Page images
PDF
EPUB

address to you, adding, as the psalmist doth, Blessed are all they, that put their trust in him* ; which leads us to the other reflection, 2. How unreasonable are the fears of those, that have ventured

their souls upon Christ !

Too frequently does the humble christian, in the view of all his difficulties, his dangers, and his enemies, secretly borrow the word of David in his melancholy frame, and say, I shall one day perish by their handt : But as the anointing oil of God was upon him, he preserved him in all, and made him victorious over all: And it was an emblem of the victory of the christian, under the conduct of Christ, and the anointings of his spirit. It is very dis, honourable to Christ, as well as very uncomfortable to ourselves, to be continually terrified and alarmed, while under the care of such a helper, who declares himself the Lord mighty to save; and the devil gains a great advantage against the soul, by throwing it into such panic terrors : The succours of reason are then betrayed, and the nobler relief of faith in some measure intercepted. And therefore let the particulars I have now been illustrating he often recollected, and frequently plead them with your own hearts. “ Oh my soul, is there any thing so peculiar in thy case, that he who has saved so many millions cannot save thee ? Has Satan acquired any new power, since Jesus conquered him on the cross ? or can I imagine, that hell shall now begin to triumph over heaven, and the Almighty Shepherd be at length repulsed by these infernal wolves, so as to stand by, a helpless spectator, while they are destroying his sheep? How blasphemous, and how detestable a thought! My soul, thou art in the hands of Christ; and by a new act of faith, I do this moment commit thee to him, as able to save to the uttermost, those that come unto God by him.Nor is that additional encouragement light and inconsiderable, which may be derived from the concluding words, Seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. But this great argument will be handled at large in the following discourse.

* Psal. ii. 10-12

1 Sam. xxvii. I.

SERMON III.

POWER AND GRACE OF CHRIST,

His Power argued from His Intercession.

Heb. vii. 25. Wherefore he is able to save them to the utternost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make Intercession

for theni. As we have already endeavoured both to open, and to confirm this great truth, that Christ is able to save to the uttermost, we are now,

Thirdly, to consider the particular argument, which the apostle suggests in proof of it, in the words of the text, which is drawn from his ever living to make intercession for his people.

In handling this, it will be evidently proper, first, to state the doctrine of Christ's intercession ; and then, to consider, how it tends to demonstrate the extent of his saving power. What little time may remain, when these are dispatched, will be employed as usual in a few reflections.

1. I shall endeavour to state the scripture doctrine of Christ's intercession.

Now the substance of this doctrine appears to me to be this. Christ's intercession for his people, is his pleading for them in heaven, under the character of their great Highpriest; which he always does virtually, by appearing before God, in that body in which he suffered; and which he always intends to present before him in this view,-in favour of each of his people ;--and this intercession, whether it ever be, or be not, vocal,—is always conducted in a manner becoming the dignity of our exalted Redeemer,-and is abundantly effectual for the security, acceptance, and final happiness of all his servants.

Permit me a little more distinctly to open each of these particulars; and the rather, as some of them must be acknowledged to have their difficulties ; and as it is fit we should settle some rational and digested notions of a doctrine, of such daily use and such great importance. 1. “ The word*, which is here made use of to express Christ's intercession, does properly signify pleading.'

* Ευλυγχανειν. .

an

It is evident from the use of it in other Greek writers, and especially those of the New Testament, that it imports, earnest address to one person on account of another :" And according to the participle with which it is joined, it may express the action of a friend, or of an enemy; as a person may in our own language be said to plead for, or against another. Thus on the one hand, Elijah is said to have made intercession to God against Israel* ; and the Jews to have dealt, or as the original word is, to have interceded with Festus, that Paul might be put to deatht. On the other hand, Paul exhorts Timothy, That intercession be made for all mens; and elsewhere speaks of The Spirit's helping our infirmities in prayer, and so in effect making intercession for usg, i.e. as he renders our prayers, both as to the matter, and manner of them, agreeable to the will of God. In this sense also, in the same chapter, as well as in the text, it is said, that Christ being risen maketh intercession for us, i. e. he pleads our cause with the Father||. And St. John likewise encourages us with this thought ; If any man sin, as there is not a just man upon earth, who does not, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous ; who is the propitiation for our sins, by that expiatory sacrifice, on which he pleads; in sweet harmony with those memorable words of Isaiah**, He poured out his soul unto death, and in consequence of that, he made intercession for the transgressors : To which words, it is probable, that Philo may refer, when, speaking of the Logos, or word, he saysamong many other surprising things,“ He is an intercessor for mortal man with the immortal God++." You see then, that Christ's intercession signifies his pleading the cause of his people with the Father ; and therefore must import a part of his work as Mediator; and in its fullest extent comprehends his office, both as an advocate in the court, and a priest in the temple. But I add, 2. That in this connection," it is evidently spoken of as a branch

of his priestly office,” typified by the ministration of Aaron and his sons, in the Jewish tabernacle.

This, as I formerly shewed youff, the context very plainly proves : Under the law there were many priests, &c. but this man, because he continued ever, hath un unchangeable prieste

Rom. xi. 2. + Acts xxv. 24. ev:luxoy. 1 Tim. ü. 1. Rom. viii. 26. | Rom. viii. 34. & 1 John ii. 1, 2.

• Isa, liii. 12. t+ Ικέτης μεν εσι τε θνησε αει προς τον αφθαρθο», Philo. Jud. p. 379. 11 See Sermon 1.

hood; wherefore he is able also to save, &c. and then it immedidiately follows, For such an High-priest became us. And a very few verses after, the apostle observes, that the sum of what he had here spoken was this ; We have such an High-priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens*. So that seeing Christ's intercession in our text is so evidently a sacerdotal or priestly act, we may, no doubt, be assisted in our conceptions of it, by considering that of the Jewish priests, to which it is compared. Now you know, it was their office, to present their prayers to God in the name of the people, both in their daily, and their yearly ministration. In their daily ministration, they went into the holy place, to burn incense before the Lord on the golden altar; and this incense is often referred to in scripture, as an emblem of the acceptable prayers of pious worshipperst. And it is observable, that at the very time when the priest was thus employed, the people stood praying without f; and no doubt, it was a part of his duty to concur in the devotions, which in their name he presented before God. But this intercession was most solemnly made once a year, i. e. on the great day of atonement, when the High-priest entered into the most holy place, with the blood of the victims, the incense at the same time fuming, with a grateful odour, before the mercy-seat ß. This was the grand act of intercession; by attending to which, we may be more particularly informed of the nature of that, which Christ as our high-priest is making in our favour: And we particularly learn, 3. That “the appearance of Christ above, in that body in which

he suffered on earth, is virtually a continual intercession with the Father."

We are told, that the high-priest carried the blood of the burnt-offering, and of the sin-offering, into the most holy place, and sprinkled it before the Lord there, and by this action he is said to make the atonement, the other sacrificial circumstances being only preparatory to this ll. And thus our Lord Jesus Christ has taken into heaven the human body, in which he bare our sins on the accursed tree ; and appearing thus in the divine presence, he does thereby present his own blood before the mercy-seat: As the apostle expresseth it, in a most evident allusion, to the preceding passage in the Mosaic institution**, Not with the blood of goats and calves, which were the sacrifices appointed on the day of expiation, but by his own blood, he hath entered into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us: And by this one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified *; so that nothing farther should be requisite, for the complete expiation of their guilt. And it is accordingly declared, that after he had offered one sacrifice for sin, he for ever sut down at the right hund of God t.

Lev. xvi, 12, 13.

lleb. viii. 1. + Psal. cxli. 2. Rev. viï. 4. Luke i. 10. | Lev. xvi. 14-19.9 1 Pet. ii. 24.

•* Heb. ix. 12.

Now this appearance of Christ in heaven, which is expressed by his Standing in the midst of the throne, as a lamb that had been slain I, may properly be called a virtual intercession. There is a language in that circumstance, more forcible than in any words that we can imagine. This is happily illustrated by the pious Mr. Flavelş, by the story of Amyntas and Æschylus, as Ælian relates it. Æschylus was condemned to death by the Athenians, and was just going to be led to execution. His brother Amyntas had signalized himself in the service of his country; and on the day of a most illustrious victory, in a great measure obtained by his means, had lost his hand. He came into the court just as his brother was condemned, and without saying any thing, drew the stump of his arm from under his garment, and held it up in their sight; and the historian tells us, “ that when the judges saw this mark of his sufferings, they remembered what he had done, and discharged his brother, though he had forfeited his life ll.” Thus does Christ, our dear elder brother, silently, but powerfully, plead for our forfeited lives: And such is the happy consequence. His Father looks on the marks of his sufferings, and remembers what he has done ; and in this sense His blood is continually speaking better things than the blood of Abel. We have an advocate with the Father, who is also the propitiation for our sins**. 4. “ Our Lord always intends, that his appearance before his

Father in heaven should be interpreted as a plea for his people.”

He does not only perform an action, which may be so understood; but it is his habitual and constant desire and intention, that it may be considered in that view. He entered into heaven, not' merely that he might in his glorious human nature be

* Heb. x, 14. + Heb. x. 12. Rev. v. 6. Flavel's Fountain of Life,p. 142.

Η Elian. Var. Ηist. ν. 19. ειδον οι δικαςαι τα ανδρών το παθο», υπομνησθησαν των εργων αυτώ, και αφηκαν τον Αισχυλον. Heb, xü. 24.

•1 John ii, 1, 2. YOL. II.

Hh

« PreviousContinue »