« AnteriorContinuar »
general. This led Judas to suicide, and has led many others to the same fatal end. But this is the way to increase the burden, not to lose it; for damned souls in hell must for ever lie under the intolerable weight. There the worm dielh no't, even the worm of a corroding conscience, always stung by remorse; and the furious fire of divine resentment is never quenched.
But, blessings for ever be ascribed to the dear Lamb of God! He bore our sins, and bore them away. In the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, where the sufferings of Christ are wonderfully described, it is said, ver. 6,
* The Lord laid upon him the iniquity of us all;' and St. Peter says, 1 Peter ii. 24, ' He himself bare our sins in his own body on the tree.' As our Surety, he made himself answerable for our sins, so that they were imputed to him; he bore the punishment due to them, even the wrath and curse of God, which if he had not borne, must have sunk each of us into the pit of hell. AndO, what did Christ endure when this heavy burden was laid upon him! Hear his groans in the garden.
* My soul is exceeding sorrowful, or very heavy, even unto death: Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me,'—let theseason of my sufferings be shortened. See the bloody sweat that fell from him in the agony! This was the effect of the burden of our sins, which then were made ' to meet upon him.' There was a very remarkable type of this under the law, Levit. xvi On the great day of atonement, two goats were provided. One of then was killed for a sin offering; on the other goat, 'Aaron shall lay both his hands, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness; and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited, and he shall let go the goat into the wilderness.' These goats signified Jesus Christ; the one signified Christ dying, the other Christ living: as Christ dying satisfied for our sins, so Christ as living justifies us from them: * he died for our sins, and rose again for our justification.' As the living goat was to have the sins of the people laid upon him, and he was to carry them away with him into the wilderness, so God laid our iniquities on Christ, and he takes them away, as it were, into the land not inhabited, where there shall be heard of no more; and this is exactly what our text declares, and what God has elsewhere promised. 'Your sins and your iniquities will 1 remember no more—if they be sought for they shall not be found—as far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.'
Thus the guilt of them is for ever removed from true believers: and not only the gvilt, when they are justified, but the power of them is also taken away by sanetification. He who gave his dear Son for us, gives also his Holy Spirit to us. He will not sutler sin to rule. They are united to Christ by faith, and 'sanctified by the faith that is in him.' Yea, finally, he will remove sin altogether: its being, as well as its effects. 'The body of sin and death' shall be purified in the grave, and body and soul shall be eternally pure and happy with Jesus.
Further, to recommend to our notice this Lamb of God, the wide extent of his glorious work is mentioned in our text—' he taketh away the sin of the world.' By this expression we cannot understand that lie takes away the guilt and power of sin from every man in the world, for, if so, none would be damned. Alas! we plainly see thousands from whom neither the guilt nor the power is taken away ; we see thousands unconcerned about the removal of their sins; we see thousands who think they can take away their own sins and thousands who despise the blood of Christ, and trample it under their infidel feet. But by the ' world,' and ' the whole world,' we are to understand the whole world of the elect; the whole world of believers; the ' redeemed of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation :' all, in every place, who believe in Jesus, without any distinction. And this expression was often used by our Lord and his apostles, because it was a fond notion of the Jews, that the Messiah was to come only to them; and even the believing Jews at first were offended that the gospel was preached to the Gentiles. It V also for the encouragement of all sorts of sinners, of the chief of sinners, that this general form is used. Those who know and feel that they have a world of sin, a world of guilt, lying upon them, may here find comfort—He taketh away the sin of the world. Yea, doubtless, there was a sufficiency in the blood of Christ to take away all the sins of the world, had if been so appointed. Jf all the whole world were to have been actually saved, there would have been no other offering, no greater offering, nor any more suffering than Christ endured. But Christ had in view his church, his people, his sheep, all of whom shall hear his voice, believe, and be saved. Nevertheless, the universality of the phrase is a great encouragement to sinners who are seeking salvation; for no sinner, in all the world, let him be who he will, or what he will, shall be excluded from the benefit of Christ's death, if he come to him by faith. 'Him that cometh to me,' said he, '1 will in no wise cast out,' Y
II.'T^e are now to consider what that attention is, which we are here called upon to pay to Christ, Behold, behold the Lamb of God!
When John spake these words, Jesus was in sight; Jesus was coming to him. John pointed to him with his finger; but he did not mean that his disciples should only look at him with their bodily eyes, but that they should become his disciples and followers, which they did; that they should view him by faith, as the promised Messiah; and admire, receive, and prize him as the Saviour of the world. We cannot now see Christ with our bodily eyes, but yet, by divine grace, we may look unto him by faith, and be saved.
Our attention to Christ is required by the gospel. Let us turn away our eyes from beholding worldly vanities. The eye is never satisfied with seeing them; it always craves something new. But here is the grandest object that ever eyes beheld. Do men eagerly desire to see extraordinary persons? Here is the most glorious person that ever was seen. The queen of Sheba came from a distant country to see Solomon; 'but a greater than Solomon is here.' When a king or an emperor appears in public, crowds are anxious to behold him, Here is the King of kings, the King of the world. At the assizes, every one wishes to see the judge. Here is the great Judge of quick and dead, from whose sacred lips each of as shall receive onr sentence. Generals and admirals, who have had great success in war, are commonly objects of peculiar regard. Here is the Conqueror of the world, of sin, of hell, who led captivity captive, and bought our freedom with his blood. Here is an Orator, whose words not only move the living, but raise the dead. Here is a Physician, who has cured millions of dying souls, and never failed in a single case. In a word, Behold your SaViour!
It is the look of faith that is chiefly intended. Faith in Christ is described by various names, according to the various names of Christ. When Christ is represented as a foundation, then faith is resting rrpon him. If he be compared to food, then faith is eating and drinking. When he is called a gift, then faith is receiving him. If h« is a refuge, faith is flying to him. When he is represented as calling sinners, then faith is hearing him and coming to him: and here, where Christ is represented as a glorious object, faith is beholding him.
It is represented in the same manner by our Lord himself, John iii. 14: 'As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should nut perish, but have eternal life.' When the Jews were dying by the bite of serpeuts, they were cured merely by lookingat the brazen serpent; so, whoever is ready to perish in his sins, let him "look to Jesus, and he shall be saved.
Looking is an act of the mind; it supposes some knowledge of Christ, which is elsewhere called seeing the Son, and joined with believing on him. It supposes a conviction of the need of Christ; looking to Jesus is the act of him who wants to be saved. It supposes that the soul despairs of finding help from any other quarter: it is looking fixm every thing else, in order to believe in him. It supposes a persuasion of his uhility to save, to save to the uttermost; and it ineludes some humble degree of hope, that looking to him will not be in vain.
Those who thus behold Christ by faith will also behold him with affection. With what eyes, think you, did they look at Christ, who had been healed and helped by him ; the sick, the blind, the lame, the dead, who had felt his miraculous power in their recovery? With eyes melting in tears of gratitude would they gaze on their kind Benefactor, their great Deliverer. O with what joy and love should saved sinners behold the dear Redeemer! Yea, it will be the heaven of heaven thus to behold him for ever.
And now, having considered what a great and glorious object Jesus Christ is, and what regard we ought to pay him, let us ask the question, Have we complied with this easy, pleasant, reasonable command in the text? Have we with attention, with faith, with affection, beheld this dear Lamb of God? Ah, sirs, are not some of your hearts fixed on very different objects ;yourworldly gain, the gaieties of the world, the base lusts of the flesh? Are not these your favourite objects? O consider this, you that forget God! What can all these do for you? Even now they satisfy not. But what will they do for you in a dying hour? O be pursuaded to look to Jesus! How else will you look death in the face; how else will you dare to look the neglected Saviour in the face, when you see him on his throne of judgment r What will all the world think of you, when you shall be pointed out before them, and it shall be proclaimed—' Here is a man that never thought it worth his while to look at Jesus?' Will not all heaven say, 'Let him be damned? If he was not worth even a look let him be banished from him for ever.' O sinner, if you would have Jesus look upon you then, look upon him now ; and if you know not how to do it, pray him to teach you, and ask of him 'eye-salve that thou mayestsee.'
Are any here, who wish that their sins may be taken