Ralph Erskine Archive

SERMON LXXIV.

 

REDEMPTION BY CHRIST, SHOWN TO BE OF GOD, AS THE FIRST
CAUSE, AND TO GOD, AS THE LAST END.

This was the subject of an Action-Sermon, preached immediately before the celebration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, at Dunfermline, on Sabbath, July 11, 1742.

Who of God is made unto us redemption. For thou west slain, and hast redeemed
is to God by thy blood
.” 1 Corinthians 1:30 compared with Revelation 5:9.

 

The Lord’s Supper is called the Eucharist, which signifies thanks­giving. And how can we express our thanksgiving this day, more fitly, when called to commemorate our Redeemer’s dying love, than by joining issue with the singers of the new song in this text, say­ing, “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood?”

At the last sacramental solemnity here, the subject we spoke of was, that “all things are of God,” namely, relating to the new cre­ation especially, and the great work of redemption. In pursuing of this subject, I have, of a long time, been speaking to the first text I read, where the several branches of our salvation are ascribed to God in Christ, “who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.”

After I had, from time to time, insisted upon this great subject,

“That Christ is a complete Saviour, of God’s making, unto us, while he is made of God unto us, wisdom, righteousness, sanctifica­tion, and redemption;” I came to inquire, How we are to improve Christ: 1. For wisdom; 2. How for righteousness; 3. How for sanctification; 4. How for redemption. We have spoken to the first three, 1 by adapting to them several texts of scripture, and treat­ing them as answers to these several questions; and now I come to enter upon the fourth of these questions—namely, How we are to improve Christ for redemption; or as made of God unto us redemption? And the answer at present we offer is, That we are to improve Christ for redemption, by viewing in him to what end, and by what means, we are to be redeemed by him. Both these are here. 1. To what end are we redeemed?

We are redeemed to God. 2. By what means? By the blood of Christ: “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood!”

In which words you may observe these five particulars following.

1. The great privilege here spoken of, namely, Redemption. It is a great word; a bigger word by far than Creation. Devils were created, wicked men were created, but a select number are redeemed. There is a fundamental redemption, which was performed by Christ upon the cross, where he suffered the wrath of God, the pains of hell: There is an actual redemption, when his people reap the benefits of that fundamental one. It is a redemption, first by impetration, or purchase, and then by application; first by price, and then by power.

2. The objects of this redemption, or persons redeemed, us: “Thou hast redeemed us.” Here it may be asked, Who will claim, who do claim, and who may claim this privilege, saying, “Thou hast redeemed us? As to the question, Who will claim it? Why all the elect in due time, will claim it: some benefits of Christ’s death accrue to the world; but the elect will be the redeemed ones, and are so. Election, redemption, regeneration, and salvation, are of equal extent. As to that question, Who do claim it? Why, all believers, or all the elect, that are brought to lay hold on Christ by faith; they say upon the matter, “Thou hast redeemed us; and we believe, that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved.” As to the question, Who may claim it, upon the warrant of the word, showing how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, and upon the warrant of the gospel-call. To this we reply, All sinners, to whom the gospel comes; they are warranted to come to Christ by faith, saying, “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood;” for this is the record they are to receive, that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. The ground of this faith is no secret thing; but the revealed word.

3. The author of this redemption, Christ: “Thou wast slain;” the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the God-man, the root and offspring of David. The work is the effect of two natures in one Christ con­curring; not God alone, nor man alone, but God-man: “Thou hast redeemed us.”

4. The end and effect to which they are redeemed: “Thou hast redeemed us To God;” to be his sons, his servants, his friends and favorites, his crown and glory; to enjoy him, to glorify him, to be his peculiar treasure.

5. The means of it: “Thou wast Slain,” and it is “by thy blood.” Why, what is the necessity? Was it not enough for God to become a man, a creature, to be hungry, and weary, and reproached? No, says God; I will never be satisfied for the sins of the human race, nor appeased, till I see my Son lying a sacrifice, bleeding at my feet: “It pleased the Lord to bruise him: without shedding of blood there shall be no remission.” Blood I will have for an atonement. Blood is here taken for the whole sufferings of Christ, from the moment of his conception, from his miserable entry into the world, until he breathed his last; till he cried, “It is finished;” the whole is included: “Thou wast slain, and halt redeemed us to God by thy blood.”

The former text and this compared, set before us the whole business of our redemption, from the beginning to the end of it: and especially,

1. The original cause and spring of our redemption through Christ, it is of God: “Who of God is made unto us redemption.”

2. The meritorious cause or means of it, viz. the death and blood of Christ: “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.”

3. The final cause, issue, and end of it, namely, to God, the fountain whence it came: “Thou hast redeemed us to God.” It is of God that we are redeemed in Christ, and to God that we are redeemed; Of God he is made unto us redemption, and he was slain, and has redeemed us To God by his blood.

From the words, as they stand connected, and as we have now explained them, we lay down this one doctrinal proposition.

Observation: That the redemption we have by the blood of Christ, being of God as the first cause, is also to God as the last end.

As it is said, “For of him, and through him, and to him are all things, to whom be glory for ever, Amen,” (Rom. 11:36): so especially all things relating to our redemption are of him as the beginning, and to him as the last end. Our redemption by Christ is of God, and our redemption by Christ is to God. Thus it is said, “Christ also hath suffered for our sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God,” (1 Pet. 3:18). “Thou wast slain; and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.”

The method we would here lay down for illustrating this doctrinal observation, through divine assistance, shall be the fol­lowing.

I. To offer some propositions concerning this redemption. To show how it is of God as the first cause.

II. How it is to God, as the last end.

III. Make some application of the subject.

I. The first thing proposed was to lay down some propositions concerning this redemption. We shall only offer the four following.

Proposition 1: “That till we partake of this redemption we are in bondage and captivity.”

1. We are in bondage to the power of sin, and to the punish­ment thereof: To the power of sin; and hence sins are called chains, and fetters, and bonds; and it is called the law of sin and death: To the punishment of sin; and hence the sinner’s heart is full of fear naturally; why, the Philistines are upon us; yea, the devil is upon us; nay, the wrath of God is upon us, and his favor is departed from us: “We are condemned already.” Ah! how miserable is the condition of every man by nature Whatever be his outward privileges, he is the slave of Satan. This spiritual sla­very is indeed indiscernible; many, as Leviathan, sport themselves in the waters of sinful pleasures, and think that the only end of their being, not knowing that they are captives.

2. We are captives to the justice of God, to which we owe millions of talents, which cannot be paid till Christ redeem there­from, by satisfying all the demands of justice.

3. We are captives to the law, as a covenant; the law con­demns us; yea, every newborn child is condemned to the fire of hell by the law, till Christ redeem from the curse of the law; for he was condemned in our room, and he could not plead innocence; though he was in himself innocent, yet imputatively guilty, when “the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all,” the Father had enough to charge him with.

4. We are captives to our own consciences. That bosom-judge tells us, we are enemies to God, vile traitors, and speaks bitter things against us; it is a judge we cannot decline, a witness we can­not cast, an executioner we cannot resist; it tells us we are to be sentenced with devils to hell and damnation, till Christ redeem from that captivity, slavery, and bondage, by intimating to this de­puty, that the Judge is satisfied and appeased with the blood shed at Jerusalem. O sirs, then is the conscience sprinkled with the blood that speaks better things than that of Abel. Why, says con­science, is the great Judge pleased? Then I have no more to say.

5. We are by nature captives to Satan; he leads us captive at his pleasure; we are his servants, he is our master; we are the sub­jects, he is the king; we are the shop where he works, till Christ redeem from this captivity, and till the God-man bind the strong man and dispossess him.

6. We are captives to divers lusts: one lust is hard enough to serve; but, how hard is it to serve divers! Not only variety, but contrary ones, like so many wild horses drawing us contrary ways. The galley-slave, tugging at the oar night and day, is at perfect freedom when compared to this; redemption from this slavery is a great redemption. The old man is said to be crucified with Christ, (Rom. 6:6). He hath nailed sin to the cross, and slain it legally. Oh! may the believer say, this lust of mine hath not been well nail­ed, it is yet living and lively: well, but being crucified it shall actually die. But again,

7. We are by nature captives to every creature. We were once masters and lords of the creation, but we are now servants to them; they were once under us, but now they have got above us, and have the command of us; they have power to charm and draw us away from God; every creature hath power to vex us; Christ redeems from this captivity, when he restores to us our pri­mitive dominion over the creatures, which is now to be had in Christ, who hath all power in heaven and in earth.

8. We are captives also to the fear of death. Many are in great bondage all their days through this fear; the prospect of the king of terrors creates a horror in the soul, till Christ redeem from this, by taking away both the sting of death and the terror of it. Our Lord Jesus redeems from these, and from all the effects of sin; he redeems from the curse of the law, “being made a curse for us,” he said to God, when he was in flaming wrath, and threatening the sinner’s damnation, “On me be thy curse.” He redeems from the wrath of God, that omnipotent wrath, that irresistible wrath, that destructive wrath, that righteous wrath, that none can stand before, one drop whereof would destroy thousands of angels. He redeems from distance from God: this is the perfection of misery, to be far from God, from light, from life, from the centre of happiness. Christ redeems from this, by bringing us near by his blood, that we may have the begun enjoyment of God here, and the uninterrupted en­joyment of God hereafter.

Proposition 2: The second proposition is, “That Christ, and only he, is the Redeemer; ‘Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us;’ ‘there is no other name under heaven given among men, where­by we must be saved.’” He only frees us from the power of sin; he brings the quickening Spirit, (1 Cor. 15:25). As by his Spirit he will raise up our natural body from death to life; so he raises our souls from the death of sin to the life of grace. He only frees us from the punishment of sin; “There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? it is Christ that died,” (Rom. 8:1, 33-34). It was too transcendent a thing for any mere creature to be the Redeemer of the sons of men. The children of Israel were afraid to trust an angel with their conduct into Canaan, (Ex. 33:); much more should we have been to trust an angel, or any creature, to make way for our passage to the heavenly Canaan; “Such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens,” (Heb. 7:26). It was requisite that the Redeemer should be God-man; he behooved to lay down his life, which he could not have done if he had not been man; he took up his life again, which he could not have done if he had not been God. It was fit that the Redeemer should be the eternal Word; “The Word was made flesh.” Thus, 1. He was the personal wisdom of the Father; and how fit was he to reveal the counsels of his love from eternity? 2. He is the middle person of the Godhead; and is it not fit he should mediate between God and man? 3. He is the Son of God; and so fit to bring the adopted sons to glory. 4. He was the Word that made the world; and so the Word that redeems the world, and will forever be acknowledged, by all the redeemed number, as the only meet help and fit Redeemer for them: “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us.”

Proposition 3. Another proposition is, “That this redemption is for men: ‘Thou was slain, and hast redeemed us, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. To us a child is born;’ he was made sin for us, he was made a curse for us.” There is a three-fold view we are to take of the pronoun us.

1. With reference to the divine ordination from eternity, it respects the elect only, of whom Christ says “I lay down my life for my sheep,” (John 10:15).

2. With reference to saving application of this redemption al­ready made, then the persons that are the objects thereof are be­lievers, whose faith is the fruit of electing and redeeming love; for, says Christ, “All that the Father hath given me shall come to me,” (John 4:48). “And as many as were ordained to eternal life shall believe,” (Acts 13:48).

3. With reference to the general indefinite dispensation of the gospel, it respects sinners of all sorts, to whom the gospel comes, be­cause therein all are welcomed to come to and believe in Christ as their Redeemer; and, in the way of coming and believing in him, to say, “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.”

In respect of eternal destination, the elect only are they who say it certainly, “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us.” In respect of effectual application, only believers are they who say it materially, “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us.” And, in respect of the general dispensation of the gospel, all sinners, to whom the gospel comes, have warrant to say it believingly, “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us,” they are thus warranted by the first command, that requires us “to know and acknowledge God to be the Lord our God and Redeemer,” which is explained, “This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ,” (1 John 3:23) and to believe this gospel, which “is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came to save sinners,” (1 Tim. 1:15).

Here is room for the faith of all that hear the gospel, the ques­tion not being, Are you elect or not? Nay, nor, Are you believers or not? The elect indeed will be partakers, and believers are partakers already, of this redemption, but the question in the gospel dispensation is, Are you sinners or not? and do you need a Saviour and Redeemer? Then, upon the warrant of this word of salvation sent to you, that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, you are to re­ceive the good news to yourself. It is not Christ in the decree that you are to look to, while you know not that you are elected; this is to look too far back, nor is it Christ in the heart, or in pos­session, you are to look to, while you know not if you be a believer, this is to get too far forward; but it is Christ in the word, because you are a sinner, and Christ a Saviour held forth to you there, saying, “Look to me and be saved.” This is the middle between the two former, and the only way to secure them both, and to say, with particular application, “Thou was slain, and hast redeemed us.”

Proposition 4: The fourth proposition I would offer relates to the means, viz., “That this redemption is by death and blood;” “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us by thy blood.” He that was slain decretively, by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God from eternity, and is called the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, who was slain typically under all the sacrifices of the Old Testament, whereby his death was adumbrated and shadowed forth, was slain actually between two thieves upon mount Calvary, where the sufferings of his life were consummated in these of his death; for, though he was in the form of God, yet he became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, where he was wounded for our sins, which were his murderers, the Jews were but executioners. Now, we do not say that the hangman, or executioner, kills a man for theft, or murder, or the like; but rather his theft and murder, they kill him; so here, it was not so much the Jews, or soldiers, that killed the Lord of glory, as our theft and murder; our sins, abominations, and breaches of God’s law, which were im­puted to him as the Surety, and laid to his charge, who suffered, the just for the unjust, that he might pay the debt we owed to divine justice; and now, not only was his body afflicted, but his soul agonized, when he grappled with all the powers of heaven, earth, and hell. His Father had said, “Awake, O sword, against the man that is my fellow,” and the glittering sword of wrath and vengeance was sheathed into his bowels with infinite horror and terror, making his soul exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, and breaking, bruising, wounding him for our iniquities. Once over Jerusalem he shed tears of water, but now, upon the rack of justice) he shed tears of blood, “Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.”

This is the scene of blood opened and represented to us in this sacrament, “For, as oft as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye shew forth the Lord’s death till he come again.” The Lord’s sup­per is a lively crucifix, wherein Christ is evidently set forth crucified before us, and showing us that he was slain, and has redeemed us by his blood. Here is the price of redemption, the precious blood of the Son of God, (Acts 20:28). He purchased the church with his own blood, and whence is this, but (1.) To declare the infiniteness and immeasurable nature of the love of God, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us,” (1 John 2:16). (2.) To declare the infiniteness of his truth in the law sentence, which required that, “Without the shedding of blood there could be no remission,” (Heb. 9:22). (3.) To declare the righteousness of God, and his infinite hatred of sin. God’s infinite holiness and hatred against sin, appeared right well in casting angels out of hea­ven, for once beginning to sin, and Adam out of paradise for one mouthful of fruit, but it is another sort of a display of divine hatred of sin, to see the Son of God, the second Adam, wallowing in his own blood, for our bloody sins. (4.) To declare the power of Jesus Christ, to lay down his life and to take it up again, “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father,” (John 10:18). By this commandment and will of the Father, the scripture was fulfilled, the new covenant confirmed, justice was satisfied, the work of the devil destroyed, sin condemned and taken away, hell vanquished, and heaven purchased. “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us by thy blood.”

II. We propose next to show, How this redemption is of God, as the first cause. I need not enlarge upon this, seeing it was the subject I enlarged upon formerly, that “all things are of God,” re­lating to the new creation. Thus “all things are of God,” relating to this redemption; why, the Redeemer is of God, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,” &c., (John 3:16). His substitution in our room is of God, “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” (Isa. 53:9). His suffering in our room is of God, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him, he hath put him to grief,” (Isa. 53:10). His assuming our nature, that he might therein give himself a sacrifice for our sins, is of God, and of his sovereign will, “Lo, I come, I delight to do thy will, O my God. This commandment have I received of my Father,” (Ps. 60:6; Heb. 10:7). His being made a curse for us, is of God, “He was made a curse for us,” and, “He hath made him to be sin for us,” (Gal. 3:13; 2 Cor. 5:21). His furniture and ability, for his work of redemption, is of God, “Behold, my Servant, whom I uphold,” (Isa. 62:1). “Him hath God the Father sealed,” (John 6:27). His resurrection and exaltation is of God, for “By him we believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory, that our faith and hope might be of God,” (1 Pet.1:21). His exhibition to us by the gospel, is of God, (Col. 1:26-27; Rom. 1:16-17), and the powerful, saving efficacy of this revelation. It is of God, that he is made not only a Redeemer to us, but the whole of our redemp­tion in the abstract, for so says the text I compared with this, that “of God he is made unto us redemption,” our heaven, our happi­ness, our all. All is owing to God as the first cause.

III. We shall, in the third place, show, that this redemption is to God, as the last end, “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood. He suffered, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” His redeeming us to God may be viewed two ways. 1. As it relates to our happiness. 2. As it relates to his honor.

1st, To be redeemed to God may be viewed as it relates to our happiness, which lies in being brought to God; and, as we can never be brought to God, unless we be redeemed to him, both by price and by power; so it is only by Christ that we are redeemed to God, namely, by the price of his blood, and by the power of his Spirit, “I am the way, says Christ, no man cometh to the Father but by me,” (John 14:6). He hath redeemed us to God in all respects.

  1.  He hath redeemed us to the knowledge of God, for we have the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, only in the face of Christ, (2 Cor. 4:6). We do not see God savingly, till we see the Redeemer, “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father,” (John 16:9). We have lost the view and knowledge of God by our fall, and no guilty sinner can see God to his satisfaction, but in the red glass of the blood of Jesus, who hath redeemed us to God by his blood; that is, to the knowledge of God.
  2.  He hath redeemed us to the favor of God, and to the peace of God; for, “He alone is our peace, having made peace through the blood of his cross,” (Col. 1:20). Reconciliation is brought about by the blood of his cross, “You that were sometimes alienated, and enemies in our mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled, in the body of his flesh, through death,” (v. 21). Hence “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself,” and pro­claiming, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
  3.  He hath redeemed us to the image of God; for, “He gave himself for his church, that he might sanctify and cleanse it,” (Eph. 5:25); “He gave himself for us, that he might re­deem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people,” (Titus 2:14): that he might bring us to God, and to conformity to his image, by bringing us back to the life of God, to the love of God, and to the service of God. We are by nature alienated from the life of God; but he redeems from death, to the life of God; from enmity, to the love of God; and from slavery to sin and Satan, to the service of God. And thus,
  4.  He hath redeemed us to the enjoyment of God, and to fel­lowship and communion with him; so as to have possession of him as our God, according to the covenant sealed with the blood of Christ, “I will be thy God;” and communion with him as such. This enjoyment of God, to which we are redeemed, hath three de­grees, inchoative, progressive, and consummative.

The first is initial or inchoative: which is a communion of state, relative and real, the soul being related to Christ, and to God in Christ, as a reconciled God and Father in Christ, and having really the Spirit of Christ in us as a well of water, and a fountain of all grace.

The second degree is progressive enjoyment; which lies in get­ting, from time to time, more and more acquaintance with Christ, and with God in him; more and more nearness and increase of love and likeness to him: hence by him we are said to be brought near to God; “Ye who sometimes were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ,” (Eph. 2:13). By him we are said to have access, (v. 18), “Through him we have access, by one Spirit, to the Father.” “In him we have boldness and access with confidence, by the faith of him.” And, “We have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,” (Heb. 10:19). Hence also joy and peace in believing, and joy unspeakable in this enjoy­ment of God, through the blood of Christ. “We joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atone­ment,” (Rom. 5:11). And hence also the joy of the Lord is some­times our strength; and we go from strength to strength till we ap­pear before the Lord in Zion. And then comes, thirdly, the last de­gree of the enjoyment of God, that we are redeemed by his own blood; that is, the consummative enjoyment of him in heaven; that enjoyment of him that is begun in the remission of sin and the renovation of the nature, and is carried on in the continued com­munication of the fullness of the Godhead, that is in Christ, unto us, is at last consummated in the full and uninterrupted enjoyment of God in heaven; where communion with God is no more by faith, but vision; no more by hope, but fruition; for, “Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; and shall be like him for we shall see him as he is; and so shall we be ever with the Lord.” To this enjoyment of God also we are redeemed by his blood: for, “The gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord,” (Rom. 6:23). And hence heaven is called the purchased possession, (Eph. 1:14); and the heavenly singers here, make this the burden of their new song, “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us by thy blood.”

Thus are we redeemed to the knowledge of God, to the favor of God, to the image of God, and to the enjoyment of God, com­menced and advanced graciously here, and consummated gloriously hereafter in his heavenly kingdom. Thus by the blood of Christ we are redeemed to God, to the kingdom of God, in grace and glory and so to God as our chief good and last end, to have the LORD JEHOVAH to be our everlasting light, and life, and happiness, our exceeding great reward, our portion, our all in all.

2dly, His redeeming us to God, may be viewed, not only as it relates thus to our happiness, but as it relates to his glory. He hath redeemed us to God by his blood; that is, redeemed us to the glory of God, in all his glorious perfections, which are displayed more gloriously here than anywhere else. Thus,

  1.  By his blood we are redeemed to the glory of God’s wis­dom. O here is the wisdom of God in a mystery, in bringing God and man together in a God-man; in reconciling justice and mercy, and making them kiss each other; and the blood of Christ the cement for joining them together inseparably in our salvation.
  2.  By this blood we are redeemed to the glory of God’s power, which was more displayed in supporting the human nature of Christ, under an infinite load of wrath, than in supporting the pillars of heaven and earth, or creating all things out of nothing. The power of God is here employed, not only in destroying principalities and powers, but here the power of his arm is employed in bearing the power of his wrath: and, “Who knows the power thereof?”
  3.  By his blood he has redeemed us to the glory of God’s holi­ness, and without prejudice to his holy law that required perfect obedience, while his eternal Son, in our room, yielded himself obe­dient unto death, even the death of the cross.
  4.  By his blood we are redeemed to the glory of God’s justice. The eternal damnation of all the reprobate world will never illustrate the glory of justice, so much as the blood of the Lamb, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness,” (Rom. 3:25); or, to manifest his jus­tice in punishing sin, and then pardoning sin upon that propitiation.
  5.  By his blood we are redeemed to God: that is, to the glory of God’s mercy and love. O the love of God that shines here! “God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Rom. 5:8). O the glory of the Father’s love is great in giving Christ for this end! How does he here proclaim that he delights in mercy! And he is so forward to show mercy to a number of mankind-sinners, that rather than want an opportunity to show mercy to them, he will make a way through the heart’s blood of his dear and well beloved Son!
  6.  By his blood we are redeemed to the glory of God’s truth and faithfulness. The first promise to fallen man was a blessed promise respecting us, yet a bloody promise respect­ing Christ, that the Seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent: yet the serpent should bruise his heel, or that Christ should have his blood shed for our redemption. The church of God of old was big with hopes of the accomplishment of this promise; they waited long for it. When Christ appeared, and humbled himself to the death of the cross, then was the promise fulfilled: and as this was the greatest instance and indication of the faithfulness of God, that ever was given: so this is an earnest and evidence, that all the gospel-promises shall be accomplished. God hath fulfilled his word, in giving Christ to the death; then certainly he will fulfill all the other promises of blessing and mercy in the new covenant, which were ratified by his blood. God’s truth in the law-threatening of death, and his truth in the gospel-promise of life, were both sealed by his blood.

In a word, by his blood we are redeemed to God: that is, re­deemed in a way that brings glory to God in the highest. God de­signed himself as the last end, his glory as the ultimate end of his redemption; and now, by the blood of Christ, we are redeemed to God’s honor and glory, to God’s pleasure and satisfaction, to the joy and content of his heart. It is said of Christ, “The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand,” (Isa. 53:10); that in him he is well-pleased, and his soul delighted,” (Isa. 42:1). Why, then, by his blood we are redeemed to God, in a way that is to the pleasure and content­ment, joy and delight, and satisfaction of God.

Thus the redemption we have by the blood of Christ, being of God, as the first cause, is to God, as the last end. “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.”

IV. The fourth general head I proposed, was, To offer some Inferences for the Application. And passing at present, many in­ferences relating to the means of our redemption, the death and blood of Christ, which are afterwards to be set before us, under the sacramental elements, I confine myself to these inferences that re­late especially to the great source, and to the great resource of this redemption through Christ, the great spring, and the great issue of it; the great cause, and the great end of it.

Is it so then, That the redemption we have, through the blood of Christ, being of God, as the first cause, is likewise to God, as the last end? Hence,

1. See and admire the antiquity and perpetuity of our redemp­tion and religion in Christ. This wonderful transaction, in time, is nothing else than adisplay of what from all eternity was of God, and, to all eternity, will be to God. We are this day to commemo­rate God’s ancient and endless love, whereof he hath made a dis­play in Christ the Redeemer that was slain, and has redeemed us to God by his blood.

O sirs, see the high source of our redemption; it is of God, from eternity, before the foundation of the world. There are four things we read of, relating to this redemption, that are said to be before the world was.

  1. We read of a choice that God made before the world: “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy,” (Eph. 1:4).
  2. We read of a promise he made before the world: “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began,” (Titus 1:2).
  3. We read of grace given us in Christ, before the world: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not ac­cording to our works, but according to his purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began,” (2 Tim. 1:9).
  4. We read of glory ordained for us before the world: “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world, unto our glory,” (1. Cor. 2:7). This whole redemption in Christ is an ancient business; all was of God before the world was: (see John 17:5, 24).

See also here the last resource of this redemption, or the great ocean into which it runs; as it is of God from eternity, so it is to God through eternity. As the springs of water come from the sea, and return to it, so here, the whole of redemption is of God and to him: hence, when the mystery of redemption shall be finished, it is said, “The kingdom shall be delivered up to God, even the Father, that God may appear to be all in all,” (1 Cor. 15:24, 28). Not that Christ will cease to be king; nay, the Father hath said to him, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever;” but in respect of the distinct administration of the kingdom which will be, (though now we speak but as babes, ignorantly, of what will then appear gloriously) it will then appear to be such as will show that Christ, though as he is the Christ, was the great mean and ordinance of God, for our redemption; yet God was the all in all of it, even the great original, and the great end: “Thou wast slain, and hest redeemed us to God.”

2. Hence see the wonderful constitution of the person of Christ the Redeemer, who was slain, and has redeemed us to God. O what a mysterious person is here! Christ indeed is God; essen­tially one God with the Father and the Spirit; personally he is God the Son; and as God, he is the first cause and the last end, equally with the Father and the Holy Ghost; but as Christ, he is neither God only, nor man only, but GOD-MAN; the person that stands between God and man; the middle person by whom we come to God, and are redeemed to God. Christ, as God, says, “I and my Father are one,” even when he had said in the preceding verse, “My Father is greater than all,” (John 10:29-30), yet “I and my Father are one;” but again, Christ, as man, says, “My Father is greater than I,” (John 14:28). And though, as Mediator, he is the Father’s servant, yet being, as Mediator, God as well as man, GOD-MAN, his name is called ALPHA and OMEGA, the begin­ning and the end; and the Father wills all the angels of God to worship him; and all men to honor the Son, even as they honor the Father; for, “He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father that sent him,”(John 5:23). And hence, here in the text, he is the subject of the new song, and the object of the wor­ship, and praise of the redeemed: “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.” Our Redeemer, therefore, is the wonderful IMMANUEL, God-man. If he had not been man, he could not have been slain; and redeemed us by his blood; if he had not been God, he could not have redeemed us to God; our redemption could not have been of God, as the first cause; and to God, as the last end, if it had not been through God, as the means; for all things that are of him, and to him, are also through him; “Of him, and to him, and through him, are all things,” (Rom. 11:36).

3. Hence see the reason, why the Man Christ Jesus, ascribed all the glory of his redeeming work unto God. He speaks of him­self as the Sent of God, more than thirty times, in that one gospel according to John. He speaks of his doing the work of him that sent him, and seeking the glory of him that sent him. Part of his prayer to the Father is, That the world may know that thou hast sent me, and that the world may believe that thou hast sent me, (John 17:8, 21). Saving faith looks to Christ as the Sent of God. He speaks of his dying, and laying down his life, as a command­ment he received from his Father, and his having finished the work the Father gave him to do. He speaks of God, as his God and Father, whose will he came to accomplish: “Lo, I come; I de­light to do thy will, O my God,” (Heb. 10:7), By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all,” (Heb. 10:10). By this will we are redeemed; it is by the will of God we are redeemed to God by the blood of Christ. The whole work of redemption flows from an act of God’s will; and hence the covenant of grace and promise, sealed with the blood of Christ, runs in so many of God’s I wills; “IWILL sprinkle you with clean water,” &c. “I WILL take away the heart of stone; I WILL be your God; I WILL put my spirit within you,”’ (Ezek. 36:25-30), q.d. It is my will, that such and such a goodly number of man­kind sinners be brought to me; and, by the blood of the covenant, redeemed to me. Well, says Christ, “Thy will be done;” even when it came to the bloody part of the bargain: “Not my will, but thine be done;” and AMEN, says faith, in the day of power, “Thy will be done.”

4. Hence see, that it is too narrow a view of redeeming work, to see only that Christ was slain, to save and redeem us by his blood, if, through the prospect of faith, we look not to the farthest end of this redemption, namely, that he has redeemed us to God. Your redemption signifies nothing, if it does not land you in God and his glory; in vain hath Christ suffered, the just for the unjust, if it be not to bring you to God. Many presume they are redeemed by the blood of Christ, and that Christ died for them, but bewray [reveal or disclose] the narrowness and naughtiness of their faith, by not considering from what, and to what Christ hath redeemed his people, whom he re­deems by price and power; he redeems from Satan unto God; and so they are said to be brought from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God, (Acts 26:18). They are redeemed from the world to God; “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God, and our Father,” (Gal. 1:4). They are redeemed from men to God. “Redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb,” (Rev. 14:4); hence they are not of the world, (John 15:19). Though they be in the world, yet they are not of it, but rather witnesses against an evil world; and therefore, the world hates them, as it did Christ, (John 7:7). The redeemed of the Lord are redeemed from a vain conversation to God, and to a con­versation in heaven; “Redeemed not with cor­ruptible things, such as silver and gold, from your vain conversa­tion, received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ,” (1 Pet. 1:18-19). But, alas! many speak of Christ as their Saviour and Redeemer, but yet walk as if they were redeemed to the devil, and redeemed to sin, redeemed to the world, and to their lusts, and delivered to work abomination, (Jer. 7:8-11). Or, as if they were redeemed to themselves, to be their own lords: “Ye are not your own, says the apostle, for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s,” (1 Cor. 6:20). They that are redeemed by the blood of Christ, are re­deemed to God, to walk humbly with God here, and to walk with him in white hereafter, and so to sh0w forth his glory for ever: “This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise,” (Isa. 43:21).

5. Hence see a test and proof of true religion, true conversion, and a true work of God, namely, it is such as is of God, as the first cause; to God, as the last end; and through Christ, as exhibited in the gospel, and his death and blood, as the means. It is said in Scripture, “Some return, but not to the Most High;” they are con­verted, but not to God; and surely that religion never came from God, that led not to God. We hear of a strange work spreading far and near, and it is called a work of God. How shall we know, if it is a work of God, or a delusion of the devil? Here is a touch stone by which it may be tried: let them assert never so confidently, that they are converted to Christ yet, if they are not converted through Christ to God, it is a delusion; it is a false Christ they are taken up with, if he do not bring them to God, to the love of God, to the fear of God, to the law and testimony of God, to all things whatsoever that are commanded of God. If the spirit that is prevailing, to the conversion of many, convert them to the hatred of the cause of God, and the testimony of the time: con­vert them to a toleration of all the corruptions and defections of the day, as if there ought to be no witnessing-work against these: con­vert them to an opposition of a covenanted work of Reformation, and any appearance for it, and so to an involving of the whole land in perjury; converting them to a dislike of any truth of God, relat­ing either to the doctrine, worship, discipline, or government he hath appointed in his house: If this be the case, then so many conversions, so many delusions of Satan are taking place; for the true Christ redeems us to God by his blood; and true conversion converts men to the knowledge of God, to the image of God, and to all the ways, and ordinances, and institutions of God; and it is a false conversion that draws men off from any of the ways of God: and may all the Lord’s people be delivered from any such conver­sions! 2

Here also we may see a test and trial of all the graces and operations of the Spirit, if they be true or false.—The knowledge of Christ may here be tried: the knowledge of Christ would not save you, did not the knowledge of him lead you to the knowledge of God; the knowledge of Christ does not terminate on Christ him­self, but is the Midsman and way to bring us to the knowledge of the Father: “I am the way, says Christ; no man cometh to the Father but by me; and he that hath seen me, hath seen the Father,” (John 14:6, 9).—True faith may be here tried: for true faith in Christ, as it is of God, or of divine operation, so it will not terminate on Christ himself, but upon God in and through him; for, “By him we believe in God,” (1 Pet. 1:21).—Love to Christ, if it be true love, and of God as its original, it will terminate upon God as the ultimate end and object of it; hence the true knowledge of Christ is a knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ, (2 Cor. 4:6).—True joy in the Lord Jesus, terminates in God; hence we joy in God, through Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the atonement, (Rom. 5:11).

Here is a test of all true experimental religion. True experience leads a man to rest upon no internal feeling of Christ within him: the true Spirit testifies of Christ in the word; and, if Christ be in you by his Spirit, he will bring you out of yourself, and of all con­fidence in the flesh, and out of all confidence in internal feelings, and impulses, and impressions, and will land you in God alone. True experience, like the true Christ, brings no man unto himself; no, by no means: he brings us to God, and redeems us to God.

6. Hence see the duty of all lost and undone sinners, that have lost their way to God, and have lost the knowledge of God, the favor of God, the image of God, and the enjoyment of God, viz. to accept of a Redeemer, that is come from God to give himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, to redeem us to God by his heart’s blood. You are called to accept of a complete redemption that God brings to you, in order to bring you to God; to God, your chief end; to God, your chief happiness. Here the treasures of God’s grace are opened fully and freely to you that have nothing; only come, and welcome: you that are fools, come and get the wisdom that is of God; you that are guilty, come and get a righteousness that is of God; you that are unholy, come and get a sanctification that is of God; you that are unhappy and miserable, come and get a redemption that is of God. Christ is made of God to you all these things, which includes everything else you need. Here the weak may get strength, the blind may get sight, the diseased may get health, the dead may get life, the leper may be cleansed, the Ethiopian may be beautified, the captive may be liberated, bankrupts may get their debt paid; only come to, and accept of the Redeemer that is come from God to redeem you to God, and sent of God to bring you to God. You cannot come to God, because you are weak; and you dare not come, because you are worthless; but, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain:” and as God sent him once to be a sacrifice to redeem you to God; so he has sent him now as an usher to bring you to God, that you may come to God by him as the way, by him as the guide and the leader. No matter how great, how atrocious your sins have been hitherto; though you had all the sins of Manasseh, Mary Magdalene or Saul the persecutor and blasphemer; yea, all the sins of these that were murderers of the Lord of glory; he who hath redeemed us to God by his blood, by his blood that cleanses from all sin, he has come here in his Father’s name, who hath sent him clothed with his vesture dipped in blood, that by him ye may have redemption through his blood, even the remission of sins, according to the riches of his grace, (Eph. 1:7). O sirs, do you know him when you hear of him? for, faith, and acquaintance with him, come by hearing. Do you know him in his bloody robes? And is it not a robe of grace, grace reigning through righteousness and blood to eternal life? Will you accept of him who is thus come from God to bring you to God?

“But, say you, will he accept of me, who want faith and repentance, and such conditions requisite to bring me to God?” Alas! what is this? Behold the malignity of a legal spirit that rises up against the gospel of the grace of God. What! would you have a faith or a repentance to be a Redeemer to you, instead of Christ, to redeem you to God? Would you have faith to be a Christ to redeem you, or repentance to be a Christ to bring you to God? Would you have a Christ within you in your heart, to the disparagement of Christ without you, and revealed to you in the word? Alas! this legal dream flows from the power of the first temptation, “Ye shall be as gods.” God only is the first cause and the last end of this whole business of redemption; but ye would be as gods, to be the first cause yourself; you would have something wrought by you, or wrought in you, to be the first cause of your own salvation, that God may lose the glory of the work. But O proud sinner, come down from the height of your desired deity; you are yet desiring to be as God, but come down to God’s foot, and acknowledge him to be God, and be content that he only be the first cause, and the last end, and that Christ be the all in all of your redemption to God. True faith cannot bring itself to God, but only welcomes the Christ of God to bring it to God. Here, O sinner, you have nothing to do, nothing to make; God has made all to your hand; Christ is made of God to you redemption; he is made of God a Redeemer by price, to redeem you to God; and a Redeemer by power, to being you to God. How love you this bargain? Do you accept of it?

O sirs, what shall I say? Is there any soul here that would not choose to be swallowed up forever in this ravishing mystery of God? Christ, the Redeemer, is the brightness of the Father’s glory by whose blood you are redeemed to God; that is, both to the God of glory, and to the glory of God: to the God of glory, that you may be glorified forever in him; and to the glory of God, that God may be glorified forever in you. O sirs, this redemption through the blood of Christ, is a redemption of God, as the first cause; and a redemption to God, as the last end; and therefore a redemption to be valued, as made of God to you for your everlasting happiness, and made of God to himself for his everlasting honor: therefore, as ye would not trample on the blood of Christ, and as you would regard your own everlasting happiness, which is a great matter, and God’s everlasting glory, which is infinitely greater; come, come to this blessed Redeemer, and welcome a redemption made of God to redeem you to God, and to his highest honor and greatest glory. And I will tell you good news, if your heart welcome this Redeemer in his bloody vesture, for this reason, because he comes from God to bring you to God; and welcome this redemption for this reason, because it is a redemption made and ordained of God, to redeem you to God; then you may be assured that God the Fa­ther welcomes you into his everlasting bosom, because his only be­gotten Son, which is in his bosom, is accepted as God’s. Sent to you; therefore, says Christ, with a doubled AMEN, a doubled assurance, “Verily, verily, he that heareth my word, and be­lieved on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life,” (John 5:24).

Thus I have been endeavoring to show you concerning the great stream of redemption, colored red with the Redeemer’s blood, whence it comes and whither it goes; that as the Redeemer himself came from God, and is gone again to God his Father, so this great red-flowing stream hath its rise from God, as the fountain; and its recourse to God, as the end. And if any here be so enamored with this method of salvation, that they would be glad to have their souls, this moment, carried, by the strength of this stream of redeeming blood, in to God as their everlasting God and glory, then their everlasting life is begun, and they begin to dwell where God and Christ dwell. Where is that? Why, God dwells in Christ, and Christ dwells in God; “Believe me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me,” (John 14:11); God is in Christ reconciling the world to himself,” (2 Cor. 5:19); and Christ is in God, and your everlasting life there with him, and in him; “Your life is hid with Christ in God,” (Col. 3:8); and therefore you have ground to expect communion with God in Christ, at his table of grace here below, and at his table of glory above. Go, therefore, to his table, O believing soul, singing and saying, “Salvation to our God that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb.” Let your song to God be to him as the first cause and the last end of this great work of redemption in Christ, who of God is made unto us complete redemption; and let your song to the Lamb be the new song of the redeemed here, “Thou vast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.”

ENDNOTES

What the author delivered on these branches is not printed. (Back to reading)

A short account of the rise and nature of this strange and supposed wonder­ful work of God was narrated above. The great instrument and principal pro­moter of this work, (viz. Mr. Whitfield,) being neither a member, nor of the Church of Scotland, but of the Episcopalian denominations, labored, with all the artifice he was master of, to disseminate Latitudinarian tenets wherever he went, in order that his personal ministrations might be more acceptable to the people, and his designs more effectually accomplished. These sentiments being drunk in by many, especially by the giddy multitude, so filled them with a virulent acidity of spirit against the espousers of a Testimony for truth that they evidenced and expressed their resent­ment in a very unchristian manner: and the very name of a Testimony for our attained to Reformation was galling to them.

Ed. Note: Latitudinarianism is showing no preference among varying creeds and forms of worship. Not promoting a particular church doctrine but accepting the believer on a profession of faith. (Back to reading)

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