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monizing with justice. It is not an act of power only, but of unexampled and expensive love. Thou hast redeemed us by thy blood!'
The sentence denounced by the law against transgressors, was death. And therefore when MESSIAH became our surety to satisfy the law for us, he must die. The expression of his blood,' is often used figuratively for his death, perhaps to remind us how he died. His was a bloody death. When he was in his agony in Gethsemane, his sweat was as great drops of blood falling down to the ground. His blood flowed when he gave his back to the smiters, under the painful strokes of the scourging he endured previous to his crucifixion. It flowed from his head, when the soldiers having mocked his character of King by crowning him with thorns, by their rude blows forced the thorns into his temples. His blood streamed from the wounds made by the spikes, which pierced his hands and his feet, when they fastened him to the cross. When he hung upon the cross, his body was full of wounds, and covered with blood. And after his death, another large wound was made in his side, from which issued blood and water. Such was the redemption-price he paid for sinners, his blood, the blood of his heart. Without shedding of blood there could be no remission. Nor could any blood answer the great design but his. Not any; not all the bloody sacrifices appointed by the law of Moses could take away sin, as it respects the conscience, nor afford a plea with which a sinner could venture to come before the High God. But the blood of MESSIAH, in whom were united the perfections of the divine nature and the real properties of humanity, and which the apostle therefore styles 'the blood of God,'‡ this precious blood cleanses from all sin. It is exhibited as a propitiation of perpetual efficacy, by which God declares his righteousness,' no less than his mercy, in forgiving iniquities,' and shows himself just to the demands of his holiness, and the honour of his government when he accepts and justifies the sinner who believes in Jesus.§
If these things were understood and attended to, would it be thought wonderful that this Saviour is very precious to those who believe in him, and who obtain redemption by his blood? How can it possibly be otherwise? Grace like this, when known, must captivate and fix the heart! Not only to save, but to die, and to die for his enemies! Such costly love, productive of such glorious consequences, and to such unworthy creatures! Surely the apostle's mind was filled and fired with these considerations, when, authenticating an epistle with his own hand, he subjoined
* Luke, xxii. 44. † Micah, vi. 6.
Acts, xx. 28. Rom. iii. 25, 26.
this emphatical close, 'If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha !"* Do you think, my brethren, that the apostle took pleasure in denouncing so severe a sentence against all those who did not see (as we say) with his eyes s? Had he so little affection for sinners, that he could thus consign them to destruction by multitudes, for differing from him in what some persons only deem an opinion? Rather consider him, not as breathing out his own wishes, but as speaking in the name and on the behalf of God. He knew it must be, and he declared it would be so. It was no pleasure to him to see them determined to perish. On the contrary, he had great grief and sorrow of heart for them, even for the Jews, who had treated him with the greatest cruelty. Even for their sakes, he could have been content to be made an Anathema himself, that they might be saved. But, upon the whole, he acquiesced in the will of God, and acknowledged it to be just, right, and equal, that if any man would not love the Lord Jesus Christ, after all he had done and suffered for sinners, he should be accursed. By this comparison of the apostle's severe language with his compassionate temper, I am led to digress a little further. It suggests an apology for ministers of the Gospel in general. When we declare the terrors of the Lord, when we assure you that there is but one solid foundation for hope, and that unless you love the Lord Jesus Christ, you must perish, some of our hearers account us bigotted, uncharitable, and bitter. But if you could see what passes in secret, how faithful ministers mourn over those who reject their message, how their disobedience cuts them to the heart, and abates the comfort they would otherwise find in your services; if you could believe us when we say (I trust truly) that we are ready to impart unto you, not the Gospel of God only, but our own souls also because you are dear to us, and we long for your salvation; then you would think more favourably of us. But after all, we cannot, we dare not, soften our message to please men. What we find in the word of God we must declare. It would be at the peril of our souls to speak smooth things,' to 'prophecy deceits' to you; and, so far as we preach the truth, it will be at the peril of your souls if we are disregarded.
III. The benefits of this redemption extend to a numerous people, who are said to be redeemed out of every kindred, tongue, and nation. I have, upon a former occasion, offered you my sentiments concerning the extent of the virtue of that blood which taketh away the sin of the world. But the clause now before
* 1 Cor. xvi. 22. Ser. XVI. p. 100.
+ Rom. ix. 3.
1 Thes. ii. 8.
Isa. xxx. 10.
us invites me to make a few additional observations upon a subject which, 1 conceive, it much concerns us rightly to understand.
The redeemed of the Lord are those who actually experience the power of his redemption, who are delivered from the dominion of sin and Satan, and brought into a state of liberty, peace, and holiness. That the people of every kindred, nation, and tongue, are not redeemed in this sense, universally, is as certain as evidence of facts, and express declarations of Scripture can make it. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.' Multitudes thus disqualified, will be found trembling, on the left hand of the Judge, at the great day. But a remnant will be saved, according to the election of grace.' For they who differ, who are redeemed to the service of God, while others live and die in the love and service of sin, do not make themselves to differ.* It becomes the potsherds of the earth to ascribe to their Maker the glory of his sovereignty, and to acknowledge, that if they have a good hope, it is because it pleased the Lord to make them his people, who once were not his people.'+ Yet a way of conceiving of the doctrines of the divine sovereignty, and of a personal election unto life, has often obtained, which seems to have a tendency to render the mind narrow, selfish, and partial, and to straiten the exercise of that philanthropy which the genius and spirit of the Gospel powerfully inculcate. The best of us, perhaps, are more prone than we are aware of to assimilate the great God to ourselves, and to frame our ideas of Him too much according to our own image. So that often much of a man's natural disposition may be observed in the views he forms of the divine perfections and conduct; as, on the other hand, his conceptions of the character of God strengthen and confirm him in his own tempers and habits. There are persons, who, being persuaded in their minds (we would hope upon sure grounds) that they themselves are of the elect, appear to be little concerned what may become of others. Their notions of God's sovereignty, and his right to do what he will with his own, though often insufficient to preserve them from repining and impatience under the common events of human life, raise them above all doubts and difficulties on a subject which the apostle speaks of as unsearchable and untraceable; where he acknowledges depths which he was unable to fathom,‡ all appear to them quite plain and easy; where he admires and adores, they arrogantly dispute, and determine ex cathedra, and harshly censure all who are not so eagle-sighted as themselves. Methinks they who know the worth of a soul, from its vast capacity for happiness and misery, and its immortal duration, cannot justly be
* 1 Cor. iv. 7.
+ Hos. ii. 23.
Rom. xi. 33.
blamed for allowing no limits to their benevolent wishes for the salvation of mankind but the will of God, as it is plainly made known to us in his word. To this we are to submit, not as of necessity only, but cheerfully; assured that his will is wise, holy, and good; that the Judge of all the world will do right; and to wait for the day when he will condescend to clear up every difficulty, and give us that satisfaction which, in our present state of ignorance and weakness, we are incapable of receiving. Shall mortal man be more just, or can he be more merciful than God? It is a false compassion, founded in a blameable disregard of what is due to the glory of his great name, that prompts us to form a wish that his unerringly wise appointments could be otherwise than they are. Yet it is a comfort to think that his mercy, in which he delights, in which he is peculiarly said to be rich, and which is higher than the heavens, will, in its exercise, far exceed the bounds which some fallible mortals would peremptorily assign to it. We must not indulge cenjecture and hypothesis further than the Scripture will warrant; but while we humbly depend upon this infallible light, we need not be afraid to follow it, though it should, in some particulars, lead us a little beyond the outlines of some long received, and, in the main, very valuable human systems of divinity.
I have repeatedly expressed my belief, that many prophecies respecting the spread and glory of the kingdom of MESSIAH upon earth, have not yet received their full accomplishment, and that a time is coming when many (perhaps the greater part of mankind) of all nations, and people, and languages, shall know the joyful sound of the Gospel, and walk in the light of the Redeemer's countenance. At present, I would confine myself to consider what ground the Scripture affords us to hope that there are many of every nation, people, and tongue, even now, singing this song before his throne.
The Revelations vouchsafed to the beloved disciple in Patmos, exhibit a succession of great events, extending (I suppose) from the apostles' days to the end of time. But while only the learned can so much as attempt to ascertain from history the dates and facts to which the prophecies already fulfilled refer, or to offer probable conjectures concerning the events as yet future, (in which the most judicious commentators are far from being agreed,) there are passages interspersed, which seem designed to administer consolation to plain believers, by representations suited to raise their thoughts to the state of the church triumphant. Though they are unable to explain the particulars of what they read, there is a glory resulting from the whole, which animates their hope and awakens their joy. Of this kind I think is that VOL. III.
vision,* in which the apostle saw the servants of God, who were sealed in their foreheads, in number one hundred and forty-four thousand; and, besides these, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands, and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God, which sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb,' &c. I confess myself unable to expound this sublime passage, and to give the full or even the principal sense of it with certainty. But that it has some reference to what is now passing within the vail which hides the unseen world from our view, I cannot doubt. I propose my thoughts upon it with caution and diffidence. I dare not speak with that certainty which I feel myself warranted to use, when I set before you, from Scripture, the great truths which are essential to a life of faith in the Son of God; yet I hope to advance nothing that is contrary to Scripture, or to any deductions fairly and justly drawn
Having premised this acknowledgment of my incompetence to decide positively, I venture to say, that by the hundred and forty-four thousand sealed in their foreheads, (a definite for an indefinite number, which is frequent in Scripture language,) I understand those, who, living to mature age, and where the Gospel is afforded, are enabled to make a public and visible profession of religion, and are marked, as it were, in their foreheads, and known to whom they belong, by their open and habitual separation from the spirit and customs of the world which lieth in wickedness. And the exceeding great multitude, contradistinguished from these, I conceive to be those who are elsewhere styled the Lord's hidden ones;' and that these are a great multitude indeed, gathered by him, who knows them that are his, out of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues. I may distribute them into the following classes :
1. Infants. I think it at least highly probable, that when our Lord says, 'Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven,'t he does not only intimate the necessity of our becoming like little children in simplicity, as a qualification without which (as he expressly declares in other places) we cannot enter into his kingdom, but informs us of a fact, that the number of infants who are effectually redeemed to God by his blood, so greatly exceeds the aggregate of adult believers, that, comparatively speaking, his kingdom may be said to consist of little children. The apostle speaks of them as not
*Rev. vii. 9. ad finem,
Matth. xix. 14.