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nigh to Him.” On those occasions, “ he manifests himself unto us as he does not unto the world :” he “ lifts up the light of his countenance upon us,” and “sheds abroad his love in our hearts.” Hence the Christian accounts prayer not so much a duty as a privilege: he says with the beloved A postle, “ Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ"
This arises entirely out of the nature of our dispensation, which is justly called, " the perfect law of liberty.” It presents to our view our great High-priest entered for us within the vail, and "ever living to make intercession for us.". And,
having such an High-priest, we draw nigh unto God with full assurance of faith.” Nor does he take less pleasure in communing with us, than we with him; for “ the prayer of the upright is his delight."] Learn from hence the true reason why the genera
lity of Christians differ so little from the Jews or heathens
[They understand not the nature of the dispensation under which they live; and therefore they get no material good from their religion: they are not made holy by it, nor are they made happy: they think that an assured sense of our acceptance with God is unattainable; and that communion with Him is an enthusiastic dream. They regard Christianity as little else than a milder publication of the law; reducing the demands of the law to the present ability of man, and making ample allowances for man's infirmity. They view it as a system of duties, rather than of privileges; and they expect more from their partial obedience to its precepts, than from a humble affiance in its promises. What wonder then if, when when they so assimilate the Gospel to the law, they experience no more benefit from it than the law conveyed? What wonder, I say, if they never be made perfect by such a religion as theirs? Would we attain to perfect love, and perfect peace, and perfect holiness, we must look more to the atoning blood of Christ, and to the sanctifying influences of his Spirit. In the former, we shall find all that we need for our reconciliation with God; and in the latter, all that we need for our restoration to his image. The Gospel, mutilated and debased by unbelief, will bring us neither present nor eternal happiness : but if embraced, as it ought to be, with unmixed, unshaken confidence, it will prove " the power of God to the salvation of our souls."]
MMCCXCVIII. CHRIST'S PRIESTHOOD, AND ABILITY TO SAVE. Heb. vii. 25. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the
uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
THE Mosaic economy was never intended to be either universal or perpetual; not universal, because many of the principal rites prescribed by it could never be performed by those who were far distant from Judæa; nor perpetual, because, whilst it was yet in all its force and grandeur, its dissolution, and the establishment of a better in its stead, were expressly and frequently foretold. The appointment of another priesthood to supersede that of Aaron, was of itself, as the Apostle teaches us, sufficient to prove, that the abolition of the Aaronic priesthood and of the whole Levitical law was to take place, as soon as that better priesthood after the order of Melchizedec should be established.
The shew wherein that priesthood was superior, is the great scope of the chapter before us. But it is to one particular only that we shall confine our attention at this time; and that is, the continuance of it in one person, whilst the Aaronic priests were removed by death, and constrained to transmit their office to a successor.
We notice then,
“ The priests under the law were many, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death : but this man, the Lord Jesus Christ, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” “ He ever liveth to make intercession for us."
[When in a vision he revealed himself to John, he said, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermorea.” “He was indeed crucified through weakness; but yet he liveth by the power of Godb:" and " being raised from the dead, he dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.” Nor is it merely in a state of rest, that he liveth ; but for the purpose of carrying on his priestly office in our behalf. The high-priest under the law, when he had offered the sacrifice upon the altar, carried the blood within the vail into the holy of the holies, there to sprinkle it before, and on the mercy-seat, and to offer incense in the more immediate presence of his God. This is the very thing which Jesus now lives to effect. Having offered himself a sacrifice upon the cross, he is now gone with his own blood into heaven itself, there to exhibit it as a memorial before God, and as the ground of all his intercessions. In his Father's presence he pleads it for us as a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world, and as the price paid for all those blessings which his people stand in need of for their full and complete salvation. True it is, that he has entered into heaven, to take possession of that glory which by the covenant-engagements entered into by the Father was to be conferred on his human nature: but yet, it was not for his own glory only that he ascended thither, but for our good; that he might carry on and perfect in our behalf the work he had undertaken for us. Only let us contemplate the ends for which the high-priest on the great day of atonement entered into the holy of holies ; and we shall have a distinct, and accurate, and perfect view of the ends for which our blessed Saviour is gone into heaven, and of the work which he is there living to accomplishd---]
a Rev. i. 18.
But without further dwelling on so clear a point, let us proceed to notice, II. The consolatory truth resulting from it
As the continual changing of the priests under the Mosaic dispensation shewed the weakness and unprofitableness of their ministrations; so the unchanging continuance of Christ's priesthood shews that “ he is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him.” Here observe,
1. What is taken for granted
b 2 Cor. xiii. 4.
c Rom. vi. 9. à Here a distinct view may be taken of the pleas founded upon his sacrifice, as having been appointed of the Father for certain ends, and offered by the Son in the full confidence of its being accepted of the Father, and of its prevailing for all who trust in it. VOL. XIX.
[It is taken for granted that all his people "come unto God through him.” If it be asked, What is meant by coming to God through him? the answer is plain : Look unto the Aaronic priests and their ministrations, and there you shall find a perfect representation of what is experienced by the people of God in all ages. When the high-priest entered within the vail, there was but one sentiment pervading all the worshippers in every part of the temple: all considered him as their mediator and intercessor with God. They knew that of themselves they were incapable of drawing nigh to God: but regarding the high-priest as their head and representative, they considered themselves as approaching God in and through him. They had no hope whatever but in the blood of the sacrifice which he carried within the vail, and in the incense which he offered there. Amongst all the people of the Jews there would not be any diversity of sentiment on this head. Thus it is that we also come unto God by Christ : we see him as going into heaven with his own blood which he has offered for us; and as presenting also the incense of his own prevailing intercession : and in him as so occupied is all our hope. Nor is this a mere theoretical sentiment in the Christian's mind, but a living and an abiding principle, by which he is actuated in all his approaches to the throne of grace: nor has he any hope whatever of finding acceptance with God, but by coming to him in this way.
But whilst this striking correspondence exists between the Jewish and Christian mode of approaching God, there is one remarkable point of difference, which must by no means be overlooked. The Jew, during the mediation of the high-priest, was kept at an awful distance, not daring to pass the limits that were assigned him: but the Christian has access into the secret of God's presence for himself, and may urge the very same pleas before God at the throne of grace, which his great high-priest is urging for him at the throne of glory. The pleas are the same, and the grounds of hope are the same, to each: but the superior liberty of the Christian marks the superiority of the priesthood which has procured it for him.]
2. What is plainly asserted
[The Jewish high-priest, notwithstanding he presented all the sacrifices according to the prescribed form, could not prevail so as to obtain for the people a perfect and perpetual forgiveness: at the same period in the ensuing year he must present the same offerings again : which shewed, that a further expiation was necessary in order to a plenary remission of their sins. But our great High-priest has no occasion ever to renew his offering: nor will he ever devolve on another the office which he executes. “ He therefore is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by him.”
The words, “ to the uttermost," imply two things; namely, that he can save completely and for ever. The conscience of a Jew was never perfectly liberated from a sense of guilt by the offerings which were made for him : but the Christian is brought into a state of perfect peace, “ his conscience being purged from dead works to serve the living God.” Nor does he feel a need of any thing more than that which he finds in the sacrifice of Christ. He looks forward to nothing to add to it, or to give it efficacy. Being once sprinkled with the blood of Christ, his soul is at rest; because he knows that Jesus by his one offering has perfected for ever them that are sanctified. The Jew found his sacrifices to be little else than remembrances of his sins: but the Christian knows that, by virtue of his sacrifice, " his sins and iniquities shall be remembered no more."]
This subject, duly apprehended, is replete, 1. With instruction
[If Christians were more in the habit of considering the Jewish law, they would gain a far clearer insight into the nature and principles of their own religion. Ask a Christian, How he is to be saved ? and he will give you some vague and indistinct answer about God's mercy, and his own repentances and reformations. Even the priests themselves, who should instruct others, are not always clear on this matter.
But no Jewish priest would have hesitated to point to the sacrifices as the only means of acceptance with God. Let us then learn from them, that, if we will ever come to God at all, it must be simply and solely by the Lord Jesus Christ : “ He is the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by him." And let this especially be remembered, that there is no salvation for us in any other way:
“ for no other persons will the Lord Jesus intercede; nor shall his saving power be exerted for any others.” This is clearly intimated in the text. Whom is it that he is able to save? it is "them that come unto God by him.” And for whom is it that he intercedes? “He ever lives to make intercession for them.” O that we might all consider this, and seek the Lord in the only way in which he ever can be found!] 2. With consolation
[What an astonishing thought it is, that our adorable Emmanuel, now seated at the right hand of God, is living, as it were, only for us, to transact our business there, as once he
i John xiv. 6.
e Heb. ix. 1-3, 11--18.