1 Peter 3:18
For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the spirit,
Sermons
Sacrificial SufferingsJ.R. Thomson 1 Peter 3:18
Injunctions to AllR. Finlayson 1 Peter 3:8-22
Suffering for RighteousnessU.R. Thomas 1 Peter 3:13-18
All Angels Subject to ChristJohn Rogers.1 Peter 3:18-20
Baptism: HelpfulB. Preece.1 Peter 3:18-20
Christ At HomeHomilist1 Peter 3:18-20
Christ in the Flesh and in the SpiritA. J. Bengel.1 Peter 3:18-20
Christ the King of AngelsPlain Sermons by Contributors to, Tracts for the Times1 Peter 3:18-20
Christ the SubstituteJ. H. Wilson, D. D.1 Peter 3:18-20
Christ's SufferingsAbp. Leighton.1 Peter 3:18-20
Christ's SufferingsJ. J. S. Bird, B. A.1 Peter 3:18-20
Christ's Sufferings for UsH. W. Beecher.1 Peter 3:18-20
Christ's Sufferings; Or, the Basis of EvangelismD. Thomas, D. D.1 Peter 3:18-20
Our Ascended LordC. H. Spurgeon.1 Peter 3:18-20
Our Lord's AscensionDean Alford.1 Peter 3:18-20
Safety in the ArkB. W. Noel, M. A.1 Peter 3:18-20
Spirits in PrisonD. Thomas, D. D.1 Peter 3:18-20
The AscensionDean Vaughan.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Design of Christ's SufferingsSketches of Four Hundred Sermons1 Peter 3:18-20
The Gospel Preached to the DeadCanon T. S. Evades, D. D.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Great AtonementD. Wilson.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Just for the UnjustWm. McMordie, M. A.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Just Suffering for the UnjustW. J. Brock, B. A.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Mission of Our SaviorU.R. Thomas 1 Peter 3:18-20
The Patience of GodBp. Huntington.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Quickening Influence of SufferingF. B. Meyer, B. A.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Resurrection of ChristArthur Brooks.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Saints Coming Home to God by Reconciliation and GlorificationJohn Flavel.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Saviour's MissionU. R. Thomas.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Spirits in PrisonDean Vaughan.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Spirits in PrisonEssex Remembrancer1 Peter 3:18-20
The Sufferings of ChristM. Braithwaite.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Sufferings of ChristArthur Brooks.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Sufferings of ChristWm. Smart.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Sufferings of ChristS. Price.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Sufferings of Christ Our Atonement and Our ExampleF. Dobbin, M. A.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Two BaptismsW. Arnot.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Unrepeatable SacrificeJ. W. McKay, D. D.1 Peter 3:18-20
The Remembrance of Our Lord's Atonement a Help to Persecuted ChristiansC. New 1 Peter 3:18-22
To Peter, the memory of his Lord's Passion must have been peculiarly pathetic and peculiarly precious. He could not but connect the Master's constancy with the servant's unfaithfulness, and the servant's penitence with the Master's grace and pardoning favor. The woe he had witnessed could never be long absent from his recollection. And the bearing of Christ's sufferings upon human redemption and upon Christian consecration must have constantly occurred to him when communicating Divine truth, and inspiring his fellow-believers to devotion and endurance. In this verse, compact with precious fact and doctrine, we have set before us -

I. THE FACT OF CHRIST'S SUFFERING.

II. THE CHARACTER IN WHICH CHRIST SUFFERED. It is here that the mystery of the fact is to be found. The Sufferer was the Righteous One, blameless in character, upright in conduct, beneficent in ministry. Yet he suffered, notwithstanding all this. That the unrighteous should suffer, this appears to us natural; they eat of the fruit of their doings; they reap as they have sown. But in the agony and death of Jesus of Nazareth we see the undeserved sufferings of" the Holy One and the Just."

III. THE PERSONS FOR WHOM CHRIST SUFFERED. This consideration increases the mystery and enhances the interest of the Passion of our Redeemer. At first sight it seems as though, if undeserved sufferings are to be endured, this must be at least on behalf of the virtuous, the meritorious, the pious. But it was otherwise, it was exactly contrary, with the sufferings of Christ. He died for the unrighteous, for those who had violated the laws of God and the laws of man!

IV. THE CAUSE BY AND FOR WHICH CHRIST SUFFERED. He was brought to the cross by the sins of men; and it was on account of those sins that he deliberately and graciously consented to die. The connection between sin and suffering is obvious in God's providential treatment of men; it is equally obvious in God's merciful redemption of men by his Son Jesus Christ.

V. THE INTENT AND AIM WITH WHICH CHRIST SUFFERED. Nothing more sublime in itself, or more welcome to the sinner's ear, can be found than the statement in this verse of the purpose for which our Lord Jesus accepted the death of humiliation and shame - it was "that he might bring us to God." Surely the simplest and yet the grandest statement of Immanuel's voluntary and sacrificial death!

VI. CHRIST'S SUFFERING OUR EXAMPLE AND MOTIVE. Let Christians see to it that, if they suffer, it be not for ill-doing, but (like their Lord) for well-doing. Such endurance may be wholesome discipline for them, and it may be the means of good to others. - J.R.T.







Christ also hath once suffered for sins.
I. THE GLORIOUS PERSON WHO SUFFERED FOR SIN AND SINNERS.

II. THE SUFFERINGS BY WHICH HE MADE ATONEMENT FOR SIN.

1. Sin was the procuring cause of them.

2. His human nature was the immediate subject of them.

3. They were the sufferings of a Divine person.

4. They were not imaginary but real.

5. The sufferings of Christ were necessary.

6. Vicarious.

7. Grievous.

8. Voluntary.

9. By them the justice of God was fully satisfied.

10. Though they are long since finished, they have the same merit and efficacy that ever they had.

III. THE END OF CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS.

1. How, or in what respects, sinners may be said to be brought to God. Their being brought to God —(1) Implies their being brought into a state of reconciliation and favour with God.(2) It implies their having access into the gracious presence of God.(3) It implies their being admitted to communion and fellowship with God.(4) Sinners are brought to God when they attain to likeness and conformity to God.(5) Sinners may be said to be brought to God when they forsake the service of sin, and cordially engage in the service of God.(6) Sinners are brought to God, in the fullest sense, when they are brought to the full enjoyment of Him in heaven.

2. What influence the sufferings of Christ for sin have on the bringing of sinners to God. By the sufferings of Christ all grounds of controversy between God and sinners were legally removed (Colossians 1:20).

(D. Wilson.)

I. THEIR REALITY. Christ suffered from —

1. Privation.

2. Satanic hostility.

3. Unkindness.

4. Misunderstanding.

II. THEIR ATONING NATURE.

1. The character of Christ.

2. The doctrine of substitution.

3. The solitariness of the sacrifice,

(1)Nothing more is needed.

(2)Nothing more will be given.

III. THEIR DESIGN. "That He might bring us to God" —

1. In penitential sorrow.

2. To obtain mercy and peace.

3. With entire self-surrender.

4. Unto God's immediate presence.Lessons:

1. There is hope and help for all.

2. Christ is the way of access to God.

(M. Braithwaite.)

The scope of the apostle in this place is to fortify Christians for a day of suffering. In order to their cheerful sustaining whereof, he prescribeth two excellent rules.

1. To get a good conscience within them (vers. 16, 17).

2. To set the example of Christ's sufferings before them (ver. 18). The sufferings of Christ for us is the great motive engaging Christians to suffer cheerfully for Him.

I. THE SUFFICIENCY AND FULNESS OF CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS intimated in that particle [once]; Christ needs to suffer no more, having completed that whole work at once.

II. THE MERITORIOUS CAUSE OF THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST, and that is sin, "Christ once suffered for sins"; not His own sins, but ours.

III. THE ADMIRABLE GRACE AND UNEXAMPLED LOVE OF CHRIST TO US SINNERS. "The just for the unjust"; in which words the substitution of Christ in the place of sinners is plainly expressed. Christ died not only for our good, but also in our stead.

IV. THE FINAL CAUSE OR DESIGN OF THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST. "To bring us to God."

1. What Christ's bringing us to God imports.(1) That the chief happiness of man consisteth in the enjoyment of God: that the creature hath as necessary dependence upon God for happiness, as the stream hath upon the fountain.(2) Man's revolt and apostasy from God (Ephesians 2:12).(3) Our inability to return to God of ourselves; we must be brought back by Christ, or perish forever in a state of separation from God (Luke 15:5).(4) That God's unsatisfied justice was once the great bar betwixt Him and man.(5) The peculiar happiness of believers above all people in the world: these only shall be brought to God by Jesus Christ in a reconciled state; others, indeed, shall be brought to God as a Judge, to be condemned by Him. All believers shall be solemnly presented to God in the great day (Colossians 1:22; Jude 1:24). They shall be all presented faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.

2. What influence the death of Christ hath upon this design.

(1)It effectually removes all obstacles to it.

(2)It purchaseth (as price) their title to it.

(John Flavel.)

I. THE CHARACTER OF THE SAVIOUR'S MISSION.

1. It was one that involved Him in suffering.

2. It was one of innocent suffering.

3. It was one unconquered by suffering.

II. THE PURPOSE OF THE SAVIOUR'S MISSION.

1. We are away from God.

2. We can be restored to God.

(1)In thought.

(2)In will.

(3)In resemblance.

(4)In filial fellowship and friendship.

3. God Himself brings us back by Christ.

III. THE EXTENT OF THE INFLUENCE OF THE SAVIOR'S MISSION.

(U. R. Thomas.)

I. The due consideration of Christ's sufferings doth much temper all the sufferings of Christians, especially such as are directly for Christ. It is some ease to the mind in any distress, to look upon examples of the like or greater distress, in present or former times. It diverts the eye from continual poring on our own suffering; and when we return to view it again, it abates the imagined greatness of it. The example and company of the saints in suffering, is very considerable, but that of Christ is more so than any other, yea, than all the rest together. Therefore the apostle, having represented the former at large, ends in this, as the top of all (Hebrews 12:1, 2).

1. Consider the greatness of the example; the greatness of the person "Christ." There can be no higher example. Since thus our Lord hath taught us by suffering in His own person and hath thus dignified sufferings, we should certainly rather be ambitious than afraid of them. Consider the greatness and continuance of His sufferings, His whole life was one continued line of suffering from the manger to the Cross. Art thou mean in thy birth and life, despised, misjudged, and reviled, on all hands? Look how it was with Him, who had more right than thou hast, to better entertainment in the world. But the Christian is subject to grievous temptations and sad desertions, which are heavier by far than the sufferings which the apostle speaks of here. Yet even in these, this same argument holds; for our Saviour is not ignorant of those, though still without sin. If any of that had been in His sufferings, it had not furthered but undone all our comfort in Him.

2. Consider the fitness of the example. As the argument is strong in itself, so, to the new man it is particularly strong; it binds him most, as it is not far fetched, but a home pattern; as when you persuade men to virtue by the example of those that they have a near relation to.

3. Consider the efficacy of the example. "He suffered once for sin," so that to them who lay hold on Him, this holds sure, that sin is never to be suffered for in the way of strict justice again, as not by Him, so not by them who are in Him. So now the soul, finding itself rid of that fear, goes cheerfully through all other hazards; whereas the soul perplexed about that question, finds no relief in all other enjoyments: all propositions of lower comforts are troublesome to it.

II. Having somewhat considered these sufferings, as the apostle's argument for his present purpose, we come now, to take a nearer view of the particulars by which he illustrates them, as the main point of our faith and comfort. Here are two things to be remarked, their cause and their kind.

1. Their cause; both their meritorious cause and their final cause; first, what in us procured these sufferings unto Christ, and, secondly, what those His sufferings procured unto us. Our guiltiness brought suffering upon Him, and His suffering brings us unto God.

2. We have the kind of our Lord's sufferings: "Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit." "Put to death." This is the utmost point, and that which men are most startled at — to die; especially a violent death. "In the flesh." Under this second phrase, His human nature and His Divine nature and power are distinguished. But the "Spirit" here opposed to the "flesh," or body, is certainly of a higher nature and power than the human soul, which cannot of itself return to re-inhabit and quicken the body. "Put to death." His death was both voluntary and violent. That same power which restored His life could have kept it exempted from death; but the design was for death. He therefore took our flesh, to put it off thus, and to offer it up as a sacrifice, which, to be acceptable, must of necessity be free and voluntary; and, in this sense, He is said to have died even by that same Spirit, which here, in opposition to death, is said to quicken Him; "Through the eternal Spirit, He offered Himself without spot unto God." And yet it was also expedient that His death should be violent, and so the more penal, to carry the more clear expression of a punishment, and such a violent death as had both ignominy and a curse tied to it, and this inflicted in a judicial way; that He should stand, and be judged, and condemned to death as a guilty person, carrying in that person the persons of so many who would otherwise have fallen under condemnation, as indeed guilty. "Quickened." For all its vast craving mouth and devouring appetite, crying, Give, give, yet was the grave forced to give Him up again, as the fish to give up the prophet Jonah. The chains of that prison art strong, but He was too strong a prisoner to be held by them. That rolling of the stone to the grave was as if they had rolled it towards the east in the night, to stop the rising of the sun the next morning; much farther above all their power was this Sun of Righteousness in His rising again. That body which was entombed, was united to the spring of life, the Divine Spirit of the God-head that quickened it.

(Abp. Leighton.)

Suffering is universal in the world. It comes from the first wailings of the infant to the last enfeebled cry of old age. It is found in the silent endurance of weakness and in the bold struggle of strength. It is in every station and rank of life. It is so various in its manifestations, that it seems as if we took a new lesson in it every day. To pass it by, to try to deny it, to make the ignoring of it a victory over it, is very short-sighted policy; it is what we would do with no other fact of like universal significance and power. And therefore, when Christ begins His gospel with the fact of suffering, we are at a loss whether to admire most the wisdom or the love of the method; together the boldness and the reasonableness of what He does startle us into asking the secret of One who could thus utilise the world's greatest enemy, and turn in defence of mankind the very weapons which have so long wrought their destruction. The man who taught to his fellow men the uses of destructive fire was the hero of ancient mythology; the men who have bridled the lightnings, and chained the forces of air and water, are the great names of modern civilisation. But what shall we say of Him, who stopped not with the powers and material of the earth, but, going into the heart and life of man, found there the fact of suffering, and out of that formed the cornerstone of His kingdom? who, out of the cries and groans to which we close our ears, made the praises of God resound through the world? In this bold action the first element of strength is, that all suffering is traced to one source. Suffering is made to flow from sin. Christ suffered for sin, suffered as a criminal, suffered because of sin, under the weight of sin. The wisdom of Christ, the singleness of His purpose, the central power of His action, start out before us then; and we feel that He was indeed one who was fitted to deal with the great fact of human suffering, as He could thus put His finger on the very place whence it all flowed. It is only by getting at the true nature of a difficulty that we are able to conquer it; the new and deeper knowledge opens ways of approach unthought of before. There stood in proud seclusion the steepest peak in the Alps. Men looked at it, and said that human foot could never scale its heights. Bolder spirits tried every way which they could devise, approached it from all sides but one; and they succeeded in reaching certain points, but still there towered above them that inaccessible point. At length a wiser, more experienced eye was turned to that very side which had been pronounced evidently impossible; and, as he thus faced what had seemed the most despairing side of the problem, he saw that the strata of the earth below, broken sharp off in the upheaval of that majestic peak, furnished a series of steps which made the passage possible directly to the summit; and now every year even unexperienced feet make their way over the path thus opened. If any of us stand wondering how the mountain of our own or the world's suffering shall be conquered, and have never seen the path opened on the side of man's sin, have tried every way but the fight against sin, have shed tears over every calamity but the depravity of our nature, have done everything but confess our sins in the sight of God, nay, have dismissed that as too dark and hard a side of the problem for us to face, now let the way opened by One who knew the secrets of our nature and of the generation of that mountain of suffering, — let that way be the one for our feet to follow. One of our greatest troubles, under the suffering which we feel ourselves or see in the world, is, that it does not seem to come upon the right people. But when this great Master approaches this very fact of suffering, as the one which He will use in His work, we have reason to expect a word of authority from Him on this most distressing feature of it. And it is here; "the just for the unjust," Christ suffered. That runs through all His life, the thought that it was the very sinlessness of His life that made Him able to do the work for sinful men, that made Him able to take up the load of sin. The fact that He came from the Father, and was ever bound to the Father, was the very thing that made Him able to call men back to the Father. It is the privilege of strength to suffer for weakness. As it does so, strength is glorified; it conquers weakness, it spreads the power of its own life, it becomes strength in its right place. Only the mighty can help; and, as He thus helps, we look to His might as the reason for it, and through the work for us we find our Saviour. It is not gratitude alone — that, indeed, moves us as we think of what He did for as — but it is the opening of the source of strength by which He was able to do it. We come to Him through gratitude; and, as we reach Him, we find Him one who is mighty to save, because He could bring us near to God. This shows us the meaning and power of the last clause of our text. The apostle has been saying that Christ's sufferings were so like the sufferings of the disciples, that they could feel the sustaining power of them. But here it is not likeness, it is dependence, that is brought out. These sufferings were to bring to God the very men who were now exhorted to imitate them. Never were they to forget that they had been brought to God by those sufferings. They had opened His love. They had drawn to Him who was able to reveal God to them. They had made the world a different place, one that had the power and presence of God as well as of man in it; never were they to forget that. But, as they remembered it, it would affect their lives, and change the whole character of them. The mystery of life's power would be made theirs. They, too, would have but one object — to bring men to God. Never was there a time when the suffering of the world was so keenly felt as it is today. A philanthropic age needs the Cross, men anxious to alleviate the sufferings of the world need to have their own hearts broken for their sins, and all of us need to cling to these events of the suffering and death of Christ, and to feel that they contain the very power of our lives within them — the power of forgiveness and redemption, the power of happiness, the power of true labour, the power of the life eternal for this world and for the world that is to come.

(Arthur Brooks.)

The sufferings of Christ were in many respects peculiar:

I. THEY WERE OFFICIALLY UNDERTAKEN AND ENDURED. The designation by which the Redeemer is here distinguished, and the emphatic statement whereby He characterises His sufferings must be taken together — "Christ once suffered for sins." Suffering is no uncommon thing; "Man is born to trouble." But Christ was not an ordinary man. Here then is a marked distinction between His and all merely human suffering. Man was not made man for the purpose of suffering; on the contrary, it is the result, the penalty, of his sin; but the very end for which the Christ became man was that He might suffer. In this sense, therefore, it may be said that He "once suffered" — the entire of His sufferings from the very first lay before Him. To us it is a merciful provision which leaves us in ignorance of future ills. "Christ once suffered." His sufferings stand alone. Where can we find a just comparison for them? Here then is another peculiarity. The statement is that "Christ suffered for sins." Were His sufferings the consequence of His own desert? Had this been so, His bitter enemies would not have failed to convict Him of sin; but His challenge in this respect was never answered. The sufferings of Christ were expiatory, substitutionary and vicarious. What was the doctrine of atonement under the law? Was it not that the innocent suffered for the guilty, and that on account of this suffering the guilty might go free? Hence the care in selecting the sacrificial victims that they might be without blemish or defect. How far from satisfying the requirements of such language as this is the view that would reduce the death of Christ to the mere result of a life of disinterested and self-sacrificing benevolence employed in turning men to righteousness; the seal of His doctrine, and a distinguished example of passive virtue!

II. To set forth the DESIGN of Christ's sufferings, and to aim at its accomplishment in BRINGING MEN TO GOD. Let us reflect upon the connection between sin and suffering, as viewed in relation to Christ's suffering for sins.

1. Apart from personal interest in the sufferings of Christ, suffering regarded as the result of sin — suffering for sin — is a fact, the most terrible and unrelieved in the experience and history of our world. Men may quarrel with the suffering while they hug the sin, but the connection is there. Science may be invoked, and art and artifice may be employed to make sinning physically safe; but all this cannot remove or alter the fact — the goads are there.

2. To those who have a personal interest in His sacrifice, Christ's suffering for sin takes away the sting of suffering.

3. The removal or lessening of sin must ever be the most effectual way of removing or lessening suffering. That is a spurious philanthropy which seeks to depreciate the gospel.

(J. W. McKay, D. D.)

I. THE CHARACTER OF THE SUFFERER, AND OF THE PERSONS FOR WHOM HE SUFFERED.

1. Christ hath suffered, the just for the unjust. The expression intimates the perfect purity of His nature. But the expression, "the just," intimates not only the perfect purity of His nature, but also the perfect purity of His life. His life was as pure as His nature. "He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth."

2. He suffered for the unjust. As the term, "just," expresses the perfect purity, both of the nature and of the life of the Saviour; so the term, "unjust," must express the impurity, both of the nature and of the life of those for whom He suffered.

II. WHAT HE WHO IS THE JUST HATH DONE FOR THE UNJUST, HE HATH ONCE SUFFERED FOR THEIR SINS.

1. This language intimates, that Christ the just One hath suffered. He suffered in His body. He was wounded, bruised, scourged, crucified. He suffered in His character. Crimes were laid to His charge which His righteous soul abhorred. He suffered in His soul. Satan tempted Him; His friends forsook Him; God hid His face from Him.

2. The language intimates that Christ the just One, hath suffered for the sins of the unjust. Why, then, if Christ had no sin in His nature, no sin in His life — why did He suffer? Why did not His perfect sinlessness screen Him from all evil? To answer these questions, we must have recourse to the doctrine of the substitution and atonement of Christ, and then to such questions it is easy to give an answer.

3. The language intimates that the just suffered only once: Christ hath once suffered for sins. The expression "once," denotes the perfection of His atonement.

4. The language intimates that Christ suffered once for sins voluntarily. He is the just One, the equal of Jehovah, and who could have compelled Him to suffer? Or, if it had been possible to compel Him, His sufferings would have possessed no value.

III. THE DESIGN OF THE JUST SUFFERING FOR THE UNJUST, THAT HE MIGHT BRING THEM TO GOD.

(Wm. Smart.)

I. THEY WERE ENDURED ONCE. He hath "once suffered." The word "once," is capable of being taken in two senses. The sense of actuality: that is, the mere expression of the fact that He had suffered. Or, it may be taken in the sense of onlyness. "Once for all": — "never again," as Bengel has it, "to suffer hereafter" (Hebrews 4:28). Taken in this sense, two ideas are suggested:

1. That nothing more for the purpose is needed. His sufferings are sufficient.

2. That nothing more for the purpose will be vouchsafed. "There remaineth no more sacrifice for sin."

II. THEY WERE ENDURED BY A JUST PERSON. The "Just." Christ was "without sin." He was at once the foundation, standard, and revelation, of eternal rectitude.

III. THEY WERE ENDURED ON BEHALF OF THE UNJUST.

1. This is a proof of His amazing love. "Scarcely for a righteous man will one die," etc.

2. This is an encouragement for the greatest sinner. "The unjust" of all grades and types of wickedness.

IV. THEY WERE ENDURED TO BRING THE UNJUST TO GOD. "That He might bring us to God."

1. Legally: They remove all governmental obstructions to reconciliation.

2. Morally: They remove the enmity of the human heart, and are the means of uniting the soul in love to its Maker.

3. Locally: Although God is everywhere, yet in heaven He is specially seen and enjoyed.

V. THEY WERE ENDURED TO THE UTMOST EXTENT. "Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit."

1. Here is the death of His human nature; — "the flesh." "He suffered even unto death."

2. Here is the revivication of His human nature by the Divine Spirit: — "quickened in the Spirit." The subject furnishes — First: Encouragement to suffering Christians. Secondly: A rebuke to those who limit the provisions of the gospel. Redemptive mercy is not for a favourite few: — it is for the unjust. Thirdly: A lesson to the impenitent. What ingratitude is yours!

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. THE HIGHEST INSTANCE OF UNDESERVED PERSECUTION.

1. We see that suffering is not necessarily a mark of sin.

2. We see that sufferings are not necessarily the sign of a bad cause.

3. We see that sufferings are not always a sign of defeat.

II. WE HAVE A DISTINCT AND DIRECT STATEMENT OF CHRIST'S SUBSTITUTORY SACRIFICE.

III. WE HAVE A REFERENCE TO THE OBJECT OF CHRIST'S ACCOMPLISHING THIS OBJECT — "To bring us to God." We can only appreciate this suggestion by realising what is implied in being away from God. For man to be away from God is as if a flower were separated from its root, a babe from its mother.

IV. WE HAVE THE GREAT MYSTERY OF CHRIST'S DEATH ALLUDED TO — "Put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit." Our Lord's soul could not die; no more can man's soul die.

(J. J. S. Bird, B. A.)

I. OUR ATONEMENT. Christ's sufferings.

1. Unique (ἄπαξ), once for all.

2. Propitiatory. "For sins."

3. Vicarious. The just for the unjust.

4. Effectual. "That He might bring us to God."

II. OUR EXAMPLE.

(F. Dobbin, M. A.)

I. THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST ARE HERE ASSERTED.

II. THE MERITORIOUS CAUSE OF THEM IS ASSIGNED.

III. A MATERIAL CIRCUMSTANCE RELATING TO HIS SUFFERINGS IS TAKEN NOTICE OF.

IV. THE OPPOSITE CHARACTERS OF CHRIST, AND OF THOSE FOR WHOM HE SUFFERED, ARE LAID DOWN.

V. THE GREAT DESIGN OF HIS SUFFERINGS IS DECLARED.

1. The ends of Christ's sufferings are various.(1) That He might set us an example of patience and resignation to the Divine will, under the troubles and difficulties of this life.(2) To teach us self-denial and mortification.(3) That He might exercise tender compassion towards us, under our trials and sorrows.

2. But the great end of His suffering for sins, the just for the unjust, was to bring us unto God.Application;

1. Our hearts should be greatly affected with the representation which has been made unto us of the love of Christ.

2. How should we hate and abominate sin!

3. Let us draw nigh to God.

4. All our approaches to God should be through Jesus Christ.

(S. Price.)

Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.
I. THE PERSON WHO SUFFERED. It was "Christ, the just."

1. His official character. The word Christ properly means one anointed or consecrated to some sacred office.

2. His personal character — "the just."

II. THE SUFFERINGS HE ENDURED. "For Christ also hath once," etc.

1. The nature of His sufferings. "Christ suffered, being put to death in the flesh."

2. The period of His sufferings.

3. The object of His sufferings.

4. The issue of His sufferings. He was "quickened by the Spirit."

III. THE DESIGN HE ACCOMPLISHED. "That He might bring us to God."

1. The natural state of fallen sinners.

2. The personal efficacy of Christ's atonement. It "brings us to God."

(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

The just for the unjust
I. THE NATURE OF CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS.

1. Intense.

2. Ignominious.

3. Voluntary.

II. THE PURPOSES OF CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS. "That He might bring us to God."!

1. By His atoning sacrifice, thereby removing every obstacle in the way of the sinner's access to God.

2. By the operations of His Holy Spirit.

3. By the prevalency of His intercession.

(W. J. Brock, B. A.)

We accept the life and the death of Christ as an atonement, as a substituted suffering, the just for the unjust; but we do not feel that He was a sufferer only when He was on earth, and that His suffering then was all the suffering that was needful to the salvation of the world. It was the nature of Christ to suffer for sinners. He was embodied in the physical form that we might judge of what that nature was in the past, and what it was to be in the future, for the atoning nature of God existed from all eternity, and is going on to all eternity. The Lamb was historically slain in the time of Christ; but long before the coming of Christ there was the Divine atoning love, there was the vicarious suffering of the Saviour. And now, although no longer humbled in the flesh, Christ has not lost that peculiar element and attribute of the Divine nature — namely, substitution, imputation, vicariousness. Still He suffers in all our sufferings. He is afflicted in all our afflictions.

1. Sin becomes exceedingly sinful when judged by such a test as this. There is nothing that the whole world revolts at more than at flagrant ingratitude.

2. It is the presentation of such a Saviour as this that makes confession easy to pride. There are a thousand things that hinder men that have done wrong from forsaking their wrong-doing. But if God be for you, who can be against you? If the bosom of Christ's love is open, and is a refuge to which you may fly for safety, why should you not avail yourself of it?

3. When we stand, at last, in Zion and before God, and look back upon our past career, how inevitable will it be that every one shall turn disgusted from the thought of his own strength, and that we shall take our crowns and cast them at the feet of Christ, and say, "Not unto us, not unto us, but unto Thy name be the praise of our salvation!" The patience of God, the gentleness of God, the forgiveness of God, the sufferings of God for us — these will stand out in such illustrious light in that day that every one wilt be filled with joy, and gratitude, and triumph, and new pleasure in the consciousness that it was of God that he was saved, and not of himself.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. THE NEED OF PARDON, suggested by the word in our text — "sins." Unless you come to know and feel your need of a thing, you will never desire or welcome it. If I wished to convince you that you needed pardon, from your father, for instance, in an ordinary matter, I should first have to show you your offence. I am afraid many young people do not feel their need of pardon in a far higher sense. I wish I could write the word "sins" on your hearts today. This is one of the greatest words in all the Bible — in all the world. It tells about our offences against God — about our breaking of His holy law — about the evil we have done against our loving Father in heaven. And when once we come to get a sight of our sins as against God, we never can rest until we have got His pardon.

II. THE GOSPEL WAY OF PARDON. Some people think it is enough to ask pardon. Others think the way of pardon is to be sorry for their sins. Others think the way of pardon is trying to be as good as they can — saying their prayers, and striving to do what is right. Now the gospel way of pardon, though it might be said to include all these, is yet different from them all. It is very simple. It is very shortly told. I have heard an esteemed Edinburgh minister tell of his visiting an aged Christian man on his deathbed, and saying to him, "Is it not a happy thing that we have the gospel set forth in so few and in such simple words?" The old man looked up and said, "One word, sir!" His friend said, "What is the one word?" He replied, "Substitution!" The whole gospel in one word — substitution! If anyone were to ask me, "What is the way of salvation?" and I wanted to put it as shortly and as fully as possible, I would say, "It is the immediate, present acceptance of Christ as the substitute on the authority of God's word and offer." There is a touching story told regarding a body of men who had taken part in a rebellion, and were sentenced to have every tenth man of their number shot to deter others from doing what they had done. Among these were two, a father and son. We can fancy we see the men drawn up in a long line. Fixing, perhaps, on the first man by lot, he is marked out for death, and every tenth man thereafter, counting from him. The father and son stand together, and as the son runs his eye along the line he discovers that his father is a doomed man. He realises what it will be to have their family left without a head, his mother a widow, the old home stripped of its light and joy, and, quick as thought, he steps in where his father stood, and falls in his stead. He becomes his father's "substitute," and, if you ask the father in after years how he was saved, with the tear in his eye and a quivering voice, he will tell you he was saved by a substitute — that substitute his most loved and loving son. This, then, is what I want to bring out as the most important thing. The gospel way of pardon is by substitution — by One taking the place of another, by the Just taking the place of the unjust — the Good taking the place of the evil — the just Jesus, the good Jesus, taking the place of the unjust and the evil. God is just and holy, as well as merciful and loving. He is a King and Judge, as well as a Father. The authority of His law must be maintained. His justice must be vindicated. The law in its precept and penalty must be satisfied. It must be perfectly obeyed; and in the event of disobedience, the penalty of the broken law — death — must be suffered, either by each man himself, or by another in his room. We have all disobeyed, and so there is no hope for any one of us, except in the obedience and death of Christ. I would come to each of you and say, "You are lost, and unless you get pardon you will be lost forever. The Lord Jesus Christ is willing to be your substitute now and here, and in God's name and on the authority of His own Word I offer Jesus Christ to be your substitute. Here is One willing to take your place. Will you have Him? If you take Him you are saved, you are pardoned." When visiting our Jewish Mission Schools at Pesth, the capital of Hungary, a few years ago, I heard the truth on which I have been dwelling strikingly brought out by one of the pupils. The lesson was about the crucifixion of Christ, and the teacher asked, "What connection have we with the work and death of the Lord Jesus?" A young Jew held out his hand, as being prepared to give an answer, and said, "It is just as if we had the merit; it is just as if we had been crucified!"

III. THE RESULTS OF PARDON — that is to say, the consequences of being pardoned through the substitution of another — through the Lord Jesus taking our place.

1. The first thing that follows gospel pardon is safety. There is no more danger. There is no condemnation to them who are thus in Christ Jesus.

2. There is happiness.(1) This is the secret of happy living. A young friend, who had been in much anxiety about her soul, was shown into my study one night. Her face was quite radiant. It was such a change from what had been before that I could not help asking, "What has happened tonight?" The brief but expressive answer was, "I have taken Him to be my substitute!" That explained all.(2) This is the secret of happy dying. Dr. Carey, the great Indian scholar and missionary, tells of his visit to one of the wards in an Indian hospital. On a bed, in a corner of the room, lay a dying soldier. Stepping gently up to him, he knelt at his bedside, and whispered into his ear, "My dear brother, are you afraid to die?" Looking up with a smile, the dying man answered, "Oh, no, sir; I have died already!" He meant that Jesus, his substitute, had died for him, and he had not to die, but only to fall asleep in Jesus.

3. There is gratitude — thankfulness.

4. There is love.

5. Lastly, there is service. It is told of the Duke of Orleans ("Philip Egalite"), father of Louis Philippe, the last king of the French, that on one occasion he was out riding, followed by his servant, who was also on horseback. The Duke had crossed an old bridge over a rapid stream in safety, but when his man servant was following, the bridge gave way, and horse and rider were thrown into the river. In a moment the Duke leaped from his horse's back, plunged into the stream, and with considerable difficulty succeeded in saving the drowning man and bringing him to land. Need I describe the scene that followed? All dripping as he was, you might have seen the grateful servant prostrated at his master's feet, promising the gratitude and service of a lifetime, and asking what he could do to serve one who had done so much for him. You know the story of "The Heart made Captive" — the slave bought with British gold, who vowed he would never serve his purchaser. But when he learned that the stranger had bought him to set him free, there were no bounds to his love and gratitude, and no limits to his service. When asked as to the secret of his constant and devoted service, there was but the one answer, "He redeemed me! he redeemed me!" Such is the secret of all right-hearted service done for Christ, as well as of all holy living. "He is my substitute. He suffered for me. He died for me. Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits unto me?"

(J. H. Wilson, D. D.)

I. THAT CHRIST SUFFERED SHOULD MAKE SUFFERING CHRISTIANS PATIENT. Not that I would make light of trials; far from it. I know they are often bitter and so long continued as to put a sore strain on clinging faith. Remember there is a ministry of suffering. The very trials of our life are ordered by a wiser will than ours, and are parts of a Heavenly Father's discipline. As the stress of the storm strains the ship and shows where the weak parts are, so by our trials God would show us the weak points in our character, that we may strengthen what is weak and supply what is wanting.

II. CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS WERE FOR HIS PEOPLE AND ON ACCOUNT OF THEIR SINS. A man leaps overboard from the deck of a steamer on the broad Atlantic, and you think him a fool or a madman. But wait a little; why did he do it? He saw a sailor on the bulwarks overbalance himself and fall over the ship's side, and he, a strong swimmer, leaped overboard to save him. And if you found that that drowning man had in time past often reviled the one who in his sore need risked his own life to deliver him, how could you find words to express your sense of the nobleness of such self-sacrificing conduct? And do you not think that the man thus plucked from the jaws of death would be heartily ashamed of his past reproaches, and would nevermore cease to love his deliverer? Is not this something like the case of the sinner and his Saviour Christ?

III. Consider now THE OBJECT WITH WHICH THE SAVIOUR SUFFERED. It was "that He might bring us to God." This plainly implies a state of alienation and estrangement. O man, how far off hast thou wandered! How deep the enmity, how dire the distance between thee and thy God! How shall the awful gulf be bridged which thy sins have opened between thy God and thee? You now see how false is the common notion which many have of religion. They regard it as a thing to be turned to when one comes near to die — as a sort of desperate remedy to be taken when one can do no better. On the contrary, religion is a walk of fellowship with God; a thing for the daily round of duty; a life of obedience flowing from love and gratitude for redemption; a life unselfish, Christ-like, God-glorifying.

(Wm. McMordie, M. A.)

Put to death in the flesh, but quickened by [in] the Spirit
The main idea is of course a comparison between the experiences of our Lord and those of His suffering followers. The sacred writer was striving to the utmost to sustain and comfort them under the severe stress of persecution through which they were passing. "Take heart," he seems to say; "your sufferings are not exceptional; they run in the Divine family; even our Master was not exempt from them; He also suffered in the flesh; but His sufferings did not stay His blessed ministry; nay, they even augmented His sphere of usefulness; 'He was quickened in spirit,' in which also he went forth to herald His accomplished work in regions to which, but for death, He had not obtained access. So shall it also be with you. Your sufferings shall not clip your wings, but add to your powers of flight. The things which happen to you shall fall out rather to the furtherance of the gospel; and it is through death that you must pass up to share His glorious resurrection and imperial power."

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

No man ever yet came out of a great work the same as he went into it; he has always lost something, and gained something. A great effort for a noble purpose taxes a man's strength; but it builds up character, confidence, and reputation. A great effort for a selfish purpose drains a man's moral resources, he has to surrender nobler considerations and higher purposes; but it leaves him better off in the things of this world, with a larger fortune, and a greater command of earth's luxuries. It is this process of gain and loss to which our attention is called in the review of Christ's death and resurrection. It was a great transaction, nothing less than the attempt to overthrow the reign of sin and suffering in the world. The character and success of the great work would be largely indicated by the effect on Him who undertook it; the question which all must ask is, What part of Him gained, and what part of Him lost? As that is known, it ought to determine whether it is a work in which we wish to join. Flesh and spirit were both strong in Christ through all His life. Then came the contest with sin and suffering, and the body succumbed. It suffered, and went down into the grave. When its work was through, the spirit, which had never been daunted, which had relied upon the Father in its darkest moments, had an opportunity to show its strength. It was the spirit of the Son of God. It belonged to Him who was the incarnate Son of God; and it must take that same body, and show its own power, and do what the flesh had been unable to do. The spirit must assert itself: it must be seen to be the lifeguard of the body; it must be evident as the great protecting, rescuing power. And when that was once done, there was no defeat. What had been lost by the flesh had been more than made up by spirit, and the great transaction was a victory. Can we wonder, then, at the Christian's joy at Easter? It is not as a single event by itself that the resurrection stirs our hearts: it is because it is connected with the whole nature of our being, with the whole work of Christ's life, and with the mysteries of our existence, and of the world forever. We see spirit triumphing over flesh everywhere; not always, but on every side and in all departments, giving us the hope and key to this great fact. A poor weakened body labours under pain and disease for years; but the mind grows brighter day by day, and the spirit becomes more refined. It sometimes seems as if spirit could do anything; and it can, if it is the right spirit. It is its duty to animate the flesh, and it shows itself able to do it; and time after time it manifests its ability far above and beyond all the powers of flesh, making that flesh do things for which it has seemed to have no capability. Now let it be the perfect spirit, the spirit of the Son of God, and directly in a line with all our experiences is that resurrection from the dead. We find no hope of the resurrection but in the greatness of Christ, in His intimate and personal connection with the Father. It was the Father's witness to His being the Son of God; in that He has raised Him from the dead. Spirit is nobler than flesh. Place two men side by side, one of whom has always lived for the flesh, the other of whom has always tried to find the spiritual side of everything, and of every event with which he has come in contact. The former weighs you down with his grossness. His talk of the pleasures of the table, his gossipy narration of things that have taken place, his dull, unimaginative dealing with all that happens, his narrow interests and selfish aims, they are dreadfully unsatisfying and wearisome. The other always seems to be buoyant with joy and hope of something better. He hates all grossness enough to drop it out of his life; and yet, with a sympathy with all souls, he finds gleams of hope in those of whom the world can say nothing but evil. You know the two types of men, and of the approaches to them in every degree and form, from your daily experience with those about you; you know it still more from the experiences within you. Every transaction upon which you enter has its two sides — it can exalt the flesh and kill the spirit, or it can kill the flesh and exalt the spirit. You may come out of a successful business or social career with all that the flesh can possibly give you, and find that the virtues of the spirit — the unselfishness, the purity, the honour, the thought of better things have been put out of existence; you are quickened in the flesh, you are put to death in the spirit. Here again we see that the resurrection of Christ was not an isolated fact, and did not stand alone. It gathers to itself all the words of the Sermon on the Mount, all the exhortations of nobleness of life, and living above this world, which had been dropping from Jesus' lips ever since He began His ministry. They cannot stand alone; they ask a great completion, a victory on their side, that they may have power, and not meet with discouragement. It seems as if Christ would say, "I appreciate how great a weight of conduct I have put upon you; I would help you bear it. I know how the forces of the flesh press on every side; a greater force of the spirit shall be with you through Me. See what the spirit can do to the flesh, and be encouraged in every battle." The power of a risen Saviour is to show itself in spiritual lives. Do you say that this may demand the giving up of certain things? Then let them go; be "put to death in the flesh," if you can but "live in the spirit." That was Paul's desire: "If by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead." It was a matter of present attainment in the triumph of the spirit day by day; and for that we too are to labour, if our Easter joy and songs do indeed mean all that they say. We saw that this greatest feature of Christ's resurrection was based on the fact that no man comes out of a transaction the same as he went into it. The same fact can lead us to the most complete participation in that resurrection, to which our minds are always turned. Are we to rise as He did? Had it hope for victory to any beyond Himself? We never come out of the great transaction of life the same as we went into it. We begin with spirit in the infant body, so unable to provide for itself. Then the flesh grows and asserts itself, until at length its hour of weakness comes, and, in the failure of disease or of old age, it loses its power, and sinks once more into the earth. What happens then, we ask? We never have any doubt as to that question about Christ. We find a clearer view and statement of His nearness to the Father coming out each day, as His life goes on. More and more He is bound to Him, until at last, in the great occasion of His death, it is not surprising that the trained and strengthened spirit conquers and raises Him. We can all tell of lives that have so followed Him, have so learned of God's presence and love in the world through Jesus Christ that at every step in life their spirits have grown stronger, and without effort, nay, of necessity, our hearts include them in the Easter rejoicing, because we know which side of them the great transaction of life strengthened.

(Arthur Brooks.)

He went and preached unto the spirits in prison
Who is here spoken of? He. The form of the expression resembles that in our Creeds. "He suffered and was buried. He descended into hell." The text does not say that the flesh of our Lord was put to death nor that His spirit was quickened. It states that He was Himself put to death qua flesh, and Himself quickened qua spirit. The flesh denotes His living body and animal soul; the spirit denotes here not the Holy Spirit nor the proper Deity, but the higher principle of the human spirit life, which was especially united to the Deity of Christ. He who is very God and very man, one person in two natures, did suffer death — in which nature? — not in His Divine nature — that is impassible — but in His human nature, which is passible. In the whole of His tripartite humanity? Not so: in a part of it, even in the flesh, and having there suffered death He, the same person, was quickened in the life, which never for a moment was quenched, of His own spirit. In that highest compartment of His human nature He experienced a transition to a new mode of existence, which issued in the resurrection of His incorruptible body. Meanwhile in the intermediate state — between the crucifixion and the resurrection, He, the Lord of Life, neither slumbered nor slept. His activity of philanthropy never ceased. Through the gates of death in the new life of the disembodied spirit He went, He made a journey. He the Crucified One, His body still hanging on the tree, passed away from the Cross of Calvary to the place of custody, where the souls of the departed were in confinement. These spirits in prison are they who, when they were in the flesh, in the midst of a universal apostasy saw not the signs nor felt the shadow of the coming judgment, nor heeded the voice of the righteous preacher, and therefore perished in their sins and in the flood. Their bodies were buried in the deep of the Deluge, and their spirits were carried into the deeper abyss of Hades. To these imprisoned souls was revealed in Hades the presence and the form of one like unto the Son of Man, clothed in human spirit. Thus disembodied and spirit ensphered the Son of God to the departed souls of the antediluvian world made a journey — and made a preachment. What was that preachment? Did He, in whom death could work no moral change, speak in His disembodied spirit to disembodied spirits, as He spake in the flesh to men in the flesh? Did He, the Apostle on earth of His Father in heaven, continue to pursue His Divine mission in Hades? There is a palate in this same Epistle which, rightly considered, makes it evident that St. Peter believed that to the dead in Hades the gospel itself had been proclaimed. To what class or classes of the dead it was proclaimed he does not specify; by whom it was proclaimed he does not specify; but, if we compare the two statements in the same Epistle —

(1)that "Christ went and preached to the spirits in custody," and

(2)that "to the dead also the gospel was preached" — we must conclude that, according to St. Peter, our Lord in the world of spirits, between His own crucifixion and resurrection, announced "glad tidings of great joy."It is certain that the offer of salvation formed a part at least of His Divine message. And it is likely that this offer was made to all. Why not? Was not this their first opportunity of hearing of the great salvation wrought for all believers? There are some who have thought that the substance of our Lord's preaching in Hades was of two kinds — that to some He preached salvation, to others perdition; that to the irreclaimably lost He preached a concio damnatoria. Surely this could not be; such a theory could never be in harmony with what we know of His Divine mission. Far better, and far more true, is it to suppose that He preached Himself, the One Saviour, to all alike. Not that all to whom He preached were alike susceptible of the message of glad tidings; because the multitude of the antediluvian unbelievers had indeed died in their sins, but still had so died in a very unequal measure of sin. To the class of incorrigible sinners the preaching of Christ in Hades would, we may believe, be in vain. They had sinned away their receptivity of the Divine message. They listened, indeed, from their sullen prisons to the heavenly Herald of mercy, and, as they listened to Him, they learned that He had died for the sins of the whole world, that He had died even for their sins, but at the same time they knew of themselves that He was not their present Saviour but their future Judge. Thus they would stand before the Preacher self-convicted and self-condemned. I conclude by mooting the question whether this interpretation of the text after all involves any abnormal teaching; whether, in fact, it is an exception to the general rule of Christian doctrine. It seems to me that there are some few passages in Scripture which indicate the broad theory that all men of all ages, who in this life never had the opportunity of hearing of Christ and of His salvation, will not perish hereafter for lack of that opportunity given some time, but failing this world will find that opportunity in the world to come; and if they are equal to it, if by patient continuance in well-doing here they are able to meet it, then they will embrace the gospel, and become par takers of the kingdom of heaven, if not as princes and rulers in Israel, yet as subjects. From this interpretation of the text an inference may be drawn. If Christ, through all His several stages of existence, was a forerunner and pioneer to His apostles and faithful followers, it may be that as the Personal Head of the Body Mystical did in that unseen world preach the gospel to departed spirits, so some or many of His living members, as they have disappeared one by one behind the veil, have also in their turn, and after His example, preached the same gospel there. If this idea is akin to truth, then it is possible that "through the ages all along" the gospel which St. John calls "the gospel of the ages" has not been hidden, but preached to such departed spirits as never heard, nor could hear, the glad tidings when they were in the flesh, and that it is not from lack of opportunity that any soul perishes.

(Canon T. S. Evades, D. D.)

St. Peter is urging his readers to endurance under suffering. He sets before them the example of Christ. He suffered not only unjustly but for the unjust. "That He might bring us to God" — us, the erring and straying, the sin-bound and self-exiled. This is the starting point. St. Peter expatiates in the field thus entered. He bids us contemplate the effect of Christ's suffering upon Himself. He bids us contemplate the two parts of His humanity — the flesh and the spirit. Death dissolved the compound. He was "put to death" as regards the one; He was "made alive" as regards the other. It is as though the dropping of the one gave new energy to the other. He had spoken in the days of His flesh of being "straitened" till the great "baptism" was accomplished. There was a compression in that enclosure of flesh and blood which would be taken off instantly by its removal. While the lifeless body was hanging for its last hour on the tree, He, the living spirit, was using the new liberty in a special office and mission — He was on a journey — He was making Paradise itself a scene of activity — "in the spirit," St. Peter says, "He went and preached to the spirits in prison." St. Peter defines with great precision the objects of this unearthly visitation. They are "spirits in prison" — they are dead men fast holden in Divine custody, as guilty aforetime of a great disobedience, which sealed their fate here, and swept them promiscuously into a condition which men must call "judgment." These "spirits" were "disobedient once" — and the tense suggests an act of decisive and definite disobedience — "at the time when the long suffering of God was waiting in the days of Noah." They were "judged" for their disobedience to this call — men, from the side of flesh and time, could not say otherwise than that these men had died in their sins — but a miracle of mercy sought them out, after long ages, in their prison house — the "three days" of Christ's sojourn "in the heart of the earth" were used, of special grace, in their evangelisation — in the sight of men they lie still under judgment, but in spirit, according to God, they have been quickened into a supernatural life. Let us see if there is anything elsewhere in Scripture that will help us in bearing up under the weight of this remarkable disclosure. Yes, St. Paul has something very like it in his discourse on the communion — where he says that, for dishonouring this holy sacrament, many of the Corinthians not only "are weak and sickly," but even "sleep" — have been, as he goes on to say, "judged of the Lord," not only with "divers diseases," but with "sundry kinds of death" — and goes on to explain to them that, when thus "judged," punished even with death itself, they are "chastened" lest they should be "condemned" — death itself, judicial death, may be but a "chastening" to save from that "condemnation" which yet (the same verse says) is for "the world." What is this but St. Peter's "judged, according to men, in flesh," yet "living, according to God, in spirit"? — a judgment, not of condemnation, but of "chastening" unto salvation? Before we pass to our last words of counsel, let us throw the light of St. Paul and St. Peter upon some of those darkest passages in the history of the Old Testament which seem to consign to a disproportionate doom men of a single sin, or men sinning half under compulsion. Take such an instance as that of the disobedient prophet — a man lied to by another prophet — and failing, under that persuasion, to keep the safe rule, what God has said to thee thyself is more true, for thee at least, and more concerning, than that which God is said to have said, in correction of it, or in repeal of it, to another. That man, for that yielding, is executed, within the day, under God's death warrant. But is there any man to tell us, on the word of God, that the disobedient prophet is among the lost — that his is so much as one of the "spirits in prison"? "Judged according to men in flesh" — judged so far as the body, and the life of time, goes — for is it not judgment to be cut off hastily from this life of the living, and by a sentence written for evermore upon the page of God? — not necessarily "condemned with the world" — "living" possibly all the time, and to live, according to God the Judge, and in that higher part of the man, which is "spirit." How many of the supposed injustices of God's dealing may have their reconciliation and their justification in this hint of the apostle's — in this more profound study of the Scriptures! Use the text thus, and it has life in it. Let it open to thee just a glimpse of realities out of thy sight!

(Dean Vaughan.)

Christ dealt with the living in the body, with the spirits in the spirit.

(A. J. Bengel.)

I. THAT THERE ARE HUMAN SPIRITS ACTUALLY IN THE PRISON OF HELL.

1. A prison is a scene of darkness. Impurity, remorse, despair, constitute "the blackness of darkness forever."

2. A prison is a scene of guilt.

3. A prison is a scene of bondage. Chains of iron confined the miserable culprit.

4. A prison is a scene of thoughtfulness. Hell is a dark realm of thinkers. But there are two features connected with hell that distinguish it from all the prisons on earth.

(1)It is self-erected. Each prisoner constructs his own prison.

(2)It is spiritual. The spirit is in prison. Earthly prisons cannot confine the soul.

II. THAT THERE ARE HUMAN SPIRITS WHO HAVE BEEN IN THE PRISON OF HELL FOR CENTURIES. Christ preached to them, by Noah, when on earth. Peter speaks of them now as being in hell. What period of time has elapsed between this lengthened suffering, however, impresses me with two considerations —

1. The fearful enormity of evil.

2. Man's capacity for endurance. Diseases soon break up the body; time withers the patriarchal oak, crumbles the marble; and "the waters wear away the stones" of the mightiest rocks; but, through ages of agony, the soul lives on!

III. THAT THERE ARE HUMAN SPIRITS WHO HAVE BEEN IN THE PRISON OF HELL FOR CENTURIES, TO WHOM THE GOSPEL WAS ONCE PREACHED. Christ was "in the world" before His incarnation. The fact that there are spirits in hell to whom the gospel was once preached suggests two very solemn considerations:

1. That there is no necessary connection between hearing the gospel and salvation. "He that heareth My words, and doeth them not," etc.

2. That the final misery of those who have heard the gospel must be contrary both to the disposition and agency of Christ.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Essex Remembrancer.
I. THEIR STATE.

1. Disembodied.

2. Immortal.

II. THEIR CONDITION.

1. A prison is a place of gloom.

2. A place of restraint.

3. A place of punishment.

4. A place of confinement for trial.

III. THEIR HISTORY.

1. They had the gospel preached to them.

2. God's long suffering waited for them.Applications:

1. Let not disobedient men doubt the certainty of future punishments.

2. Let not sinners question the justice of future punishment.

3. Let not the wicked be emboldened by numbers.

4. Let not the righteous be discouraged by their fewness.

5. Let not those who are alarmed despair.

(Essex Remembrancer.)

The longsuffering of God waited
The term applied here to the Almighty represents Him as we are not very apt to think of Him, i.e., as having before Him all the evil, of every kind, in His children, and bearing it; our ingratitude, our disobedience, our folly, our fickleness, our obstinacy, our selfishness, our wilfulness, our sensuality, our irreverence, our vanity — the whole dark and diversified mass of our sin. The catalogue of its shapes and degrees is well-nigh inexhaustible, yet it does not exhaust His patience. We have, it is true, as men and women, our disapprobations and even our little indignations at wrong-doing. But what marks a special contrast between them and the Divine displeasure is this, that as they gain in strength our human antipathies toward transgression are apt to grow hot and hasty. We want to see judgment against evil works executed speedily, forgetting that it was only just now that we began to see them to be evil works. Our brother trespasses against us, and, not considering that he is our brother, moulded of just such clay and subject to just such infirmities as ourselves, we cry out for the magistrate and the prison, if not the lash; and sometimes because there is no lash in the jailer's hand, we take one up with our tongue. This is the impatient spirit that vitiates so many of our remonstrances against our neighbours' crimes. Let us give a little wider reach to the treatment of the subject by contemplating the patience of God in its sublime delay, its slowness as men count slowness, in bringing about the most beneficent ends. He shows us this patience first as the Maker of things. You find it in the unhurried order of the natural creation; the slow building and furnishing of the outer worlds; the slow succession of geologic ages; the slow procession in ascending ranks, one only so little above another, of the races of plants and animals, affording an epoch for a reptile or a fern; the 'slow preparation of the planet for its final purpose in the rearing of an immortal family, the revelation of the spiritual glory of the Divine Man in the flesh, and the manifestation, by that incarnation, of a new earth with the sons of God for its kings and priests. We rise from the physical to the moral world. Take the broadest divisions of the human family — races and nations. From their beginnings in the East, as an eastern shepherd leads out his flocks, the Everlasting Father has brought His tribes out of their native sheepcotes and stationed them here and there over the globe. Vast territories, with fertile soils and blooming vegetation, with the wealth of navies and harvests in their bosom, were waiting to receive them: and some are waiting still. God waited His own good time for occupying them with human industry. Nor is this the chief exercise of His patience. One after another these nations have broken away from their Creator's commandment. For each one of them He kindled the light of conscience or of revelation, to show them the way, and they shut their eyes upon it. Every national life has grown corrupt. No sooner have they come to prosperity than they have come to luxury, idleness, and the beginnings of decay. They have tempted and betrayed each other; cheated, fought, enslaved, murdered each other. Very seldom has He come to them with sudden judgments or wide spread desolations. He has waited till they would destroy themselves. He has tried them again and again. When one has gone down He has set up another, and waited patiently for that. Even the one people that He chose out of all the rest for His own, folding and guarding them, turned itself into the bitterest offence against Him. But His long suffering waited, and waited not only in the days of Noah, as the text says, but waited through the age of the patriarchs, waited through the age of Moses, and of the judges, and of the kings, waited till the captivity, waited and brought them back after it, waited till the fulness of time. But we can bring the doctrine home much closer to our personal feeling than this. We all know well enough what those things are that try and irritate us, in the common intercourse of life, and where our patience gives way. We know what the provocation is, when our motives are misjudged, or our self-respect is insulted; when mean calculations take advantage of our friendship; when our children are forgetful or wilful, our pupils dull, our servants careless, our neighbours arrogant, our beneficiaries unthankful or impertinent. We all know the sting that hurts us in contempt, in estrangement, in forgetfulness. Now, all these hateful things, in every instance, are known to God. They are full in His sight. Just so far as they are real offences at all, they are offences against Him before they are to us. He does not overlook them, but looks directly at them all. He sees the tyrants, the traitors, the hardened profligates, living out their many days, and some of them dying natural deaths in their beds, the Alvas and Torquemadas, small and great, of every age — His judgment seat not moved forward one hair's breadth to meet them this side the grave. Some one says, God is patient because He is eternal; and so we make excuses for our impatience. God is patient because He is good, as well as because He is strong and wise. He waits for men that they may return to Him. He spares them that they may spare each other. And then, if we could look far into the heart of God, might it not: appear that He has — considering their light, their calling, their privileges, and promises — quite as much occasion to let His patience have her perfect work in the inconstancies of Christians as in the crimes of unbelievers? the cold affections, lifeless prayers, halting steps. He has to wait even for His own people that He has redeemed — the Church that He has purchased with His blood — in her backward and worldly living. It is quite noticeable that one of the apostles of our Lord dwells on this grace of patience with peculiar earnestness, returning to it as if it had a special power to his conscience and a special sacredness to his heart; and this is St. Peter, from whom my text is taken. Have we not a reason for this, and at the same time a deeper look into his warm heart, when we turn to his personal character and history? His was just one of those impressible, impetuous temperaments, with great faults and great virtues, which lay a heavy tax upon the patience of friends, and yet inspire, beneath all that, a lively interest. So he must have felt how repeatedly and bitterly he had tried that one Divine Friend. Nor is the whole Scripture less clear and strong as to the practical value of this virtue in the Christian standard of character. Thus it shows us the kneeling suppliant at his lord's feet crying, "Have patience with me and I will pay thee all." It pronounces its blessing on those that bring forth fruit with patience. It casts in a beam of light on the dark mystery of our sufferings by telling us that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, bidding us rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Nay, further yet; by one true and deep interpretation of it the Cross of our Saviour is but the symbol of this doctrine. Patience and passion are but varied forms of one word; the sacrifice of long suffering. In the Son of Mary the patience of God comes down among men, and we behold His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, in the face of Jesus Christ giving His life for the world, and waiting for its faith.

(Bp. Huntington.)

While the ark was a preparing
I. In the first place, we see by the parallel drawn between THE FAITH OF A CHRISTIAN AND THE PRESERVATION OF NOAH IN THE DELUGE, that we must look for a deluge answering to that which then came upon the world. Who can seriously think of the world blaspheming its Maker, rebelling against Him, and then proudly contending that there is very little evil in that rebellion, and not see that some signal proof from the Governor of all, that that rebellion shall not be tolerated? The deluge of wrath, then, will come, like the deluge that swept away the millions of mankind in the days of Noah.

II. But then, as THERE WAS AN ARK which Noah constructed for his preservation and that of his family, we have an ark too, built not by our own hands, but built by our great Creator and Redeemer. Christ is to His people now the one Ark. There is one Shelter from the coming deluge of God's wrath, one only Ark, for a lost soul; unless we are saved by that, we perish. Christ is the only thing between us and eternal destruction.

III. But as Noah was saved, not merely by understanding its construction and not merely by looking at its fair proportions and its massive timbers, but BY ENTERING WITHIN THE ARK and being shut within it by God, so the disciples of Christ are saved by entering into their Ark; and the one thing by which they enter in is faith. So that unless we come to Christ as our only hope, we are excluded from that Ark. It is built by the hand of God, it will float in safety over the deluge, and whoever is in it will be gloriously saved; but we must get within it. We may talk as Christians, we may belong to a Christian church, we may think ourselves safe; but unless we have climbed into the true Ark by faith, and have been shut in by the hand of God, we have no more possibility of safety than a person could have been saved by walking round the ark which Noah had constructed, or examining with surprise and admiration its massive construction.

IV. But there is another similarity between the disciples of Christ and Noah and his family. That similarity is in THE WATER OF BAPTISM, as compared with the water of the deluge to Noah. Anti-typical to which, the apostle says, "Baptism doth now save us." And therefore, just as the water bore up the ark of Noah, and it was when the waves dashed upon the ark in which he floated that his preservation was completed, so it is by baptism that the disciples of Jesus Christ are likewise saved. The water of baptism could no more save the baptized man, of itself, than the water of the deluge could save the antediluvian sinners who were outside the ark. It was the ark which saved; and then the water completed the salvation, by bearing up the ark upon its flood. And the water of baptism is the antitype of that water of the deluge, because it completes the figure which makes the person safe in Christ, who is the only Ark of the soul from the deluge to come. That this was the apostle's meaning is further manifested by the expression which he used himself, to correct the imagination which might arise in any mind, that the external rite had in itself any such efficacy. He adds, "Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh"; external washing cannot save anyone; but it is the "inquiring after God of a good conscience," it is the seeking God with the heart and with the soul — it is this which is the essence of the baptismal profession. There are two more points of comparison on which I must dwell. In the days of Noah there were multitudes that disbelieved, and but few that believed, the warning God gave; eight only out of the millions of mankind believed. The millions disbelieved. And so it is with the threatenings of God now; there are few that credit them, and millions that disbelieve them; which are right, the few or the millions? Christians! hold fast the truth, even if you were much fewer than you are; and never let your opinion be in the least shaken by any allegation of the presumption, the enthusiasm, or the folly of entertaining the opinions which are against those of the great mass of mankind. Hold them fast, and it will be for your happiness. And lastly, there is one final comparison between the two cases. The multitudes of those who disbelieved, in Noah's days, perished, and the few that believed were saved. Oh! that a warning voice could reach the millions of this world!

(B. W. Noel, M. A.)

Baptism doth now save us
It is questionable whether we would have had skill enough to discover that the two facts mentioned in the text contained essentially the same revelation, if the union had not been expressly pointed out to us in Scripture. The wild flood that destroyed the ancient world, and the gentle waters of baptism in Christian times — these two at first sight seem to have little in common. The connection is by no means so obvious as in some other types; but it is net less real.

I. THE SALVATION OF NOAH AND HIS FAMILY BY WATER. As long as you think merely of Noah being saved from death by drowning, you miss the grand design of God in bringing the flood upon the earth. If the purpose of the Supreme had been to preserve the lives of those eight, it could have been accomplished by preventing the flood from coming, better than by constructing an ark to float on its surface. What object did the Almighty Ruler contemplate in those stupendous arrangements? To preserve His truth, and the earthen vessels that contained it, not from the flood of water, but from the flood of sin. The water flood, so far from being the source of danger, was the instrument employed to save. God employed one flood to wipe away another. The salvation which God works for His own, both in its whole and in its several parts, is a twofold operation. It is deliverance by destruction. In the Old Testament times, this principle of Divine government was exhibited in acts and ordinances of a more material kind. Christ had not yet come; and the personal ministry of the Spirit had not yet been fully developed. The providential dispensations and religious rites in which the principles were embodied, accorded with the infant state of the world and the Church. In form the manifestation was childish; but even in form all that was childish has been done away, and the self same truths are set forth in the ordinances of a more glorious ministration.

II. THE SALVATION OF CHRISTIANS BY BAPTISM is like the saving of Noah by the waters of the flood.

1. The danger. In God's sight the ailment of humanity is sin. Sin entered into the world, and death by sin. Find the way of making an end of sin, and the sting of death is instantly taken away. If it were not for sin we should have nothing to fear. We could smile at death, and at him who hath its power, if we were free from sin.

2. The deliverance. It, too, is like Noah's. We are saved by a flood. We are saved by baptism. And what is meant by baptism? In the first place, it is not "the putting away of the filth of the flesh." It is not the out ward act of washing with water that can save a soul from the dangers that surround us. It is not a corporal and carnal thing. Not this; but "the answer of a good conscience toward God." It is the cleansing of the conscience from its guilt, so that when God makes inquisition for blood, He finds no spot or wrinkle there; so that the conscience, when put to the question, answers peace to the challenge of the Judge. "Baptism doth now save us by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." It is by being in Christ that we may get our sins purged away, and yet be ourselves saved. He stands before God to receive what is due to His people's sins. "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished," That baptism to which He looked forward from the first of time, and which He met on Calvary, was none other than the wrath of God against sin, which He had in covenant engaged to bear. The Messiah met that deluge, and emerged from it triumphant. From that baptism He rose again. The salvation of believers lies not in meeting God for themselves, when the vials of His wrath for sin are poured out; but in being found in Christ, when He receives His people's due. It is the part and privilege of a believer to be baptized into Christ, and specifically to be baptized into His death (Romans 6:3, 5). Our baptism is into Him, and He meets the baptism for us which would have carried us away. We have received the baptism, when in our Substitute we have received it. As Noah remained safe, shut up within the ark, while it received the surges of the deluge; so we, in Christ our refuge, are unhurt, while He meets and exhausts in our stead the justice due to sin. As the flood saved Noah, by destroying the wicked that swarmed on the earth, while he escaped by being shut within the ark; the baptism wherewith Christ was baptized saves Christians, by destroying sins and sinners, so that they who are found in Him in the time of visitation shall step out with Him upon a new earth, under a new heaven, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

(W. Arnot.)

The apostle speaks of "baptism" as saving us; that is the point that concerns us most. Of course the question starts, How does baptism save us; in what way is it helpful to us in our Christian life and career? If you look at the passage you will see that the apostle guards himself carefully. He says, "Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh." We cannot too distinctly assert that there is nothing saving in "baptism" itself. In what way, then, you may ask, does baptism save us? How can it be made helpful to us in the cultivation of Christian character and in the living of Christian life? The apostle tells us, "But the answer of a good conscience toward God." The Greek term here translated "answer" means a question or interrogation. It is used to signify the mutual return of question and answer, which implies compact. You know that when two parties present themselves to the minister for marriage he requires them to say certain words after him; those words form what we may call the marriage oath, or declaration, or compact. When that declaration or compact has been made by both parties the man puts the ring on the finger of the woman as a sign or evidence that such declaration has been made. Now, what the wedding ring is to the married couple and society, baptism is to the believer and Christ. It is the sign, token, symbol of the covenant, compact, which the believer has entered into with his Saviour. In this sense it has an element of salvation in it, and it may be made helpful to you in the cultivation of Christian character and life by reminding you of the terms of that covenant.

I. THAT YOU HAVE REPENTED OF YOUR PAST LIFE AND CONDUCT. There are some in whom the process or change we call "repentance" is not very marked or great. In some, from their natural temperament, or from the advantages of early surroundings, the religious life seems a gradual development. As the lovely bud opens under the genial influence of the spring's sun, so their hearts open under the genial influence of the heavenly Father's love. In others, as in the case of the prodigal, there is a time, sharp and distinct, when reflection arrests them in their course of sin and folly. Now, "baptism" is a standing perpetual reminder of that solemn crisis — that solemn resolve in your history. Hence Paul writes: "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death?" etc. (Romans 6:3-13). The act of baptism is an open public renunciation of sin, of sinful pleasures, of the follies of the world.

II. THAT YOU HAVE ACCEPTED CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOUR. The compact you now make with Christ, and of which your "baptism" will be the standing sign and symbol, is that you accept, believe in Him as your Saviour. In accepting Christ as your Saviour you promise Him that you will give yourself up to Him. When tempted to relax or disobey, you will answer your tempter, "I have placed myself in the hands of Christ; I am not my own. I have His prescription, and, unless I attend to that, I cannot expect spiritual healing or health." You will point your tempter to your "baptism" as a standing symbol of your covenant with Christ; and in this way your "baptism" will be helpful to you, and will save you.

III. THAT YOU HAVE CONSECRATED YOURSELF TO CHRIST'S SERVICE. The wife sees the ring on her finger, and she says, "I am married; I am no longer my own. I am pledged to give my husband as much real pleasure and joy as lies in my power, to abstain from everything that would grieve or displease him, to make any and every sacrifice if necessary to contribute to his comfort and well-being." In the same way, remembering your "baptism," you will say, "I am married to Christ; I have pledged myself to His service as the great purpose of my life."

IV. THAT YOU SUSTAIN THE MOST HONOURABLE RELATION TO CHRIST, I wish I could, so fire the hearts of our young men and women that they could adequately realise the dignity and the honour of the relation they sustain to Christ, and of which "baptism" is the standing sign and seal. You know how the soldier is fired with the sense of his dignity as a soldier. There are many things that he would not do because it would disgrace his profession. And so I would that you should be ever conscious of the dignity and honour of the relation that you sustain to Christ. Remembering your "baptism," the standing seal of that relation, you will say, "I am a baptized Christian, one of Christ's soldiers. How can I do this mean act, speak that false word, do that great wickedness, and sin against Christ?" In this way, too, "baptism" may be helpful to you, and so save you.

(B. Preece.)

Who is gone into heaven
The ascension of our Lord was, in one point of view, only a result of His resurrection, and the proper completion of His triumph then achieved. That is, no new work was done by Him after His resurrection which brought about His ascension. It was His pleasure to remain on earth during those forty days, in order to show Himself alone to His disciples, and to establish beyond doubt the fact that He was risen from the dead; but they were only a delay interposed before that triumphant departure whose way was already prepared. First of all, then, the ascension of Jesus was the seal of the accomplishment of redemption. His work which He wrought in our nature was the rescuing it from the dominion of sin, and bringing it into union with God. This His glorious state of final perfection of humanity is not His alone. It belongs not to Him any more than His death and resurrection belonged to Him, as man individual. It belongs, in its actuality and in its effects, to our whole nature, which He bore on Him and bears on Him at this moment. In, and as accomplished in, that humanity thus glorified, does the Father behold all His creatures and all His purposes; in Him it pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell, and that all things in heaven and in earth should be summed up. O how blessed an encouragement is this, in all our difficulties and under all our troubles. Thou feeble Christian, who believest and prayest and strivest, but hast never laid firm hold on the hope set before thee, who day by day art conning over thine own imperfections, turn thine eyes from looking inward, and look upward on Him where He is. That human Body, pierced but glorified, marred above measure, but also exalted above measure, let that be thy one object of contemplation. There is thy safety; there thy guarantee of God's favour; on that blessed Form falls no frown of the Father's countenance, but an everlasting smile of approval, and under that smile thou, His lowly and fainting member, art included. Fix thine eyes on Him and fear not; in Him thou hast all; through Him thou shalt rise after all thy falls; shalt enter into the kingdom after all thy doubts; for he that hath the Son hath life. I want in my belief which is to sustain me, which is to renew me in holiness, something as present to me as the world and the flesh and the devil are present with me; not only a past fact, however gracious and glorious; but a present fact, which I may look upon as part of this moment in which I live and struggle onward. And I can find this only in the glorified form of my Lord, now in heaven at God's right hand, holding together this world, creating, blessing, vivifying, governing all things. This is no past matter. Far above this earth with her living tribes and her waving blossoms, far above these bright stars which bound the vision of the outward eye, I see that form of Him in whom I live; there is He who is made to me wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption; His life is my obedience; His blood is my ransom; His resurrection is my justification. Earth and hell may combine against my weak nature; but there I see that nature standing in the Godhead glorified, and I know that I am safe. Outward appearances may discourage me to the utmost. Both the Church and the world are summed up in and ruled by that glorified One, who reigns above them both. Besides being the seal and pledge of our accomplished redemption, He is, in this His glorified state, our continuing High Priest and Intercessor. There, in the centre of the Father's glory, He rests not idle, nor is He unmindful of those whom He came to save. They are ever borne on His thoughts, and not the least of their cares or wants is forgotten by Him. Through Him, not as an unconscious medium, but as the living and conscious offerer, all prayer is made. Again, our glorified Saviour is the giver of the Holy Spirit. From Him all spiritual influence comes direct, and without union with Him no man has the Spirit of the Lord. And this is a most important consideration. For men are apt to imagine of our blessed Lord as withdrawn from His Church; and the participation of spiritual gifts and spiritual life to be derived from a long succession of secondary instruments, and ordinances of grace; whereas it is by direct contact of every believing soul with Himself in glory, that all spiritual grace and gifts are derived, and means and ordinances are but helps to lifting the soul by faith into realisation of His person and office, and into communion with Him.

(Dean Alford.)

I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES.

1. They begin thus — "Who is gone into heaven." "He is gone": that sounds rather dolorous. Yet we dare not raise a monument to Christ as one who is dead. Let us complete the sentence — "who is gone into heaven." Now you demand the trumpet, for the words are full of soul-stirring music, and create intense delight. Still, there are the words, "He is gone": He is gone away from you and from me; we cannot now embrace His feet, nor wash them, nor lean our head upon His bosom, nor look into His face. Henceforth we are strangers here because He is not here. He intends us to remove, for He has removed. We are not at home on earth. He seems to say, "Upwards, My brethren, upwards from off this earth; away from this world to the glory land. I am gone, and you must be gone, This is not your place of resting, but you must prepare yourselves for a time when it shall be said of each one of you, 'He is gone.'" Now let us consider that He "is gone into heaven." What does this signify but, first, that He is gone out of the region wherein our senses can perceive Him? But then we know that our Lord, as man, is gone into a greater nearness to God than ever; "He is gone into heaven," where is the throne of the great King. Let us joy and rejoice that our covenant Head is now in the bosom of the Father, at the fountainhead of love and grace, and that He is there on our behalf. In going into heaven there is also this thought, that our Lord is gone now into the place of perfect happiness and of complete glory. The Lord Jesus is filled with ineffable satisfaction, which is the reward of His passion and His death. Thinking this over, let us reflect that nothing could stop His going there. "He is gone up into heaven, despite all who raged against Him." But I beg you to remember that He is gone up into heaven as our representative. Jesus does nothing by Himself now. All His people are with Him. He says, "Behold I and the children which God hath given Me." They are always in union with Him. This is the best seal that our faith could desires the resurrection and ascension of Christ being practically the resurrection and the home bringing of all His redeemed.

2. Secondly, His sitting at the right hand of God: "Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God." Remember that this being on the right hand of God relates to the complex person of our Lord; it relates to Him not as God alone, but as God and man. It is His manhood that is at the right hand of God. Wonderful conception! The next being to God is man. Infinite leagues must necessarily lie between the Creator and the created; but between God and man in Christ Jesus there seems no distance at all, the man Christ Jesus sits at God's right hand. What meaneth it that Christ sits at the right hand of God? Does it not mean, first, unrivalled honour? To sit at the right hand of God is the highest conceivable glory. Does not it also signify intense love? When Solomon would describe the love of the King to his bride, he said, "Upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir." It means also communion and counsel. We speak of a person with whom we take advice as "the man of our right hand." God taketh counsel with the man Christ Jesus. When you have a friend at court, you hope you will do well; but what a friend have we in the King's courts; even Him who is the Wonderful Counsellor! Does it not also signify perfect repose? Jesus is gone up to the right hand of God, and sitteth there. O restful Saviour, we labouring, come to Thee and find rest in Thee; we also sit down expecting the time when Thou shalt put down all our enemies, and we shall tread even Satan under our feet.

3. The third fact is, His dominion: "Angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him." Angels are subject to Him whom they nailed to the Cross, and at whom they wagged their heads. This is one of the wonders of heaven. Men in countless myriads are in heaven white robed, praising God; and one Man is actually on the throne of God, vicegerent, Lord over all; having every knee to bow before Him, and every tongue to call Him Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

II. THE LESSONS OF THESE CIRCUMSTANCES.

1. The religion of Christ is true. Our doctrine is not sentiment, and view, and opinion, but fact.

2. Christ's cause is safe. Let not His church tremble, let her not think of putting out the hand of unbelief to steady the ark of the Lord. The wheel will turn, and they that are lowest now shall soon be highest; they that have been with Him in the dust shall be with Him in His glory.

3. Now I can sea that His saints are safe; for if Jesus has risen and gone into His glory, then each individual in Him shall be safe too.

4. This explains the way in which Jesus deals with sinners. That which took place in His own person He makes to be a picture of what takes place in the men whom He saves. If you come to Him you can only get to know the fulness of His gracious power by being buffeted with conviction and repentance, and by having self, especially self-righteousness, crucified and slain.

5. I think, since Christ has gone into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, it shows which way we ought to go. "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me." He draws them to the Cross, and you may be sure He will draw them to the crown.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Homilist.
I. HIS RESIDENCE.

1. He has gone there as to His proper abode.

2. To prepare for His disciples.

3. To attract the hearts of His disciples.

II. HIS POSITION. "On the right hand of God." The figure implies —

1. Might. Christ is at the fountainhead of power.

2. Dignity.

III. HIS AUTHORITY.

1. Co-extensive with the universe.

2. Exercised for the promotion of moral excellence everywhere.

3. Specially contemplates the good of His followers.

(Homilist.)

Angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him
Both good and bad; the good willingly, the others against their will.

I. FOR THE GOOD ANGELS.

1. If such glorious creatures be subject to Christ, then —(1) How great a one is He, and how glorious is His kingdom.(2) The greater honour and dignity our Head hath, the more joy and comfort may we have, who are His members.

2. In that He appoints them to watch and guard us —(1) What a great honour is this to us.(2) How may we hereby be comforted and encouraged against Satan's malice.(3) We must keep within com pass, and walk carefully in God's ways.

II. FOR THE EVIL ANGELS.

1. All these are subject to Christ, and He hath triumphed over them.

2. As it is no small honour to Him our Head to have all these under Him, so the meditation hereof cannot but be comfortable to us, both in regard of Him and ourselves.

3. Those evil angels cannot do that evil they would, and if they cannot, much less can their instruments.

(John Rogers.)

Plain Sermons by Contributors to, Tracts for the Times.
We indeed are but little able to enter into the thoughts of apostles when they saw Him in His crucified body, ascending up into heaven. But we may understand that this was a part of their feelings; that now One, who is true Man as we are, who can enter into our joys and sorrows, our hopes and fears, He is set in the highest place, over all created things. And He carries with Him there the same tender love towards the meanest of His faithful servants which He ever vouchsafed to exercise here. It was, in some sort, as if one's nearest and dearest relation were made absolute king of the country. If persons who care for earthly things would rejoice in such a change as that, and consider their own fortune made, how much more joy to those who care for heavenly things, when we set our hearts to consider that He who laid down His life for us, He is made the great King in heaven and earth, and has all the treasures of grace and glory put forever into His hand. In this we see at once is included every good thing. But for the present there is one blessing in particular. It is the subjection of the spiritual world to our Saviour, "Angels and authorities and powers were made subject" to the Son of Man when He went into heaven, and sat down off the right hand of God. We naturally think, even from our childhood, a good deal of the spiritual world; of beings out of sight, who yet, for aught we know, may often be very near us, and may have great power to do us good, or to hurt us in body and soul. And the thought of our Lord gone up into heaven, and sitting on the right hand of God, is a thought of great power to set us right in our feelings towards both sorts of angelic beings. Consider, first, what a thing it is to know that the good angels are on our side, that they camp about us to deliver us. This certainty of angelical aid, so far as we are on Christ's side, we have by His exaltation into heaven, and the subjection to Him of angels, authorities, and powers. But those words, doubtless, mean the evil angels as well as the good; our unseen enemies, as well as our unseen friends. Let us not try to put out of our minds the notion of the bad angels being around us, until we have turned in serious prayer to Him who for our sake holds them in chains. Imagine Christ our Lord on His throne, how His eye is ever fixed, both on you in your helpless slumbering condition, and on your adversary waiting to hurt you. And be sure, that if before you lay down you seriously and reverently committed yourself to Him in prayer, with sincere penitence for all your sins, He will not let the roaring lion devour you. You may, without presumption, imagine Him, then, saying to some of His good angels, "Here is one who lays down to rest, desiring to dwell under the defence Of the Most High; he hath set his love upon Me, and tried to know My name; therefore do you, My good angels, take charge of him, and keep him from the evil that walketh in darkness."

(Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times.)

"Who is gone into heaven." It is the correction of all that is carnal and all that is superstitious in our religion. It is the Christian application of "God is spirit." It bids us not to rest in forms; not to multiply services as services, not to rest in sacraments as sacraments, but to look through all to One who is not here, but ascended; and to be sought therefore as one deeply sympathising with human infirmity, but exercising that sympathy not in weak indulgence but in transforming strength. "Who is gone into heaven," and therefore can "fill all things." Such is St. Paul's argument in his Epistle to the Ephesians. He reminds us that the Saviour Himself, remaining below, must have been confined by earth's conditions. It is ascension which makes Him the Omnipresent. "Gone into heaven." There then seek Him, There, when you have found Him, with Him dwell.

(Dean Vaughan.).

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