Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

charity to the general condition of the church (for it reacheth not to particular men); not out of an office of mediation, as if they were set up for public persons, appointed not only to pray for the Church in general, but to present the prayers of particular men to God in their behalf. To be such a mediator belongs only to Christ; because true intercession (as it is a public, and authoritative act) is founded upon the satisfactory merits of the person interceding. He cannot be a right advocate, who is not a propitiation too. And therefore the papists are fain to venture so far as to affirm, That the intercession of the saints with God for us, is grounded upon the virtue of their own merits : “We pray the saints to intercede for us , that is, that we may enjoy the suffrage of their merits.”—But this is a very wicked doctrine: First, Because it shareth the glory of Christ, and communicateth it to others. Secondly, Because it communicateth God's worship to others. Thirdly, Because, under pretence of modesty and humility, it bringeth in a cursed boldness “ to deny the faith," and driveth children from their Father unto servants; expressly therein gainsaying the apostle, who biddeth us “make our requests known to God ;” and assured us, that, “ by Christ, we have boldness so to do b." and “ free access" allowed us by the Spirito: whereas one chief reason of turning to the saints and angels, is, because sinful men must not dare to present themselves or their services unto God in their own persons, but by the help of those saints that are in more favour with God, and with whom they may be bolder.

Now from this doctrine of Christ's intercession, many and great are the benefits, which come unto the church of God. As first, Our fellowship with the Father and his Son: “I pray for these, that as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, they also may be one in us d.” Secondly, The gift of the Holy Ghost; "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth." All the comforts and workings of the Spirit in our hearts which we enjoy, are fruits of the intercession of Christ. Thirdly, Protection against all our spiritual enemies: “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'.” “I pray, that thou wouldst keep them from the evil .” But are not the faithful subject to evils, corruptions, and temptations, still? How then is that part of the intercession of Christ made good unto us? For understanding hereof, we must know that the intercession of Christ is available to a faithful man presently; but yet in a manner suitable and convenient to the present estate and condition of the church, so that there may be left room for another life ; and therefore we must not conceive all presently done. As the sun shineth on the moon by leisurely degrees, till she come to her full light; or as if the king grant a pardon to be drawn ; though the grant be of the whole thing at once, yet it cannot be written and sealed, but word after word, and line after line, and action after action; so the grant of our holiness is made unto Christ at first,—but in the execution thereof, there is line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little ; such an order by Christ ubserved in the distribution of his Spirit and grace, as is most suitable to a life of faith, and to the hope we have of a better kingdom. “ I bave prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not," saith Christ unto Peter : yet we see it did shake and totter;

y Oramus Sanctos ut intercedant pro nobis; id est, ut merita eorum nobis suffragentur. P. Lumb. l. 4. dist. 45. 3 See Dr. Usher's Answer to the Jesuit's Challenge, chap. of prayer to saints, p. 411. and the quotations out of Hales and Biel there. . Phil. iv, 6. b Heb. x. 9.

• Eph. ii. 18. d John xvii. 21. e John xiv, 16, 17.

non rogavit ut ne deficeret, sed ut ne prorsus deficeret ;" the prayer was not, that there might be no failing at all, but that it might not utterly and totally fail.

Fourthly, The assurance of our sitting in heavenly places. His sitting in heavenly places “ hath raised us up together, and made us sit with bim h First, Because he sitteth there in our flesh. Secondly, Because he sitteth there in our behalf. Thirdly, Because he sitteth there as our centre', and so is near unto us,' natura officii et spiritu;' by the unity of the same nature with us; by the quality of his office or sponsorship for us; and by the communion and fellowship of his Spirit.

Fifthly, Strength against our sins : for from his priesthood in Heaven, which is his intercession, the apostle infers “the writing of the law in our bearts k."

Rom. viii. 34.

John xvij. 15.

Ephes. ii. 6.

i Col. iii. 1, 2.

Sixthly, The sanctification of our services: of which the Levitical priests were a type, who were to “bear the iniquity of the holy things of the children of Israel,” that they might be accepted'. He is the angel of the covenant, who hath a golden censer, to offer up the prayers of saints m. There is a threefold evil in man: First, An evil of state or condition under the guilt of sin. Secondly, An evil of nature, under the corruption of sin, and under the indisposition and ineptitude of all our faculties unto good. Thirdly, An evil in all our services, by the adherency of sin : for that which toucheth an unclean thing, is made unclean ; and the best wine, mixed with water, will lose much of its strength and native spirits. Now Christ, by his righteousness and merits, justifieth our persons from the guilt of sin; and, by the grace and Spirit, doth in measure purify our faculties, and cure them of that corruption of sin which cleaves unto them. And lastly, By bis incense and intercession, doth cleanse our services from the noisomeness and adherency of sin; so that in them the Lord smelleth a sweet savour: and so the apostle calleth the contributions of the saints towards his necessities, “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, and well-pleasing unto God.” And this is a benefit which runneth through the whole life of a Christian: all the ordinary works of our calling (being parts of our services unto God, for in them we work as servants to the same Master) are unto us sanctified, and to the Father made acceptable by the intercession of his Son, “ who hath made us priests, to offer all our sacrifices with acceptance unto this altar."

Seventhly, The inward interpellation of the soul itself for itself, which is, as it were, the echo of Christ's intercession in our hearts: “The Spirit maketh intercession for us with groans which cannot be uttered P.” The same Spirit groaneth in us, and more fully and distinctly by Christ, prayeth for us.-" These things I speak in the world," saith our Saviour, “ that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves 9;" that is, as I conceive,-"I have made this prayer in the

k Heb. viii. 4, 6, 9, 10. 1 Exod. xxviji. 38. m Revel. viii. 3. n Phil, iv. 18. Gen. viii. 21. o Rev. i, 6, 1 Pet. ii. 3. Isai. Ixv, 7. p Rom. viii. 26. 9 John xvii. 13.

grace."

world, and left a record and pattern of it in the church, that they, feeling the same heavenly desires kindled in their hearts, may be comforted in the workings of that Spirit of prayer in them, which testifieth to their souls the quality of that intercession, which I will make for them in Heaven.”

Eighthly, Patience and unweariedness in God's service: Let us run with patience that race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God"."

Lastly, Confidence in our approaches to the throne of Grace. Seeing then that we have a great High-priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession, and come boldly unto the throne of

And again, “ This man after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool :” from whence the apostle inferreth, “ Having therefore the boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus; and having a High-priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith'," &c.

And all these things are certain to us, in the virtue of this intercession of Christ : First, Because the Father “heareth him, and answereth him ";" and appointed him to this office Secondly, Because the Father loveth us;—“I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you, for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me y,” &c. Thirdly, Because as Christ hath a prayer to intercede for us, so hath he also a power to confer that upon us for which he intercedeth. "I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter?;" “ If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you: but if I depart, I will send him unto you." That which Christ, by his prayer, obtained for us,by his power he conferreth upon us.

And therefore in the Psalm, he is said to “Receive gifts for men,” noting the fruit of his intercession; and in the apostle, “ to give gifts unto men,” noting the power and fulness of his person". “Having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he bath shed forth this, which you now see and hear.” Thus great, and thus certain are the benefits, which come unto the church, from the intercession of Christ.

Heb. xii, 1, 2, 3. Heb. iv, 14, 16. + Heb. x. 12, 32. u Jobs xi. 42, xii. 28.

* Heb. v. 4, 5. y John xvi. 26, 27. 3 John xiv. 16. • John xvi. 7. b Psalm Ixviii. 18.

The fourth thing enquired into, about the priesthood of Christ, was, What is the virtue and fruits thereof: and they may be all comprised in two general words: there is solutio debiti,' the payment of our debt,--and redundantia meriti,' an overplus and redundancy of merit. Satisfaction, whereby we are redeemed from under the law; and an acquisition, or purchase of an inheritance and privileges for us. The obedience of Christ hath a double relation in it; First, There is ratio legalis justitiæ,' the relation of a legal righteousness; as it bears exact and complete conformity to the law, will, and decree of his father. Secondly, There is ‘ratio superlegalis meriti,' relation of a merit over and beyond the law., For though it were nostrum debitum,' that which we did necessarily owe; yet it was 'suum indebitum,' that which of himself he was not bound unto, but by voluntary susception, and covenant with his Father: for it was the blood and obedience of God himself.

Here then, first, it is to be considered his payment of that debt, which we did owe unto God; in which respect he is said to "bear our sins.” To bear sin, is to have the burden of the guilt of sin and malediction of the law to lie upon a man. So it is said, “ He that troubleth you, shall bear his judgement d.”_"The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son ; the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” So wrath is said to abide on a man,” and sin is said “ to be retained,” or held in its place. So Christ is said " to bear our sins in his body on the tree h;" and, by so bearing them, he took them off from us, cancelled the obligations of the law against us, and did all whatsoever was requisite to satisfy an offended justice; for “he fulfilled the law," which was our debt of service. It becometh us to fulfil all righteousness, and he 'endured the cross,' and curse, the bloody agony

Ephes. iv. 8. i John iii. 36.

c Acts ij. 33. d Gal. v. 10. e Ezek. xviii. 20. John xx. 23. h 1 Pet. ii. 24. Isai. liii. 4, 6. Matth. iii. 15.

« ElőzőTovább »