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JOHN, CHAP. I. VER. 12.
But to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.
HAVING heretofore declared unto you the woful estate and condition wherein we stand by nature, I proceeded to the remedy, that God of his infinite mercy hath provided for the recovery of miserable sinners from the wrath to come. And therein I proposed two things, that our Saviour, that was to advance us, and raise us out of this condition, when we had lost ourselves in Adam, did both deliver us from the punishment, which we had deserved, and also translate it upon his own person. He did “hisa own self bear our sins in his own body on the tree." We having eaten sour grapes, he was to have his teeth set on edge; we accounted him smitten of God, and buffeted; but we had sinned, and he was beaten. That when the Lord in his wrath was ready to smite us, he underwent the dint of God's sword, and stood betwixt the blow and us; the blow lighted on him that was equal with God, and deserved not to be beaten. "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow." The sword was unwilling to strike him; and thus being smitten he became a propitiation for our sins: "The chastisement of our peace was on him." He offered himself a sacrifice: here are two things considerable:
1. How Christ was offered for us.
2. How he is offered to us.
1 Peter, chap. 2. ver. 24.
First, for us, and so he offered up himself a "Sacrifice", a sweet smelling sacrifice unto God." Mark the point is, he is not only the sacrifice, but the sacrificer. "He offered up himself," saith the apostle; he was the priest, and it was part of his priesthood to offer up himself. The sacrifices in the old law that typified him, were only sufferers. The poor beasts were only passive: but our Saviour, he must be an actor in the business. He was active in all that he suffered. He did it in obedience to his Father's will, yet he was an agent in all his passions. He groaned in spirit, and was troubled; the Greek is ¿Táρažev kavròv, or (as it is in the margin) "He troubled himself." With us in our passions it is otherwise: we are mere sufferers. Our Saviour was a conqueror over all his passions, and therefore unless he would trouble himself, none else could trouble him: unless he would lay down. his life, none could take it from him; unless he would give his cheek to be smitten, the Jews had no power to smite it. "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair, and hid not my face from shame and spitting." In all these we should consider our Saviour, not as a sacrifice only, but a sacrificer also; an actor in all this business: their wicked hands were not more ready to smite, than he was to give his face to be smitten, and all to shew that it was a voluntary sacrifice. He did all himself; "He humbled himself unto the death." And now by all this we see what we have gotten: we have gotten a remedy and satisfaction for sins. That precious blood of that immaculate Lamb takes away the sins of the world, because it is the Lamb of God, under which else the world would have eternally groaned.
OBJ. But doth this Lamb of God take away all the sins of the world?
SOL. It doth not actually take away all the sins of the world, but virtually. It hath power to do it if it be
b Eph. chap. 5. ver. 2.
d Isaiah, chap. 50. ver. 6.
e John, chap. 11. ver. 43.
e Phil. chap. 2. ver. 8.
e Exod. chap. 39. ver. 38.
f 1 Peter, chap. 1. ver. 18, 19.
Job, chap. 6. ver. 12.
Heb. chap. 10. ver. 6.
rightly applied, the sacrifice hath such virtue in it, that
Rev. chap. 8. ver. 3. and chap. 9. ver. 13.
h Rom. chap. 8. ver. 3.
that sin should be condemned in us, when he bare our sins on the tree, then were our sins condemned; therefore it is said: "Whenk he had made his soul an offering for sin:" that is in the original, when he had made his soul sin, then he "saw his seed."
We come now to the second thing, if Christ be offered for us, yet unless he offer him to us: unless any man may have interest in him, it is nothing worth. Here then stands the mystery of the Gospel; Christ, when he comes to offer himself to us, he finds not a whit in us that is to be respected; nothing. And that is the ground of all disturbance to ignorant consciences; for there is naturally in men pride and ignorance, they think they may not meddle with Christ, through God's mercy, unless they bring something, unless they have something of their own to lay down. This is to buy Christ, to barter betwixt Christ and the soul: but salvation is a free gift of God. As the apostle speaks, Christ is freely given unto thee, when thou hadst nothing of worth in thee. Faith, when it comes, empties thee of all that is in thee: to whom is the Gospel preached? to the dead. Now before Christ quicken thee, thou art stark dead, rotting in thy sins. Here is the point then, when there is no manner of goodness in thee, in the world. "In me," saith St. Paul, "that is, in my flesh there is no good thing." When I have been the most outrageous sinner, I may lay hold on Christ. Christ comes and offers himself to thee.
Now when Christ offers, the other part of the relation holds, we may take. We have an interest to accept what he proffers. Consider it by an example: if one give me a million, and I receive it not, I am never the richer: and so if God offer me his Son, and with him all things, I am nothing the better, if I receive him not. That he is born and given, what is that to us? unless we can say, us a child is born, to us a Son is given." Faith comes with a naked hand to receive that which is given; we
Isaiah, chap. 53. in Isaiah, chap. 9. ver. 6.
Ibid. chap. 57.
Ezek. chap. 16. ver. 6. P Ezek. chap. 15. ver. 9.
must empty ourselves of what is in us. estate, the Lord sets down how it is with us, when he comes to look upon us :: "And" when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thy blood, I said unto thee, when thou wert in thy blood, live." Why is this set down? It is to shew how God finds nothing in us, when he comes to shew mercy. He finds nothing in us that is lovely, when he comes to bestow his Son upon us. For it is said, "That Christ loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." He doth first cast his eyes upon us when we are unwashed; as I may say, unwashed, and unblessed: "When no eye pitied thee, and thou wast cast out into the open field; when thou wast in thy blood, I said unto thee, live:" when he comes to making up of the match: "Then I washed thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil: I cloathed thee also with embroidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skins." That is, when Christ comes to cast his affections on us, and to wed us unto himself, he finds us polluted and naked, not with a rag on us. Full of filth, just nothing have we, he takes us with nothing; nay, we are worse than nothing. So that here is the point; what ground is there whereby a man that is dead, and hath no goodness in him, (make him as ill as can be imagined,) what ground hath he to receive Christ? Yes, "To as many as received him, to them he gave the power to become the sons of God." First, the receiving of Christ, and then comes believing. It is the receiving of this gift, that is the means, whereby Christ is offered to us. The apostle joining the first and second Adam together, makes the benefit we have by the second to lie in the point of receiving.
OBJ. If it be a free gift, why is faith required?
SOL. Because faith takes away nothing from the gift. If a man give a beggar an alms, and he reach out his hand to receive it, his reaching out the hand makes the gift
• Rev. chap. 1. ver. 5.
4 Rom, chap. 5. ver. 17.