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at the right hand of God; who also maketh intercession for us. The persons for whom Christ is here said to intercede, are those included in the word ' us ;' those who in the preceding verse are called • God's elect;' and of whom it is said, that none shall hereafter be able to lay any thing to their charge;' and of whom in the verses following it is declared, that nothing, whether present or future, shall be able to separate them from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.'
I know of no passage in the Scriptures which even seems to teach any other doctrine, except Isaiah liji. 12, ' And he made intercession for the transgressors. Of this passage, I
' observe, [1.] that saints may be, and with the utmost propriety are, considered as designed by the word transgressors,' in this place. Saints both before and after their regeneration, are transgressors; and in this character only need the intercession of Christ.
[2.] The murderers of Christ are very naturally designated in this place, by · transgressors :' and the passage may be considered as a prophecy of the intercession which he made for them on the cross.
In the same verse it is said, · He was numbered with the transgressors;' that is, with the thieves between whom he was crucified; and with all the other capital criminals condemned to the same death. All these were eminently transgressors ; and with thein be was numbered or reckoned when he was pronounced to have the same character, and sentenced to the same infamy and sufferings. As the word · transgressors' denotes malefactors or murderers in the former of these clauses, it is very naturally understood to denote persons of the same character in the latter. In the former clause, also, the prophet speaks one fact which took place on the day of Christ's crucifixion ; it is very naturally supposed, therefore, that he pursues the same subject through the verse, and that the intercession mentioned by him, was made on the same day. If these remarks are just, the prophet may be fairly considered as predicting, in this passage, the prayer of Christ for his murderers, • Father, forgive them ; for they know not what they do!' This was a real and wonderful instance of intercession, and was gloriously answered in the conversion of several thousands of these persons to the faith and obedience of the Gospel.
2. The Children of God are still the subjects of backsliding and sin, in greater or less degrees, while they live. In every
child of God there still exists a law in his members, which wars against the law in his mind,' and often brings him into captivity to the law of sin, which is in bis members. It is to be remembered, that all such sins are committed not only against the law, but against the grace of God, and are aggravated by this high consideration. Originally, they were apostates; but afterwards they were reconciled to God by faith in the blood of his Son. For this unspeakable blessing their obligations to obedience are increased beyond measure. Against these obligations, and against their own solemn covenant, recognizing and enhancing them, they still have sinped. Their ingratitude, therefore, is peculiar, and all their transgressions are heightened by the amazing consideration that they have been redeemed, sanctified, and forgiven.
3. Notwithstanding their backslidings, they are not utterly cast of
My mercy,' saith God, ' will I keep for him for evermore ; and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments : Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving kindness I will not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.' Psalm Lxxxix. 28-33. This is the universal language of the Scriptures concerning this subject. “Persecuted, but not forsaken ; cast down, but not destroyed ; perplexed, but not in despair ; chastened, but not killed.' Such is the language of the apostles, and such was their condition. Such also, in various respects, is that of all their followers.
For the obliteration of the sins of persons so circumstanced, it cannot be irrational to suppose, that some provision would be made by him, who sent his Son to die for them ; and who had promised in the covenant of redemption that they should endure for over.
II. I shall consider the manner in which the intercession of Christ is performed.
On this subject I observe,
1. Some of the ancients were of opinion, that Christ executes this office by presenting, continually, his human nature before the throne of his Father. Aquinas also, a more modern writer, says, “ Christ intercedes for us by exhibiting, with a desire of our salvation, to the view of the Father the human nature, assumed for us, and the mysteries celebrated or accomplished in it.”
It will be admitted on all hands, that Christ does thus exhibit his human nature in the heavens ; nor can it be denied, that this is a continual exbibition of what he has done and suf
a fered for the glory of his father, and the salvation of his Church. All this was done by him in the human nature; which is, therefore, an unceasing and affecting symbol of his wonderful labours for these great ends. The same exhibition is, also, a strong and constant memorial of his own love to his followers, and his earnest desires that they may be forgiven and saved. These desires, therefore, together with these labours and sufferings, being all forcibly exhibited in this presentation of his human nature before the throne, of the Majesty in the heavens,' it is, I think, a well founded opinion, that in this manner the intercession of Christ is, partially at least, performed. In support of this opinion we are to remember, that the high priest, whose intercession was a type of that of Christ, made this intercession, not by offering, prayers for the people in the most holy place, but by sprinkling the blood of sacrifices on the mercy-seat. As the blood of the sacrifice was here presented before God by way of intercession, so Christ is considered as presenting the memorials of his sacrifice before God in the heavens, and as the high priest by this act opened to the Israelites the earthly holy places, so Christ is considered as in the like manner opening the heavenly holy places to his own followers for ever.
2. Christ pleads, substantially, for the forgiveness of the sins of his followers, their preservation in holiness, and their final acceptance into Heaven.
Intercession in its very nature involves petition. The manner in which it is performed may vary, but the substance is always the same. In whatever manner, therefore, Christ
may be supposed to intercede for his children, he must, substantially, offer up petitions on their behalf. That they need this
intercession cannot be rationally doubted. The blessings to wbich they are conducted are the greatest of all blessings; their final forgiveness, acceptance, purification, and eternal life. Of these and all other blessings they are wholly unworthy. That much is necessary to be done for such persons, in order to save them from punishment and secure to them immortal happiness, is a doctrine accordant with the dictates of common sense. In this world great evils are remitted and great blessings procured to the undeserving, by the intercession of the worthy and honourable. Analogy, therefore, leads us to look to similar means for the accomplishment of similar purposes, in the universal providence of God. Especially will this seem natural and necessary, where the greatest blessings are to be obtained for those who are unworthy of the least all blessings.
3. In John xvii. we have, if I mistake not, an example of this very intercession.
This chapter is the last communication of Christ to his apostles before his death. In it he recites, briefly, his wonderful labours for the glory of his father, and for the good of his children; declares, that he had finished the work allotted to him ; and announces, that he was bidding adieu to the scene of his humiliation, and preparing to enter into his glory.
On these grounds, he prays his Father to sanctify and perfect his children; to keep them while they were in the world, from the evil; to make them one in their spirit, their character, and their pursuits; and to cause the love which he exercised towards Christ, to rest upon them. At the same time he declares, that he had given to them his own glory ; and that it was his will that they should be where he was, and behold his glory for ever. All these illustrious things also he solicits on the ground of his Father's love to him, and his own labours and sufferings in obedience to his will.
In this prayer of Christ we bave probably a fair specimen of his intercession in the heavens. The same things are recited, and the same things requested here, which we are taught to expect there, and all is asked of God which can contribute to their safety or their happiness.
If these observations be allowed to be just, it will be seen that the great ends of Christ's intercession are to preserve his followers from final backsliding; an evil to which, if left to
themselves, they would certainly be exposed, notwithstanding all the virtuous principles which they possess; to obtain the forgiveness of those sins which they commit after their regeneration; and to secure their reception into the world of glory. These ends are of the highest importance to them, and in the highest degree declarative of the goodness of God.
This method of proceeding on the part of God, is wholly accordant with the common dictates of the human mind. Similar means, as I have observed, are used, and efficaciously used, to procure the remission of punishment and the enjoyment of good for unworthy men in the present world. That which is done here, therefore, and has ever been done witb the plainest propriety and the most decisive efficacy, strongly illustrates the reasonableness and propriety of what is thuis done in the heavens.
From these observations I infer,
Christ, the Son of God, and the infinitely meritorious Redeemer of men, intercedes for their preservation in holiness, the forgiveness of their backslidings, and their final acceptance into Heaven. "The Father always heareth'the Son. It is
• impossible that his intercession should fail, or that the purposes of it should not be accomplished. His followers, therefore, though exposed to ten thousand dangers, and to numberless temptations, enemies, and backslidings, though always in a state of peril, and living only a doubtful and scarcely perceptible life, will pass safely through all these hazards, and finally arrive at the possession of perfect holiness and everlasting joy.
In the preceding Discourse I evinced the truth of this doctrine by arguments drawn from the atonement of Christ. It is equally evident from his intercession. Christ, in his prayer at the tomb of Lazarus, says to the Father, • I knew that thou hearest me always.' In his intercessory prayer, in the xvüth of Jobn, he declares, that he intercedes not only for his apostles and their fellow-disciples then existing, but also ' for them, who should believe on him through their word;' that is, the Gospel. Those then who believe on bim through the Gospel, are universally interested in that intercession of Christ, which the Father heareth always.' Of course, their