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" Christ is entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." The apostle manifestly alludes to the high priest's appearing in the holy of holies, which was the figure of heaven, presenting to the Lord the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, which were on his breast and shoulders, Exod. 28:9, 12, 28, 29. To which the church is supposed to allude in that request, Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm.” Cant. 8:6. Now the very sight of Christ our High Priest in heaven prevails exceedingly with God, and turns away his displeasure from us. As when God looks upon the rainbow, which is the sign of the covenant, he remembers the earth in mercy: so when he looks on Christ, he remembers us upon his account.
2. Christ performs his intercession-work in heaven, not only by appearing in the presence of God, but also by presenting his blood and all his sufferings to God, as a moving plea on our account. Whether he makes any proper oral intercession there, as he did on earth, is not so clear. But sure I am, an interceding voice is by a usual prosopopeia (or figure) attributed to his blood; which in Heb. 12: 24, is said "to speak better things than that of Abel.” Now Abel's blood, and so Christ's, do cry unto God, as the hire of the laborers unjustly detained, James, 5:4; or as the whole creation, which is in bondage through our sins, is said to cry and groan in the ears of the Lord, Rom. 8:22, not vocally, but efficaciously. A rare illustration of this efficacious intercession of Christ in heaven, we have in the story of Amintas, who appeared as an advocate for his brother Æchylus, who was accused, and likely to be condemned to die. Amintas, having performed great services, and merited highly of the commonwealth, in whose service one of his hands was cut off in the field, came into the court in his brother's behalf, and said nothing, but only
lifted up the stump of his arm, the sight of which so moved them, that, without a word said, they freed his brother immediately. Thus in Rev. 5:6, Christ is represented as standing between God and us: "I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain ;" that is, bearing in his glorified body the marks of death and sacrifice. The wounds he received for our sins on earth, are, as it were, still fresh bleeding in heaven : a moving and prevailing argument with the Father, to give us the mercies for which he pleads.
3. And he presents the prayers of his saints to God, with his merits; and desires that they may for his sake be granted. He causes a cloud of incense to ascend before God with them. Rev. 8:3. All these were excellently typified by the going in of the high priest before the Lord, with the names of the children of Israel on his breast, with the blood of the sacrifice, and his hands full of incense, as the apostle explains them in Heb. 7 and Hebrews, 9.
III. That this intercession of Christ is most potent, successful, and prevalent with God, will be evinced from the qualification of this our Advocate, from his great interest in the Father, from the nature of the pleas he uses with God, and from the relation and inte. rest believers have, both in the Father to whom and the Son by whom this intercession is made. 1. Our Intercessor in the heavens is every way
able and fit for the work he is engaged in there. Whatever is desirable in an advocate, is in him eminently. It is necessary that he who undertakes to plead the cause of another, especially if it be weighty and intricate, should be wise, faithful, tender-hearted, and resolved on success. Our Advocate Christ wants no wisdom to conduct his work ; he is "the wisdom of God,” yea, "only wise.” Jude, 25. And he is no less faithful than wise ;
therefore he is called "a faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God.” Heb. 2 : 17. He assures us we may safely trust our concerns with him, "In
Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.” John, 14 : 2. As if he had said, Do you think I could deceive you? Men may deceive you; your own hearts may and daily do deceive you, but so will not I. And for tender-heartedness, and sympathy with your condition, there is none like him: "For we have not an High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Heb. 4 : 15. That he might the better sympathize with us, he came as near to our condition as the holiness of his nature could permit. He suffered himself to be in all points tempted like as we are, sin only excepted. And as to his interest in the success of his suit, he has really made it his own interest, for by reason of our union with him all our wants and troubles are his. Eph. 1:23. Yea, his own glory as Mediator is deeply interested in it; and therefore we need not doubt but he will use all care and diligence in that work. But further,
2. Consider the great interest he hath in the Father, with whom he intercedes. Christ is his dear Son. Col. 1:13. The beloved of his soul. Eph. 1:6. Between him and the Father there is a unity, not only of nature but of will; and so he always hears him. John, 11 : 42. Yea, he said to his dear Son, " Ask of me, and I will give thee.” Psa. 2 :8. Moreover,
3. Consider the nature of his intercession, which is just and reasonable, and likewise urgent and continual What he desires, it is becoming the holiness and righteousness of God to grant. And so the justice of God not only does not oppose, but furthers and pleads for the granting and fulfilling of his requests. Here you must remember that the Father is under a covenant to do what he asks; for Christ having fully performed the work on his part, the mercies he intercedes for are as due as the hire of the laborer when the work is faithfully done. And as the matter is just, so the manner of his intercession is urgent and continual. How importunate a suitor he is, may be gathered from that specimen given of his intercession in John, 17; and for the constancy of it, my text tells us, "he ever lives to make intercession.” And to close all,
4. Consider who they are for whom he makes intercession: the friends of God, the children of God; those that the Father himself loves, and to whom his heart is inclined and ready enough to grant the best and greatest of mercies: which is the meaning of John, 16 : 27, "The Father himself loveth you.” The first cornerstone of all these mercies was laid by the Father himself in his own purposes of grace. He also delivered his Son for us: and "how shall he not with him freely give us all things?" Rom. 8 : 32. So then there can remain no doubt but that Christ is a prevalent and successful Intercessor in heaven.
INFERENCE 1. Doth Christ live for ever in heaven to present his blood to God in the way of intercession for believers? How sad then is the case of those that have no interest in Christ's blood; but instead of pleading for them, it cries to God against them, as its despisers and abusers! Every unbeliever despises it: the apostate treads it under foot. To be guilty of a man's blood is sad; but to have the blood of Jesus accusing and crying to God against a soul, is unspeakably terrible. Surely when he shall make inquisition for blood, when the day of his vengeance is come, he will make it appear by the judgments he will execute, that this is a sin to be expiated, but vengeance shall pursue the sinner to the lowest hell. Ah! what do men do, in rejecting the gracious offer of Christ ! Alas for
that man, against whom this blood cries in heaven!
2. Doth Christ live for ever to make intercession ? Hence let believers draw relief and encouragement against all the causes and grounds of their fears and troubles; for surely this answers them all.
Let them be encouraged against all their sinful infirmities and lamented weaknesses. It is confessed these are sore evils; they grieve the Spirit of God, sadden your own hearts, cloud your evidences; but having such a High Priest in heaven, you must never despair. "My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not: and if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John, 2:1, 2. Children when first beginning to walk are apt to stumble at every straw; so are young
unexperienced christians: but, though it must be far from them to take encouragement so to do from Christ and his intercession, yet if by surprisal they do sin, let them not be utterly discouraged; for we have an advocate; he stops whatever plea may be brought in against us by the devil, or the law, and answers all by his satisfaction: he gets out fresh pardons for new sins. And this advocate is "with the Father.” He doth not say with his father, though that had been a singular support in itself; nor yet with our Father, which is a sweet encouragement singly considered, but with the Father, which takes in both, to make the encouragement full. Remember you that are cast down under the sense of sin, that Jesus, your friend in the court above,"is able to save to the uttermost.” Which is, as one calls it, a reaching word, and extends itself so far that thou canst not look beyond it. "Let thy soul be set on the highest mount that any creature ever attained, and enlarged 10 take into view the most spacious prospect both of sin and misery, and the difficulties of being saved, that ever yet oppressed any poor humble soul; yea, join to these