My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
~ John 10:29
The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
~ Psalm 110:4, Genesis 14:18, Zechariah 6:13, Hebrews 4:15-16, Hebrews 5:1-2
And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 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. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
~ Isaiah 11:5, Hebrews 7:25-26
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
~ 2 Timothy 1:12, Philippians 3:21, Jude 1:24
The Great Gospel Mystery of the Saints’ Comfort and Holiness, Opened and Applied From Christ’s Priestly Office.
On Christ’s Priestly Office, by William Bridge. 1647. An excerpt from the text.
Sermon I. An Excerpt.
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
~ Hebrews 2:17-18
The priestly office of Christ, it is the great magazine and storehouse of all that grace and comfort which we have on this side heaven: it is that whereby we are reconciled to God the Father, and relieved against all temptation. This is the great thing that these words hold forth.
And therefore, upon this account, the apostle Paul, finding the Hebrews labouring under great temptations, doubtings, fears, and much unbelief; he does not only here, but all along in this book of the Hebrews, open the priestly office of Christ unto them.
And indeed, what comfort can we have in God himself, but through Christ? and what comfort can we have in Christ himself, but as he is clothed with his priestly garment, with the office of High Priest? Whatsoever comfort we have in the other offices of Christ, namely his kingly and his prophetical offices, it is all originated and principiated in this: the priestly office of Jesus Christ, it does give a life, and being, and efficacy to both the other offices. And therefore the high priest, in the times of the Old Testament, (who was a type of Christ) he wore a crown upon his head, and the breastplate of Urim and Thummim upon his breast: showing that both the other offices, the kingly and the prophetical office, were planted upon the priestly office of Jesus Christ. Yea, if you look into the ist, iind, and iiird chapters of the Revelation, you will find, that whatsoever streams of comfort did run down upon the churches through the other titles and attributes of God, they are all fountained here. In the iind chapter and the 1st verse, the Lord Christ hath this title, that he holdeth the seven stars in his right hand! ” These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand.” In the 8th verse, writing unto the church of Smyrna, he takes up another title or attribute: ” These things saith the first and the last, which was dead and is alive.” At the 12th verse, writing unto the church at Pergamus, he takes up another title: ” These things saith he who hath the sharp sword with two edges.” Now look into the ist chapter, and you shall see that those several titles, wherewith he clothes himself when he speaks unto the churches severally, are all summed up together at the 16th verse. ” And he had in his right hand seven stars:” that is his title unto the church of Ephesus: ” And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword;” that is his title unto the church of Pergamus. And at the 18th verse, ” I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore;” that is another title that he useth when he speaketh unto the church of Smyrna. But in the 13th verse is opened the fountain of all these streams: ” In the midst of the seven candlesticks, I saw one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.” This was then the robe and attire of the High Priest: whose garment came down unto his feet, and he was girt about with a golden girdle. So that all these other attributes and titles of Christ, they have their rise here; here is the spring-head of all those consolations, even the priestly office of Jesus Christ.
Usually those excellencies and attributes of Christ are most beneficial unto the saints, that are most opposed by the world. What title, attribute, or excellency of Christ is there, that is more invaded by the world, than the priestly office of Jesus Christ? What is the whole body of anti-christianism, but an invasion upon this priestly office of Christ? What is the popish mass (that unbloody sacrifice) but a derogation from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once upon the cross, and so a derogation from his priestly office? What are all those popish penances, and satisfactions enjoined, but a derogation unto the satisfaction of Jesus Christ, and so unto the priestly office of Christ? What is all their praying to saints and angels, but a derogation unto the intercession of Jesus Christ, and so unto the priestly office of Christ? What does the Pope call himself? he calls himself the high priest, the very title that our Lord and Saviour takes unto himself. So that the whole body of anti-christianism, is a great invasion upon the priestly office of Jesus Christ. Now that which is usually opposed most by the men of the world, that excellency and that attribute of Christ is of all other the most comfortable and beneficial unto God’s people. The truth is, this priestly office of Jesus Christ is an office of mere love, and tender compassion; erected and set up on purpose for the relief of poor distressed sinners; and there is no mixture of terror with it: there is a mixture of terror with the other offices of Christ. The Lord Christ, he is King, and he hath a kingly office, and by his kingly office he rules over the churches, and rules over all the world: but all do not obtain mercy that he rules over. ” As for those mine enemies, that will not submit, will not have me to reign over them, bring them, and slay them before me.” The prophetical office of Jesus Christ, it extendeth unto many that shall never be saved: ” Light shines in darkness, and darkness comprehendeth it not.” ” He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” But now, wherever the priestly office of Jesus Christ is let forth upon a soul, that soul shall certainly be saved for ever.
What was the great relief amongst the Jews against their sins? The Jews, you shall observe they had many reliefs: when they were in the wilderness, and were stung with the fiery serpents, then they had a brazen serpent for to look upon, as a relief against that distress. When they wanted water, they had the water out of the rock, as a relief against that distress. When they wanted bread, they had manna from heaven, as a relief against that distress. But when they sinned, whither did they go? Then they took a sacrifice, and went unto the priest, and he was to offer for them. So that the priestly office then, was the only relief they had against sin.
And so now, the priestly office of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is that great succour and relief which Christians have against all temptations under heaven.
You will say unto me, But general things affect not: let us see it in some particulars, wherein this priestly office of Christ is the great magazine and storehouse of all our grace and comfort?
For answer hereunto, I will begin this exercise with one particular of the priestly office of Christ, in showing what a relief and succour it is unto a Christian against all temptations, and what a bottom of comfort, and special means of grace and holiness.
The text says that the work of the high priest is, ” To make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” In the times of the Old Testament, the high priest made an atonement for the people: in case any man had sinned, he brought a sacrifice, and his sins were laid upon the head of the sacrifice. Once every year the high priest did enter into the holy of holiest, and with the blood of the sacrifice did sprinkle the mercy-seat, and laid the sins of the people upon the head of the scape-goat, and so made an atonement for the people. All which will clearly appear in that sixteenth chapter of Leviticus, at the 14th verse: ” He shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy-seat eastward: and before the mercy-seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.” And at the 21st verse: ” And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness, and so he shall make an atonement:” as in that chapter. This was the work of the high priest, in case any had sinned, to make an atonement and satisfaction (by way of type) for the sins of the people.
Now for the better proof of this great gospel truth that I have propounded, I shall insist on these five things.
First, That when the Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cross, he did offer up himself a sacrifice unto God the Father.
Secondly, That when this sacrifice was upon the altar, then the sins of all believers, past, present, and to come, were all laid upon Jesus Christ.
Thirdly, That when these sins were thus laid upon Christ, he did thereby give full satisfaction unto God the Father, unto divine justice.
Fourthly, That all this he did as our great High Priest, and in a more transcendent, and eminent manner, than ever any high priest did before him.
Fifthly, How all this doth conduce to our comfort, and to our holiness.
First, When our Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cross, he did offer up himself a sacrifice unto God the Father. He did not (as the Socinians say) die only as an example for to teach us how to die; but he offered up himself a sacrifice unto God the Father then. Yea, as if all sacrifices were met in him; all those titles that are given unto other sacrifices, they are given unto him. There are three sorts of sacrifices: some were living; others were not living, and those were either solid, as bread and the like; or else they were liquid, as wine and oil. There was always, destructio ret oblatia, a destroying of the thing offered. If it were a living thing that was sacrificed, then it was said to be slain: in answer to that, Jesus Christ is said to be a Lamb slain from the beginning of the world. If it were a dead thing that was offered up, as bread, or corn, a solid thing, then the sacrifice or offering was said to be bruised: in answer to that, our Lord and Saviour Christ is said to be bruised for our iniquities. If it were a liquid thing that was offered up to God, as wine or oil, then it was said to be poured out: in answer to this, it is said of our Lord and Saviour, that his soul was poured out unto death. Thus all sacrifices meeting in him. ” Behold the Lamb of God!” (says John the Baptist) when he saw Christ. He does not say, Behold the bull of God, or the goat of God; and yet bulls and goats were sacrificed. Why does he rather say, Behold the Lamb of God, than the bullock or the goat? For when the high priest went into the holy of holiest, and sprinkled the mercy- seat, he did not sprinkle the mercy-seat with the blood of the lamb, but with the blood of a goat; and yet, notwithstanding, it is not said, Behold the goat of God, but, Behold the Lamb of God! Why so? Not only because that Christ was of a lamb-like and meek disposition (as some would have it): not only because that the great type of Christ was the paschal lamb (though these be reasons), but there was a daily sacrifice in the temple; whether men brought any offering or no, there was a standing sacrifice in the temple, morning and evening, and that sacrifice was a lamb. Now therefore, to shew that Jesus Christ is the daily sacrifice, therefore he cries out, and says, Behold the Lamb of God, and not the goat of God? for the goat was not sacrificed every day as the lamb was.
For proof of this take the apostle’s exhortation, Eph. v. 2, ” Walk in love, as Christ hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God.” Here are three things considerable. First, He does not say, Who hath redeemed us; but to shew his great love unto us, ” Who hath given himself for us:” he doth not say, Who hath given himself for our sins; yet he says so in Gal. i. 4, ” Who gave himself for our sins? ” but, ” Who gave himself for us.” Why? To shew who they were that he gave himself for: he gave himself for us, as sinners. Again, he says here, he gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice; not only an offering, but a sacrifice too. So that this first proposition is clearly proved, That our Lord Jesus, when he died upon the cross, he did offer up himself as a sacrifice unto God the Father.
Secondly, As he did offer up himself a sacrifice unto God the Father, so when he was upon this altar, this sacrifice; the sins of all believers were then laid upon Jesus Christ: those that do now believe, or shall hereafter believe, they were all then laid upon Jesus Christ. Look into the fifty-third of Isaiah, verse 6, ” All we like sheep have gone astray, and have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all. 5 That which God lays on shall never be taken off, no man shall take it off: the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all.
Yea, our iniquities are not only said to be laid on him, but (to use the same word that is used for the sacrifice) it is said, He bare our sins upon the cross; as the goat bare the sins of the people: so says the apostle, ” He himself bare our sins upon the cross.”
Moreover, he did not only bear our sins upon the cross, but, says the apostle, ” He was made sin for us.” It is not said, He was made a sinner, or accounted a sinner only for us, but ” He was made sin for us.” All our iniquities were laid on him; he bare our sins, and he was made sin for us upon the cross. Thus briefly the second proposition is cleared, That when he did thus offer up himself upon the cross as a sacrifice, the sins of all believers were then laid on him.
Thirdly, When the sins of believers were laid on him, then he did make full satisfaction unto God the Father, and divine justice for all our sins. This is a bottom of much comfort. For if the Lord Jesus Christ our Surety had not satisfied to the utmost farthing, our great Creditor, God the Father, for all our debts, God the Father might come upon us the debtors. But our Surety, the Lord Christ, hath given full satisfaction unto God the Father, that no more demands can be be made upon us. And indeed else, how could our Surety ever have come out of prison: he was under arrest, he was in the jail, in the grave: the Father, the great Creditor lets him out; and did not only let him out, but the Lord Jesus Christ, he goes into heaven, and sits down there at the right hand of the Father; surely, if the Creditor had not been satisfied, the Surety should never have been released out of prison.
He was so fully satisfied, that “he looked for iniquity, and he found none” (says the text). He looked over all his books, to see if he could find any thing upon the score, but he found none: all our debts were paid. Behold the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world.” He does not say, That takes away the sin of the Jews only; but takes away the sin of the whole world. He does not say, That takes away the sins (in the plural number), but takes away the sin (in the singular number): sins go so together, as if they were but one: but let the sin be never so twisted together, as if it were but one sin, this Lamb of God, he takes away the sin of the world. And he does not say, That hath pardoned the sin of the world: for then a poor soul might say, Aye, but though he hath pardoned my sin, yet my sin is not mortified. Neither does he say, Behold the Lamb of God, that mortifies or destroys the sin of the world: but he gives you a word that takes in both pardon and mortification too. Behold the Lamb of God that takes them away: both in regard of pardon, and in regard of mortification: ” Behold the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world. 5 ‘
There is nothing that does so satisfy God the Father, as obedience, and the more full the obedience is, the more God the Father is satisfied thereby: now it is said of our Lord and Saviour Christ, that in this great sacrifice upon the cross, he was obedient. ” He was obedient even to the death of the cross.” That he that did make the law, should come down from heaven, and be subject to the law, what obedience was here! ” Obedient to the death.” Yea, unto the deaths (in the plural number). And he made his grave with the sinners: and his deaths was with the rich. ” He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich had his deaths,” Isa. liii. 9. It is in the plural number in the Hebrew, though in our English translation it is in the singular. As if the Holy Ghost had called death, the second death that our Lord Christ had in some measure suffered. For, if you consider things trulyand rightly, I believe you will find that our Lord and Saviour Christ when he died, and was in his agony, he did not only endure the first, but the torments of the second death. He overcame no more than he submitted to: he overcame death by submitting to death. Now he overcame the second death also, and therefore in some measure submitted to the torments of it, so far as he was capable. Look what the first Adam should have endured for his sin in the fall, that the second Adam now did endure in some measure for to take it off: ” The day that thou eatest thou shalt die the death.” It was not barely the corporal and outward death, but it was the second death. If our Lord and Saviour Christ did not endure the torments of the second death, the wrath of God upon his soul; why did he sweat drops of blood, and tremble, and shake so, when he came to die? There is many saints and martyrs, when they come to die, they go skipping, and leaping, and rejoicing: and our Lord and Saviour, when he came to die, he sweats drops of blood; surely there was more than an outward death: Oh! the wrath of God, and the torments of the second death were upon his soul. Thus obedient he was, and this obedience of his, it was voluntary, for he needed not to have died; but he saw that God the Father was dishonoured by man’s sin, and that poor man would be lost, and rather than that should be, he does voluntarily offer himself unto this obedience. ” Lo I come, (says he,) in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, and thy law is within my heart,” Psalm xl. 7? 8. Mark what an expression there is in that Psalm, it is spoken concerning Christ, as is plainly interpreted by the apostle in the xth of the Hebrews, at the 6th verse: ” Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire, mine ears hast thou opened ” (or bored). The apostle when he translates these words, he translates them thus: ” My body hast thou prepared.” But read them as they are here in the Psalm: “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire, mine ear hast thou bored.” That as when a servant was willing to stay with his master, and to do him yet more service, the servant’s ear was to be bored: so says the Lord Christ, I am as willing to do this work, to be thus obedient, as a servant whose ear is bored is willing to stay with his master: ” And mine ear hast thou bored,” says he; ah, here is obedience, here is obedience: this now did infinitely satisfy God the Father; in so much, that ye may see what is said, in that same vth of the Ephesians, and the 2nd verse. ” Who hath loved us, and given himself for us, an offering, and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.” The whole world was full of a stench before, and the Lord was displeased with man before: but now when Christ comes, and offers up his sacrifice, he did thereby give full satisfaction unto God the Father, for it was a sweet smelling savour unto God the Father. So that thus the Father he was fully satisfied.
To this I shall add one word: When the Lord Jesus Christ offered up himself a sacrifice unto God the Father, and had our sins laid upon him, he did give more perfect satisfaction unto divine justice for our sins, than if you, and I, and all of us had been damned in hell unto all eternity. For a creditor is more satisfied, if his debt be paid him all down at once, than if it be paid by the week: a poor man that cannot pay all down, will pay a groat a week, or sixpence a week; but it is more satisfaction to the creditor to have all paid at once. Should we have been all damned, we should have been but paying the debt a little, and a little, and a little: but when Christ paid it, he paid it all down to God the Father. Had we gone to hell, and been damned for ever, we had always been satisfying of God, aye but God had never been satisfied: but now when Christ makes satisfaction, God was satisfied. The creditor, if he be a merciful and a good man, is more truly satisfied where the debtor is spared; he does not desire that the debtor should be cast into prison, and there lie and rot; but he is better satisfied with the sparing of the debtor; let me have but my money, and so the debtor be spared I am willing, nay I desire it, says the good creditor.
Now if all we had been cast into everlasting burnings, indeed the debt should have been a paying, but there the debtor had been lost: but now when Christ comes, and makes satisfaction unto divine justice, Ah! poor man is redeemed; here is the debtor spared. And therefore, the Lord he is infinitely more satisfied, by the satisfaction that Christ made upon the cross for our sins, than if all we had gone to hell; and been damned to all eternity. Oh! what a glorious and blessed satisfaction did this our High Priest make unto God the Father!
But you will say then, If the Lord Christ made this full satisfaction unto God the Father, how is it that believers, many of them have their sins and debts standing upon the score still, in their consciences so perplexed in regard of sin, as if there were no satisfaction at all made?
Luther calls this aspect of sin, a sacrilegious aspect and beholding of sin. As now (says he) if a man take out of an holy place some goods, and bring them into his own house; this is sacrilege. So for me to go and take my sins from Christ, and lay them in mine own bosom, this is sacrilege, says Luther.
But the reason of it is this, because that men do not study this truth, but are ignorant of it. As, suppose that a man do owe three or four hundred pounds to a shopkeeper for wares and commodities that he hath taken up there: a friend comes and pays the debt, crosses the book: but the debtor, when he comes and looks upon the book, he is able to read all the particulars; item for such a thing, and item for such a thing, and item for such a thing; but the man being not acquainted with the nature of crossing the book, he is able to read all the particulars, and he charges it still upon himself, because he does not understand the nature of this crossing the book, and he is as much troubled how he shall pay the debt, as if it were not paid at all. So now it is here the Lord Jesus Christ, he hath come and crossed our book with his own blood: the sins are to be read in your own consciences, but we being not acquainted with the nature of Christ’s satisfaction, and the crossing of the book, we charge ourselves, as if no sin at all were satisfied for us: yet when the Lord Jesus Christ was made an offering for sin upon the cross, then he did give full satisfaction unto God the Father. And that is the third.
Fourthly, This now he hath done as our great High Priest, and in a more transcendent and eminent way, than ever any high priest did before. For, though the high priest did come and make an atonement for a poor sinner, yet he himself was never made a sacrifice; the priest offered up a sacrifice, but himself never was made a sacrifice. But our great High Priest does not only offer up a sacrifice, but himself is made a sacrifice. Yea, that sacrifice that was then in the times of the Old Testament, it could not purge the conscience; not only because, as the apostle speaks, it was the blood of bulls and goats, but because the sacrifice was performed successively: as thus, a man sinned, then he brought a sacrifice; sins again, and then he brings another sacrifice: and once every year, the high priest goes into the holy of holiest to make an atonement. But in the meanwhile a poor soul might think thus, What if I die before the year come about, what will become of me? the high priest, he goes once a year into the holy of holiest, and sprinkles the mercy-seat, but what will become of me if I die before that time? But now, our great High Priest, he does not only offer up a sacrifice, and himself the sacrifice; but he offers up a sacrifice once for all: so says the apostle. So that now, when a Christian hath sinned, he is not to think of a sacrifice that is yet to come, a year hence, but he is to look unto that which is done already, a sacrifice once offered, and once for all: so that he needs not be in suspense now, as the Jews were; his conscience it may be fully purged from sin.
Again, take the high priest in the times of the Old Testament, and though he did make an atonement for the sins of the people, yet sometimes also he did make the people to sin. It is said of Aaron the great high priest, concerning the golden calf, that he did make the people naked: but the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, he makes an atonement for sin, and never does make them sin: he is so far from making the people naked, that he covers them with his righteousness that their nakedness may not appear. Here is a glorious High Priest.
Yea, this High Priest of ours, he does not only make an atonement for sin committed, and pays the debt; but he does also become our Surety unto God the Father: he does not only pay the debt that is past, but he becomes a Surety for time to come. None of all those High Priests that ever did so; not Aaron, not any high priest that ever gave his bond unto God the Father, that any sinner should never sin no more. But our Lord Jesus Christ, our High Priest, he becomes our Surety: and what Surety? not an ordinary Surety; for amongst us the Surety joins and does become bound with the debtor, but still it runs in the name of the debtor, and the debtor he gives the bond for to pay the debt. But now here, our Surety, he gives the bond, and we that are the debtors, we do not give the bond for to pay the debt: there is no godly man or believer that ever gave a bond unto God the Father that he will pay the debt: but our Surety comes, and the bond goes in the name of the Surety, and the debtor’s name is out. Oh! what a glorious and blessed High Priest is here? here is a High Priest, beyond all the high priests that ever did go before! And that is the fourth thing.
Fifthly, How does all this conduce to our comfort or holiness?
I. How does all this make to our comfort?
1. Is it not a comfortable thing in the ears of a poor sinner, that there is a magazine and a storehouse of mercy set up? that the Lord hath erected an office of love, and of mere compassion for poor sinners? Is it not a comfortable thing that God the Father is satisfied, and so your sins pardoned? ” Son,” says Christ unto the palsied man, ” be of good comfort, thy sins are forgiven thee,” Mark ii. 5. He does not say, Be of good comfort, thy disease is healed: no, whether thy disease be healed, or whether it be not healed, this is comfort, ” Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.”
If the Lord Jesus Christ hath satisfied for my sins, may a believer say, then whatsoever affliction I do meet withal, it does not come upon me as a punishment (properly), it does not come upon me as an arrest for to pay my debt. When a reprobate is smitten and afilicted, all his miseries, they are arrests for to pay his debt. Hath the Lord Jesus Christ satisfied divine justice, and God the Father for me? then surely these afflictions they do not come for me to make satisfaction.
Again, if the Lord Jesus Christ hath satisfied for my sins, may a believer say, then I shall never be damned, I shall never fall from grace. I have had many fears that I should fall from grace, and so go to hell, and perish at last: but if the Lord Jesus Christ hath satisfied divine justice for my sin, then God the Father will never punish my sin again, for it was punished in Jesus Christ, therefore I cannot fall from grace, therefore I can never be damned.
And if the Lord Jesus Christ hath satisfied divine justice as our great High Priest, then I may come with boldness unto the throne of grace. A debtor, so long as his debt is unpaid, he dares not come by the prison door, by the compter door; he is afraid of every sergeant, he is afraid of his friends that they should be sergeants: but when his debt is paid, then he dares go up and down with boldness. And so the poor soul, when he knows that his debt is paid, and Christ hath satisfied, then he may go with boldness unto the throne of grace.
But you will say, I cannot have the comfort of this, because I cannot say that Christ hath satisfied for me: How shall I know that Jesus Christ is my High Priest, so as to have satisfied for me? Ah, if I did but know that the Lord Jesus Christ were my High Priest in this particular, so as to have satisfied for me, then should I have comfort indeed: how shall I discover that? I am afraid he hath not satisfied for me!
And why not for thee? (man or woman) why not for thee? I shall tell you what I have heard concerning a young man, that lay upon his death bed, and went to heaven: while he was lying upon his death bed, he comforted himself in this: That the Lord Christ died for sinners. Oh! blessed be the Lord (says he) Jesus Christ hath died for me. Satan came in with this temptation to him: Aye but, young man, why for thee? Christ died for sinners, but why for thee? how canst thou make that appear, that Christ died for thee? Nay Satan (says he) and why not for me? Ah! the Lord Jesus, he died for sinners, and therefore, Satan, why not for me? So he held his comfort, and went up to heaven triumphing.
So say I to thee, poor drooping soul, that labours under temptation; why not for thee? why not for thee? and say so unto Satan, Why not for me?
Again, Christ’s satisfaction it lies open for all sorts of sinners to come unto it. As the promise, it runs indefinitely; and if a man come to the promise, and apply it; his very applying the promise does make it his. You say, Oh! that I did but know that the promise belongs to me: I say, thy very resting upon the promise makes it to belong to thee. So, the satisfaction of Jesus Christ, this piece of Christ’s priestly office, it lies open for all sorts of sinners for to come unto it: and your very resting upon it, and applying it to your own souls, it makes it to belong unto you.
Furthermore, if Jesus Christ be willing that you should think that he hath satisfied for you, then it is no presumption for you to think so. Now says he at the Lord’s Supper, Take my blood that is shed for thee, I apply it to thee. Behold thy King cometh unto thee. When he rode upon an ass’s colt, it was not said, Behold thy Lord cometh, but Behold thy King cometh to thee: he would have every one so to think.
More especially, if that a poor Christian now, might not go unto Jesus Christ as unto his High Priest, and say, that he is an High Priest to me; then are we Christians, in a great deal worser condition than the Jews were; for when a Jew had sinned he might carry his sacrifice to the priest, and he might say, That this priest here belongs to me. And there was never a Jew, amongst all the people of the Jews, but when the high priest sprinkled the mercy-seat, but he might say, This he hath done for me. Now, we are not in a worse condition than the Jews were: this High Priest is beyond all the high priests that ever was before him: and therefore there is never a poor Christian but he may go to the Lord Christ and say, Oh! my High Priest, and, This my High Priest hath satisfied for me. Oh, what comfort is here to poor drooping souls! Lift up your heads, Oh all ye saints and children of God; methinks here is that indeed, that might bring you off your own sands. When there is no water in the river but his own, the tide comes not in, no sea water, only the water of the river, the native water, (as I may so speak) then your bottoms, your ships they stand upon the sands; but when the tide comes in, then they are raised, and come off the sands then. And so long as thou hast nothing in thy own channel, but thine own righteousness, thou stickest upon the sands in the deep mire; but now, when the tide of the Lord’s satisfaction comes in, there is a full sea of mercy, and satisfaction (able to swim the heaviest vessel) made by Jesus Christ. Ah, methinks this should lift up a poor soul and fetch him off from his sands: Be of good comfort then. Thus it is evident how this truth does much conduce to our comfort.
But you will say, Does it not much conduce to our grace or holiness too? Or if it do, I pray how?
Yes, this truth does conduce much to our holiness too. You shall observe, that the new covenant of grace, it is laid and founded upon the satisfaction of Jesus Christ upon the cross, upon that oblation. Three times the apostle Paul makes mention of the new covenant of grace in the book of the Hebrews, the viiith, ixth, and xth chapters: and in all these places he lays the covenant of grace, and founds it upon this satisfaction of Jesus Christ. But especially in the ixth chapter, 13th, 14th, and 15th verses. The 14th: ” How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God.” Then at the 15th verse, ” And for this cause, he is the Mediator of the New Testament.” For this cause: plainly laying the new covenant of grace upon the satisfaction of Jesus Christ, upon this part of his priestly office. So then, thou mayest now go unto God the Father and say, Lord, thou hast made a covenant of grace with poor man, and this covenant of grace is founded upon the priestly office and satisfaction of Jesus Christ; and the Lord Jesus Christ he hath satisfied for me; and the new covenant promises, that we ” shall be all taught of God.” Lord, I am ignorant, Oh! therefore now, by the satisfaction of Christ let me be taught of thee, that I may be made wise unto salvation. And so again, Lord, thou hast made a covenant of grace with poor man; this is laid upon the satisfaction of Jesus Christ: the covenant of grace says, ” I will write my law in your inward parts:” now, O Lord, seeing Jesus Christ hath founded this covenant in his blood, and I am one of those that he hath made satisfaction for; Oh! write thy law in my inward parts that I may do all thy wills.
But again (in the second place) that we may see how this doth conduce to our holiness: strengthen faith, and we strengthen all: if faith be weakened, all grace is weakened: strengthen your faith, and you strengthen all your holiness, and all your graces. The way to strengthen a bough, or a branch of the tree, is not to carry dung up into the tree, but to lay it to the root: strengthen the root, and ye strengthen all the branches. Faith is the root-grace: now the knowledge, and the thorough digesting of this truth, that the Lord Jesus Christ is our great High-Priest, in this point of satisfaction, it does wonderfully strengthen our faith. For, the more I know that God is willing, and Christ willing to shew mercy unto me, the more my faith is strengthened: I know this, that every man is willing to do the work of his office, if he be faithful: a porter is willing to carry a burden: why? because it is his office to do it. It is the office of Jesus Christ for to bear our sins: it is his office to be the great
High Priest, that does satisfy God the Father for our sins: surely therefore, he is willing to do it, for he is faithful in his office.
But besides, the more I see an holy necessity upon Christ Jesus, for to show mercy to me, the more my faith rises. It is very remarkable the Lord Jesus Christ, as God, he may refuse, and might refuse, whether he would shew mercy to us or no: but now as a High Priest, he cannot refuse a poor sinner that does come unto him. If I know that Christ is able to satisfy, is able to shew mercy to me, my faith stirs a little, at the sight of Christ’s ability; if I know that Christ be willing to shew mercy to me, my faith rises higher: but if I know that Christ cannot refuse me, if I do come unto him, then my faith rises up to a great height indeed. When a poor sinner amongst the Jews, had sinned, and brought his sacrifice to the high priest, the priest might not refuse it: our Lord Jesus Christ is our great High Priest; I say, as God he may refuse, but now, he being our great High Priest, therefore when a poor sinner comes to Jesus Christ, as a High Priest he cannot refuse: oh what a great strengthening is this to faith! Strengthen faith, and you strengthen all: the right understanding of this truth, doth wonderfully strengthen faith.
Further, the more a man is engaged to Jesus Christ, and takes himself to be engaged to him, the more holy he is: the more a man sees himself freed from sin by Christ, the more he takes himself to he engaged to Christ, for freeing of him from his sin. Now this truth tells us how Christ hath satisfied for our sins, freed us from sin; and so we shall be the more engaged to Christ. If a man were going to prison, even at the compter door, for a great sum of money; and the door were unlocking: if a man should come and speak to the sergeant, Hold your hands, here is money for you, I will pay this man’s debt, and lays the money down; would not this poor debtor take himself for ever engaged to that man, that should thus come, and lay down the money, and free him so seasonably from the compter, and prison? Thus it was with the Lord Christ; Ah, we were all going to prison, everlasting prison, chains of darkness, and he comes and lays down the money, makes full satisfaction to God the
Father as our great High Priest: Oh! what an engagement is this to every soul unto the Lord Christ, to become the Lord Christ’s for ever.
Lastly, the more a man does deny his own righteousness, the more holy he is with gospel holiness. It is said of the Jews, That they going about to establish their own righteousness, submitted not unto the righteousness of Christ. So on the contrary; when a man does go about to establish the righteousness of Christ, then he submits unto it, and then he denies his own righteousness. The more we see a fulness of satisfaction made by Jesus Christ, for all our sins, unto God the Father, the more we acknowledge Christ’s righteousness, and the more we establish it, and the more we shall be brought off from all our own righteousness.
Oh! therefore now, as ever you do desire, to have more grace, more holiness, more comfort; study, and study much this priestly office of Jesus Christ. There are many that complain, that they cannot profit under the means of grace: that they have hard hearts: that the ways, and ordinances of God are not sweet to them: prayer they do perform, but with no sweetness, they do not relish the blood and Spirit of Christ upon their spirits in their duties, &c. Many complain that their sins, and temptations’ (like the sons of Zeruiah) are to mighty for them, and that one day they shall be slain by the hand of Saul, such a lust, such a corruption. No wonder that we have these complaints, when we do not go unto the storehouse of comfort and grace that the Lord hath set open for us. The priestly office of Christ, it is the great magazine, and storehouse, of all that grace and comfort which we have on this side heaven: if ye do not go unto it, is it any wonder that ye want comfort, or that ye want grace? I appeal to you now; are there not some, nay, many that never went to Jesus Christ as their High Priest to this day? Ah, are there not some even professors, that do not know what the priestly office of Jesus Christ means? Oh 1 no wonder (poor soul) so uncomfortable, no more strength against thy temptations. If the State should appoint a man for to relieve poor, maimed soldiers, that go a begging: if they meet with the same man that is appointed by the State, and they beg of him in the streets as an ordinary man, he relieves them not: but now, if they come unto him, as a man appointed by the State for relief of such, then he relieves them according to the duty of his place. So it is with men, they go to Christ in an ordinary way, they do not go to Christ as the great Lord Treasurer of all our graces, as our great High Priest, they do not go unto him as in office; set up in office by God the Father for such relief: they do not address themselves to him as their High Priest to make satisfaction for them, and therefore they go away and have no relief. But would we have more strength against corruption? would we walk more comfortably in our course? would we find the ways of God, ordinances, and duties more sweet and comfortable to our souls? then read, and consider that place in the Canticles ii. 3, ‘* As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons: I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet unto my taste.” The spouse speaks it concerning Christ. What is this fruit of Christ? Your justification, adoption, vocation, sanctification, consolation, it is all the fruit of Christ: all your own duties, your prayers, reading, meditation, they are all the fruit of Christ: the enjoyment of all his ordinances, and all your spiritual privileges under the gospel, they are the fruit of Christ. Now says she, ” I sat down under the shadow, and his fruit it was sweet unto my taste.” As it is unto a man that does love fruit; be it pears, apples, cherries, or the like: I love this fruit (says he) but yet notwithstanding, I must needs go where this fruit grows, and gather it off the tree; and when he hath gone to the tree, and taken the fruit off the tree, (says he) I sat down under the tree. I had not the fruit, the apples, or cherries, brought unto my house, but I went unto the tree, and gathered it off the tree, and I sat down under the shadow of the tree, and Oh! how sweet was the fruit unto me! So says the soul, so says the spouse of Jesus Christ: I sat down under the shadow of Jesus Christ, and then his fruit was sweet unto my taste. It may be we have had other shadows: we have sat down under the shadow of our estate, our outward estate hath been sweet unto our taste. We have sat down, it may be under the shadow of friendship, and the fruit of friendship hath been sweet unto our taste; but behold here a tree, the tree of life, whose shadow reaches to the end of the earth: Ah, come, come and sit down under the shadow of Jesus Christ. If there be ever a poor soul, that never yet knew what comfort meant; Ah, come, come under the shadow of the Lord Jesus; the priestly office of Jesus Christ, it hath a very sweet shadow; come therefore, you that say you cannot profit under the means, and you that complain of such . and such temptations, and such and such sins; and that you were never yet comforted, your consciences never pacified: come now, and sit down under the shadow of the Lord Jesus Christ. I tell thee, from the Lord, this fruit of his, it shall be sweet unto thy taste: thou shalt go to prayer, and prayer shall be sweet unto thy soul, though heretofore thou couldst find no sweetness in it; so the word and other ordinances shall be sweeter unto thee than the honey or the honeycomb.
Thus it is evident how comfortable the priestly office of Jesus Christ is, and how much conducing unto our comfort, and holiness: Oh! therefore let us study, now study the priestly office of Jesus Christ, and come and sit down under his shadow, and the Lord make his fruit sweet unto all our souls.