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SERMON XI.

CHRIST OUR ONLY PRIEST.

HEBREWS VII. 25.

He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

IN

my Sermon on Friday, I spoke of Christ's Priesthood, especially as it was shown in his sacrifice of himself once for all. The other part of a priest's office is that of intercession; and this part Christ is now performing, and will perform to the end of the world. But this word, "intercession," must not be understood in that limited sense in which we commonly take it, when we mean by it no more than making a prayer or request in another's behalf. Properly, the whole office of a priest may be expressed by intercession; for intercession means the coming in between two parties; and as regards a priest, it is the coming in between God and men, to bring them, as it were, into the presence of God,

which, by themselves, they were unworthy to approach. Sacrifice, therefore, no less than prayer, is, in this sense, an act of the priest's intercession but as from being the greatest act of it, it came to be considered as distinct, so in the text, and elsewhere, intercession means all the acts of a priest's office, except sacrifice; every means by which he introduces or commends men to the favour of God, without reckoning the single means of sacrifice.

In this sense it is that the life of Christ,not his life on earth in the flesh, but his eternal life since his resurrection,-is sometimes spoken of as being the direct cause of our salvation, even more than his death. "If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled shall we be saved by his life." By his death we were made God's people; by his life we are continued so, even to the end. And the meaning of this is, that through Him we may at all times offer our prayers to God with confidence, and that through Him also we receive that Holy Spirit which alone makes us abide in Him, and in his likeness for ever. For this, I think, is the great act of Christ's intercession, that through Him, and as his redeemed, we receive the gift

of his Holy Spirit. And thus he does most fully introduce us into the presence of God, giving us that wedding garment, that robe of holiness, not imputed only, but real and personal, though imperfectly, without which, all who presume to claim a place in God's kingdom, because Christ has purchased it for them, will assuredly be cast out as false pretenders.

On the other great part of his priestly office, Christ entered as on this day by his resurrection from the dead. And it is no less necessary to come to God through him as our intercessor, and as receiving through him his Holy Spirit, than to come to God through him as our only and perfect sacrifice. So that, in all our relations with God, Christ, our High Priest, should ever be present with our minds, as alone giving us access to God, and alone purifying our hearts by his Spirit. In him we have all that we need; and as he is our Priest, without whom we have no boldness to come before the throne of grace, so he is our only Priest, and all others who do in any way pretend to be priests like him, are thieves and robbers, from hearing whom, may he, by his Spirit of truth, save his true sheep for evermore!

But I may be asked why I dwell upon this? Are these the times, or is this the congregation, which require to be warned against priestcraft and superstition? We may be careless, profane, proud, it may be, and rebellious; but surely we are in no danger of falling into the errors of a past time, and paying to the ministers of religion too great respect and obedience.

In one sense this is certainly true; there is no danger of our again witnessing those political usurpations, or that extreme degree of spiritual tyranny, which the ministers of the gospel once ventured to exercise. And certainly it would be very unedifying to take up one moment of our time with dwelling upon past evils. But superstition and profaneness almost always go hand in hand: in the doctrines of superstition, there is, if I may so speak, a superstitious tendency, and a profane one; and those who feel little of the effects of the first, may yet be in great danger from the last. And thus the superstition which made Christ's ministers priests, may be, in the superstitious part of it, harmless enough to us now; that is, we are in no danger of giving money to buy a priest's absolution, or of giving to him an unreason

able authority over our lives and actions. But the profane part of the doctrine is showing its effects very generally amongst us, and very fatally, in the notion that we are not ourselves brought near to God; that there are some of our brethren screening us, as it were, from his eye, employed by him in his service, and bound to hear and to do all his commands; but that we, who are not his peculiar ministers, who stand, as it were, in the back ground, and who hope that he does not see us, may escape with a less punctual observance, and may be forgiven if our distance hinders us from hearing all his words, or from thinking that we are bound to learn them and to obey them.

Is this no evil now? is this not common everywhere? is it not most common even here? How gladly do very young boys persuade themselves that their age keeps them in the back ground; that they cannot be expected to hear and to obey all the words of God. How gladly do older persons fancy that they, not being ministers of Christ, may be permitted to live less strictly; that religious matters are not their business; that they are not active members of the church, whose good and evil are necessarily mixed up

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