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To whet our minds, and lead us to a particular exercise of faith and love in this duty, I shall add a few words from that Scripture which I have already spoken something to upon this occasion, namely, —
John xii. 32, — “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”
This lifting up, as I said before, was the lifting up of Christ on the cross, when, as the apostle Peter tells us, “he bore,” or, as the word is, he carried up, “our sins in his own body on the tree.” Christ died for three ends:— 1. To answer an institution; 2. To fulfil a type; and, 3. To be a moral representation of the work of God in his death.
1. It was to answer the institution, that he who was hanged on a tree was accursed of God, Deut. xxi. 23. There were many other ways appointed of God to put malefactors to death among the Jews. Some were stoned; in some cases they were burned with fire; but it is only by God appointed that he that was hanged on a tree was accursed of God: and Christ died that death, to show that it was he who underwent the curse of God; as the apostle shows, Gal. iii. 13, “He was made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”
2. Christ died that death to fulfil a type. For it was a bloody and most painful death, yet it was a death wherein a bone of him was not broken; typified of him in the paschal lamb, of which a bone was not to be broken. Christ was lifted up on the cross to fulfil that type: so that though his death was bitter, lingering, painful, shameful, yet not a bone was broke; that every one might have a whole Christ, an entire Saviour, notwithstanding all his suffering and rending on our behalf.
3. He was so lifted up that it might be a moral representation unto all; to answer that other type, also, of the serpent lifted up in the wilderness: so that he was the person that might say, “Behold me, behold me.” He was lifted up between heaven and earth, that all creatures might see God had set him forth to be a propitiation.
“And I, when I am lifted up,” — what will he then do? “When I have answered the curse, when I have fulfilled the types, when I have complied with the will of God in being a propitiation, ‘I will draw all men unto me.’ ” It is placed upon Christ’s lifting up. Now that is actually past; nor was it done merely while Christ was hanging on the cross. There are two ways whereby there is a representation made of Christ being lifted up to draw men unto him:—
5951. By the preaching of the word. So the apostle tells us, Gal. iii. 1, that “Jesus Christ was evidently set forth crucified among them, before their eyes.” The great end of preaching the word is, to represent evidently Christ crucified; — it is to lift up Christ, that he may draw sinners unto him. And, —
2. It is represented in this ordinance of the Lord’s supper, wherein we show forth his death. Christ is peculiarly and eminently lifted up in this ordinance, because it is a peculiar and eminent representation of his death.
Now there are two ways of Christ’s drawing persons to himself:— 1. His way of drawing sinners to him by faith and repentance. 2. His way of drawing believers to him, as to actual communion with him.
Christ draws sinners to him by faith and repentance, as he is lifted up in the preaching of the word; and he draws believers to him, as unto actual communion, as by the word, so in an especial manner by this ordinance. I shall only speak a word on the latter, — how Christ is lifted up in this ordinance that represents his death unto us; or, how he draws us into actual communion with him.
1. He does it by his love. The principal thing that is always to be considered, in the lifting up of Christ, is his love. “Who loved me,” says the apostle, “and gave himself for me;” and, “Who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” I could show you that love is attractive, that it is encouraging and constraining. I will only leave this with you: whatever apprehensions God in this ordinance shall give you of the love of Christ, you have therein an experience of Christ’s drawing you, as he is lifted up, unto actual communion with him. It is of great concernment to you. Christ is never so lovely unto the soul of a sinner as when he is considered as lifted up; that is, as undergoing the curse of God, that a blessing might come upon us. O that he who has loved us, and because he has loved us, would draw us with the cords of his loving-kindness! as God says he does, Jer. xxxi. 3, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.”
2. The sufferings of Christ in soul and body are attractive of, and do draw the souls of believers to him. “They shall look on me whom they have pierced, and mourn.” It is a look to Christ as pierced for sin, under his sufferings, that is attractive to the souls of believers in this ordinance; because these sufferings were for us. Call to mind, brethren, some of these texts of Scripture; see what God will give you out of them:— “He was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” “He was made a curse for us;” and “he bore our sins in his own body on the tree;” and “died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us unto God.” If Jesus Christ be pleased to let in a sense of his sufferings 596for us, by these Scriptures, upon our souls, then we have another experience of his drawing us as he is lifted up.
3. Christ draws us as he is lifted up, by the effects of it. What was he lifted up for? It was to make peace with God through his blood: “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.” When? When “he made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.” It is the sacrifice of atonement; it is the sacrifice wherewith the covenant between God and us was sealed. This is one notion of the supper of our Lord. Covenants were confirmed with sacrifice. Isaac made a covenant with Abimelech, and confirmed it with sacrifice; so it was with Jacob and Laban: and in both places, when they had confirmed the covenant with a sacrifice, they had a feast upon the sacrifice. Christ by his sacrifice has ratified the covenant between God and us, and invites us in this ordinance to a participation of it. He draws us by it to faith in him, as he has made an atonement by his sacrifice.
These are some of the ways whereby Christ draws the souls of believers unto communion with him in this ordinance, that represents him as lifted up:— by expressing his love, by representing his sufferings, and tendering the sealing of the covenant as confirmed with a sacrifice, inviting us to feed on the remainder of the sacrifice that is left to us, for the nourishment of our souls. O that he would cast some of these cords of love upon our souls! for if he should be lifted up, and we should not come, if we should find no cords of love cast upon us to draw us into actual communion, we should have no advantage by this ordinance.
How shall we come in actual communion unto Christ in this ordinance, upon his drawing? what is required of us? Why, —
1. We are to come by faith, to “receive the atonement,” Rom. v. 11. We come to a due communion with Christ in this ordinance, if we come to receive the atonement made by his death, as full of divine wisdom, grace, and love; and, as the truth and faithfulness of God is confirmed in it, to receive and lay hold on this atonement, that we may have peace with God. Isa. xxvii. 5, “Let him take hold of my strength; and he shall be at peace with me.” Brethren, here is the arm of God, Christ the power of God, Christ lifted up. We ourselves have sinned, and provoked God. What shall we do? shall we set briers and thorns in battle array against God? No; says he, “I will pass through and devour such persons.” What then? “Let him take hold of my strength,” of my arm, “and be at peace.” God speaks this to every soul of us, in this lifting up of Christ. Now, receive the atonement as full of infinite wisdom, holiness, and truth.
2. Faith comes and brings the soul to Christ as he is thus lifted up; but it is always accompanied with love, whereby the soul adheres to Christ when it is come.
597Doth faith bring us to Christ, on his drawing, to receive the atonement? — set love at work to cleave unto him, to take him into our hearts and souls, and to abide with him.
3. It is to come with mourning and godly sorrow, because of our own sins. “Look unto him whom we have pierced, and mourn.” These things are very consistent. Do not think we speak things at random: they are consistent in experience, — that we should receive Christ as making an atonement, and have peace with God in the pardon of our sins, and nevertheless mourn for our own iniquities. The Lord give experience of them in your hearts!
Let us now pray that some of these cords wherewith he draws the souls of believers may be on our souls in this ordinance.
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