Imatges de pàgina

intercession ; and if it is denied that Christ is thus occupied in heaven, the name Priest is an empty sound, and you fix on him the degrading stigma of holding an office without a function, of accepting a title without a corresponding work. If farther proof be necessary, it is derived from the fact, that the intercession of Christ is ever represented as proceeding on the ground of his atonement. One passage may suffice in proof of this assertion ; that, namely, in which his propitiation is exhibited as supporting his all-powerful, comforting advocacy ;— — If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous ; and he is the PROPITIATION for our sins.” (1 John. ii. 1, 2.) But the best evidence of all, is that which is furnished by the act of the high priest under the law. It was not enough that he offered sacrifice on the brazen altar in the outer part of the tabernacle, on the day of expiation ; he must afterwards enter into the holy place, and burn sweet incense on the golden altar, after having sprinkled it seven times with the blood of atonement. “And Aaron shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail. And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy-seat that is upon the testimony that he die not.' (Lev. xvi. 12, 13.) The import of this significant ceremony we are not left to conjecture. 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.' (Heb. ix. 24.). • And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer, and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.' (Rev. viii. 3, 4.) The intercession of Christ was significantly prefigured by this solemn act of the ancient high priest: and as the latter was, without doubt, a sacerdotal act, so also must be the former. In this way does it appear, that, for the reality of Christ's intercession, we have the same evidence as for the reality of his priesthood. If the one is figurative, the other is also figurative ; if the one is real, the other is also real. And, unless it is meant to reduce the whole sacerdotal character of the Redeemer to a thin shadow, a mere figment, his intercession must be held to be a true and proper intercession.

We might even contend that the circumstances, of the

people of God render the intercession of Christ necessary. Numerous and daily are their wants : they are made up of wants : their necessities are innumerable and constant. Blessings to supply these necessities, it is true, are procured by the atoning sacrifice of the Redeemer. But who shall apply to God for the bestowment of these purchased benefits? They cannot themselves ; they have neither merit, nor skill, nor even at first inclination to apply for any such thing; they cannot plead their own cause ; they are altogether unfit to nppear in the presence of God for themselves; another must appear for them. Without the intercession, the purchase of Christ had thus been in vain, and the elect of God must have remained strangers for ever to a single saving blessing.

The passages, then, which speak of the work of intercession, we regard as descriptive of a high and glorious function which is actually performed by the Saviour of sinners. A function, without a believing knowledge of which, we can neither behold the Saviour's glory, nor understand the nature of man's salvation, nor experience the comforts of the redeemed.

It is no valid objection to the view we have given of this subject, that God loves his people, and has determined to confer on them the blessings purchased by his Son. If so, it has been asked, where is there need or room for Christ's intercession? The objection proceeds altogether on a mistaken conception regarding the use and object of the Saviour's intercession. It is not to awaken the love of the Father; it is not to obtain a decree in favour of those who are its subjects, that constitutes the object of this mediatorial function. Far be the impious thought! Its very existence is a fruit of God's love—an evidence of his gracious purpose. It is, that his Almighty love may be displayed, his sovereign decrée fulfilled, in a way most consistent with the divine glory, most compatible with the honour of the divine government, most productive of the good of man, and most consonant with the interests of the moral universe at large. It is the method by which God has wisely determined to express his affection and fulfil his purposes of mercy toward fallen men. And no objection on this ground, can be urged against the intercession of Christ, which will not apply with equal force against our presenting a prayer on our own behalf, or on that of our fellow men.

Neither is there any validity in the objection, that intercession supposes something derogatory to the honour of the Redeemer. It is true, that the act of petitioning, in one point of

view, implies inferiority in the petitioner with reference to the person petitioned. "But, in the case before us, there is no inferiority supposed inconsistent either with the personal dignity or with the mediatorial glory of the Son of God. His person is divine, and on this the value of both his sacrifice and intercession greatly depends; but as they are official functions, whatever inferiority they may possess is wholly official, and affects not in the least his dignity as God. If it is not incompatible with his divine Majesty to offer himself as an oblation, no more can it be so to plead the cause of his people. If it was not derogatory to the honour of the Redeemer to assume the office, it cannot be derogatory to diseharge its functions. The discharge of official duties can never disgrace an official functionary, unless the office itself be discreditable. This part of service is expressly represented as required of the only begotten of the Father, Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession ;' (Ps. ii. 8.) and so far from being dishonoured by such a requirement, it is the very purpose for which he lives in official glory.

• He ever LIVETH to make INTERCESSION for them. (Heb. vii. 25.) It is to be remembered, too, that, in making intercession, he pleads not for himself, but for others. The humiliation attaching to personal supplication has no place here. To petition on behalf of another is compatible, not only with equality, but even with superiority in the petitioner over him with whom he intercedes. And, then, it is to be borne in mind, that an essential distinction exists, in respect of their nature, between the prayers presented by Christ in his state of humiliation, and those in his state of exaltation and glory. On earth, he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death; but no infirmities of this kind attach to his intercessory prayers on high ; there all tears are wiped away from his, as from his people's eyes ; there is nothing of servility or servitude supposed in these ; they partake more of demand than of petition, of claim than of request ; and evince rather the dignity of a claimant urging a right, than the poverty of a suppliant begging an unmerited favour. • Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me be with me where I am.' Say not, then, that there is any thing degrading in the supposition that Christ should make intercession. No. While his Church has a want, while his people's necessities continue, he will count it his delight, his pleasure, his honour, his glory, to present their case to his

Father, and to secure for them the bestowment of every needed boon.


To intercede, means literally to pass between.' The term is used figuratively, to denote mediating between two parties with a view of reconciling differences, particularly in the way of supplicating in favour of one with another. In this sense, intercession' is frequently affirmed of Christ in the Scriptures :— Who also maketh intercession for us, (Rom. viii. 34.) · He ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Heb. vii

. 25.) The verb employed in these passages (ivtvy závewv,) when connected with the preposition that follows (unis,) includes every form of acting in behalf of another; it is improper to limit it to prayer, as it denotes mediating in every possible way in which the interests of another can be promoted. But other terms are employed in speaking of the same thing. It is expressed by asking :-* Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance.' (Ps. ii. 8.) It is expressed by praying : I pray (ifwri) for them; I pray not for the world;' (John xvii. 9.) which shows that supplication is included, though not to the exclusion of other ideas. It is also described by advocacy : - If any man sin, we have an advocate (raçeéxantov) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. This is a law term, which was in common use among the Greeks and Romans, to denote one who appeared in a court of justice to maintain the cause of a person accused,-an attorney, a pleader, a spokesman, a patron, who, placing himself in the room of his client, advocated his interests with all zeal and ability. The term is expressly applied to Christ in the passage quoted ; and, in his own words, it is distinctly supposed to belong to him, when, consoling his disciples in prospect of his own, removal from them, he says, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you ANOTHER comforter (aaaov ragáxantov).' But, with reference to him, there must be understood this difference, that his plea is not the innocence of his clients, but his own merits ; his appeal is not to absolute justice but to sovereign mercy; what he sues for is not a legal right to which they are entitled, but a free favour to which in themselves they have no claim.

How the intercession of Christ, thus explained, is conducted-in what form this asking, praying, advocacy, is

appear in the

carried on, it does not become us either anxiously to inquire, or dogmatically to affirm. It becomes us rather to content ourselves with the account given of it in Scripture. Beyond this, it is useless, and worse than useless, to conjecture. It may be remarked, that, for one thing, Christ is said to

presence of God for his people. • 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.' (Heb. ix. 24.) To this there seems to be an obvious reference in the preternatural vision of Stephen, • Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.' (Acts vii. 56.) The same also is the reference in the apocalyptic vision, . And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer, &c.' (Rev. viii. 3.) His presenting himself before God is denoted by his appearing, and standing, language which plainly enough marks some sort of official activity. This is the first thing implied in his intercession ; when our case is called, so to speak, at the bar of heaven, he appears in our room ; when we are summoned to appear, he stands up in our name. But appearance

is not all. He is farther said to exhibit his atoning sacrifice, as the ground on which the blessings for which he pleads are to be conferred on his people. The Hebrew high priest's entering into the sanctuary, on the day of expiation, prefigured the intercession of Christ. But it was not a simple appearance within the holy place that was made by this typical functionary ; he carried with him the blood of the victim which had just been offered in the outer apartment, and sprinkled it seven times on the mercy-seat and the ark of the covenant. Without this his appearance could be of no avail, his entrance could have no efficacy ; corresponding to which is Christ's presenting the memorials of his atonement before God in heaven. Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building ; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own BLOOD, he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.' (Heb. ix. 11, 12.) To the same circumstance does the apostle refer when he says, • It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these ; but


than these.' (Heb. ix. 23.) By his blood and sacrifice, represented in these passages as carried by him into heaven, it is

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