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3. The ground or reason of this his ability to save: Seeing he ever liveth to make intercession;" that is, he hath not only offered up his blood to God upon
the cross, as a full price to purchase pardon and grace for believers; but lives in heaven, and that for ever, to apply unto us, in the way of intercession, all the fruits, blessings, and benefits that this precious blood hath procured. Hence, among other instructions, we learn that Jesus our High Priest lives for ever, in the capacity of
a potent Intercessor in heaven, for believers. Here we will inquire, what it is for Christ to be an Intercessor ; by what acts he performs that work in heaven; and in what consists the potency and prevalency of his intercession.
1. What it is for Christ to be an intercessor for us. To intercede, in general, is to go between two parties, to entreat, argue, and plead with one for the other. There is the intercession whereby one christian prays and pleads with God for another, 1 Tim. 2:1; and that whereby Christ, as an act of office, presents himself before God to plead for us. Between these two is this difference, that the former is performed not in our own, but in another's name; we can tender no request to God immediately, or for our own sake, either for ourselves or for others: "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” John, 16 : 23. But the latter, which is peculiar to Christ, is an intercession with God for us, in his own name, on account of his own merit. The one is a private act of charity, the other a public act of office; and so he is our Advocate or court Friend, as Satan is our accuser or court adversary. Satan is o artidixos, one that charges us before God, 1 Pet. 5:8, and continually endeavors to make breaches between us and God. Christ is o zagarantos, our Advocate, that pleads for us, and continues peace and friendship
between us and God; "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John, 2:1.
Thus to make intercession is the peculiar and incommunicable prerogative of Jesus Christ; none but he can
in his own name to God. And in this sense we may understand the passage,
Then said the Lord unto me, This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it, because the Lord the God of Israel hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. It is for the prince, the prince he shall sit in it, to eat bread before the Lord,” &c. Ezek. 44 : 2, 3. The great broad gate, called here the prince's gate, signifies the abundant and direct entrance of Christ into heaven by his own merits, and in his own name; this, saith the Lord, shall be shut, no man shall enter in by it; all other men must come thither, as it were, by side doors, which looked all towards the altar, namely, by virtue of the Mediator, and through the benefit of his death, imputed to them.
And yet, though God hath for ever shut up and barred this way to all the children of men, telling us that no man shall ever have access to him in his own name, as Christ the Prince had; how do some, notwithstanding, strive to force open the Prince's gate ? They do so, who found the intercession of saints upon their own works and merits, thereby robbing Christ of his peculiar glory ; but all that so approach God, approach a consuming fire ; Christ only, in the virtue of his own blood, thus comes before him, to make intercession for us.
II. We will inquire wherein the intercession of Christ in heaven consists, or by what acts he performs his glorious office there. And the Seriptures place it in three things :
1. In his presenting himself before the Lord in our names, and
upon our account. So we read, Heb. 9 : 24,
"Christ is entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." The apostle manifestly alludes to the high priest's appearing in the holy of holies, which was the figure of heaven, presenting to the Lord the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, which were on his breast and shoulders, Exod. 28 : 9, 12, 28, 29. To which the church is supposed to allude in that request, "Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm.” Cant. 8:6. Now the very sight of Christ our High Priest in heaven prevails exceedingly with God, and turns away his displeasure from us. As when God looks upon the rainbow, which is the sign of the covenant, he remembers the earth in mercy: so when he looks on Christ, he remembers us upon his account.
2. Christ performs his intercession-work in heaven, not only by appearing in the presence of God, but also by presenting his blood and all his sufferings to God, as a moving plea on our account. Whether he makes
any proper oral intercession there, as he did on earth, is not so clear. But sure I am, an interceding voice is by a usual prosopopeia (or figure) attributed to his blood; which in Heb. 12: 24, is said "to speak better things than that of Abel.” Now Abel's blood, and so Christ's, do cry unto God, as the hire of the laborers unjustly de. tained, James, 5:4; or as the whole creation, which is in hondage through our sins, is said to cry and groan in the ears of the Lord, Rom. 8: 22, not vocally, but efficaciously. A rare illustration of this efficacious intercession of Christ in heaven, we have in the story of Amintas, who appeared as an advocate for his brother Æchylus, who was accused, and likely to be condemned to die. Amintas, having performed great services, and merited highly of the commonwealth, in whose service one of his hands was cut off in the field, came into the court in his brother's behalf, and said nothing, but only
lifted up the stump of his arm, the sight of which so moved them, that, without a word said, they freed his brother immediately. Thus in Rev. 5:6, Christ is represented as standing between God and us: "I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain;" that is, bearing in his glorified body the marks of death and sacrifice. The wounds he received for our sins on earth, are, as it were, still fresh bleeding in heaven : a moving and prevailing argument with the Father, to give us the mercies for which he pleads.
3. And he presents the prayers of his saints to God, with his merits; and desires that they may for his sake be granted. He causes a cloud of incense to ascend before God with them. Rev. 8:3. All these were excellently typified by the going in of the high priest before the Lord, with the names of the children of Israel on his breast, with the blood of the sacrifice, and his hands full of incense, as the apostle explains them in Heb. 7 and Hebrews, 9.
III. That this intercession of Christ is most potent, successful, and prevalent with God, will be evinced from the qualification of this our Advocate, from his great interest in the Father, from the nature of the pleas he uses with God, and from the relation and inte. rest believers have, both in the Father to whom and the Son by whom this intercession is made. 1. Our Intercessor in the heavens is every way
able and fit for the work he is engaged in there. Whatever is desirable in an advocate, is in him eminently. It is necessary that he who undertakes to plead the cause of another, especially if it be weighty and intricate, should be wise, faithful, tender-hearted, and resolved on
Our Advocate Christ wants no wisdom to conduct his work; he is "the wisdom of God,” yea, " only wise.” Jude, 25. And he is no less faithful than wise ;
therefore he is called " a faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God." Heb. 2 : 17. He assures us we may safely trust our concerns with him,
Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.” John, 14 : 2. As if he had said, Do you think I could deceive you? Men may deceive you; your own hearts may and daily do deceive you, but so will not I. And for tender-heartedness, and sympathy with your condition, there is none like him: "For we have not an High Priest who cannot be touched with the feel. ing of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Heb. 4 : 15. That he might the better sympathize with us, he came as near to our condition as the holiness of his nature could permit. He suffered himself to be in all points tempted like as we are, sin only excepted. And as to his interest in the success of his suit, he has really made it his own interest, for by reason of our union with him all our wants and troubles are his. Eph. 1 : 23. Yea, his own glory as Mediator is deeply interested in it; and therefore we need not doubt but he will use all care and diligence in that work. But further,
2. Consider the great interest he hath in the Father, with whom he intercedes. Christ is his dear Son. Col. 1:13. The beloved of his soul. Eph. 1:6. Between him and the Father there is a unity, not only of nature but of will; and so he always hears him. John, 11 : 42. Yea, he said to his dear Son, "Ask of me, and I will give thee.” Psa. 2:8. Moreover,
3. Consider the nature of his intercession, which is just and reasonable, and likewise urgent and continual What he desires, it is becoming the holiness and righteousness of God to grant. And so the justice of God not only does not oppose, but furthers and pleads for the granting and fulfilling of his requests. Here you must remember that the Father is under a covenant to