HEBREWES 2.17, 18.
WE have found already, That the work of the High-Priest was, and is, To Satisfie, and to Intercede for the sins of the peo∣ple
Now if we inquire further, we shall find also, That the work of the High-Priest was, and now is, To offer up the gifts of the people unto God: To present our, Prayers, Praises, Duties, Servi∣ces, and all spiritual Performances unto God the Father, and to procure acceptance of him. This was done thus: In the times of Moses, in the Tabernacle there were two Parts, or Courts; (as we reade in the 9. Chapter of the Hebrews) In the one, which was called, The Holy of Holiest; there was the Arke, the Mercy-Seat, the Cherubims of glory, and the golden Censer. In the other, there was the Brasen-Altar, upon which they offered sacrifices, there was the table of Shewbread, the golden Candlestick, and the golden Altar, upon which incense was: This is expresly laid down in the 2, 3, and 4. verses of that 9. of Hebrews: For there was a taber∣nacle Page 53made, the first wherein was the candlestick and the table and the shew-bread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the Second vail, the tabernacle which is called the holiest of all, which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant, overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aarons rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And o∣ver it the cherubims of glory shadowing the Mercy-Seat. And as every day, morning and evening, there was a lamb offe∣red, a sacrifice for the sins of the people, upon the Brasen-Alter; So every day, morning and evening, there was in∣cense also, upon the golden-Altar: which was performed while the people were without at prayer, mingling that incense with their prayers; As it is in the 1. Chap. of Luke, the 8, 9, and 10. verses. It came to passe that while he (that is, Zacharias) executed the Priests Office before God in the order of his course, according to the cusiome of the Priests office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord: and the whole multitude of the people were praying without, at the time of incense. So that the incense, was at a time when they were sweetly mingling their prayers and the incense together. But now, although that there was a sacrifice every day, yet once in the yeer, th• High-Priest came, and he took the blood of the Sacrifice, and carried it into the Holy of Holi∣est, and sprinkled the Mercy-Seat therewith. And al∣though there was incense too, from the Golden Altar eve∣ry day, yet once in the yeer, the High-Priest came, and he took the golden Censer, and putting incense into it from off the golden Altar, went into the Holy of Holiest and caused a cloud of perfume to arise upon the Mercy-Seat. All which was a great Type of Jesus Christ our High-Priest: who though he offered up himself a sacrifice once for sin without, yet when he died, and ascended, he carried the vertue of that his blood into the Holy of Holiest, into Hea∣ven, and sprinkled the Mercy-Seat therewith: Although he began to make Intercession while he lived, as we reade in the 17. of John; yet when he ascended up into Heaven, the Holy of Holiest, then he did take his golden Censer, Page 52〈1 page duplicate〉Page 53〈1 page duplicate〉Page 54and carried his Intercession into Heaven, causing a cloud of sweet perfumes to arise upon the Mercy-Seat: which stil he does, whilst we are praying here without, he mingling all our Duties with his Intercessions; and so taking all toge∣ther as one, presents it unto God the Father for our accep∣tance. And this he does now as our High-Priest; for if we look into this book of the Hebrews, we shall find, That the Apostle speaking of the High Priest, relating unto Jesus Christ; saies, in the 5. Chapter and the 1. verse, That it was his work to offer Gifts: That he may offer both Gifts and sacrifices. And so in the 8. Chapter and the 3. vers. Every High-Prist is ordained to offer Gifts and Sacrifices. Thus we have another great work, of our great High-Priest; which is, To offer up all our Prayers, our Duties, our Gifts unto God the Father: which if ye will, we may call another part of Christs Intercession; but I handle it distinct.
Now that I may open & cleer this great Gospel-Mystery, I shall endeavour to discover:
First, What Jesus Christ, our High-Prist, doth, when be does offer up our Gifts unto God the Father.
Secondly, What abundance of favour, and acceptance, this our great High-Priest himself hath in Heaven.
Thirdly, That he doth improve all that his own acceptance, for our acceptance; planting all our Duties upon his own accep∣tance, upon that acceptance that he hath with the Father.
Fourthly, What abundance of acceptance therefore we have, in all our Duties by him.
Fiftly, How this doth conduce to our Grace, and to our Com∣fort?
First, [Quest. 1] What doth our Lord and Saviour Christ, our great High-Priest, when he offers up our Gifts unto God the Fa∣ther?
First, [Answ. 1] He doth take our persons, and carries them in unto God the Father, in a most unperceivable way to us. He knows, that if our Person be not first accepted, our Duty cannot be ac∣cepted. Love me, and love my Duty; love me, & love my Service: hate me, and hate my Service. In the Covenant Page 55of Works, God did first accept of the work, and then of the Person, the Person for the work: But in the Covenant of Grace, God doth first accept of the Person, and then the Work. Now therefore, that our Work, and our Du∣ty may be accepted with God the Father; The Lord Christ, our High-Priest, doth first take our Person, and our Name, and carries them into the presence of God the Fa∣ther. This was plainly shadowed out unto us, by that of the High-Prest; Who went into the Holy of Holiest, with the Names of all the Tribes upon his breast. Which the Apostle speaks out plainly:*In whom we have accesse with boldness. The word Accesse, as some observe, is Manuducti∣on, Hand-leading: In whom we have an Hand-leading; or by whom we are led by the Hand, unto God the Father. As a child, having run away from his Father, is taken by the hand of a friend, or of his Elder brother, and brought again into the presence of his father: So, all we having run away from God, are taken, and led again into the presence of the Father by the hand of Jesus Christ. He is that lad∣der that Jacob saw, upon whom we do ascend into the bo∣some of God, and go into Heaven. Our High-Priest Je∣sus Christ, doth first take our Persons, and lead us into the presence of God the Father. That is the first.
Secondly, As he doth take our Persons, and lead, [unspec 2] and carry us into the presence of God the Father: So, when we do perform any Duty, he doth observe what evil, or failing there is in that Duty, and draws it out, takes it away before he presents the Duty-unto God the Father. A Child that would present his father with a Nose-gay, or Posie, goes into the garden, and he ga∣thers flowers, and weeds together; but coming to his mo∣ther, she takes them, and picks out the weeds, and binds up the flowers by themselves, and so it is presented to the father, Thus it is with us: We go to Duty, and we ga∣ther weeds, & flowers together: But the Lord Jesus Christ, he comes and picks out the weeds, and then he presents no∣thing but flowers unto God the Father.
And this we have plainly set forth unto us, by that of Page 56the High-Priest taking away the iniquities of the Holy things of Gods people, in the 28. Chapter of Exodus, Thou shalt make a plat-form of pure gold (at the 36. verse) and grave upon it like the ingravings of a signet, HOLINES UNTO THE LORD. And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the Mytre; upon the forefront of the Mytre it shall be. Then at the 38. verse, And it shall be on Aarons forehead (that is, the High-Priest) that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the Children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy guifts: and it shall be alwaies upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord. Thus taking away the ini∣quity of their holy things. So it is said concerning our Saviour Christ, in the 3. Chapter of Malachy, the 2, 3, & 4. verses, Who may abide the day of his coming? (plainly under∣stood of Christ, as appears by the first vers.) Then at the 3. He shall sit as a refiner, and purifier of silver; and he shall pu∣rifie the Sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and selver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the dayes of old. Then shall their offerings be pleasant; When? when he hath purg'd their sacrifices, and their of∣ferings. This in the daies of his flesh and now much more. This is the Second thing, that the Lord Christ, our great High-Priest doth in offering up our Gifts unto God the Father, He takes out the weeds.
Thirdly: [unspec 3] As he takes away the iniquity of our holy things; So he observes what good there is in any of our Duties, or Perfor∣mances; and with that he mingles his own Prayers and Interces∣sions; his own Intense; and presents all as one work mingled to∣gether unto God the Father. This we have so fully in the 8. Chapter of the Revelation, that I need name no other place. Another Angel (at the 3. verse) stood at the Altar, having a golden Censer, and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all Saints upon the golden Altar, which was before the Throne. And the smoke (at the 4. verse) of the incense which came with the prayers of the Saints, ascended up before God, out of the Angels hand: This must Page 57needs be understood of Christ; for no Angel does inter∣cede but Christ, who is called, The Angel of the Covenant. 'Tis said here, He stood at the Altar, having a golden Cen∣ser: Which none of the High-Priests had: and there was given unto him much incense, and this he offered with the prayers of all the Saints; and the smoake of the incense came with the prayers of the Saints, and ascended up be∣fore the Lord. He alludes unto the way, and custome of the Jewes, and the High-Priest: shewing, that the Lord Jesus Christ doth all this for us, as our great High-Priest: that is the meaning of it. So that this is plain what he doth, when as our great High-Priest, he offers up our Gifts unto God the Father.
But in the Second place: Suppose he doth so, What Favour, [Quest. 2] or Acceptance hath this our great High-Priest in Heaven?
He hath very much: [Answ.] Father (saies he) I thank thee that thou hearest me alwaies. He never spake a word unto God the Father, but the father heard him alwaies. We reade (as I remember) but of Two places in the new Testament, where the Lord by an audible voice, gives testimony of Je∣sus Christ his Son: And in both those places, we have the same words uttered, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: And again; This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. We may know what favour a man hath with another, by the Trust that he doth commit to, and re∣pose upon him: Joseph had great favour in the eyes of Pharaoh; and how did it appear? It appear'd by this, Be∣cause Pharaoh trusted him with so much. Now God the Father, hath trusted Jesus Christ, this our great High-Priest, very much. This I shall evidence in Four Particulars, viz. What a great Trust God the Father hath put upon him.
First, It was an agreement between God the Father, [unspec 1] and Christ, the Second Person; before the world was, That in due time, he should come into the world, take flesh up∣on him, and die for sinners: and he did so. But before Christ came into the world, there were thousands of souls saved; How came they to be saved? They came to be saved Page 48by the blood of Christ, and before Christ had died. So then, God the Father saved them upon Christs bare word, That he would come into the world, and die for them. What a mighty Trust was here? That so many hundred thousand souls should be saved, upon a bare word of Christ That he would come into the world, and die for them af∣terward.
Again, [unspec 2] The Trust appears in this: That he was made when he did come into the world, the great Lord-Treasu∣rer of all the Grace, and Comfort, that should be given out unto the children of men. When Pharaoh trusted Joseph, all the whole kingdom was put into his hand, with the Corn thereof, and not a grain was to be given out to any but as Joseph gave it out: which argued a mighty Trust. So now, That not any Grace, or Comfort, given out to the children of men, but only by the hand of Christ, it argues a mighty Trust that the Father put upon him.
But yet further, [unspec 3] When our Lord and Saviour Christ di∣ed, and ascended unto God the Father to Heaven; as soon as ever he came into Heaven, saith the Father to him, Thou hast now suffered, Aske of me, and I will give thee the Heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy posses∣sion: all the world at one word. Aske of me (saith he) and at the first word I will give thee the whole world. It was a mighty, and a great Trust that the Father did put upon him.
Yea, [unspec 4] as if all this were not enough; The Father did put the keyes of Heaven, and of Hell into his hand: the keyes of Heaven and Hell into the hand of Christ. So we reade in the 1. of Revel. 18. ver. I am he that liveth, and was dead: and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keyes of Hell and of death. There's no man that goes to Hell, but he is lok't in by Jesus Christ: And there's no man goes to Heaven, but Christ hath the keyes of Heaven, and he locks him in there unto all Eternity. The Lord Jesus Christ, he hath the keyes of Hell, and of Heaven; he hath the keyes of all mens Eternities hanging at his girdle. Oh! Page 49what an infinite Trust is here, that God the Father hath put upon him! Then let us conclude, if that Trust do ar∣gue favour; and the Lord Jesus Christ, our High-Priest, hath such a great trust as this put into his hands by the Fa∣ther; what infinite Acceptance must he needs have with God the Father.
In the Third place,: Suppose that he have all this favour, [Quest. 3] and Acceptance in Heaven, Doth he Improve this his Favour, and Acceptance for our Acceptance, and for our Favour?
Yes, He Improves all this his favour, and acceptance, [Answ.] for our acceptance, and does plant all our Prayers, and Duties, upon his own acceptance. Lord, (saith he unto his Father concerning beleevers) I will, that where I am, they may be also: I will, O Lord, that they may be One, even as thou Father and I am one. He doth not count himself full, and happy, but in the happiness, and fulness of the Church. And therefore, as Christ is called, The fulness of God the Father: So the Church is called, The fulness of Jesus Christ: in the 1. of the Ephesians, and the last verse; Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. When our Lord and Saviour Christ came to die, and the heart and love of God the Father was let out unto him: Ye shall find, if ye look upon that 17. of John, and reade it all over, That he spends his time, not so much in praying for him∣self: The time was but short, and his prayer short, Father, if it be possible let this cup passe: if not, yet not my will, but thine be done. But he spends most of the time, in praying, and interceding for those that did beleeve, or should afterward beleeve. The favour, and acceptance which the High-Priest had, in the times of Moses, was not for himself: he had a Mitre upon his head, and a golden girdle upon his loynes, Priestly garments; and he had great acceptance when he went into the Holy of Holiest; but it was not for himself, he did improve it all for the people: he was to lay it out all for the people, and not for himself. Our High-Priest, goes beyond all other High-Priests in this par∣ticular also: for now, as for other High-Priests, though Page 60they went in with their incense, and covered the Mercy-seat with a cloud; yet it was but once in the yeer: But our High-Priest, is alwaies in the Holy of Holiest, and never goes out of it, ever covering the Mercy-Seat with his Inter∣cessions. Take their High-Priest, and though he were ve∣ry Holy, as Aaron was; yet sometimes he made the people naked, unacceptable: But our great High-Priest, never makes his people naked, but alwaies clothes them with his own righteousness.
Take their High-Priest, and though he did go into the Holy of Holiest for the people, yet he never led the people into the Holy of Holiest, they stood without: But our great High-priest, is not only gone into the Holy of Holiest him∣self, but doth also lead every poor beleever into the Holy of Holiest: as we reade in the 10. of the Hebrews, and the 19. verse: Having therefore brethren boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus Christ. The people might not enter in∣to the Holiest, in the time of the Jewes: But our great High-Priest, hath improved his favour for us thus far, that every man may come into the Holy of Holiest.
Now, If our great High-Priest in this respect, go beyond all the High-Priests that ever were before him, and they did improve their interest, and their favour, and their ac∣ceptance for the people, much more doth the Lord Jesus Christ, our High-Priest, improve the favour, interest, and acceptance that he hath in heaven, for our acceptance, and and the acceptance of all our Duties. And that is a Third Particular.
But, [Quest. 4] If that it be so; then surely we have great acceptance in all our Duties: but have we so?
Yes, [Answ.] very great, in and through the Lord Jesus Christ our High-Priest. And therefore, if we look into the 14. of John, our Lord and Saviour saith, Whatsoever ye aske in my Name (at the 13. verse) that will I do. I but, may we be sure of this? He repeats it again (in the 14. verse) If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. Yea, that ye may see what great acceptance we have now through him, in all Page 61those Duties that we offer up to God the Father: saith he, in the 16. Chap. and the 26. vers. At that day ye shall aske in my name: and I say not unto ye, that I will pray the father for you: for the father himself loves you. It is a mighty high speech. I don't say, That I will pray for you: Ye shall have so much favour and love in Heaven, from the Father imediately, that he will hear you presently. I, but is not all upon Christs account? Yes, and therefore saith he, at the 13. verse of the 14. chapter, Whatsoever ye shall aske in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. So that all is upon Christs account. Great was the testimony of Christs acceptance which he had from Hea∣ven, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Now if we look into the Scripture, we shall find, that the same words are given unto the Saints. Is the Lord Jesus Christ called the Son of God? My beloved Son: So are Belee∣vers too; As many as receive him, have power to be called the Sons of God. Is he called, The Beloved Son of God? This is my beloved Son: So are the Saints also; In the 31. chapter of Jeremy, at the 20. verse. Ephraim my deer Son, a pleasant child. Ephraim; that is, Israel, my deer Son, a pleasant child. Well, Is it said, In whom I am well pleased? my be∣loved Son, in whom I am well pleased: The same word also is given to men. When our Lord and Saviour Christ was born into the world, the Angels they came and sung at his birth, and they sung, Good will towards men; So we reade it: but it is the same word that is used concerning Christ himself, My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. So that whatsoever word there is in all this speech. This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: whatsoe∣ver word there is in that sentence concerning Christ, 'tis gi∣ven also unto the Saints, unto Beleevers; so greatly does he improve his own favour & acceptance for our acceptance, and so great acceptance have we through Christ.
Yea, As the Lord Jesus Christ is said to be made sin for us, in the Abstract: So are we said to be made Righteousnes∣ses by him; in the Abstract too: As we have it, in the 1. of Page 52the Canticles, & the 3. vers. Therefore do the Virgins love thee: so we reade it in our english translation: But in the He∣brew it is Therefore do the Righteousnesses love thee. The Saints and Beleevers through Christ, are called, Righteousnesses, in the Abstract. So that here is the great acceptance, that the Saints, and Beleevers do find through this acceptation of Jesus Christ our High-Priest.
But, [Quest.] Suppose a man be very poor, and lives in some mean cot∣tage; which hath but one room to lie, dine and sup in; and that a smoky, dark room too: and this poor creature comes and prayes unto God: Will the Great and Glorious God of Heaven and Earth take notice of such a prayer, from such a worme as this? and shall he find acceptance with God the Father?
For answer to that, [Answ.] look into the 2. of the Canticles, and the 14. verse. O my dove that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, (they are the words of Christ) let me hear thy voice; Why? for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. But I pray, where now is the Church? In the clefts of the rock, and in the se∣cret places of the staires: in a hole under the staires (as it were) in a poor distressed place, an hidden place; now (saies he) here thy voice is sweet, and thy tountenance comely.
Well, [Quest.] But suppose that a Duty, or service be performed by one that is weak; weak in Grace, or weak in parts and Gifts: for this is my case, (will some say) I am one of very weak parts and Gifts, and I have little Memory, or Ability of speech; there are some men indeed, that are of great Parts, and Graces, and when they pray, I make no question but their prayers do find acceptance; but as for me, I am one of very mean Abilities; Oh! can there be any acceptance of such prayers as mine are through Jesus Christ? Will God answer such stammerings, lispings, halfe-words, broken imperfect petitions?
Yes, [Answ.] We know that the paire of Turtles were accepted in the time of the Law, by those that could offer no more. Surely much more now, will a poor Turtle be accepted in the time of the Gospel. & those that could but bring Goats-haire, Page 53towards the making of the Tabernacle, they were welcome: and shall it not be so now, much more in the times of the Gospel? That which is little, in regard of Quantity, it may be great, in regard of Proportion; as the widdows mite was. The Sun fals (we know) with a com∣mon influence upon all the Herbs, and Plants: but there is a several sweetness, and flowers that are of a several, and different growth: There is the Rose, and there is the Vio∣let: The Violet is not so Tall as the Rose, the Violet lies on the ground; but though the Violet be not so tall as the Rose, the Violet hath its sweetnesse; and it may say to the Rose, Though I be not so tall, yet I have my sweetness as well as thou hast. So now, there is a common influence from Jesus Christ upon all the Saints, and they have their several sweetness; one as the Rose, and the other as the Vi∣olet: It may be, here lies a poor Christian upon the ground like the Violet, and is not so tall in Gifts and Parts as the other is; but yet notwithstanding, he hath his sweetness. Christ takes that lovingly that comes from love, whatever it be, though it be never so weak.
Well, But suppose that a mans Duty, [Quest.] or Service be performed with many failings, infirmities; Hardness of heart, Straightness of spirit, distracting thoughts; this is my case: Oh! is there any acceptance for such a Duty as this is? will the Lord Jesus Christ, the great High-Priest, take such a Duty as this is, and carry it in unto God the Father, and is there any acceptance for such a Duty as this?
We know how it was with Nicodemus, [Answ.] and the woman that came trembling, and touched the hem of Christs gar∣ment. And we must know that in every duty, that we do performe, there are Two things: There is the Sacrifice; and there is the Obedience in offering the Sacrifice. Though the Sacrifice may be imperfect, yet your Obedience in offering the Sacrifice, may be perfect, with Gospel-per∣ction. 'Tis in regard of our Duties, as in regard of our Persons; never think that God will deal otherwise with our Duties, than he deals with our Persons. The Lord Page 64came and justified the ungodly, when he justified you: He comes, and he finds a poor soul in a sinful condition, & he imputes his righteousness unto that soul, and justifies an un∣godly one, not justifying him so, as to go on in sin; it is the word of the Apostle, He justifies the ungodly. So the Lord comes, and finds a great deal of ungodliness in your Duty, and he imputes his righteousness unto that Duty; and he justifies the Duty, which in your eye is an ungodly duty. This indeed is the wonder of all, that he should deal thus by us: For, did we ever hear of any garment, that would make the crooked straight? If a man have a croo∣ked back; come and put velvet upon him, silk, scarlet up∣on him, it may make him handsomer, but it will not change his back, and make him strait. But when the Lord Christ comes, he finds all our souls crook-back't, as it were, and he puts on his righteousness, and this garment makes that that was crooked to become straite; it makes the very crook-back't Duty, to become a strait Duty. Did we e∣ver hear, or reade, of any Seal, that when it was set upon the wax, would change the wax into gold, or into silver like the seal? it may leave it's impression, but it does not change the wax into it's own mettall. If there be a stamp set upon silver, or gold, the mettal remains as it was be∣fore: But if a stamp be set upon brasse, it don't make it sil∣ver; or if it be set upon silver, it don't make it gold. I but when the Lord Jesus Christ comes unto a Duty, and sets his own stamp, and his own righteousness upon a Duty, that which was brasse before; full of failings, and much unrighteousness before, changes it into gold, into silver. He only hath the Philosophers stone (as I may so speak) all that Christ touches turns into gold; turns all our Du∣ties into gold: and when he hath done so, he presents them unto God the Father. This our great High-Priest doth. And this is the Fourth thing.
But how doth all this make for our Comfort, [Quest. 5] or for our Grace?
Surely, [Ans.] we cannot but see already how it doth make for our Comfort:Page 65
Is it not a comfortable thing, for a man to know, that his Duties are not lost? that his Prayer is not lost? that his Hearing the word is not lost? that his Searching the Scrip∣tures is not lost? that his Conference, and Communion is not lost? A man is unwilling to lose any thing: and the more precious it is, the more unwilling to lose it. If we have a venture at Sea; we are unwilling to lose our ven∣ture: and the greater our venture is, the more unwilling to lose it. If a man have but a quarter of his Estate in a vessel, he is unwilling to lose it; more unwilling if he have half his Estate; most if he have all, and his children there in the vessel too. Now as men are unwilling to lose their worldly venture: So, a man that is sensible of his soul, is very unwilling to lose his souls venture; to lose his Prayers, and to lose all his Duties. (Friends) here's an Insuring-Office; The Lord Jesus Christ is our great Insurer in this respect: and he doth as he is our High-Priest, offering up our Gifts unto God the Father, assure us that none is lost, not any lost. Indeed, if we had such an High-Priest, as were not able to take notice of the Circumstances of our Duties, much might be lost: but, this our Lord Christ, our great High-Priest, doth not only take notice of our Duty what ever it be; but of all the Circumstances of our Duties, and so presents them unto God the Father, in the full latitude, in all the gracious Circumstances of them. Therefore saith he, unto the Angel of the Church of Pergamos in the 2. of the Revelation, and the 13. verse; I know thy works. Why, but Lord, though thou doest know our works, yet it may be thou doest not take notice where our work is done: Lord, it may be thou doest take notice of my Prayer, but Lord, thou doest not take notice where I dwell, and live, and in what family I do pray unto thee; Lord, I am in a wicked, and a wretched family, that does oppose Pra∣yer: Lord, may be thou doest take notice of my Prayer, but thou doest not take notice, of this Circumstance: Yes, (saies he) I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satans seat is. Well, and thou holdest fast my Name, and hast Page 66not denied my faith, even in those daies wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. It's remarkable, The Lord Jesus Christ takes notice, not only of our Duty; but of every Circumstance of the Duty, and so he presents it unto God the Father, not only the Duty, but the Circumstance of the Duty; and therefore there is not a haire of your Duty lost, not one graine of your Duty lost: is not this an unspeakable Comfort unto a poor soul, that it knows that nothing is lost of all the Prayers it hath made unto God, that there is no losse at all? The very pantings of our hearts at the Throne of grace, are received into the bosom of our Heavenly Fa∣ther.
Further, [unspec 2] Is it not a Comfort for a man to have liberty to go unto the Mercy-Seat, and there for to meet with God? 'Tis said of wicked men, That they sit in the seat of the scornful. There is, (it seems then) the seat of the scornful; and there is a Mercy-Seat: A Drunkard, when he is with his drun∣ken company, and sits upon the Ale-bench (it may be) scorning, and jeering at some of the godly, making songs on them, he is set upon the seat of the scornful; that is a cursed seat. I but, there is another seat, there is a Mercy-Seat; and there is never a poor Saint and Child of God, but he may go in to the Mercy-Seat of the Lord Jesus Christ that hath all the favour, and acceptance in Heaven; he carries him into the Mercy-Seat, and God the Father will never put him by; what Comfort is here!
Besides, [unspec 3] Is it not a great Comfort to a man, for to know how it shall go with him at the great day of Judg∣ment? When there shall be hundred thousands at the right hand of Christ; & hundred-thousands at the left hand of Christ; when all faces shall gather palenesse? Oh! (saies one) that I did but know, how it shall go with me at that day! This Doctrine tels us, The Lord Jesus Christ shall be our Judge at that day, and he that shall judge us then, he takes our Prayers and all our Duties now, and carries them in unto the presence of God the Father, & by him we have Page 67acceptance, and according to these we shall be judged. Surely then, if he takes our Duties and carries them in for acceptance, unto God the Father, he will never judge you for them, and condemn you for them at that day. Here is Comfort!
Once more, Is it not a Comfort, [unspec 4] for a poor begger to be relieved at a rich-mans door? We are al beggers in regard of Heaven; and the Lord Jesus Christ, he does not only come forth and serve us, but he takes us (poor beggers) by the hand, and leads us in to his Father. Oh! what Comfort is here! what Comfort is here!
Indeed if I were able to say, That the Lord did accept my Duty,*this were Comfort indeed; if I were able to conclude, That the Lord Jesus Christ did take my Prayers, and my Duties, and carry them in unto God the Father; this were sweet consolation: but how shall I know that?
If the Lord Jesus Christ be our High-Priest, [Ans.] then we may say also, that he takes our duties, and carries them in for acceptance unto God the Father: if we may say that Jesus Christ hath satisfied for us, and doth intercede for us, then we may say also, that he takes our duties, and carries them for acceptance unto God the Father.
But yet a little further, to bring this Comfort nearer to your hearts; give me leave to appeal to you:
First. Whosoever thou art that makes this Objection: [unspec 1] Didst thou never find a spiritual fire come down from Hea∣ven (as it were) upon thy heart in Duty, or after Duty? In the times of the old-Testament, if they offered up a sacri∣fice, and a material fire came down from Heaven and burnt up the sacrifice to ashes, it was a certain testimony, that the sacrifice was accepted. Now in the times of the Gospel we must not expect material fire to come down upon our Du∣ties: But hath the Lord at any time caused an inward, and spiritual fire to fall down upon thy heart, warming thy spirit in Dutie? there the Lord speaks thus much to thee; Thy sacrifice is turn'd into ashes, and it is accepted by Je∣sus Christ.Page 68
Again, [unspec 2] Did you never find in your heart (you that make this Objection) to Pray, and Cry, and Intercede for others, for the godly especially? Look what disposition there is in your heart towards the members of Christ, there is the same disposition in Christ's heart towards you. Ah! do you think that there is love in your bosome towards the Saints; and that there is none in Christ's heart towards you? Do you think that your bowels are more large than Christ's? Canst thou find in thine heart to go unto God, when thou seest a Saint in misery, to go to God, and pray, and cry, and intercede for him? and don't you think that the Lord Jesus hath as much bowels towards you, to go and intercede for you, and present your prayers unto God the Father.
Further, [unspec 3] Don't you look upon your own Duties, as co∣ming from your selves, most unworthy? Beloved! 'tis in regard of Duties, as it is in regard of Persons: When a man does judge himself to be most unworthy, then Christ counts him worthy, God counts him worthy in Christ. As you reade in the 1. of the Canticles, saies the Spouse there, ver. 5. I am black (O ye daughters of Jerusalem) as the tents of Kedar: Look not upon me because I am black, ver. 6. Now would you see Christs opinion of her, that counts her self black? saith she, Black, and Black again: but Christ saith concerning her; verse, 8. O thou fairest among women. She calls her self Black, and Christ cals her Fair, and the Fairest a∣mong women. Now, when a man doth count himself most unworthy, God counts him most worthy: and when a man looks upon his own Duties, and Sacrifices, as most unwor∣thy, they are look't upon by Jesus Christ as most worthy, poor prayers in our eyes, are precious in Gods eye.
A word more, [unspec 4] Don't ye think, that grace is larger now, in the times of the Gospel, than it was in the times of the Law? If ye doubt it, as unto this particular; Look upon the 30. Chapter of Exodus; compared with the 41. of Eze∣kiel. In the 30. Chapter of Exodus, The Lord commands an Altar to be made to burn incense upon; Of Shittim wood Page 69shalt thou make it; verse the 1. A cubit shall be the length there∣of, verse the 2. The Altar is for Incense; 'tis the matter that now we are upon: A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and two cubits shall be the highth ther∣of. Now in the 41. Chapter of Ezekiel, he speaks of the Altar in the times of the Gospel: and (saith he) at the 22. verse, ('tis the Altar of incense that there is prescribed to be made, the Altar of wood, of Shettem wood.) The Altar of wood was three cubits high, and the length thereof two cubits. And yet again, this altar of incense in the times of the Go∣spel, is to be as large again, as that in the times of the Law; as high, and as long, and as large again. In the times of the Law, times of the old-Testament; a poor soul might go unto the High-Priest, and might challenge a right in him, and might say, That his Service, and his Duty, and his Sacrifice was accepted by the High-Priest. If in the times of the Old-Testament a man might say so; much more may a poor soul now go unto Jesus Christ, our great High-Priest, and say, That his Service, and his Duty, and Sacrifice, is accepted through him. Here is abundance of Comfort unto the Saints: be of good comfort, all you that do beleeve.
But, How doth this make unto our Holiness, [Quest.] unto Holiness of life? We confess indeed, that there is abundance of Comfort in this, That the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High-Priest, takes all our Gifts, and al our Prayers, and presents them to God the Father, and that in his acceptance, we have acceptance: but I pray, how doth all this conduce to our Holiness of life?
Much every way: [Answ.]
First, In case I be Ungodly, a Wicked man: [unspec 1] Here is that that may for ever keep me, from opposition to the good wayes of God. I have said sometimes (may a wicked man say) concerning godly mens duties, That it was their Hy∣pocrisie: And I have said concerning such and such Pro∣fessors, This is your Pride, and this is your Singularity; and I have opposed with all bitterness, and earnestness, the prayings, and wrestlings of some of Gods people? But is Page 70this true, That the Lord Jesus Christ, takes every Prayer, of the meanest of Gods Children, and carries it into the bo∣som of God the Father? and shall I spit upon that that Christ owns? shall I dare to oppose that that the Lord Je∣sus Christ presents unto his Father? The Lord in mercy pardon me: I have sinned and done foolishly, and for ought I know, I may have spoken evill of that Duty, that Christ hath carried into the presence of God the Fa∣ther: Oh! through the Lords grace then, for ever will I leave to make any opposition, against any of the good waies of God again, and I will never speake one word a∣gainst the persons, meetings, or supplications of the god∣ly again.
Again, [unspec 2] In case a man be Ungodly, a wicked man: Here is mighty incouragement, for to come unto Jesus Christ; I, and to come presently. For, is Jesus Christ the ladder that Jacob saw, by whom we go up to Heaven? doth he take all our Duties, and Prayers, and present them to God the Father for acceptance? Then, till I do come to Christ, all is nothing, all is lost: if I be a Drunkard, and will not come to Christ, Prayer is all lost; if I be a Swea∣rer, and will not come to Christ, an Unclean wretch, and will not come to Christ; all my Prayers, and all my Du∣ties are lost: Oh! the Lord pity me, (may many a poor soul say) I have lost too many Prayers already; through the Lords grace, now I will lose no more: Oh! I come to Christ, Lord, I come, I come. This is a mighty incou∣ragement, to make every man now for to come unto Jesus Christ: because the Lord Jesus, our High-Priest, takes eve∣ry Duty; and carries it into the bosom. of God the Father for acceptance. Thus for Ungodly.
Secondly, [unspec 2] In case a man be Godly; this truth doth conduce to our further Holiness, and growth in grace.
If I be Codly: [unspec 1] Then here I see infinite reason, why I should be much in Duty; not only pray, but be much in prayer. Why? for the Lord Christ taketh all, and car∣ries all into the bosom of the Father, mingles his own o∣dours, Page 71intercessions with it, although it be but a sigh, and a groane. The Apostle upon this account, makes this use of it; having spoken of Christ our High-Priest; There∣fore (saith he) let us come with boldness vnto the Throne of grace.* The word signifies, to speak all ones mind; let us come speaking all. Having such an High-Priest indeed, as will carry all into the presence of God the Father, for accep∣tance, every sigh, and every groan; then, who would not be much in prayer? speak all to Christ, be free with Christ, come with boldness? There's many a poor soul, that is much discouraged, and he dares not go to prayer, many times, afraid to go to the Throne of grace. The reason is, because he looks upon his Prayer, or Duty, as it lies upon his own heart, or as it comes from himself. Whereas, my beloved, 'tis with your Prayers, and Duties, as it is with fire: Your kitchin fire is troubled with abundance of smoake, and there is filth about it; fire upon the hearth hath much smoake: but fire above, in the Element of fire, there's no smoke. So, your Prayer, when it lies upon your own hearth (as I may say) there's a great deal of smoke; but when it gets once into the hands of Jesus Christ, there's it's Element, and it is freed from all it's smoke. Or as it is with a mans Body: so long as he lives here upon the earth, he is feeble, and weak, and many times sickly: assoon as he is come into Heaven, all his weakness is taken away, and his body being in Heaven, 'tis presently glorified, and strength put upon it, and all his diseases are gone. So 'tis with our Prayers: So long as they are here below, in our own bosoms, they are full of weakness; but assoon as our Prayer is out of our mouth, 'tis in the hand of Christ, 'tis in Heaven, 'tis glorified, the weakness is now done away; Oh! 'tis a glorified Prayer; when once 'tis gone from you, 'tis in the hand of Christ. And therefore, this is a mighty incouragement unto all those that are godly, to be, not on∣ly in Prayer, but to be much in Prayer, come with bold∣ness unto the Throne of grace.
Again, If ye be Godly; yea, if ye be Ungodly: [unspec 2] Here I Page 72see infinite reason, why I should receive every Truth that comes from Christ, though accompanied with many fai∣lings in him that speaks it. The Lord Jesus Christ, he ac∣cepts of every prayer, and duty that comes from me; though it have many weaknesses: yea, he takes my Prayer, and car∣ries it into the presence of God the Father for acceptance, my poor Prayer, labouring with many weaknesses: Then when a Truth comes from Christ, shall not I accept of it? what though the Minister, or Preacher that speaks it, la∣bour with this or that weakness? There is Pride, or there is some miscarriage in the delivery, or the like: Shall the Lord Christ take my Prayer, labouring under infirmity, and accept thereof, and carry it into the presence of God the Father for acceptance, notwithstanding all the failings of my Duty? and shall not I accept of Truth that comes from Christ, notwithstanding all the failings of the poor messenger that brings it?
Further, [unspec 3] The more Evangelical you are in your Obedience, the more Holy ye are in your lives. This truth that is now before ye, well studied and considered, will make you more Obe∣dient in an Evangelical way. And ye shall find therefore, that the Lord himself from Heaven does make this use of it: pray consult with the 17. of Matthew, and the 5. verse. This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him. Those words follow, Hear him. Hearing notes Faith, and Obedience; not a bare Hearing with the ear. Compare this, and the same speech together, which ye have in the 3. of Matthew, and the 17. verse. Loe, a voyce from Heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Heare ye him, is not there in the 3. of Matthew; but here in the 17. of Matthew, these words are added, Heare ye him: What should the reason be, that, Hear ye him, should be added here in the 17. of Matthew, and not in the 3. of Mat. thew? Give me leave to give you some reason for it, so far as may make to our present purpose: Not to say any thing of that which Moses said, In his daies a Prophet will the Lord your God raise up unto ye like unto me, hear ye him. Page 73And now here, in this 17. of Matthew, at the transfigura∣tion, Moses and Elias appeared, which they did not in the 3. of Matthew.
First, Consider, [unspec 1] that the Emphasis may lie upon the word Hear, and not upon the word Him, only: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased: Hear ye him; His face did shine as the Sun, and his rayment was white as the light. And Christ appeared in great glory, and they stood looking upon him; Nay, (saies the Lord from Hea∣ven) do not make it a gazing matter, but, Hear him: don't stand looking upon him, but Hear him. He don't appear in such a glory in the 3. of Matthew, when he was bapti∣zed; and therefore those words are not added there.
But again, Here now in the 17. Chapter of Matthew, [unspec 2] at the Transfiguration, appears Moses, and Elias. Behold (at the 3. verse) There appeared unto them, Moses and Elias talking with him. Moses that gave the Law; Elias that re∣stored it. Then answered Peter and said unto Jesus; Lord, 'tis good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here Three Taber∣nacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses and one for Elias. Peter and so the rest of the Disciples, began for to equallize Mo∣ses to Jesus Christ: One for Moses, and one for Elias, and one for Jesus Christ; no more for Christ than for Moses. Now the Lord takes Peter off from all his mistakings: Your eye is upon Moses (saith he) but I (saith the Lord God Al∣mighty) am wel pleased in my Son: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. I am well pleased with you, and with your Duties, through this my Son, and not through Moses; and therefore Hear Christ, and not Mo∣ses. He laies this in upon it, that therefore they should be Evangelical, and hear Jesus Christ, because the Lord Christ gives acceptance unto all, and by him God is well pleased with them.
Again further, The more glory Christ does appear in, [unspec 3] the greater reason there is why we should hear him. Now here the Lord Jesus Christ appeared in glory; his face did shine as the Sun, and his raiment was white as the light. In the 3. Page 74of Matthew, he was there baptized, and he did not appear in glory: but now here he appears in glory; and there∣fore saies the Lord, now Hear him; this is your glorious Saviour, Hear him. Beloved! what greater glory can Je∣sus Christ appear to your souls in, than this, the glory of his love? he takes every one of your Duties, and your Prayers, and he carries them in to the bosome of God the Father, and by him you have acceptance. Oh! what a glorious Saviour have ye! therefore Hear him: This is that, if any thing, will make ye very Obedient to Christ, more than to Moses, to be Evangelical in all your Du∣ties.
Yet further, [unspec 4] The more a man can rejoyce in spiritual priviled∣ges with humility: and the more humble a man is, and yet can re∣joyce in his spiritual priviledges, the more holy he is: there goes a great deal of Holiness to it, to joyn these two together: for a man to rejoyce in his spiritual priviledges and yet to be humble: and to walk very humbly. Some there are, that look upon ther spiritual priviledges, and rejoyce much; but they don't walk humbly: Some labour to walk humbly, and are much troubled in the considerati∣on of their own evil; but they don't rejoyce in their spiri∣tual priviledges. Give me a Christian that doth both, and he is a blessed man. The study of this Truth that is now before you, will teach you to do both, to do both to∣gether For, what a great priviledge is this, not a figh, not a groane, not a duty, but the Lord Christ takes it, and carries it in, and presents it to God the Father for me, whereby I have acceptance? Considering this; here is matter of much joy and rejoycing. I but, It is Christ that does it; there is no such worthiness in mine own duty; it were lost, and cast away, if Jesus Christ did not take it in his hand, and carry it into the bosome of God the Father; and therefore, why should I not walk humbly.
I conclude all with this, If that the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High-Priest, offers up all our Gifts unto God the Father, whereby we have acceptance: What infinite Page 75cause have we all to be Thankful to God for Christ, and to love Jesus Christ for ever!
Suppose one of you had been among the Disciples, when the Lord Christ wash't his Disciples feet; and he should have come, and wash't your feet, and have done it; would not your heart have glowed with love to Jesus Christ? Yet when the Lord Jesus Christ wash't his Disciples feet, it was in the daies of his flesh, when he was here on the earth: but now he is in glory, and yet for all this, he takes your dirty prayers, and does (as it were) wash the feet of your prayers, that he may present them to God the Father: he washes your tears over again in his bloud, and presents them to God the Father: he takes all your Duties, and perfumes them with his intercessions, and so presents them unto God the Father. Oh! what cause have we to love Jesus Christ! Oh! you, that never loved Christ, love him now; and you that have loved him before, love him much more: you that fear the lord, love the Lord: and let us all, even go away with our hearts warmed with this love, blessing, and praising the Name of the Lord.
And thus I have led you into a Third work of our great Hight Priest, which is this, To offer up the Gifts of the people unto God the Father: A Fourth follows, &c.