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on his throne*. And the language of his intercession is princely too; Father, I will, that those whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am†.
And I must farther add, that his addresses to the Father, in favour of his people, are also " perfectly consistent with his administration of the affairs of his mediatorial kingdom." All power is given to him both in heaven and on earth ‡; and God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name§, having said unto him, Sit thou at my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool||. He is, as it were, the grand Almoner of heaven, by whom the divine bounties are dispensed. In his hand are the ways, the hopes, the lives of all; and even the keys of death, and of the unseen world¶. We are not therefore to think of any intercession inconsistent with this, if we would make our scheme agreeable to scripture, or scripture consistent with itself. I add once more,
8. The intercession of our blessed Redeemer "is always effectual, for the vindication, the acceptance, and the final happiness of his people.";
He is, as the apostle stiles him, God's dear Son **. And if on earth he could confidently say, Father, I know that thou hearest me always ††, we may then well assure ourselves, that he cannot fail of success, when pleading in the court of heaven; especially when asking those things, which he has purchased for his people by his own blood, and which his heavenly Father, by promise, stands engaged to bestow.
By this intercession "the characters of his servants are vindicated." Observe how the apostle triumphs in the patronage of such an advocate, even under the humblest sense of his own imperfections, and while joyfully ready to renounce every appearance of confidence in himself. Who, says he, shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who also maketh intercession for us ‡‡; though Satan stand at our right hand to accuse us§§, though that malignant spirit aggravate every miscarriage, and detract from every service, and add, as in the case of Job||||, artifice to rage, and falsehood to malice; Jesus stands at the right hand of God, to vindicate our character from every misrepresentation, and to
Zech. vi. 13.
Psal. cx. 1.
John xvii. 24. ¶ Rev. i, 18,
‡‡ Rom. viii. 33, 34. §§ Zech. iii. 1.
Mat. xxviii. 18. ** Col. i. 13.
Job i, and i,
§ Phil. ii. 9.
plead his own righteousness and blood, in answer to those charges which cannot be denied. Again,
The intercession of Christ prevails" for the acceptance of our persons and services." We must indeed humbly own, that we are such sinful creatures, that we pollute whatever we touch; and there is so much sin adhering to the best of our duties, that they need forgiveness, rather than merit reward. But the Angel before the throne offers the prayers of the saints with much incense*, which gives them a grateful savour; and they are made Acceptable in the belovedt.
In a word, this intercession is effectual "to procure for us all necessary blessings;" which Christ in consequence of it, is commissioned to bestow upon us. Thus he now Keeps us from falling; and he will ere long present us before the Father with exceeding joy. The prayer he offered on earth, as the model of that which he is presenting above, shall be completely answered with respect to all his people: We shall be one, in the Father, and in him; and shall all be made perfect in one, being with him where he is§. And the eternal happiness of every believer shall shew the value the Father sets on the blood of the Son, and on that intercession which is founded in it.
We have thus taken a brief survey of what the scripture informs us, concerning the intercession of Christ. I am
II. To consider, how this intercession which he ever lives to make," is a proof of our Lord's being able to save to the uttermost."
So you see the apostle affirms; and so it will appear to be, if we consider the foundation, the extent, and the perpetuity of it.
1. The intercession of Christ, "being founded on his atonement, is a proof of the efficacy of that," and consequently of his ability to save.
You have seen it expressly asserted in scripture, that it is By his own blood that he is entered into the most holy place. He pleads with, and upon that, urging before the Father, virtually at least, the merit of his sacrifice on the cross, as the great argument to bestow gospel blessings on those, for whom he hath thus purchased them. So that you evidently see, that were not the atonement of Christ satisfactory, his intercession would be vain. And can you imagine, that God would ever have per
mitted a person to enter heaven, and to take up his stated residence there under the character of an intercessor, whose plea he has disallowed? It were most absurd to suppose it. The satisfaction of Christ therefore appears to be complete, and consequently his person divine, and therefore his saving power almighty, from his ever living to make intercession. And this the apostle seems plainly to intimate in those memorable words : Who being the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power; having, in consequence of these divine perfections, by himself, that is, by the sacrifice of himself, purged or expiated our sins, sate down at the right hand of the Majesty on high*; which he could never have done under this public character, had his nature been less glorious, and so his atonement less complete.
2. The actual exercise of this intercession, "in such an extent, does farther imply divine perfections," and by consequence a fulness of saving power.
I have before observed, that there is the greatest reason to believe, the intercession of Christ is not merely his appearance before God, in the body in which he suffered; but that it is attended with a constant and ardent intention, that his death may be effectual to the purposes designed, not only for his people in general, but for each of them in particular: And I endeavoured to shew you, that it implied a care, correspondent to their various circumstances, that grace might be accommodated to every time of need. Now this plainly implies a knowledge extending itself even to omniscience; a knowledge of the hearts, as well as the conditions of his people; a knowledge of those unutterable breathingst, in which the most valuable part of prayer consists, and of those secret assaults and strugglings, which are often the most painful scenes through which the christian passes. Yet such a knowledge must the great Intercessor have, not only of one particular person, but of each, and of all the children of God that are scattered abroad in the most distant nations of the earth, and all at the same moment of time. Surely we must say, Such knowledge is too wonderful for us; it is high, we cannot attain unto it‡: Especially when we consider it, as joined with the administration of that universal kingdom, over which he is exalted. In this view, the humble soul must fall prostrate before him
* Heb. i. 9.
+ Rom. viii. 26.
Psal. cxxxix. 6.
in the lowliest homage, and cry out, My Lord, and my God* ! Thou art indeed able to save to the uttermost: Nothing "can exceed the penetration of thy wisdom, or the extent of thy power."
3. "The perpetuity of Christ's intercession is a farther argument of his ability always to save.'
In this view the apostle introduces the thought, He is able to save to the uttermost,seeing he ever liveth to make intercession. It is an encouragement to our believing application unto him, as the Lord mighty to save, when we consider, that in the prosecution of so amazing an employ, he fainteth not, neither is wearyt. Had it been the appointment of the Father that he should have retired from the office of an intercessor, after he had attended to it for some few days or years, we must by faith have looked to a past, as the Old Testament saints did to a future transaction: But surely our comfort could not have arisen so high, as it now does, when we reflect, "Even at this moment is Christ appearing in heaven for me: He is there as the refuge of his people Throughout all generations‡ : And I have all imaginable security of his saving power, because his one offering has so fully completed the work, that he needs not to come down to earth again, by dying to renew the sacrifice that he presented here. No; the efficacy of it is everlasting, as his intercession upon it is perpetual." This seems plainly the apostle's meaning, by what he adds just after the text?Such an High-priest became us, who needeth not, as those high-priests under the law, daily to offer ;-having done it once for all, when he offered up himself§.
III. It only remains, that I conclude with a few obvious, but important reflections.
1. How admirable, and how amiable, does the blessed Jesus appear, when considered as the great Intercessor of his people!
How admirable is he in this view! What an honour is done him in the heavenly world! How dear to the Father does he appear to be; when God will not accept the services of the greatest and best of mankind, unless presented by him; and for his sake will graciously regard the meanest and the vilest sinner! And how great does this Intercessor appear in himself? "Blessed Jesus," may the christian say, "Who is like unto
thee?"who canst at once sustain so many different relations, and canst fill them all with their proper offices, of duty to thy Father, and of love to thy people! who canst thus bear, without incumbering thyself, without interfering with each other, the priestly censer, and the royal sceptre ! How wise are thy counsels! How extensive thy views? How capacious thy thoughts; and yet at the same time, how compassionate thy gracious heart! That amidst all the exaltations of heaven, all the splendors of thy Father's right hand, thou shouldest still thus graciously remember thine humble followers! That thine eye should be always watchful over then, thine ear be always open to their prayers, thy mouth be ever ready to plead for them, and thine arm to save them! As if it were not love enough to descend and die, unless thou didst for ever live and reign for them, and even glory in being made Head over all for thy church."
"But especially," may the christian say, "when I think of thee, blessed Jesus, not only as the intercessor of thy people in general, but as my intercessor; when I think, that thou hast espoused my character and my cause, vile and obnoxious as it is; and that thou art recommending my poor broken services, which I daily blush to present before thee; and art using thine interest and thine authority in the world above, to complete my salvation, which thou hast begun? What shall thy poor servant say unto thee? All these astonishing and kind regards to me, who am unworthy to wash the feet of the least of thy followers! Shall not the wonders of such condescending grace engage my gratitude to all eternity? My praises now are so exceeding feeble, and so low, I am almost ashamed to offer them: O when shall those noble praises begin, which I hope ere long to offer in that world of perfection, to which thy gracious intercession is bringing me?"
2. With what holy joy may the christian reflect on his interest in such an Intercessor !
Methinks we should be often entering into this pleasurable thought. The Lord Jesus is pleading for us above, and he ever lives to make intercession there. We had pious friends, who were once bearing us on their hearts before God in prayer; but they are now sleeping in the dust: Our dear religious parents, our holy ministers, our guides and companions in the ways of God! We have no warrant to expect any farther assistance