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granted unto them,' and who killed the Prince of Life?' And as to the chief priests, who acted so prominent a part in that scene of crime, are we not afterwards informed, that 'the word of God increased, and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the PRIESTS were obedient to the faith?' But this only proves the sovereign grace of God and the infinite merit of Christ's blood, in including in the number of the elect and the saved the basest and most guilty among men, not that the intercession of Christ is general.
Christ makes intercession for all the elect. Whatever their state, believers or unbelievers, they are remembered according as they require. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.' Whatever the age of the world in which they live, from the entrance of sin to the end of time, they are included in his prayers. We are apt to conceive of the work of intercession as conducted only since the Saviour's ascension, or at most since his appearance on earth. But he was always the Angel of God's presence who saved his people. 'He bare them, and carried them' on his heart 'all the days of old.' And before his incarnation, we have one distinct act of intercession on record: 'Then the angel of the Lord answered and said, O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem, and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years? And the Lord answered the angel that talked with me, with good words and com
fortable words.' Among the innumerable multitude of the chosen of God, not one shall ever be omitted, in this part of his sacerdotal function. Out of the hand of the Angel of the covenant ascend continually, amid the cloud of incense, 'the prayers of ALL saints.' As on the Aaronic pectoral, worn by the high priest of old when he entered into the most holy place, were engraven all the names of the children of Israel, so on the heart of our Intercessor within the vail, are borne all the chosen of God.
Nor is it for all in the mass, that the Saviour makes intercession. He prays for each by himself. Even as respects believers, his intercession is not general, but particular. With a speciality such as might be supposed if there were only one, does he attend to the interests of each individual in the vast number of those given him by the Father. A general remembrance of them would not suffice. Their cases are various; not two of them are exactly alike. But, with infinite compassion and skill, is every special case of each individual presented by this divine Advocate to his Father. 'Simon, Simon, satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for THEE that thy faith fail not.' 'He that overcometh, I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess HIS NAME before my Father, and before his angels."
Now, by these remarks on the persons for whom Christ intercedes, we are prepared to enter on the SUBJECT-MATTER of his intercession.
Zech. i. 12, 13.
7 Luke xxii. 31, 32; Rev. iii. 5.
Christ intercedes that the chosen of God may brought into a gracious state. They mingle originally with the world lying in wickedness, are enemies to God in their mind by wicked works, rebels against the divine authority, and sinners before the Lord exceedingly. There is no visible distinction between them and the world; they are in the same state of condemnation, they possess the same character of ungodliness, and they merit the same punishment. But there is a distinction, and that one of immense importance; they are chosen of God; they are given to Christ to be redeemed; the eye of the omniscient Saviour is upon them; and, when the period fixed in the arrangements of infinite mercy for their salvation arrives, he pleads his merits for the bestowment of the primary blessings of the new life. The blessings of grace may be viewed, as they affect respectively the commencement, the progress, or the consummation of the new life. It is not for the two latter merely that Jesus makes intercession, but also for the first; for justification, regeneration, and adoption, as well as for sanctification, and eternal glory. 'Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance.' The heathen, and consequently those, who, in respect of condemnation, are not better than heathen, must be prayed for, in order to their being brought into a fit state to be characterized as the inheritance of Christ. Justification is an act of acquittal from condemnation, the ground of which is the sacrifice of the Redeemer; but as satan, the law, and the justice of God accuse the sinner of guilt, the
Advocate with the Father must plead the merits of his sacrifice in answer to these accusations, before the act of acquittal can be pronounced. The procuring cause of justification is the Saviour's merits, but the immediate cause of actual justification is the Saviour's intercession. Hence, says the apostle, 'Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? 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." Regeneration is a result of the Spirit's efficient power on the soul; but the intercession of Christ is connected, in the economy of redemption, with the gift of the Spirit for this end. 'I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." In like manner, in order to adoption or admission to the family of God, the Saviour must plead the ground of admission as that on which the act in question proceeds.
Thus does it appear that, but for the intercession of Christ, men would never be brought into a state of grace, but remain for ever in condemnation and sin. The Intercessor within the vail, however, looks down with omniscient inspection on the whole family of mankind: he sets an eye of special recognition on those who were given to him by the Fa
ther; these are all well known to him, for 'the Lord knoweth them that are his;' their names are all written in the Lamb's book of life, they are engraven on the palms of his hands, on the tablets of his heart; when, in the lapse of time, the period fixed for the salvation of each occurs, he carries their case to the throne of God; the Father hears; the Spirit is sent; and the sinner is turned from darkness to light, from the power of satan unto God. Means may have been at work for long to accomplish this end. The scriptures may have been read; the gospel may have been heard; there may have been the entreaty, and expostulation, and prayers of deeply interested friends; the providence of God may have prepared the way; the law may have uttered its thunders, the gospel may have whispered its comforts, and deep serious thoughtfulness may have been produced. But not one, or all of these together, could make the man a new creature, and convert the sinner into a saint. Yet a change is effected, a visible alteration to the better is produced: and the true explanation of this change is to be found in the efficacy of Christ's intercession. It is this that has put all the wheels in motion; it is this that has given power and efficacy to the means; the proper and simple account of the whole matter is, that an unknown Friend in heaven has spoken for the elect sinner to the King.
The need for Christ's intercession does not end on being brought into a gracious state. Saints, as well as sinners, require an interest in this function of the great High Priest. It is thus that the pardon of the