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This part of Christ's mediation has particular reference to the sins of his own people ; for, notwithstanding the pardoning mercy of God, and the renewing influences of the Spirit, have been extended to them, they are still, in a greater or less degree, the victims of corruption. But He who has promised that they shall be kept by his mighty power through faith unto salvation, has ordained the intercession of Jesus as a means by which this important end is to be secured. In what manner this intercession is carried on, we are not particularly informed; but it seems probable, from the nature of the case, as well as from some intimations in scripture, that it is by presenting his human nature, as an unceasing symbol of his labours and sufferings for the church. He has no need, brethren, in pleading our cause, to make use of many words: action is the most powerful eloquence. The soldier who has bled in his country's battles, has only to bare his bosom, and show you his wounds, and he makes a much stronger appeal to your heart, than he could by the longest and most moving addresses. So our great Intercessor has only to display the prints of the nails in his hands, and of the spear that pierced his body, and how can He fail to be an all-prevalent Advocate? It is through this part of His mediatorial office that Christians are preserved from final apostacy, obtain the forgiveness of sins comunitted after their renovation, and have a reception secured into the heavenly mansions ;-seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.
How delightful a view of the character of Christ is presented by the fact, that in that world of joy whither He has gone, and amidst all the glories of his exaltation, He never for one moment withdraws his gracious regards from those worms of the dust, for whom he laid down his life; that amidst all their waywardness and wanderings, He should manifest his unchangeable love by a perpetual and all-powerful intercession. With what gratitude and praise to the Redeemer should we reflect, that every measure of grace sent down to us from the Father of mercies, every visit we receive from the Holy Comforter, every well-grounded hope of future and eternal bliss, is in consequence of his ascension into heaven, now to appear in the presence of God for us. Blessed Jesus! we will praise thee : Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive ; thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious atso, that the Lord God might dwell among them!
ROMANS VIII. 34. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea, rather, that is risen again; who is even at the right hand of God; who also maketh intercession for us.
II. HAVING followed the apostle through the several parts of Christ's mediatorial work, we now proceed to consider THEIR INFLUENCE IN SECURING THE BELIEVER'S ACQUITTAL AND TRIUMPH. Who is he that condemneth?
1. The believer hath nothing to fear from EXTERNAL AFFLICTIONS,
I do not mean that he may expect an exemption from them; for so long as he continues in the world, he must be a sharer in its trials and sorrows. Nay, it may be that his very religion, full of consolation and hope as it is, may be the means of nerving against him the arm of power, and scattering around him the fire-brands of persecution. But do you know that the situation of the Christian, in the very
darkest scenes of adversity, is an enviable situation? Do you know that the arms of everlasting love are beneath that Christian's soul, and that the power of Divine grace is pledged for his consolation and deliverance ? That gracious Redeemer, whose blood flowed for his salvation, and who has manifested towards him love stronger than death, hears
every groan, observes every tear, and pours into his heart streams of living consolation. Moreover, He has promised that all things shall work together for the Christian's good: not even those afflictions, which lacerate the heart with agony, are accepted: they are included in that gracious covenant, which secures to him all the benefits of redemption. Oh, what affliction may not be accounted light, when it is regarded as an expression of the love of Christ? Is it not an enviable portion to be called to weeping, if our tears may return in a harvest of glory?
Mourning Christian, lift up your head and rejoice. There is a light faintly beaming through that cloud which overshadows you, which will ere long break forth in all the fulness and splendour of noon-day. At no distant period, you will know that every throb of anguish which you feel, had in it the elements of the most pure and enduring joy. Fear not to go down to the very darkest spot in the vale of adversity. As sure as Jesus is faithful to his promises, He will, in due time, redeem you out of all your trouble: for what shall separate you from the love of Christ?
2. The mediation of Christ ensures to the believer a triumph ovet INDWELLING CORRUPTION,
and the SUGGESTIONS OF THE ADVERSARY.
There is a conflict, known only to the Christian, which calls for unceasing watchfulness, and constitutes the source of his severest trials ; insoinuch that it once led an apostle to exclaim, O wretched man that I am; who shall deliver me from the body of this death? It results from the partial and occasional prevalence of sin in a soul, which has acquired a prevailing relish for holiness. This enemy of God and man, now appearing in the form of worldly-mindedness, and now in the grosser garb of sensual affection, the Christian cannot find it in his heart deliberately to tolerate ; but where is the Christian who will not testify; that as often as he has succeeded in gaining a victory over this internal foe, so often it has returned upon him, and demanded all the vigour of fresh opposition? Do you sometimes yield to the desponding thought, that this war within will ultimately terminate in favour of your enemy? Never fear that, Christian. Before such an event can take place, the pillars of the mediatorial kingdom must fall, the intercession of Jesus must prove ineffectual, and the grand purposes of his exaltation be defeated. Do
you sometimes tremble, lest the insidious attacks of the adversary should succeed, and in spite of all your vigilance, and all your activity, you should finally fall a victim to his wiles ? Tremble you may for your own weakness ; but it is unworthy of a soul that has been washed in redeeming blood, and has the gracious assistance of the Spirit made sure to him, to shudder at the approach of any enemy. That exalted Redeemer who has gone into the heavens, watches every plot, and every movement of the adversary against you ; and He has set bounds to his career of temptation which he can never pass. Great and formidable as this enemy is, there is One greater than he; One who has acquired a glorious triumph over the powers of darkness, which their combined energies can never reverse ; One who has taken you into his own family, and identified your interest with the interests
of his kingdom, Were it possible for the adversary to pluck you out of the Redeemer's hands, he would gain a victory which would kindle a smile of malignant exultation on the countenance of every fiend in hell ; for he would have succeeded in overturning the whole fabric of Christ's mediation, and in rolling a torrent of desolation through all the dominions of Jehovah.
3. The believer, in consequence of the mediation of Christ, gains a triumph over DEATH.
I am not here going to dispute the fact, that death is a relentless and terrible enemy: and if any one is so intrenched in the carelessness of a worldly mind, or the hardihood of philosophical unbelief, as to question this fact, I would bid him correct his error, by a visit to that bed-side, where the conflict with this enemy is actually going forward. Let him go, at that awful moment, when the distance between time and eternity is contracted to a point; when the objects of the two worlds meet and mingle in the twilight of life. Let him watch the fading expression of that sinking eye; and wipe the cold damps of death from that pale and fallen cheek; and listen to that awful groan, which is the signal of a departing spirit. Let him count the fluttering pulse, till he can count no longer; and then let him gaze upon that crazy, dissolving tabernacle, and think that the soul is gone! If he be not a monster, instead of a man, he is now cured of his insensibility to the terrors of death. Laugh at the approach of this king of terrors, if you will,—but let not human nature stand charged with the awful outrage : rather confess that you have put off the character of a man, and put on that of a fiend.
But notwithstanding death is, in itself, an event so terrible, so appalling to the courage of the stoutest heart, charge me not with inconsistency, if I say that the Christian may reasonably rise above its terrors. I do not mean that nature, even in the Christian, will not pay her tribute of dread to this formidable enemy; and doubtless there are cases, in which, for wise purposes, a full share of religious consolation is not granted, while in the immediate conflict. But I mean that every believer in Jesus has a just and legitimate ground for triumph. I mean, Christians, that He whom you adore as your Redeemer and your Head, has been down into the dark dominions of Death, and encountered the monster, and taken away his sting ; and that in virtue of your union to Him, you have a share in the benefits of this glorious victory. Avoid passing through the dark valley, you cannot: it is the only passage from this world to heaven: But even there, where nothing but gloom thickens upon
the sinner,—where no sounds but those of vengeance, strike upon his ear,--you may walk in the light of the Divine countenance, and be charmed by the music of attending angels. The grave may seem to you a cold and dark habitation ; but as sure as Jesus has risen, the iron-bands which confine you there, will ere long break; and that mouldering body will come forth in purity and splendour, to constitute a part of your Redeemer's triumph.
4. I will only add, fourthly, that the triumph of the Christian, in virtue of the mediation of Christ, extends to ALL THE POWERS OF DARKNESS : Even with respect to hell itself, and all the enemies which it embosoms, he may ask in the language of triumph, Who is he that condemneth?
If there be any ground for a final triumph of those malignant spirits over the Christian, it must be, either because his admission to heaven would involve a reflection upon the justice of God, or because his character would be offensive to Infinite Holiness. But neither of these is the fact. The atonement of Christ which was made on his behalf, and in which he trusts, has satisfied every claim which justice could urge : the Spirit of Christ in his sanctifying operations, ultimately removes every vestige of pollution ; and the intercession of Christ is ever prevalent for his perseverance in the way to heaven. If then, the powers of darkness ever gain possession of his soul, (with reverence be it spoken,) it must prove the redeeming blood and renewing grace of Christ to be inefficacious; and he must finally have an opposite destination from that for which all Heaven has been interested to prepare him. Here, Christian, is the crowning part of your victory. And remember, that your Redeemer's mediation not only shuts the door of hell,—but it opens the gate of heaven. You are not only delivered from the power of every enemy, but you are put in possession of a glorious inheritance. All things are yours. Justly, therefore, may you exclaim under the pressure of affliction, in your conflict with yourself, amid the agonies of death, and when your immortal soul, escaping the vigilance of malignant spirits, passes the threshold of the world of glory“ justly may you exclaim,--Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ