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Advocacy of Jesus Christ.
429 children of Israel upon his heart, before the Lord, continually:" Exod. xxviii, 29, 30.
That Jesus Christ, who is a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec-the king of righteousness, and the king of peace-is enthroned at the right hand of the Father, and there presides perpetually, as a sure protector and defender, over the house of God, the whole family of believers, is a doctrine which has been fully considered in a former Essay, and on which, therefore we need not now insist.
That he rebukes and confounds the accuser of his brethren is unquestionable, on the general principle that it is he who bruises the serpent's head, and destroys "the works of the devil :" 1 John iii, 8. "The Lord rebuke thee," said the Angel of the Covenant to Satan, when the latter was accusing Joshua the priest-"The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" and to Joshua, who was standing before him, "clothed in filthy garments," he said, "Behold I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment:" Zech. iii, 1-4. May we not collect from this remarkable narration, that the mighty Advocate, who still pleads for his people against their malicious adversary, rests their defence on the atonement made by his own blood-shedding, and graciously covers them with the spotless robe of his own righteousness? Thus it is that the blessings, which Christ died to purchase, he lives to apply.
Finally, that his perpetual intercession is offered on our account to the Father Almighty, and is all-availing for the safety of his faithful followers, both here and hereafter, is to be concluded on the clearest scriptural evidence. "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?" said the apostle Paul in the triumphant
language of Christian confidence-"It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us?" Rom. viii, 33, 34. "This (man) because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 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:" Heb. vii, 24, 25. Having cited these explicit and powerful passages, I have now, in conclusion, to remark, that the intercession of Christ has not only its own direct efficacy, but is the means of procuring acceptance for the prayers of his people. "The spiritual sacrifices" of the church on earth are "acceptable to God, by Jesus Christ," 1 Pet. ii, 5; and we may reasonably conclude, that our almighty Intercessor was represented by the angel in the Apocalypse, who appeared in the character of a priest, standing before the altar, with a golden censer in his hand. "And there was given unto him, said the apostle, "much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints ascended up before God out of the angel's hand!" Rev. viii, 3, 4. The prayers of the saints are offered by the Redeemer on the altar of God-but that which alone imparts to them the fragrance of a sweet-smelling savour, and renders them acceptable to God our heavenly Father, is the incense in which they are enveloped the incense of the intercession of the Redeemer himself.
On a brief review, then, of the contents of the present section, we may recollect, first, that the righteousness declared to be imputed to the believer in Jesus is the righteousness of Jesus himself; that this right
eousness consisted in his absolute freedom from sin, and in his perfect and meritorious fulfilment of the law of God; that it is said to be imputed to Christians, because in virtue of their union by faith with the great Head of the Church, they reap the fruits of it; for they are not only saved from hell, as if they were as innocent as Christ, but are rewarded with heaven, as if, like Christ, they had perfectly fulfilled the law. Secondly, that he who thus procured for us, by his own blood-shedding and obedience, the gift of eternal life, is our never-failing defender and advocate at the right hand of God; that, as he protected his people, and prayed for them while he was with then on earth, so now, in the glory of his kingdom, he is ever engaged in our support and defence, in answering and rebuking our adversary, in presenting and perfecting our prayers, and in saving us by his own continual and all-powerful intercession.
What, then, are the practical lessons to be deduced from these scriptural doctrines? They are lessons of hope, and joy, and encouragement. When we are humbled before God in the view of our own imperfect services, let us cast ourselves on his mercy, and repose on the righteousness of our Redeemer! When we are surrounded with many conflicts-when Satan is desiring to "sift" us as "wheat"-let us remember the gracious words of Jesus to Peter, "I HAVE PRAYED FOR THEE, that thy faith fail not:" Luke xxii, 31, 32. Let us console ourselves with the well-grounded assurance, that, as long as we are humbly endeavouring to persevere in the faith and patience of the saints, so long are we the subjects of an advocacy not to be defeated, and of an intercession all-effectual for our help and salvation!
On the Scripture Doctrine of the Spirit. [Ess. XI.
ON THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF THE SPIRIT.
In the view which, in a former Essay, we took of mankind in their unregenerate condition, we traced the sure evidences both of their moral darkness and of their moral death. Man without grace (whether he is possessed of outward information or not) is, in the first place, devoid of any profitable, saving, knowledge of God and his truth; and, in the second place, he is "alienated" by his wickedness from "the life of God;" and "dead in trespasses and sins."
Although, therefore, the Supreme Being has graciously provided for our indemnity, through the sacrifice, and for our eternal happiness, through the merits, of his Son, it is nevertheless certain, that no man can be saved while he continues in his carnal state-in his original, fallen, condition. Those who are still sitting "in darkness and under the shadow of death," are destitute of all capacity "for an inheritance with the saints in light." Those whose spirits are defiled and polluted, and whose prevailing tendency is to wrath, malice, envy, lasciviousness, or covetousness, are even here "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel," and unfit for all communion with their God and Father. Much less are they prepared to participate in the pure joys of the glorified church—in the society of just men made perfect-in the immediate presence of the Lamb -in the fulness of the love and glory of Jehovah.
These reflections may enable us to comprehend the emphatic doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ, a doctrine of universal application to the fallen children of Adam —that "except a man be born again, he cannot see the
Ess. XI.] Our Sanctification Indispensable.
kingdom ofGod"-that "except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Our Lord was pleased to follow up these memorable sayings with an explanatory declaration :That," said he, "which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth-so is every one that is born of the Spirit:" John iii, 3, 5, 6-8. "That which is born. of the flesh is flesh." The natural man does but produce the natural man, for no man can "bring a clean thing out of an unclean," Job xiv, 4; the son inherits the nature of his father; and from generation to generation are perpetuated (as all experience and history teach us) the infirmity and corruption of the human species. But there is provided for us, in the economy of the grace of God, an invisible, intangible, though not always imperceptible, influence-an illuminating, quickening principle-by which degenerate man is born a second time-morally changed--introduced to a new condition of life, and gradually restored to the image of his Creator.
Now, respecting this enlightening and restoring principle, to the existence of which the Scriptures bear so full and frequent a testimony, it is necessary for us to lay down two primary positions-the first, that it is supernatural, and comes only from God-the second, that it is derived to us through that crucified Saviour, who is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
I. The Christian needs not to be reminded that all our possessions and all our powers are derived from the sole bounty of that almighty and most merciful Being who is the Author of every good and perfect gift -that it is he alone who bestows upon us those vari