The Vitality of the Atoning Blood
"The blood is the life." Deut.12:23
How much has the most deeply instructed believer yet to learn of the essential value, the sovereign efficacy, and the mighty power of the atoning blood of Jesus! Standing though we are in a dispensation- the last and the most complete- in which the Great Sacrifice has been offered, the atoning Lamb slain, the blood actually shed, it is yet a mournful reflection, that with regard to the experience of many professing Christians, it is to be feared that they have not even so vivid and realizing a view of the glory and power of that blood as the believers of the Old Testament had, who only saw it in the dim type, but who yet by faith firmly grasped the Great Antitype. Read for instance the penitential psalm of David.
And yet, beloved reader, the atoning blood is everything to us. It is the groundwork of our salvation- yes, it is salvation itself. It is the source of our peace- yes, it is peace itself. It is the open door of heaven- yes, it is heaven itself. All that is really holy and precious to a poor believing penitent is bound up in the atoning blood of Jesus. The particular view of the subject upon which we have now entered- the vitality of the atoning blood- will arrest the attention of some who may not have contemplated it in this light before; and will, with the blessing of the Holy Spirit, commend itself powerfully to the best feelings of all, as the most sublime and most precious theme which could possibly employ their thoughts or enlist their affections. In the truest and most comprehensive sense it may be affirmed of the atonement of the Son of God, and of the salvation of the Church, which springs from it, "The blood is the life." We propose to spread before the Christian reader two or three important views of this deeply interesting subject.
If we refer for a moment to the type, it will be seen with what distinctness and power the Holy Spirit has brought out this great truth in the word- THE ESSENTIAL VITALITY OF THE ATONING BLOOD. The references which we propose to quote, let it be observed, are designed to illustrate one especial view of our subject- the value which God set upon blood, because of its vital principle, and its being the symbol of a Divine atonement for sin. Whether it was the blood of the lowest, or of the most costly sacrifice, whether it was shed unintentionally or purposely, Jehovah threw around it His protecting shield, rendering the spot where it fell sacred and precious.
Thus, then, with regard to the type, it will be recollected that God issued a solemn injunction that blood should never form an element of food. Why this prohibition? because of the essential value of that blood- there was life in it. "Moreover you shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl or of beast, in any of your dwellings. Whoever eats any manner of blood, even that soul shall be cut off from his people." Observe, on another occasion, after having given directions in reference to the sacrifice, God enjoins His command, "Only you shall not eat of the blood; you shall pour it out upon the earth as water." "Only be sure that you eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and you may not eat the life with the flesh." Observe another occasion on which the eating of blood was expressly forbidden: "And whatever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eats any manner of blood, I will even set my face against that soul that eats blood, and cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul."
This restriction was solemnly binding upon Israel's huntsmen: "And I will turn against anyone, whether an Israelite or a foreigner living among you, who eats or drinks blood in any form. I will cut off such a person from the community, for the life of any creature is in its blood. I have given you the blood so you can make atonement for your sins. It is the blood, representing life, that makes atonement for the soul." Leviticus 17:10-11. One reference more and we pass on to the discussion: "Anything or anyone who touches the sacrificial meat will become holy, and if the sacrificial blood splatters anyone's clothing, it must be washed off in a sacred place. If a clay pot is used to boil the sacrificial meat, it must be broken. If a bronze kettle is used, it must be scoured and rinsed thoroughly with water." Leviticus 6:27-28
Another opportunity is taken of solemnly charging Israel to remember the blood of atonement. The hunter, in his full occupation, must keep atonement in his eye; and when he has his prey in his hand, must reverently stand still and pour out its blood to Jehovah, and cover it from the gaze of man and the ravenous appetite of creatures of prey. God would have the sinner's soul send up his adoring thanks to Him for atonement amid their forests and in their wilds. Redemption should be sung by every man in every situation; and none should be found in any situation wherein he cannot sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. Israel's huntsmen were to be men of faith. They were not to hunt for the gratifying of fiery wild passions, but for food and necessity. The chastening solemnity of 'pouring out the blood' was a check on the huntsmen. None who would not stay in their vehement, eager, keen pursuit to realize redemption must engage in this employment. It is not for the gay, wild sports of youth; or if fiery youth engage therein, it must lead them to the most solemn views of sin and righteousness. Yes, it shall be even a way of life to them. Let them go- let them ride furiously over rock and chasm- let them shoot the arrow– but lo! the field becomes an arena to lead them to the presence of the holy God. They must stand still at the blood! How awful is atoning blood! Even things without life, such as garments, are held in dreadful sacredness if this blood touch them. No wonder, then, that this earth on which fell the blood of the Son of God, has a sacredness in the eye of God. It must be set apart for holy ends, since the blood of Jesus has wet its soil. And as the earthen vessel, within which the sacrifice was offered, must be broken- and not used for any lower end again, so must this earth be decomposed and new-molded, for it must be kept for the use of Him whose sacrifice was offered there. And as the brazen vessel must be rinsed and scoured, so must this earth be freed from all that dims its beauty, and be set apart for holy ends. It must be purified and reserved for holy purposes; for the blood of Jesus has dropped upon it, and made it more sacred than any spot, except where He Himself dwells." -Bonar on Leviticus.
Now all these solemn and minute injunctions were designed to shadow forth the vitality, solemnity, and costliness of the expiatory blood of Immanuel. And if such be the value in God's holy eye of the blood of the Levitical sacrifice, what must be God's estimate of the dignity and preciousness of the atoning blood of His own Son, Jesus Christ- the blood of the incarnate God! Observe, it was the life-blood of His pure and sinless humanity. It is an essential doctrine of our salvation that the only part of our Lord's two-fold nature capable of actually atoning, was without sin. The apostle Peter, speaking of our redemption-price, affirms, that it was the "precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." And the apostle Paul declares the same truth almost in the same words: "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God." Herein did lie, in part, its essential value and vitality- it was the blood of Christ's pure and spotless life. Had there been the slightest degree of sin in Jesus, it would have tainted every drop of his atoning blood.
But the stream while it flowed from the very fountain of life- for the soldier's spear pierced both the heart and the pericardium of the Savior, and "forthwith there came out blood and water "- flowed also from a pure fountain, a fountain as sinless as God Himself. O you who know the plague of your own hearts, you who mourn for sin, behold the truth upon which your faith may calmly repose! You see sin, the defiling touch of sin, upon your best, and purest, and holiest offerings, all your sacrifices tainted and defaced with it. Yes, at that moment that your tears of penitence for sin flowed the freest, and your confessions of sin were the most minute and humiliating, and your heart was most perfectly unveiled before the searching eye of God, there was enough sin in those tears, and in those confessions, and in that unbosoming of the heart, to banish you eternally from heaven. That tear of godly sorrow falling upon an angel's white robe would have sullied it. "I cannot pray, but I sin; I cannot hear, or preach a sermon, but I sin; I cannot give an alms, or receive the sacrament, but I sin; no, I cannot so much as confess my sins, but my confessions are still aggravations of them. My repentance needs to be repented of, my tears need washing, and the very washing of my tears needs still to be washed over again with the blood of my Redeemer." (Berridge)
But here exists the true consolation of the humble penitent- the atoning blood of Jesus, in which he bathes his soul, was without spot. There was no sin in Christ; "He knew no sin; " "in Him was no sin. " Satan came and found nothing in Him. Here is a sacrifice which the vilest sinner may plead with God and meet with Divine acceptance. Come, you who grieve for sin, who weep over your tears, who confess your confessions, who sigh over your sighs, and behold with believing eye the pure stream that flows from the very seat of the Savior's life- even the heart that never, never sinned. Cleansed in this fountain, you shall appear before God, "whiter than snow,"- all sin forever put away.
But there is also a Divine vitality in the atoning blood of Christ. Here we assume still higher ground, and our subject opens in a more magnificent and important light. It was the blood, not merely of the human Son of the virgin, but of the Divine Son of God. In consequence of the union of the humanity with the Divinity, the blood of Jesus is expressly termed by the Holy Spirit, "the blood of God." "The church of God which he has purchased with his own blood." The Deity of the Son of God imparted a Divine vitality and value to the blood "which flowed from His human nature. So close and intimate was the mysterious union, that while the Deity effected the atonement by the humanity, the humanity derived all its power and virtue to atone from the Deity. There was Deity in the blood of Jesus- a Divine vitality which stamped its infinite value, dignity, and virtue. Observe in two instances how strikingly the Holy Spirit has coupled these two truths- the Deity, and the atonement of Jesus- "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins." "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man that is my fellow, says the Lord; smite the shepherd."
Here are brought out in the strongest light, and in the most beautiful and intimate relation, Deity and Atonement. It was not so much that our Lord was the Priest, as that He was the sacrifice; not so much that He was the offerer, as that He was the offering; in which did lie the value of His blood. "When He had by Himself purged our sins." "Who gave Himself for us." "When He offered Himself." What did He offer in offering Himself? He offered up His life- His twofold life. There was on Calvary the sacrifice of Deity with the humanity. The Deity not suffering, for it was incapable of suffering; nor of dying, for essential life could not die; but Deity with the humanity constituted the one offering which has perfected forever the salvation of those who are sanctified.
Profoundly and awfully mysterious as is this truth, faith can receive it. It towers above my reason, and yet it does not contradict my reason. While it transcends and baffles it, it does not oppose nor supersede it. Christian reader, the blood upon which you depend for your salvation is not ordinary blood- the blood of a more human being, however pure and sinless; but it is the blood of the Incarnate God, "God manifest in the flesh." It is the blood of Him who is Essential Life- the Fountain of Life- the "Resurrection and the Life;" and because of the Divine life of Jesus, from thence springs the vitality of His atoning blood. Oh, that is a Divine principle that vivifies the blood of Christ! This it is that makes it sacrificial, expiatory, and cleansing. This it is that enables it to prevail with God's justice for pardon and acceptance; this it is that renders it so efficacious, that one drop of it falling upon the conscience crushed beneath the weight of sin, will melt the mountain of guilt, and lift the soul to God. Hold fast the confidence of your faith in the essential Deity of the Son of God, for this it is which gives to His atonement all its glory, dignity, and virtue.
But let us take yet another view of our subject. The vitality of the atoning blood of Christ constitutes the spiritual life of the living soul. Thus is it true in a pre-eminent sense that "the blood is the life." The blood of Jesus is the life of the believing soul. There is a palpable and an awful death in the soul of an unconverted man. His prayers are dead- his duties are dead- his works are dead- his hopes are dead, yes, he himself and his whole religion are "dead in trespasses and in sins." It is the theological creed of some that to those who are spiritually dead, we ought neither to write, nor to preach. But with all meekness would we say, we have not so read God's word, nor have we "so learned Christ." The prophet Ezekiel was commanded to prophesy over the 'dry bones'; and Jesus himself not only warned the impenitent, but wept over them! Who can tell while we are writing and preaching, warning and inviting, the "breath of the Lord" may come forth and breathe over them, and they live!
But the life-possessing and life-imparting blood of Jesus is the life of the quickened soul. His blood not only purchased life for His people, but the application of His blood imparts it. It was necessary that the Son of God should die, that we might live. It was essential that Jesus should bleed, that life might flow from His wounds to our souls. The life must be offered: "I am the good Shepherd; the good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep." But for the shedding of the heart's blood of Jesus our heart had been forever a stranger to a single throb of spiritual life. One drop of the life-blood of Immanuel, as we have just observed, falling upon a soul dead in sin, in an instant quickens it with a life that will never die- such is the essential vitality of the atoning blood.
The blood of Jesus is also the life of our pardon and acceptance: "Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God," that is, the transgressions of the Old Testament saints; the life-giving blood of Jesus extending its pardoning efficacy back to the remotest period of time, and to the greatest sinner upon earth, even to him "by whom sin entered into the world, and death by sin"- such is the vitality of the atoning blood of God's dear Son. And if the pardoning blood thus bore an antecedent virtue, has it less a present one? No! listen to the life-inspiring words! "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." Once more, "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin." It has a present life, an immediate efficacy. The life of our pardon! O yes! the believing, though trembling penitent, sees all his sins cancelled, all his transgressions pardoned, through the precious blood of Jesus. Nothing but the life-blood of the incarnate God could possibly effect it. And when, after repeated backslidings, he returns again with sincere and holy contrition, and bathes in it afresh, lo! the sense of pardon is renewed; and while he goes away to loathe himself, and abhor his sins, he yet can rejoice that the living blood of the Redeemer has put it entirely and forever away.
And what is the life of our acceptance but the blood of Immanuel? "Justified by his blood." The robe that covers us, is the righteousness of Him who is the "Lord our Righteousness;" who, when He had by one act of perfect obedience to the law, wove the robe of our justification, bathed it in His own life-blood, and folded it around His Church, presenting her to His Father a "glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." Not only is it the ground of our present acceptance, but the saints in heaven, "the spirits of just men made perfect," take their stand upon it. "Who are these," it is asked, "who are arrayed in white robes? And where did they come from?" The answer is, "These are those who came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne." Thus pleading the justifying blood of Jesus, the believing, though distressed and trembling soul, may stand before God, "accepted in the Beloved." Wondrous declaration! Blessed state! Rest not, reader, until you have attained it. No, you cannot rest until you have received, by faith, the righteousness of Christ.
From where, too, flows the life of spiritual joy, but from the life-giving blood of Immanuel? There can be no real joy but in the experience of pardoned sin. The joy of the unpardoned soul is the joy of the condemned criminal on his way to death- a mockery and a delusion. With all his sins upon him, with all his iniquities yet unforgiven, every step brings him nearer to the horrors of the second death; what, then, can he know of true joy? But when the blood of Jesus is sprinkled upon the heart, and the sense of sin forgiven is sealed upon the conscience, then there is joy indeed, "joy unspeakable, and full of glory."
From where, too, flows peace-sweet, holy, divine peace, but from the heart's blood of the Prince of Peace? There can be no true peace from God where there does not exist perfect reconciliation with God. That is a false peace which springs not from a view of God pacified in Christ, God one with us in the atonement of His Son. "Spearing peace by Jesus Christ." "The blood of sprinkling speaks better things than the blood of Abel," because it speaks peace.
And from where do the ordinances derive their efficacy and power- but from the vitality of the Redeemer's blood? There could be no life, for instance, in the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, but as that institution presented in a lively picture to the faith of the recipient the life-blood of the Savior. With what clearness and solemnity has He Himself put forth this truth: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him." Thus he who in lowly and simple faith drinks of the blood of Jesus partakes of the life of Jesus, because the life of Jesus is in the blood. And should the eye of an unconverted soul light upon this page, or should it arrest the attention of an unbelieving, and therefore an unworthy, recipient of the ordinance, let that individual seriously ponder these solemn words of Jesus- "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you." The ordinance has no life of itself; the mere symbol possesses no spiritual vitality whatever; it cannot impart life, nor can it sustain life. But the life in the ordinance flows from the exercise of faith, through this medium, with the life-blood of Jesus. Therefore, if you rest only in the symbol, if in this ordinance you partake not by faith of the blood of Jesus, your soul is destitute of spiritual life. In the words of Jesus himself, "You have no life in you." Solemn reflection!
But oh what life does the believing communicant find in the atoning blood! What food, what refreshment, what nourishment! Is it any wonder that Jesus should be to him the Chief among ten thousand, and that the blood of Jesus should be the most precious thing in the universe? If the death of Jesus is his life, what must the life of Jesus be! If the humiliation of Jesus is his honor, what must the exaltation of Jesus be! If the cross of Jesus is his glory, what must the throne of Jesus be! If Jesus crucified is his boast, what must be Jesus glorified! "If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."
Reader, is the blood of Jesus the life of your soul? So momentous is the truth, though presented before, bear with me for pressing it again upon your attention. Believe me when, with all affection and solemnity, I say that your religion, your creed, your profession, are lifeless if they are not vivified, pervaded, and animated by the blood of the Son of God. God can have no dealings with you in this great matter of your salvation, but through the blood. He cannot 'reason' with you about your sins of 'crimson' and of 'scarlet' dye but on the footing of the blood. He cannot meet you for one moment in any other character than as a 'consuming fire,' but as He meets you at, and communes with you from above, the mercy-seat sprinkled with blood. The blood is everything to God in the way of satisfaction, of glory, and of honor. The blood should be everything to you in the way of acceptance, pardon, and communion. There is not a moment in which God's eye of complaisance is withdrawn from the blood in the perpetual acceptance of the believer; and there should not be a moment in which our eye of faith, in every circumstance of our daily walk before Him, should not also be upon the blood.
But here the brief and imperfect discussion of this great truth must rest. The remaining portion of the chapter will be devoted to a few PRACTICAL REFLECTIONS. The subject lifts us to the very porch, and within the porch of heaven. And what is the great truth which it presents to our view there? -the prevalency of the life-blood of Jesus within the veil. The moment the ransomed and released soul enters glory, the first object that arrests its attention and fixes its eye is the interceding Savior. Faith, anticipating the glorious spectacle, sees him now pleading the blood on behalf of each member of His Church upon earth. "By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." "For Christ has not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, NOW to appear in the presence of God for us." There is blood in heaven! the blood of the Incarnate God! And because it pleads and prays, argues and intercedes, the voice of every sin is hushed, every accusation of Satan is met, every daily transgression is forgiven, every temptation of the adversary is repelled, every evil is warded, every need is supplied, and the present sanctification and the final glorification of the saints are secured. "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us." Draw near, you Joshuas, accused by Satan! Approach, you Peters, whose faith is sifted! Come, you tried and disconsolate! The mediatorial Angel, the pleading Advocate, the interceding High Priest, has passed into the heavens, and appears before the throne , for you. If the principle of the spiritual life in your soul has decayed, if your grace has declined, if you have 'left your first love,' there is vitality in the interceding blood of Jesus, and it prays for your revival. If sin condemns, and danger threatens, and temptation assails, and affliction wounds, there is living power in the pleading blood of Immanuel, and it procures pardon, protection, and comfort.
Nor let us overlook the sanctifying tendency of the pleading blood. "These things I write unto you, that you sin not." The intercession of Jesus is holy, and for holiness. The altar of incense is of pure gold. The advocacy of Christ is not for sin, but for sinners. He prays not for the continuance of sin, but for the pardon of sin. "The righteous Lord loves righteousness." And if sensible of our sin- if mourning over our sin- if loathing and turning from our sin, we come to God through Christ, then "we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." The incense-breathing censer is in His hand the fragrant cloud goes up- the mercy-seat is enveloped- the Father smiles- and all once more is peace! Then, "I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and am no more worthy to be called your son."
Not the least costly blessing, flowing from the vital power of the atoning blood, is the life and potency which it imparts to true prayer. The believer's path to communion with God is called the "new and living way," because it is the way of the life-blood of the risen and living Savior. There could be no spiritual life in prayer but for the vitality in the atoning blood, which secures its acceptance. Not even could the Holy Spirit inspire the soul with one breath of true prayer, were not the atonement of the Son of God provided. Oh how faintly do we know the wonders that are in, and the blessings that spring from, the life-procuring blood of our incarnate God! Touching the article of prayer- I approach to God, oppressed with sins, my heart crushed with sorrow, my spirit trembling; shame and confusion covering my face, my mouth dumb before him. At that moment the blood of Jesus is presented, faith beholds it, faith receives it, faith pleads it! There is life and power in that blood, and, lo! in an instant my trembling soul is enabled to take hold of God's strength and be at peace with him, and it is at peace.
Of all the Christian privileges upon earth none can surpass, none can compare with, the privilege of fellowship with God. And yet how restricted is this privilege in the experience of multitudes! And why? simply in consequence of their vague, imperfect, and contracted views of the connection of true prayer with the living blood of Jesus. And yet, oh what nearness to, what communion with, the Father, may the lowest, the feeblest, the most unworthy child at all times and in all circumstances have, who simply and believingly makes use of the blood of Christ! You approach without an argument or a plea. You have many sins to confess, many sorrows to unveil, many requests to urge, many blessings to crave- and yet the deep consciousness of your utter vileness, the remembrance of mercies abused, of base, ungrateful requitals made, seals your lips, and you are dumb before God. Your overwhelmed- your spirit exclaims, "O that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to His seat- I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments." And now the Holy Spirit brings atoning blood to your help. You see this to be the one argument, the only plea that can prevail with God. You use it- you urge it- you wrestle with it. God admits it, is moved by it, and you are blest!
Let, then, the life-power of the blood encourage you to cultivate more diligently habitual communion with God. With low frames, with sinking spirits, with even discouragement and difficulty, you may approach His Divine Majesty, and converse with Him as with a Father, resting your believing eye, where He rests His complacent eye- upon the blood of Jesus. "Having, therefore; brethren, boldness (or liberty) to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which be has consecrated (or new made) for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a High Priest over the house of God; let us draw near." Oh the blessedness, the power, the magic influence of prayer! Believer! you grasp the key that opens every chamber of God's heart, when your tremulous faith takes hold of the blood of the covenant, and pleads it in prayer with God. It is impossible that God can then refuse you! The voice of the living blood pleads louder for you than all other voices can plead against you. Give yourself, then, unto prayer- this sacred charm of sorrow, this Divine talisman of hope!
"Lord! what a change within us one short hour
Spent in your presence, will avail to make,
What burdens lighten, what temptations slake,
What parched ground refreshed as with a shower!
We kneel, and all around us seems to lower;
We rise, and all the distant and the near
Stand forth in sunny outline, brave and clear.
We kneel, how weak! We rise, how full of power!
Why, therefore, should we do ourselves this wrong,
Or others, that we are not always strong!
That we are ever overborne with care,
That we should ever weak or heartless be,
Anxious or troubled, when with us is Prayer,
And joy, and strength, and courage, are with Thee!"
What a powerful motive does this truth supply to a daily and unreserved consecration of ourselves to the Lord! If, under the old economy, the utensil or the garment touched with blood was sacred and solemn, how much more the soul washed in the heart's-blood of Christ! When the king of Israel, in the heat of battle, and in the agony of thirst, cried for water, and some of his attendants procured it for him at the hazard of their lives, the God-fearing and magnanimous monarch refused to taste it, because it was the price of blood! but "poured it out before the Lord."
Christian soldier! it was not at the risk of His life, but more- it was by the sacrifice of His life that your Lord and Savior procured your redemption, and brought the waters of salvation, all living and sparkling from the throne of God, to your lips. You are the price of blood! "bought with a price." Will you not, then, glorify God in your soul, body, and substance, which are His? will you not pour it all out before the Lord- presenting it as a living sacrifice upon the altar flowing with the life-blood of God's own Son?
If there be a vital, and therefore a deathless, principle in the atoning blood of Jesus, then it will avail to the salvation of the chief of sinners to the latest period of time. Ages have rolled by since it was shed, and millions have gone to heaven in virtue of its merits, and yet it still avails! Listen, lowly penitent, to these glad tidings. Approach the blood of Jesus, simply believing in its Divine appointment and sovereign efficacy; and the pardon it conveys and the peace it gives will be yours. Behold the sacred stream, as vital and as warm, as efficacious and as free, as when eighteen hundred years ago all nature was convulsed at the sight of this blood starting from the pierced heart of its Incarnate Creator! and when the expiring malefactor bathed in it and was saved.
No more; if the virtue of the Savior's blood, before it was shed, extended back to the time of Adam and of Abel, for He was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," surely since that it has actually been offered, it will continue its virtue through all the revolutions of time to the remotest age of the world, and to the last sinner who may believe. If Jesus is a 'priest forever,' the virtue of His sacrifice must abide forever, for He cannot officiate as a priest without a sacrifice. And as His gospel is to be preached to all nations, even to the end of the world, so the saving efficacy of His blood, upon which the gospel depends for its power and its success, must be as lasting as time.
"Christ's blood is never lost and congealed, as the blood of the legal sacrifices. His blood is called a new way. The word rendered new signifies a thing newly slain or sacrificed. His blood is as new and fresh for the work it was appointed to, as when it was shed upon the cross: as full of vigor as if it had been shed but this moment. It is blood that was not drunk up by the earth, but gathered up again into his body, to be a living, pleading, cleansing blood in the presence of God forever. He did not leave His body and blood putrefying in the gave; the sacrifice had then ceased and corrupted, it had not been of everlasting efficacy as it now is." (Charnock)
Seek a constant renewal of the blood of Christ upon the conscience. The lamb, under the former dispensation, was to be slain morning and evening. Our Divine and spotless Lamb once slain is no more offered, except as faith deals with Him morning and evening, as if He were newly slain. Herein the vital power of His blood beautifully appears. We need the perpetual application of the blood of sprinkling- a present coming to it. As often as the Israelite was bitten by the fiery serpent he raised his eye to the brazen one reared by Moses, looked again, and was healed. Since each day brings its fresh contraction of guilt, each day should bring its fresh application to the blood. Allow no new wound in the conscience to inflame and fester, but the instant it is received seek the balsam that heals it. This will keep the heart fixed upon God, will embitter the nature and weaken the power of sin, and will preserve the conscience like a polished mirror, attracting to itself the beneficent beams of God's love, and reflecting from its surface the light and luster of the Divine image.
There is one view of this important truth which bears with great solemnity upon the case of those who entirely reject the atoning blood. It will be best illustrated by a reference to an event in the history of the exodus of the Israelites. It will be recollected, that upon Pharaoh's refusing to release God's people from bondage, God commanded the first-born in every Egyptian house to be slain. It was a night of woe in the land of Egypt, long to be remembered. The only exception in this work of destruction was in favor of the children of Israel. And yet even they could not escape the judicial punishment but in the strictest compliance with the Divine method for their safety. They were ordered on the eve of that fearful night to take "a lamb without blemish, a male of one year," and to "slay it, and take of the blood, and strike it on the two side-posts and on the upper door-posts of the houses; and the blood," says God, " shall be to you for a token upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood I will pass over you! and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt."
They obeyed God. And when the angel of death sped his way through the land, smiting the first-born of each Egyptian family, he paused with solemnity and awe where he beheld the sprinkled blood- sheathed his sword, and passed on to do the work of destruction where no blood was seen. Thus will it be with the soul who has no interest in the life-giving and the life-saving blood of Jesus! The sinner who has not this Divine and sacred sign upon him is marked for condemnation; he is under the awful sentence of death! That sentence has gone forth- the destroying angel has received his commission- the sword is drawn- the arm is uplifted- one final word from that God who has long stretched out to you His beseeching, yet disregarded, hand- that moving, that inviting God, whose patience you have abused, whose mercy you have despised, whose law you have broken, whose Son you have rejected- and the stroke falls- and heaven is lost forever!
O fly to the atoning blood of Jesus! Not a moment is to be lost. Your only hope is there-y our only protection is there- your only safety is there. "When I see the blood, I will pass over you." Blessed words! Where he beholds the pure heart's-blood of His own Son- so precious to Him- sprinkled upon the broken, penitent heart of a poor sinner, He will pass him over in the great outpouring of His wrath; He will pass him over when the ungodly, the Christless, and the prayerless sinner is punished; He will pass him over in the dread day of judgment, and not one drop of wrath will fall upon him. Escape, then, for your life! Hasten to Christ. It may be late- your evening's sun may be setting, the shadows of eternity may be deepening around you, but you have the Divine promise- plead it in faith, and God will fulfil it in your experience- "And it shall come to pass that at evening time it shall be light." Relinquish now all the strongholds of your long rebellion against God, and Christ, and truth- give up your vain reasonings, and cavilings, and excuses, and come to the Lord Jesus, as a penitent and believing sinner; throw yourself upon His mercy, take hold of His blood, get beneath the covering of His righteousness, and tell Him that if He casts you off you are lost, eternally lost- and you shall be saved! "I went, and washed, and received sight!"
And when the chill of death is congealing the life-current of your mortal existence, and heart and flesh are failing- the world receding, eternity opening- what do you think will then throw life and vigor and bloom into death itself, illumine the dark valley, and place you in safety upon the highest wave of Jordan? Oh, it will be the living blood of the Divine Redeemer at that awful moment applied to the conscience by the Holy Spirit, testifying that all sin is blotted out, your person accepted, and that there is now no condemnation. "Precious blood! precious blood that has secured all this!" will be the grateful expression of your expiring lips, as your ransomed soul shoots across the dark stream into the light and splendor of eternity.
May the Lord bless to your soul, beloved reader, the consideration of this spiritual and important subject! May the Savior's life-possessing, life-imparting, and life-supporting blood be endeared to our hearts; and may we be constrained to wash daily in the fountain, living beneath the cross, where pardon and peace, joy and heaven are found- and found alone! Amen and Amen.