Our High Priest
by JOSEPH IRONS
Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Lord's day Morning, Sept. 17th, 1848
The entire scope of the apostle's arguments and instruction in this epistle is to set forth the contrast, no the comparison, the contrast between the Levitical priesthood and the priesthood of Christ. This latter is so important a topic that it cannot be too often presented to your view, especially as in the day in which we live it is so frightfully perverted, I had almost said supplanted, by a human priesthood. Our glorious Christ is set forth in His word, under three prominent titles of office, as Prophet, Priest, and King; and yet I have never met with an honest and full admission of all that pertains to this office, as hanging upon Him all the glory of the Father's home. People will allow Him to be King in Zion, though very frequently they limit His sovereignty, and kingship, and authority, and even cavil at His decrees. Those who will allow the term priest, as applicable to Christ, very frequently wish to thrust Him into Aaron's line, instead of allowing Him to stand, as the word of God exhibits Him, "after the order of Melchizedec." And those who speak of the prophetic office of Christ, generally leave out and omit the sure fulfilment of all He said, as well as the important instruction, which in that office He imparts to His people. Instead of allowing that our precious Jesus executes all those offices to their full extent, and entire completion, He is supplanted in them all by the mockers of Christianity, unless God Himself raises up a defence for the glory of His only-begotten Son, which defence my soul desires to be employed in, even to the day of my death.
In our last week's discourse we gave Him His sovereignty, we dwelt upon His kingly authority and kingdom, His throne prepared in heaven, and His kingdom ruling over all. We intend now again to attempt to set forth His priestly office, and the infinitude of blessings treasured up therein, and put forth thereby. If I look through only two or three chapters, and two or three of the shortest chapters in this epistle, I find it repeated no less than seven times in that little compass, that the order of Christ's priesthood is after Melchizedec's, and not after Aaron's; and yet all the priests that I know of, assuming that appellation, arrogantly, in our day, are as far from Melchizedec's order as light is from darkness; nay, they all abide by Aaron's order, and go to Aaron's account of his office, and of his services, to establish and sanction their own. If they were honest men they would own themselves to be Jews at once, and never pretend to put the name of Christian to it. If they will belong to Aaron's order, let them belong to Aaron's race, and let them acknowledge where they stand, and openly avow what they do virtually, and reject Christ. Now the conspicuous inference which the apostle draws is this. He says, that the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did. Follow for a moment the solemn steps of the high priest in the Jewish temple and the sanctuary. See him full-robed in his office, with his golden censer in his hand, the incense therein, the blood of atonement sprinkled before the mercy seat, and entering solemnly within the veil, in the name of the people to appear before God. Mark the solemnity of the scene, while all the assembly are waiting in the outer court for his return to pronounce the blessing, having dealt with God for them. And would not any one who witnessed this scene, be ready to say, "This is the perfection of worship?" And yet, as he returns, I hear pronounced by his own lips, "Nothing perfect." The blood of bulls and goats could not put away sin; "For the law made nothing perfect," (Heb. 7:19) but the bringing in of a better hope did. And where shall I find it?
The slow, the solemn, the weary step of our glorious High Priest, follow if from Pilate's hall to Calvary's mount, from Calvary's mount to Joseph's tomb, from Joseph's tomb to Olivet's top, from Olivet's top to within the veil, and hear Him interceding for His Church, presenting His own blood, and demanding the satisfaction, the desire of His heart; yea, demanding that which the Father had promised from eternity, that He should see of the travail of His soul, that He might therewith be satisfied. Now then I mark everything perfect, and how the Church is made perfect, and hast written on that glorious transaction, "For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (Heb. 10:14)
I did not intend to have detained you so long in our exordium, the importance of the subject must be my apology, if apology is due. It weighs down my spirit with its greatness, and overpowers my intellect with its contemplation, and I sigh for larger powers, a more expanded mind, richer expression and more extended thought to tell of the glories of that High Priest of our profession; then of the one offering which He has offered up once for all; and then of the triumphs resulting there, from, in which I trust we have a share. This is to be the order of our subject this morning.
I. First of all we must speak of the Priest Himself. If I were to speak of any other priests, I should perhaps use severe language, some might think it censorious language. I do not think, however, that it is possible to be too severe or censorious, if we use the strongest language we can upon that subject. But when I speak of this glorious High Priest, whom the high priest under the law typified, and mark what is said concerning Him in this very epistle, under the Divine inspiration, I have a wide field to range over with regard to the description of His person, the excellency of His office, the superiority of His order, the completeness of His work, the great salvation perfected thereby.
I shall not go over all these particulars, but rather limit myself to two things under this first head of discourse, because much more is before me. The first is His ordination and qualification. I put the two together as one. I find it expressly written, that the priests under the law were ordained and made such, though by the call of God, yet without oath. But the ordination of the glorious High Priest of our profession was with an oath. Wonder, oh heavens, and be astonished oh earth, that the great, and glorious, the self-existent Jehovah should stoop so low to the capacities and weaknesses of worms of the earth, as to bind Himself in solemn oath, and, because He could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself. This is the language of one of His oaths: "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." So that appointment of our precious glorious Christ, and His ordination to His office-work in His Church, was by the oath of the Father. Aye, by His own consent, and registered in the archives of heaven by the witnessing of the Holy Ghost; so that the glorious Three in One by mutual compact and ancient settlement, by predestinating purposes and unalterable decrees, have constituted, appointed, and ordained the Lord Jesus Christ, as the one glorious Priest of His Church, according to the order of Melchizedec.
Though the subject has recently come before us, I may here be required just to say a word or two about the order, and two or three things must suffice. The order of Melchizedec, in which Christ was ordained for ever in His Church, was without descent. It was not only without descent, but it was united with a kingly authority and glory, which was positively forbidden under the Mosaic economy. And here Paul draws a most striking contrast, that under the Levitical order in Aaron's line, there was a descent, succession. It ran in the family until the law of Moses, and then in the tribe. In Christ there is neither succession nor descent, is expressly the phrase used concerning Him.
Moreover in Aaron's order it was expressly prohibited that the kingly and priestly office should be united in one man. In Melchizedec's order it was Divinely appointed, for he was a priest of the Most High God, at the same time that he was king of Salem and of peace. Now it must follow that wherever an attempt is made by human beings to unite temporal power, kingly authority, with priestly sanctity, that is Antichrist, be it where it may, for none but our precious glorious Christ, and He because He is of Melchizedec's order, is to wear both the regal and the sacerdotal dignity. They both belong to Him, and, blessings on His holy name, it is purposed, and written concerning Him, "He shall be a priest upon his throne," (Zech. 6:13) and no other priest has a right to be there.
But let us dwell for a few moments on His qualifications. He was not only ordained with an oath to be a Priest for ever, but He is well qualified for His office. These qualifications we read of, in very concise terms at the opening of the present service, from the 7th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews: "Such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens." (Heb. 7:26) I cannot find another like Him. This is Melchizedec's order, and these His qualifications. Holy "That holy thing," said the angel to the Virgin, "which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God." "That holy thing." His nature was holy. His nature was sinless. His nature was incapable of imperfection. His life was holy, not a blemish could be found in it. His doctrine was holy, He received it of the Father in the holy heavens. So He said Himself. His office was holy. He appeals to the Pharisees "which of you convinceth me of sin?" His whole being was holy, body and soul, and therefore, the prince of this world had nothing in Him, the holy, holy, holy High Priest of our profession.
Moreover, the qualification referred to, concluded Him harmless, and therefore He is compared to the lamb: "the lamb of God" "He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth." (Isa. 53:7) And when some of His disciples, with a good deal of old Adam about them, wanted Him to call down fire from heaven to destroy the villages that would not receive them, He said, "The Son of Man came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them." (Luke 9:56) He did no harm anywhere, unless that was harm when He allowed the devils to go into the hogs, and they ran into the sea and were drowned. Why He does that to this very day, in allowing swinish spirits to run down into perdition. He was harmless. We went about doing good. He craved nothing of any man, as He passed through this wilderness, healing all manner of diseases, and all manner of plagues and sicknesses. Moreover, He was undefiled. Not only did He come into the world without defilement, but no defilement could touch Him. He could not be deceived. He could not be deluded. He could not be baffled or tempted by sin. The tempter tried His utmost power, but the Saviour stood undefiled. All through His ministry and His life in this wilderness, there was not the least spot or shade of blemish to be found in the precious glorious High Priest of our profession. Moreover, He was separate from sinners, so distinguished from them, so superior to them, that He was quite of an opposite character to them, so it is said, in speaking of His disciples, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (John 17:14)so separate from sinners.
Beloved, is there not enough in this precious glorious Christ, and His qualifications for His office, to draw forth our admiration, and fill us with wonder and love, while we contemplate Him in His unequalled beauty, purity, and glory, as separate from sinners, made higher than the angels, having all power in heaven and in earth given unto Him?
A word here, parenthetically. How much are you and I like Him? Let us try this question. Jesus, our precious Jesus, was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. To what extent are you and I like Him? To what extent do we possess His mind? This question is worthy of the closest investigation. Do bring matters to the test. Not that our being like Him earns anything, but it will be proof and evidence of our belonging to Him. A word more about His qualifications. A high priest must know all that pertains to Israel, or he could not carry it before God. He must be invested with power and authority to make use of it. He must know all the secrets of all hearts, and be acquainted with every motive and every desire. "And, O Lord, there is not a thought in my heart," so sung the Psalmist, "but thou knowest it altogether." And as to His power and authority, He received authority from the Father, and has power, as God the omnipotent Saviour, as well as a glorious High Priest.
I see, however, that I am giving too much scope to my views on this point,
I hasten therefore, just to mark His faithfulness
II. I must now hasten to the offering which this glorious High Priest offered up; for my text says that He should not offer Himself often, as the high priest in the Jewish temple did; but should offer Himself once for all. Then it must appear that the type is completely followed out by the antitype; yea, that the type is abrogated, and all that is typical in it. For this one offering made for sin, our glorious High Priest was owned of God as acceptable in His sight; owned of God as that which well pleased Him "in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17)owned of God; it pleased the Lord to bruise Him and put Him to grief. What amazing declarations are these! How overwhelming the thought, that the Father should be pleased to bruise His only-begotten Son, His well-beloved Son, in whom He was well pleased. Such is the matter of fact with regard to the offering of the atonement, so acceptable to God, so received that it blotted out the handwriting, (Col. 2:14) removed all the guilt of the whole Church of the living God, satisfied the requisition of Divine justice, fulfilled all the appointment engagements of the covenant, the stipulations into which He had entered, and consequently being so wounded and accepted of God, His blood is carried into the holy place. Now the high priest under the law was not allowed to carry any blood into the holy place, but the blood of a pure victim, without spot or blemish, or any such thing. The blood was offered in atonement on behalf of the whole Israel of God, and in doing this He was accepted and allowed to enter within the vail with it. "Nor yet," says the text, "that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest entereth the holy place every year with blood of others." Here is the work, the grand sacrifice, the grand atonement and sacrifice for sin, the life of Christ, His soul made an offering for sin, and He is gone within the vail with His own most precious blood, presenting it before the throne, acceptable on behalf of the whole election of grace, on whose account it was shed, and to whom it secures eternal salvation. There is no altering these things without contradicting the Bible; and this one offering of His, is on behalf of all Israel and no further.
Not only was it carried within the veil, but the very fact of its being so proved it to be immaculate, and we must add, that it is still immutable in its efficacy; it was an immaculate blood and offering; an immaculate presentation of the sacrifice before the throne of God. I have often wondered at the daring rebellion and daring blasphemies of those who, in recent times, have ventured to assert that there was a sinfulness in the human nature of Christ, or at least a capability of sin. Now had that been so, there would have been no perfect sacrifice, no blood to carry within the veil, no atonement that the Father could receive and welcome, nothing to put away sin. And we glory in the thought that it is written concerning Him, that by His one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Heb. 10:14) I beseech you look well at this fact, "perfected for ever them that are sanctified." So that as the work of sanctification goes on, by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the Church from age to age, and generally under the ministry of the everlasting gospel, every sanctified soul who is set apart for God, and called out from the world, and made to hate and fly from sin, proves in that that he is perfected for ever in the offering of Christ, in the way of justification and acceptance, and being received before God, sinless and complete in Jesus Christ.
Moreover, this immaculate offering and atonement for sin, in which no blemish could be found, even the omniscient eye of God could see nothing to object to, is immutable in its efficacy; so that if there be any poor sinner here who has felt the burden of his guilt, discovered the depravity of his nature, who wishes to flee from self, and is really under alarm, and under the sentence of the holy law of God, afraid to live, and afraid to die, and wondering what is to become of him, I tell him, in the name of the God I serve, that the offering of our glorious High Priest is immaculate in its nature, and immutable in its efficacy and is, therefore, able to save to the uttermost, you are not beyond the uttermost, He is able to save even you. Can you trust Him? Have you come to Him? Is He dear to you? Is your soul panting after Him? Are all other offerings, sacrifices, and priests rejected for Him? And is He alone your Saviour? You may think me presumptuous, but my soul rejoices in this security. This one offering and atonement for sin will never be repeated. This stands diametrically opposed to the abominations of priestcraft that are rampant in the day in which we live. "Nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with the blood of others." (Heb. 9:25)
Now Popery tells us that it must be offered every day in the mass. This is a direct and flat contradiction to what the Holy Ghost says, and is, consequently, "the sin against the Holy Ghost." The rejection of Christ's offering as being perfect, and insisting upon something else being offered, is a flat contradiction of the statement of the Holy Ghost, in the language of this chapter. I think the plainest intellect, the most contracted mind, can comprehend this, that if I profess to have paid the debts of a man, every farthing, to the last mite, and to have satisfied his creditors, any attempt to raise funds, make subscriptions, or levy a tax to pay that man's debts, would be a virtual declaration that I had not done what I said, and had told a falsehood. Now the beings who dare set up any pretensions, either of masses, or penances, or rites, or ceremonies, or creature doings, or good works, or any other terms or conditions, flatly give the lie to the Holy Ghost, when He says, that "Christ by one offering perfected for ever them that are sanctified." The debt is paid, the creditor is satisfied, and the receipt in full of all demands, is in the bosom of the High Priest. He wears it in heaven on behalf of all His elect family, and to offer any pretensions beyond that, is to deny that Christ has done what He did; it is to deny that He made a complete atonement, that He made a satisfaction, that He made propitiation for all His family.
I beseech you to dwell a moment on this point; because this very day, there are millions, in dear old England, who are taught to deny Christ, by paying homage to, what they call, the sacrifice of the mass; and as this is growing and increasing, I think I ought to bear my honest protest against such daring blasphemy. It is a blasphemous service, because they tell us that, in what they term the mass, they have the presentation of the real body and blood of Christ, that in the bread and wine there is full and complete propitiation, sacrifice, and offering, made for both the living and the dead. Now could Satan himself belch forth a more blasphemous sentence than that? And yet millions believe in it this very day! I learn here, from this precious word of inspiration, that He should not offer Himself often. Now Christ has been offered in one instance; but if He were only slain as a victim, by main force by the Jewish rabble, and the Roman soldiery, and had not offered Himself, it would not have been an acceptable service; we should count it nothing worth; nay, worse, a bold blasphemy against God. Our precious book sets Him forth, as having once offered Himself, and borne the sins of many. Then, has He done it? If He has not, all the masses of the whole Popish crew will never bear them for us. If He has, then it is a blasphemous insult to offer Him any more. If He has offered a sufficient sacrifice for my sins, and I offer Him more, I am a daring rebel. If He has not, then I am eternally lost. I put it in these strong terms to give the honour which is due to Christ's priestly office. It is never to be repeated, is the language of my text, and the preceding verse says, "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us," and, am I to believe that He will go into the presence of God, with His own blood as an offering for us, and yet that it is incomplete, and left to poor worms to finish and accomplish what He could not perfect Himself? I would sooner turn Infidel, or Atheist, than receive such horrible delusions as these. I beseech you to be fervent in prayer to God, that those damnable delusions may not overspread over our beloved country any further. The debt is paid, the law is fulfilled, Justice is satisfied, the people exonerated, the perfections and attributes of the Deity glorified, He Himself enthroned in consequence of the perfection of His work, for He was delivered for our transgressions, and rose again for our justification. (Rom. 4:25)
One thought more here. The terms of the covenant, in which He was the stipulator, are fulfilled. Just before He suffered, He thus appealed to the Father: "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." (John 17:4) When and how was it finished? It was given in covenant engagement. It was given in the secret appointments and ancient settlements of Divine love; when the Father gave Him the Church, and gave Him to His Church, and laid Him under the responsibility, which He voluntarily entered into for the payment of all His Church's debt, for the removal of all His Church's sins, for the vanquishing of all His Church's foes, and the obtaining, working out, and bringing in an everlasting righteousness, for every member of His Church to wear to all eternity. There is the stipulation. "Then, said I, lo I come." There is His voluntary acceptance of the engagement. "Lo I come;" it is written in the volume of the book of fixed decrees, and Divine inspiration before our eyes, "I delight to do thy will, O! my God!" (Ps. 40:7,8) He did that will, and says while performing it, "I came not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38) That will was accomplished, and therefore, when He was about to suffer, having finished His work up to the last scene of all, I hear Him thus appeal: "I have glorified Thee on the earth, and have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do." (John 17:4) No, says Popery; no, says Puseyism; no, says Arminianism, He has not finished the work. He has done a great deal towards it, but has left the rest for us to do; thus directly giving the lie to Christ in His face. If this be not blasphemy of the most horrid kind, I do not know what is. On the contrary, my soul rejoices in the fact, that He has finished the work, and put away sin by the one sacrifice of Himself, the transgressions of His people removed in one day, the great day of atonement, and now the transgressions of Judah shall not be found. Why? because our precious Christ bore them in His own body on the tree, carried them into the land of forgetfulness, like the scapegoat which was His type, and has brought in a salvation, and a righteousness into all and upon all them that believe, that shall never grow old, decay, fade, or take spot. When you talk of terms of going to heaven, of pleasing God, and of salvation, beloved, they are all with the High Priest, all entrusted to Him, stipulated by Him, and met by Him, and if there is any more demand on the election of grace, the Father must make it on their Representative, their glorious Surety, their High Priest; for, blessings on His name, He is so well satisfied and pleased with the completeness of His work, that He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified, and is now sitting on His throne, waiting till His enemies shall be made His footstool, and all the election of grace shall be gathered round Him and glorify Him to all eternity.
III. Let me lead your attention, or rather pray the Holy Ghost to lead it on, to the triumphs which result from the perfect work of our glorious High Priest. He is not to suffer or to die again. There is no defect, blemish, or lack, in His blessed complete work for His Church; and consequently there are multitudes of things which may be mentioned as the triumphs that His priestly work accomplished, but I shall limit myself to three or four. In the first place, mercy is displayed. Now without the perfection of Christ's work, in His priestly character, I could not preach mercy. I know very well that it is a common-place sentiment and saying among mortals, that God is a merciful God. Whenever I hear that, I answer, Yes, He is a just God as well as a merciful God, and I am much delighted with the practice of preaching mercy in such wise as to give equal honour to justice at the same moment. But I should have no opportunity of doing so, if it were not that Jesus' work is perfect. A clerical gentleman, who knew nothing of God, one day took in hand to give me a lecture, about the importance of preaching mercy, and he put it in the plural number so nicely: "You know, Mr. Irons, that we ministers are accustomed to preach mercy to others, and we must always manifest it to others as well." I let him give his lecture out, and then politely thanked him for it. Afterwards I said, "Now allow me to preach to you: I do preach mercy. I have not heard you preach, and therefore cannot say how you preach, but I always preach mercy, so as not to do violence to justice; and when I preach mercy, which I do to all the most wretched, and forlorn, and worst of all the children of men, that I meet with, those who have gone furthest from God, and sunk deepest in vice, and in every way vile, wretched, and undone, I preach mercy to them all, but I preach it in such wise as that the justice of God is honoured, and that is by full satisfaction, the perfect work of the Divine Surety and Substitute, the precious blood of Christ, the full satisfaction He gave to the justice of God, and the entire atonement offered up in behalf of poor ruined sinners; and, publishing that, I can find plenty of scope to display, exhibit, and make known, the mercy of God." The reverend gentleman did not attempt to preach to me any longer, but appeared very glad when I bade him "Good morning;" this was a doctrine which he did not understand, did not receive.
I mention this merely to fasten on your memories the fact, that in the display of mercy, we must keep in view the honour and the satisfaction of the justice of God, the truth and glory of God, so that not one of the perfections of Deity may be tarnished or robbed to display mercy.
But the precious Christ of God offered a perfect, finished, satisfactory, acceptable atonement for the sins of the vilest and worst, and consequently is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him; we then tell the distressed sinner, broken-hearted, distressed in his conscience by the sentence of God's holy law, that, if he can prove that by the drawings of mighty grace, he has come to God in the name, merit, and righteousness of Christ Jesus, he is able to save to the uttermost, and mercy, sovereign abundant everlasting mercy, is stretching her wings, bedewed with atoning blood, to fly over the mountains of his guilt and rebellion, to pass by Sinai with all its thunders and lightnings, and drop the balmy dew Divine on his conscience, so as to seal pardon and peace to his soul. Oh! the blessedness of displaying the mercy of God, the sovereign, rich, free, distinguishing mercy of God, in such way as that justice is honoured and glorified as much as mercy. I never did like, since I have the Lord, that old cant phrase of mercy being God's darling attribute. I do not believe one word of it. I believe that justice is as dear to Him as mercy, and that holiness and truth are as dear to Him. It seems invidious and insulting to God's perfections, to speak of His darling attribute. All His attributes are equally dear to Him. One may be more darling to you than another through the failure of your judgment, but not to God.
Moreover, among the triumphs of our glorious High Priest, we must reckon the emancipation that is continually going on. Now the Popish universal redemptionists, and it is downright Popery, talk of universal redemption, without emancipation. I cannot understand it. At any rate, it can only be a part of redemption, it is not a work complete. Sure I am, that the emancipation and deliverance of every soul for whom Christ died, is as sure and as certain as has been His own acceptance within the veil. The glorious High Priest is there within the vail for the purpose of interceding "ever living to intercede" and for the purpose of claiming what is His just due, and the Father's oath has bound Him to bestow it upon him. "He shall see his seed. He shall prolong his days. The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands. He shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied." (Isa. 53;10,11) And I tell you that our glorious High Priest would never be satisfied, without bringing in, and home, all his blood-bought family, and in order, to that their emancipation from the thraldom of Satan, and the life and pursuit of sin must be effected by omnipotent grace. Glory to His name, that that is going on, and by the "foolishness of preaching" it is effected. Now and then, while these truths are simply and plainly stated, the Holy Ghost is pleased to take fast hold of the rebel sinner's conscience, and bring him to the feet of Jesus, bringing the wanderer to God by the blood of Christ, to take fast hold of some abominable heresiarch, showing him his errors and wickedness, and bringing him to embrace the truth, to take fast hold of some legal soul, who is toiling in his legal bonds, to do something that will render him acceptable to God, saying, as He takes him, "behold my blood," and then allowing His herald, John, to proclaim him with, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world." (John 1:29) While this mighty work is going on, Satan resigns his prey, the world loses a votary, sin is conquered and subdued, and his very heart and life are reversed, the current of his affections is changed, the bias of his mind is completely altered, old things pass away, and all things become new, and he who was lately the slave of sin and Satan, is now become the servant of Christ, devoted to God, and bringing fruits unto holiness. These then are among the triumphs of our glorious High Priest, and I long to see more of them, the little remaining time that I have to stay upon earth. My soul desires and earnestly entreats God, that He would not allow a sermon to be preached, or a discourse dropped from this pulpit, without making some use of it in bringing sinners, who were afar off, nigh unto Him. Oh! who shall it be this morning? And where is he? Is it some one in the gallery? Is it some one in the lower part of the chapel? Is it some hardened sinner, or is it some friend who has everything we wish, but grace? My God, put forth Thy power, and bring sinners to Thy feet.
Further, among the triumphs of our glorious High Priest, we must reckon the negotiations that are going on in heaven; aye, and from heaven with earth, and from earth with heaven. These are triumphs indeed. Not only has He entered into the holiest of all, not only does He ever live there to intercede on behalf of His Church, negotiating His Church's affairs with the Father in glory, preparing mansions for every redeemed soul, furnishing them according to His own infinite wisdom and love, and receiving them home to occupy them one by one, as the pale messenger is commissioned to perform his office, not only this, but He has opened a new way by His own blood, He has given access to the very Father's throne and bosom, in His dear precious name, to every broken-hearted sinner that is taught by the Holy Ghost to lift up a thought, or breathe a prayer; so that we do not want any saints to intercede, or priests to mediate, or a round-about retinue of virgins and canonized Infidels to plead with God. No, a straight-forward road is marked out. The vail is rent from the top to the bottom, and every poor broken-hearted sinner, that knows and feels his need of the precious Christ's atoning blood, and pardoning love, is invited and welcomed with, "Come ye near unto me" the very language of God Himself. Again, "Come now let us reason together." And how will you reason with God, you guilty, rebellious, wandering sinners? I tell you how I reason it with Him. I acknowledge all; I confess the worst. I open my mouth to acknowledge the vilest. Then turn and say to Jehovah, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world." There is my High Priest, there is atoning blood, there is perfect righteousness, a finished work, a satisfactory atonement, accepted within the veil, and I plead it as my only hope, my only ground of dependence.
Then observe how negotiations go on with regard to the Church of God, in the name of Christ, relative to all the wants, exigencies, trials, providences, as well as all the features of experience, all temptations, all the curse. There is liberty to cast them all upon the Lord, because the way is open. Place them all at His feet, plead the merit of Christ, and then wait at the footstool of Divine mercy, to get the answer or answers, the promises applied, providences arranged and ordered well, and made to work together for good, Satan repelled, his fiery darts warded off, and God bruising him under our feet, the world kept at a distance, all that belongs to old corrupt nature, mortified, subdued, and kept under, the new man imbued with life from above, grace for grace pouring down, while cry after cry, and groan after groan ascend; "more grace, Lord!" and He giveth more grace, for He is the God of all grace. How is the negotiation going on with you? Is there a living, close habitual dealing with the Most High, in the name, and precious blood, and righteousness of Jesus?
Then let me lead you on to one thought more, and I will draw to a close. The Trinity is glorified, and the Church is saved. This is the final triumph; the consummation, if I may so speak, of our glorious High Priest. The Trinity is glorified; the Father's fixed purposes of unchanging love are carried out, and accomplished to the fullest extent. The Son's joint love with the Father, co-equal and co-eternal, displayed and manifested to the very same persons, on the very same grounds, for the very same ends, to bring many sons to glory. The Spirit's love, according to the registration by His own hand in the Book of Life, manifested in ministering to the very vessels of mercy for whom Jesus bled, bringing them to His feet, creating within them a capacity to approach and enjoy God, revealing Christ in his glories and official character to their souls, enabling them to plead His merits and righteousness, shedding abroad the Father's love in their hearts, and drawing, attracting, constraining, winning, and engaging souls that are born from above, to keep up their conversation in heaven, and from thence to be looking for the Saviour. There is not an attribute of Deity which he does not glorify, as well as all the personalities; His holiness, His justice, His truth, His love, His mercy, His condescension, His immutability, His omniscience, His omnipresence, His eternity; the self-existent Jehovah, glorified in the perfect and entire work of our great High Priest. Is not thy soul burning with love to Him? Canst thou not by faith follow Him within the veil, see Him presenting the golden censer now, and hear his voice saying, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me be with me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory?" (John 17:24) Dost thou not witness, since we have been speaking of Him, another, another, and another entering into bliss, welcomed home by Christ, placed side by side with Him on the throne, and Jesus smiling with delight, and saying, "Behold I and the Children which God hath given me." (Heb. 2:13)
Ere long, it will be thy turn, and mine. Ere long, the glorious Priest, who ever lives, shall bid us come away. Ere long, He will send us His messenger to beckon us to eternal glory, opening to the view our precious Christ in His own glorious body, waiting to receive us, angelic hosts dividing their ranks, a glorious way made open to the throne for souls emancipated. Your's and mine go forth at liberty, enjoy the freedom of eternal life, the rest that is preparing for His own saints. Await the happy hour. Look for the arrival of the messenger. Be concerned, as long as you stay in the wilderness, to exalt and honour our precious, glorious High Priest. May He command a blessing upon this effort to honour Him, and His dear name shall have all the glory. Amen.