Father Arthur Stanton was a leader of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England, a real "evangelical catholic" preacher who drew large crowds, and for 50 years he was a curate at St Alban's Holborn, London. He died at the age of 74 in 1913. This is the sermon he preached at St Alban's on All Saints' Day 1910. (From Father Stanton's Last Sermons in S. Albans, Holborn)
“Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own Blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” - Revelation 1:5-6.
It is St John who is writing about his dear Master. There is no doubt whatever that John loved the Saviour. There is no doubt whatever that the Saviour loved John. When he speaks of the love of the Master, he cannot help himself, and he goes off at once into a doxology: “Unto Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” St John speaks here of the Blood - he has told us about the love of God before, but here he speaks about the Blood. St John is getting towards his end. He is nearing the river. Perhaps as he came near the river of death he caught the sounds of heaven’s sweet music: “Worthy is the Lamb that hath redeemed us by His Blood from all nations of the earth.” Sometimes, to those who love God, the songs of Zion sweep over heaven and come down on earth. He must have caught it. May God grant that as we get towards our end, we may hear something of the sweet music of the other side of the river. “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own Blood . . . to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.”
Of course, dear brethren, it is the song of the redeemed; it is the song of those who came out of great tribulation. It is the sweet song of the saints themselves, of which they are never tired. It is the burden of all their music. It speaks of the free grace of God, who loved us and washed us while we were yet sinners. While we were still sinners, Christ loved us. There was Peter cursing and swearing in the hall, and the Lord looked at him. It was quite enough - He is the chief of the Apostles! There is the dying thief on the Cross. He has been reviling the Master, but he says: “Lord, remember me.” And the Saviour never will forget him! There is Paul! - injurious, breathing out slaughter - a blasphemer, and he becomes the great Apostle! Now just you mark this: it is not “He washed them first, and then loved them.” You might think that having washed us, and made us so beautiful by His Blood, He would love us. It is not that - it is, “He loved us, and washed us,” The love came first, the washing afterwards. “While we were yet sinners” Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). I wonder when I say this that the whole congregation does not rise up and say: “To Him be all glory, might and dominion for ever and ever,” in a pure doxology of gratitude to God.
Well, then, I want you to notice this - the winsomeness of it. I know I can think of Almighty God as creating the world and all that is therein: “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3). I can think of God as destroying all that is evil; or I can think of God’s power. “The Lord also thundered out of heaven, and the Highest gave his thunder: hail-stones, and coals of fire” (Psalm 108:13). But to think of our God as loving us and washing us in His Blood! “Who loved us, and washed us in His Blood.” And as we so think of Him, in a moment the whole thing comes before us of the Master having girded Himself, and kneeling down and washing the disciples’ feet, and telling us that as He has done to us, we ought to do the best service - heart service - to one another. Love must issue in service, and His service comes from His heart, “who loved us, and washed us in His Blood from all sin ” - laved and loved –
“Wrap me in thy crimson cloak
And speak me of thy love.”
Well, then, I want you to know the costliness. He washed us in His own heart’s Blood. That is the meaning of all the Old Testament types. It is the meaning of all the holocausts of slain beasts in the temple, which made the gutters of the temple run with Blood. It means that. It is the meaning of the mercy seat sprinkled with the blood and all the vessels of the Sanctuary sprinkled with blood. It means that. St Paul tells us that we are made nigh to God by the Blood of Christ. There is no doubt about that. St Peter tells us that we are not redeemed with corruptible things like silver and gold, but by the “precious Blood” - that beautiful term we Catholics love so much: “the precious Blood of Christ,” that is Peter’s expression. St John tells us “the Blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin” - and, again, in the Revelation, he tells us that being “redeemed by Blood” is the Song of the Saints. Now I tell you plainly, under these circumstances, a Gospel that is without Blood is a Gospel that is without Christ. It is the Song of the Saints. He made us kings and priests to God, to Him be glory and dominion, henceforth, for ever and ever, Amen. Don’t you water it down. Don’t you make the Gospel of none effect. Don’t you give in to the twentieth-century absurd effeminate religion. He rescued us with the Blood which He took from the veins of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Well, then, again, I.want you to notice this: not only is it so precious, but it is so very effectual. The blood of no saint could do it. It is only the infinite Blood of God Himself. He came down on earth, and took His human nature of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that He might pour out every drop of Blood on Calvary for us. It is so effectual, nothing else can cleanse the heart and soul of men. All the waters of the sea, all the rivers of the land, they may cleanse the hands and the body, but nothing can cleanse the heart. The heart can be cleansed only by the Blood of God. “Make me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” The hands may be clean, the face may be clean, but the heart, the heart can only be cleansed by the Blood of Christ. Purge me with the hyssop dipped in blood and I shall be clean, Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.”(Psalm 51) “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own Blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, to Him be glory, and dominion for ever and ever.” It is the eternal chorale of the saints.
And if it is so effectual, it is also so everlasting. When did He begin to love you? When do you think that He first loved you? When He saw you? When Jesus looked upon the multitude He had compassion on them. Is that the first time He ever saw them? When did He first begin to love you? From all eternity. He loved me before the foundations of the world were laid. There is an age of love! It is older than the hills; it is older than the sea, it is older than the worlds, it is older than the stars. He loved me from the very first. If you can believe that you can understand something of the joy of the saints. When God loves, He loves from all eternity. His love has no beginning, and no end. “Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end” - unto the end of what? Unto the end of all things - unto the end of all their sins; unto the end of all their sorrows; unto the end of everything, for ever and ever, world without end. When we speak of our God, we are always saying: “For ever and ever, world without end.” It means this: that God is from everlasting to everlasting, and His love is from everlasting to everlasting, “He loved us, and washed us in His Blood from our sins, to Him be glory for ever and ever.” It’s a beautiful text. It contains the heart blood of the Gospel. It contains that heart Blood from the heart of Christ that should run from your heart and tinge your fingers as you hold them up in prayer, so that your heart might swell and you might praise God, and bless His Holy Name for ever and ever.
Then, there are two things I want to say this morning on the Feast of All Saints.
1. Never you be ashamed of the Blood of Christ. I know it is not the popular religion of the day. They will call it medievalism, but you know as well as possible that the whole Bible from cover to cover is incarminated, reddened, with the Blood of Christ. Never you be ashamed of the Blood of Christ. You are Blood-bought Christians. It is the song of the redeemed, of the saints, and of all Christians on earth - redeemed by His Blood. You never be ashamed of it. The uniform we Christians wear is scarlet. If you are ashamed of your uniform, for goodness’ sake, man, leave the service. Oh! never be ashamed of Christ! That is the song of the redeemed:
“To Him be glory and praise for ever and ever, Amen.”
2. And the second thing is this: Let us all remember that our religion is the religion of a personal Saviour. It is not a system of ethics, it is not a scheme of philosophy, it is not a conclusion of science, but it is personal love to a personal living Saviour - that is our religion! Why, you can hear the voice of Christ off the altar to-day at Mass, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” “You” and “Me.” “Don’t you forget Me here at the Altar” our Lord says to you – “I will never forget you - don’t you ever forget Me.” “Do this in remembrance of Me.” It is a personal religion, by which we can say, “He loved me, and gave Himself for me” - “The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). And then, in all your experiences, however deep they may be, when you enter the shadow of death, and go through the agony of the dissolution of your body - you can say: “He loved me, and gave Himself for me.” “He loved me and washed me from my sins in His Blood, to Him be glory and dominion and praise henceforth and for ever, Amen.”