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It is fair to say that Charles Haddon Spurgeon is one of the best-known preachers in the history of the world. It is definite that he was England’s best-known preacher for the second half of the 19th century.He took Christ as his Lord and Saviour in 1850 and just four years later was called to be the pastor of London’s famed New Park Street Church. It was under his pastoral care that this Church outgrew its building and had to move to new premises. This new site gave rise to a new name, one that is renowned even today, the Metropolitan Tabernacle.We are delighted to present to you Spurgeon’s sermons in this new series of publications.This book is the collection of 24 of C.H. Spurgeon’s sermons, faithfully recorded and edited for publication. The subject of these sermons is the most important matter of the Holy Spirit. These sermons form Spurgeon’s teaching on the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. This theme is without doubt foundation to the Christian faith.It is our hope and prayer that these sermons will bless you just as they did those who listened to the ‘Prince of Preachers’ over a century ago. This is still a treasure of wisdom and encouragement for the 21st century.Each commentary is beautifully formatted with every verse given an uncluttered presentation for ease of reference and use. We have taken great care to provide you with each individual commentary as it was intended and written by the original author.Our commentaries are equipped with the very best active tables of contents that drill down from the main contents page to the individual Bible book, to the author, to the Bible book chapter and then to the very verse you are looking to study. These tables of contents have been designed for ease of use and to get you to the exact verse you are looking at.
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SPURGEON’S TEACHING ON THE BLOOD OF CHRIST
By Charles H. Spurgeon
THE VOICE OF THE BLOOD OF CHRIST
THE BLOOD OF THE EVERLASTING COVENANT
AM I CLEAR OF HIS BLOOD
THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST
WALKING IN THE LIGHT AND WASHED IN THE BLOOD
THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT
THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT
THE SPRINKLING OF THE BLOOD OF THE SACRIFICE
THE BLOOD OF SPRINKLING (FIRST SERMON
THE BLOOD OF SPRINKLING (SECOND SERMON
THE BLOOD SHED FOR MANY
THE BLOOD OF SPRINKLING AND THE CHILDREN
THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB, THE CONQUERING WEAPON
REDEMPTION THROUGH BLOOD—THE GRACIOUS FORGIVENESS OF
BLOOD EVEN ON THE GOLDEN ALTAR
WITH OR WITHOUT SHEDDING OF BLOOD
FREEDOM THROUGH CHRIST’S BLOOD
THE BLOOD OF CHRIST’S COVENANT
BY WATER AND BLOOD
THE BLOOD OF THE TESTAMENT
THE WATER AND THE BLOOD
THE SAVIOR’S PRECIOUS BLOOD
“Without shedding of blood is no remission.”
I WILL show you three fools. One is yonder soldier, who has been wounded on the field of battle, grievously wounded, well near unto death. The surgeon is by his side and the soldier asks him a question. Listen and judge of his folly. What question does he ask? Does he raise his eyes with eager anxiety and inquire if the wound is mortal, if the practitioner’s skill can suggest the means of healing, or if the remedies are within reach and the medicine at hand? No, nothing of the sort. Strange to tell, he asks, “Can you inform me with what sword I was wounded and by what Russian I have been thus grievously mauled? I want,” he adds, “to learn every minute particular respecting the origin of my wound.” The man is delirious or his head is affected. Surely such questions at such a time are proof enough that he is bereft of his senses.
There is another fool. The storm is raging, the ship is flying impetuously before the gale, the dark scud moves swiftly over head, the masts are creaking, the sails are rent to rags and still the gathering tempest grows more fierce. Where is the captain? Is he busily engaged on the deck? Is he manfully facing the danger and skillfully suggesting means to avert it? No, Sir, he has retired to his cabin and there with studious thoughts and crazy fancies he is speculating on the place where this storm took its rise. “It is mysterious, this wind,” he says, “no one yet has been able to discover it.” And so the lives of the passengers and his own in grievous danger, he is careful only to solve his curious questions. The man is mad, Sir. Take the rudder from his hand. He is clean gone mad! If he should ever run on shore, shut him up as a hopeless lunatic.
The third fool I shall doubtless find among yourselves. You are sick and wounded with sin, you are in the storm and hurricane of Almighty vengeance and yet the question which you would ask of me this morning would be, “Sir, what is the origin of evil?” You are mad, Sir, spiritually mad. That is not the question you would ask if you were in a sane and healthy state of mind. Your question should be–“How can I get rid of the evil?” Not, “How did it come into the world?” but, “How am I to escape from it?” Not, “How is it that hail descends from Heaven upon Sodom?” but, “How may I, like Lot, escape out of the city to Zoar.” Not, “How is it that I am sick?” but, “Are there medicines that will heal me? Is there a physician to be found that can restore my soul to health?”
Ah, you trifle with subtleties while you neglect certainties! More questions have been asked concerning the origin of evil than upon anything else. Men have puzzled their heads and twisted their brains into knots in order to understand what men can never know–how evil came into this world and how its entrance is consistent with Divine goodness. The broad fact is this–there is evil. And your question should be, “How can I escape from the wrath to come, which is engendered of this evil?” In answering that question this verse stands right in the middle of the way (like the angel with the sword, who once stopped Balaam on the road to Barak)–“Without shedding of blood is no remission.”
Your real want is to know how you can be saved. If you are aware that your sin must be pardoned or punished, your question will be, “How can it be pardoned?” and then point blank in the very teeth of your enquiry, there stands out this fact–“Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Mark you, this is not merely a Jewish maxim. It is a worldwide and eternal Truth. It pertains not to the Hebrews only but to the Gentiles likewise. Never in any time, never in any place, never in any person can there be remission apart from shedding of blood. This great fact, I say, is stamped on nature. It is an essential Law of God’s moral government. It is one of the fundamental principles which can neither be shaken nor denied. Never can there be any exception to it. It stands the same in every place throughout all ages–“Without shedding of blood there is no remission.”
It was so with the Jews. They had no remission without the shedding of blood. Some things under the Jewish Law might be cleansed by water or by fire but in no case where absolute sin was concerned was there ever purification without blood–teaching this doctrine, that blood and blood alone, must be applied for the remission of sin. Indeed the very heathen seems to have an inkling of this fact. Do not I see their knives gory with the blood of victims? Have I not heard horrid tales of human immolations, of holocausts, of sacrifices? And what mean these but that there lies deep in the human breast, deep as the very existence of man, this Truth–“that without shedding of blood there is no remission.”
And I assert once more, that even in the hearts and consciences of my hearers there is something which will never let them believe in remission apart from a shedding of blood. This is the grand Truth of Christianity and it is a Truth which I will endeavor now to fix upon your memory. And may God by His grace bless it to your souls. “Without shedding of blood is no remission.”
First, let me show you the blood-shedding, before I begin to dwell upon the text. Is there not a special blood shedding meant? Yes, there was a shedding of most precious blood, to which I must refer you. I shall not tell you now of massacres and murders, nor of rivers of blood of goats and rams. There was a blood-shedding once, which did out vie all other shedding of blood by far. It was a Man–a God–that shed His blood at that memorable season. Come and see it. Here is a garden dark and gloomy. The ground is crisp with the cold frost of midnight. Between those gloomy olive trees I see a Man, I hear Him groan out His life in prayer.
Hearken, angels, hearken men and wonder. It is the Savior groaning out His soul! Come and see Him. Behold His brow! O Heavens! Drops of blood are streaming down His face and from His body. Every pore is open and it sweats. But not the sweat of men that toil for bread. It is the sweat of One that toils for Heaven–He “sweats great drops of blood”! That is the blood-shedding, without which there is no remission. Follow that Man further. They have dragged Him with sacrilegious hands from the place of His prayer and His agony and they have taken Him to the hall of Pilate. They seat Him in a chair and mock Him. A robe of purple is put on His shoulders in mockery.
And mark His brow–they have put about it a crown of thorns and the crimson drops of gore are rushing down His cheeks! Angels! The drops of blood are running down His cheeks! But turn aside that purple robe for a moment. His back is bleeding. Tell me demons did this. They lift up the thongs, still dripping clots of gore. They scourge and tear His flesh and make a river of blood to run down His shoulders! That is the shedding of blood without which there is no remission. Not yet have I done–they hurry Him through the streets. They fling Him on the ground. They nail His hands and feet to the transverse wood. They hoist it in the air. They dash it into its socket. It is fixed and there He hangs–the Christ of God.
Blood from His head. Blood from His hands. Blood from His feet! In agony unknown He bleeds away His life. In terrible throes He exhausts His soul. “Eloi, Eloi, lame Sabacthani.” And then look! They pierce His side and forthwith runs out blood and water. This is the shedding of blood, Sinners and Saints. This is the awful shedding of blood, the terrible pouring out of blood without which for you and for the whole human race, there is no remission.
I have to you, I hope, brought my text fairly out–without this shedding of blood there is no remission. Now I shall come to dwell upon it more particularly.
Why is it that this story does not make men weep? I told it ill, you say. Yes, so I did. I will take all the blame. But, Sirs, if it were told as ill as men could speak, were our hearts what they should be, we should bleed away our lives in sorrow. Oh, it was a horrid murder that! It was not an act of regicide. It was not the deed of a fratricide, or of a parricide. It was–what shall I say? I must make a word–a deicide. The killing of a God–the slaying of Him who became incarnate for our sins. Oh, if our hearts were but soft as iron, we must weep! If they were but tender as the marble of the mountains, we should shed great drops of grief. But they are harder than the nether millstone. We forget the griefs of Him that died this ignominious death. We pity not His sorrows, nor do we account the interest we have in Him as though He suffered and accomplished all for us.
Nevertheless, here stands the principle–“Without shedding of blood is no remission.” Now, I take it, there are two things here. First, there is a negative expressed–“No remission without shedding of blood.” And then there is a positive implied, indeed, with shedding of blood there is remission.
First, I say, here is A NEGATIVE EXPRESSION–there is no remission without blood–without the blood of Jesus Christ. This is of Divine Authority. When I utter this sentence I have Divinity to plead. It is not a thing which you may doubt, or which you may believe. It must be believed and received, otherwise you have denied the Scriptures and turned aside from God. Some truths I utter, perhaps, have little better basis than my own reasoning and inference, which are of little value enough. But this I utter, not with quotations from God’s Word to back up my assertion but from the lips of God Himself. Here it stands in great letters,
“There is no remission.”
So Divine is its Authority perhaps you will kick at it–but remember, your rebellion is not against me but against God. If any of you reject this Truth, I shall not argue with you. God forbid I should turn aside from proclaiming His Gospel to dispute with men. I have God’s irrevocable statute to plead now–here it stands–“Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” You may believe or disbelieve many things the preacher utters. But this you disbelieve at the peril of your souls. It is God’s utterance–will you tell God to His face you do not believe it? That were impious. The negative is Divine in its Authority–bow yourselves to it. And accept its solemn warning.
But some men will say that God’s way of saving men, by shedding of blood, is a cruel way, an unjust way, an unkind way. And all kinds of things they will say of it. Sirs, I have nothing to do with your opinion of the matter. It is so. If you have any faults to find with your Maker, fight your battles out with Him at last. But take heed before you throw the gauntlet down. It will go ill with a worm when he fights with his Maker and it will go ill with you when you contend with Him. The doctrine of atonement when rightly understood and faithfully received, is delightful, for it exhibits boundless love, immeasurable goodness and infinite Truth. But to unbelievers it will always be a hated doctrine. So it must be, Sirs. You hate your own mercies. You despise your own salvation. I tarry not to dispute with you–I affirm it in God’s name–“Without shedding of blood there is no remission.”
And note how decisive this is in its character–“Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” “But, Sir, can’t I get my sins forgiven by my repentance? If I weep and plead and pray, will not God forgive me for the sake of my tears?” “No remission,” says the text, “without shedding of blood.” “But, Sir, if I never sin again and if I serve God more zealously than other men, will He not forgive me for the sake of my obedience?” “No remission,” says the text, “without shedding of blood.” “But, Sir, may I not trust that God is merciful and will forgive me without the shedding of blood?” “No,” says the text, “without shedding of blood there is no remission.” None whatever.
It cuts off every other hope. Bring your hopes here and if they are not based in blood and stamped with blood, they are as useless as castles in the air and dreams of the night. “There is no remission,” says the text, in positive and plain words. And yet men will be trying to get remission in fifty other ways, until their special pleading becomes as irksome to us as it is useless for them. Sirs, do what you like, say what you please but you are as far off remission when you have done your best, as you were when you began. Unless you put confidence in the shedding of our Savior’s blood and in the blood-shedding alone, there is no remission.
And note again how universal it is in its character. “What? I may not get remission without blood-shedding?” says the king and he comes with the crown on his head. “May not I in all my robes, with this rich ransom, get pardon without the blood-shedding?” “None,” is the reply. “None.” Then comes the wise man, with a number of letters after his name–“Can I not get remission by these grand titles of my learning?” “None, none.” Then comes the benevolent man–“I have dispersed my money to the poor and given my bounty to feed them. Shall not I get remission? "None.” says the text, “Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” How this puts everyone level! My Lord, you are no bigger than your coachman. Sir, Squire, you are no better off than John that plows the ground. Minister, your office does not serve you with any exemption–your poorest hearer stands on the very same footing. “Without shedding of blood there is no remission.”
No hope for the best, any more than for the worst, without this shedding of blood . Oh, I love the Gospel, for this reason among others, because it is such a leveling Gospel! Some persons do not like a leveling Gospel. Nor would I, in some senses of the word. Let men have their rank and their titles and their riches if they will. But I do like and I am sure all good men like, to see rich and poor meet together and feel that they are on a level. The Gospel makes them so. It says, “Put up your money-bags, they will not procure you remission. Roll up your diploma, that will not get you remission. Forget your farm and your park, they will not get you remission. Cover up that escutcheon, that coat of arms will not get you remission.
Come, you ragged beggars, filthy off-scouring of the world, penniless. Come here, here is remission as much for you, ill-bred and ill-mannered though you are, as for the noble, the honorable, the titled and the wealthy. All stand on a level here. The text is universal–“Without shedding of blood there is no remission.”
Mark too, how perpetual my text is. Paul said, “there is no remission!” I must repeat this testimony, too. When thousands of years have rolled away some minister may stand on this spot and say the same. This will never alter at all. It will always be so, in the next world as well as this–no remission without shedding of blood. “Oh! yes there is,” says one, “the priest takes the shilling and he gets the soul out of purgatory.” That is a mere presence. It never was in. But without shedding of blood there is no real remission. There may be tales and fancies but there is no true remission without the blood of propitiation.
Never, though you strained yourselves in prayer. Never, though you wept yourselves away in tears. Never, though you groaned and cried till your heart-strings break. Never in this world, nor in that which is to come, can the forgiveness of sins be procured on any other ground than redemption by the blood of Christ. And never can the conscience be cleansed but by faith in that sacrifice. The fact is, Beloved, there is no use for you to satisfy your hearts with anything less than what satisfied God the Father. Without the shedding of blood nothing would appease His justice. And without the application of that same blood nothing can purge your consciences.
II. But as there is no remission without blood-shedding, IT IS IMPLIED THAT THERE IS REMISSION WITH IT. Mark it well, this remission is a present fact. The blood having been already shed, the remission is already obtained. I took you to the garden of Gethsemane and the mount of Calvary to see the blood-shedding. I might now conduct you to another garden and another mount to show you the grand proof of the remission. Another garden, did I say? Yes, it is a garden filled with many pleasing and even triumphant reminiscences. Aside from the haunts of this busy world, in it was a new sepulcher, hewn out of a rock where Joseph of Arimathea thought his own poor body should presently be laid. But there they laid Jesus after His crucifixion.
He had stood Surety for His people and the Law had demanded His blood–death had held Him with strong grasp. And that tomb was, as it were, the dungeon of His captivity, when, as the Good Shepherd, He laid down His life for the sheep. Why, then, do I see in that garden, an open, untenanted grave? I will tell you. The debts are paid, the sins are cancelled, the remission is obtained. That great Shepherd of the sheep has been brought again from the dead by the blood of the Everlasting Covenant and in Him also we have obtained redemption through His blood. There, Beloved, is the first proof.
Do you ask for further evidence? I will take you to Mount Olives. You shall behold Jesus there with His hands raised like the High Priest of old to bless His people and while He is blessing them, He ascends, the clouds receiving Him out of their sight. But why, you ask, oh why has He thus ascended and where is He gone? Behold He enters, not into the holy place made with hands but He enters into Heaven itself with His own blood, there to appear in the presence of God for us. Now, therefore, we have boldness to draw near by the blood of Christ. The remission is obtained, here is the second proof. Oh Believer, what springs of comfort are there here for you.
And now let me commend this remission by the shedding of blood to those who have not yet believed. Mr. Innis, a great Scotch minister, once visited an infidel who was dying. When he came to him the first time, he said, “Mr. Innis, I am relying on the mercy of God. God is merciful and He will never damn a man forever.” When he got worse and was nearer death, Mr. Innis went to him again and he said, “Oh, Mr. Innis, my hope is gone. For I have been thinking if God is merciful, God is Just, too. And what if, instead of being merciful to me, He should be just to me? What would then become of me? I must give up my hope in the mere mercy of God. Tell me how to be saved!”
Mr. Innis told him that Christ had died in the place of all Believers–that God could be Just and yet the justifier through the death of Christ. “Ah,” he said, “Mr. Innis, there is something solid in that. I can rest on that. I cannot rest on anything else.” And it is a remarkable fact that none of us ever met with a man who thought he had his sins forgiven unless it was through the blood of Christ. Meet a Muslim. He never had his sins forgiven. He does not say so. Meet an Infidel. He never knows that his sins are forgiven. Meet a Legalist. He says, “I hope they will be forgiven.” But he does not pretend they are. No one ever gets even a fancied hope apart from this–that Christ and Christ alone must save by the shedding of His blood.
Let me tell a story to show how Christ saves souls. Mr. Whitfield had a brother who had been like he, an earnest Christian, but he had backslidden. He went far from the ways of godliness. And one afternoon, after he had been recovered from his backsliding, he was sitting in a room in a chapel house. He had heard his brother preaching the day before and his poor conscience had been cut to the very quick. Said Whitfield’s brother, when he was at tea, “I am a lost man” and he groaned and cried and could neither eat nor drink. Said Lady Huntingdon, who sat opposite, “What did you say, Mr. Whitfield?” “Madam,” said he, “I said, I am a lost man.” “I’m glad of it,” said she, “I’m glad of it.”
“Your Ladyship, how can you say so? It is cruel to say you are glad that I am a lost man.” “I repeat it, Sir,” said she, “I am heartily glad of it.” He looked at her, more and more astonished at her barbarity. “I am glad of it,” said she, “because it is written, ‘The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.’ ” With the tears rolling down his cheeks, he said, “What a precious Scripture. And how is it that it comes with such force to me? Oh, Madam,” said he, “Madam, I bless God for that. Then He will save me. I trust my soul in His hands. He has forgiven me.” Shortly thereafter he went outside the house, felt ill, fell upon the ground and died.
I may have a lost man here this morning. As I cannot say much, I will leave you good people. You do not need anything. Have I got a lost man here, Lost Man! Lost Woman! Where are you? Do you feel yourself to be lost? I am so glad of it. For there is remission by the blood-shedding. O Sinner, are there tears in your eyes? Look through them. Do you see that Man in the garden? That Man sweats drops of blood for you. Do you see that Man on the Cross? That Man was nailed there for you. Oh, if I could be nailed on a cross this morning for you all, I know what you would do–you would fall down and kiss my feet and weep that I should have to die for you! But Sinner, lost Sinner, Jesus died for you–for YOU. And if He died for you, you cannot be lost. Christ died in vain for no one.
Are you, then, a sinner? Are you convicted of sin because you believe not in Christ? I have authority to preach to you. Believe in His name and you cannot be lost. Do you say you are no sinner? Then I do not know that Christ died for you. Do you say that you have no sins to repent of? Then I have no Christ to preach to you. He did not come to save the righteous. He came to save the wicked. Are you wicked? Do you feel it? Are you lost? Do you know? Are you sinful? Will you confess it? Sinner, if Jesus were here this morning, He would put out His bleeding hands and say, “Sinner, I died for you, will you believe Me?” He is not here in Person–He has sent His servant to tell you. Won’t you believe Him?
“Oh!” but you say, “I am such a sinner.” “Ah,” He says, “that is just why I died for you, because you are a sinner.” “But,” you say, “I do not deserve it.” “Ah,” says He, “that is just why I did it.” Say you, “I have hated You.” “But,” says He, “I have always loved you.” “But, Lord, I have spat on Your minister and scorned Your Word.” “It is all forgiven,” says He, “all washed away by the blood which did run from My side. Only believe Me. That is all I ask. And that I will give you. I will help you to believe.” “Ah,” says one, “but I do not want a Savior.” Sir, I have nothing to say to you except this–“The wrath to come! The wrath to come!” But there is one who says, “Sir, you do not mean what you say! Do you mean to preach to the most wicked men or women in the place?”
I mean what I say. There she is! She is a harlot, she has led many into sin and many into Hell. There she is. Her own friends have turned her out of doors. Her father called her a good-for nothing whore and said she should never come to the house again. Woman! Do you repent? Do you feel yourself to be guilty? Christ died to save you and you shall be saved! There he is. I can see him. He was drunk. He has been drunk very often. Not many nights ago I heard his voice in the street, as he went home at a late hour on Saturday night, disturbing everybody. And he beat his wife, too. He has broken the Sabbath. And as to swearing, if oaths be like soot, his throat must want sweeping bad enough, for he has cursed God often. Do you feel yourself to be guilty, my Hearer? Do you hate your sins and are you willing to forsake them? Then I bless God for you. Christ died for you. Believe!
I had a letter a few days ago from a young man who heard that during this week I was going to a certain town. Said he, “Sir, when you come, do preach a sermon that will fit me, for do you know, Sir, I have heard it said that we must all think ourselves to be the most wicked people in the world, or else we cannot be saved. I try to think so but I cannot, because I have not been the most wicked. I want to think so but I cannot. I want to be saved but I do not know how to repent enough.” Now, if I have the pleasure of seeing him, I shall tell him, God does not require a man to think himself the most wicked in the world, because that would sometimes be to think a falsehood. There are some men who are not so wicked as others are.
What God requires is this–that a man should say, “I know more of myself than I do of other people. I know little about them and from what I see of myself, not of my actions but of my heart, I do think there can be few worse than I am. They may be more guilty openly but then I have had more light, more privileges, more opportunities, more warnings and therefore I am still guiltier.” I do not want you to bring your brother with you and say, “I am more wicked than he is.” I want you to come yourself and say, “Father, I have sinned.” You have nothing to do with your brother William, whether he has sinned more or less. Your cry should be, “Father, I have sinned.” You have nothing to do with your cousin Jane, whether or not she has rebelled more than you. Your business is to cry, “Lord, nave mercy upon me, a sinner!” That is all. Do you feel yourselves lost? Again, I say, –
“Come and welcome, Sinner, come!”
To conclude. There is not a sinner in this place, who knows himself to be lost and ruined, who may not have all his sins forgiven and “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” You may, though black as Hell, be white as Heaven this very instant. I know ‘tis only by a desperate struggle that faith takes hold of the promise but the very moment a sinner believes, that conflict is past. It is his first victory and a blessed one. Let this verse be the language of your heart–adopt it and make it your own–
“A guilty, weak and helpless worm
In Christ’s kind arms I fall;
He is my strength and righteousness.
My Jesus and my All.”
THE VOICE OF THE BLOOD OF CHRIST
“The blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel.”
OF all substances blood is the most mysterious and in some senses the most sacred. Scripture teaches us–and after all there is very much philosophy in Scripture–that “the blood is the life thereof”–that the life lies in the blood. Blood, therefore, is the mysterious link between matter and spirit. How it is that the soul should in any degree have an alliance with matter through blood we cannot understand. But certain it is that this is the mysterious link which unites these apparently dissimilar things together so that the soul can inhabit the body and the life can rest in the blood. God has attached awful sacredness to the shedding of blood.
Under the Jewish dispensation, even the blood of animals was considered sacred. Blood might never be eaten by the Jews. It was too sacred a thing to become the food of man. The Jew was scarcely allowed to kill his own food–certainly he must not kill it except he poured out the blood as a sacred offering to Almighty God. Blood was accepted by God as the symbol of the atonement. “Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin,” because, I take it, blood has such an affinity with life, that inasmuch as God would accept nothing but blood, He signified that there must be a life offered to Him and that His great and glorious Son must surrender His life as a sacrifice for His sheep.
Now we have in our text “blood” mentioned–two-fold blood. We have the blood of murdered Abel and the blood of murdered Jesus. We have also two things in the text–A comparison between the blood of sprinkling and the blood of Abel. And then a certain condition mentioned. Rather, if we read the whole verse in order to get its meaning we find that the righteous are spoken of as coming to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than the blood of Abel–so that the condition which will constitute the second part of our discourse is coming to that blood of sprinkling for our salvation and glory.
Without further preface I shall at once introduce to you the CONTRAST AND COMPARISON IMPLIED IN THE TEXT. “The blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel.” I confess I was very much astonished when looking at Dr. Gill and Albert Barnes and several of the more eminent commentators, while studying this passage, to find that they attach a meaning to this verse which had never occurred to me before. They say that the meaning of the verse is not that the blood of Christ is superior to the blood of murdered Abel, although that is certainly a Truth of God, but that the sacrifice of the blood of Christ is better and speaks better things than the sacrifice which Abel offered.
Now, although I do not think this is the meaning of the text and I have my reasons for believing that the blood here contrasted with that of the Savior is the blood of the murdered man Abel, yet on looking to the original there is so much to be said on both sides of the question that I think it fair in explaining the passage to give you both meanings. They are not conflicting interpretations. There is indeed a shade of difference but still they amount to the same idea.
First, then, we may understand here a comparison between the offerings Abel presented and the offerings Jesus Christ presented when He gave His blood to be a ransom for the flock.
Let me describe Abel’s offering. I have no doubt Adam had from the very first of his expulsion from the garden of Eden offered a sacrifice to God. We have some dim hint that this sacrifice was of a beast, for we find that the Lord God made Adam and Eve skins of beasts to be their clothing and it is probable that those skins were procured by the slaughter of victims offered in sacrifice. However, that is but a dim hint–the first absolute record that we have of an obligatory sacrifice is the record of the sacrifice offered by Abel. Now, it appears that very early there was a distinction among men. Cain was the representative of the seed of the serpent and Abel was the representative of the seed of the woman.
Abel was God’s elect and Cain was one of those who rejected the Most High. However, both Cain and Abel united together in the outward service of God. They both of them brought on certain high days a sacrifice. Cain took a different view of the matter of sacrifice from that which presented itself to the mind of Abel. Cain was proud and haughty–he said, “I am ready to confess that the mercies which we receive from the soil are the gift of God, but I am not ready to acknowledge that I am a guilty sinner, deserving God’s wrath, therefore,” said he, “I will bring nothing but the fruit of the ground.”
“Ah but,” said Abel, “I feel that while I ought to be grateful for temporal mercies, at the same time I have sins to confess, I have iniquities to be pardoned and I know that without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Therefore,” said he, “O Cain, I will not be content to bring an offering of the ground, of the ears of corn, or of first ripe fruits. I will bring of the firstlings of my flock and I will shed blood upon the altar, because my faith is that there is to come a great Victim who is actually to make atonement for the sins of men and by the slaughter of this lamb, I express my solemn faith in Him.”
Not so Cain. He cared nothing for Christ. He was not willing to confess his sin. He had no objection to present a thank-offering, but a sin-offering he would not bring. He did not mind bringing to God that which he thought might be acceptable as a return for favors received, but he would not bring to God an acknowledgment of his guilt, or a confession of his inability to make atonement for it, except by the blood of a Substitute. Cain, moreover, when he came to the altar, came entirely without faith. He piled the unhewn stones as Abel did. He laid his sheaves of corn upon the altar and there he waited. It was to him a matter of comparative indifference whether God accepted him or not.
He believed there was a God, doubtless, but he had no faith in the promises of that God. God had said that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head–that was the Gospel as revealed to our first parents. But Cain had no belief in that Gospel–whether it were true or not, he cared not–it was sufficient for him that he acquired enough for his own sustenance from the soil. He had no faith. But holy Abel stood by the side of the altar and while Cain, the infidel, perhaps laughed and jeered at his sacrifice, he boldly presented there the bleeding lamb as a testimony to all men, both of that time and all future times, that he believed in the seed of the woman–that he looked for Him to come who should destroy the serpent and restore the ruins of the Fall.
Do you see holy Abel, standing there, ministering as a priest at God’s altar? Do you see the flush of joy which comes over his face when he sees the heavens opened and the living fire of God descend upon the victims? Do you note with what a grateful expression of confident faith he lifts to Heaven his eyes which had been before filled with tears and cries, “I thank You, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, that You have accepted my sacrifice, inasmuch as I presented it through faith in the blood of Your Son, my Savior, who is to come”?
Abel’s sacrifice, being the first on record and being offered in the teeth of opposition, has very much in it which puts it ahead of many other of the sacrifices of the Jews. Abel is to be greatly honored for his confidence and faith in the coming Messiah. But compare for a moment the sacrifice of Christ with the sacrifice of Abel and the sacrifice of Abel shrinks into insignificance. What did Abel bring? He brought a sacrifice which showed the necessity of blood-shedding–but Christ brought the blood-shedding itself. Abel taught the world by his sacrifice that he looked for a victim, but Christ was the actual Victim. Abel brought but the type and the figure, the Lamb which was but a picture of the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world. But Christ was that Lamb. He was the Substance of the shadow, the Reality of the type.
Abel’s sacrifice had no merit in it apart from the faith in the Messiah with which he presented it. But Christ’s sacrifice had merit of itself. It was in itself meritorious. What was the blood of Abel’s lamb? It was nothing but the blood of a common lamb that might have been shed anywhere. Except for the faith in Christ the blood of the lamb was but as water, a contemptible thing. But the blood of Christ was a sacrifice indeed, richer far than all the blood of beasts that ever were offered upon the altar of Abel, or the altar of all the Jewish high priests. We may say of all the sacrifices that were ever offered, however costly they might be and however acceptable to God, though they were rivers of oil and tens of thousands of fat beasts–they were less than nothing and contemptible in comparison with the one sacrifice which our High Priest has offered once and for all whereby He has eternally perfected them that are sanctified.
We have thus found it very easy to set forth the difference between the blood of Christ’s sprinkling and the blood which Abel sprinkled. But now I take it that there is a deeper meaning than this, despite what some commentators have said. I believe that the allusion here is to the blood of murdered Abel. Cain smote Abel and doubtless his hands and the altar were stained with the blood of him who had acted as a priest. “Now,” says our Apostle, “that blood of Abel spoke.” We have evidence that it did, for God said to Cain, “The voice of your brother’s blood cries unto Me from the ground,” and the Apostle’s comment upon that in another place is–“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts and by it he being dead yet speaks,” speaks through his blood, his blood crying unto God from the ground. Now, Christ’s blood speaks, too. What is the difference between the two voices?–for we are told in the text that it “speaks better things than that of Abel.”
Abel’s blood spoke in a threefold manner. It spoke in Heaven. It spoke to the sons of men. It spoke to the conscience of Cain. The blood of Christ speaks in a like threefold manner and it speaks better things.
First, the blood of Abel spoke in Heaven. Abel was a holy man and all that Cain could bring against him was, “his own works were evil and his brother’s were righteous.” You see the brothers going to the sacrifice together. You mark the black scowl upon the brow of Cain, when Abel’s sacrifice is accepted while his remains untouched by the sacred fire. You note how they begin to talk together–how quietly Abel argues the question and how ferociously Cain denounces him. You note again how God speaks to Cain and warns him of the evil which he knew was in his heart. And you see Cain, as he goes from the presence chamber of the Most High, warned and forewarned–with the dreadful thought in his heart that he will imbrue his hands in his brother’s blood.
He meets his brother. He talks friendly with him–he gives him, as it were, the kiss of Judas. He entices him into the field where he is alone. He takes him unaware. He smites him and smites him yet again, till there lies the murdered bleeding corpse of his brother. O earth! Earth! Earth! Cover not his blood. This is the first murder you have ever seen! The first blood of man that ever stained your soil. Hark, there is a cry heard in Heaven, the angels are astonished. They rise up from their golden seats and they enquire, “What is that cry?”
God looks upon them and He says, “It is the cry of blood, a man has been slain by his fellow. A brother by him who came from the bowels of the self-same mother has been murdered in cold blood, through malice. One of my saints has been murdered and here he comes. And Abel enters into Heaven blood-red, the first of God’s elect who had entered Paradise and the first of God’s children who had worn the blood-red crown of martyrdom. And then the cry was heard, loud and clear and strong. And thus it spoke–"Revenge! Revenge! Revenge!” And God Himself, rising from His throne, summoned the culprit to His presence, questioned Him, condemned Him out of his own mouth and made him henceforth a fugitive and a vagabond to wander over the surface of the earth, which was to be sterile henceforth to his plow.
And now, Beloved, just contrast with this the blood of Christ. That is Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God. He hangs upon a tree. He is murdered–murdered by His own Brethren. “He came unto His own and His own received Him not, but His own led him out to death.” He bleeds. He dies. And then is heard a cry in Heaven. The astonished angels again start from their seats and they say, “What is this? What is this cry that we hear?” And the Mighty Maker answers yet again, “It is the cry of blood. It is the cry of the blood of My only-begotten and well-beloved Son!” And God, rising up from His throne, looks down from Heaven and listens to the cry. And what is the cry? It is not revenge. But the voice cries, “Mercy! Mercy! Mercy!” Did you hear it? It said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Herein, the blood of Christ “speaks better things than that of Abel,” for Abel’s blood said, “Revenge!” and made the sword of God start from its scabbard. But Christ’s blood cried “Mercy!” and sent the sword back again and bade it sleep forever–
“Blood has a voice to pierce the skies,
‘Revenge!’ the blood of Abel cries;
But the rich blood of Jesus slain,
Speaks peace as loud from every vein.”
You will note, too, that Abel’s blood cried for revenge upon one man only–upon Cain. It required the death of but one man to satisfy it, namely, the death of the murderer. “Blood for blood!” The murderer must die the death. But what says Christ’s blood in Heaven? Does it speak for only one? Ah, no, Beloved. “The free gift has come upon many.” Christ’s blood cries mercy! Mercy! Mercy! Not on one, but upon a multitude whom no man can number–ten thousand times ten thousand.
Again–Abel’s blood cried to Heaven for revenge, for one transgression of Cain. What Cain had done, worthless and vile before, the blood of Abel did not demand any revenge. It was for the one sin that blood clamored at the Throne of you hear that cry, that all-prevailing cry, as now it comes up from Calvary’s summit–“Father, forgive them!” Not one, but many. “Father, forgive them.” And not only forgive them this offense, but forgive them all their sins and blot out all their iniquities. Ah, Beloved, we might have thought that the blood of Christ would have demanded vengeance at the hands of God.
Surely, if Abel is revenged seven fold, then must Christ be revenged seventy times seven. If the earth would not swallow up the blood of Abel till it had had its fill, surely we might have thought that the earth never would have covered the corpse of Christ until God had struck the world with fire and sword and banished all men to destruction. But, O precious blood! You say not one word of vengeance! All that this blood cries is peace! Pardon! Forgiveness! Mercy! Acceptance! Truly it “speaks better things than that of Abel.”
Again–Abel’s blood had a second voice. It spoke to the whole world. “He being dead yet speaks”–not only in Heaven, but on earth. God’s Prophets are a speaking people. They speak by their acts and by their words as long as they live and when they are buried they speak by their example which they have left behind. Abel speaks by his blood to us. And what does it say? When Abel offered up his victim upon the altar he said to us, “I believe in a sacrifice that is to be offered for the sins of men,” but when Abel’s own blood was sprinkled on the altar he seemed to say, “Here is the ratification of my faith. I seal my testimony with my own blood. You have now the evidence of my sincerity, for I was prepared to die for the defense of this Truth of God which I now witness unto you.”
It was a great thing for Abel thus to ratify his testimony with his blood. We should not have believed the martyrs half so easily if they had not been ready to die for their profession. The Gospel in ancient times would never have spread at such a marvelous rate if it had not been that all the preachers of the Gospel were ready at any time to attest their message with their own blood. But Christ’s blood “speaks better things than that of Abel.” Abel’s blood ratified his testimony and Christ’s blood has ratified His testimony, too. But Christ’s testimony is better than that of Abel. For what is the testimony of Christ? The Covenant of Grace–that Everlasting Covenant.
He came into this world to tell us that God had from the beginning chosen His people–that He had ordained them to eternal life and that He had made a Covenant with His son Jesus Christ that if He would pay the price they should go free–if He would suffer in their stead they should be delivered. And Christ cried before, “He bowed His head and gave up the ghost,” “It is finished.” The Covenant purpose is finished. That purpose was “to finish the transgression and to make an end of sins and to make reconciliation for iniquity and to bring in everlasting righteousness.” Such was the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ, as His own blood gushed from His heart to be the die stamp and seal that the Covenant was ratified. When I see Abel die I know that his testimony was true. But when I see Christ die I know that the Covenant is true–
“This Covenant, O Believer, stands
Your rising fears to quell;
‘Tis signed and sealed and ratified,
In all things ordered well.”
When He bowed His head and gave up the ghost, He did as much say, “All things are made sure unto the seed by My giving Myself as Victim.” Come, Saint, and see the Covenant all blood-stained and know that it is sure. He is “the faithful and true Witness, the Prince of the kings of the earth.” First of martyrs, my Lord Jesus, You had a better testimony to witness than they all, for You have witnessed to the Everlasting Covenant. You have witnessed that You are the Shepherd and Bishop of souls. You have witnessed to the putting away of sin by the sacrifice of Yourself. Again–I say, come, you people of God and read over the golden roll. It begins in election–it ends in everlasting life and all this the blood of Christ cries in your ears. All this is true. For Christ’s blood proves it to be true and to be sure to all the seed. It “speaks better things than that of Abel.”
Now we come to the third voice, for the blood of Abel had a three-fold sound. It spoke in the conscience of Cain. Hardened though he was and like a very devil in his sin, yet he was not so deaf in his conscience that he could not hear the voice of blood. The first thing that Abel’s blood said to Cain was this–“Ah, guilty wretch, to spill your brother’s blood!”–as he saw it trickling from the wound and flowing down in streams. He looked at it and as the sun shone on it and the red glare came into his eye, it seemed to say, “Ah, cursed wretch, for the son of your own mother you have slain. Your wrath was vile enough, when your countenance fell, but to rise up against your brother and take away his life, Oh,
It seemed to say to him, “What had he done that you should take his life? Wherein had he offended you? Was not his conduct blameless and his conversation pure? If you had smitten a villain or a thief, men might not have blamed you. But this blood is pure, clean, perfect blood. How could you kill such a man as this?” And Cain put his hand across his brow and felt there was a sense of guilt there that he had never felt before. And then the blood said to him again, “Why, where will you go? You shall be a vagabond as long as you live.” A cold chill ran through him and he said, “Whoever finds me will kill me.” And though God promised him he should live, no doubt he was always afraid. If he saw a company of men together, he would hide himself in a thicket, or if in his solitary wanderings he saw a man at a distance, he started back and sought to bury his head, so that none should observe him. In the stillness of the night he started up in his dreams.
It was but his wife that slept by his side. But he thought he felt someone’s hands gripping his throat and about to take away his life. Then he would sit up in his bed and took around at the grim shadows, thinking some fiend was hunting him and seeking after him. Then, as he rose to go about his business, he trembled. He trembled to be alone, he trembled to be in company. When he was alone he seemed not to be alone. The ghost of his brother seemed staring him in his face. And when he was in company he dreaded the voice of men, for he seemed to think everyone cursed him and he thought everyone knew the crime he had committed and no doubt they did and every man shunned him.
No man would take his hand, for it was red with blood and his very child upon his knee was afraid to look up into his father’s face, for there was the mark which God had set upon him. His very wife could scarcely speak to him–for she was afraid that from the lips of him who had been cursed of God some curse might fall on her. The very earth cursed him. He no sooner put his foot upon the ground where had been a garden before it suddenly turned into a desert and the fair rich soil became hardened into an arid rock. Guilt, like a grim chamberlain with fingers bloody red, did draw the curtain of his bed each night. His crime refused him sleep. It spoke in his heart and the walls of his memory reverberated the dying cry of his murdered brother.
And no doubt that blood spoke one more thing to Cain. It said, “Cain, although you may now be spared there is no hope for you. You are a man accursed on earth and accursed forever. God has condemned you here and He will damn you hereafter.” And so wherever Cain went, he never found hope. Though he searched for it in the mountaintop, yet he found it not there. Hope that was left to all men, was denied to him–a hopeless, houseless, helpless vagabond–he wandered up and down the surface of the earth. Oh, Abel’s brood had a terrible voice indeed.
But now see the sweet change as you listen to the blood of Christ. It “speaks better things than that of Abel.” Friend, have you ever heard the blood of Christ in your conscience? I have and I thank God I ever heard that sweet soft voice–
“Once a sinner near despair;
Sought the mercy seat by prayer.”
He prayed–he thought he was praying in vain. The tears gushed from his eyes; his heart was heavy within him. He sought, but he found no mercy. Again, again and yet again, he besieged the Throne of heavenly Grace and knocked at Mercy’s door. Oh, who can tell the millstone that lay upon his beating heart and the iron that did eat into his soul? He was a prisoner in sore bondage–deep, as he thought–in the bondage of despair was he chained, to perish forever. That prisoner one day heard a voice, which said to him, “Away, away to Calvary!” Yet he trembled at the voice, for he said, “Why should I go there, for there my blackest sin was committed. There I murdered the Savior by my transgressions? Why should I go to see the murdered corpse of Him who became my brother born for adversity?”
But mercy beckoned and she said, “Come, come away, Sinner!” And the sinner followed. The chains were on his legs and on his hands and he could scarcely creep along. Still the black vulture Destruction seemed hovering in the air. But he crept as best he could, till he came to the foot of the hill of Calvary. On the summit he saw a Cross–blood was distilling from the hands and from the feet and from the side and Mercy touched his ears and said, “Listen!” And he heard that blood speak. And as it spoke the first thing it said was, “Love!” And the second thing it said was, “Mercy!” The third thing it said was, “Pardon.” The next thing it said was, “Acceptance.” The next thing it said was, “Adoption.” The next thing it said was, “Security.” And the last thing it whispered was, “Heaven.”
And as the sinner heard that voice, he said within himself, “And does that blood speak to me?” And the Spirit said, “To you–to you it speaks.” And he listened and oh, what music did it seem to his poor troubled heart, for in a moment all his doubts were gone. He had no sense of guilt. He knew that he was vile but he saw that his vileness was all washed away. He knew that he was guilty, but he saw his guilt all atoned for through the precious blood that was flowing there. He had been full of dread before. He dreaded life, he dreaded death. But now he had no dread at all. A joyous confidence took possession of his heart. He looked to Christ and he said, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” He clasped the Savior in his arms and he began to sing–“Oh, confident am I. For this blest blood was shed for me.” And then despair fled and destruction was driven clean away and instead thereof came the bright white-winged angel of Assurance and she dwelt in his bosom, saying evermore to him, “You are accepted in the Beloved. You are chosen of God and precious. You are His child now and you shall be His favorite throughout eternity.” “The blood of Christ speaks better things than that of Abel.”
And now I must have you notice that the blood of Christ bears a comparison with the blood of Abel in one or two respects, but it excels in them all.
The blood of Abel cried “Justice!” It was but right that the blood should be revenged. Abel had no private resentment against Cain. Doubtless could Abel have done so, he would have forgiven his brother. But the blood spoke justly and only asked its due when it shouted, “Vengeance! Vengeance! Vengeance!” And Christ’s blood speaks justly, when it says, “Mercy!” Christ has as much right to demand mercy upon sinners as Abel’s blood had to cry vengeance against Cain. When Christ saves a sinner, He does not save him on the sly, or against Law or justice, but He saves him justly. Christ has a right to save whom He will save, to have mercy on whom He will have mercy, for He can do it justly, He can be just and yet be the Justifier of the ungodly.
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