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“ ginning of days " like his brethren : and, if he who tabernacled in our nature had been a preexistent creature of the highest order, he must nevertheless have had “ beginning of days ;” and the emphatical silence of Moses respecting the birth of Melchizedek could not have represented him, in any sense, as “ like to the Son of God.”
The high priesthood of Christ in the sanctuary above first requires our consideration.-On the great day of atonement,' the high priest, (not arrayed in his robes of glory and beauty, but clothed in clean linen garments like his brethren,) having offered the sin-offerings for himself and for the people, entered the holy of holies, with the sprinkling of blood, and the burning of incense by the fire taken from the altar of burnt-offering : and thus, as Israel's typical intercessor, he appeared before the mercy-seat, as in the presence of God, for them. From the holy nation a holy tribe was selected, from that tribe a holy family, and from that family a holy person ; (that is, typically and by consecration:) yet even this individual, selected, with such care and so many precautions, from the whole human race, was not allowed on pain of death to enter within the veil, or to approach Jehovah even on a mercy-seat, except on one day in a year ; nor on that day without the previous offering of sacrifices, the blood of which he must sprinkle before the ark, while the smoke of the incense perfumed the holy place. The whole of this appointment was calculated to shew, in the most significant manner, to what an immense
1 Lev. xvi.
distance from their offended Creator sin had removed fallen men ; and how difficult it was to render their return, and readmission to his favour, consistent with the honour of his infinite justice and holiness.
In like manner, our great High Priest, laying aside his robes of light and majesty, appeared in the mean attire of our nature ; and “was made in “ all things like unto his brethren,” except as he was free from the least defilement of sin : and, having on earth offered his one all-sufficient sacrifice, he ascended into heaven, to appear before the mercy-seat, in the true sanctuary, in the imme
presence of God, for us ;” bearing our nature, and pleading in our behalf the merits of his perfect obedience and inestimable atonement; that we might be delivered from “ going down “ into the pit,” through the “ ransom
which he had paid in our behalf. The apostle, writing to the Hebrews, discusses this subject very fully, and shews in how many and important particulars the antitype exceeded, and consequently differed from, the type. With lively and joyful gratitude he expatiates on the compassion, faithfulness and power of our great High Priest; on his divine dignity, and his condescension in assuming our nature, and owning us as his brethren; on his sympathy with us in our sorrows and temptations; on the prevalency of his intercession; and the unchangeable nature of that office, which he ever liveth to perform. He shews us that, by the offering of his flesh," the way into the holiest is laid open,” and
Job xxxiii. 24.
that we may now draw near with boldness, through the rended veil ; to the mercy-seat of our reconciled God; that by the blood of the new covenant “the heavenly things themselves are purified ;" (that is, they are not polluted by the admission of sinners to them, in this appointed way ;) and that “such a high priest became us," or suited our case, “ who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” In another epistle, he grounds his defiance of all enemies principally on this doctrine, that Christ“ died, yea rather is risen “ again, and is even at the right hand of God; “ where he also maketh intercession for us." And to another church he shews that“ through him both “ Jews and Gentiles have access by one Spirit unto “the Father.”? In like manner, John also thus instructs his Christian brethren: “ If any man sin,
we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ “the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our “ sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins “ of the whole world."3 Many other testimonies to the same effect might be adduced ; but these may suffice to our present purpose; except as we advert to our Lord's own words, when he says,
“I am the door ; by me if any man enter in he “ shall be saved ;” and, “ I am the way, the truth, “ and the life ; no man cometh to the Father but by me:"4 and to his prayers in behalf of his disciples just before his crucifixion, which may be considered as the specimen and substance of his intercession.5 From these scriptures we learn, that sinners are not admitted in their own name, even to a mercyseat, to supplicate pardon ; but in the name and through the intercession of Christ : that their pleas must not be drawn from their own character, situation, or services : or even from the general goodness and compassion of God; but wholly from the person, work, and merits of Emmanuel : and that his pleas in their behalf are wholly deduced from what he hath done and suffered in their nature, and for their benefit.
Rom. viii. 33-39.
’Eph. ii. 18.
31 John ii. 1, 2. * John X. 9. xiv, 6.
5 John xvii.
It is not necessary, or proper, for us to imagine any outward transaction which accords to a high priest burning incense, to an advocate pleading á cause, or to a friend and brother making intercession. Heavenly things are represented to our minds under such emblems, to give us true ideas of their nature, not to convey to us adequate apprehensions of the manner of them. Thus Christ is represented as appearing in heaven as “a lamb “ that had been slain,” to instruct us in the reality and efficacy of his atonement; and his officiating as a priest, or pleading as an advocate, conveys important instruction and encouragement. Thence we may learn, that his interposition in our behalf, through the merits of his obedience unto death, renders our sinful persons and services accepted with the Father, and secures to us deliverance from every enemy and evil, the supply of every want, and the eternal enjoyment of all felicity. Further than this we need not determine: He and the Father are one, in essence, counsel, and will; and his mediation cannot but be effectual in behalf of all who come to God through him. For it has been repeatedly observed, (though opposers of these
doctrines either wilfully or carelessly remain ignorant of it ;) that the atonement and intercession of Christ were not intended to induce God to shew mercy, but to render the exercise of his love to sinners consistent with the honour of his law, and the glory of his name : and this single proposition, well understood, suffices to prove whole volumes that have been published on the subject, to be an empty contest with an imaginary opponent, and a triumph for an ideal victory. Whilst our Lord, therefore, directed his disciples to ask in his name, and promised that he “would pray the Father” for them; he also subjoined in another place, “I say
not that I will pray the Father for you ; for “ the Father himself loveth
have “ loved me, and have believed that I came out “ from God."! His general plea, in behalf of “ all “ who come to God through him," suffices; nor is it necessary for the well-beloved Son of the Father to be particular, or to use importunity with him, to induce him to grant all covenanted blessings to his beloved children.
The intercession of Christ is, in its very nature, entirely different from the supplications which we make for one another. When we pray, according to our duty, for our brethren and fellow-sinners, our requests are admissible and acceptable only through his mediation, We do not come in our own name, we rest not our intercession on our own services, we make no claim to the mercy we ask, nor have any complete assurance that we shall prevail. If indeed our requests be duly presented,