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You see Jesus presented an offering for sin; and what was it he offered ? “Silver and gold he had none,” the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of heifers, would not suffice; and these too he had not. But he had blood in his veins, and that shall all go; that he will offer up to save our guilty blood. He had a soul, and that was made an offering for sin. His soul an offering for sin ! his pure, spotless soul! his soul that was of more value than the whole universe beside! You may find those that will give a great many things for the deliverance of a friend, but who would give his soul! his soul for his enemies ! this is the peculiar commendation of the love of Jesus.
His soul here may signify his whole human nature; in which sense it is often taken in the Sacred Writings. And then the meaning is, that both his soul and body, or his whole human nature, bore the punishment due to us. Or his soul may be here understood properly for his rational and immortal part, in opposition to his body; and then the meaning is, that he suffered in soul as well as in body. His soul suffered by the foresight of his suffering; by the temptations of the devil; by an affecting view of the sins of men; and especially by the absence of his heavenly Father. Hence, when his body was untouched, in the garden of Gethsemane, he cries out, “ My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death ;” and elsewhere, “Now is my soul troubled.” In short, as one expresses it, the sufferings of his soul were the soul of his sufferings. The sense of bodily pain may be swallowed up in the pleasing sensations of divine love. So some have found by happy experience, who have suffered for righteousness' sake. But Jesus denied himself that happiness which he has given to many of his servants. His soul was sorrowful, exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; and all this for such sinners as we. And shall this have no weight among the
creatures for whom he endured all this? Make an experiment upon your hard hearts with this thought, and try if they can resist its energy,
« Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.” Thou shalt make; that is, thou, the great God and Father of all. This sacrifice is provided by thy wisdom and grace, and appointed by thy authority, who hast a right to settle the terms of forgiveness; and therefore we may be sure this sacrifice is acceptable; this atonement is sufficient. This method of salvation is thy contrivance and establishment, and therefore valid and firm. Here, my brethren, is a sure foundation; here, and nowhere else. Can you produce a divine warrant for depending on your own righteousness, or anything else? No; but this offering for sin is of divine appointment, and therefore you may safely venture your eternal all upon it.
Come, ye afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted;" come, build upon this rock, and you shall never fall.
Or the words may be rendered, “When his soul shall make an offering for sin.” And in this sense it is signified that this was Christ's own voluntary act. He consented to the arduous undertaking; he consented to be our substitute, and offered himself a sacrifice for us. He was under no previous constraint; subject to no compulsion. This he tells us himself: “No man taketh my life from me; but I lay it down of myself:” John X. 18. Thus it was his own free choice; and this consideration prodigiously enhances his love. A forced favour is but a small favour. But Jesus willingly laid down his life when he had power to keep it.
to keep it. He voluntarily ascended the cross,
* The reason of this ambiguity, is, that the original word is the second person masculine, and the third person feminine. If taken in the masculine gender, it must be applied to God the Father ; if in the feminine, to the soul of Christ, which is also feminine.
when he might have still continued on the throne. He was absolute Lord and proprietor of himself, under no obligations to any, till he assumed them by his own consent.
When martyrs have died in the cause of righteousness, they did but what was their previous duty; their lives were not theirs, but his who gave them, his to whom they devoted them; and they had no right to them when he demanded them; nor were they able to protect them against the power of their enemies. But Jesus resigned what was his own absolute property; and he resigned his life when it was in his power to have retained it. All the united forces of earth and hell could not have touched his life had not he consented. As with one word he spoke them into being, so with a word he could have blasted all their powers, or remanded them into nothing, as he found them. Of this he gave a specimen, when by saying I am he, (John xviii. 6, I am the despised Nazarene whom ye are seeking, he struck an armed company down to the earth; and he could as easily have chained them there, and never suffered them to rise more. Here was love indeed, that he should offer himself a voluntary, self-devoted sacrifice! and if he made his soul an offering for sin when he was not obliged to it, will not you voluntarily love and serve him, when you are obliged to it; obliged by all the ties of authority and gratitude, of duty and interest? Let me bring home this overture to your hearts :
of your own choice, devote yourselves to his service, who consented to devote himself a victim for your sins ? Are you willing to live to him, when you are bound to do it; to him who died for you, when he was not bound to do it? You have the easier task of the two: to live a life of holiness, and to die upon a cross, are very different things; and will you not do thus much for him ? Could there be such a thing as a work of supererogation,
or an overplus of obedience, methinks this overplus of love might constrain you to it; and will you not so much as honestly attempt that which you are bound to by the most strong and endearing obligations ? If you reject this proposal, make no pretensions to gratitude, a regard to the most sacred and rightful authority, or any noble disposition. You are sunk into the most sordid and aggravated degree of wickedness, and every generous and pious passion is extinct within you.
Now, what shall be the consequence, what the reward of all these sufferings of Christ ? Shall he endure all this in vain? Shall he receive no compensation? Yes; for,
2. My text tells you he shall prolong his days. The self-devoted victim shall have a glorious resurrection. His days were cut off in the midst; but he rose again, and shall enjoy an endless length of happy and glorious days. That he was once dead he was not ashamed to own, when he appeared in a form of so much majesty to John. " Fear not,” says he, “ I am the first and the last; I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore;" Rev. i. 17, 18. The man that hung on Calvary, and lay dead in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, where is he now? Oh! he has burst the bonds of death, triumphed over the grave, and enjoys an immortal life. And this immortal life he spends in a station of the most exalted dignity and perfect happiness for ever. See ! Jesus, “who was made a little lower than the angels for the sufferings of death, crowned with glory and honour;” Heb. ii. 9. Because “he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess :" Phil. ii. 8–
11. It was for this end that “ Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living :” Rom. xiv. 9. By his death he acquired universal government, and has the keys of the vast invisible world, and of death that leads into it; Rev. i. 18.
This was a great part of that joy which was set before him, for the sake of which he endured the cross, despising the shame; Heb. xii. 2.*
And is the poor, despised, insulted, crucified Jesus thus exalted? Then I proclaim, like the herald before Joseph, when advanced to be prime minister to Pharaoh, Bow the knee! submit to him, ye sons of men. He has bought you with his blood, and has a right to your subjection; therefore yield yourselves to him. This day become his willing subjects, and swear allegiance to him at his table. To him let every knee bow in this assembly, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. And do you now feel your hearts begin to yield? Are your souls in the posture of humble homage? Are you ready to say, “Lord Jesus, reign over this soul of mine; see, I resign it as the willing captive of thy cross ?" Or will you stand it out against him? Shall your hearts and practices, as it were, send a message after him, now when he is advanced to his heavenly throne, “We will not have this man to reign over us?” Then I proclaim you rebels, wilful, inexcusable rebels against the supreme, the most rightful, and the most gracious government of Christ; and if
you continue such,
* This sentence, “ He shall prolong his days," is otherwise translated by some, and applied, not to Christ, but to his seed: “He shall see his seed, who shall prolong their days ;" or, “ He shall see a long-lived seed,” or, " a long succession of posterity.” So the seventy.—This translation gives a stricter connection and uniformity to the words with the preceding and following sentences. And in this sense it is undoubtedly true; for Jesus has always had, and ever will have, some spiritual children on our guilty globe; and neither earth nor hell shall ever be able to extinguish the sacred