VEIL OF THE
; OR, ACCESS TO THE TEMPLE
HOLY OF HOLIES BY THE DEATH OF CHRIST
This Sermon was preached on the Sabbath evening, immediately after the administration of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper at Carnock, July 12, 1729.
“And behold the veil of
the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom.”
Some here may think, what will the minister make of that text, and what relation hath it to the work of this day? Indeed I cannot promise to make anything of it, unless the Lord himself make something of it to you. But, with his help, we may find a feast in it to our souls; and a suitable feast on the back of a feast, such as many of you have been celebrating. Christ hath been evidently set forth crucified among you this day, and as you have been called to feast upon his passion, so now you are called to feast upon the fruits and effects of it. Have you seen him dying on a cross for you! O come and see what immediately followed upon his death. “Behold, the veil of the temple was rent from the top to the bottom.” That I may divide the words, and then explain them, you may notice here.
1. The connection of this verse, with what went before, in the particle and, intimating, the time of this miracle, that it intended the death of Christ, “When he had cried, with a loud voice, he gave up the ghost,” (Matt. 27:50). This loud cry signified that his death should be public, and proclaimed to all the world, as it hath been to you this day; and his yielding up the ghost showed that he voluntarily resigned his soul to be an offering for sin, according to his undertaking as our surety, (Isa. 53:10). Death being the penalty for the breach of the first covenant, “Thou shalt surely die;” the Mediator of the new covenant must make atonement by means of death, otherwise no remission. Now he gave up the ghost, and immediately the veil of the temple was rent.
2. You have a note of admiration, Behold! intimating what a wonderful thing did immediately ensue. Several miracles, besides the rending of the veil, are here mentioned; but this seems to be the most remarkable. We are told, that the earth did quake, the rocks rent, graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints arose; but that which is put in the first rank of these miracles is, that the veil of the temple was rent in twain; and we find the evangelist Mark mentions this in particular, and none of the rest of the miracles here named, as if this rending of the veil were the miracle most to be noticed, as containing somewhat mysterious and significant therein, (Mark 10:37-38), where we have the very same words, “Jesus cried with a loud voice and gave up the ghost; and the veil of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom.” And here it is ushered in with a Behold! turn aside and see this great sight! be astonished at it. But what are we to wonder at? Then,
3. See this object of
admiration: the veil of the temple was rent in twain, just as our Lord Jesus
expired; that veil of the temple which parted betwixt the
(1.) It was in conformity
(2.) The rending of the veil of the temple, signified the revealing of the mysteries of the Old Testament. The veil of the temple was for concealment: it was extremely dangerous for any to see the furniture of the most holy place within the veil, except the high priest; and he but once a year, with great ceremony, and through a cloud of smoke: all which pointed out the darkness of that dispensation, (2 Cor. 3:13). But now, at the death of Christ, all was laid open; the mysteries are unveiled, so that he that runs may read the meaning of them.
(3.) The rending of the veil of the temple signified the uniting of Jew and Gentiles, by removing the partition-wall betwixt them, which was the ceremonial law: Christ, by his death, repealed it, and cancelled that hand-writing of ordinances, nailed it on the cross, and so broke down the middle wall of partition: and, by abolishing these institutions and ceremonies, by which the Jews were distinguished from all other people, he abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments, contained in ordinances, for to make in himself of twain one new man, (Eph. 2:14-15). Just as two rooms are made one, by taking down the partition wall.
(4.) The rending of the veil did especially signify the consecrating and opening of a new and living way to God. The veil kept off people from drawing near to the most holy place; but the rending of it signified that Christ, by his death, opened up a way to God for himself, as our blessed high-priest; and for us in him.
1. For himself this was the great day of atonement, wherein the high-priest, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood entered once for all into the holy place; in token of which, the veil was rent, (Heb. 9:7-13). Though Christ did not personally ascend to heaven, the holy place not made with hands, that is, to heaven, till about forty days after; yet he immediately acquired a right to enter, and had a virtual admission: his entrance into the heavenly temple, into the holy of holies, began in his death; having offered his sacrifice in the outer court, the blood of it was to be sprinkled on the mercyseat within the veil, according to the manner of the priests under the law; but now the legal shadows were all to evanish: the great, the true high-priest having by his own blood entered, and so procured.
2. For us an open entrance into the true holy of holies, as the apostle applies it, “We have boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he has consecrated for us through the veil,” (Heb. 10:19-20). We have now free access to come with boldness to a throne of grace, to a God in Christ, (Heb. 4:16). The veil of the temple did so interpose betwixt the people and the most holy place, that they could neither go in, nor look into it, but only the priest, in the manner that I said before; but the rending of the veil signified that the true holy of holies, heaven itself, is now open to us, by the entrance of our great high-priest, that we also may enter in by faith, as a royal priesthood, following our forerunner, who for us hath entered within the veil, (Heb 6:19). Nothing can obstruct or discourage our access to God in his grace and glory, for the veil is rent.
Now, I am to touch a little at the special mystery here represented, “Behold the veil of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom.”
Observation. That Christ by his death hath rent the veil that interposed betwixt God and us, and obstructed our access to him.
He gave up the ghost, and behold the veil was rent, “Christ hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust,” (1 Pet. 3:18). Why? “That he might bring us to God;” and, in order thereunto, that he might rend the veil of guilt and wrath that interposed betwixt us and him, that he might take away the cherubims and flaming sword, and open a way to the tree of life.
I. The method wherein I shall speak of this subject, shall be to show,
II. What is that Veil that interposed betwixt God and us.
III. How the death of Christ hath rent that veil. In what manner the veil is rent.
IV. For what end the veil is rent.
V. Draw some inferences from the whole for application.
There may be some here that came to this occasion, to inquire into God’s temple, to see his beauty and glory there, and to get near to God; but ah! they are complaining, they have lost their end; why? they apprehended a veil betwixt them and the glory of God, and thought it impossible to get through the veil; but perhaps, you knew not that the veil of the temple was rent; and therefore you have not seen the beauty of the Lord in his temple. If you had known that the veil was rent from the top to the bottom, you would have gone in more boldly to the most holy place; and if yet you will believe that the veil is rent, I can promise that you shall not miss a sight of his glory, through the rent veil: “Did I not say to thee, if thou wouldst believe, thou shalt see the glory of God?” But I proceed in the method proposed.
I. What is that veil that interposed betwixt God and us? Not to speak of the veil of Old Testament shadows and ceremonies, now rent and removed by the death of Christ, there are some veils that, in a special manner, obstructed our access to God; and they may be reduced to these three, the veil of a broken covenant, the veil of God’s injured attributes, and the veil of man’s sin.
1. The veil of a broken covenant, or law of works. The covenant of works, you know, was, Do and Live, otherwise you shall die; “In the day thou eatest, thou shalt surely die.” In which covenant, you see, there was a precept, a promise, and a penalty. The precept, was Do, or perfect obedience; the promise was Life, or eternal happiness upon obedience; and the penalty was death and eternal damnation, in case of disobedience. Now man by his sin hath broken the precept of that covenant, and so forfeited the promise of life, and incurred the penalty of death. If ever we have access to God, this broken spirit must be repaired, this forfeited life must be redeemed, this penalty must be execute. Here is a veil that separates betwixt God and us; a veil that neither men nor angels can rend, and yet a veil that must be rent, otherwise we die and perish forever; and this veil is the harder to be rent, because of the following, namely,
2. The veil of God’s injured perfections: particularly, his incensed justice, and injured holiness. Justice, infinite justice, was a black veil that obstructed our access to heaven; for God became an angry God, a God filled with fierce wrath against the sinner. God hath set this penalty upon the law, commanding perfect obedience upon pain of death: God’s justice was engaged to make this penalty effectual upon man’s falling into sin. Nothing can satisfy justice but infinite punishment; “The wages of sin is death; and God will by no means clear the guilty;” and so, if this veil be not rent by a complete satisfaction, the guilty sinner must go down to the pit. The holiness of God also was injured by the breach of the law; “Sin is a transgression of the law;” a transgression of the precept. Now, as God’s justice stands up in defense of the threatening and penalty, so his holiness stands up for the defense of the precept and command of the holy law. God cannot justify the sinner, nor accept of him as righteous, unless he hath a complete righteousness; not a lame, partial, and imperfect righteousness; but a righteousness every way commensurate to the extensive precept of the law will satisfy an infinitely holy God. As infinite justice cannot be satisfied, without a complete satisfaction, answering to the threatening and penalty of the law; so the infinite holiness of God cannot be satisfied without a perfect obedience, answerable to the precept and command of the law. Now, our natural want of ability to yield satisfaction, and our natural want of perfect conformity to the law, make justice and holiness, and other perfections of God, stand in the way of our salvation, and of our access to heaven, like a veil that never can be rent by us; especially considering, that there is,
3. A third veil, and that is the veil of sin on our part. This is a separating veil betwixt God and us, “Your iniquities have separated betwixt you and your God,” (Isa. 59:2). Now, before we can get near unto God, this veil must be rent, the guilt of sin must be expiated; for without shedding of blood there is no remission: the filth of sin must be purged; for, who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord, and stand in his holy place, but he that hath clean hands and a pure heart? The power of sin must be broken. There is by nature, in us all a power of ignorance; our minds are become a dungeon of darkness, and this is such a veil betwixt God and us, that unless it be removed, there is no hopes of mercy; therefore says the prophet, “It is a people of no understanding; therefore he that hath made them will not have mercy on them.” There is in us a power of enmity, “The carnal mind is enmity against God,” etc. We are enemies to God by wicked works; this is another veil that must be rent by the arm of almighty power; for it is a veil and curtain that the devil hath strongly wrought, like a web, with the warp and waft of pride, carnality, security, worldliness, and all other wickedness whatsoever, which are but so many threads and pieces of this web, this veil of enmity. There is a power of unbelief, that is another veil, that on our part stands betwixt us and the holy place, and separates us from divine favor; “He that believeth not is condemned already.”
II. The second thing, How the death of Christ hath rent the veil; when he gave up the ghost, behold the veil was rent.
1. By the death of Christ the veil of a broken covenant was rent in twain, so as we might get to God through that veil of the law; for the law was fulfilled in every part of it, by his obedience to the death. Was the precept of the law a perfect obedience? Well, Christ by his obedience to the death, did magnify the law, and make it honorable, brought in an everlasting righteousness; his death was the finishing stroke, the highest act of that obedience whereby the law was fulfilled. Was the promise of life in the law, or first covenant forfeited by us? Well, Christ rent this veil by redeeming the forfeiture with the price of his blood: he bought back the inheritance for us that we had lost, making a purchase of us, and of eternal salvation for us. Was the penalty of death in the law standing also in the way? Well, Christ comes in the sinner’s room, endures this penalty, by coming under the curse of the law, becoming obedient to the death, enduring the wrath of God, and delivering us from the wrath to come; and so behold, the veil of a broken covenant was rent.
2. By the death of Christ, the veil of God’s injured attributes, that stood betwixt God and us, was rent and removed. Christ hath satisfied the justice of God, by offering himself a sacrifice, (Eph. 5:2). This offering being through the eternal spirit, it was of infinite worth and value: here the altar sanctified the gift; the altar was the Godhead of Christ, the offering was made upon the altar of the divine nature; and therefore this blood of Christ is called the blood of God. This sacrifice was of infinite worth and value, for doing the business of poor man, in atoning justice, and so rending this veil. But now, as Christ hath satisfied the justice of God, by enduring the penalty and threatening of the law; so he hath vindicated the holiness of God, by fulfilling the precept and command of the law, which he not only did through the whole course of his life, but perfectly finished in his death. Now, if Christ hath fulfilled the law, satisfied the justice, and vindicated the holiness of God, by his obedience to the death, then we may see and say, “Behold the veil was rent.” But,
3. There is the veil of sin on our part: How is this rent by the death of Christ? Why, the Lamb was sacrificed to rend and remove this veil, “Behold the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world.” By his death, the guilt of sin is expiated; for God set him forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins, etc. By his death the filth of sin is purged; “For the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin:” and that both meritoriously and efficaciously: for, by his death, the power of sin also is broken fundamentally, seeing by his death he purchased the spirit; which, in due time, he pours out, and thereby actually removes the veil on our part, which he had done fundamentally and virtually on the cross. By this purchased spirit he rends the veils of darkness and ignorance: “The God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, shines into the heart,” etc. All the light of nature, reason, education, and human literature cannot rend this veil, till the man receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ. By this purchased spirit he rends the veil of enmity, shedding abroad his love upon the heart: and, indeed, the view and apprehension of God’s mighty love in Christ, can rend that mighty veil of enmity; for we love him whenever we see that he first loved us, (1 John 4:19). When the soul sees the God, whose majesty he dreaded, is now a God in Christ, reconciled to the soul through the sacrifice that Christ offered up, then the soul is reconciled to God, and so the veil of enmity is rent in twain. By this purchased spirit he rends also the veil of unbelief; for, as he is a spirit of light, to remove the veil of darkness, and a spirit of love, to remove the veil of enmity; so he comes into the heart, as a spirit of faith, and removes the veil of unbelief: he begins the rent of humiliation, when he rends the heart in twain with a sense of sin, and a sight of its undone state; when he makes the soul take with sin, and justify the Lord, though he should damn him for his sin. He makes the rent of the veil wider by a gracious manifestation, like that, “He manifested forth his glory, and his disciples believed on him,” (John 2:11). Thus he rends the veil of unbelief: and completes the rent of this veil when faith is turned into vision. Thus you see how, by his death, the veil was rent.
III. The third thing, In what manner was the veil rent? All I say on this head, shall be an allusion shortly to the rending of the veil of the temple here: which, we see, was in a wonderful manner ushered in with a behold.
1. Behold, it was rent; not only drawn aside, but rent. The curtain was not only drawn aside, but torn to pieces, as if God had been displeased at the veil of partition betwixt him and us; angry at the veil of separation, and enraged that there should have been any veil to intercept between him and us. God’s heart was set upon a reconciliation betwixt him and us, and therefore his hand tears the curtain that was hanging up betwixt him and us; gave it such a rent, as it might never be whole again; all the devils in hell cannot sew up the rent, so as to disappoint God’s design of bringing his people into union and communion with him.
2. Behold, the veil of the temple was not only rent, but rent in twain: the veil that was one was made two, that God and man, who were two might be made one. It was not half rent, but wholly rent; rent in twain, a full and complete rent; showing that Christ, by his death, would not be a half Saviour, but a complete Saviour, and the author of a full and complete salvation; taking entirely out of the way whatever separated betwixt God and us, not leaving so much as a stitch of the curtain to hold the two sides of the veil together; no, the veil was rent in twain. And not only so, but
3. Behold the veil was rent from the top to the bottom: The veil was rent from the top, the highest thing that separated betwixt God and us was rent in twain; could never have reached up to the top of the veil: yea, the hands and arms of all the men on earth, and angels in heaven, were too short to reach to the top of the infinite justice and holiness of God, that interposed betwixt him and us: the top of this veil, this wall of partition, was higher than heaven; what could we or any other creature do for rending it from the top? But Christ put up his hand as it were, to the top of the veil, and rent it from the top. The rent begins at the top, but it does not stop here: for,
4. The veil is also rent to the bottom; the bottom of this veil, that did separate betwixt God and us, did reach as deep as the bottom of hell: who could descend to hell for us to rend the veil to the bottom? According to the lamentation of one Joanness Seneca upon his deathbed, “We have here (says he), some that will go to the quire for us, some that will play for us, some that will say mass for us, some that will pray for us; but where is there one that will go to hell for us?” But, O happy believer, Christ is one that hath gone to hell for you, that he might quench all the flames of hell with his blood, and conquer all the powers of hell that were in the way betwixt you and heaven. He descended to hell, in a manner, that he might rend the bottom of the veil. But there is yet more here, he not only rends the veil at the top and at the bottom, but,
5. From the top to the bottom all is rent; both the top and the bottom, and all that is betwixt the top and the bottom, all the impediments betwixt heaven and hell are removed. Though heaven be purchased, and hell vanquished, yet there might be something in the earth, something in the world, betwixt heaven and hell, that might obstruct the passage to the holiest; well, but the rent is from the top to the bottom; all that comes betwixt the top and the bottom is rent as well as both ends: so that there is access from the lowest part of misery to the highest happiness, a long rent, in a manner, from the top of heaven to the bottom of hell. We fell low as hell by sin, but Christ by his death hath made an open way from hell to heaven; for, “Behold, the veil was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.”
IV. The fourth thing, for what end was the veil rent? I shall tell you only these two ends of it. 1. That Christ might enter into the holiest as our High-priest for us. 2. That we might enter in also after him and through him.
1. I say, the veil of the temple was rent, that Christ our glorious High-priest might enter into the holy of holies in our name. I told you, that the veil of the temple was that which parted betwixt the holy place and the most holy, and which kept off people from drawing near to the most holy place. The veil was for concealment; and none might enter within the veil but the High-priest, and he was not to enter in without blood, the blood of the sacrifice along with him, as you see, (Heb. 9:3,7). Now, the most holy place was a type of heaven; so our Lord Jesus Christ having shed his own blood entered within the veil into heaven, the true holy of holies, carrying in with him the blood of his own sacrifice,— “Not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he entered in once into the holy place,” (Heb. 9:12). Not that Christ did carry into heaven his own substantial blood in his hand; we are not to understand it so carnally, but that, in a spiritual sense, and virtually, he did so. Under the law, the day of atonement was upon that day when the High-priest went into the holy of holies, (Lev. 16:30); on that day the people were pardoned all their sins, and cleansed from all their transgressions; when the High-priest had been within the veil in the holy of holies, then was the atonement actually made: though the blood was shed without the camp, yet the atonement was not made till it was brought into the holy place, (Lev. 16:14-15). What did this typify, but that our atonement was perfectly made upon Christ’s going into the holy of holies, namely heaven? “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us,” (Heb. 9:24). Perhaps you have thought hitherto that the work of our redemption was perfectly completed on the cross, so as there was no more to be done; but know, it was not enough for the sacrifice to be killed without the camp, but the blood must be carried into the holy of holies; all was not done till that was done. Indeed, when Christ died, the sacrifice was slain, the blood was shed; there was no more sacrifice to succeed, all was finished in that respect; but yet all was not done until the true veil being rent as well as the typical; the blood of Christ was carried into the holy place within the veil, that is, into heaven. Though Christ did not personally ascend to heaven, as I said in the explication, till above forty days after, yet he immediately acquired a right to enter, and had a virtual admission; so that his entrance began in his death; and when he ascended into heaven he completed and perfected that in his own person, in the true holy of holies, heaven itself, which the high-priest did typically in the figurative holy of holies, which was of old under the law in the earth; and there hath Christ, in the power and virtue of his blood, made atonement: and as the high-priest did under the law, he carried in with him all the names of all the tribes of Israel on his breast; and by the power of this blood of the sacrifice made a full atonement. But then,
2. Another end of rending the veil was, not only that he might make a way for himself, as our priest, into the most holy place, but that he might make a way for us in him; that we might enter in also, and have access to God through him; access to heaven through him. See therefore how the believer is said to follow in after Christ into the holiest within the veil, (Heb. 6:19-20). They are said to flee for refuge to the hope set before them, “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, entering into that within the veil, whether the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high-priest for us after the order of Melchisedec.” “We have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh,” (Heb. 10:19-20). Where our way to heaven, or to the holiest, is said to be through the blood of Christ; or, which is all one, through his flesh offered as a propitiatory sacrifice; by which as by the rent veil, we have boldness to enter. Now, this entrance into the holiest, or access to God that we have in Christ, is twofold, either inchoative here, or consummate hereafter.
(1.) There is an initial, inchoative, or begun entrance that we have now the holiest in time. In the most holy place was the golden altar, and symbols of God’s presence and glorious majesty, and access thereto was typical of our access to God and heaven; which access we have now with boldness even in time, through the rent veil by which our high-priest hath entered into the holy place, “Seeing then that we have a great high-priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,” (Heb. 4:14-16). And so it is inferred from this same doctrine, “Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith,” (Heb. 10:22). Question. What is that nearness to God, and access to him, that a man hath in time, when he was brought within the veil? Answer. In a word, It lies not only in the first application of grace, and change of the man’s state, when, in Christ Jesus he that was far off is made nigh by the blood of Christ; for, whenever the virtue of that blood comes upon us, by the Spirit of Christ, God comes near to us, and we are brought near to God; but there is still more and more nearness enjoyed by his people. Exercised Christians are able to give a distinct account of their having this nearness at some times and of their want of it at other times. He may be suspected indeed for an hypocrite that hath no changes, (Ps. 55:19); for the true Christian’s sky is never long clear and without clouds: change of weather, and change of way, is usually found by travelers to heaven. Every believer indeed hath still the spirit of Christ, dwelling in him: “For, if any man hath not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” But there are some singular outpourings of the spirit promised and bestowed, and well known by all believers, and they are precious enjoyments. This spirit the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him, says Christ: “But you know him, for he dwells with you, and shall be in you,” (John 14:17). This access to God within the veil, is sometimes experienced in prayer; yea, most frequently in that exercise is the light of God’s countenance lifted up, and the soul made to say, “I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplication.” Do not ye, believers, know this, that sometimes you have been so troubled that you could not speak? (Ps. 77:4): that your hearts have become so bound and straitened, that you could do nothing, and say nothing before the Lord, but sit as dumb and oppressed, all dark above, all dead within, and all doors shut upon you? You durst not neglect prayer, and yet you could not perform it; but behold, you have quickly found the two-leaved gates cast open to you; your hearts enlarged, and mouths wide opened in asking; the windows of heaven open, and the banks of the river of life broken down, and the streams gushing in upon you, like that in Isaiah 44:3, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.” Also, this access to God within the veil, is sometimes experienced in sweet communion and fellowship with God; “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” This communion with God is a mystery, sweet indeed to them that have it, and surpassing all the delights of sense and reason; but to them that have it not, it is incredible and unintelligible; a stranger intermeddles not with this joy. Ye that know not what it is, although the word be full of suitable and savory expressions of it, yet it is a riddle and dark parable to you; it is only tasting of it that can declare its transcendent sweetness. “O taste and see that God is good!” You that know what it is, though you cannot express it, yet you can relish and understand some sound words about it. It may be, you feel it sometimes in the secret retirements of the house, sometimes in the fields, or under a bush, as Nathanael under the fig-tree; but what you felt, you cannot make the world understand: only when the Lord directs the minister to speak somewhat suitably to it, then you are ready to think, O, it is just like the thing I felt at such a time and such a place: that which the minister is saying from God’s word, hath a sweet sound of that which I got yonder, when none in all the world heard me or saw me: “But (Nathanael) when thou wast under the fig-tree I saw thee,” says Christ: I heard you groaning to me; I saw you wrestling with me; I put your tears in my bottle, and poured in my comforts into your soul. O, know you what it is to be brought near to him, and to have the clouds and veils that are on your hearts or on your faces scattered, and the light of his countenance lifted up upon you? Have you not been sometimes on the mount, so as to think, O how good is it to be here? Have you not known what the warm and healing beams of the sun of righteousness upon you are? Have you not tasted that in his company that hath made all the wells of worldly comfort, like puddle water, loathsome and unsavory to you; yea, that hath made you groan in this tabernacle, and long to be at that complete and uninterrupted communion above, whereof all you tasted on earth is but a small earnest? However, the veil was rent, that you might enter within the veil into the holies, to a begun heaven even in time. Grace being the same specifically with glory; there is but a gradual difference: and therefore the believer, even on earth, is said to be come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to the innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn that are written in heaven, to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, (Heb. 12:22-23). Why, when does the believer come to all this? Even when he comes by faith to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, then he is come to heaven itself, the true holy of holies inchoatively, or by a begun entrance. But,
(2.) There is a consummate entrance into the holiest, that the believer shall have, as fruit of the rending of the veil, and that is when he comes to the heavens above, to the higher house, whither the forerunner for us entered, having rent the veil, which was rent that we might have access to God in glory as well as in grace, and then the believer will not be half in it as it were, but completely within the veil; for then will his communion with God be completed, then his knowledge of God, his love of God, his delight in God, his vision of God’s glory, his conformity of God’s image, will all be complete; for that which is in part shall be done away, and that which is perfect shall come, (1 Cor. 13:10). O what a sweet exchange will that be, when faith will say to vision, I give place to you; when hope will say to fruition, I give place to you; when grace will say to glory, I give place to you; when partial communion will say to perfection, I give place to you; when short passing blinks will say to uninterrupted everlasting joys, I give place to you! Little wonder then believers, long to be wholly within the veil (but I insist not on it), for then indeed they fully enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.
Thus you see the two great ends for which the veil was rent, namely, that way might be made for Christ’s entering into the holy of holies, and so for our entering in also through him, and after him. But I come now to
V. The Fifth thing, viz. the application. Is it so, that Christ hath by his death rent the veil that interposed between God and us, and obstructed our access to him? Then, First, for information, Hence we may see
1. What a full feast of love we have to feed upon on a communion-day, namely, the love of Christ, not only in dying, but in rending the veil, that he might enter into the holiest for us. The apostle says, That Christ loved us; and how does he prove it? He gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor, (Eph. 5:2). This savory and sweet smelling sacrifice, was the offering of incense; and where was the incense offered under the law? Why, it was offered within the veil. God tells Moses, that Aaron should take his handful of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil, (Lev. 16:12). Now, Christ having given himself an offering and sacrifice to God without the camp in this world, he rends the veil, and goes to heaven, and offers himself as incense within the veil. Perhaps you have seen and thought upon the love of Christ, in his dying upon the cross, in his making himself a sacrifice; but, O see his love also in his incense within the veil. We feed too sparingly upon Christ: and therefore our faith is weak: we eat, for the most part but of one dish, Christ as the paschal Lamb slain on the cross, but we should learn to feed upon Christ as a Priest gone in within the veil: our faith should not tarry on the cross, but we should carry it further, even after Christ, within the veil, into heaven itself. Our faith should flee for refuge, to lay hold upon all the hope that is set before us: the anchor of our soul will not be so sure and steadfast, as it might be, except it enter within the veil, (Heb. 6:19). As the apostle says of patience, “Let it have its perfect work;” so we say of faith, let it have its perfect work; let us follow Christ within the veil, and view him, not only shedding his blood, but entering into the holy of holies within the veil, and sprinkling his blood upon the mercyseat and before it, (Lev. 16:15). The priests under the law sprinkled the mercyseat, which was within the veil, all over, and when Christ went to heaven within the veil, he did that in substance which the priests did in ceremony, in order to make a full atonement: and when faith is acted upon all this, then the believer is said to be come to the blood of sprinkling; and we act not our faith far enough, when we act it no further that the death of Christ: for the atonement was not actually perfected, though it was made fundamentally on the cross, yet not formally, till upon the rending of the veil, our High-Priest entered into the holy place, and sprinkled the mercyseat with his blood; by which act mercy and justice are actually met, and kiss each other.
2. If the veil of the temple be rent, hence we may see the glory of the New Testament dispensation beyond that of the Old; the veil of the covering is rent, the darkness of that dispensation removed by the death of Christ, and Old Testament mysteries unveiled: so that now, he that runs may read the meaning of them.
Now we see clearly, that the mercyseat signified Christ, the great propitiation; the pot of manna signified Christ, the bread of life. Now we all with open face beholding the glory of the Lord, as in a glass, which helps the sight as the veil hindered it; and that the veil of the temple was rent, it may give us ground further to expect that the veil shall be taken away from the hearts of the Jews: “For even to this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their hearts; nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away,” (2 Cor. 3:15).
3. If, by the death of Christ, the veil be rent, that interposed betwixt God and us, hence we may see what is the way to heaven, and what access we have this way; why, “We have boldness to come to the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by that new and living way that he hath consecrated through the veil.” We may come boldly to the throne of grace, for the veil is rent: by the blood of Jesus the way is open. How shall the unholiest of sinners venture to come into the holiest of all, or to God’s presence? Yea, says the Holy Ghost, “By the blood of Jesus,” by the rent veil. There are many mistakes about the way to the holy place; it is a dreadful thing to think, that many who have heard the gospel, it may be, ten, twenty, thirty years, if they be asked of the way to heaven, they will say, “Why, if we do justly, live honestly and civilly, and do as we would be done to, we shall surely be saved.” But I tell you, you shall surely be damned if no more be done. O sad, that after all the light that hath shined about the way of salvation by the slain Son of God, that civility that is to be found among heathen, is all the title that a great many have to eternal life. Others, they hope to get to heaven by a better righteousness, but it is a righteousness of their own: they say they will do as well as they can; they must read, and pray, and hear, and the like, and so they find out a way to heaven for themselves: some cannot endure to hear anything spoken against self-righteousness, as if no person were in danger to be ruined by it; whereas this is a great part of the strong man’s armor, whereby he keeps possession of souls. I tell you, sirs, your false righteousness is so far from being the way to heaven, that true holiness itself is but the business that people have to do who are in the way; there will never be another way to heaven but Christ: holiness is the walk, Christ is the way in which we walk,— “As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him. I am the way; no man comes to the Father but by me,” (Col. 2:6). This is the new and living way, consecrated through the veil. The veil of the temple is rent, and the way to the holiest through the rent veil. Every person thinks that it is very hard to get to heaven, and that it will cost a great deal of time and pains and struggling: But, says one, here is the mischief of it; people do not know that it is hard to know the way to heaven, and that flesh and blood cannot reveal it, till God himself send in a beam of light upon the heart, and give the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, who is the way, having by his death rent the veil. O this way is little known, and yet we assure you that there is free access for you all this way; and nothing to hinder your access to God and heaven this way, if it be not your own ignorant unbelieving heart; nothing to hinder your entering into the holiest for the veil is rent, the law is fulfilled, justice is satisfied, holiness vindicated, sin is expiated. Will you go to heaven this way, man, woman? for the door is open for you, the veil is rent for you; “To you is the word of this salvation sent;” to you, man, woman, young or old; whosoever hears me, to you is the way of the holiest made patent: and whosoever will, let him come and enter in; and him that cometh he will in no wise cast out. What, in all the world, is to hinder you from coming in? The law, however holy, needs not hinder you, here is a righteousness; justice, however awful, needs not hinder you, here is a satisfaction; your sins, however great, need not hinder you, here is a sacrifice: all these veils are rent, what should hinder? Are there any other veils to be rent? O, say you, the veil of darkness, ignorance, enmity, and unbelief that is upon my heart. Well, let me tell you, that needs not hinder you neither to come to Christ, and employ him to rend these veils on your part; that is but little for him to do, who could rend such great veils as were on God’s part. O, sirs, he is good at rending veils; give him work, and the work is done. Did he not rend a greater veil when he satisfied infinite justice, and stopt up the floodgates of divine wrath? And if he hath done the greater, O will you not employ him to do the less? Why, say you, if I knew that he rent that great veil for me, I would not fear, but he would rend the lesser; Why man, the veil was rent for sinners, and why not for you? Christ came to save sinners. But, say you, all shall not be saved and brought within the veil, and perhaps not I. We answer, Some shall be saved, and why not you? Wherefore are not all that hear this gospel saved, but because they will not give employment to Christ to save them? Through unbelief they think he meant no favor towards them, when he rent the veil and so stand aloof from him, saying, It was not for me; but I declare in his name, it was for you, man; for you, woman; whoever will have the benefit of it. The gospel notifies in general that the veil is rent for you all, so far as that God calls and commands you all to come into the holiest by this way, this new and living way consecrated through the veil, and if you do not you shall be damned for your neglect of it. But as for your particular personal knowledge of your actual interest in the benefit of this rent veil, it is impossible for you to have it till you come to Christ and sue for it: therefore, let nothing hinder you to enter, since the veil is rent and the way patent: you have nothing to do yourself, for you cannot rend any veil; all that you have to do is to consent that Christ should rend all veils betwixt God and you; for he will be a complete Saviour; he will not leave a rag of the veil for you to rend, but with his own hand will rend all in twain from the top to the bottom. O say Amen to it, that he may get all the work and all the praise.
Use Second, for examination. Try what interest you have in this privilege: if the veil be actually rent from the top to the bottom, with respect to you; try whether or not you have gone in within the rent veil of the temple, to the holy of holies. The veil was rent fundamentally, when Christ gave up the ghost; it was rent formally, when he entered into the holiest. The veil is rent objectively in the preaching of this gospel: and now the question is, if the veil be rent subjectively, and so as you have the actual saving benefit of it in your own person. It is not enough that the veil is rent doctrinally for you, so as you have liberty to go into the holy place, but whether is the veil rent effectually to you, and in you, so as you have stept into the holiest by the rent veil? And,
1. If you be a believer indeed, in whom the veil is savingly rent, then you have got a humbling sight and sense of the veil that interposed betwixt God and you, and have seen yourself to be without the veil. Did you ever see such a veil of wrath on God’s part, and such a veil of guilt on your part? such a veil of a broken law, incensed justice and injured holiness on the one hand: and such a veil of sin, darkness, unbelief, and enmity on the other hand, as hath made you to despair that ever the veil would be rent by you, or any creature in heaven or earth, and made you to see yourself lost and undone, crying out, “Men and brethren, what shall I do to be saved?” Did you never see your sad state, as having a black veil standing up betwixt God and you? The exercise of persons about religion is suspicious, if they never saw the veil. Some will say, O, I have seen many evils about me, and I have an evil heart, and an evil frame of heart; but I ask, man, did you never see yourself to be in an evil state, in a state of distance from God; in a state of separation from God, by reason of the veil that was betwixt him and you? The effectual rending of the veil begins here, namely at a humbling sight of the separating veil; the man sees himself without the veil, and so within the flood-mark of God’s wrath.
2. If the veil be effectually rent in you, then you have seen the glory of him that rent the veil, and the glory of God through the rent veil; something of the glory of God in Christ. The apostle tells us, (Heb. 10:19-20). That Christ’s flesh, that is, his human nature, is the veil for us to enter by to the holy of holies; that is, heaven or God’s presence, God’s face: so that in his flesh, or human nature of Christ, we may see the very face, the very brightness of the glory of God as in a mirror. Now, if the veil be rent in you, and the face of the covering removed, then you have seen the glory of God in Christ; you have seen God’s law fulfilled by him, God’s justice satisfied in him, God’s holiness vindicated by him, and so God’s righteousness declared the way of saving sinners through him, as the propitiation in blood. Have you seen his glory as the only way to heaven, as God’s way to you, and your way to God, as the Render of the veil on God’s part and on yours; the glory of his death in the value and virtue of it; in the value of it, for rending of the veils that hindered God’s access to you; and in the virtue of it, for rending of the veil within you that hindered your access to God? Have you felt something of this virtue in rending the veil of darkness and ignorance that was upon your understanding, and shining in upon you with the light of life? The effectual rending of the veil makes a man see some glory that is within the veil; have you seen God’s glory then through the rent veil, and that God’s glorious attributes are all glorified to the highest in this way?
3. If the veil be effectually rent, then you have cast the anchor of your hope within the veil, (Heb. 6:18-19). After your soul, like a weary vessel tossed upon the waves of convictions, fears, terrors, could find no rest, God hath brought you at last into this heaven of rest, to cast anchor within the veil; you have fled for refuge to the hope set before you; which hope you have as your anchor, sure and steadfast, entering into that within the veil, whither the forerunner hath entered. Whither have you fled for refuge, when the law and justice of God was pursuing you for your debt, when they were ready to condemn you to hell-prison? Were you then made to flee for refuge to the surety that God set before you, for paying of your debt, and to say, Lord, take bail of thy own Son for me? I despair of ever answering such a charge as justice and the law hath against me; but, O look for a discharge in the blood and righteousness of Jesus: and let that answer the charge. When Christ entered into the holiest with his blood within the veil, he sprinkled the mercyseat, and when the soul takes hold of this blood and righteousness of Christ, as the ground of his acquittance from the charge of justice, then he casts anchor within the veil.
4. If the veil be effectually rent for you, then surely you cannot but have a superlative love for that glorious high-priest, who by his death, rent the veil, and went into the holiest for you. O can you say with Paul “He loved me and gave himself for me?” Or, can you say with Peter, “Thou that knowest all things, knowest that I love thee?” Surely, they that love him not, know nothing yet savingly about the rending of the veil. It may be, some love him, and dare not so confidently say it as Peter did; but if you can say Amen to two texts of scripture, we may warrant you that you love him indeed. The one is a sad text, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha,” (1 Cor. 16:22). The true lover of Christ can say, Amen; let them be even cursed that do not love him, and shall not love him. They that can say Amen to that now, they shall sit at Christ’s right hand at the great day, and say Amen to the sentence of the great Judge, “Depart from me ye cursed.” The other is a sweet text, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing,” (Rev. 5:12). The true lover of Christ can say, Amen; worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb to receive all praises, of all the redeemed, to all eternity. They that can set the Amen of faith to this now, they have begun to join with the triumphant company, already within the veil; and they shall join with them forever hereafter, saying, “Salvation to our God that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever.” Indeed, if you love Christ at all, you love him with a superlative love; above husband, wife, children, lands, houses, goods and worldly comforts. You do not love him at all, if you do not love him above all; and if you love him at all, the veil is rent, and you have got into the holiest in part; and if you will have patience, yet a little while and you shall get in fully. It is impossible that a man that truly loves Christ should ever go to hell.
5. If the veil be effectually rent, then all the veils on your part that continue to separate betwixt God and you, are matter of sad regret to you; the veil of indwelling sin and corruption, the veil of darkness and ignorance, the veil of remaining enmity, the veil of unbelief, these veils are all whole and entire in the unregenerate; and though in believers these veils be rent, yet they are not removed; regenerating grace hath given them a rent that shall never be sewed up or healed again: but yet, alas! they are remaining veils within the believer, while here; though they be rent, yet they hang there, and many times sadly separate betwixt God and him; and hence he cries, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” O to be above corruption! O to be within the veil, that I may see him as he is, and be like unto him. O! when shall all veils be removed? when shall the day break, and the shadows fly away? O! when shall the curtain be taken down? Christ stands behind the curtain, and does not manifest himself. Hath he been a veiled Christ at this communion? Then I am sure, believer, your heart will be saying, O that the curtain were drawn! O that the veil were rent in ten thousand pieces!
6. If the veil be effectually rent, then your heart will be effectually rent also; when the veil is rent, the heart is rent: and there is something it is rent for, and something it is rent from.
(1.) Something it is rent
for: it is rent for sin. Indeed the sight of the rent veil, or of God reconciled
by the blood of Jesus, will rend the heart for sin more than all the thunders of
Sinai, or flames of hell; “They shall look on him whom they have pierced, and
mourn.” When a man reads his sins, as they are written upon the cross of Christ,
with the red ink of his sin-pardoning blood, O then he reads them over with
tears of joy, and his heart is kindly rent for sin; then he cries, “Behold, I am
vile.” When the veil is rent, the heart is rent, not only for his own sins, but
for the sins of others; “Rivers of tears run down mine eyes, because of the
wicked that break thy law. I beheld transgressors, and was grieved.” They that
can see God dishonored, and hear men curse and swear and blaspheme the holy name
of God, and yet never be troubled about it, surely the veil remains upon their
heart, otherwise their hearts would rend for the sins of others, and of the
generation: “Set a mark upon the foreheads of them that sigh and cry, for all
the abominations that are done in the midst thereof.” Again, when the veil is
rent, the heart is rent for the Lord’s anger and absence: nothing fears them
more than the Lord’s anger; “O rebuke me not in thy wrath, neither chasten me in
thy hot displeasure.” Nothing affects them more than the Lord’s absence; for
these things they weep: “Mine eyes, mine eyes run down with waters, because the
comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me.” O the little lamentation
after an absent God, an angry God, at this day!— Again, when the veil is rent,
the heart is rent for the calamities of the church,— “O that my head were
waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for
the slain of the daughters of my people,” (Jer. 9:1). The miseries of the
church, and the sins that bring them on, are heart-rending things to the people
of God; and particularly, their hearts are rent for the rents of the church,—
“For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart.” For my own
part, I am but a person of little experience in the world, and therefore I
desire to be modest at this juncture, about the present rent among us; [About
this time the second form of the Abjuration Oath was imposed, which occasioned
different sentiments both among ministers and people: and the matter was carried
so high by some, as almost to make it a term of communion. It is probably this
that the Author hath in his eyes.]. It is plain enough that the anger of the
Lord hath divided us, and rent us in twain, like the veil of the temple, from
the top to the bottom. God is angry because we have sinned. Surely, if we had
been more valiant for the truth, and zealous for a covenanted work of
reformation, when we had fair opportunities for it, our rent had not come to
such a height. But yet, though I cannot justify the ignorant zeal of many
professors, whose hearts are rent from ministers, and they know not for what;
they can give no reasonable account of their separating courses; yet, I hope,
there is a serious remnant, whose hearts are duly rent for the rents of the
church, and the sinful cause thereof: and, I hope, the Lord will help such to be
regular in the way of their dissenting, from whatever they reckon, upon solid
grounds, to be the defection of the day they live in. But that I may not digress
too far, I am telling you, that if the veil be effectually rent with you, then
there are some things your heart is rent for, namely, for your own sins, the
sins of others, the sins of the land, the sins of the church, the calamities of
the church, the rents of the church. The Lord’s anger with her, and absence from
her, may indeed make you weep when you remember
2. If the veil be effectually rent, then, as there are some things your heart will be rent for, so there are some things your hearts will be rent from. Why, your hearts will be rent from sin as well as rent for sin; your heart will say with Ephraim, “What have I to do any more with idols?” What have I to do any more with lusts? All that expect to get into the holy of holies in the heavenly temple, are students of holiness and purity: “He that hath this hope purifieth himself even as he is pure.” Christ having rent the veil, entered into the holiest with blood; and believers are daily besprinkling themselves with that blood, that so they may enter in all sprinkled over with that blood also. Believers want not sin, and it cleaves to them here; but they are so far from cleaving to it, that it is the desire of their soul to be rent from it, and therefore their daily sins oblige them to make daily application to the blood of sprinkling.— Again, if the veil be effectually rent, then your hearts will be rent from the world. O but this globe of earth, and all the glory of it, looks but like a filthy mote, a piece of dung, to the man who hath got his heart within the veil. The glory of God in Christ darkens all created glory. What cares he for worldly pleasures, who hath Christ for his delight? What cares he for worldly profits, who hath Christ for his gain? What cares he for worldly honour, who hath Christ for his crown of glory? What cares he for the world’s all, who hath Christ for his all in all? His heart is rent from the world.— Again, when the veil is rent, the man’s heart is rent from the law: “He that is married to Christ, is divorced from the law,” (Rom. 7:4). The law, as a covenant of works, the believer hath nothing to do with it. ‘He does not owe it a cup of cold water,’ as one says; for Christ hath perfectly fulfilled the condition of the covenant of works; and therefore if the law challenge him, he sends it to Christ for a perfect obedience; if the penalty challenge him, he sends it to Christ for a complete satisfaction. He desires, with Paul, to be found in Christ, and would not be found in his own righteousness for ten thousand worlds; he sees so much unholiness in his own holiness; so much unrighteousness in his own righteousness: so much carnality, in all his spirituality; so much earthliness, in all his heavenliness; so much sin in all his duties; that he is sure God may damn him for his best duties as well as his worst sins: and therefore he hath no expectation from the law, but is rent from it, and joined to the Lord Jesus, saying, “In the Lord only have I righteousness and strength.”— In a word, when the veil is effectually rent, the man is rent from self: it is very hard indeed to rend a man from himself; self insinuates itself into all our praying, preaching, and communicating. However, the power of self is broken in all true believers. Instead of self-estimation he is brought to that, “Behold I am vile;” he hath never a good word to speak of himself, not a good thought to think of himself; but every time he prays, every time he communicates, he cries out, “Behold I am vile;” Instead of self-justification, he is brought to that, “I will lay my hand upon my mouth;” I will not answer, I cannot justify myself, but must condemn myself, and justify the Lord. Instead of self-love, he is brought to that, “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes:” Self-loathing and abhorrence takes place. Instead of self-will, he is brought to that, “Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” Instead of self-ease and carnal security, he is brought to that, “O what shall I do to be saved?” And after the first exercise about salvation hath landed in conversion, he is always exercising himself to godliness, and giving employment to Christ to carry on and complete his salvation, and restless till salvation be completed. Instead of self-fullness and sufficiency, he is brought to that, “In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing;” he sees himself empty of all good, and filled with all evil. Instead of self-confidence and hope, he is brought to that, “We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God, which raised the dead.” They are brought to despair in themselves. And instead of self-righteousness, of which before, they are brought to that, “All our righteousness are as filthy rags.”— Thus, in so far as they share of the saving benefit of the rent veil, so far are they rent from self: and thus, by these things you may examine yourselves, what interest you have in this privilege of Christ’s rending of the veil betwixt God and you.
Use Third, for terror to unbelievers, who, though they hear that the veil is rent, and so a free access to the holy of holies proclaimed, yet they are not at all concerned about entering in by this rent veil. The door of heaven is open to you, but you will not come in; the veil of the temple is rent, but you will not enter. O wretched creature how can you answer that challenge, “You will not come to me, that you might have life?” (John 5:40). You have no grace, no holiness, no repentance, no good thing; but, says Christ, you will not come to me that you might have grace, you will not come to me that you might have holiness, you will not come to me that you might have repentance, you will not come to me that you might have all good things that you need. The veil is rent, the door is open, but you will not come in. “O! what will you do in the day of visitation?” What will you do when he that rent the veil shall rend your soul and body in twain, and say, O slighter of the Son of God, come and give account of what use you have made of the Sabbaths, sermons, and communion-seasons that you enjoyed? Perhaps you are little thinking on death, but what know you but God will say to you, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee?” I defy all the ministers on earth to assure you that you shall live to get another offer of Christ tomorrow. Many here will not come again tomorrow; and many here may never have another venture for heaven. O! what will you do, when he that rent the veil, that you might have access to God, will rend these heavens, and come down to judgment? “Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him!” With what countenance will you look him in the face in judgment, when you did not care for a sight of his face in mercy, through the rent veil? O what a dreadful voice will that be to you, when he will say, Rise ye dead, and come ye to judgment! Rise ye unbelievers of the gospel, and give an account of yourselves! Do you know that, while you are neglecting the gospel, and slighting the Son of God, you are saying with the Jews, “His blood be upon us, and upon our children?” The guilt of the blood of Christ is upon you, and upon the generation after you that follow your example; and, O! how terrible will it be, when he comes to make inquisition for blood, for the blood of God which you trampled underfoot! O! how will you then wish to be rent and grinded in pieces, when you shall find all the curses of the Bible lighting upon you! O what will you do when he that rent the veil, shall openly rend you from the company of God, saints, and angels, and set you with the goats on his left hand! When you shall see some of your acquaintances that are here, standing on his right hand, how will you then think with yourself, O what hindered me, that I did not consent to the gospel, as well as they? You now join with them in the same congregation, but your hearts are disjoined from them; you separate from them in your choice, your affections, your disposition, and conversation; but ere long, there shall be another kind of separation; you that will not come in among them through the rent veil now, there shall be a veil hung up betwixt you and them, that shall never be rent; yea, a veil betwixt you and the glory of God; for you shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; he that rent the veil to pieces, will eternally tear you to pieces, when there shall be none to deliver. Now, the veil is rent betwixt God and you, so as you may come to God’s presence with boldness, through the new and living way that is consecrated through the veil; and you shall have God and Christ, and saints and angels, all welcoming you; “For the spirit and the bride say come; and whosoever will, let him come:” for the veil is rent; but if once you go down by the sides of the bottomless Tophet, the veil that then shall be placed betwixt God and you will never, never be rent, so long as eternity lasts. You will never hear again such a sweet word; and, O what would you then give for such a word as that, Behold the veil is rent, that you may come to God’s favor and fellowship? But no such news shall be heard in hell: “Now, only now, is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation; today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts:” but think of coming into the holy of holies, while you hear that the veil is rent, and nothing to hinder you.
Use Fourth, for
consolation to believers, to whom the veil is so effectually rent in twain, that
from the marks given, they may conclude, they have made some entrance within the
veil, by coming to a God in Christ, and casting their anchor within the veil. I
have a word of comfort to say to you, though perhaps you are still complaining
of many veils that separate betwixt God and you; yet a little while and you
shall have a triumphant entrance ministered unto you, into the holy of holies
above, whither the forerunner hath for you entered; for, “Behold the veil of the
temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom!” Therefore you shall come
1. Then the veil of sin and corruption shall be rent in twain; all the rents, all the strokes that sin gets by the word, the rod, the spirit, never rends a body of death from you; but still you are groaning under a sense of indwelling-sin, that separates betwixt God and you: but then, O then, believer, this veil shall be rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and from the bottom to the top; both root and branch shall be rent and removed; for “when he shall appear, you shall be like him:” your conformity to him shall be complete; you must go to heaven dragging a body of death after you; but whenever you come to the port of glory, there will be a joyful parting; for you shall take an everlasting farewell of all your lusts and corruptions; then you will say farewell with all our hearts; and glory to God that we shall never meet again. Blessed be God, we shall never see your face again.
2. Then shall the veil of darkness and distance be rent in twain; for then darkness will give way to light, glorious light; and distance will give way to presence, glorious and everlasting presence. Now you say, I cannot see him, he is far away; but says Christ, “Father, I will that these whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory:” to be with me where I am, there is distance removed; to behold my glory, there is darkness removed. Darkness and distance now create doubts and fears; but doubts and fears will then take wings and flee away, never to return again; for, “the face of the covering shall be entirely removed,” (Isa. 25:7-8).
3. Then shall the veil of ordinances be rent in twain: any view we have of God’s glory now, is mediate, through the intervention of means and ordinances; any glimpse we get of his beauty is through the dim glass of duties and ordinances; for, “now we see through a glass darkly,” says the apostle; but the time comes when the glass shall be broken, and we shall see him as he is, in an immediate manner; “I saw no temple there; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, are the temple of it,” (Rev. 21:22). And then shall the saints be able to say, the half of his glory hath not been told, when they shall see him face to face, and not his back parts, or the skirts of his garments only.
4. The veil of scanty enjoyments will be rent in twain; the veil of passing blinks and interrupted views. The life of the saint here, is mostly a life of desire; he can never get his desire fully satisfied; and when you get any desirable meeting with the Lord, why, it is but a blink and away; your desires are but increased thereby, and your melancholy wants remain unsupplied: but, within the veil all desires shall be satisfied, all wants shall be supplied; for, “In his presence there is fullness of joy, and at his right hand rivers of pleasure for evermore.” No clouds, no night, no desertion there; no such complaint as this, “O why hidest thou thy face?” The best communion and enjoyment here admits of interruption; but that which is above, is uninterrupted; no tempting devil, no deceitful heart, no dismal cloud to darken their day, or interrupt their vision and fruition of God. Christ is here only passing by us, and as a wayfaring man, that tarries only for a night; yea, hardly for a night: no sooner does he enter, but he is away; no sooner does the heart begin to open to him sometime, than, alas! he is gone, “I opened to my beloved, but he had withdrawn himself, and was gone,” (Song 5:6): but then their enjoyment shall be full, and everlasting, and uninterrupted; for, “So shall they ever be with the Lord.” Partial enjoyments will give way to eternally full enjoyments; “For when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.”
5. The veil of church-disorders and confusion shall be rent in twain. Many times you have reason to sigh, and complain that matters are all out of order in the church; the veil of confusion and disorder is upon it, and the glory departed; nothing but clouds in our sky. Indeed, we would gladly expect the rending of these veils that are upon the church, even in time, and even with respect to the Church of Scotland. It is with the church as it is with particular believers, the Lord usually brings them to an extremity before he give them a deliverance: the darkest night may usher in the clearest day; to them that fear his name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise. Whatever dark eclipses the sun may be under at present, do not say the sun is gone out of the firmament, because it is a cloudy day; the clouds may grow thicker and thicker yet; yea there may not only be dark clouds, but rain, and perhaps a terrible shower of wrath is coming; many things look like it: but though there should be both clouds and rain, say not they sun is gone, and will never return and shine again; he that rent the veil will rend the clouds in his own time. Yea, the rending of the veil of the temple did foretell good to the church. It says that he will rear up a more glorious temple, such as is promised, — “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempests, and not comforted! behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires; and I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles and all thy borders of pleasant stones,” (Isa. 54:11-12). Why, what is the meaning of all this? See it in— “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children,” (Isa. 54:13). You see it is a time of great darkness in the church, so it is indeed; but, here is a promise of light that shall arise, “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord.” Is it a time of great division and contention? so it is; but here is a promise of great peace, “Great shall be the peace of thy children.” We hope there will be a more full accomplishment of this in the church, even in time: but when will all this come to pass? why, we may come to be tried with another kind of tempest before it come to pass; for, see how the promise is ushered in, “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempests, and not comforted;” then follows the promise of a pleasant issue. But, withal, never expect a perfect church upon earth; we hope it will be more pure, but it never will be perfect, till that which is in part shall be done away. The time is coming when the bride, the Lamb’s wife, shall be presented to him without spot or wrinkle; when the union of the saints shall be entire, and the communion of saints shall be perfect. There will be no contention, no division, no disorder in the general assembly and church of the firstborn that are written in heaven.
6. The veil of militant graces will be rent in twain: and nothing but triumphant graces will have the throne, “Now remains faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.” Why, love is a triumphant grace; and faith and hope will resign to love the chair of state. There will be no need of militant graces in the church triumphant; no need of faith, where vision is; no need of hope, where fruition is; no need of patience, where all tribulation is at an end; no need of any fighting grace, where there is nothing but victory, light, life, liberty, love, joy, glory. You have a fighting life of it here, but then a song of victory; victory for evermore.
7. The veil of infirmities will be rent in twain; here believers have infirmities on their bodies, that have no small influence on the actings of their souls; infirmities on their souls, darkness and dullness in their intellectual powers: infirmities of the new nature, though created in Christ Jesus, though supported by his power, and guided by his grace; yet still it is a weak thing, like a newborn babe: but none of these infirmities are in them that are within the veil; they are become perfect; “Then shall we all come in the unity of the faith, to a perfect man in Christ,” (Eph. 4:13). Then that scripture shall be fully accomplished,— “The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun; and the light of the sun shall be seven-fold, as the light of seven days,” (Isa. 30:26).
8. The veil of mortality shall be rent in twain; for, “This mortal shall put on immortality; this corruption, shall put on incorruption; and death shall be swallowed up in victory.” The veil of flesh, the clay tabernacle will be rent in twain; We know, that if the earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens: for in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven, O were you ever brought to that man’s saying, “O mortality, mortality! O time, time! that will not haste away, to let eternity come!” (2 Cor. 5:1-2). Were you never content to shake the sand-glass of time to win to eternity? Were you never content to take death in your arms: and say, Welcome, welcome; O friend, welcome news, that mortality shall be swallowed up of life?
9. The veil of incapacity will be rent in twain; now you are not capable of that glory which you shall be able to behold and contain in heaven; your eye is so weak, that you cannot behold the Sun of righteousness shining in his strength. Though light be the most pleasing thing to the eye; yet the meridian brightness of the sun cannot be looked upon without destroying the sight; because the faculty is not so strong, nor capable to receive the object; so it is here, we want a capacity to behold the light of glory; but within the veil, or in heaven, the faculty will be strengthened, and the capacity enlarged, to hold an exceeding great and eternal weight of glory; the want of which hath made some, in time, when their cup hath overflowed with consolation, to cry out, “Lord, hold thy hand, thy servant is a clay-vessel, and can hold no more.” Indeed, it is little we get here below, and it is little we can hold, though we should get our fill; but in heaven the capacity will be so enlarged, that it will be able to hold a fullness of God, a fullness of glory, a fullness of the Spirit, fullness of joy, at God’s right hand forever and ever.
10. The veil of weariness shall be rent in twain; here we soon weary of praying and preaching, we soon weary of sermons and sacraments. I doubt not but many here may be wearied to the heart with this day’s work. Indeed little wonder that the carnal heart say, What a weariness is this work? For, as one says, “you may take a carnal man, tie him to a post, and then kill him with praying and preaching only.” But even the spiritual man himself, while he hath a wearying body of death about him, he wearies of ordinances, he wearies of God’s service; but in heaven, within the veil, they shall serve him without wearying or fainting, (Rev. 22:3); there his servants shall serve him. Their weary service here is hardly to be called a service; but there his servants shall serve him indeed. O! will it not be a mystery, and a great wonder, if we, who cannot pray half an hour to an end, and hardly hear an hour to an end, but we will be toiled, as if we had done some marvelous work, shall be brought to heaven, and never weary of the service of heaven? Here is comfort, believer, you shall through all the years of eternity, praise him, and never weary.
In a word, all the veils of trouble and trials will be rent in twain; “There remains a rest for the people of God.”— The veil of sorrow and anxiety shall be rent in twain; for all tears shall be wiped from their eyes: Sorrow and sighing shall flee away. The veil of sickness and uneasiness of body or soul shall be rent in twain: The inhabitants of that land shall not say, I am sick; the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.— The veil of wandering thoughts and vain imaginations will be rent in twain; you shall not have a wrong thought or conception of God throughout all eternity: for all your heart-plagues, lusts, and corruptions, that you have been wrestling with all your days, will leave you; and I am sure you will leave them with such pleasure and satisfaction, and be so glad to part with them, that you will hardly shake hands with them; but rather say, the back of my hand to you: many a sad hour, many a sigh and groan have you cost me but it is well for me, that now I am quit of you forever. And I cannot but say, that they who now have a glad heart to think of a parting with these, and a meeting with Christ forever, they have gotten some communion with him this day.
Finally, the veil of time will be rent in twain: and the streams of time will be swallowed up in the ocean of eternity. O how will you say with wonder then, O hath such a black and ugly creature as I was, gotten glorious Christ in my arms, never, never, never to part again! O how will his kind looks dart a sweetness and joy inexpressible into your hearts, when you shall be led with the Lamb about the rivers of living water, when time shall be no more!— Take all this comfort into your hearts, believers, for the God of consolation allows you to rejoice forever, and to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God which you shall see and be forever possessed of within the veil.
Use Fifth, for exhortation. All I shall now say, is this, if the veil be rent in twain by the death of Christ, O then come and see, come and take, come and wonder, come and enter, come and sing.
1. Come and see. When the seal was opened, then the voice cried, “Come and see,” (Rev 6:1): so, when the veil is rent, O come and see; come and see. Turn aside and see this great sight, the veil of separation betwixt God and us rent in twain from the top to the bottom. What was to be seen within the veil of the temple, you are told,— “There was to be seen the golden censer, the golden pot, the ark of the covenant, the tables of the covenant, and over it the cherubims of glory over-shadowing the mercyseat,” (Heb. 9:4-5). What all these did signify, I cannot stand to show; but in short, they all pointed out the glory of God in Jesus Christ. Now the veil is rent: then look into the holiest, and see the glorious mystery of redeeming love; see the wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and grace of God, manifested brightly in the face of Jesus, who by his death rent the veil, that we might see heaven and the glory of it.
2. Come and take. The pot of manna was within the veil, as you see in that fore-cited text, which signified Christ the bread of life. Now, that the veil is rent; you may come to the holiest and take manna: if you go away fasting this night, it will be your own fault; for you have liberty to come and take, since the veil is rent. Christ himself is the manna; and if you take him, you take all things with him that you need. Do you need a pardon? Why, the opening of the veil is a proclamation of pardon upon a jubilee day. In the year of jubilee, the priests entered within the veil into the holiest; and there was a discharge of debt, and liberty proclaimed: so here is our jubilee: Christ our High Priest having rent the veil, and entered into the holiest, he issues out his proclamation of indemnity; he proclaims pardon of debt. Many a bankrupt drowned in debt is in this green; but behold, the cry is, “Go forth ye prisoners of hope.” There is a pardon in this pot of manna, if you will but take it: yea, there is life to your souls, and death to your sins in this pot of manna, if you will but take it. Objection. But you will say, I cannot take what is offered to me. Answer. I wish you indeed knew your own weakness, and were sensible of it: “No man can come to me,” says Christ, “except the Father draw him:” But, O hath God drawn you so far as that you are willing to take Christ, though you can do nothing; and willing that Christ should take you? Do you know what it is to believe? It is not to do some great thing by your own power, no: it is a grace that hath two eyes; with the one it looks to a man’s self, and sees his own utter weakness, saying, “Not that I am sufficient of myself to think any thing as of myself:” and with the other it looks to God, and sees his infinite power, saying, “My sufficiency is of God.” So, that to believe, is to see that you can do nothing, and to employ the power of God to do all things for you and in you that you need. Now, when you are called to take Christ, you are called to take and employ the power of God to do all things that you are called to do, but cannot do of yourself; this power of God is in your offer, and you may give employment to it:— “Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me,” (Isa. 27:5). Did you ever know before that the power of God was at your service? Take hold of his power, and give employment to his power, saying, Lord let this power of thine be put forth upon an indigent creature, that I may take Christ. Behold, the Father offers him for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption: there is manna indeed, which you have for the taking in this manner, saying, Lord take me, and I will take thee. Let thy power and grace be glorified upon me. If you be in earnest, it is a bargain; for he never called a sinner to take his Son, upon any other terms, but that they only consent that Christ perform all the work, and take all the glory.
3. Come and wonder: “Behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” Come and wonder, that all hindrances are taken out of the way of your access to God. Wonder at the love of God in sending his son to rend the veil; wonder at the love of Christ in rending the veil, that you might have access to God; wonder that it was rent at all; wonder that it was rent in twain; wonder that it was rent from the top to the bottom: wonder at the thing, and wonder at the occasion of it. Christ gave up the ghost, and the veil of the temple was rent. The rending of the veil cost him his life, it cost him his soul; his soul was made an offering for sin, and then the veil was rent. O is there no wondering at this? It would be an evidence of a good communion to you, if you were filled with wonder. A short wonder is better than a long prayer.
4. Come and enter. Not only see and take, and wonder, but also boldly enter into the holiest: not standing in the outer court, as it were, or behind the veil gazing, or only putting in your hand by the rent veil, but come in wholly and enter boldly. The veil is rent in twain; O then, come and enter by the rent. You may all come boldly to the holiest, by this new and living way that is consecrated through the veil. O may such a dog, such a filthy dog as I come? Yes, we use to say, when doors are open, dogs come in; the door is open, the veil is rent; let dogs come in and get a crumb. The Gentiles are called dogs in scripture; and it is said, “Without are dogs, murderers, sorcerers, whoremongers:” but to all the dogs that are without the veil, we, in God’s name, proclaim liberty to come in, and get what will save you and sanctify you. You say you have nothing to bring with you, no grace, no good. I tell you, there is none here, but they have something to bring to Christ with them. What is that? Have you not much sin and misery to bring with you; have you not much want, weakness, and wickedness, to bring with you? Come with all your ills, in order to get all good; come with your sins, and get grace; come with your guilt, and get a pardon; come with your filthiness, and get cleansing; come with your wants, and get fullness. Let dogs come in and get a crumb; yea, a feast. There is nothing to hinder you, since the veil is rent. The law is not in your way, for that is fulfilled: the flaming cherubim is not in your way, for Christ hath rent the veil of God’s wrath and divided the Red Sea of divine vengeance, that you might pass through. Have you a mind for heaven, man, woman? here is the way, it lies through the rent veil; and if you take not this way, you shall never enter there: For there are two porters that will keep all unbelievers out, namely, justice and holiness. Justice will say, I must be satisfied; holiness will say, I must be vindicated, or else you shall never enter here; but if you come by this rent veil, you shall have open entrance into the heavenly kingdom. Christ will say to justice, let such a man in, for I paid you all his debt; holiness, let such a man in, for I gave you a perfect obedience for him; look upon him in me. This will satisfy both these porters to let believers pass. O then, come and enter through the veil that is rent. Christless soul, who will satisfy justice and holiness for you? These porters will never be bribed by you. Therefore, O come and enter by the rent veil, for there is no other way to heaven.
5. Come and sing. If you have made entrance, O sing, Glory to God in the highest, that ever rent this veil. You might go home singing, if you took up the true meaning of the text and turned it to a song; and sing it with understanding, “Behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom.” Behold, the veil is rent, and shall never be whole again. Behold, the work is completed by the Son of God: the work is done, and shall never be undone.— To the author and finisher of this great work be glory forever. Amen.