« ElőzőTovább »
Thirdly, he is the same in his office. The principal offices assigned by the Scriptures to our Lord in his glorified state, that is, since his ascension into heaven, are those of a mediator and intercessor. Of the mediation of our Lord the Scripture speaks in this wise: "There is one God, and one mediator beween God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (1 Tim. ii. 5.) It was after our Lord's ascension that this was spoken of him; and it is plain, from the form and turn of the expression, that his mediatorial character and office was meant to be represented as a perpetual character and office, because it is described in conjunction with the existence of God and men, so long as men exist; "there is one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ." "Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name." "At that day ye shall ask in my name." (John, xvi. 24-26.) These words form part of our Lord's memorable conversation with his select disciples, not many hours before his death and clearly intimate the mediatorial office which he was to discharge after his ascension.
Concerning his intercession, not that which he occasionally exercised upon earth when he prayed, as he did most fervently for his disciples, but that which he now, at this present time, exercises, we have the following text, explicit, satisfactory, and full: "But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood:" by priesthood is here meant the office of praying for others. "Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for us." No words can more plainly declare than these words do the perpetuity of our Lord's agency: that it did not cease with his presence upon earth, but continues. "He continueth ever: he ever liveth; he hath an unchangeable priesthood." Surely this jus
tifies what our text saith of him: "that he is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever;" and that not in a figurative or metaphorical sense, but literally, effectually, and really. Moreover, in the same passage, not only the constancy and perpetuity, but the power and efficacy, of our Lord's intercession are asserted. "He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him." They must come unto God: they must come by him: and then he is able to save them completely.
These three heads of observation, namely, upon his person, his power, and his office, comprise the relation in which our Lord Jesus Christ stands to us whilst we remain in this mortal life. There is another consideration of great solemnity and interest, namely, the relation which we shall bear to him in our future state. Now the Now the economy which appears to be destined for the human creation, I mean for that part of it which shall be received to future happiness, is, that they shall live in a state of local society with one another, and under Jesus Christ as their head, experiencing a connexion amongst themselves, as well as the operation of his authority as their Lord and governor. I think it likely that our Saviour had this state of things in view when in his final discourse with his apostles he tells them: "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John, xiv. 2, 3.) And, again, in the same discourse, and referring to the same economy, "Father," says he, “I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me:" for that this was spoken, not merely of the twelve who were then sitting with Jesus, and to whom his discourse was addressed, but of his
disciples in future ages of the world, is fairly collected from his words (xvii. 20): "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word."-Since the prayer here stated was part of the discourse, it is reasonable to infer that the discourse, in its object, extended as far as the prayer, which we have seen to include believers, as well of succeeding ages as of that then present.
Now, concerning this future dispensation, supposing it to consist, as here represented, of accepted spirits, participating of happiness in a state of sensible society with one another, and with Jesus Christ himself at their head, one train of reflection naturally arises, namely, first, that it is highly probable there should be many expressions of Scripture which have relation to it; secondly, that such expressions must by their nature appear to us, at present, under a considerable degree of obscurity; which we may be apt to call a defect; thirdly, that the credit due to such expressions must depend upon their authority as portions of the written word of God, and not upon the probability, much less upon the clearness, of what they contain; so that our comprehension of what they mean must stop at very general notions; and our belief in them rest in the deference to which they are entitled as Scripture declarations. Of this kind are many, if not all, of those expressions which speak so strongly of the value and benefit and efficacy of the death of Christ; of its sacrificial, expiatory, and atoning nature. We may be assured that these expressions mean something real; refer to something real; though it be something which is to take place in that future dispensation of which we have been speaking. It is reasonable to expect, that, when we come to experience what that state is, the same experience will open to us the distinct propriety of these
expressions, their truth and the substantial truth which they contain; and likewise show us that, however strong and exalted the terms are which we see made use of, they are not stronger nor higher than the subject called for. But for the present we must be, what I own it is difficult to be, content to take with very general notions, humbly hoping that a disposition to receive and to acquiesce in what appears to us to be revealed, be it more or be it less, will be regarded as the duty which belongs to our subsisting condition, and the measure of information with which it is favoured and will stand in the place of what, from our deep interest in the matter, we are sometimes tempted to desire, but which, nevertheless, might be unfit for us, a knowledge, which not only was, but which we perceived to be, fully adequate to the subject.
There is another class of expressions which, since they professedly refer to circumstances that are to take place in this new state, and not before, will, it is likely, be rendered quite intelligible by our experience in that state; but must necessarily convey very imperfect information until they be so explained. Of this kind are many of the passages of Scripture, which we have already noticed, as referring to the changes which will be wrought in our mortal nature, and the agency of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the intervention of his power in producing those changes, and the nearer similitude which our changed 'natures, and the bodies with which we shall then be clothed, will bear to his. We read "that he shall change our vile body, that it may be like his glorious body." A momentous assurance, no doubt: yet, in its particular signification, waiting to be cleared up by our experience of the event. So likewise are some other
particular expressions relating to the same event, such as being "unclothed," "clothed upon, ""the dead in Christ rising first;""meeting the Lord in the air;" they that are alive not preventing those that are asleep," and the like. These are all most interesting intimations; yet to a certain degree obscure. They answer the purpose of administering to our hopes and comfort and admonition, which they do without convéying any clear ideas: and this, and not the satisfaction of our curiosity, may be the grand purpose, for the sake of which intimations of these things were given at all. But then, in so far as they describe a change in the order of nature, of which change we are to be the objects, it seems to follow, that we shall be furnished with experience which will discover to us the full sense of this language. The same remark may be repeated concerning the first and second death, which are expressly spoken of in the Revelations,' and, as I think, alluded to and supposed in other passages of Scripture in which they are not named.
The lesson inculcated by the observation here pointed out is this, that, in the difficulties which we meet with in interpreting Scripture, instead of being too uneasy under them, by reason of the obscurity of certain passages, or the degree of darkness which hangs over certain subjects, we ought first to take to ourselves this safe and consoling rule, namely, to make up for the deficiency of our knowledge by the sincerity of our practice; in other words, to act up to what we do know, or, at least, earnestly to strive so to do. So far as a man holds fast to this rule, he has a strong ground of comfort under every degree of ignorance or even of errors. And it is a rule applicable to the rich and to the poor, to the educated and the