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Thomas Goodwin :: Section Five :: Chapter Six

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CHRIST SET FORTH
Section Five :: Chapter Six

Secondly, the prevalency of Christ’s intercession demonstrated from the righteousness of the cause he pleads even in justice; how forcible the cry of his blood is, himself appearing to intercede with it.

Besides favor and grace in all these respects, he can and does plead justice and righteousness, and is able so to carry it; so you have it in 1 John 2:1-2, “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” An advocate has place only in a cause of justice, and this Christ’s advocateship is executed by pleading his own satisfaction. So it follows, “who is a propitiation for our sins;” and can plead his own righteousness so far that justice itself shall be fain to save the worst of sinners. He can turn justice itself for them, and handle matters so as justice shall be as forward to save them as any other attribute. So that if God be said to be “righteous in forgiving us our sins, if we do but confess them” (as in 1 John 1:9), then much more when “Jesus Christ the righteous” shall intercede for the pardon of them, as he adds in 1 John 2:1, and this if he will be just. The worst case he will make a good one, not with coloring it over as cunning lawyers do, or extenuating things; but with pleading that righteousness, which being put into the opposite balance, shall cast it for you, be there never so many sins weighed against it. Yes, and he will be just in it too and carry all by mere righteousness and equity.

In the explication of this branch, my purpose is not to insist upon the demonstration of that all-sufficient fullness that is in Christ’s satisfaction, such as may in justice procure our pardon and salvation (because it will more fitly belong to another discourse), but I shall absolve this point in hand by two things which are proper to this head of intercession.

  • [1.] First, by showing how that there is even in respect to God’s justice a powerful voice of intercession attributed unto Christ’s blood, and how prevalent that must necessarily be in the ears of the righteous God.

  • [2.] Secondly, especially when Christ himself shall join with that cry and intercession of his blood, himself in heaven appearing and interceding in the strength of it.

[1.] For the first, the apostle in Hebrews 12:24, does ascribe a voice, an appeal, an intercession unto the blood of Christ in heaven. “The blood of sprinkling” (says he) “speaks better things than the blood of Abel.” He makes Christ’s very blood an advocate to speak for us, though Christ himself were silent, as he says in another case, “Abel, though dead, yet speaks,” Hebrews 11:4. Many other things are said to cry in Scripture (and I might show how the cry of all other things do meet in this), but blood has the loudest cry of all things else, in the ears of the Lord of Hosts, the Judge of all the world, as he is in Hebrews 12:23. Neither has any cry the ear of God’s justice more than that of blood. “The voice of your brother’s blood,” says God to Cain, “cries unto me from the ground,” Genesis 4:10. Now in that speech of the apostle fore-cited, is the allusion made unto the blood of Abel and the cry thereof. And he illustrates the cry of Christ’s blood for us, by the cry of that blood of Abel against Cain, it “speaks better things than the blood of Abel.” And his scope therein is by an antithesis, or way of opposition, to show that Christ’s blood calls for greater good things to be bestowed on us for whom it was shed, than Abel’s blood did for evil things, and vengeance against Cain, by whom it was shed. For look how loud the blood of one innocent cries for justice against another that murdered him; so loud will the blood of one righteous, who by the appointment and permission of a supreme judge has been condemned for another, cry for his release and non-condemnation, for whom he died. And the more righteous he was, who laid down his life for another, the louder still is that cry, for it is made in the strength of all that worth which was in him, whose blood was shed. Now to set forth the power of this cry of Christ’s blood with justice, let us compare it with that cry of Abel’s blood in these two things, wherein it will be found infinitely to exceed it in force and loudness.

  • First, even the blood of the wickedest man on earth, if innocently shed, does cry and has a power with justice against him who murdered him. Had Abel murdered Cain, Cain’s blood would have cried and called upon God’s justice against Abel. But Abel’s blood (there is an emphasis in that), Abel’s, who was a saint and the first martyr in God’s calendar, and so his blood cries according to the worth that was in him. Now “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints;” and the blood of one of them cries louder than the blood of all mankind besides. Now from this I argue, if the blood of a saint cries so, what must the blood of the King of saints (as Christ is called in Revelation 15:3), then do? If the blood of one member of Christ’s body, what will then the blood of the head, far more worth than that whole body? How does it fill heaven and earth with outcries, until the promised intent of its shedding be accomplished! And (as the antithesis carries it) look how the blood of Abel cried for the ruin and condemnation of his brother Cain; so does Christ’s blood on the contrary for our pardon and non-condemnation; and so much louder, by how much his blood was of more worth than Abel’s was. This was the “blood of God;” so Acts 20:28, “Who therefore shall condemn?” But,

  • Secondly, Christ’s blood has in its cry here a further advantage of Abel’s blood attributed to it. For that cried but from earth, “from the ground,” where it lay shed and that but for an answerable earthly punishment on Cain, as he was a man upon the earth. But Christ’s blood is carried up to heaven; for as the high priest carried the blood of the sacrifices into the holy of holies, so has Christ virtually carried his blood into heaven, Hebrews 9:12. And this is intimated in this place also, as by the coherence will appear. For all the other particulars (of which this is one), whereto he says the saints are come, they are all in heaven. “You are come (says he, Hebrews 12:22) to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the church of the first-born who are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” All which things are in heaven, neither names he any other than such; and then adds, “and to the blood of sprinkling, which speaks.” As a thing both speaking in heaven, and besprinkled from heaven, yes wherewith heaven is all besprinkled, as the mercy-seat in the holy of holies was, because sinners are to come thither. This blood therefore cries from heaven, it is next unto God who sits judge there, it cries in his very ears; whereas the cry of blood from the ground is further off, and so though the cry thereof may come up to heaven, yet the blood itself comes not up thither, as Christ already is. Abel’s blood cried for vengeance to come down from heaven, but Christ’s blood cries us up into heaven; like to that voice, Revelation 11:12, “Come up hither.” So in John 17:24, “Where I am, let them be” for whom this blood was shed.

  • But though this speaking, this voice and intercession, be attributed to his blood, yet it is but in a metaphorical and improper (though real) sense; as also that this blood is in heaven, is spoken though in a real yet not a proper sense. Some divines of all sides, both popish and protestant, would make the whole work of intercession to be only metaphorical. It is true indeed, the voice and intercession of his blood apart considered, is but metaphorical (I grant), and yet real. Such a voice as those groans are that are attributed to the whole creation in Romans 8:22. But intercession as an act of Christ himself, joined with this voice of his blood, is most properly and truly such.

[2.] Therefore, in the second place, add to this Christ’s own intercession also, which was the second thing propounded, that Christ by his own prayers seconds this cry of his blood. That not only the blood of Christ does cry, but that Christ himself being alive does join with it. How forcible and prevalent must all this be supposed to be! The blood of a man slain does cry, though the man remain dead, even as of Abel it is said (though to another purpose), that “being dead he yet speaks,” Hebrews 11. But Christ lives and appears, Virit et in cælum cælorum venit. He follows the suit, pursues the hue and cry of his blood himself. His being alive, puts a life into his death. It is not in this as it was in that other, the first Adam’s sin and disobedience. Adam, although he himself had been annihilated when he died, yet he having set the stock of our nature going in propagation of children, his sin would have defiled and condemned them to the end of the world, and the force of it to condemn is neither furthered nor lessened by his subsisting and being, or his not being; it receives no assistance from his personal life, one way or other. And the reason is, because his sin condemns us in a natural and necessary way; but the death of Christ and his blood shed, these saving us in a way of grace and favour unto Christ himself and for his sake, that very being alive of Christ, that shed this blood, adds an infinite acceptation to it with God, and moves him the more to hear the cry of it, and to regard it. In a matter of favour to be done for the sake of another man, or in a suit or matter of justice that concerns another who is interested in it, that man’s being in viris, his being alive, puts a life into the cause. If David would have respect to Jonathan (when dead) in his children, he would much more if himself had been alive. God made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to remember their seed after them; and why? They are alive, and were to live forever; and though dead, shall rise again. So Christ reasons from it in Matthew 22:32, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God is the God of the living (says he), and not of the dead,” and so “though Abraham be ignorant of his children” (as the prophet speaks) and should not intercede for them, yet because Abraham’s soul lives, and is not extinct (as the Sadducees thought), but shall live again at the resurrection, therefore God remembers and respects his covenant with them; for he is a God of the living, and so his covenant holds with them while they live. The old covenant of the first Testament ran in the names of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—“the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”—but this new covenant runs in the name of Christ, “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” so Ephesians 1:3. And so he becomes our God and our Father in him. And God being thus our Father, because Christ’s Father, and Christ (in whose name the covenant runs) being alive, and God by covenant the God of a living, not of a dead Christ, this therefore works effectually with him to respect his blood and hear the cry of it. And this, though Christ were absent, much more then when he is present also and on purpose “appears in the presence of God for us,” as it is in Hebrews 9:24. He is alive and so able to follow his own suit, and will be sure to see to it, and to second the cry of his blood, if it should not be heard.

To illustrate this by the help of the former comparison begun. If as Abel’s blood cries, so also it proves that Abel’s soul lives to cry that both his cause cries and himself lives to follow it. So that the cry of Abel’s blood is seconded with the cry of Abel’s soul that lives, how doubly forcible must this necessarily be? And thus indeed you have it in Revelation 6:9, where it is said that “The souls of them which were slain for the testimony which they held, cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, do you not avenge our blood?’” Yes, see that not only their blood cries, but their souls live, and live to cry. And it is not spoken metaphorically of their souls, but what is truly done by them now in heaven, it being mentioned to show how and by what God was moved to bring vengeance on the heathenish empire of Rome that had shed their blood.

Now not only Christ’s soul (as theirs) lives to cry, but his whole person; for he is risen again, and lives to intercede forever. In Revelation 1:18, Christ appearing to John, when he would speak but one speech that should move all in him, he says but this, “I am he that lives, and was dead,” and died for you. And whose heart does it not move to read it with faith? And does it not move his Father, think you, who was the chief cause and motioner of his death, to think, my Son that was dead and died at my request for sinners is now alive again, and lives to intercede, and lives to “see the travail of his soul” fulfilled and satisfied? God pronounces this upon it in that Isaiah 53:11, “By his knowledge (or faith in him) shall he justify many;” even as many as he died for. “Who then shall condemn? Christ that was dead is alive, and lives to intercede.”

Section Five :: Chapter Five ← Prior Section
Section Five :: Chapter Seven Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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