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blind Bartimeus who sat by the wayside begging ; with the miserable leper, who came unto him and cried to be healed, and with the multitudes of unhappy and afflicted, who sought his help? then that same Divine sympathy which led him “to seize our dreadful right,” and which constituted him the world's Redeemer, dwells in his heart with undiminished power and opulence!
4. Consider the Prevalence of Christ's Intercession. He not only makes intercession, but also succeeds in obtaining the blessings desired by every believing suppliant. Had he not been a prevailing Advocate—had he left any discrepancies in the work of redemption, the Holy Ghost, that inestimable gift, which is the heritage of all men, would not have been given; nor would the Gospel of the grace of God, with all its quickening and soul-saving truths, have been addressed to man. But, inasmuch, as the Holy Spirit has been sent forth to convince the world of sin-as the Word of Life is preached to the world in all its fulness and freeness, we have ample evidence that Christ has proved himself to be an efficient and successful Mediator. There is not a blessing of the new and better covenant which believers have received and enjoyed, but what has come to them through the intercession of Christ. Frequently have God's people realized the truth of the promise made by Christ to his disciples, “Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name, he will give it you,” and “whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."
5. The Perpetuity of Christ's Intercession. “He is a priest for ever," for," he ever liveth to make intercession for us.” “ This man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” By this we understand that Jesus Christ has made a perfect atonement, that he has died once for human guilt, and will die no more; that he will never be superseded or displaced by any other priest, and that the atonement and intercession of Christ will retain their Divine efficacy down to the latest period of the human family.
The mode in which Christ's intercession is conducted in heaven, is not expressly revealed unto us. We cannot, however, suppose that Christ intercedes for us in heaven “by vocal prayer, such as he offered in the days of his flesh, when he poured out his soul with strong crying and tears." No doubt some analogy may be traced between the intercession of the Jewish high priest and that of our Saviour. The intercession of the high priest “consisted not in words, but of certain appropriate actions. He appeared before God presenting a portion of the blood which had been shed in sacrifice, and burning incense before the mercy seat, so Christ appears in the presence of God for us. The appearance of the Redeemer's human nature in heaven, that nature which was crucified being now in the very brightness of the Father's presence, makes effectual intercession on our behalf.”
“Five bleeding wounds he bears,
Received on Calvary;
They strongly speak for me;
Such, then, is the glorious doctrine of Christ's intercession, as made known to us in the Word of God. It is a truth from which the believer derives solid comfort and support. Assured that we have so great and so efficient a High Priest, we may ever confidently look to him for help, sympathy, and guidance, and we can journey on to heaven in strength and triumph. In the storm he is a refuge, and in the time of darkness a flame of light, for “he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.”
“Through him we have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” All who have been accepted of God, and obtained forgiveness, have come in this way. To approach the Almighty and expect his favour in any other way would be highly offensive to him. To seek the intercessory prayers of angels and of glorified saints would be an insult to Christ, as implying doubt concerning the efficacy of his intercession. He will not-he cannot-plead causes which have never been entrusted to him; but he will successfully intercede on behalf of the greatest sinner who comes unto God persistently and in faith. “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil ; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”
THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE CHURCH.
BY THE REV. W. J. TOWNSEND. An earnest speaker some time since was addressing a tea-meeting, and deplored the want of a bold and vigorous spirit of enterprise in the Church of this day. After dwelling on this sad subject at length, he wound up his speech by addressing the chairman in these words : “We want money, sir, and we want men.” This speaker, however, missed the real heart of the subject. We have money and we have men, but we do need something which will make them available for the glory of God and the extension of his kingdom. What the Church needs just now to give success to her enterprises, and to nerve her for multiplied efforts, is a mighty outpouring of Divine power by the Holy Spirit upon the ministry and the members of the Church ; and without this we shall still be afflicted with formalism in our services and decrease in our numbers.
It may easily be ascertained by any attentive observer that the Church is not progressing at the rate we have a right to expect. In the days of its infancy it presented a glorious spectacle as it went forth to wrestle against principalities and powers. It was as the shepherd youth, ruddy with healthful glow, and charming with pastoral simplicity, entering into mortal conflict with the giant champion of idolatry and barbarism. The infant Church in the inspiration of a newly-kindled faith, and burning with unrestrained ardour, rose triumphant above the hoary superstitions, the subtle philosophies, and irresistible despotisms of the ancient world. The opposition of imperial Rome was stilled; that great power assumed the profession of Christianity; slavery and tyranny were destroyed by the onward march of the Gospel, and such was the rapidity of its triumphs that none who deny the Divine power at work in its promulgation have been able satisfactorily to account for it. But the Church of this day lagsin its course; worldliness and formalism prevent it putting forth its innate strength, and damp the holy fire which burns on its altar; its missionary efforts are sustained with difficulty, and many congregations are dwindling into littleness. Notwithstanding that this is the century of modern missionary enterprise, considering the enormous wealth and superior vantage ground of the Church, the contrast between it and the Church of the early centuries is painful and depressing.
The only cure for this state of things is a wide effusion of the Holy Spirit's gifts ; this only can produce the increase in the piety and energy of the Church which will cause all hearts to rejoice, and will constitute it mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. It is the purpose of this paper to consider what would be the results to the Church of such a baptism of the Holy Ghost, and thus show that this is the great blessing which primarily and chiefly all should combine to obtain by faith and prayer. The writer remembers, many years ago, to have seen an article in a periodical having a similar purpose, which then greatly impressed him, and doubtless some coincidence of thought may be traced in the line of remark now pursued; this, however, will be casual and accidental.
Suppose, then, that a plenteous baptism of Divine energy and wisdom were to descend upon the Church, as a first result there would be an extraordinary quickening of the dormant capabilities and resources of the Church. There is at this moment more power, talent, and capacity in the Church unused and undeveloped than we have in constant and active operation. In one church, by far the most efficient and active the writer has ever known, and which numbers
210 members, the entire staff actively engaged as leaders, local preachers, teachers, tract distributors, managers of Dorcas society, young men's associations, and many other institutions, only numbers seventy-three persons. The amount of work accomplished by them is very large, but allowing for sick and aged, at least as many more might profitably and earnestly be engaged in some department of labour, and the progress of the Church be very much accelerated. But even so large a proportion as we find in this society is a rare and special occurrence; about one quarter of the members of the church is the average of those who are engaged in positive labour in the cause of God.
Another noteworthy fact is, that amongst those who stand aloof are to be found those who might be the most effective labourers. The rich and well-educated in our congregations generally abstain from undertaking duties in the school or the church, and the great burden of labour is relegated to those who have not such facilities for its execution. All honour to them for their self-sacrifice and devotion.
How much might be accomplished if all the latent power of the Church were actively engaged, may be seen by observing the energy which is brought to bear upon other objects which men desire to obtain. How many in the Church are winning enormous fortunes by their sheer tact and industry ; how many win places of renown in town councils, or even the House of Commons, for their administrative capabilities; and yet the Church reaps no advantage therefrom; they patronize the minister, they attend the public ordinances, they contribute to the funds and maintain a nominal membership, but the energy, the tact, the skill, the eloquence, are all withheld from the Church and expended elsewhere. If the Church had all these at her call, how much more powerful would she at once become! When some popular excitement takes hold of the country, there is a general awakening of interest in those who have been long dormant, they are swept along by the rising flood, and they make themselves felt marvellously in the outcome of the struggle. What the Church requires is to have this interest quickened and kept alive for her interests, and her march would be greatly accelerated. The power of one man to affect society is enormous when it is persistently and enthusiastically employed for a certain end. The histories of Mahomet, or Peter the Hermit, or John Knox, or Martin Luther, illus. trate the influence of a determined will upon great events. At the bidding of the first, a mighty nation, whose tribes were scattered over a great continent, like the dismembered limbs of a giant, arose and went forth in such power that the thrones of Europe trembled in terror at its presence. Under the fiery elequence of the second, the chivalry of Europe arrayed itself, and went forth to the far East to struggle in firmest conflict, to rescue from heathen hands the lands where our dear Lord had lived and suffered. When the fainting Protestants of Scotland were relaxing their efforts, and seemed likely to resign the conflict, John Knox rushed on the scene, gathered up into unity the faith and resolution of his countrymen, breathed into them his uncompromizing zeal, and dashed down the edifice of abominable superstition which had grown vast to heaven in the course of ages. And Luther stands out as the noblest moulder of human history during the last thousand years. Such victories might be realized now if the power lodged in each man were used to the utmost. If the presence of the Holy Spirit were vouchsafed, if the precious baptism were felt by all, ministers and officers, rich and poor, old and young, awakening all from indifference, giving pulsations of a new spiritual life, infusing yearning desires for the salvation of souls, then would we see the Gospel going forth in its ancient splendour, clothed with omnipotence and radiant with unbroken victories.
Such a baptism of the Holy Spirit would relieve the Church from many hindrances which now clog its progress.
How the spirit of liberality would be enlarged! The people would not then give by impulse but by principle; they would not give only “what they could afford—after all luxurious tastes had been gratified, but would mortify extravagant habits in order that God's cause might be adequately supplied. The treasury of the sanctuary would not then always be deficient, but would overflow so that fresh enterprises of noble zeal might be undertaken, and a holy ingenuity would have to be exercised in order to expend the willing offerings of the people. The interests of the Church would be esteemed the most important of all the movements of the day—in fact, all social and political questions would be considered as subordinate to the progress of Christianity ; while, on the other hand, the Gospel would vindicate itself as being the initiator and fosterer of all true progress. Very often the cause of God suffers by being set aside for some more temporary and exciting subject. It was one reason given for the decreases in some of the denominations, a few years since, that the intense excitement of the general election had seriously crippled church operations, and that therefore the work had languished. A workman's strike, a political contest, a social reform, are often allowed to take the place which the Gospel should occupy in our minds, forgetful that it should ever take precedence of all movements, and that it carries within itself the principles of truth and righteousness which should mould every onward movement.
The pure spirituality of the Gospel would be more evidently manifested. At present we are startled by the growth of a rank ritualism, which, even if only of temporary duration, at least testifies to the low state of religion in the Church. Where religion is declining, the mind is easily drawn to subsidiary objects; it multiplies