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CHAP. IV.

THE INTERCESSION OF JESUS CHRIST.

YOU have now seen how the Holy Spirit assists us in prayer: his aid and the acceptance of our prayers, are obtained through the intercession of Jesus Christ. While the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is God over all, blessed for ever, it discovers to us also his mediatorial kingdom. It tells us that there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Tim. ii, 5. Him has God exalted as a Prince and a Saviour, to give many blessed gifts to his people.

The first fruit of his ascending up on high, was the gift of the Holy Spirit. St. Peter shews us that the prophet Joel had foretold that full outpouring of the Holy Spirit which took place on the ascension of Jesus Christ in these words-" and it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh." And after describing other effects of this outpouring, he says, "and it shall come to pass that

whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Our Lord also tells his disciples that he will pray for this gift: he says, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you FOR EVER." John xiv, 16. The gift of the Spirit and the intercession of Christ, are thus connected together in the sacred writings.

It is unnecessary here to enter on a description of this intercession in all its bearings, it will be sufficient chiefly to dwell on it with reference to our prayers.

The intercession of Christ, is his earnest address to God in behalf of those for whom he prays. In order the better to understand this, consider, THE OFFICE WHICH HE BEARS AS OUR HIGH PRIEST. The High Priest of Israel had to burn incense in the holy place, on the altar of incense, morning and evening perpetually throughout the year. Exod. xxx, 7, 8. And he was once a year to appear in the holy of holies, alone, to sprinkle blood upon, and before, the mercy seat; to make an atonement for himself, for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel. Lev. xvi, 14-17. The Apostle shews us that this was typical of Jesus Christ, who "is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." Heb. ix, 24. And he points out the superior advantage of this priesthood on account of the holy character and the enduring continuance of our High Priest: "wherefore," he says, "he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Heb. vii, 25. While his people are praying without, (Luke ii, 10.) our High Priest is interceding within, and offering up our prayers.

Consider, then, HIS REDEMPTION.— -Man was afar off from God, guilty, and under the penalty of that sentence, the soul that sinneth, it shall die. How was the mercy of God to be displayed, and his justice remain unsullied? By the death of the Holy Jesus, the Son of God, his justice is satisfied, and engaged on the sinner's side; so that his mercy may flow to sinners in copious

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and uninterrupted streams. The divine love has its brightest displays, in being manifested towards the unworthy; and the Almighty arm is now stretched forth to save, and not to destroy the sinful. All the perfections of God being engaged on the sinner's side, the intercession of Him who has accomplished this, will evidently prevail. The sinner may now be received as a child returning to a reconciled father. Here, then, and here only, is the true ground of encouragement for us to draw near with confidence to the Holy God.

Consider the SITUATION OF THE INTERCEDER. He is at the right hand of God. Rom. viii, 34. We may learn hence his power, his dignity, his holiness, his interest with God, and his being ever present in heaven for us. All power is given him in heaven and earth. Matt. xxviii, 8. "All things go," says Bishop Hopkins, "by favour and friendship in the courts of heaven; if we stand upon our own merits and deserts, we shall be shamefully disappointed in our expectations: we have no merit to take place in heaven, but only the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ."* Ah! how absurdly do they act, who, when such an Intercessor pleads for us, put their cause into the hands of any creature, saint, or angel.

Consider HIS CHARACTER.-He is the beloved son God, the elect in whom his soul delighteth. Isa. xlii, 1. He is "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens." Heb. vii, 26. And with all this, he is full of compassion, tenderness, and love. "We have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Heb. iv. 15. He is one who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way. Seeing, *See Bishop Hopkins' Works, a most valuable Body of Divinity.

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then, that we have such a great, such a compassionate

High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the son of God-let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Heb. iv, 16.

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Consider, farther, THE NATURE OF HIS INTERCESSION. -St. John seems to give us an emblematic view of this, (Rev. viii, 3, 4.) "And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand." Even the prayers of saints are so defective, that they need the incense of our Redeemer's merit to make them acceptable unto God.

Jesus Christ intercedes BY PERSONALLY APPEARING FOR US BEFORE GOD.-In heaven itself he now appears "in the presence of God for us. This man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sin, for ever sat down on the right hand of God." Heb. x, 12. "By his own blood he entered in once into the Holy place." Heb. ix, 12. The virtue, merit, and power of that blood still remains. How sure may we be, then, that he will obtain what he asks, when he pleads that he died to procure it. He ascended into heaven with that body in which he suffered; and we may imagine, when he makes intercession, the prints of the nails in his feet, and in his hands, and of the spear in his side, silently and yet powerfully urge his pleas in our behalf. Hence, St. John who saw the glory of the inner temple of God, says, "I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne, stood a lamb as it had been slain." This view of the subject has been well

illustrated by the story of Amyntas and Eschylus, related by the historian Elian. Eschylus was condemned to death by the Athenians, and was about to be led to execution. His brother Amyntas had signalized himself in the service of his country, and on the day of a most illustrious victory, in a great measure obtained by his means, had lost his hand. He came into the court, just as his brother was condemned, and, without saying any thing, exposed the stump of his arm from under his garment, and held it up in their sight; and the historian tells us, "that when the judges saw this mark of his sufferings, they remembered what he had done, and for his sake discharged the guilty brother, whose life had been forfeited." The wounded body of the Saviour, though there may remain no visible marks of his humble state, is, in the sight of God, thus perpetually pleading for his sinful and guilty brethren. Not that God the Father is severe, austere, difficult to be entreated, or hard to be won: this would be a very mistaken view of him whose name is LOVE. The Father appoints this way of approach in infinite compassion and love to us, that we may come boldly unto the throne of grace: (Heb. iv, 16.) And though his holiness be such that he cannot endure the approach of sinners without a Mediator, yet it was his own free grace which moved him to provide a Mediator, and disposes him to accept of his mediation in our behalf. Hence the Father himself is represented as willing to hear us, when we pray in the name of Jesus. Thus our Lord says to his disciples, (John xvi, 26, 27.) "At that day ye shall ask in my name, and I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loveth you."

Jesus Christ intercedes for his people BY PRAYING FOR THEM. Does he see them exposed to the just ven

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