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the Jews—the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me," no sin of mine own to lay to my charge.
From these passages it plainly appears, that Christ knew no sin. He was a pure and spotless lamb, holy and without blemish; and it was necessary, it should be so: because if he ever had any sin of his own, he could not have obeyed and suffered for the sins of others. The infinite purity of God's law can pass by no sin. Upon the least transgression, if it be but a thought or motion in the heart, the law passes sentence and condemns; “ cursed is every one who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them.” And if nue not to do them, justice calls aloud for the inflicting of the threatened curse, and waits to see it fully executed ; therefore unless Christ continued to do all things which are written in the book of the law, he could not have obeyed and suffered for the sins of others : because he would then have suffered for his own, which must not be imagined. It would be blasphemy to suppose any such thing. When the last scene of his sufferings began, he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, a lamb without blemish and without spot, such as the ceremonial law required. You know, my brethren, that no creature could be offered in sacrifice to the Lord, if it had the least blemish or deformity. By this type was prefigured the perfect sinless purity which was to be in the great sacrifice for sin. He was to be a lamb without ble. mish, without the least spot or stain of sin, either in his nature or in his life, and such an one was the Lamb of God. The apostle says expressly, Peter, iii. 22, " he did no sin ;" and St. John, (first epistle, iii. 5,) speaks to believers-"ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins, and in him is no sin :" this was a known and established truth, that in Christ there was no sin. If judgment was laid to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, there would be found in him a perfect conformity to the law.
And this his active obedience was necessary to prepare him for his passive, that having obeyed the law actively, he might suffer passively whatever was due to our disobedience. And that righteousness by which we are accounted righteous before God, is the effect of his being obedient unto death, of his obedience to the preceptive part of the law, which was his fulfilling the righteousness of the law, and of his obedience to the vin dictive part of the law, which was his bearing the curse of it. His active obedience was absolutely perfect. He knew no sin, and therefore was every way fit and qualified to suffer for sin, “ to be made sin for us," as the apostle expresses it in my text; which words I am in the second place to consider.
Although Christ knew no sin, yet he was made sin. How could that be? How could he be made sin, who knew no sin ? He was made sin, not practically, but by imputation. He had no sin inherently in him, but had sin imputed to him, when the Lord laid upon him the iniquity of us all. In his own person there was no inherent spot or stain of sin, or any such thing. He could not touch the pollution of sin, nor could
he practically know its filthy defiling nature. He was not a drunkard, a whoremonger, a thief, or whatever you call a sinner as such. He neither was a sinner practically, nor had he ever the least inclination to be so: because his will was always in perfect harmony with the will of God. From whence it appears, that Christ was not made a polluted sinner, nor yet a guilty sinner as to the merit and desert of sin. In this respect he was not capable of being made sin. He did not, as to himself, deserve the punishment of sin, for which he suffered. Punishment is due to transgressors, but Christ had not transgressed. Even when he suffered, according to St. Peter, he was just and righteous in himself, (1.. Pet. iii. 18): “ Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust.” He was perfectly just, and therefore capable of undertaking to suffer for the
unjust, that as no suffering was due to him, the merit of what he suffered might be imputed unto them. And so it was. He freely entered into an obligation to stand in the place of the unjust, and to undergo the punishment due to them, and this with his own consent the Lord laid upon him, and in this sense he was made sin for us. He was made sin in the same way that we are made righteous. Now the righteousness by which we are justified is not inherent in ourselves, but it is in Christ, and is made ours through God's imputing it to us, in like manner our sins were not inherent in Christ, but imputed to him, and laid upon him. He was willing to become our surety and to answer for our sins, and to have them imputed to him, so as to be obliged to bear the punishment of them, even the wrath and curse, which, if he had not endured them, would have sunk every one of us into the pit of hell. But Christ his own self bare them in his own body upon the tree. As the surety of all that shall believe in him he undertook to answer all the demands which law and justice had upon them. And he was willing to have all their sins imputed to him, and placed to his account, that he might satisfy for them. Accordingly we read that he was once offered to bear the sins of many, and that by his own blood he obtained eternal redemption for them. When their iniquities were laid upon him, although he knew no sin, yet he knew what it was to suffer for sin. He died the death, and suffered the pains, which were in nature and proportion due to them for their sins, and for the full satisfaction of law and justice.
In this sense Christ was made sin, but what would this avail, if he was a mere man? He might be made sin, and might suffer, but not for us. The apostle says, in my text, he was made sin for us. What effectual to us must be more than human, and could be nothing short of divine. Christ's undertakings were too great to be performed by any person less than the most high God. And accordingly the scripture teaches us, that Christ was Jehovah, the true self-existent God, a.co-equal and co-eternal person with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and in his perşon God and man were united in one Christ. By this personal union, what the manhood did and suffered partook of the infinite merit of the Godhead. The manhood of Christ had no sin in it, and therefore what it suffered for the sin imputed to it was infinitely meritorious, because he who suffered was Gorl as well as man. This most wonderful method of bringing many sons to glory was contrived by the ever-blessed Trinity, and settled by the covenant of grace. God the Son was pleased to become their surety, and to stand up in their nature to act and to suffer for them. And what he undertook he could not fail of accomplishing: for all things are alike possible to his almighty power. When he acted for his people, he was God as well as man; his obedience was therefore divine and infinite, and by the merits of it shall many be made righteous. When he suffered for his people, his sufferings were of such infinite merit and efficacy, that by his stripes they are healed and freed from suffering. He took their griefs and carried their sorrows, that they might never feel them. When he died, and paid the debt to justice which they ought to have paid, he soon brought them a discharge for although he was buried and descended into hell, yet on the third day he rose again from the dead, and thereby demonstrated that all the ends were answered for which he was made sin for them.
Here, my Christian brethren, let us stop and adore the free love and rich
of our divine redeemer. He, the most high God, blessed for ever, condescended to be made man for us, and for our salvation. Oh! wonderful condescension, that there should be any mercy for such enemies and rebels as we have been! And how did he magnify his compassion, that when he might in justice have destroyed us, yet he humbled himself and stooped down to save us! But how great was his humiliation in youchsafing
to take on him the form of a servant, and to live in poverty and contempt! Considering who it was that became a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, we see the greatest wonder of all, in the depth of his humiliation. He that was the lowest upon earth was the highest in heaven. He came down to be made sin for us, to have our sins imputed to him, and to answer for them to law and justice. Accordingly they were laid upon him, and he bare them in his own body on the cross, and thereby saved us from our sins. Blessed, for ever blessed, be the name of our dear Redeemer! Glory, and honour, and thanks never ceasing be to him who took all our sufferings upon himself, because he could bear that which we could not, and because he could satisfy for that in a short time, which we could not in eternity; and who, having thus delivered us from sin and suffering, has righteousness to impute unto us, in which we may stand blameless at the bar of justice. Oh! let us praise him with our lips and lives, who was made sin for us, that he might be made righteousness to us; which is the third point I was to consider.
He was a spotless lamb, and therefore capable of being made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Righteousness is a perfect conformity to the law and will of God, and without this no man shall see the Lord: “ for the unrighteous man shall not inherit the kingdom of God;" (I. Cor. vi. 9 ;) and we are all unrighteous, because we have all sinned and robbed God of his glory. The question then is, in what way, or by what means, can we attain righteousness? Can we attain it by the works of the law ? No, it is impossible: because,
if it attainable by our own works, then we should be inherently righteous, and should have such a righteousness as the law demands; but the law demands perfect unsinning obedience, which we have not paid it. And upon our failing to pay it, the law pronounces us guilty, passes sentence, and leaves us, as to any thing we can do, for ever under the curse,