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towards such a God! When the sight of our distress, worthless and wicked as we were, moved him to find a Redeemer, will he now reject us when we cry to him, and plead the merit of his own gift? No: “ He that spared not his own Son, but gave him up to the death for us all, will certainly with him likewise freely give us all things.” Thus the love of God, considered singly by itself, gives us the greatest ground of expectation from him, even though the intercession of Christ were less certainly revealed to us than it is. Let us now, in the
II. place, Take under our consideration the intercession of Christ, than which there is nothing more clearly held forth to us in sacred Scripture. He himself says to his disciples, in the 16th verse of the 14th chapter of this gospel, “ I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter.” This is a special part of bis office, as our great High Priest, to intercede for his people; and his saving ability is particularly concluded from this, " that he ever liveth to make intercession for us.” Heb. vii. 25. Indeed, we have both an example and proof of his intercession in the chapter following, which is wholly employed in prayers for his people. Let us now make the supposition that the Father's love was more doubtful; yea, that there were even some ground to suspect that his affection was quite alienated from the children of men, yet, unless we were to suppose that he had likewise thrown aside all regard to his only begotten Son, we have still ground enough to conclude, that for his sake he will bestow whatever he asks upon those who love him and believe on him. When he presents that body in which he suffered so much-when he pleads the merit and sufficiency of that sacrifice which he offered up—when he urges the memory of the shame, the pain, and the cursed death he underwent to satisfy the
justice of God, and to magnify his law, how prevalent must bis suit be! Can the Father turn a deaf ear to his beloved Son, whilst he enforces bis plea with such pow. erful reasonings? Can he behold the prints of that bloody punishment which himself inflicted upon him, and be insensible of their merit?—Now that the most rigorous demands of stern justice are answered, will not mercy be awakened at the entreaty of such a suitor? It were absurd to think so. No; the Father's love to our Re. deemer, nay, impartial justice itself, secures the success of the Saviour's intercession, though God were more averse to a reconciliation than the most gloomy self-tor. menting mind can conceive.
We have a famous story recorded of two brothers at Athens, which, as it serves to illustrate what I have been saying, I shall briefly relate it to you.-One of them, for some high misdemeanor, was condemned to lose his life, and was going to be led to execution, when his brother, who had lost his hand in the defence of his country, and had been a great mean of gaining a victory which was of the last importance to the state, came suddenly into the court; and without saying a word, but barely holding up his mutilated arm, so prevailed with the judges by this remembrance of what he had formerly done, that they instantly discharged the delinquent brother, though he had forfeited his life. Thus far does the intercession of man prevail with men; and shall not the constant presentation of the Lamb that was slain, for so our Saviour's appearance in heaven is described in the book of Revelation, shall not this be as operative and powerful with the loving Father? The Redeemer thus pleails, “ Behold me, O my Father, behold me in a form thus different from that in which I originally was! Be. hold me now dwelling in human flesh, wbich I have as
sumed; and how it was treated for the atonement of thy justice, and the salvation of these my people; and pow, let not all my sufferings be in vain, but for my sake re. ceive them into thy favour, and bestow upon them those blessings which have cost me so much.” Can any consider the force of this intercession, and yet doubt of its success? Let us, in the
III. place, Join both these together, viz. The assur. ed love of the Father; and—'The constant prevailing intercession of the Son. And O how great is the amount! Either of them singly give us good ground to hope; but when the two are united, how certain, how infallible is our assurance? When the advocate's plea is just and fairly urged, when the Judge is sufficiently qualified, and perfectly well disposed, how safe is the client, how secure of success! If God himself loves you, and the Re. deemer never leaves importuning him for you, bow is it possible that your prayers should be rejected, or any of your interests miscarry? It is needless to insist any longer in the proof of this; the conclusion is so strong and evident, that you must all of you have made it be. fore I could speak it. I shall therefore suggest to you, in a few particulars, the natural use and improvement of this comfortable subject.
And now, my dear brethren, upon the review of all that has been said, is not this the secret language of your bearts: These indeed are blessed news, but what in. terest bave I in them? Does the comfort of them belong to me in particular or not? This is as it should be. IR so far you are on the road to the best and most necessary improvement that I can suggest to you. The Scrip. tures will inform you, that this is the children's bread, in which the dogs can pretend no share. You see it is not a common privilege. It is peculiar to those who love the Redeemer, “ and believe that he is come out from God." This is the test.
Here then is the great and important question, which, in the name of the living God, the Searcher of hearts, I put to every soul wlio now hears me. Is it your character, or is it not? I do not ask
you believe the existence of a God, or even the truth of the Christian religion. Tbis is a faith which may go down with you to hell, where the devils themselves believe and tremble.
Neither do I ask you, if you have felt some passing motions of love to Christ, some faint desires after an interest in him. There is a desire of the slothful, says Solomon, that kills him, while it only serves to increase his present uneasiness, and his after punisbment. But do you really know Christ, and love him in sincerity? Do you cordially approve of the methods of his saving grace? Do you know what it is to lay down your guilty souls, as under the effusion of his blood, and the covert of his righteousness? Do you know what it is to strip yourselves of pride and self-confidence in his sight, that your nakedness may be clothed with his most perfect righteousness? Do you know what it is to bow to his sceptre, as his obedient subjects; to take the law of your direction from his mouth, and to rejoice that you have such a governor or instructor? And do you feel the necessity of a constant application to him as your great Head, on whose influences you live, and by whose Spirit you must be perpetually aided to all the par. poses of a divine life? Can you say to bim, as Peter did, “ Thou, Lord, who knowest all things, knowest that I love thee?" Does this faith and love govern your practice, and appear in the fruits of holy and virtuous conversation? Have you, by these, been kept only from the grosser habits of falsehood, drunkenness, swearing,
uncleanness, and other rank sins? but is the very inclination to them mortified, and can you say that it is your principal aim and study to maintain consciences void of offence both towards God and man? Do you know what it is to pray in the name of Christ; not barely to pronounce the words, as many do a spell, as if God were to be charmed by a sound; but with a bumble sense of your own unworthiness, a firm persuasion of his infinite merit, and a hopeful expectation of being graciously heard for his sake?
These are the marks by which each of you may be known to himself.
And now that I have held up the mirror, I suppose I . may warrantably class this whole audience into three different sorts of people.
1st. Those who are yet doubtful of their state, and know not what judgment to pass.
2d. Those who are sensible that the marks that I have given do not at all agree to them. And,
3d. Those with whose spirits the Holy Spirit doth witness, that in trutb they love the Redeemer, and be. lieve that he came out from God. And this directs me to a threefold address.
1st. As for you who are yet uncertain about your state, who have not accustomed yourselves to this strict reckoning, and therefore know not what judgment to form of yourselves, What have you been doing? How can you answer this neglect? Ah! shame upon you, to delay an inquiry upon which all the comfort and safety of your souls does depend. How inexcusable is this? If the Scriptures bad told us that it was only some few that should miss salvation; yea, if it had been said, that it was only one of ten thousand that was in danger of hell-fire, yet methinks the hazard is so dreadful, that