Christ Jesus came by water and by blood, not by water only, but by blood also, and I add, not by blood only but by water also, chap. v.6. In sin there is the guilt binding over to punishment, and there is the filth or spot that defileth the soul in God's sight. To take away guilt, nothing so fit as blood for there is no punishment beyond blood, therefore saith the apostle, "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin," Heb. ix.22, and for the stain and spot, nothing is so suitable as water, for that is generally appointed for cleansing. And some shadow of this the heathens had, who had their lustrations in water, and their expiations by blood,(249) but more significantly and plainly, the Jews, who had their purifications by sprinkling of water, (Num. viii.7.) and expiations by sacrificing of slain beasts. But all these were but evanishing shadows; now the substance is come, Jesus Christ is come in water and blood; in water, to cleanse the spots of the soul, to purify it from all filthiness; and in blood, to satisfy for sin, and remove the punishment. You have both in these words of the apostle, for he labours to set out unto us the true Christ, whole and entire, "these things I write unto you, that ye sin not." Here is the proper end of the water -- and "if any man sin, we have Christ a propitiation for our sins." Here is the blood -- the end of the blood is to save us, the end of the water is that we sin not, since we are saved. He came in the blood of expiation, because we had sinned. He came in the water of sanctification, that we might not sin. His blood speaks peace to the soul, and the water subjoins, "but let them not return to folly." His blood cries, "behold thou art made whole." And the water echoes unto it, "sin no more, lest a worse thing befall thee," John v.14. These two streams of water and blood, which are appointed for purity and pardon, run intermingled all along, and so the proper effects of them are interchangeably attributed to either of them; "he hath washed us in his blood," (Rev. i.5; vii.14.) "and the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin." Then, certainly, this blood cannot be without water, it is never separated from it. The proper effect of blood is to cover sin; but because the water runs in that channel, and is conveyed by the blood thither, therefore it doth cleanse sin, as well as cover it.
"These things I write unto you, that ye sin not." This then is the design of the whole gospel, the great and grand design, -- to destroy sin, and save the sinner. There is a treaty of peace made with the sinner, and "Christ is the peace-maker." A tender of life and salvation is made to him, but there is no treaty, no capitulation or composition with sin; out it must go, first out of its dominion, then out of its habitation. It must first lose its power, and then its being in a believer. Yea, this is one of the chief articles of our peace, not only required of us as our duty, that we should destroy that which cannot but destroy us; for, if any man will needs hug and embrace his sins, and cannot part with them, he must needs die in their embracements, because the council of heaven hath irrevocably passed a fatal sentence against sin, as the only thing that in all the creation hath the most perfect opposition to his blessed will, and contrariety to his holy nature, -- but also, and especially, as the great stipulation and promise upon his part, "to redeem us from all our iniquities, and purify us to himself, a people zealous of good works;" and not only to redeem us from hell, and deliver us from wrath, Tit. ii.14. He hath undertaken this great work, to compesce (250) this mutiny and rebellion that was raised up in the creation by sin, else what peace could be between God and us, as long as his enemy and ours dwelt in our bosom, and we at peace with it.
Now, take a short view of these things that are written in the preceding chapter, and you shall see that the harmonious voice of all that is in the gospel, is this, "that we sin not." Let me say further, as "these things are written that we sin not," so all things are done "that we sin not." Take all the whole work of creation, of providence, of redemption, -- all of them speak one language, "that we sin not." "Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge: there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard," Psalm xix.2, 3. And, as in that place, their voice proclaims the glory, majesty, and goodness of God, so they, with the same sound, proclaim and declare, that we should not sin against such a God, so great, and so good. All that we see suggests and insinuates this unto our hearts; all that we hear whispers this unto our ears, "that we sin not, that he made us, and not we ourselves, and that we are the very work of his hands." This speaks our absolute and essential dependence on him, and therefore proclaims with a loud voice, that sin, which would cut off this subordination, and loose from this dependence upon his holy will, is a monstrous, unnatural thing. Take all his mercies towards us, whether general or particular, the transcendent abundance of his infinite goodness in the earth, that river of his riches that runs through it, to water every man, and bring supply to his doors, that infinite variety that is in heaven and earth, and all of them of equal birth-right with man; yet by the law of our Maker, a yoke of subjection and service to man is imposed upon them, so that man is, in a manner, set in the centre of all, to the end, that all the several qualifications and perfections that are in every creature, may concentre and meet together in him, and flow towards him. Look upon all his particular acts of care and favour towards thee, consider his judgments upon the world, upon the nation, or thine own person. Put to thine ear, and hear. This is the joint harmonious melody, this is the proclamation of all, "that we sin not," that we sin not against so good a God, and so great a God. That were wickedness, this were madness. If he wound, it is "that we sin not:" if he heal again, it is "that we sin not." Doth he kill? It is "that we sin not!" Doth he make alive? It is for the same end. Doth he shut up and restrain our liberty, either by bondage, or sickness, or other afflictions? Why, he means "that we sin not." Doth he open again? He means the same thing, "that we sin no more, lest a worse thing befall us." Doth he make many to fall in battle, and turn the fury of that upon us? The voice of it is, that you who are left behind should "sin no more." Is there severity towards others, and towards you clemency? O the loud voice of that is, "sin not!" But alas, the result of all is, that which is written, Psal. lxxviii.32. -- "Nevertheless they sinned still." In the midst of so many concurring testimonies, in the very throng of all the sounds and voices that all the works of God utter, in the very hearing of these, nevertheless to sin still, and not to return and inquire early after God, -- this is the plague and judgment of the nation.
But let us return to the words, "these things," &c. "That which is written of the word of life, that which was from the beginning, and was manifested unto us," that is written "that we sin not:" For, saith this same apostle, chap. iii.5, 8, "And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins, and in him is no sin;" yea, for this very purpose, saith he, "that he might destroy the works of the devil." Now, this is the great business, that drew the Son out of the Father's bosom, -- to destroy the arch-enemy and capital rebel, sin, which, as to man, is a work of Satan's, because it first entered in man by the devil's suggestion and counsel. All that misery and ruin, all those works of darkness and death, that Satan had by his malice and policy wrought upon and in poor mankind, Jesus was manifested in the flesh without sin, to destroy and take away sin out of our flesh, and to abolish and destroy Satan's work, which he had builded upon the ruins of God's work, of the image of God, and to repair and renew that first blessed work of God in man, Eph. iv.23, 24.
Now, O how cogent and persuading is this; one so high, come down so low, one dwelling in inaccessible glory, manifested in the flesh, in the infirmity and weakness of it, to this very purpose, to repair the creation, to make up the breaches of it, to destroy sin, and save the sinner! What force is in this to persuade a soul that truly believes it, "not to sin!" For, may he think within himself, shall I save that which Christ came to destroy, shall I entertain and maintain that which he came to take away, and do what in me lies to frustrate the great end of his glorious and wonderful descent from heaven? Shall I join hands, and associate with my lusts, and war for them, "which war against my soul," and him that would save my soul? Nay, let us conclude, my beloved, within our own hearts, -- Is the Word and Prince of life manifested from heaven, and come to mar and unmake that work of Satan, that he may rescue me from under his tyranny? Then God forbid that I should help Satan to build up that which my Saviour is casting down, and to make a prison for myself, and cords to bind me in it for everlasting. Nay, will a believing soul say, rather let me be a worker together with Christ. Though faintly, yet I resolve to wrestle with him, to pull down all the strongholds that Satan keeps in my nature, and so to congratulate and consent to him, who is the avenger and assertor of my liberty.
Then consider the greatest end and furthest design of the gospel, how it is inseparably chained and linked into this, "that we sin not." We are called to fellowship with the Father and the Son, and herein is his glory and our happiness. Now, this proclaims with a loud voice, "that we sin not," for, what more contrary to that design of union and communion with God, than to sin, which disunites and discommunicates the soul from God. The nature of sin you know, is the transgression of his law, and so it is the very just opposition of the creatures will to the will of him that made it. Now, how do ye imagine that this can consist with true friendship and fellowship, which looseth that conjunction of wills and affections, which is the bond of true friendship, and the ground of fellowship? Idem velle atque idem nolle, haec demum vera amicitia est.(251) The conspiracy of our desires and delights in one point with God's, this sweet coincidency makes our communion, and what communion then can there be with God, when that which his soul abhors is your delight, and his delight is not your desire? "What communion hath light with darkness?" Sin is darkness. All sin but especially sin entertained and maintained, sin that hath the full consent of the heart, and carrieth the whole man after it, that is Egyptian darkness, an universal darkness over the soul. This being interposed between God and the soul, breaks off communion, eclipses that soul totally. Therefore, my beloved, if you do believe that you are called unto this high dignity of fellowship with God, and if your souls be stirred with some holy ambition after it, consider that "these things are written that ye sin not." Consider what baseness is in it, for one that hath such a noble design, as fellowship with the Highest, to debase his soul so far and so low, as to serve sinful and fleshly lusts. There is a vileness and wretchedness in the service of sin, that any soul, truly and nobly principled, cannot but look upon it with indignation, because he can behold nothing but indignity in it. "Shall I who am a ruler," saith Nehemiah, "shall such a man as I flee? and who is there that being as I am, would flee?" Neh. vi.11. A Christian hath more reason. Shall such a man as I, who am born again to such a hope, and called to such a high dignity, shall I, who aim and aspire so high as fellowship with God, debase and degrade myself with the vilest servitude? Shall I defile in that puddle again, till my own clothes abhor me, who aim at so pure and so holy a society? Shall I yoke in myself with drunkards, liars, swearers, and other slaves of sin? Shall I rank myself thus, and conform myself to the world, seeing there is a noble and glorious society to incorporate with, the King of kings to converse with daily? Alas, what are these worms that sit on thrones to him? But far more, how base are these companions in iniquity, your pot companions? &c. And what a vile society is it like that of the bottomless pit, where devils are linked together in chains?