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he was harmless in his disposition and conduct toward men; and not merely harmless, but full of goodness and mercy; he was undefiled, he did not contract any defilement of any kind from any source; he was separate from sinners; though he dwelt among sinners and con. versed with them, yet he had no communion with them in sin; he was not in the least degree conformed to them in sin. Such was Christ, and such an High Priest became us: it was necessary that he should possess- these qualifications for the priestly office. He who was to make atonement for the sins of others, was, himself, to be without sin, or there could be no value in his sacrifice. If Christ had not been altogether without sin, he could not, in his intercession, have had any acceptable sacrifice to plead before God; neither his offering up of himself, nor his appearing before God as an intercessor, would have been of any avail. But it is our happi. ness, that in the holy, the spotless Jesus, we have such an High Priest as it became us to have, in order to our salvation through his acceptable sacrifice and prevailing intercession.
A s every believer in Christ need s his intercession till he is brought to glory, and as the church of God will need it in every period till the end of time, it is a truth of unspeakable value, that Christ ever lives to make intercession for his people; that he appears in the presence of Gpd for them 'till they are all in the actual possession of their eternal inheritance; that his priesthood is unchauge• ble; that the nature and efficacy of his intercession change not; that his eminent qualifications as an advocate with the Father are not diminished nor altered by time, but will continue in all their glory 'till all the purchase of his blood appear in the realms of bliss; for the Lord hath sworn, and will not
repent, that Christ is a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Upon this, as well as upon many other most precious and important truths concerning the priesthood of Christ, the apostle dwells, very fully, in his epistle to the Hebrews: shewing, in many respects, the pre-eminence of Christ as the great High Priest over the house of God: and especially in this one point of exaltation above all the high-priests under the law, his continuance in office as the greatest and the last, whom no one shall succeed, but abiding a priest for ever.
The Lord Jesus being soeminently qualified for interceding with God for sinners, the prevalency of his intercession is most certain; he cannot intercede in vain. • Being appointed by God himself to the office of High-priest; having a sacrifice of infinite value to plead; asking nothing of God but what he can in justice as well as in mercy grant, but what is the good pleasure of his will, and to the glory of his name, to bestow; abounding in love, in tenderness, and compassion, toward all for whom he pleads; and being himself perfectly free from all sin; surely his intercession must prove effectual for all the great and blessed ends for which it was appointed; must be honoured by God with the most abundant success.
As an interest in the mediation of Christ is essential to salvation, it is a matter of importance, brethren, to consider who they are for whom Christ intercedes. As all men are not saved, Christ does not intercede for all; for, if he did, his intercession, in some cases, would prove without effect; which is what we do not believe of the intercession of the Son of God. When on earth be was praying for his disciples, he said to his Father, / pray not for the world: and now, when he appears in the presence of God for men, there is a part of the human race for whom he does not intercede with the Father. His intercession extends to all who are included in his Father's gift; for when on earth he said to his Father, I pray for them that thou hast given me. The Father's gift to Christ are, doubtless, the elect, the predestinated unto life, the chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world; all whom Christ redeemed with his precious blood, for whom he obeyed, suffered and died as their mediator, surety, and substitute. As Christ laid down his life for the sheep, so he intercedes for the sheep: as beloved the Church and gave himself for it, so he ever lives to make intercession for the Church. The church of Christ is the house of God, and Christ is said to be the High-Priest over that house; consequently the saving benefits of his priesthood are confined to his church, to that house which is composed only of the ordained unto eternal life. From the word of God we learn that Christ makes intercession for all who come unto God by him, who approach the eternal God, as the Father of mercies, by faith in Christ Jesus, as the way by whom we have access, by one Spirit, to the Father. These, then, are certainly blessed with an interest in Christ's intercession: and all who thus come unto God, who are of the true circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, who rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh; may take all the comfort of this truth, that Christ ever lives to make intercession for them.
The value of Christ's intercession appears in the, vast benefits that are obtained by it, for the church of God. If the interceding grace of the Lord Jesus is essential to the salvation of the church, if it is a part of the divine plan for the full and eternal salvation of all his chosen, then salva
tion, spiritual and eternal, is the beuefit of Christ's intercession, or, the intercession of Christ is one part of that mediation of Christ, by which sinners are saved. Christ's intercession as the great High-Priest who appears in the presence of God, for his people, with his own blood, obtains for them the gift of the Spirit of God, with all his gracious and powerful influences; with all the blessings connected with what he works in their hearts. If, as the fruit of Christ's intercession, the Spirit causes them to believe in the name of the Son of God: through the same intercession is obtained for them, that forgiveness of sins which God has promised to them that believe; for the Saviour pleads his blood for that end; that it may be given them, not only to believe on his name, but that, believing, they may be justified freely, by God's grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. When, through the intercession of Christ, the Spirit of God produces faith in theheartsof God's chosen, through the same intercession, they receive that adoption of sons, which is connected with faith in the name of Christ: for, -says the apostle, ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. In a word, all the supplies of divine grace they receive; all the succours of divine grace by which they are saved from the powers of »ui, of the world, and of Hell; all the wonders of divine grace that are wrought on their behalf; the grace that saves them in this life, that saves them from the stin^ of death, that delivers them from death and the grave, from death eternal, and that raises them at last to eternal life, is all obtained for them by their advocate with the Father, who is able to save them to the uttermost, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them. We know not, brethren, of any blessing we pray for, according to the will of God, but what he bestows on us through the intercession of our great High-Priest. Heb.iv. 14—10. It is through him that we enjoy the great benefit of access to God, and praying for the blessings of his mercy and grace: and if we are warranted, in the name of Christ, to pray for all the blessings of God's great salvation, then do all those blessings flow to us through the intercession of Christ. We are informed by an inspired writer that it is because Christ ever lives to make intercession for all who come unto God by him, that he is able to save them to the uttermost.
We would not conclnde this address, brethren, without calling your attention to those effects that should be produced in us by the faith of Christ's intercession: for what God has been pleased to reveal in his word upon this, as well as upon many other subjects closely connected with it, he has revealed for the purpose of producing great effects in all them that believe: that thereby their spiritual good might be promoted, that they might richly experience the abundant grace of God in Christ Jesus, that they might enjoy their manifold privileges, that they might render to God what is due to him for all the benefits of his great salvation. It is God who works in his people, by his Spirit, both to will and to do of his good pleasure; but the divine Spirit in performing this work of grace, makes use of the doctrines and promises of that word of truth which is spirit and life.
The intercession of Christ is a blessing of such vast magnitude, that if we believe in it, we must experience much love and gratitude to the God of all grace, and to his dear Son, for the inestimable blessing. It is, in truth, a doctrine of divine grace: it is the fruit of the Father's great love; it is fraught with the richest bless
ings; and the benefits of it shall prove of eternal duration.
Believing the doctrine of Christ's intercession, as it is set before us in the word of truth, we must be influenced to come unto God by him, to approach the throne of his grace with boldness, and there to pour out our hearts before him; adoring his great name, confessing our sins, giving him thanks for his manifold mercies, and imploring all the blessings of his grace for ourselves and for the whole Church of God. Having such an High Priest, who is ever making intercession for us, should we not highly value, and diligently use, the privilege which it obtains for us, of access to God at all times? Would not the neglect of prayer, secret or social, be making light of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the way is ever open for us to the Father of mercies; who is ever before God to present all our sacrifices that are offered to the Father in his name 1 There are many considerations that should excite believers to constant and fervent prayer; and surely the intercession of Christ should be viewed by them as among the most powerful inducements to pray without ceasing: as among the most animating encouragements to draw near to God continually.—This grace of our Lord Jesus Christ should have the most happy influence upon us, in our solemn and delightful seasous of public worship, as well as in our secret approaches to God. The way is open for us to the throne of divine grace; God is ready, for his dear Son's sake, to do for us exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think; that blood is before the throne that speaks better things than the blood of Abel; God delights to honour the High-Priest of his own appointment, the sacrifice that was offered by his own command, the intercession that is made as the fruit of his own love. May we not then, without presumption, banish from our souls every fear on the ground of past guilt, or the imperfection of present services; assured that our iniquities are not remembered against us, and that our spiritual sacrifices will be acceptable unto God by Christ Jesus? May we not with joyful and thankful hearts, worship the Father of mercies, having confidence in him as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to us, in him, the God of all grace? As the intercession of Christ insures the acceptance of all who come unto God by him, and a gracious answer to all they ask in his name; the belief of his intercession should produce in us, strong confidence in God as the hearer of prayer. It is our privilege to be assured, that whatsoever we ask of the Father according to his will, in the name of Christ, he will do it for us. We give glory to Christ, as our intercessor, when we seek all things, and hope for all things, from the Father of mercies, through the intercession of his beloved Son.
To conclude, may you, dear brethren, abide in the truth as it is in Jesus; contending for the faith once delivered to the Saints: may you grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ: may brotherly love greatly abound among you; and may all the fruits of the Spirit be borne by you: may you, as risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God; and when Christ, who is your life, shall appear, may you also appear with him in glory.
THE DUTY OF BEING ZEALOUS IN THE CAUSE OF CHRIST.
"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." Phil. ii. 4, 5.
Nothino is more becoming or
praise-worthy in Christians than a public spirited conduct, or a generous concern for one another's good, whether as individuals or societies. Indeed there can be no real Christianity without it; and this is the particular duty enforced by the apostle in the words of the text. To enter into the import and meaning of the passage we must consider three particulars, viz. A dissuasive or admonition, "Look not every man on his own things"—an exhortation, to look 'every man also on the things of others'—and the example by which the duty is enforced 'Let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, &c."
1. The original words (/»i fxtanT,) translated Look not, signify, not to aim at, or set up, our own concerns as our mark or end, so as that our whole efforts should be bent to the advancement of our own individual selfish concerns—not absolutely in every respect, but chiefly and in preference to the things of others; for the word " also," in the next clause, implies that our own things are not altogether to be disregarded. There is a primary care which every man owes to himself that cannot be neglected with impunity; but the generality of professors are so little in danger from this source that it would be almost superfluous here to enlarge upon it.
By our "own things," we must understand such things as are in themselves lawful; such as honour, ease, safety, or worldly possessions —the things that relate to our private interest and gratification rather than the public good, and in which we have no other aim than merely our own profit, or to please ourselves, without any regard to the advantage of others. So it is said ver. 21, "All seek their own things," which are opposed to "the things that are Jesus Christ's," ora publicconcern for the interests of bis kingdom, which the apostle denominates "caring for their state," ver. 20. We have a simitar exhortation, 1 Cor. x. 24, '* Let no man seek his own, but each one that of another." His own here, evidently denotes his own gratification, will, or pleasure; which is the same with " pleasing ourselves'" instead of our neighbour for his good to edification. Rom. xv. 1, 2. In opposition to this, it is said of charity that " she seeketh not her own," 1 Cor. xiii. fi, that is, her own private pleasure, honour, safety, or advantage to the neglect of others; on the contrary, she denies herself for their benefit; love being the reverse of a contracted selfish mind. Christians, therefore, must not be so narrow minded as to be absorbed in their own personal concerns; on the contrary,
2. They are exhorted to "Look every man on the things of others" —not as officious intermeddling busy bodies in their affairs, 1 Pet. iv. 15. but from a generous and affectionate concern for their wel. fare—to consider their peculiar circumstances, and endeavour to the utmost of their power to promote their interest whether temporal or spiritual. In this way they are required " to care for their state"—" to seek the things that are Christ's"—" each to pursue the interest of another"—and to "please our neighbour for his good to edification." What a noble example of this disinterested conduct have we in the case of Paul himself. When he embraced the gospel, he looked not on his own things, but made a voluntarysacrifice of his religious character, as well as his worldly honour, ease, safety, and advantages, subjecting himself to dishonour, to labours, dangers, poverty, and distress for the elect's sake, on whose account he was willing to spend and be spent; "yea, says he, and if I be offered upon the. sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice
with you all," ver. 17. Even his own life he counted not dear unto him, that he might look to the things of others, and promote their best interests, Acts xx. 24. Rom. ix. 3. And the same spirit is inculcated upon all the disciples of Christ, 1 John iii. 16. True, they are not called to sacrifice their spiritual interest for the sake of others; but every thing that relates to their present life, and even life itself when it becomes necessary to promote their true happiness, ought not to be with-held. Which leads us to consider,
3. The great example by which the apostle enforces this duty. "Let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus—who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross." This is the pattern which the apostle sets before Christians for their imitation. As if he should say, 'Be ye likeminded with Christ Jesus, and follow his example in not looking to your own things, but every man also on the things of others.' To illustrate this divine example he presents to their view Jesus Christ in his threefold state. First, that of his original glory and dignity— "He was in the form of God, and accounted it not robbery to claim equality with God." Here we see what were "his own things"—that divine form of majesty, honour and glory which he possessed before his incarnation—that equality with God which belonged to him without robbery. But what is all that we can part with when compared to these 1 Again, he points them to his state of humiliation and voluntary abasement. "He emptied himself" of his divine