« PreviousContinue »
daily sins of the people of God is procured. Believers sin, as well as others. 'In many things we offend all.' 'If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.' True, it is written, 'whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin because he is born of God.' But, in consistency with the other assertion just quoted of the same writer, this can mean nothing more than that a true child of God cannot sin with complacency, or so as to be brought under final condemnation. The reason of this is, not that the sins of such are less criminal than those of others, for, besides involving rebellion against the same authority and a violation of the same holy, just, and good law, they are peculiarly aggravated by the obligations arising from the benefits that have been received. But the reason is, the interest which such have in the justifying righteousness of Christ, to which constant efficacy is given by his intercession. This is the believer's security from the daily condemnation to which his daily transgressions expose him. The act of justification is pronounced at once; the state of justification continues for ever. The security of this permanent state is the same with that which constitutes the ground of the primary act-the righteousness of Emmanuel: and the intercession is what secures the constant efficacy of this perfect righteousness. The apostle John asserts thus much:-'If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins.'
10 1 John ii. 2, 3.
But for this advocacy, the sins which the people of God daily commit would procure for them condemnation, justifying grace would be withdrawn, and the rich promises of saving mercy would be virtually cancelled. Believers, therefore, need, not only to be warned against temptations to sin, but to be furnished with encouragement in case of its being committed: despondency in the latter case may prove as hurtful as security in the former. And their consolation springs from Christ's intercession; but for which, amid the daily short-comings arising from the corruptions of nature, the snares of the world, and the wiles of satan, they must be utterly miserable. But let it not be supposed from this, that the intercession of Christ gives any encouragement to men to sin. To hold out the comforting prospect of pardon when sin has been committed, is a very different thing from holding out an inducement to commit sin. It is for the former, not the latter, purpose, that the doctrine of Christ's intercession is introduced in the scriptures. 'If any man sin, we have an Advocate:' not 'that any man may sin,' &c. The latter is a fearful abuse against which we must be ever on our guard.
By his intercession, Christ, farther, protects his people against the accusations and temptations of satan. He came to destroy the works of the devil. He was predicted of old as he who should bruise the serpent's head: and for this purpose was he manifested in due time. He cast out the unclean spirits with a word; he vanquished satan in single combat in the wilderness; and by his death, did he destroy him that had
the power of death, that is the devil. The same work he still carries on in glory in the character of Intercessor, answering the accusations brought against his people, and protecting them from the assaults of the adversary. Satan is the accuser of the brethren; he prefers heavy charges against the disciples of Christ at the bar of conscience, and, through his human agents, at the bar of public opinion. These, as being well known to Him, may be understood to be preferred at the bar of God. Some of them are true, others false; but Christ, as the advocate with the Father, answers them all. He refutes such as are false by showing their groundlessness; and for the forgiveness of such as are true he pleads the merit of his blood. In proof of the latter, we may refer to the oft-quoted passage in the epistle of John:-'If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins.' In support of the former, we may refer to the case of Joshua:'And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, the Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?'" Here are three characters introduced to notice:-the panel at the bar, 'Joshua the high priest;' the public prosecutor, Satan; and the advocate, 'the Angel of Jehovah.' Joshua had just escaped from Babylon, where, it is
11 Zech. iii. 1, 2.
taken for granted, he had been guilty of many crimes, especially of neglecting the worship of the true God, conforming to the idolatrous customs of the heathen, and forming alliances with the enemies of Israel. These, and similar accusations, are brought against him by satan. But the Angel of the Lord stands up in his behalf against the accuser; answers satisfactorily every charge; and brings off his client in triumph. In this we have a specimen of the manner in which he acts towards his people in similar circumstances. He who, having died and risen again, also maketh intercession for us, is entitled, by way of eminence, to say, 'Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?'
Nor is the intercession of Christ of less avail in procuring strength to resist the temptations of satan. Many are the assaults made by the adversary on the children of God. They are not ignorant of his devices. These assaults are at once formidable from their number, appalling from their strength, and dangerous from their skill. They are managed with great dexterity, every art of fear and hope, smile and frown, allurement and terror, being employed to secure success; and the nature or form of the suggestion being cunningly adapted to every peculiarity of individual character or situation, so as to lead men to think evil of God, to distrust the Saviour, or to grieve the Holy Spirit; to neglect duty, or to practise iniquity; to despair of salvation, or presumptuously to rest on a false hope. Thus exposed, unless the people of God had on their side one more skilful and more
powerful still, one willing as well as able to counteract the working of this mighty adversary, they must necessarily fall a prey to his subtlety, and sink beneath the weight of his infernal artillery. The advocacy of Christ is their safety. Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he might sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.' By the intercessory prayer of their divine Advocate, their faith is rendered firm and immovable; they are strengthened to fight and to overcome; they resist the devil, and he flees from them; instead of shrinking from his attack, they confront him boldly; they say, with undaunted countenance, 'Get thee behind us, Satan;' and the stripling combatant comes off more than conqueror, leaving his vaunting adversary stretched on the field. The faith of a believer, invigorated by the intercession of his Saviour, must ever prove more than a match for the heaviest assault of the Prince of darkThis is a shield which no arrow can pierce; and any impression that even the most formidable temptation can make upon it is like that of a leaden bullet discharged against a brazen wall.
The progressive sanctification of the saints, and their general perseverance stand connected with the intercession of Christ. The whole scheme of salvation has for its end the holiness of its subjects. This end, everything about it is adapted as well as designed to promote. The sacrifice of Christ is fitted to advance moral purity in the soul; the blood of God's Son cleanses from all sin; it is a fountain opened for sin