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FINISHED, John, 19 : 30, and “bowed the head and gave up the ghost.” And thus was finished the greatest and most wonderful thing that ever was done. Now the angels beheld the most wonderful sight that ever they saw. Now was accomplished the main thing that had been pointed at by the various institutions of the ceremonial law, by all the typical dispensations, and by all the sacrifices from the beginning of the world.
Christ being thus brought under the power of death, continued under it till the morning of the next day but one. Then was finished that great work, the purchase of our redemption, for which such great preparation had been made from the beginning of the world. Then 'was finished all that was required in order to satisfy the threatenings of the law, and all that was necessary in order to satisfy divine justice; then the utmost ihat vindictive justice demanded, even the whole debt, was paid. Then was finished the whole of the purchase of eternal life. And now there is no need of any thing more to be done towards a purchase of salvation for sinners; nor has ever any thing been done since nor will any thing more be done for ever and ever.
IMPROVEMENT OF THE SECOND PERIOD.
In surveying the history of redemption, we have now shown how this work was carried on through the two former of the three main periods into which this whole space of time was divided, viz. from the fall to the incarnation of Christ, and from thence to the end of the time of Christ's humiliation. In the first of these periods we have particularly explained how God prepared the way for Christ's appearing and purchasing redemption; and in the second period how that purchase was made and finished. I would now make some improvement of what has been said on both these subjects considered conjointly.
L. An Use of Reproof.
A reproof of unbelief, of self-righteousness, and of a careless neglect of the salvation of Christ.
I. How greatly do these things reprove those who do not believe in, but reject the Lord Jesus Christ ! all who do not heartily receive him. Persons may receive him in profession outwardly, and may wish that they had some of those benefits that Christ has purchased, and yet their hearts not receive him. They may be hearty in nothing that they do towards Christ; they may have no high esteem of, nor any sincere respect to Christ; they may never have opened the door of their heart to him, but have kept him shut out all their days ever since his salvation has been offered to them. Though their hearts have been opened wide to others, with free admittance at all times, yet Christ has always been shut out, and they have been deaf to all his calls. They never could find an inclination of heart to receive him, nor would they ever trust in him.
Let me now call upon you to consider how great is your sin in thus rejecting Jesus Christ. You
slight the glorious Person for whose coming God made such great preparation in such a series of wonderful providences from the beginning of the world, and whom, after all these things were made ready, God sent into the world, bringing to pass a thing before unknown, the union of the divine nature with the human in one person. You have been guilty of slighting that great Savior, who, after such preparation, actually accomplished the purchase of redemption; and who, after he had spent three or four and thirty years in poverty, labor, and contempt, in purchasing redemption, at last finished the purchase by closing his life under such extreme sufferings; and so by his death, and continuing for a time under the power of death, completed the whole. This is the Savior you reject and despise. You make light of all the glory of his person, and of all the love of God the Father in sending him into the world, and all his wonderful love appearing in the whole of this work. That precious stone which God has laid in Zion for a foundation in such a manner, and by such wonderful works, is by you set at naught.
Sinners sometimes are ready to wonder why unbelief should be looked upon as a great sin; but if you consider what has been said, how can you wonder ? If this Savior is so great, and this work so great, and such great things have been done in order to it, truly there is no cause of wonder that the rejection of this Savior is so provoking to God. It brings greater guilt than the sins of the worst of heathen who never heard of those things, nor have had this Savior offered to them.
II. What has been said, affords matter of reproof
to those who, instead of believing Christ, trust in themselves for salvation. Is it not a cornmon thing with men to take it upon themselves to do that great work which Christ came into the world to do? to trust in their prayers, the pains they take in religion, the reformation of their lives, and their self-denial, to recommend them to God, to make some atonement for their past sins ? Let such consider three things:
1. How great a thing that is which you take upon you. It is to do the work of the great Savior of the world. You trust in your own doings to appease God for your sins, and to incline the heart of God to you. Though you are poor, worthless, vile, and polluted, yet you arrogantly take upon you that very work for which the only-begotten Son of God became man; and in order to which God employed four thousand years in all the great dispensations of his providence, aiming chiefly to make way for Christ's coming to do this work. This is the work that you foolishly think yourself sufficient for; as though your prayers and other performances were excellent enough for this purpose. Consider how vain is the thought which you entertain of yourself. How must such arrogance appear in the sight of Christ, whom it cost so much. It was not to be obtained even by him, so great and glorious a person, at a cheaper rate than his wading through a sea of blood, and passing through the midst of the furnace of God's wrath. And how vain must your arrogance appear in the sight of God, when he sees you imagining yourself sufficient, and your worthless, polluted performances excellent enough for the accomplishing of that work of his own Son, to prepare the way for which he was employed in ordering all
the great affairs of the world for so many ages!
2. If there be ground for you to trust, as you do, in your own righteousness, then all that Christ did to purchase salvation, and all that God did from the fall of man to prepare the way for it
, is in vain. Your self-righteousness charges God with the greatest folly, as though he has done all things in vain, to bring about an accomplishment of what you alone, with your poor polluted prayers, and the little pains you take in religion, are sufficient to accomplish for yourself. For if you can appease God's anger, and commend yourself to him by these means, then you have no need of Christ. Gal. 2:21. “ If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."
If you can do this by your prayers and good works, Christ might have spared his pains; he might have spared his blood; he might have kept within the bosom of his Father, without coming down to this evil world, to be despised, reproached, and persecuted to death. God needed not to have been, for four thousand years, causing so many changes in the state of the world, to bring about what you can ac complish in a few days, only with the trouble of a few religious performances. Consider what greater folly could you have devised to charge upon God than this, that all those things were done so needlessly; when, instead of all this, he might only have called
forth, and committed the business to you which
think you can do so easily. Alas! how blind are natural men ! and especially how vain are the thoughts they have of themselves! How ignorant of their own littleness and pollution! What great things do they assume to themselves !
3. You that trust to your own righteousness, ar