|A Practical Exposition Upon The Fifty-Third Chapter Of Isaiah.
by Thomas Manton
THE TWELFTH VERSE.
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the
spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he
was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made
intercession for the transgressors.
IN this last verse, as in most of the former, you may observe a scandal, and a
provision against it; for the prophet still continueth his method. As in the
life of Christ, there was no passage or occurrence that did deject him to such a
degree of abasement but that he showed forth some glimpse of his power and
Godhead; as when they came to take him, he forced them to go backward and fall
to the ground, John 18:6. So here, the prophet never giveth a single scandal,
but addeth some glorious event and effect of it. Observe, then, two parts:
First, Christ's conflict.
Secondly, Christ's conquest. The conflict is last in the order of the words, but
first in order of nature and time.
There observe that the scandal of Christ's conflict is reduced to four heads:
1. His death: he poured out his soul unto death.
2. The ignominy of it: he was numbered with the transgressor.
3. The cause of it, both of his death and ignominy: he bore the sins of many.
4. The prayer, meekness, and patience of Christ, together with his desire of the
application of this remedy: he made intercession for the transgressors.
Secondly, For the conquest; there it is first hinted in the promise of the
Father: I will divide him a portion with the great.
2. The possession and enjoyment of the Son, what the Father would give, and what
the Son shall enjoy: I will give him a portion with the great, and he shall
divide the spoil with the strong. Or, if you will have it more particularly, you
may consider it thus:
1. The ground of the conquest, implied in the causal particle, therefore.
2. The donor or author of it, God the Father: I will divide.
3. The reality of it, it was done; God the Son shall find this promise
accomplished: he shall divide the spoil with the strong.
4. The nature of the conquest; it is expressed by a portion with the great, and
by dividing the spoil.
5. From whom he shall take them: from the great and the strong.
6. Others add the persons whom he shall admit into co-partnership in the
conquest and spoils, as implied in that word, with the strong; how justly, we
shall see by and by. Though you may now guess at the sense of the words by this
explication of them into their parts, yet I shall give you some better
satisfaction about the phrases before I let them pass.
At this time, I shall insist upon the conquest, which, as I have observed, is
last in nature and time, yet first in the order of the words. I shall pitch upon
that now; and my first endeavour shall be to open it to you; for indeed, though
most interpretations in their result and effect come to the same thing, yet I
find they do not make it out one and the same way; so that the phrases need a
vindication. Consider, then, that the intent of the prophet here is to set out
the victory and triumph of the Messiah, which victory and triumph is here set
out by terms proper to the triumphs of man. A general, when he hath scattered
the enemies and driven them out of the field, securely seizeth upon the prey,
and divideth it amongst his followers. The dividing of the spoils is a sign of
conquest. Pharaoh, when he promised himself success, Exod. 15:9, you know what
he saith there: 'I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil.' That
is the custom of conquerors. So one of Sisera's mother's ladies: 'Have they not
sped? have they not divided the prey?' As soon as they had borne down the
enemies, and had any leisure, they were for distributing the booty. So the
prophet Isaiah, speaking of the glad tidings of the gospel, saith to those that
hear them, Isa. 9:3, 'They joy before God according to the joy in harvest, and
as men rejoice when they divide the spoil: So Christ is here set forth as a
conqueror, taking his portion, and dividing the spoil.
I confess there is some difference in reading the words. Junius reads it, Partem
ei dabo, ut cum robustis partiatur praedam 'that he may divide the spoil with
the strong.' Others, 'I will give him the part of many, and he shall divide the
spoil of the strong.' Others, in many, and over the strong, as a great man, or
as a strong man useth to do after battle. I shall not intricate the discourse
with these things, but by going over word by word make all plain; though for my
part I conceive the phrases are put here as common and in general, and only
implying a triumph. 'I will divide him a portion with the great, and divide the
spoil with the strong;' that you shall see him as a great conqueror, and like
the kings and potentates, and the great and strong ones of the earth, having a
part in dividing the spoil.
But it may be better to go over the text more particularly. 'I will divide him a
portion with the great.' He is spoken of in the former verses, I will divide him
a portion, or give him a part with the great, barabim, with many; so it may
signify, and implieth the numerousness of those that Christ shall gain to
himself among the nations; or the great, that is the powerful, whose power ruled
the world. Not as if Christ and they should divide the world between them; that
they should have a part and Christ should have a part: as some think, it
implieth that Christ should have the elect, and Satan the rest. No, that is not
the force of the word; but that Christ should come to parting; that is, to spoil
Satan, for he is intended by 'the great' and 'the strong,' though it also noteth
and implieth all his instruments, who usually have the dignities and pomp of the
world. Therefore, it is said, Col. 2:14,15, that 'he spoiled principalities and
powers;' Eph. 4:8, 'He led captivity captive; 'and Luke 11:21, 'He disarmeth the
strong man, and divideth the spoils.' I cannot conceal from you that some by
this latter sentence, 'divide the spoil with the strong,' understand the godly,
those that are called the violent, Mat. 11:12, that with a great deal of fervour
of spirit follow him, love him, confess him, and cleave to him, and will not
give over for any dangers, lets, and difficulties. But, for method's sake, and
reverence to those learned men that affect that sense, I shall take in that in
the last place.
The points, then, are:
1. From the causal particle, therefore. Observe
That the ground of Christ's triumph was his sufferings. Thereforewhy? Because
he laid down his soul an offering for sin, and hath borne our iniquities, as in
the former verse; and it is again amplified in the latter end of this verse. And
it is worth our observation, that always the sufferings and exaltation of
Christ, when spoken of together, are expressed causally; as Ps. 110:7, 'He shall
drink of the brook in the way, therefore he shall lift up the head;' that is,
drink up the lake of curses that divide between God and the elect. Mark the
particle therefore. So John 10:17,' Therefore doth my Father love me, because I
lay down my life: Therefore prevail: mark the inference, because. Phil. 2:9, 10,
'He became obedient to death, even the death of the cross: wherefore God hath
highly exalted him.' And John 12:32, it is there expressed conditionally and
federally: 'If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me;' that
is, if I be lifted up upon the cross, then I shall have power to work the hearts
of men to my obedience. So that you see Christ's exaltation did not only imply
his humiliation, as in some places it only doth; as Eph. 4:9, 'Now that he
ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of
the earth?' It not only necessarily implieth and presupposeth it, but was caused
by it, and merited by it. So Rev. 5:9, 'Thou art worthy 'to take the book, and
to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by
thy' blood.' To open the seals; that is, to open dark promises, and to do what
was necessary for the illuminating of the church. Christ's humiliation and
exaltation was not only an antecedent and a consequent, as some divines expound
these places, and I myself formerly have done among you, but as a cause and
effect, as merit and reward. Calvin indeed judgeth it a curious question whether
Christ merited his conquest and triumph; and his reasons were, because there is
no express scripture for it. But what shall we say then to those causal
particles? But this he saith is a great derogation to the love of Christ, to
make him eye himself in his sufferings; since it is said, 'The Messiah shall be
cut off, but not for himself;' he eyed our good in it, and not his own.
I answer, it maketh much for our comfort, that Christ had his conquests, and the
privileges of his mediatorship in a way of justice and merit; that though all
things are dispensed to us freely, yet to Christ justly. It is true, as it hath
been handled by divers schoolmen, and as it is referred merely to the
glorification of Christ's humanity, so it is a curious question; but as it
importeth the carriage of all things appertaining to our comfort and salvation
between God and Christ in a way of rigour and justice, so it maketh much for our
comfort and consolation.
Use 1. Here is a sealing of your comfort, it was merited by Christ you can do
nothing to merit it, but Christ did. What is free grace to you is due debt to
Christ. Alas! what can you do to find so much grace with God as to prevail over
Satan or your own spirit, to lift up the head in triumph, so as to be raised to
glory? Though you cannot tell how, yet Christ did. God is bound in justice to
Christ to do all these things for you. You have a double claim in God; you can
lay hold of his mercies engaged by his promises to you, and of his justice
engaged by the merits of Christ for you. Things are not now uncertain; Christ
hath merited such a capacity as to bestow grace and glory and every good thing
upon you. You cannot hope to prevail over Satan, but God hath indented with
Christ; 'Therefore he shall divide a portion with the great, and divide the
spoil with the strong.' You cannot hope for glorious privileges; alas! you are
poor; vile, worthless creatures: but 'He drank of the brook in the way,
therefore he shall lift up the head,' and your head too. You cannot look for the
power of the Spirit to draw you to Christ these are great comforts, but not for
you: 'But if I be lifted up, I will draw all men after me.' Christ merited that
privilege by his sufferings. You cannot open the book, neither can you find
anything in yourselves to encourage you to hope for such a privilege; no more
indeed you should not find any merit in yourselves, but seek it in another.
Christ was worthy, for he was slain; and if you are Christ's, and Christ be
yours, you are worthy, for you have his merit, though none of your own.
2. If the ground of Christ's triumph were his death and sufferings, then here is
great comfort to you in all your inward and outward abasements. Here is a double
comfort, one to allay fear, and the other to encourage hope. To allay fear: be
not dismayed, great abasements usually go before glory. And then to encourage
hope; the greatest abasements will turn to the greatest glory. Christ's death
and sufferings were not only the antecedent, but the cause of his conquest and
exaltation. 'Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great.' Consider
[1.] Great abasements often go before glory. This was the dispensation God used
to Christ: Luke 24:26, 'Ought not Christ to suffer these things, and then to
enter into glory?' and will not you take it well at the hands of God to drink of
Christ's cup, to be first crowned with thorns before you be crowned with glory,
to be humbled before converted; to be slurred with the bishop's coal-dust before
you be shining platters upon God's shelf, as that martyr said; to be full of
wants before you be full of Christ? What is your abasement? If you look inward,
you have a vile heart, a destitute, naked soul, no grace, but much corruption;
therefore there are some hopes of crumbs when you find yourself a dog; as the
woman of Canaan maketh it a motive, Mat. 15:27. Oh, be not discouraged! Blessed
be God, he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. There is no sentence repeated
so often in the New Testament as that, Prov. 15:33, 'Before honour is humility.'
This is the Lord's course, to make us poor in spirit, and then rich in grace.
But is the trouble outward? Are you low in the world,, of base account and
esteem? Oh, remember, Jesus Christ was first accounted a glutton, a wine-bibber,
one that had a devil in the eye of the world, and then had a name above all
names. Mordecai was first envied for sitting at the king's gate, and then
honoured by his adversary with sitting upon the king's horse. Job was brought
from a large estate to the very dust, because God would bless his latter end
more than his beginning, Job 42:12. As Samuel saith to Saul, 1 Sam. 15:17, 'When
thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes
of Israel?' It may be God hath more eminent providences for you after your great
[2.]. This should be so far from being a discouragement, that it is a ground of
hope. Usually we get great advantage by our sufferings. Consider the conflict of
Christ, upon the cross, his cross was his triumph; like Sampson, he destroyed
more enemies at his death than in all his life; his cross was his chariot of
triumph: Col. 2:15, 'And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a
show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.' 'Therefore I will divide him a
portion with the great,' because made so small: James 1:9, 'Let the brother of
low degree rejoice in that he is exalted.' Your abasement is your preferment and
exaltation: 2 Cor. 1:5, 'As 'the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our
consolation aboundeth in Christ.' The greatest grace meets with the greatest
conflicts, because it is the greatest grace. This is so sure a truth, that even
their spiritual abasements, their falls, their sins, do work for their good; the
soul groweth the more humble, holy and watchful. Paul was the more fervent and
frequent with God in prayer because of the messenger of Satan, 2 Cor. 12:10.
David came to number the people, and by that means came to know where the temple
should be built, which he so earnestly desired to know. Hezekiah was the more
humble for his fall, 2 Chron. 23:31; he knew all that was in his heart. But
especially it holdeth good in outward abasements; they are cause of more good to
their souls. The setting of the day-star maketh way for the sunrising, and the
loss of some petty comfort for their abundant consolation in Jesus Christ.
I shall now come to the author and donor, God the Father: 'I will divide a
portion with the great, and divide the spoil with the strong.'
Doct. That the power and majesty whereby Jesus Christ overcame his enemies was
by the gift and appointment of the Father: Ps. 110:1, 'The Lord said unto my
Lord, Sit thou at my right hand until I have made thine enemies thy footstool;'
that is, God the Father said to Christ. And Ps. 2:6, 'I have set my king upon my
holy hill of Zion.' Christ was a king of God's making. So the Father hath
committed all judgment to the Son, John 5:22. All the supremacy, power, and
majesty that Christ had as Mediator was derived from the Father. So Mat. 28:18,
'All power is given to me both in heaven and earth.' Christ's power was given to
him, and it was meet it should be so.
The condition on God the Father's part was to honour the Son for the elect's
sake; and the Son had glorified the Father, John 17:4, by virtue of the compact
and agreement between them. And besides, we could not take so much comfort in
the advancement of Christ unless we had the consent of the Father. The love of
every person was to appear to the creature, especially the love of the offended
person; sin in its last result being against the Father: hence it is so often
said that he hath 'given him a name above all names;' that he hath 'put all
things in subjection.' And therefore it is a mighty pledge of God's love to the
creature, and of what God will do for us, now our nature is advanced to such
high and glorious privileges. Not only God the Son was willing, who assumed our
nature in his own person, but God the Father was willing to do it.
Use 1. To direct us to stick to God's choice and appointment. He hath honoured
Jesus Christ to be the king of his church: Luke 22:29, 'I appoint unto you a
kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me a kingdom.' And therefore we should
honour him, and acknowledge no other. God chose Adam a wife in paradise, and he
chose a husband to the church, who is bone of our bone:. and therefore we should
honour him as the captain of our salvation. Now God hath honoured him, and put
all things in subjection to him: Hosea 1:11, it is said, 'They shall appoint
themselves one head;' Eph. 1:22, 'And gave him to be head over all things to the
church.' Thus shall it be done to them whom the king delighteth to honour. Thus
shall it be done to the person whom God will honour, that has such faith,
dependence, reverence, and confidence. They, appoint him whom God hath
appointed. You do as it were anew honour Jesus Christ, when your dependence on
him is according to the honour the Father hath put upon him. 2 Sam. 16:18, as
Hushai said, 'Whom the Lord shall choose, his will I be, and with him will I
abide.' God the Father hath chosen him; look to him as your head, king, and
husband, as the captain of your salvation, the author and finisher of your
faith. God hath divided him a portion with the great.
2. It teacheth us to glorify the Father in our thoughts, expressions, and
affections, for the honour that be hath put upon Jesus Christ. The person that
is most in our eye usually intercepts all the love and praise of the creature.
Though you can never enough honour and magnify the person of Jesus Christ, yet
do not exclude the person of the Father. The persons in the Trinity mutually
glorify one another, and why should not we? In every glorious manifestation of
the power of Christ, send up a thankful thought, some acknowledgment of love and
praise to the Father. As Paul: Rom. 7:24,25, 'Who shall deliver me from the body
of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.' It is accomplished by
the power God hath put upon Jesus Christ. Look upon what terms the scriptures do
pitch all comfort and expectation upon the person of Christ: 2 Cor. 1:20, 'For
all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of God
by us.' There is the end why all is in Christ. So Phil. 2:11: 'And that every
tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
Father.' Mark, the person of Christ can never be enough in our thoughts, nor
mentioned in our mouths, for be is the Lord; but it is to the glory of the
Father. As often as you remember the work of your redemption, remember the work
of the Father, and then you will find your. hearts raised in thankfulness and
love to him. Christ himself, when he saw poor souls receive the gospel, though
he saith there the power of dispensing was committed to him, Mat. 11:25,
compared with 27, yet he saith, 'Father, I thank thee that thou hast revealed it
to them.' See if your hearts be raised and ravished within you with this eternal
and free love of God to the glory of the Father.
3. It is a great ground of trust and confidence, when you go to God in prayer to
turn your captivity, for power against your spiritual adversaries, as sin,
Satan, fears of death, and hell.; or earthly ones, as unjust and tyrannous
encroachments without. Urge it to God, did not he divide Christ a portion with
the great? You desire but to exalt the king of his own making, a king upon his
holy hill. Was it not thine own grant and donation? When we come and urge God's
own acts upon him, and he urgeth it to God, you shall see he will own them. The
apostle alludeth to that of the Psalms, in Heb. 2:8, 'Thou didst set him over
the work of thine hands; thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.'
And why not my sins and mine enemies? But alas! 'We see not yet all things put
under him;' it is not yet made good to our sense and experience. Lusts are
stirring and Satan busy. Lord, didst thou not say, that all things should be put
under him? Go to God, and do but press him with his own appointment.
I now come to the third particular, and that is the reality of this conquest. It
was not only promised by God the Father, but God the Son was possessed of it:
'He shall divide the spoil with the strong.'
Doct. That the Lord Jesus was a glorious conqueror.
Dividing of the spoil is the effect of a sure and a great conquest. You may
perceive that in all respects it maketh a victory glorious. You know the
eminency of it lieth in these four things:
1. Either in the power of the adversaries. There is no triumph in prevailing
over weak things: 1 Sam. 26:20, 'For the king of Israel is come out to seek a
flea, as one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains.' What honour could Saul get
to seek a flea, or hunt a partridge in the mountains,to chase hares or harts?
2. By the unlikelihood of the means. A thousand men were slain by the jaw-bone
of an ass by the hands of Sampson; and a numerous host discomfited by Gideon's
pitchers and three hundred lamps. Such things as these make the success
3. The manner or nature of the victory. Total defeats are most noted. A slight
hurt, or some petty brush is nothing, as Amalek's falling upon the weak rear,
and putting the hindermost stragglers to shame; what is that? The conquest is
not complete till there be a dissipation and dissolution of the whole force that
is against us.
4. A conquest is glorious in the effects or result of it. If it be of great
importance and consequence to the good of a people, when fears are removed, and
privileges are granted and enlarged, spoilers taken, a kingdom subdued,these
things make for the glory of the victory. And, therefore, let us see if such
things be not found in the conquest of Christ. There are strong adversaries and
weak means, glorious achievements and great effects and fruits of this conquest,
for the benefit of the faithful; and therefore he was a glorious conqueror.
First, The adversaries; they are mighty. They are always expressed by such
notions as do imply great strength and power: Col. 2:15, it is said, 'He spoiled
principalities and powers.' The evil angels, by reason of their power and
prevalency in and with the world, are expressed by that name, 'principalities
and powers.' So Eph. 4:8, 'He led captivity captive;' that is, he captivated
enemies such as are apt to bring us into bondage. It is as much as if it were
said, he prevailed over victory,he led captivity itself captive. And he is
called the strong man, Luke 11:21.
But let us a little more particularly consider the enemies, and then we shall
see how much they add to the glory and renown of the conquest.
1. There is the devil, who is a powerful adversary. He causeth great disturbance
to the people of God, either to the called or uncalled. He either accuseth us,
or soliciteth us to evil. He accuseth the called and converted, and so filleth
their souls with disquieting, doubtful thoughts. Ay! but 'the prince of this
world is judged,' John 16:11. God hath condemned him for an accuser; God hath
condemned him for condemning you: and when he cometh to resist you at the time
you are about the work of God, judgment is passed upon the liar who would cause
you to misjudge yourselves. Sometimes he soliciteth to evil; injects carnal and
provoking thoughts. Ay! but Satan is rebuked: Zech. 3:2, 'And the Lord said unto
Satan, The Lord rebuke thee.' There is grace to check and oppose him. But Satan
chiefly worketh upon the uncalled people of God-men in their unregeneracy and
sinful estate; he possesseth their hearts, and 'worketh in the children of
disobedience,' Eph. 2:3, detaining them in blindness, captivates and subjects
them to the power of their lusts, and so by this means possesseth the most part
of the world by ignorance and superstition, or else causeth them to hold the
truth in unrighteousness; and erects strongholds, partly by ignorance, partly by
error and superstition, and partly by lusts and violent temptations, which he
darts forth that he may keep the world in his obedience. But now 'the prince of
this world is cast out,' John 12:31. Satan is dispossessed, and his power
vacated, his rule disannulled. Great Pan is dead, being like Dagon brought upon
his face in the presence of the ark. And so, some stories say, the idols were
overturned at the time of Christ's birth. Certain we are, spiritually it is
true, if not fulfilled in a literal miracle. Thus Satan is an enemy.
2. The law, that was an enemy, as it condemns us; the law of ordinances was
against us. Now Christ hath abolished it, so far as it was contrary and
prejudicial to our, acceptance with God, as it made for our discomfort and
condemnation, and bound us to wrath, and to such obedience as could not be
fulfilled by us: Col. 2:14, 'Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was
against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to
his cross.' Christ contended with the law, and took us out of the hands of it,
abrogated the curse and rigour of it. Alas I' we were all a prey to the law,
till Christ did arise and plead our cause, and removed the curse and the
difficulties of obedience, and made the craggy hill to become a plain to us. He
'slew the enmity by his cross,' Eph. 2:16. Now, as great an enemy as the law was
to us, it was by God's appointment, and it may be thought much that God should
abrogate his own law. Christ was not only to deal with rebels, but with his
Father's appointments, that he might abolish them so far as there was any enmity
and contrariety in them, to our good.
3. Death and hell. I join them both together, because the scripture doth so
often. Of all enemies, these are the most potent and severe, yet are overcome by
Christ. Christ, conquering the law, must needs conquer death: 'The sting of
death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law: By Christ death is made a
friend, as Haman served Mordecai. It doth but help us to honour and advancement:
1 Cor. 15:54, 'Death is swallowed up in victory,'destroyed and brought to
nothing. We may outdare death, it cannot harm us, it doth but midwife us into
glory. And then for hell, the mouth of it is shut up, so that it serveth only as
an aggravation of our mercies: Rev. 20:6, 'Blessed and holy is he that hath part
in the first resurrection; over such the second death hath no power;' 2 Tim.
1:10,' He hath abolished death,'overthrew it. When the fears of death encroach
upon our spirits, you may see a stone rolled upon the mouth of hell by Jesus
Christ: Rev. 1:18, 'I am 'alive for evermore, and have the keys of death and
hell;' and Rev. 20:14, 'Death and hell are cast into the lake of fire.' What
comfort is this for those that have an interest in Christ, that Christ hath the
keys of death and hell!
4. The flesh. Corruption is a bosom-enemy, that insinuates with us, and worketh
upon us in our most pleasing desires: Rom. 8:7, 'The carnal mind is enmity to
God;' and Gal. 5:17, 'The flesh lusteth against the spirit.' It is a great
trouble to a gracious heart. Though it be flesh, as dear to us as our own skin,
yet it is a thorn in the flesh, a great cumber to a gracious heart. Nehemiah was
very much troubled with his adversaries, because divers about him that abode
with him held secret correspondence with his enemies, Neh. 8:18. So we carry
somewhat about us that complies with Satan Rebellious lusts, and vicious
affections, and proud thoughts swarm in our hearts, to the disdain of the yoke
of Christ: 2 Cor. 10:5, 'Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that
exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every
thought to the obedience of Christ.' But it is said, Rom. 8:3, 'God sending his
own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the
flesh.' O beloved! sin in your flesh is rooted in your corrupt desires; but it
is a condemned thing, and it will be executed. Mat. 12:20, 'A bruised reed shall
he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he bring forth judgment
unto victory.' he will make the cross triumphant.
5. The world,take it either for the baits and allurements, or the concernments
and interests of it, anything that may be dangerous to us in the work of our
salvation. But Christ hath overcome the malignity of it. Christ would put all
out of doubt and danger: John 16:33, 'Be of good cheer, I have overcome the
world.' Height shall not separate no more than depth, neither favour nor frowns.
Christ hath taken away the noxiousness and harm of everything that may be
propounded to us.
6. All the adverse powers in the world. Stubborn enemies are sometimes armed
with power: Rev. 17:14, 'These shall make war with the Lamb;' that is, the kings
of the earth. This is a great terror, when a man seeth all the combined force of
a nation, all the force, authority, and strength combined against Christ: Ps.
110:6, 'He shall wound the heads over many countries, and strike through kings
in the day of his wrath;' and Ps. 2:10-12, 'Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings;
be instructed, ye judges of the earth: serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice
with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when
his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in
him.' A little wrath will destroy a great person. Sometimes our enemies are
enraged with malice. Herod being vexed at the wise men's words, he vowed
revenge; but, alas! he could not overcome Christ in his cradle. What will they
do now he is in heaven, out of their reach? Ps. 124:3, 'They had swallowed us up
quick, when their wrath was kindled against us;' that is, when their courage is
heightened by wrath. Ps. 76:10, 'Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee;'
i.e., shall keep an holyday. This wrath shall serve the design of Christ, for
God will make every stiff knee to bow, Phil. 2:10. Alas! fear surpriseth us when
a provoked enemy cometh with rage and fury, as if like a flood he would bear all
before him. But this may occasion a day of praise to God. And then sometimes
your enemies are advantaged with wit, wealth, and all outward sufficiencies and
supplies: Luke 16:8, 'The children of this world are wiser in their generation
than the children of light;' that is, more dexterous in the course of their
affairs. And Mat. 11:26, the things of Christianity are 'hidden from the wise
and prudent, and revealed unto babes.' So Ps. 64:6, 'They search out iniquity,
they accomplish a diligent search; but the inward thought of every one of them
and the heart is deep.' They may be men of great parts, pregnant invention, full
of politic enterprises; ay! but all this is nothing: Job 5:13, 'He taketh the
wise in their own craftiness.' Christ hath died to recover the truth, and to
free the souls of his servants from such kinds of assaults as these. These are
the enemies that are most stubborn, but they are forced to stoop, though they
are advantaged with power, armed with malice, and stored with all outward
Thus you see the enemies whose opposition adds to the glory of the conquest: the
devil, the law, death and hell, the flesh and the world, and all the adverse
powers and dominations that are combined against Christ. Christ can have no
spoil, no prey, no kingdom, no saints, till he had combated with these enemies;
their opposition addeth to the renown of the conquest.
Secondly, Let us look to the means. The weapons of this warfare are not carnal;
that is, there is little pomp and appearance in them. Look upon them, and the
matter will be the more wonderful.
1. As to his death. His very conflict was his triumph. The Lamb overcometh, and
Christ conquered Satan, and sin, and the law, when they seemed to have most
power upon him; like angry bees that sting others and disarm themselves. When
Satan had the greatest hand over Christ, Christ overcame him: Heb. 2:14, 'That
through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the
devil.' Satan lost his life in his sting. It is observable, that the scripture
twice or thrice mentioneth it as a remarkable circumstance that Christ triumphed
in his cross: Col. 2:15, 'Triumphing over them in it.' So Eph. 2:16, 'Having
slain enmity thereby;' that is, the cross spoken of before, when he was slain
himself. His cross is in two places expressed by lifting up: John 3:14, 'Even so
the Son of man shall be lifted up;' and John 12:32, 'And I, if I be lifted up
from the earth.' Indeed it was his preferment and exaltation.
2. By the word of the cross, called the foolishness of preaching Ps. 8:2, 'Out
of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast ordained strength.' Weak men,
whose strength is in their Messiah, may bring men upon their faces by a sermon:
1 Cor. 14:25, 'And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and falling
down upon his face, he will worship God, and report, saying, God is in you of a
truth.' And recover the world unto his obedience by these arts: Mat. 4:23,
'Jesus went about preaching the gospel of the kingdom.' And his kingdom is
gained by that, and it maketh much for the heightening of the conquest.
3. By his Spirit: Zech. 4:6, 'Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,
saith the Lord of hosts.' A great force, but secret and undiscerned; mighty to
humble, mighty to comfort, mighty to convert and save. The little finger of the
Spirit is heavier than the loins of our reasoning, and debates with our souls.
Jerusalem is purged by the Spirit: Jer. 4:4, 'Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah, and inhabitants of
Jerusalem, lest my fury come forth like fire.'
4. By his prayers and intercessions: Zech. 3:2, 'And the Lord said unto Satan,
The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke
thee.' Christ prayeth Satan into nothing. All the merit of Christ is made
effectual by his prayers, and all the efficacy of Christ's death and
satisfaction is applied and conveyed to us by the Spirit; and thereby we have
the spiritual virtue of Christ's prayers: John 14:16, 'I will pray the Father,
and he will send you another Comforter.' All the actual application is by the
power of the Spirit, obtained by the intercession of Christ: Luke 17:20, 21,
'The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, neither shall they say, Lo
here, lo there: behold the kingdom of God is within you.' Well, then, these are
the arts and engines that Christ useth for the gaining of the world and spoiling
of his adversaries; his death, his word, his Spirit obtained by his prayer. Some
take in other things, sometimes God ruineth them by themselves, Satan by his own
instruments, by their subtilty, and sometimes other ways; but the cause and
ground of all are the death, and prayers, and Spirit of Christ; there lieth his
strength, and this is a strange and glorious conquest.
Thirdly, The manner or nature of the conquest, how it is achieved and
accomplished. See what a conquest it is.
1. The enemies are overcome and terribly broken; there is a total dissipation of
all the powers of darkness. It is expressed in scripture by bruising the head of
Satan, Gen. 3:15. Christ received a slight hurt in the conflict; his heel was
bruised, but the serpent's head is broken: 1 John 3:8, 'The Son of man came to
dissolve the works of the devil.' All the fabric of iniquity is analysed and
dissolved,all the webs and plots of wickedness are unravelled. The dragon is
cast out, Rev. 12:9, being combated by Michael and his angels. Sin is condemned
in the flesh, Rom. 8:3. Corruptions captivated, 2 Cor. 10:5. The world overcome,
John 16:33. Wicked and adverse powers and dominations in the world broken to
pieces and grounded to powder, or else gained and forced to yield to the uses
and glory of Christ.
2. Not barely overcome and dissipated, though that were much, but spoiled and
rifled. Christ hath divided the prey: Col. 2:15, 'And having spoiled
principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them
in it.' They are spoiled by disarming the strong man, and dividing his spoils,
Luke 11:22. God hath spoiled and dispossessed Satan of the souls that were taken
captive by him at his pleasure; they are recovered into the glorious liberty of
the sons of God. The nations are got from under his obedience, and subdued to
the power of the gospel. So death and hell are under his power; they are, as it
were, under lock and key. Satan had the power of them heretofore, and then men
were always under bondage: Heb. 2:14,15, 'That through death he might destroy
him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who
through fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage.' They durst
not think of judgment and hell, because Satan had them in his power as God's
executioner; but now, saith Christ, 'I have the keys of death.' The world is
despoiled of all its wit, wealth, glory, and power; these are made to serve the
uses of Christ, being recovered out of the chains of wicked men: Micah 4:13,
'And thou shalt beat in pieces many nations, and shalt consecrate their gain
unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth;' Zech.
14:14,20, 'The wealth of the nations shall be gathered together. And upon the
bells of the horses and the pots in Jerusalem there shall be written, HOLINESS
TO THE LORD: All this is done so clearly to the eye of faith, that they do even
see Christ triumphing Isa. 63:1, 'Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed
garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the
greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.'
3. Such a victory as endeth in a solemn triumph; as conquerors in public view
carried their spoils and their enemies tied to their chariots, so Christ would
expose them to open shame. Therefore, it is said, Eph. 4:8, 'He led captivity
captive,' as it were in triumph, as you do manacled prisoners. So Col. 2:15, 'He
made a show of them openly;' he put them to open shame. How so?before God and
the eyes of believers. We may see the triumphant chariot of Christ, and Satan,
hell and death, and the world haled after it. As soon as the soul is possessed
of Christ, and beginneth to have some interest in him, it feels this benefit,
and seeth how these things are captivated by the death, Spirit, and power of
Christ. Christ doth, as it were, call upon your souls, Come, look! here is Satan
disarmed, death unstinged, hell shut up, and I have the keys; sin is manacled,
wrath satisfied, the law's curse and rigour taken out of the way, heady enemies
despoiled and discouraged, the world subdued and brought to my obedience, or
forced to serve my glory. So that you see the conquest is full and absolute.
Object. But you will say, I feel none of these things; why are these enemies so
busy and cumbersome about my soul, if totally dissipated by Christ?
I answer briefly in these considerations:
1. It is true in faith, though not in sense and feeling, that these adversaries
received their death's wound at the death of Christ. This was done in the merit
of Christ, and in God's decree and ordination. Christ was possessed of this
promise of having a portion with the great, and to divide the spoil with the
strong; all things were put under his feet. The crown was put upon the head of
Jesus Christ, though it be not effectually made out to sense. There is the
objection from sense: Heb. 2:8, 'But now we see not all things put under him.'
2. Though it be so that these things are left for a while, it is partly to
exercise our souls, and to draw forth the life of our graces. Opposition keeps
the soul humble and wakeful. Paul had a thorn in the flesh, and a messenger of
Satan to buffet him, lest he should be exalted above measure, 2 Cor. 12:7. It is
partly to prove us, to see if we will enter into the battle, and powerfully
maintain it, and combat against the enemies of Christ; and partly to make us the
more thankful for our deliverance by Christ. Christ was tempted like us, that he
might be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and that we might be
touched with a feeling of Christ's sufferings, and the greatness of Christ's
love to us. Experience maketh us the more sensible how it would have been with
us, if we had not been freed by the Son of God. Oh, when we are a little
scorched with wrath, when we tug with sin, we may begin to think what it is to
dwell with everlasting burning. How would it have been if Christ had not died
for us? So when there are difficulties abroad, what should we have done with
these mountains, if it had not been for our Zerubbabel? Experience giveth us the
best sense of things, therefore the Lord saw fit to continue these things for a
season. As it is said of Daniel's beasts, Dan. 7:12, that their 'dominion was
taken away,' though their 'lives was prolonged for a season.' So their power to
hurt or endamage our salvation is gone: 1 Peter 3:13, 'And who is he that will
harm you?' Nothing 'shall separate you from the love of God,' Rom. 8:33. Neither
death, nor hell, nor sin, shall prejudice the salvation of the elect; Satan
cannot ruin, death cannot disannul it; hell hath no right, and sin hath no
reign; the world may kill us, but they cannot conquer us.
3. Though continued, they cannot harm us, rather they may do us good. Even sin
and Satan may give us cause to glory in infirmities, 2 Cor. 12:10, to boast of
our weakness: they may occasion such supplies and comforts from God; but certain
we are they cannot hurt our souls nor hinder our salvation.
4. The work will be thoroughly and completely done ere long; our comforts and
hopes in Christ will prove sure: Rev. 12:11, 'They overcame by the blood of the
Lamb.' 'We do not as yet see all things put under him,' Heb. 2:8. Mark, that as
yet implies it is at hand. We do not as yet see the god of this world fully cast
out and falling as lightning from heaven; we do not as yet find sin fully
mortified, Satan subdued, Christ exalted among all the nations; none of these
things are as yet completely done. But here is the comfort of believers: Rom.
16:20, 'The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.' All this
will be done, and will not you tarry a little while? As the church saith, Micah
7:8,9, 'Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I shall arise; when I
sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me. I will bear the indignation
of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and
execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold
his righteousness.' Times will be better and hearts better.
5. If we do find and feel no benefit by the conquest of Christ, it is through
our own corruptions. God hath not left us for the present without some sense of
it. You will have some rule over your hearts and spirits, more grace to resist
Satan, more comfort against the fear of death, and less trouble about the
difficulties of obedience: 1 John 5:4, 'Whosoever is born of God overcometh the
world.' Thus you see we have gone through the third part, that is, a complete
victory, even to the spoiling and triumphing over Satan, who shall be totally
Fourthly, The next and last thing proposed was the fruits and effects, or what
special benefit we have by the conquest of Christ.
I answerIt is hard to mention all the rich communications of grace that we
enjoy by it. Those that are most proper are these:
1. The banishment of distracting fear: holy fear remaineth, but that natural
fear which would distract and perplex the soul is gone. The apostle speaks, Heb.
2:15, of some 'who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to
bondage.' There is a natural fear in us; though not always felt, yet it is
easily awakened, so as we could not think of death, or hell, or judgment, but it
filled us with a great deal of terror. But now a child of God hath a great deal
of courage and boldness; be may remember it to increase his joy and praise; he
can play upon the hole of the cockatrice; death and hell may aggravate his
mercies, but cannot increase his fears; so that they are fitted for the worst
condition and the greatest duty: Ps. 23:4, 'Though I walk through the valley of
the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.' They are fitted for the sorest
suffering and the greatest service. In the sorest affliction they may be
comforted; hell-gates are shut, and Christ hath locked them up. So for the
greatest service: Luke 1:74,75, 'That being delivered out of the hands of our
enemies, we might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before
him all the days of our life.' It is a mighty weakening to the hands of the soul
in duty, when we ponder upon the danger and difficulties, and the powerful
opposition we shall meet with in the ways of grace. Ay! but now we may serve him
without fear; Christ hath conquered death and hell, lusts and fears. We can the
better bear afflictions now they are unstinged, and their venom taken away. We
can the better go through duty; the joy of the Lord may be our strength the
enemies are fallen before us.
2. It is an encouragement to the spiritual conflict. The difficulty of things
amazeth the heart, and causeth the spirit to faint and melt within us. Thus
vigorous opposition within, without giants and the sons of Anak, Satan and
wicked men, our own hearts and all are against us. Oh! but be not dismayed, you
are sure to overcome; you fight against a manacled enemy, a naked enemy, a
vanquished enemy. Mice may trample upon a dead lion, and the feeblest creatures
insult a dead carcase. Will you fear Satan in chains? He is bound up; he was let
loose upon Christ, and hath. been bound up ever since. 'Be strong in the Lord,
and in the power of his might,' Eph. 6:10. God is at our right hand, and he will
assist us in our endeavours against Satan; you may go on with hope and
resolution.: Ps. 110:5, 'The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings
in the day of his wrath.' Hope of success is a strength and encouragement to an
3. Here is joy unspeakable and glorious. Christ's triumphs are our joy. Oh, what
a triumph, even to exaltation, is it to see Satan despoiled and trampled upon,
sin disarmed, and hell locked up! Luke 1:47, 'My spirit hath rejoiced in God my
Saviour.' Oh, you may triumph over the powers of darkness: Isa. 51:11,
'Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto
Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness
and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.' Why? because the Lord hath
smote Rahab, and wounded the dragon. Spiritual enemies being destroyed, we may
make our boast of Christ all the day long.
4. Hopes of glory: we shall conquer with him, and we shall reign with him. There
is nothing that can be noxious and hurtful to our salvation. Christ will not
leave till he hath settled us upon his own throne: Rev. 3:21, 'To him that
overcometh, will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame,
and am set down with my Father on his throne.' We shall have fellowship with
Christ in his glory, as Christ as Mediator had fellowship with the Father's
glory; we shall have the throne of Christ, as Christ has that of his Father. He
led captivity captive, and then ascended; so he will cause us to conquer and
overcome: Eph. 2:6, 'He hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in
heavenly places in Christ Jesus.' Conquerors enter after the spoil into the
secure possession of their kingdoms; so did Jesus Christ, and so shall we.
5. Great comfort accrueth and redoundeth to us by it; the very exaltation of
Christ is a great comfort to us. We are happy in the success of our Prince, and
we have interest in a great conqueror, in Michael, the great prince, Dan. 12:1.
As Joshua put his feet upon the necks of the kings, Josh. 10:24; so our Joshua,
our Jesus, calleth to the captains and men of war with him, to come and set
their feet upon the necks of their enemies. Nay, the apostle seemeth to express
it, as if he did invest us in a surplusage of privileges: Rom. 8:37, 'We are
more than conquerors, through him that loved us;' and 2 Cor. 2:14, 'Now thanks
he unto God, who always causeth us to triumph in Christ.' We have such a
glorious Saviour as can help and stead his followers. Therefore, you may be
6. There is this fruit and effect of Christ's conquest; it is a token, earnest,
and pledge of our victory. Everything is first done in Christ, then in us; he
died, rose, and conquered as our common person: John 16:33, 'Be of good cheer, I
have overcome the world.' What is that to us? Christ hath overcome, and that is
a sign you shall overcome too: 1 John 5:4, 'For whatsoever is born of God
overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even
our faith.' First Christ, and then your faith. There will something be done
proportionably in your souls. God chose him, therefore he is called his 'Elect
servant,' Isa. 13:1. And he hath chosen us, John 15:16, 'But I have chosen you.'
He calleth him. Christ took this honour when called, then we; Christ dieth, and
we die; he was justified in the Spirit, then he riseth and ascendeth, so do we;
he conquereth, so do we.
7. What Christ did in this conquest, he did it for our sakes. He will have
nothing but we shall share in it. If God give him a portion with the great, he
will divide it with the strong: Luke 22:29, 'I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my
Father hath appointed unto me.' Mark, Christ would have you have the same
privileges as he hath John 12:30, 'This voice came not because of me, but for
your sakes.' Christ eyed us in his actions: John 17:22, 'And the glory which
thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one.'
Christ would have you come and ride with him in his triumphant chariot, and
spoil principalities and powers.
8. Another benefit is usefulness and serviceableness of all that befalls us.
Christ doth so effect it that all things work together for good, Rom. 8:28. The
crooked sticks help to make the faggot the more decent. You do not only get a
prey from Satan and your sins, but they yield you some good, and you may glory
in infirmities, and desire to close with him, and cleave to him.
Use. I did here and there interpose matter applicative, but now I shall come to
it more formally. The uses concern the people of God, or the adversaries of
1. To the people of Christ: Behave yourselves towards him as a conqueror.
[1.] Get an interest in him. Oh, who would not strive to get an interest in
Christ, that he may have a share in his spoils? Who would not be one of the
angels and followers of Michael, the great prince? 'He preserveth the souls of
his people,' Ps. 97:10. There is safety under the shadow of his wings.
Therefore, apply your souls to this matter. You that think of Christ for a Lord,
get your interest cleared. The soul is encumbered with fears for want of
clearing up its right in Christ, and entertains these comforts with a loose
heart for want of that. The soul is apt to say, Oh, if I were Christ's, then the
matter were at end, and therefore, get it cleared up. How sweetly then can you
reason and argue, This is my Christ, this is he that died for me: whilst others
must be persuaded to seek Christ, and to cleave to him. We all desire to be of
the strongest side: consider it, Jesus Christ is a glorious conqueror.
[2.] Believe in him, and depend on him to possess your souls of these glorious
privileges. Luther saith, carnal men hear these comforts quasi somnianteslike
golden dreams, rare things, but presented to fancy rather than faith. Oh, stir
up the large and sure apprehensions of faith. These things require a wakeful and
believing soul, to see Christ conquering, triumphing, and spoiling the powers of
darkness. Spiritual conquests must be discerned with a spiritual eye: Luke 8:10,
'To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom.' Other men may hear
them, but you know the mysteries. Oh, it is a great privilege vouchsafed, that
when others only hear the voice, you see the glory; you see him leading
captivity captive. It is in your eye that the powers of darkness are put to an
open shame. You see the conqueror coming from Bozrah, the blood of his garments
that cutteth off his enemies; all this is easily made out to your faith. Oh,
therefore, depend upon him in all your assaults and straits; do not think to
help and relieve yourselves by your own wit and parts; put forth endeavours, but
do not rest in them; disclaim your own strength Isa. 30:15, 'For thus saith the
Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, In returning and rest shall ye be saved, in
quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.' The less the creature
bustles, and the more it believeth, the more safe. Pray and wait in quietness
and confidence that you are safe. The Philistines placed much confidence in
their Goliath: oh! what hopes will you pitch upon Jesus Christ, the great
. Check vain fears of death and hell, Satan, lusts, and the world. Alas!
there is no more spirit left in these things; they are like the Canaanites which
were stung by God's hornets before the Israelites conquered them: 'I will send
my hornets before you.' Fear possessed them, and then they were easily
vanquished. Christ hath not only stung them, but broke them in pieces. Will you
fear shattered forces? Nay, Christ hath not only broken them, but disarmed them,
and not only disarmed them, but bound them; and who would fear naked and chained
enemies? Children are frightened at the sight of enemies, though bound. Oh, be
not such children in grace! You shall find often in scripture that this is
brought in as a just inference out of Christ's conquest: 'Fear not, I have
overcome the world.' Some are careless, and fear nothing; others, that mind the
danger of their souls, are very apt to be surprised with carnal trouble when
they think of death, and hell, and wrath; and altogether it proveth a great
consternation to their thoughts: but be not troubled, 'Ye believe in God,
believe also in me,' John 14:1. When you think of God and Christ together, God
satisfying, and Christ suffering, oh! what an amulet is there, what a cordial
for fainting souls! Timorousness in a Christian is a disgrace to Christ.
Understand what fears I mean; not a circumspect fear to avoid sin, to shun
danger, to put us upon seasonable provisions against evil, but a perplexing
fear, such as filleth the soul with amazement. Circumspect fear maketh the soul
run to Christ, like chickens under the hen's wings; but the other fear
undervalueth the conquest of Christ, as if there were no hope for us in our God,
and no hope for us in our Saviour.
[4.] It presseth us to praise, honour, and obey him. Conquerors merit of their
country; usually some trophy and statue is erected to their memorial. Oh, what
honour do you devise for Christ, now he hath conquered for you, now he hath
recovered a church, and it may be your souls, out of the hands of death, and
hell, and Satan, and defended you against all the malice of the world! When our
knees bow to Christ, our months must confess him, Phil. 2:10,11. Fall down like
the elders before the Lamb, with the harps of God in your hands, Rev. 5:9, and
give him honour, and blessing, and praise. David, when he had rest from his
enemies, he thinketh of building God a temple, 2 Sam. 7:2. God hath given you
rest, think of a trophy for God. Honour him in your expressions, affections, and
conversations. Serve him nowhe hath set you free; you are his by right of
conquest: pass over into his power and love as Christ's, Rom, 7:14. The apostle
speaketh of himself in his natural condition, 'I am carnal, sold under sin.' He
alludeth to a custom among the Romans, who, when captives and prisoners were
taken in war, they were wont to sell them to one another, as captives, under a
spear. Oh, do not live as carnal, and for the uses and advantages of sin, as if
you were the spoils of sin, but as the spoils of Jesus Christ. Oh, be not sold
under sin; wholly pass over into his power and right, and live to his glory.
[5.] Set against the enemies with the more courage and resolution. Oh, that the
joy of the Lord may be your strength, that in all your endeavours against sin
and Satan you may look up to the victory of Christ! It is said, Rom. 7:24, 25,
'O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I
thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.' Oh, you are enclasped within the ribs
of the body of death: how shall I get free? Through Jesus Christ there is hope
of triumph. Therefore do not fear, but set upon it. You are mistaken, if you
think the work was so done upon Christ's cross that there remaineth nothing for
your care and endeavours Rom. 16:20. God 'will bruise Satan,' but it is 'under
your feet;' implying there is something that we must do. And Ps. 110:5, 'The
Lord at thy right hand will smite through kings in the day of his wrath.' God
will smite them through, but it will be at thy right hand, which doth imply our
endeavours. Christ will divide the spoil with the strong, and the violent take
heaven by force; therefore use all due means. Men cherish a lazy wish, a
yawning, drowsy prayer; they may read a chapter, and go on in a dead way,
perform a cold duty, or make a formal discourse, but they do not stir up
themselves to lay hold upon God. They do not pray, with tears and strong cries
and supplications, for a share in Christ's conquest. Where is the violence of
your spirits, the earnestness of desires, the fervency of raised affections,
vigorous and powerful endeavours? Prov. 13:4, 'The soul of the sluggard
desireth, and hath nothing.' Oh, therefore, stir up yourselves. Who would not
put forth endeavours when they are like to be successful? James 4:7, 'Resist the
devil, and he shall flee from you.' You shall not only repel him, but chase him.
Oh, buckle to it to the purpose, put on the whole armour of God. Christ's death,
and Spirit, and prayers aim at this, that he may do it in you; for it should
never content you, unless it be done in your souls, that he may destroy death in
you: Col. 1:29, 'Whereunto I also labour, striving according to the working
which worketh in me mightily.' Not that he did put forth in his own person only.
[6.] Pray to him that he would show himself Lord and King, that he might rule
among his enemies. Christ hath taught us to say, Thy kingdom come: desire that
he would powerfully and with his own arm work salvation. Christ's conquest is
founded on his prayers and intercessions, therefore help on his kingdom. You
know where and to whom to go, when you see the church small, worldly powers
enraged, Satan busy. Oh, complain to him, the strong get all the spoils. Urge
the promises, especially in the latter days, when the kingdoms of the world are
to become the kingdoms of the Lord and his Christ.
2. Here is terror to the adversaries of Christ. His reign is your ruin: Ps. 93,
'The Lord reigneth;' that is as bad a word as David could speak to the enemies.
Be wise, you that act contrary designs to the glory, reign, cause, and servants
of Christ. The Red Sea, that yielded a passage to the Israelites, proved a grave
to the Egyptians. Consider seriously whether it be not against Christ. When your
ways are challenged as opposite to God, look more thoroughly into the nature of
I come now to the second part of the text: 'Because he hath poured out his soul
unto death: and was numbered with transgressors; and he bare the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors: Which is called the conflict of
Christ explained, and is set out in four things:
1. His death.
2. The ignominy of it.
3. The cause of it.
4. The noted circumstance in it: 'He made intercession for the transgressors.'
I shall begin with the first of these: 'He hath poured out his soul unto death.'
It doth not only imply the bare death of Christ, simply that he died; but he
died willingly and freely, gave up his whole self to death. So David speaks in
the person of Christ, Ps. 22:14, 'I am poured out like water, and all my bones
are out of joint.' There is nothing left in the vessel, neither sap nor savour;
he freely and willingly poured out every drop of his soul, as if he made no
account of it, so man might enjoy benefit by it. It noteth both the freeness and
fulness of the sacrifice; it was unto death, and it was poured out.
Observe, That the Lord Jesus did freely and willingly yield up himself to die
for our sakes. I handled such a like point on verse the 7th, therefore shall be
the more sparing and wary in this. For the proof, I shall rather evidence that
it was so, than why he desired it: Luke 12:50, 'I have a baptism to be baptized
with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!' He thought the time
would never come; he hindered it not: he did not discontinue resorting to the
garden, the place of his usual abode and retirement. Judas knew that he often
resorted thither with his disciples: Mat. 26:53, 'Thinkest thou that I cannot
now pray to my Father, and he shall presently send me more than twelve legions
of angels?' The violence of man did not take his life from him: John 10:17,18,
'Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life: no man taketh it
from me, I lay it down of myself.' It was not an enforced obedience to the will
of God, for God did not only give Christ, but he gave himself: Gal. 1:4, 'Who
gave himself for our sins;' and Eph. 5:2, 'He loved us, and gave himself for
us;' which appeared by the cheerful resignation of his soul into the hands of
the Father in his agonies: Luke 23:46, 'Father, into thy hands I commend my
Spirit.' It is said, 'He cried with a loud voice,' which noteth his confidence
Use 1. It serveth to commend the love of Christ, in that he gave himself: 'He
poured out his soul,' and that 'to the death.' There are three things to be
1. The gift.
2. The manner of giving.
3. The intent.
1. The gift. We read of great gifts in the scripture: Zaccheus, when salvation
was come to his house, Luke 19:8, says, 'Half my goods I give to the poor.' And
Herod proffered half his kingdom to his niece when she pleased him, Mark 6:23.
God in the creation gave all the creatures to man; and the devil says to Christ,
Mat. 4:9, 'All these will I give thee.' Ay! but here Christ giveth himself,
poureth out his own soul, and with himself everything that maketh for the
delighting and contenting of the spirit. Oh, it is better than a thousand
worlds! At our creation God gave us but the creatures, but here God giveth
2. The manner; 'He poured out his soul;' which noteth a copious and bounteous
effusion of his blood for the creatures' good. Nihil in hoc Christo est nisi
profusa liberalitas misericordiae, et remissionis peccatorum, said LutherI see
nothing in this Christ but a prodigality of love; if guilty of anything, it was
of too much freeness: 'He poured out his soul.' Oh, when you are at the Lord's
Supper, and see the wine poured out, remember the death of Christ set out by
this notion, 'He poured out his soul unto death;' see how freely Christ emptied
his veins. In the garden he did sweat drops of blood; every pore in his body
became an eye, and it wept blood for your sakes.
3. The end and intent, why he would pour out himself like water. It was to die
for you: 'He poured out his soul to death.' Simeon suffered himself to be bound
for his brethren, Gen. 13:24. Lot offered his daughter, and the man in Judges
prostitutes his daughter; and the Levite, Judges 19:23, 24, his concubine to the
lusts of the men of Gibeah; but saith Christ, 'Greater love hath no man than
this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.' That is man's heroic honour,
and it may be we may find two or three rare instances in history. But Jesus
Christ laid down his life for enemies, for 'dead dogs,' as David calleth
himself. Such as we are he poured out his soul for, even to death. Oh, enlarge
your thoughts on these particulars.
Use 2. It yieldeth useful inferences and enforcements to duty.
1. To humbled sinners. Take Christ as freely as he offereth himself to you: He
poured out his soul, and you will not come to him, you will not receive him. Oh,
come and pour out yourselves into the bosom of Christ; he hath poured out his
soul to death for you. You that complain as the church, Lam. 2:11, 'My liver is
poured out,' there is much faintness and fears. The liver is the seat of blood;
it is made there, and dispersed from thence into all the veins: your liver is
only poured out, but Christ's soul is so. Consider, all the persons in the
blessed Trinity are willing, and are not you? The Father, John 3:16, 'He gave
his only-begotten Son.' And Christ gave himself, Gal. 1:4. And the Spirit is
willing, he is grieved at your refusal: 'I would have gathered you as a hen
gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.' He wooeth and
beseecheth you, and pleadeth for your entertainment of Jesus Christ. Oh, open to
him, and be as willing to believe as Christ was to die: Ps. 142:2, 'I poured out
my complaint to him, I showed before him my trouble.' Pour out your souls in
faith and prayer, as Christ poured out his soul on the cross.
2. To stubborn sinners, to press them to come out of their sins upon this
groundJesus Christ poured out his soul unto death. Christ parted with his
heart's blood, and will not you part with your sinful delights? Shall we love
our sins better than Christ loved his own soul? He laid down his life, and will
not you lay down your lusts? Nay, what horrible unthankfulness is this? Christ
poured out his soul to death, and we pour out our souls in the ways of death. In
the 11th verse of Jude's epistle we read, that 'they ran greedily after the
error of Balaam.' In the original it is, 'They poured out in the error of
Balaam;' not as water out of a vessel, drop by drop; but as water out of a
bucket, in abundance. Hearts set upon the world, set upon lusts and pleasures,
are expressed by giving themselves to work wickedness. Oh, should not you give
up yourselves to Jesus Christ, when he gave out himself for you? That is an ill
requital, to let loose the reins to your vile affections, and to pour out
yourselves in sins without restraint.
3. To the people of God. Christ poured out his soul to death, freely and fully
offered himself for your sakes: it presseth you to an imitation in your duties
and respects towards God and men. Pour out your souls, discharge them fully and
freely; they are both expressed by pouring out the soul. In your duty to God: So
Hannah is said 1 Sam. 1:16, to 'pour out her soul before the Lord;' to come
freely, and draw out her affections and desires before God. And so for duties to
man: Isa. 58:10, 'If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the
afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as
noonday.' Do both freely.
[1.] Your duties and respect to God. Oh, come and pour out your whole souls; the
willingness of your services is the commendation of them: 'Call the Sabbath a
delight,' Isa. 58:13; and 1 Chron. 28:9, 'Thou shalt serve him with a perfect
heart and a willing mind;' and make prayer your joy and pleasure, your comfort
and your solace: Isa. 2:3, 'Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the
Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us his ways.' Let the
meditation of God be sweet to you: Ps. 104:34, 'And I will be glad in the Lord.'
See that the thoughts of God are pleasing to you. But now, on the contrary, when
the Sabbath is a burden, prayer a task, and you cannot wait upon the Lord one
hour in hearing or holy meditation; when the commandments are grievous,
meditation irksome, holy company and conference a prison; Oh! then, I say,
consider the freeness of Jesus Christ in pouring out his blood for you, and you
will find the advantage of pouring out your hearts before God.
 In your duties and respects to men. In all offices of love and service, do
it willingly; for such was the love of the Lord Jesus to you: 1 Peter 5:2, 'Feed
the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by
constraint, but willingly;' especially if it be to instruct and teach them, and
to take pains with them about the good of their souls: Phil. 3:1, 'To write the
same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.' He
often speaks how little good was done, but it was not grievous to him to try
again. Labour to put off the sluggishness of your spirits with this
considerationJesus Christ died freely for souls to relieve them, and shall not
I be at some pains to persuade them to accept of him? Forced kindness loseth its
acceptance; God and man prize the willing mind best. The will honoureth God more
than the deed; for it is not our act any further than it is done willingly: 2
Cor. 8:12, 'If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted, according to that
a man hath, and not according to what he hath not.' The widow's mite was noted;
the unjust judge did his duty by constraint; and in so doing we do not only
relieve others, but ourselves.
Use 3. To press us to act proportionably to the act of Christ. He yielded up his
whole self, and did it with his whole heart; so let your abounding be in
believing, and your gratitude in yielding up yourselves with your whole heart.
I come now to the second circumstance, the ignominy of Christ's death: 'He was
numbered with transgressors.' It is to be understood of God or man. It is true
before God, God looking upon him under our guilt; but it is most properly true
in regard of men, who counted him a sinner and a transgressor, and so delivered
him to the Gentiles: John 18:30, 'If he were not a malefactor we would not have
delivered him to thee.' But more especially this prophecy is said to be
fulfilled in two places of scripture: as Mark 15:27, 28, 'And with him they
crucified two thieves, one on his right hand, and the other on his left. And the
scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the
transgressors.' That is then eminently fulfilled; for it was also at other
times, but then especially, being placed in the middle, not only as a companion
of thieves, but as their prince and chieftain. So Luke 22:37, 'For I say unto
you, that this that is written must be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned
among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end: There he
speaketh as if the intent of this prophecy was more general. I told you of all
things necessary; for I and you must be accounted wicked persons; it must be so,
for it is foretold. You see the sense; now for the points.
Observe, that the Lord Jesus Christ was reckoned among transgressors, especially
in his death and sufferings.
For proof of the point, which is general, let me suggest to you that he was so
reputed by men; by wicked men, godly men, and by God himself.
1. By wicked men he was counted a glutton and a wine-bibber, Mat. 11:19; and
John 8:48, 'Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil.' Nay, they accounted him the
prince of devils, but this was chiefly at his death. The high priest charged him
with no less than blasphemy: Mat. 26:65, 'He hath spoken blasphemy; what further
need have we of witnesses?' False witnesses were suborned to accuse him of
sedition against his country, as if he would destroy the temple, and as if he
were a seducer and perverter of the people; of disloyalty to Caesar, as if he
went about to make himself king, John 18:36. They preferred Barabbas, a
murderer, before him. See these things in the Evangelists.
2. By godly men: Luke 24:21, 'We trusted that it had been he who should have
redeemed Israel.' In their distrustful thoughts the disciples began to doubt of
him, and so looked upon him as an imposter.
3. By God himself. Christ having taken our sins upon him, was dealt with as a
transgressor: 1 Peter 4:1, 'For he that hath suffered in the flesh, hath ceased
from sin;' and Heb. 9:28, 'He shall appear the second time without sin unto
salvation.' In his first coming he was not without sin by imputation.
Well, but for the reason why God would suffer Christ thus to be numbered with
transgressors. I shall not much trouble you with the allegories of the ancients,
recorded by Aquinas, why Christ was crucified between two thieves, and so
reckoned as one of them, as the chief of them, to typify that distinction that
shall be made at the day of judgment, some being put on the right hand of
Christ, and some on the left. The thief on the right hand was received into
paradise, so Leo and Austin. Christ's cross, made his tribunal in his
sufferings, and a type of his second glorious coming, and he as a judge placed
between two others, who are of less avail, implied, as Hilary would have it,
that though all did not know the cross and sufferings of Christ, yet some should
be placed on the right hand and some on the left. So Beza thought that the thief
on the left side signified those that should endure strictness and hardships in
Christianity for the praise of men; others for the praise of God, as the thief
on the right side. But these are all but flashes of wit. The reasons of the
1. That these might be sensible evidences of those sins of ours that Christ bore
in his body, and had taken upon himself. This reason is in the text, 'He was
numbered among transgressors, for he bare the sins of many.' God would give
believers this evidence and testimony that he was a transgressor; that you may
know all the load of the blasphemies and rebellions laid upon Christ, God gave a
taste of it in these imputationsa devil, a blasphemer. God made special use of
their malice to direct our thoughts to the guilt transacted on Christ.
2. Because Christ was to make satisfaction by suffering all that we were to
suffer. We are cursed, therefore Christ was made a curse, Gal. 3:13. We were to
endure the wrath of God, therefore he bore our griefs, Isa. 53:4. We are to
blame, and deserve shame, therefore he would undergo that, and suffer in his
credit and honour. Our reproach is taken away, because Christ would take it upon
himself: he was 'the reproach of men,' Ps. 22:6. We were sinners, and therefore
Christ is called a murderer, a thief, a blasphemer, one that had a devil. This
was a circumstance that commended the greatness of the satisfaction. What
greater satisfaction could we expect or desire than that Christ, who is holiness
itself, should not only suffer, but suffer under ignominiesthat innocency
itself should suffer as a malefactor? This made the sufferings of Christ
exceeding great and valuable. Christ would lay aside all his glory, pleasure,
and honour, and sacrifice everything for the good of the creature. You have the
life of God, and the honour of God, and all. There is nothing that God prizeth
so much as his honour, and Christ would suffer that God's honour might not be
obscured by these imputations, but repaired.
Use 1. Is information. It informeth us of the great love of Christ; he not only
poured out his soul to death, but to an accursed death. Suppose it had been
merely for the cause of salvation, would it then have yielded more comfort? No;
but he suffered as a malefactor, a thief, worse than a murderer. An ingenious
man valueth his good name above all enjoyments. It stood Christ in much stead to
have his innocency cleared, that the world might know that he did not die for
his own sins, but the just for the unjust. And yet, though it is true there were
evident demonstrations of his innocency out of Pilate's mouth, yet Christ would
suffer as a malefactor, so as to suffer everything you were to suffer; he would
make his sufferings every way valuable. Oh, what a mercy is here!
2. It informeth us that glory and innocency itself may be beclouded. Christ was
under aspersions. Do not believe every report of the godly. Wicked men would
fain paint them out in ill colours; but we must drink of the same cup with
Christ. What foul things were charged upon the primitive Christians, that they
were obscene and turbulent in their practices! Always suspect those aspersions
that are cast upon religious eminency.
3. It informeth us how unlike Christ the men of the world are. Christ is
innocent, but counted a transgressor; they are transgressors, yet would fain be
accounted innocent. 'Honour me before the people,' saith Saul, 1 Sam. 15:30.
They are more careful of their credit than their conscience; they would not be
accounted sinners, and yet do not fear to be so. They are all for man's
judgment, though that is nothing to a gracious heart. Christ was innocent,
however he might suffer under misrepresentations. You are most like him when you
look to your conscience, and trust God for your credit.
Use 2. Is consolation to you. Here is comfort, for the main Christ was counted a
sinner for your sakes; that must needs be a great satisfaction, seeing Christ
has suffered his own glory to be obscured and eclipsed. You are a great sinner,
but urge the sufficiency of his satisfaction. You have deserved great blame;
consider God hath laid it upon Christ. Satan accuseth of foul miscarriages, and
you must certainly cry out Guilty. He cannot commence a greater accusation
against you than his instruments did against Jesus Christ. They accuse him of
sedition, theft, heresy, blasphemycrimes that run highest against God and men.
Oh, what abundant consolation is there, that Christ hath borne the blame, and
hath made a great satisfaction. As high accusations were commenced against
Christ as can be against you.
2. Here is comfort in this. When you are under undeserved reproaches, comfort
yourselves thus: This was the lot of Christ. I do not mean merely under the same
reproaches, but sufferings not deserved, for Christ's sake. God knew his Son in
the midst of the two thieves, and the martyrs in the common goal, and Daniel in
the lions' den, and the lily among thorns. The thieves were crucified with him,
yet they justly; but if you do not suffer as an evil-doer, take comfort though
you be crucified between thieves, yoked with ill companions; Christ was numbered
among transgressors. It was an old trick to bring an odium upon the truth, to
put it upon ill company. Though you be bound up in ill bundles, yet God will
know his jewels.
I come now to the third circumstance, that which is called the conflict of
Christ, and that is the cause both of his death and the ignominy of it: 'He bare
the sins of many.' This is a circumstance very often repeated in this prophecy,
and often mentioned by the prophet in this chapter; so that I need dwell the
less on it now. And it is so often mentioned, because this is the great argument
that maketh the glory and innocency of Christ to be clear in our thoughts,
notwithstanding the scandal of the greatness of his sufferings from the
repetition. By the way observe:
That when we remember, consider, or make mention of the sufferings of Christ, we
should also reflect upon the cause of it, viz., the bearing of our sins and
iniquities. This is what the prophet doth frequently here, not only once or
twice, but again and again, to show you that other reflections upon the
sufferings of Christ were not proper and useful.
The reasons are:
1. Because this is most for the glory and honour of Christ.
2. For the good and benefit of the creature.
1. For Christ's glory. We are apt to judge men mean under sufferings and
disgrace. The prophet bringeth in the Jews' saying here, 'We did esteem him
stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted,' Isa. 53:4. Otherwise men would be apt
to think something alien and unbecoming Christ, especially when there were such
formal accusations commenced against him. But alas! consider they were not
occasioned by any fault of his, either against God's or man's interest. Much was
pretended, but nothing proved; nothing to make him obnoxious to God's justice or
man's judgment. They talked of destroying the temple, of rising against Caesar;
but these were but surmises and malicious jealousies. The person of Christ and
the glory of Christ is most clear in your thoughts, when you perceive that on
his part there was nothing to occasion his death and sufferings.
2. For the good of the creature. It mindeth us of our comfort and duty.
[1.] Our comfort. When we consider his sufferings under such a notion, we cannot
but remember there is our expiation, there is a satisfaction for our sins. God
hath found a ransom: 'He died, the just for the unjust,' 1 Peter 3:18. It maketh
you mindful of the price and ransom. The price was paid for you: Rom. 5:8,
'Herein God commended his love, that when we were sinners, Christ died for us:
Here is a just Christ, that died for poor sinners: remember it for your comfort,
mention it for your comfort; here is your expiation and satisfaction.
[2.] It mindeth us of our duty. When we consider these sufferings were for our
sins, it mindeth us of our debt of obedience, wherein we stand engaged to his
love and liberality; and it giveth us a sense of his love, and so in
thankfulness engageth us to obedience. What sufferings are too hard, what duty
too great, to go through with for one that hath done so much for us?
Use. By this you may know what reflections upon the death and sufferings of
Christ are good and proper; not such only as work a fond compassion, for we are
naturally apt to pity those in misery; not foolish anger against the Jews, not a
little vain delightthese are effects when you look upon it as a mere story; but
the glorifying of Christ and humbling of ourselves, increase of faith,
comfortable persuasions and excitations to duty and praisethese show you
consider it rightly. I would but hint these things, because they are obvious.
But to come to the sense of the phrase, 'And he bare the sins of many,' I shall
content myself with the assertion of the text, and show you what it implieth. He
bare the sin importeth two things:
1. The susception of our guilt: he bare it.
2. The sustaining of our punishment. Both were upon Christ as a heavy burden,
our guilt and our punishment. He was made sin, and was under wrath. In one
respect sin is made to be laid upon him by God in ver. 6, 'The Lord hath laid on
him the iniquities of us all;' and in the other he is said to 'bear our sins in
his body on the tree,' 1 Peter 2:24, which noteth the enduring of the punishment
of them. Both yield a great deal of comfort to those that have interest in
Christ he bare their guilt, and he bare their punishment. It is comfort in three
[1.] When their hearts are ready to sink within them under the multitude and
greatness of their provocations: Ps. 38:4, 'Mine iniquities are gone over my
head, as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.' Oh, it is heavy and sad
with that soul that is compassed about with innumerable evils! This will cause
heart-failing and quaking when our sins, our pride, and haughtiness, are set in
order before us. Here conscience accuseth for sins of the highest aggravation,
slighting of means, abuse of mercies, wantoning in all manner of provocations,
serving divers lusts and pleasures, cursed worldliness, carelessness of the
great salvation, neglect of our family duties, ill example, gross omissions,
seldom praying, or, when it is done, in a drowsy, dead way, little discussion
with your hearts and ways. When these things are mustered up against us, the
soul is bowed down under its own fears, and cannot look up, nor scarce groan out
a sigh for mercy. Oh, consider you are not to bear your sins, but Jesus Christ;
see all this load transacted upon the back of Jesus Christ: Mat. 11:28, 'Come
unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest' By
putting the burden upon his own back, he bare our sins.
But you will say, I have sinned, but God must have satisfaction; the guilt and
punishment must be borne by somebody.
Oh, consider it is borne by Jesus Christ. As Aaron was to bear the iniquity of
the holy things of the children of Israel, Exod. 28:38, so Christ will bear the
sins of your duties. His soul was heavy unto death, Mat. 26:38. A little before
the showers there is a gloominess and sad blackness; so there was upon Christ's
spirit a little before the showers of wrath were poured out upon him. To lighten
you, Christ's own soul is heavy and exceeding sorrowful; he bare your sins.
Thus, in the burden of guilt, it is a lightening of the eyes and a relieving of
[2.] When you are oppressed with the burden of punishment, fears of death and
hell. We are naturally subject to these things: Heb. 2:15, 'Who all their
lifetime were subject to bondage through fear of death.' Conscience, that
convinceth of sin, assureth of judgment Rom. 1:32, 'Who knowing the judgment of
God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death.' Our hearts and our
own despairing thoughts are upon us; then we smell the brimstone and the stench
of the pit that cometh up into our nostrils. Oh, what shall we do, for these
everlasting burnings will consume as? Consider, the satisfaction will not be
required of you 'He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.' Christ,
that took your sin, bare your punishment; 'even Jesus who hath delivered us from
wrath to come, 1 Thes. 1:10.
[3.] In the case of afflictions. Providence is against us; and then afflictions
without raise troubles and discontents within. We think God is against us, and
all is ordered by way of satisfaction to divine vengeance; all is wormwood and
gall, and the terrors of the Lord possess our spirits. Oh, but hold up the head,
and consider nothing is done to a believer by way of punishment and satisfaction
of divine vengeance: all that was required of Jesus Christ; he bore that in his
body upon the tree. We are not to bear our own sins. Natural men do think that
all their misery is formally penal, and ordered by way of punishment, the sting
of death, and all afflictions. But yours are not punishments; that is the
wormwood and gall of afflictions. The idol priests were to bear their own
iniquities, Ezek. 44:10. But Christ hath taken the sins of his people upon
himself. You may have the same afflictions with wicked men, or that you had
before conversion; but their habit and use is changed to you. Either they are
chastisements or corrections, whose use is to instruct or humble.
E To instruct them in their duty: Their 'ears are opened to discipline,' Job
36:10; and Christ 'learned obedience by the things e suffered,' Heb. 5:8.
To show us the vanity of the creature: Ps. 39:11, 'When thou with rebukes dost
correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth.
Surely every man is vanity.' Then they see it to humble them, Job 36:8; and if
they be bound in fetters, and holden in cords of affliction, it is to show them
they have been proud. Now, it is a great mercy when we can look upon afflictions
under this notion. It is a great mercy to have our afflictions sanctified Ps.
94:12, 'Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest out of thy
law.' Want maketh the prodigal child think of returning, Luke 15. And for
prevention, they are an antidote to keep off poison. It would have been worse
with me if it had not been so: Ps, 119:71, 'It is good for me that I have been
afflicted.' It is a corrosive, like Paul's messenger of Satan, to cure his
pride, 2 Cor. 12:7; and to mind them of duty: Hosea 5:15, 'I will go and return
to my place, till they acknowledge their offences and seek my face; in their
afflictions they will seek me early.' And for the exercise of graces, and to
conform them to their head, as patience, obedience, and faith; bruised spices
are the more fragrant. So that in all these respects, and many other such like,
we may take comfort in the saddest things that befall us: Ps. 23:4, 'Thy rod and
thy staff doth comfort me.' We do not fear our iniquities when we bear these
It followeth in the text, 'He bare the sins of many;' that is, of the elect, not
of all without exception. The same was in the former verse, 'For he shall bear
their iniquities.' And so in other places: Rom. 5:19, 'As by one man's
disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be
made righteous.' So in the 15th verse, 'The gift by grace, which is by one man,
Jesus Christ, hath abounded to many:
Observe, that the merit of Christ's death was not extended to all. He bare the
sins of many.
I shall propose these arguments:
1. Christ died for no more than are elected.
2. The death of Christ is usually restrained in scripture to such a number and
such a company that shall be saved.
3. Christ must needs save all that he intended to save.
4. All those to whom Christ intended the merit of his sufferings, they shall
have it applied to them.
5. Because Christ's special love was only to few.
6. Because Christ doth not pray for all, and therefore he did not die for all.
7. Christ's offices are of equal extent; those that have Christ have whole
Use 1. If Christ did not intend the merit of his sufferings to all, and bore
only the sins of many, it standeth us upon to see that we be of the number of
those for whom Christ died. I shall use a motive or two to you.
1. The misery of those that bear their own sins. In what a sad case are you if
you should bear the heavy and insupportable load of your own sins! Consider and
look about you for the Lord's sake, and see if you be some of Christ's royal
priesthood, and a chosen generation. You may know it by the effects of Christ in
the hearts of the faithful, in your own sense and experiences, in the
communications of the word, and how it will be with you hereafter.
[1.] By what Christ felt when he took our sins from us. Job saith, Job 6:4, 'The
arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison thereof drinketh up my spirit;
the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.' Christ lost the
comfortable apprehensions of God's favour. Wherever there is sin, there will be
a separation. 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' His soul was
exceeding sorrowful, felt strange agonies and passions, which are the more
remarkable because of the eminency of the person; had these things been found in
us, it had not been so notable. Weak spirits are soon dismayed and terrified at
anything that hath but a dreadful appearance. Glover, the martyr, was so
affected with the sense of some backsliding, that for some years he lost the use
and pleasure of his senses. But for Christ to be sad, Christ in agonies, Christ
to sweat drops of blood, it maketh it the more noted.
 By what effects it hath upon the saints. When the little finger of God hath
been upon them, oh! how have they roared through their own folly all the day
long! Ps. 40:12, 'Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, therefore my heart
faileth.' All life and spirit is gone when the soul laboureth under the guilt of
one sin. All the racks in the world are nothing to the rack of conscience: Luke
23:31, 'For if they do these things in the green tree, what shall be done to the
[3.] Consider your sense and experience. When conscience hath been a little
opened, oh! what horrors and disquiets have they felt, and how sore a bondage
has there been upon men, good or bad! Sometimes God giveth his own people a
taste what it is to bear their own sins, especially under some great judgment or
fears of death. A man can divert other griefs: Prov. 18:14, 'The spirit of a man
will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear?' Oh, the
intolerableness of a conscience wounded with sin! Do not your joints smite one
another for fear when you see the handwriting against you? A man hath the best
apprehension, of such things in such a case. And then, oh! for thousands of rams
and ten thousand rivers of oil, Micah 6:7. Then ten thousand worlds would he
give to set his soul free. What would Spira have done when under terrors? So Mr
Democke, under what desertion was he for eating with too much delight and
inconsiderate greediness, who, as Mr Bolton witnesseth, crieth out, Oh, the hell
of my conscience! So for ungodly men. Cain crieth out, Gen. 4:13, 'My punishment
is greater than I can bear,' desperately murmuring against justice. And Judas
hanged himself, thinking thereby to be rid of the terrors of his conscience.
Even in the experiences of this life, God showeth what it is to bear sin.
[4.] Consider the life to come, and the threatenings of the word concerning
those that die in their sins and bear their own transgressions. Oh, how sad will
it be to be haled by devils, and added to the rest of the spirits now in prison,
and reserved in chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day! When
sins, that now are like sleepy lions, shall arise enraged and tear our souls,
and there be none to deliver, as Ps. 50:22. Oh, this is the portion of them that
bear their own burden and their own transgression!
2. The happiness of those whose sins are borne by Christ. No guilt can be
charged upon them, no punishment can be laid upon them, no sins, no guilt shall
be laid upon them; the scapegoat hath carried them away into a land of darkness
Jer. 50:20, 'In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquities of
Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and
they shall not be found.' So Ps. 103:12, 'As far as the east is from the west,
so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.' They are quite out of sight;
our iniquities are not where we are. No punishment is to be laid upon us; God
will not exact the debt twice, of us and Christ too. Something corrective may be
done to us, but nothing penal; justice is satisfied, anger appeased, the sting
of afflictions is plucked out, and all serveth to make us the more meet for
glory. It were but a poor pardon if God should retain the punishment. The rod
Let these things then persuade you to consider whether you are of the number of
those whose sins Christ bare in his body.
But you will say, How shall we know whether we be of that number?
I answer in these propositions:
1. Your first care must not be to look to God's election. Hidden things belong
to God; man must regard duty: Deut. 29:29, 'The secret things belong to the Lord
our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children
for ever.' We are overwise when we would pry into the secrets of heaven. God's
secret will hath relation to his own actions, his revealed will to ours. We must
not look to what he will do, but what he will have us do.
2. Our duty is to believe till the matter be cleared to us. Beg faith, or act
faith. There is a double act: To look upon Christ as bearing the sins of the
world, and to see a full satisfaction in Christ, and so at least a possibility
for our souls being saved: John 1:29, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away
the sins of the world.' See him bearing sins upon the cross. Men bear their own
sins when they cannot look up: Ps. 40:12, 'Mine iniquities have taken hold upon
me, so that I am not able to look up.' Oh, be not always poring upon sin; a
wound always rubbed cannot be cured. See a satisfaction made by Christ, and so
you may have comfort in Christ. Secondly, To present Christ to the Father in
your own behalf; show him your surety, lay your hands upon the head of the
sacrifice before the Lord: when the debt is satisfied, God looketh that you
should come to him for an acquittance. Oh, desire it may be sealed up to your
souls; say, Lord, was not thy justice satisfied in Christ? Do not make
particular exceptions where God makes none. This is that God hath required of
thee, to believe and fetch out your pardon. Oh, there hangeth a weight of guilt
upon you, and he invited the heavy laden to come to him for ease and rest. Thus
doing, you may haply come to know and to determine that you are of the number.
3. This being done, God is many times pleased to clear it up fully to some of
his people, that their names were some of those that were given to Christ, whose
sins he was to bear and expiate; thy name is written upon the breast of thy High
Priest, and thy sins upon his back. Those that lie in the bosom of Christ, they
have the Spirit of Christ, that revealeth the secrets of heaven to them, the
purposes and decrees of love; the sealed fountain is broke open, and joys flow
in upon their spirits. And there are dispositions by which the soul concludeth
her interest in Christ. I shall name two. They are
[1.] A humble and thankful acknowledgment in the sense of so great a privilege;
the soul admireth the mercy, and wondereth that he should look after such poor
worms as we are, that he should give Christ a charge concerning us, and trust
Christ with the care and good of their souls, the expiation of their sins. I
say, the sense of all this maketh them humble and thankful: 1 Peter 2:9, 'That
ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into
his marvellous light.'
[2.] There will be answerable effects to such a privilege in heart and life: 1
Peter 2:24, 'Who his own self bare our sins in his own body upon the tree, that
we, being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness.' Corruptions are more
mortified, and graces more quickened. If Christ bare our sins, we shall feel his
Spirit; he will exchange with us. He felt the. wrath of God, and we feel the
joys of his Spirit. He took our sins, and he will not leave till he hath
communicated to us his grace and glory.
And he made intercession for the transgressors.
These words are the fourth considerable particular in Christ's conflict, a noted
circumstance either at or upon his death. Some make them to be of a more private
and restrained sense; others, of a more public and general. I shall exclude
neither, for they are one subordinate to the other. Those that look upon them as
words of a private and particular concernment, make them to relate to that
prayer of Christ on the cross, Luke 23:34, 'Father, forgive them, for they know
not what they do;' a circumstance that extremely commendeth the love and
patience of Christ, when, in the midst of the extremity of his sufferings, he
doth not think of revenge and retaliation, but of mercy, and doing his
persecutors good. Others look upon them as if the prophet did aim at some
greater matter, namely, as implying the whole mediation and intercession of
Christ, which as a high priest he presenteth to the Father, and by virtue of it
pleadeth to him in our behalf. I shall exclude neither of these senses; for the
former is but a part and pledge of this, it is a discovery of those bowels that
are in Christ to poor sinners.
From the former observe, that Christ prayed for his persecutors. Our translation
inclineth to this sense, as reading in the praeter tense 'He made intercession
for the transgressors;' whereas the original will bear, 'He shall make
intercession for the transgressors,' as referring it to some particular men, not
transgressors indefinitely. The point being historical, the prophecy of the text
and the testimony of Luke is confirmation sufficient. I shall inquire under what
notion and consideration he made this prayer, and so apply it.
Christ in this and such like actions is to be considered in a double regard:
1. As a holy, godly man; so he was to fulfil all righteousness.
2. As a mediator and public person, that was to be our High Priest, to satisfy
In the first sense the scripture proposeth Christ as an example; in the second,
as an object of our faith. His actions are partly for satisfaction, so his
mediatory actions; and partly for our imitation, as an exemplary pattern. Which
distinction and several references not being weighed, we lose much comfort and
instruction which otherwise we might find. You shall see these actions of Christ
in scripture are joined both together in one place: 1 Peter 2:21, 'Because
Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his
steps.' In the former clause he is to be looked upon and considered as Mediator;
in the other as an eminent, holy, and godly man, as a pattern. Both these two
must be carefully distinguished, as in all other matters of this nature, so
especially in the prayers of Christ; as in that prayer, 'Father, if it be
possible, let this cup pass from me,' Mat. 26:39. That prayer was uttered by
Christ as a private, godly man, for as Mediator he did not desire it. As a
private godly man, he was to have such natural abhorrences of evil as we have,
and to refer himself to the will of God. And this distinction is the rather to
be marked, because Christ's prayers as a godly man, his private prayers, were
only a testimony and instance of duty, and so might not be granted. But as to
his mediatory prayers, he was heard always, John 11:42; for these were of equal
merit with his sufferings, whose fruit and intent could not be frustrated and
To apply this to the matter in hand: Was this prayer of Christ for the
persecutors uttered as the private prayer of a godly man in obedience to the
law, or as Mediator of the covenant?
I answerYou must consider it both ways:
1. As of a private man, a man subject to the law, and that would fulfil all
righteousness, and would exemplify his own doctrine: Mat. 5:44, 'But I say unto
you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate
you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.' Christ
would teach us by his practice, as well as by his precept, to, pray for enemies.
For 'knowing what was in man,' John 2:25, that is, the state of men's hearts,
whether they would be saved or no, and knowing some of these would not be saved,
he could not pray for them as Mediator, but as a private man; his prayers were
conditional, that God would forgive them, in case they did repent and believe.
As when we pray God to bless a wicked man, and give him eternal life, we imply
by giving him faith and repentance; so did Christ as a testimony of duty and
obedience, and so far as he prayed for them he was heard; and therefore to some
of the persecutors they were but as the prayers of a private godly man, with a
2. The prayers of a mediator, and so Christ absolutely prayed that God would
look upon them in mercy; and so he did, upon all those that did it in ignorance,
for they enjoyed the fruit of these prayers. That intercession was the cause of
the conversion of the three thousand; for to those Peter speaketh, Acts 2:23,
'Ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain;' and from the 37th
verse downward, you shall see their conversion described, ver. 41, 'There were
three thousand souls added to the church;' they began to feel the effect of
Christ's prayer. So Acts 3:17, 'And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance
ye did it, as did also your rulers.' He goeth by that argument that Christ useth
in his prayers: the Mediator prayed for the pardon of those that did it in their
ignorance. So that you see Christ's prayers were partly as the prayers of a
mediator, and partly as of a private person. In the one there is something
propounded to our imitation; in the other, to our comfort and faith.
First, For our imitation. Consider this act as the duty of a glorious saint who
is gone before us. Christ is a rare and eminent instance of meekness, and
patience, and love, nay, even love to his enemies. Oh that we could transcribe
this copy, that such instances of obedience might be found in our hearts and
ways! We are poor, passionate spirits, that are ready to lose our lives with our
sting; like fine glasses, broken as soon as touched. We take up every
discontent, and aggravate it, being ready to revenge the wrongs that are done to
us, and cannot put up the least injuries and affronts without storming and
indignation. Angry spirits will have satisfaction. We think provocation an
excuse for passion. The son of an Israelitish woman and an Israelitish man
strove in the camp, and the son blasphemed the name of the Lord, for which he
was stoned to death, Lev. 24:10-14. Christ was provoked, but he was not
passionate, but prayed for his persecutors.
We learn three things in this instance, which we cannot reflect upon without the
shame of our own faces. This mirror will kill like the basilisk when we look on
1. Not to retaliate, hate, curse, revile, and pursue injuries with injuries. We
cannot come to this: 1 Peter 2:23, 'Who when he was reviled, reviled not again.'
It is otherwise with us; rather than take an example from Christ, we take it
from our enemies, do as they do to us. Why should a man imitate that which be
judgeth evil in others? Revenge and injury differ but in order; the one is
first, the other second. Revenge is a sweet evil; nothing more pleasing to
nature, and more contrary to grace. Nothing more pleasing to nature Patience, in
the eye of nature, is a kind of weakness and servility. Men will plead for this;
but Solomon saith, Prov. 24:29, 'Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to
me.' Aristotle saith, it is as reprovable to love an enemy as to hate a friend;
and he saith, it argueth a servile, slow wit, and a disingenious spirit. In
direct opposition to which Solomon saith, Prov. 19:11, 'The discretion of a man
deferreth his anger, and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.' It is a
man's honour; it is not a servile, but a Christian and free spirit. And it is
the most contrary to grace,; for giving is many times made the condition of the
promises, and the measure of our expectations from God: 'Forgive as we forgive.'
It is much, even a meritorious act in our thoughts, if we do but pass by an
2. We learn to do good, and seek the good of others, to feed' and supply a
hungry, thirsty enemy: Prov. 25:21, 'If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to
eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.' David saith, Ps. 35:12,
'They rewarded me evil for good, to the spoiling of my soul.' But in ver. 13, he
saith, 'When they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth, I humbled my soul with
fasting.' It is much that the scripture requireth obedience in the least and
lowest offices, where one would think our care were excused: Exod. 23:4,5, 'If
thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it
back to him again. If thou seest the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his
burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.' To
reduce the straying ox or ass, and to ease the oppressed, these are offices of
humanity that men express to their friends; but God requireth it to enemies: 'Do
good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and
persecute you,' Mat. 5:44. Nay, do not excuse yourselves by a colour and show of
religion. Religion, that should be the judge, is a party, and the restraint is
made the fuel to passion. The very persecutors are named. We are apt to allow
ourselves in the exorbitancy of our passions, under the colourable pretences of
religion and duty; nay, not only when it is your enemy, but God's when a man is
a persecutor, you are to do him good.
3. To do the best good for them, not only to wish them all the good in the
world, but seek the good of their souls. Christ prayed, 'Father, forgive them;'
that God would convince them of their sin, and reform and pardon them. Thus John
converted a man that came to rob him. Our duty is expressed, not only by doing
good, but by blessing and praying for them, Mat. 5:44. You should mind their
good, pity poor blind souls, which we too often neglect for our friends, and
those to whom we are engaged. Oh, when have you done this to those that have
wronged and injured you? Alas! they have no light, they have no better
principles; go and mourn over their souls to God. What sweet comfort shall a man
have in his spirit, when he doth so really mind their good. This is a hard
lesson, how shall we make it easy?
[l.] Consider you have God the Father's pattern for it, and the special precept
of Christ for it: 'Do good to them that hate you, bless them that curse you, and
pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.' And you have the
pattern of Christ for it, who prayed for the persecutors and transgressors. And
the pattern of God the Father: Mat. 5:45,' He maketh his sun to rise on the evil
and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and unjust.' They come not, by
chance and the ordinary course of nature. None can be so much an enemy to you as
sinners are to God, yet they have his rain and his sun. It is at God's disposal
to exclude their right; there are none of these things but God could keep from
them, and that justly too, yet it is godlike to bestow them, and it is man's
perfection. It is the glory of man to imitate the superior beings, God and
angels. Children, you know, when they first come to have the use of their
reason, their pride is to imitate the actions of grown men. Why should not we
then imitate those of God? Nay, further, you have the pattern of the saints, as
well as the pattern of the Most High, that you may not think it an inimitable
pattern. Stephen cried with a loud voice, 'Lord, lay not this sin to their
charge,' Acts 7:60. Note his vehemency, 'He cried with a loud voice;' his tender
love and compassion, 'Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.' The sense of your
privileges and prerogative should make you do more than others. It was an
accusation, 1 Cor. 3:3, 'Ye walk as men.' Should not Christians do more than
publicans and heathens? Mat. 5:46, 'If ye love them that love you, what reward
have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?' Christians must have something
preeminent and rare. Where is your differing excellency? Oh, go and shame
yourselves with these considerations.
[2.] Consider the inducements; such as these:
(1.)The calmness of your spirit. If ever any were wise, they are wise that get
and keep this frame of spirit. Men would find more pleasure in holy meekness and
Christian endeavours for patience, than possibly they can in the pleasure of
revenge. Vexations disturb the quiet of the heart; not only your affections, but
your consciences. For can I do mine enemy a greater pleasure than to let him
take away my contentment from me? It is a madness, when I am wronged by others,
to wrong myself. David's heart smote him for cutting off the lap of Saul's
garment, that was his enemy; but what a comfort is it when, like an oak, we can
endure the angry blasts in an unmoveable posture.
(2.) The likelihood of gaining upon them. Saul wept when he saw David's
tenderness towards him: 1 Sam. 24:19, 'If a man find his enemy, will he let him
go well away?' This is not usual. It is expressed by 'heaping coals of fire upon
his head,' Prov. 25:22.. You may make him pliable to your purposes. They are men
of distorted depraved natures, that will not be won by kindness.
(3.) Your acceptance with God: Prov. 25:22, 'And the Lord shall reward thee.'
You will say, it will be labour lost. The sincere endeavours of duty are not
lost with God; the Lord shall reward thee. Christ did much for the unthankful
Jews, but he comforts himself with this, 'My reward is with thee.' A pattern for
ministers to deal with opposers in meekness; you get nothing but scorn and
contempt with men, but your judgment is with the Lord. There is much comfort in
the sincerity and faithfulness of your endeavours.
Secondly, Look upon this intercession of Christ as a part of his mediation. Oh,
what a glorious instance is this of Christ's love I what a pledge and token of
those bounteous dispositions that are in his heart to poor sinners! Do but
consider the circumstances that may commend it to you:
1. Who prayeth: Christ, one that could destroy them with his glory easy enough.
We say we forgive men when we cannot harm them; power swells the mind; many
would be cruel enough if it were in their power. Christ could command twelve
legions of angels if he would have prayed in another strain: Mat. 26:53,
'Thinkest thou that I cannot pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me
more than twelve legions of angels?' But he doth not say, 'Father, send me
twelve legions of angels;' but,' Father, forgive them.' Alas! one angel was
enough, 2 Kings 19:35, to destroy a hundred fourscore and five thousand in
Sennacherib's camp. But he prayeth for plenty of compassions, though in man's
eye the other would have been a rare vindication of his glory.
2. Consider when he prayed. In the very act of his sufferings he seeks mercy for
the instruments of his sufferings; he is full of love when the world is full of
spite: 1 Cor. 11:23, 'The same night in which he was betrayed, he took bread.'
When they were devising mischief, he was devising comfort. He taketh Paul, Acts
9, breathing out threatenings; and scorners have been brought upon their faces
by an ordinance. We pardon when got rid of the misery, and perceive it is
advantageous to us; but Christ pardons in the height of his sorrows. A man would
have thought that the sharp sense of his sufferings should have embittered his
spirit. Oh, the invincible love of Christ to poor sinners! It is much that he
intercedeth in heaven;, but that he should upon the cross say, 'Father, forgive
them,' we cannot but admire and adore till there be no spirit left within us.
3. For whom he prayed. For the transgressors, vile sinners, that offered him all
the indignities in the world; them that had mocked, buffeted, spit upon him, and
by their clamorous importunity got him to the cross, and gave him vinegar to
drink, and placed him between two malefactors, and desired a murderer to be
released before him. They cursed themselves, 'His blood be upon us;' they prayed
backward, as we say, for themselves. He was placed between two thieves. Now, he
made intercession for these trangressors. Go home now, and see if you can find
any just exception, among all your sins, against the love of Christ. Come and
urge it; he prayed for the transgressors, for scorners of love, men that did not
pray for themselves, injurious, blasphemers; name anything of higher
aggravations; for those that scorned him in the very service and labour of love.
Holy David vowed he would cut off all in the house of Nabal, that scorned and
slighted his love. He vowed, but Christ prayed for such.
4. How he prayed. He pleadeth for them: 'Forgive them, for they know not what
they do.' You see he pitcheth upon the most favourable construction that could
be made of their fact; it is a bad fact, but they are poor ignorant people.
Arguments in prayer imply earnestness; and Christ useth such an argument as
might most lessen the offence, and be accepted with God. The usual plea is bare
ignorance; and therefore Peter useth that: Acts 3:17, 'I wot ye did it in
ignorance.' So Acts 17:30, 'The times of ignorance God winked at.'. So 1 Tim.
1:13, 'I did it ignorantly, and in unbelief.' If any excuse will serve, that
doth. Oh, consider how willing Christ is to save poor lost sinners! Here is a
great deal of comfort for poor, humble souls, whoever they be.
 Are they men that are sensible of their natural estate, oppressed with the
sense of their sins, that think Christ will not regard them? He prayeth for the
transgressors. Cannot you believe? See that place, John 16:10, 'He shall
convince the world of righteousness, for I go to the Father.' Christ is gone to
send the comforting Spirit, that shall give you clear gospel; he is gone to
heaven to plead with the Father for you. You desire to believe, and Christ
prayeth that you may. Do not think that Christ is only careful of the elect
regenerate, he is also careful of the elect uncalled: John 10:16, 'And other
sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall
hear my voice.' He hath regard to those in that state you apprehend yourselves
to be in. And he doth not only care for you, but pray for you: John 17:20,
'Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also who shall believe on me
through their word.' As he wooeth you by his Spirit, so the Father for your
sakes. Would you believe, then all were clear: Christ is praying you may
believe. You are dealing with yourselves, with your own hearts, and Christ is
dealing with the Father in heaven about the same matter. There is comfort in
this word transgressors.
[2.] Are they believers that groan under wants, or inward and outward
distresses? Christ, that interceded for transgressors, certainly will intercede
for you. Oh, if unbelievers have comfortable hopesChrist prayed for themwhat
will he do for you? It is a mighty comfort that you have by Christ's
intercession what you would have: Jer. 30:21, 'Who is this that engaged his
heart to approach unto me, saith the Lord?' Christ hath engaged all his bowels
and pities, that he will draw nigh to God, and plead with him for your sakes.
Christ prayeth when you pray; the Spirit of Christ prays in you, and Christ
himself prays for you. What is it that troubleth you? Do the cares of the world
encroach upon your spirits and encumber them? Or else are you dejected by the
fears and sorrows of it? In John 17:15, Christ prayed that you might be 'kept
from the evil' of the world, either the one or the other way. Do you want the
comforts of the Spirit, and do you sit in darkness, and see no light? John
14:16,17, 'I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that
he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot
receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him, for he
dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.' Is it opposition against your private
endeavours in duty, or public endeavours for reformation? Zech. 3:2, 'And the
Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee.' Is it for unity among God's people?
John 17:21, 'That they may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee,
that they also may be one in us.' Or for success in duties? Rev. 8:3,4, 'Another
angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given
unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints
upon the golden altar which was before the throne: and the smoke of the incense,
which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the
angel's hand.' Or is it for deliverance? Zech. 1:12, 'And the angel of the Lord
answered and said, How long wilt thou not have mercy upon Jerusalem?' And he
would not give over till God gave him some comfortable words, ver. 13.
And he made intercession for the transgressors.
The last observation from this last clause is this:
That Jesus Christ is, and is alone, the Intercessor for poor sinners.
I shall be very brief on this point, because so many English authors have
treated upon it, to whose judicious resolution I refer you.
Now, that Jesus Christ is so, appeareth by many places, which show this is his
work now in heaven: Rom. 8:34, 'It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is
risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession
for us;' Heb. 7:25, 'Who liveth for ever, to make intercession for us.' It is
the business of his endless life. And that he alone is the Intercessor is also
fully manifest from the scripture: Isa. 59:16, 'And he saw, and there was no
man, and wondered that there was no intercessor;' no man that would come between
him and wrath, though the case of his people was sad and deplorable: Isa. 63:5,
'I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to
uphold.' The prophet speaketh there as if it were the inquiry of God's eternal
thoughts to find out a meet person for intercessor, but none could be found. But
why is Christ the alone Intercessor? The reasons of the point are:
1. To answer the high priest under the law, who was not only to slay the
sacrifice, but to intercede; both were the duties of the priesthood. First, the
beast was slain without the camp, and then blood was carried into the holy of
holies, and then prayers were made. This the apostle proveth in the Epistle to
the Hebrews, chap. 13:11, 'For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought
into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burnt without the camp.' So
Christ, after he had offered himself a sacrifice for sin, 'is set down at the
right hand of the Majesty on high,' Heb. 1:3, and in many other places. We were
to have a perfect high priest in all points.
2. To carry salvation in a way of mercy as well as justice, and to have it by
entreaty as well as satisfaction, Lev. 16:14, as the high priest was to bring
the blood within the veil, and to sprinkle it on the mercy-seat, so our High
Priest, having satisfied divine justice, by giving himself for us an offering
and a sacrifice to God, he hath carried blood within the veil, so that now we
may take hold of God with both hands, we may present the satisfaction of Christ,
and yet beg mercy. The sending of Christ did not only glorify justice, but
grace; and, therefore, Christ's address must be to both: Rom. 3:24, 'Being
justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ'
There was an act of free grace as well as justice. These two are sweetly coupled
together: 'Ask of me, and I will give thee,' Ps. 2:8. Though it were his
purchased inheritance, yet he would ask.
But secondly, Why is it Christ alone?
1. Because none else would undertake it; none of the creatures have such
bounteous affections: John 15:13, 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a
man lay down his life for his friends.' The two emphatical words are life and
friends. Some creatures have gone far, as Abraham in offering his son, Lot his
two daughters, and the father of the Levite's concubine in Judges.
2. Because none could intercede and come between wrath and justice, as Christ
did. Not man for man; one rebel cannot undertake for another: Ps. 49:7, 'None of
them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.' One
man cannot undertake for another. 'It became us to have a high priest, who was
holy, harmless, and undefiled, separate from sinners.' Nor any angel, for he
would have perished in the attempt; they needed an intercessor themselves to
But what is this intercession? I shall open the matter to you a little. The word
signifieth coming between; one that undertaketh for us, that intercedeth for us;
that was the duty of the high priest after slaying the sacrifice. This Christ
did as a high priest, after offering himself upon the cross.
For distinctness sake I shall give you the parts. This intercession is
1. Partly in heaven; and
2. Partly in the hearts of believers.
1. Partly in heaven. There these acts are performed by Christ:[1.] His
presenting himself in our natures, and in our stead: Heb. 9:24, he is said to
'appear in the presence of God for us.' Christ is 'not entered into the holy
place made with hands, but into heaven itself.' The high priest had the names of
the twelve tribes written on his breast, and Christ the names of his redeemed
ones on his heart. He cometh there not only in our nature, but as our common
person, as one that was to represent, and to do our business with the Father.
[2.] He presents his own merits, that the Father may turn his eyes from us, and
look upon that everlasting righteousness that he brought with him into heaven in
our nature. He bringeth his blood within the veil. Though Christ were on earth,
yet he could not despatch all his offices of priesthood on earth, as those that
had to do with typical sacrifices: Heb. 8:4, 'For if he were on earth he should
not be a priest, seeing that there priests offer gifts according to the law.'
And this blood of Christ is 'the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better
things than that of Abel,' Heb. 12:24. We by our sins causing the Lord Christ to
die, had deserved that his blood should speak against us, as Abel's did against
Cain; no, but it speaketh to God to pacify wrath, and pardon our sins, and give
peace to our consciences. These merits plead hard for us, which is what we call
the mediation of Christ.
3. He undertaketh for us, and promiseth obedience to God the Father in our
behalf; therefore he is said to be our surety, Heb. 7:22. He promiseth that we
shall subscribe to the conditions of God, and pass over into the power of the
4. He prayeth and intercedeth, and maketh his request for us, as being sensible
of our infirmities, as the high priest was to bless the people, that is, to pray
for them. Therefore it is said, 1 John 2:2, 'We have an advocate with the
Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.' There Christ is dealing with God for us.
When he was here upon earth, he was a-praying whole nights, and there he is
praying whole ages: Jer. 30:21, 'Their governor shall proceed from the midst of
them, and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me: who is
this that engageth his heart to approach unto me? saith the Lord.' His heart is
engaged, even all his bowels and pities, to draw near to God, and plead with him
for your sakes. These are the acts of Christ's intercession in heaven.
2. In the hearts of his people; and there the acts of Christ coming between us
and wrath are these two:
[1.] He applieth his merit: the application is by virtue of his intercession.
The scriptures everywhere put a great deal of weight upon this, Rom. 5:10.
Therefore it is said, 'Much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his
life: He beginneth to save us here by his Spirit, sanctifying all inward and
outward means for the bringing of us to the full participation of all the
benefits he hath purchased for us; but the actual application is afterwards.
[2.] He prays in us. The Spirit's interceding in our hearts is but the answer
and echo of Christ s intercession in heaven: Rom. 8:26, 'The Spirit also helpeth
our infirmities; for we know not what to pray for as we ought; but the Spirit
itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.' The
workings of Christ's Spirit in prayer show how Christ's heart is affected
towards you in heaven.
Use. Is comfort. Think of Christ as a Mediator and Intercessor, for whose sake
we shall be accepted with God. To open this comfort, consider for whom he
prayeth, not only for present believers, but for all them that shall believe
hereafter. For what? All mercies, the public glorifying of God's name: John
12:30, 'This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.' Private
acceptance in duties, efficacy of ordinances, doing away guilt in holy services.
Exod. 28:38, the high priest was to bear the iniquity of their holy things. Here
is comfort in Christ's success in prayer: the Father always heareth him, John
11:42. In the person praying, the Son of his love, a Son that hath made
satisfaction; he can bring blood with him. It is a great privilege for us to
pray to God, but it is a much greater to have God praying for us.
THE END OF VOL. III.