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in God's favour, and therefore I am no true believer.” This is a most mistaken conclusion. The question is, whether thou dost heartily accept of Christ, that thou mayest be pardoned, reconciled to God, and so saved ? Dost thou consent that he shall be thy Lord, who hath bought thee, and that he shall bring thee to heaven in his own way? This is justifying, saving faith, and the mark by which thou must try thyself. Yet still observe, that all this consent must be hearty and real, not feigned, nor with reservations. If any have more of the government of thee than Christ, thou art not his disciple.
On the whole, as ever Christians would have comforts that will not deceive them, let them make it the great labour of their lives to grow in grace, to strengthen and advance the interest of Christ in their souls, and to weaken and subdue the interest of the flesh. Deceive not yourself with a persuasion that Christ hath done all, and left you nothing to do. To overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, and, in order to that, to stand always armed upon our watch, and valiantly and patiently to fight it out, is of great importance to our assurance and salvation. Not to every one that presumptuously believeth, but “to him that overcometh " all the promises of Christ are addressed, Rev. ii. iii.
When I can read my title clear
To mansions in the skies,
And wipe my weeping eyes.
Should earth against my soul engage,
And hellish darts be hurl’d,
And face a frowning world.
Let cares like a wild deluge come,
And storms of sorrow fall,
My God, my heaven, my all!
There shall I bathe my weary soul
In seas of heavenly rest,
Across my peaceful breast.
SOME years ago, a certain town was thrown into great commotion by a daring robbery which had been committed. The thieves were pursued and taken, and the whole gang was broken up. All were committed to prison, to await their trial at the next assizes.
As the time approached, great was the anxiety of those who were interested in the fate of the prisoners.
The father of one was a respectable tradesman. His own credit was at stake. He spared no expense in procuring the best counsel he could hear of for his unhappy son. True, it was a desperate case. Few would come forward to speak in the young man's behalf. But still the father's hopes were strong, because he had secured an advocate who was known to be very skilful, and had been so successful in other cases, that much was to be hoped for from him.
Another parent was a poor widow. She was greatly cast down; her son was likely to be transported for life. And who was to plead for him ? she could not afford to pay a counsellor. Yet her necessity only made her the more earnest; and she was to be seen early and late, begging the contributions of any who might pity her case, if not her son's, that she might get some one to plead for him who so greatly needed an advocate.
There was one among the criminals, a ringleader-a bold, stout-hearted fellow, who boasted that he wanted no help that he meant to plead for himself. Offers of help were made; but they were proudly refused. This man intended to be his own advocate.
The character of a fourth was entirely lost. He had lived in
a course of crime; and his guilt was so clear, there was no hope for him. No one would stand his friend. This man had no advocate.
Now let us turn from thinking of the condition of these unhappy men before the earthly bar to which they would shortly be called, to meditate on the state of sinners, called to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.
In the case of the prisoners, their deliverance was thought to depend very inuch upon the advocate employed in their behalf.
And how strikingly is this the case with sinners against God! To them an Advocate is recommended, who is willing to undertake the worst possible case committed to his care; who will go through his undertaking to the end ; and in whose hands no cause ever get failed.
Whether you wish to hear any more about this Advocate, will depend upon whether you feel your want of him, or not. The prisoners would not have cared about an advocate, if they had not known themselves to be in danger. So neither will you, unless you feel and know yourself to be overtaken by Divine justice a criminal, having no excuse to offer, awaiting the day of trial, and uncertain what the end may be. .
Is this your case? Or do you flatter yourself that you are not so bad as all this,—that, far from deserving to be put on a level with the thief about to be tried for his life, you have done nothing to merit wrath and condemnation-have been better than many—or, at all events, though you may be a sinner, as all are, you put your trust in God's mercy? Hear God's own words on this subject : “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” Ezek. xviii. 4; “ The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men," Rom. i. 18. Learn, then, to listen to God's truth, and not to Satan's lies, or to your own vain hopes and wishes; and you will at once see that, as a sinner--which you do not attempt to deny that you are-you do deserve wrath and condemnation, and that your trust in the mercy of God may prove a vain trust, if you do not seek this mercy in the only way which the Bible points out to you. If you will only believe God's word, you will see, that you want an advocate to plead for you, and that you must be lost without one.
But if you have been brought to see your guilt, your danger, your hopeless, helpless condition-shut up under condemnation, and exposed to the tremendous wrath of God against sin, then how gladly will you welcome the news of an Advocate-one who will feel for you, and to whom you may safely trust your cause !
Who is this Advocate? Where is such an one to be found ? He is no other than the Son of God; Jesus Christ, the
THE GREAT ADVOCATE.
consider a few of his qualifications. He has shown himself ready to take up the worst possible case. You will remember, that, among the prisoners just mentioned, was one whose character was so lost, that no one could be found to plead for him. But it is not so with your great Advocate. Jesus pleads the most desperate case, if only it be humbly, and wholly trusted to him.
Again; when a counsel pleads for a prisoner, he tries to make the best of his case. He offers all the excuses he can think of. He tries to excite the pity of his judges; and sometimes succeeds so well, as to melt the hearts of the very enemies of the prisoners, even against their better judgment.
But our great Advocate proceeds in a very different way. He offers no excuses for the sinner; for that would be to lessen the strict justice and holiness of his own law. He pleads—but not the sinner's innocence, or his former good conduct, or his present penitence and tears. No! He pleads his own work in the sinner's behalf. He came down from heaven, and became man ; that, as man, he might fulfil the law which man had broken ; and, as man, might suffer the punishment which man had deserved. This was the work which he undertook, and which he actually accomplished ; and now, having ascended into heaven, his work is still carried on. “ He ever liveth to make intercession," Heb. vii. 25. This, then, is his plea—his own righteousness. And this is what the apostle John declares: “ If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins," 1 John ii. 1, 2.
Again, the earthly advocate is not to be obtained without a cost in proportion to his worth. This was made clear in the case of two of the prisoners referred to. The tradesman succeeded in obtaining an advocate, because he could afford to pay for it. The poor widow had nothing to pay; and, unless her friends would help her, she must be deprived of the benefit.
But with our great Advocate it is far otherwise. He offers his help freely, without money and without price.
“ He shall deliver the needy when he crieth ; the poor also, and him that hath no helper," Psa. lxxii. 12. Do you
ask, How shall I obtain the help of this Advocate ? The answer is, Believe. Take him at his word : “ Him that cometh to me I will in nowise cast out," John vi. 37. Go, then, to him, just as you are.
Make no excuses. Do not try to make out a good case ; but tell him all. And throw yourself at once upon his work, his righteousness, as your plea; and upon his willingness to plead them in your behalf. If you attempt to mix up any pleas of your own, you mar his work. He must do all.
the prisoner is much more powerful than the one who is engaged for him. Now in the sinner's case, it is indeed true, that there is everything to be said against him; and all can be fully proved. His accuser is powerful, crafty, and unceasing in his efforts. He never loses an advantage. He has plenty of witnesses to bring against the sinner-plenty of crimes to lay to his charge. But the great Advocate is able to answer every accusation. Turn to Žech. iii. 1-5. It is a wonderful
passage, serve to illustrate the advocacy of Christ. In a vision, Joshua, the high priest, was seen standing at the right hand of God. And there stood Satan also—to resist him, to plead against him, just as a
counsel would plead against a prisoner. Doubtless, Joshua's very appearance was against him. He was “clothed in filthy garments ;" a fit representation of the defilenient, with which sin covers us, before God. There was no denying it; it was a plain case. What hope was there, then, for Joshua? Why, there was One also standing there, who said, “ Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment." And thus Satan was rebuked and driven away, and all his
arguments fell to the ground.
And so it is with all the redeemed of the Lord. Every accusation is answered: in Christ, the broken law is fulfilled, justice is satisfied: they have that righteousness, which is "upon all them that believe," and they are thus completely accepted and restored to favour.
Now, have you understood these things? Do you feel concerned in this subject ? Do you believe that it is a matter of the greatest importance to you-even a matter of eternal life, or eternal death? If so, you will not lose a day, nor an hour, in seeking to obtain the all-powerful advocacy of Jesus. You will not be like the man, who stoutly and proudly refused all offers of help, and determined to plead his own cause. It might do for him before an earthly judge; but it will not do for you, or any one, before the Judge eternal. No; at that judgmentseat, at which we must all appear, every mouth will be stopped, and all will be brought in guilty before God, Rom. iii. 19. And whatever people may talk now of their good lives, and their good meanings, and their honesty, and their charity, they will be speechless then, when God shall bring to light the hidden secrets of the heart.
Therefore, go to Jesus now,-humbly throw yourself upon his infinite grace, wisdom, and willingness; and you shall find, to your everlasting comfort, that "there is therefore now no condemuation to them which are in Christ Jesus," Rom. viii. 1.