« AnteriorContinuar »
shines or intercedes for all his saints, and he can do no less: what is the will of the Father, the will of Christ, (I mean the will of Christ naturally, not artificially in a way of self-denial, as God's will is said to be our will) so that what the Father would have Christ own, he cannot but own; for the sime Spirit is in Christ, which is in the Father, and in tlie self-same measure: as God is captivated with love towariis all captives, so am I, sait Christ; as God would have all to be saved, and to come to the know. ledge of the truth, so Would I too, salih Christ. The very same boitom. less sea of love, that' fuctuates in my Father's breast, is in my breast, for I and the Father are one, John 10:30.
4. It is Christ's honor to interccdc: hereby is the crown set on Christ's head, wuch honor and glory redounds to Jesus in this very respect, I believe all the work that is done in heaven, is Christ's intcrceding, and the saints and angels praising; Christ intercedes for ever, and the sour beasts, and four and twenty elders sing for ever, Rev. 4:8,9,10,11. An arguinent of Christ's honor, by Christ's intercession, is given in thus by * Mr. Goodwin: if it were not for Christ's intercession, now would the office of Christ's priesthood be out of work: and this reason is more than intimated, Ileb. 7:24,25. “ This man because he continueih ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood;" and the work of priesthood is interpreted, verse 25. “ To make intercession for ever.” The meaning of this is, that God would not have him continue to be a priest in tiile only, or in respect only of a service past, and so to bave only the honor of priesthood perpetuated to bim, out of the remembrance of what he once had done: but God would have him to enjoy as the renown of the old, to a perpeiual spring of honor by this new work of intercession, and so to preserve the verdure of his glory ever fresh and green; and the sum of the apostle's reasoning is this, that seeing himself was to be forever, so his work of priesthood should be for ever, that so his honor might be preserved and continued for ever also.
5. It is Christ's love to his saiots; his heart is so enamored with his saints, that therefore he intercedes for them for ever; love is as strong as death; it is never weary of doing good for the party beloved; now Cbristis saints are Christ's love; “ My sister, iny love, my dove," Sol. Song 5:2.
The saints in Christ's book are as so many jewels, “ Aud they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels," Mal. 3:17. The saints are Christ's only choice, the very flower of the earth, “ You have I chosen out of the world," John 15:19. and ye are " my people, my chosen," Isa. 43:20. All the world is Christ's refuse, and kings are but mortar to him, only the saints are Christ's chosen, they are they whom the Lord in his eternal counsels bath set apart for himself, “ But know (caith the Psalmis!) that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly," Punl. 4:3. "The saints are Christ's image, i. e. the resemblance of Christ in all that which is bis chief excellency, I mean in his righteousness and holines; as if I would take the picture of a man, I would not draw it to resemble his back parts, but as near as I could, I would draw it to life, the very face and countenance: so are the saints the very picture, the image, the draught of God to his top excellency. The saints are in cuvenant with Jesus Christ, and therefore in nearer relation than any others, hence it is that they are called the portion of God, the treasure of God, the pecu. liar people of God, those that God and Christ doth satisfy themselves in, tbose that God and Christ have set their hearts on; the children of Guns
* Goodwin's Christ set forth.
the Father, the very spouse and .bride of God the Son; in some respect nearer than the angels themselves, for the angels are not so married to Christ in a mystical union, as Goil's people are; now is it any wonder that those who are so very dear to Christ, should be in the prayers of Christ? If they were so much in his heart, that sometimes he shed his blood for thein, will he not now intercede for them? O yes! to this end he carries them on his breast or heart, as near as near may be, that they may be in a continual remembrance before the Lord for ever: his very love compels him to this office, to intercede for thein.
6. It is Chris's delight to intercede for his saints. Before the world was, “his delights were with the sons of men,” Prov. 8:31. And when the fulness of time carne,then said he, “Lo, I come, in the volume of thy book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will O my God," Psa. 40:7,8. And what wils that, but to be with the sons of men? He knew that was his Father's pleasure, and in respect of himself, he had a delight io livo with them, and to die for them: and no sooner he entered into heaven, but there be delights to officiate still in behalf of the sons of men; he car. ries their names on his heart there, and though some of their persons be on earth, and he in his bodily presence is in heaven, yet distance of place cannot deaden his delights in the remembrance of ahem; he is ever mind. ing bis Father of his people in the nether world; he tells them that they are his all in all upon the earth, and all bis joy, and all his delight, all his portion; as men use to give portions to their children, so God having but one Son by eternal generation, he hath given the elect unto him as his portion; and hence he makes it his great business in heaven, to provide niansions for his portion, to take up God's heart for his portion, to beg fa. vor and love for his portion. Here is the joy of Christ in heaven, in going to his father, and telling him, “ Why Father, I have a shall portion yet on earth, and because they are on earih, they are still sinning against thy Majesty, but I have suffered and satisfied for their sins, and hither am I come to mind thee of it, and continually to get out fresh pardons for new sins; come, look on my old satisfaction, didst thou not promise? Is it not in the articles of agreement betwixt thee and me, that I should see of the travail of my soul, and should be satisfied? Didst thou not say, That be. cause I poured out my soul, therefore thou'wouldest divide me a portion with the great, and the spoil with the strong? Isa. 53:11,12. O my Father! now I make intercession for the transgressors; give me out pardons for an hundred thousand millions of sins; thou hast said and sworn that thou hast no pleasure in the death of sinners, and it is my pleasure, my joy, my infinite delight to save sinners, these are my sced, my portion, my redeem. ed ones, and therefore let thein be saved." Thus Christ intercedes, and his delight is in his saints, as knowing it to be his Father's inind, draws him on to this intercession; indeed this reason hangs upon that primary and first reason: it is God's will that Christ should intercede, and it is Christ's delight to do the will of his Father in heaven, “I delight to do thv will, O my God.”
7. It is Christ's compassion that causeth intercession. “Christ is such an high-priest (saith the apostle) as cannot but be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin," Heb. 4:15. When he was on earih he fell our infirmities, frailties, miseries, and as a man that hath felt the stone, or gout, or fever, or especially that has felt soul-troubles, cannot but compassionate those that are in the like condition; so Christ having had the experience of our outward and inward sufferings, he cannot but compassionate us; and hence
it is, (his very compassions moving) that he intercedes to his Father on our behalf. It is observed, That the very office or work of the high-priest, was to sympathize with the people of God; only in the case of the death of his kindred, he was not as others, to sympathize or mourn; but Jesus Christ goes beyond all the high-priests that ever were before him; he doth fully sympathize with us, not in some, but in all conditions, “ In all our afflictions, he is afflicted," Isa. 63:9. I believe Christ hath carried a man's heart up with him to heaven; and though there be no passions in him as he is God, yet the flower, the blossom, the excellency of all these pas. sions, (which we call compassions) are infinitely in him as he is God; he striketh, and trieth, and yet he pitieth; when Ephraim bemoaneth himself, God replies, “ Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he a pleasant child! For since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still, therefore my bow. els are troubled for him," Jer. 31:20. Surely there is a violence of hear. enly passion in Christ's heart as God man, which makes him break out into prayer to God, and into compassion towards men; O that tempted souls would consider this! It may be, Christ is giving you a cup of tears and blood to drink; but who knows what bowels, what turnings of heart, what motions of compassion are, in Jesus Christ all the while? Those who feel the fruit of Christ's intercessions know this, and cannot but subscribe to this truth, “O) ye of little faith,” why do ye doubt of Christ's bowels? Is he not our compassionate high-priest? Hath not the tenderest, incekest, mildest heart of a man that God possibly can form, met with the elernal and infinite mercy of God himself in Jesus Christ? You have heard that Christ in both natures is our high-priest, mediator, intercessor; and if either God or man know how to compassionate, Christ must do it. Othe bowels of Christ! “ He is touched (saith the apostle) with the feeling of our infirmities, Heb. 4:15. It is an allusion to the rolled and moved bowels of God, in Jer. 31:20. Christ in heaven is burning and Maming in a passion of compassion towards his weak ones, and therefore he pleads, intercedes, and prays to God for thein..
Thus far we have propounded the object, which is Christ's intercession; our next work is to direct you how to look upon Jesus in this respect.
Sect. 1. Of knowing Jesus as carrying on the great work of our salva.
tion in his intercession. 1. Let us know Jesus carrying on this great work of our salvation in his intercession. Is it not a rare piece of knowledge to know what Christ is now doing in heaven for us on earth? If I had a weighty suit at court, on which lay my estate and life, if I knew that I had a friend there that could prevail, and that he were just now inoving in my behalf, were not this worth the knowledge? I dare say in the behalf of all believers in the world, Christ is now interceding for us at the right hand of God, ever since his ascension into heaven he hath been doing this work; it is a work already of above sixteen hundred years, and summer and winter, night and day, without any tiredness of spirit, Christ hath been still praying, still interceding, Christ's love hath no vacation, no cessation at all, yea, even now whilst you read this, Christ is acting as an advocate for you, Chrisi hath your names engraven as a seal on his heart, and standing
right opposite to the eye of his Father, the first opening of the eye-lids of God is terminated upon the breast of Jesus Christ; is not this worth the knowledge! O my soul! leave off thy vain studies of natural things! if they do not conduce some way or otber to the right understanding of this, they are not worth the while; what is it for an Aristotle to be praised where he is not, and to be damned where he is? O the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ! such a knowledge, if true, is no less than saving. Come, study bis intercession in all the former particulars; I have run them over, for the work is swoln under my hands, and I would now abbreviate; only reineinber this, that in Christ's intercession are many secrets which we must enver know on this side beaven. Oh! take heed of entering into this labyrinth without the clew of the word; above all, desire the guidance of the Spirit to enlighten thy darkness, and whatever thou know. est, “ know it still for thyself.”
SECT. 11. Of considering Jesus in that respect. 2. Let us consider Jesus carrying on this work of our salvation in his intercession: many of God's people have found the benefit, and for my part I cannot but approve of it, as an excellent, quickening and enlivening duty to be much in a way of meditation, or consideration, especially when we meet with such a blessed subject as this is, “My meditation of hiin shall be sweet, (saith David,) I will be glad in the Lord,” Psa. 104:34. It is enough to make a meditation sweet and refreshing, when it is con. versant about such a subject, as Christ's intercession; js it not as incense. a sweet odor, and perfume with God himself? And shall not each thought of it be sweet to us! Come, let us be serious in this duty; and that we may do it thoroughly, let us consider it in these several particulars. As,
1. Consider of the nature of Christ's intercession: what is it but the gracious will of Christ fervently desiring that for the virtue of his death and sacrifice, thy person and performances might be accepted of God? As Christ on earth gave himself to the death, even to the death of the cross, for the abolition of sin, so now in heaven he prays the Father, “ by his agony and bloody sweat, by his cross and passion, by bis death and sacri. fice," that thy sins may be pardoned, thy service accepted, and thy soul saved. This is the will of Christ, even thy justification, sanctification, and salvation; and accordingly he presents his will, “ Father, I will that all those privileges flowing from my death, may be conferred on such a person by name; such a soul is now meditating and considering of my in. tercession, and my will is, that his very meditation may find acceptance with God.” O what workings would be in thy heart and spirit, if thou didst but consider, that Christ even now were speaking his will, that thy person and duty might both find acceptance, and be well pleasing with God.
2. Consider of the person that intercedes for thee, it is Christ in both natures, it is thy Mediator, the middle one betwixt God and man; in this respect thou mayest consider him as one indifferent, and equally inclining to either party, like a pair of scales that hang even, neither side lift up, or depressed more than the other: “a Mediator is not of one," saith the apostle, Gal. 3:20. Christ indifferently partook of both natures, Godhead, and manhood, so that he might be fit to stand in the gap between his Fa. ther and us; he is a priest according to both natures; he is a days-man whol. ly for God, and a days-man wholly for us, and on our side.
3. Consider of the person to whom Christ intercedes; is it not to his
Father? Thou art sure to speed well, O my soul! for God is the Father of thy intercessor. If I had a suit 10 some majesty, and the prince would but mediate, I might hope to speed; Chiist is God's prince, as I may call bim, and in respect of 119, “the first begotten of many brethren." And herein is thy rejoicing, that the party offended is Christ's own Father, and in Christ thy Father; fathers cannot be cruel to their own dear children; " What man amongst vou, whom if his son ask bread, he will give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will be give hin a serpent? Ifre then being evil know how to give good gifts unto rour children), how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to then that ask him!" Matth. 7:9,10.11. and especially if Christ himself ask.
4. Consider of the persons for whom Christ intercedes, it is for all the elect, and in particular for thee. O the sweet of his one mcdiration! if I knew that my name were written in bearen; should I not (as Christ bids me) “ rejoice in this?” Luke 10:20. Oh! but what is it to bare my name written in the chief part of heaven? what is it to have my name writien in the breastplate of Jesus Christ? Come, read () my soul! is it not thus written? Isaac, or Jacob, “I have prayed, and I am praying for thee that thy faith fail not." Sure I am, that I would no: part with my hope in this privilege for all the wide world; the very consideration of this makes tue. io esteem of all the world as dross and dous meat. •
And Oh that ever the world, or flesh, or devil, should steal this inedita. tion out of my heart! Oh that ever I should forget that Christ is gone to heaven, that he is entered into the holy of holies, and that he carries my name into the presence of God ihe Father! I speak the same to thee that readest, if thou art a believer, there is no doubt of it, but Christ is speak.. ing a good word to his Father in thy behalf; he can no more forget thee in bis intercessions, than a mother with full breasts can forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb; now, if ever, look up to Jesus, yea, look, and never leave looking, till thou spi. est thy own name writ on his heart; it is enough to fix thy soul, and to Inake it dwell on Jesus Christ, thus carrying thee on his shoulders, and bearing thee on his breastplate for a memorial unto his father in heaven.
5. Consider of the agreement and difference betwixt Christ's interces. sions, and the intercessions of the high-priests of old, they did both intere cede, but Christ's intercessions are ever in a more transcendent eminent way; Christ is more faithful in his office and place than ever bigh-priest was; Christ is more compassionate and pitiful than ever higb-priest was; and hence it is, that he hath the title of polusplanchos, “ One of many com. misserations," Jaines 5:11. All is mercy, and love, and swcetness, and more than motherly affection that comes from Christ. O my soul! why shouldst ihou say with Israel, “ My way is hidden from the Lord, and my judgment is pass d over from my God?” Isa. 40:27. As if Jesus Christ had left thee out of the count of his people, and out of the roll of those whoin he is to look after? No, no; he is a faithful and merciful high. priest, far above all the high-priests of the Old Testainent, and if they were so careful not to leave out of their breastplate one name of all the twelve tribes, how much more careful is Christ not to leave out thy name in his intercession? From this very argument of Christ's compassion and Christ's faithfulness, the apostle calls on us to “consider the apostle and high-priest of our profession Christ Jesus, who was faithful to him that appointed him," Heb. 3:1,2. above Aaron, or Moses, or any of the high