Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
~ Romans 8:34
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
~ 1 Timothy 2:5
But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
~ Hebrews 7:24-25
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:
~ Hebrews 9:24
The Work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate, Clearly Explained, and Largely Improved for the Benefit of All Believers, by John Bunyan.
1 John 2:1 – “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
That the apostle might obtain due regard from those to whom he wrote, touching the things about which he wrote, he tells them that he received not his message to them at second or third hand, but was himself an eye and ear witness thereof— “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of life, (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have all shall have the dominion over you, to bring you down to hell; for that, for the sake of the blood of Christ, all trespasses are forgiven you.
This done, he exhorts them to shun or fly sin, and not to consent to the motions, workings, enticings, or allurements thereof, saying, “I write unto you that ye sin not.” Let not forgiveness have so bad an effect upon you as to cause you to be remiss in Christian duties, or as to tempt you to give, way to evil. Shall we sin because we are forgiven? or shall we not much matter what manner of lives we live, because we are set free from the law of sin and death? God forbid. Let grace teach us another lesson, and lay other obligations upon our spirits. “My little children,” saith he, “these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” What things? Why, tidings of pardon and salvation, and of that nearness to God, to which you are brought by the precious blood of Christ. Now, lest also by this last exhortation he should yet be misunderstood, he adds, “And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the rather, Jesus Christ the righteous.” I say, he addeth this to prevent desponding in those weak and sensible Christians that are so quick of feeling and of discerning the corruptions of their natures ; for these cry out continually that there is nothing that they do but it is attended with sinful weaknesses.
Wherefore, in the words we are presented with two great truths—l. With a supposition, that men in Christ, while in this world, may sin—, “If any man sin;” any man; none are excluded; for all, or any one of the all of them that Christ hath redeemed and forgiven, are incident to sin. By “may” I mean, not a toleration, but a possibility; “For there is not a man, not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Eccl 7:20; 1 Kings 8:46). II. The other thing with which we are presented is, an Advocate—, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
Seen and heard, declare we unto you” (I John 31:1-3). Having thus told them of his ground for what he said, he proceeds to tell them also the matter contained in his errand-to wit, that he brought them news of eternal life, as freely offered in the word of the gospel to them; or rather, that that gospel which they had received would certainly usher them in at the gates of the kingdom of heaven, were their reception of it sincere and in truth—for, saith he, then “the blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God cleanseth you from all sin.”
Having thus far told them what was his errand, he sets upon an explication of what he had said, especially touching our being cleansed from all sin — “Not,” saith he, “from a being of sin; for should we say so, we should deceive ourselves,” and should prove that we have no truth of God in us, but by cleansing, I mean a being delivered from all sin…
3 How deeply important is this essential doctrine of Christianity-a personal investigation. We must hear and see for ourselves, handle the word of life, and not trust to others, however holy and capable they may appear to be; we must search the Scriptures, and pray for ourselves, or we have not the slightest claim to the name of Christian. —ED.
Now there lieth in these two truths two things to be inquired into, as-First, What the apostle should here mean by sin. Second, And also, what he here doth mean by an advocate— ”If any man sin, we have an Advocate.” There is ground to inquire after the first of these, because, though here he saith, they that sin have an advocate, yet in the very next chapter he saith, “Such are of the devil, have not seen God, neither know him, nor are of him.” There is ground also to inquire after the second, because an advocate is supposed in the text to be of use to them that sin—, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate.”
First, For the first of these—to wit, what the apostle should here mean by sin—, “If any man sin.”
I answer, since there is a difference in the persons, there must be a difference in the sin. That there is a difference in the persons is showed before; one is called a child of God, the other is said to be of the wicked one. Their sins differ also, in their degree at least; for no child of God sins to that degree as to make himself incapable of forgiveness; “for he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (I John 5:18). Hence, the apostle says, “There is a sin unto death” (v. 16). See also Matthew 12:32. Which is the sin from which he that is born of God is kept. The sins therefore are thus distinguished: The sins of the people of God are said to be sins that men commit, the others are counted those which are the sins of devils.
1. The sins of God’s people are said to be sins which men commit, and for which they have an Advocate, though they who sin after the example of the wicked one have none. “When a man or woman,” saith Moses, “shall commit any sin that men commit – they shall confess their sin – and an atonement shall be made for him” (Num 5:5-7). Mark, it is when they commit a sin which men commit; or, as Hosea has it, when they transgress the commandment like Adam (Hosea 6:7). Now, these are the sins under consideration by the apostle, and to deliver us from which, “we have an Advocate with the Father.”
2. But for the sins mentioned in the third chapter, since the persons sinning go here under another character, they also must be of another stamp-to wit, a making head against the person, merits, and grace of Jesus Christ. These are the sins of devils in the world, and for these there is no remission. These, they also that are of the wicked one commit, and therefore sin after the similitude of Satan, and so fall into the condemnation of the devil.
Second, But what is it for Jesus to be an Advocate for these? “If any man sin, we have an Advocate.”
An advocate is one who pleadeth for another at any bar, or before any court of judicature; but of this more in its place. So, then, we have in the text a Christian, as supposed, committing sin, and a declaration of an Advocate prepared to plead for him—”If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father.”
And this leads me first to inquire into what, by these words the apostle must, of necessity, presuppose? For making use here of the similitude or office of an advocate, thereby to show the preservation of the sinning Christian, he must,
1. Suppose that God, as judge, is now upon the throne of his judgment; for an advocate is to plead at a bar, before a court of judicature. Thus it is among men; and forasmuch as our Lord Jesus is said to be an “Advocate with the Father,” it is clear that there is a throne of judgment also. This the prophet Micaiah affirms, saying, “I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left” (I Kings 22:19). Sitting upon a throne for judgment; for from the Lord, as then sitting upon that throne, proceeded that sentence against king Ahab, that he should go and fall at Ramoth-gilead; and he did go, and did fall there, as the award or fruit of that judgment. That is the first.
2. The text also supposeth that the saints as well as sinners are concerned at that bar; for the apostle saith plainly that there “we have an Advocate.” And the saints are concerned at that bar; because they transgress as well as others, and because the law is against the sin of saints as well as against the sins of other men. If the saints were not capable of committing of sin, what need would they have of an advocate (I Chron 21:3-6. I Sam 12:13,14)?4 Yea, though they did sin, yet if they were by Christ so set free from the law as that it could by no means take cognizance of their sins, what need would they have of an advocate? None at all. If there be twenty places where there are assizes kept in this land, yet if I have offended no law, what need have I of an advocate? Especially if the judge be just, and knows me altogether, as the God of heaven does? But here is Judge that is just; and here is an Advocate also, an Advocate for the children, an Advocate to plead; for an advocate as such is not of use but before a bar to plead; therefore, here is an offence, and so a law broken by the saints as well as others. That is the second thing.
3. As the text supposes that there is a judge, and crimes of saints, so it supposeth that there is an accuser, one that will carefully gather up the faults of good men, and that will plead them at this bar against them. Hence we read of “the accuser of our brethren, that accused them before our God day and night” (Rev 12:10-12). For Satan doth not only tempt the godly man to sin, but, having prevailed with him, and made him guilty, he packs away to the court, to God the judge of all; and there addresses himself to accuse that man, and to lay to his charge the heinousness of his offence, pleading against him the law that he has broken, the light against which he did it, and the like. But now, for the relief and support of such poor people, the apostle, by the text, presents them with an advocate; that is, with one to plead for them, while Satan pleads against them; with one that pleads for pardon, while Satan, by accusing, seeks to pull judgment and vengeance upon our heads. “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” That is the third thing.
4. As the apostle supposeth a judge, crimes, and an accuser, so he also supposeth that those herein concerned—to wit, the sinning children—neither can nor dare attempt to appear at this bar themselves to plead their own cause before this Judge and against this accuser; for if they could or durst do this, what need 4 The sin here referred to was numbering the people of Israel; see I Chronicles 21:1—ED
they have an advocate? for an advocate is of use to them whose cause themselves neither can nor dare appear to plead. Thus Job prayed for an advocate to plead his cause with God (Job 16:21); and David cries out, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant,” O God, “for in thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Psa 143:2). Wherefore, it is evident that saints neither can nor dare adventure to plead their cause. Alas! the Judge is the almighty and eternal God; the law broken is the holy and perfect rule of God, in itself a consuming fire. The sin is so odious, and a thing so abominable, that it is enough to make all the angels blush to hear it but so much as once mentioned in so holy a place as that is where this great God doth sit to judge. This sin now hangs about the neck of him that hath committed it; yea, it covereth him as doth a mantle. The adversary is bold, cunning, and audacious, and can word a thousand of us into an utter silence in less than half a quarter of an hour. What, then, should the sinner, if he could come there, do at this bar to plead? Nothing; nothing for his own advantage. But now comes in his mercy—he has an Advocate to plead his cause—”If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” That is the fourth thing. But again,
5. The apostle also supposeth by the text there is an aptness in Christians when they have sinned, to forget that they “have an Advocate with the Father”; wherefore this is written to put them in remembrance—”If any may sin, (let him remember) we have an Advocate.” We can think of all other things well enough—namely, that God is a just judge, that the law is perfectly holy, that my sin is a horrible and an abominable thing, and that I am certainly thereof accused before God by Satan.
These things, I say, we readily think of, and forget them not. Our conscience puts us in mindofthese,ourguiltputsusinmindof these, the devil puts us in mind of these, and our reason and sense hold the knowledge and remembrance of these close to us. All that we forget is, that we have an Advocate, “an Advocate with the Father”—that is, one that is appointed to take in hand in open court, before all the angels of heaven, my cause, and to plead it by such law and arguments as will certainly fetch me off, though I am clothed with filthy garments; but this, I say, we are apt to forget, as Job when he said, “O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour!” (Job 16:21). Such an one Job had, but he had almost at this time forgot it; as he seems to intimate also where he wisheth for a daysman that might lay his hand upon them both (Job 9:33). But our mercy is, we have one to plead our cause, “an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” who will not suffer our soul to be spilt and spoiled before the throne, but will surely plead our cause.
6. Another thing that the apostle would have us learn from the words is this, that to remember and to believe that Jesus Christ is an Advocate for us when we have sinned, is the next way to support and strengthen our faith and hope. Faith and hope are very apt to faint when our sins in their guilt do return upon us; nor is there any more proper way to relieve our souls than to understand that the Son of God is our Advocate in heaven. True, Christ died for our sins as a sacrifice, and as a priest he sprinkleth with his blood the mercyseat; ay, but here is one that has sinned after profession of faith, that has sinned grievously, so grievously that his sins are come up before God; yea, are at his bar pleaded against him by the accuser of the brethren, by the enemy of the godly. What shall he do now? Why, let him believe in Christ. Believe, that is true; but how now must he conceive in his mind of Christ for the encouraging of him so to do? Why, let him call to mind that Jesus Christ is an Advocate with the Father, and as such he meeteth the accuser at the bar of God, pleads for this man that has sinned against this accuser, and prevaileth for ever against him. Here now, though Satan be turned lawyer, though he accuseth, yea, though his charge against us is true, (for suppose that we have sinned,) “yet our Advocate is with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Thus is faith encouraged, thus is hope strengthened, thus is the spirit of the sinking Christian revived, and made to wait for a good deliverance from a bad cause and a cunning adversary; especially if you consider,
7. That the apostle doth also further suppose by the text that Jesus Christ, as Advocate, if he will but plead our cause, let that be never so black, is able to bring us off, even before God’s judgment-seat, to our joy, and the confounding of our adversary; for when he saith, “We have an Advocate,” he speaks nothing if he means not thus. But he doth mean thus, he must mean thus, because he seeketh here to comfort and support the fallen. “Has any man sinned? We have an Advocate.” But what of that, if yet he be unable to fetch us off when charged for sin at the bar, and before the face of a righteous judge?
But he is able to do this. The apostle says so, in that he supposes a man has sinned, as any man among the godly ever did; for we may understand it; and if he giveth us not leave to understand it so, he saith nothing to the purpose neither, for it will be objected by some—But can he fetch me off, though I have done as David, as Solomon, as Peter, or the like? It must be answered, Yes. The openness of the terms ANY MAN, the indefiniteness of the word SIN, doth naturally allow us to take him in the largest sense; besides, he brings in this saying as the chief, most apt, and fittest to relieve one crushed down to death and hell by the guilt of sin and a wounded conscience.
Further, methinks by these words the apostle seems to triumph in his Christ, saying, My brethren, I would have you study to be holy; but if your adversary the devil should get the advantage of you, and besmear you with the filth of sin, you have yet, besides all that you have heard already, “an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” who is as to his person, in interest with God, his wisdom and worth, able to bring you off, to the comforting of your souls.
Let me, therefore, for a conclusion as to this, give you an exhortation to believe, to hope, and expect, that though you have sinned, (for now I speak to the fallen saint) that Jesus Christ will make a good end with the—”Trust,” I say, “in him, and he shall bring it to pass.” I know I put thee upon a hard and difficult task for believing and expecting good, when my guilty conscience doth nothing but clog, burden, and terrify me with the justice of God, the greatness of thy sins, and the burning torments is hard and sweating work. But it must be; the text calls for it, thy case calls for it, and thou must do it, if thou wouldst glorify Christ; and this is the way to hasten the issue of thy cause in hand, for believing daunts the devil, pleaseth Christ, and will help thee beforehand to sing that song of the church, saying, “O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life” (Lam 3:58). Yea, believe, and hear thy pleading Lord say to thee, “Thus saith thy Lord the Lord, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again” (Isa 51:22). I am not here discoursing of the sweetness of Christ’s nature, but of the excellency of his offices, and of his office of advocateship in particular, which, as a lawyer for his client, he is to execute in the presence of God for us. Love may be where there is no office, and so where no power is to do us good; but now, when love and office shall meet, they will surely both combine in Christ to do the fallen Christian good. But of his love we have treated elsewhere; we will here discourse of the office of this loving one. And for thy further information, let me tell thee that God thy Father counteth that thou wilt be, when compared with his law, but a poor one all thy days; yea, the apostle tells thee so, in that he saith there is an Advocate provided for thee. When a father provides crutches for his child, he doth as good as say, I count that my child will be yet infirm; and when God shall provide an Advocate, he doth as good as say, My people are subject to infirmities. Do not, therefore, think of thyself above what, by plain texts, and fair inferences drawn from Christ’s offices, thou are bound to think. What doth it bespeak concerning thee that Christ is always a priest in heaven, and there ever lives to make intercession for thee (Heb 7:24), but this, that thou art at the best in thyself, yea, and in thy best exercising of all thy graces too, but a poor, pitiful, sorry, sinful man; a man that would, when yet most holy, be certainly cast away, did not thy high priest take away for thee the iniquity of thy holy things. The age we live in is a wanton age; the godly are not so humble, and low, and base in their own eyes as they should, though their daily experience calls for it, and the priesthood of Jesus Christ too.
But above all, the advocateship of Jesus Christ declares us to be sorry creatures; for that office does, as it were, predict that some time or other we shall basely fall, and by falling be undone, if the Lord Jesus stand not up to plead. And as it shows this concerning us, so it shows concerning God that he will not lightly or easily lose his people. He has provided well for us— blood to wash us in; a priest to pray for us, that we may be made to persevere; and, in case we foully fall, an advocate to plead our cause, and to recover us from under, and out of all that danger, that by sin and Satan, we at any time may be brought into.
But having thus briefly passed through that in the text which I think the apostle must necessarily presuppose, I shall now endeavour to enter into the bowels of it, and see what, in a more particular manner, shall be found therein. And, for my more profitable doing of this work, I shall choose to observe this method in my discourse—
(METHOD OF THE DISCOURSE.)
FIRST, I shall show you more particularly of this Advocate’s office, or what and wherein Christ’s office as Advocate doth lie. SECOND, After that, I shall also show you how Jesus Christ doth manage this office of an Advocate. THIRD, I shall also then show you who they are that have Jesus Christ for their Advocate. FOURTH, I shall also show you what excellent privileges they have, who have Jesus Christ for their Advocate. FIFTH, And to silence cavillers, I shall also show the necessity of this office of Jesus Christ. SIXTH, I shall come to answer some objections; and, LASTLY, To the use and application.
(WHEREIN CHRIST’S OFFICE AS ADVOCATE DOTH LIE.)
FIRST, To begin with the first of these— namely, to show you more particularly of Christ’s office as an Advocate, and wherein it lieth; the which I shall do these three ways—
First, Touch again upon the nature of this office; and then, Second, Treat of the order and place that it hath among the rest of his offices; and, Third, Treat of the occasion of the execution of this office.
First, To touch upon the nature of this office. It is that which empowereth a man to plead for a man, or one man to plead for another; not in common discourses, and upon common occasions, as any man may do, but at a bar, or before a court of judicature, where a man is accused or impleaded by his enemy; I say, this Advocate’s office is such, both here, and in the kingdom of heaven. An advocate is as one of our attorneys, at least in the general, who pleads according to law and justice for one or other that is in trouble by reason of some miscarriage, or of the naughty temper of some that are about him, who trouble and vex, and labour to bring him into danger of the law. This is the nature of this office, as I said, on earth; and this is the office that Christ executeth in heaven. Wherefore he saith, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate”; one to stand up for him, and to plead for his deliverance before the bar of God. (Joel 3:2. Isa 66:16. Eze 38:22. Jer 2.)
For though in some places of Scripture Christ is said to plead for his with men, and that by terrible arguments, as by fire, and sword, and famine, and pestilence, yet this is not that which is intended by this text; for the apostle here saith, he is an Advocate with the Father, or before the Father, to plead for those that there, or that to the Father’s face, shall be accused for their transgressions: “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” So, then, this is the employ of Jesus Christ as he is for us, an Advocate. He has undertaken to stand up for his people at God’s bar, and before that great court, there to plead, by the law and justice of heaven, for their deliverance; when, for their faults, they are accused, indicted, or impleaded by their adversary.
Second. And now to treat of the order or place that this office of Christ hath among the rest of his offices, which he doth execute for us while we are here in a state of imperfection; and I think it is an office that is to come behind as a reserve, or for a help at last, when all other means shall seem to fail. Men do not use to go to law upon every occasion; or if they do, the wisdom of the judge, the jury, and the court will not admit that every brangle and foolish quarrel shall come before them; but an Advocate doth then come into place, and then to the exercise of his office, when a cause is counted worthy to be taken notice of by the judge and by the court. Wherefore he, I say, comes in the last place, as a reserve, or help at last, to plead; and, by pleading, to set that right by law which would otherwise have caused an increase to more doubts, and to further dangers.
Christ, as priest, doth always works of service for us, because in our most spiritual things there may faults and spots be found, and these he taketh away of course, by the exercise of that office; for he always wears that plate of gold upon his forehead before the Father, whereon is written, “Holiness to the Lord.” But now, besides these common infirmities, there are faults that are highly gross and foul, that oft are found in the skirts of the children of God. Now, there are they that Satan taketh hold on; these are they that Satan draweth up a charge against us for; and to save us from these, it is, that the Lord Jesus is made an Advocate. When Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, then Satan stood at his right hand to resist him; then the angel of the covenant, the Lord Jesus, pleaded for his help (Zech 3). By all which it appears, that this office comes behind, is provided as a reserve, that we may have help at a pinch, and then be lifted out, when we sink in mire, where there is no standing.
This is yet further hinted at by the several postures that Christ is said to be in, as he exerciseth his priestly and advocate’s office. As a Priest, he sits; as an Advocate, he stands (Isa 3:13). The Lord stands up when he pleads; his sitting is more constant and of course (Sit thou, Psa 110:1,4), but his standing is occasional, when Joshua is indicted, or when hell and earth are broken loose against his servant Stephen. For as Joshua was accused by the devil, and as then the angel of the Lord stood by, so when Stephen was accused by men on earth, and that charge seconded by the fallen angels before the face of God, it is said, “the Lord Jesus stood on the right hand of God,” (Acts 7:55)—to wit, to plead; for so I take it, because standing is his posture as an Advocate, not as a Priest; for, as a Priest, he must sit down; but he standeth as an Advocate, as has been showed afore (Heb 10:12). Wherefore,
Third. The occasion of his exercising of this office of advocate is, as hath been hinted already, when a child of God shall be found guilty before God of some heinous sin, of some grievous thing in his life and conversation. For as for those infirmities that attend the best, in their most spiritual sacrifices; if a child of God were guilty of ten thousand of them, they are of course purged, through the much incense that is always mixed with those sacrifices in the golden censer that is in the hand of Christ; and so he is kept clean, and counted upright, notwith- standing those infirmities; and, therefore, you shall find that, notwithstanding those common faults, the children of God are counted good and upright in conversation, and not charged as offenders. “David,” saith the text, “did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him, all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite” (I Kings 15:5). But was David, in a strict sense, without fault in all things else? No, verily; but that was foul in a higher degree than the rest, and therefore there God sets a blot; ay, and doubtless for that he was accused by Satan before the throne of God; for here is adultery, and murder, and hypocrisy, in David’s doings; here is notorious matter, a great sin, and so a great ground for Satan to draw up an indictment against the king; and a thundering one, to be sure, shall be preferred against him. This is the time, then, for Christ to stand up to plead; for now there is room for such a question—Can David’s sin stand with grace? Or, Is it possible that a man that has done as he has, should yet be found a saint, and so in a saved state? Or, Can God repute him so, and yet be holy and just? or, Can the merits of the Lord Jesus reach, according to the law of heaven, a man in this condition? Here is a case dubious; here is a man whose salvation, by his foul offences, is made doubtful; now we must to law and judgment, wherefore now let Christ stand up to plead! I say, now was David’s case dubious; he was afraid that God would cast him away, and the devil hoped he would, and to that end charged him before God’s face, if, perhaps, he might get sentence of damnation to pass upon his soul (Psa 51). But this was David’s mercy, he had an Advocate to plead his cause, by whose wisdom and skill in matters of law and judgment he was brought off of those heavy charges, from those gross sins, and delivered from that eternal condemnation, that by the law of sin and death, was due thereto.
This is then the occasion that Christ taketh to plead, as Advocate, for the salvation of his people—to wit, the cause: He “pleadeth the cause of his people” (Is 51:22). Not every cause, but such and such a cause; the cause that is very bad, and by the which they are involved, not only in guilt and shame, but also in danger of death and hell. I say, the cause is bad, if the text be true, if sin can make it bad, yea, if sin itself be bad—”If any man sin, we have an Advocate”; an Advocate to plead for him; for him as considered guilty, and so, consequently, as considered in a bad condition. It is true, we must distinguish between the person and the sin; and Christ pleads for the person, not the sin; but yet He cannot be concerned with the person, but he must be with the sin; for though the person and the sin may be distinguished, yet they cannot be separated. He must plead, then, not for a person only, but for a guilty person, for a person under the worst of circumstances— ”If any man sin, we have an Advocate” for him as so considered.
When a man’s cause is good, it will sufficiently plead for itself, yea, and for its master too, especially when it is made appear so to be, before a just and righteous judge. Here, therefore, needs no advocate; the judge himself will pronounce him righteous. This is evidently seen in Job—”Thou movedst me against him (this said God to Satan), to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:3). Thus far Job’s cause was good, wherefore he did not need an advocate; his cause pleaded for itself, and for its owner also. But if it was to plead good causes for which Christ is appointed Advocate, then the apostle should have written thus: If any man be righteous, we have an Advocate with the Father. Indeed, I never heard but one in all my life preach from this text, and he, when he came to handle the cause for which he was to plead, pretended it must be good, and therefore said to the people, See that your cause be good, else Christ will not undertake it. But when I heard it, Lord, thought I, if this be true, what shall I do, and what will become of all this people, yea, and of this preacher too? Besides, I saw by the text, the apostle supposeth another cause, a cause bad, exceeding bad, if sin can make it so. And this was one cause why I undertook this work.
When we speak of a cause, we speak not of a person simply as so considered; for, as I said before, person and cause must be distinguished; nor can the person make the cause good but as he regulates his action by the Word of God. If, then, a good, a righteous, man doth what the law condemns, that thing is bad; and if he be indicted for so doing, he is indicted for a bad cause; and he that will be his advocate, must be concerned in and about a bad matter; and how he will bring his client off, therein doth lie the mystery.
I know that a bad man may have a good cause depending before the judge, and so also good men have (Job 31). But then they are bold in their own cause, and fear not to make mention of it, and in Christ to plead their innocency before the God of heaven, as well as before men (Psa 71:3-5. II Cor 1:23. Gal 1:10. Phil 1:8). But we have in the text a cause that all men are afraid of—a cause that the apostle concludes so bad that none but Jesus Christ himself can save a Christian from it. It is not only sinful, but sin itself—”If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father.”
Wherefore there is in this place handled by the apostle, one of the greatest mysteries under heaven—to wit, that an innocent and holy Jesus should take in hand to plead for one before a just and righteous God, that has defiled himself with sin; yea, that he should take in hand to plead for such an one against the fallen angels, and that he should also by his plea effectually rescue, and bring them off from the crimes and curse whereof they were verily guilty by the verdict of the law, and approbation of the Judge.
This, I say, is a great mystery, and deserves to be pried into by all the godly, both because much of the wisdom of heaven is discovered in it, and because the best saint is, or may be, concerned with it. Nor must we by any means let this truth be lost, because it is the truth; the text has declared it so, and to say otherwise is to belie the Word of God, to thwart the apostle, to soothe up hypocrites, to rob Christians of their privilege, and to take the glory from the head of Jesus Christ (Luke 18:11,12).
The best saints are most sensible of their sins, and most apt to make mountains of their mole hills. Satan also, as has been already hinted, doth labour greatly to prevail with them to sin, and to provoke their God against them, by pleading what is true, or by surmising evilly of them, to the end they may be accused by him (Job 2:9). Great is his malice toward them, great is his diligence in seeking their destruction; wherefore greatly doth he desire to sift, to try, and winnow them, if perhaps he may work in their flesh to answer his design— that is, to break out in sinful acts, that he may have by law to accuse them to their God and Father. Wherefore, for their sakes this text abides, that they may see that, when they have sinned, “they have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” And thus have I showed you the nature, the order, and occasion of this office of our blessed Lord Jesus.
(HOW CHRIST MANAGES THE OFFICE OF AN ADVOCATE.)
II. I come now to show you how Jesus Christ doth manage this his office of an Advocate for us. And that I may do this to your edification, I shall choose this method for the opening of it— First. Show you how he manages this office with his Father. Second. I shall show you how he manages it before him against our adversary.
First. How he manages this his office of Advocate with his Father.
1. He doth it by himself, by no other as deputy under him, no angel, no saint; no work has place here but Jesus, and Jesus only. This the text implies: “We have an Advocate”; speaking of one, but one, one alone; without an equal or an inferior. We have but one, and he is Jesus Christ. Nor is it for Christ’s honour, nor for the honour of the law, or of the justice of God, that any but Jesus Christ should be an Advocate for a sinning saint. Besides, to assert the contrary, what doth it but lessen sin, and make the advocateship of Jesus Christ superfluous? It would lessen sin should it be removed by a saint or angel; it would make the advocateship of Jesus Christ superfluous, yea, needless, should it be possible that sin could be removed from us by either saint or angel.
Again; if God should admit of more advocates than one, and yet make mention of never an one but Jesus Christ; or if John should allow another, and yet speak nothing but of Jesus only; yea, that an advocate under that title should be mentioned but once, but once only in all the book of God, and yet that divers should be admitted, stands neither with the wisdom or love of God, nor with the faithfulness of the apostle. But saints have but one Advocate, if they will use him, or improve their faith in that office for their help, so; if not, they must take what follows. This I thought good to hint at, because the times are corrupt, and because ignorance and superstition always wait for a countenance with us, and these things have a natural tendency to darken all truth, so especially this, which bringeth to Jesus Christ so much glory, and yieldeth to the godly so much help and relief.
2. As Jesus Christ alone is Advocate, so God’s bar, and that alone, is that before which he pleads, for God is judge himself (Deut 32:36. Heb 12:23). Nor can the cause which now he is to plead be removed into any other court, either by appeals or otherwise.
Could Satan remove us from heaven, to another court, he would certainly be too hard for us, because there we should want our Jesus, our Advocate, to plead our cause. Indeed, sometimes he impleads us before men, and they are glad of the occasion, for they and he are often one; but then we have leave to remove our cause, and to pray for a trial in the highest court, saying, “Let my sentence come forth from thy presence; let thine eyes behold the things that are equal” (Psa 17:2). This wicked world doth sentence us for our good deeds, but how then would they sentence us for our bad ones? But we will never appeal from heaven to earth for right, for here we have no Advocate; “our Advocate is with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
3. As he pleadeth by himself alone, and nowhere else but in the court of heaven with the Father, so as he pleadeth with the Father for us, he observeth this rule—
(1.) He granteth and confesseth whatever can rightly be charged upon us; yet so as that he taketh the whole charge upon himself, acknowledging the crimes to be his own. “O God,” says he, “thou knowest my foolishness, and my sins”; my guiltiness “is not hid from thee” (Psa 69:5). And this he must do, or else he can do nothing. If he hides the sin, or lesseneth it, he is faulty; if he leaves it still upon us, we die. He must, then, take our iniquity to himself, make it his own, and so deliver us; for having thus taken the sin upon himself, as lawfully he may, and lovingly doth, “for we are members of his body” (‘tis his hand, ‘tis his foot, ‘tis his ear hath sinned), it followeth that we live if he lives; and who can desire more? 5This, then, must be thoroughly considered, if ever we will have comfort in a day of trouble and distress for sin.
And thus far there is, in some kind, a harmony betwixt his being a sacrifice, a priest, and an Advocate. As a sacrifice, our sins were laid upon him (Isa 53). As a priest, he beareth them (Exo 28:38). And as an Advocate, he acknowledges them to be his own (Psa 69:5). Now, having acknowledged them to be his own, the quarrel is no more betwixt us and Satan, for the Lord Jesus has espoused our quarrel, and made it his. All, then, that we in this matter have to do, is to stand at the bar by faith among the angels, and see how the business goes. O blessed God! what a lover of
5 This is the great mystery of godliness—God manifest in the flesh, making sinful creatures the members of his own body, and becoming a sin-offering for them. It is a holy, a heavenly, a soul-comforting mystery, which should influence the Christian to an intense hatred to sin, as the cause of his Saviour’s sufferings; and a still more intense love to him, who redeemed us at such a sacrifice.—ED.
mankind art thou! and how gracious is our Lord Jesus, in his thus managing matters for us.
(2.) The Lord Jesus having thus taken our sins upon himself, next pleads his own goodness to God on our behalf, saying, “Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel: because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face” (Psa 69:6,7). Mark, let them not be ashamed for my sake, let them not be confounded for my sake. Shame and confusion are the fruits of guilt, or of a charge for sin, (Jer 3:25), and are but an entrance into condemnation (Dan 12:2. John 5:29). But behold how Christ pleads, saying, Let not that be for my sake, for the merit of my blood, for the perfection of my righteousness, for the prevalency of my intercession. Let them not be ashamed for my sake, O Lord God of hosts. And let no man object, because this text is in the Psalms, as if it were not spoken by the prophet of Christ; for both John and Paul, yea, and Christ himself, do make this psalm a prophecy of him. Compare verse 9 with John 2:17, and with Romans 15:3; and verse 21 with Matthew 27:48, and Mark 15:25. But is not this a wonderful thing, that Christ should first take our sins, and account them his own, and then plead the value and worth of his whole self for our deliverance? For by these words, “for my sake,” he pleads his own self, his whole self, and all that he is and has; and thus he put us in good estate again, though our cause was very bad.
To bring this down to weak capacities. Suppose a man should be indebted twenty thousand pounds, but has not twenty thousand farthings wherewith to pay; and suppose also that this man be arrested for this debt, and that the law also, by which he is sued, will not admit of a penny bate; this man may yet come well enough off, if his advocate or attorney will make the debt his own, and will, in the presence of the judges, out with his bags, and pay down every farthing. Why, this is the way of our Advocate. Our sins are called debts (Matt 6:12). We are sued for them at the law (Luke 12:59). And the devil is our accuser; but behold the Lord Jesus comes out with his worthiness, pleads it at the bar, making the debt his own (Mark 10:45. II Cor 3:5). And saith, Now let them not be ashamed for my sake, O Lord God of hosts: let them not be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel. And hence, as he is said to be an Advocate, so he is saidtobea propitiation, or amends-maker, or one that appeaseth the justice of God for our sins—”If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins.”
And who can now object against the deliverance of the child of God? God cannot; for he, for Christ’s sake, according as he pleaded, hath forgiven us all trespasses (Col 2:13, Eph 4:32). The devil cannot; his mouth is stopped, as is plain in the case of Joshua (Zech 3). The law cannot; for that approveth of what Christ has done. This, then, is the way of Christ’s pleading. You must know, that when Christ pleads with God, he pleads with a just and righteous God, and therefore he must plead law, and nothing but law; and this he pleaded in both these pleas—First, in confessing of the sin he justified the sentence of the law in pronouncing of it evil; and then in his laying of himself, his whole self, before God for that sin, he vindicated the sanction and perfection of the law. Thus, therefore, he magnifies the law, and makes it honourable, and yet brings off his client safe and sound in the view of all the angels of God.
(3). The Lord Jesus having thus taken our sins upon himself, and presented God with all the worthiness that is in his whole self for them, in the next place he calleth for justice, or a just verdict upon the satisfaction he hath made to God and to his law. Then proclamation is made in open court, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him,” from him that hath offended, and clothe him with change of raiment (Zech 3).
Thus the soul is preserved that hath sinned; thus the God of heaven is content that he should be saved; thus Satan is put to confusion, and Jesus applauded and cried up by the angels of heaven, and by the saints on earth. Thus have I showed you how Christ doth advocate it with God and his Father for us; and I have been the more particular in this, because the glory of Christ, and the comfort of the dejected, are greatly concerned and wrapped up in it. Look, then, to Jesus, if thou hast sinned; to Jesus, as an Advocate pleading with the Father for thee. Look to nothing else; for he can tell how, and that by himself, to deliver thee; yea, and will do it in a way of justice, which is a wonder; and to the shame of Satan, which will be his glory; and also to thy complete deliverance, which will be thy comfort and salvation.
1. He pleads against him the well-pleased- ness that his Father has in his merits, saying, This shall please the Lord, or this doth or will please the Lord, better than anything that can be propounded (Psa 69:31). Now this plea being true, as it is, being established upon the liking of God Almighty; whatever Satan can say to obtain our everlasting destruction is without ground, and so unreasonable. “I am well pleased,” saith God (Matt 3:17); and again, “ The Lord is well pleased for his (Christ’s) righteousness’ sake” (Isa 42:21). All that enter actions against others, pretend that wrong is done, either against themselves or against the king. Now Satan will never enter an action against us in the court above, for that wrong by us has been done to himself; he must pretend, then, that he sues us, for that wrong has, by us, been done to our king. But, behold, “We have an Advocate with the Father,” and he has made compensation for our offences. He gave himself for our offences. But still Satan maintains his suit; and our God, saith Christ, is well pleased with us for this compensation-sake, yet he will not leave off his clamour. Come, then, says the Lord Jesus, the contention is not now against my people, but myself, and about the sufficiency of the amends that I have made for the transgressions of my people; but he is near that justifieth me, that approveth and accepteth of my doings, therefore shall I not be confounded. Who is mine adversary? Let him come near me! Behold, “the Lord God will help me” (Isa 50:7-9). Who is he that condemneth me? Lo, they all shall, were there ten thousand times as many more of them, wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up. Wherefore, if the Father saith Amen to all this, as I have showed already that he hath and doth, the which also further appeareth, because the Lord God has called him the Saviour, the Deliverer, and the Amen; what follows, but that a rebuke should proceed from the throne against him? And this, indeed, our Advocate calls for from the hand of his Father, saying, O enemy, “the Lord rebuke thee”; yea, he doubles this request to the judge, to intimate his earnestness for such a conclusion, or to show that the enemy shall surely have it….
Second, But to pass this and come to second thing, which is, to show you how Lord Jesus manages this his office of Advocate before his Father against adversary; for he pleadeth with the Father, but pleadeth against the devil; he pleadeth with the Father law and justice, but against the adversary he letteth out himself.
I say, as he pleads against the adversary, so he enlargeth himself with arguments over and besides those which he pleadeth with God his Father.
Nor is it meet or needful that our advocate, when he pleads against Satan, should so limit himself to matter of law, as when he pleadeth with his Father. The saint, by sinning, oweth Satan nothing; no law of his is broken thereby; why, then, should he plead for the saving of his people, justifying righteousness to him?
Christ, when he died, died not to satisfy Satan, but his Father; not to appease the devil, but to answer the demands of the justice of God; nor did he design, when he hanged on the tree, to triumph over his Father, but over Satan; “He redeemed us,” therefore, “from the curse of the law,” by his blood (Gal 3:13). And from the power of Satan, by his resurrection (Heb 2:14). He delivered us from righteous judgment by price and purchase; but from the rage of hell by fight and conquest.
And as he acted thus diversely in the work of our redemption, even so he also doth in the execution of his Advocate’s office. When he pleadeth with God, he pleadeth so; and when he pleadeth against Satan, he pleadeth so; and how he pleadeth with God when he dealeth with law and justice I have showed you. And now I will show you how he pleadeth before him against the “accuser of the brethren.”
(He is our )Advocate, and from him before whom Satan has so grievously accused us (Zech 3).
For what can be expected to follow from such an issue in law as this is, but sound and severe snibs from the judge upon him that hath thus troubled his neighbour, and that hath, in the face of the country, cast contempt upon the highest act of mercy, justice, and righteousness, that ever the heavens beheld?6 And all this is true with reference to the case in hand, wherefore, “The Lord rebuke thee,” is that which, in conclusion, Satan must have for the reward of his works of malice against the children, and for his contemning of the works of the Son of God. Now, our Advocate having thus established, by the law of heaven, his plea with God for us against our accuser, there is way made for him to proceed upon a foundation that cannot be shaken; wherefore, he proceedeth in his plea, and further urges against this accuser of the brethren.
2. God’s interest in this people; and prayeth that God would remember that: “The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee.” True, the church, the saints, are despicable in the world; wherefore men do think to tread them down; the saints are, also, weak in grace, but have corruptions that are strong, and, therefore, Satan, the god of this world, doth think to tread them down; but the saints have a God, the living, the eternal God, and, therefore, they shall not be trodden down; yea, they “shall be holden up, for God is able to make them stand” (Rom 14:4).
It was Haman’s mishap to be engaged against the queen, and the kindred of the queen; it was that that made him he could not prosper; that brought him to contempt and the gallows. Had he sought to ruin another people, probably he might have brought his design to a desired conclusion; but his compassing the death of the queen spoiled all. Satan, also, when he fighteth against the church, must be sure to come to the worst, for God has a concern in that; therefore, it is said, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it”; but this hindereth not but that he is permitted to make almost what spoils he will of
6 Altered, by a typographical error, in editions after the author’s death, to “the heathens beheld.”—ED.
those that belong not to God. Oh, how many doth he accuse, and soon get out from God, against them, a license to destroy them! as he served Ahab, and many more. But this, I say, is a very great block in his way when he meddles with the children; God has an interest in them—”Hath God cast away his people? God forbid!” (Rom 11:1,2). The text intimates that they for sin had deserved it, and that Satan would fain have had it been so; but God’s interest in them preserved them—”God hath not cast away his people, which he foreknew.” Wherefore, when Satan accuseth them before God, Christ, as he pleadeth his own worth and merit, pleadeth also against him, that interest that God has in them.
And though this, to some, may seem but an indifferent plea; for what engagement lieth, may they say, upon God to be so much concerned with them, for they sin against him, and often provoke him most bitterly? Besides, in their best state, they are altogether vanity, and a very thing of nought—”What is man (sorry man), that thou art mindful of him,” or that thou shouldest be so?
I answer, Thought there lieth no engagement upon God for any worthiness that is in man, yet there lieth a great deal upon God for the worthiness that is in himself. God has engaged himself with his having chosen them to be a people to himself; and by this means they are so secured from all that all can do against them, that the apostle is bold, upon this very account, to challenge all despite to do its worst against them, saying, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” (Rom 8:33). Who? saith Satan; why, that will I. Ay, saith he, but who can do it, and prevail? “It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? (ver. 34). By which words the apostle clearly declareth that charges against the elect, though they may be brought against them, must needs prove ineffectual as to their condemnation; because their Lord God still will justify, for that Christ has died for them. Besides, a little to enlarge, the elect are bound to God by a sevenfold cord, and a threefold one is not quickly broken.
(1.) Election is eternal as God himself, and so without variableness or shadow of change, and hence it is called “an eternal purpose,” and a “purpose of God” that must stand (Eph 3:11; Rom 9:11). (2.) Election is absolute, not conditional; and, therefore, cannot be overthrown by the sin of the man that is wrapped up therein. No works foreseen to be in us was the cause of God’s choosing us; no sin in us shall frustrate or make election void—”Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth” (Rom 8:33; 9:11). (3.) By the act of election the children are involved, wrapped up, and covered in Christ; he hath chosen us in him; not in ourselves, not in our virtues, no, not for or because of anything, but of his own will (Eph 1:4-11). (4.) Election includeth in it a permanent resolution of God to glorify his mercy on the vessels of mercy, thus foreordained unto glory (Rom 9:15,18,23). (5.) By the act of electing love, it is concluded that all things whatsoever shall work together for the good of them whose call to God is the fruit of this purpose, this eternal purpose of God (Rom 8:28-30). (6.) The eternal inheritance is by a covenant of free and unchangeable grace made over to those thus chosen; and to secure them from the fruits of sin, and from the malice of Satan, it is sealed by this our Advocate’s blood, as he is Mediator of this covenant, who also is become surety to God for them; to wit, to see them forthcoming at the great day, and to set them then safe and sound before his Father’s face after the judgment is over (Rom 9:23; Heb 7:22; 9:15,17-24; 13:20; John 10:28,29). (7.) By this choice, purpose, and decree, the elect, the concerned therein, have allotted them by God, and laid up for them, in Christ, a sufficiency of grace to bring them through all difficulties to glory; yea, and they, every one of them, after the first act of faith— the which also they shall certainly attain, because wrapped up in the promise for them— are to receive the earnest and first fruits thereof into their souls (II Tim 1:9; Acts 14:22; Eph 1:4,5,13,14).
Now, put all these things together, and then feel if there be not weight in this plea of Christ against the devil. He pleads God’s choice and interest in his saints against him—an interest that is secured by the wisdom of heaven, by the grace of heaven, by the power, will, and mercy of God, in Christ—an interest in which all the three Persons in the Godhead have engaged themselves, by mutual agreement and operation to make good when Satan has done his all. I know there are some that object against this doctrine as false; but such, perhaps, are ignorant of some things else as well as of this. However, they object against the wisdom of God, whose truth it is, and against Christ our Advocate, whose argument, as he is such, it is; yea, they labour, what in them lieth, to wrest that weapon out of his hand, with which he so cudgelleth the enemy when, as Advocate, he pleadeth so effectually against him for the rescuing of us from the danger of judgment, saying, “The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee.”
Third. As Christ, as Advocate, pleads against Satan the interest that his Father hath in his chosen, so also he pleads against him by no less authority—his own interest in them. “Holy Father,” saith he, “keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me” (John 17:11). Keep them while in the world from the evil, the soul-damning evil of it. These words are directed to the Father, but they are leveled against the accusations of the enemy, and were spoken here to show what Christ will do for his, against our foe, when he is above. How, I say, he will urge before his Father his own interest in us against Satan, and against all his accusations, when he brings them to the bar of God’s tribunal, with design to work our utter ruin. And is there not a great deal in it? As if Christ should say, Father, my people have an adversary who will accuse them for their faults before thee; but I will be their Advocate, and as I have bought them of thee, I will plead my right against him (John 10:28). Our English proverb is, Interest will not lie; interest will make a man do that which otherwise he would not. How many thousands are there for whom Christ doth not so much as once open his mouth, but leaves them to the accusations of Satan, and to Ahab’s judgment, nay, a worse, because there is none to plead their cause? And why doth he not concern himself with them? but because he is not interested in them—”I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine; and all mine are thine, and I am glorified in them” (John 17:9,10).
Suppose so many cattle in such a pound, and one goes by whose they are not, doth he concern himself? No; he beholds them, and goes his way. But suppose that at his return he should find his own cattle in that pound, would he now carry it toward them as he did unto the other? No, no; he has interest here, they are his that are in the pound; now he is concerned, now he must know who put them there, and for what cause too they are served as they are; and if he finds them rightfully there, he will fetch them by ransom; but if wrongfully, he will replevy7 them, and stand a trial at law with him that has thus illegally pounded his cattle. And thus it is betwixt Jesus Christ and his. He is interested in them; the cattle are his own, “his own sheep,” (John 10:3,4), but pounded by some other, by the law, or by the devil. If pounded by the law, he delivereth them by ransom; if pounded by the devil, he will replevy them, stand a trial at law for them, and will be, against their accuser, their Advocate himself. Nor can Satan withstand his plea, though he should against them join argument with the law; forasmuch, as has been proved before, he can and will, by what he has to produce and plead of his own, save his from all trespasses, charges, and accusations. Besides, all men know that a man’s proper goods are not therefore forfeited, because they commit many, and them to great transgressions—”And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Now, the strength of this plea thus grounded upon Christ’s interest in his people is great, and hath many weighty reasons on its side; as—
1. They are mine; therefore in reason at my dispose, not at the dispose of an adversary; for while a thing can properly be called mine, no man has therewith to do but myself; nor doth (a man, nor) Christ close his right to what he has by the weakness of that thing which is his proper right. He, therefore, as an Advocate, pleadeth interest, his own interest, in his people,
7 “Replevy”: a form of law by which goods that are proved to have been wrongfully seized are re- delivered to the owner.—ED.
and right must, with the Judge of all the earth, take place—”Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Gen 18:25).
2. They cost him dear; and that which is dear bought is not easily parted with (I Cor. 6:20). They were bought with “his blood” (Eph 1:7; I Peter 1:18,19). They were given him for his blood, and therefore are “dear children” (Eph 5:1); for they are his by the highest price; and this price he, as Advocate, pleadeth against the enemy of our salvation; yea, I will add, they are his, because he gave his all for them (II Cor 8:9). When a man shall give his all for this or that, then that which he so hath purchased is become his all. Now Christ has given his all for us; he made himself poor for us, wherefore we are become his all, his fullness; and so the church is called (Eph 1:23). Nay, further, Christ likes well enough of his purchase, though it hath cost him his all—”The lines,” says he, “are fallen to me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage” (Psa 16:6). Now, put all these things together, and there is a strong plea in them. Interest, such an interest, will not be easily parted with. But this is not all; for,
3. As they cost him dear, so he hath made them near to himself, near by way of relation. Now that which did not only cost dear, but that by way of relation is made so, that a man will plead heartily for. Said David to Abner, “ Thou shalt not see my face, except thou first bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, when thou comest to see my face” (II Sam 3:13,14). Saul’s daughter cost me dear; I bought her with the jeopardy of my life; Saul’s daughter is near to me; she is my beloved wife. He pleaded hard for her, because she was dear and near to him. Now, I say, the same is true in Christ; his people cost him dear, and he hath made them near unto him; wherefore, to plead interest in them, is to hold by an argument that is strong. (a.) They are his spouse, and he hath made them so; they are his love, his dove, his darling, and he accounts them so. Now, should a wretch attempt, in open court, to take a man’s wife away from him, how would this cause the man to plead! Yea, and what judge that is just, and knows that the man has this interest in the woman pleaded for, would yield to, or give a verdict for the wretch, against the man whose wife the woman is? Thus Christ, in pleading interest—in pleading “thou gavest them me”—pleads by a strong argument, an argument that the enemy cannot invalidate. True, were Christ to plead this before a Saul (I Sam 25;44), or before Samson’s wife’s father, the Philistine (Judg 14:20), perhaps such treacherous judges would give it against all right. But, I have told you, the court in which Christ pleads is the highest and the justest, and that from which there can be no appeal; wherefore Christ’s cause, and so the cause of the children of God, must be tried before their Father, from whose face, to be sure, just judgment shall proceed. But,
(b.) As they are called his spouse, so they are called his flesh, and members of his body. Now, said Paul to the church, “Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (I Cor 12:27; Eph 5:30). This relation also makes a man plead hard. Were a man to plead for a limb, or a member of his own, how would he plead? What arguments would he use? And what sympathy and feeling would his arguments flow from? I cannot lose a hand, I cannot lose a foot, cannot lose a finger; why, saints are Christ’s members, his members are of himself. With what strength of argument would a man plead the necessariness of his members to him, and the unnaturalness of his adversary in seeking the destruction of his members, and the deformity of his body! Yea, a man would shuck and cringe, and weep, and entreat, and make demurs, and halts, and delays, to a thousand years, if possible, before he would lose his members, or any one of them.
But, I say, how would he plead and advocate it for his members, if judge, and law, and reason, and equity, were all on his side, and if, by the adversary, there could be nothing urged, but that against which the Advocate had long before made provision for the effectual overthrow thereof? And all this is true as to the case that lies before us. Thus we see what strength there lieth in this second argument, that our Advocate bringeth for us against the enemy. They are his flesh and bones, his members; he cannot spare them; he cannot spare this, because, nor that, because, nor any, because, they are his members. As such, they are lovely to him; as such, they are useful to him; as such, they are an ornament to him; yea, though in themselves they are feeble, and through infirmity weak, much disabled from doing as they should. Thus, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” But,
4. As Christ, as Advocate, pleads for us, against Satan, his Father’s interest in us and his own; so he pleadeth against him that right and property that he hath in heaven, to give it to whom he will. He has a right to heaven as Priest and King; it is his also by inheritance; and since he will be so good a benefactor as to bestow this house on somebody, but not for their deserts, but not for their goodness, and since, again, he has to that end spilt his blood for, and taken a generation into covenant relation to him, that it might be bestowed on them; it shall be bestowed on them; and he will plead this, if there be need, if his people sin, and if their accuser seeks, by their sin, their ruin and destruction: “Father,” saith he, “I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me” (John 17:24). Christ’s will is the will of heaven, the will of God. Shall not Christ, then, prevail?
“I will,” saith Christ; “I will,” saith Satan; but whose will shall stand? It is true, Christ in the text speaks more like an arbitrator than an Advocate; more like a judge than one pleading at a bar. I will have it so, I judge that soit ought to be, and must. But there is also something of plea in the words both before his Father, and against our enemy; and therefore he speaketh like one that can plead and determine also; yea, like one that has power so to do. But shall the will of heaven stoop to the will of hell? Or the will of Christ to the will of Satan?