"And to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." (Hebrews 12:24)\
IN taking these words as a text, I have made an omission. The apostle has said, in the chapter above, that Esau was rejected, and found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears; and some of God's own children are much exercised with fears that their case is like Esau's. But were they not God's children, he would let them alone. Esau was a bond-child, as Ishmael was; and all his religious devotions were under and in an old covenant spirit. But, says the apostle, in the next words, "But ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken unto them any more, for they could not endure that which was commanded. And if so much as a beast touch the mountain it shall be stoned or thrust through with a dart. And so terrible was the sight that Moses said, Ď exceedingly fear and quake. But ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator." Ah! this is the blessedness of it, as Hart says:
"None but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good."
I am often brought to Hart's religion. It did not use to be so with me; but now, I find, without Christ all is nothing. He not only can do his people good, but he does do them good.
I will, as God shall dispose, speak
I. Of the new covenant.
II. Of the Mediator of the new covenant; and,
Lastly. Of the blood of sprinkling.
I. There are many covenants which people make which are sure not to stand. Job made a covenant with his eyes; but that was no use. I have made such a covenant, and many others, but broke them all. It is all under the old covenant. I dare say some of you are thinking, "O, if I had not this entanglement, if I were away from these connections, I would do better." Poor deluded wretches! You must be brought to give up all your resolutions, and acknowledge you can do nothing. Hart says,
"His fairest pretensions must wholly be waved,
And his best resolutions be cross'd.
Nor can he expect to be perfectly saved
Till be finds himself utterly lost."
The voice of the old covenant is, "If ye be willing and obedient ye shall eat the good of the land." (Isa. 1:19.) This is congenial to our nature. "We will be obedient," said the Israelites. "But," says God, "they, like men, have transgressed my covenant." (Hos. 6:7) The law says, "Do, and live." Well, we say, "We ought to do, and we will do all the things the Lord hath commanded." But we can do nothing! It saith also, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and soul, and mind, and strength." But none ever yet did or can, for "the carnal mind is enmity against God;" it hates him. You will ask, "Wherefore, then, serveth the law?" I answer, "It was added because of transgression, that every mouth might be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God." I find sin mixing even with my most secret devotions, even prayer. This will cure a man of Arminianism, depend upon it. Many preachers, now-a-days, bring the old covenant forward in new terms, and term it "evangelic;" just as the plater makes baser metals pass, by putting a coating of silver on the top. Many set up in religion who never were set crying or seeking by God. Such follow such fellows. Perhaps you will say I am destitute of affection. But, as John Bunyan saith in his Pilgrim's Progress, when asked if the way is safe, "It is safe for those to whom it shall be safe, but the transgressors shall fall therein." So saith Paul, "The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." I don't want to set you down short; but depend upon it, if God has set you a-seeking and crying, he will never cast you off.
The new covenant is not called on account of priority, for it was made before the world began, and was revealed after the law was given, and called so also because God gives his people to feel something of the law first, and because it will ever contain a newness to the elect. It is unconditional and everlasting, and God's "wills" and "shalls" will prevail till every elect vessel is brought safe to glory. This covenant was made between the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost said. "Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation. David sings sweetly of this covenant in his last words. He took many bad steps; (and is not this an encouragement to do the like! God forbid! but they are left on record like beacons or buoys in the sea to bid the sailor to sheer off;) he was a man after God's own heart; and his Psalms are the best prayer-book in the world. He was the sweet singer of Israel, and in my opinion the man sung the sweetest song in his last words: "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. Although my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; for this is all my salvation and all my desire, although he make it not to grow." (See 2 Sam. 23:1—5.) I like to hear a person speak of the covenant: "I will give him [Christ] for a covenant to the people, that thou mayest be for salvation to the ends of the earth." "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant."
I once read a man's dream. It was printed some years ago. He was an old minister, away from his home, and slept with a friend. As he slept he dreamed of the covenant, and the other heard him talk in his sleep many precious things of the covenant, and at last the old man said, "If the children of God were to dwell more upon the covenant they would be as happy as the days are long." His friend was uncommonly delighted to hear him speak about the covenant. He has laid the foundation of our hope in oaths and promises, and blood. "My covenant shall be with him of life and peace." "My covenant with him will I not break, nor alter the thing that has gone out of my mouth."
II. I come now to speak of the Mediator of the covenant, which is Jesus the Saviour. Paul says, "Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one;" and lost sinners are the offending party. Job wished for "a daysman [or mediator], to lay his hand upon both." Jesus was the Word made flesh, the eternal God, and the Son of Mary, called "a worm, and no man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people." "I saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; then my own arm brought salvation." "Then I restored that I took not away." Joshua saw him, and said, "Art thou for us or for our enemies? And he said, Nay, but as Captain of the Lord's host am I come. And Joshua fell on his face and did worship." (Josh. 5:14-16) Now compare this with what Paul says, (Heb. 2:10) "For it became him for whom are all things in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." He is also called "the author and the finisher of faith." But the text says, "Ye are come unto Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant." And he says, "Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." And sure I am there is no real rest till we do come to Jesus. There is none arising from convictions, though they are evidences to others of the footsteps of the flock. If I were sure this was the last time I shall speak to you I must say that a sight of and an interest in the Mediator is the greatest blessing you can have by the way. I well remember the happiness I enjoyed when the Lord the Spirit first showed me a little of him. As long as we are here we shall be continually learning, for we learn but little at a time; nay, even if one lived to the age of Methuselah we should still be learning. I find daily need of the Mediator; I could not live without him. O even a glimpse of him between the clouds is rejoicing to one's soul; for my own heart so befools and bedevils me that I am full of doubts and fears, not of my interest particularly, but of whereabouts I am, like a traveler in a wilderness, or a sailor tossed upon the waves, and who has lost his compass. And the devil will set me to look at the saints and their faults, and at myself, and I am ready to say there is nothing at all in any one. But this is my infirmity; and sure I am that, as travelers cannot pass along without picking up dirt by the way, no more can the saints. But God will often bring his people to confession, like the prodigal, saying, "I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." There is still the law in the members, "the flesh lusting against the spirit;" and sometimes I have thought it strange that the Lord should indulge others, and seem to pass me unnoticed. Then I have been jealous, and "jealousy is cruel as the grave," that I have been ready to say, "Tell my Beloved I am sick of love." I was enabled, as I came along to Deptford this afternoon, to sing for a few moments; (and that is something of a wonder now-a-days;) and this was the song:
"Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is given.
More happy, but not more secure,
Are the glorified spirits in heaven."
And I said, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name, and forget not all his benefits." Ah! my friends, after a few years we shall be gone, and then what will avail what men think of us, or their opinions about us?
III. I come, in the third place, to speak of the blood of sprinkling. It is a figurative expression, in allusion to the blood of the passover lamb, when Moses commanded the children of Israel to kill the
lamb and to sprinkle the blood upon the doorposts and the lintels: and when the destroying angel went forth and slew the firstborn of Egypt, he passed by all (or over all) who were in the houses so sprinkled with blood,—this is the meaning of the passover. It is said that "by faith Moses kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them...
And the book and the people and all the vessels of the sanctuary were sprinkled with blood." And sure I am that all the vessels of mercy are or will be sprinkled with the blood of Christ, said to be "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ;" (1 Pet. 1:2) and in Heb. 13:20 it is called, "the blood of the everlasting covenant." The first thing that the soul feels of any weight is its sin and soul-sickness. As Hart says,
"Thine's indeed a lost condition,
Works cannot work thee remission,
Nor thy goodness do thee good.
Death's within thee, all about thee,
But the remedy's without thee;
See it in thy Saviour's blood."
"Having," saith Paul, "our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience;" and again, "We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement;" "Being justified, by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Hence, "in that day thou shalt say, 0 Lord, I will praise thee." Why, what's the matter? "Though thou wast angry, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me." What, then! Has God changed? No; but it is so in his apprehension. "I will trust, and
not be afraid." Why, what's the matter? "The Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation." "Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted." "Sing unto the Lord, for he hath done excellent things; this is known in all the earth." (Isa. 12) Such see the King in his beauty. But perhaps you are saying, "I know nothing of this; I am merely weeping." I answer, "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy; he that goeth forth and
weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
bringing his sheaves with him."
God bless what I have spoken; and I add no more.