Christ set forth as a propitiation

1 PETER 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

‘Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.’ Romans 3:24–25

Suggested Further Reading: Exodus 25:17–22

God has set forth Christ as being a propitiation. The Greek word ishilasterion which, being translated, may mean a mercy seat or a covering. Now God has said to the sinner, ‘Do you desire to meet me? Would you be no longer my enemy? Would you tell me your sorrows? Would you receive my blessing? Would you establish a commerce between your Creator and your soul? I set forth Christ to you as being the mercy seat, where I can meet with you and you can meet with me.’ Or take the word as signifying a covering; as the mercy seat covered the tables of the law, and so covered that which was the cause of divine anger, because we had broken his commandment. ‘Would you have anything which can cover your sin? Cover it from me your God, so that I need not be provoked to anger; cover it from you so that you need not be cowed with excessive fear, and tremble to approach me as you did when I came in thunders and lightnings upon Sinai? Would you have a shelter which shall hide altogether your sins and your iniquities? I set it forth to you in the person of my bleeding Son. Trust in his blood, and your sin is covered from my eyes; it shall be covered from your own eyes too; and being justified by faith, you shall have peace with God through Jesus Christ your Lord.’ O that we may have grace to accept now what God the Father sets forth! The Romish priest sets forth this and that; our own Romish hearts set forth such-and-such-another thing; but God sets forth Christ. The preacher of doctrine sets forth a dogma; the preacher of experience sets forth a feeling; the preacher of practice often sets forth an effort; but God puts before you Christ. ‘There I will meet with thee.’

For meditation: Christ is the only propitiation that God in his mercy will accept as a covering for our sin (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). Have you accepted him too, or are you still trying to bodge your own cover-up job? It won’t work (Genesis 3:7–9).

Sermon no. 373   29 March (Good Friday 1861)

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The Mercy of God



“The mercy of God.”   Psalm 52:8

Meditate a little on this mercy of the Lord. It is tender mercy. With gentle, loving touch, he healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He is as gracious in the manner of his mercy as in the matter of it. It is great mercy. There is nothing little in God; his mercy is like himself–it is infinite. You cannot measure it. His mercy is so great that it forgives great sins to great sinners, after great lengths of time, and then gives great favours and great privileges, and raises us up to great enjoyments in the great heaven of the great God. It is undeserved mercy, as indeed all true mercy must be, for deserved mercy is only a misnomer for justice. There was no right on the sinner’s part to the kind consideration of the Most High; had the rebel been doomed at once to eternal fire he would have richly merited the doom, and if delivered from wrath, sovereign love alone has found a cause, for there was none in the sinner himself. It is rich mercy. Some things are great, but have little efficacy in them, but this mercy is a cordial to your drooping spirits; a golden ointment to your bleeding wounds; a heavenly bandage to your broken bones; a royal chariot for your weary feet; a bosom of love for your trembling heart. It is manifold mercy. As Bunyan says, “All the flowers in God’s garden are double.” There is no single mercy. You may think you have but one mercy, but you shall find it to be a whole cluster of mercies. It is abounding mercy. Millions have received it, yet far from its being exhausted; it is as fresh, as full, and as free as ever. It is unfailing mercy. It will never leave thee. If mercy be thy friend, mercy will be with thee in temptation to keep thee from yielding; with thee in trouble to prevent thee from sinking; with thee living to be the light and life of thy countenance; and with thee dying to be the joy of thy soul when earthly comfort is ebbing fast.




“This sickness is not unto death.”   John 11:4

From our Lord’s words we learn that there is a limit to sickness. Here is an “unto” within which its ultimate end is restrained, and beyond which it cannot go. Lazarus might pass through death, but death was not to be the ultimatum of his sickness. In all sickness, the Lord saith to the waves of pain, “Hitherto shall ye go, but no further.” His fixed purpose is not the destruction, but the instruction of his people. Wisdom hangs up the thermometer at the furnace mouth, and regulates the heat.

1. The limit is encouragingly comprehensive. The God of providence has limited the time, manner, intensity, repetition, and effects of all our sicknesses; each throb is decreed, each sleepless hour predestinated, each relapse ordained, each depression of spirit foreknown, and each sanctifying result eternally purposed. Nothing great or small escapes the ordaining hand of him who numbers the hairs of our head.

2. This limit is wisely adjusted to our strength, to the end designed, and to the grace apportioned. Affliction comes not at haphazard–the weight of every stroke of the rod is accurately measured. He who made no mistakes in balancing the clouds and meting out the heavens, commits no errors in measuring out the ingredients which compose the medicine of souls. We cannot suffer too much nor be relieved too late.

3. The limit is tenderly appointed. The knife of the heavenly Surgeon never cuts deeper than is absolutely necessary. “He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” A mother’s heart cries, “Spare my child;” but no mother is more compassionate than our gracious God. When we consider how hard-mouthed we are, it is a wonder that we are not driven with a sharper bit. The thought is full of consolation, that he who has fixed the bounds of our habitation, has also fixed the bounds of our tribulation.

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