Page images

may serve to give us some idea of the warmth with which the same work is conducted in the sanctuary above. The affection, too, which he bears to his people, cannot but give a peculiar eagerness to his supplications on their behalf. He bears them upon

his heart, as the names of the children of Israel were engraven on the breastplate worn by the high priest of old when he went into the holy of holies; and the burning coals of fire with which the incense-censer was filled, were an apt, though faint representation, of the holy ardour with which the love of the Redeemer glows when he ministers as our intercessor before the throne of God. He is no cold selfish pleader; his soul is in the work; his prayers are the prayers of the heart; love prompts all his requests, selects the best arguments, and urges the strongest pleas. 'Who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto me? saith the Lord.' Yes, Christians, your prayers for yourselves are nothing like so fervent as those of the Redeemer for you. Oh how shamefully cold, and languid, and lifeless, and formal, in many cases, are your petitions! How often do you use words without feeling, and put forth a frothy vehemence of language when there is no corresponding ardency within! Every saint must have something of this kind with which to accuse himself; but no such charge can be brought against Christ. His intercessions ever exceed in ardency, our warmest addresses, our most vehement appeals. We can never be said to plead with all our heart; he never pleads in any other way.


The authoritative character of our Lord's intercession should not be overlooked. It is not enough that an advocate be a person of skill, integrity, compassion, and zeal; he must also be authorized; he must bear a commission; he must be regularly licensed to practise at the bar. There must be a legal, as well as an intellectual and moral, qualification. This, in the case of Christ, is undoubted. He does not assume of himself the office of intercessor, nor does he derive his commission from his people, but from God. I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me: saith the Lord.' intercession is a part of his sacerdotal functions; and we know 'Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest, but He that said unto him, Thou art my son, to-day have I begotten thee.' His general suretyship implies such a special commission; for it supposes a right to see all the stipulations of the covenant fulfilled, all the debts of the covenant children discharged, and payment made of every purchased benefit. The very manner in which he conducts his intercession carries in it thus much. He sues for the new covenant blessings, more as a matter of right than of favour; he demands rather than petitions; he claims rather than begs. There is a tone about his requests-Father, I will'-that bespeaks the authority under which he acts. They savour of the throne not less than of the altar. He is a Priest upon his Throne.

Betwixt the intercession of Christ and advocacy among men, there are, as we have seen, many points

of resemblance, but, in other respects, it is altogether peculiar. It possesses a character of utter exclusiveness; neither man nor angel must invade it; so absolute is it, indeed, as to exclude even the other persons of the godhead. This peculiarity was set forth in the type. No man, not even the king himself, might intrude into the functions of the priesthood in general; nor was any one but the high priest permitted to carry incense, on the day of expiation, into the holy of holies. There is none else in heaven or in earth, either qualified, or authorized, or required, to make intercession. 'No ONE cometh unto the Father BUT BY HIM.' 'Through HIM we have access by one Spirit unto the Father.' 'There is ONE mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.' The saints may, indeed, lawfully intercede for one another, but in a way very different from Christ. They intercede on earth, he in heaven; he on the footing of his own merit, they altogether denied to every thing like personal worth as the ground on which they trust for being heard. Angels may not intrude on this high and peculiar function of the Lord of angels. They are often said to praise, but never, that we are aware of, to pray. Nor can they have any personal disposable merit to form the foundation of vicarious intercessions. To represent either angels or men as joint intercessors with Christ, as is done by the church of Rome, is to be guilty of a daring invasion of a high and exclusive prerogative of the one Mediator. To the entrance into the holy place not made with hands, in the sense in which we are

now speaking of it, the language of the prophet may be fitly accommodated:-'This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. It is for the Prince." Yes, Messiah the Prince, the Prince of peace, claims the work of intercession as his peculiar prerogative. It is a prerogative, indeed, which he claims as his to the exclusion, as we have said, even of the other persons of the godhead. The Father, as the representative of Deity, sustaining the character of the judicial sovereign with whom the intercession must be transacted, cannot be supposed to act in the capacity of intercessor. We read, indeed, of the Spirit's intercession 'The Spirit maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God,'-but it is essentially different from that of Christ. We cannot, at present, enter minutely into all the distinctions between them. That of Christ is personal; that of the Spirit moral. The Spirit does not stand up, as does Christ, before God in the court of heaven, and literally plead the cause of men. Such a supposition, besides implying a reflection on the perfection of Christ's work, is at variance with the exclusive divinity of the Spirit, he having no human nature as Christ has in which he can appropriately appear in the capacity of a pleader. The Spirit's intercession consists in the moral influence he exerts on the souls of the people of God, in leading them out to pray for

2 Ezek. xliv. 2, 3.

themselves, by discovering to them the matter of prayer; by imparting a disposition or inclination to pray; by fixing the mind on the subject of prayer; by giving enlargement, freedom, and confidence in the exercise; and by directing them in the use of proper arguments. From this it will plainly enough appear, in what the intercession of Christ and that of the Holy Spirit differ from one another. They differ in their nature, the one being meritorious and the other moral; in their objects, that of the one being to remove the obstacles to man's salvation that exist on the part of God, that of the other to remove those which exist on the part of man; in their locality, the one being in heaven, the other on earth; in the relation which they bear to their subjects, the one being without men, the other within; and in their effects, the one enabling to pray, the other rendering prayer acceptable to God. It thus appears that the intercession of the Spirit interferes in no point whatever with that of Christ, but leaves it in all its naked peculiarity or exclusiveness.

The prevalence or efficacy of Christ's intercession is a feature on which we might descant at great length. It is an inviting theme, so full is it of comfort and encouragement. It often happens, among men, that the most urgent petitions, the most touching appeals on behalf of the oppressed, the wretched, and the needy, are permitted to remain disregarded and unheard. But not one request of our divine Advocate can possibly share this fate. Him the Father heareth always. This view admits of ample confir

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »