CLEAN WATER; OR, THE PURE AND PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST
FOR THE CLEANSING OF POLLUTED SINNERS?
This sermon was preached immediately before the administration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper at Dunfermline, August 10th, 1746. To which is subjoined, the Discourse before and at the first Table, and also at the conclusion of the Solemnity.
“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.” Ezekiel 36:25.
This text is a precious promise uttered by the mouth of God, and it hath a reference to a certain time, even to a sad and sinful time, when his great name was polluted and profaned; and his people, to whom he speaks, had been polluting his name, had polluted themselves, and were overrun with all abominations; and yet, even then, instead of drawing his sword of wrath, he, in sovereignty, utters a word of grace to them, and opens a door of hope; let men and angels wonder at it! “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean,” &c.
In this, and the following context, you may observe these six things.
1. What God will do to them; “I will sprinkle you,” &c.
2. What he will give them; “A new heart will I give you,” &c.
3. What he will take out of them; “I will take away the heart of stone.”
4. What he will put in them; “I will put my Spirit within you.”
5. What he will cause them to do; “I will cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”
6. What he will be unto them; “I will be your God, and ye shall be my people.”
Every one of these promises are uttered out of the mouth of God, the undertaker for them; they are ascertained unto our faith, as declarations of the degree of heaven, and acts of his sovereign will, by which will, we are sanctified and saved, and which will, our glorious Redeemer came to execute with infinite pleasure in his heart, saying, “I delight to do thy will, O my God:” q.d. “It is thy will that I seal all these promises with my blood? Then, ‘Lo, I come:’ Let heaven and earth, men and angels, witness that, Lo, I come, with infinite delight in this work, for thy will is my will; therefore, Lo, I come to subscribe thy will with my blood; and let this blood of mine run like clean water amongst a company of unclean sinners, for purging and cleansing them.” Why, then, may the Father say, “I am pleased with what thou hast done; and, in testimony thereof, I take this clean water in my own hand, and turn my speech to these polluted sinners, with this gracious proclamation, Hear and believe, O sinner, what my will is, ‘I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.’”
Interpreters generally explain this text of justification and pardon in the blood of Christ, and it seems reasonable to do so on two or three accounts.
1. Because the promise of sanctification immediately follows; both habitual sanctification, in the promise of the new heart and the new Spirit; and actual sanctification, in the promise of putting his Spirit in us, and causing us to walk in his statutes. And,
2. Because the clean water here is said to be sprinkled upon us, and the blood of Christ is called the blood of sprinkling; and though not the blood of Christ, but the Spirit of Christ, is most frequently in Scripture expressed by water; yet that water is not ordinarily said to be sprinkled, but poured upon sinners; “I will pour water on the thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground, even my Spirit: “but the sprinkled water is the blood of Christ. Besides,
3. The Spirit is not said to be water upon us, but water within us, “The water that I give, shall be in him a well of water springing up to everlasting life;” (John 4:14) and so in the context here, besides this water to be sprinkled upon us, the promise of the Spirit is to be within us; “I will put my Spirit within you.” These blessings go together, but yet they are distinct; the one is put upon us for our justification, and the other put within us for our sanctification. And so,
4. The sprinkling of this clean water upon us answers the account given us of justification by the blood and righteousness of Christ applied and imputed to us, or sprinkled and put upon us; “Even the righteousness of God, which is by the faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe,” (Rom. 3:22). So that. by the clean water here, we are to understand the precious blood of Christ. Here is the application of it promised; “I will sprinkle it upon you.” Here is the effect and efficacy of it; “Ye shall be clean.” And here is the extent of that efficacy; “From all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.” Here we may distinguish betwixt legal defilement and moral; legal defilement is only cleansed by the blood of Christ, moral defilement by the Spirit of Christ, though purchased also by that blood that justifies, yet effectuate by the Spirit, whose work is to sanctify; but all legal defilement, in the eye of the law and justice of God, is removed only by the righteousness or the blood of Christ, imputed to us, or sprinkled upon us; “We are justified by his blood,” (Rom. 5:9). —I have spoken to several doctrines from the words—another at present is this.
Observation: That the blood of Christ is clean water, which God himself promises to apply, with his own clean hand, for cleansing of the unclean.
Here you see that God, of his sovereign good will towards a number of unclean sinners, hath provided clean water, and brought it near to you in this promise, “Here is water; what hinders you to be baptized and washen? He that believes shall be saved and cleansed.” Here we may inquire,
- How the blood of Christ is compared to water.
- In what respect it is clean water.
- What way it is applied or sprinkled upon the unclean, for cleaning and cleansing of them.
- Speak concerning that cleanness or cleansing that is the effect of this sprinkling of clean water.
- Make application of the whole subject.
I. The blood of Christ may be compared to water in several respects. In general, as water rises from the ocean, so does the blood of Christ from the ocean of the love of God in Christ, who loved us, and gave himself for us, to be a bloody sacrifice for our sins. More particularly,
1. Water, being liquid, when poured out, it runs abroad and spreads; even so, the blood of Christ, that was poured out upon the cross at Jerusalem, it spread about, and spread abroad, as it is said, “And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them this way, and half of them that way,” (Zech. 14:8). This blood spreads abroad as far as the gospel-dispensation doth, of which Christ says, “Go, preach the gospel to every creature: publish remission of sin in my blood.”
2. Water is penetrating; when poured out, it runs into all the secret caverns and pores of things it meets with; it sinks and sweeps through all the open gaps and chinks of the dry ground on which it falls; even so doth the blood of Christ run in through all the open gaps of a guilty conscience, it “cleanseth from all sin.”
3. Water is soft and penetrable; men may easily dip their whole body into it; even so, whosoever comes to this fountain, may find it as easy to put in their whole man as to put in only a finger of the old man, a single member of the body of sin; nay, as it is easier and better for a man that would be wholly washen, to cast in his whole body into the water all at once, than to step down and put in his hand or his head, or even to wade in by the aide of the water with his feet; so, when faith is acted on the blood of Christ, it is acted best when it plunges wholly into this fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. Besides particular acts of faith in improving the blood of Christ for removing this and that particular sin, there is warrant, in the text, for a general plunge into this great depth for washing all sin away; “From all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.”
4. Water is common; every one may come and draw at a public well; even so, the blood of Christ is a common good, a fountain opened for the house of David and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Christ is a Saviour of sinners by office; “We have seen, and do testify, that the Father hath sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world,” (1 John 4:14). Hence, whosoever will, is welcome to come and take, to come and wash, &c.
5. Water is useful in many respects. It is a bath to nature that the God of nature hath appointed for purifying things that are polluted; clothes, and other things that are polluted, are usually washed in water; thus the blood of Christ is for washing and cleansing from all soul-filthiness here. Water quenches fire, so does the blood of Christ quench the fire of God’s vindictive wrath. Water quenches thirst; God’s justice thirsted for satisfaction, and was fully satisfied with this blood; and the awakened conscience cannot be satisfied anywhere else but with a drink of this warm blood of the sacrificed Lamb of God, this water that gushed out of the smitten rock. Water softens the earth, it is said to be made soft with showers; O! nothing softens a hard heart like the water of the blood of Christ; “They shall look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn.” Water heals wounds in the body: O sirs, the blood of Christ is the healing water; “By his stripes we are healed.” Water makes the earth green, flourishing, and fruitful; even so the blood of Christ, applied by the Spirit, makes all the trees of righteousness bring forth their fruit in their season.
6. Water is a mean of life, we cannot live without it, many perish for want of it: even so, the blood of Christ is the mean of spiritual and eternal life, we cannot live without it, and multitudes perish for want of it, and for not making use of it when it is offered to them; “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you; he that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day,” (John 6:53-54).
7. Water is free, cheap, and easyto be had; it is a common element, and none are barred from it but such as debar themselves; liven so, the blood of Christ, and the blessings thereof are free, they will cost you nothing; “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come unto the waters; he that hath no money, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price,” (Isa. 55:1). If you would have water out of a corked bottle, you must draw out the cork, or else want; but this water sends forth streams of blessings freely, without our labor or merit.
8. Water is plentiful; we may have enough of water if we will; even so, there is plenty of blood that Christ hath shed, here you may all drink and be filled, here you may all wash and be cleansed, there are waters in abundance here; “I will sprinkle clean water upon you.” In the original, it is in the plural number, waters.There is plenteous redemption here; plenty of merit, plenty of efficacy in the blood of Christ, enough for you and for a thousand worlds.
II. The second thing proposed was, To show in what respect it is clean water. This question is of the more moment and concern to us, in regard that, if the blood of Christ had not been clean water, it could never have removed our uncleanness, or made us clean, but God here says, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean.” To make us have clean souls, clean hearts, clean consciences, it behooved to be clean water, for foul and muddy water would never have done it. Now the blood of Christ is clean, pure, and holy water, in the following respects.
1. The blood of Christ is clean water in respect of the contrivance of it, and the fountain head from which this water issued, namely, the council of peace from all eternity betwixt Jehovah and Christ, wherein it was decreed that our Surety should have blood to shed; and, for this end, a body should be given him; “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body thou hast prepared me,” (Heb. 10:5); that is, a human nature, to be a sacrifice for sin.
2. The blood of Christ is clean water in respect of the conveyance of it, for he was “conceived by the power of the holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin;” therefore it was said, “That holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God:” that holy thing contracted no filth by coming of the first Adam, no contamination by being born of a sinner, as will further appear by what follows.
3. The blood of Christ is clean water in respect of the subject of it, or the person in whose veins it runs, and from whose pierced side came blood and water. In his person there was a perfect cleanness, both in respect of his divine and human nature, united in, one person; he was naturally clean, as man; and infinitely clean as God.
(1.) I say he was naturally clean, as man; “He, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot,” (Heb. 9:14). The spotlessness of his human nature was necessary to his being a sacrifice, and its union with the eternal Godhead was necessary to his being a valuable one. As the legal lambs were to be without blemish, so was Christ a Lamb without spot, (1 Pet. 1:19). He had no sin naturally imputed to him, because he was never federally in Adam, so as to be liable to the imputation of his sin as we are who descended from him by natural generation. It is true, sin was imputed to him when he was made sin, to take away the sin of the world; but this was not in the covenant with Adam by a legal imputation, but in the covenant of grace or redemption, by his own voluntary susception [a taking upon or to oneself]; as the promise of the seed of the woman was not till after Adam fell; so, if Adam had stayed in innocency, Christ had not been incarnate, to have been a Mediator for sinners; therefore, in that capacity, he was not federally in Adam, though he was in Adam in a natural sense. Besides, he had no sin personally inherent. The pollution of our nature was prevented in him from the instant of his conception; the portion whereof he was made of a woman was sanctified by the Holy Ghost, so that he was naturally clean as man. The purity of the snow is not to be compared with the whiteness of this “Lily of the Valley;” he is the spotless Lamb of God; never was there any spotless or innocent flesh in the world but his own since the fall of Adam; the second Adam took our nature, but not our defilement. He was naturally clean as man.
(2.) He was infinitely clean as God; as man, he was “The Holy One of God;” and as God, he was the infinitely holy God; his human nature was holy, and could not but be so, by virtue of the union of the divine with it, and holy by the effusion of the Spirit upon him above measure; hence he was elevated as Mediator, God-man in one person, to the highest degree of holiness. It was impossible that any spot of sin or uncleanness could be upon him who was God in our nature; if there had been any spot, which was impossible, his sacrifice could not have been for our sins, but must have been for his own; yea, his spot had been infinitely greater than ours: it had not only been objectively infinite as ours; but subjectively infinite also; which is infinitely more than ours, because the person sinning had been an infinite person: yea, in such a case, which is impossible, the rights of God, and his honor, had been more invaded, instead of being repaired; the guilt would have been as great in the sinner, as the satisfaction could have been in the sufferer; even a subjective infiniteness in the sacrifice. But none of this was possible; Satan could not charge him with any sin, but confessed him to be holy, (Mark 1:24). The all-seeing eye of God could see no unholiness in him, but justified him as holy, and pronounced him clean: “For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens,” (Heb. 7:26). His blood, then, is clean water indeed, cleaner than the heavens. Impurity had been contrary to the dignity of his person: God could as well be unholy, as the person of Christ unholy; his holiness therefore and cleanness was infinite; though the holiness of his human nature could not be of itself infinite, yet it derived an infiniteness from his person; as well as his blood and sufferings derived from it an infinite value. Here was clean water indeed, which God himself could drink, and did so to the satisfaction of his justice; and therefore he glories in it, and enjoins us to drink of it to the satisfaction of our hearts and consciences, that we may have joy and peace in believing.
4. The blood of Christ is clean water, in respect of the effusion of it. This water was drawn out of that clean vessel, with the Father’s clean finger: for, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him,” (Isa. 53:10). It is true, the Jews shed his blood with defiled hands: “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain,” (Acts 2:23). Godly men could not have been employed in such an action as that of crucifying the Lord of glory. An artificer uses a crooked tool to do that which he cannot do with a straight one; but this does not justify their wickedness; no more than a fair and perfect child born, doth justify the adultery in which it was begotten. God may bring about his holy purpose by wicked instruments; and indeed, the awaking of the sword of justice against the man that was God’s Fellow, was one of the most holy actions of God, as well as a most glorious work of grace and love. And when God put to his holy hand to draw this clean water, and smote the rock that the water might run out, Christ himself, the living rock, poured out the water voluntarily; and therefore it is said, that when his soul was made an offering for sin, that in his passion he was active; for, “He poured out his soul unto death,” (Isa. 53:12). Hence it is clean water in the effusion of it.
5. The blood of Christ is clean water in respect of the channel in which it runs; I mean, the gospel dispensation; this water runs purely and powerfully here; for, “It is the power of God to salvation, because therein is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith,” (Rom. 1:16-17). Gospel promises, and gospel doctrines, are both pure and clean basins, or conduits, wherein this clean water is brought to our hands, (Ps. 19:8-9). It is true the gospel dispensation outwardly may be puddled with foul feet, or perverted with foul mouths, (Gal. 1:7). But it is not the fault of the waters of the sanctuary, but the drawers of the water: it is not the gospel that is to blame, but the preacher that understands not the gospel. However, this water cannot, in itself, be defiled, no more than the sunbeams can be by shining on a dunghill. Error may be mixed with truth, but it will not incorporate with it; a river may be mudded and defiled, but the water will not incorporate with the mud: the mud will sink gradually, and the water will clear itself natively; so corrupt doctrine puddles the water of the sanctuary: but the water will not incorporate with the mud; hence it is not muddy error, but cleanly truth, that is the vessel wherein this clean water is conveyed unto us; it runs in the channel of the divine declaration here, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you.”
6. The blood of Christ is clean water, in respect of the application of it: not only the clean heart from which it is poured, but also the clean hand by which it is applied. Such was the cleanness of his heart, that was pierced and broached to let out this blood, that he could say, “I delight to do thy will; thy law is within my heart.” This water was his heart-blood; and the blood of a holy heart that never had a vain, sinful thought; that never had anything written in it but the law of God, nor engraven upon it, but “Holiness to the Lord.” Such is the clean hand that applies it, that it is no other than the Holy Spirit of God, to whom as the efficient, the sprinkling of the blood of Christ is appropriate, (1 Pet. 1:2). And here the Spirit of God, speaking in his word, puts his infinitely clean hand in this clean water, and says, “I will sprinkle it upon you.” And again,
7. The blood of Christ is clean water in respect of the designation and institution of it; it is sanctified of God, for the purpose of our purification. Hence their sin is said to be dreadful, and their guilt egregious, who tread under foot the Son of God, and account the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, (Heb. 10:29). It is a holy ordinance of God, who appoints no other blood but this to purge away sin, and satisfy justice; nor could any other do it.
8. The blood of Christ is clean water in respect of the intrinsic value, and cleansing virtue and efficacy of it. O! how infinite is the value of this water, this blood of Christ, as it is the blood of God; not the blood of the Godhead, but of that person who was God! Hence it is called, “The blood of the Son of God,” (1 John 1:7). And that it was God that laid down his life: “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us,” (1 John 3:16; see also Acts 20:28). The blood of God must be valuable blood: it was not the blood of a man only, but of him, who, from all eternity, was constituted Surety; and who, for four thousand years, was our Surety as the Son of God, before he was our Surety as the Son of man. O! what a word is this, “The blood of God!” Can men or angels speak forth the dignity of it? Or can men or angels declare the virtue and efficacy of it? O poor guilty sinner, trembling to think of the greatness of your guilt and defilement, though you had the whole guilt of all the men on earth, and devils in hell, and all the guilt that finite creatures are capable of contracting, yet it cannot stand before the infinite value, virtue, and efficacy of this blood, which is the blood of God; it is infinitely holy water, flowing from the pure fountain of living waters; it is clean, clean water; it hath a cleaning and cleansing virtue and efficacy; it is not designed, indeed, for unclean devils in hell, but for unclean sinners of mankind, that are yet out of hell. Here is clean water, ready to be applied for your cleansing. And hence,
III. The third general Head proposed, is, To show what way it is applied and sprinkled upon the unclean, for their being cleaned and cleansed. This sprinkling is spoken of in allusion to the many typical sprinklings under the law: such as the sprinkling of the lamb’s blood upon the door-posts of the house, (Ex. 12:7), as a sign of God’s passing over and delivering the Israelites; and the sprinkling of the blood upon the leper that was to be cleansed, (Lev. 14:7). Thus the sprinkling of the clean water doth signify the application and imputation of the blood of Christ to the sinner, who believes in him for the forgiveness of sin, and cleansing of him from all legal guilt. The blood of Christ, here represented by clean water, is the blood of his sacrifice, with the power, virtue, and efficacy thereof.
The blood of the sacrifice falls under a double consideration.
- As it is offered to God, to make atonement and reconciliation.
2. As it was sprinkled on other things, for their purging and sanctification. Part of the blood, in every propitiatory sacrifice, was still to be sprinkled round about the altar, (Lev. 1:11). And, in the great sacrifice of expiation, some of the blood of the bullock was to be sprinkled before the mercy-seat seven times, (Lev. 16:14). This the apostle, expresses in a single instance (Heb. 9:19-22); therefore the blood of Christ, as it was the blood of his sacrifice, falls under this double consideration, and hath these two effects: (1.) As offered by the eternal Spirit, to make atonement, and procure eternal redemption. (2.) As it is sprinkled, by the same Spirit, on the conscience of believing sinners, to purge them from dead works, (see Heb. 9:12-14). Hence it is called the “blood of sprinkling,” (Heb. 12:24). “For we have the sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, through the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus,” (1 Pet. 1:2).
Now, what way this sprinkling is effectuate, may be found out in the text.
1. It is by a gracious God, as the efficient cause: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you;” I will do it. It is God himself that undertakes this work, by the immediate efficiency of the holy Spirit, who is the great Applier of the blood of Christ, and redemption purchased by him, (Titus 3:5-6).
2. It is by a gracious word, as the instrumental cause, that the application is made: “Thus saith the Lord, I will sprinkle.” It is his word of promise, and it is his word of power, that does the business: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith in this word.” The Spirit takes the clean water of the blood of Christ in his hand, as it were, and applies it by a word of power to the conscience: “Awake, O north wind, come thou south, blow upon our garden.” By the north wind breeze, may he convince of our defilements; by the south wind gale, may he apply the clean water, and breathe upon the joyful sound of this word, so as faith may come by hearing it, and then joy and peace in believing.
3. It is by a gracious will, as the moving cause, that this application is made: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you. —Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth. —By this will we are sanctified. —By this will we are saved.” It is my will to sprinkle this clean water upon you. This is a reason without me, the clean water of Christ’s meritorious blood that hath purchased your remission and cleansing from all sin and guilt. This clean water I bring in my hand, as a good reason without me. Why? I promise to pardon and purge you, but I have a reason within me, and in my very heart; and it is my own sovereign will, and even my good will to you, O sinner; it was my will to smite the rock, and provide this clean water for you; and now it is my will to sprinkle it upon you, and make you clean, and to cleanse you from all your filthiness, and from all your idols. Now, O sinner, it is to you, and you, and you, that he is publishing his will; and, O sirs, shall not a willing God make you a willing soul? “Wilt thou be made clean?”
4. It is by a gracious act of this gracious will, namely, the sprinkling itself, which is the formal cause of the application, and so of justification in the blood of Christ; that is, just God not imputing your sin to you, but imputing the blood and righteousness of Christ to you, or sprinkling the clean water upon you. And this application being expressed by sprinkling, seems to point out, 1. A real and actual application or imputation of the blood of Christ for cleansing the soul, and purging the conscience, as water is applied for cleansing the body. 2. A close application to meet with the defilement, in order to the removing thereof. 3. A full application, spreading the clean water over all the spots, to cleanse from all our filthinesses. 4. A liberal application, for sprinkling imports many drops; and though one drop of the blood of Christ is sufficient, yet abundant application is made by this sprinkling. 5. It points out a kindly, careful, and tender application, such as you are best able to bear. 6. A skilful and gradually repeated application; and hence, mention is made here of sprinkling, then of cleaning, and then of cleansing. 7. Here is pointed out apersonal, and particular application, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you,” the pronoun you is five times come over in the text, “I will sprinkle you with clean water, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.” 8. Here is pointed out adivine and an effectual application, for it shall gain its end, “Ye shall be clean, and I will cleanse you.” And it is remarkable that, in this cleaning and cleansing business, that respects remission and justification from the guilt of sin, it is expressed passively with respect to us, but actively with respect to God; I will take the whole business in hand, only “Stand still, and see the salvation of God.” Why? herein you shall be passive, and I will be active; when I sprinkle this clean water upon you, ye shall be passive, for, Ye shall be clean, but I will be active, “I will cleanse you,” you will have little ado here; yea, nothing ado; for I will do all. Why? are we not called to act faith? Yea, but yet in the matter of justification, faith is not so much an actor as an onlooker? It is not here an agent but an instrument, faith here stands in opposition to works; it hath nothing to do, but all to believe; nothing to give, but all to receive. Faith is not here a builder, but a beholder; God undertakes all the business here, “I will sprinkle, and I will cleanse you.”
Now, the Spirit of God, in sprinkling this clean water, or applying this precious blood for cleansing a sinner, does four things.
(1.) He convinces of the pollution and guilt of sin, and of our spiritual defilement; for, the uncleanness here treated of, is not physical or corporal, but moral and spiritual only, and it is the work of the Holy Ghost, (John 16:8), to give that conviction of sin that maketh the soul ashamed before a holy God, and afraid before a just God; so that, without application to the blood of sprinkling, it cannot appear before him without shame and fear.
(2.) He discovers the clean water, and cleansing virtue of the blood of Christ as the only remedy, the only mean of purification, “For, by the Spirit we know the things that are freely given to us of God,” (1 Cor. 2:12); and, “He glorifies Christ, by shewing the things of Christ to us,” (John 16:14). The Spirit is not sent in vain, to show us the things we can see of ourselves; it is he that gives the spiritual discerning thereof; even of the excellency and efficacy of these things.
(3.) He works faith, wherewith we receive Christ himself, and his benefits as tendered in the gospel; and particularly acts upon the blood of Christ for cleansing the heart and conscience; this faith of the operation of God comes to the fountain for sin and for uncleanness, and addresses to God with that prayer, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean,” (Ps. 51:7). It is spoken in allusion to that general institution for the purification of all legal uncleanness, by the water of separation made by the ashes of the red heifer, (Num. 19:4-6), which the apostle refers to, (Heb. 9:14), pointing out that application made to the blood of Christ, by which alone we can be justified from all things, from which we could not be justified by the law of Moses. And till this believing application of this blood, or washing in this clean water, we cannot be freed from a conscience of sin, spoken of, (Heb. 10:2), that is, a conscience condemning us for sin, and filling us with shame and fear. But faith applying to that blood, 1. Takes a spiritual view of it, as proposed in the gospel promise and offer, “Look to me and be saved.” 2. It relies on that blood for cleansing, because “Christ is set forth of God to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.” 3. It works herein by fervent prayer, because, “For all these things he will be sought by the house of Israel,” and this we are directed unto, “Having such an High priest, let us come boldly to the throne of grace,” (Heb. 4:16), &c. 4. Finally, faith acquiesces in the truth and faithfulness of God for cleansing by the blood of Christ, and so is freed from perplexing shame, and hath “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.”
4. The Spirit, in this sprinkling, actually communicates the cleansing virtue of the blood of Christ to our souls and consciences, whereby we are freed both from damping shame, and discouraging fear. And the ground of this actual communication is three ways expressed in the text, 1. By an application or imputation of the blood of Christ, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you.” 2. By a pronunciation of the effect, “Ye shall be clean,” upon the sprinkling of the leper he is pronounced to be clean. 3. By an actual operation of the effect, “From all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.” These three things answer to [the] other three things, that are in sin as it is opposite to the just and holy law of God, namely, guilt, filth, and shame; it is attended with guilt that makes us obnoxious to justice; with filthiness that makes us loathsome to God; and with shame in us.
Now, the purifying virtue of the blood of Christ does three things. 1. It takes away guilt and obnoxiousness to wrath, as it is applied and imputed; the imputation of that blood and righteousness, fences from the stroke of offended justice, for, “Being justified by his blood, we are saved from wrath through him,” (Rom. 5:9). 2. It takes away all loathsomeness in the sight of God, not from sin, in the abstract, but from the sinner, so that he is as one absolutely washed and purified before him, and so pronounced clean and fair, “Thou art all fair, my love.” 3. It takes away shame out of the conscience, and gives the soul boldness in the presence of God, (Heb. 10:19). This is effectuate by that operation here mentioned, “From all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.” And thus the clean water of the blood of Christ purges the conscience from dead works, to serve the living God.” But this leads me next to speak,
IV. To the fourth head, concerning that cleanness or cleansing that is the effect of this sprinkling of clean water, or imputation and application of the precious blood of Christ. Here I may touch at the properties of it in the text. I only premise, there is a cleanness before God in point of justification, and a cleanness in point of sanctification. It is the former that this text speaks of, as I showed before; the latter seems to be the subject of the following verses: these two, though they are distinct, yet are inseparable. Now, the cleanness, spoke of in the text, hath these two properties assigned to it here. 1. It is perfect, “Ye shall be clean.” 2. It is universal, “From all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.” And the reason of both is here suggested, namely, The cleanness of the water sprinkled upon you.
1. It is a perfect cleanness. If the sprinkled sinner were not perfectly cleansed, it would detract from the value and cleanness of the water; all cleansing is the fruit of this blood; the perfect cleansing from guilt is wrought immediately by it; the gradual purging from filth is mediate by his Spirit, but it was the purchase of his blood.
Question: How is this cleanness perfect, for God pronounces it so, “I will sprinkle, and ye shall be clean?”
Answer: We may reply to this both negatively and positively. Negatively, This clean water of the blood of Christ doth not clean perfectly in time from sin, in respect of the sense of it; some sparks of the fiery law, will sometimes flash in the conscience, even of a sprinkled believer, and the peace of the gospel may be under a vale; evidences may be blurred, and guilt revived, and the clean water appear as if it ran low; perfect peace, and rest, and sense of divine love, remains for the people of God in the higher house. Nor doth the blood of Christ perfectly cleanse from sin here, in respect of the stirrings of it; the old serpent will be sometimes stinging us, and sometimes foiling us; the most righteous man will be vexed with corruption within him, as well as the abominations of others without him, the Canaanites in the land; and therefore the virtue of the blood is more expressed here in our wrestling with principalities and powers, than in the glory of a triumph as yet; it is in heaven the saints shall be presented without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.
But positively, the blood of Christ perfectly cleanseth from sin even here, in respect of condemnation and punishment. Though the nature of sin doth not cease to be sinful, yet the power of sin ceases to be condemning; for the sentence of the law is revoked, a right to condemn is removed, and sin is not imputed to them, (2 Cor. 5:19). Where the crime is not imputed the punishment is not to be inflicted: it is inconsistent with the being of God to be an appeased, and yet a revenging Judge: for, justice hath accepted of asatisfaction made by Christ: the man is legally discharged, and put inthe state of an innocent person, by the imputation of the blood and righteousness of Christ; hence, there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ, (Rom. 8:1), “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth,” (Rom. 10:4).
2. As it is a perfect, so it is an universal cleanness: “From allyour filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin.” This clean water washeth from all guilt; for, since it is the blood of the Son of God, it is as powerful to cleanse from the greatest, as from the least sin; the particle all, is but a rational consequent upon the mentioning of such a rich treasure of blood: “Christ was delivered for our offences:” not for some few, but for all: and as he was delivered for them, (Rom. 4:25); so he was accepted for them, as a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour, (Eph. 5:2). The sins of all that shall believe, in all parts, in all ages of the world, God made them to meet at the cross of Christ, and laid them all upon him, (Isa. 53:6); even the sins of all sorts and sizes. The first sin we read of cleansed by this blood of Christ, after it was shed, was the most prodigious wickedness that ever was committed in the face of the sun, even the murder of the Son of God; “Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive, the gift of the Holy Ghost,” (Acts 2:36, 38). “So that suppose a man,”as one says, “were able to pull heaven and earth to pieces, to murder all the rest of mankind, and destroy the angels, these superlative parts of the creation; he would not contract so monstrous a guilt as these did, in crucifying the Son of God, whose person was infinitely superior to the whole creation,” God then gave here an experiment of the inestimable value of Christ’s blood, and the inestimable virtue of it; it cleanseth the guilt of all sin, so as it shall not be found, (Jer. 50:20). By this blood and righteousness of Christ we stand before God, not only as innocent persons, but as these who have fulfilled the law, both as to precept and penalty, (Rom. 8:4).
Now, this perfect and universal cleanness or cleansing, is grounded upon the cleanness of the water sprinkled on us in the day of believing; infinite cleanness is necessary for the removing of an infinite filthiness: infinite goodness, necessary to the satisfaction of an infinite wrong; the infinite value and purity of his blood flows from his Deity; it was the same person who was the brightness of God’ glory, and the express image of his person; and who upholds all things by the word of his power; who did by himself, in that person, purge our sins, (Heb. 13:12). This divine person wrestled with the flames of wrath, and took hold of the tribunal of justice; and by the value of his sufferings, smoothed the face of a frowning God, assuaged the tempest of provoked justice, and placed before the tribunal of judgment, a strong and everlasting righteousness of his own composure, as a vale between the piercing eye of divine holiness, and the guilty and filthy state of the sinner. So great a person, one equal with God was necessary for restoring his honor, and sanctifying his name. So great a person’s blood was necessary for the purging [of] the fallen creature from his guilt and filth.
In short, the reason of this perfect and universal cleanness of the sprinkled soul is the perfect and universal cleanness of the water wherewith it is sprinkled: it is perfectly clean, and wants nothing of infinite perfection: it is universally clean; it never had a foul spot in it: it is the spotless blood of the spotless Lamb of God. Hence, the text makes the cleanness of the washed soul to quadrate and correspond with the cleanness of the water; “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean.”
V. The fifth general head proposed, was the application. Is it so, that the blood of Christ is clean water, which God, by the hand of the Spirit, applies for cleansing of the unclean? Then,
1. Hence learn the great need of spiritual discerning for taking up spiritual things under outward signs; and spiritual mysteries, under common metaphors: for, here the clean water represents, as in baptism, the pure and precious blood of Christ; and the blood of Christ is not to be considered materially, but morally: even so the sprinkling here, is a spiritual sprinkling; and the cleansing a spiritual and moral cleansing. The blood of Christ, materially considered, as it ran from the veins of his body, though Papists pretend to have enough of it in reserve, this is a vain, vile, useless, and imaginary conception of it; this corporal and carnal consideration of it, is of no more avail than the corporal and carnal application of it; for, as Christ says, “The flesh profiteth nothing;” so, in this sense, the blood profiteth nothing. The proper use of blood is not to cleanse; for it defiles and bespots [leaves a mark on] anything whereon it is dropt; but morally considered, as the shedding of blood implies loss of life and punishment for a crime; so blood is the expiation of a crime, and a satisfaction to the law for the offence committed against it. As the shedding of innocent blood does morally pollute a land; so the shedding the blood of a malefactor or murderer, doth morally cleanse a land. It is said, “Blood defileth the land; and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it,” (Num. 35:33). Without the shedding of the blood of Christ, there would have been no remission of our sins; but “The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin.” There is a cleansing from guilt, and a cleansing from filth; both are the fruits of this blood: the guilt is cleansed by justification, the filth by sanctification; the former by the merits of Christ, the latter by his Spirit; but the proper intention of the blood of Christ was, to take off the curse of the law, and free us from our guilt. When we consider the blood of Christ, we consider Christ as a sacrifice; and sacrifices were called purifications, not in regard of washing away the filth, but expatiating the guilt of sin; but yet the justifying virtue of this blood is never exerted without the sanctifying virtue accompanying it. When this blood is sprinkled in the conscience, it purges from dead works. We need then the spiritual discerning of these things.
2. Hence see the excellency and preciousness of the blood of Christ: and the value and virtue of it. God himself here calls it clean water; and pronounces them clean who are sprinkled with it. It is clean and spotless blood; clean and clear water, wherein we may see clearly the infinite evil of sin, that cannot be washed away but here; the infinite justice of God, that could not be satisfied with any other water; and see the glory of God here in all his perfections. The righteousness of Christ is a clean, a perfectly clean righteousness: it is clean in God’s eye, and in the sight of all that have their eyes opened; neither men nor angels can tell how clean this water is.
(1.) It is so clean that it cannot be stained or corrupted. It was not stained either upon the cross, or in the grave. It was impossible that God’s holy One could see corruption, (Ps. 16:10).
(2.) It is so clean, that it makes all clean that are cleansed in it; their robes are washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb, (Rev. 7:14); this is the fine linen clean and white, (Rev. 19:9).
(3.) It is so clean, that God cannot see a drop of mud in it: his omniscient eye could not see a spot in it. It is the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without spot, and without blemish, (1 Pet. 1:19).
(4.) It is so clean, that God cannot see a spot of filthiness in any who are washed in it. Hence, he can see no iniquity in Jacob; he pronounces them clean, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee,” (Song 4:7).
(5.) It is so clean, that infinite holiness boasts of it, and requires all the world to come and be cleansed in it; “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world;” the immaculate Lamb, (John 1:29), “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” (Matt. 3:17). “The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness sake,” (Isa. 42:21).
(6.) It is so clean, that it is cleaner than the cleanest things in the whole creation of God. It is cleaner than the heavens above your head; for, it is said, “The heavens are not clean in his sight;” (Job 15:15) but the God of heaven pronounces this water to be clean; and he puts his infinitely clean hand in it to sprinkle us with. It is cleaner than the holy angels above; for, it is said, “That he chargeth his angels with folly,” (Job 4:18) and “That the stars are not pure in his sight,” (Job 25:5). It was necessary therefore, that he in whom God’s infinite holiness and justice should rest satisfied, should excel not only the dignity of angels, but transcend the condition and dignity of any infinite being. The sacrifice was of infinite value; and therefore worthy of the acceptance of an infinite nature, his person being of as great dignity as the Father’s: for, though there be a distinction of order among the persons of the Trinity; yet no distinction of dignity, but a perfect equality of power and glory. His blood then is of more worth, than the souls of all men, and their bodies too, cast in one scale. O what clean water is here!
(7.) It is so clean, that it is perfectly so, and cannot be cleaner than it is. It is like the pure river of water, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, spoken of, (Rev. 22:1). The blood of Christ is the pure, infinitely pure river of water, proceeding out of the loving heart of God, and the pierced heart of the Lamb.
(8.) It is so clean, that it is universally so. The Lord our righteousness is clean every whit, and hence, he that is washed here, is clean every whit. His nature was a clean nature; his heart was a clean heart; his thoughts were all clean thoughts; his lips were clean lips, no guile was found there; his actions were all clean and holy actions; his obedience a clean obedience; his suffering and satisfaction altogether clean. The perfect and universal cleanness of this water is the reason of the perfect and universal cleanness of the saints even here in point of justification, and of their perfect universal cleanness even in point of sanctification in heaven, which is begun on earth, and carried on to that perfection.
3. Hence see and consider the polluted, vile, and hopeless state of all these that are not sprinkled with this clean water. The state of all by nature, and the present state of Christless sinners, is a state of filthiness, “They are altogether filthy,” (Ps. 14:3; Rom. 3:10). And this state is a dismal state. They who were legally unclean of old were separate from the congregation, and so from all the pledges of God’s presence, (Num. 5:2). Every leper was to be set without the camp even so all that are unwashed from their spiritual leprosy are abhorred of God, and separated from him. Thus it is with us all by nature, whatever we do of ourselves to be quit of it; it does but hide and not cleanse it. Adam cured neither his nakedness, nor the shame of it, with his fig leaves. If we die in this condition, unwashed, uncleansed, unpurified with this clean water, it is utterly impossible that ever we should be admitted into the blessed presence of a holy God, “There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth,” (Rev. 21:27). Unless you are sprinkled with this clean water from the pollution of your nature, you shall: not inherit the kingdom of God, (1 Cor. 6:10-11). Nay, you cannot be fit for a communion table, nor compass the altar of God unless your hands be washed in innocency, even in this clean water, which alone can make clean hearts and hands, and a clean conscience, purged from dead works to serve the living God. You must be excommunicate doctrinally from the lower table, and will be excommunicate actually and everlastingly from the upper, if you love your defilement, and are proud of your pollutions, and not ashamed of them; if you satisfy yourselves with your outward or inward ornaments. Some have no other covering of their natural filth, but the outward ornament of the flesh; a fair skin, or a fine suit of clothes, a natural or artificial cover. Others have a moral covering of gifts, duties, profession, and a blameless outward behavior. But such a puddle water will not wash you; there is no remedy if you remain there; you must perish forever in your filthiness; you remain under wrath and subjected to the curse of the law, till sprinkled with this clean water. All the indictments that your own conscience has against you; yea, which is incomprehensibly more, all the indictments the omniscience of God can charge upon you, remain in their full force, and are unanswerable; and you must inevitably sink under them, till the blood of Christ, apprehended by faith, cancel the bond, and raze out the accusation. There is no other sacrifice for sin but this; and never can a sinner have any joy in God, but through Jesus Christ; nor receive peace and comfort before God, but in a way of receiving the atonement, (Rom. 5:11).
4. Hence see that there can be no purgation from the guilt of sin by the mere mercy of God; for, God says not here absolutely, I will make you clean; or, Ye shall be clean, from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you; No, no, but he saysit relatively, with respect to, and in a way of sprinkling with this clean water of the blood of Christ, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean.” The mercy-seat was not to be approached by the high priest without blood, (Lev. 9:7, 18). Christ himself, typified by the high priest, expects no mercy for any of his followers but by the merit of his blood. Mercy comes only by the smoke of this sacrifice. Justification implies not only mercy, but justice; and more justice than mercy in a proper sense; for justification goes upon a propitiation, (Rom. 3:24-25, 28); and to be justified, is to be discharged in a legal way, or in a way of compensation. By the means of this clean water, this cleansing and atoning blood, a not guilty is entered in the court of God, when this blood is pleaded; and a not guilty isinscribed in the book of conscience when this blood is sprinkled. No mercy but in this way.
5. Hence see, and away with all the unclean water of your own righteousness, and of any other merit or purgatory for washing away sin but this blood of Christ, this clean water, this true holy water. Away with the abominable blasphemy of the church of Rome, their sprinkling their material water outwardly, with a water brush upon the people, and calling it holy water. Such horrid abominations deserved to be ranked with diabolical delusions. Glory to God that this late popish insurrection, as well as a former one in our day,1 is quelled, that sought the introduction of such antichristian abominations. To make use of any other water for cleansing the unclean sinner, is a blasphemous contempt of the wisdom of God, in ordaining this only for our purification. It is a charging of a holy and just God with folly, as if he had mistaken himself, in accepting of the blood of Christ alone, as the only purification, as if it were not available for this end, without being mixed with some defiled water of our own; and as if the righteousness and blood of God needed some additions from creatures their doing and suffering. O! how can that be infinite, which needs a finite thing to strengthen it, and make it efficacious? He that goes to a muddy stream to wash himself disgraces the pure fountain of clean water that God hath opened. “We can never be saved,” said Luther, “unless God turn his eyes from our virtues, as well as from our sins.”That which needs cleansing can never cleanse us. Our own works, our own prayers, our own tears, are but filthy water. Water out of the earth is but foul and muddy water; the only clean water is out of the smitten rock. No mere creature can pardon sin, but only God; no blood is available for this, but the blood of God. No water mixed with the merit of men or angels will wash us. It is not mixed water, but infinitely pure water, that God here presents, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you.”
6. Hence see, that washing from the guilt of sin, in justification, is not by water put within us, but by water sprinkled upon us. Indeed, God, in sanctification, he puts his Spirit within us; but, in order to justification, he puts his blood upon us. There is no justification by the law, but upon a perfect righteousness, answering both the precept and penalty thereat; and this righteousness of God, which is by the faith of Jesus Christ, is unto, and upon all that believe, (Rom. 3:22). As our sins were upon him, not inherently, but by imputation; so his blood and righteousness is upon us, not inherently, but by imputation; and it is equally reasonable that the believer in Christ be accounted legally righteous, as it were reasonable that Christ was accounted legally a sinner; for, “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we who knew no righteousness, might be made the righteousness of God in him,” (2 Cor. 5:21). He, the Surety, was made sin, as if he had sinned all the sin of men; and we are made righteous, as if we had not sinned at all. Some have compared this way of imputation to the sun’s shining upon a wall, through a green or blue glass, whereby the true color of the wall is indiscernible, while the color communicated by the glass is upon it; yet this color is not the color of the wall, but the color of the glass, and inherent in the glass, only reflected upon the wall; so, the blood and righteousness, whereby we are justified and washed, and which covers our sins from the sight of God, is inherent in Christ, but transferred to us. This pure water of the blood of Christ runs in his veins; it is not physically or corporally applied to us, but in a judicial or juridical way; and hence we are said to be justified by his blood, (Rom. 5:9), that is, meritoriously. The merit of that blood is imputed to us; or that clean water is sprinkled upon us; and we, upon the account of it, pronounced clean. No inherent righteousness is without works; but this righteousness is imputed without works, (Rom. 4:4, 6); and therefore it cannot be a righteousness inherent in us; for hereby he justifies the ungodly. As we were made sinners, by one man’s disobedience, so we are made righteous, by one man’s obedience, (Rom. 5:19).
7. Hence see the perpetual efficacy, and continual virtue of the blood of Christ, for cleansing of polluted sinners; for, it is always clean water; and here it is pronounced to be so, before it was shed. The price of redemption promised under the Old Testament, and the price of redemption paid now under the New, was of equal virtue and efficacy. This blood was sprinkled and applied from the foundation of the world, though it was not shed till the fullness of time; the credit which it had, for the expiation and cleansing of guilt, was as firm a foundation for the faith of believers, before it was actually shed, as after. We are to distinguish betwixt the work of redemption, and the virtue of it; the work was restrained or appointed to a certain time, but the virtue of it is extended to all ages, past, present, and to come. The ancient patriarchs had the same Spirit of faith as these that live in the time of the gospel, (2 Cor. 4:13). Christ is, “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world:” and, as he is “The same yesterday, today, and for ever:” so his blood is always clean water, and has always a cleansing virtue. This sacrifice is continually in the same condition, and of the same force and efficacy it was in that hour wherein it was shed. Blood was appointed to make atonement, under the law; for the life was in the blood, (Lev. 17:11): the animal spirits were in it. Well, the blood of the sacrifice of Christ is always hot and warm, having the same spirits of life, and the same virtue still moving in it; and this blood is opposed to corruptible things, (1 Pet. 1:18). Hence, the way of our approach to God by it, is said to be still the new and living way, (Heb. 10:20). Whatever was done legally, carnally, and typically, by any of the sacrifices of old, for the expiation and purification of sin, that was all done really and spiritually by that one sacrifice, that is the offering and sprinkling of the blood of Christ, and abides to be so done continually. The ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean spoke of, (Num. 19:9-10, 17), and to which the apostle refers, (Heb. 9:13), it was a standing ordinance, whereby one, who was any way defiled, might immediately be cleansed; and he that would not make application thereto was to be cut off, from his people: and so it is with respect to the blood of Christ, in our spiritual defilement. As it is called “A fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness,” (Zech. 13:1): so he who neglects to make application thereto, shall perish in his uncleanness and that eternally.
8. Omitting other uses at present, hence see the duty of all that would be cleansed from their soul defilement, and would have remission of sin, and access to God, and fellowship with him at his table, even all that would ascend to the hill of God; and stand in his holy place; and for this end, would have clean hands, and a pure and purified heart and conscience; they must come to the clean water here exhibited, the pure fountain here opened; they must dome and build their house by the water side, and wash here, and have recourse to this blood on all occasions, seeing it only is able to cleanse from all sin; and there is no fellowship with God, or with the saints, but in the improvement of this cleansing blood of Christ, (1 John 1:6-7).
Alas! sinner, you have, by sin, treasured up wrath, and wounded conscience; and nothing can pacify divine wrath, or calm the stormy conscience, or purge it from guilt, but this blood, this clean water. Every infinite wrong must have an infinite satisfaction. The uncleanness of your soul cannot be expiate but by the cleanness of this water. God is opening this fountain for sin and for uncleanness; slight not his grace by refusing to drink. The glory of purging iniquity is reserved to this clean water; if you come not to it for cleansing, you deny it the glory of its cleansing virtue. This, and this alone, will do the business: let no muddy water of your own be mixed with this gospel-wine. As none died with him to expiate your guilt; so he will suffer nothing to be joined with his blood in justifying your person. Christ bears this blood only in his hand, when he pleads for you; and you must bear this blood only in your heart, when you plead for yourself.
Question: But, O! what warrant have I to believe, or hope for cleansing in this clean water? Surely I need to be in a better case than I am. Why, man, would you be cleansed before you come to the blood of Christ for cleansing? In what case think you sovereign grace comes to sinners here? Behold, it is even when they are lying in the mire of filthiness, and among the feet of their idols; then even “then will I come and sprinkle clean water upon you; from all your filthiness and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.” Grace comes to you when you are lying in your blood, a loathsome sight. Is your name a vile, filthy, black sinner? Then you are named here; and therefore put not away the grace of God from you. The text speaks five times to you:“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.” O then, sinner I wilt thou not be made clean? “To you is the word of this salvation sent.” It is spoken to all indefinitely; and to you that know yourselves to be in this loathsome case in particular.
Question: “But, Oh! how shall I believe that it is to me that this word of salvation, and offer of remission comes?” For my sins are of a peculiar sort; the pollutions of my heart and way are not of a common stamp; for, I am blacker than hell, blacker than the devil; I am just a devil for blackness. But, O sinner! what think you of this clean water, this incorruptible blood? It is not spoiled or corrupted to this day. Do you measure the value of his blood by the greatness of your sin when yet the merit of his blood is as far above the merit of your sin; as the person of Christ is above your person, or God above man? O! let me tell you, poor sinner, if you measure his grace by the height of heaven, it is a narrow measure; for, it is higher than the heaven of heavens: if you measure it by the height of God, then you take a right measure of it; but it is a measure infinitely higher than the conception of men or angels, who can never fly up to the height of divine grace, which is as high as the “high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity.”
Be your sins and pollutions what they will, for multitude and magnitude, a sprinkling of this clean water can purge them away, all of them, in a moment. As a crumb of the bread of life is able to quicken you; so a drop of the blood of Christ is able to cleanse you. This fair water is designed of God for washing foul souls. This spotless blood is for purging spotted sinners. This clean water is Heaven’s antidote against unclean spirits.
It seems an unanswerable question, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” (Job 14:4). But here is God’s answer to that question, which men and angels cannot answer; “I will sprinkle you with clean water, and ye shall be clean.” Oh! say you, but I cannot believe; I cannot apply and appropriate this clean water to myself for my purification. But, let me tell you ,the faith of this blood doth not consist in your undertaking to do anything which God himself here undertakes to do; for, behold, he undertakes all the work: the question therefore is, if you will let the clean hand of God sprinkle this clean water upon you, that you may be clean. The hand of faith itself is not clean, except in so far as it allows the clean hand of God to lay the blood of sprinkling unto you, and in so far as ye do not resist, but give way to it, and welcome a willing God with a willing heart. Now is the day of grace, wherein God is declaring that he is willing to apply this clean water, saying, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean.” And, O sirs, tell me, is it also a day of power, wherein you are made willing, willing that all your filthiness, and all your idols be cleansed, that all the guilt, and all the filth of all your idols and lusts be removed, both by the pardoning and purifying virtue of this clean water. Are you peremptorily willing, and presently willing, saying, “Lord, thy sovereign grace and good-will, in providing such clean water for my cleansing, hath conquered my wicked will, and won my hard heart; but if in this matter there be any hidden deceit in my deceitful heart, that needs to be washed also, I bring that with all the rest of my filthinesses and idols, to be cleansed and purged away in this clean fountain?” Are you brought to this, “Lord, hast thou told me what clean water this is; and art thou saying, “I will sprinkle it on you? Lord, let thy will be done; Amen, Amen, Amen; even so let it be: according to thy will let me be cleansed.” Why then God is saying, “I will, be thou clean!” I Will! O forget not who is the speaker: it is not the minister, it is not the prophet, it is not a man nor an angel; but, “Thus saith the Lord. It is I—I that speak unto thee, am he.” Therefore, let the word enter into your heart, in the name and authority of God, and it shall take effect, and be the power of God to your salvation; for, herein is revealed the righteousness of God, and the blood of God. He that made heaven and earth with a word can make you clean through the word which he has spoken unto you: and his word is, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.”
A PART OF THE DISCOURSE BEFORE SERVING OF THE TABLES.
We now proceed to the especial work of the day, the commemorating the great sacrifice of Christ’s death, and the work of redemption, purchased by his precious blood. And, as under the law, the leper that was not washed and cleansed, was to be expelled from the congregation of Israel, and only these that were cleansed were to be admitted into fellowship with them; so, in like manner, we must excommunicate from the table of the Lord, all that are not sprinkled with the clean water of the blood of Christ, and cleansed; and admit to it only these that are justified, sanctified, and washed.
On the one hand, then, I debar, in the name of the Lord, from this table of the Lord, all unwashed, unsprinkled sinners, who give evidence, that they are not washed by the pardoning and justifying grace of God, by their remaining unwashed by the purifying and sanctifying grace of God; that they are not washen from the guilt of sin, and their legal pollution, by their being not washen from the filth of sin, or from their moral pollution; and, consequently, all the impenitent breakers of the moral law, &c.
On the other hand, I invite to the Lord’s table all who are sprinkled and made clean by the application of the clean water of the blood of Christ, and thereby cleansed from all their filthinesses and from all their idols.
Question: Who are these?
Answer: 1. You that have got a sight of the filthiness of your heart and nature in the glass of God’s word, and in the light of the Spirit of conviction, making you cry out, “Behold, I am vile!” I am filthier than the filthiest of all this congregation; I am viler than the vilest, and blacker than the blackest; yea, I think there is not a devil in hell so black as I am. Poor soul, who told thee that thou wast naked? It was not the devil that told you that you was a devil, or made you know the plagues of your own heart. You I invite to the table of the Lord, because the clean water has been so far sprinkled on your eyes as to make them clean and clear, “Like the fish pools in Heshbon, by the gates of Bethrabbim.” You clearly see what a monster of sin and pollution you are.
2. You that have gotten a sight of the open fountain of the blood of Christ for your cleansing, and see it to be clean, infinitely clean and pure water; and thus have been not only convinced of sin the malady, but of righteousness the remedy, and see it to be the righteousness of God. Have you seen that Christ is the spotless Lamb of God? Has the Spirit convinced you, not only of the personal righteousness of Christ, and of his perfect innocence, but also of the sufficiency and acceptableness of the righteousness he has wrought for us; that the sacrifice of his death was of such a sweet-smelling savor to God, as was able to take away all the unclean savor of your sin; and here alone your guilty conscience has found quiet rest, namely, by a drink of this clean water, whereof infinite justice drank to satisfaction; and never could any other water give satisfaction to you, because you see all other water to be but foul and muddy, and this only to be perfectly clean, perfectly clear and spotless?
3. You that are purged and washed in this clean water have got your eyes opened, not only to see the preciousness of the blood of Christ, and its meritorious value, but also its victorious virtue and that, as Christ, by his death and blood, did overcome death, and destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; so your victory over sin and Satan must be owing to that same blood; for, as freedom from the guilt of sin is owing to the price of that blood, so freedom from the power of sin to the purchase of it; hence, when the Spirit is sent to sprinkle this clean water upon us, or to apply the blood of Christ, he convinces not only of sin and of righteousness, but also of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged, condemned, and destroyed by the death of Christ, and drowned in the red sea of his blood. The least drop of this water to this day chokes the foul spirit, and quenches his fiery darts; and hence all your hope of victory over your lusts and idols is just to overcome by the blood of the Lamb. Hence,
4. You that are sprinkled with this clean water, you will desire to be clean every whit, from all your filthinesses and from all your idols; you will seek after sprinkling from the guilt, for the sake of sprinkling from the filth of sin, purification of heart and life, justification in order to sanctification, and pardon in order to purity and holiness; and, because you cannot of yourselves apply this blood, or wash in this clean water, you are made content that Christ wash you, who says, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part in me,” and hence the sprinkling here is ascribed to the hand of God: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you.” True believers are active here only by yielding themselves passive, for all the activity is ascribed to the name, and blood, and Spirit of Christ; “Such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God,” (1 Cor. 6:11). You that are sprinkled, what God has joined, do not ye put asunder, but desire with your heart all the washing that accompanies this sprinkling, the washing of regeneration, justification, and sanctification.
5. You that are sprinkled with this clean water, you will boast of no other cleanness before God but the cleanness of this water that is put upon you, the perfection and purity of Christ’s righteousness; your language with reference to yourselves is, “We are all as an unclean thing; and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we do all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities like the wind have taken us away,” (Isa. 64:6); but your language with reference to Christ, and the cleanness of his blood and righteousness, will be like that, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels,” (Isa. 61:10). As a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments; the word in the Hebrew, according to the margin, is, As a bridegroom decketh as a priest. Here, indeed, the mystery opens. The poor believer, however unclean in himself, yet by faith decks himself as a priest; “He that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father,” (Rev. 1:6). Yea, the poor believing soul is decked as the great High Priest himself, being clothed with the Sun of righteousness, and accepted in the Beloved, not only for his sake, but in him as the Head; hence the language of faith is, “In the Lord have I righteousness.” You have no other righteousness but the Lord himself, Jehovah our righteousness; and hence, as he was made sin for you, so ye are made the righteousness of God in him, insomuch that, when you win to the lively actings of faith you are then assured in yourselves that you can appear in the judgment of God, and before his awful tribunal, with the self-same security wherewith you would have appeared if you had lived with that innocency wherewith Christ lived, and had, by the will of God, suffered what Christ suffered; yea, more than this, can appear before God as one that is become the righteousness of God in Christ, “He made him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” You may think this an extraordinary acting of faith; but yet some degree of it is imported in every acting of faith, when you come boldly to the throne of grace, or have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, for this is just a falling upon the clean water, and venturing your unclean soul into the presence of a just and holy God, upon the credit of the cleanness of that water. Again,
6. You that are sprinkled with this clean water will always be wanting a new sprinkling of it. Though all true believers are perfectly justified, yet but imperfectly assured of it; therefore need a new application of it, and new intimations of peace and pardon on that ground. Because you contract guilt every day you must apply to this medicine every day. You defile yourselves every day, and if you go not every day to the fountain that is opened for sin and for uncleanness, you will be quickly all over leprous; your conscience will be filled with dead works) so that you will be unable to serve the living God, unless they be still purged out. Is this therefore your course, being filled with self-abasement under a sense of your own defilement, to apply to God in Christ for cleansing, and that continually, with a fervency of prayer answering that conviction? Then the Lord pronounces you clean, and I invite you, in his name, to his table. Come and bring all your filthinesses, and all your idols to the clean water, even all your plagues and leprosies, all the defilements of your heart and conscience; saynot, stay till I be clean, when he is saying, “I will make you clean.” Come, as you would not defile yourselves more and more, and dishonor God, for here his glory is concerned. Here is clean water, even the blood of God. Here is the clean hand of God ready to sprinkle it on you. Here is the promise of God, that he will sprinkle, and ye shall be clean. Here is the undertaking of God, to do the whole work for you; “From all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.” Here is the good-will of God in Christ manifested toward you poor defiled monsters, and his will doubled to you, “I will sprinkle, I will cleanse you.” Here is the word of God declaring his will that ye may know his will by his word; for, “Thus saith the Lord, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and ye shall be clean.” Yea, finally, here is God’s time and season that he takes for this: even when you are lyingin your blood and pollution, sovereign grace comes to you even at your worst; for then, says the text, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you.”
May the Lord draw you by the power of his Spirit.
THE DISCOURSE AT THE SERVICE OF THE FIRST TABLE.
Now, my friends, I will put you in mind of apromise. It is said of every true believer, “He shall dwell on high; bread shall be given him, his water shall be sure,” (Isa. 33:16). Whatever reference that may have unto temporal provision, yet I may say, God hath provided the best of bread, and the best of water for you, and presents it to you under the elements of outward bread and wine upon this table. Here is the best of bread, the bread of life.
“Our Lord Jesus, the same night wherein he was betrayed, took bread,” &c. Here is clean bread: it came from a clean place; it is the bread that came down from heaven; it is clean, wholesome, and excellent meat: “My flesh is meat indeed.” There was no innocent flesh in the world since Adam fell, but the flesh of Christ. But that which made the flesh of his human nature perfectly clean and pure, yea, infinitely so, was the personal union thereof with his divine nature.
“After the same manner also after supper he took the cup,” &c. Now, here is the clean water of which God says, I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean, from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.” This water, being the cleanest that ever men or angels heard tell of, is a truly medicinal water; it is a salve that suits every sore when applied; and therefore, you may now come with all your sores and sad cases. Bring all your filthiness here; for, this blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel, it is now speaking and saying, “From all your filthiness will I cleanse you.” Bring all your idols here; your lusts are engrained in your nature; but this clean water is able to cleanse you from all the unclean devils that, like the strong man, keep the house; yet here is blood that can make a clean house; it says, “from all your idols I will cleanse you.” Bring your diseased case here; for this clean water is the healing blood of Christ: “By his stripes we are healed.” Have you, poor soul, as many diseases as all the rest of the congregation? Yet if he be saying, “I am the Lord that healeth thee,” then you may well say, “He healeth all my diseases.” Bring your blindness and ignorance here; for this clean water is the enlightening blood of Christ to open your eyes: for, as the Spirit of light and illumination was purchased thereby, so it is a glass wherein you may see both the infinite evil of sin, the infinite hatred of God against it, and the infinite love of God to your soul. Is deadness of heart your case? O know and believe that this clean water is quickening water; it is living and life-giving water. The blood of Christ is living and speaking blood; it speaketh better things than death and vengeance, that Abel’s blood spake for. Why, this blood of Christ purchased life on the cross, and pleads for life on the throne. It is sin-killing and soul-quickening blood: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life,” (John 6:53-54). Whenever you believe the quickening virtue of this water, it will cure your dead soul, and quicken you to a new and lively hope; it will put spirit in you, for the Spirit of life runs in this channel. Are you in a weak case? O mind this clean water is strengthening water; when you can do nothing, and are not able to look up through the pressure of sin and guilt, and many burdens on your back, your soul is weakened: but as bathing in water is strengthening to the body, O bathing in the blood of Christ is strengthening to the soul! “I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only,” (Ps. 71:16). Intimating, that the way to be strengthened is just to mind his blood and righteousness: “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.” When you act faith upon his blood and righteousness, then you will see your strength to be in him also. Is your soul scorched with the flames and fear of God’s wrath? O! this clean water is cooling and refreshing water. When this water was poured out, justice was satisfied; when it is poured upon the conscience, the soul is satisfied. The blood of Christ speaketh peace: “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” Is your case a hardened case, and your heart a hardened heart? Can nothing melt it? Perhaps you cannot mourn, you cannot shed a tear; but, O here is the remedy: the clean water, which God says he will sprinkle on you, is softening water; the blood of Christ is softening blood; but seeing it cannot soften unless it be applied, O then give way to the Spirit of God his applying it; welcome him, saying, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean.” Whenever the blood of Christ is applied, the adamant is dissolved, the heart of stone is melted; and hence the promise of taking away the heart of stone follows upon the promise of sprinkling here. The sprinkled soul is the soul that hears God saying, “I am pacified toward you for all that you have done;” I am so pacified, in the blood of Christ, that I have no charge against you. What! can you hear this and not melt? O! is this clean water dropping down upon me, and clean remission of all my sin in the midst of it? O then, heart of stone, melt and be ashamed and confounded for your sin. O mercy, mercy running in the blood of Christ, is a heart-melting thing! O sirs, I think if infinite mercy were knocking at the gates of hell, the hope of mercy would melt the very heart of devils; but mercy was never designed for them, it was never promised, never offered to them; and so they remain hardened in their enmity and malice against God. But mercy, through the blood of Christ, not only comes to your door, but knocks to be into your heart; you have mercy promised through the sacrifice of the precious blood of Jesus, running like clean water round your heart.
But, alas! say you, I cannot get away my filthiness; I cannot put away my lusts and idols. Oh! what mean you, poor soul? Do you think to put away your own sin, and take God’s work out of his hand? I tell you, in his great name, he never laid such an intolerable burden upon you; for, the cleansing from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, is harder work than the making of a world. It is only the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. He enjoins you “To take with you words, and say, Take away all iniquity,” (Hosea 14:2). All your work is to put the work in his hand. Many think they cannot come to Christ, till first they put away all their sin, and give up with all their lusts; but all your pains, before you come to the blood of Christ, will be like pouring oil upon the fire, that will inflame it the more. Therefore, welcome, welcome a promising God, saying, “From all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you;” for I have got clean water in my hand for that purpose: “I have found a ransom.” By the blood of the covenant, I will send forth these prisoners out of the pit wherein there is no water; but here is water enough.
Now, if you have got a sprinkling of the clean water, O pray that others may get a sprinkling also: pray that your seed may be sprinkled, and your seed’s seed, if you have or may have them; for his righteousness is unto children’s children. Pray for a sprinkling of this clean water to the black and backsliding generation; a sprinkling to ministers and people here; and to all the witnessing ministers and people in the land, that Satan may not get advantage against them, but that God may bruise Satan under their feet. O sirs, a sprinkling of this clean water would make the established church a witnessing church. Pray that this clean water may be sprinkled all around you, that, from all their filthiness and idols they may be cleansed, and glory may yet dwell in our land. And lay yourselves constantly under the sprinkling of the blood of Christ. You may need it anew before you sleep; because you are still contracting new guilt, new defilement. Take the clean water along with you; and go in peace, and the God of peace go with you.
A DISCOURSE AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE SOLEMNITY.
You have heard of a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness; a fountain of clean water for cleansing the unclean: some are ready to go away with all their defilements about them; others, I hope, are washed. I would speak a word concerning the duty of each.
1st, To you that are defiled sinners, yet in your blood and pollution, if you would not go away from this occasion in that case, and live and die in your sin, I would direct you to the cleansing fountain. O poor souls, labor to be acquaint with this fountain of clean water and cleansing blood; and, in order thereto,
1. O sirs, see and consider your corrupt and polluted nature if you search the scripture, you will see what it declares concerning it: it says, that everyone is become altogether filthy, or stinking, (Ps. 53:3). Contemplate yourselves in this glass, and not in the self-flattering mirror of your own proud imagination. He that will not learn, from the word, his natural deformity, will live polluted, and die accursed. Pray that God, by his word, may discover you to yourselves.
2. If you would be purged from your pollution, endeavor to be affected with it suitably to the discovery which you get of it. As the proper effect of the guilt of sin is fear, so the proper effect of the filth of sin is shame. Many, instead of being ashamed of their filthiness and defilement of nature and way, are senseless and stupid; they may be ashamed of some particular facts, but, for anything in their nature, they slight and despise it. If they can but preserve themselves from the known guilt of such sins as are punishable among men, as to all other things they are secure; they have no inward shame for anything between God and their souls. Some, instead of being ashamed, are bold and confident in their condition, as pure enough: “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes; and yet is not washed from their filthiness,” (Prov. 30:12), Though they were never sprinkled with this clean water, yet they please themselves with their pollution. Some, instead of shame, do boast and glory in their sin; they proclaim their sin as Sodom; boast of that which afterwards will fill them with confusion of face, (Jer. 6:15; 8:12). Others go to a greater height, even of taking pleasure in these who follow the same trade of sinning with themselves: “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them,” (Rom. 1:32). Here is an open defiance to the holiness of God. Now, such persons as these will never seek after cleansing; for, why should they do so, who are sensible of no spiritual pollution? It is necessary, therefore, that these that would be cleansed, know, and be ashamed of their natural defilement; for, where there is no sense of this, it will be but lost labor that is spent in inviting them to the cleansing fountain.
3. I would advise you to be assured and persuaded, that you can never cleanse or purify yourselves by your best endeavors. Men, in a state of nature, when brought under any convictions, are no way able to purge themselves; though believers, in the faith of the promise, are called to it, “Having therefore these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit,” (2 Cor. 7:1); yet natural men are quite unfurnished for any purifying exercise. Many make vain attempts this way, (Hosea 5:13; Jer. 2:22, Job 9:30-31). Their own sorrow, repentance, tears, and sorry amendments of life, they but thereby plunge themselves into the ditch, and keep themselves at a greater distance from Christ.
4. Seek to be acquainted with the only remedy for cleansing. This cleansing is a weighty matter; for all the sacrifices of old were instituted for cleansing; all the promises of old had a special reference to cleansing; and the great design of the blood of Christ is for cleansing; therefore, you see God himself making this a matter of great moment. This is also a difficult matter; it is a leading part of the mystery of the gospel, which the world reckons foolishness. It is not easily admitted nor received, that we can no otherwise be cleansed from our sin, but by the sprinkling of that blood which was shed so long ago; and yet this, and no other way, doth God hold forth to us.
5. Know, that the only way wherein the clean water of the cleansing blood of Christ is presented and exhibited unto us, for its effectual application to us, is in the promise, (2 Pet. 1:4). And the only way to be partakers of the good things presented in the promise, is by faith, or trusting and confiding in the fidelity of the Promiser; and whereas God hath given us great and precious promises, sealed by the blood of Christ, and confirmed by his oath, you are to know that they are profitable to you only as they are mixed with faith, (Heb. 4:2).
6. This faith is to be sought and acted in a way of fervent prayer to God, for the Spirit of faith, and of all grace, (Luke 11:13); for, in this way the Lord communicates the purging efficacy of this blood, (Ps. 51:7). Therefore, O pray, pray; and set time apart to seek of God in earnest the application of the clean water, and the cleansing here promised. A good account may be expected of you, if henceforth it may be marked of you, as of Paul, “Behold, he prayeth.”
2dly, We come now to speak a word to you that are washed and sprinkled with this clean water. These following duties are incumbent on you; particularly,
1. Continual self-abasement in remembrance of the defilement from which you are delivered. You are called to be still abased as one that was born a leper, and in the view of the holiness of the God you have to do with.
2. The begun cleansing from your filthiness and idols, is matter of everlasting thankfulness, and should be celebrated with that song, “To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion, for ever and ever,” (Rev. 1:5-6). Still maintaining a high value for the cleansing blood of Christ, and the Holy Spirit, that makes the application of it. Had you not been washed in this fountain, you must have died in your pollution, and lain under it to eternity; for the fire of hell will never purge the defilement of sin, much less will the fictitious fire of purgatory cleanse any from it.
3. Watch against sin, and all the secret motions of it, for they defile the conscience. There is forgiveness with God, that he may be feared. Are you washed? O believer, “Sin no more, lest a worse thing befall you. Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.”
4. Walk humbly with your God. Every man, of himself, drinks in iniquity like water; and our own clothes are ready to defile us every day. Our best works and duties, brought into the presence of infinite holiness, are but as filthy rags. We cannot perfect holiness, but in the fear of God.
5. Be still making new application to the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness, by faith and prayer. O sirs, surely no true believer in this world is a stranger to this duty; and the more any abounds therein, the more genuine is their faith evidenced to be, and the more humble is their walk before the Lord.
6. Abide in Christ, maintaining union and communion with him. But, perhaps, some may say, Seeing daily defilement will remain while in time, and seeing he is so absolutely pure and holy, how can fellowship be maintained betwixt clean and unclean, a holy God and a defiled sinner? To which we may reply, There are many sins whereby believers are defiled; but the way of cleansing is still open to them in the promise; and it is not merely the remains of defilement, but the neglect of purification, that is inconsistent with the believer’s state and his fellowship with God. The rule of communion with God is expressed by David; “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression,” (Ps. 19:12-13). God requires of all his people, that they walk uprightly before him, in a dependence upon his almighty power to enable them: “I am God almighty, walk before me, and be thou perfect.” Now, to this uprightness four things are requisite:
(1.) A constant humble acknowledgment of sin: “Who can understand his errors?”
(2.) A daily cleansing in the blood of Christ from those defilements, which the least secret sins are accompanied with: “Cleanse thou me from secret faults.”
(3.) A fear of sinning with a high hand, flowing from a sense of natural proneness thereto, and an ardent desire to be restrained therefrom: “Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sin.”
(4.) Deliverance from, or deprecating the dominion, notwithstanding the prevalency thereof: “Let them not have dominion over me; then shall I be upright and innocent from the great transgression.” Where these things are, then there is a man upright, and may have daily communion with a holy God. And while believers are preserved within these bounds, though they are defiled by sin, yet communion with God may be maintained; for, our fellowship with Christ, while in this world, is with him as he is a Saviour, and we sinners; as we have sin to be cleansed, and he hath blood to cleanse us; and your sins and defilements, which you go to him with, and complain of, and want to be cleansed, instead of casting you away for them, they draw out his compassions towards you. And know that he never united you to himself, or drew your heart to him, because you are perfect, but that in his own time and way he may make you so; nor because you are clean, but that he might cleanse you, according to his promise: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.”
In a word, take along with you that clean water which is the only laver for cleansing you from all your sins. Keep in your remembrance the perfect cleanness of it, the infinite power and efficacy of it. How great is that blood that must have more value, seeing it is the blood of the Son of God, than all sins can have guilt, seeing they are the sins but of the sons of men! All sins are, compared with it, but like a drop of the bucket to the ocean. The more that you carry of this clean water in your heart, the more will it rid you of all unclean devils within and without. This clean water will never purify or corrupt; hence, the blood of Christ is opposed to corruptible things: “We are not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ as of a Lamb without spot,” (1 Pet. 1:18). Intimating, that the blood of Christ, in regard of its power and efficacy, does not corrupt; as the sun sheds his light every day about the world, yet remains a fresh spring of new light in the air every morning, so the blood of Christ shed upon the cross, loses not its virtue, but is as operative as ever, and remains a propitiation forever. Hence, though the sacrifice was but once offered, yet it is often commemorated, to show the perpetual virtue of it; in regard that Christ, who was a Priest in his person, a sacrifice in his humanity, was also the altar in his divinity; and this sanctified the sacrifice, and derived infinite dignity to it; as gold which hath a luster in itself, yet hath a greater when the sun shines full upon it. Christ was both the offerer and the sacrifice: “He offered himself,” (Eph. 5:2). His blood was offered by his person. Let this clean water, then, be highly prized and daily improved, by faith and prayer, for the purpose for which it is here promised of God in the text: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.”
A Popish party abroad, joined with a disaffected party at home amongst ourselves, made two different attempts to place the popish pretender upon the throne of Britain; the first, A.D. 1715, and the second in the year 1745. Both which attempts, the Lord was graciously pleased to frustrate; which prevented the Nation from being enslaved with arbitrary government, and antichristian principles. (Back to reading)