[This is a reprint of a book published by James Nisbet & Co., London, England, in 1866]
Chapter 1: Forgiveness Through The Blood Of Jesus
Chapter 2: How Our Sins Are Taken Away By The Blood Of Jesus
Chapter 3: The Blood Of Jesus, Not Conviction Of Sin, The Foundation Of Our Peace And Joy
Chapter 4: A Letter About The Love Of Jesus
Chapter 5: Salvation Through The Blood Of Jesus, The Gift Of God
Chapter 6: The Blood Of Jesus Our Only Ground Of Peace With God
Chapter 7: Regeneration Through The Blood Of Jesus
Chapter 8: Faith In The Blood Of Jesus Essential To Salvation
Chapter 9: The Blood Of Jesus The Believers Life And Peace
Chapter 10: Faith In The Blood Of Jesus The Spring Of Holiness
Chapter 11: The Blood Of Jesus The Essence Of The Gospel
Chapter 12: The Holy Spirits Testimony To The Blood Of Jesus
"I HAVE been religiously inclined from my earliest years. When quite little I was wont to say my prayers many times over, for I had heard it said that everything done on earth was written down in heaven, and I wished to have as much as possible recorded there in my favour.
"When about ten years of age, I heard that there were some who did not believe that the Bible was the Word of God, and that led me to surmise that it was not sufficiently clear that it was from God; for if He had given a revelation of His mind to man, it must have come in such a form that it would have been impossible for any person to disbelieve in it. I pictured to myself that if God chose to do it, He could put up in great letters along the heavens, 'I AM The Lord,' and everybody would see it and believe; and if the Bible were from Him, its revelation would be so unmistakably clear, that it would be impossible to doubt its divine origin.
"But this was not a settled conviction; and my incipient scepticism was suddenly dissipated by a dream. I thought that I felt an intense heat; and so terrible did it ultimately become, that the heavens were rent asunder and wrapt in flames, and in the burning sky overhead I saw in large letters of fire, 'I AM THE LORD;' but I had at the same time a conviction that it was now too late for the persons who had been unbelieving to profit by it, and those who had not believed the Bible, speaking, to them in the name of the Lord, would now find to their everlasting misery that it was true.
"Not having enjoyed an early training in Bible truth, I had many difficulties in reference to the doctrines of revelation, and especially regarding that of the Trinity. I could not comprehend whether God and Christ were one or two beings; and I was too timid at the age of twelve to ask my seniors.
"When at school I was deeply impressed with the solemnity and propriety of daily worship, and fervently wished, on returning home, to be able to have family worship; but my timidity was stronger than my convictions, and it was not attempted. Having no Christian friend to give me counsel, direction, and encouragement, my religious impressions by and by evaporated, and my character was left very much to the formative power of surrounding circumstances. But having been instructed when at school in a neighbouring town in what was right, and counselled, on leaving it, by a Christian lady of the town, as to how I ought to conduct myself on my return home, and being put in a responsible situation, I felt a moral weight upon my spirit, and gravitated towards the good, the right, and the true.
"I was much given to reading, and from having abundance of the choicest books of a historical and literary character, I was permitted to gratify my taste. The acquisition of information was my great aim. I had an ardent thirst for knowledge, and every species of works, with the exception of light literature, for which I had a settled contempt, was devoured by me both day and night. Solid literature suited my disposition, and I stored my mind with useful information on a variety of subjects. I was once so engrossed with books, that when about fifteen years old I left off going to church, that I might have the quiet of the Lord's day for reading. But this I soon discovered to be very wrong, and it was discontinued.
"In the course of years I became acquainted with the most evangelical minister in the town where I resided; and I left an eloquent preacher, whose discourses were to me only a very lovely song, and attended the ministry of the Gospel of the grace of God. This very materially changed the current of my thinking and the kind of my reading. Being naturally susceptible of religious impressions, I became serious, devout, and religious. I carried my thirst for knowledge with me into my religion, and I searched the Scriptures and read religious books with an earnestness and constancy which were absorbing. I got Fleetwood's 'Life of Christ' and read it many times; and so engrossing was it that I sometimes sat reading it until two or three o'clock in the morning, without weariness. The circumstances in which I was living, and the trials which thickened over my path, were no doubt instrumental in sobering my buoyant spirits and throwing me upon a course of religious duty.
"From the instructions of the pulpit, and my own reading, I soon became, in some measure, acquainted with the system of Christian doctrine; and believing that I was a real Christian because I knew about Christian truth and Christian experience, and had a liking for all that was good, I thought it was my duty to join myself to the church. I was quite able to answer all the questions that were put to me, for I was not asked, Are you born again? I was admitted, and, as a member, received the Lord's Supper regularly. Even at that time I walked a considerable distance every Lord's day to attend a prayer-meeting at eight o'clock in the morning; but it was all 'works,' for I felt as if I were acquiring extraordinary merit by the performance of this extraordinary duty. I had a real pleasure in doing well. After this I attended a Bible class, and prepared so thoroughly for it that I was able to outshine all the rest in my knowledge of the subjects which were submitted for our consideration. In order the more thoroughly to master the contents of the Scriptures, and satisfy my own mind, I set to reading the Bible with a Commentary; and after having read it with one commentary I got another, and perused it with the most assiduous earnestness and perseverance. With these helps I passed many hours in searching the Scriptures, and enjoyed it more than anything else ; but it was from no love to God himself, but simply to acquire information. I do not remember that I had a spiritual sense of sin, either before becoming a church-member, or for a number of years after doing so, and consequently I read the Bible more with my intellect than with my conscience and my heart. I wanted 'by searching to find out God,' ignorant of the fact that He can be known only through our spiritual necessities. I saw the truth, as I believed, clearly enough, but never having been really convinced that I was an utterly lost sinner, I had never prayed from the heart, Lord, save me, I perish!
"But in course of years I became less satisfied with my religion and with myself. When unhappy I did not go direct to Jesus, but, on the contrary, I tried to read myself right, or pray myself right, or work myself right, and for a time I succeeded. I was most strict in all my deportment, conscientious and exemplary; and having a factitious conscience, I felt miserable if I failed any day to read a good deal, or perform other duties. Morning calls often annoyed me, proving, as they frequently did, an interruption in my round of prescribed duty; and when I met with agreeable, intelligent friends, and went thoroughly into their conversation, I forgot all about divine things; and when I was left to myself again, after a time of forgetfulness of God, I sometimes felt that I had a tremendous leeway to make up, and I set about doing it with all my might. When thus drawn away from religion, I would sometimes have a protracted season of forgetfulness of God, but it was generally followed by a season of conflict, remorse, struggling, and persevering penance. To keep up a religion on my plan was a very difficult matter, and very unsatisfactory. When I did well, read well, and stored up Scripture truth in my mind, did my duty as a Sunday school teacher, tract-distributor, and district-visitor, and was sufficiently earnest, I felt myself all right ; but if I failed in duty, I continued miserable.
"Being perfectly sincere and conscientious, consistent in my conduct, and considered truly pious by myself and others, - I waded on through this legal mire for many years; and it never occurred to me that there must be a radical defect about my religion. My heart was unsatisfied; my conscience, when in any measure awakened, was silenced by duty, but not satisfied by righteousness, nor purged from dead works by the blood of the Righteous One. My error was in believing that religion consisted in knowing, apart from realising; and my conscience not being spiritually aroused, I persevered in my delusion for about a dozen of years. I believe now that there was one error which I committed, which tended more than anything to keep me in my unhappy condition, - I considered my prayers so utterly unworthy to be presented to God, that instead of throwing myself in all my sinfulness and unworthiness before the throne of grace, and getting into immediate contact with the God of salvation, I employed exclusively the prayers of others. I frequently used ejaculatory prayers of my own throughout the course of the day; but when I came before God formally, I felt so utterly unworthy and unable to order my speech before Him, that I was always constrained to use the language of others ; for, praying being regarded as a meritorious duty, I felt that it must be done well in order to be accepted, and I feared to commit myself to a lengthened address to the Divine Majesty. The Holy Ghost would have helped my infirmities, and made intercession within me, but I had not the most remote conception that I might, by a believing glance of my eye towards heaven, secure His gracious aid; and so, instead of 'praying in the Holy Ghost,' I prayed merely in the words of my fellow-men, which sometimes met my condition, but more frequently did not, and always seemed to keep me at a distance from God, and from enjoying direct personal intercourse with the Father of mercies' (2 Cor. 1:3).
"In the unsatisfactory manner which I have just described, I wasted and lost my young years, "and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, (Mark 5:26). I had been religious, dutiful, and consistent; but it had been a mere going about to establish my own righteousness, for my system of service ignored the central fact of Divine Revelation, - that, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, (1 Tim 1:15). 'But God, who is rich in mercy' (Eph. 2:4), had compassion on me, and by the grace of His Holy Spirit, 'revealed His Son in me,' (Gal. 1:16) and turned the shadow of death into the morning, (Amos 5:8). The first gleam of Gospel light which entered my darkened mind was in reading a little tract in which Luther's conversion is referred to. When the words of the Creed, I believe in the forgiveness of sins, were pronounced in his hearing, he took them up and repeated them on his bed of sickness; but he was told he must believe not only in the forgiveness of David's sins or Peter's sins, but that he must believe in the forgiveness of his own sins. This truth became the inlet of pardon and peace to his soul; and on reading it I felt that my soul was being visited with celestial light ; and I was led to see that pardon of sin was a present and personal blessing. But I was not satisfied that I believed aright.
"Shortly after, I was reading Romaine's' 'Life of Faith,' and came upon this sentiment, -That the weakest believer is as precious to Christ and as safe as the strongest. The dayspring from on high visited me, and, by and by, I felt myself bathed in the noon-tide radiance of Heaven's glorious light. The great Enlightener filled my soul with His transforming presence. He who commanded the light to shine out of darkness had shined in my heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. I was conscious of a Divine Presence with me, and believed that the holy light which had entered my soul came direct from heaven. Christ from that moment became the great central object of my contemplation. Immediately that I became enlightened, Jesus appeared to be the centre, sum, and essence of Revelation, and with Him as a key, I thought I could understand all that ever was written on the subject of religion. My spirit rejoiced in God my Saviour, and self and its services were thought of only to be condemned as utterly vile and worthless. Christ was all. And as my soul was filled with divine light, and glowing with the love of Jesus, I said to myself, as, in amazement, I remembered the dreary past - 'How could I have been so blind as not to see the way of salvation when it is so clearly revealed that "Jesus Christ is all and in all, and we are complete in Him" - not, "in Him" and our own doings combined but in Him alone? The truth is as clear as the sun at noon-day, that Jesus is Himself the Sin-Bearer and the Saviour, and I and my legal duties and conscientious penances are nothing but " filthy rags." I have read it a hundred times that Jesus came "to seek and to save that which was lost," and the same truth runs through the whole Word of God, and yet I never saw it until now. Oh, how blind I have been to the glory of Jesus! How sad to think that I have read so much about Him with the veil upon my heart, and have never seen His glory as a Saviour till this blessed hour!' I now wished that every one could see the Lord as I saw Him. I wondered that they did not, and I thought I could point Him out to them so clearly and distinctly, as made of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,' that it would be impossible for them not to believe in Him, receive Him as theirs, and be filled with heavenly joy: but I found that old Adam was too strong for young Melancthon.'
"About this time I heard a sermon which I wished to get good from; but the minister was drawing to a close, and I had found nothing in all he had said to satisfy my soul, when as a concluding sentence he repeated the words, Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth (Rom. 10:4); and that was borne in upon my soul with much power of the Holy Ghost, so that I again found my heart filled with the light, life, and love of God. How clearly it appeared to me that Christ had in my stead satisfied all the demands of the law! He had filled it up with His satisfaction from one end to the other, for thus I understood His being, the end of the law.' He has abolished the law as a ground of justification, by fulfilling every one of its many demands; and He allows us to begin life with a righteousness as perfect as if we had fulfilled perfectly in our own persons every iota that the law of God exacts. I had no idea of this during my years of bondage; and the consequence was, that in my blindness I presumptuously set about doing that which Christ had done for me, and which, had I gone on for ever in the same legal track, I never could have done for myself. When ones eyes are opened by the Holy Ghost, how monstrous does it seem for the sinful creature to have been attempting to work out a righteousness which could be effected only by the Creator! 'Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,' and, believing in Jesus, I found that, instead of needing to begin to fulfil the law for myself, I was privileged to begin at 'the end of the law. Instead of looking forward to being able to complete the fulfillment, I found that (on believing in Jesus) what I fancied would be the termination of a life of obedience, I had now presented to me in the Gospel of Christ as the point from which I was to start. To get Christ in a moment as my perfect righteousness, after going about for the best part of my past life to establish a righteousness of my own, on account of which I hail vainly thought to render myself acceptable to God, that was to me 'as life from the dead, (Rom. 11:15).
Is that my own experience? No, it is not mine; but the experience of another, which, having been submitted to me when about to write this preface, I considered so suitable that I have written it out, and given it as one of the most satisfactory reasons I could present for issuing the present little volume. There can be no doubt but there are many cases like the above. I fear that not a few of the strictly religious in all our churches are ignorant of the "true grace of God," (1 Pet. 5:12), which gives Jesus as "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." I fear also that, in some cases, on account of a mixture of law and Gospel in public instruction, inquirers are left with the impression that they have something to do in order to obtain "justification of life," (Rom. 5:18). And when we consider the hundreds of thousands who are being awakened by the Holy Ghost throughout our own and other lands, I believe that we could not engage in a more needful service than the preparation of a work such as the present, wherein "the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, even the righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe," (Rom. 3:21,22). We sometimes hear "the claims of Jesus " pressed upon sinners; but this is to confound Christ with Moses, and represent His salvation as only an amended republication of the law "given by Moses," forgetting that "grace and truth came by Jesus Christ," (John 1:17). "The Gospel, strictly taken, contains neither claims,' commands, nor threatenings, but is glad tidings of salvation to sinful men through Christ, revealed in doctrines and promises; and these revealed to men as sinners, stout-hearted, and far from righteousness. In the good news from heaven of help in God through Jesus Christ, for lost, self-destroyed creatures of Adam's race, there are no precepts. All these, the command to believe and repent not excepted, belong to and flow from the law. The Gospel is the report of a peace purchased by the. BLOOD OF CHRIST for poor sinners, and offered to them. The Gospel brings a sound of liberty to captives, of pardon to condemned criminals, of peace to rebels, a sound of life to the dead, and of salvation to them that lie on the borders of hell and condemnation. It is not, indeed, the Gospel of itself, but Christ revealed therein, that heals the sinner. It is Christ that is to be received; but He is received as offered in the Gospel, and the Gospel holds out Christ to the eye of faith. The Gospel is with respect to Christ what the pole was with respect to the serpent. The Gospel does not therefore urge upon us claims which we cannot implement, but it places before us the free grace of God in Christ Jesus, and permits us to claim the Son of God as our Redeemer, and through Him to enjoy "all things" pertaining to the life of faith and the hope of glory. We are asked to give God nothing for salvation. He is the great Giver. Our proper position is to stand before Him as beggars in the attitude of receiving. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32).
THE Gospel of the grace of God does not consist in pressing the duty defined by the words, "Give your heart to Christ" although that is often unwisely pressed upon inquirers after salvation as if it were the Gospel; but the very essence of the Gospel is contained in the words, "Having liberty to enter into the holiest BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high-priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith," (Heb. 10:19-22).
"Give your heart to Christ," is rather law than Gospel. It is most proper that it should be done, for God himself demands it; but merely urging the doing of it is far short of the Gospel The true Gospel is, Accept the free gift of salvation from wrath and sin by receiving Jesus himself, and all the benefits He purchased with "HIS OWN BLOOD" (Acts 20:28), and your heart will be His in a moment, being given to Him, not as a matter of law, but of love; for, if you have the love of His heart poured into yours by His blessed Spirit, you will feel yourself under the constraining influence of a spontaneous spiritual impulse to give Him in return your heart, and all that you possess. It is right to give Him your heart, but unless you first receive His, you will never give Him yours.
The design of the following pages is to exhibit "the true grace of God" "without the works of the law," and only "by THE BLOOD OF Jesus," (Heb. 10:19). Our great aim is the glory of Christ in the conversion of souls and the means employed to accomplish that end are simple statements concerning the great Scripture truth, that we are saved at once, entirely, and for ever, by the grace of God "who is rich in mercy," and that we have no part at all in the matter of our salvation save the beggar's part, of accepting it as a " free gift," procured for us by "THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST," (1 Pet. 1:19). And, as many are struggling to get up something of their own as a price to bring to God to buy salvation of Him, we have taken pains to shew the entire uselessness of all such efforts; and have pointed out, we think, with some degree of clearness, and by a variety of ways, that all true religion has a distinct beginning, and that that beginning dates from the time when a sinner stands at Calvary conscious of his utterly ruined condition, and realises the truth that Jesus so completely satisfied God for sin, that He could say before He gave up the ghost, "It is finished," (John 19:30); so that " we have redemption through HIS BLOOD, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace," (Eph. 1:7). "He his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree," (1 Pet. 2:24), and thereby, "having made peace by THE BLOOD OF HIS CROSS," (Col. 1:20), we may at once be "made nigh by THE BLOOD OF CHRIST," (Eph. 2:13), without anything of our own. That God who hath set Him forth, "a propitiation through faith in HIS BLOOD, to declare his righteousness " (Rom. 3:25) in pardoning sin, will pardon ALL sin through faith in Him, for His own testimony is, that "THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST His Son cleanseth us from all sin," (1 John 1:7).
"THE BLOOD OF JESUS" is the ground of peace with God to every believing sinner below, and it will be the subject of the everlasting song of the redeemed above. It is our ALL for acceptance with God, for pardon of sin, for "justification of life," for adoption into God's family, for holiness and glory. As the altar with its streaming blood stood at the very entrance of the ancient tabernacle, so the Lord Jesus Christ and "THE BLOOD OF HIS CROSS" meet us at the very entrance of the church of the redeemed. The blood-shedding of Jesus as "a propitiation for our sins" (1 John 2:2) lies at the very threshold of the Christian life. It is the alphabet of Christian experience to know the value of "THE BLOOD OF SPRINKLING," (Heb. 12:24). The first step in the Christian course is into the "fountain opened," (Zech. 13:1).
THE BLOOD OF JESUS" is our great and only theme in the following pages. May the Divine Spirit make them to every reader "the power of God unto salvation," (Rom. 1:16).
In closing these prefatory pages, the writer may remark, that although it would have been both easy and delightful to have written it wholly himself, he has purposely introduced extracts from various writers belonging to different sections of the Church of Christ-Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, &c., that the anxious inquirer may enjoy the benefit of having saving truth presented to him in a variety of aspects, and may, at the same time, feel the moral effect of observing the perfect agreement of Spirit-taught Christians, in the different branches of the Church of Christ, with regard to the one way of a sinner's acceptance with God, " BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS."
It is again issued with the earnest prayer that the Holy Spirit would so bless it to all inquirers who read it, that they may "enter into the holiest by THE BLOOD OF JESUS," (Heb. 10:19), and learn to sing, "with joyful lips," the redemption-song: - Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His OWN BLOOD, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen,," (Rev. 1:5,6).
3 George Square, Edinburgh
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