Send the word up to the palace that we are coming, and that we are weary of the march of the desert. The King will come out and say: “Welcome to the palace; bathe in these waters, recline on these banks. Take this cinnamon and frankincense and myrrh and put it upon a censer and swing it before the altar.” And yet, my friends, when heaven bursts upon us it will be a greater surprise than that—Jesus on the throne, and we made like Him! All our Christian friends surrounding us in glory! All our sorrows and tears and sins gone by forever! The thousands of thousands, the one hundred and forty-and-four thousand, the great multitudes that no man can number, will cry, world without end: “The half—the half was not told us!”
“Without shedding of blood is no remission.”—HEB. ix: 22.
John G. Whittier, the last of the great school of American poets that made the last quarter of a century brilliant, asked me in the White Mountains, one morning after prayers, in which I had given out Cowper’s famous hymn about “The Fountain Filled with Blood,” “Do you really believe there is a literal application of the blood of Christ to the soul?” My negative reply then is my negative reply now. The Bible statement agrees with all physicians, and all physiologists, and all scientists, in saying that the blood is the life, and in the Christian religion it means simply that Christ’s life was given for our life. Hence all this talk of men who say the Bible story of blood is disgusting, and that they don’t want what they call a “slaughter-house religion,” only shows their incapacity or unwillingness to look through the figure of speech toward the thing signified. The blood that, on the darkest Friday the world ever saw, oozed, or trickled, or poured from the brow, and the side, and the hands, and the feet of the illustrious sufferer, back of Jerusalem, in a few hours coagulated and dried up, and forever disappeared; and if man had depended on the application of the literal blood of Christ, there would not have been a soul saved for the last eighteen centuries.
In order to understand this red word of my text, we only have to exercise as much common sense in religion as we do in everything else. Pang for pang, hunger for hunger, fatigue for fatigue, tear for tear, blood for blood, life for life, we see every day illustrated. The act of substitution is no novelty, although I hear men talk as though the idea of Christ’s suffering substituted for our suffering were something abnormal, something distressingly odd, something wildly eccentric, a solitary episode in the world’s history; when I could take you out into this city, and before sundown point you to five hundred cases of substitution and voluntary suffering of one in behalf of another.