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193. Thus also we see a good reason, why the obedience, prayers, &c. of good men availed to the account of others ;* namely, because virtue and piety was thus honoured and encouraged ; not only at the time then present, but, being recorded in sacred history, in all future generations. And as our Lord Jesus Christ on account of his obedience is exalted to universal dominion, and appears publicly in the presence of God for us, as our high-priest and advocate with the Father, making intercession for us, in virtue of his blood, or perfect holiness (solemnly offered or presented before the throne of God ;) and in this manner is perpetually receiving from the Father, and conveying to us the blessings of divine goodness ; thus virtue and piety is honoured and encouraged among all intelligent beings in the universe, who see and know this, far beyond the extent of our imaginations. Which shews, that the everlasting dominion and priesthood of Christ is a constitution very rational, wise, and beneficent, as it is the public reward and exhibition of the most consummate holiness, and hath a natural tendency to spread and propagate it, and, in proportion, to diffuse happiness throughout the creation of God.
with the death of Christ, though not in the thoughts of the worshipper, to whom the death of Christ was but very imperfectly revealed, yet in the counsel and foreknowledge of God; which was sufficient to secure all the blessings of the covenant of grace.
* Key to the Apostolic Writings, chap. VIII. S. 126. 1st. edition. S. 154. 2d edition.
194. Lastly ; thus we see how much it is incumbent upon ministers to preach, to explain, inculcate, and recommend the cross of Christ ; after the example of the apostle Paul, who speaks of it, as a principal part of his ministry. No illustrations of piety can be more bright and striking ; no exhortations to any branch of virtue can be enforced by considerations more moying, than those that are taken from the blood and cross of Christ. .
OF FAITH IN CHRIST, AND DRAWING NEAR TO
GOD BY HIS BLOOD.
US the doctrine of atonement stands upon a true and unmoveable foundation, and gives us a clear and just notion of faith in Christ, or in his blood. It is not merely believing what is related in scripture concerning his incarnation or sufferings : but it is such right knowledge, sentiments, and persuasion concerning his blood, as purify our hearts, confirm our hope in God, and dispose to universal obedience. Its influence may be considered either with respect to our temper and conduct, or to our approaches and addresses to God.
196. 1. In reference to our temper and conduct, our faith is then genuine when it leads us to a conformity to Christ in all the instances before mentioned. Gal. ii. 20, I am crucified with Christ : nevertheless I live ; yet not 1, but Christ liveth in me : and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself [a sacrifice] for me. Thus faith applies the blood of sprinkling to our consciences; and thus we wash our robes, [moral habits] and make them white in the blood of the Lamb.
197. II. In respect to our approaches to God, Christ is a mercy-seat, the ground or basis upon which God has fixed the throne of his grace ; and therefore the
ground and basis of all the intercourse we hold with him, and he with us: by whom all the mercy of God is declared and dispensed to us ; and to whom all our services, prayers, and devotions ought to have respect, in the same manner as the sacri. fical worship of the ancient church was directed to God as sitting, by a visible token of his presence, upon the mercy-seat in the holy of holies in the temple. And as the ancient worshipper drew near to God with such thoughts and meditations in his mind, as the blood of the sin-offering, sprinkled before or upon the mercy-seat, would suggest : So, we christians should draw near to God, for pardon or any blessing, through faith in Christ's blood, Rom. iii. 25; or with such thoughts and meditations in our minds as his blood, shed for the remission of sins, will naturally suggest. His blood therefore may be considered as the medium, through which our minds should look to the throne of God, which is fixed upon Christ, the mercy-seat, in all our addresses to him, by way of hope or desire, suppli. cation or deprecation ; that is to say, we should look to him through the medium of the most perfect righteousness, obedience, and goodness we can conceive: which me dium is wisely adapted to our circumstances and apprehensions by our Lord's incarnation. For, as we, the children that are to be sanctified, do partake of flesh and blood, he also, the Sanctifier, himself par. took of the same : and so, being holy, harmless, and separate from sinners, he hath exhibited a character of spotless virtue suitable to the state of spirits embodied as we are. And thus he is such an highpriest in all respects as became us, and a proper medium through which our thoughts should ascend to God; or a proper object which should be set in as full and clear. a view, as we are able, before our minds, when we draw near to the most holy God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and can be pleased with nothing more than to see the image of his Son upon our hearts. In drawing near to God with thoughts thus sprinkled and seasoned with the blood of Christ, we gain a double advantage.