November 6, 2006

John Howe (1630–1705) on Blood Guiltiness and the Redeemer's Death

(2.) But we are further to persuade this reconciliation to God, from the way wherein our Lord effects it: "in the body of his flesh, through death," or by dying a sacrifice upon the cross. And now you know this, will ye not yet be reconciled to him? Consider,

[1.] You will herein frustrate, and make insignificant to yourself, the highest demonstration that could be given of God’s good-will towards you. "God so loved the world," &c. John iii. 16. And what could our Lord himself have done more to testify his own love? "For greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends," John xv. 13. Yea, for those that were not so before, but wicked enemies; only that thereby they might be made friends, Rom. v. 8. And what could it signify to you, to represent the divine love to you by so costly a demonstration, if it do not gain your love?

[2.] And what could be so apt a means, sinner, to break thy heart, and conquer all thy former enmity, as to behold thy Redeemer dying upon the cross for thee? "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and mourn," Zech. xii. 10. "And I, if I be lift up, will draw all men to me;" which our Lord said, signifying what death he should die, by being lift up on the cross, John xii. 32, 33. Now what dost thou think of thyself, if such a sight will not move thee? An earthly, carnal, worldly mind, is declared over and over to be enmity against God, Rom. viii. 7. James iv. 4. But how remarkable is it, that such a temper of mind should be so peculiarly signified to import enmity to the cross of Christ! Phil. iii. 18, 19. I tell you of such, weeping, saith the apostle, that do even continue their enmity even in the face of the cross! And who even by that itself are not overcome!

[3.] If thou wilt not be reconciled, Christ did, as to thee, die in vain; thou canst be nothing the better. Think what it must come to, that so precious blood, (infinitely exceeding the value of all corruptible things; silver and gold, &c. 1 Pet. i. 18, 19,) should be shed, to redeem and save such as thou, and yet do thee no good?

[4.] If thou continue to the last unreconciled, it not only doth thee no good, but it must cry, and plead, most terribly against thee. Blood guiltiness is a fearful thing! What must it be, to be guilty of such blood! If thou wert guilty of the blood of thy father, thy child, or of the wife of thy bosom, how would it astonish thee! But to be guilty of the blood of the Son of God! How canst thou live under it? If thou wert guilty of all the innocent blood that ever was shed since the creation of the world, it were not comparable to the guilt of this blood!
John Howe, "Of Reconcilation Between God and Man," in The Works of John Howe (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1990), 1:459–460.


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