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yet his intercession was not less prevalent with God, for he was heard in that he feared. Ye may see with what majesty and authority he prayed on the behalf of all the elect, John xvii. 24. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. Yea, even when he was under the sharpest agonies, when he was bruized by God, and broken by men, groaning under the wrath of the one, and the wrongs of the other, he forgets not to put up petitions for his crucifiers, Luke xxiii. 34. - Father, förgive them; for they know not what they do. And many of those who imbrued their hands in his innocent blood, obtained a gracious pardon through his prevalent intercession.
3. He is pleading now for his people in heaven, in his exalted state. When he had offered up himself a sacrifice on the cross, he ascended into heaven, and entered into the most holy place, and there prosecutes the same suit that he had commenced on the earth. Hence says the apostle, Rom. yiii. 34. . It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Secondly, I am to shew wherein Christ's intercession consists.
1. He does not plead for his people in heaven, in such a supplicatory and humble manner as he prayed for them when he was on the earth. He falls not down upon his knees with a deep prostration of soul, lifting up his eyes with tears and strong cries. Such humble prayers and supplications were suited only to the days of his flesh, when he appeared in the form of a seryant, and was found in the likeness, of man; but they do not become him now in his state of glory, when he is stript of all those natural infirmities and marks of indigence wherewith he was clothed in the world. But, positively,
2. His intercession lies in the following things.
ist. In his appearing in heaven in his people's nature, and on their account. After he had shed his precious blood on the earth for the expiation of their sin, he rose again from the dead, and ascended into heaven as their Advocate and Intercessor, that, by the virtue of his meritorious sacrifice, he might answer all the charges brought in against them,
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and sue out all the good things that belonged to them, Heb. ix. 24. Christ is entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.'
2dly, in presenting the memorials of his death and passion as a moving plea on their account. This was typified and prefigured by the high priest's carrying the blood of the sacrifice into the most holy place, and presenting it before the Lord. He was not to go in before the mercy-seat without it; and there was no interceding but by virtue of it. So the whole power and efficacy of Christ's intercession is founded upon his meritorious sufferings. His soul that was bruised and made an offering for sin, and his body that was wounded and broken upon the cross, are daily presented before God, and will remain in the divine presence for ever, as an eternal memorial of his bloody sufferings. This has a powerful efficacy in prevailing with God. Hence, by an usual figure, an interceding voice is attributed to his blood, 'Heb. xii. 24. It speaketh better things than that of Abel.' Christ's blood speaks, though not vocally and with oral ex. pressions, yet powerfully and efficaciously. It speaks in the same manner that Abel's blood did, though not for the same end; this cried for vengeance upon wicked Cain that shed it; but that pleads for mercy and favour to all believing sinners. We have a rare illustration of the efficacious ir. tercession of Christ in heaven, in the famous story of Amyntas, who appeared as an advocate for liis brother Æschylus, who was strongly accused, and in great danger of being condemned to die. This Amyntas having performed great services for the state, and merited highly of the commonwealth, in whose service one of his hands was cut off in battle, comes into the court on his brother's behalf, and said nothing, but only lifted up his arm, and shewed them an arm without a hand; which so moved them, that immediately they acquitted his brother. And thus you have Christ represented visionally, Rev. v. 6. as standing between God and us, ' And 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, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth.' That is, he was represented as bearing in his glorified body the marks of his death and sacrifice; the wounds which he received for his people's sins on the earth,
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are as it were still visible and fresh in heaven, as a prevailing argument with the Father to give forth the mercies that he pleads for to them.
3dly, In presenting his will and desire to the Father on their behalf, not in a humble and supplicatory manner, in the way of charity, but by a claim in the way of justice. He now pleads that his people may be put in full possession of all the blessings which were purchased for them by his bloody death. We find him pleading to this purpose immediately before his passion, John xvii. 24. forecited. He minds the Father as it were of the covenant that was between them both, of his performing the condition required on his part, and so claims the performance of God's promise as a debt due to his meritorious obedience even unto death. He hath made his soul an offering for sin ;' and therefore pleads that he may see his seed, prolong his days,' and that the pleasure of the Lord may prosper in his hands,' Isa. liii. 10, 11,
4thly, In his presenting his people's prayers and petitions unto God, and pleading that they may be accepted and granted for his sake. Their prayers and religious perform. ances are both impure and imperfect; but his precious merit, applied by his powerful intercession, purifies and perfects them. This skilful Advocate puts them into form and language suited to the methods of the court of heaven, and by his great interest there procures them a speedy hearing. This was excellently typified by the high priest's going in before the Lord with the blood of the sacrifice, and his hands full of incense. After he had offered the sacrifice, without, he was to take his hands full of those aromatic drugs of which the incense was composed, without the vail, and put them in a censer of gold full of fire, and cover the mercy-seat with the fume of it. This was a figure of Christ's intercession and offering up his people's services to God. He is the alone altar upon which our sacrifices must ascend before the Lord with a grateful fume: the incense of his merit must be added to our prayers, to make them ascend before the mercy. seat as a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour. Hence he is represented, Rev. viii. 3. as an angel standing at the golden altar, which was before the throne, with a golden censer in his hand, offering up the prayers of all the saints, perfuming them with the incense that was given him. By the much
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incense mentioned here, we are to understand the mighty quantity of merit and the great power of his intercession, which was a sweet savour to all his people's sacrifices, and renders them acceptable to God.
5thly, In his answering all the bills of indictment which are brought in against them. Many times a believer is brought in as an arraigned criminal before the divine tribunał, where Satan appears as the accuser, brings in the charge of sin, pleads the righteousness of the law, solicits for judgment upon his accusations, and for the execution of the curse due to the crime. The justice of God calls for vengeance, and conscience thunders out nothing but hell and wrath. Now, while the believer is in these dismal circumstances, Christ steps in and answers the charge. He pleads the efficacy of his merit against the greatness of the believing sinner's crimes, and his satisfaction to justice by the death of the cross against all the demands and challenges of the law. And thus the sentence of condemnation due unto the sinner for his sin is averted, and a sentence of absolution is pronounced, upon the merit and plea of this powerful Intercessor. Hence we find the apostle glorying in this, Rom. viii. 33, 34. · Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth: who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.' Satan may accuse believers; but Christ can soon silence him. Thus, when Joshua the high priest stood before the Lord in filthy garments, Satan stood at his right hand to accuse him ; but the angel, namely, the angel of the covenant, Jesus Christ, interposed, saying, “The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan,' Zech. iii. 1, 2. Though their garments be filthy, yet Christ can take them away, and clothe them with change of raiment. Though Satan be always ready to resist them, yet Christ stands always at the right-hand of God in heaven, to plead for them, and silence Satan.
Thirdly, I shall shew some of the grounds or reasons of our High Priest's intercession. .
1. Christ intercedes for his people, because he had a.commission, a call, and command from the Father, for this purpose. Is. xlii. 6. “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness. So far was our mighty Intercessor from engaging in. this service as an intruder or usurper, that he entered upon
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it under the warrant of Heaven's commission. The Lord called him to be a priest. For verily " he glorified not himself, to be made an High priest; but he that said unto him. Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee,' Heb. v. 5. And as the Lord called him to be a priest, so to all the acts of the priestly office. He called him to make his soul an offering for sin, to pour out his life unto death, and to shed his blood for the satisfaction of offended justice. In a word, he called him to make intercession for transgressors. For says the Lord, I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me.'
2. He intercedes for his people, because they were given him for this end, John xvii. 6. Thine they were, and thou gavest them me. The elect that the Father gave to Christ were his own three ways. They were creatures, and therefore their life and being were derived from him. They were criminals, and therefore their life and being were forfeited to him. They were chosen, and therefore their living and being were designed for him. They were given to Christ that the election of grace might not be frustrated, that none of the little ones might perish. Yea they were given him, that the undertaking of Christ might not be fruitless; for they were given him as his seed, in whom he should see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied, and consequently might not spend his strength and shed his blood in vain. Now, because the elect were thus given to Christ, therefore he intercedes for them, John xvii. 9, "I pray for them : 1 pray not for the world but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine.
3. He intercedes for his people, because it is a special part of his priestly office to do so. As the high priest under the law was not only to slay and offer the sacrifice in the outer part of the tabernacle, on the anniversary day of expiation, but to enter with the fresh blood into the sanctuary, and sprinkle it seven times, and not only so, but was to bring a censer full of burning coals off the altar, with incense in his hands, to be put upon the fire before the Lord within the vail, that so the cloud in the incense might cover the mercy-seat : in like manner, after our great High Priest had offered himself a sacrifice to God in his bloody death, he entered into heaven, not only with his blood, but with the incense of his prayers, as a cloud about the mercy-seat, to