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completing of thy salvation in glory, let me present thee with a few things.
Remember that the hardest or worst part of the work of thy Saviour is over. His bloody work, his bearing of thy sin and curse, his loss of the light of his Father's face for a time, his dying upon the cursed tree,—that was the worst, the sorest, the hardest, and most difficult part of the work of redemption; and yet this he did willingly, cheerfully, and without thy desires; yea, this he did as considering those for whom he did it in a state of rebellion and enmity to him.
Consider also, that he has made a beginning with thy soul to reconcile thee to God, and to that end has bestowed his justice upon thee, put his Spirit within thee, and begun to make the unwieldable mountain and rock, thy heart, to turn towards him, and desire after him, to believe in him, and rejoice in him.
Consider also, that some comfortable pledges of his love thou hast already received; namely, such as to feel the sweetness of his love; as to see the light of his countenance; as to be made to know his power, in raising thee when thou wast down; and how he has made thee stand while hell has been pushing at thee, utterly to overthrow thee.
Thou mayest consider also, that what remains behind of the work of thy salvation in his hands, as it is the most easy part, so the most comfortable, and that part which will more immediately issue in his glory; and therefore he will mind it.
That which is behind is also more safe in his hand, than if it was in thine own. He is wise, he is powerful, he is faithful, and therefore will manage that part that is lacking to our salvation, well, until he has completed it. It is his love to thee that has made him put no trust in thee. He knows that he can himself bring thee to his kingdom most
LIVE IN LIVELY HOPE.
surely, and therefore has not left that work to thee, no, nor any part thereof.
Live in hope then, in a lively hope, that since Christ is risen from the dead, he lives to make intercession for thee; and that thou shalt reap the blessed benefit of this two-fold salvation that is wrought, and that is working out for thee, by Jesus Christ our Lord. And thus have we treated of the benefit of his intercession, in that he is able to save to the uttermost. And this leads me to the third particular.
THE PERSONS INTERESTED IN CHRIST'S INTERCESSION.
THE third great thing is to show who are the persons interested in this intercession of Christ. And they are those that come to God by him. “Wherefore he is able also to save them,”—"to save to the uttermost them that come to God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."
A little first to comment upon the order of the words, “that come unto God by him.”
1. There are that come unto God, but not by him; and these are not included in this text-have not a share in this privilege. Thus the Jews came to God; the unbelieving Jews, who had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. These submitted not to Christ, the righteousness of God, but thought to come to him by works of their own, or at least, as it were, by them, and so came short of salvation by grace, for that reigns to salvation only in Christ. To these Christ's person and undertakings were a stumbling stone; for at him they stumbled, and did split themselves to pieces, though they indeed were such as came to God for life.
2. As there are that come to God, but not by Christ; so there are that come to Christ, but not to God by him. Of this sort are they, who hearing that Christ is Saviour, therefore come to him for pardon; but cannot abide to come to God by him, for that he is holy, and so will check their lusts, and will change their hearts and natures. Mind me what I say: There are a great many that would be saved by Christ, but love not to be sanctified by God through him. These make a stop at Christ, and will go no further. Might such have pardon, they care not whether ever they went to heaven
THE SON ACTS NOT WITHOUT THE FATHER.
or not. Of this kind of coming to Christ, I think it is, of which he warneth his disciples, when he saith, “In that day you shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever you
shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” As if he should say, "When you ask for any thing, make not a stop at me, but come to my Father by me. For they that come to me, and not to my Father, through me, will have nothing of what they come for.'
Righteousness shall be imputed to us, if we believe in him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. To come to Christ for a benefit, and stop there, and not come to God by him, prevaileth nothing. Here the mother of Zebedee's children erred, and about this it was that the Lord Jesus cautioned her: “Lord (saith she) grant that these my two sons may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left in thy kingdom.” But what is the answer of Christ? “To sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but for whom it is prepared of my Father.” As if he should say, Woman, of myself I do nothing; my Father worketh with
Go therefore to him by me, for I am the way to him: what thou canst obtain of him by me, thou shalt have; that is to say, what of the things that pertain to eternal life, whether pardon or glory.'
It is true, the Son has power to give pardon and glory, but he gives it not by himself, but by and according to the will of his Father. They therefore that come to him for an eternal good, and look not to the Father by him, come short thereof. I mean now pardon and glory. And hence, though it be said the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, that is, to show the certainty of his Godhead, and the excellency of his mediation; yet forgiveness of sin is said to lie more particularly in the hand of the Father, and that God for Christ's sake forgiveth us.
The Father, as we see, will not forgive, unless we come
to him by the Son; why then should we conceit that the Son will forgive those that come not to the Father by him?
So then, justifying righteousness is in the Son, and with him also is intercession; but forgiveness is with the Father ; yea, the gift of the Holy Ghost, yea, and the power of imputing of the righteousness of Christ is yet in the hand of the Father. Hence Christ prays to the Father to forgive, prays to the Father to send the Spirit, and it is God that imputeth righteousness to justification to us. The Father then doth nothing but for the sake of, and through the Son; the Son also doth nothing derogating from the glory of the Father. But it would be a derogation to the glory of the Father, if the Son should grant to save them that come not to the Father by him. Wherefore you that cry, Christ, Christ, delighting yourselves in the thoughts of forgiveness, but care not to come by Christ to the Father for it, you are not at all concerned in this blessed text; for he only saves by his intercession them that come to God by him.
There are three sorts of people that may be said to come to Christ, but not to God by him.
1. They whose utmost design in coming is only that guilt and fear of damning may be removed from them. And there are three signs of such a one. (1.) It is he that takes up in a belief of pardon, and so goes on in his course of carnality, as he did before. (2.) He whose comfort in the belief of pardon standeth alone, without other fruits of the Holy Ghost. (3.) He that having been washed, can be content, as the sow, to tumble in the mire again, or as the dog that did spue, to lick up his vomit again.
2. They may be said to come to Christ, but not to God by him, who do pick and choose doctrines; itching only after that which sounds of grace, but secretly abhorring that which presseth to moral goodness. These did never see God, what notions soever they may have of the Lord Jesus, and of forgiveness from him.