[The following excerpt is taken from Horatius Bonar’s little booklet The Sin Bearer. I’ve been spending some time in this text and others in preparation for my next preaching engagement. Hope this is as refreshing to your soul as it is to mine :)
You can download the booklet for free here.]
In Opposition to All Outward Ordinances and Privileges
…Christ bare our sins in opposition to all outward ordinances and privileges. How much stress do some lay on ordinances as if they were a ctually our s aviors! These seem all the mediatorship1to which many are trusting for removing God’s anger, and securing His favor. They are strict and frequent in the observance of ordinances, and having been so, their idea is that it would be unfair and unjust in God to lay their sins to their charge. That is to say, they substitute ordinances for the sacrifice of Christ. They lay their sins upon these, as if they were sufficient to bear the weight of one single trans-gression of a soul! They do perhaps admit, that in the observance of these they are defe c-tive; nay, perhaps, that ordinances themselves are weak and unavailing; but then they consider that the object of Christ’s death was to give ordinances a value and efficacy which they had not in themselves, by which they are rendered capable of bearing the weight of their sins. That is to say, they imagine by these ordinances to assist Christ in bearing the weight of their sins. And when they find that this does not bring any peace to their consciences, nor relieve them of the burden and sense of guilt, they are ready to say with Israel, “ Wherefore have we fasted, and thou seest not; wherefore have we afflic t-ed our soul, and thou regardest not” (Isa 58:3). Thus they deny the great truth that the bearing of our sins is a thing already past and perfected eighteen hundred years ago—that Christ only, Christ wholly bare our sins in His own body on the tree.
If trusting to duties for the remission of sin, may be called an attempt to bribe God to forgive us, trusting to ordinances may be called an attempt to flatter God to forgive us. True, ordinances are of God’s appointment. True, they are to be diligently observed, and we can expect no blessing when we neglect them. But then they are available only for the purpose for which God has set them up, and for no other. And seeing God has appointed them not for procuring remission of sin, but for the proclaiming remission through an-other, even through Christ, it is an insult to the God by Whom they were e s tablished to use them for an end for which H e did not ordain them—it is an insult to that Savior Whose finished work they thus supersede; it is a miserable delusion of hell in the wor-shipper to take refuge in these as a sacrifice for sin. And this is true of all ordinances, even of that most sacred of all, The Lord’s Supper.
Even this ordinance, solemn as it is, glorious as it is, is not for the bearing of our sins. It has no more power than the most common rite…to bear one single sin! It tells of sin already borne; borne by Another; borne by Jesus in His own body on the tree. The bread and the wine are placed upon that table, not that they may bear our sins, or any part of our sins, but that they may testify of sins already borne. They are witnesses of sin already atoned for by Another, and not to be again atoned for by us. They seal our pardon, but they do not purchase it. They seal our peace, but they do not procure it. They tell us of sin, whose weight has been already borne. They point away from themselves altogether. They point to Calvary; they point to the Cross; they point to Him Who bore our sins in His own body on the tree, and W ho by that one offering hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.”
–The Sin Bearer, 6-7.