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In general of the end of the death of Christ, as it is in the Scripture proposed.
By the end of the death of Christ, we mean in general, both, — first, that which his Father and himself intended in it; and, secondly, that which was effectually fulfilled and accomplished by it. Concerning either we may take a brief view of the expressions used by the Holy Ghost:—
I. For the first. Will you know the end wherefore, and the intention wherewith, Christ came into the world? Let us ask himself (who knew his own mind, as also all the secrets of his Father’s bosom), and he will tell us that the “Son of man came to save that which was lost,” Matt. xviii. 11, — to recover and save poor lost sinners; that was his intent and design, as is again asserted, Luke xix. 10. Ask also his apostles, who know his mind, and they will tell you the same. So Paul, 1 Tim. i. 15, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Now, if you will ask who these sinners are towards whom he hath this gracious intent and purpose, himself tells you, Matt. xx. 28, that he came to “give his life a ransom for many;” in other places called us, believers, distinguished from the world: for he “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father,” Gal. i. 4. That was the will and intention of God, that he should give himself for us, that we might be saved, being separated from the world. They are his church: Eph. v. 25–27, “He loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish:” which last words 158express also the very aim and end of Christ in giving himself for any, even that they may be made fit for God, and brought nigh unto him; — the like whereof is also asserted, Tit. ii. 14, “He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Thus clear, then, and apparent, is the intention and design of Christ and his Father in this great work, even what it was, and towards whom, — namely, to save us, to deliver us from the evil world, to purge and wash us, to make us holy, zealous, fruitful in good works, to render us acceptable, and to bring us unto God; for through him “we have access into the grace wherein we stand” Rom. v. 2.
II. The effect, also, and actual product of the work itself, or what is accomplished and fulfilled by the death, blood-shedding, or oblation of Jesus Christ, is no less clearly manifested, but is as fully, and very often more distinctly, expressed; — as, first, Reconciliation with God, by removing and slaying the enmity that was between him and us; for “when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,” Rom. v. 10. “God was in him reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them,” 2 Cor. v. 19; yea, he hath “reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ,” verse 18. And if you would know how this reconciliation was effected, the apostle will tell you that “he abolished in his flesh the enmity, the law of commandments consisting in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby,” Eph. ii. 15, 16: so that “he is our peace,” verse 14. Secondly, Justification, by taking away the guilt of sins, procuring remission and pardon of them, redeeming us from their power, with the curse and wrath due unto us for them; for “by his own blood he entered into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” Heb. ix. 12. “He redeemed us from the curse, being made a curse for us,” Gal. iii. 13; “his own self bearing our sins in his own body on the tree,” 1 Pet. ii. 24. We have “all sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” but are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins” Rom. iii. 23–25: for “in him we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins,” Col. i. 14. Thirdly, Sanctification, by the purging away of the uncleanness and pollution of our sins, renewing in us the image of God, and supplying us with the graces of the Spirit of holiness: for “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself to God, purgeth our consciences from dead works that we may serve the living God,” Heb. ix. 14; yea, “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin,” 1 John i. 7. “By himself he purged our sins,” 159Heb. i. 3. To “sanctify the people with his own blood, he suffered without the gate,” chap. xiii. 12. “He gave himself for the church to sanctify and cleanse it, that it should be holy and without blemish,” Eph. v. 25–27. Peculiarly amongst the graces of the Spirit, “it is given to us,” ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ, “for Christ’s sake, to believe on him,” Phil. i. 29; God “blessing us in him with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places,” Eph. i. 3. Fourthly, Adoption, with that evangelical liberty and all those glorious privileges which appertain to the sons of God; for “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons,” Gal. iv. 4, 5. Fifthly, Neither do the effects of the death of Christ rest here; they leave us not until we are settled in heaven, in glory and immortality for ever. Our inheritance is a “purchased possession,” Eph. i. 14: “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance,” Heb. ix. 15. The sum of all is, — The death and blood-shedding of Jesus Christ hath wrought, and doth effectually procure, for all those that are concerned in it, eternal redemption, consisting in grace here and glory hereafter.
III. Thus full, clear, and evident are the expressions in the Scripture concerning the ends and effects of the death of Christ, that a man would think every one might run and read. But we must stay: among all things in Christian religion, there is scarce any thing more questioned than this, which seems to be a most fundamental principle. A spreading persuasion there is of a general ransom to be paid by Christ for all; that he died to redeem all and every one, — not only for many, his church, the elect of God, but for every one also of the posterity of Adam. Now, the masters of this opinion do see full well and easily, that if that be the end of the death of Christ which we have from the Scripture asserted, if those before recounted be the immediate fruits and products thereof, then one of these two things will necessarily follow:— that either, first, God and Christ failed of their end proposed, and did not accomplish that which they intended, the death of Christ being not a fitly-proportioned means for the attaining of that end (for any cause of failing cannot be assigned); which to assert seems to us blasphemously injurious to the wisdom, power, and perfection of God, as likewise derogatory to the worth and value of the death of Christ; — or else, that all men, all the posterity of Adam, must be saved, purged, sanctified, and glorified; which surely they will not maintain, at least the Scripture and the woeful experience of millions will not allow. Wherefore, to cast a tolerable colour upon their persuasion, they must and do deny that God or his Son had any such absolute aim or end in the death or 160blood-shedding of Jesus Christ, or that any such thing was immediately procured and purchased by it, as we before recounted; but that God intended nothing, neither was any thing effected by Christ, — that no benefit ariseth to any immediately by his death but what is common to all and every soul, though never so cursedly unbelieving here and eternally damned hereafter, until an act of some, not procured for them by Christ, (for if it were, why have they it not all alike?) to wit, faith, do distinguish them from others. Now, this seeming to me to enervate the virtue, value, fruits and effects of the satisfaction and death of Christ, — serving, besides, for a basis and foundation to a dangerous, uncomfortable, erroneous persuasion — I shall, by the Lord’s assistance, declare what the Scripture holds out in both these things, both that assertion which is intended to be proved, and that which is brought for the proof thereof; desiring the Lord by his Spirit to lead us into all truth, to give us understanding in all things, and if any one be otherwise minded, to reveal that also unto him.
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