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He offered up his lise as a real and proper atonement for the sins of an elect world. In this manner, the sacred writers constantly represent the death of our Saviour; and sometimes in express allusion to the emblem in the text. So John the Baptist pointed him out to the Jews: " Behold," says he, " the ** Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world." The apostle Peter speaks of his blood, that is, his dying on the cross, as the invaluable price of man's redemption: "Ye were not redeemed," lays lie, " with corruptible things, as silver and gold; ** but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb "without blemish and without spot (a)." When the apostle John had that vision of our Saviour, of which we have an account in this chapter, he saw him under the same lively and endearing- similitude, as a Lamb slain in the midst of the throne. And in the text,- compared with the 9th verse, the church is represented, in concert with the angels, singing a -new song in honour of the Redeemer, saying, !* Worthy "is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us "to God by his blood."
In order to shew you with what propriety our Saviour is styled the Lamb that was slain, I need only observe, that, in dying on the cross, he was the great antitype of all the sacrisices which we sind mentioned in the Old Testament. For we have abundant reason to believe, that those sacrisices were originally of divine institution: That/they were so under the law, is a sact not to be disputed. Now, what was the meaning and intention of such an appointment? Is it to be supposed, that the Father of mercies would take pleasure in the death of the innocent? or that such sacrisices could really atone for moral guilt, or be acceptable to the Divine Majesty? No; the ape. stie to the Hebrews expressly tells us, that those facrisices which they offered year by year, continually,'
(*) I Pet. i. 18, If.
could not make the comers to the law persect [b); "for then," fays he, " would they not have ceased"to be offered because that, the worshippers once purged, should have had no more conscience os sins. In a word, they were instituted as prophetical types and sigures of that great sacrisice, the Lamb of God to be asterwards skin. They all looked to Christ, and pointed out his death as the great atonement. Hownatural and just, then, is the allusion in the tent? What more proper character for our crucified Redeemer, than the Lamb that was slain?
II. I am to point out the sitness of this song, as applied to Christ our Redeemer.
It is justice, and a deserved tribute from the children of men to Him who died for our sins, and who is set dpwn at the right band of the Majesty of the throne of God : It js an honour which the Father hath put upon Him, that, at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, and every tongue consess, that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Now, this honour is unquestionably due to our Saviour, on the following accounts.
1. On account of his own personal dignity and excellence. For he is not only sairer than the children of men, and, in every respect, superior ter the angels; but he is the eternal and only begotten Son of God. And, surely, he who is the brightnesses the Father's glory, and the express image of hi* person, deserv* to be adored by man. He whe made the world, and all things in. it, has an unquestionable title to the highest homage and praise of his. creatures: " For, unto which of the angels said he,• "at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I be— "gotten thee?" And again, "I will be to him a Fa"ther, and he shall be to me a Son." And again,, when he bringeth in the First-begotten into- the.Q_3 worlds
world, he saith, ** And let all the angels of God ** worship him." And of the angels, he faith, "Who "maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame ** of sire:" But unto the Son he saith, " Thy throne, ** O God, is for ever and ever, and a sceptre of righte"ousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom (c)." Bat he has a sarther and peculiar claim to our highest gratitude and adoration, when we reflect on his assuming our nature into a personal union with his divine nature. In consequence of this, he is not only God, but God and man in one mysterious person. His name is Immanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us. By this, indeed, he has distinguished his regards to men, and honoured our nature above that of angels. For as the apostle to the Hebrews tells us, " he took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham." And does not this render him worthy of our warmest and most gratesul praise? With what esteem and affection ought we to honour him, who has so highly honoured us?
2. On account of his astonishing love, in dying on the cross for our redemption: " Worthy," says the church, " is the Lamb that was slain, and has re** deemed us to God by his blood."
The nature and the extent of this love of Christ, are chiefly to be considered under this particular. It was of the most generous nature, and expressed by the most unequivocal prooss. It was not extorted from him by any kind of necessity; for he would have been persectly happy, although wt had been miserable for ever. He was not prevailed on by any importunity on our part, sar less induced by any thing worthy of his regard. There was no attraction in human nature to engage him to love it; nay, on the contrary, there was every thing about man to render him odious, and to provoke his just. displeasure; and yet he loved us, notwithstanding the guilt and desor.' rnity
(0 Heb. i. j, 6, 7, |.
mity of sin. "When we were yet without strength," s.iys the apostle, "in due time Christ died for the un"godly.—God commendeth his love toward us, in that "while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." O, :he absolute freedom, the matchless generosity of his love! a love, indeed, peculiar to ^himself, insinite, like himself, and triumphing over all opposition! What reason, then, have we to say, with admiration and thanksulness, " Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, "but to thy free and unmerited love be all the praise."
But, sarther, he gave the most unequivocal proofg of his love to mankind. It led him not only to submit to all the miseries of a humble lise, but to the torments of a cruel and excruciating death: and this was the greatest proof of asfection that can enter into the thought of man to conceive. "Greater love than "this hath no man," says our Saviour himself, "that "a man lay down his lise for his friends but he expressed a love sar superior to this ; he died for his enemies, for his persecutors, for them who were discovering the greatest malice against him in putting him to death. This was an expression of love without art. example, and insinitely beyond all comparison. Christ, fays the apostle, gave himself for us, the just for the unjust; and what could he give more? He laid down his lise for our redemption; and what can possibly exceed, or even equal, this? How unmeasureablev then is his love, and how deserving of our constant gratitude! Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
3. On account of the atonement and satissaction he made to the justice of God for the sins of his people. All mankind, by nature, are under the condemning sentence, and curse, of the divine law: for' it is said, "Cursed is every one who continueth not "in all things which are written in the book of the law "to do thenr." Nor is this the condition of the most
profligate profligate and abandoned merely, but of all, without exception, that ever lived on the face of the earth: A state, in which we are incapable of helping ourselve3, or affording relief to one another. None of us could deliver himself, or his brother, by giving to God a sufficient ranfom. In a word, the redemption of the foul is prpcious, and, without this atonement, the foul must have perished for ever. But, in this seafon of our danger, when, as the prophet expresses it, there was no eye to pity, and no hand to help, Christ appeared as the Mediator between God and man; he was made flesh, that he might be capable of suffering > and cheersully underwent, as our Surety, that curse and punishment which the law pronounced against the sinner, and which we,-as transgressors., deserved to have borne. "He was made," fays the apostle, "to be sin for us, who, himself, knew no sin. "He bore our sins in his own body upon the tree. He "suffered, the just for the unjust, that he might bring "us to God:" and in this manner he has given complete fatisfaction to offended justice, and secured the peace and happiness of all who believe on him. How insinitely worthy, then, is' he of receiving praise, and honour, and glory! whea we view him, as sufsering on the cross in our stead, enduring the wrathof God, and never quitting his station till justice was sully fatissied, and till he was able to cry out with the voice of triumph, " It is sinished."
4. On account of the invaluable blessings he has purchased for us. Tour time would fail me, if I were to illustrate, and enter particularly on the enumeration of these. The cross of Jesus is, indeed, the tree of lise, which bears innumerable kinds of fruit, and the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations. How much does the apostle express in these few words ?" He is made of God, unto us wis"dom, righteousness, fanctisication, and redemption."' By bis death and suffering, the justice of God is ap