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also tells us HOW, AND IN WHAT WAY, THE CHANGE WE WANT IS TO BE WROUGHT : how the law of God is to be established in our souls. Almighty God Himself undertakes to do it. "I will put my Laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts."
When Israel is converted unto God, it will be God's own work. So He speaks by his prophet Ezekiel, “ Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse
you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh, and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”
Thus the Lord declares that Israel's conversion unto Him shall be the work of his own hand. When their idols are cast down, and the Lord alone exalted; when their stony disobedient heart is changed into a meek submissive heart, a heart of flesh ; when God's statutes and judgments shall be loved, and reverenced, and obeyed, -it shall be through the power and grace of his Almighty Spirit working the wondrous change
Now, brethren, so it is with us.
Our change of heart and will is the work of God. The writing of his law within us must be done by the operation of his Holy Spirit.
Hence, when our Lord was speaking of this great change, He described it as a being “ born of the Spirit:” a new creation of the soul, to be wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost. And so St. Paul, speaking of all who are living in holy obedience to God, saith to them, “We are His workmanship,” the workmanship of God, “ created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
Awakened sinner, what dost thou desire ? Is it not this, to be changed in heart, to have thy soul renewed, to be freed from the law and dominion of thy sins, to have thyself subjected and conformed to the law of thy God ?
Then learn this day whither thou must go to have all this acomplished in thee. God alone can do it. And God himself undertakes the work. The Holy Spirit it is who makes it his own special office to cleanse the hearts of sinners from their sin, to put the law of God into their minds, and write it in their hearts: He has done it already for thousands : He will do it for thee. Go then, and ask Him : Create in clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
But, perhaps, some of you will inquire what right you have to expect so great a blessing? What claim have you on the Divine regard ? It is true, God makes a promise, but then, you say, are not you to do something on your part to make yourselves deserving that the promise shall be fulfilled to you? In answer to this, I would have you notice à still further and very important matter in our text.
people's place, and to endure the vengeance which their sin had merited.
This offering was' accepted. Eternal justice approved the proposal. It was settled, yea before the worlds were made, that Jesus the Son of God should become the surety for the Church, and taking on himself her sin, should suffer in her stead.
Accordingly, “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son.”
He came from heaven. He clothed himself in flesh. He was made man. 'Lo,' said He, 'I come to redeem thy children, O my Father ; I come to pay their debt, the debt contracted by their sin, the debt they owe to thy broken Law, thy outraged holiness : on me let all thy anger fall : only let them go free. I am prepared, - first to keep thy Law myself, so that I shall owe nothing on my own account, and then, whatever the weight of punishment which they deserve, whatever the terror of that curse which lies against their sin, on me let it all be poured. I give my life to ransom them.'
Such was the undertaking of the blessed Jesus. And He fulfilled it. He did obey his heavenly Father's law. He magnified it by his obedience so perfect and complete. The strictest scrutiny could find no flaw. Justice acknowledged that she had no claim against Him. He was without blemish and without spot. Sin was not in Him. Therefore for Himself He had nothing to suffer.
And for that very reason He was able to do what otherwise He could not have done. He could give himself to bear our suffering. He
received his people's guilt. The whole burden of that guilt was laid upon his head. And so He stood in the day of wrath. He presented Himself before the justice of God. Justice laid her hand on Him. Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is
my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts.” The stroke of vengeance fell.
“My soul,” said the gracious sufferer, “is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." The terrors of his Father's anger are upon him. His body languishes. His human spirit fails. “My God,” he cries, “My God, why hast Thou forsaken me ?” He bows his head, and gives up the ghost.
There, Christian brethren, see the mystery of your redemption. Christ hath given himself for you.
“He bare our sins in his own body on the tree. The good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." To ransom the Church, the Lord of glory is accursed, and dies !
O the depth of the riches of redeeming love! Believer, think on this. Christ loved
Christ loved you, and this was the proof of his love, that he gave Himself for you.
His blood was shed, and his spirit was broken, and at length he died, and all to set you free from guilt and punishment, and bring you to eternal life.
O, my brethren, how lightly we speak of these things, how little we feel of them, compared with what we ought to do! And how little do we live under the practical influence of them! Alas, who would think we owed such mercies to our Lord ? Why do we not love Him more? think of Him more ? speak of Him more? and live more to his glory? May God the Holy Spirit come and soften every heart, and teach us to feel deeply and increasingly our adorable Redeemer's love.
III. Our text carries us still further : it tells us what was the object which the Saviour had in view, when thus he gave Himself for the redemption of his Church from sin and death. It was this, “THAT HE
SANCTIFY AND CLEANSE IT WITH THE WASHING OF WATER BY THE WORD,
“ That he might sanctify and cleanse it.” The Church was not only guilty, but defiled. The Lord's people are by nature not only sinners in need of a redemption, but sinners in need of a purification. Now their redemption, as we have seen, is obtained by the suffering of their blessed Surety in their stead, This frees them from guilt. But they want more than this. Their natures are evil. Their hearts are vile. They want new hearts. They want to be freed not only from the guilt, but also from the power of sin. 'Now how is this effected ?
Jesus provides for it. It is the object He has in view': “ that He might sanctify and cleanse” his Church: might give to his people a new heart, and a right spirit, might deliver them from the dominion of the devil in their souls, might subdue their iniquities, might implant in their breasts true holiness, might produce, in their dispositions and their lives, all goodness and right