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Christ a Complete Saviour
by John Bunyan
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Intercession, then, I mean Christ's intercession, is, that those for whom he died with full intention to save them, might be brought into that inheritance which he hath purchased for them. Now, then, his intercession must, as to length and breadth, reach no further than his merits, for he may not pray for those for whom he died not. Indeed, if we take in the utmost extent of his death, then we must beware, for his death is sufficient to save the whole world. But his intercessions are kept within a narrower compass. The altar of burnt-offerings was a great deal bigger than the altar of incense, which was a figure of Christ's intercession. (Exo 27:1, 30:1, Rev 8:3) But this, I say, his intercession is for those for whom he died with full intention to save them; wherefore it must be grounded upon the validity of his sufferings. And, indeed, his intercession is nothing else, that I know of, but a presenting of what he did in the world for us unto God, and pressing the value of it for our salvation. The blood of sprinkling is that which speaketh meritoriously, (Heb 12:24); it is by the value of that that God measureth out and giveth unto us grace and life eternal; wherefore Christ's intercessions also must be ordered and governed by merit; 'By his own blood he entered into the holy place, having [before by it] obtained eternal redemption for us,' for our souls. (Heb 9:12)

Now, if by blood he entered in thither, by blood he must also make intercession there. His blood made way for his entrance thither, his blood must make way for our entrance thither. Though here, again, we must beware; for his blood did make way for him as Priest to intercede; his blood makes way for us, as for those redeemed by it, that we might be saved. This, then, shows sufficiently the worth of the blood of Christ, even his ever living to make intercession for us; for the merit of his blood lasts all the while that he doth, and for all them for whom he ever liveth to make intercession. Oh, precious blood! oh, lasting merit!

Blood must be pleaded in Christ's intercession, because of justice, and to stop the mouth of the enemy, and also to encourage us to come to God by him. Justice, since that is of the essence of God, must concur in the salvation of the sinner; but how can that be, since it is said at first, 'In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die,' unless a plenary16 satisfaction be made for sin to the pleasing of the mighty God. The enemy also would else never let go his objecting against our salvation. But now God has declared that our salvation is grounded on justice, because merited by blood. And though God needed not to have given his Son to die for us that he might save us, and stop the mouth of the devil in so doing, yet this way of salvation has done both, and so it is declared, we are 'justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past—to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.' (Rom 3:24,25) So, then, here is also a ground of intercession, even the blood shed for us before.

And that you may see it yet more for your comfort, God did, at Christ's resurrection, to show what a price he set upon his blood, bid him ask of him the heathen, and he would give him the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. (Psa 2:8) His blood, then, has value enough in it to ground intercession upon; yea, there is more worth in it than Christ will plead or improve for men by way of intercession. I do not at all doubt but that there is virtue enough in the blood of Christ, would God Almighty so apply it, to save the souls of the whole world. But it is the blood of Christ, his own blood; and he may do what he will with his own. It is also the blood of God, and he also may restrain its merits, or apply it as he sees good. But the coming soul, he shall find and feel the virtue thereof, even the soul that comes to God by Christ; for he is the man concerned in its worth, and he ever liveth to make intercession for him. Now, seeing the intercession of Christ is grounded upon a covenant, an oath, a life, and also upon the validity of his merits, it must of necessity be prevalent, and so drive down all opposition before it. This, therefore, is the last part of the text, and that which demonstrateth that he that comes to God by Christ shall be saved, seeing 'he ever liveth to make intercession for him.'

I have now done what I intend upon this subject when I have drawn a few inferences from this also.

[Inferences from the certainty of benefit from Christ's Intercession.]

First, then, hence I infer that the souls saved by Christ are in themselves in a most deplorable condition. Oh, what ado, as I may say, is here before one sinner can be eternally saved! Christ must die; but that is not all; the Spirit of grace must be given to us; but that is not all;—but Christ must also ever live to make intercession for us. And as he doth this for all, so he doth it for each one. He interceded for me, before I was born, that I might in time, at the set time, come into being. After that, he also made intercession for me, that I might be kept from hell in the time of my unregenerate state, until the time of my call and conversion. Yet again, he then intercedes that the work now begun in my soul may be perfected, not only to the day of my dissolution, but unto the day of Christ; that is, until he comes to judgment. (Phil 1:6) So that, as he began to save me before I had being, so he will go on to save me when

I am dead and gone, and will never leave off to save me until he has set me before his face for ever.

But, I say, what a deplorable condition has our sin put us into, that there must be all this ado to save us. Oh, how hardly is sin got out of the soul when once it is in! Blood takes away the guilt; inherent grace weakens the filth; but the grave is the place, at the mouth of which, sin, as to the being of sin, and the saved, must have a perfect and final parting. (Isa 38:10) Not that the grave of itself is of a sin-purging quality, but God will follow Satan home to his own door; for the grave is the door or gate of hell, and will there, where the devil thought to have swallowed us up, even there by the power of his mercy make us, at our coming thence, shine like the sun, and look like angels. Christ, all this while, ever liveth to make intercession for us.

Second, Hence, also, I infer that as Satan thought he struck home at first, when he polluted our nature, and brought our souls to death, so he is marvellous loath to lose us, and to suffer his lawful captives now to escape his hands. He is full of fire against us, full of the fire of malice, as is manifest—

1. Not only by his first attempt upon our first parents, but behold, when the Deliverer came into the world, how he roared. He sought his death while he was an infant; he hated him in his cradle; he persecuted him while he was but a bud and blossom. (Matt 2) When he was come to riper years, and began to manifest his glory, yet, lest the world should be taken with him, how politicly did this old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, work? He possessed people that he had a devil, and was mad, and a deceiver; that he wrought his miracles by magic art and by the devil; that the prophets spake nothing of him, and that he sought to overthrow the government which was God's ordinance. And, not being contented with all this, he pursued him to the death, and could never rest until he had spilt his blood upon the ground like water. Yea, so insatiable was his malice, that he set the soldiers to forge lies about him to the denial of his resurrection, and so managed that matter that what they said has become a stumblingblock to the Jews to this very day. (John 10:20, 7:12, Matt 9:34, John 7:52, Luke 23:2, Matt 28:11-15)

2. When he was ascended to God, and so was out of his reach, yet how busily went he about to make war with his people. (Rev 12) Yea, what horrors and terrors, what troubles and temptations, has God's church met with from that day till now! Nor is he content with persecutions and general troubles; but oh! how doth he haunt the spirits of the Christians with blasphemies and troubles, with darkness and frightful fears; sometimes to their distraction, and often to the filling the church with outcries.

3. Yet his malice is in the pursuit, and now his boldness will try what it can do with God, either to tempt him to reject his Son's mediation, or to reject them that come to God by him for mercy. And this is one cause among many why 'he ever liveth to make intercession for them that come to God by him.'

4. And if he cannot overthrow, if he knows he cannot overthrow them, yet he cannot forbear but vex and perplex them, even as he did their Lord, from the day of their conversion to the day of their ascension to glory.

Third, Hence I infer that the love of Christ to his, is an unwearied love, and it must needs be so; an undaunted love, and it must needs be so. Who but Jesus Christ would have undertaken such a task as the salvation of the sinner is, if Jesus Christ had passed us by? It is true which is written of him, 'He shall not fail, nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth,' &c. If he had not set his 'face like a flint,' the greatness of this work would surely have daunted his mind. (Isa 42:1, 50:6-7)

For do but consider what sin is from which they must be saved; do but consider what the devil and the curse is from which they must be saved; and it will easily be concluded by you that it is he that full rightly deserveth to have his name called Wonderful, and his love such as verily passeth knowledge.

Consider, again, by what means these souls are saved, even with the loss of his life, and, together with it, the loss of the light of his Father's face. I pass by here and forbear to speak of the matchless contradiction of sinners which he endured against himself, which could not but be a great grief, or, as himself doth word it, a breaking of heart unto him; but all this did not, could not, hinder.

Join to all this, his everlasting intercession for us, and the effectual management thereof with God for us; and, withal, the infinite number of times that we by sin provoke him to spue us out of his mouth, instead of interceding for us, and the many times also that his intercession is repeated by the repeating of our faults, and this love still passes knowledge, and is by us to be wondered at. What did, or what doth, the Lord Jesus see in us to be at all this care, and pains, and cost to save us? What will he get of us by the bargain but a small pittance of thanks and love? for so it is, and ever will be, when compared with his matchless and unspeakable love and kindness towards us.

Oh, how unworthy are we of this love! How little do we think of it! But, most of all, the angels may be astonished to see how little we are affected with that of which we pretend to know. But neither can this prevail with him to put us out of the scroll in which all the names of them are written for whom he doth make intercession to God. Let us cry, Grace, grace unto it.

Fourth, Hence again I infer that they shall be saved that come to God by Christ, when the devil and sin have done what they can to hinder it. This is clear, for that the strife is now, who shall be lord of all, whether Satan, the prince of this world, or Christ Jesus, the Son of God; or which can lay the best claim to God's elect, he that produceth their sins against them, or he that laid down his heart's blood a price of redemption for them. Who, then, shall condemn when Christ has died, and doth also make intercession? Stand still, angels, and behold how the Father divideth his Son 'a portion with the great'; and how he divideth 'the spoil with the strong: because he hath poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors, and bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.' (Isa 53:12) The grace of God and blood of Christ will, before the end of the world, make brave work among the sons of men! They shall come to a wonderment to God by Christ, and be saved by a wonderment for Christ's sake—'Behold these shall come from far: and lo, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Sinim.' (Isa 49:12)

Behold, these, and these, and these shall come, and lo, these, and these, and these from the land of Sinim! This is to denote the abundance that shall come in to God by Christ towards the latter end of the world—namely, when Antichrist is gone to bed in the sides of the pit's mouth; then shall nations come in and be saved, and shall walk in the light of the Lord.17 But, I say, what encouragement would there be for sinners thus to do if that the Lord Jesus by his intercession were not able to save 'even to the uttermost' them that come unto God by him.

Fifth, hence again I infer that here is ground for confidence to them that come to God by Christ. Confidence to the end becomes us who have such a High Priest, such an Intercessor as Jesus Christ; who would dishonour such a Jesus by doubting that, that all the devils in hell cannot discourage by all their wiles? He is a tried stone, he is a sure foundation; a man may confidently venture his soul in his hand, and not fear but he will bring him safe home. Ability, love to the person, and faithfulness to trust committed to him, will do all; and all these are with infinite fullness in him. He has been a Saviour these four thousand years already—two thousand before the law, two thousand in the time of the law—besides the sixteen hundred years he has in his flesh continued to make intercession for them that come unto God by him. Yet the day is to come, yea, will never come, that he can be charged with any fault, or neglect of the salvation of any of them that at any time have come unto God by him. What ground, then, is here for confidence that Christ will make a good end with me, since I come unto God by him, and since he ever liveth to make intercession for me. Let me, then, honour him, I say, by setting on his head the crown of his undertakings for me, by the believing that he is able to save me 'even to the uttermost, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for me.'

Sixth, Hence also I infer that Christ ought to bear and wear the glory of our salvation for ever. He has done it, he has wrought it out. 'Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength.' Do not sacrifice to your own inventions, do not give glory to the work of your own hands. Your reformations, your works, your good deeds, and all the glory of your doing, cast them at the feet of this High Priest, and confess that glory belongs unto him—'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.' (Rev 5:12) 'And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his Father's house, and offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.' (Isa 22:24) Oh! the work of our redemption by Christ is such as wanteth not provocation to us to bless, and praise, and glorify Jesus Christ. Saints, set to the work and glorify him in your body and in your souls; him who has bought us with a price, and glorify God and the Father by him. (1 Cor 6:20)

THE USE.

I come now to make some use of this discourse; and,

USE FIRST, Let me exhort you to the study of this, as of other the truths of our Lord Jesus Christ. The priestly office of Christ is the first and great thing that is presented to us in the gospel—namely, how that he died for our sins, and gave himself to the cross, that the blessing of Abraham might come upon us through him. (1 Cor 15:1-6, Gal 3:13-16) But now because this priestly office of his is divided into two parts, and because one of them—to wit, this of his intercession—is to be accomplished for us within the veil, therefore, as we say among men, out of sight out of mind, he is too much as to this forgotten by us. We satisfy ourselves with the slaying of the sacrifice; we look not enough after our Aaron as he goes into the holiest, there to sprinkle the mercy-seat with blood upon our account. God forbid that the least syllable of what I say should be intended by me, or construed by others, as if I sought to diminish the price paid by Christ for our redemption in this world. But since his dying is his laying down his price, and his intercession the urging and managing the worthiness of it in the presence of God against Satan, there is glory to be found therein, and we should look after him into the holy place. The second part of the work of the high priests under the law, had great glory and sanctity put upon it; forasmuch as the holy garments were provided for him to officiate in within the veil, also it as there that the altar stood on which he offered incense; also there was the mercy-seat and the cherubims of glory, which were figures of the angels, that love to be continually looking and prying into the management of this second part of the priesthood of Christ in the presence of God; for although themselves are not the persons so immediately concerned therein as we, yet the management of it, I say, is with so much grace, and glory, and wisdom, and effectualness, that it is a heaven to the angels to see it. Oh! to enjoy the odorous scent, and sweet memorial, the heart-refreshing perfumes, that ascend continually from the mercy-seat to the 'above' where God is; and also to behold how effectual it is to the end for which it is designed, is glorious; and he that is not somewhat let into this by the grace of God, there is a great thing lacking to his faith, and he misseth of many a sweet bit that he might otherwise enjoy. Wherefore, I say, be exhorted to the study of this part of Christ's work in the managing of our salvation for us. And the ceremonies of the law may be a great help to you as to this, for though they be out of use now as to practice, yet the signification of them is rich, and that from which many gospellers18 have got much. Wherefore I advise that you read the five books of Moses often; yea, read, and read again, and do not despair of help to understand something of the will and mind of God therein, though you think they are fast locked up from you. Neither trouble your heads though you have not commentaries and expositions; pray and read, and read and pray; for a little from God is better than a great deal from men. Also, what is from men is uncertain, and is often lost and tumbled over and over by men; but what is from God is fixed as a nail in a sure place. I know there are [peculiar] times of temptation, but I speak now as to the common course of Christianity. There is nothing that so abides with us as what we receive from God; and the reason why Christians at this day are at such a loss as to some things is, because they are content with what come from men's mouths, without searching and kneeling before God, to know of him the truth of things. Things that we receive at God's hand come to us as things from the minting house, though old in themselves, yet new to us. Old truths are always new to us if they come to us with the smell of heaven upon them. I speak not this because I would have people despise their ministers, but to show that there is nowadays so much idleness among professors as hinders them from a diligent search after things, and makes them take up short of that that is sealed by the Spirit of testimony to the conscience. Witness the great decays at this day among us, and that strange revolting from truth once professed by us.

USE SECOND, As I would press you to an earnest study and search after this great truth, so I would press you to a diligent improvement of it to yourselves and to others. To know truth for knowledge sake is short of a gracious disposition of soul; and to communicate truth out of a desire of praise and vain-glory for so doing is also a swerving from godly simplicity; but to improve what I know for the good of myself and others is true Christianity indeed. Now truths received may be improved with respect to myself and others, and that several ways—

1. To myself, when I search after the power that belongs to those notions that I have received of truth. There belongs to every true notion of truth a power; the notion is the shell—the power is the kernel and life. Without this last, truth doth me no good, nor those to whom I communicate it. Hence Paul said to the Corinthians, 'When I come to you again, I will know not the speech of them that are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.' (1 Cor 4:19,20) Search, then, after the power of what thou knowest, for it is the power that will do thee good. Now this will not be got but by earnest prayer, and much attending upon God; also there must not be admitted by thee that thy heart be stuffed with cumbering cares of this world, for they are of a choking nature.

Take heed of slighting that little that thou hast; a good improvement of little is the way to make that little thrive, and the way to obtain additions thereto: 'He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.' (Luke 16:10)

2. Improve them to others, and that, (1.) By labouring to instill them upon their hearts by good and wholesome words, presenting all to them with the authority of the Scriptures. (2.) Labour to enforce those instillings on them by showing them by thy life the peace, the glorious effects that they have upon thy soul.

Lastly, Let this doctrine give thee boldness to come to God. Shall Jesus Christ be interceding in heaven? Oh, then, be thou a praying man on earth; yea, take courage to pray. Think thus with thyself—I go to God, to God, before whose throne the Lord Jesus is ready to hand my petitions to him; yea, 'he ever lives to make intercession for me.' This is a great encouragement to come to God by prayers and supplications for ourselves, and by intercessions for our families, our neighbours, and enemies. Farewell.

FOOTNOTES:

1: Coming unto God by Christ, essentially involves in it walking in conformity to his image; and all such comers must be perfectly and eternally saved. Why then, O child of God, should you suffer under Giant Despair, in his doubting, fearing castle.—Ed.

2 What indescribable consolations flow into the Christina's soul from communion with God, especially to the most deeply afflicted. Thus the wisdom casts her care upon her heavenly Father—her Creator, Christ; for all things were made by him. He is her husband, ever living to intercede for her. Wondrous privileges!—Ed.

3 The infinite perfection of the Mediatorial work of Jesus, God manifest in the flesh, is the ground of our hope. He alone can effectually plead with God. O my soul! if, in thy holiest and happiest moments, thou art found 'looking unto Jesus,' how much more intensely ought thy trembling eye to be directed to him, when thou art wounded by sin!!—Ed.

4 What can withstand the will of Christ, that all his should behold and partake of his glory? He is the Captain of salvation, has subdued all our enemies for us, and will destroy their power in us, and, ere long, put our last enemy, death, under his feet.—Mason.

5 One proof of a future state of rewards is, that many of God's dearest saints have been most bitterly persecuted all their lives, and martyred with extreme cruelty. Thus it was with the greatest man this country ever saw—William Tyndale, to whom the world is indebted for our translation of the Bible. See his letters, in his Memoir by the Editor, prefixed to a reprint of the first English New Testament.—Ed.

6 'The uttermost.' How boundless! It includes all that wondrous extent of Divine love which we shall be ever learning, and never be able to comprehend, the breadth, length, depth, and height of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.—Ed.

7 'Achare,' from to chare, to turn about, or backwards and forwards;, as achare woman, one who takes her turn at work; a door achare, or ajar, turning to and fro on its hinges, or standing partly open.—Ed.

8 It is supposed by some that 'Nicolas' was the founder of the sect of the Nicolaitanes, mentioned in Revelation 2:6, 15; but of this there is much doubt. See Dr. Gill, and Matthew Henry on Acts 6:5.—Ed.

9 A godly man's prayers are sometimes answered by terrible things in righteousness. He prays to be quickened in his walk with God; and the answer, dictated by wisdom and love, is the loss of some temporal blessing, that he may be kept 'looking unto Jesus.'—Ed.

10 The heart 'unweldable.' This homely allusion, drawn from Bunyan's trade of blacksmith, is worthy of remark. The heart a mountain of iron, so hard that no heat in nature can soften it so as to weld it to Christ. To weld is to hammer into firm union two pieces of iron, when heated almost to fusion, so as to become one piece. The heart of man is by nature 'unweldable,' until God the Spirit softens it; and then the union is such that Christ becomes THE LIFE of his saints. Reader, has thy heart passed through this process?—Ed.

11 This is a solemn and heart-searching consideration. It is not enough that we fear eternal wrath, but we must love heaven, for the sake of its purity. It is not sufficient that we go to Christ for pardon, but we must go through him to the infinitely holy God, for holiness and fitness for heaven.—Ed.

12 There have been, in every age, professors who, instead of gratefully receiving and obeying the whole truth, have indulged in favourite doctrines. Happy is that Christian who equally loves to hear Christ set forth as a priest and sacrifice, or to dwell upon his power and authority as king and lawgiver; who delights as much in holy obedience as in electing love. The saints are bound to bear with each other, never forgetting that they are members of one family, and must cherish and comfort one another, as we hope to enjoy fellowship with heaven and the smiles of the great Head of the church.—Ed.

13 Nothing can be more solemn and awful than are these warnings. O that we may feel the spurs, the condemning curse of a broken law, and a sense of the jaws of hell, urging us on in coming to, and cleaving to Christ.—Ed.

14

'To any boot,' to any profit. 'What boots it at one gate to make defence, and at another to let in the foe!'

Milton's Samson Agonistes—Ed.

15 'Them.' As Christ is the Saviour of both body and soul, notwithstanding the sins of the body, they break not the covenant; because it is God's covenant, and stands fast in Christ for evermore.—Ed.

16 'Plenary'; full, perfect, or complete.—Ed.

17 Bunyan saw that time very far off, which much more nearly approaches us: when Antichrist will find a grave in the side of the pit's mouth; when no national barriers, either Pagan, Popish, or Protestant, shall exist to prevent the glorious spread of pure and vital Christianity. And, however abundant that harvest of souls shall be, there will prove a superabundance of grace in Christ to supply all their wants. He was, is now, and ever will be, 'a complete Saviour.'—Ed.

18 'Gospellers,' a nickname given to the Reformers, when first a holy band determined, at the imminent risk of life, to read the New Testament or Gospels in English. It was like the term Methodist, a few years ago. The gospel has now so much spread, that these terms of reproach are only used by fanatics.—Ed.

THE END

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