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First, the Cross

Charles Haddon Spurgeon:

Christ’s second coming was never intended to take the place of Christ’s crucifixion, and yet there have been some, I fear, who, in their zeal for the very great and important truth of the coming glory, have suffered the blazing light of the second advent to obscure the milder radiance, and the more healing beams of the first advent, with its bloody sweat, its scourge, and thorn-crown, and ransom price for sinners lost.

Let it be never forgotten, that while we bless Immanuel, God with us, for his incarnation, and we joyfully perceive that even our Lord’s birth in human flesh brought man near to God; while we thank and praise the Man of Sorrows for his divine example, and we see that this is a blessed help to us practically to advance towards our heavenly Father; while we praise and magnify the Lord Jesus for his resurrection and his ascension, and discern in each glorious step fresh rounds of the ladder which leads from earth to heaven; yet still, for all that, we are not made nigh to God by the incarnation; we are not in very deed made nigh to God by the resurrection, nor by the second advent, but we are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

The first, the grandest, the highest, the most essential truth for us to lay hold of and to preach, is the fact that Jesus Christ died for our sakes according to the Scriptures, and that this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and for sinners gave himself up to die, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. God is glorified because Christ was punished for the sin of his people. Love hath its full, but law has its due. On the cross we see sin fully punished and yet fully pardoned. We see justice with her gleaming sword triumphant, and mercy with her silver scepter regnant in sublimest splendor. Glory be to the wondrous wisdom which discovered the way of blending vengeance with love, making a tender heart to be the mirror of unflinching severity, causing the crystal vase of Jesus’ loving nature to be filled with the red wine of righteous wrath.

From a sermon entitled “Nearness to God,” delivered January 17, 1869.