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that their conversation is in heaven; but they know this in themselves; they know it by what God hath revealed in their own hearts; eternal life is already begun in the souls of God's people; heaven is in them, and therefore no marvel if their conversation be in heaven. My meaning is not as if the saints had no other heaven but that within them; I know there is a heaven above, but some pieces or earnests, or seeds, or begin nings of that heaven above is within them. Is there not a renewed nature, an image of God, a spark of life, a drop of glory, in God's people? Surely yes; and if so, all these will work heaven-ward; principles of grace wilt i have some actings of grace till we come to glory.
3. By what means should we attain or come to have our conversation in heaven?
1. Let us watch opportunities for heavenly exercises. God now by his ministers calls, “Come ye to the waters; come ye, buy and eat: come, buy wine and milk without money: come to me, and your souls shall live," Isa. 55:1,3. Why, " now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation,” 2 Cor. 6:2. Whilst ministers call, and we live under the droppings of the word, these are opportunities for heaven; O then! he that never prayed, let him now pray; and he that never heard, let him now hear; ihe Lord is now come near to us; Christ Jesus is calling, and mercy is ontreating, and love is beseeching, and wisdom is even hoarse with crying after us; O lay hold on these opportunities for heavenly ex ercises and then we shall come up to heavenly conversation.
2. Take heed of resting in the formality of duties: many souls that have ? enlightenings of conscience, dare not but take opportunities for heavenly duties; but then comes in the temptations of the devil, and corruptions of their own hearts, and they say, now duty is done, our task is over, and what needs more? Alas, alas, it is not what have we done, but where have we been? What, have our souls been in heaven, with God and with Christ? Have we had any communion with the Father, and with the Son in our duties? O take heed of formality! it will exceedingly hinder our conversation in heaven; O keep our eye still upon our heart! ask in duty, what affections have been acted? How much are we got nearer heaven thereby?. And by this means we shall come to an heavenly conversation.
3. Let us look up unto Jesus, as hanging on the cross, and as sitting on the throne; this is the apostle's rule, “ Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, wbo for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God," Heb. 12:2. These two are the objects of a Christian's look, who studies an heavenly conversation, viz. Christ's cross, and Christ's session; by the cross he is the author, and by the throne he is the finisher of our faith; in the first, is set down his love to us; in the second, is set down our hope of him; with high wisdom hath the Holy Ghost ex. horted us, with these two motives, to run and not to faint; first, Here is love, love in the cross, “ Who loved us, and gave himself for us a sacrifice on the cross," Eph. 5:21. 2. Here is hope, hope in the throne, “ To him that overcometh, will I give to sit with me in my throne,” Rev. 3:21. After Christ's death, he arose again, ascended, and is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God; and the same is our blessed hope, Christ's throne is not only his place, but ours also; the love of his cross is to us a pledge of the hope of his throne, or of whatsoever else he is worth. Come then, and settle your thoughts and look on this blessed object; a sight of Christ's cross, but especially of Christ's throne, is a blessed mean to wean us from the world, and to elevate and raise up out
affections to things above, yea, to form and frame our conversations to wards heaven.
4. Let us wait for the appearing of Jesus Christ, “ Our conversation is in heaven, (saith the apostle,) from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ," Phil. 3:20. Where a man's conversation is, there his expectation may be, and where his expectations are, there a man's conversation is, and will be; if we expect ere long that the Lord Jesus will appear in glory, and that we shall see him, not with other, but with these same eyes, the very waiting for these things, will help our convere sation to be heaven.ward. Certainly the day is coming, wlien Jesus Christ shall come with his angels in his glory, and then shall the bodies of the saints, shine gloriously before the face of God and Jesus Christ: O the wonder of this day! the glory of Christ shall then darken the glory of the sun, and mooni, and stars, but my body shall not be darkened, but rather it shall shine like the glorious body of Jesus Christ; if a candle should be raised to have so much lustre and beauty, as if you should put it into the midst of the sun, yet it would shine, you would think it a strange kind of light; surely it shall be so with the bodies of saints, for though they are put into the midst of the glory of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, yet their bodies shall shine in beauty and lustre there: now, did we believe this, and wait for it every day, how should it change us? How would it work us to an heavenly conversation? I have a diseased and lumpish body, and my body hinders me in every duty of God's worship, but within a while Christ will come in his glory, and then he will make my body like unto his glorious body, so that I shall be able to look upon the face of God, and to be exercised in holy duties to all eternity, without weariness, without intermission; I have many things here that trouble my mind and spirit, and that hinder me in my converse with heaven, and beavenly things; but within a while Christ will appear with his mighty angels, to be admired of bis saints, and then shall I sit as an assessor on the throne, with Jesus Christ to judge the world, and then shall I live for ever with him, to be where he is, and enjoy all he has, yea, all that he hath purchased for ine by his blood; Oh let ne wait for this! let me look for it every day! God hath but a little work for me bere on earth, and when that is done, this shall be my condition. Christians! if but every day we would work these things on our souls, it would be a mighty help to make our conver. sations, heavenly conversations.
5. Let us observe the drawings and movings, and windings of the Spirit, and follow his dictates; to this purpose Christ ascended, and sat down at God's right hand, and sent down the Holy Spirit, that the Holy Ghost being come down, he might do his office in bringing on our souls towards salvation; and if ever our souls get above this earth, and get acquainted with this living in heaven, it is the Spirit of God that must be as the chariot of Elijah, yea, the very living principle by which we must move and ascend; 0 then take heed of quenching its motions, or resisting its workings! take we heed of grieving our guide, or knocking off the chariot whecis of this Holy Spirit. We lindle think how much the life of graces, and the happiness of our sonls doth depend upon our ready and cordial obedience to the Spirit of God; when he forbids us our known transgres. sions, and we will go on, when he tells us which is the way, and which is not, and we will not regard; no wonder if we are strangers to an heavenly conversation; if we will not follow the Spirit, while it would draw us to Christ, how should it lead us to heaven, or bring our hearts into the pre. senice of God? O learn we this leszon! and let not onfy the motions of our bodies, but also the very thoughts of our hearts be at the Spirit's beck; do we not sometimes feel a strong impulsion to retire from the world, and to draw near to God? O let us not despise or disobey! but take we the offer, and hoist up our sail, while we may have this blessed gale; if we cherish these motions, and hearken to the Spirit, О what a supernatu. ral help should we find to this heavenly-mindedness or heavenly conver. sation?
Thus far we have looked on Jesus, as our Jesus in his ascension, ses. sion, and mission of his Holy Spirit; our next work is to look on Jesus carrying on the great work of our salvation for us in his intercession, which he makes, and will make to his Father on our behalf, till his second coming to judgment.
LOOKING UNTO JESUS,
IN HIS INTERCESSION.
THE FOURTH BOOK. PART V.
WHAT THE INTERCESSION OF CHRIST IS.
*** Consider the Apostle, and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus,--who also
maketh intercession for us.—Heb. 3:1. Rom. 8:34.
We have spoken of Christ's entrance into heaven, and of his immediate actings after his entrance there; that transaction which yet remains and will remain until his coming again, is bis intercession for the saints. In these actings of Christ in heaven, if we will follow him, we must go from glory to glory; no sooner come we out of one room of glory, but presently we step into another, as glorious as that before: one would think enough had been said alieady of the glory of Christ, and of our glory in Christ, who would not willingly sit down under the shadow of this happiness, and go no farther? But yet this is not all; so thick and fast doth the glory of Christ break in upon us, that no sooner out of one, than presently we are led into the bosom of another. Ob what a blessed thing is it to be viewing Christ! and to be looking up unto Jesus Christ? Saints might do nothing else, if they pleased, but ravish their hearts with the diversity of heavenly light and comfort, which break forth from the bosom of Jesus Christ. Here is now another mystery as great and amazing as the former, which springs out before our eyes in this transaction of Christ's intercession,
And in the prosecution of this, as in the former, I sha}l first lay down the object, and secondly, direct you how to look upon it. The object is Jesus carrying on the great work of our salvation in his intercession; in ordering of which I shall examine these particulars:
1. What is this intercession of Christ?
5. What agreement is there betwixt Christ's intercession and the inter. cessions of the high-priests of old?
6. What is the difference betwixt Christ's intercession and the interces. sions of those high-priests?
7. What are the properties of this intercession of Jesus Christ? 8. Wherein more especially doth the intercession of Christ consist?
9. How powerful and prevailing are Christ's intercessions with God his Father?
10. What are the reasons of this great transaction of Christ's intercession for his people?
1. What is the intercession of Christ? Some define it thus, “ Christ's intercession is that part of his priestly office, whereby Christ is advocate, and entreater of God the Father for the faithful?” I shall give it thus, Christ's intercession is his gracious will, fervently and immoveably desiring, that for the perpetual virtue of his sacrifice, all his members might both for their persons and duties, be accepted of the Father. 1. I call the intercession of Christ his own gracious will; for we must not imagine, that Christ in his intercession prostrates himself upon his knees before bis Father's throne, uttering some submissive form of words or prayers; that is not beseeming the majesty of him that sits at God's riglit hand; when he was but yet on earth, the substance of his requests for his saints ran thus, “ Father, I will, that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am,” John 17:24. And how much more now he is in heaven is this the form of his intercessions, “Father, I will this, and I will that.” 2. The ground or foundation of Christ's intercession is, the sacrifice or death of Christ: and hence we may make two parts of Christ's priesthood or oblation: the one expiatory, when Christ suffered upon the cross; the other presentory, when he doth appear in heaven before God for us; the one was finished on earth, when Christ suffered without the gate; the other is performed in heaven, now Christ is within the city; the one was a sacrifice indeed, the other is not so much a sacrifice as the com. memoration of a sacrifice; the first was an act of humiliation, and this lat. ter is an act of glory; the first was performed once for all, this latter is done continually; the first was for the obtaining of redemption, and this latter is for the application of redemption; so that the ground of this is that Christ fervently and immoveably desires bis Father for the sake and virtue of his sacrifice. 3. The subject matter interceded for, is, “ That all the saints, and their services, might find acceptance with God,” first, Christ's intercession is for our persons, and then Christ's intercession is for our works; for as our persons are but in part regenerate, and in part unregenerate, or, in part flesh, and in part spirit; so be our duties, part good, and part evil, in part spiritual, and in part sinful; now by Christ's intercession is Christ's satisfaction applied to our persons, and by consequence, the defect of our duties is covered and removed; and both we and our works are approved and accepted of God the Father. And thus much for the nature of Christ's intercession what it is.
Sect. n. According to what nature Christ doth intercede. 2. ACCORDING to what nature doth Christ intercede? I answer, according to both patures: according to his humanity, partly by appearing before bis Father in heaven, and partly by his desiring the salvation of the elect, “ Christ is entered into heaveo itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us, Heb. 9:24.-And I say not unto you, that I will pray, or de. sire the Father for you, for the Father himself loveth you," John 16:26, 27. Secondly, According to his deity, partly by applying the merit of his death, and partly by willing the salvation of his saints; and as the ef. sect thereof, by making request in the hearts of the saints with sighings unspeakable, “ Elect, through sanctification of the Spirit and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ,” 1 Pet. 1:2. This sprinkling is the applying of the blood of Jesus, and that is an act of intercession: again, “ Father,