What follows is Johann Gerhard’s Meditation XI from the book Gerhard’s Sacred Meditations, written in 1606, and translated by Rev. C. W. Heisler in 1896. You can download the book here in ePub or pdf format for free (click on the red button), or you can purchase the paperback here from Repristination Press.
THE SATISFACTION FOR OUR SINS.
The Death of Christ is the Life of the Godly.
“COME unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. xi. 28), are the precious words of our Saviour. Truly, my dear Lord Jesus, I am burdened beyond measure, and I groan under the awful weight of my sins; but I hasten to Thee, the fountain of living waters. Come unto me, O Lord Jesus, so that I may be able to come unto Thee. I am coming to Thee because Thou hast first come to me. I am coming to Thee, my dear Lord Jesus, and most ardently do I desire Thee, for I can find no good in myself at all. And if I could find anything good in me, I should not so anxiously long for Thee. Truly, O Lord Jesus, I “labor and am heavy laden.” I dare not compare myself to any of Thy saints, nor even to any repentant sinner, unless perchance to the penitent thief upon the cross. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, Thou who didst show Thyself so merciful to that penitent malefactor! Wretchedly, wretchedly, have I lived; my life hath been one of sin; but, oh! I do desire to die the death of the godly and of the righteous. But godliness and righteousness are far from my heart, and so in Thy godliness and in Thy righteousness I take refuge. Thou didst give Thy life, O Lord Jesus, as a ransom for many (Matt. xx. 28); let that come to my succor in my distress. Thy most holy body Thou didst give to be scourged, to be spit upon, to be buffeted, to be lacerated with thorns, and to be crucified, and all for me; O let that come to my help in my distress. Let Thy most precious blood, which Thou didst so freely shed in Thy bitter sufferings and cruel death upon the cross, and which cleanseth us from all sin (1 John i. 7), be my help. Let Thy most sacred divinity, which sustained Thy human nature in Thy passion, which refrained from the exercise of its glorious power while the adorable mystery of my redemption was being wrought out, and which gave infinite value and merit to Thy suffering for sin, so that God might ransom me—me, a miserable sinner – with His own blood (Acts xx. 28), come to my assistance in my distress. In Thy bleeding wounds is my only remedy; let them succor me. Let Thy most holy passion be my defence. Let Thy merit, my last refuge and the only remedy for my sins, be my comfort and my support. What Thou hast suffered, O Christ, Thou hast suffered for me. What Thy sufferings have merited, they have merited for me, and are set over against my unworthiness. God therefore “commendeth His love toward us,” and by the testimony of all men, yea, by its surpassing the comprehension even of the angels, confirms it, “in that while we were yet sinners and enemies Christ died for us” (Rom. v. 8). Who is there who does not wonder at this; who is not struck with deep amazement, that unasked by any one, nay even hated by men, the most merciful Son of God intercedes for sinners and for His enemies? And not only that, but renders a perfect satisfaction to divine justice for their sins, by His poor and humble birth, by His holy life, by His most bitter sufferings and cruel death.
O blessed Lord Jesus, Thou who didst intercede for me, who didst suffer for me, who didst die for me, before ever I showed any desire for Thy merit and passion, and before ever I besought Thee to pay the ransom for my redemption, how couldst Thou now cast me away from Thy face? How wilt Thou deny me the blessed fruits of Thy holy passion, when I cry to Thee out of the depths of my sin (Ps. cxxx. 1), and with tears and groans supplicate Thee for mercy? I was Thine enemy by nature; but since Thou hast died for me, I am become Thy friend, Thy brother, Thy child, through grace. Thou didst have regard to me while yet an enemy and before ever I uttered a prayer to Thee; wilt Thou disregard me when with tears and prayers I come to Thee as Thy friend? If I come unto Thee Thou wilt not cast me out (John vi. 37), because Thy word is truth itself. Thou hast spoken to us in spirit and truth, and we have received from Thee the words of eternal life (John vi. 68).
Give ear, O my soul, and take courage. Formerly we were sinners by nature; but now are we justified by grace. Before we were His enemies, now are we His friends and kindred. Before, our help was in the death of Christ, now it is in His life; once we were dead in our sins, now are we quickened with Christ (Eph. ii. 5). O the immeasurable love of God! O the exceeding riches of His grace, by which He makes us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus! “O the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Day-spring from on high hath visited us” (Luke i. 78)! Now if the death of Christ hath brought justification and life to us, what shall His life secure for us? If the Saviour by His death paid such a precious ransom for us, what will He accomplish for us by His life and active intercession? For Christ lives and dwells in our hearts by faith (Eph. iii. 17); if only we cherish in us a lively remembrance of His most holy merit.
Draw me, O Lord Jesus, that I may possess in deed and in truth that which I look for with an unwavering hope. Let me be with Thee, as Thy servant, I pray Thee, and let me behold Thy glory, which the Father hath given Thee (John xvii. 24). Let me by and by dwell in that mansion which Thou hast gone to prepare for me in Thy Father’s house (John xiv. 2). Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house, O Lord; they shall praise Thee forever and forever (Ps. lxxxiv 4).