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pathy between them and the people. But our High Priest is not thus cold and unfeeling. He can be touched with the feeling of our infirmity. Having endured similar temptations to those which assail his followers, he knows our frailties and our weaknesses.He knows what it is to suffer. He too has passed through the fiery ordeal of this world's tribulations. He too has toiled, and prayed, and wept, and agonized, and died. He knows how to feel for those who are struggling after him against the winds and tide of this troublesome world. He understands our sorrows and our grief; and “like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” Yes, my brethren, Jesus seels for us in our perplexities and troubles. His bowels of compassion stir with tenderness as he sees us encompassed with temptation and danger, or weighed down with adversity. Before the throne he ever stands in the overflowings of his pity and his love interceding for us. He rejoices with us in every victorious step we gain; and weeps with us over every folly and every fall. His friendly hand is ever extended to support us and to lead us; and all the kind sympathies of his nature combine to draw us to himself. A truly precious High Priest is ours !
We come now to consider finally, the encouragements given by the apostle in the text in virtue of the Savior's priesthood. “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God; let us hold fast our profession.”Here is the first encouragement. This applied with much greater force to the Jewish converts to christianity, whom Paul wished to preserve from apostacy, than to us. The Jewish christians in apostolic times were placed in very unfavorable circumstances. They were beset and harassed on every side by those who contended for the Levitical observances as essential to the salvation of the soul. All their natural feelings and prejudices also ran in that direction. Often were they severely tried with the vexed and vexing questions of those Jewish teachers. Hence their faith was unstable. Sometimes they were ready to give up, and many did apostatize. The apostle in this epistle comes to the help of such, he hurls back the ill-founded and sophistical objections of the Rabbies and the Doctors, and tells his brethren in the Gospel now to hold fast their profession. As though he had said, “I have now fairly answered those Judaizing casuists who have seen fit to charge us with the
want of one of the constituent elements of true religion ; I have now shown you that we have a priest, a great High Priest, a sinless and compassionate priest; I have now settled your difficulties; henceforth allay your fears, hold fast the new doctrine, go not after those Jewish objectors, stand firm in the profession you have made, for you shall not be disappointed!”
But the priesthood of Christ furnishes rich encouragement for the christian professor in the present day, to hold fast his profession. It furnishes reason sufficient to justify our clinging to the doctrines of the cross with the tenacity of martyrdom. For if religion be at all necessary to our well-being, and all history and experience teach us that it is, we have every desirable encouragement to embrace and cleave to the christian system. Here is a priesthood more noble and dignified than any thing that has preceded it. Here is the greatest sacrifice that was ever made for sin. Here we have the most satisfactory knowledge of our duty and of our reward for its observance that has ever been communicated to fallen man. And if any religion will satisfy the restless cravings of the soul, if any thing will fill its high and heavenly aspirations, it is the religion of Jesus. Why not then hold fast our profession? Why not with an apostolic heroism cling to the cross of Calvary?
My brethren, let me exhort and conjure you, by our great high Priesthood, to hold fast your profession. And though casuists, infidels, and devils use all their subtlety-lay their deepest plans and bring out their deadliest weapons against you; still ground yourselves immovably upon the Rock of Ages. Though some who were once by your side have become entangled by the snares of this world, and have thrown down their oars; don't you make shipwreck of your faith. Though you cross ruffled seas and troubled waters, ever stand firmly to your posts. Though tossed upon
the mountain wave, or dashed into the gaping deep; still fix your steady gaze upon the guiding star of Bethlehem, and shout to the Master's call, “ Jesus, we come! we come!" Uufurl your bloodstained colors to the sun ; let them stream in their native heaven; spread out your sails to the whistling blasts; and trust to Christ your Captain and your God! Soldiers of the cross, fight on, fight on! the crown shall soon be given. Equip yourselves for the conflict, and never quit the field, until you quit it in victory-final and eternal victory. And rather than submit your faith, like the last
brave Polish warrior who stood against the triumphant forces of Napoleon, rather than acknowledge a conqueror, wrap yourselves up in the unsullied folds of the flag under which you fought, and die amid the honors of a martyr's heroism !
The further encouragement presented in view of the Savior's priesthood, is contained in these words : “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
There is here great majesty of conception, as well as beauty of expression. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace.” In the Jewish tabernacle and temple, the place of expiation, or propitiatory, was called the mercy-seat. It was a mere seat. The idea is that of an inferior and temporary abiding place, where these blessings were but imperfectly dealt out. But this is the throne--the supreme exaltation—the place where mercy and grace are found and imparted in all their royal richness and fulness. To this supreme and heavenly propitiatory we are encouraged to come ; not as the Jewish ecclesiastical functionaries approached the holy place, with fear and trembling, but boldly. We are to come with confidence that we shall be accepted of him who is so compassionate and kind.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace," says the apostle, “that we may obtain mercy.” Mercy is the great and needed blessing. Pardon for sin has been the object of man's highest aspirations and most untiring exertions. It has been sought with more intense and general eagerness than the philosopher's stone of the ancients. Sin has been the burden of all people in all ages; but salvation from its guilt and power was something after which all labored, struggled, and bled in vain. Divers were the plans adopted and the courses pursued for its attainment. Sensual indulgence the laurels of fame—the sceptres of power—with all the ethics of skeptical philosophy have been repeatedly tried, and as often failed. Self-denial the most rigid was undergone-pilgrimages the most arduous were performed-cruelties the most shocking were perpetrated--monks and hermits tortured away their lives on the racks of ascetic devotion-blood was shed in torrents --victims were slain--infants were sacrificed, but mercy-mercy was still the cry. With the first entrance upon the theatre of life, the cry was mercy. At every successive change and development
of human existence, the cry was mercy. And from the old man with limbs palsied in death, and lifting his stricken and dimming eyes from the mouth of the grave, the cry was mercy, mercy! until his voice was hushed in the silence of the tomb! All the elements of nature have been disturbed in the general commotion. The whole creation has groaned and travailed together in pain for deliverance. And the smitten world, tortured and tossed by disappointment and remorse, has for centuries been stretching out her hands and lifting up her imploring voice for mercy, mercy!
Here then is the great, the supplicated blessing—Mercy! Here is the priceless treasure free and abundant for all who will come. Was there ever so great a benefaction proffered to our race! Here is peace and rest for the troubled and the weary. For the wretched sinner, friendless, homeless, starving, riven by sore judgments, and blighted by misfortune and death, here is a full redemption from all his woes. Prisoners of sin, and captives of Satan! here is liberty. Come, says the apostle, come boldly, come to the throne, come at once to the king and receive your freedom; aye, the freedom of the sons of God!
Nor is this encouragement merely to come for mercy, that greatest of heaven's gifts to man, but also for “grace to help in time of need.” From this language I infer, that there are periods in the history of every man, when he will have special need of Divine help and grace. Yea, and these seasons of necessity are both numerous and frequent. The whole life of man, is a life of exposure and dependence. He is ever at the mercy of the winds and of the waves. All alike are subject to disease, disappointment, and distress.
The shades of adversity will at some point fall upon every one's path through life. But when these times of gloom and sorrow come—when tribulation rolls upon us—when misfortune assails and poverty blights—when disease lays it heavy hand upon us, and death snatches away our friends and hides them in the tomb -when each star of hope one by one expires, and comfort after comfort withers—when the broken spirit begins to sink, and keen despair steals in upon the soul, surely then God's helping grace is needed to succor and to save.
But there is a season awaiting us all of far more extreme necessity. I mean the season of death. Death is that stern foe of our race that levels all the living, and lays the lofty, the gifted, and the
learned, and the form of the lowly together in the dust. The conquered subjects of its gloomy realm mingle with the ground of every clime, and slumber in the crystal depths of every sea. None are exempted from a strict obedience to this great law of nature and of God. And when the hour of our departure comes, if unaided and unsupported by Divine grace, it is a dreadful and horrific hour. And nothing but that grace can render it otherwise.Wealth, friends, honor, genius are all the same as poverty and lowliness in the eyes of death. These things can neither mitigate its gloom, nor divest it of its bitter sting. Queen Elizabeth was the occupant of a mighty throne, the resources of half Europe were at her command, nobles and grandees were her attendants; yet in that dread hour she was so overwhelmed with horror and dismay, that she died with the frantic and despairing exclamation on her lips, “Millions of worlds for an inch of time !” Voltaire was a man of genius, and the whole intellect of France did homage to his will; yet that great apostle of infidelity, hardened as he was, evinced such furious and despairing rage in his last moments, that even his physicians retired, declaring the death of the wicked too terrible to be witnessed! But we have the testimony of one greater than these to the intolerable horrors of a hopeless death. There was an incarnate God once felt its power and endured its sting.But even Jesus, who could bear all other woe without a murmur, at the mere taste of its bitterness cried out, “ Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me!" And no sooner had its dregs passed his lips than his crushed spirit cried out in untold agony, “My God! My God! why hast thou forsaken me!” And if he who was so eminently calculated to suffer, was thus bruised and trampled, what must be the indescribable gloom and anguish of poor helpless sinners who die with their sins unrepented of and unforgiven! “My soul, come not thou into their secret.”
But thanks be unto God, our great High Priest has made provision for every emergency. The throne of grace which he has rendered accessible, furnished the needed assistance. Here is grace to help in every time of need. And when we have the Divine grace to support us, let come what will, all will still be well. We shall then outride the severest storms of tribulation-our tears shall be dried-and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Death then shall be robbed of its terrors, and the grave of its gloom. When grace