THE SWORD OF JUSTICE AWAKENED AGAINST GOD’S FELLOW
This was an
Action‑sermon, preached immediately before the celebration of the Lord’s
“Awake, O sword,
against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord
of hosts.” Zechariah 13:7
This text, sirs, is a very wonderful one; as ever a poor mortal man preached upon; for in it there is a cloud, a black cloud, a cloud of divine wrath and vengeance, a bloody cloud, the cloud of Christ’s bloody passion, which we are to celebrate the memorials of this day; but, like the cloud that led Israel in the wilderness though it had a black side towards Christ, yet it has a bright and light side towards all the Israel of God; for this cloud of blood distils in a sweet shower of blessings unto poor sinners: there is a light in this cloud wherein we may see God, in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.
This verse presents us with a clear prediction of the sufferings of Christ; and the disposition of his disciples thereupon: “Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered; and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones:” which our Lord expressly applies to himself, and his disciples, (Matt. 26:31; Mark 14:27). So that we need not stand to inquire, of whom the prophet here, or rather, of whom God here speaks; for the words of our text are the words of God the Father, giving orders and commission to the sword of his justice, to awake against his Son, when he had undertaken to become our surety. More particularly in the words you may notice these three things:—
1. A solemn call and summons given to God’s vengeance, or vindictive justice, to rendezvous its forces, and march forth in battle array, in all circumstances of terror: “Awake, O sword.”
2. The party against whom this dreadful battle is proclaimed, this terrible sword is brandished; must it not be against sinners? nay, but the sinner’s surety: “against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow:” not against the sheep, but the shepherd; not against a shepherd simply; but against my shepherd; not against mankind, but a man; not against a man simply, a mere man, but “the man that is my fellow;” mine equal.
3. By whose orders, or at whose instance this summons to the bloody battle is given; why, it is the Lord of Hosts that says it: it is he that gives the commission, and orders the sword to be drawn.
Now, the summons is very awful, “Awake, O sword, against him;” if he will be a surety, he must be a sacrifice; if he will be a sacrifice he must be slain: for, without shedding of blood there is no remission.” It is not a charge to a rod to correct him but to a sword to slay him; for “Messiah the Prince must be cut off, though not for himself,” (Dan 9:26). It is not the sword of war to which he gives this charge, that he may die in the bed of honor; but the sword of justice, that he may die as a criminal upon an ignominious tree. This sword must awake against him; it must not rest, cannot be quiet nor satisfied, till it be drunk in his heart’s blood. It is not called upon to awake and fright him, but to awake and smite him. Not with a lazy, drowsy blow, but an awakened one; even a horrible, terrible blow.
The party against whom the sword is called to awake is very glorious; the description of him here is very magnificent; “Awake against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow;” described in his office, my Shepherd; in his person, God‑man, my Fellow. Men thrust him through as a foolish shepherd, and God thrust him through as the good shepherd, as his own shepherd, the shepherd of his own flock, that he might purchase the flock of God with his own blood. As mediator he is God’s shepherd, who undertook to feed the flock, and to lay down his life for his sheep: and against the man that is my fellow; or, the man my fellow; the man who is God as well as man, who thought it no robbery to be equal with God.
Finally, the party giving these orders to incensed justice to awake against him is as wonderful; the Lord of Hosts; that
Jehovah that has all the hosts of heaven, earth, and hell at his call; the Lord of hosts; that is, Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God, essentially considered, giving a commission to infinite justice to awake against the second Person of the Godhead, considered as Surety and Mediator, God‑man.
Now, from the words thus shortly opened, we might observe many doctrines, but I confine myself to this one namely:—
Observation: That by special orders from Jehovah, the great God of Hosts, the man Christ, his Shepherd and Fellow, did fall a sacrifice to the awakened sword of infinite justice. “Awake O sword.”
When nothing among the creatures could be found to deliver the soul of the sinner, from going down to the pit, God himself found a ransom; he found an atonement, (Job 23:24), by setting forth Christ to be the propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness, —that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus, (Rom. 3:25,26). We sinful creatures, both ministers and people, should all have fallen a sacrifice to the sword of God’s wrath and vengeance forever, because of our sins; but behold he finds a ransom; he sets forth Christ to be the propitiation. Whenever he is set forth, the sword falls upon him, and awakes against him who was the shepherd, that the sheep might escape.
I might here premise many useful particulars presupposed in this doctrine, namely, That it supposes a covenant of works broken, and so justice enraged against men: a covenant of redemption made; a counsel of peace between Jehovah and Christ, for man’s relief and, which I reckon much the same with the former, a covenant of grace established in Christ; he engaging to fulfill the condition of the covenant of works, which we had broken; to obey the law, which we had transgressed; to satisfy the justice, which we had offended, to bear the wrath, which we had incurred; whereupon the sword of the Lord awakes against him, and all the squadrons of enraged fury march forth against him, with infinite horror and terror; “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd.” —But omitting all that might be supposed, and presupposed to this doctrine, I shall endeavor to confine myself as closely as possible to the several parts of the text and doctrine, by prosecuting it in the following method; namely
I. To inquire into the Character of the person against whom this sword doth awake.
II. The Nature and quality of this sword that did awake against him.
III. How this sword did awake against him; by showing what may be imported in this expression, “Awake, O sword.”
IV. What special hand the Lord Jehovah, the Lord of Hosts, had in ordering or calling of this sword to awake against this glorious person.
V. The Reasons of the doctrine, why the Lord of Hosts ordered the sword of justice to awake against his Shepherd, and the man that is his Fellow.
VI. Draw some Inferences for the application of the whole, in a suitableness to the work of the day.
I. Who is this that the sword of justice must awake against? The character of the person is very great and glorious, in the words of our text, “My shepherd, the man that is my fellow;” that is, in short, God‑man Mediator; for, being here described in his person and office, I shall touch a little at both in the following order:
1. His divine nature, as God’s fellow. 2. His human nature, “the man that is my fellow.” 3. The conjunction of both these in one person, “The man that is my fellow.” 4. His mediatorial office, my shepherd.”
1st, Consider this account we have of his divine nature; “My Fellow, saith the Lord of hosts.” Let Arians and Socinians blaspheme this wonderful person, here is an article of our creed, that Christ is God’s fellow, God’s equal, “Who being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God;” and therefore he himself says, (John 10:30). “I and my father are one.” But here consider, 1. Wherein he is God’s fellow: and, 2. Why, as our Redeemer, it behooved him to be God’s fellow.
1. Wherein, or in what respect. is he God’s fellow? I answer, He is God’s fellow, not as he is Mediator, taking upon him the form of a servant, and becoming the Father’s servant in the work of our redemption; but he is God’s fellow in these six respects.
(1.) He is God’s
fellow in point of nature and essence; Christ is God essentially, as well as
the Father, and the Holy Ghost, though personally distinct from both; for,
neither the Father nor the Holy Ghost were incarnate, or took on our nature,
but Christ the second person of the glorious Trinity: who, though personally
distinct yet is essentially one with the Father and Spirit, “In the
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,”
(John 1:1): And it is sure there is but one God, “Hear, O
(2.) He is God’s fellow in point of property; even in all his essential properties, which is much the same with the former. Is God omnipotent? so is Christ; he is the wonderful council, the mighty God. Is God omnipresent? so is Christ; “Lo I am with you always, to the end of the world.” Is God omniscient? so is Christ; “Thou that knowest all things, knowest that I love thee,” says Peter. Is God unchangeable? so is Christ; “The same yesterday, to‑day, and for ever.” Is God eternal? so is Christ; “Before Abraham was, I am:” He is the King eternal, immortal, the only wise God, He is God’s fellow in all these respects.
(3) He is God’s fellow in point of will and consent; what the Father wills, Christ wills; hence it was his meat and drink to do his Father’s will, who sent him; “I delight to do thy will, O my God.” It is true, as man, he had a will distinct from his will as God, and so diverse from the Father’s will; though yet this did act still in subordination to the will of God: hence when the bitter cup is put to his mouth, he prays, “O my Father, if it be thy will, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done:” yet, as God, his will is one and the same with the Father’s will.
(4) He is God’s fellow in point of work: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work,” (John 5:17). —Christ’s works are not only like unto the Father’s but the same in substance, as flowing from one and the same essence and power; for, “What things soever the Father doth, these also doth the Son likewise,” (John 5:19). He acts not as an instrument subordinate; but, as there is an unity in the work, so also in the manner of it; by the same power, wisdom, liberty, and authority; only the order of operation being observed and we find all the works proper to God, ascribed to Christ; as creation, “All things were made by him:” Preservation, “Upholding all things by the word of his power:” Redemption: the donation of the Spirit; raising himself from the dead; the institution of ordinances and officers in his church; and the judging the world in all these he is God’s fellow.
(5) He is God’s fellow in point of honor and worship: all men are to honour the Son, even as they honor the Father; they are to believe in him, “Ye believe in God, believe also in me,” (John 14:1); they are to hope and trust in him, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way. If once his wrath begin to burn, blessed are all they that trust in him.”
(6) He is God’s fellow in point of happiness and felicity, “Of whom concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever, Amen,” (Rom. 9:5). As he was blessed and happy from all eternity in his Father’s bosom, being ever by him, and brought up with him, and being daily his delight; rejoicing always before him, and rejoicing in the habitable parts of the earth, and his delights with the sons of men, (Prov. 8:30,31); So he ever was and will be blessed with him. It is true, there was a time when the Son of God was humbled; when this God, blessed forever, became a curse for us; but notwithstanding, his essential glory was never diminished; as God, he was as happy and blessed on the cross, and in the grave, as ever he was. —Well, thus, as God, is he every way God’s fellow. O! how fearfully was he humbled! God’s fellow, and yet a babe, a servant, a sufferer, a sacrifice to the awakened sword of justice. The governor of all becomes a subject: should an emperor become a fly, it would not be such a humiliation. O! how sadly was the world mistaken about Christ, that took him to be a base fellow, a pitiful fellow! but little did they know that he was God’s fellow. O! how glorious is the love of Christ to sinners! God’s fellow receiving the stroke of the sword of divine justice in their room.
2. Why he behooved to be God’s fellow that was our Redeemer? It was necessary that our Redeemer should be God’s fellow.
(1.) In regard of Merit: his obedience to the death could not be sufficient to satisfy the law and the lawgiver; to be a full ransom, and a full price of redemption, if it had not been truly and properly meritorious; and this it could not be, if he had not been God’s equal as well as man. Our sins were an infinite evil, and God’s justice required infinite satisfaction: now, there could be no satisfaction of infinite value, but by a person of infinite value; and there is no such person but God: and therefore our Redeemer must be God’s equal, otherwise he should not give the satisfaction required.
(2.) In regard to power; our Redeemer must be such an one as could go through all the difficulties that lay in the way of redemption, triumphing over all opposition from God, men, and devils, from heaven, earth, and hell. The weakest of these were too strong for human nature; therefore that our Redeemer might overcome death, bind the strong man, break down the gates of hell, cut in sunder the bar of sin, he must be God as well as man, even God’s equal, God’s fellow. And that he might be able for the application, as well as the impetration of man’s redemption, not only able to save to the uttermost, all them that come to God through him, but able to draw poor stubborn souls to himself, by his own power, and make them willing.
(3.) Our Redeemer must be God’s fellow in regard of the dignity of the work: his honor and dignity, in being a Redeemer and a Mediator between God and men, was too great for any creature, supposing any creature had been able for it; this crown of glory was not fitting for any mere creature’s head. An office of dignity, on an unworthy person is most unsuitable: this dignity was so great, that even Christ himself, though God’s equal, might not take it upon him, till he was called to it of God, (Heb. 5:4,5).
(4.) Our Redeemer must be God’s fellow, in regard of the covenant of grace, which was the ground work and foundation of all: since our Redeemer was to make a covenant with God for us, it was necessary that he should be with God at the making of it, and know the depths of God’s counsel in it, and perfectly know for whom he was to satisfy, and upon what condition. Now, this covenant being as ancient as eternity; and seeing God should have our Redeemer by him, to conclude the covenant and bargain with him, who of all the creatures were capable of this? who, of all the creatures, have known the mind of the Lord, and being his counsellor have taught him? God might have said to all the creatures, as to Job, in another case, (Job 38:4), —“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” Where were you when the plot of redemption was laid? when the names of my redeemed ones were put in the book of life? But our Redeemer was then by him, (Prov. 8:30). He becomes our everlasting Father; begetting us, with the Father in the womb of eternal election.
(5.) Our Redeemer must be God’s fellow in regard of the place he was to have in the covenant, with respect to God: who among all mere creatures was fit to have all power in heaven and in earth committed to him? Power to bequeath such blessings as peace, pardon, reconciliation, justification, and eternal life; power by his blood to confirm and establish all the promises of the covenant? Christ Jesus did, through the eternal Spirit (that is, his godhead), offer up himself, without spot to God; and then the apostle infers, for this cause, he is the Mediator of the New Testament: yea, Christ was to be Surety of this Testament: surety for God to us, to make out all the blessings and promises of the covenant to us; and surety for us to God, to satisfy law and justice in our room; what creature was able to do this? or if any creature should be supposed to be able, was it fit that God should put such a trust in any creature? No.
(6.) Our Redeemer must be God’s fellow in regard of the place he was to have with respect to us: our Redeemer must be the object of our faith and love; what creature in heaven or in earth, could be a sufficient prop and foundation for our faith? Had any mere creature undertaken to be our Redeemer, we could never fully have depended upon him, but would always been afraid he had miscarried therefore it was requisite to quiet our fears, that our Redeemer should be God’s fellow, “He is God, therefore fear not,” (Isa. 35:3), our hearts could never have been at full rest otherwise. I remember, when Israel were going through the wilderness, they were to meet with much opposition; God promises to send an angel with them; it is said, “All the people mourned for these evil tidings,” that God himself would not go up; yea, Moses himself was fearful of the mismanagement of a mere angel; therefore says Moses, “If thou go not with us, carry us not up hence,” (Ex. 33:2,3, 4,15). And again, “Thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send”? (v. 12). They thought his sending of an angel was as good as his sending none at all. Thus, you see, people’s fears would never be quieted by the government of an angel, though one of them was able to destroy a whole host in one night: even so, our hearts could never be at rest, though God sent an angel for our deliverance! therefore God sent his own Son, his Fellow, that he might fully trust him, and depend upon him; that we might place all our satisfaction in him, as a full portion, go as to seek no further. —Thus you see, he is God’s fellow; and why, as our Redeemer, he behooved to be so.
2dly, Consider the account we have of his Human Nature, “The man that is my Fellow.” Here I would shew you, 1. —What kind of a man Christ became. 2. Why our Redeemer behooved to be a man.
1. What kind of a man he became? Why, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us: Great is the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh. —He took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham.” More particularly,
(1) He was a poor man; a man very poor and mean in outward respects: poor in his birth; he was not born of a queen, nor laid in a palace; but born of a poor virgin, and laid in a manger: He was poor in his life; several people ministered to him of their substance yea, “The foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, but the Son of man had not where to lay his head. Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor.” Let not poor people quarrel at their lot; Christ, God’s equal, was a poor man.
(2.) He was a distressed man; “A man of sorrows and acquainted with griefs:” a man of the same infirmities with us, except sinful ones: “In all things it behoved him to be like unto his brethren; that he might be a merciful and faithful high‑priest,” (Heb. 2:17); and, “He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,” (Heb. 3:15). He was hungry, thirsty, weary, tempted, afflicted, and every way distressed. Let no distressed person think it strange that they are so, since God’s fellow was a distressed man.
(3.) He was a true man; he had a true body and a reasonable soul: his body was nailed to the tree; they pierced his hands and his feet: his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. As man he went through all the ages of men; first he was conceived; then he was a babe; next a youth; and at last, came to the perfect stature of a man. But,
(4.) He was a good man, an holy man; immaculate was the conception of the holy child Jesus: we come defiled into the world, but Christ brought no sin into the world with him; and all the devils could not make him sin; for, “The prince of this world could find nothing in him,” either of original or actual sin: “He was made sin for us, who knew no sin; but was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” Never was there such an holy man upon earth, (see Heb. v. 7); “He was heard, in that he feared; or, he was heard for his piety and holiness.” Since Adam fell never was there a man but this, that was heard and accepted of God for his own piety and holiness.
(5) He was a wise man, the wisest man that ever was: Solomon was very wise, but behold, a wiser than Solomon is here. He answered the learned doctors, to their amazement, when he was twelve years old: Yea, all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers, (Luke 2:47). And sometimes asked questions to which no man was able to answer a word, nor durst ask him any more questions, (Matt. 22:46), and no wonder, for he was the power of God, and the wisdom of God; and in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge: and hence he revealed the glorious truths that were before concealed. He was a wise man, indeed. Yet,
(6.) He was a mortal man as we are, and he actually died as we must; he was put to a painful and shameful death; and his cursed death, which yet we may call his blessed death, we are to commemorate this day. This man fell a sacrifice to the awakened sword of infinite justice; the shepherd was smitten and slain, for he was a mortal man; “if it be lawful to call him a man,” as Josephus, a Jew, said. For,
In a word, he is a wonderful man; to all eternity his name shall be called wonderful, (Isa. 9:6). This wonderful man is our peace‑maker with God; “This man shall be the peace when the Assyrian cometh into our land.” This wonderful man is our only covert from the furious storm of divine wrath: “A man shall be an hiding‑place from the storm, and a covert from the tempest.” But,
2. Why must our Redeemer be a man? Why, for the following reasons.
(1.) He must be a man in regard to the transaction between the Father and the Son. Not only was God’s truth engaged in the promise, that the seed of the woman should be sent; that to us a child should be born, to us a Son given, and that a virgin should bring forth a son, and call his name Immanuel, God with us, God in our nature; and not only was God, in his infinite wisdom, resolved in the weakness of our nature, to perfect his own strength, and get the greater glory; and that as “By one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one, many should be made righteous.” But also, it being agreed between the Father and the Son, in the covenant of redemption, or grace, that the Son should offer up a sacrifice for us; it was also agreed that there must be somewhat to offer, (Heb. 8:3). Somewhat of greater value that all the world; for nothing could be a sufficient sacrifice for the expiation of sin. If Christ had not been man, he could have had nothing to offer up as a sacrifice to God; God himself provided a sacrifice, as he did a ram in the room of Isaac: “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not; a body hast thou prepared me.” This body, this sacrifice, was provided in the counsel of peace; and being thus provided, Christ comes cheerfully to offer it, “Lo, I come; I delight to do thy will, O my God.”
(2.) He must be a man
in regard of us; he would not have redeemed us, if according to the law, the
right of redemption had not belonged to him as our kinsman, (Lev. 25:25);
and being man, he is fit to communicate to us the things of God in such a
way, as we are capable to receive. If God should appear to us immediately in
his terrible glory, we should be afraid of him, as
(3.) He must be a man in regard of justice: justice required that the same nature that sinned should be punished for sin, and make satisfaction for sin. God said, “The soul that sinneth shall die:” now, die we must, either in our own persons, or in our surety in our own nature. If any angel had fulfilled the law, what had that been to us? if any angel had suffered God’s wrath, what had that been to us, to man? Though God allowed the change, or commutation of persons, yet not the commutation of natures; the same nature that sinned must suffer.
(4.) He must be a man in respect of the devil; the devil conquered man, and man must conquer the devil: Satan must be foiled by the same nature that was foiled by him; “The seed of the woman must bruise the head of the serpent. For this cause, therefore, the Son of God was manifested in our flesh, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”
(5.) He must be a man in regard of sin, which must be cured by the contrary antidote. Our sin was pride, (Gen. 3:5): being but men we desired to be gods; therefore the cure is by humility, wherefore God becomes man. Man broke the law, and man must keep the law: by our sin we transgressed the boundaries of God’s law; Christ, therefore, is made of a woman, made under the law. Sin defaced the glory of God, therefore he who is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person, becomes of no reputation; and comes in the form of a servant. Sin is a Deicide, striking at the being of God, seeking his life; therefore he that had a life equal with God’s, laid down his life, for the satisfaction of this wrong. “Awake, O sword, against the man that is my Fellow.”
(6.) He must be a man in regard of passability or sufferings; “Without suffering or shedding of blood, there was no remission.” He that will save us then must die for us, and shed his blood for us; which he could not do, had he been merely God; “For God is a Spirit.” He becomes man, that he may be in case to enter the lists with justice: justice could not get at him with one stroke: but as soon as he was man, then, “Awake, O sword, against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts.” But why could not the sword of justice awake against him till he was man? Why, as God, sin could not get hold of him; and so justice could not get a hit of him for sin: the law could not challenge him; the curse could not reach him: but whenever he becomes man, our surety, then they all flee about him; and compass him about like bulls of Bashan. As he becomes a man for us, he becomes sin for us; and then he lay open to the curse; and justice took him by the throat; the sword awaked. When Christ saw the dreadful sword of wrath, that was to be thrust through his heart, indeed it put the man to his knees, “Father, let this cup pass from me;” the human nature trembled, and sweat great drops of blood, in his proleptic agony: However, the man was God as well as man; and therefore he wrestled through. This might lead me,
3dly, To show you the need of his being both God and man in one person: “The man God’s Fellow.” The cause of God and the cause of man is referred to Christ; therefore he partakes of both natures, that he may be faithful to God, and merciful to man: a fit Mediator between God and man, to lay his hand upon both parties, while he partakes of both natures. —Our Redeemer must be both subject to the law, and fulfill the law meritoriously: now, if he had not been man, he could not be subject to the law; and if he had not been God, he could not have merited by fulfilling the law: but now, being God‑man by his obedience, he hath magnified the law and made it honorable. —Our Redeemer was to give his soul an offering for sin: now, if he had not been man, he could not have had a soul to offer; if he had not been God, his soul could not have upheld itself; but must have died when his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: but now, his divine nature did support his human body, and his human soul, tinder the weight of that burden which would have crushed a world of men and angels. —Our Redeemer must both suffer and satisfy: now, if he had not been man, he could not have suffered; and if he had not been God, he could not have given satisfaction by his sufferings; but, being God‑man, his sufferings are dignified with infinite value and virtue. —Our Redeemer must both die for us, and conquer death: now, if he had not been man, he could not have died; and if he had not been God, he could not have destroyed death, conquered death: but now, “He is declared to be the Son of God with power, by his resurrection from the dead.” There is the man that is God’s fellow. But, now,
4thly, Consider the account we have of his mediatory office, “My shepherd.” Here you may a little view, 1. How he comes to be called a shepherd. And, 2. How the Lord of hosts comes to call him his shepherd; “My shepherd.”
1. Then, how is he
called a shepherd. This will appear by noticing a few scriptures wherein he
is so designed. He is called the shepherd of
2. How does the Lord of hosts come to call him His shepherd? “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd.” Why, he is God the Father’s shepherd in several respects; which I touch at only in a word.
(l.) He is God’s shepherd, because God made him so; he has the Father’s commission for this effect,— “Him hath God the Father sealed,” (John 6:27) —Christ was appointed and authorized; he was elected for this effect; “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth.” He transacted with him for this effect; “I have made a covenant with my chosen.” He formally called him to this employment, and set him up to be a shepherd, “I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them; he shall be their shepherd,” (Ezek. 34:23). He qualified him for this work, by a supereminent [Eminent in a superior degree] unction; “I have put my spirit upon him, and he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.”
(2.) He is God’s shepherd, because God gave him the sheep, “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me,” (John 17:6): thine they were by election, and thou gavest them me, to be redeemed by me. This donation of the sheep to Christ is begun in election, and accomplished in effectual vocation; “All that the Father hath given me, shall come to me.”
(3.) He is God’s shepherd, because God recommends all his sheep to his special care, “This is the Father’s will, which has sent me, that of all which he has given me, I should lose nothing,” (John 6:39). God has given him the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost ends of the earth for his possession. All whom he chose to be the objects of his special love, he lodges as a trust in the hands of Christ: he gave him the charge of the sheep, and his instructions are, not only to lose none, no not the least of them, the weakest of them; but to lose nothing, and as he will lose none, no person; so he will lose nothing, no part of the person; neither soul nor body.
(4.) He is God’s shepherd: Why? God appointed him to lay down his life for his sheep, “I lay down my life for my sheep; I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again: this commandment have I received of my Father,” (John 10:13). Christ suffered death, not only voluntarily, but in a way of subjection to his Father, that so the merit of his death might be every way full and acceptable to the Father. And so again,
(5.) He is God’s shepherd, because God approves of his undertaking and work, as his shepherd, and loves him for this very reason, (John 10:17). He approves of his doing and dying: his soul is delighted in his shepherd; “Mine elect in whom my soul delighteth.” He openly declares his affection in him. “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness sake.”
(6.) In a word he is God’s shepherd, because God the Father and Christ are equally concerned in keeping the sheep, (John 10:27,30). The Father does so entrust Christ with the sheep, as yet he casts not off the care of them; they are in the Father’s hands as well as Christ’s: “He and his Father are one;” though personally distinct, yet essentially one. The man that is God’s fellow, in this has fellowship with the Father, that the Father’s sheep are his sheep; and his sheep are the Father’s sheep: and they are equally concerned and engaged in keeping the sheep; only Christ as mediator, is engaged for them as the Father’s servant and commissioner; My shepherd. —Now, thus much concerning the character of the person whom the sword of the Lord of Hosts must awake against: and? O if we had a view, by a saving faith, of this glorious one, God’s shepherd, the man that is his fellow, God‑man mediator, we could say no less than that he is white and ruddy, the chief among ten thousands. The white and red of his infinitely fair face would charm and allure us. Now,
II. The second thing, what for a sword must awake against this man? Why, in general, it is the sword of God’s awful justice; which is metamorphically called a sword, because of its terrible piercing, wounding, killing nature. Now the strokes of this sword, are either mediate or immediate. 1. Mediate, by the hands of men; particularly the sword of the civil magistrate: Or, 2. Immediate, by the hands of God himself, without the intervention of such outward means. Now, the sword of justice, that awaked against Christ, and smote the shepherd, is to be considered in both these respects; for his suffering, as our surety, by the stroke of justice’s sword, was both external upon his body, and internal upon his soul.
(1.) There was his external sufferings in his body: and herein justice did strike more mediately by the hand of man, and especially in his severest bodily sufferings, justice did employ and make use of the sword of the civil magistrate. Magistrates have the sword of civil power and authority put into their hands, and they ought not to bear the sword in vain: they are a power which God has ordained, and armed with the sword for the punishment of malefactors; though this be the right use of the magistrate’s sword, yet sometimes the magistrate makes unjust use of it; as in this case, when the civil government, Herod, Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together against the holy child Jesus, (Acts 4:27). But whatever injustice was therein, on man’s part, yet on God’s part, impartial justice did therein act, while it did thereby bring about the death and sufferings of the surety, which the hand and counsel of God determined before to be done, (Acts 4:26).
(2.) There were his internal sufferings in his soul; and herein justice did strike more immediately; for, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him, and to make his soul an offering for sin,” (Isa. 53:10): Thus the sword of justice was such as pierced both his soul and body. This two‑edged sword was edged with the violence of earth, and with the fury of heaven; it was edged with the curse of the law, and with the wrath of God. But more particularly, what for a sword is this? O rouse up your ears and hearts to hear and consider what for a sword it was that awaked the man that is God’s fellow!
1. It is a broad sword; so broad that it covers all mankind, and hangs over all Christless sinners, who would all have fallen a sacrifice to it, unless Christ had come between them and it. When this sword did awake against Christ, he found it as broad as the curse denounced against mankind, upon the back of our fall in Adam, which you may read, that you may the better understand what the man that is God’s fellow underwent, when he substitute himself in our room, and undertook to suffer the punishment due for our sins, the curse pronounced against Adam, and in him against all his posterity, and which, in all the parts of it, lighted upon Christ; you read of it generally, — “In the day thou eastest, thou shalt surely die; or, dying, thou shalt die,” (Gen. 2:17); and more particularly, — “Cursed is the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground, for out of it was thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” (Gen. 3:17,18,19). Where you see the curse has three parts. 1. The frailties and infirmities that human nature was subject to after the fall. 2. The calamities incident to man’s life; “Thou shalt eat thy meat with the sweat of thy brows thorns and thistles shall the ground bring forth.” 3. Death; “Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return:” which has in it the death of the soul as well as the body. Here is an abridgment of all the curses of the Bible; and this broad sword must awake against the man that is God’s fellow, and our surety, for this curse in all its parts seized upon him.
(1.) The first was the frailties and infirmities of human nature, a part of the curse: this seized upon Christ at his incarnation; for his body was of the dust like ours, subject to the like infirmities with ours; he took not on him our nature in its prime and glory, but after broken and shattered with the fall, “He came in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh,” (Rom. 8:3).
(2.) As to the calamities and miseries that attended man’s’ life, this part of the curse seized on him also; he eat his bread with the sweat of his brows, when he followed the calling of an handicraftsman; and after he entered into his public ministry, he travelled from place to place, watched whole nights in prayer; and thus might be said truly to eat his bread with the sweat of his brows. As for other calamities never one met with more; the world denied him a lodging; the fig‑tree denied him figs; he was blasphemed by his enemies, betrayed by one of his disciples, and forsaken by them all.
(3.) As for the death threatened in the curse; why dying, he died indeed; for the sword did run through his body and soul at once, when he endured the curse, and despised the shame; his body was sore tortured, and his soul was sore amazed, and very heavy, (Mark 14:33). His bodily sufferings were extremely great, as you may see from the evangelists; and yet as nothing in comparison of his soul‑sufferings, while he endured the wrath of God immediately upon his soul. —Here was a broad sword indeed, as broad and extensive as all the curses of the law, all the wrath that the elect deserved for their sin; for God designed not to pass one of their sins, without a satisfaction made to justice, but to sue the cautioner for them all: O but he needed a broad back that could bear the shock of such a broad sword! Well, so he had; for he was God as well as man; “Awake, O sword! against the man, my fellow.”
2. It is a long sword: if we may so call it, infinite in length, from the point to the hilt of the sword; it is as long as eternity; and this makes the punishment of the damned eternal, because the sword of divine wrath, that pierces them, is so long, that it never can reach to the hilt, in such finite worms as they are. The duration of the wrath and the curse is eternal: because the sinner, being a mere creature, cannot at one shock meet with the infinite wrath of God, and satisfy justice at once; therefore God supports the poor damned creature for ever under wrath; because it cannot, being finite, satisfy infinite justice: but one shepherd, being God‑man, the man God’s fellow; and therefore being of infinite worth and value, of infinite strength and power, was able to satisfy justice, and bear all at once, that which the elect could never have borne. Yet he met with the essentials of that which sin deserves, viz. death and the curse; the hiding of his Father’s face, and the suspending and keeping back of that consolation, which, by virtue of the personal union, flowed from the Godhead to the manhood; and also, hath the actual sense and feeling of the wrath of God; the awakened sword of the justice of God actually smiting him: so that, though men wondered how he could be dead so soon, not knowing what strokes to infinite justice he met with yet these strokes lighting upon the like of him, the man God’s fellow, was equivalent to the eternal punishments and torments of the damned.
3. It is a bloody and insatiable sword: this sword of justice was not satisfied with the blood of Sodom and Gomorrah; it was not satisfied with the blood of the old world; it was not satisfied with the blood of bulls, goats, and all the legal sacrifices of old; yea, the blood of the whole creation cannot give it satisfaction, though it were bathed therein; without the shedding of more blood, better blood, there is no remission, no satisfaction to justice, no real satisfaction with God; no salvation of the sinner; therefore, “Awake, O sword, against the man that is my fellow;” till it be drunk with the blood of this man, it never gets a satisfying draught of blood. Well then, says this man, “Lo, I come!” let justice take a full draught of my blood: well, “Awake, O sword!” let the blood of this man, my fellow, be shed; shed at his circumcision, shed in the garden, shed in his being crowned with thorns, shed in his being scourged, shed in his crucifying well, thus the blood of God’s fellow was shed. What say you now, O sword of justice, are you pleased? Are you satisfied with blood? Yes, I have got my fill of blood; “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased:” I am pleased and satisfied to the full with his obedience to the death; I have got all the satisfaction I wanted from my shepherd, and I have no more to demand of him, or his sheep either. O glory to God, that ever this bloody and insatiable sword did awake against one that could give it blood enough, satisfaction enough; and yet,
4. It is a dreadful, terrible, flaming, and devouring sword: so it is represented, (Gen. 3:24), where it is said “Cherubims were placed, and a flaming sword, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life.” The least flame of this sword of justice is enough to burn up the whole creation; and, O! how terrible will this sword be forever to them that live and die in a Christless state! The dreadfulness of this sword is nowhere to be seen so lively as in its awaking against the man that was God’s fellow: his human nature trembled at the sight of it; “Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say?” (John 12:27). He saw the dreadful storm coming, the black cloud arising, and so much wrath in it, that he knew not how to express himself. There he cries out, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death,” (Matt. 26:38; Mark 14:34). We never hear of one groan from Christ for all his bloody sufferings; when crowned with thorns, scourged, and laid on the cross; “As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth:” but on the. first entrance of his soul sufferings, he fell a lamenting, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful:” the original words are most emphatic, “He was begirt with sorrow;” he was plunged over head and ears in the wrath of God: all the faculties and powers of his soul were begirt with sorrow; “He began to be sore amazed,” (Mark 14:33). The word signifies the greatest extremity of amazement, and such as makes a man’s hair stand, and his flesh creep; and it is added, “He was very heavy:” if we consult the derivation of the word, it signifies, a sinking of spirit; his heart was like wax melted at the sight of that terrible wrath. But the evangelist Luke has yet a stronger expression, — “Being in an agony, his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood, falling to the ground:” “Being in an agony, engaged in a combat,” as the Greek word signifies: he had before combated with principalities and powers in the wilderness; but now he is combating with the Father’s wrath. He was in agony, and swate great drops of blood: all sweats arise from weakness and pressures of nature; therefore a crying sweat is a cold sweat; but never one, but Christ, swate a bloody sweat; and great drops of blood, in such abundance, that it came through his garments, and fell to the ground: and this was all but the first onset, a little skirmish before the main battle; for the main fight was to be on Mount Calvary, after they trailed him to the cross; then, on a sudden, the curtain of heaven is drawn, the sun loses his light; he was now combating with all the powers of hell and darkness, and therefore the field he was to fight in was dark. The punishment of loss and sense both was due to us for sin, he therefore suffered both: the punishment of loss, for all comfort now fails Christ; angels appeared before strengthening him; but now not an angel dares peep out of heaven for his comfort; yea, now his God fails him, in respect of his comfortable presence: formerly his heart failed him, in some respects, but now his God; which makes him cry out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Never was there such a cry in heaven or earth, before or since; yea, now he suffered the punishment of sense also due to us; for now all the wrath of God was poured down immediately upon his soul: all the sluices of divine fury were opened, and all the waves and billows of his vengeance passed over him. “Darkness was over all the earth:” all things hushed into silence, that Christ might, without interruption, grapple with his Father’s wrath, until he cried, “It is finished, and gave up the ghost.” What think you of this dreadful sword that awaked against our surety, the man God’s fellow, when he was to expiate our sins?
5. It is a bright sword, a clear, a glittering sword: there is no spot of rust or stain upon this sword; no; the sword is spotless. Justice, holy justice: there is no unrighteousness with God. As there is no drop of unrighteousness in the cup of the damned, who are all damned by an act of holy justice; so there was no drop of injustice in the cup of wrath, which Christ, as surety, drank up to the bottom. Christ had said of old, “Lo! I come:” I come to be cautioner, and enter myself in the room of poor sinners, to pay their debt: justice, indeed, could not have required our debt of him, if he had not undertaken it; but having entered himself cautioner for our debt, he became liable to the payment of it: hence, when Christ saw the sword, and was crying, “Father, save me from this hour,” he immediately corrected himself with a but; “BUT for this cause came I unto this hour,” (John 12:27). And in the beginning of the twenty‑second Psalm, which you know is one of the most clear prophecies of Christ’s sufferings, after he had cried out, “My God, my God! why hast thou forsaken me?” (v. 1). Which is not the expression of any quarrelling complaint or discouragement, but of sinless nature, when arraigned before the tribunal of God, affected with the horror of divine wrath, and not being able easily to endure that there should be a cloud between God and him; I say, after these words he adds— “But thou art holy,” (v. 3). He cannot complain of injustice: Thou are just and holy in exacting all the debt at my hand, which I became surety for; I have all the sins of the elect to answer for; and therefore I justify thee, O Father, in giving me this stroke of thy awakened sword: “Thou art holy: Thou art clear when Thou judgest.” —It is a clear, bright, spotless, and holy sword.
6. It is a Living sword: do you think that God is speaking to a piece of cold iron, when he says, “Awake, O sword?” Nay, this sword is God himself, the living God: God’s justice is God himself, a just God. Of this living sword you read, — “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” (Heb. 10:31). They that fall into hell, they fall into the hands of the living God; and there they are an everlasting sacrifice to this ever‑living sword. Christ when he came to satisfy justice, he fell into the hands of this living God; and if he had not been God’s equal, God’s fellow, he could never have got out of his hands again. If this sword be a living sword, even the living God, O but it must be a great and strong sword, as the sword of God is called, (Isa. 27:1). It takes the strength of God to wield it; and so he does here, “Awake, O sword.” It takes the strength of God to bear the blow of it, and so it is here; “Awake, against the man that is my fellow.” One blow of it given to the angels and seraphims, would have brought them all down from the battlements of heaven to the bottom of hell. “Awake O sword;” God is here speaking to himself; as if he had said, Let me arise in my armour of vengeance and fury, and fall upon my shepherd, the man that is my fellow: it is a living sword that can awake itself. Thus you see what for a sword it is that awakes against Christ. O to see and believe this truth this day!
III. The third thing was to show, in what manner this sword did awake against Christ, and what is imported in the phrase, “Awake, O sword.” How the sword did awake against Christ has been partly declared already in the account of the sword itself: however it may a little further appear, in the support of this wonderful call, “Awake, O sword,” &c.
1. “It imports, as if the sword had been sleeping, and now must awake against him: Christ having no sin of his own to answer for, the sword of justice had nothing to lay to his charge; and so was sleeping, as it were, with respect to him, having nothing to say against him, being the infinitely holy God, in himself, until once he made the bargain with his Father, to become our surety and cautioner; and whenever he became sin for us, and took on him our debt, then justice had a right to pursue him; and therefore, “Awake, O sword.”
2. “Awake, O sword,” it imports, that not only while the counsel of peace was held between the Father and the Son, did justice delay the execution, though Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, in the decree and counsel of God, but that after this glorious transaction, the sword deigned against the Son of God, had long slumbered; the sword had slumbered above four thousand years after Adam’s fall; the Lamb was not slain all that time, belt only in dark typical representations of his death; but now, he must be actually slain; therefore, “Awake, O sword.” God was now speaking of the day of Christ, the gospel day in the first verse of the chapter, where our text lies, saying, “In that day, there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin, and for uncleanness:” Now how shall this fountain be opened? Why, the sword of justice must pierce the side and the heart of the Son of God, and so open a fountain of cleansing blood; therefore, when the decree breaks forth, he says, “Awake, O sword.”
3. “Awake, O sword;” it imports, that the sword of justice did not rashly smite the man that is God’s fellow: a man in his sleep, or half‑sleeping, may give a rash unadvised stroke to his fellow; but before God gave the stroke to the man that is his fellow, he did awake his justice, as it were, out of sleep, and proceeded upon the maturest deliberation: “Awake, O sword.” It was no unadvised stroke that Christ got by the sword of justice; it was the fruit of a glorious transaction; neither did the sword strike him without a warrant, by particular orders from the judge of all: It was warranted to brandish itself against him; “Awake, O sword.”
4. It imports, that justice was lively and vigorous in executing the vengeance due upon our surety for our sin: Justice did not give him a sleepy, lazy, drowsy blow: but a strong, lively, awakened blow: as it is said, in another case, “Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord,” (Isa. 52:9); so, Awake, O sword, put on strength. Well, justice arises, as it were, like one out of sleep, puts on its clothes of vengeance, and armor of power, rallies its forces, goes forth with warlike robes, and attacks the man that is God’s fellow with all its force; and acts, like itself, with impartial equity, without sparing our surety, because of his quality, —God spared not his own Son, (Rom. 8:32): Awake, O sword.”
5. “Awake, O sword,” it imports the great concern and earnestness that was in God’s heart to have his justice satisfied: O sword “Awake, O sword.” God speaks here with affectionate concern: “O sword! O justice! thou must be honored, glorified, and satisfied, one way or other; and seeing I have proposed to my eternal Son to bear the stroke of vengeance in the room of elect sinners; and seeing he has undertaken it, my very heart is set upon the accomplishment of this glorious work; my justice is one of the pearls of my crown; I will not shew mercy to the detriment of my justice. A sacrifice I must have, a sacrifice I will have; therefore, Awake, O sword.”
6. I think it imports, not only God’s concern to have his justice satisfied this way, but his great delight in the satisfaction; “Awake, O sword, against the man that is my fellow.” With what infinite pleasure and satisfaction does the sword of justice give the bloody stroke to this glorious person? “It pleased the Lord to bruise him and put him to grief,” (Isa. 53:10). Why, how is this consistent with the ineffable love he had to his eternally beloved? Yes, most consistent: for the Father loved the Son in dying, and for dying; —“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that 1 might take it again,” (John 10:17). He loved his Son for this very act of obedience which he yielded to him: Christ’s obedience to the death was the highest and most acceptable worship and service to God, that ever was, or ever will be; it is a sacrifice of such a sweet smell that it drowned the stink of all the sins of an elect world; a sacrifice more pleasing to God than all their sins were displeasing: and therefore, with infinite pleasure and satisfaction, he says, “Awake, O sword.” This leads me to—
IV. The fourth thing proposed, What special hand Jehovah the Lord of hosts had in making this awful sword to awake against this glorious person? “Awake, O sword, —saith the Lord of hosts.” It was the Lord of hosts, the eternal Father of this eternal Son, that mustered the hosts of vengeance against him, and had the main and principal hand in Christ’s sufferings, which we are to commemorate this day. Jehovah’s hand was supreme in this business; and that in these four respects.
1. It was Jehovah,
the Lord of hosts, that determined all beforehand, and agreed with his Son
for that effect. It was concluded in the counsel of God what he should
suffer, what should be the price that Jehovah
would have, and the sacrifice he would accept of from his hands. It was not
the Jews, nor the scribes and Pharisees, nor Pilate, but principally it was
the Lord’s doing, and the accomplishment of his eternal counsel, —“Herod,
and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of
2. As he, the great Jehovah, the Lord of hosts, determined, that the sword should awake against him, so he prepared the subject capable to receive the stroke of justice’s sword; “A body hast thou prepared me,” (Heb. 10:5). He gave him a nature, a soul and body capable of suffering: the stroke of justice fell only upon the man Christ, upon his human nature; though the dignity of his divine person, did infinitely enhance the merit of his sufferings; yet his divine person, his divine nature was never reached, nor reachable, by the sword of justice; the eternal word was intangible and incapable of suffering, till the word was made flesh. Now, this flesh, this human nature, he prepared.
3. It was Jehovah, the Lord of hosts, that ordered. and overruled all his sufferings, when it came to the execution of his ancient decree. He who governs all the counsels, thoughts, and actions of men, did, in a special manner, govern and overrule the sufferings of the mediator. Though wicked men were following their own designs, and were stirred and acted by the devil, who is said to have put it into the heart of Judas to betray Christ; yet God had the ordering of all, who should betray him; what death he should die; how he should be pierced; and yet not a bone of him broken.
4. It was Jehovah, the Lord of hosts, that had an active hand in reaching the stroke to Christ: he was the chief party that pursued Christ with the sword of justice in his hand: “It pleased the Lord to bruise him, and to put him to grief.” It was he that was exacting the elect’s debt of him; and therefore Christ looked over Pilate and Herod, and all the wicked instruments used in this work, as of no consideration in this matter; he looked over them to the Lord Jehovah his Father, and says to the chief of them, Pilate, (that cowardly, self‑condemned judge), “Thou couldst have no power over me, except it were given thee from above.” It was this interest that his Father had in his sufferings that made him say, “The cup which my Father hash given me shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11). His Father pursued him as a cautioner in our room; and to his Father he cries when the sword is running through his heart; “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” He spared not his own Son, when he cried, but would have him drink out the bitter cup to the bottom: “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts; smite the shepherd.” The message comes from him, and he gave the sword a charge, and orders it to smite him; it was this more than the whips, the thorns, the nails, the spear, that made him cry out. Another and a higher hand brought his soul to more bitterness, than all the sufferings he endured from men. —Thus his soul was crucified more than his body; and his heart had sharper nails to pierce it than his hands and feet.
V. The fifth thing, viz. —The reasons of the doctrine; Why the Lord of hosts ordered the sword of justice to awake against his shepherd, the man that is his fellow? Surely it was necessary, that the sword should awake against him, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things?” says our Lord himself, (Luke 24:26). However innocent he was in himself; yet our sins, which were laid upon him, deserved to be thus treated; and therefore he, as our surety, who had the guilt of the world lying upon him, says, —“O God, thou knowest my foolishness: and my wickedness is not hid from thee,” (Ps. 69:5). These are the words of Christ, of whom David was a type. He had enough of sin imputatively; and our sins had never been expiated, our judge never atoned, our souls never saved, our state never secured, justice never satisfied, the bond never cancelled, if the sword had not awaked against him. Ought he not then to have suffered the stroke of the sword? Yea, he gave his oath for it to his Father from eternity; and all the promises, prophecies, types, and sacrifices of old pointed out this. God was ready to come down with fury in his heart, and red‑hot thunderbolts in his hand, to sink all mankind to hell: and ought not Christ to suffer and interpose? Yea, glory to God that he did. But more particularly,
1. The Lord of hosts the Rector of the universe, designed by this method to rectify what was out of course, by the sin of man, and to bring all things to rights. By the fall, the universal frame suffered a convulsion: the covenant of works was broken; ,the devil was reigning, and raging in the earth; and all the honour of God’s workmanship, in the first creation, was like to be lost. Now, the supreme Rector comes with the sword of justice to rectify these disorders, by drenching his sword in the blood of his eternal Son. Was the covenant of works broken? Behold here is the condition of it fulfilled, by his active and passive obedience; yea, both the two covenants of works and of grace, were at once fulfilled in his obedience to the death: this is the proper condition of each of these covenants. —Was the devil reigning and raging on the earth? Behold! by this blow of justice’s sword, given to Christ, the devil and all our spiritual enemies are destroyed; “For this cause was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” Hence, when Christ is lifted up upon the cross, receiving the stroke of justice’s sword, it is said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now is the prince of this world cast out,” (John 12:31). By death he destroyed him that had the power of death; that is, the devil. By the bruise of his heel, his human nature, he broke the serpent’s head and his power. —Again, was all the honour and beauty of God’s workmanship like to be lost? Behold, the man that is God’s fellow sustaining the stroke of Jehovah’s sword, restores all; —“Then restored I that which I took not away,” (Ps. 69:4). What was taken away? why, the devil, Adam, and Eve took away the glory due to God, the obedience due to the law, and the happiness that belonged to man in his first creation. Well, says Christ, it is much to bring them all back again; but I will do it, though I took them not away. I will restore to man his happiness; he has lost the favor of God, I will restore it, in justification; he has lost the image of God, I will restore it in regeneration; he has lost the fellowship of God, I will restore it, being God’s Fellow: I will bring them to fellowship with God, by sustaining the stroke of the sword which they should have sustained forever. I will restore to the law its due obedience; yea, I will magnify the law and make it honorable, by my obedience to it, in so much that the Lord of Hosts shall be well pleased for my righteousness sake; and so I will restore to God the honour and glory that he lost by the sin of man. And this leads to a—
2. Reason, why the Lord of Hosts made the sword of justice to awake and smite his Shepherd, the man that is his Fellow? Why that thus he might get all his divine attributes glorified in the highest. “Glory to God in the highest,” was the song of angels when he appeared in our nature, to receive this awful stroke, God’s honor was not more impaired and embezzled by the sin of man, than it was restored and repaired by the death of Christ. If all mankind, and all the angels with them, had fallen a sacrifice to the sword of divine justice, it could not have repaired the honor of God for one sin: though they had all been offered up in one whole burnt offering, it could not have satisfied infinite justice; yea, though they had all been damned in hell, to all eternity, justice could never have got full satisfaction. But here is justice glorified to the highest; “By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified;” and at the same time vindicated the spotless holiness and righteousness of God, that it may be known that God is holy and just, who will needs avenge sin in his own Son, the holy and innocent cautioner, when he interposes in the sinner’s room. This is the declared design of God’s awakening the sword of justice against Christ; “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation for sin, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus,” (Rom. 3:25). If God had exacted the satisfaction of the sinners themselves, by sending them to hell, it might have declared his justice and righteousness much but here it is more gloriously declared, and glorified to the highest; for, if we consider Christ in himself, and the elect in themselves, his death and sufferings are more than if all the elect had suffered eternally in hell. Here is mercy also and free grace glorified to the highest, while the sinner is liberated and not put to pay the debt in his own person. Here is divine power glorified to the highest; in the crucifying Christ, whom the power of God supported under that load of wrath that would have crushed ten thousand worlds. Here is wisdom glorified to the highest; “The manifold wisdom of God,” that there should be two natures, yet but one person; that mercy should be fully magnified, and yet justice fully satisfied; that sin should be punished, and yet the sinner unpunished: that the sinner should escape, and yet God should take vengeance upon sin. O the wisdom of God in a mystery!
3. Reason why the Lord of hosts ordered the sword of justice to awake and smite the Shepherd, the man that is his Fellow; it was even for the honor of the Shepherd, and the glory of the man his fellow. God designed that for his suffering of death, he should be crowned with glory and honor, (Heb. 2:9). That for his humbling himself, and becoming obedient to the death, he should be highly exalted above all, and have a name above every name, (Phil. 2:9). That for drinking of the brook in the way, he should lift up his head; that after he had drunk of the brook of divine wrath in our room, he should lift up his head above all principalities and powers, and have all power in heaven and earth given to him, and a number of elect to praise him forever. O it is a wonderful thing to think, what he gave, and what he got! What gave he? His body, his soul, his blood, his life: What got he? Even some of the black, ugly race of Adam to embrace him? he makes his soul an offering for sin, and then he sees his seed, he sees the travail of his soul, and is satisfied. He thinks all his pains well bestowed, when he gets his bride in his arms. O here is love! behold incarnate love! bleeding love! dying love! Shall not this glorious lover be exalted of God forever, and exalted by all the Redeemed with the highest praises, for opening his breast to receive the wound of the awakened sword of justice! yea, more, the song will be, “Worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain. Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.” And this leads to the—
4. And last reason, why the sword of justice was ordered to awake and smite the shepherd, the man that is God’s fellow, viz. That a fountain of blood might be opened for the benefit of the sheep. The shepherd was smitten with the sword of justice, that the stroke might open a fountain for the watering of the sheep; —“There shall be a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness,” (Zech. 13:1). A fountain for watering and washing of the sheep. And how is it to be opened? even with the sword of justice; “Awake, O sword, against the man, my fellow.” Now, the shepherd’s blood, shed by the sword of justice, is for the benefit of the sheep many ways: Why?
(1.) It is a peace‑speaking blood; it speaks better things than the blood of Abel: It speaks peace and reconciliation with God, which is founded upon the blood of Christ: this is the wine that cheers the heart of God and man. The justice of God took a drink of this blood till it was cheered and satisfied: and when the soul of the sinner gets a drink of this blood, O but this red wine rejoices his heart.
(2.) It is heart cleansing blood; the blood of the shepherd, shed by the sword of justice, is for the washing of the sheep; “The blood of Christ cleanses from all sin.” It cleanses meritoriously from the guilt of sin, in justification; it cleanses efficaciously from the filth of sin, in sanctification: it cleanses only; for no means, no duties, no tears, no prayers, no sermon, no sacrament, no ordinances, no communion‑table, will cleanse you from sin, but only the blood of Christ. It cleanses infallibly; for all the devils in hell, and all the evils in the heart, shall not be able to mar the efficacy of this blood, if it be sprinkled on you by the hand of the Spirit. The whole company that are standing about the throne, have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
(3.) This blood, which the sword of justice draws from the shepherd, is healing blood; for the healing of his sheep: “By his stripes we are healed.” Were your diseases never so desperate, here is a healing medicine for them: it can heal the hardness of the heart; “They shall look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn.” It can heal the barren soil of the heart, and turn it to a fertile ground, —“From me is thy fruit found,” (Hosea 14:6): from my spirit, as the efficient: and from my blood, as the procuring cause.
(4.) It is a sweet‑smelling blood; it has a sweet‑smelling savor in the nostrils of the Lord of hosts; and perfumes the prayers and duties of the believer; “We are accepted only in the beloved.” Our persons, our prayers, our preaching, our communicating, would all stink, unless they be dipped in the blood of the Lamb.
(5.) This blood of the surety, shed by the sword of justice, is bliss purchasing blood; and one of the grand blessings purchased is the Holy Ghost: the Spirit is one of the greatest instances of the love of God in Christ. Whenever Adam sinned, the Holy Spirit left him, and the unclean spirit came in his room; but when the second Adam came, he brought the Spirit of God again with him: “I have put my spirit upon him; and he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” And, O what is the world without the Spirit of God? What is a man, a minister, a sacrament, a city, a nation, without the spirit of God? What makes matters so far wrong in a land, but that there is so little of the spirit with ministers and people? There is no life where the quickening spirit comes not: O sirs, we will have dead preaching, dead hearing, dead communicating, lifeless work this day, if the purchased Spirit do not come! When he comes, life comes with him. “Can these dry bones live?” Can these dead, formal, lifeless, unbelieving, hypocritical, and carnal hearts live? Yea, undoubtedly they can, if the spirit blow: O let your hearts cry, “Come, O north‑wind! blow, thou south: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” Cry for the purchased and promised spirit, that we may live, and be lively in our work this day.
(6.) This blood has purchased all spiritual blessings: It has purchased pardon of sin: “We have redemption through his blood even the remission of sin.” It has purchased recovery after falls, and freedom from total apostasy to all that believe; “I will heal their backslidings. Though he fall, he shall not utterly be cast down; for the Lord upholds him with his hand,” (Ps. 37:24); Good news to believers, say you, he has purchased all good for them; but not to the like of me; such an unbelieving impenitent sinner as me. If that be your thought, man, it is an ignorant blunder; I tell you better news, this blood of Christ, shed by the sword of justice, has purchased faith to the faithless; repentance to the impenitent; grace to the graceless; and nothing did he purchase to any but as guilty sinners, destitute of all good. Here is a good market for you that have no good, no grace: others that are increased with goods, and think that they have a good heart to God, good desires and inclinations, and hope thereupon for God’s favor, may be doing with their old covenant of works, where they and their money shall perish: but for you that are poor, guilty, filthy, perishing sinners, destitute of all good in yourselves, here is good news to you: here is grace, free grace, full grace, rich grace, all grace; grace to justify the guilty, grace to sanctify the filthy, grace to strengthen the weak, grace to supply the needy. You that want grace may come here and get it; you that have grace, may come here and get more; this blood has purchased all grace, and the purchaser stands ready to communicate it: for he has no other thing to do with his mediatorial grace, but to give it out to sinners, to men, to rebels: “He has received gifts for men, even for the rebellious, that God the Lord might dwell among them.” O the noble purchase of this blood! It has purchased freedom from the law, both from the curse and command of the covenant of works, in so much that the believer is neither under the mandate, nor the sanction of the law, as a covenant of works: by the obedience of Christ to the command of that covenant they are made righteous, (Rom. 15:19). Who also hath redeemed them from the curse of the law, being made a curse for them, (Gal. 3:13). The believer indeed is under stronger obligations to obey the law, as it is a rule of life and holiness, than ever Adam was in a state of innocency; but as it is a covenant of works, and condition of life, he has not a farthing of debt to pay to it, if the righteousness of Christ be complete and full: yea, this makes the law of God his delight, when he attains to the faith of this, that he has nothing to do with it as it is a covenant.
In a word, by this blood, shed by the sword of justice, there is a purchase made of access to God. The Son of Man was lifted up upon the cross, to open the gates of heaven, which our sin had shut; he rent the vail from top to bottom, and we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. The sword awakened against the Son, that he might bring us to the Father, —“Christ has once suffered for sin; the just for the unjust, that lie might bring us to God,” (1 Pet. 3:18). We are at a distance from God, lying peaceably in the devil’s arms; but they that were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. All the sermons, all the means in the world, will not bring us near to God; the means by which he draws men to himself, is just by his blood and righteousness: “When I am lifted up,” says Christ, “I will draw all men after me.” Well, he was lifted up upon the cross, where he received the blow of God’s awakened sword; he was lifted up into heaven, to his Father’s right hand, and he is lifted up upon the pole of this gospel; and, as he said, “I will draw all men after me?” O say, Amen, Lord, let this be a drawing day.
VI. The Sixth thing was the application. Now, many, very many things might be deduced from this doctrine, by way of application. I shall at this time offer you but a few general inferences, and refer the rest to be accommodated more particularly to the rest of the work of the day, as the Lord shall please to guide and direct. Well, is it so, that, by special orders from Jehovah, the Lord of Hosts, the man Christ, his Shepherd and his fellow, did fall a sacrifice to the awakened sword of infinite justice? Is it so as you have heard? Then we may see and behold,
1. The infinite malignity of sin, and the dreadful
demerit thereof. Did it overflow the old world with a deluge of water? did
2. Hence behold both the goodness and severity of God: his goodness, in finding out this way of satisfaction to his own justice, and wounding his own Son, that sinners, for whom he was surety, might not be wounded eternally: and the severity and justice of God, in exacting such a full satisfaction, that though all the elect had been satisfying eternally in hell, justice had not been made to shine so splendidly and gloriously. O if we could think and speak aright of this wonderful mystery! O wonder that we are not more affected with it! that we, miserable wretched sinners, should have been pursued eternally by justice, and could do nothing to avert the stroke of it; and that such a great and glorious person, as the man, God’s fellow, should interpose himself; and hereupon the Father should spare the poor sinful enemies, and make way for them to escape, by diverting of his justice from pursuing them, and by making it take hold of the Son of his bosom: exacting the debt severely from him! O wonder that the Lord should pass by the enemies, and satisfy himself upon his own Son!
3. Hence behold the wonderful concurrence of the glorious persons of the blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to carry on the work of our redemption: for here is the Lord of Hosts, Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, One God, essentially considered, prosecuting the work of redemption; and saying, with respect to Christ, the second person of the Godhead, considered as he became man and mediator, “Awake, O sword, against the man that is my fellow.” Not that God the Father delighted in the suffering, as such, of his innocent Son; for, “he afflicts not willingly even the children of men:” but considering the end and the effect that was to follow, the seed that he should beget to eternal life, and the captives whom he was to redeem; in this respect, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him;” when he might have suffered all mankind to lie still in their forlorn condition, it pleased him to give his life a ransom for many. Here the whole Trinity is in concert, each person to perform his own part: wherein all the bright perfections of the divine nature do gloriously conspire. O! how does God commend his love to us, in that whilst we were yet sinners, Christ died for us? (Rom. 5:8). And, O how he loved us, who washed us from our sins in his own blood? (Rev. 1:5). Again,
4. Behold herein the holy sovereignty of God, that overrules all the actions of men, even those wherein they have a most sensible hand, and are most inexcusable. Though Judas that betrayed, Pilate that condemned, the innocent Son of God, acted most sinfully; yet the Lord himself had an active overruling hand in carrying on his own designs. What Judas and Pilate did, was not by guess, but just the execution of God’s ancient degree: how pure and spotless is God in venting and manifesting his grace, holiness, and justice, when men are venting their corruption, impiety, and injustice! Here is the principal diamond in Jehovah’s crown, that he is able, not only to govern all the natural second causes that are in the world, in their several courses and actions, and order them to his own glory; but even devils, wicked men, and hypocrites, their most corrupt and abominable actions, and make them invariably subservient to the promoting of his own holy ends and purposes, and yet be free of their sin: for which they shall count to him: and as it was no excuse to the crucifiers of the Son of God, that they did what before was decreed of God; so it shall be no excuse to any man in a sinful course, that God has a hand in every thing that really comes to pass, who is yet just and holy in all. This may also stay our hearts, when the devil and his instruments are, as it were, running mad, that they can do no more than what God permits; nay, some way compassionates them to do: no sword of men, or devils, can do any execution, unless God says, “Awake, O sword.”
5. In this text and doctrine we may see and behold what a gloriously well qualified Redeemer we have; he is God’s shepherd, the man his fellow; behold what interest he has in God! and that both by nature, being God’s fellow; and by covenant, being God’s shepherd: behold what interest he has in us; and that also both by nature being man; and by covenant, by virtue of the covenant of grace, being our shepherd by God’s appointment and constitution. O how fit is he, who is the essential wisdom of the Father, to reveal the counsel of God’s love from eternity! How fit is he, who is the middle person of the Godhead, to be the mediator and midsman! How fit is he who is the eternal Son of God, to bring many sons and daughters to glory! The eternal Word that made the world, also to redeem the world! How fit as God-man; being man, to pay man’s debt; as God to give it a value; man, to deal with man; and God, to deal with God! What an able Saviour must he be, who is God’s fellow! able to save to the uttermost? Help is laid upon one that is mighty indeed! What a willing Saviour must he be, who is God’s fellow! He could not have been forced to suffer, nor dragged to the work, if he had not been willing: nay, with cheerful willingness he flew as it were, upon the point of the sword: “Lo, I come.” What a sufficient ransom has he given, since he is God’s fellow! O this price of redemption cannot be overvalued! What a well-furnished Saviour is he, to give life to whom he will. God’s fellow, the party offended dying to conciliate friendship with the party offending! O what a gift is Christ, when God so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son: his fellow, his equal! It is more than heaven, and earth, and the whole universe! O how sure and permanent must this redemption be, that is managed by the Lord of hosts, and his fellow! What a sure and sweet way to the Father, is the man Christ, since he is God’s fellow! Think not strange that he was able to triumph over all enemies, to outwit the old serpent, to rise again from the grave, to conquer hell, and purchase heaven; for the man was God’s fellow. How highly is our nature advanced in Christ! though not changed into the divine, yet personally united thereto: Christ has not lost his dignity, by becoming man; he is the man God’s fellow. O what a well-qualified and glorious Redeemer is he! by the Lord of hosts himself, who had made him his shepherd! “The Lord is my shepherd,” says the believer; and he is my shepherd, says Jehovah, though in different respects; I have made him the shepherd of my sheep. O if God’s shepherd be your shepherd, poor soul; if your heart be pleased with the choice that he has made of a shepherd; and God’s elect be your elect, God’s choice your choice, happy, thrice happy were it for you, that ever you were born. O that a flock of sheep were gathered to him today!
6. We may hence see the terrible state of unbelievers and Christless sinners, on the one hand; and the comfortable state of believers on the other.
(1.) On the one hand, I say, we may here see the dreadful state of unbelievers, and the damning nature of unbelief. The sword of divine justice, the sword of God’s wrath, is hanging over the head of all those who come not under the cover of the blood of Christ, that was shed by this awful sword. It is a lofty, but a terrible word you have in— “I lift up my hand to heaven and say, I live for ever; if I whet my glittering sword, and my hand take hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and a reward to them that hate me; I will make mine arrows drunk with blood,” (Deut 32:40-41). The sword of God’s vengeance must be drunk either with the blood of the sinner, or the blood of the surety, in the sinner’s room. Now, they who, through unbelief, despise and reject Christ, the sacrifice to justice, which God has provided, they must themselves be a sacrifice thereto: see how fearfully this is set forth, —“If we sin wilfully, after we have received the knowledge of the truth;” that is to say, if we wilfully and finally reject Christ; if we live and die in unbelief, refusing the remedy that God has provided, notwithstanding it is made known to us in the glorious gospel, there is no remedy for us but perishing; “There remains no more sacrifice for sin, but a fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries,” (Heb. 10:27). O sinner, there is not a day you hear a sermon, and hear Christ offered, but if you slight him, you go away with a new load of guilt; hence the hell of professors shall be the greatest and the hottest places in hell: the like of Chorazin and Bethsaida, the like of Dunfermline, and the places about, where Christ is preached, shall go to the centre of hell, when others shall not have so hot a hell. This sin of unbelief is worse than the murdering of Christ; for they knew not that he was the Lord of glory: but this sin willfully rejects him, while you know he is the Lord of glory. The sin of unbelief, what a dreadful thing is it! The man makes God most true, a liar, like the devil! and refuses to let God have the honor of a full satisfaction to justice; will not let God get satisfaction for all his sins, as he might have in the sacrifice of his Son. O unbelief, unbelief! for a man to have continued all his days, from his infancy, under the drop of the word and calls of the spirit and the bride, saying, come, come to Christ, and yet the man lives and dies never hearkening.
(2.) On the other hand, here we may see the comfortable state of believers in Christ, and the saving nature of true justifying faith. The believer cannot but be safe and happy; for the stroke of the sword of justice has fallen by him, and has lighted upon his surety, his shepherd: the death of the shepherd is the life of the sheep. Though the sheep may be scattered, and scattered with fatherly chastisements; yet the shepherd being smitten with the sword of vindictive justice, no stroke of judicial wrath shall ever fall upon them: for Christ has borne their griefs, and carried their sorrows, and by his stripes they are healed: and all that look to him by faith shall be healed, and saved in like manner. The object of justifying faith is the man God’s Fellow, falling a sacrifice to the sword of divine justice. Though you should believe all the Bible, the whole divine revelation, except this point, Christ set forth to be a propitiation in blood, you have no justifying faith; the doctrine of the blood of God, of a crucified Christ, this only is the healing balsam to the bleeding wounds of the sinner, that has any sense of sin, or fear of wrath. Talk of the law to such a man, it is just as if you should bring a murderer to see the ghost of the man he had killed: O, says he, that is the law that I have broken, and so he is racked and tormented, lest the sword of wrath avenge the quarrel of the broken law upon him; but let him see a Christ dying on a cross, with the sword of wrath running through his heart, a Christ hanging between heaven and earth in his room, and all the debt of the elect upon his shoulders, here is a full cordial to a fainting soul: here is the act of justifying faith, the beholding of this sacrifice, and acquiescing in it as the price of redemption; relying on the precious blood that was drawn by that awful sword, and laying the stress of our salvation upon it: that is a laying stress where God laid it, a coming under the covert of the blood of the man that is God’s fellow, as a screen from the law and justice. Here is a noble foundation for faith; we may even dare to approach a provoked God, an angry Deity, the God who is a consuming fire, and a flaming sword; why, here is blood, worthy blood, to quench the fire; the man that is God’s fellow bleeding and dying in our nature. We may well say with Luther “Lord, keep me from a mere God, an absolute God: a God not in Christ, not reconciled by the death of Christ.” But here is the atonement and propitiation: and therefore faith may come boldly to the throne of grace.
7. Hence also we may see the malignity of an anti-Christian spirit; not only that of papists, who bring in their works of merit upon the field of justification before God, as if anything could please a dreadful God, besides the blood of his fellow, but also all others that are enemies to the cross of Christ; enemies to the glorious gospel of a crucified Christ. —Here the Socinian spirit is condemned as anti-Christian, who say, “That God was never alienated from man; and that God, out of his mere bounty, without any intervening satisfaction, pardons sin:” But if so, why would ever there be such a sound as, “Awake, O sword, against the man that is my fellow?” Why would there have been an atonement, if it was not to avert the wrath revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men? In vain did the sword awake and smite the shepherd, if without shedding of blood there was remission. Here, also, the Libertine, and Latitudinarian spirit is condemned. O! what ignorant sottish fools are they, who make a mock at sin, which being imputed to the Lord Jesus, made him sweat and bleed in the anguish of his soul! O what madness are they guilty of, who prefer the satisfaction of their brutish lusts, to the salvation of their precious souls, the redemption whereof is so precious, that it ceaseth forever, unless the blood of God be shed for it! —Here also the Arminian spirit is condemned, and every legal spirit, under whatsoever denomination, who make faith or any act or part of it, or anything else whatsoever, besides the blood of Christ, to be our righteousness before God; such doctrine darkens grace, encroaches upon the prerogative of the Lord our righteousness, and is contrary to the very nature of faith, which is a passing from, and disclaiming all other foundations, and a running to, and pleading upon the blood of Christ, shed by the awakened sword of justice. The doctrine of our text exposes the malignity of a legal spirit, which is so natural to men, and rages so much at this day: as if men, by their terms and conditions on their part, could pacify a God of terrible majesty, whom yet nothing will appease, but the blood of the man that is his fellow: surely they know not the perfection of God’s holiness, the terror of his justice, the severity of his tribunal, the spirituality and extent of his law, nor yet their own corruption, weakness, and wickedness by nature, who will dare to make anything the ground and condition of their acceptance with God, but the doing and dying, the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Some make faith, others repentance, and new obedience, the strict and proper condition of the new covenant; but if we will not shut our eyes, we may see that Christ’s obedience, suffering, and satisfaction, is the only proper and strict, so called, condition thereof: the parties of the covenant of grace are God and Christ; Christ answering for all the elect therein: now, the condition of the covenant must be a condition performable and fulfilled by one of the parties, to wit, Christ: and the condition is, That he, in his obedience to the death, become a sacrifice to the sword of divine justice; and upon this condition all spiritual and eternal blessings are promised to the elect; faith, repentance, and all good are promised upon this ground; for, says God, upon his making his soul an offering for sin, “He shall see his seed:” they shall get the good things promised; faith, love, knowledge, fear, and obedience, which are all the fruits of this grand condition of the covenant: faith is indeed of absolute necessity, and the only means whereby we come to be justified; “It is by faith, that it may be by grace,” (Rom 4:16); that is, faith renounces itself and all other graces and good things, in point of acceptance with God, and looks for it only in the righteousness of Christ, which alone covers our iniquities, and makes us to be accepted of God: Not by works of righteousness that we do, nor by faith as a work, or as the fulfilling of a condition, upon which, being performed by us, or wrought of God in us, we may plead for God’s making out his part of the covenant; O no: our only plea before God is this object of faith; the bloody sacrifice, made by the sword of justice upon the man that is God’s fellow; even that our Lord Jesus has paid our debt, by fulfilling the law in our room, and satisfying for the breaches thereof. As faith is necessary, seeing without faith it is impossible to please God; so is repentance necessary; “For, except we repent, we shall all likewise perish:” holiness is necessary, “For without holiness no man shall see God:” they are necessary as qualities of the covenanted purchased and promised blessings of the covenant. None actually in the covenant, are without them; and so all that are without them will perish and die in their sins: but let our souls detest the bringing in these, or anything else, in conjunction with Christ, and his blood and righteousness, so as thereupon to look for any benefit, favor, or acceptance with God; but let us look for all holiness, as well as happiness, only in through Jesus Christ, and upon the account of his giving himself a sacrifice to the awakened sword of justice. And so I come to the
8. And last inference, that I name at the time, namely, Hence we may see, What is the great duty of all who hear this gospel, namely, to embrace the man that is God’s fellow, to flock in to this shepherd, and come to him as the sacrifice and propitiation in his blood, in whom the sword of divine justice has got satisfaction. Let me then exhort you, in the name of the Lord, to this duty before I close. I may afterwards speak to different sorts of persons, and I may afterwards tell you whom I call to the communion-table, but at present I am calling you all to come to Christ. If you think of communicating, in God’s name, stand aback from his table, if you will not come to his Christ; and whether you be thinking of communicating or not, man, woman, young or old that hear me, I charge, you, in Jehovah’s name, so hear the word of salvation, and apply it particularly to your own souls, whoever you be. It is so, that the sword of the Lord of Hosts is bathed in the blood of the shepherd, the man that is God’s fellow, then, as you would not fall a sacrifice to this sword of God’s wrath forever, O close with the man that is God’s fellow, as he that fell a sacrifice to this sword in your room. Have you no apprehension of the wrath of God and of your dreadful condition by nature, wherein you are lying bound to be a sacrifice to the wrath of God, the Lord’s hand being stretched out to lay on the stroke, and the wrath of God abiding on you, liable to the law’s sentence, which is the curse of God, and the vengeance of his awakened sword, until once you get the man that is God’s fellow put in your room? All that the gospel aims at is this, that you would seek to change rooms with Christ: guilty sinners, here is the way to get your debt paid, your judge pleased, justice satisfied, God atoned, sin expatiated, and everlasting peace and reconciliation between God and you made up. The sword of the Lord of hosts is hanging over you heads, crying, vengeance, vengeance upon the guilty sinner; This is the sad and certain tidings of the law, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, written in the book of the law to do them.” But behold the man that is God’s shepherd and fellow; the curse of the law, the vengeance of God, the sword of Jehovah, has lighted upon him that it might not fall upon you; there is the glad news and good tidings of the gospel. Is there not here a suitable object, and a sufficient foundation of faith, that Christ is set forth of God to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare the righteousness of God, that he might be just, and the justifier of them that believe in Jesus? —Now, unworthy, wretched, guilty, filthy, bloody sinner, will you take a worthy match; the man that is God’s fellow? “Will you go with this man?” Will you take him in his garments rolled in his own blood, when the sword of justice did awake against him and smote him to death? The great God of hosts was in sad earnest, when he gave his shepherd, his glorious fellow the bloody blow; and now he is in earnest in his call, swearing, by a solemn oath, “As he lives, that he takes no delight in the death of sinners;” and declaring by his drawing forth the heart-blood of the man that is his fellow, that he is willing to save you upon the account of this sacrifice that his justice has got: only welcome the news as a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation; and put in for a share of the benefits of this sacrifice, for it is the best, and the last, that ever you will hear of; and if it be slighted, “There remains no more sacrifice for sin.” As the eternal God is willing, so his eternal Son is both able and willing to save you; and if he had not been so, he would never had sustained the stroke of avenging justice in the room of sinners, who is that good shepherd that laid down his life for the sheep. When he was smitten, by the sword of justice, he willingly undertook and underwent it; he longed for the bloody baptism, and was straitened till it was accomplished. When he was smitten by the hands of men, “He hid not his face from shame and spitting, but was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth;” He never quarreled or complained because it was for our cause. Would he not quarrel with those that smote him? and will he quarrel with a poor sinner that desires to come to him, and to plead the benefit of his satisfaction? No, no! he will rest in his love, (Zeph. 3:7): or, as the word signifies, “He will be silent, or dumb in his love;” he will not upbraid you for your falls, nor quarrel you for your former misdemeanors: he will be more content with your recovery, than ever he was discontent with your apostasy: he will be more pleased with your coming to him, than ever he was displeased with your sins, and departures against him. Come then, by the love and good will of God in Christ, by the blood and bowels of the Lord Jesus Christ, I adjure and entreat you not to exclude yourselves, by unbelief, from all the benefits of this sacrifice, that Christ offered of himself to the sword of divine wrath, but accept of this propitiation, and lay your poor guilty souls under the covert of the blood of this man that is God’s fellow: behold! God brings near this blood of Jesus to you, even to you, that are the most hardened sinners in all this house, (Isa. 46:12-13):— “Hearken unto me, ye stout-hearted and far from righteousness; behold, I bring near my righteousness.” Christ and his blood and righteousness is so near to you, that you may lay hold on him, and touch the hem of his garments, and be whole. In the name of God, I proclaim the access that you have all to come to Christ, and to look unto, and depend upon him for salvation: “Look unto him, all ye ends of the earth, and be ye saved.” I am warranted to preach this Gospel to every creature: there is no rational creature within these walls, that stands in need of salvation, but you have it, unless you willfully reject it: “Whosoever will, let him come.” Will you tell me, dare you say but you stand in need of Christ to come in between you and the sword of the Lord of hosts? Is the sword, the awakened sword of God’s wrath and vengeance a light matter? are you content to bear the lashes of it, in your own persons through all eternity? If not, then you will be content to change rooms with Christ? content that he be made sin for you, and that you be made the righteousness of God in him? (2 Cor. 5:21). Content that all your sin and guilt be laid upon him, and that all his merit and righteousness be imputed unto you? If you be not pleased with this sweet bargain, what in all the world will you do with your sin and guilt? Can you answer well enough for it at God’s tribunal? What will you do with all your plagues and maladies? Can you heal them yourselves? What will you do with all the curses and threatenings of God’s law when grim death will stare you broad in the face, and when the last fetch of your breath shall summon you to come and answer before the just tribunal of God? What will you do with the flaming sword of wrath, that hangs above, hovers over your head, and will light upon you fearfully, as sure as God lives, unless you be pleased with this bargain, that Christ bear all the weight of your salvation, and all the weight of God’s wrath for you? God seeks no more, and he seeks no less than this. You will say, who would not be pleased with this bargain? Alas! Are there not many here that are not pleased? Will you think that there must be some other things to please and appease God; may be you think you should have some good qualifications to please him; that your hearing, reading, praying, communicating, will please him; your tears, good motions, and affections will please him; if you think so, you do not think honorably of God. Will any of these things appease the awful Judge, and ward off the avenging blow, when he, says, “Awake, O sword!” No, no. If you be not pleased with the man that is God’s fellow, and him alone to be your surety, his blood alone to be your covert from the sword of wrath, God cannot be pleased with you, though you should weep an ocean of tears, give all that you have to the poor, and give your body to be burnt; you both lose your soul and all your labor to the bargain. The question is, are you content that Christ alone answer for you? that he alone stand between you and the sword? If you think to put anything else along with Christ, to stand between you and the sword, it is but a rotten rag, and the flaming sword will burn through it, and get at you with its devouring vengeance. Christ alone then must have the whole stress of your salvation laid on him: are you content? will you have salvation freely, through the blood of Jesus?
The glorious gospel is much clouded at this day, with legal terms, conditions, and qualifications. If my doctrine were upon condition that you did so and so; that you believe, and repent, and mourn, and pray, and obey, and the like, then you shall have the favor of God; I dare not for my life say, that that is the gospel: but the gospel I desire to preach, is, will you have a Christ to work faith, repentance, love, and all good in you, and to stand between you and the sword of divine wrath? Here there is no room for you to object, that you are not qualified, because you are such an hardened unhumbled, blind, and stupid wretch: for the question is not, will you remove these evils, and then come to Christ? but, will you have a Christ to remove them for you? It is because you are plagued with these diseases that I call you to come to the physician, that he may heal them. Are you qualified for hell and damnation? and have you much mischief and misery about you? Why, there needs be no better qualifications for you to come to Christ: we would indeed have some good qualifications in these whom we invite to the communion-table; they should be humbled, believing, penitent people; because it is presupposed that they have come to Christ, and received some good out of his hand: but when I call you to come to Christ, and seek no good qualifications of you at all, prior to your coming to him, but that you come with all your black and hellish qualifications, that he may take them away, and put some good qualifications upon you; so that, whatever bad things be about you, it should rather be an argument for your coming, than an hindrance of your coming to him; for never, never will you get your ills mended, till you come to him to do it for you.
But neither is there any room for you here to object, that your guilt is so great, and God’s justice is so terrible, that you have no hope; for what am I telling you all this time, but that the terrible sword of justice is satisfied and appeased, to the full, with the blood of the man that is God’s fellow? Here is the way that God himself hath laid down for getting satisfaction; and there is no other way; though you man, woman, had the guilt of all the world lying on your back, all that is required of you is just this, to be heartily pleased and content that God gets satisfaction for all your sins in this way; and if you be, the sword shall be put up in the scabbard, and never reach you: God will get his justice satisfied more gloriously this way upon you, than though he should damn you in hell to eternity.
come then, before I close; away with all your objections, and let God be
glorified, to the highest, in your embracing this way of salvation to your
souls, and this way of satisfaction to justice. Behold! once for all, I make
you the richest offer that ever was heard tell of; in the name of the Lord
of hosts I offer you the man that is God’s fellow, to be a complete Saviour
to you, to stand between you and the sword of divine wrath, and to be the
burden bearer for you; to bear the weight of all the curses of the law, the
weight of all God’s wrath, the weight of all your salvation for you; and to
do all your work in you and for you. O soul, am I not offering a suitable
and worthy match to you? He is a man indeed, but a wonderful man, the man
that is God’s fellow: What say you? “Will you go with this man?” Will you
match with this man? It is true, I am unworthy to offer the like of him; for
the latchet of his shoe no man nor angel is worthy to unloose: but, as I
said, it was in the name of the Lord of hosts that I was making the offer:
So I tell you again, it is the great
that is offering his Son to you this day; and it becomes such a glorious God
to make such a glorious offer; and it becomes no vile sinner here to refuse
the offer: for, be what you will, I again offer, in the name of the Lord of
hosts, the man that is his fellow. Are you a child of wrath? I offer him as
a Saviour to redeem you, and deliver you from the wrath to come. Are you a
poor bankrupt? I offer him who is the heir of all things, and has
unsearchable riches to pay all your debt. Are you a poor ignorant creature?
I offer you him as made of God unto you wisdom. Are you guilty? I offer him
as made unto you righteousness. Are you polluted? I offer him to you, as
made unto you sanctification. Are you miserable and forlorn? I offer him to
you, as made of God unto you complete redemption. Are you hard-hearted? I
offer him in that promise, “I will take away the heart of stone.” Are you
content that he break your hard heart, according to his promise? Come then,
put your hard heart in his hands. Are you a wretched backslider, that has
backslidden an hundred times, a thousand times more than an hundred? I offer
him in that promise, “I will heal your backslidings.” Are your corruptions
strong and prevalent? I offer him in that promise, “I will subdue your
iniquities.” Are you pleased that he do so? Are you afraid, that you revolt
more and more? I offer him in that promise, “I will put my spirit within
you, and cause you to walk in my statutes. I will put my fear in your heart,
and you shall not depart from
Now what in all the world have you to object more? Why, have you so many objections more, as you think all the ministers of earth cannot answer them? I offer you the man that is God’s fellow to answer them all: are you content that he take all the work, and get all the glory? If you consent to this, he seeks no more of you. Are you a captive to the sword of God’s justice? I offer you the man that is God’s fellow, in whose bowels the sword was bathed: and now the flaming sword that guarded the way of the tree of life is taken away, and here is the tree of life full of the apples of grace, glory, and eternal salvation: and the branches of the tree are hanging down among your hands, in the midst of the church of Dunfermline. O take, and eat, and live for ever. What say you now? I allude to the words of Jephthah,— “I fight for you and prevail, shall I be your head?” (Judges 11:9). O yes, yes, say they; so says Christ to you, If I satisfy justice for you; if I quench the flames of that fiery sword, and drown all your enemies in the red sea of my blood, shall I be your head? Shall he be your head, man? Shall he be your head, woman? Does your hearts say, Yes, yes? Does your hearts say, Amen, amen? Yea, say you, I think my heart says, Amen, to the blessed offer, and that I would willingly and cheerfully consent: but my heart is deceitful, and I know not if my consent be of a true sort, or only a temporary flash, a presumptuous confidence that will vanish: well, if that be your objection, come, I offer you the man that is God’s fellow, who can answer that among the rest, and can say to your soul, “Fear not, for I am thy God; I am thy salvation.” Are you content to take him for this end, to discover the defect of your faith, and to work in you the faith of his elect? Can you say, That it is not in your faith, but in Christ himself, that you are seeking salvation? Can you say, Whatever be wrong about me or about my faith, yet I see there is nothing wrong about Christ, and I would have him to right all that is wrong about me? Can you say, However I be in the dark about my faith, and whatever sort of faith it is that I have, yet sometimes I have found my unbelief, and that I could no more believe, than I could move the earth from its centre; but yet the joyful sound of gospel grace has touched my heart; and made me take up so much glory and excellency to be in Christ that I think all the world nothing, in comparison of him; and I think my heart’s desire is, O to have him for my Prophet, to take away the darkness of my mind: for my Priest, to take away the guilt of my sins; and for my king, to take away the power of my lusts. Is your heart saying “Gladly would I have him; gladly would I have him, that I may thus be blessed in him, and that his name may be glorified in me?” Are these the breathings of your soul? Then, upon my peril, I undertake to be the happy messenger, and tell you, in the name of the Lord, that whatever you think of your faith, and of yourselves, as the blackest monsters of sin and guilt that ever were out of hell; yet you have the faith of God’s elect, and you are married and matched with the man that is God’s fellow: yea, the Lord of Hosts is your father and friend, reconciled in him, so as there is no fear of the sword of justice with respect to you. You are the sheep, and it awakened in all its fury and vengeance against the shepherd, that the sheep might escape; and in testimony thereof, he invites you to commemorate this bloody sacrifice in the sacrament of the supper, where you shall see the sword bathed in his heart’s blood in your room, and hear the Lord of hosts giving his solemn orders, for that effect that he might be smitten, and you spared, saying, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man that is my fellow.”
The End of the Sermon.
DISCOURSE BEFORE THE SERVICE OF THE TABLES.
Now, we are to proceed to the great work of the day, and that I may accommodate my former purpose to my present work, you may remember the doctrine I am upon is, “That by special orders from Jehovah, the great God of hosts, the man Christ, his shepherd and fellow, did fall a sacrifice to the awakened sword of infinite justice, in the room of the sheep.”
There are some general inferences I have drawn from this doctrine; and now there are these four more particular inferences may be drawn from it, with a more immediate reference and relation to the great sealing ordinance we have before us.
1. Hence we may see what is the nature and end of this sacrament.
2. Hence we may see who they are that stand debarred and excluded from meddling with the sacred symbols of the body and blood of Christ.
3. Hence we may see the character of these who have a right to approach, and are invited of God to it.
4. Hence we may see in what manner believers are to approach, and come to a communion table.
Now, a word to each of these, and then we shall proceed to the work.
1. Then, the doctrine I am upon, may give us some insight into the nature and end of this sacrament. Why, it is just a celebrating the memorial of the death of the man that is God’s fellow, when, as the glorious Shepherd, he yielded himself a sacrifice to the awakened sword of justice, in the room of the sheep. In this sacrament, Christ is set forth evidently crucified among us, and therein we may hear the Lord of hosts saying, “Awake, O sword! against my shepherd, against the man that is my fellow; smite the shepherd.” This sacrament is appointed to be a commemorative sign of the death of Christ; “As often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you shew forth the Lord’s death till he come.” “Do this in remembrance of me;” of me, who became a sacrifice to the sword of justice; by which sacrifice all spiritual blessings, peace, pardon, reconciliation with God, grace, glory, and all good things, are purchased. The sword of justice having bathed itself, to satisfaction, in the blood of this sacrifice, the sacrament of the supper is a feast upon the sacrifice,— “Even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast,” (2 Cor 5:7). This is the feast of fat things, of wines on the lees well refined. Upon the body and blood of Christ, represented by the elements of bread and wine, which is just a feeding upon, and viewing by faith, the value and virtue of the sacrifice for satisfying God, for expiating sin, for vanquishing hell, and for purchasing heaven, and all the means that lead unto it; as also, for sealing the covenant of grace, and all the promises of it, which are yea and amen in Jesus Christ, the testament being ratified and confirmed by the death of the Testator, (Heb 9:16). But again,
2. From this doctrine we may see who they are that stand debarred and excluded from meddling with these sacred symbols of the body and blood of Christ in this sacrament; namely, in general, all unbelievers, who, never having seen their wicked state, as liable to the stroke of divine wrath, because of their sin and guilt, had not fled under the covert of the blood of the shepherd, of the blood of the man that is God’s fellow, who was smitten in the room of the sheep. What have these to do with the sign, who never apprehended the thing signified, namely, the propitiation of the blood of Christ? And therefore, in the great and awful name and authority of the great and glorious Jehovah, I solemnly debar and excommunicate, from the table of the Lord, all who never found themselves in any measure pursued by the avenger of blood, the sword of the Lord of hosts, and never have fled for refuge to the blood of Christ, the man that is God’s fellow, to stand between them and the avenging sword of justice; those that will not come to Christ, let them not dare to come to his table, nor come to abuse the symbols of his blood; who, by unbelief, trample his blood under their feet, and will not make use of it as the sacrifice to satisfy justice in their room. But, that it may appear more distinctly, whom I here debar, in the name of the Lord, I shall tell you who they are, that never made any saving use of the blood of Christ, the man that is God’s fellow, but slight and neglect this sacrifice and offering for sin, which he has made of himself to the sword of justice, and so stand debarred and excommunicated from the table of the Lord.
(1.) All these who think to make their peace with God, without minding the necessity of anything intervening between him and them; not knowing that peace with God must be founded upon the blood of the man that is his fellow. Some are utterly careless how their peace be made, or whether it be made or not, they hope for it, and think to come at it, but they cannot tell how; and are careless to know the way. Others presume, and think God loves them, because they love themselves; and though they know they have sin, they think God will not be so ill-natured as to reckon with them; they think God loves them, but they cannot give a ground for it. Others think that God is merciful, and therefore they conclude they will be pardoned and accepted; because a merciful man sometimes seeks no satisfaction, so they think much more will a merciful God seek none; not knowing, that though God be merciful, he will not show mercy to the prejudice of his justice. But the thought of these people is upon the matter, that they would have obtained mercy though mercy had never become a sacrifice to the sword of justice, without respect to the mediation of the man that is God’s fellow. —These therefore I debar in God’s great name, from the table of the Lord.
(2.) Another sort, who despise the sacrifice made to the sword of justice, is, all those who take the legal way of making their peace with God. Not as if they thought to appear before God without sin and holiness, as the covenant of works requires; but who think, that if they sin, they will make amends; and that either by something Negative, that they have not done, or something Positive, that they have done; or some internal qualification, that they rest upon. Some think to make amends to God by something Negative; that they have not been so ill as other people; and if they go to hell, they think few will go to heaven; and if they were to die, they think they care not, they have done no person any injury; they have carried very harmlessly, like the Pharisee, “God, I thank thee, I am not like other men; I am no drunkard, or adulterer, or oppressor, or swearer;” and when they see any profane persons, they are puffed up with a good opinion of themselves, because they are not so profane as they; these I debar, in the name of the Lord. Others think to make amends to God by something positive; they do many good duties, like the same Pharisee, that boasted, “I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess;” if any duty be performed, or any good be done by them, their fingers are ready to stick to it; they rest there, and hope God will be pleased and pacified on this account: these I debar, in the name of the Lord. Others, upon this same head, think to make amends by some internal qualifications, that they rest upon: if at any time they have liberty, and motions of affection in prayer, stirrings of convictions in hearing; and joys of heart like the stony-ground hearers; any sorrow of heart, or sadness for sin, these they think will do their turn, and they think they need no other sacrifice to God, but a broken heart; sadly mistaking the nature of a true evangelical brokenness of spirit. It is certain, both from scripture and experience, that many hundreds of professors dash and perish on this stumbling-block; “They call themselves of the holy city; yea, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel,” (Isa 48:2). “They seek him daily, and delight to know his ways; yea, delight in approaching to God,” (Isa 58:2). Expectation of happiness, grounded upon some weak performance, and some internal motions and qualifications, do cut the throat of many civil and discreet men, that are not grossly profane. All these, therefore, that make any of these things the ground of their hope of peace with God, I debar and excommunicate from the table of the Lord, as being strangers to the true ground of peace, the man that is God’s fellow, becoming a sacrifice to the sword of justice.
(3.) Another sort, who make no right use of this sacrifice offered to the sword of justice, are these, who, though they make use of Christ, as the object of their worship, yet make not use of his blood as the ground of their justification and peace with God; as if they would not altogether neglect Christ, and yet they neglect his offering, and would make use of himself, but not of his sacrifice; like the man that came to him, saying, “Good master, what shall I do, that I may inherit eternal life?” He was going upon the ground of his own righteousness; so some, they may come to Christ to desire his help to enable them to do duty, that by doing thereof they may work out their own salvation; and be helped this way to make their peace with God: thus, by grace, sought and received from him, they hope to be their own saviour and peacemaker, with God; and so were never brought to ground the making of their peace with God, upon Christ’s sacrifice and offering alone. These, therefore, I also debar from his holy table.
(4.) A fourth sort, that never made right use of this sacrifice to justice’s sword, and propitiation in the blood of Christ, are all these, who never got such a view of the love of God, in this sacrifice, as to kill the love of sin in them and to bring down the reigning power of sin; for the great end of Christ’s sufferings was to bring us to God; the great end of his giving himself a sacrifice to the sword of justice, was to redeem us from all iniquity; and to purchase to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. And hence they are yet strangers to Christ, who never felt any measure of the virtue of this sacrifice, in sanctifying, purifying, and making them study holiness. And therefore I debar from this table, all impenitent sinners and breakers of God’s commandments; all whose names are in that black catalogue, (Matt 15:19; Rom 1:27-32); all whose names are in that black list, (Gal 5:19-21); and all whose names are in these black rolls, (1 Cor 6:9-10; Rev 22:15). All atheists that practically deny the being of God, in their lives and conversations; and ignorant persons, that know not the principles of religion and the nature of this ordinance; and profane persons who mock at sacred things, neglect public ordinances, on weekdays or Sabbath-days, and neglect family worship, and secret prayer. —All profane swearers, whether by God, or the devil, or faith, or conscience, or whatsoever is more than yea and nay. —All sabbath-breakers, who put no difference between that and other days. —All that are unfaithful in their relative stations; as magistrates or subjects, masters or servants, parents or children. —All murderers, and those who give way to the killing sins of malice, passion, revenge; and the self-murdering sins of drunkenness, gluttony, and tippling. —All whoremongers, adulterers, fornicators, Sodomites, and unclean persons, who never mortified the deeds of the body. —All thieves, oppressors, and cheats, that study to overreach their neighbor in their dealings. —All false witnesses and liars, that make no conscience of speaking the truth; perjured persons, that make no bonds of unlawful oaths; covenant-breakers, and such as are enemies to a covenanted work of reformation in these lands. —All covetous persons, whose hearts are glued to the world. —In a word, I debar all formalists, and hypocrites, and legalists; all that never saw and bewailed their heart plagues of atheism, enmity, pride, hypocrisy, and unbelief: all who know not the difference between the law and the gospel; the covenant of works and the covenant of grace: and between legal and evangelical preaching. —All that never felt anything of the power of God’s word on their heart, in convincing them of sin original and actual, and drawing them to Christ, as their righteousness and strength, for justification and sanctification. —I debar all who hate to be reproved of their faults, and contemn their reprovers; and all who can be witness to the sins and faults of others, and yet never give any sort of testimony against them. —I debar all who love not the godly, nor care for their company: all who love not the Bible, nor search the scriptures: all who love not Zion, nor care how matters go with the church of Christ; whether its members be divided or alienated: whether its interest sink or swim. And who can go lightly over the belly of their own conscience for fear of outward losses or crosses, and easily cross their light to please men. —I debar all that are not lovers of the truth, but espousers of error; Socinians, Arminians, and Antinomians, who are properly so called, for some are wrongfully and ignorantly so designed. —I debar all that think they have believed all their days, and never were convinced of unbelief, nor found religion a work above them, and their natural powers. —I debar all who have no errand to the Lord’s table, but to take a little bread and wine, and think it an easy work to communicate: nor ever had any fears or jealousies about their miscarrying in that work. All who come only to keep up a name among professors: and all who have no other tokens for communion, but that which they have got from their ministers or elders; all who have been at no pains whatsoever to prepare for this work: and all on the other hand, who think they are prepared enough, and have no other thing to rest upon but their own preparation. —All these, and others of that stamp, I do, in the name of the living and eternal God, debar from this holy table, as being strangers to the man that is God’s fellow, and strangers to the sacrifice whereby he has satisfied the awakened sword of infinite justice: therefore, as you would not take a cup of poison to destroy yourselves, as you would not eat and drink damnation to yourselves, and bring down the guilt of the blood of Christ upon your head, do not dare to venture to this holy table: for, “He that eats this bread, and drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” And if you will venture notwithstanding, remember, though you have got a token from me, or any person else, your blood is upon your own head, if you find yourself now debarred, and yet come to trample upon the blood of the man that is God’s fellow.
But now, lest I should fright any of the children from their food, who are apt to take these things to them, more than they to whom they are principally directed, therefore I proceed,
3. To a third inference with relation to this ordinance, that may be drawn from our doctrine, namely, Hence we may see the character of those who have a right to approach, and are of God invited thereto; namely, in general, all believers, who, through grace, have been made to flee unto the covert of the blood of the shepherd, into the covert of the blood of the man that is God’s fellow, to screen them from the sword of divine wrath. As we dare not, for our souls, disallow or encourage any to approach this ordinance, who are unbelievers, under whatsoever names or designations they may be called; so, on the other hand, we dare not, for our souls, disallow, or discourage from this work, any the least, the weakest believer in Christ, that has gone in with the call of the gospel, and closed with, and embraced this sacrifice whereby justice is satisfied. And therefore, in the name and authority of the same glorious God, and gracious Lord, I invite to this table of the Lord, all such whatever their sins have been, though guilty of the sins that I have named, or whatever else: all such, I say, whatever their guilt be, who have taken this gospel-method of getting their sin and guilt expiated and removed, namely, by hiding their guilty souls under the wings of Christ’s righteousness; who gave himself a sacrifice to satisfy the sword of justice. But that it may be known more distinctly whom I mean by such believers in Christ, as I am calling to the Lord’s table, you may examine yourselves more particularly from the doctrine; “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat.” I hope you that are to communicate as believers, have been examining yourselves before this time; but if you be yet in the dark, there are these four marks may be drawn out of our text and doctrine, for clearing whether you be believers indeed, that have closed with the man that is God’s fellow, as a sacrifice to the sword of justice in our room.
(1.) Have you seen, some time or other, the sword of justice awaking against your own souls, the avenger of blood pursuing you? Have you heard such a knell as that in your heart, “Awake, O sword;” awake, O law; awake, O vengeance, curses, and threatenings against a man for his sins? Have you been so filled with the fear of hell and wrath, as you have been put to cry, “men and brethren, what shall I do to be saved?” Or, have you been put to more concern about salvation, than ever you were about anything else in the world? And have you seen, in this case, the natural tendency of your heart rest upon some other thing for peace with God than this sacrifice, which Christ offered of himself to the sword of justice? There is such a natural inclination in all to rest upon some other thing for peace with God, and it is a good token when it is discovered, and becomes a burden and a ground of a challenge, that they have had a sinful inclination to put duties, prayers, tears, enlargements, and the like, in Christ’s room. “Before the law came, I was alive,” says Paul; and thought I had a stock of righteousness in myself to be the ground of my peace with God: “But when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died:” when, by the law, I got the knowledge of sin, I died to all conceit of myself and my righteousness; “What things were formerly gain unto me, these I counted loss for Christ.” —Now, if you have been thus pursued by justice, which you see no sacrifice will satisfy, but that of the man that is God’s fellow, and have been burdened with your natural inclination to some other sacrifice, I think the Lord has begun the good work upon you, and therefore I call and invite you to the table of the Lord.
(2.) Have you seen the glory and excellency of this sacrifice? What a glorious ransom God has found out for his own satisfaction, that thousands of rams could not do it, but that one Lamb could do it, even the Lamb of God sacrificed? Have you seen the sword quenching its thirst in the blood of the Lamb? And have you taken up the love and mercy of God in providing such a lamb, such a ram caught in the thicket when your neck, like Isaac’s, was upon the block? Have you seen him to be a worthy ransom, because of the worthiness of the persons sacrificed, he being God’s fellow, God-man in one person, and so acting in his Father’s name, and by his appointment, when he yielded obedience to the death, as being his Shepherd, whom he sealed for this end? And has the view and apprehension of him, in this mediatorial glory, drawn forth your esteem of him and of his offering and sacrifice, so as you could venture heaven, and your eternal salvation upon it; so that you desire to say, “To him that loved me, and washed me in his own blood, to him be glory?” Is the view of this sacrifice that which cheers and delights you most? and is it matter of wonder to you, now and then, that when the stroke of justice was ready to come upon you, Christ should have interposed between you and the fatal deadly blow; Can you say, you count all but loss and dung, that you may win Christ, and be found in him; so that you care not what may be cast overboard, if you but get to that shore, even Christ and his righteousness? Then welcome are you to the table of the Lord; I invite you in his glorious name.
(3.) Have you found your souls in safety, from the sword of justice, under this shadow of the blood of the man that is God’s fellow? Nothing rightly satisfies the awakened challenges of conscience, but that which satisfies the awakened sword of justice; and that is the smiting of the Shepherd, and the blood of the Lamb that is his fellow. Now, have you seen God’s justice satisfied thereby, and found your conscience satisfied with the same? Have you, some time or other, found your soul at peace under this covert of blood, knowing that the sword was put up in its scabbard, it being fully satisfied with the blood of God; this is a being pleased with what the Lord of hosts is pleased; and you have thus, being justified by faith, had peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Where go you, when under challenges for sin? Do you find most peace in this sacrifice, even when you have the deepest and most kindly impression of your sin? For the legalist, he can believe well enough, when he has no challenges for sin, but under these challenges, his faith fails him. But for you, believer under all challenges, do you find this is always your only shift, the blood of Christ, the sacrifice of the man that is God’s fellow? Is this also your only shift when you think of death, or of appearing before the judgment-seat of God? Do you make such use of Christ’s offering to justice, as that it is your constant desire to put Christ in your room? Is the language of your soul, O! I desire no accompting [accounting] and reckoning with justice; nay, I dare not count and reckon with Christ, but my soul, as it were, leaves Christ in its room, and runs from reckoning with justice, to hide itself under his wings who can count to the utmost farthing. Dear soul, who has attained to something of this in reality, I invite you, in my Master’s name, to come to his table.
(4.) It is oft-times matter of exercise to you, to get over all other sacrifices to this alone, whereby the awakened sword of justice is appeased? Can you say, it has been matter of exercise to you, not only how to get over your sins unto Christ; but also, how to get over your graces and duties to him, so as you might not trust therein to the prejudice of trusting in Christ? Paul not only, while in nature, but even after conversion, found an inclination to account some thing gain, beside Christ; and therefore, in opposition to this inclination, he does, with a doubtless, cry down all things and count them dung and loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, (Phil. 3:8-9). Taking in his gracious actings, and actions, as well as others, and found a need to cast away the good, as well as the bad, in point of justification. Did you ever find it a harder exercise to be quit of your duties, tears, and enlargements in point of dependence, than to be rid of your sins? The believer has one exercise of faith, how to be quit of sin; and another new exercise, how to be freed from resting on duties, and how to be singly engaged in resting on Christ: his mind is not quiet in all his duties till he come hither? even to be found in Christ, to have his peace with God founded upon Christ, and not upon duties. The legalist, when he gets duties performed, then he has peace; but the believer, though he should be about duties a whole day, and is indeed more engaged in duties readily than the legalist himself, that relies thereon; but let him be about duties a whole day, yet perhaps he has little or no peace, because he would be overall duties, to Christ himself, as his resting place; and so has no peace till he enjoy him to his satisfaction. Hence also he is oft-times full of fears and jealousies, lest through unbelief, he put some other thing in the room of Christ’s sacrifice. A natural man may, perhaps, suspect his duties, lest they be wrong; but the believer is more taken up in suspecting his faith, saying, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief:” he dares not trust his own faith, knowing his evil heart of unbelief that he has within him. Well, if this be oft-times matter of exercise to you, poor soul to get over all other sacrifices and services, to this great sacrifice, Christ Jesus, in whom alone the sword of justice is satisfied, I invite you, as a believer, to feast at the Lord’s table, upon the sacrifice. Does the faith of this sacrifice purify your heart, so that you long to be perfectly holy, seeing and lamenting your own unholiness and impurity, and desiring daily to bring your impure sins and lusts, to the fountain opened, by the sword of justice, in the heart of a pierced Christ? —I then invite you, in the name of the Lord, to this holy table, as one that has seen the value, and shared the virtue, and participated of the efficacy of this sacrifice, given by the man that is God’s fellow, to the awakened sword of justice.
In a word, is there any here, who, under a sense of sin, see an absolute need of this sacrifice; who, under a sense of their unworthiness, are fearing and trembling to approach to the Lord’s table, and yet would give all the world for a share of the saving and healing virtue of this glorious sacrifice: and see nothing in the wide world so fit for them as Christ? I invite them to the Lord’s table. Are there any here lamenting the Lord’s anger and absence at this day? lamenting that things are so far wrong in the house of God, and that there is so little power and glory of God seen in the sanctuary, and panting after communion and fellowship with him, crying, “O that I knew where I might find him, O that it were with me as in times past!” O for an heart to love Christ! O for a sealed interest in Christ! O for the healing balsam of the blood of the Lamb to cure the sad plagues of my heart, which I see to be as black as hell! O come and take a drink, poor soul, at the Lord’s table, even a full draught of the blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin! Is there any here, any poor creature, that sees and laments his own weakness, and the power of sin and corruption in him, pained to the heart with his numberless backslidings from the Lord Jesus? I would gladly have a knot cast between Christ and his soul, that may never loose: such strength and grace communicate, as that he may never go back from God: I invite you to come forward to the Lord’s table, and get a strengthening meal. —Perhaps there is some trembling weak believer here, that is doubting whether he has grace or not; whether he be a believer or not; O cry to the Spirit of God to be sent to clear you, by showing to you the things that are freely given you of God. I shall only ask you, who are fearing you have no interest in him, no portion in the son of Jesse, the man that is God’s fellow; tell me, will you quit your part of him? Could you freely choose to take the world and your lusts, and let others take Christ who please? would you find in your heart to rest contented with other things, and give any body your part of Christ? What say you to that poor doubting soul? Is your heart now melting, and relenting within you, and saying, O minister! what is that you are saying? that wounds me to the bottom of my soul! quit all my part of Christ! O no, no, no! If I were sure of my interest in him, I would not quit my part of him for ten thousand, thousand, thousand worlds; and, even as it is, though I dare not assert that I have an interest in him, yet I would not say that I would quit my part in him; no, for all that lies within the bosom of the universe. Is that the language of your heart? Well, Christ hears that, and he will mind it as a token of some heart-kindness to him. Can you say that God will be just and righteous though he should send you to the bottom of hell, instead of allowing you to sit at his table; and if such a dog as you get a crumb from him, it will be a miracle of mercy? Can you say that though doubts and darkness, and innumerable evils be now surrounding you, yet, for what you know, it was a day of power you met with at such a time, in which a saving work, as you thought, was begun, and now you would willingly have it cleared up to you? Can you say that though you have a thousand objections against yourself, and your own heart and frame, yet you have no objections against Christ? At least, if any reasonings and high imaginations against him be risen and raging in your heart, you would gladly take hold of him, that he may cast all down, and take and keep the throne himself? Do you see the way of salvation, through free grace, and through his perfect righteousness, to be an excellent way, worthy of God, and suitable to man, becoming the wisdom and glory of God, and that you are well pleased with this way? Can you finally say, that you are one of the poorest creatures in all the world; poor and needy, destitute of all good, of all grace, of all faith, love, repentance, holiness, and any other spiritual quality in yourselves; but that you see an infinite fulness in Christ that can supply you, and out of which you desire to be supplied, with all that you need? And can appeal to heaven, that in him only you desire to be found, who is all in all? Can you say Yea and Amen to these things? Then, poor soul, I charge and command you, in the name of the Lord of hosts, to venture forward to this table, as you would not displease him, and grieve his holy Spirit by staying away, when he calls you, and commands you to do this in remembrance of him, and of his kindness to you. You know not if ever you will get another opportunity, poor, straying, wandering sheep; though you be such a weak creature, as that you think, if you be among the flock of Christ at all, you are the worst among them all for sin; and the last among them all for grace; and straying so far behind all the rest of the flock, that you will never get up among the rest, unless the great shepherd take you up in his arms, and carry you: I charge you, in his name, to come forward, and see the glorious Shepherd smitten with the sword of justice in your room. And now, hoping I have prevailed, or rather that the Lord has, and will prevail, with his little flock, to come to the Lord’s table, and hear the Lord of hosts sacramentally, saying, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, the man that is my fellow.” I close with
4. A fourth inference from this doctrine, with relation to this ordinance: Hence we may see in what manner it is that believers should approach to a communion table, since the sword of Jehovah’s wrath is ordered to smite the Shepherd, the man that is God’s fellow. Then you ought to commemorate this sacrifice, and come to his table.
(1.) With wonder and astonishment. O come! wondering that the sword of the Lord of hosts, that infinitely just God, should pass by you, man, and you, woman, that was an enemy; and satisfy himself upon the man that was his friend, by smiting the Shepherd in the room of the sheep, that the man who is God’s fellow should be made sin for you; made a curse for you; made shame for you; made a sacrifice to justice for you; and made the channel in which the wrath and displeasure of God should run so as to run by you, and never light upon you. O wonder! wonder, men and angels!
(2.) Come with praise, gratitude, and thankfulness to the Lord of hosts, and to the man that is his fellow, for such a wonderful contrivance of salvation. What posture did grace find you in, poor believer? even lying open to the stroke of God’s drawn sword of justice: and our Lord Jesus, on the one side, stept in and said, Hold, Lord, let that stroke fall upon me, and let them go free; and, upon their side, there was God’s good pleasure, condescending to accept of his offer, saying, “Awake, O sword; smite the shepherd, and spare the sheep.” Poor soul, that desires to flee to him for refuge! Christ has changed rooms with you, by interposing to keep the stroke off you, and receiving it into his own bowels; and O, what infinite obligations to love and thankfulness does this lay you under! how will he be praised forever among the redeemed for his love! Come, singing unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his blood, —to him be the glory.
(3.) Come with boldness, confidence, and cheerfulness. What a shame and dishonor to the glorious Shepherd is it, that the sheep should be always trembling and quaking, while they are under such a sure and safe covert, as the blood and righteousness of the Shepherd! If we were coming to deal with God about salvation, upon the footing of anything in us, we might indeed be confounded with despair, and could not stand far enough away from God; but when you are to deal with him upon the score of the God-pleasing, justice-satisfying blood of the man that is his fellow, we cannot come with too much boldness: on this ground let us come boldly to the throne of grace, having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. Is it the blood of God’s Shepherd, the blood of the man that is his fellow? Is it not thy valuable blood, or not? Then why should you give way to diffidence? What a shame is it that we dare scarcely trust to his sacrifice! Therefore,
(4.) Come with full assurance of faith: assured of the love and goodwill of God in Christ, in whom his sword is pacified, and through whom peace with God is proclaimed, and a cessation of arms to all eternity. If you can attain to this full assurance of faith, poor weak believer, you will, no doubt, come forward as the Lord shall help you, under covert of this honorable sacrifice; come hoping against hope, and believing against unbelief; say, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” Come lamenting your unbelief, and crying to him for faith. Come depending on him for grace to communicate in a suitable way, and for grace to take a hearty draught of the sword-satisfying blood of the man that is his fellow.
SERVICE AT THE TABLE.
Now, believers, what was Moses’ work, when the angel of the Lord appeared in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bush, (Ex. 3:2), when the bush burned with fire and was not consumed? Why, says Moses, “I will turn aside, and see this great sight.” That same should be your work and exercise now, at a communion-table: “Turn aside, and see this great sight!” What sight? The greatest sight that ever was seen, the eternal Son of God in the bush of our nature, and this bush burning in the flames of divine wrath, for our sakes, and in our room and stead, and yet the bush not consumed. O! with what holy fear ought you to look upon this great sight! “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet,” says God to Moses, “for the place where thou standest is holy ground;” and Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. You may perhaps think, if you were as great a saint as Moses, you would not be afraid; but, O the sight of God is an awful thing to the greatest saint on earth, and humbles them to the dust! But, if you be a saint at all, I will tell you, you will be reckoning yourself the greatest sinner out of hell, the chief of sinners; and if it be so, sure I am, this great sight may be wonderful in your eyes to see the sword of divine wrath drunk in the blood of the glorious surety, in your room.
Solomon says, “He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it,” (Prov. 11:15). Behold the Son of God become surety for you, that was a stranger and alien; but he must smart for it: or, as it may be rendered, “He shall be sore broken.” So was the Son of God, our surety; he was broken in soul, broken in body, broken to pieces; and we have here the symbols of his broken body; for, “In the same night in which he was betrayed, he took bread,” as you see us take it here, after his example.
spectators; now communicants; if you have the eye of faith, you might see a
broken Christ represented under this broken bread; now you may hear God
saying, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd. All we like lost sheep have
gone astray; and we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord, the
Lord of hosts, has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Sin brings down the
sword of vengeance; but, behold your sin laid upon the Shepherd, and
thereupon the Lord of hosts saying, “Awake, O sword against the shepherd” O
rare and ravishing contrivance! O admirable and amiable contrivance! O
beautiful and beneficial contrivance! Eternally blessed be the contriver!
and eternally blessed be the Shepherd! O infinitely kind and compassionate
Shepherd that laid down his life for the sheep, and feeds his flock like a
shepherd! Yea, feeds them with his flesh and blood! for, having broken it,
he gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take ye, eat ye; this is my body
broken for you: this do in remembrance of
Now, my dear friends, the time of a communion action should be a busy time. When you see the sword of justice awakened against Christ, O lay all the enemies of God, especially his enemies within you, under the stroke of his sword of justice; bring all your lusts and idols to the justice of God, saying, Awake, O sword of justice, against these my sins and smite them. What think you of this love, believers? What think you of this love, communicants? What think you of this love, spectators? If it had not been for this, instead of weeping at a communion table, you had been weeping in hell. Awake, O sword, against my lusts, and give this lust a stroke, and that lust a stroke; Awake, O sword, against this pride and passion of mine, and give it a stroke; awake, O sword, against that enmity, unbelief, and legality of mine, and give them a stroke; awake, O sword, against my atheism, carnality, and worldly mindedness, and give these a stroke; awake, O sword, against my filthiness and frowardness, my uncleanness and vileness of heart and way, my Delilah sins, and O give them a stroke. —Bring forth all your sins, and especially the sins that particularly beset you, bring them forth to the sword, to the sword of justice, to be hewed in pieces, like Agag, before the Lord; saying, Lord, let the sword that awaked against my Lord, awake against my lusts, that they may be crucified with him. O take vengeance on thy enemies, within me! O, it will be a blessed communion-day if it were but a day of vengeance upon your sins and lusts. O, cry down the vengeance of the sword of justice upon them.
And as you should bring forth all your sins, so bring forth all your wants: whatever you want to your own souls: to your friends; to your family; to your children; to your neighbors, and Christian acquaintances, that desire you to mind them: lay all your wants before the man that is God’s fellow; who as he is the sacrifice for your sins, so he is the storehouse for your supply; “My God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus,” (Phil 4:19). Want you anything for the Church of Scotland? Our great want at this day is a spirit of zeal, a spirit of love, and a sound mind; the want of God’s holy spirit makes much division and disorder; O cry down the spirit! And do not wonder if the Shepherd be smitten, that the sheep may be scattered; this was fulfilled when all the disciples were offended because of him, in the night wherein he was betrayed; and all forsook him and fled: they were scattered every one to his own, like so many timorous sheep, and left him alone, (John 16:32). —But “I will turn my hand on the little ones:” some make that word a threatening, that, as Christ suffered, so shall his disciples; they shall be baptized with the bloody baptism he was baptized with. Think not strange, if a scaffold of blood should be your trial; if you be a believer indeed, you shall notwithstanding overcome by the blood of the Lamb, by the blood of the Shepherd, the man that is God’s fellow. “I will turn my hand on the little ones:” some make it a promise, that God will gather together the scattered sheep; the little ones among Christ’s scholars, may be divided and dispersed, but they shall rally again. O look for a time when he will return; and, in mercy, turn his hand on the little ones.
Now, let all the little ones, the poor, weak, feeble sheep of the flock, follow and lean upon the great shepherd that was smitten for them, and he will supply all your wants, subdue all your iniquities, pardon all your sins, and bear all your burdens, and sanctify all your crosses, and do all your work in you and for you. If you have not now gotten what you would have, cry to him, and wait upon him, and let it be the top of your desires and endeavors, to have more and more fellowship, with the man that is God’s fellow, especially in his being the only sacrifice to the sword of justice in your room. Upon this sacrifice, wherewith God is so infinitely well pleased, let all your hope of grace and glory depend.
Now, go in peace, and may the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect, in every good work, to do his will; working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.