Divine teaching? Do you ask it for me? Do you ask it for yourselves? Why, I should be as likely to set error before you as truth, if my Divine teacher left me to myself, but He has sworn that He will not, and I am quite satisfied that as long as he keeps me on the earth, He means to tell me what I shall say to you, drawing all His instructions from His own precious book, and rejoicing to know that they all lead to Himself. Yet, though the instructions may be orthodox, the doctrines sound, the principles thoroughly Biblical, there must be an effect, a power, an application going forth with the teaching, or all is in vain. How delightful the thought, that Jehovah the Spirit is constantly thus carrying out and carrying of His ministry, and taking the things that are spoken concerning Christ from the lip of the poor fellow-worm, and fastening them upon the heart as a nail in a sure place, writing them upon the tables of the heart with the finger of the Spirit of God, putting the law into the heart, and writing it in the inward parts. That is the work of the Holy Ghost which He is continually carrying on, and if you would know whether you can put in the, "for us," just sit down at the feet of Jesus, ask what has been taught you, whether like Mary you have been taught His name in sitting at His feet, whether you have been led on from the knowledge of the law to the knowledge to the knowledge of the gospel, from the knowledge of the Father, whether you have thus gone on from line to line, from precept to precept, from lesson to lesson, here a little and there a little, until you have been made wise unto salvation. Then you can say, He has, "obtained eternal redemption for us."
One word more, and I feel that I must close. Sanctification must be known and received, to authorize us to say, "for us." Jesus, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate. The apostle Jude wrote, "to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ and called." The apostle Paul tells the Church, after reminding them of what they had been in their season of wickedness, "Ye are washed, ye are justified, ye are sanctified, by the blood of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." Oh, that I could witness more of a manifestation of this sanctify among the people of God, and in my own soul. I want not that sanctity which deceived mortals imagine they can attain, white-washing, and painting, and dressing, and bringing up old Adam to make him look as much as possible like a saint. There is no sanctity about that. I do not want the long faced, demure dejection of a Puseylites, that is hypocrisy, What, then, is sanctification? I answer, it is the implanting of a nature in the soul which cannot sin, and giving that nature an ascendancy over the nature which could do nothing but sin. I find I have a nature about me, as dear old Dr. Hawker says, that is nothing but sin, and can do nothing but sin; but I bless God that I have a nature, oh, that it were stronger, that cannot sin, for, "he that is born of God cannot commit sin." Now, the carrying on of that sanctity consists in the victories which new nature obtains over the old, it consists in its ascendancy being realized, the banner being unfurled. "Sin shall not have dominion over you." If a man comes and tells me that he has no sin, I tell him that he is a liar, and take a Scripture to prove it: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not is us." If a man comes to me and makes an apology for his sins, and tells me it is his constitution, and says he has an easily besetting sin which he cannot conquer, I say, do not talk about redemption, do not talk about its being redemption for you. I bless God that I know something of it. The sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost has implanted all His graces in the soul; those graces refusing to surrender to corruption, those graces go on as Paul describes, mortifying, and crucifying, and denying, and putting off, and keeping under, but they will never be eradicated while we are here. I know there are seasons in Christian experience when those graces appear to him as if they were dormant, owing to the strength and rage, and outrage of old Adam's corruptions. Cry for help from above at such perilous moments. Cry for a reinforcement of grace from the fullness of Christ, and wait, and look, and plead, till you find faith vigorous and active, and hope as our anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast, and love glowing with celestial ardour, arising in its sacred flame to the very throne of God, all the graces called into lively exercise, and old Adam gets another nail or two driven into him, and is subdued by Omnipotent grace. That is what I understand by sanctification, a nature as holy as God's, that loves to be in communion with God, always at war with a sinful nature, and enabling you to take the comfort that the apostle did, "If I do the evil that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me;" and yet he was enabled to say, (my God enable you and me to do the same), "I keep under my body lest, after I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
Now, beloved, if you can take these four evidences, and only rejoice that you have been translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son, that you really have a heavenly, supernatural birth, that you really are instructed and taught by the Holy Spirit in the school of Christ, and that there is something like a sanctified principle in you that refuses to submit to sin, then say, in the language of my text, "Having obtained eternal redemption for us."
Now, contrast all we have said with that Popish, demoralizing, but fashionable system which is called, "universal redemption." I ask not whether you find it at Rome, or Oxford, or Cambridge, or in non-conformist schools; in all its modifications and variations it is a perfect contrast to the gospel of God; for it represents redemption as an unfinished, uncertain transaction, in which the decrees of God the Father may be frustrated, the suretyship and work of God the Son may be an abortion, and the ministry and operations of God the Holy Ghost may be neutralized by the obduracy of man's free will! What blasphemy! What Atheism! And yet this is the fashionable doctrine of the day, which has formed the liberal confederacy, yea, the conspiracy, of the present day, under Jesuitical direction, for the overthrow of dear old England, and the final persecution of the Church of God. And who is now so blind as not to see that the mouths of May and June are most likely doomed to be the very season for its accomplishment, if God permit? If eternal redemption, instead of universal redemption had been maintained from all our pulpits, England would never have been covered with millions of Jesuits, nor insulted with a Nic. Crafty-man. But our glory seems to be departed. Oh, that God may yet arise and plead His own cause, and yet deal with the enemies of His living Church as He did with Ahithophel, with Haman, with Rabshekah, and Senacrib, in olden time; and cause His redeemed to return to pure truth, enjoying its rich blessings, and triumphing over all their internal and external enemies, and His name shall have all the glory for ever and ever. Amen