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gion, there is no difference among the persons of the sacred Trinity; but there is a sad controversy commenced betwixt a righteous God and sinning man. How must these be made friends ? Infinite love and wisdom have found out an expedient that is sufficient to effect it, even the second person of the Trinity, assuming the nature of man, and interposing two ways:
(1.) By suffering the penalty that man had deserved, and satisfying justice by his meritorious oblation of himself; “ He offered himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-sinelling savour," Eph. v.
“ Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree ;" * “ in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgivenes of sins:” † and thus he hath reconciled God and man by his death on the cross. This is the mystery of mysteries, the mercy of mercies. But this is not the point on which I am now to speak, but another founded upon it, which is
(2.) The intercession of Christ now in heaven; he is our advocate, because he is the propitiation for our sins, 1 John ii. 1, 2. Thus Christ is now in heaven to pursue the same design he had upon the cross, so that Christ's intercession sets out the perpetual efficacy of his sacrifice, and the continual application of it to believers, himself demanding from his Father for him and his, what was formerly merited and now looked on as a debt due in consequence of what Christ hath done and suffered. Hence it is said, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." || It is mercy: to us, but justice to Christ, who hath merited it for us, and doth claim it as the fruit of his purchase.
Yet more particularly, this intercession is twofold: 1. Interpretative or virtual; 2. Direct. * 1 Pet. ii. 24. + Eph. i. 7. I Col. i. 21, 22. ll I John i.9.
1. Our Lord makes intercession more objectively and interpretatively or virtually, and this is by presenting himself to God in heaven; so saith that remarkable text, Heb. ix. 24, “ For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” The high priests of old went into the holy of holies, and bore the names of the twelve tribes upon their breast-plate for a memorial before the Lord, Exod. xxviii. 30. Our Lord answers this exactly, and having finished his suffering work on earth, the justice of God was fully satisfied, and he now presents himself to the Father, in the name and room of all believers, and virtually speaks this language—“Here I am, having finished the work thou gavest me to do."* I have fulfilled all righteousness, , aecomplished prophecies, answered the types, and here I am demanding by right what thou hast promised me, not only for myself, but for those whom thou assignedst to me by the covenant of redemption before the foundation of the world, and this he demands as due debt, because an equivalent price is paid and justice itself can demand no more: though it came freely to us, yet was bought at a dear rate by Christ. See Rom. iii. 24-26.
2. Formally, properly, and directly, Christ makes intercession by praying for us.
Yet this must not be understood literally, as though Christ did now, after the manner of humble supplicants, kneel down or prostrate himself, as he did in the days of his flesh, with strong crying and tears :t but some way making known his desires to his father for the good of saints, whether by words or signs who can tell ? but in such a way as is suitable to his glorified state. Divines generally * John xvii. 4.
+ Matt. xxvi. 39. Heb. v. 7.
conclude that Christ's intercession is his most gracious will and pleasure, strongly and immoveably expressed, that all his members, through the perpetual virtue of his sacrifice may be accepted of the Father, and admitted with him into heavenly mansions.* This is sufficient for us to know, only we may be sure as it is heavenly and glorious, so it is always prevalent and efficacious.
It may be further asked, whether Christ make intercession as God or as man? The reason of this doubt is, because it is said, 1 Tim. ii. 5, “ There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.”
I answer, that doth not exclude his deity, but only assures believers of his readiness to undertake our cause because he is so near akin to us, being flesh of our flesh, and cannot deny our suits, or refuse to undertake our patronage, or intercession for us. He that put himself so near us in his incarnation, will not be a stranger now in interposing with the Father on our behalf.
But, as mediator betwixt God and man, it was absolutely necessary he should partake of both natures in his passion and satisfaction, for if he had not been man he could not have suffered, and if he had not been God he could not have satisfied : he must be God's fellow, and equal with God, † or he could not have managed these great works both on God's behalf and man's, therefore he saith, John x. 30, “ I and my Father are one ”—not only one in consent, but in essence, of one nature, and carry on the same design. “And no man knoweth the Father but the Son;" | he was in the bosom of the Father, ) and so knows his mind, and their mutual counsels, and will ask nothing but what is conJohn xiv. 2, 3.
+ Zech. xiii. 7. Phil. ii. 6. * Matt. xi. 27.
|| John i. 18.
sistent with his will. The Son of man was in heaven as to his Godhead, even while his manhood was upon earth, and now his manhood is in heaven, his Godhead is with his church to the end of the world. Besides, as the altar sanctifies the gift, † so the Godhead of Christ is that blessed altar that makes his death and our offerings acceptable to God; “ we have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat, that serve the tabernacle," Heb. xiii. 10: and “ by him let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually,” ver. 15.
If it be asked, when Jesus Christ took this office upon
him to be mediator or intercessor? I answer, 1. From all eternity in God's decree or purpose, or in that covenant of redemption, contrived and agreed upon betwixt the Father and the Son, to which Christ consented; Psalm xl. 7, 8, “ Then said I, Lo I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me,” which the apostle interprets of Christ, Heb. x. 7,9; and God the Father consents to it, and promised to Christ before the world began, what he would do for him and by him. $ Accordingly, all believers are predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, and therefore are accepted in the Beloved,Eph. i. 4–6.
2. From the beginning of the world, as soon as Adam fell from God. God had threatened man, the day thou eatest, thou shalt die the death "|-how came it then to pass that Adam lived ? Doubtless, it was by virtue of Christ's intercession, who was the promised seed, of whom God saith to the serpent, “ It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel;" meaning that Satan should put Christ to death, and Christ should gloriously triumph over the devil, both personally and mystically in his members : and this is
John ii. 13 # Tit. i. 2.
Matt. xxviii. 18, 20.
ll Gen. ii. 17.
+ Matt. xxiii. 17.
§ Gen. iii. 15.
the meaning of that passage, Rev. xiii. 8, which asserts that “the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world;" that is, Christ's satisfaction and intercession have been effectual for the salvation of believers in all ages, even before he appeared in the world, all sacrifices having referred to him.
3. In the fulness of time, when he was incarnate and manifested in the flesh. “ The fulness of time is now come,” as the apostle saith, Gal. iv. 4, 5; and though his main work was to redeem sinners, yet he preached the gospel, wrought miracles, and even in those days of his flesh, "offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears,” Heb. v. 7, upon several occasions, as I shall shew hereafter.
4. Now he is exalted to heaven, our Lord is in his proper element of intercession. So saith the apostle, Rom. viii. 34, “ It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is ever at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us :" that is his employment and our happiness. Yea, “ upon his right hand doth stand the queen in gold of Ophir.” * So pleased is Christ with his church and gracious souls, that he hath their persons and concerns always present with him ; this, this is the happiness of believers. This is a high privilege, a doctrine worth studying, for next to Christ's satisfaction upon the cross, a Christian's safety lies in Christ's intercession: Heb. vii. 25, “ Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Observe it, the completing of our salvation much depends upon Christ's intercession.
Psalm xlv. 9.