Page images
PDF
EPUB

burden is light,” Matt. xi. 30. And the manner whereby we are carried out to the performance of them is not grievous: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” 2 Cor. iii. 17. It carries out the soul to duty in a free, sweet, calm, ingenuous manner.

The motions of the spirit of the world, even unto good things and duties (for so, for farther ends of his, it often falls out that they are), are troublesome, vexatious, perplexing, grievous, and tumultuating. Satan falls like lightning upon the soul, and comes upon the powers of it as a tempest. Hence acting in any thing upon his closing with and provoking our convictions, is called a being under the “spirit of bondage,” Rom. viii. 15; which is opposed to the “Spirit of God, the Spirit of adoption, of liberty, boldness, power, and a sound mind.”

3. They know that all motions of the Spirit whereby they are led are orderly. As is God's covenant with us, “ordered in all things,” so the Spirit of God carries us out unto every duty in its own order and season; whereas we see some poor souls to be in such bondage as to be hurried up and down, in the matter of duties, at the pleasure of Satan. They must run from one to another, and commonly neglect that which they should do. When they are at prayer, then they should be at the work of their calling; and when they are at their calling, they are tempted for not laying all aside and running to prayer. Believers know that this is not from the Spirit of God, which makes "every thing beautiful in its season."

4. They know that all the workings of the Spirit of God, as they are good, so also they tend unto a good end. Doth that stir them up to close walking with God ?—it is that God may be glorified, his graces exercised in them, their souls strengthened in obedience, and their progress in sanctification furthered. Doth it assure them of the love of God ?—it is that they may be more humble, thankful, and watchful. Whereas all the compliances and combinations of Satan, and men's corrupt hearts, even when they compel to good duties, are for false, evil, and corrupt ends. Duty is pressed to pacify conscience, peace is given to make men secure, gifts are stirred up to tempt to pride; and, indeed, it may easily be observed that the devil never doth any work but he will quickly come for his wages.

By the help, I say, of these and such like considerations, the saints of God, in whom this Spirit doth dwell, are enabled to discern and know the voice of their leader and guide from the nearest resemblance of it that the spirit which is in the world doth or at any time can make show of. And this indwelling of the Spirit yields a considerable contribution of strength towards the confirmation of the main theses undertaken to be proved. Our adversaries dispute about the removal of acquired habits; but how infused habits may be cast out or expelled they have not [in] any tolerable measure been able to declare. If, moreover, it shall be evinced, as it hath been by plentiful testimonies of Scripture, that the Holy Ghost himself dwells in believers, what way can be fixed on for his expulsion ? That he cannot be removed but by his own will, the will of him that sends him, I suppose will easily be granted. Whilst he abides with them, they are accepted with God, and in covenant with him. That God, whilst his children are in such a state and condition, doth take away his Spirit from them, and give them up to the power of the devil, is incumbent on our adversaries to prove.

But to return at length from this digression. Thus far have we proceeded in manifesting, upholding, and vindicating, that influence which the oblation of Christ hath into the preservation of the saints in the love and favour of God unto the end. His intercession, being eminently effectual also to the same end and purpose, comes in the next place to be considered.

CHAPTER IX.

THE INTERCESSION OF CHRIST.

The nature of it-Its aim, not only that believers continuing so may be saved, but

that they may be preserved in believing—This farther proved from the typical intercession of the Judaical high priest—The tenor of Christ's intercession, as manifested John xvii. 11, opened, and verses 12–15—The result of the argument from thence—The saints' perseverance fully confirmed-Rom. vii. 33, 34 at large explained—Mr G.’s interpretation of the place in all the parts of it confuted—Vain supposals groundlessly interserted into the apostle's discourse

- What Christ intercedes for for believers farther manifested–The sum of what is assigned to the intercession of Christ by Mr G.–How far it is all from yielding the least consolation to the saints manifested–The reasons of the foregoing interpretation proposed and answered—The end assigned of the intercession of Christ answered--God works perseverance actually-A supply of means that may not be effectual not to be ascribed thereuntoFarther objections answered: Christ not the minister of sin by this doctrine -Supposals and instances upon the former interpretation disproved and rejected—A brief account of our doctrine concerning the intercession of Christ for believers, and of the true end of the act of his mediation—The close of the argument, and of the first part of this treatise.

Of the intercession of Christ, both as to the nature of its typical representation by the high priest's entering into the holy of holies every year with blood, Heb. ix. 7, and its effectual influence into the perfect, complete salvation of believers, so much hath been spoken by others, and the whole of the doctrine delivered with so much clearness, spiritualness, and strength, that I shall not need to add any thing thereunto. That Christ intercedes for the preservation of believers in the love and favour of his Father to the end is that which I intend to manifest, and which may, as I suppose, be very easily undeniably evinced. Some few considerations will make way for the demonstration of the truth which is under consideration, or confirmation of the perseverance of saints from the intercession of Christ:

1. The intercession of Christ being his appearance for us in the presence of God (Heb. ix. 24, he is gone into heaven iu pavodžuos são SporúmW TOŨ Oscũ, to make a legal appearance for our defence before the judgment-seat of God, and by being there is our advocate, 1 John ii. 1; he is said to “be able to save us to the uttermost,” Heb. vii. 25), there is certainly something or other that he puts in for in the behalf of them in whose cause he appears and gues, that so he

, may save them to the utmost. Now, this must be either that, being and continuing believers, they may be saved, or that they may believe and continue believers unto salvation. That the first is not the sole import and aim of the intercession of Christ may be manifested from this double consideration:

(1.) From the nature of the thing itself. There is nothing but the establishment of the very law of the gospel ("He that believeth shall be saved,"') wrapped up in this interpretation of the intercession of Christ. But this neither hath Christ any need to intercede for, it being ratified, confirmed, and declared from the beginning; neither is there, nor can there be, any opposition made against it, to shake, weaken, or disturb it in the least, it depending solely on the truth and unchangeableness of God, not being vested, by any condition whatsoever, in any other subject. (2.) Nor would this be availing to his militant church, whose preservation he aims at and intends in his intercession; for the whole of his desires may be granted him to the uttermost, and yet his whole church at any time militant perish for ever. Though not one soul should continue believing to the end, though the gates of hell should prevail against every one that names the name of Christ in the world, yet that truth, "He that believeth shall be saved,” taken in the sense of our adversaries, for a promise to perseverance in believing, and not a promise to actual true believers, might stand firm for ever. To say, then, that this is the whole intercession of Christ for his church, is to say that in his whole intercession he interceded not at all for his church. He is heard in his intercession, and he may be heard to the uttermost in this, and yet his whole church be so far from being saved to the utmost as utterly to be destroyed and consumed, John xi. 42.

2. Doubtless the intercession of Christ must answer the representation of it which the apostle so much insists on, Heb. vii.-ix. Of the oblation of Christ there were many types in the Aaronical priesthood of the law; of his intercession but one principally,namely, that solemn entrance of the high priest with blood and incense into the holiest of holies, in the great anniversary sacrifice on the tenth day of the seventh month: on the which day, also, the great jubilee or joyful time of deliverance, typifying our deliverance by Christ, began. Hereunto is added the priesthood of Melchizedek, whereof there is mention neither of its beginning nor ending, to secure us of the continuance of our Mediator in the act of his priesthood for ever. Now, the end of the high priest's so entering into this holy place, was to carry on the work of expiation and atonement to perfection, and complete peace with God in the behalf of them for whom he offered without; and therefore the Holy Ghost saith that his entrance with blood was to "offer for himself, and for the errors of the people,” Heb. ix. 7, it being but a continuation of his oblation begun without unto a complete atonement. And therefore there is no real difference between the efficacy of the death of Christ, and that of his intercession upon the actual accomplishment of it. It being, then, the complete taking away of the sins and errors of the people, as to the guilt of them, and the continuance of their peace with God, which was intended by the high priest's entrance with blood into the holiest of holies, that which answers thereunto, or the deliverance of believers from the whole guilt of sin, and their preservation in the love and favour of God, is the intendment of Christ in his intercession. Let the effects and fruits of the oblation of Christ be bounded and limited to the procuring of a new way of salvation, without purchasing for any one person whatever power and grace to walk in that way, and then exclude his intercession from any influence into the preservation of them who do enter that way therein, and perhaps indifferent men will scarce think the glory and honour of the Lord Jesus to be of any great regard with us.

3. That this is the import of Christ's intercession for believers is evident by that preface which we have thereof, John xvii., being a manifest declaration on earth of that which Christ lives in heaven to do. This was the incense wherewith he entered into the holy place, which he now prepared, and which was afterward beaten small in his agony, that it might be ready to make a sweet perfume at his entrance into heaven, as he was sprinkled with his own blood. That Christ intercedeth, and for his elect, for whom he died, that they may believe, our adversaries deny; but that he intercedes for actual believers hath not hitherto been questioned. What it is which he requests on their behalf, the tenor of that prayer of his, Jobn xvii., will manifest. Verse 11, saith he, “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are;"_"Keep them from sin and ruin, from every thing that will hinder them from union with me." What is it that our Saviour here prays for, and for whom is he so engaged? That it is for believers, as such, for whom he puts up these supplications, our adversaries in the cause in hand do contend. That these

may

be

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

kept through the power of God unto unity among themselves, which they have by their union with him, is his dying request for them. He prays not for such oneness as is consistent with their separation from his and his Father's love. Where now shall we fix the supposed failure of those who effectually and eventually are kept up to spiritual union, who cannot fall out of nor fall off from (totally nor finally) the love of God? Either Christ is not heard in his request, or the Father cannot keep them by his power, if these thus interceded for are not preserved. Many temptations, many oppositions, great tribulations without, strong corruptions within, they must needs meet withal: these they have no power in themselves to overcome nor to resist. Should they be left to themselves, they would never be able to hold out to the end. Saith Christ, “I shall lose these poor sheep for whom I have laid down my life' to bring them unto thee. Holy Father, do thou therefore keep and preserve them from all these evils, that they may not prevail over them. And keep them through thy name,' thy power” (for we are " kept through the power of God unto salvation”); “let thy power be exerted for their preservation. And what is too strong for thy power? Who can take them out of thy hand? Lay that upon them for their defence, show it out in their behalf, that all their enemies may feel the weight and strength thereof.

Keep them through thy name,' thy grace; let that be sufficient for them. Let them have such supplies of gospel grace and pardoning mercy (concerning which I manifested thy name unto them, verse 6, and so revealed thee [as] a Father), that they may be encouraged to trust in that name of thine, and to stay themselves upon thee." Where the failure is, doubtless is not easy to manifest. In the verses following our Saviour adds many motives to make his intercession prevalent in their behalf :

First, Verse 12, he saith that, according to that commission that he had received, he had faithfully preserved them whilst that he was in the world; and now being ready to leave them, as to his bodily presence, he urges the special preservation of his Father as needfui, that after all the care and cost which he had laid out about them, they might not utterly perish. And then,

Secondly, Verse 13, he urges the necessity that they should have some assurance of it in the midst of all their troubles and trials, that they may have consolation upon their confidence in the words which Christ had spoken to them, that they should be preserved through all difficulties unto the end. And he farther urges,

Thirdly, Verse 14, from the certain opposition that they should meet withal, “The world hateth them, and will, without doubt, use all ways and means possible for their ruin and destruction;" giving also the reason why the world hateth them, and will oppose them, which is such an one as must needs engage the heart and good-will of

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »