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spirit. It had been promised by the prophet, “ 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." And it was to procure this benefit for us, that Christ submitted to his sufferings; “ He gave him. self for us, says the apostle, that he might sanctify and cleanse us with the washing of water, by the word, that he might present us to himself holy and without blemish.” Let us then draw near to him, “having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” “Since he bare our sins in his own body, on purpose that we, being dead unto sin, might live unto righteousness,” let us not be unmind. ful of our duty and our privilege. Let us seek“ the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost," and labour to.“ cleanse ourselves from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
It is of great importance to observe, that though, under the law, these two kinds of sprinkling were often separated, they are invariably united under the gospel. St. John particularly notices, that “Christ came by water and blood; not by water only, but by water and blood." By this we understand, that the water and blood, which flowed in one united stream from the wounded side of our Redeemer, were significant of the united blessings which we should receive from him, namely, of justification by his blood, and sanctification by his Spirit. And St. Peter expressly declares, that these ends were united in the eternal counsels of the Deity, by whom we were “ elected through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and to the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”rt What God therefore has joined together, let us never presume to separate: for, as there is no “redemption but by the blood" of Jesus, so “ without holiness no man shall see the Lord.”
The connexion between these blessings, and the means used for the procuring of them, is frequently mentioned
Eph. v. 25-27.
si John v. 6.
2 Ezek. xxxvi. 25.
in the ensuing chapter, and therefore need not be insisted on in this place. Suffice it therefore at present to say, that the sprinkling of the nations is the fruit and consequence of our Lord's astonishing, unparalleled humiliation." Neither could he have had a right to communicate salvation, if he had not first suffered for our sins; nor can we enjoy his salvation, unless we receive it as the purchase of bis blood.
To conclude The blessings mentioned in the text were not procured for one nation only, but for " many, even for all, to the remotest ends of the earth. And as no nation is excluded, so neither is any individual in any nation. The fountain is opened for all; and will cleanse from sin and uncleanness all who wash in it. As “ Moses took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled all the people," so now may every sinner in the universe have his heart and conscience sprinkled through faith in God's promises. None can say,
“ I am too vile; the blood of Christ can never cleanse from such guilt as mine :" nor can they saj, “My lusts are so inveterate, that the Spirit of Christ can never purify my polluted heart:" for,“ “ If the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sanctified, in any instance, to the purifying of the flesh, much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the Eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge, in every instance, our conscience from dead works to serve the liv. ing God.”
» 66 80."
* Heb. ix. 19.
CLXXXIV. THE MEANS AND EVIDENCE OF
Isai. lii. 15. Kings shall shut their mouths at him; for
that 'which had not been told them, shall they see ; and that which they had not heard, shall they consider.
MANY are advocates for the preaching of morality in preference to the unfolding of the mysteries of the gospel, because they think that men will be more easily influ
enced by what they, know and understand, than by any thing which surpasses their comprehension. But to judge thus is to be wiser than God, who has commanded his gospel to be preached to all nations, and has appointed it as the means of converting the world unto himself. The most wonderful effects have been produced by it, not only on the vulgar, who might be thought open to deception, but on persons of the most cultivated minds, and most extensive influence. From the first promulgation of it to the present moment, events have justified the prediction before us; foro" kings," on hearing of a crucified Saviour, have " shut their mouths before him," and acknowledged him as the foundation of all their hopes.
The terms in which this prophecy is expressed will lead us to consider, The means of conversion, and, The fruit and evidence of it. I. The means of conversion
God is not limited to the use of any means. He, who by a word brought the universe into existence, can, with a simple act of his will, produce any change in the state and condition of his creatures, or do whatsoever pleaseth him. Nevertheless he has appointed a method of converting souls to the knowledge of himself: and, though we presume not to say what changes he may effect in the minds of unenlightened heathens, yet we have no reason to expect he will dispense with the means where he has sent the light of his gospel. The means which God has appointed for the conversion of men may be considered either as external or internal; the external is, The preaching of the gospel; the internal is, The seeing and considering of that gospel.
With respect to the external mean, the prophet speaks of it as "that which kings had not heard.” He has just intimated that the sufferings of the Messiah should exceed all that ever were experienced by man; but that they should avail for the expiating of our guilt, and the purifying of our souls from sin. He then adds, that the great and mighty of the earth should be made to consider these glad tidings; and that, after some opposition for a season, they should become the willing subjects of the Messiah's kingdom. In this way St. Paul himself understood the words of our text; for he quotes them exactly in this sense; “ So have I strived,” says he, "to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation; but as it is written, to whom He was not spoken of, they shall see, and they that have not heard, shall understand." And indeed, this is a very just description of the gospel; for, the productions of human wisdom were open to the view of kings; but the gospel was far out of their sight; it was “a mystery hid in the bosom of the Father from the foundation of the world.”
This was the weapon which the apostles used in their warfare. They preached Christ in every place: Jesus and the resurrection were their constant theme: and so effec. tual did St. Paul find it for the conversion of men, that "he determined to know nothing, and to preach nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” The same must be the constant tenor of our ministrations: there is no other subject that we can insist upon with equal effect. Philosophy leaves men as it finds them; it may afford some glimmering light to their minds; but it can never influence their hearts. Nothing can pull down the strong holds of sin, but that which points out a refuge for sin. ners.
But besides this external mean of conversion there is another no less necessary, the operation of which is altogether internal. Many hear the gospel, and, instead of receiving benefit from it, have only their latent enmity brought forth, and their hearts made more obdurate. To feel its full effect, we must “ see and consider it.” There are many things of which we may have but dark and confused views without sustaining any loss; but in our views of the gospel we should be clear. Our minds must be enlightened to see the ends and reasons of Christ's death. To know the fact, that he did suffer, will be of no more use than any other historical knowledge : we must know why he suffered; what necessity there was for his coming in the flesh; what need of his atonement; and what the
a Rom. xv. 20, 21.
virtue of his sacrifice. It is not necessary indeed that we should be able to descant upon these subjects for the instruction of others; but we must have such a knowledge of them as leads us to renounce every false ground of hope, and to rely on Christ alone for the salvation of our souls. We must so discern their excellence, as to be induced to “ consider” them; to consider the death of Christ as the only sacrifice for sin; and to consider an interest in it, as the only means of salvation.
Thus, in order to our being effectually converted to God, Christ must become our meditation and delight. The height and depth, and length and breadth of his unsearchable love must occupy our minds, and inflame our hearts with love to him. Nor is it in our first conversion only, but in every subsequent period of our lives, that we must thus have respect to his death. In all our approaches to God we must come, pleading the merits of the Redeemer's blood, and trusting only in his all-sufficient atonement. It is this alone that will preserve our souls in peace, or enable us to manifest to others. II. The fruit and evidence of conversion
The hearts of men are the same in all ages, and the effects produced on them by the gospel are the same: the very first fruit and evidence of our conversion by it is, that our mouths are shut at, or before the Lord Jesus.” First, with respect to the vindicating of ourselves. Natiiral men, according to the external advantages they have enjoyed, will acknowledge more or less the depravity of their hearts. But, whatever difference there may be in their outward confessions, there is very little in their inward convictions. All entertain a favourable opinion of themselves: they cannot unfeignedly, and with the full consent of their minds, acknowledge their desert of God's wrath: they have some hidden reserves: they secretly think that God would be unjust if he were to condemn them: they cannot persuade themselves that their iniquities merit so severe a doom. They pretend to hope in God's mercy; but their hope does not really arise from an enlarged view of his mercy, so much as from contracted views of their own sinfulness. But, in conversion, these
high imaginations are cast down." The soul, enlight