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about the morrow. Our errand, then, to the throne of grace, is no other than this, to obtain mercy for the pardon of past sins, and grace proportioned to our present necessity; either to subdue our corruptions, to resist temptations, to support us under the afflictions we feel, or to strengthen us for the duties we are called to perform. I now proceed in the
Third place, To illustrate the grounds of encouragement upon which the apostle's exhortation is founded. These are suggested in the two preceding verses: We have a great High Priest, Jesus the Son of God. This High Priest is passed into the heavens; and he is not an High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
The 1st thing to be considered is the personal worth and dignity of our High Priest. Of this we have a lofty description in the beginning of the epistle: there he is styled the Son of God, and the Creator of the worlds, the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person, who upholdeth all things by the word of his power; infinitely higher than the angels, inasmuch as he is their Lord and bead, and they only ministering spirits, whom he employs as his servants, and sends forth to minister unto the heirs of salvation. Thus great is the Christian's High Priest : this is that exalted Person who hath undertaken to mediate between God and sinners. Have we not here then one solid ground of encouragement, a firm foundation for our hope of the divine favour and acceptance ? but this ground of encouragement receives a mighty addition, when, together with the personal dignity of our High Priest, we consider, in the
2d place, The value of what he did and suffered in
that character. Having assumed our nature, "and taken upon him the form of a servant,” he yielded a perfect obedience to that law which we had broken, and at last submitted to a painful, ignominious, and accursed death, that we might live through him. “ He was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Hereby the law was magni. fied, divine justice infinitely glorified, and a way opened for the free and honourable exercise of mercy and grace to a guilty world. The sufferings of the Son of God in our nature, and for our sins, afford a display of the divine holiness and justice, more bright and awful than if the whole human race had perished irrecoverably. While the law is not made void, but established, by what he did ; at the same time by what he suffered, a public testimony is given to all intelligent creatures, that sin is an evil of such deep malignity, that nothing less than a sacrifice of infinite worth could expiate the guilt of it, or save the transgressors from endless misery: So that this dispensation, which provides so effectually for the glory of God, bath a powerful tendency to quiet our minds, and to cherish our hopes of pardon and acceptance ; because now it appears, that God may be merciful without impairing the authority of his government; nay, perfectly just, as well as infinitely gracious, when he justifieth those who believe on Jesus. These hopes will appear to have a firmer foundation, if, to the dignity of our High Priest, and the inestimable worth of his obedience and suffering, we add, in the
3d place, That he was fully authorised to undertake this office; for, as we read in this same epistle, “ Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he who said unto bim, Tbou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee.” Indeed, without such a divine constitution, the sa. crifice he offered could have been of no benefit to us. The acceptance of one life in the place of another, dependeth solely upon him to whom the forfeiture is made. But, blessed be God, the designation of our Lord to the office of high priest, is so plainly and repeatedly asserted in Scripture, that there is no room left us to doubt of it. “He gave himself for our sins, according to the will of God." Hence he is styled the Messenger of the covenant, the Servant, and the Elect of God. In every part of his undertaking he acted by commission from his heavenly Father: “He came not to do his own will, but the will of him that sent him;" which affords the strongest encouragement to draw near to God with filial boldness, and to hope for acceptance through this great High Priest of his own designation and choice, this “ “ mighty One, upon whom he hath laid our help.” Yea,
4thly. To remove every possible ground of jealousy, God hath testified, in the most public and solemn man. ner, his perfect satisfaction with his whole conduct as Mediator; which is a circumstance of the utmost importance to give our hope a firm and lasting foundation. Thouglı Cbrist had died on purpose to expiate our guilt, and to reconcile us to God; though his sacrifice had been of infinite worth in itself, and offered in consequence of his Father's appointment; yet, after all, something would have appeared wanting to assure our faitli, if it had not been furnished with the strongest evidence that this sacrifice was really accepted. But, thanks be unto God, the certainty of this is put beyond all question in the sacred Scriptures. Twice was it proclaimed by an audible voice from heaven, " This is my beloved Son, in whom I am
“ well pleased.” The miracles wrought at his death, and that greatest of miracles, his own resurrection from the dead, are further confirmations of this comfortable truth;
but, above all, his ascension into heaven, and his exaltation to the right hand of the majesty on high, remove every conceivable cause of fear, and do well support that triumphant challenge of the apostle, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again; who is even at the right hand of God; who also maketh intercession for us." Which brings me to the
5th and last ground of encouragement, namely, That our great High Priest, who is passed into the heavens, is ever mindful of our interest, and lives and reigns for the benefit of his people. We are told in Scripture, that the legal high priest carried the names of the twelve tribes on his shoulder and breast-plate, when, on the great day of atonement, he made his solemn entrance into the holy of holies; that while God looked upon him, he might at the same time remember the tribes of Israel, accept bis offering for the expiation of their guilt, and hearken to bis prayers and intercession on their behalf. In like manner, our great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is gone into the heavenly sanctuary,
appears in the immediate presence of God for us,” sustaining the character of the second Adam, the head and representative of all his spiritual seed; and is raised to the highest dignity and power, that he may manage their affairs to the best advantage, and effectually secure their eternal salvation. He was a sufferer himself, and knoweth the heart of a sufferer, not by report, but by personal experience. He was tried with temptations even as we are; and though he conquered them all, yet he had proof of the skill, as well as of the malice of the tempter, and can make allowance for the disproportion betwixt himself and us. Nay, he stooped thus low, not only to make
atonement for our guilt, and to open for us a passage to the mercy-seat; but that we, being assured of his perfect acquaintance with buman infirmity, might have the most cheerful reliance upon bis compassion and sympathy, and boldly approach the throne of grace, having such a friend to patronize us, and to plead our cause; “For we have not an High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
By such encouraging motives, my brethren, doth the apostle press the exhortation in my text.--" We have a great High Priest, Jesus the Son of God,” who offered up a sacrifice of infinite worth ; not officiously or at random, but by the express appointment of his heavenly Father, and in consequence of a solemn agreement or covenant.--This sacrifice was accepted for all the purposes for which it was intended; in testimony whereof our great High Priest hath “passed into the heavens ;" where, amidst all the splendours of his exalted state, he kindly remembers bis people upon earth, feels their infirmities, sympathizes with them in all their sufferings, and never ceaseth to make intercession for them. Have we not then reason to come boldly unto the the throne of grace. that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
But, after all, it must be confessed, that in this, as in most other things, the knowledge of our duty is far easier than the practice of it.
“ Christ's flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed;" but our Lord hath assured us, “ that except we eat his flesh, and drink his blood, we have no life in us." A speculative knowledge will avail us nothing; a Saviour unapplied can be no Saviour to us. To think justly of Christ, and of the great things he hath already