THE INTERCESSION OF CHRIST, AND WHO ARE PRIVILEGED IN IT.
BY JOHN BUNYAN
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However strange it may appear, it is a solemn fact, that the heart of man, unless prepared by a sense of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, rejects Christ as a complete Saviour. The pride of human nature will not suffer it to fall, as helpless and utterly undone, into the arms of Divine mercy. Man prefers a partial Saviour; one who had done so much, that, with the sinner’s aid, the work might be completed. No such were the opinions of John Bunyan; the furnace of sharp conviction had burnt up this proud dross; he believed the testimony of Scripture, that from the crown of the head to the soles of the feet all nature is corrupted; so that out of the unsanctified heart of man proceed evil thoughts, murders, and the sad catalogue of crimes which our Lord enumerates, and which defile our best efforts after purity of heart and life. No sinner will ever totally rely upon the Saviour until he is sensible of his own perishing state; hanging by the brittle thread of life over the yawning gulf of perdition; sinking in that sin which will swallow him up in those awful torments which await the transgressor; feeling that sin has fitted him as stubble for the fire; then it is that the cry proceeds from his heart, Lord, save, I perish; and then, and not till then, are we made willing to receive ‘Christ as a complete Saviour’ to the uttermost, not of his ability, but of our necessity. This was the subject of all Mr. Bunyan’s writings, and, doubtless, of all his preaching. It was to direct sinners to the Lamb of God, who alone can take away sin. This little treatise was one of those ten ‘excellent manuscripts’ which, at Bunyan’s decease, were found prepared for the press. It was first published in 1692, by his friends E. Chandler, J. Wilson, and C. Doe.
It is limited to a subject which is too often lost sight of, because it is within the veil—the intercession of Christ as the finishing work of a sinner’s salvation. Many persons limit the ‘looking unto Jesus’ to beholding him upon the cross, a common popish error; but this is not enough; we must, in our minds, follow him to the unseen world, and thus ascend to a risen Saviour, at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for our daily sins. And he is our ONLY Intercessor, and it is a rejection of him, for us to seek the aid of another. Who ever was mad enough to ask Moses to intercede for him, and surely he is as able as Mary or any other saint? To atone for sin calls for the amazing price of the blood of Christ, who was ‘God manifest in the flesh.’ He undertook the work by covenant; and all the ‘saved’ form part of his mystical body; thus perfectly obeying the law in him. He poured out his life to open a fountain for sin and uncleanness; and as they are liable to pollution in their passage through the world, he only is able, and he ever liveth, to make intercession for their transgressions. Thus he becomes a complete Saviour, and will crown, with an eternal weight of glory, all those that put their trust in him. Beautiful, and soul-softening, and heart- warming thoughts abound in this little work, which cannot fail to make a lasting impression upon the reader. Bunyan disclaims ‘the beggarly art of complimenting’ in things of such solemnity. He describes the heart as unweldable, a remarkable expression, drawn from his father’s trade of a blacksmith; nothing but grace can so heat it as to enable the hammer of conviction to weld it to Christ; and when thus welded, it becomes one with him. There is hope for a returning backslider in a complete Saviour; he combines the evidence of two men, the coming and the returning sinner; he has been, like Jonah, in the belly of hell; his sins, like talking devils, have driven him back to the Saviour. Sin brings its own punishment, from which we escape by keeping in the narrow path. Good works save us from temporal miseries, which ever follow an indulgence in sin; but if we fall, we have an Advocate and Intercessor to lift us up; still, if thou lovest thy soul, slight not the knowledge of hell, for that, with the law, are the spurs which Christ useth to prick souls forward to himself. O gather up thy heels and mend thy pace, or those spurs will be in thy sides. Take heed, O persecutor; like Saul, thou art exceeding mad, and hell is thy bedlam. Take heed of a false faith; none is true but that which is acquired by a kneeling, searching, seeking for truth as for hid treasure. Death is God’s bailiff, he will seize thee without warning; but with the saints, the grave’s mouth is the final parting place between grace and sin. Forget not that a good improvement will make your little grace to thrive. Reader, may Divine grace indelibly fix these wholesome truths upon our minds.
CHRIST A COMPLETE SAVIOUR.
‘WHEREFORE HE IS ABLE ALSO TO SAVE THEM TO THE UTTERMOST THAT COME UNTO GOD BY HIM, SEEING HE EVER LIVETH TO MAKE INTERCESSION FOR THEM.’—HEBREWS 7:25.
The apostle, in this chapter, presenteth us with two things; that is, with the greatness of the person and of the priesthood of our Lord Jesus.
First, He presenteth us with the greatness of his person, in that he preferreth him before Abraham, who is the father of us all; yea, in that he preferreth him before Melchisedec, who was above Abraham, and blessed him who had the promises.
Second, As to his priesthood, he showeth the greatness of that, in that he was made a priest, not by the law of a carnal commandment, but by the power of an endless life. Not without, but with an oath, by him that said, ‘The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec’; wherefore, ‘this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.’ Now my text is drawn from this conclusion, namely, that Christ abideth a priest continually. ‘Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.’
In the words, I take notice of four things: FIRST, Of the intercession of Christ—He maketh intercession. SECOND, Of the benefit of his intercession—’Wherefore he is able to save to the uttermost,’ &c. THIRD, We have also here set before us the persons interested in this intercession of Christ—And they are those ‘that come unto God by him.’ FOURTH, We have also here the certainty of their reaping this benefit by him; to wit, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them—’Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.’ 1
[I. OF THE INTERCESSION OF CHRIST.]
FIRST, We will begin with HIS INTERCESSION, and will show you, First, What that is; Second, For what he intercedes; and, Third, What is also to be inferred from Christ’s making intercession for us.