« PreviousContinue »
move the astonishment, as well as the indignation, of all that view him and you, in a just, that is, in a scripture light; yet my heart is both grieved and terrified for you, when I think, what the end of your opposition to him will be. Unhappy creatures! What will you do, when he rises up? And when he judges, what will you answer him*? When he proceeds to execute his sentence, how will you escape, or resist, or endure it? Were it merely the indignation of a man like yourselves, you might either oppose it, or bear it. But, alas, how insupportable will be the vengeance of an almighty arm! If it could alone bring salvation, it will alone be able to bring calamity and ruin. Yet were auxiliary force necessary, all the legions of heaven would appear armed against you, under the command of Jesus their Lord. If you do indeed believe your bibles, I wonder that you do not tremble, when you read, or hear, of that dreadful day, in which you are to be so intimately concerned; when it is expressly said, that the most insolent of his enemies shall flee before him in wild and helpless consternation; when The kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, as well as others of meaner rank, shall hide themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains, and shall say to the mountains and rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand+? What a dreadful emphasis is there in these words! How plainly do they intimate, that they would prefer the crush of a mountain to the more insupportable weight of his wrath; and that they will have more hope of moving rocks by their intreaties, than of prevailing on their then inflexible judge? And will your Hearts endure, or your hands be strong, when the Heavens shall depart as a scroll, and mountains and islands shall be removed? Were the least of the servants of Christ this day addressing himself to an assembly of the greatest princes and potentates on earth, he might be bold to say in the name of this king of glory, Be wise now therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth: Serve the Lord with humble fear, and rejoice in your own dignity, or in the offers of his grace, with trembling: Kiss the Son of God, in token of your ready submission to his government: lest he be angry, and you perish from the way in a moment, when his wrath is kindled against you. And this faithful and necessary warning would I now
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 hand+: 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 dishonourable 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 be 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. 1.
POWER AND GRACE OF CHRIST,
His Power argued from His Intercession.
Heb. vii. 25.—Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make Intercession for them.
As we have already endeavoured both to open, and to confirm this great truth, that Christ is able to save to the uttermost, we
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. little time may remain, when these are dispatched, will be employed as usual in a few reflections.
I. 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."
It is evident from the use of it in other Greek writers, and especially those of the New Testament, that it imports," an 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 death. On the other hand, Paul exhorts Timothy, That intercession be made for all ment; and elsewhere speaks of The Spirit's helping our infirmities in prayer, and so in effect making intercession for us§, 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 says among 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 you‡‡, the context very plainly proves: Under the law there were many priests, &c. but this man, because he continued ever, hath an unchangeable priest
* Rom. xi. 2, + Acts xxv. 24. EVETUXOV.
1 Tim. ii. 1. § Rom. viii. 26. Isa. liii. 12.
tt Ικέλης μεν επι τε θνητό αει προς τον αφfaglor, Philo. Jud. p. 349.
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‡; 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 §. 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. 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
Heb. viii. 1. +Psal. cxli. 2. Rev. viii. 4.
+ Luke i. 10.
** Heb. ix. 12.
Lev. xvi. 12, 13.