Christ Alone Exalted
TO LAY OURT SINS ON CHRIST,
IS ONLY THE LORD’S PREGROGATIVE ONLY,
Sermon 2 of 2 (by this title)
“And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6
I find no scripture so punctually and fully revealing the riches of the grace of God to men, as this that I have now read unto you, surpassing others depending upon it; and I find no truth more clouded, to the trouble of God’s people, than those truths’ that concern the grace of God to men; which hath exceedingly provoked me to improve that talent I have received, to communicate the mind of the Lord, as fully as I may, to them.
Of this truth, upon sundry occasions, I have spoken several things out of these words; each word containing a special observation by itself; every word hath its weight, and speaks admirable grace to the sons of men. God not only punishes Christ for men, but he lays the very iniquities of men upon him. The purity of God naturally can never take pleasure, in a filthy vessel. Should Christ be punished over and over again for the sins of men; yet if, for all this, they lay upon themselves, God must abhor them. There can be no expectance of a smile from the face of God, upon any creature in the world, till it be all fair; and this cannot be, till all spots of sin be taken from them; and this taking away of the filthiness of the creature, is not a kind of supposed taking of it away, but is a real act of God; he makes Christ as very a sinner as the creature himself was: [That is, by imputation, which is a real act of God, and by which all the sins of the sinner are put upon Christ, so that he, standing in his stead, is reckoned in the eye of justice as what the sinner himself is.]: “He was made sin for us,” (2 Cor. 5:21). The Lord laid our very- iniquities themselves upon him: this is the greatest grace the soul can have comfort in, in this life, that iniquity is done away; and, therefore, it concerns all that hear such admirable tidings, to know from whence it comes, who undertakes this great work, to discharge a poor sinner, and to lay all its iniquities on Christ. Had all the creatures in the world undertaken, with all their strength, to lay them on him, it would have broke the back of them all, so much as to lift at sin to lay it upon him; therefore the grace of the Lord is evident in this, that it is he himself that laid iniquity upon him. No undertakers in heaven or earth could have brought this great work to pass, but the Lord alone. It is strange, that Christ should be enabled to undertake so much as he did; yet God did not oblige him to take and lay our iniquities upon himself. Christ learned obedience in this, and waited the pleasure of his Father to lay iniquity upon him, and doth not lay it on himself; “I came not to do my own will (saith he), but the will of him that sent me:” nay, Christ was not the first motive to it; but the thoughts of God’s own love towards poor creatures, were the motives to himself to give him to bear their sins; and if Christ himself doth not lay iniquity upon himself, much less doth the righteousness or man lay it on him. It is not all the prayers, the tears, the fasting, the repentance, though ever so perfect and complete, that lays any one iniquity upon Christ; it is the Lord alone that does it; nay, none of these performances have the least moving power in them to persuade him to it; the Lord moves himself to do it: all our services are for other purposes; they have no prevalency with him at all, no, our faith itself lays not our iniquities on Christ; but, as I said, the Lord lays, Christ bears, our faith doth but see and make evident that, in time, which before was hid and not seen.
We cannot amplify the particulars so largely as necessity requires; I must proceed to what remains behind. Now, beloved, I shall show you clearly, I loupe, that it is not to be imagined, that anything in the world can possibly lay iniquity upon Christ, but, only the Lord himself; for the clearing of which I desire to take some specialties into consideration.
1. None in the world hath anything to do with iniquity, to dispose of it, but only the Lord; and therefore none can lay it upon Christ, but only he. For the better clearing of which, you must understand, that iniquity, or sin “is the transgression of the law: for where there is no law, there is no transgression,” (as in 1 John 3:4), as the apostle Paul speaks: the meaning is this, transgression is a swerving or going astray from the pleasure of God revealed in his law; nothing is transgression, but what is against him, and his mind revealed to men: and whereas in a subordination there may be a transgression against men, one against another; yet all such transgression hath its denomination, not as man’s, but as God’s will is transgressed. As for instance, “Thou shalt not commit adultery;” in the breach of this, here is a transgression of a man against a man; for one man to commit adultery with another man’s wife, is an Aimee against her husband; yet this were not properly a transgression, if it were not a transgression of the law of God made against it; “For where there is no law, there is no transgression.” To come to the purpose in hand, transgression is only against God; for which cause, David, though he committed adultery with Uriah’s wife, and slew him with the sword of his enemy, and therein transgressed against those persons; yet David riseth to the fountain of transgression, and so to the true nature or it, when he confesseth, “Against thee only have I sinned, and done evil in thy sight,” (Ps. 51:4).
And you shall find, when Samuel had been set up to be judge over Israel, and the people began to despise and reject him, because they would have a king, as other people had; there was a sinning against Samuel in subordination; yet the Lord saith, “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me.” They sinned against God principally, and Samuel subordinately, because they sinned against God’s ordinance; Samuel being substituted by God over them.
If sin then be against; God, against whom it is committed, then it is only in his power to dispose of it at his pleasure. Suppose a man owe a debt to another, it is not in the power of a third party to dispose of this debt as he pleaseth, but in the creditor himself only; if a creditor should arrest a debtor, and make him pay, or lie by it himself, it is not in the power of any other to take surety in the stead of this debtor; the creditor may take a surety if he will, and it is at his pleasure, whether a surety shall stand, or be accepted, or no. Every transgression of a man is a debt to the Lord; and, as it is a debt to him, so it is only in his power, and at his pleasure, to dispose it; whether or no, persons shall lie by it till they have paid the utmost farthing themselves; or whether he will take a surety to stand in their room, and pay the debt for them. From hence are these words, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and whom I will I harden:” as much as to say, I will take a surety for as many as I list, and none for as many as I please; such and such, I will take a surety for; and therefore you shall find, that in this business of laying iniquity upon Christ, he goes under the notion of a mediator; he is the mediator of a better covenant, or testament: much as to say, Christ himself will not take upon him, to dispose of the sins committed against the Father; he indeed mediates with him; he is contented, if the Father please to make him a surety, he will see him paid. A mediator is one that comes between men to over-rule them if possible; so Christ deals with the Father, he will become the surety of a better covenant or testament; and accordingly, be the surety for such as God seeth good, and no other-; and the rest they shall, they must lie by it. And therefore you shall see, that for so many as God is contented, Christ should be their surety; he is so far from disposing of their sins upon himself, that though he paid the utmost farthing, and the Father was fully satisfied with it; yet he acknowledged for all that, that this very suretyship of his, instead of others, was an act of grace, and an act of grace to himself; “Thine they were, and thou gayest them me.” How was it a gift? Did not Christ pay well for them? Did not he lay down the price of his blood, a satisfactory price? Yea, he did; yet, “Thou gayest them me,” saith Christ: how so, will you say? I answer, God might have chosen whether Christ should have come to offer satisfaction, or whether he would accept of it made by him the surety; in that he would accept of a price, there was a gift.
2. It must only be the Lord’s work to dispose of the sins of men, to lay them on Christ; nothing else could do it; none but the Lord could qualify and fit Christ to bear the sins of men: none but he alone could do it. Suppose it were in the power of the creature to lay iniquity of men upon Christ, what could this avail, except Christ, when it is laid upon him, should become able to bear it, and not sink under it, when it was laid upon him? therefore none could lay it with effect, but God alone. There are two things that are exceeding necessary, that iniquities might be laid beneficially upon him, and all the world could do neither of them.
1. That he should have a body, wherein to bear iniquity.
2. Having a body, that he should be steeled above natural strength; that that body prepared, should not sink under such a weight.
Now this is the Lord’s own work; nay, all the world could never reach it but he, to furnish Christ with both these; and you shall find both of them intimated in one expression, in “When he came into the world he said, burnt offerings and sacrifices thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me,” (Heb. 10:6-7): they are both intimated in these words, “A body hast thou prepared me:” where you shall find that it is the Lord himself that furnishes him with this body.
1. There must be a body, that he might come to do the will of God; “A body hast thou prepared me, that I should do thy will, O God!” that is, do it in a body. And, 2. note, that this body is not an ordinary one, but prepared; therefore in the margin it is, “a body hast thou fitted me;” as a man fits a case to a thing to be put into it; that builds a house, a fit habitation for himself to dwell in or a fort for some to be fortified in it, he prepares it accordingly; so, “A body hast thou prepared for me,” that is, a body hast thou fitted for me, and steeled it, that it may be of more than natural strength to bear the sins of men. The divine nature is incapable of bearing transgression, therefore there must be a body given and prepared, that may be subject to bear; and this body, because the weight of sin is infinite, and enough to press an ordinary one into hell, must be steeled with an infinite strength above nature, that it may stand steadfastly under it, and firm to the work; therefore the Psalmist tells us, “Thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, thou hast laid help upon one that is mighty:” it is not an ordinary body, that this help must be laid upon, but must be mighty; therefore Christ tells us, in John 4:34, that he himself had received the spirit, not by measure; there was more strength given to him, than ordinary strength, that is common to the creature.
Now, beloved, except any creature in the world could thus furnish Christ, and steel him that he might not sink, to what purpose should any lay iniquity upon him? and therefore in Isaiah 42:16, you shall find, that he doth not only call us out to behold his servant whom he hath chosen, but he tells us, how he disposes of him, that he may be for our use; “Behold my servant whom I uphold—I will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant to the people.” I have kept thee, as well as given thee; the Father must help Christ in this work, as well as give him; there must be furnishing with abilities to the employment, as well as a calling forth to it; to what purpose is it to call a multitude of people to resist a common enemy? What use will they be of, except they be furnished with arms, and all things fitting for the service they are called out unto? If iniquity be laid upon Christ, and he not furnished to bear it, to what purpose is it? He will shrink under the burthen, and we perish in his sinking. It is not of small consequence, therefore, to know that the Lord hath laid iniquity upon him.
3. None but the Lord alone can lay iniquity upon Christ, in that none but he hath so much power over, and interest in Christ, to prevail with him to be content to bear it: all the world could never have won Christ to put his shoulders to undergo such a burthen, but only the power of the Lord prevailed with him. Beloved, it is not such a light weight, to be under, the weight of all the sins of all the elect at once, that Christ should make so light of it, as to take it upon himself: This one complaint of Christ may resolve us of the weight of transgression that was upon him; “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;” and he sweat drops of blood as water, because of that agony his soul was in, by reason of sin that was then upon him; and it made him cry out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” so heavy was it upon him. Who in the world ever had, hath, or ever shall have, so much interest in Christ, to prevail with him to take the sins of his people upon himself, if they could lay them upon him? Though the elect of God reap an unsearchable fruit from hence, yet it is not they, nor their ease, which is the prime motive which prevailed with Christ to bear them; but that which chiefly prevailed with him, was the pleasuring of his Father: he knew well enough how hot the heart of God was set upon this, that the iniquities of men should be borne by him, and carried away from them, and they discharged; now, for the pleasuring of him, he was content to do it; and you shall find much of Christ’s discourse, and of the prophets that spake of him, tending to this; that the eye of Christ was principally upon the pleasuring of his Father in bearing the sins of men: in Isaiah 53:10-12, three times you shall find it expressed, “The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand: he shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied: and it pleased the Lord to bruise him:” still you see the eye of Christ was upon the satisfying of his Father, and pleasuring of him in that he did; that his pleasure should prosper in the work, therefore the hand of Christ takes it; that the Father be satisfied with this, he is content to be in travail in his soul, and to bear iniquity; in that it pleased the Lord to bruise him, therefore was he content to be broken. All the world could never prevail with Christ to undergo it, had it not been that he might give his Father content. It is worth your observation, what is recorded in Hebrews 10:5-7; mark it well, I pray; when Christ comes into the world, he saith, “Sacrifice and burnt offerings thou wouldest not, in burnt-offerings and sin-offerings thou hadst no pleasure; then said I, Lo, I come:” observe his motive to come into the world, namely, to do that which burnt-offerings and sacrifices could not do. “There was a remembrance of sin (saith the apostle) every year, since the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin;” therefore the Lord was not pleased and contented with burnt-offerings and sacrifices; upon this, saith Christ, “Lo, I come;” as if he had said, seeing they cannot give thee content, that thou mayest have pleasure, lo, I come to do the work thoroughly, that thou mayest be satisfied.
4. None but the Lord could lay iniquity upon Christ, because, none but he could give him a fit and proportional reward for bearing it. It is fit everyone should have consideration for the work he doth; and it is most certain, Christ in undertaking to bear the sins of his people, hath an eye to a proportional consideration for it; now none but the Lord could give him it; therefore, none else could win him to lay iniquity upon him. In Hebrews 12:2-3, it is plain that Christ had an eye to some good consideration; “Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, and despised the shame, and now sits at the right hand of God.” He did not only suffer, but also despised the shame that sin brought upon him; for he being made sin, became also a shame, and he despised that, and what was that which moved him to it? It was joy; and what was that joy? “He sits at the right hand of God his Father;’’ and who could thus reward Christ but the Lord? And, beloved, you shall find that God, when he puts him on to bear the sins of men, he proposes rewards to him for his encouragement: in Psalm 2:6-8, where he speaks of anointing of Christ to be his “King upon his holy hill;”
“Ask of me, (saith he) and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth, for thy possession:” here is that which God will give to Christ, and wherefore doth he make this deed of gift to him, but that it may be a reward to him for his sufferings, and so encourage him to the work? And for this purpose; let us consider that passage in Philippians 2:6-10; “Who, being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God; but took upon him the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross:” (mark what follows) “Therefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name, that at the name of JESUS, every knee should bow, both of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus is the Lord.” Here you see expressly, how the Lord rewards him for this very thing, that he “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” while “he thought it no robbery to be equal with God.”
And, indeed, beloved, no marvel that the Lord will propose such a reward to Christ, to make him satisfaction for the taking, upon him the sins of men; for consider men as they were to bear their own transgressions themselves, and as some are yet to bear them; alas! what payment was the Lord likely to have! payment like that of broken debtors: he must have given time; to all eternity, before he could have his debt paid; whereas Christ, coming into the world, makes round, present, and ready payment; he pays all at once: and is not this a good reparation? When as a debtor is broke, and the creditor has to stay many years for his money, and take it by piece-meal too, would it not be thank-worthy for one to come now, and pay down the full sum upon the nail, ready money? When Christ came into the world he paid down all at once; God hath all from him (as they say) in ready cash. From hence there is a translation of the debt from us, broken debtors, to one that is mighty; he bears the burthen, and pays the debt for us; the Lord is satisfied to his content, and he requites him for it. Now if all that we ever did, or can do, be not a requital of him, how can we expect that we should lay our iniquities upon Christ?
Now for application: If it be the Lord himself that lays our iniquities upon Christ, it is but meet and right that he should have “the praise of the glory of his own grace;” and that nothing in the world should go away with the praise of it from-him. I remember a complaint of the poet, who, it seems, had made some verses that carried some credit with them, and some foister [falsifier] had taken it upon himself; “I have made the verses, and another hath the honor of them; as the bee makes honey, and another hath the fruit of it.” Beloved, it may be the just complaint of the Lord to the sons of men; I have laid the iniquities of you all upon Christ, and everything almost runs away with the honor of it; as if something else did ease you of the burthen of them, and I am neglected. Now so long as you have these vain conceits in you, that anything you do becomes your ease, and the lightening of the burthen of your sins, they will go away with the praise that is due to God. To whomsoever we apprehend ourselves beholding, as we say, for such a courtesy, such a one shall go away with the praise of it: (2 Sam. 16:1-2), I remember how Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, Saul’s son, came to David with the stolen goods of his master, and pretended that it was his own courtesy to David that he had brought so many mules, and a large quantity of provision; David asked for his master, he belies his master, and tells him he abides at Jerusalem, hoping that Israel would set the crown upon his head; but mark it well, whilst that David is possest that Ziba is he that hath done him a courtesy, he shall go away with the glory of it, and Mephibosheth shall be neglected;. and David gives all the land of Mephibosheth to Ziba upon this mistake, and so he carried away all the praise of the courtesy from Mephibosheth. And so it is most true, beloved, as long as we reckon our own holy duties, repentance, and enlarge, merit in prayer, &c. as the bringers of refreshment to our spirits; and the unloaders of our hearts from our transgressions, that are the burthen of the soul; so long these are exalted above measure. Hence these strange epithets and expressions are fixed to them: “Oh! the omnipotency of repentance! and of meeting with God in fasting and humiliation! oh! the prevalency of tears to wash away sin!” They supposing that these ease us of the weight of sin, go away with the glory. Oh! who is omnipotent but the God of heaven! What washes away the sins of men but the blood of Christ? Shall we give the glory to Ziba that is due to Mephibosheth? In 2 Samuel 19:24, you shall hear how Mephibosheth makes his apology for himself, and pleads his sincerity to the king, and declares how his servant, had abused him; and then David restored half his lands again to him; but yet Ziba must share with him still.
Oh! beloved, I desire you to deal more equally with God; let him have all the praise; let not Ziba and Mephibosheth divide the land; let not your performances share with God in the praise of his grace, in laying iniquities upon Christ.
It is God alone that lays your iniquities upon Christ, and your performances cozen you, while they tell you that they ease you of your burthen, and lay it upon him, Oh! turn them out, and let them not share with the Lord in the praise due to his name.
It was the sin of the Jews, when they had gotten a prey, they presently thought it was their own nets and drags that got it; and therefore (saith the prophet) “They sacrifice to their own nets, and offer incense to their drags.” Beloved, you will offer incense to your performances, as long as you go to them to be your deliverers. The deliverance from the weight of your sin; is not from the virtue of anything you do; it is the Lord alone that lays iniquity upon Christ; and, therefore; let him alone carry away the praise and glory of it; let nothing rob him of it.
In paradise the Lord made a large grant to the sons of men in Adam; “Of all the trees in the garden thou shalt eat, save only the tree of knowledge of good and evil:” he reserved that one tree to himself; and but that one; he gave him of his bounty to eat of every one besides; and yet such was his itching humor, that of all others, fain would he be meddling there, till he brought ruin on his own head. In the gospel, all our grants are large; “All are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s: God spared not his own Son, but gave him up to death for us all;” nay more, “I am your God, and you are my people.” He thinks not much to give his Son, nor himself, to his people; there is but one thing he keeps to himself: “My glory will I not give to another, nor my praise to graven images,” (Isa. 43:8); all that the Lord reserves to himself; is but “the praise and glory of his own grace.” Oh! pilfer not that from God, which, when you have it, will do you no good in the world! and seeing he will have only this, do not grudge it him. It is not out of niggardliness that God keeps this to himself; for in Isaiah 42: 6, you shall find that he is bountiful enough, for all that; “I will give thee for a covenant to the people; to open the blind eyes, and to bring the prisoners out of prison:” that will do us more good; and, that he may do us goad, his own Son shall be given for a covenant; but “my glory, that shall not be given to another,” as it follows presently after. Oh! Therefore, let not your performances, be they ever so exact, aspire so high, as to usurp that glory that is due to the Lord alone!
But some will be ready to say, though our performances do not lay our iniquities upon Christ, and, therefore, ought not to have the glory of it; yet, surely, the Lord requires these duties, that he may lay our iniquities upon Christ, and so honor our services as the motives by which he is pleased to lay them upon him.
Do not mistake, beloved, performances are not only not the principal efficiencies, but they are not so much as the instruments, or means, of laying the iniquities of men upon Christ; nay, not as motives: and it is a gross mistake, (I would the truth might shine more clear, that I might undeceive men); men run away, with vain imaginations, that the renewing of faith and repentance is a new laying of iniquities upon Christ; or that the Lord anew lays it on him, when we renew these duties; I say, this is a gross mistake; for God doth not lay iniquity upon Christ upon the performance of them; nay, these have no stroke in it. I would fain know this one thing, Christ being now in heaven, whether he now, before the throne of his Father, actually bears the iniquities of men? Doth Christ stand as a sinner before the face of God in glory? Certainly no unclean thing shall enter into the heavenly Jerusalem; and if, upon the renewing our repentance and faith, our sins we commit are carried from us, and laid upon him in heaven, then he stands besmeared with the sins of men as in heaven, in glory. One sin is committed at this instant by the believer, another at that; and another at a third; and so, from the first moment to the end of the world, there is a continual succession of acts of sin by believers. Well, what do men do? They believe and repent; and what do these do? When men believe and repent, (you say) they lay iniquity upon Christ, and then it is upon him.
How can it possibly enter into the heart of any man, that he that is set down in glory with the Father, having done his work, finished transgression, and put an end to sin, by one sacrifice upon, the cross, should yet still bear the iniquities of men upon him, before him? Besides, beloved, I beseech you consider this one thing; if Christ hath iniquity laid upon him now, and hereafter; as men believe and repent, what course must he take to rid himself of it? If there be iniquity upon him, there must be a way for him to rid himself of it, and it must be taken off most certainly: but when the Lord laid iniquity upon Christ, he, by one offering, did so perfect the work, that he sits down, (saith the apostle in Heb. 10:12), “For ever at the right hand of God; and there remaineth now no more sacrifice for sin. Without shedding of blood, there is no remission.” Wherever sin is found, there must be shedding of blood, or else there is no remission: and if sin be laid upon Christ, there must be a new shedding of blood before it can be taken away.
And therefore you must consider, that this laying of sin upon Christ, is a business that God hath done long ago, and not now to be done; for the text saith not, God lays, or will lay, iniquity upon him; but hath laid it on him: therefore, saith the apostle in Hebrews 9:28, “Christ was once offered to take away the sins of many; and unto them that look for him, he shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Christ himself must appear without sin, that he might have power to prevail with the Lord: it is observable, that while sin lay upon him, and he was forced to bear it, he himself was forsaken of the Father.
In Daniel 9:24, “Seventy weeks shall be determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness;” mark, I pray you; these “seventy weeks” were expired, when Christ was upon the cross, then sin was finished, and therefore he said, “It is finished;” therefore, the laying of iniquity upon Christ, is not a new thing now to be done; neither is it your faith and repentance that lay it upon him, but it is a thing done long ago: therefore cast off gross conceit, as if God did daily lay your sins upon Christ, as you daily renew your faith and repentance.
But what do they then serve for, will you say?
I answer, They serve for this purpose; the Lord is pleased when he hath freely, and of his own accord, pardoned the sins of men, having laid them upon Christ, to reveal himself in this his grace, and manifest to them that which he hath done long before, when they meet with him in prayer, fasting, and ordinances; he is pleased to manifest in them to us, what he hath already done, and not that they are yet to be done, much less that these things do them.
Well, is it the Lord that lays iniquity upon Christ? Then behold matter of admirable consolation: none in the world like this, the Lord hath laid it; if anything else had, but he alone, Men were undone forever. God is unchangeable, “I am the Lord, I change not (saith he) therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed,” That which the Lord doth, is forever, not to be revoked and altered again; that which the creature doth is changeable, but God changes not.
But I must hasten. In the last place, is it then the Lord that lays iniquity upon Christ; then take it off from him who dare, and bring it back again to the poor soul, from whom the Lord hath taken it, and laid it upon him: who art thou that darest to dispute against God? Hath not the potter power over the clay, to make of one lump a vessel of honor, and another of dishonor? If the Lord is pleased of his good will and free grace, to make thee a vessel unto honor, by purging thee thoroughly from sin; and laying it upon Christ, wilt thou dispute with God, and say thy iniquities are not laid upon him?
In Genesis 48 Joseph brings his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, to Jacob his father, to be blessed by him before he died; he brings Manasseh, and sets on Jacob’s right band, and Ephraim on his left hand; but Jacob, when he began to bless there, changed his hand, and put his left hand upon Manasseh the eldest, and his right hand upon Ephraim the youngest: Mark, what saith Joseph then? “Not so, my father, for this is the eldest; yea, I know it my son, I know it, (saith Jacob) very well:” that is not the purpose, Manasseh “shall be great, but his younger brother shall be greater than he:” Joseph would needs correct his father, thinking he did not prudently in that he did, and that his hand was not placed right, and therefore he would be mending it. Just so we judge of God’s proceedings, in the dispensation of his grace to men; we think that he deals imprudently, when he lays his right hand of mercy upon the head of a notorious sinner, an enemy; and his left hand of severity upon an elder brother, a sincere man, one that walks uprightly: not so, my father, say men, that is a wicked man, a notorious sinner; this is an honest, righteous, and godly man; this is the elder, lay thy right hand of grace upon him: I know very well, (saith God) what they are; it is my pleasure; the youngest shall have the blessing, and the eldest go without it; “you are righteous in your generation, (saith Christ) but the publicans and harlots shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, and yourselves shall be shut out.” Beloved, let the Lord lay his hand where he please, and let him dispose of iniquity as he seeth good, and lay whose sins he please upon Christ: Even while we were enemies we were reconciled:” Let no man therefore look upon human prudence, nor discourse according to reason; but let us look upon the act of God in dispensing of his grace, as he who is wisdom itself, orders it; and know that he which cannot err, disposeth of iniquity, and layeth it upon Christ; and whom he blessed, is, and shall be blessed. I may speak of the act of God, in laying men’s sins upon Christ once passed, and set forth the unchangeableness of it, by that act of Isaac blessing Jacob, though Jacob got the blessing by deceit from his father, making him to believe, that he was his eldest son; and Esau in afterwards for the blessing, saith Isaac, “I have blessed him, and he shall hall be blessed:” shall Isaac, a man, stand to what he hath done, though gotten from him by mere cheat; and shall the Lord change in what he hath done; having laid iniquity upon Christ, shall he take it off again? “He is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent;” and therefore, beloved, you may take up that glorious challenge of the apostle in Romans 8. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” There is the ground of all so say to your own spirits, who shall call me to account for my sins? Who shall lay them to my charge? Who will make me bear them on my own back? It is God himself hath taken them off, and discharged me: “It is God that justifieth me:” if man had justified me, he might have been mistaken; had he pronounced me innocent, I might have borne my sins still. “Christ died, or is rather risen again;” wherefore, who shall lay anything to our charge? And so you may trample over all the accusations of Satan upon this very consideration, that God “hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”