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was the vilest of the human race. And, lastly, to make full satisfaction to divine Justice, he died under the load of our iniquities, and bare in his own person the curse and condemnation due to them.
Here then is one ground on which we may expect assuredly the conversion of sinners to him. Has he fulfilled his covenant engagements in every part, and shall the Father violate his engagements to him? Has he performed his work, and shall he not receive his wages? Has he paid down the price, and shall he not enjoy his purchased possession? Were multitudes expressly given to him on purpose that he might redeem them, and shall they never partake of his redemption? Was he himself exalted far above all principalities and powers, and entrusted with gifts that he might bestow them on the rebellious; yea, was all fulness of blessings committed to him on purpose that he might impart them, in rich abundance, to his ransomed people, and will he not exercise his power for these ends? We may be assured, that if there be any faithfulness in God the Father, or any power in the Lord Jesus Christ, there shall be "a gathering of sinners to our adorable Shiloh." The rich and powerful as well as the poor and weak, shall turn unto him; they shall submit to his government, and devote themselves to his glory.
The other ground, on which the increase and aggrandizement of Christ's kingdom may be expected, is the intercession of Christ; "Therefore will I divide him a portion, because he made intercession for the transgressors." The intercession of Christ was that part of his work which he was to carry on in heaven, after he should have finished the work which was committed to him on earth. The high priest, who typically represented Christ, was first to kill the sacrifice, then to carry the blood within the vail, and sprinkle it upon the mercy-seat, and then to burn incense before the mercy-seat: nor, till this last ceremony was performed, was the rest of any avail: it was not till after he had covered the mercy-seat with the clouds of incense, that he had any authority to bless the people. Thus was our Lord, not only to offer himself as a sacrifice for sin, and to enter into heaven
with his own blood, but he was to make intercession for us at the right hand of God. This was stipulated between the Father and him as one part of the condition, on which the conversion of sinners was to depend; "Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession." Now the prophet, seeing this part of Christ's office, as it were already fulfilled, declares its efficacy towards the salvation of men, and represents it as another ground for the performance of the Father's promise. In this view the intercession of Christ is often mentioned in the holy scriptures. It is put altogether on a par with the death of Christ as the procuring cause of our salvation: it is said, "He died for our sins, and was raised again for our justification." In one place a decided preference is given to it, as being, if possible, even more influential toward the acceptance of men than the death of Christ itself; "Who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who also maketh intercession for us." His death is spoken of as effecting nothing without; "If Christ be not risen, we are yet in our sins; and they, who are fallen asleep in Christ, are perished:" nor is this all: his sufficiency for the wants and necessities of his people is represented as turning upon this hinge, as standing upon this ground; "He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Let his intercession then be considered in this view: did the Father hear him always when he was on earth, and will he not hear him now that he is in heaven? Did Moses, a sinner like ourselves, arrest, as it were, the arm of Omnipotence, and avert God's vengeance from the idolatrous Jews, and shall not the prayers of Jesus equally prevail? Did the efficacy of his intercession appear on the day of Pentecost in the conversion of thousands, and shall it not be further manifested in the salvation of all whose cause he pleads? Surely, if we have but faith to believe, we may already
i Ps. ii. 8.
k Rom. iv. 23.
n Heb. vii. 25.
Rom. viii. 34,
• Exod. xxxii.
see the glory of the Lord risen upon the church, and the Gentiles coming to her light, and kings to the brightness of her rising.
Let us then learn from this subject the importance of Christ's mediation. On this every thing depends: without this, there never had been a gleam of hope for any, whether rich or poor. Satan would have retained his power over us, and would have been, as it were, the jailer, to carry us to prison, or the executioner to inflict upon us the torments we deserve. But because Christ poured out his soul unto death, our souls shall live for ever: because he was numbered with transgressors, we shall be numbered with the saints: because he bore our sins, we shall never have one sin laid to our charge: because he liveth to make intercession for us, we shall receive all the blessings of grace and glory. Let us then make his work our trust, our confidence, and our plea. Let us urge it with the Father on our behalf, that we may be given to Christ as his portion, and enjoyed by him as his spoil. Nor let us be discouraged by the thought that we are transgressors, as though the greatness of our transgressions were any bar to our acceptance; for, it is for transgressors that he intercedes; and, if we feel ourselves to be of that number (provided we hate and turn from our transgressions) we may be well assured, that our iniquity shall not be our ruin. "Be wise therefore, O ye kings, be instructed, ye judges of the earth: kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way."
This subject may yet further shew us the security of those who are interested in Christ's mediation.
The believer's security depends not on the perfection of his own work, or the fidelity of his own promises (for who does not see continual reason to lament his own imperfections and unfaithfulness?) but rather on the perfection of Christ's work, and the faithfulness of God. And who can find a flaw in either? What is there that Christ has not done for the complete redemption of our souls? Or who ever trusted in God and was confounded?
P Ps. ii. 12.
Let us not fear then though earth and hell conspire against us. Let us rather adopt the triumphant language of the apostle, "Who is he that shall lay any thing to our charge? 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." We may rest satisfied that he is faithful, who hath promised; and that, as the heroes of old hung up their trophies in the temples of their gods, so Christ will take us to heaven as the fruit of his victories, the everlasting monuments of his power and grace. Let us then "hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end." Let us "believe in the Lord; so shall we prosper; let us believe his prophets; and so shall we be established."
CXCVI. OUR LORD'S COMPLAINT ON THE CROSS,
Ps. xxii. 1. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
THE prophecies relating to our Lord have not only declared what works he should do, and what sufferings he should endure, but even the very words that should be uttered both by his enemies and himself Whatever reference the words of the text might have to David, there can be no doubt but that they principally relate to the Lord Jesus; and in him they received their accomplishment: when he had hung about six hours upon the cross, we are told," he cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Perhaps he cried with a loud voice in order to shew, that his natural strength was by no means exhausted; and that his dissolution, which immediately followed, was voluntary: but he discovered also by that the intenseness of his sufferings, and fulfilled in the minutest manner the prediction before us-Waving
a Matt. xxvii. 46.
all illustration of the text as applicable to David, we shall endeavour to elucidate it as accomplished in his great antitype, and shall consider
I. The occasion of our Lord's complaint
Jesus in the hour of his extremity was forsaken of his heavenly Father
[We are not to suppose that the Godhead actually separated itself from his manhood; but that the sensible manifes tation of the divine presence was withheld from him—This was necessary in various points of view-A banishment from the divine presence was part of the punishment due to sin; and therefore it must be inflicted on him who had become the surety and substitute of sinners-Occasional suspensions also of the tokens of God's love are the means whereby God perfects the work of faith in his people's hearts: and "it behoved Jesus to be made like unto us in all things:" "though he was a son, yet he must learn" the nature and the difficulty of "obedience (yea, and be made perfect too) through sufferings"-Nor could he properly sympathize with us, which as our great High Priest he ought to do, unless he himself should endure the very temptations, which we, in our measure, are called to sustain-]
But though there was good reason for it, it was a just ground of complaint
[Never had he endured any thing like this before: when he said, "Now is my soul troubled, it is exceeding sorrowful even unto death," a voice was uttered from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased:" when he agonized in the garden, an angel was sent from heaven to strengthen him: but now that he was more fiercely than ever assaulted by all the powers of darkness, his heavenly Father also seemed to conspire with them, and withdrew the only consolation that remained for his support-What a dreadful aggravation of his sufferings must this have been! To cry, and even "roar" for help, and find God "far from helping him!" to have him, in whose bosom he had lien from all eternity, hide his face from him! How could he but complain? Surely in proportion as he loved his heavenly Father, he could not but bewail the hidings of his face-]
Lest however we should form a wrong conception of our Lord's conduct, let us consider
b Heb. ii. 10, 17, 18. and v. 7-9.
e Heb. iv. 15.