Friday, September 28, 2012

Christ Came Into the World To Save Sinners

“In particular, in the first age of the gospel declaration it (the life of Christ – AKU) appealed to men more especially along three lines of deeply felt needs. Some, oppressed chiefly by their sense of the ignorance of God and of spiritual realities in which they had languished in the days of their heathendom, and dazzled by the light of the glorious gospel He brought to them, looked to Christ most eagerly as the Logos, the great Revealer, who had brought the knowledge of God to them, and with the knowledge of God the knowledge of themselves also as the sons of God. Others, oppressed rather by the miseries of life, turned from the dreadful physical and social conditions in which humanity itself had nearly been ground out of them, to hail in Christ the founder of a new social order; and permitted their quickened hopes to play almost exclusively round the promises of the kingdom He had come to establish and the joys it would bring. We call the one class ‘Gnostics‘ and the other ‘Chiliasts’; and by the very attribution to them of these party names indicate our clear perception that in neither of these channels did the great stream of Christian faith run. For from the beginning it has been true of Christians at large that the evils they have looked to Christ primarily to be relieved from have been neither intellectual nor social, but rather distinctly moral and spiritual. There have arisen from time to time one-sided and insufficient modes of expressing even this deeper longing and truer trust in Christ. Early Christians were apt, for example, to speak of themselves too exclusively as under bondage to Satan, and to look to Christ as a ransom to Satan for their release. But, however strangely they may now and again have expressed themselves, the essence of the matter lay clearly revealed in their thought - this, namely, in the words of the text, that Christ Jesus had come into the world to save sinners; that sin is the evil from which we need deliverance, and that it was to redeem from sin that the Son of God left His throne and companied with wicked men for a season.

“The two thousand years of Christian life that have been lived since the gospel of salvation was brought into the world have not availed to eliminate from His Church these insufficient conceptions of our Lord's work. Even in this twentieth century of ours there still exist Christian intellectualists as extreme as any Gnostic of old: men who look to Christ for nothing but instruction, manifestation, revelation, teaching, example; and who still discover the essence of Christianity in the higher and better knowledge it brings of what is true and good and beautiful. And by their side there still exist to-day Christian socialists as extreme as any Chiliast of old: men whose whole talk is of the amelioration of life brought about by Christ, of the salvation of society, of the establishment on Christian principles of a new social order and the upbuilding of a new social structure; and whose prime hope in Christ is for the relief of the distresses of life and the building up of a kingdom of well-being in the world.

“We shall be in no danger, of course, of neglecting the truth that is embodied in the intellectualistic and the socialistic gospels. Christ is our Prophet and our King. He did come to make us know what God is, and what His purposes of mercy are to men; and where the light of that knowledge is shut out from men's sight how great is the darkness and how great is the misery of that darkness! He is our wisdom, our teacher beyond compare. So far from minimizing either the extent or the value of His revelations, we must rather acknowledge that we cannot magnify them enough. And Christ did come to implant in human society a new principle of social health and organization, and the leaven which He has thus embedded in the mass is working, and is destined to continue to work, every conceivable improvement in the structure of society until the whole is leavened. In a word, Christ did come to found a kingdom, and in that kingdom men shall dwell together in amity and peace, and love shall be its law, and happiness its universal condition. It is with no desire to minimize the intellectual and social blessings that Christ has brought the world, therefore, that we would insist that the center of His work lies elsewhere. We all the more heartily hail Him as our Prophet and our King, that we must insist that He is also, and above all, our Priest He has saved us from ignorance; He has saved us from pain; but these are not the evils on which the hinge of His saving work turns. Above all and before all He has saved us from sin. ‘Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’”

B.B Warfield, The Power of God Unto Salvation

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Christ, The Only Way, by Tobias Crisp (Part 2)

But some will object, do not those that receive Christ actually commit sin?

I answer, yea, they do commit sin, and the truth is, they can do nothing but commit sin. If a person that is a believer hath anything in the world, he hath received this, that if he doth anything that is good, it is the Spirit of God that doth it, not he; therefore; he himself doth nothing but sin, his soul is a mint of sin.

But then, you will say, if he doth sin, must not God charge it where it is? Must not he be reckoned to be a sinner, while he doth sin? I answer, no; though he doth sin, yet he is not to be reckoned a sinner4, but his sins are reckoned to be taken away from him. A man borrows a hundred pounds; some man will say, doth he not owe this hundred pounds, seeing he borrowed it? I say, no, in case another hath paid the hundred pounds for him. A man doth sin against God, God reckons not his sin to be his, he reckons it Christ's; therefore he cannot reckon it his. If the Lord did lay the iniquity of men upon Christ (as I said before), then polo can he lay it upon their persons? Thou hast sinned, Christ takes it off; supposing, I say, thou hast received Christ. And as God doth reckon sin to Christ, and charges sin upon him, so, if thou be of the same mind with God, thou must also reckon this sin of thine upon Christ; his back hath borne it, he hath carried it away.

For my part, I cannot see what every person will object; I will endeavour to make this truth clear as the day to you. Do but consider with yourselves what Christ came into the world for, if not to take away the sins of the world? He need never to have died, but to take away the sins of the world. Did he come to them away, and did he leave them behind him? Then he lost his labour. Did he not leave them behind him? then his person is discharged of them from whom he hath taken them: but if the person be not discharged of them, he is not a justified person in himself; neither can you account his person justified as long as you account his sin upon him. It is a contradiction to say, that a man is innocent, yet guilty.

Beloved, then here is a point of strange ravishing usefulness to souls, that can but draw towards it and receive it. All the difficulty lies, whether it be my portion, and thy portion; whether I may say, Christ is my way, thus from this guilt, that there can be none of this charged upon me. I say, if thou dost receive Christ, if thou dost but set footing into this way, Christ; as soon as ever thou art stept into this way, thou art stept out of the condition thou wast in. Men's receiving of Christ! what is that? you will say. To receive him, is to come to him; "he that comes to me I will in no wise cast out" Mark; many think there is such a kind of sinfulness that is a bar to them; that though they would have Christ, yet there is not a way open for them to take him. Beloved, there is no way of sinfulness to bar thee from coming to Christ; if thou hast a heart to come to him, and, against all objections to venture thyself with joy into the bosom of Christ, for the discharge of all thy sinfulness; Christ himself (which I tremble to express; though it be with indignation) he should be a liar, if thou comest to him, and he casts thee off. "Every one that will," saith he, "let him come and drink of the water of life freely." You shall find, beloved, the great complaint of Christ, thus, "He came to his own, and his own received him not:" and to the Scribes and Pharisees, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." The truth is, men dote upon the establishing of a righteousness of their own to bring them to Christ; and it is but presumptuous, or licentious doctrine, that Christ may be their Christ, and they receive him, and be considered simply ungodly, as enemies: but they are abominably injurious to the faith of Jesus Christ, to the exceeding bounty of that grace of his, who saves from sin, without respect of anything in the creature, that he himself might have the praise of the glory of his grace. The covenant, concerning the blotting out of transgressions, is a free covenant: "Not for thy sake do I this, be it known unto thee," saith the Lord, "for thou art a stubborn and stiff necked people; but for my own sake do I this." All this grace to acquit thy soul, here and hereafter, comes out of the bowels of God himself; and he hath no other motive in the world, but simply, and only, his own bowels, that put him upon the deliverance of a poor wretch from iniquity, and discharge of sin, from that load which otherwise would grind and crush him to powder: I say, his own bowels are the motive. God neither looks to anything in the creature to win him to shew kindness, nor yet anything in the creature to debar him; neither righteousness in men that persuades God to pardon sin; nor unrighteousness in men that hinders him from giving this pardon, and acquitting them from their transgressions; it is only and simply for his own sake he doth it unto men.

Thus you have seen the first particular, that I have endeavoured to clear from all cavils and objections that may be laid upon it.

In one word, beloved, mistake me not, I am far from imagining any believer is freed from acts of sin; he is freed only from the charge of sin; that is, from being a subject to be charged with sin; all his sins are charged upon Christ, he being made sin for him; yet Christ is not an actual sinner; but Christ is all the sinners in the world by imputation5; and through this imputation all our sins are so done away from us, that we stand as Christ's own person did stand, and doth stand in the sight of God6. Now, had not Christ made a full satisfaction to the Father, he himself must have perished under those sins that he did bear; but in that he went through the thing, and paid the full price, as he carried them away from us, so he laid them down from himself. So that now Christ is freed from sin, and we are freed from sin in him; he was freed from sin imputed unto him and laid upon him, when he suffered; we were freed from sin as he takes it off from our shoulders, and hath carried it away; "Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden." That is, with sin. And what follows? "And I will give you rest." As long as the burden is upon the shoulders, so long there is no rest. Therefore this doth necessarily import, that Christ must take away the burden, that we may have rest.

Secondly, Christ is not only the way from the fault of sin, but he is the way from the power of sin. There is a threefold power of sin; there is first, a reigning power; and secondly, a tyrannizing power; and thirdly, a bustling or ruffling power of sin; and they are all three of them distinct. Christ is a way from all these in believers: from the reigning power of it; so the apostle speaks expressly, Rom. 6:14, "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace." Grace there is Christ himself. "His servants ye are, to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of righteousness unto life; but, thanks be to God, ye have obeyed the truth." The meaning is this; while we are under the law, and have no better help, sin reigns in us, the law cannot bridle it in; but when we come under grace by Christ, the dominion of the law, or rather the dominion of sin, which the law cannot restrain, is captivated and subjected by Christ; "I will subdue your iniquities," as it is spoken by the prophet Micah.

We are discharged from the fault and guilt of sin, that is, absolutely at once7; but the discharge from the reigning power of sin, that is done by degrees; the faultiness of sin is left behind the back of the believer, but the power and resistency of sin lie all along in the way; but still Christ breaks through, and makes way, 1 Cor. 10:13, where you have this admirable expression, "No temptation hath happened unto you, but such as is common to men; God is faithful, and will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able, but will with the temptation make a way that you may be able to bear it."

There is a tyrannizing power of sin, that is, not when sin is chosen of the soul, as that under which the soul both affects and will live; but when sin hath gotten a present over-mastery of the soul, and in spite of all the spirit can do, will keep it under. This, I say, is the tyranny of sin; and this was the case of the apostle Paul, Rom. vii, "When I would do good, evil is present with me: I find a law in my members warring against the law of my mind, bringing me into captivity to the law of sin; so that the good I would do, I do not; and the evil that I would not, that do I" In regard of which he makes a bitter complaint; but mark the end of all, "But thanks be to God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." Here you see, that though sin hath a tyranny over the spirit of a person, yet through the Lord Jesus Christ this tyranny is abated.

Yet, Thirdly, it is abated by degrees; for the bustling power of sin, namely, though it cannot be entertained, yet it will be troublesome to the soul. Now Christ is the way, by degrees, also, from this trouble of sin; for by degrees he crucifies the flesh with the affections and lusts thereof, and brings down the power of it by treading down Satan, that is the egger on of sin, to make it so troublesome; by overcoming the world, that administers occasion of this troublesomeness; "Fear not," saith Christ, "I have overcome the world." But still, I say, he doth this by degrees, and so he doth it by degrees, that sometimes he lets the work be at a stand; and sometimes the tyranny shall be over the spirit, and the spirit shall be under that tyranny a good while; sometimes the spirit shall be under the troublesomeness of sin, and be constantly exercised with it. But you must know, that it is neither the tyranny, nor the troublesomeness of sin in a believer, that doth eclipse the beauty of Christ, or the favour of God to the soul. Our standing is not founded upon the subduing of our sins, but upon that foundation that never fails; and that is Christ himself, upon his faithfulness and truth. Men think they are consumed, when they are troubled with sin why? because of their transgression. But mark what the Lord saith; "I, the Lord, change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." It is not, you change not, therefore ye are not consumed; but I change not; I have loved you freely, I will love you freely, I cannot alter: "Whom he loves, he loves unto the end:" it is in respect of his unchangeableness.

Though there be ebbings and flowings of the outward man; nay, of the inward man, in the business of sanctification; yet this is certainly true, "That believers are kept by the mighty power of God, through faith, unto salvation." They are kept in holiness, sincerity, simplicity of heart; but all this hath nothing to do with the peace of his soul8, and the salvation and justification thereof: Christ is he that justifies the ungodly; Christ is he that is the peacemaker; and as Christ is the peace-maker, so all this peace depends upon Christ alone. Beloved, if you will fetch your peace from anything in the world but Christ, you will fetch it from where it is not. "This people," saith the prophet Jeremiah, "hath committed two evils." What are they? "They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and have digged to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that will hold no water."

What is that fountain of living waters? Christ is the fountain of peace and life; and men forsake that peace that is to be had in Christ, when they would have peace out of righteousness of their own, out of their great enlargements, out of humiliations. These are broken cisterns, and what peace is there in them?

Is there not sinfulness in them? Who can say, I have washed my hands? If there be sinfulness in them, where then is their peace? Sin speaks nothing but war to the soul. Let me tell you, beloved, you that look after peace from the subduing of your sins; what peace can it afford you, in case there be any defects of subduing of your sins? There can be no peace.

Suppose God had nothing in the world to charge upon you; but only that sinfulness in the very subduing of your corruptions, what peace could you have? what could but God find in us? Suppose your eyes were enlightened to see yourselves, how much filthiness there is in all your wrestlings; I say, how much defects and infirmities might you see? Could you choose but fall foul upon your own spirits, for these infirmities and defects of your best performances, seeing the wages of sin is death? What can you run to then? None but Christ, none but Christ, While your acts, in respect of filthiness, proclaim nothing but war, Christ alone, and his blood, proclaim nothing but peace. Therefore; I give this hint by the way, when I speak of the power of Christ subduing sin; because, from the power of it in men, they are apt to think their peace depends upon this subduing of sin. If their sins be subdued, then they may have peace; and if they cannot be subdued, then no peace: fetch peace where it is to be had; let subduing of sin alone for peace9; let Christ have that which is his due; it is he alone that speaks peace. It remains, we should speak further, that as Christ is a way from sin, both in respect of fault and power, so he is a way from wrath: and he is a way to the grace and glory of the Father, and what kind of way he is. But the searching into every corner of this truth, for the sitting of it, hath brought me exceedingly back beyond my expectation. I shall have further occasion in the afternoon to speak of it.

4 Not that the believer who has received Christ, ceases to be a sinner in himself; for Crisp affirms, in this same paragraph, that he commits sin, and does nothing but sin; and much less that he ceased to be a sinner before he was a believer or from the death of Christ. But the sense is that a believer having received Christ is not reckoned as a sinner in the sight of God, and in the eye of justice, and as considered in Christ, all his sins being charged to him, and expiated and atoned for by his sacrifice; as also, seeing such a one has received, with Christ a discharge from all his sins into his own conscience, he should reckon himself, and his sins, as God does, who reckons them to Christ, and not to him.
5 This shows what is Crisp’s true sense in a former passage, where he says Christ is "the very sinner;" that is, by imputation, as here explained, and not an actual sinner. One would be tempted to think, at first reading this clause, that Crisp was for universal redemption, when he says, that Christ is "all the sinners in the world" by imputation. Crisp did not hold the doctrine of universal redemption; but his sense is not, that Christ personated all the sinners in the world, or had all the sins of every individual person laid on him; but that he was all those sinners in the world, or represented them, whose sins were imputed to him; and these, as he often says in his sermons on Isaiah 53:6, were the iniquities of the Lord's people, of the church, and of the elect.
6 Col. 2: 10.
7 Acts 13:39.
8 That is, to make peace with God for his soul, since Christ is the peace-maker, Saviour, and justifier; otherwise to be kept in these things contributes to spiritual peace of mind, under the influence of divine grace, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus.
9 Note that Crisp is speaking not of subduing sin, as it is an act of God's grace, and owing to the power of Christ, who has made an end of it, and so made peace; on this subduing of sin peace depends, Mic. 7:18, Deut. 9:24, but of men's subduing sin, by their own power and strength, and in order to make peace with God. The subduing of sin, or mortifying the deeds of the body that believers are concerned for, is not of themselves, and done in their own strength, but through the spirit; power, and grace of God; and not to make peace with him, but to show their dislike of sin, their gratitude to God, and that they are debtors to him, to live after the spirit, Rom. 8:12, 13. Therefore subduing of sin is to be let alone for the end mentioned, in order to peace with God, that Christ might have his due and glory, who has both made and speaks peace; otherwise subduing of sin, or the weakening the power of it, by the spirit and grace of God, is the concern of every believer, and is wished for by him, and makes for the tranquility of his mind.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Christ, The Only Way, by Tobias Crisp (Part 1)

I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the father, but by me. John 14:6

In the 33rd verse of the former chapter, you shall find Christ breaking the sad and doleful business, which he knew well would go near to the hearts of his disciples, namely, his departure from them: "Little children, yet a little while ye shall seek me, but shall not find me.'' Peter, upon this, asks him whither he goes? He tells him, whither he cannot follow him now, but afterwards he shall. Now, knowing how sadly this went to the hearts of his disciples, He laboured to raise them up, and to establish them against the drooping that these sad tidings might occasion; and that is the beginning of this chapter, "Let not your hearts be troubled:" and therein doth endeavour to stir up their spirits first, by telling them the expediency of that departure of his: it was the purpose of God, that as all things should be wrought effectually by Christ, so the communication of all these things to our spirits, should be by the Spirit of Christ. Now Christ tells them expressly, "That except he goes away, the Comforter cannot come to them;" he, that must have the dispensing of those things to their spirits, namely, the Comforter, cannot come unto them. But, secondly, he stays not here: he encourageth them with another argument; "I go to prepare a place;" and he tells them the place where; "In my Father's house are many mansions." And, least they should suspect, he tells them, "If it were not so, I would have told you." And because he would not speak in a cloud of these things, he tells them, "You know whither I go, and the way ye know," Now Thomas comes in with an objection; "We know not whither thou goest, and how can we know the way?"

Christ answers him, in the words of the text, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father but by me."

I will not spin out the tune about the coherence and analysis of this text: the main point is briefly this:

"Christ is our way, so that there is no coming to the Father but by Him"

In the handling of which truth, let me tell you, that I know this doctrine is generally received, as it is generally delivered; but, I fear, in the particularising those things that make up the full truth of the doctrine, every spirit will not, nor can receive it. That you may, at least, see the clear truth in the bowels of this general doctrine; (for, beloved, you must know there is hidden manna, in this very pot) I say, that you may both see it, and taste the sweetness of it, let us consider, First, in what regard Christ is said to be "the way to the Father.'' Secondly, What kind of way he is. Thirdly, From whence he doth become this way. And, Fourthly, What use we may make of it.

I. In what sense Christ is said to be our way, that there is "no coming to the Father but by him." You all know beloved, that every way high-way, or pathway, necessarily imports two terms, from whence and whereunto; when a man enters into a way; he leaves the place where he was, and goes to the place where he was not. Christ being our way, the phrase imports thus much to us, that by Christ we pass from a state and condition wherein we were, to a state and condition wherein we were not; the last term is expressed in the test, "He is the way to the Father;" the first term must be implied. To come to him, ye must leave some condition where we were before. Bear a while with the expression, till I open the thing to you.

The state, from which Christ is our way to the Father, is twofold; first, a state of sin; and secondly, a state of wrath. The state whereunto Christ is the way, is, indeed, expressed here to be to the Father; the meaning is, to the grace of the Father, and to the glory of the Father. The sum is this; Christ is our way, from a state of sin and wrath, to a state of grace and glory, that there is no coming from the one to the other, but by Christ. But we must descend to particulars, that we may know the fatness and marrow of this truth; which indeed hath an inebriating virtue in it, to lay a soul asleep1, with the admirable sweetness and, excellency thereof; no music can tickle the ears as this truth may, when it is truly and thoroughly dived into: no, nor tickle the heart neither. Beloved, I must tell you, when your souls once find this real truth, they cannot choose but say, we have found a ransom.

First of all, Christ is a way from a state of sinfulness. Now what mystery is there in this, more than ordinary, will you say? Beloved, it is certainly true, there is nothing of Christ, there is nothing comes from Christ, but it is in a mystery; the gospel seems to be clear, and so it is, to those whose eyes Christ opens, but certainly it is hid to some persons that shall perish. "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to babes; even so, O Father, because it pleased thee." But what hiddenness is in this? There is a two-fold consideration of sinfulness, from which Christ is our way in a special manner. There is first, that which commonly we call the guilt of sin, which indeed is the fault, or a person's being faulty, as he is a transgressor. There is, secondly, the power or dominion of sin. Christ is the way from both these. First of all, Christ is the way from the guilt of sin; for a man to be rid of the guilt of sin is no more but this, namely, upon trial to be acquitted from the charge of sin that is laid to him, and to be freed from it: or for a person, in judgment, to be pronounced actually an innocent and a just person, as having no sin to be charged upon him: this is to be free from the guilt of sin. A man is not free from a fault, as long as the fault is laid to his charge; he is then free from the fault, when it is not charged upon him. All the powers of the world united are not able to pronounce a person faultless and an innocent person, but only the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is the way by which a poor sinner, even in this world, may be pronounced an innocent person; even in this world, I say; and be acquitted and discharged from the fault and guilt of his sin. It is impossible the law should do it; the apostle speaks of it expressly, Rom. viii. 2, "The law of the spirit of life in Christ hath freed me from the law of sin and death." Here it is put upon Christ, to free from the guilt of sin. "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, for sin condemned sin in the flesh." "The law," saith the text, "could not do it;" not that the law could not pronounce innocence where innocency was: not that the law could not condemn sin, where it is condemnable by its authority: the law can do this, if it can find subjects whereupon to do it. But the law runs upon these terms, as it finds a person himself without fault; so it pronounceth sentence upon him; if it finds a fault in his person, then it chargeth this fault upon the person alone, as thus: "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them." Till then thou canst not be absolutely freed from the acting of a thing in its nature that is faulty; thou canst not hear it speak any otherwise but of faultiness, which it chargeth upon thee.

Much less can the heart of man acquit him as an innocent person, or do away from him that sinfulness, namely, the guilt of his own sin. "If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts." "If a man say he hath no sin, he is a liar," with St. John, "and the truth is not in him." If the heart should say to any man he is an innocent person, it doth but lie.

If angels should spend their strength, and should be annihilated, to procure the innocency of a poor sinner; alas, their very being is too poor a price, or too mean a value, to take away the sins of the world.

Beloved, to go a little further in it, it is not man's righteousness that he does, though assisted by the Spirit of God in the acting of it, that can pronounce him an innocent person, that can be a way to him from his fault and guiltiness. This you know, that the payment of the last half year's rent is no payment for the first half year's rent, nor is it amends for the non-payment of that which was duo before; if that had been paid before, this likewise must be paid now. Suppose a man could perform a righteous action without blame, what satisfaction is this for former transgressions? Nay, beloved, let me tell you, there is nothing but menstruousness, as the prophet Isaiah speaks, in the best of man's righteousness, "All our righteousness is a menstruous cloth:" but as for Christ, that blessed Saviour, he is able to "save to the uttermost them that come to God by him;" not only to save them in respect of glory hereafter, but also to save them in respect of sinfulness here; to snatch them as a fire-brand, out of the fire of their own sin, to deliver them from their own transgression. Christ, I say, is the way, and the absolute and complete way, to rid every soul, that comes to God by him, from all filthiness; so that the person to whom Christ is the way, stands in the sight of God, as having no fault at all in him. Beloved, these two are contradictions, for a person to be reckoned a faulty person, and yet that person to be reckoned a just or an innocent person; if he be faulty, he is not innocent; if he be innocent, he is not faulty. Now it is the main stream of the whole gospel, that Christ justifies the ungodly. If he himself justifies him, there is no fault to be cast upon him; mark it well, as that wherein consists the life of your soul and the joy of your spirits. I say, it holds forth the Lord Christ as freely tendering himself to people, as considering them only as ungodly persons receiving him; you have no sooner received him, but you are instantly justified by him, and, in this justification, you are discharged from all the faults that may be laid to your charge. There is not one sin you commit, after you receive Christ, that God can charge upon your person2.

A man would think, that there needs not much time to be spent to clear such a truth as this is, being so currently carried along by the whole stream of the gospel. But, beloved, because I know tender hearts stumble much at it, give me leave to clear it unto you by manifest scriptures, such as are written in such great letters, as he that runs may read them. Observe, that in Psalm li. "Wash me," saith David; what then? "I shall be whiter than snow." Snow, you know, hath no spot at all, no fault, no blemish. David shall be less blameable, have less faultiness, have less spottedness in him, than is in the very snow itself.

In Song of Solomon 4:7, you shall find Christ speaking strange language to his church; admirable language indeed; "Thou art fair my love," saith Christ, "thou hast no spot in thee at all." I do but cite the very words of the text; therefore let none cavil, least they be found fighters against God; "she hath no spot in her." In Isaiah 53 where he speaks admirably concerning the effectualness of Christ's death, he tells us, "That the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all:" thy iniquities, my iniquities; as our forefathers' iniquities, so our posterity's iniquities; the iniquities of us all the Lord hath laid upon Christ; they cannot lie upon Christ, and us too. If they be reckoned to the charge of Christ, they are not reckoned to the charge of the person that doth receive this Christ: but "The Lord hath laid them upon him," saith the text.

And what iniquity? Doth he lay upon him some iniquity, and leave some iniquity to us? Look into Ezek. 36:25, and you shall see the extent of iniquities that God hath laid upon Christ; that he takes away from the sinner, I mean the sinner justified by Christ that received him: there you have the covenant largely repeated, the new covenant; not according to the covenant God made with our fathers: and the first words of the covenant are these: "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." prom all your filthiness; small sins, as some will call them; great sins, turbulent sins, scandalous sins, any sins, any filthiness; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness, and from all your idols. Look into Ezek. 16:7, a notable chapter indeed, setting open the unsearchable riches of the love of Christ to men; "I found thee-polluted in thy blood," with he; such blood "that no eye could pity thee, or do any good to thee." Well, no creature doth pity him; was it so with God? No. "When I saw thee polluted in thy blood, I said unto thee, live; yea, when I saw thee polluted in thy blood, I said unto thee live; when I passed by thee, thy tune was the time of love," saith God, "I spread my skirt over thee." Mark it, I pray you; not a scanty skirt to cover some of this blood and filth, but a broad skirt, a large skirt, a white raiment, as Christ calls it himself, in the Revelation; "I counsel thee to bay of me white raiment, that thy nakedness may not appear." It seems there is such a covering of Christ, that he casts upon a person, while he is considered in his blood, that covers his nakedness, that none of it doth appear: and yet, a little further in Ezek. 16 then was she dyed in deep water, after she was in covenant; "yea I thoroughly washed away thy blood:" and this was added, that no man might cavil. It is true, God casts a covering over our sinfulness, but it is our sinfulness still; it is but covered; nay, with the Lord, I have washed it away; "then washed I thee with water." But some will say, these are obscure texts, and mystical; a man cannot build upon these, that faultiness is not reckoned to believers, being taken off by Christ. To come, therefore, to a clearer manifestation of the gospel, mark what the apostle saith in Ephesians 5:27 Christ "purges and sanctifies his church that he might present it to himself not having spot, or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it may be holy, and without blame."

The words run in the present tense; not that in glory only we shall be without spot, but now, even now, we shall be without blemish, we shall be without spot and wrinkle; and that he might now present us to himself. So in 2 Cor. 5:21 you shall see the truth spoken more emphatically, the apostle runs in a mighty strain in this business; "He was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Both terms are expressed in the abstract; he was made sin for us; here you see plainly, our sins are to be translated to Christ, that God reckons Christ the very sinner3; nay, God reckons all our sins to be his, and makes him to be sin for us; and what is the fruit of this? We are thereby made the righteousness of God in him. If we be righteousness, where is our sinfulness to be charged upon us? He tells us expressly, in 1 John 1:7 "That the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin;" the blood of Christ doth cleanse us: he doth not say, the blood of Christ shall cleanse us from all sin; but he with, for the present time, the blood of Christ doth cleanse us from all sin. John the Baptist hath this expression, "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world." He takes them away. How doth he take them away, and yet leave them behind, and yet charge them upon the person that doth believe? The person must be discharged, or else how can they be taken away. This is the main thing imported in that notable sacrifice of the scapegoat, Lev. 16:21. The high-priest must lay his hand upon the head of the goat to be carried away into the wilderness; the text saith, "It was the laying the sins of the people, and that when they were laid upon him, he goes into the wilderness." He goes into the wilderness, and leaves their sins behind him; then the end of this service were frustrated; for he was to carry them away upon him: so Christ, as the scapegoat, hath our sins laid upon his back, and he carries them away; and, therefore, in Psalm 103:12 it is said, "that God removes our sins from us, as far as the East is from the West; he casts our sins into the bottom of the sea." Besides all these texts of scripture, I might produce multitudes more, if need were, for this purpose; but, I think, there can be nothing in the world more clear than this truth, that Christ is such a way to a poor believing soul that ho Math received, that he might take and carry away all the sins of such a person; that he is no longer reckoned as having sins upon him.

1 Matt. 11:28. Heb. 4:3 Isaiah 32:18.
2 That is, to condemnation; because all have been charged on Christ, and he has made satisfaction for them. Besides the manifestative justification Crisp is speaking of is an open and full discharge from all sin.
3 That, is by imputation; not as the author and committer of sin. In the same way, God reckons our sins to be Christ's; not as committed by Him, but are imputed to Him.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Semper Idem; or, The Immutable Mercy of Jesus Christ By Thomas Adams (Part 4)

3. Effectually in his grace and mercy. So he is the same, (1) Yesterday to our fathers; (2) To-day to ourselves; (3) Forever to our children.

(1.) Yesterday to our fathers.—All our fathers, whose souls are now in heaven, those ‘spirits of just men made perfect,’ Heb. 12:23, were, as the next words indicate, saved, ‘by Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, sand by the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.’ Whether they lived under nature, or under the law, Christ was their expectation; and they were justified credendo in venturum Christum, by believing in the Messiah to come. So Luke 2:25, Simeon is said to ‘wait for the consolation of Israel.’

(2.) To-day to ourselves. —His mercy is everlasting; his truth endureth from generation to generation. The same gracious Saviour that he was yesterday to our fathers, is he to-day to us, if we be to-day faithful to him. All catch at this comfort, but in vain without the hand of faith. There is no deficiency in him; but is there none in thee? Whatsoever Christ is, what art thou? He forgave Mary Magdalene many grievous sins; so he will forgive thee, if thou canst shed Mary Magdalene’s tears. He took the malefactor from the cross to Paradise; thither he will receive thee if thou have the same faith. He was merciful to a denying apostle; challenge thou the like mercy, if thou have the like repentance. If we will be like these, Christ, assuredly, will be ever like himself. When any man shall prove to be such a sinner, he will not fail to be such a Saviour.

To-day he is thine, if to-day thou wilt be his: thine tomorrow, if yet tomorrow thou wilt be his. But how if dark death prevent the morrow’s light? He was yesterday, so wert thou: he is to-day, so art thou: he is to-morrow, so perhaps mayest thou not be. Time may change thee, though it cannot change him. He is not (but thou art) subject to mutation. This I dare boldly say: he that repents but one day before he dies, shall find Christ the same in mercy and forgiveness. Wickedness itself is glad to hear this; but let the sinner be faithful on his part, as God is merciful on his part: let him be sure that he repent one day before he dies, whereof he cannot be sure, except he repent every day; for no man knows his last day. Latet ultimus dies, ut observetur omnis dies. Therefore (saith Augustine) we know not our last day, that we might observe every day. ‘To-day, therefore, hear his voice,’ Psa. 95:7.

Thou hast lost yesterday negligently, thou losest to-day wilfully; and therefore mayest lose forever inevitably. It is just with God to punish two days’ neglect with the loss of the third. The hand of faith may be withered, the spring of repentance dried up, the eye of hope blind, the foot of charity lame. To-day, then, hear his voice, and make him thine. Yesterday is lost, to-day may be gotten; but that once gone, and thou with it, when thou art dead and judged, it will do thee small comfort that ‘Jesus Christ is the same forever.’

(3.) Forever to our children.—He that was yesterday the God of Abraham, is to-day ours, and will be forever our children’s. As well now ‘the light of the Gentiles,’ as before ‘the glory of Israel,’ Luke 2:32. I will be the God of thy seed, saith the Lord to Abraham. ‘His mercy is on them that fear him, from generation to generation,’ Luke 1:50.
Many persons are solicitously perplexed, how their children shall do when they are dead; yet they consider not how God provided for them when they were children. Is the ‘Lord’s arm shortened?’ Did he take thee from thy mother’s breasts; and ‘when thy parents forsook thee,’ (as the Psalmist saith), became thy Father? And cannot this experienced mercy to thee, persuade thee that he will not forsake thine? Is not ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever?’ ‘I have been young,’ saith David, ‘and am now old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken’—that is granted, nay—’nor his seed begging bread,’ Ps. 37:25.

Many distrustful fathers are so anxious for their posterity, that while they live they starve their bodies, and hazard their souls, to leave them rich. To such a father it is said justly: Dives es haredi, pauper inopsque tibi. Like an over-kind hen, he feeds his chickens, and famisheth himself. If usury, circumvention, oppression, extortion, can make them rich, they shall not be poor. Their folly is ridiculous; they fear lest their children should be miserable, yet take the only course to make them miserable; for they leave them not so much heirs to their goods as to their evils. They as certainly inherit their father’s sins as their lands: ‘God layeth up his iniquity for his children; and his offspring shall want a morsel of bread,’ Job 21:19.

On the contrary, ‘the good man is merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed,’ Ps. 37:26. That the worldling thinks shall make his posterity poor, God saith shall make the good man’s rich. The precept gives a promise of mercy to obedience, not only confined to the obedient man’s self, but extended to his seed, and that even to a thousand generations, Exod. 20:6. Trust, then, Christ with thy children; when thy friends shall fail, usury bear no date, oppression be condemned to hell, thyself rotten to the dust, the world itself turned and burned into cinders, still ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever.’

Now then, as ‘grace and peace are from him which is, and which was, and which is to come;’ so glory and honour be to him, which is, and which was, and which is to come; even to ‘Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever,’ Rev. 1:4.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Semper Idem; or, The Immutable Mercy of Jesus Christ By Thomas Adams (Part 3)

III. We now come to the circumference, wherein is a distinction of three times; past, present, future. Tempora mutantur: the times change, the circumference wheels about, but the centre is ‘the same forever.’

We must resolve this triplicity into a triplicity. Christ is the same according to these three distinct terms, three distinct ways:— 1. Objective, in word; 2. Subjective, in his power; 3. Effective, in his gracious operation.

1. Objectively.—Jesus Christ is the same in his word; and that (1) Yesterday in pre-ordination; (2) To-day in incarnation; (3) Forever in application.

(1.) Yesterday in pre-ordination.—So St Peter, in his sermon, tells the Jews, that ‘he was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,’ Acts 2:23. And in his epistle, that ‘he was verily preordained before the foundation of the world,’ 1 Pet. 1:20. He is called the ‘Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,’ Rev. 13:8. Prius profuit, quam fuit (Before something can work, it must exist). His prophets did foretell him, the types did prefigure him, God himself did promise him. Ratus ordo Dei: the decree of God is constant.

Much comfort I must here leave to your meditation. If God preordained a Saviour for man, before he had either made man, or man marred himself, —as Paul to Timothy, ‘He hath saved us according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,’ 2 Tim. 1:9;—then surely he meant that nothing should separate us from his eternal love in that Saviour, Rom. 8:39. Quos elegit increatos, redemit perditos, non deseret redemptos. Whom he chose before they were created, and when they were lost redeemed, he will not forsake while they are being sanctified.

(2.) To-day in incarnation.—’When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son made of a woman,’ Gal. 4:4. ‘The Word was made flesh’ John 1:14; which was, saith Emissenus, Non deposita, sed seposita, majestate (Not putting away but putting aside majesty). Thus he became younger than his mother, who was as eternal as his Father. He was yesterday God before all worlds, he is now made man in the world. Sanguinem, quem pro matre obtulit, antea de sanguine matris accepit. (Eusebius) The blood that he shed for his mother, he had from his mother. The same Eusebius, on the ninth of Isaiah, acutely, ‘Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,’ Isa. 9:6. He was Datus ex Divinitate, natus ex virgine. Datus est qui erat; natus est qui non erat. He was given of the Deity, born of the Virgin. He that was given, was before; he, as born, was not before; Donum dedit Deus aequale sibi: God gave a gift equal to himself.

So he is the same yesterday and to-day, objectively in his word. Idem qui velatus in veteri, revelatus in novo. (That which was in the old concealed, is in the new revealed.) In illo praedictus, in isto praedicatus. Yesterday prefigured in the law, to-day the same manifested in the gospel.

(3.) Forever in application. He doth continually by his Spirit apply to our consciences the virtue of his death and passion. ‘As many as receive him, to them gives he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,’ John 1:12. ‘By one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified,’ Heb. 10:14. This is sure comfort to us; though he died almost 1629 years ago, his blood is not yet dry. His wounds are as fresh to do us good, as they were to those saints that beheld them bleeding on the cross. The virtue of his merits is not abated, though many hands of faith have taken large portions out of his treasury. The river of his grace, ‘which makes glad the city of God,’ runs over its banks, though infinite souls have drank hearty draughts, and satisfied their thirst. But because we cannot apprehend this for ourselves of ourselves, therefore he hath promised to send us the `Spirit of truth, who will dwell with us,’ John 14:17, and apply this to us forever. Thus you have seen the first triplicity, how he is the same objectively in his word. Now he is—

2. Subjectively, in his power the same; and that (1) Yesterday, for he made the world; (2) To-day, for he governs the world; (3) Forever, for he shall judge the world.

(1.) Yesterday in the creation. ‘All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made,’ John 1:3. ‘By him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him,’ Col. 1:16. All things, even the great and fair book of the world, of three so large leaves, coelum, solum, salum; heaven, earth, and sea. The prophet calls him ‘the everlasting Father,’ Isa. 9:6; Daniel, the ‘Ancient of days,’ Dan. 7:9. Solomon says, that ‘the Lord possessed him in the beginning of his way, before his works of old,’ Prov. 8:22. So himself told the unbelieving Jews,
‘Before Abraham was, I am,’ John 8:58.

We owe, then, ourselves to Christ for our creation; but how much more for our redemption? Si totum me debeo pro me facto, quid addam jam pro me refecto? In primo opere me mihi dedit: in secundo se mihi dedit. (Bernard) If I owe him my whole self for making me, what have I left to pay him for redeeming me? In the first work, he gave myself to me; in the second, he gave himself to me. By a double right, we owe him ourselves; we are worthy of a double punishment, if we give him not his own.

(2.) To-day in the governing. ‘He upholdeth all things by the word of his power,’ Heb. 1:3. He is pater familias (the ruler of the family), and disposeth all things in this universe with greater care and providence than any householder can manage the business of his private family. He leaves it not, as the carpenter having built the frame of an house, to others to perfect it, but looks to it himself. His creation and providence are like the mother and the nurse, the one produceth, the other preserveth. His creation was a short providence; his providence a perpetual creation. The one sets up the frame of the house, the other keeps it in repair.

Neither is this a disparagement to the majesty of God, as the vain Epicures imagined, curare minima, to regard the least things, but rather an honour, curare infinita, to regard all things. Neither doth this extend only to natural things, chained together by a regular order of succession, but even to casual and contingent things. Oftentimes, cum aliud volumus, aliud agimus (though we intend one thing we do another), the event crosseth our purpose; which must content us, though it fa1l out otherwise than we purposed, because God purposed as it is fallen out. It is enough that the thing attain its own end, though it miss ours; that God’s will be done, though ours be crossed.

But let me say, Hath God care of fowls and flowers, and will he not care for you, his own image? Matt. 6:26-30. Yea, let me go further; hath God care of the wicked? Doth be pour down the happy influences of heaven on the ‘unjust man’s ground?’ Matt. 5:45. And shall the faithful go without his blessing? Doth he provide for the sons of Belial, and shall his own children lack? He may give meat and raiment to the rest, but his bounty to Benjamin shall exceed. If Moab, his wash-pot, should taste of his benefits, then Judah, the signet on his finger, cannot be forgotten. The king governs all the subjects in his dominions, but his servants that wait in his court partake of his most princely favours. God heals the sores of the very wicked; but if it be told him, ‘Lord, he whom thou lovest is sick,’ (John 11:3), it is enough, he shall be healed. The wicked may have outward blessings without inward, and that is Esau’s pottage without his birthright; but the elect have inward blessings, though they lack outward, and that is Jacob’s inheritance without his pottage.

(3.) Forever: because he shall judge the world. ‘God hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained,’ Acts 17:31. ‘In the day that God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ,’ Rom. 2:16. Let the wicked flatter themselves that all is but talk of any coming to judgment; all is but terriculamenta nutricum, mere scare-babes. Scribarum pennee mendaces; they have written lies, there is no such matter. But when they shall see that Lamb ‘whom they have pierced’ and scorned (Rev. 1:7), ‘they shall cry to the mountains and rocks, Fall upon us, and cover us,’ Rev. 6:16. Now they flatter themselves with his death; Mortuus est, he is dead and gone; and Mortuum Caesarem quis metuit? Who fears even a Caesar when he is dead? But ‘He that was dead, liveth; behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen,’ Rev. 1:18. Jesus Christ, yesterday, and to-day, and forever.’ Quaesitor scelerum veniet, vindexque reorum. (The Judge of wickedness will come and punishment will be done.)

Here is matter of infallible comfort to us: ‘Lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh,’ Luke 21:28. Here we are imprisoned, martyred, tortured; but when that great assize and general jail-delivery comes, mors non erit ultra, ‘There shall be no more death nor sorrow, but all tears shall be wiped from our eyes,’ Rev. 21:4. ‘For it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you. And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels,’ 2 Thess. 1:6, 7. We shall then find him the same;—the same Lamb that bought us shall give us a Venite beati, Come, ye blessed, receive your kingdom.’ ‘Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus,’ Rev. 22:20.

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