Sermon 873. Christ Made a Curse for Us
Delivered on Sunday Morning, MAY 30, 1869, by
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangson a tree."- Galatians 3:13.
The Apostle had been showing to the Galatians that salvation is in no degree by works. He proved this all-important Truthof God, in the verses which precede the text, by a very conclusive form of double reasoning. He showed, first, that the Lawcould not give the blessing of salvation, for, since all had broken it, all that the Law could do was to curse. He quotesthe substance of the 27th chapter of Deuteronomy, "Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things which are written inthe book of the Law to do them." And as no man can claim that he has continued in all things that are in the Law, he pointedout the clear inference that all men under the Law had incurred the curse.
He then reminds the Galatians, in the second place, that if any had ever been blessed in the olden times, the blessing camenot by the Law, but by their faith-and to prove this, he quotes a passage from Habakkuk 2:4 in which it is distinctly stated that the just shall live by faith-so that those who were just and righteous did not livebefore God on the footing of their obedience to the Law, but they were justified and made to live on the ground of their beingBelievers. See, then, that if the Law inevitably curses us all, and if the only people who are said to have been preservedin gracious life were justified not by works, but by faith-then is it certain beyond a doubt that the salvation and justificationof a sinner cannot be by the works of the Law, but altogether by the Grace of God through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
But the Apostle, no doubt feeling that now he was declaring that doctrine he had better declare the foundation and root ofit, unveils in the text before us a reason why men are not saved by their personal righteousness, but saved by their faith.He tells us that the reason is this-that men are not saved by any personal merit but their salvation lies in Another-lies,in fact, in Christ Jesus, the representative Man who alone can deliver us from the curse which the Law brought upon us. Andsince works do not connect us with Christ, but faith is the uniting bond, faith becomes the way of salvation.
Since faith is the hand that lays hold upon the finished work of Christ-which works could not and would not do, for workslead us to boast and to forget Christ-faith becomes the true and only way of obtaining justification and everlasting life.In order that such faith may be nurtured in us, may God the Holy Spirit this morning lead us into the depths of the greatwork of Christ! May we understand more clearly the nature of His substitution and of the suffering which it entailed uponHim. Let us see, indeed, the truth of the stanzas whose music has just died away-
"He bore that we might never bear
His Father's righteous ire."
I. Our first contemplation this morning will be upon this question, WHAT IS THE CURSE OF THE LAW HERE INTENDED? It is thecurse of God. God who made the Law has appended certain penal consequences to the breaking of it and the man who violatesthe Law becomes at once the subject of the wrath of the Lawgiver. It is not the curse of the mere Law of itself-it is a cursefrom the great Lawgiver whose arm is strong to defend His statutes. Therefore, at the very outset of our reflections, letus be assured that the curse of the Law must be supremely just and morally unavoidable.
It is not possible that our God, who delights to bless us, should inflict an atom of curse upon any one of His creatures unlessthe highest right shall require it. And if there is any method by which holiness and purity can be maintained without a curse,rest assured the God of Love will not imprecate sorrow upon His creatures. The curse then, if it falls, must be a necessaryone-in its very essence necessary for the preservation of order in the universe and for the manifestation of the holinessof the universal Sovereign.
Be assured, too, that when God curses, it is a curse of the most weighty kind. The curse causeless shall not come, but God'scurses are never causeless and they come home to offenders with overwhelming power. Sin must be punished and when by longcontinuance and impenitence in evil, God is provoked to speak the malediction, I know that he whom He curses is cursed, indeed.There is something so terrible in the very idea of the Omnipotent God pronouncing a curse upon a transgressor that my bloodcurdles at it and I cannot express myself very clearly or even coherently. A father's curse, how terrible! But what is thatto the malediction of the great Father of Spirits?
To be cursed of men is no mean evil, but to be accursed of God is terror and dismay! Sorrow and anguish lie in that curse!Death is involved in it and that second death which John foresaw in Patmos and described as being cast into a lake of fire(Rev. 20:14). Hear the Word of the Lord by His servant Nahum and consider what His curse must be-"God is jealous and the Lord revenges.The Lord revenges and is furious. The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries and He reserves wrath for His enemies...Themountains quake at Him and the hills melt and the earth is burned at His Presence, yes, the world and all that dwell herein.Who can stand before His indignation? And who can abide in the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire andthe rocks are thrown down by Him."
Remember, also, the prophecy of Malachi: "For behold, the day comes that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yes, andall that do wickedly, shall be stubble. And the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leavethem neither root nor branch." Let such words, and there are many like they, sink into your hearts that you may fear and tremblebefore this just and holy Lord! If we would look further into the meaning of the curse that arises from the breach of theLaw, we must remember that a curse is, first of all, a sign of displeasure.
Now, we learn from Scripture that God is angry with the wicked every day. Though towards the persons of sinners God exhibitsgreat longsuffering, yet sin exceedingly provokes His holy mind. Sin is a thing so utterly loathsome and detestable to thepurity of the Most High, that no thought of evil, or an ill word, or an unjust action, is tolerated by Him. He observes everysin and His holy soul is stirred thereby. He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. He cannot endure it. He is a God thatwill certainly execute vengeance upon every evil work. A curse implies something more than mere anger. It is suggested byburning indignation, and truly our God is not only somewhat angry with sinners, but His wrath is great towards sin.
Wherever sin exists, there the fullness of the power of the Divine indignation is directed. And though the effect of thatwrath may be, for awhile, restrained through abundant longsuffering, yet God is greatly indignant with the iniquities of men.We wink at sin, yes, and even harden our hearts till we laugh at it and take pleasure in it. But oh, let us not think thatGod is such as we are! Let us not suppose that sin can be beheld by Him and yet no indignation be felt. Ah, no, the most holyGod has written warnings in His Word which plainly inform us how terribly He is provoked by iniquity, as, for instance, whenhe says, "Beware, you that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces and there be none to deliver."
"Therefore, says the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease Me of My adversaries and avenge Meof My enemies." "For we know Him that has said, Vengeance belongs to Me, I will recompense, says the Lord." And again, theLord shall judge His people. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Moreover, a curse imprecatesevil and is, as it comes from God, of the nature of a threat. It is as though God should say, "By-and-by I will visit youfor this offense. You have broken My Law which is just and holy and the inevitable penalty shall certainly come upon you."
Now, God has, throughout His Word, given many such curses as these-He has threatened men over and over again. "If he turnsnot, He will whet his sword. He has bent His bow and made it ready." Sometimes the threat is wrapped up in a plaintive lamentation."Turn you, turn you from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?" But still it is plain and clear that Godwill not suffer sin to go unpunished-and when the fullness of time shall come and the measure shall be filled to the brimand the weight of iniquity shall be fully reached and the harvest shall be ripe, and the cry of wickedness shall come up mightilyinto the ears of the Lord God of Sabaoth-then will He come forth in robes of vengeance and overwhelm His adversaries.
But God's curse is something more than a threat. He comes at length to blows. He uses warning words at first, but sooner orlater He bares His sword for execution. The curse of God, as to its actual infliction, may be guessed at by some occasionswhere it has been seen on earth. Look at Cain, a wanderer and a vagabond upon the face of the earth! Read the
curse that Jeremiah pronounced by the command of God upon Pashur-"Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to allyour friends. And they shall fall by the sword of their enemies and your eyes shall behold it." Or, if you would behold thecurse upon a larger scale, remember the day when the huge floodgates of earth's deepest fountains were unloosed and the watersleaped up from their habitations like lions eager for their prey!
Remember the day of vengeance when the windows of Heaven were opened and the great deep above the firmament was confused withthe deep that is beneath the firmament and all flesh were swept away-except only the few who were hidden in the ark whichGod's Covenant mercy had prepared. Consider that dreadful day when sea-monsters whelped and stabled in the palaces of ancientkings! When millions of sinners sank to rise no more! When universal ruin flew with raven wings over a shoreless sea vomitedfrom the mouth of death! Then was the curse of God poured out upon the earth!
Look, yet again, further down in time. Stand with Abraham at his tent door and see towards the east the sky all red at earlymorning with a glare that came not from the sun-sheets of flames went up to Heaven-which were met by showers of yet more vividfire received the curse of God, and Hell was rained upon them out of Heaven until they were utterly consumed! If you wouldsee another form of the curse of God, remember that bright spirit who once stood as servitor in Heaven-the son of the morning,one of the chief of the angels of God!
Think how he lost his lofty principality when sin entered into him! See how an archangel became an archfiend and Satan, whois called Apollyon, fell from his lofty throne, banished forever from peace and happiness-to wander through dry places, seekingrest and finding none-to be reserved in chains of darkness unto the judgment of the Last Great Day. Such was the curse thatit withered an angel into a devil! It burned up the cities of the plain! It swept away the population of a globe!
Nor have you yet the full idea. There is a place of woe and horror-a land of darkness as darkness itself and of the shadowof death-without any order and where the light is darkness. There those miserable spirits who have refused repentance andhave hardened themselves against the Most High, are forever banished from their God and from all hope of peace or restoration.If your ear could be applied to the gratings of their cells. If you could walk the gloomy corridors wherein damned spiritsare confined, you would, then, with chilled blood and hair erect, learn what the curse of the Law must be-that dread maledictionwhich comes on the disobedient from the hand of the just and righteous God!
The curse of God is to lose God's favor, and, consequently, to lose the blessings which come upon that blessing-to lose peaceof mind, to lose hope, ultimately to lose life itself-for "the soul that sins, it shall die." And that loss of life and beingcast into eternal death is the most terrible of all, consisting as it does in everlasting separation from God and everythingthat makes existence truly life. It is a destruction lasting forever. According to the Scriptural description of it, it isthe fruit of the curse of the Law.
Oh, heavy tidings have I to deliver this day to some of you! Hard is my task to have to testify to you the terrible justiceof the Law! But you would not understand or prize the exceeding love of Christ if you heard not the curse from which He deliversHis people-therefore hear me patiently! O unhappy men, unhappy men, who are under God's curse today! You may dress yourselvesin scarlet and fine linen. You may go to your feasts and drain your full bowls of wine. You may lift high the sparkling cupand whirl in the joyous dance, but if God's curse is on you, what madness possesses you! O Sirs, if you could but see it andunderstand it, this curse would darken all the windows of your mirth!
O that you could hear, for once, the voice which speaks against you from Ebal, with doleful repetition-"Cursed shall you bein the city and cursed shall you be in the field. Cursed shall be your basket and your store. Cursed shall be the fruit ofyour body and the fruit of your land, the increase of your cattle and the flocks of your sheep. Cursed shall you be when youcome in and cursed shall you be when you go out." How is it that you can rest while such sentences pursue you? Oh, unhappiestof men are those who pass out of this life still accursed! One might weep tears of blood to think of them! Let our thoughtsfly to them for a moment, but O, let us not continue in sin, lest our spirits be condemned to hold perpetual companionshipin their grief! Let us fly to the dear Cross of Christ, where the curse was put away, that we may never come to know, in thefullness of its horror, what the curse may mean!
II. A second enquiry of great importance to us this morning is this-WHO ARE UNDER THIS CURSE? Listen with solemn awe, O sonsof men! First, especially and foremost, the Jewish nation lies under the curse, for such I gather from the connection. Tothem the Law of God was very peculiarly given beyond all others. They heard it from Sinai and it was to them surrounded witha golden setting of ceremonial symbols and enforced by solemn national Covenant.
Moreover, there was a word in the commencement of that Law which showed that in a certain sense it peculiarly belonged toIsrael. "I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage."
Paul tells us that those who have sinned without Law shall be punished without Law. But the Jewish nation, having receivedthe Law, if they broke it, would become peculiarly liable to the curse which was threatened for such breach. Yet further,all nations that dwell upon the face of the earth are also subject to this curse for this reason-that if the Law were notgiven to all from Sinai, it has been written by the finger of God, more or less legibly, upon the conscience of all mankind.It needs no Prophet to tell an Indian, a Laplander, a South Sea Islander, that he must not steal-his own judgment so instructshim. There is that within every man which ought to convince him that idolatry is folly, that adultery and unchastity are villainies,that theft and murder and covetousness are all evil.
Now, inasmuch as all men in some degree have the Law within, to that degree they are under the Law. The curse of the Law fortransgression comes upon them. Moreover, there are some in this House this morning who are peculiarly under the curse. TheApostle says, "As many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse." Now, there are some of you who choose to be underthe Law-you deliberately choose to be judged by it. How so? Why, you are trying to reach a place in Heaven by your own goodworks! You are clinging to the idea that something you can do can save you! You have therefore elected to be under the Lawand by so doing you have chosen the curse-for all that the law of works can do for you is to leave you still accursed-becauseyou have not fulfilled all its commands. O Sirs, repent of so foolish a choice, and declare from now on that you are willingto be saved by Divine Grace and not at all by the works of the Law!
There is a little band here who feel the weight of the Law, to whom I turn with brightest hope, though they themselves arein despair. They feel in their consciences today that they deserve from God the severest punishment. This sense of His wrathweighs them to the dust. I am glad of this, for it is only when we come consciously and penitently under the curse that weaccept the way of escape from it. You do not know what it is to be redeemed from the curse till you have first felt the slaveryof it. No man will ever rejoice in the liberty which Christ gives him till he has first felt the iron of bondage enteringinto his soul.
I know there are some here who say, "Let God say what He will against me, or do what He will to me, I deserve it all. If Hedrives me forever from His Presence and I hear the Judge pronounce that awful sentence, 'Depart, accursed one,' I can onlyadmit that such has been my heart and such my life that I could expect no other doom." O you dear Heart, if you are thus broughtdown, you will listen gladly to me while I now come to a far brighter theme than all this! You are under the curse as younow are, but I rejoice to tell you that the curse has been removed through Jesus Christ our Lord! O may the Lord lead youto see the plan of substitution and to rejoice in it!
III. Our third and main point, this morning, is to answer the question, HOW WAS CHRIST MADE A CURSE FOR US? The whole pithand marrow of the religion of Christianity lies in the doctrine of "Substitution," and I hesitate not to affirm my convictionthat a very large proportion of Christians are not Christians at all, for they do not understand the fundamental doctrineof the Christian creed. And alas, there are preachers who do not preach, or even believe this cardinal truth.
They speak of the blood of Jesus in an indistinct kind of way and descant upon the death of Christ in a hazy style of poetry-butthey do not strike this nail on the head and lay it down that the way of Salvation is by Christ's becoming a Substitute forguilty man! This shall make me the more plain and definite. Sin is an accursed thing. God, from the necessity of His holiness,must curse it. He must punish men for committing it. But the Lord's Christ, the glorious Son of the everlasting Father, becamea Man and suffered, in His own proper Person, the curse which was due to the sons of men, that so, by a vicarious offering,God, having been just in punishing sin, could extend His bounteous mercy towards those who believe in the Substitute.
Now for this point. But, you enquire, how was Jesus Christ a curse? We beg you to observe the word "made." "He was made acurse." Christ was no curse in Himself. In His Person He was spotlessly innocent, and nothing of sin could belong personallyto Him. In Him was no sin. "God made Him to be sin for us." And the Apostle expressly adds, "who knew no sin." There mustnever be supposed to be any degree of blameworthiness or censure in the Person or Character of Christ as He stands as an Individual.He is in that respect without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing-the immaculate Lamb of God's Passover.
Nor was Christ made a curse of necessity. There was no necessity in Himself that He should ever suffer the curse-no necessityexcept that which His own loving suretyship created. His own intrinsic holiness kept Him from sin and that same holiness keptHim from the curse. He was made sin for us, not on His own account-not with any view to Himself-but wholly because He lovedus and chose to put Himself in the place which we ought to have occupied. He was made a curse for us not, again, I say, outof any personal want, or out of any personal necessity, but because He had voluntarily undertaken to be the Covenant Headof His people and to be their Representative and as their Representative to bear the curse which was due to them.
We must be very clear here because very strong expressions have been used by those who hold the great Truth of God which Iam endeavoring to preach, which strong expressions have conveyed the Truth they meant to convey, but also a great deal more.Martin Luther's wonderful book on Galatians, which he prized so much that he called it his Catherine Born (that was the nameof his beloved wife and he gave this book the name of the dearest one he knew)-in that book he says plainly, but be assureddid not mean what he said to be literally understood, that Jesus Christ was the greatest sinner that ever lived-that all thesins of men were so laid upon Christ that He became all the thieves and murderers and adulterers that ever were, in one.
Now, he meant that God treated Christ as if He had been a great sinner-as if He had been all the sinners in the world in one-andsuch language teaches that Truth very plainly. But Luther, in his boisterousness, overshoots his mark and leaves room forthe censure that he has almost spoken blasphemy against the blessed Person of our Lord. Christ never was and never could bea sinner-and in His Person and in His Character, in Himself considered, He never could be anything but well-beloved of God,and blessed forever and well-pleasing in Jehovah's sight! So that when we say, today, that He was a curse, we must lay stresson those words, "He was made a curse." He was constituted a curse, set as a curse.
And then, again, we must emphasize those other words, "for us"-not on His own account at all-but entirely out of love to usthat we might be redeemed. He stood in the sinner's place and was reckoned to be a sinner and treated as a sinner, and madea curse for us. Let us go farther into this Truth of God. How was Christ made a curse? In the first place, He was made a cursebecause all the sins of His people were actually laid on Him. Remember the words of the Apostle-it is no doctrine of mine,mark you, it is an Inspired sentence, it is God's doctrine-"He made Him to be sin for us."
And let me note another passage from the Prophet Isaiah, "The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." And yet anotherfrom the same Prophet, "He shall bear their iniquities." The sins of God's people were lifted from off them and imputed toChrist-and their sins were looked upon as if Christ had committed them. He was regarded as if He had been the sinner! He actuallyand in very deed stood in the sinner's place. Next to the imputation of sin came the curse of sin. The Law, looking for sinto punish, with its quick eye detected sin laid upon Christ and, as it must curse sin wherever it was found, it cursed thesin as it was laid on Christ. So Christ was made a curse.
Wonderful and awful words, but as they are Scriptural words, we must receive them. Sin being on Christ, the curse came onChrist and in consequence our Lord felt an unutterable horror of soul. Surely it was that horror which made Him sweat greatdrops of blood when He saw and felt that God was beginning to treat Him as if He had been a sinner. The holy soul of Christshrunk with deepest agony from the slightest contact with sin. So pure and perfect was our Lord, that never an evil thoughthad crossed His mind, nor had His soul been stained by the glances of evil. And yet He stood in God's sight a sinner and thereforea solemn horror fell upon His soul.
The heart refused its healthful action and a bloody sweat bedewed his face. Then He began to be made a curse for us, nor didHe cease till He had suffered all the penalty which was due on our account. We have been accustomed in divinity to dividethe penalty into two parts, the penalty of loss and the penalty of actual suffering. Christ endured both of these. It wasdue to sinners that they should lose God's favor and Presence and therefore Jesus cried, "My God, My God, why have You forsakenMe?" It was due to sinners that they should lose all personal comfort-Christ was deprived of every consolation and even thelast rag of clothing was torn from Him and He was left like Adam, naked and forlorn. It was necessary that the soul shouldlose everything that could sustain it, and so did Christ lose every comfortable thing. He looked and there was no man to pityor help. He was made to cry, "But I am a worm and no man; a reproach ofmen and despised of the people."
As for the second part of the punishment, namely, an actual infliction of suffering, our Lord endured this, also, to the uttermost,as the Evangelists clearly show. You have read full often the story of His bodily sufferings. Take care that you never depreciatethem. There was an amount of physical pain endured by our Savior which His body never could have borne unless it had beensustained and strengthened by union with His Godhead. Yet the sufferings of His soul were the soul of His sufferings.
That soul of His endured a torment equivalent to Hell itself. The punishment that was due to the wicked was that of Hell andthough Christ suffered not Hell, He suffered an equivalent of it.
And now, can your minds conceive what that must have been? It was an anguish never to be measured, an agony never to be comprehended.It is to God and God, alone, that His griefs were fully known. Well does the Greek liturgy put it, "Your unknown sufferings,"for they must forever remain beyond guess of human imagination. See, Brothers and Sisters, Christ has gone thus far-He hastaken the sin, taken the curse and suffered all the penalty. The last penalty of sin was death, and therefore the Redeemerdied. Behold, the mighty Conqueror yields up His life upon the tree! His side is pierced! The blood and water flows forthand His disciples lay His body in the tomb.
As He was first numbered with the transgressors, He was afterwards numbered with the dead. See, Beloved, here is Christ bearingthe curse instead of His people. Here He is, coming under the load of their sin, and God does not spare Him but smites Himas He must have struck us. He lays His full vengeance on Him. He launches all His thunderbolts against Him. He bids the cursewreak itself upon Him and Christ suffers all, sustains all.
IV. And now let us conclude by considering WHAT ARE THE BLESSED CONSEQUENCES OF CHRIST'S HAVING THUS BEEN MADE A CURSE FORUS. The consequences are that He has redeemed us from the curse of the Law. As many as Christ died for, are forever free fromthe curse of the Law, for when the Law comes to curse a man who believes in Christ, he says, "What have I to do with you,O Law? You say, 'I will curse you,' but I reply, "You have cursed Christ instead of me. Can you curse twice for one offense?"
Behold how the Law is silenced! God's Law, having received all it can demand, is not so unrighteous as to demand anythingmore. All that God can demand of a believing sinner, Christ has already paid, and there is no voice in earth or Heaven thatcan accuse a soul that believes in Jesus. You were in debt, but a Friend paid your debt! No writ can be served on you. Itmatters nothing that you did not pay it, it is paid and you have the receipt. That is sufficient in any court of equity. Sowith all the penalty that was due to us, Christ has borne it. It is true I have not borne it-I have not been to Hell and sufferedthe full wrath of God-but Christ has suffered that wrath for me and I am as clear as if I had myself paid the debt to Godand had myself suffered His wrath.
Here is a glorious foundation to rest upon! Here is a rock upon which to lay the foundation of eternal comfort! Let a manonce get to this-my Lord outside the city's gate bleeding and dying for me as my Surety on the Cross-He discharged my debt.Why, then, great God, Your thunders I no longer fear! How can You strike me now? You have exhausted the quiver of Your wrath-everyarrow has been already shot forth against the Person of my Lord and I am in Him clear and clean and absolved and delivered-evenas if I had never sinned! "He has redeemed us," says the text.
How often I have heard certain gentry of the modern school of theology sneer at the Atonement, because they charge us withthe notion of its being a sort of business transaction, or what they choose to call, "the mercantile view of it." I hesitatenot to say that the mercantile metaphor expresses rightly God's view of redemption, for we find it so in Scripture. The Atonementis a ransom-that is to say, a price paid. And in the present case the original word is more than usually expressive-it isa payment for, a price instead of.
Jesus did, in His sufferings, perform what may be forcibly and fitly described as the payment of a ransom, the giving to justice,a quid pro quo for what was due on our behalf for our sins. Christ, in His Person, suffered what we ought to have sufferedin our persons. The sins that were ours were made His-He stood as a sinner in God's sight, though not a sinner in Himself.He was punished as a sinner and died as a sinner upon the tree of the curse. Then having exhausted His imputed sinnershipby bearing the full penalty, He made an end of sin and He rose again from the dead to bring in that everlasting righteousnesswhich at this moment covers the persons of all His elect, so that they can exultingly cry, "Who shall lay anything to thecharge of God's elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yes, rather, that is risenagain, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us."
Another blessing flows from this satisfactory Substitution. It is this, that now the blessing of God, which had been up tothen arrested by the curse is made most freely to flow. Read the verse that follows the text-"That the blessing of Abrahammight come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." The blessingof Abraham was that in his seed all nations of the earth should be blessed. Since our Lord Jesus Christ has taken away thecurse due to sin, a great rock has been lifted out from the riverbed of God's mercy and the living stream comes rippling,roiling, swelling on in crystal tides-sweeping before it all human sin and sorrow and making glad the thirsty who stoop downto drink there.
my Brothers and Sisters, the blessings of God's Grace are full and free this morning! They are as full as your necessities.Great Sinners, there is great mercy for you! They are as free as your poverty could desire them to be, free as the air youbreathe, or as the cooling stream that flows along the waterbrook. You have but to trust Christ and you shall live! Be youwho you may, or what you may, or where you may-though at Hell's dark door you lie down to despair and die-yet the messagecomes to you, "God has made Christ to be a propitiation for sin. He made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we mightbe made the righteousness of God in Him." Christ has delivered us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us.
He that believes, has no curse upon him. He may have been an adulterer, a swearer, a drunkard, a murderer, but the momenthe believes, God sees none of those sins in him! He sees him as an innocent man and regards his sins as having been laid onthe Redeemer and punished in Jesus as He died on the tree. I tell you, if you believe in Christ this morning, my Hearer, thoughyou are the most damnable of wretches that ever polluted the earth, yet you shall not have a sin remaining on you after believing!God will look at you as pure! Even Omniscience shall not detect a sin in you, for your sin shall be put on the Scapegoat,even Christ, and carried away into forgetfulness so that if your transgression is searched for, it shall not be found.
If you believe-there is the question-you are clean! If you will trust the Incarnate God, you are delivered! He that believesis justified from all things. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved," for, "he that believes and is baptized,shall be saved. And he that believes not shall be damned."
1 have preached to you the Gospel-God knows with what a weight upon my soul and yet with what holy joy! This is no subjectfor gaudy eloquence and for high-flying attempts at oratory. This is a matter to be put to you plainly and simply. Sinners-youmust either be cursed of God, or else you must accept Christ as bearing the curse instead of you. I do beseech you, as youlove your souls, if you have any sanity left, accept this blessed and Divinely-appointed way of salvation! This is the Truthof God which the Apostles preached and suffered and died to maintain. It is this for which the Reformers struggled. It isthis for which the martyrs burned at Smithfield. It is the grand basic doctrine of the Reformation and the very Truth of God.
Down with your crosses and rituals! Down with your pretensions to good works and your crouching at the feet of priests toask absolution from them! Away with your accursed and idolatrous dependence upon yourself! Christ has finished salvation-work,altogether finished it! Hold not up your rags in competition with His fair white linen-Christ has borne the curse-bring notyour pitiful penances and your tears all full of filth to mingle with the precious fountain flowing with His blood! Lay downwhat is your own and come and take what is Christ's! Put away, now, everything that you have thought of being or doing byway of winning acceptance with God! Humble yourselves and take Jesus Christ to be the Alpha and Omega, the first and last,the beginning and end of your salvation.
If you do this, not only shall you be saved, but you are saved! Rest, you weary one, for your sins are forgiven. Rise, youlame man, lame through lack of faith, for your transgression is covered. Rise from the dead, you corrupt one, rise, like Lazarusfrom the tomb, for Jesus calls you! Believe and live. The words in themselves, by the Holy Spirit, are soul-quickening. Havedone with your tears of repentance and your vows of good living until you have come to Christ! Then take them up as you will.
Your first lesson should be none but Jesus, none but Jesus, none but Jesus! O come to Him! See, He hangs upon the Cross. Hisarms are open wide and He cannot close them, for the nails hold them fast. He tarries for you. His feet are fastened to thewood, as though He meant to tarry, still. O come to Him! His heart has room for you. It streams with blood and water-it waspierced for you. That mingled stream is-
"Of sin the double cure, To cleanse you from its guilt and power." An act of faith will bring you to Jesus. Say, "Lord, Ibelieve, help my unbelief." And if you do so, he cannot cast you out, for His Word is, "Him that comes to Me I will in nowise cast out."
I have delivered to you the weightiest Truth of God that ever ears heard, or that lips spoke-put it not from you! As we shallmeet each other at the last tremendous day, when Heaven and earth are on a blaze and the trumpet shall ring and raise thedead-as we shall meet each other then-I challenge you not to put this from you. If you do, it is at your own peril and yourblood is on your own heads. I plead with you to accept the Gospel I have delivered to you. It is Jehovah's Gospel. Heavenitself speaks in the words you hear today! Accept Jesus Christ as your substitute. O do it now, this moment, and God shallhave Glory, but you shall have SALVATION. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Psalm 22.