Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. IV. Eighteenth Century
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Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. IV. Eighteenth Century
 
The Water and the Blood
By Samuel Horsley (1733–1806)
 
From Sermons

BUT how do this water and this blood bear witness that the crucified Jesus was the Christ? Water and blood were the indispensable instruments of cleansing and expiation in all the cleansings and expiations of the law. “Almost all things,” saith St. Paul, “are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” But the purgation was not by blood only, but by blood and water; for the same apostle says—“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 sprinkled both the book and all the people.” All the cleansings and expiations of the law, by water and animal blood, were typical of the real cleansing of the conscience by the water of baptism, and of the expiation of real guilt by the blood of Christ shed upon the cross, and virtually taken and received by the faithful in the Lord’s Supper. The flowing therefore of this water and this blood, immediately upon our Lord’s death, from the wound opened in His side was a notification to the surrounding multitudes, though at the time understood by few, that the real expiation was now complete, and the cleansing fount set open. O wonderful exhibition of the goodness and severity of God! It is the ninth hour, and Jesus, strong to the last in suffering, commending His spirit to the Father, exclaims with a loud voice that “it is finished,” bows His anointed head, and renders up the ghost! Nature is convulsed! Earth trembles! The sanctuary, that type of the heaven of heavens, is suddenly and forcibly thrown open! The tombs are burst! Jesus hangs upon the cross a corpse! And lo! the fountain which, according to the prophet, was this day to be set open for sin and for pollution, is seen suddenly springing from His wound!—Who, contemplating only in imagination the mysterious awful scene, exclaims not with the centurion—“Truly this was the Son of God!”—truly He was the Christ.
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  Thus I have endeavoured to explain how the water and the blood, together with the Spirit, are witnesses upon earth to establish the faith which overcometh the world. Much remains untouched, but the time forbids me to proceed. One thing only I must add,—that the faith which overcometh the world consists not in the involuntary assent of the mind to historical evidence; nor in its assent, perhaps still more involuntary, to the conclusions of argument from facts proved and admitted. All this knowledge and all this understanding the devils possess, yet have not faith; and believing without faith, they tremble. Faith is not merely a speculative but a practical acknowledgment of Jesus as the Christ, an effort and motion of the mind toward God; when the sinner accepts with thankfulness the proffered terms of pardon, and in humble confidence applying individually to self the benefit of the general atonement, in the elevated language of a venerable father of the Church, drinks of the stream which flows from the Redeemer’s wounded side. The effect is, that in a little he is filled with that perfect love of God which casteth out fear, he cleaves to God with the entire affection of the soul. And from this active lively faith overcoming the world, subduing carnal self, all these good works do necessarily spring, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them.  2
 
 
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