EPH. i. 6.
In whom we have Redemption through his Blood.
THE word Redemption is perhaps the most comprehensive that our own language, or any other, can afford. Redemption itself is certainly the greatest blessing that God can bestow, or man receive. ‘Tis this that strikes the joyful strings of the heavenly harpers. This is the burden of that ever-new song which none but the redeemed can sing—"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, for thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation."
The salvation of man, under whatever name it is described, always supposes his fallen, guilty, ruined, and helpless state: nor can we understand one word of the gospel aright without knowing this. He is dangerously diseased: Christ is the physician, and salvation his cure. He is naked: Christ covers him with his righteousness. He is famished: Christ is his meat and drink. He is in darkness: Christ is his light. He stands at the bar, accused, and ready to be condemned: Christ appears as his surety, and pleads his righteousness for his justification. So here in the text. Man is in bondage: Christ pays the ransom, and procures his discharge.
Come then, my friends, and let us attend to this great subject; and remember, that we are fixing our minds on the same delightful theme that engages the hearts and harps of glorified saints; and which will employ our grateful tongues to all eternity, if we are found among the ransomed of the Lord.
Redemption, among men, is the deliverance of persons out of a state of captivity and bondage, by an act of power, or rather by the payment of a price, for their ransom. The recovery of God's chosen people from the ruins of the fall is therefore described by this term, because they are, by nature, in a wretched state of bondage and slavery; from which they could never deliver themselves; and in which if not delivered, they must perish for ever. But Christ, the Son of God, out of his infinite love and compassion, undertook the deliverance: and by paying down a sufficient price, even his own precious blood, as a ransom, delivered them from ruin, and restored them to liberty.
That we may better understand this redemption of lost man, let us consider—His captivity—his helplessness—and, the means of his deliverance.
Consider, first, the state of a man as a captive and a slave. Captives, among men, are persons taken in war and made prisoners. In many cases they have been used very ill: put to shame; doomed to hard labour; confined in chains, prisons, or mines; led at the chariot wheels of their conquerors; and sometimes put to death in a wanton and cruel manner. To this day the poor Blacks are treated as captives, and kept in a state of bondage. Ships are sent from England and other countries to Africa, on purpose to get hundreds and thousands of them for slaves. They are stolen , or procured, under various and wicked pretences; torn from the bosoms of their dearest relations; forced away from their own country; closely stowed together in a ship; and, when brought to the West Indies, sold like beasts in a market. They are then doomed to hard labour, and often to cruel usage; till death puts an end to their miseries, or their liberty is obtained by paying a sum of money for it. In such a case, a man may be said to be redeemed; and, ceasing to become a slave, he becomes a freeman. This may give us some idea of the nature of Redemption. When God made man he made him upright; he made him free; but he soon lost his liberty. Satan attacked him, and prevailed against him; and not against him only, but against all his posterity. In this state we are born; in this we live; and in this we die and perish, unless the Redemption of Christ is applied to our souls by the Holy Spirit. You would pity a number of poor captives if you saw them in heavy chains; if you saw them stripped of their clothing, robbed of their wealth; or sold like beasts; if you saw them cruelly abused and beaten, and pining to death in pain and misery. Well, this is our own state by nature. We are conquered by Satan; far removed from our original happy condition; deprived of our true riches, the image and favour of God; tied and bound with the chains of our sins; basely employed by the devil in the horrid drudgery of our lusts; and, if grace prevent it not, liable to be summoned by death into an awful eternity, to receive the wages of our sin, which is eternal misery.
From this sad condition we cannot deliver ourselves. We have neither the will nor the power. It is the peculiar misery of sinful man that he knows not his misery. Other captives groan for freedom. Even a bird or a beast, deprived of liberty, struggles to get free; but more wretched and stupid sinners deny that they are slaves; and foolishly boast, like the Jews, " that they were never in bondage to any man." They hug their yoke; they love their prison, and fancy music in the rattling of their chains. If any here are in this condition, may God open their eyes, and deliver them from the sad infatuation !
But if a man had a will to be free he has not the power. What ransom can he offer? Can he make satisfaction to the injured law of God? Can he render back to his Maker the glory of which he has robbed him? Or can he restore to his own soul the image of God, which is lost and spoiled by sin? Can he renew his sinful nature to holiness, or make himself a new creature? No; it is impossible. If the heart of God do not pity; if the hand of God do not help; he must die a slave, and be the eternal companion of his cruel tyrant, and fellow-slaves in the prison of hell.
But blessed be God for Jesus Christ ! When there was no eye to pity, no hand to help, his own Almighty arm brought salvation. The Son of God, touched with compassion for perishing man, descended from his throne of Glory, and visited our wretched abode; and, because those whom he came to redeem were partakers of flesh and blood, "he also himself took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death , that is, the devil; and deliver them who, through the fear of death, were all their life time subject to bondage," Heb. ii. 14, 15.
Among the Jews, the right of redemption belonged to the kinsman. Jesus Christ, in order to redeem us, became a man, the kinsman of our nature, "bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh;" " for both he that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren," Heb. ii. 11.
The Redemption of captives is usually by paying a price or ransom. This Christ paid, and the price was no less than his blood; so says our text—"In whom we have redemption through his blood." And so St. Paul speaks, 1 Peter i. 18, "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold; but with the precious blood of Christ;"—not by so mean a price as the perishing riches of this world, such as the silver and gold, which are paid for buying poor captives out of bondage, misery, and slavery among men; but it was at no less a price than the noble and invaluable precious blood, sufferings, and death of the Son of God.
Having taken a general view of Redemption, let us descend to some particulars by which we may better understand the subject, and be more affected with it. The natural man is a captive of the Devil—of the Flesh—of the World—of the Law—and of the Grave. From all these Christ delivers his people.
1. We are all, by nature, captives of the Devil. This may seem to you a hard saying, but it is too true; see the proof of it in 2 Tim. ii. 26,—" that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the Devil, who are taken captives by him at his will"—taken alive, as captives of war, to be enslaved and ruined by the Devil. O how dreadful is the power of Satan over wicked men! They are not aware of it, or they would earnestly pray, " Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil," or the evil one. St. John says, "The whole world lieth in wickedness, or in the wicked one," 1 John v. 19; and St. Paul says, " He worketh in the children of disobedience," Eph. ii. 2. So that there is more truth in some common expressions, used by wicked people than they are aware of; as when they spy, "The Devil is in you." It is awfully true of all unconverted sinners. And it deserves notice, how such people continually sport with such words as these—Hell, and hellish—Devil, and devilish—Damn, and damnation. Surely these words shew who is their master! and what is likely to be their place and portion. May God discover the evil of such things to all who practise them.
Now the blessed Redeemer came down from heaven, to destroy the works of the Devil. He overcame all his temptations in the wilderness; he triumphed over him on the cross; and when he ascended into heaven, " he led captivity captive;" conquered the conqueror, and bound the strong one. He shewed his power over devils, by casting them out of the bodies of men; and he still shows his power, by casting him out of the souls of all who believe in him. O that he may shew this power among us this moment.
Yes, my friends, if we are redeemed from Satan, we are "redeemed to God"—redeemed to God, as his peculiar property; for his honour and service; for communion with him now - and for the everlasting enjoyment of him in glory.
2. We are all, by nature, captives of the Flesh; our minds are fleshly; "Sin reigns in our mortal bodies; we obey it in the lusts thereof; our members are instruments of unrighteousness; we have yielded our members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity : for his servants we are to whom we obey," Rom. vi. 12, &c.
Is not this true, my friends? Are not some here present yet the slaves of sin; one of drunkenness; another of swearing; another of fornication; another of lying; another of thieving, or some other heinous sin ? Ah, Sirs, "the end of these things is death :"—" for these things' sake cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience." Alas! how many are strong advocates for human liberty, who are themselves the slaves of corruption! " For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage," 2 Peter ii. 19.
But, adored be Jesus, he came to "save us from our sins;" that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life." By the power of his Spirit, his people are "born again," and made "new creatures in Christ Jesus; old things pass away, and all things become new." They are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit; they walk not according to the flesh; they are enabled to crucify the old man of sin, and to put on the new man of grace; and to live, in some degree, in that holiness without which no man can see the Lord. So St. Paul speaks to the converted Romans, "God be thanked, that (though) ye were the servants of sin; ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness," Rom. vi. 17, 18.
3. We are all, by nature, captives of the World, or, as the scripture expresses it,—" Walk according to the course of this world," willingly carried along with the stream of sin, and foolishly thinking we shall do well, because we do like others; forgetting that "broad is the road that leadeth to death, and many there be that walk therein;" while the narrow way to life is found by very few. By nature we are conformed to the world; to its foolish customs, maxims, dress, and amusements; and also to its dangerous, mistaken notions of religion. People are afraid to think for themselves; they take the religion of their neighbours on trust, without examining, by the word of God, whether it be right or wrong, true or false.
But our blessed Lord "gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from the present evil world, "from the sins, snares, customs, and fashions of the men of this world. St. Peter speaks of being redeemed from "our vain conversation, received by tradition from our fathers." It matters not what we were brought up to, nor what our forefathers lived in: if it was wrong, we must forsake it. We must confess Christ before men, or he will deny us before angels: and we shall not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ, if we know it to be the power of God to our own salvation; but rather glory in the cross of Christ, by which we are crucified to the world, and the world to us. Then we are the true disciples of Christ, when we are not of the world, even as he was not of the world.
4. We are all, as sinners, captives and prisoners to the broken Law and offended Justice of God. The law justly demands of us, perfect and perpetual obedience. If we fail in one point, we are guilty of all; and fall under its fearful curse. The law demands our obedience or our blood. If we disobey but once, our lives are forfeited. We are condemned already; and, if death finds us in that state, it shuts us up for ever in hell.
But, glory be to the Lamb of God, that he came into the world to save sinners; and as there could be no remission of sins but by the shedding of blood, he freely gave himself up for us, and died for our sins, " the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." Thus he gave himself "a ransom" for us: and "redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us," Gal. iii. 13. Hereby, all who believe in him are "delivered from the wrath to come.” “There is therefore now no condemnation to them." They have passed from death unto life; and "who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect ? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died." In consequence of this, they are entitled to peace of conscience, even the peace of God that passeth all understanding.
5. Finally, we are all, by reason of sin, doomed to Death, and shall shortly be prisoners of the Grave. This is the house appointed for all living; to this dark abode we must soon re move, and there remain till the great day, when there shall be a resurrection both of the just and the unjust.
But the glorious Redeemer has said of his people, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction !" Yes, Jesus is made unto us redemption; namely, "the redemption of the body;" and "the creature itself," that is, the body, "shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God," Rom. viii. 21. Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law: but thanks be to God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ"
And now, my friends, what think you of Redemption? Does it appear to you a little or a great matter? How are your hearts affected with it? Do you know that you are, or once was, in this miserable bondage? You can never desire deliverance, nor love the deliverer, till you know this. When Israel was in Egypt, "they sighed by reason of their bondage, and they cried, and their cry came unto God by reason of their bondage." Again, when Israel was in Babylon, " they sat down by the rivers and wept; yea, they wept, when they remembered Zion." Depend upon it, if you never saw this to be your condition, it is your condition now. If you never sought redemption, you never partook of it. If you never saw any excellence and preciousness in Christ, you are yet "in the gall of bitterness, yet in the bond of iniquity." Be advised, when you go home, to retire, and, on your knees, implore the blessed Redeemer to set you free. Say, with the Psalmist, "Draw nigh to my soul, and redeem it." Look through the bars of your prison to heaven. Cry to the Lord in your trouble, and he will save you out of your distresses.
Hear him saying, "Wilt thou be made free?" He stands ready to knock off thy fetters, and set thee at liberty. If it was necessary for you to pay the price of redemption, you might well despair! but the price is paid, nothing on your part is wanting but a heart and hand to receive it. Come then, for all things are ready. "Let Israel hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption," Ps. cxxx. 7. Here is the sum of the gospel. Here are glad tidings of great joy to souls burdened with sin. Are you afflicted with a sense of your sin and misery? Well, there is hope in Israel concerning this. "Hope in the Lord;" not in yourselves, not in your own works, but in Jehovah; and your encouragement to do so is—"with him is mercy," —grace, goodness, bounty. He is, of his own nature, disposed to forgive, and there is this further encouragement—"with him there is plenteous redemption." Christ has shed his precious blood as the ransom price. The redemption is plenteous. The boundless stores of grace and mercy are fully equal to all your wants. Hope then in the Lord, and let your expectation be fixed alone in him; for "he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities."
And you who, through grace, have believed to the saving of your souls, come, and consider the sad state you were in; from which nothing could deliver you but the astonishing ransom of the Saviour's blood. O see the malignity of sin, in the Redeemer's bloody sweat in the garden, and in his dreadful pains on the cross. O see what sin has done! See and detest the murderer of thy gracious Lord. Hate it with a perfect hatred, and resolve to wage eternal war against it.
Come and meditate on the love of Christ, "who loved you, and gave himself for you, "and who has, by his Spirit, brought home the redemption to your heart. There was nothing good in you to engage him to do this; for "while we were yet enemies, Christ died for us." O be thankful for your wonderful deliverance. "O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy." Had a generous fellow-creature delivered you from Turkish slavery, or from a Spanish inquisition, how would you express your thanks? "O, Sir, would you say, I am under inexpressible obligations; I have not such another friend in all the world; I shall never forget your kindness while I live." But no earthly friend can redeem your soul from sin and hell. "O would to God, (said a holy man) I could cause paper and ink to speak the worth and excellency, the high and loud praises of our brother Ransomer ! Oh, the Ransomer needs not my report; but if he would vouchsafe to take and use it, I should be happy if I had an errand to this world, but for some few years, to spread proclamations of the glory of the Ransomer, whose clothes were wet and dyed in blood; if even, after that, my soul and body should return to their original nothing."
Thus, my friends, let us think of Christ; and thus thinking of him, let us shew our love by keeping his commandments; ever remembering, that "we are not our own, for we are bought with a price; therefore let us glorify God in our body and in our spirit, which are God's." Remember you are yet in the body; a body of sin and death: and though through grace, you "delight in the law of the Lord after the inward man, yet is there another law in your members, warring against the law of your mind." Watch against it then, lest at any time it should "bring you into captivity of the law of sin." Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free; and rejoice in hope of the complete, everlasting, and glorious liberty of the children of God in a better world.
 This stigma has been wiped away as regards England, by the Emancipation Act, passed in the reign of his majesty William IV., and mainly attributable to the persevering conduct of that Christian hero Mr.Wilberforce.