Page images

[The office of an advocate is to appear for his client in a court of justice, and to plead his cause. Now this office also the Lord Jesus Christ executes in behalf of his people: He is gone up to the court of heaven, where " he appears in the presence of God for us?." The Holy Spirit also is our advocate: but there is a very wide difference between the advocacy of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit: the Spirit intercedes in us at the throne of grace; Christ intercedes for us at the throne of glory: the Spirit assists us to pray according to the will of God; Christ presents those prayers unto the Father, and renders them acceptable in his sight.

Now it was this advocacy of Christ which the Apostle had primarily in his view: and what he added respecting him as a propitiation for sin, was a subordinate subject, introduced to shew the ground of his intercession, and the reason of its efficacy. It will be proper therefore to notice more particularly the connexion between these offices, and the dependence of the one upon the other.

If we could conceive that Jesus had undertaken to be our advocate, and yet had made no atonement for sin, his advocacy would have been altogether in vain: for, what plea could he have found? he could not have denied, or extenuated, our guilt: nor could he have promised that we should ever make compensation for what we had done amiss. His mouth there. fore must have been shut as well as ours. But, having offered himself a sacrifice for our sins, he has an adequate and effectual plea for all who trust in him. Are they accused by their great_adversary ? yea, does God himself testify against them? " True, he will say, they are sinners, that deserve thy wrathful indignation : but behold the wounds in my hands, my feet, my side; these I endured for them; by these I expiated their guilt; yea, I gave my own life a ransom for them ; and therefore deliver them from going down into the pit: I have satisfied the demands both of law and justice on their behalf, and on this account I look, not to thy mercy only, but to thy justice and thy faithfulness to forgive them 8: out of respect to me," thou mayest be just, and yet the justifier of all them that believeh."]

This view of his offices will naturally lead us to consider, II. The comfort to be derived from them under

every fresh-contracted guiltThat we may speak more perspicuously on this subject, we shall notice

f Job xxxiii. 24.

8 1 John i. 9.

h Rom. iii. 26.

1. The sensations which a view of those offices will produce

Hope, joy, and peace, arise in succession to crown the exercise of faith. Till we are enabled to behold the crucified and exalted Saviour, we droop, and question the possibility of our acceptance with God; but when we are enabled to believe in him, our fears are dissipated; our sorrows are turned into joy and exultation; and, after a season, the livelier motion of our affections, which was occasioned by the greatness and suddenness of the change, subsides into a solid and abiding peace. This is the order marked out both by Prophets' and Apostlesk, and experienced by all who live by faith on the Son of God.)

2. The suitableness of those offices to produce them

[The intercessions of sinful men have often availed for the benefit of those for whom they were offered: but Christ is a “ righteous” advocate, who, having no sins of his own to obstruct his access to God, may come with boldness into his presence, and with a certainty of acceptance. Besides, he is ever “with the Father," ready to offer his intercessions the very moment that he sees any danger of a breach between him and us. Moreover he is the “ Christ,” whom the Father anointed to this very office. It was the duty of the high-priest, not only to offer sacrifice, but to carry the blood of the sacrifice within the vail, and to burn incense before the mercy-seat : thus the office of intercession belongs to Jesus no less than that of offering an oblation: and consequently we have in his appointment to this office a pledge that he shall not intercede in vain.

The consolations arising from this office are heightened and confirmed by the consideration of his atonement: for in his one offering of himself there is a sufficiency of merit to justify all that shall believe in him. His death was a propitiation, not for the sins of a few only, " but for the sins of the whole world;" so that if all the sins that ever were committed from the foundation of the world, or ever shall be committed as long as the world shall stand, had been committed by any single individual, he would have no reason to despair ; since if only he believed in Jesus, they should all be blotted out even as a morning cloud.

What marvellous truths are these! What a foundation for hope, and joy, and peace! O that our meditations on them might be sweet, and that our souls might ever experience their refreshing influence!)

i Isai. lv. 12.

k Rom. xv. 13.

1. The self-righteous-

[What ground is here afforded for looking to our own repentances or reformations, as though they could restore us to the Divine favour? We deny not the necessity or importance of these things; but we utterly deny their efficacy to save the soul. There is no Saviour but Christ: if any man sin, however exemplary he may have been on the whole, he must trust in the atonement and intercession of Christ: there is no distinction between one sinner and another: all must equally depend on ist: all must enter at that doorl: all must build on that foundation m: all must be saved by the name of Christ, and by that onlyn.] 2. The contrite

[Let not the greatness of your guilt dismay you. Remember Abraham's intercession for the cities of the plaino, and that of Moses for the Israelites, when God forbad him, as it were, to pray for them P. Yet neither Abraham nor Moses had redeemed their souls. But Jesus is our propitiation, as well as our advocate; and shall not He prevail? See how he prevailed for Peter, who, if the Saviour had not interceded for him, would most probably have hanged himself in despair, as Judas did: but Christ said, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not:" and in answer to this prayer, he was restored both to his apostleship and to the favour of his God. Thus effectual shall the Saviour's intercession be for you.

Consider in what manner he intercedes for you: when he prayed for himself in his extremity, he said, “ Father, not as I will, but as thou wilt:" but in his intercession for you he says, " Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory." Doubt not then, but that he “will pray the Father for you;" and that the Father, who has for so many thousands of years had respect to the bow in the clouds, and has forborne to deluge the earth again, will much more have respect to the Son of his love, and fulfil to your soul the promises of his grace.)

1 Jobn x. 9.

m 1 Cor. ii. 11. o Gen. xviii. 23–32.

n Acts iv. 12.
p Exod. xxxii. 9–14.



1 John ü. 3–5. Hereby we do know that we know him, if we

keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected : hereby know we that we are in him.

THERE are many who imagine, that to enforce an observance of God's commandments, and to insist on obedience as an evidence of our faith, is legal. But the whole tenour of the Gospel shews, that our interest in it must be productive of holiness, since “ faith without works is dead.” In fact, there is no certain test whereby to try our faith in Christ, but our obedience to his commands. Of this the Apostle testifies plainly in my text: from whence I shall take occasion to shew, I. That it is the Christian's privilege to be fully

assured of his acceptance with GodThe generality of persons conceive this to be impossible; and account the very idea to be presumptuous in the extreme. I will readily grant, that there are many who deceive themselves in relation to this matter : but still I cannot admit, that the unfounded confidence of hypocrites is any just ground for concluding that the upright may not know their state before God. Those who deceive themselves do not judge by a right test; and therefore it is that they are deceived: only let any one apply to himself the test which is prescribed in my text, and he need not fear but that the trial shall issue in a clear discovery of his state.

The whole Scriptures attest, that men may know" their acceptance with God

[In the Old Testament, David confidently asserts, “O God, thou art my Goda.” And the Bride, in the book of Canticles, with equal assurance, exclaims, “ My beloved is mine; and I am his b.” Under the New-Testament dispensation this privilege is yet more extensively enjoyed. St. John, writing to the whole Christian Church, says, in the third chapter of this epistle, “We know that we have passed from death unto life :'

a Ps. lxiii. 1.

" " We know that we are of the truth, and may assure our hearts before him :” “We know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” In the fourth chapter he renews the same subject; saying, “ We know that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spiritd.” And in the last chapter he asserts the same, in a direct contrast with all the world besides: “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true : and we are in Him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christe." Nor is there a real Christian in the universe who is not entitled to say with St. Paul, “ I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and 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."]

The enjoyment of this privilege is at the root of all the believer's comfort

[It is in order to the Christian's enjoyment of this assurance, that the Holy Spirit is given to him as "a Spirit of adoption, that he may cry to God, Abba, Father;" and as “ a witness to assure his conscience that he is a child of God." And it is altogether owing to this internal persuasion of his acceptance with God, that the believer can look forward with confidence to his future state in glory: “We know, that when our earthly house of this tabernacle shall be dissolved, we have an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Therefore in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven; since, being clothed, we shall not be found naked h.” It is under the same conviction, also, that the Christian, even now in the midst of all his conflicts, is enabled to triumph over all his enemies; assured that none of them, nor all together, “shall ever separate him from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lordi."]

Of course, you will all be anxious to know, II. How this assurance is to be obtained

It is not the fruit of any enthusiastic impression or conceit.

b Cant. ii. 16.
di John iv. 13.
8 Rom. viii. 15, 16.

c 1 John iii. 14, 19, 24.
e 1 John v. 19, 20. f Gal. ii. 20.
h 2 Cor. v. 1-3. i Rom. viii. 34-39.

« PreviousContinue »