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Or do we
thus reminded that the 6 Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” endured on earth the life of a pilgrim !" We fancy the imprint of his feet before us. journey by water? And we are equally reminded of the history of Christ; how he calmed the fears of his mariner disciples, and hushed the ruffle of the deep, to show that with Him there was something more than the 66 manner of men," whom even the winds and the seas were accustomed to obey! Thus in our converted condition, every thing in grace and in nature is sanctified unto us “ by the word of God and prayer,” and by the remembrance of the cross. This was the display of love—the exhibition of mercy ! But for this instrumentality we had never been 6 in Christ Jesus"
66 made nigh.” 0! the wisdom of God combined with his benevolence!
66 Let Jews on their own law rely,
And Greeks of wisdom boast;
And there I fix my trust.”
Let us now proceed to another part of the subject-to notice more fully
III. The medium of this great change--as stated in the words of the text to be “ by the blood of Christ.”
6 Blood” as used in the phraseology of scripture has a very important signification. It was continually shed under the old Testament economy. This we adverted to in the former discourse, as tending to intimate and prefigure the necessity of an atonement. We have now to repeat that every branch and every department of that ancien institution was typical, and designed to confirm the declara tion that “ without the shedding of blood there is no remis
sion.” But it was not any kind of blood that was efficacious enough for this purpose. The blood of bulls and of goats could never
away sin. These simply pointed to a better sacrifice, which in the fulness of time was to be offered up.—That sacrifice was Jesus Christ. Was he not, if former sentiments be admitted, a sufficient sacrifice for sin ? So sufficient that “ by the one offering up of himself he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” In this sense of it, the blood of Christ was atoning-designed to expiate the guilt of the world. But for such a sacrifice as this, there never had been a way opened up, by which, either the Ephesians or ourselves could have been brought nigh unto God : and therefore, whilst the apostle in the language of the text shews the different kinds of state in the history of the Ephesians, at different times, he equally reminds them of the medium, by which their former condition was removed and a better introduced. If once they were distant from God, and were now made nigh, let them never forget that it was by the blood of Christ. This points out to us two things—first the merit of the blood of Christ, and secondly, its application to the hearts of the Ephesians.
1. It intimates the merit of the blood of Christ.
In looking into the ceremonies connected with the ancient dispensation, we are forcibly struck with the frequent use of blood under that dispensation, and as forming a prominent part of their then modes of worship. The apostle alludes very distinctly to this when he says in his Epistle to the Hebrews, that “ Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” And in the same place, adverting to the original institution of that economy, he says, 66 When Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.” There was no intrinsic excellency however in any or in all of these things. The whole law contained but a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things themselves; and therefore the consciences of the worshippers were never perfected or purified by those things. Now as opposed to this infant state of things, the superior excellency of the blood of our Great High Priest is continually referred to in the gospel. “Christ," says the apostle, “ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building ; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls, and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh"-as the utmost that they could accomplish : “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God ?” Here we have stated for our notice two kinds of bloodthe sacrificial blood offered up under the law, and the blood of Christ shed on the cross. The one barely purified externally-the other purged the conscience, the seat of internal defilement. The one never took away sin ; and he who had been one of the devotedly attached to the law, confesses the utter inability of this blood to do any thing for the soul.— The other is the absolute remission of sin. The shedding of the blood of Christ therefore, when upon the cross he gave himself for his guilty people, as an offering and sacrifice unto God, indicated that the only true and effectual atonement was then made. Hence by this blood he is said to have purchased the church. Believers have redemption through his blood : and they are said to be justified by faith in his blood. Here is unfolded to us the secret, how God is merciful to our unrighteousness, and our sins and iniquities” he is willing to remember no more.” It can only be by virtue of the spiritual excellency of our Redeemer's sacrifice. In the cross, “ Mercy and truth have met together-righteousness and peace have kissed each other !" The law of Heaven was fulfilled in his life, and an atonement for transgression effected by his death! These remarks
may suffice to shew us the merit attaching to the Saviour's blood. Let this further be considered as the foundation of the acceptance of these Ephesians in the sight of God, and the only foundation of our own. Every thing else upon which to build for Heaven is vain, insecure, unsafe! This only is the blood that maketh an atonement for your souls.
2. The merit of this blood was felt by the Ephesians in its application by the Spirit of God to their hearts. We shall here suppose a disease of some kind to exist ; and then a remedy to be proclaimed. It may or it may not be an effectual remedy. But it is put to the test by application. Its efficacy or its inefficacy can be known in no other way. And if from these observations, we now turn to the case of the Ephesians, we find that the application of the blood of Christ was to them the application of an effectual remedy for the removal of a particular disease. They were spiritually
broken ; and the disease was making further inroads, and must infallibly have effected destruction and ruin, but for the timely intervention of the gospel ! In their unconverted state they knew not even the nature, much less the extent of the disease that had so awfully wounded them; but when revealed to them by the gospel, it was that, which equally opened up to them the character and the efficiency of the remedy. The power of that gospel to save was applied to the conscience; and hence it became, by the application of the Spirit, “the gospel of their salvation.” Their need of a Saviour was felt-a belief in his sufficiency for all the purposes of pardon and acceptance with God led to a reception of him ; and peace with God, and peace with themselves was the happy effect! This in so many words was the application of the merit of the Redeemer's blood, or the making over to the sinner the blessings of the atoning sacrifice. It need hardly be necessary to add that this blood cannot be applied literally. The application of which we speak is spiritual-suited to the nature of the disease. It comes from the Spirit of God to the spirit of man. It has to do with convincing us of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment-with the way of acceptance by a substitutionary sacrifice, and with the righteousness of another, imputed to us and received by faith. When our eyes are opened to see our own helplessness, and something of the excellency of Christ; it is only then that the soul is prepared to understand and to feel an application of the merit of his blood. Such was the way in which the Ephesians were made nigh.— They were stript of every thing pretendedly meritorious in self, and invited to look away to Christ, to receive his sacrifice as the ground of the remission of sins, and of hope before God. They did so, and thus