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UNFAILING EFFICACY OF CHRIST'S INTERCESSION.
But thus have I passed through the three former things, namely,
I. That of the INTERCESSION of Christ.
III. That of the PERSONS that are interested in this intercession.
IV. Wherefore now I come to the last head, and that is to show you the CERTAINTY of their reaping the benefit of his intercession :
“Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."
The certainty of their reaping the benefit of being saved, that come unto God by Christ, is thus expressed : “Seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." The intercession of Christ, and the lastingness of it, is a sure token of the salvation of them that come unto God by him.
Of his intercession, what it is, and for whom, we have spoken already. Of the success and prevalency of it, we have also spoken before; but THE REASON OF ITS SUCCESSFULNESS, of that we are to speak now.
And that reason, as the apostle suggesteth, lies in the continuance of it: “Seeing he ever liveth to make intercession.” The apostle also makes very much of the continuation of the priesthood of Christ, in other places of this epistle : “He abides a priest continually: “Thou art a priest for ever:” “He hath an unchangeable priesthood :” and here, "He ever liveth to make intercession."
Now, by the text is shown the reason why he so continually harpeth upon the durableness of it, namely, because by the unchangeableness of his priesthood we are saved; nay, saved demonstratively, apparently. It is evident we
“ He is also able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” For,
1. The durableness of his intercession proves, that the covenant (in which those that come to God by him are concerned and wrapt up) is not shaken, broken, or made invalid by all their weakness and infirmities.
Christ is a priest according to the new covenant, Heb. viii. and in all his acts of mediation he hath regard to that covenant. So long as that covenant abides in its strength, so long Christ's intercession is of worth. Hence, when God cast the old high priest out of doors, he renders this reason for his so doing, “Because they continued not in my covenant," that is, neither priests, nor people. Therefore were they cast out of the priesthood, and the people pulled down, as to a church state, yea, that covenant was utterly abolished.
Now, in the new covenant by which Christ acts as a priest, so far as we are concerned therein, he also himself acteth our part, being indeed the head and mediator of the body. Wherefore, though we sin, God doth not count that the new covenant is broken, if Christ Jesus our Lord is found to do by it, what by the law is required of us. Therefore he saith (Psalm lxxxix.), “If his children break my statutes, and keep not my commandments, I will visit their sing with the rod,” &c. But their sins shall not shake my covenant with my beloved, nor cause that I for ever should reject them: “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. His seed will I make to endure for ever, his seed shall endure for ever.” Hence it is clear, that the covenant stands good to us, as long as Christ stands
THE COVENANT WITH CHRIST.
good to God, or before his face; for he is not only our Mediator by covenant, but he himself is our condition to Godward. Therefore HE is said to be “the covenant of the people,” or that which the holy God by law required of us. Hence again, he is said to be “our righteousness;" namely, that which answereth to what is required of us by the law. He is made unto us of God," so; and in our room, and in our stead presenteth himself to God.
So then, if any ask me, by what Christ's priesthood is continued ? I answer, by covenant: and for that the covenant by which he is made priest, abideth of full force. If any ask, whether the church is concerned in that covenant? I answer, Yes : yet, so as that all points and parts thereof, that concern life and death everlasting, are laid upon
his shoulders, and he alone is the doer of them. He is the Lord our righteousness, and he is the Saviour of the body. So that my sins break not the covenant; but notwithstanding them, God's covenant stands fast with him with him for
And good reason, if no fault can be found with Christ, who is the person that did strike hands with his Father upon our account, and for us; that is, to do what was meet should be found upon us,
when we came to appear before God by him.
And that God himself doth so understand this matter, is evident, because he also, by his own act, giveth and imputeth to us that good that we never did, that righteousness which we never wrought out; yea, and for the sake of that, transmitted our sins unto Christ, as to one that had not only well satisfied for them, but could carry them so far, both from us and from God, that they should never again come to be charged on the committers, to death and damnation. The scriptures are so plentiful for this, that he must be a Turk, or a Jew, or an Atheist, that denies it. Besides, God's commanding that men should believe in his Son “unto righteousness,” well enough proveth this thing; and the reason of
this command doth prove it with an over and above; namely, “For he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
Hence comes out that proclamation from God, at the rising again of Christ from the dead, “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses."
If this be so (as indeed it is), then here lieth a great deal of the force of this conclusion, “He ever liveth to make intercession," and of the demonstration of the certain salvation of them that come to God by him, “seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” For if Christ Jesus is a priest hy covenant, and so abides as the covenant abides; and if, since the covenant is everlasting, his priesthood is unchangeable, then the man that cometh to God by him, must needs be certainly saved. For if the covenant—the covenant of salvation—is not broken, none can show a reason why he that comes to Christ should be damned, or why the priesthood of Jesus Christ should cease. Hence, after the apostle had spoken of the excellency of his person and priesthood, he then shows that the benefit of the covenant of God remaineth with us, namely, that grace should be communicated unto us, for his priesthood's sake, and that our sins and our iniquities God would remember no more. Heb. viii.
Now, as I also have already hinted, if this new covenant, of which the Lord Jesus is mediator and high priest, has in the bowels of it, not only grace and remission of sins, but a promise that we shall be partakers thereof through the blood of his priesthood (for so it comes to us); then why should not we have boldness, not only to come to God by him, but to enter also into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by that new and living way?
THE COVENANT CONFIRMED BY OATH.
2. But further, this priesthood (as to the unchangeableness of it) is confirmed unto him by an oath, by him that said to him, “The Lord hath sworn and will not repent, thou art a priest for ever.” This oath seems to me to be for the confirmation of the covenant, as it is worded before by Paul to the Hebrews, when he speaks of it with respect to that establishment that is also had on Christ's part, by the sacrifice which he offered to God for us; yea, he then speaks of the mutual confirmation of it both by the Father and the Son. Now, I say, since by this covenant he stands and abides a priest; and since the Lord sware, and will not repent, saying, “Thou art a priest for ever;" we are still further confirmed in the certain salvation of him that cometh to God by Christ.
The Lord by swearing confirmeth to Christ, and so to us in him, the immutability of his counsel, and that he is utterly unchangeable in his resolutions to save them to the uttermost, that come to God by Christ. And this also shows, that this covenant, and so the promise of remission of sins, is steadfast and immovable.
And it is worth your noting the manner and nature of this oath, “ The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent.” It is as much as to say, 'What I have now sworn, I bind me for ever to stand to; or, I determine never to revoke; and that is, “ Thou art a priest for ever.” Now, as we said before, since his priesthood stands by covenant, and this covenant of his priesthood is confirmed by an oath, it cannot be, but that he that comes by him to God must be accepted of him; for should such a one be rejected, it must be either for the greatness of his sins, or for want of merit in the sacrifice presented, and urged, as to the merit of it, before the mercy-seat. But let the reason specified, be what it will, the
falls harder upon the sacrifice of Christ that it can do any
where else, and so on upon the covenant, and at last upon God himself, who has sworn, and will not repent, that he is a priest