And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
~ Exodus 12:7, Exodus 12:11-13
For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.
~ Exodus 12:23-24, Exodus 12:28-30
For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
~ Hebrews 9:19
And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
~ Hebrews 12:24
Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
~ 1 Corinthians 5:7
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
~ 1 Peter 1:2
A Sermon on Hebrews 11:28, by Alexander Henderson.
Hebrews xi. 28, Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the first-born should touch them.
Great and wonderful has been the power and praise of faith in all believers ever since the beginning; but especially it has been great in this cloud of witnesses made up by the apostle here in this cap. In the whilk number, Moses, that faithful servant of God, he is counted as are, for “by faith, when he was come to years, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect to the recompense of reward.” And that could not be done but by faith, for faith was the eye whereby he looked upon the recompense of reward; it was by faith afterwards that he was careless of the wrath of the king of Egypt; and it was faith that made him to see him, who to natural sense was invisible, and faith made him to look only to him who was invisible. And so his faith prevailing above his sense, his invisible sight above his visible, he feared not him who was visible to sense; but feared him only who was invisible to sense, and visible to the eye of faith.
Now, in the words that I have read to you, it was by faith also that he did this, that when he perceived a great destruction coming upon the Egyptians, who had for a very long time resisted the power of God, it was by faith that he was assured that God’s people should be safe from this sudden destruction. And therefore, at the commandment and direction of God, he ordained the Passover to be celebrate, and the blood of the paschal lamb to be kepped in a basin, and ordained every family of the Israelites to take a brush of hyssop, and to dip it in the blood, and with that sprinkle the posts and lintels of their doors without, that so when the destroyer comes, God’s devouring angel, and is ordained to kill every first-born in ilk house of Egypt, through the whole land, yet every family of the Israelites sail be safe. And they sail be so safe that, while there is a great crying and shouting among all the Egyptians, yet there sail not be heard among the Israelites so mickle as the bark of a dog, and ye know that the least stirring that can be will waken a dog; yet it was not heard among them.
And so faith did this. The history of this is set down at large Exod. xii.: and it is applied here to Moses as a work of faith.
That we may take it up as the apostle speaks of it here, we must take notice of thir four several points in the words: 1. The great and terrible destruction that was now execute against the Egyptians, who had proven so many times rebellious before; all their first-born were slain. 2. There is the safety and preservation of God’s people when this great destruction was on them. 3. The means whilk were used for their safety, whilk was the keeping of the Passover, and the sprinkling of the lintels and posts of the doors with the blood thereof. 4. The way how it came to pass, that these means, whilk seemed in themselves to be so weak and insufficient for such ends as they were appointed for, how then was it that they could serve to be a guard to the Israelites in such a great destruction? By faith, for God had told Moses that they should be safe; Moses told the people of the Lord’s promise, and they believed it, and so they were safe. The first will let us see the destruction of God’s enemies and his people’s; the second will let us see the preservation of God’s people in the midst of that destruction; the third will let us see the means that should be used for their preservation; and the fourth will let us see what it is that is requisite and necessary for us to have in our hearts, to make these means effectual.
1. For the destruction of the enemies of God and his people, when ye think upon it, think upon the destruction, and the destroyer. And when ye think upon the destruction, think upon thir two; first, that it was great and sore; secondly, that it was just and righteous: whilk are both necessary to be considered, because, if we think only that it was great and sore, then we may think that it was not just and righteous; but it was both.
It was great and sore in this, because it was sudden; and ye know the suddenness of a destruction makes it to be so mickle the sorer. They were forewarned, indeed, that destruction, and sore destruction, was to come upon them, but yet they feared it not: it was told them that the vengeance of God that was to come upon them was greater than any that was yet come, but they believed it not. And the reason why they did not fear was because they had no faith; and because they had not faith, nor feared not, therefore they did not expect it. This was it that made the destruction of the old world greater than otherwise it would have been, because they were in security when it came, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, till that very day that Noah entered into the ark. Noah had been preaching to them 120 years, and telling them that this was to come upon them, but they believed him not; and therefore they feared not that this was to come upon them: but Noah, having faith, believed it was to come, and at God’s commandment builded the Ark, and was safe there. And the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, it came unexpected; for that same morning the sun shined on them, yet shortly there came down a foul shower of fire and brimstone. And it is said of the man in the gospel, “Thou fool, this night thy soul sail be taken from thee;” that is, even when thou looked least for it, then it sail be done. And the last day, it is said that it sail come as travail upon a woman with child, whilk will be very unexpected; for if a woman have ease or be light any time, it will be a little before her pains come upon her. And so this makes their destruction sore, that it was not looked for.
2. The time when it was makes it to be great also. For it was in the night, and that in the darkest time of the night, even at midnight; and the being of it in the night, and the darkest time of the night, it makes the judgment so much sorer. And therefore it is said, Gen. xiv., when Abraham went out against those four kings, to recover his brother’s son Lot, he came upon them in the night. And God sends his angel into the host of Sennacherib in the night, to slay so many of them when there was none to behold it. And that fearful judgment that came upon Belshazzar, when he was carousing, came upon him in the night. And ye know it is said of our Lord and Saviour, (and not without cause), that he sail come at the last day, as a thief in the night. Surely, beloved, whatever be the circumstance of time that the Lord chooses to bring destruction upon us, he can make it to seem heavy and sore by that.
3. The third thing that makes it great and sore was, because it was common and universal. First, it was common; for there was no sort of people excepted, great nor small, Exod. xii. 29; there was none escaped, from them that sitteth upon the throne, and so the king he was partaker of it also, to him that sitteth behind the mill, (1 Kings xi. 5) whilk was the meanest office, to call (drive) about the mill. Ay, the very beasts were partakers of this destruction also. Secondly, it was also universal, for a judgment may be common, and not be universal; but it was in every family of the Egyptians, so that it was universal. Surely, beloved, common and universal judgments be sore and comfortless judgments.
4. The judgment was also great, because it was the firstborn in every house that was slain. This, indeed, made the judgment to be great, for many times parents think the judgments that comes upon their children greater than if they came upon themselves; and specially they think it to be great, if it be upon their first-born. And if they had only but one child, that one behoved to be destroyed, then what hope could they have of the continuing of their posterity and their house after them? This, indeed, made the judgment to be great.
5. To show the greatness of this destruction, it is told, Exod. xii. 30, that there was a great cry among them, even such a cry as was never heard in that or any other country; ilk house of all the Egyptians crying sorrow-never one safe. And the king himself is forced to cry out; he sees his son dead, therefore he is forced to cry out that his eldest son is dead: and he sees none to do it, for Moses was not there to strike him dead with his rod. And the very beasts of the Egyptians were forced to cry also.
6. And, moreover, ye know that it is a kind of miserable comfort to have a mate in misery; and this made the destruction to be the more manifest and sore, that not one of the Israelites are touched, but are all safe. And their safety is in such a manner, that the text cannot satisfy itself in expression ; it says, “there was not so much as a dog heard to stir among them,” albeit the least motion that can be made will waken a dog; yet it was not so here.
7. And whilk also made the judgment to be greater, that all the people in the land of Egypt entreated Moses and Aaron, and the people of Israel with them, to go their way: and so now they are forced to entreat them to do that whilk before they would not grant them, and the Israelites would have counted it a benefit, if they had done it; but now they think it a favour if they will go their way, and hires them to it.
In all thir respects, the destruction that was at this time is described to be great. And so let us learn here, that when the Lord pleases, he can bring sore and sudden destruction upon his enemies and his people’s; and at such a time as will make it to seem greatest: he can also make it common and universal, none to escape it; and to come upon that whilk they affect most: he can make a hideous cry to be raised among them : and can then, (whilk will make their judgment to seem greater,) preserve his own children. And he will force the enemies to obtrude upon his children, (that) whilk before they would not grant unto them; and beseech them to accept of it, and count it a favour and a benefit if they will do so: whereas before they would not grant that to them upon no terms, and God’s people would have counted that a favour, if they had then granted it to them.* And so the Lord, he has fearful and sore judgments for his enemies.
Now, we must understand that God has two sorts of enemies. 1. Professed enemies, such as Egypt was at this time. When Moses and Aaron spake of the Lord to them, Pharaoh says, “Who is the Lord, that I should fear him?” is there any Lord above me, to command me? And so he was a professed enemy to God. And Moab, also, and the
* At the time this was uttered, it was known that the court would grant the Covenanters all their original demands, and it soon appeared that they would obtain everything short of the abolition of the episcopal office.
Amalekites, and the Midianites; and those whom God’s people rancountered with in the deserts of Arabia. And Babel afterward is a professed enemy to God; and so is the Turk now, he is a professed enemy, for to him the very name of a Christian is abomination. Beloved, there is none but they will acknowledge that God has sore and great destruction for these : but God has another sort of enemies, who profess themselves to be the people of God, and yet, having a different form of religion, persecute them who are the true people of God. Such are Papists, and these who are Popishly affected, who, under the name of the true religion, persecute those who are of the true religion; and, under the name of the Catholic Kirk, persecute these who are the true Catholic kirk. As it is, Rev. xvii., * the whore of Babel will never cease till she be drucken with the blood of the saincts and of the martyrs. And, indeed, that whore never ceases, but either by hostility, or by raising up of princes, or deceiving of people’s souls, to be drucken with the blood of God’s children. And, secondly, there is another sort of enemies; and these are they who are within the bosom of the kirk, and profess to be of the same religion, but have never found the power of it in their hearts to make them believe, nor in their lives, to walk according to it. And thir are worldly wisemen who are seeking themselves, epicures, belly-gods seeking their ease, and vain, proud men seeking honour in the world : † all thir are enemies to God. And so, when we are speaking of the enemies of God, we must not only count them to be enemies who are open enemies, but even those also who profess to be God’s people, and yet persecute these who are so; and these who are crafty men, seeking only themselves in the world, who will be saying that they are establishing religion in a land, and yet in the meantime they are seeking only to have themselves established, and their posterity, with the ruin of religion. ‡ And when God begins to plague, he will even
* Verse 6.
† A vivid but true description of not a few of those who were prelatically inclined.
‡ Vide supra, p. 82, note.
plague such enemies as these with heavy and sore judgments. There is a familiar comparison of the judgments of such. Isa xxx.* he says, “It shall be as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant. And he shall break it as the breaking of the potter’s veshel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.” That is, he shall break them so small as he shall not need to break them any more. There shall come terrible, sudden, and sore destruction upon all the enemies of God’s people. Surely, I may say, if we have the true fear of God in our hearts, and if so be that we be his people, as we have professed ourselves to be, and are in covenant with him, this needs not to be a terrible thing to us to hear, that God will deal thus with his enemies, but it may be comfortable to us. For this is one of the styles that he takes to himself, Exod. xxxiv., † “ The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” That is, the Lord, he will be avenged upon his enemies, and in so doing, he shows mercy to his people. And, therefore, when we see the enemies of God’s people flourishing fast in the world, and are like a green bay tree, and has access to kings, when these who are the true servants of God has no access to them, let us not be discouraged for all that, for they are only climbing high, to the end that, when their fall comes, it may be the greater and more tragical.
Secondly. As the destruction was great, so it was also just. It was just. 1. Because God had sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and they told them their message they had from the Lord, but they obeyed it not. And they had also before this wrought nine sundry miracles among them, and aye they seemed to repent in the time ; but when they were eased, presently they returned to their old bias, and were as insolent and wicked as ever they
* Ver. 13, 14.
† Ver. 6, 7.
were.* Was it not just then that God should plague them with a heavier and sorer destruction than any they had found before ? And is it not just with God, when nothing will move people to turn from their ill course, neither their conscience of wrong, nor shame and disgrace before the world, and yet for all that there is never a word of repentance among them, but at the least intermission they are as wicked as ever they were, is it not just that God should prepare, yea even inflict, heavier judgments and plagues for these? They will think, what can he do more nor he has done already ? Ay, he can do a thousand times more, as it is Levit. xxvi.† and that ofter nor once or twice; he can plague seven times more, and seven times more, yea, many seven times more, and make them aye to be heavier and heavier. 2. It was just even in these things wherein there might seem to be a little injustice ; for the parents are spared who had committed the sin, and the little ones are destroyed who actually had done no harın. Now, this might seem to smell a little of injustice, that the little ones should be killed, who were not accessory to the transgression, and the parents spared, who had committed it. But ye may not think, now, the parents were spared in mercy, but they were spared in wrath; for the children, now, they are taken away secretly in the night and in houses, but the parents, they must be brought to open scaffold, and there they must be cut off. They must pursue the children of Israel to the Red Sea, and they must be drowned there. Certainly, we may see that a wicked man may have hopeful children, and the Lord may take them away, and spare himself; and this may seem to be unjust—to spare the innocent, and correct the innocent: but his sparing of them is not in mercy, for he may have a heavier destruction abiding them. And
* The allusion here is unmistakable. Henderson, even thus early, clearly saw through the policy and designs of the Court, and perceived that all their concessions were intended only to divide and cajole, and that, being dictated solely by the necessity of affairs, they would be recalled on the first opportunity. Burnet’s Memoirs of the House of Hamilton have told the world whether he judged right or not.
† Verse 18.
that their first-born were killed, although they were never so young, there is no injustice here, for there is none can deny but the parents’ fault may be punished in the children, for the children are as members of the same body, and links of that same chain. As when the natural body fails, all the rest will fail also; or when the hand steals, the back will suffer scourging for it ; when the stomach is sick, the head will find the pain of it; and so the Lord, he does wrong to none in punishing of some in other persons ; as they will be forced to acknowledge when the judgment is come.
Finally, their judgment was just in this, that the first-born of their children were taken, because it was a kind of retribution or retaliation of that whilk they had done ; for in these things wherein a man sins most, it is just that in these things they be punished. For they had used cruelty against the young ones in Israel, and therefore it is just that their children be taken away now at this time. Surely, beloved, the Lord many times is so sensibly to be seen here in punishing of some for their sins, that the greatest atheist will be forced to say, “There is a God who judges the world,” as Adonibezek says, Judg. i., “As I have done, so God hath requited me.” And so, when ye see the like of this upon any, acknowledge that it is the just judgment of God, in requiting them according as they have done. Were it not just with God that some were forced to flee from their places, who has put honest men out of their places? and were it not just that they were forced to flee out of the country, who has banished these out of the country, who were indeed the faithful servants of God ? * But it is a strange thing to perceive how blind
* “ By these means the bishops were cast into a sudden consternation and fit of despair. According to Bishop Guthrie, the Archbishop of St Andrews, being in Edinburgh when the Covenant was first subscribed there, said, “Now all that we have been doing these thirty years past is thrown down at once; and, fearing violence, he fled to London, “where he died next year.’ … Such other of the bishops as knew themselves to be most ungracious to the people, thought fit to take the same route in a short time thereafter ; and the few who remained behind were advised to hold themselves quiet, and live retired.”—Stevenson’s History of the Church of Scotland, page 212.
folded people are, that when God is doing the like of this, yet they do not perceive it to be so. The Israelites saw the finger of God in this, but for the Egyptians, they saw it not, nor in the former plagues they saw it not, but only a little : and what they saw, because they did not see it still, therefore it tended to their destruction and just condemnation; and so it was not seen for their safety. So ye see that their destruction was first, great and sore; secondly, just and righteous.
Next, there is the destroyer. Certainly, it was the Lord in his justice who was the principal destroyer of them, for as the Lord in his mercy is a saver and preserver of the godly, who put their trust under the shadow of his wings, so he is a destroyer of the wicked. It is true, indeed, there is none can tell how gracious and merciful the Lord is, but yet for all that, we may not say that he is gracious and merciful to his enemies, but only to them that fear him; for it is an honour to him to destroy his enemies, as well as it is are honour to shew mercy to his children. But here there is an instrument in the destroyer. It is true, there is no expression of an angel, or if there was one or more, but only it is called a destroyer ; but it seems to have been an angel. Only let us learn this, that whatsoever be the instrument or mean, that the Lord has appointed to work destruction for his enemies, yet when the Lord has exhorted us to salvation, and to turn to him and receive salvation from him, and thou has not obeyed that, then the Lord takes his place upon him, and sits down in the throne of his justice; then thou may assure thyself that he shall not want anew (enough) to employ for thy destruction. When the Lord is minded to make a threshing-floor of a people, he will not want flails anew to thresh them. It is true, indeed, there is no necessity of any instruments at all, or he needs but one, for in the plagues that came on them before, there is but one instrument at ones, fly, frog, &c., but the Lord, he can employ mightier ; he can send an angel into the host of the Assyrians, and slay such a number in one night. And let us also learn here, that people will think themselves so secure, how can an enemy come upon them, for we are at peace with all about? yet the Lord he can make some of them to rise up against thee, or raise up some from among thyself, or he may make thee to be destroyed some other way, that thou shall not know who has done it. For howsoever the Jews’ fable is, that the Egyptians had horrible dreams whilk troubled them, and made them to cry out, but there is no mention made of any such thing in the text, before the shouting came, and there is nothing mentioned to be the cause of it but the destroyer. Surely if the Lord has appointed destruction for any, he can get destroyers anew to execute it, he can raise a foreign enemy against thee, or if he do not that, he can send a pestilence or famine, or he can send a destruction by the sword, and not be from foreign enemies, but even from these of thy own bowels; and therefore think not that thou shall be safe, if the Lord has appointed destruction for thee, for he shall send it, and that, such as all shall be forced to wonder at. Lam iv. 12. The kings of the earth could not believe that such a destruction should come upon Jerusalem ; that Jerusalem that was so strongly builded, and was the very centre and navel of the world, that it should be made a prey to the enemies : who could think upon that? And the Palatinate also, whilk was so brave a country, who would have thought that it should have been made a prey to the enemy? and yet it is so now. So ye see the Lord, he can find out means anew, either for the destruction of his enemies, or yet for the afflicting of his own children.
II. Now for the second point in the text, whilk is the preservation of the people of Israel at this time, the text says not only, They were not destroyed, but they were not touched, that is, as great and sore as the destruction was upon the Egyptians, as great also was the preservation of God’s people ; for the Lord, he has a double guard to save his own. 1. The guard of his providence, whilk compasses them about as a wall of fire, so that no ill comes near them. 2. There is an inward guard of a good conscience; so says the Apostle. It may be, indeed, that the Lord will suffer the enemies to break through the first guard of his providence upon his own, yet, if they be his own children, they are so guarded within, that there is no terrour of all their enemies. And surely it becomes us, and it is profitable for us, to mark the difference between the godly and the wicked in their calamities, and not to say, Wherefore serves all our praying, and all the religious and holy duties that we have done, seeing that the enemy is broken in upon us, or he will do it, as well as upon others who has not done so? Surely, if the Lord think it meetest, he can save thee from all thy enemies, and give thee peace outwardly, or if he do not so, he can give thee inward peace in thy conscience within. And if thy life shall be taken from thee, it shall be a convoying (conveying) of thee so mickle sooner to that rest whilk thou longed for before. Noah, he had this double guard, for he had a calm and a quiet conscience within, having walked with God all his days, and preached to that people, and in the end the ark is prepared for him, and he goes in it. And so, when all the rest are howling and weeping, he is sitting close in his cabinet, quiet and safe there; and he had a quiet and calın conscience; and so as the waters rose, he still ascended both in body and mind nearer to God. Lord, but there be a great difference between the godly and the wicked in the day of the Lord’s wrath! Lot also, while he was in Sodom, he vexed his righteous soul with the abominations thereof, while all the rest were merry and jovial : yet when the destruction came upon them, the Lord had a care of him and preserved him. Then he had a calm and a peaceable conscience within, and he was led out safe to the mountain, and saw the wicked destroyed. And, Ezek. ix:2, there are six men there sent out, every man with a slaughter weapon in his hand, to destroy all through the land, but there was one with a writer’s inkhorn by his side, sent out to mark all these who did sigh and mourn for the abominations of the time; and the destroyers were commanded not to come near to these who had the mark upon them. And, as it is Rev. xiv:1 the hundreth forty and four thousand, who had not received the mark of the beast, they were safe. And so we may see, when the destruction comes upon the wicked in the world, none of God’s children shall be destroyed by it; no, they shall not be touched therewith.
III. The third point in the text is, The means whilk were used for their deliverance and safety. He ordained the passover to be keeped; that is, he ordained a lamb to be slain, and the blood of it kepped and sprinkled upon the lintels and posts of the doors. It comes many times to pass, and the Lord does it wisely, that the name of the thing signified is ascribed to the sign : he ordained a lamb to be killed and eaten, and he calls that the Passover, or, as the word has it, a louping over all the Israelites’ houses. This is any ordinary thing, to give the name of the sign to the thing signified, as “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us ;” * 1 This is the cup of the new testament in my blood, shed for the remission of the sins of many.”† And the reason of this is. 1. Because of the similitude and representation whilk the sign has with the thing signified. Howsoever, indeed, that whilk is natural of it does not make it a sacrament, yet the Lord he has chosen such things as does that to the body, which the thing signified does to the soul. 2. Because it is grounded upon the words of the institution to do so : the Lord he has chosen such a thing for the sign, and therefore it is ascribed to the thing signified. 3. It is so, also, from the use that we have of them. This is all that we should look to in the signs of any sacrament, and no further. Men may call them sacramentaries, ‡
* i Cor, v. 7.
† Mat. xxvi. 28.
‡ Sacramentaries. The name Sacramentarian was first given in the sixteenth century to the party among the Reformers who separated from Luther on the doctrine of the Eucharist. Luther held what is called the doctrine of consubstantiation, i.e., the real presence of the body and blood of Christ along with the bread and wine. The same name, or as it here stands, Sacramentaries, was given in disparagement by the Laudean divines to those who held the reformed doctrines in regard to the real presence. David Mitchell, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, and a man of strong Prelatic leanings, in a letter to Leslie, Bishop of Raphoe, of date Mar, 19, 1638, speaking of the changes in the Communion Service in the Scots Liturgy, says, “Great need there was for them, propter sacramentarios.”_ Baillie i, Appendix.
who has not a intention of bodily presence, but for these who has it, it is idolatry for them to say so. And, therefore, as we would wish to be partakers of the thing signified in the sacraments, beware to give any more to the sign than that whilk is right.
Again, we see here, he appointed the Passover to be the mean, that is, he ordained a lamb to be killed, and the blood thereof to be sprinkled upon the posts and lintels of the doors. Now what needed a lamb? Because of the representation therewith of Jesus Christ. John Baptist says,
Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world;”* so Jesus Christ is represented by this lamb. And John 19:36, “A bone of him shall not be broken;” this was that the scripture might be fulfilled, for so was the passover; there was none of the bones thereof broken. And again, “ Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us,” 1 Cor 5:7. So that is the matter why it was ordained, for it was not the sprinkling of every blood upon the door of the Israelites that could save them, but only of a lamb, and that of the Passover. So it is not everything, nor is it every blood that is able to save us from our sins, but only the blood, of Jesus Christ, whilk cleanses from all sin. Albeit we should slay all the enemies of God, if in the meantime we be Athiests ourselves, that is not able to expiate sin ; and albeit thou should offer thy first-born for the sin of thy soul, yet that will do no good; or albeit thou should offer up thyself in sacrifice. It is only the blood of Christ that must cleanse us from all our sins, and therefore we must study to know Christ well.
Now, I will not insist here, but only a word or two, how they did eat this passover. First, they did eat it with bitter and sour herbs : So thou needs not think that Christ will be any ways savoury to thee, if thou have not a sense of the bitterness of sin. Secondly, They did eat it with unleavened bread; and so when we come to the sacrament, we must cast away the old leaven of nature, malice, and envy, and put on the new leaven of Jesus Christ.
* John 1:29.
Thirdly, They did eat it with their loins girded about, ready for their journey. So when we partake of the sacrament now, we must be in readiness to follow the calling of God; whatever it be that the Lord bids us do, let us be prepared for that.
Now, for the sprinkling of the blood upon their doors, it was done thus, as I told you: they took a bunch of hyssop, and dipped it in the basin where the blood of the lamb was, and sprinkled it upon the lintels and posts of the doors. This seemed to be but a very weak mean for their preservation; it might be thought, what good could this do? or whom could this hold out? a little blood upon a door! And when the Egyptians saw it, might they not laugh at the goked (stupid) Israelites who did so? and no question but if they had seen it they would have smiled; yet, nevertheless, they did it because it was the commandment of God: and so, indeed, it was wisdom in them, and proved also to be wisdom in end, and not to be a matter of mocking, but of preservation. So when we come together to do anything that God bids us do, we will get anew to laugh at us, as many of the Israelites did at the posts whilk Hezekiah sent to them, to come and keep the Passover. So when ye begin to take pains in the service and worship of God, and these things whilk he has commanded you, then the world will not miss to laugh at you; but be ye aye doing, and in end it shall be turned in a matter of mourning to them, and of rejoicing to you. Albeit the means be weak-like of themselves, use them, and thou shall find a blessing. We have an example of this in Naaman the Syrian, when he was lepper (leprous), he comes to the prophet Elisha, to be cleansed by him. The prophet bids him go and wash himself in Jordan, and he shall be clean; he laughs at this, and says, What, is there not as good water at home as in Jordan? and thought he would not do that. Yet his servant bids him go and assay it, and he went and washed himself there, and so was made clean. So if we will use the means that God has appointed, in obedience to his commandment, and in faith, we need not to doubt, though they seem to be never so weak and unlikely for that end, yet the Lord will make them effectual ; for the less power, or appearance of power, there be in the means, the more is the power of God kythed. And if so be that we could pass by the instrument that does anything, and look only to God as the doer of it, we would then meet with a vive (lively) and evident demonstration of the power of God; but there is evermore something that intercepts our thoughts by the way, and that ofttimes stops the Lord from working.
When the Israelites were stinged by the serpents in the wilderness, what was it that the Lord ordained to be their cure? He ordains them to set up a brazen serpent upon the end of a pole or staff, and only look to that, and they shall be whole. This might seem to be ridiculous to the natural man, and yet the Lord made it to be effectual. We laugh at these things whilk we see not natural reason for, but the Lord he does not so, for ofttimes he works by these means. Therefore use the means whilk God has appointed to be used for such ends, though they seem never so weak, for if they be done in faith and in obedience to the commandment of God, thou shall find a blessing upon them.
This blood was sprinkled on the doors ; so it was not enough that the lamb’s blood was shed, but it behoved also to be sprinkled upon their doors. So it is not enough for us to say that Christ’s blood was shed for sinners, but we must have our souls sprinkled with it; that is, when we believe in Christ, and labour for a sure persuasion in our souls that his blood was shed for us, and for our sins, in particular, so as thou can say I know Christ’s blood was shed in particular for me. Therefore count reverently of Christ, believe in him, despise not the blood of Christ. And mark also, that the blood was not sprinkled round about the doors, for there was none of it upon the thresholds. And that was because he would have us to be saved by the blood of Christ, but he would not have it to be despised by us, nor to count it a unholy thing. But we must exalt it highly, and have it in the special cabinet of our souls: let faith dwell and rest there.
Qu. But how was it that this could save them, being so weak and so unlikely to do it? Ans. By faith. Certainly, beloved, we but deceive ourselves if we think to receive any comfort or benefit by the sacraments, unless we have faith. There was faith required of these who did participate of the sacraments under the old Testament, but more is there faith required of these who participate of the sacraments under the new Testament: and therefore, come not here to this sacrament, to profane it, unless ye have believing souls. And, certainly, there was never a time wherein there was greater need of faith than now: no, there was never such a necessary time in our days. Qu. Wherefore is it so necessary? Ans. 1. Because we have in a very special manner shortly been renewing our Covenant with God, and now we are to receive and put to the seal to the covenant, and therefore great need had we to come in faith., for now God is binding himself to us to be our God, and we are binding ourselves to him to be his people; and this is the seal of that covenant. In baptism, indeed, we did make a covenant to be the servants and children of God, and to renounce all things contrair to his will, and to walk in his commandments, but now it is done by us more solemnly. And therefore, since we have renewed our covenant, and are to put to the seal to it, let us prepare ourselves for that, and labour diligently to have faith. 2. Surely, beloved, it is very necessary for us to examine at this time if we have faith, because we cannot tell how near destruction is to this land ; * and so when the destroyer comes, as we would wish that there were a difference between us and the rest of the world, let us prepare ourselves at this time, that so we may say, I have been many times at the Communion, but I never found such profit as I have found now. Try what faith is, that so ye may know whether ye have it or not. First, faith, where it is, is also joined with knowledge, for if thou know not God, how is it possible that thou can believe in him? And an ignorant faith, I may say, is no faith. Secondly,
* Another of those places in which Henderson seems to have anticipated a calamitous issue to the present commotions, an issue which was in some measure realized next year in the shape of war waged by the king against the Covenanters.
faith is also an assenting to the truth that is revealed to thee. When any speaks to thee of Christ, or of the Holy Ghost, or of the mysteries of salvation, then thou perceives some further knowledge and trust in thee than there was before, while thou was in nature; so, when thou understands and believes, then thou may say undoubtedly that thou has true faith. For there may be many who understands, but yet for all that believes not. Thirdly, that is true faith, whilk expels fear from thee; for many will say, I understand many things in the word of God that belongs to salvation, I know the whole word of God to be true, but yet I have terrours in my mind. It’s true indeed, thou may believe and have terrours also, yet when thou believes and sees Christ able to satisfy for thy sins, then thou may come to him, and lippen to him so as nothing shall be able to separate thee from him. And when all this is, yet rest not there, but labour to have a persuasion of the pardon and remission of thy sins, albeit, indeed, I grant it be enough for thee to know Christ, and to believe in him, and cast thy care and burden upon him. Then thou may say, I should be persuaded, and therefore I will labour for persuasion also. And, therefore, labour to be certified, and to have it immediately communicate to you by the Holy Spirit, that sc, in a full assurance of faith, ye may be certified of the Lord’s favour towards you. Could we come to this, to say that we have faith thus, then might we come to the Communion, and be assured to be bettered by it. And yet when we have done this, it is not enough for us to lie in security all the rest of our time, but we must set to and work; and therefore let us make ourselves for this. Some there be who thinks that they have faith, but thinks they cannot get time, for other things, to prepare themselves, and so, when they come to their action, it is but dead and comfortless, because the heart has not been wakened and stirred up. And, therefore, labour to have faith, and use the means whilk God has appointed, and so get peace in your souls for a guard within, and God’s providence for a guard without, and thus the destroyer, when he comes, shall not touch you, but the Lamb, the Son of God, shall save you by his blood sprinkled upon you. To whom, &c.