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THE SAVIOUR'S TENDERNESS.
343 than the affection of a mother fondling her tender offspring ; with a love powerful as that self-love, which prompts man to feel for his own body, does the Lord Jesus feel for his church; and tend, and watch, and cherish, and feed, and bless his flock.
Think of him, whose love fills heaven with happiness; whose dying sorrows have procured immortal life for countless multitudes; whose compassion shines like the noon-day sun, but has no setting beam; and can you distrust such tenderness ? or droop beneath the noon-day warmth of such compassion ? Is he so kind, why do you not rejoice incessantly in him ? Surely when you droop in sadness, he might say, “O thou of litile faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? didst thou find in thy Redeemer aught to occasion thy fears? Dost thou see any want of love in him ? any want of richness in his grace ? or of freeness in his promises ?" O look inore to him
for peace ! Say of this compassionate Jesus, He is God my Saviour ; of this tender yet almighty Shepherd, He is my Shepherd; and you may add, “ I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures : he leadeth me beside the still waters. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil : for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
§ 4. The disciples of Jesus are also taught to view him as their Intercessor; and hence should flow into their souls that
peace which passeth all understanding.” The Most High hath not revealed the mode of the Saviour's intercession for his flock; but has fully asserted its reality. Christ “is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for
“ If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.">
“ He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him ; seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”ý
“We have a great High Priest, that is passed into the hea ens, Jesus the Son of God. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in tiine of
To intercede, is to present petitions in behalf of another ; to act as an advocate, is to plead another's cause, and attend to
(w) Rom. viii. 31.
) Heb, vii, 25."
(1) 1 John ii. 1. () Heb. iv. 14, 16.
ENCOURAGEMENT FROM his interests. This the Lord Jesus Christ is declared to do for his disciples. He intercedes in their behalf; he pleads as their advocate; and so prevalent is his intercession, and of such immense moment in advancing their salvation, that on his ever living to intercede, is grounded his ability for ever lo save: and because he acts as their High Priest in heaven, his disciples are exhorted to go boldly to the throne of grace, and to hold their profession fast.
Look to Jesus as your advocate. What efficacy must his intercession impart to the sighs and lispings of his weakest follower ! Think of him as the Son of God, the brightness of his Father's glory: and can he plead your cause in vain? or can it fail when trusted in his hands ? His intercession has availed for multitudes, which no man can number. Go then, O go to him! He loved thee as angels cannot love; and feels for thee as angels cannot feel. They know not what it is to sigh, to sorrow, and to weep; but he, for thee, has felt all this. They know not what it is to hunger and thirst, to be weary and faint, to be persecuted and scorned, to pray in sadness, and to die in woe; but he, who is thy intercessor, knows all this ; for he has felt it all. And since he “ himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted."* Tell him of thy sorrows-he once had sorrow. Tell him thy enemies—he once had enemies. Unfold to him all the secret sadness of thy heart he once felt the bitterness of woe. When weak, ask his grace to strengthen thee; when troubled, implore his smile to cheer; when fallen, beg his strength to raise thee. la darkness look to him; and when thy poor defective prayers are but the moanings of a broken heart, still look to him, who lives to plead thy cause. Solace thy soul, by thinking what an intercessor thou hast. An intercessor for ever the same. Let faith display him to thee as exalted in eternal day; yet think that among the praises of the blest, he hears the lispings of thy feeble voice. He is thy advocate with his father and thy Father. Thou mayst go to him and say, Blessed Jesus! angels praise and saints adore thee. They are as holy as they are happy; but I, thy poor disciple, have many sorrows, and all I do deserves thy frown. So much unbelief mingles
faith ; so much coldness with my love; so much
(a) Heb. ii. 18.
THE SAVIOUR'S INTERCESSION.
345 languor with my hope ; so much imperfection with all my services ; so many wandering imaginations even with my most solemn prayers; that if thou dost not help me I must sink, and die. if thou dost not plead for me, I must give up every hope ; but thou wilt plead for me. Thou art my intercessor, and in thee let me find my everlasting all; and cold as is this heart, does it not wish, and pray, and long to love thee? and weak as is this faith, does it not fix upon thee, and still turn to thee ? and dim as is this hope, yet thou knowest this glimmering, trembling hope, would not fix on any thing but thee; nor would I be without this hope for all the works thy hands have made. But let this hope brighten ; and plead thou for me; and take into thy care my everlasting concerns; and let me rejoice in thee, as my advocate and eternal friend, and then thy will be done for every thing besides !
$5. The Christian is represented as the peculiar property of Christ. “ Whether we live we live unto the Lord, and whether we die we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore or die we are the Lord's;" and his through the purchase of his blood, “ bought with a price” inestimable. The thought is delightful—“We are the Lord's.” What more can the soul desire to secure its happiness ? Whether we live we are the Lord's—then all his dealings must be meant in mercy, and all must end in good. Whether we die we are the Lord's— then all must be well in the world unseen. The Christian may say, “I know not where heaven is; but Jesus knows, and I am his. When soul and body part, my spirit will be a stranger to the wondrous path that conducts the righteous to the presence of their God; but Jesus knows the way, and I am his. Whatever scenes may open on my view, how solemn soever the realities that await me, when I enter eternity, this one thing assures me that all must be right,—“ Whether we live or die we are the Lord's.” “ We are the Lord's"-delightful words—sweet as the harmony of heaven. A thousand and a thousand times might the charming declaration be repeated, and yet not all its power be felt, nor all its value comprehended. We are the Lord's—then welcome life ! that we may live to him; and welcome death! that we may go to him; welcome the services of time! they are what he requires; and welcome the rest of eternity! it is what he prepares. Welcome the Christian warfare ! being his makes
BLESSINGS FLOWING FROM
346 victory certain. Welcome the battle! being his secures the
Welcome health or weakness, life or death, time or eternity, earth or heaven! Let us but hear, “We are the Lord's," and each shall be welcome-all shall be welcome.
$ 6. The Lord Jesus Christ is also declared to be the friend and brother of his flock. He owns the endearing appellations. s Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. How wonderful the love which applies such endearing names to those who were once so far from God and holiness! How boundless the blessedness of having in Immanuel a brother and a friend! All that is valuable in earthly friendships, and infinitely more, is comprehended in his. The tenderest friendships of earth are but a mutual tribute of affection, where each receives, and each gives. Your friends love you because you love them, and your love to them is strengthened by their love to you; but O how different is his friendship, who died for you when you were his enemy! He is an almighty friend. The dearest relatives below are frail as the flower of the field; but he is liable to no decay. When they have a willing heart, they often have a feeble hand; and fervent prayers and unavailing pity is frequently all the relief that they can administer to those they love the best. But bis means are not thus limited. When they can only mingle sorrows with our sorrows, he can drive those sorrows away. He can cheer when they can only weep. He can infuse into the heart the peace which passeth all understanding, and can so strengthen the faith of his disciples, in invisible and eternal things, that they may sometimes seem almost the objects of sight, instead of belief; and by such seasons of delighiful intercourse with heaven, he can fill their souls with strong consolation. All the treasures of wisdom too are his. When perplexity and distress beset his friends, and earthly counsellors fail, or stand confounded, he will guide those who look to him for isdom in the right way, to a city of habitation. Even with respect to temporal concerns, he can suggest a thought, or fix on the heart an impression, which shall influence all the future life, and extend its influence to eternity itself. His friendship is unchangeable; having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them to the end. Earthly friends are often fickle and mutable; but Jesus Christ " is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." No enemies
THE SAVIOUR'S FRIENDSHIP.
347 can lessen his love to his beloved flock; no slanderer pour his venom into the Redeemer's ear. His friendship endures the same through the short summer of prosperity, and the dark winter of adversity; and it endures for ever. When other friends are most faithful and affectionate, dear as the light that visits our eyes, or as the blood that warms our hearts, such is this world, that they often may be absent when wanted most. Distance may deprive us of their sympathy and affection, when these are most desirable; but this heavenly friend is ever near. He said, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”b If Jesus is our friend, we have one friend ever at hand, to hear the faintest whisper that solicits his aid. His friendship is eternal too, and this is the crown of all the rest. It lasts for eternity. Blessed eternity! It is eternity that will infuse the most rapturous delight into the triumphant believer's overflowing cup of happiness. It is eternity that will form the brightest ray in the triumphant believer's far more exceeding weight of heavenly glory; and it is eternity that renders the friendship of Jesus Christ so immense a blessing, that its worth might be for ever telling, yet for ever untold. Our most beloved friends must die; and we must die ; and the fondest earthly connexions must shortly be dissolved. To mourn for the death of those we hold most dear, or to have them mourn on account of ours, is what we all are doomed to here. loss of friends is the sad tribute, I had almost said the sad equivalent, that in these regions of death we must pay for loving and being beloved ;" but death shall never terminate the friendship of Jesus with his humble flock. That sweet, that awful word, eternity, makes him ours for ever. The sun which shines on the dwellings, where we live with our beloved friends below; the solid earth, on which we tread with them; the stars that shine on our evening walks in their company ;-these, like us, are frail; and lasting as they seem, must come to nothing; but the friendship of Jesus Christ is stronger and more lasting than they. It will flourish in those new heavens wherein righteousness dwelleth. Beyond the gulf of death it will diffuse immortal good, through ages more numerous than the drops of summer rain, and the flakes
(6) John xiv. 21, 23.