Now, from all these things, it appears that we have indulgence at God's hand, and that our weaknesses, as our Christ manages the matter for us, are so far off from laying a block or bar in the way to the enjoyment of favour, that they also work for our good; yea, and God's foresight of them has so kindled his bowels and compassion to us, as to put him upon devising of such things for our relief, which by no means could have been, had not sin been with us in the world, and had not the best of saints been "as a brand plucked out of the burning."
I have seen men (and yet they are worse than God) take most care of, and, also, best provide for, those of their children that have been most infirm and helpless; 10 and our Advocate "shall gather his lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom"; yea, and I know that there is such an art in showing and making mention of weaknesses as shall make the tears stand in a parent's eyes, and as shall make him search to the bottom of his purse to find out what may do his weakling good. Christ, also, has that excellent art, as he is an Advocate with the Father for us; he can so make mention of us and of our infirmities, while he pleads before God, against the devil, for us, that he can make the bowels of the Almighty yearn towards us, and to wrap us up in their compassions. You read much of the pity, compassion, and of the yearning of the bowels of the mighty God towards his people; all which, I think, is kindled and made burn towards us, by the pleading of our Advocate. I have seen fathers offended with their children; but when a brother had turned a skillful advocate, the anger has been appeased, and the means have been concealed. We read but little of this Advocate's office of Jesus Christ, yet much of the fruit of it is extended to the churches; but as the cause of smiles, after offences committed, is made manifest afterwards, so at the day when God will open all things, we shall see how many times our Lord, as an Advocate, pleaded for us, and redeemed us by his so pleading, unto the enjoyments of smiles and embraces, who, for sin, but a while before, were under frowns and chastisements. And thus much for the making out how Christ doth manage his office of being an Advocate for us with the Father-"If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
[WHO HAVE CHRIST FOR AN ADVOCATE]
THIRDLY, And I shall come now to the third head; to wit, to show you more particularly who they are that have Jesus Christ for their Advocate.
In my handling of this head, I shall show, First, That this office of an advocate differeth from that of a priest, and how. Second, I shall show you how far Christ extendeth this his office of advocateship-I mean, in matters concerning the people of God, And then, Third, I shall come more directly to show who they are that have Christ for their Advocate.
First, For the first of these, That this office of Christ, as an Advocate, differeth from that of a Priest. That he is a Priest, a Priest for ever, I heartily acknowledge; but that his priesthood and advocateship should be one and the self-same office, I cannot believe.
1. Because they differ in name. We may as well say a father, as such, is a son, or that father and son is the self-same relation, as say a priest and an advocate, as to office, are but one and the same thing. They differ in name as much as priest and sacrifice do: a priest is one, and a sacrifice is another; and though Christ is Priest and Sacrifice too, yet, as a Priest, he is not a Sacrifice, nor, as a Sacrifice, a Priest.
2. As they differ in name, so they differ in the nature of office. A priest is to slay a sacrifice; an advocate is to plead a cause; a priest is to offer his sacrifice, to the end that, by the merit thereof, he may appease; an advocate is to plead, to plead according to law; a priest is to make intercession, by virtue of his sacrifice; an advocate is to plead law, because amends is made.
3. As they differ in name and nature, so they also differ as to their extent. The priesthood of Christ extendeth itself to the whole of God's elect, whether called or in their sins; but Christ, as Advocate, pleadeth only for the children.
4. As they differ in name, in nature, and extent, so they differ as to the persons with whom they have to do. We read not anywhere that Christ, as Priest, has to do with the devil as an antagonist, but, as an Advocate, he hath.
5. As they differ in these, so they differ as to the matters about which they are employed. Christ, as Priest, concerns himself with every wry thought, and, also, with the least imperfection or infirmity that attends our most holy things; but Christ, as Advocate, doth not so, as I have already showed.
6. So that Christ, as Priest, goes before, and Christ, as an Advocate, comes after; Christ, as Priest, continually intercedes; Christ, as Advocate, in case of great transgressions, pleads: Christ, as Priest, has need to act always, but Christ, as Advocate, sometimes only. Christ, as Priest, acts in times of peace; but Christ, as Advocate, in times of broils, turmoils, and sharp contentions; wherefore, Christ, as Advocate, is, as I may call him, a reserve, and his time is then to arise, to stand up and plead, when HIS are clothed with some filthy sin that of late they have fallen into, as David, Joshua, or Peter. When some such thing is committed by them, as ministereth to the enemy a show of ground to question the truth of their grace; or when it is a question, and to be debated, whether it can stand with the laws of heaven, with the merits of Christ, and the honour of God, that such a one should be saved. Now let an advocate come forth, now let him have time to plead, for this is a fit occasion for the saints' Advocate to stand up to plead for the salvation of his people. But,
Second, I come next to show you how far this office of an Advocate is extended. I hinted at this before, so now shall be the more brief. 1. By this office he offereth no sacrifice; he only, as to matter of justice, pleads the sacrifice offered. 2. By this office he obtains the conversion of none; he only thereby secureth the converted from the damnation which their adversary, for sins after light and profession, endeavoureth to bring them to. 3. By this office he prevents not temporal punishment, but by it he chiefly preserveth the soul from hell. 4. By this office he brings in no justifying righteousness for us, he only thereby prevaileth to have the dispose of that brought in by himself, as Priest, for the justifying of those, by a new and fresh act, who had made their justification doubtful by new falls into sin. And this is plain in the history of our Joshua, so often mentioned before (Zech 3). 5. As Priest, he hath obtained eternal redemption for us; and as Advocate, he by law, maintaineth our right thereto, against the devil and his angels.
Third, I come now to show you who they are that have Jesus Christ for their Advocate. And this I shall do-first, more generally, and then shall be more particular and distinct about it.
1. More generally. They are all the truly gracious; those that are the children by adoption; and this the test affirmeth-"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." They are, then, the children, by adoption, that are the persons concerned in the advocateship of Jesus Christ. The priesthood of Christ extendeth itself to the whole body of the elect, but the advocateship of Christ doth not so. This is further cleared by this apostle; and in this very text, if you consider what immediately follows-"We have an Advocate," says he, "and he is the propitiation for our sins." He is our Advocate, and also our Priest. As an Advocate, ours only; but as a propitiation, not ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world; to be sure, for the elect throughout the world, and they that will extend it further, let them.
And I say again, had he not intended that there should have been a straiter limit put to the Advocateship of Christ than he would have us put to his priestly office, what needed he, when he speaketh of the propitiation which relates to Christ as Priest, have added-"And not for ours only"? As an Advocate, then, he engageth for us that are children; and as a Priest, too, he hath appeased God's wrath for our sins; but as an Advocate his offices are confined to the children only, but as a Priest he is not so. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only. The sense, therefore, of the apostle should, I think, be this-That Christ, as a Priest, hath offered a propitiatory sacrifice for all; but as an Advocate he pleadeth only for the children. Children, we have an Advocate to ourselves, and he is also our Priest; but as he is a Priest, he is not ours only, but maketh, as such, amends for all that shall be saved. The elect, therefore, have the Lord Jesus for their Advocate then, and then only, when they are by calling put among the children; because, as Advocate, he is peculiarly the children's-"My little children, WE have an Advocate."
Objection. But he also saith, "If any man sin, we have an Advocate"; any man that sinneth seems, by the text, notwithstanding what you say, "to have an Advocate with the Father."
Answer. By any man, must not be meant any of the world, nor any of the elect, but any man in faith and grace; for he still limits this general term, "any man," with this restriction, "we"-Children, "if any man sin, we have an Advocate." We, any man of us. And this is yet further made appear, since he saith that it is to them he writes, not only here, but further in this chapter-"I write unto YOU, little children; I write unto you, fathers; I write unto you, young men" (I John 2: 12,13). These are the persons intended in the text, for under these three heads are comprehended all men; for they are either children, and so men in nature, or young men, and so men in strength; or else they are fathers, and so aged, and of experience. Add to this, by "any man," that the apostle intendeth not to enlarge himself beyond the persons that are in grace; but to supply what was wanting by that term "little children"; for since the strongest saint may have heed of an Advocate, as well as the most feeble of the flock, why should the apostle leave it to be so understood as if the children, and the children only, had an interest in that office? Wherefore, after he had said, "My little children, I write unto you, that ye sin not"; he then adds, with enlargement, "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father." Yet the little children may well be mentioned first, since they most want the knowledge of it, are most feeble, and so by sin may be forced most frequently to act faith on Christ, as Advocate. Besides, they are most ready, through temptation, to question whether they have so good a right to Christ in all his offices as have better and more well-grown saints; and, therefore, they, in this the apostle's salutation, are first set down in the catalogue of names-"My little children, I write unto you, that ye sin not. If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." So, then, the children of God are they who have the Lord Jesus, an Advocate for them with the Father. The least and biggest, the oldest and youngest, the feeblest and the strongest; ALL the children have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
(1.) Since, then, the children have Christ for their advocate, art thou a child? Art thou begotten of God by his Word? (James 1:18). Hast thou in thee the spirit of adoption? (Gal 4:1-6). Canst thou in faith say, Father, Father, to God? Then is Christ thy Advocate, thine Advocate, "now to appear in the presence of God for thee" (Heb 9:24). To appear there, and to plead there, in the face of the court of heaven, for thee; to plead there against thine adversary, whose accusations are dreadful, whose subtlety is great, whose malice is inconceivable, and whose rage is intolerable; to plead there before a just God, a righteous God, a sin-revenging God: before whose face thou wouldst die if thou wast to show thyself, and at his bar to plead thine own cause. But,
(2.) There is a difference in children; some are bigger than some; there are children and little children-"My little children, I write unto you." Little children; some of the little children can neither say Father, nor so much as know that they themselves are children.
This is true in nature, and so it is in grace; wherefore, notwithstanding what was said under the first head, it doth not follow, that if I be a child I must certainly know it, and also be able to call God, Father. Let the first, then, serve to poise and balance the confident ones, and let this be for the relief of those more feeble; for they that are children, whether they know it or no, have Jesus Christ for their Advocate, for Christ is assigned to be our Advocate by the Judge, by the King, by our God and Father, although we have not known it. True, at present, there can come from hence, to them that are thus concerned in the advocateship of Christ, but little comfort; but yet it yields them great security; they have "an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." God knows this, the devil feels this, and the children shall have the comfort of it afterwards. I say, the time is coming when they shall know that even then, when they knew it not, they had an Advocate with the Father; an Advocate who was neither loath, nor afraid, nor ashamed, to plead for their defense against their proudest foe. And will not this, when they know it, yield them comfort? Doubtless it will; yea, more, and of a better kind, than that which flows from the knowledge that one is born to crowns and kingdoms.
Again; as he is an Advocate for the children, so he is also, as before was hinted, for the strong and experienced; for no strength in this world secureth from the rage of hell; nor can any experience, while we are here, fortify us against his assaults. There is also an incidency in the best to sin; and the bigger man, the bigger fall; for the more hurt, the greater damage. Wherefore it is of absolute necessity that an advocate be provided for the strong as for the weak. "Any man"; he that is most holy, most reformed, most refined, and most purified, may as soon be in the dirt as the weakest Christian; and, so far as I can see, Satan's design is against them most. I am sure the greatest sins have been committed by the biggest saints. This wayfaring man came to David's house, and when he stood up against Israel, he provoked David to number the people (II Sam 12:4,7; I Chron 21:1). Wherefore they have as much need of an advocate as have the youngest and most feeble of the flock. What a mind had he to try a fall with Peter! And how quickly did he break the neck of Judas! The like, without doubt, he had done to Peter, had not Jesus, by stepping in, prevented. As long as sin is in our flesh, there is danger. Indeed, he saith of the young men that they are strong, and that they have overcome the wicked one; but he doth not say they have killed him. As long as the devil is alive there is danger; and though a strong Christian may be too hard for, and may overcome him in one thing, he may be too hard for, yea, and may overcome him two for one afterwards. Thus he served David, and thus he served Peter, and thus he, in our day, has served many more. The strongest are weak, the wisest are fools, when suffered to be sifted as wheat in Satan's sieve; yea, and have often been so proved, to the wounding of their great hearts, and the dishonour of religion. To conclude this: God of his mercy hath sufficiently declared the truth of what I say, by preparing for the best, the strongest, and most sanctified, as well as for the least, weakest, and most feeble saint, as Advocate-"My little children, I write unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
2. But some may object, that what has been said as to discovering for whom Christ is an Advocate has been too general, and, therefore, would have me come more to particulars, else they can get no comfort. Well, inquiring soul, so I will; and, therefore, hearken to what I say.
(1.) Wouldest thou know whether Christ is thine Advocate or no? I ask, Hast thou entertained him so to be? When men have suits of law depending in any of the king's courts above, they entertain their attorney or advocate to plead their cause, and so he pleads for them. I say, hast thou entertained Jesus Christ for thy lawyer to plead thy cause? "Plead my cause, O Lord," said David (Psa 35:1); and again, "Judge me, O God, and plead my cause" (Psa 43:1). This, therefore, is the first thing that I would propound to thee: Hast thou, with David, entertained him for thy lawyer, or, with good Hezekiah, cried out, "O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me" (Isa 38:14). What sayest thou, soul? Hast thou been with him, and prayed him to plead thy cause, and cried unto him to undertake for thee? This I call entertaining of him to be thy advocate, and I choose to follow the similitude, both because the Scripture seems to smile upon such a way of discourse, and because thy question doth naturally lead me to it. Wherefore, I ask again, hast thou been with him? Hast thou entertained him? Hast thou desired him to plead thy cause?
Question. Thou wilt say unto me, How should I know that I have done so?
Answer. I answer, Art thou sensible that thou hast an action commenced against thee in that high court of justice that is above? I say, Art thou sensible of this? For the defendants-and all God's people are defendants-do not use to entertain their lawyers, but from knowledge, that an action either is, or may be, commenced against them before the God of heaven. If thou sayest yea, then I ask, Who told thee that thou standest accused for transgression before the judgment-seat of God? I say, Who told thee so? Hath the Holy Ghost, hath the world, or hath thy conscience? For nothing else, as I know of, can bring such tidings to thy soul.
Again; Hast thou found a failure in all others that might have been entertained to plead thy cause? Some make their sighs, their tears, their prayers, and their reformations, their advocates-"Hast thou tried these, and found them wanting?" Hast thou seen thy state to be desperate, if the Lord Jesus doth not undertake to plead thy cause? for Jesus is not entertained so long as men can make shift without him. But when it comes to this point I perish for ever, notwithstanding the help of all, if the Lord Jesus steps not in. Then Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus, good Lord Jesus! undertake for me. Hast thou therefore been with Jesus Christ as concerned in thy soul, as heartily concerned about the action that thou perceivest to be commenced against thee?
Question. You will say, How should I know that?
Answer. I answer, Hast thou well considered the nature of the crime wherewith thou standest charged at the bar of God? Hast thou also considered the justness of the Judge? Again I ask, Hast thou considered what truth, as to matter of fact, there is in the things whereof thou standest accused? Also, Hast thou considered the cunning, the malice, and diligence of thy adversary, with the greatness of the loss thou art like to sustain, shouldst thou with Ahab, in the book of Kings, (I Kings 22:17-23), or with the hypocrites in Isaiah, (Isa 6:5-10), have the verdict of the Lord God go out from the throne against thee? I ask thee these questions, because if thou art in the knowledge of these things to seek, or if thou art not deeply concerned about the greatness of the damage that will certainly overtake thee, and that for ever, shouldest thou be indeed accused before God, and have none to plead thy cause, thou hast not, nor canst not, let what will come upon thee, have been with Jesus Christ to plead thy cause; and so, let thy case be never so desperate, thou standest alone, and hast no helper (Job 30:13, 9:13) Or if thou hast, they, not being the advocate of God's appointing, must needs fall with thee, and with thy burden. Wherefore, consider of this seriously, and return thy answer to God, who can tell if truth shall be found in thy answers, better by far than any; for it is he that tries the reins and the heart, and therefore to him I refer thee. But,
(2.) Wouldst thou know whether Jesus Christ is thine advocate? Then I ask again, Hast thou revealed thy cause unto him?-I say, Hast thou revealed thy cause unto him? For he that goeth to law for his right, must not only go to a lawyer, and say, Sir, I am in trouble, and am to have a trial at law with mine enemy, pray undertake my cause; but he must also reveal to his lawyer his cause. He must go to him and tell him what is the matter, how things stand, where the shoe pinches, and so. Thus did the church of old, and thus doth every true Christian now; for though nothing can be hid from him, yet he will have things out of thine own mouth; he will have thee to reveal thy matters unto him (Matt 20:32). "O Lord of hosts," said Jeremiah, "that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause" (Jer 11:20). And again; "But, O Lord of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them; for unto thee have I opened my cause" (Jer 20:12). Seest thou here, how saints of old were wont to do? how they did, not only in a general way, entreat Christ to plead their cause, but in a particular way, go to him and reveal, or open their cause unto him?
O! it is excellent to behold how some sinners will do this when they get Christ and themselves in a closet alone; when they, upon their bare knees, are pouring out of their souls before him; or, like the woman in the gospel, telling him all the truth (Mark 5). O! saith the soul, Lord, I am come to thee upon an earnest business; I am arrested by Satan; the bailiff was mine own conscience, and I am like to be accused before the judgment-seat of God. My salvation lies at stake; I am questioned for my interest in heaven; I am afraid of the Judge; my heart condemns me (I John 3:20). Mine enemy is subtle, and wanteth not malice to prosecute me to death, and then to hell. Also, Lord, I am sensible that the law is against me, for indeed I have horribly sinned, and thus and thus have I done. Here I lie open to law, and there I lie open to law; here I have given the adversary advantage, and there he will surely have a hank11 against me. Lord, I am distressed, undertake for me! And there are some things that thou must be acquainted with about thine Advocate, before thou wilt venture to go thus far with him. As,
(a.) Thou must know him to be a friend, and not an enemy, unto whom thou openest thy heart; and until thou comest to know that Christ is a friend to thee, or to souls in thy condition, thou wilt never reveal thy cause unto him, not thy whole cause unto him. And it is from this that so many that have soul causes hourly depending before the throne of God, and that are in danger every day of eternal damnation, forbear to entertain Jesus Christ for their Advocate, and so wickedly conceal their matters from him; but "he that hideth his sins shall not prosper" (Prov 28:13)
FOOTNOTE: Quoted from the Genevan, or Puritan translation.-ED. This, therefore, must first be believed by thee before thou wilt reveal thy cause unto him.
(b.) A man, when his estate is called in question, I mean his right and title thereto, will be very cautious, especially if he also questions his title to it himself, unto whom he reveals that affair; he must know him to be one that is not only friendly, but faithful, to whom he reveals such a secret as this. Why, thus it is with Christ and the soul. If the soul is not somewhat persuaded of the faithfulness of Christ-to wit, that if he can do him no good, he will do him no harm, he will never reveal his cause unto him, but will seek to hide his counsel from the Lord. This, therefore, is another thing by which thou mayest know that thou hast Christ for thine Advocate, if thou hast heartily and in very deed revealed thy cause unto him. Now, they that do honestly reveal their cause to their lawyer, will endeavour to possess him, as I hinted before, with the worst; they will, with words, make it as bad as they may; for, think they, by that means I shall prepare him for the worst that mine enemy can do. And thus souls deal with Jesus Christ; see Psalms 51 and 38, with several others that might be named, and see if God's people have not done so. "I said," saith David, "I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin." But,
(3.) Hast thou Jesus Christ for thine Advocate? or wouldst thou know if thou hast? Then I ask again, Hast thou committed thy cause to him? When a man entertains12 his lawyer to stand for him and to plead his cause, he doth not only reveal, but commit his cause unto him. "I would seek unto God," says Eliphaz to Job, "and unto God would I commit my cause" (Job 5:8). Now there is a difference betwixt revealing my cause and committing of it to a man. To reveal my cause is to open it to one; and to commit it to him is to trust it in his hand. Many a man will reveal his cause to him unto whom he will yet be afraid to commit it; but now, he that entertains a lawyer to plead his cause, doth not only reveal but commit his cause into him. As, suppose right to his estate be called in question; why, then, he not only reveals his cause to his lawyer, but puts into his hands his evidences, deeds, leases, mortgages, bonds, or what else he hath, to show a title to his estate by. And thus doth Christians deal with Christ; they deliver up all unto him-to wit, all their signs, evidences, promises, and assurances, which they have thought they had for heaven and the salvation of their souls, and have desired him to peruse, to search, and try them every one. "And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psa 139:23-24). This is committing of thy cause to Christ, and this is the hardest task of all, for the man that doth thus, he trusteth Christ with all; and it implieth, that he will live and die, stand and fall, lose and win, according as Christ will manage his business. Thus did Paul, (II Tim 1:12), and thus Peter admonishes us to do. Now he that doth this must be convinced,
(a.) Of the ability of Jesus Christ to defend him; for a man will not commit so great a concern as his all is to his friend. No; not to his friend, be he never so faithful, if he perceives not in him ability to save him, and to preserve what he hath, against all the cavils of an enemy. And hence it is that the ability of Jesus Christ, as to the saving of his people, is so much insisted on in the Scripture; as, "I have laid help upon one that is mighty" (Psa 89:19). "I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save" (Isa 63:1). And again, "He shall send them a Saviour, and a great one" (Isa 19:20).
(b.) As they must be convinced of his ability to help them, so they must of his courage; a man that has parts sufficient may yet fail his friend for want of courage; wherefore, the courage and greatness of Christ's Spirit, as to his undertaking of the cause of his people, is also amply set out in Scripture. "He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth," "till he send forth judgment unto victory" (Isa 42:4; Matt 12:20).
(c.) They must also be convinced of his willingness to do this for them; for though one be able and of courage sufficient, yet if he is not willing to undertake one's cause, what is it the better? Wherefore, he declareth his willingness also, and how ready he is to stand up to plead the cause of the poor and of them that are in want. "The Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them" (Prov 22:23).
(d.) They must also be convinced of this-that Christ is tender, and will not be offended at the dullness of his client. Some men can reveal their cause to their lawyers better than some, and are more serviceable and handy in that affair than others. But, saith the Christian, I am dull and stupid that way, will not Christ be shuff13 and shy with me because of this? Honest heart! He hath a supply of thy defects14 in himself, and knoweth what thou wantest, and where the shoe pinches, though thou art not able distinctly to open matters to him. The child is pricked with a pin, and lies crying in the mother's lap, but cannot show its mother where the pin is; but there is pity enough in the mother to supply this defect of the child; wherefore she undresses it, opens it, searches every clout from head to the foot of the child, and so finds where the pin is. Thus will thy lawyer do; he will search and find out thy difficulties, and where Satan seeketh an advantage of thee, accordingly will provide his remedy.
(e.) O, but will he not be weary? The prophet complains of some, "that they weary God" (Isa 7:13). And mine is a very cross and intricate cause; I have wearied many a good man while I have been telling my tale unto him, and I am afraid that I shall also weary Jesus Christ. Answer. Soul, he suffered and did bear with the manners of Israel forty years in the wilderness; and hast thou tried him half so long? (Acts 13:18). The good souls that have gone before thee have found him "a tried stone," a sure one to be trusted to as to this (Isa 28:16). And the prophet saith positively that "he fainteth not, neither is weary"; and that "there is no searching of his understanding" (Isa 40:28). Let all these things prevail with thee to believe, that if thou hast committed by cause unto him, he will bring it to pass, to a good pass, to so good a pass as will glorify God, honour Christ, save thee, and shame the devil. But,
(4.) Wouldst thou know whether Jesus Christ is thine Advocate, whether he has taken in hand to plead thy cause? Then, I ask, dost thou, together with what has been mentioned before, wait upon him according to his counsel, until things shall come to a legal issue? Thus must clients do. There is a great many turnings and windings about suits and trials at law; the enemy, also, with his supersedeas15 cavils, and motions, often defers a speedy issue; wherefore, the man whose is the concern must wait; as the prophet said, "I will look," said he, "unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation." But how long, prophet, wilt thou wait? Why, says he, "until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me" (Micah 7:7-10).
Perhaps when thy cause is tried, things for the present are upon this issue; thy adversary, indeed, is cast, but whether thou shalt have an absolute discharge, as Peter had, or a conditional one, as David, and as the Corinthians had, that is the question (II Sam 12:10-14). True, thou shalt be completely saved at last; but yet whether it is not best to leave to thee a memento of God's displeasure against thy sin, by awarding that the sword shall never depart from thy house, or that some sore sickness or other distresses shall haunt thee as long as thou livest, or, perhaps, that thou shalt walk without the light of God's countenance for several years and a day. Now, if any of these three things happen unto thee, thou must exercise patience, and wait; thus did David-"I waited patiently"; and again he exercises his soul in this virtue, saying "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him" (Psa 62:5). For now we are judged of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. And by this judgment, though it sets us free from their damnation, yet we are involved in many troubles, and, perhaps, must wait many a day before we can know that, as to the main, the verdict hath gone on our side. Thus, therefore, in order to thy waiting upon him without fainting, it is meet that thou shouldest know the methods of him that manages thy cause for thee in heaven; and suffer not mistrust to break in and bear sway in thy soul, for "he will" at length "bring thee forth to the light, and thou shalt behold his righteousness. She, also, that is thine enemy shall see it, and shame shall cover her which saith unto thee, Where is the Lord thy God?" (Micah 7: 9-10).
Question. But what is it to wait upon him according to his counsel?
Answer. (a.) To wait is to be of good courage, to live in expectation, and to look for deliverance, though thou hast sinned against thy God. "Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord" (Psa 27:14).
(b.) To wait upon him is to keep his way, to walk humbly in his appointments. "Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land" (Psa 37:34).
(c.) To wait upon him is to observe and keep those directions which he giveth thee; to observe even while he stands up to plead thy cause; for without this, or not doing this, a man may mar his cause in the hand of him that is to plead it; wherefore, keep thee far from an evil matter, have no correspondence with thine enemy, walk humbly for the wickedness thou hast committed, and loathe and abhor thyself for it, in dust and ashes. To these things doth the Scripture everywhere direct us.
(d.) To wait, is also to incline, to hearken to those further directions which thou mayest receive from the mouth of thine advocate, as to any fresh matters that may forward and expedite a good issue of thine affair in the court of heaven. The want of this was the reason that the deliverance of Israel did linger so long in former times. "O," says he, "that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto him; but their time should have endured for ever" (Psa 81:13-15).
(e.) Also, if it tarry long, wait for it. Do not conclude that thy cause is lost because at present thou dost not hear from court. Cry, if thou wilt, O, when wilt thou come unto me? But never let such a wicked thought pass through thy heart, saying, "This evil is of the Lord; what should I wait for the Lord any longer?" (II Kings 6:33).
(f.) But take heed that thou turnest not thy waiting into sleeping. Wait thou must, and wait patiently too; but yet wait with much longing and earnestness of spirit, to see or hear how matters go above. You may observe, that when a man that dwells far down in the country, and has some business at the term, in this or another of the king's courts, though he will wait his lawyer's time and convenience, yet he will so wait as still to inquire at the post house, or at the carrier's, or if a neighbour comes down from term, at his mouth, for letters, or any other intelligence, if possibly he may arrive to know how his cause speeds, and whether his adversary, or he, has the day. Thus, I say, thou must wait upon thine Advocate. His ordinances are his post house, his ministers are his carriers, where tidings from heaven are to be had, and where those that are sued in that court by the devil may, at one time or another, hear from their lawyer, their advocate, how things are like to go. Wherefore, I say, wait at the posts of wisdom's house, go to ordinances with expectation to hear from thy Advocate there; for he will send in due time; "though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry" (Hab 2:1-3). And now, soul, I have answered thy request, and let me hear what thou sayest unto me.
Soul.-Truly, says the soul, methinks that by what you have said, I may have this blessed Jesus to be mine Advocate; for I think, verily, I have entertained him to be mine Advocate. I have also revealed my cause unto him, yea, committed both it and myself unto him; and, as you say, I wait; oh! I wait! and my eyes fail with looking upward. Fain would I hear how my soul standeth in the sight of God, and whether my sins, which I have committed since light and grace were given unto me, be by mine Advocate, taken out of the hand of the devil, and by mine Advocate removed as far from me as the ends of the earth are asunder; whether the verdict has gone on my side, and what a shout there was among the angels when they saw it went well with me! But alas! I have waited, and that a long time, and have, as you advise, run from ordinance to minister, and from minister to ordinance, or, as you phrase it, from the post to the carrier, and from the carrier to the post house, to see if I could hear aught from heaven how matters went about my soul there. I have also asked those that pass by the way, "if they saw him whom my soul loveth," and if they had anything to communicate to me? But nothing can I get or find but generals; as, that I have an Advocate there, and that he pleadeth the cause of his people, and that he will thoroughly plead their cause. But what he has done for ME, of that as yet I am ignorant. I doubt if my soul shall by him be effectually secured, that yet a conditional verdict will be awarded concerning me, and that much bitter will be mixed with my sweet, and that I must drink gall and wormwood for my folly; for if David, and Asa, and Hezekiah and such good men, were so served for their sins, (II Chron 16:7,12), why should I look for other dealing at the hand of God? But as to this, I will endeavour to "bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him," (Micah 7:9), and shall count it an infinite mercy, if this judgment comes to me from him, that I may "not be condemned with the world" (I Cor 11:32). I know it is dreadful walking in darkness; but if that also shall be the Lord's lot upon me; I pray God I may have faith enough to stay upon him till death, and then will the clouds blow over, and I shall see him in the light of the living.
Mine, enemy, the devil, as you see, is of an inveigling temper; and though he has accused my before the judgment-seat of God, yet when he comes to me at any time, he glavers16 and flatters as if he never did mean me harm; but I think it is that he might get further advantage against me. But I carry it now at a greater distance than formerly; and O that I was at the remotest distance, not only from him, but also from that self of mine, that laboureth with him for my undoing!
But although I say these things now, and to you, yet I have my solitary hours, and in them I have other strange thoughts; for thus I think, my cause is bad, I have sinned, and I have been vile. I am ashamed myself of mine own doings, and have given mine enemy the best end of the staff. The law, and reason, and my conscience, plead for him against me, and all is true; he puts into his charge against me, that I have sinned more times than there be hairs on my head. I know not anything that ever I did in my life but it had flaw, or wrinkle, or spot, or some such thing in it. Mine eyes have seen vileness in the best of my doings; what, then, think you, must God needs see in them? Nor can I do anything yet, for all I know that I am accused by my enemy before the judgment-seat of God, better than what already is imperfect. "I lie down in my shame, and my confusion covers my face." "I have sinned, what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men" (Jer 3:25, Job 7:20).
Reply.-Well, soul, I have heard what thou hast said, and if all be true which thou hast said, it is good, and gives me ground of hope that Jesus Christ is become thine Advocate; and if that be so, no doubt but thy trial will come to a good conclusion. And be not afraid because of the holiness of God; for thine Advocate has this for his advantage, that he pleads before a judge that is just, and against an enemy that is unholy and rejected. Nor let the thoughts of the badness of thy cause terrify thee overmuch. Cause thou hast indeed to be humble, and thou dost well to cover thy face with shame; and it is no matter how base and vile thou art in thine own eyes, provided that it comes not by renewed acts of rebellion, but through a spiritual sight of thine imperfections. Only let me advise thee here to stop. Let not thy shame nor thy self-abasing apprehension of thyself, drive thee from the firm and permanent ground of hope, which is the promise, and the doctrine of an Advocate with the Father. No; let not the apprehension of the badness of thy cause do it, forasmuch as he did never yet take cause in hand that was good, perfectly good of itself; and his excellency is, to make a man stand that has a bad cause; yea, he can make a bad cause good, in a way of justice and righteousness.
[THE PRIVILEGES OF THOSE WHO HAVE CHRIST FOR AN ADVOCATE.]
FOURTHLY, And for thy further encouragement in this matter, I will here bring in the fourth chief head-to wit, to show what excellent privilege (I mean over and above what has already been spoken of) they have that are made partakers of the benefit of this office:-"If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
First Privilege. Thy Advocate pleads to a price paid, to a propitiation made; and this is a great advantage; yea, he pleads to a satisfaction made for all wrongs done, or to be done, by his elect-"For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (Heb 10:10,14; 9:26). "By one offering"-that is, by the offering of himself-by one offering once offered, once offered in the end of the world. This, I say, thine Advocate pleads. When Satan brings in fresh accusations for more transgressions against the law of God, he forces not Christ to shift his first plea. I say, he puts him not to his shifts at all; for the price once paid hath in it sufficient value, would God impute it to that end, to take away the sin of the whole world. There is a man that hath brethren; he is rich, and they are poor (and this is the case betwixt Christ and us), and the rich brother goeth to his father, and saith, Thou art related to my brethren with me, and out of my store, I pray thee, let them have sufficient, and for thy satisfaction I will put into thy hand the whole of what I have, which perhaps is worth an hundred thousand pounds by the year; and this other sum I also give, that they be not disinherited. Now, will not this last his poor brethren to spend upon a great while? But Christ's worth can never be drawn dry.
Now, set the case again, that some ill-conditioned man should take notice that these poor men live all upon the spend (and saints do so), and should come to the good man's house, and complain to him of the spending of his sons, and that while their elder brother stands by, what do you think the elder brother would reply, if he was as good-natured as Christ? Why, he would say, I have yet with my father in store for my brethren, wherefore then seekest thou to stop his hand? As he is just, he must give them for their convenience; yea, and as for their extravagances, I have satisfied for them so well, that, however he afflicteth them, he will not disinherit them. I hope you will read and hear this, not like them that say, "Let us do evil that good may come," but like those whom the love of Christ constrains to be better. However, this is the children's bread, that which they have need of, and without which they cannot live; and they must have it, though Satan should put pins into it, therewith to choke the dogs.17 And for the further clearing of this, I will present you with these few considerations:
1. Those that are most sanctified have yet a body of sin and death in them, and so also it will be, while they continue in this world (Rom 7:24). 2. This body of sin strives to break out, and will break out, to the polluting of the conversation, if saints be not the more watchful (Rom 6:12). Yea, it has broken out in a most sad manner, and that in the strongest saints (Gal 5:17). 3. Christ offereth no new sacrifice for the salvation of these his people. "For, being raised from the dead, he dieth no more" (Rom 6:9). So then, if saints sin, they must be saved, if saved at all, by virtue of the offering already offered; and if so, then all Christ's pleas, as an Advocate, are grounded upon that one offering which before, as a Priest, he presented God with, for the taking away of sin. So then, Christians live upon this old stock; their transgressions are forgiven for the sake of the worth, that yet God finds in the offering that Christ hath offered. And all Christ's pleadings, as an Advocate, are grounded upon the sufficiency and worth of that one sacrifice; I mean, all his pleadings with his Father, as to the charge which the accuser brings in against them. For though thou art a man of infirmity, and so incident to nothing [so much] as to stumble and fall, if grace doth not prevent, and it doth not always prevent; yet the value and worth of the price that was once paid for thee is not yet worn out; and Christ, as an Advocate, still pleadeth, as occasion is given, that, with success, to thy salvation. And this privilege they have, who indeed have Christ for their Advocate; and I put it here, in the first place, because all other do depend upon it.
Second Privilege. Thine Advocate, as he pleadeth a price already paid, so, and therefore, he pleads for himself as for thee. We are all concerned in one bottom; if he sinks, we sink; if we sink, he sinks. 18 Give me leave to make out my meaning.
1. Christ pleads the value and virtue of the price of his blood and sacrifice for us. And admit of this horrible supposition a little, for argument's sake, that though Christ pleads the worth of what, as Priest, he offereth, yet the soul for whom he so pleads perishes eternally. Now, where lieth the fault? In sin, you say: true; but it is because there was more virtue in sin to damn, than there was in the blood pleaded by Christ to save; for he pleaded his merit, he put it into the balance against sin; but sin hath weighed down the soul of the sinner to hell, notwithstanding the weight of merit that he did put in against it. Now, what is the result, but that the Advocate goes down, as well as we; we to hell, and he in esteem? Wherefore, I say, he is concerned with us; his credit, his honour, his glory and renown, flies all away, if those for whom he pleads as an Advocate perish for want of worth in his sacrifice pleaded. But shall this ever be said of Christ? Or will it be found that any, for whom Christ as Advocate pleads, yet perish for want of worth in the price, or of neglect in the Advocate to plead it? No, no; himself is concerned, and that as to his own reputation and honour, and as to the value and virtue of his blood; nor will he lose these for want of pleading for them concerned in this office.
2. I argue again; Christ, as Advocate, must needs be concerned in his plea; for that every one, for whose salvation he advocates, is his own; so, then, if he loses, he loses his own-his substance and inheritance. Thus, if he lose the whole, and if he lose a part, one, any one of his own, he loseth part of his all, and of his fullness; wherefore we may well think, that Christ, as Advocate, is concerned, even concerned with his people, and therefore will thoroughly plead their cause.
Suppose a man should have a horse, though lame, and a piece of ground, though somewhat barren, yet if any should attempt to take these away, he would not sit still, and so lose his own; no, saith he, "since they are mine own, they shall cost me five times more than they are worth, but I will maintain my right." I have seen men sometimes strongly engaged in law for that which, when considered by itself, one would think was not worth regarding; but when I have asked them, why so concerned for a thing of so little esteem, they have answered, O, it is some of that by which I hold a title of honour, or my right to a greater income, and therefore I will not lose it. Why, thus is Christ engaged; what he pleads for is his own, his all, his fullness; yea, it is that by which he holds his royalty, for he is "King of saints" (Rev 15:3, John 6:37-39, Psa 16:5,6). It is part of his estate, and that by which he holds some of his titles of honour (Eph 5:23, Jer 50:34, Rom 11:26, Heb 2:10). Saviour, Redeemer, Deliverer, and Captain, are some of his titles of honour; but if he loseth any of those, upon whose account he weareth those titles of honour, for want of virtue in his plea, or for want of worth in his blood, he loseth his own, and not only so, but part of his royalty, and does also diminish and lay a blot upon his glorious titles of honour; and he is jealous of his honour; his honour he will not give to another.
Wherefore he will not, be not afraid, he never will leave nor forsake those who have given themselves unto him, and for whom he is become an Advocate with the Father, to plead their cause; even because thou art one, one of his own, one by whom he holdeth his glorious titles of honour.
Objection. O, but I am but one, and a very sorry one, too; and what is one, especially such an one as I am? Can there be a miss of the loss of such an one?
Answer. One and one makes two, and so ad infinitum. Christ cannot lose one, but as he may lose more, and so, in conclusion, lose all: but of all that God has given him, he will lose nothing (John 6:38,39). Besides, to lose one would encourage Satan, disparage his own wisdom, make him incapable of giving in, at the day of account, the whole tale19 to God of those that he has given him. Further, this would dishearten sinners, and make them afraid of venturing their cause and their souls in his hand; and would, as I said before, either prove his propitiation in some sense ineffectual, or else himself defective in his pleading on it; but none of these things must be supposed. He will thoroughly plead the cause of his people, execute judgment for them, bring them out to the light, and cause them to behold his righteousness (Micah 7:9).
Third Privilege. The plea of Satan is groundless, and that is another privilege: for albeit thou hast sinned, yet since Christ before has paid thy debt, and also paid for more; since thou hast not yet run beyond the price of thy redemption; it must be concluded that Satan wants a good bottom to ground his plea upon, and therefore must, in conclusion, fail of his design. True, there is sin committed, there is a law transgressed, but there is also a satisfaction for this transgression, and that which superabounds; so, though there be sin, yet there wants a foundation for a plea. Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, but Christ had other garments provided for him, change of raiment: wherefore iniquity, as to the charge of Satan, vanishes. "And the angel answered and said, Take away the filthy garments from him" [this intimates that there was no ground, no sufficient ground, for Satan's charge]; "and unto him he said, Behold I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment" (Zech 3:4). 20
Now, if there be no ground, no sound and sufficient ground, to build a charge against the child upon, I mean, as to eternal condemnation; for that is the thing contended for; then, as I said, Satan must fall "like lightning to the ground," and be cast over the bar, as a corrupt and illegal pleader. But this is so, as in part is proved already, and will be further made out by that which follows. They that have indeed Christ to be their Advocate, are themselves, by virtue of another law than that against which they have sinned, secured from the charge that Satan brings in against them. I granted before, that the child of God has sinned, and that there is a law that condemneth for this sin; but here is the thing, this child is removed by an act of grace into and under another law: "For we are not under the law," and so, consequently, "there is now no condemnation for them" (Rom 6:14, 8:1). Wherefore, when God speaketh of his dealing with his, he saith, It shall "not be by their covenant," that is, not by that of the law, they then being not under the law (Eze 16:61). What if a plea be commenced against them, a plea for sin, and they have committed sin; a plea grounded upon the law, and the law takes cognizance of their sin? Yet, I say, the plea wants a good bottom, for that the person thus accused is put under another law; hence, he says, "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law." If the child was under the law, Satan's charge would be good, because it would have a substantial ground of support; but since the child is dead to the law, (Gal 2:19), and that also dead to him, for both are true as to condemnation, (Rom 7:6), how can it be that Satan should have a sufficient ground for his charge, though he should have matter of fact, sufficient matter of fact, that is sin? For by his change of relation, he is put out of the reach of that law. There is a woman, a widow, that oweth a sum of money, and she is threatened to be sued for the debt; now what doth she but marrieth; so, when the action is commenced against her as a widow, the law finds her a married woman; what now can be done? Nothing to her; she is not who she was; she is delivered from that state by her marriage; if anything be done, it must be done to her husband. But if Satan will sue Christ for my debt, he oweth him nothing; and as for what the law can claim of me while I was under it, Christ has delivered me by redemption from that curse, "being made a curse for me" (Gal 3:13).
Now the covenant into which I am brought by grace, by which also I am secured from the law, is not a law of sin and death, as that is from under which I am brought, (Rom 8:2), but a law of grace and life; so that Satan cannot come at me by that law; and by grace, I am by that secured also from the hand, and mouth, and sting of all other; I mean still, as to an eternal concern. Wherefore God saith, "If we break his law, the law of works, he will visit our sin with a rod, and our iniquity with stripes; but his covenant, his new covenant, will he not break," but will still keep close to that, and so secure us from eternal condemnation (Psa 89:30-37).
Christ also is made the mediator of that covenant, and therefore an Advocate by that; for his priestly office and advocateship are included by his mediation; wherefore when Satan pleads by the old, Christ pleads by the new covenant, for the sake of which the old one is removed. "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away" (Heb 8:13). So, then, the ground of plea is with Jesus Christ, and not with our accuser. Now, what doth Christ plead, and what is the ground of his plea? Why, he pleads for exemption and freedom from condemnation, though by the law of works his children have deserved it; and the ground for this his plea, as to law, is the matter of the covenant itself, for thus it runs: "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more" (Heb 8:12). Now here is a foundation-a foundation in law, for our Advocate to build his plea upon; a foundation in a law not to be moved, or removed, or made to give place, as that is forced to do, upon which Satan grounds his plea against us. Men, when they plead before a judge, use to plead matter of law. Now, suppose there is an old law in the realm, by which men deserve to be condemned to death, and there is a new law in this realm that secureth men from that condemnation which belongs to them by the old; and suppose also, that I am completely comprehended by all the provisos of the new law, and not by any tittle thereof excluded from a share therein; and suppose, again, that I have a brangling adversary that pursues me by the old law, which yet cannot in right touch me, because I am interested in the new; my advocate also is one that pleads by the new law, where only there is a ground of plea; shall not now mine adversary feel the power of his plea to the delivering of me, and the putting of him to shame? Yes, verily; especially since the plea is good, the judge just; nor can the enemy find any ground for a demur21 to be put in against my present discharge in open court, and that by proclamation; especially since my Advocate has also, by his blood, fully satisfied the old law, that he might establish the new (Heb 10: 9, 11, 12).
Fourth Privilege. Since that which goeth before is true, it follows, that he that entereth his plea against the children must needs be overthrown; for always before just judges it is the right that taketh place. Judge the right, O Lord, said David; or, "let my sentence come forth from thy presence," according to the law of grace. And he that knows what strong ground, or bottom, our Advocate has for his pleadings, and how Satan's accusations are without sound foundation, will not be afraid, he speaking in Christ, to say, I appeal to God Almighty, since Christ is my Advocate by the new law, whether I ought to be condemned to death and hell for what Satan pleads against me by the old. Satan urgeth that we have sinned, but Christ pleads to his propitiatory sacrifice; and so Satan is overthrown. Satan pleads the law of works, but Christ pleads the law of grace. Further, Satan pleads the justice and holiness of God against us; and there the accuser is overthrown again. And to them Christ appeals, and his appeal is good, since the law testifies to the sufficiency of the satisfaction that Christ has made thereto by his obedience (Rom 3:22, 23). And also, since by another covenant, God himself has given us to Jesus Christ, and so delivered us from the old. Wherefore you read nothing as an effect of Satan's pleading against us, but that his mouth is stopped, as appears by Zechariah 3; and that he is cast; yea, cast down, as you have it in Revelation 12.
Indeed, when God admits not, when Christ wills not to be an Advocate, and when Satan is bid stand at the right hand of one accused, to enforce, by pleading against him, the things charged on him by the law, then he can prevail-prevail for ever against such a wretched one (Psa 109: 6, 7). But when Christ stands up to plead, when Christ espouses this or that man's cause, then Satan must retreat, then he must go down. And this necessarily flows from the text, "We have an Advocate," a prevailing one, one that never lost cause, one that always puts the children's enemy to the rout before the judgment-seat of God. 22
This, therefore, is another privilege that they have, who have Jesus Christ for their Advocate; their enemy must needs be overthrown, because both law and justice are on their side.
Fifth Privilege. Thine advocate has pity for thee, and great indignation against thine accuser: and these are two excellent things. When a lawyer hath pity for a man whose cause he pleadeth, it will engage him much; but when he has indignation also against the man's accuser, this will yet engage him more. Now, Christ has both these, and that not of humour, but by grace and justice; grace to us, and justice to our accuser. He came down from heaven that he might be a Priest, and returned thither again to be Priest and Advocate for his; and in both these offices he levelleth his whole force and power against thine accuser: "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil" (I John 3:8).
Cunning men will, if they can, retain such an one to be their Advocate, who has a particular quarrel against their adversary; for thus, think they, he that is such, will not only plead for me, but for himself, and to right his own wrongs also; and since, if it be so, and it is so here, my concerns and my Advocate's are interwoven, I am like to fare much the better for the anger that is conceived in his heart against him. And this, I say, is the children's case; their Advocate counteth their accuser his greatest enemy, and waiteth for a time to take vengeance, and he usually then takes the opportunity when he has aught to do for his people against him. Hence he says, "The day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come" (Isa 63:3, 4).
I do not say that this revenge of Christ is, as ofttimes is a man's, of spite, prejudice, or other irregular lettings out of passions; but it ariseth from righteousness and truth; nor can it be but that Jesus must have a desire to take vengeance on his enemy and ours, since holiness is in him, to the utmost bounds of perfection. And I say again, that in all his pleading as an Advocate, as well as in his offering as a Priest, he has a hot and flaming desire and design to right himself upon his foe and ours; hence he triumphed over him when he died for us upon the cross, and designed the spoiling of his principality, while he poured out his blood for us before God. We then have this advantage more, in that Christ is our Advocate, our enemy is also his, and the Lord Jesus counts him so (Col 2:14, 15).
Sixth Privilege. As thine Advocate, so thy judge holdeth thine accuser for his enemy also; for it is not of love to righteousness and justice that Satan accuseth us to God, but that he may destroy the workmanship of God. Wherefore he also fighteth against God when he accuseth the children; and this thy Father knows right well. He must therefore needs distinguish between the charge and the mind that brings it; especially when what is charged upon us is under the gracious promise of a pardon, as I have showed it is. Shall not the Judge then hear his Son-for our Advocate is his Son-in the cause of one that he favours, and that he justly can, against an enemy who seeks his dishonour, and the destruction of his eternal dishonour, and the destruction of his eternal designs of grace?
A mention of the judge's son goes far with countrymen; and great striving there is with them who have great enemies and bad causes to get the judge's son to plead, promising themselves that the judge is as like to hear him, and to yield a verdict to his plea, as to any other lawyer. But what now shall we say concerning our Judge's Son, who takes part, not only with his children, but with him, and with law and justice, in pleading against our accuser? Yea, what shall we say when both Judge, and Advocate, and law, are all bent to make our persons stand and escape, whatever, and how truly soever, the charge and accusation is by which we are assaulted of the devil. And yet all this is true; wherefore, here is another privilege of them that have Jesus for their Advocate.
Seventh Privilege. Another privilege that they have who have Jesus Christ for their Advocate is, that he is undaunted, and of a good courage, as to the cause that he undertakes; for that is a requisite qualification for a lawyer, to be bold and undaunted in a man's cause. Such an one is coveted, especially by him that knows he has a brazen-faced antagonist. Wherefore, he saith that "he will set his face like a flint," when he stands up to plead the cause of his people (Isa 50:5-7). Lawyers, of all men, need this courage, and to be above others, men of hard foreheads, because of the affronts that sometimes they meet with, be their cause never so good, in the face sometimes, of the chief of a kingdom. Now Christ is our lawyer, and stands up to plead, not only sometimes, but always, for his people, before the God of gods, and that not in a corner, but while all the host of heaven stands by, both on the right hand and on the left. Nor is it to be doubted but that our accuser brings many a sore charge against us into the court; but, however, we have an Advocate that is valiant and courageous, one that will not fail nor be discouraged till he has brought judgment unto victory. Hence John asserts his name, saying, "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ."
Men love to understand a man before they commit their cause unto him-to wit, whether he be fitly qualified for their business. Well, here is an Advocate propounded, an Advocate to plead our cause against our foe. But what is he? What is his name? Is he qualified for my business? The answer is, It is Jesus Christ. How? Jesus Christ, what! That old friend of publicans and sinners? Jesus Christ! He used never to fail, he used to set his face like a flint against Satan when he pleaded the cause of his people. Is it Jesus Christ? says the knowing soul; then he shall be mine Advocate.
For my part, I have often wondered, when I have considered what sad causes Jesus Christ sometimes takes in hand, and for what sad souls he sometimes pleads with God his Father. He had need of a face as hard as flint, else how could he bear up in that work in which for us sometimes he is employed-a work enough to make angels blush. Some, indeed, will lightly put off this, and say, "It is his office"; but, I say, his office, notwithstanding the work in itself is hard, exceeding hard, when he went to die, had he not despised the shame, he had turned his back upon the cross, and left us in our blood. And now it is his turn to plead, the case would be the same, only he can make argument upon that which to us seems to yield no argument at all, to take courage to plead for a Joshua, for a Joshua clothed, clothed with filthy garments. He, saith he, that "shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation: of him shall the Son of man be ashamed," &C (Mark 8:38). Hence it follows that Christ will be ashamed of some; but why not ashamed of others? It is not because their cause is good, but because they are kept from denying of him professedly; wherefore, for such he will force himself, and will set his face like a flint, and will, without shame, own, plead, and improve his interest with God for them, even for them whose cause is so horribly bad and gross that themselves do blush while they think thereof. But what will not love do? What will not love bear with? And what will not love suffer? Of all the offices of Jesus Christ, I think this trieth him as much as any! True, his offering himself in sacrifice tried him greatly, but that was but for awhile; his grappling, as a captain, with the curse, death, and hell, tried him much, but that also was but for awhile; but this office of being an Advocate, though it meeteth not with such sudden depths of trouble, yet what is wants in shortness it may meet with in length of time. I know Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more; yet he has not left off, though in heaven, to do some works of service for his saints on earth; for there he pleads as an Advocate or lawyer for his people (Heb 8:1, 2). And let it be that he has no cause of shame when he standeth thus up to plead for so vile a wretch as I, who have so vilely sinned, yet I have cause to think that well he may, and to hold my hands before my face for shame, and to be confounded with shame, while he, to fetch me off from condemnation for my transgressions, sets his face like a flint to plead for me with God, and against my accuser. But thus much for the seventh privilege that they have by Christ who have him for their Advocate.
Eighth Privilege. Another privilege that they have who have Jesus Christ to be their Advocate is this, He is always ready, always in court, always with the judge, then and there to oppose, if our accuser comes, and to plead against him what is pleadable for his children. And this the text implies where it saith, "We have an Advocate with the Father," always with the Father. Some lawyers, though they are otherwise able and shrewd, yet not being always in court and ready, do suffer their poor clients to be baffled and nonsuited23 by their adversary; yea, it so comes to pass because of this neglect, that a judgment is got out against them for whom they have undertaken to plead, to their great perplexity and damage: but no such opportunity can Satan have of our Advocate, for he is with the Father, always with the Father; as to be a Priest, so to be an Advocate-"We have an Advocate with the Father." It is said of the priests, they wait at the altar, and that they give attendance there, (I Cor 9:13); also of the magistrate, that as to his office, he should attend "continually on this very thing" (Rom 13:6). And as these, so Christ, as to his office of an Advocate, attends continually upon that office with his Father. "We have an Advocate with the Father," always with the Father. And truly such an Advocate becomes the children of God, because of the vigilance of their enemy; for it is said of him, that "he accuseth us day and night," so unweariedly doth he both seek and pursue our destruction (Rev 12:10). But behold how we are provided for him-"We have an Advocate with the Father." If he come a-days, our Advocate is with the Father; if he come a-nights, our Advocate is with the Father24
Thus, then, is our Advocate ready to put check to Satan, come he when he will or can, to accuse us to the Father. Wherefore these two texts are greatly to be minded, one of them, for that it shows us the restlessness of our enemy, the other, for that it shows us the diligence of our Advocate.
That, also, in the Hebrews shows us the carefulness of our Advocate, where it saith, He is gone "into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Heb 9:24). Now, just the time present; NOW, the time always present; NOW, let Satan come when he will! Nor is it to be omitted that this word that thus specifies the time, the present time, doth also conclude it to be that time in which we are imperfect in grace, in which we have many failings, in which we are tempted and accused of the devil to God; this is the time, and in it, and every whit of it, he now appeareth in the presence of God for us. Oh, the diligence of our enemy; oh, the diligence of our friend!-the one against us, the other for us, and that continually-"If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." This, then, that Jesus Christ is always an Advocate with the Father for us, and so continually ready to put a check to every accusation that Satan brings into the presence of God against us, is another of the privileges that they have, who have Jesus Christ for their Advocate.
Ninth Privilege. Another privilege that they have who have Jesus Christ to be their Advocate is this, he is such an one that will not, by bribes, by flattery, nor fair pretenses, be turned aside from pursuing of his client's business. This was the fault of lawyers in old time, that they would wrest judgment for a bribe. Hence the Holy One complained, that a bribe did use to blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the judgment of the righteous (I Sam 12:3; Amos 5:12; Deut 16:19).
There are three things in judgment that a lawyer must take heed of-one is the nature of the offence, the other is the meaning and intendment of the law-makers, and a third is to plead for them in danger, without respect to affection or reward; and this is the excellency of our Advocate, he will not, cannot be biased to turn aside from doing judgment. And this the apostle intendeth when he calleth our Advocate "Jesus Christ the righteous." "We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous"; or, as another prophet calls him, to wit, "The just Lord-one that will not do iniquity"-that is, no unrighteousness in judgment (Zeph 3:5). He will not be provoked to do it, neither by the continual solicitations of thine enemy; nor by thy continual provocations wherewith, by reason of thy infirm condition, thou dost often tempt him to do it. And remember that thy Advocate pleads by the new covenant, and thine adversary accuses by the old; and again, remember that the new covenant is better and more richly provided with grounds of pleading for our pardon and salvation, than the old can be with grounds for a charge to be brought in by the devil against us, suppose our sin be never so heinous. It is a better covenant, established upon better promises.
Now, put these two together-namely, that Jesus Christ is righteous, and will not swerve in judgment; also, that he pleads for us by the new law, with which Satan hath nothing to do, nor, had he, can he by it bring in a plea against us, because that law, in the very body of it, consists in free promises of giving grace unto us, and of an everlasting forgiveness of our sin (Jer 31:31-34; Eze 36:25-30; Heb 8:8-13) O children, your Advocate will stick to the law, to the new law, to the new and everlasting covenant, and will not admit that anything should be pleaded by our foe that is inconsistent with the promise of the gift of grace, and of the remission of all sin. This, therefore, is another privilege that they are made partakers of who have Jesus Christ to be their Advocate. He is just, he is righteous, he is "Jesus Christ the righteous"; he will not be turned aside to judge awry, either of the crime or the law, for favour or affection. Nor is there any sin but what is pardonable committed by those that have chosen Jesus Christ to be their Advocate.
Tenth Privilege. Another privilege that they have who have Jesus Christ to be their Advocate, is this, the Father has made him, even him that is thine Advocate, the umpire and judge in all matters that have, do, or shall fall out betwixt him and us. Mark this well; for when the judge himself, before whom I am accused, shall make mine Advocate, the judge of the nature of the crime for which I am accused, and of matter of law by which I am accused-to wit, whether it is in force against me to condemnation, or whether by the law of grace I am set free, especially since my Advocate has espoused my cause, promised me deliverance, and pleaded my right to the state of eternal life-must it not go well with me? Yes, verily. The judge, then, making thine Advocate the judge, for he "hath committed all judgment unto the Son," hath done it also for thy sake who hast chosen him to be thine Advocate (John 5:22) It was a great thing that happened to Israel when Joseph was become their advocate, and when Pharaoh had made him a judge. "Thou," says he, "shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled. See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt-and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt-only in the throne will I be greater than thou" (Gen 41:40,44). Joseph in this was a type of Christ, and his government here of the government of Christ for his church. Kings seldom make a man's judge his advocate; they seldom leave the issue of the whole affair to the arbitration of the poor man's lawyer; but when they do, methinks it should even go to the heart's desire of the client whose the advocate is, especially when, as I said before, the cause of the client is become the concern of the advocate, and that they are both wrapped up in the self-same interest; yea, when the judge himself also is therein concerned; and yet thus it is with that soul who has Jesus Christ for his Advocate. What sayest thou, poor heart, to this? The judge-to wit, the God of heaven, has made thy Advocate, arbitrator in thy business; he is to judge; God has referred the matter to him, and he has a concern in thy concern, an interest in thy good speed. Christian man, dost thou hear? Thou hast put thy cause into the hand of Jesus Christ, and hast chosen him to be thine Advocate to plead for thee before God and against thy adversary; and God has referred the judgment of that matter to thy Advocate, so that he has power to determine the matter. I know Satan is not pleased with this. He had rather things should have been referred to himself, and then woe had been to the child of God; but, I say, God has referred the business to Jesus Christ, has made him umpire and judge in thine affair. Art thou also willing that he should decide the matter? Canst thou say unto him as David, "Judge me, O God, and plead my cause" (Psa 43:1)? Oh, the care of God towards his people, and the desire of their welfare! He has provided them an Advocate, and he has referred all causes and things that may by Satan be objected and brought in against us, to the judgment and sentence of Christ our Advocate. But to come to a conclusion for this; and therefore,
Eleventh Privilege. The advantage that he has that has the Lord Jesus for his Advocate is very great. Thy Advocate has the cause, has the law, has the judge, has the purse, and so consequently has all that is requisite for an Advocate to have, since together with these he has heart, he has wisdom, he has courage, and loves to make the best improvement of his advantages for the benefit of his client; and that which adds to all is, he can prove the debt paid, about which Satan makes such ado-a price given for the ransom of my soul and for the pardon of my sins. Lawyers do use to make a great matter of it, when they can prove, that that very debt is paid for which their client is sued at law. Now this Christ Jesus himself is witness to; yea, he himself has paid it, and that out of his own purse, for us, with his own hands, before and upon the mercy-seat, according as the law requireth (Lev 16:13-15; Heb 9:11-24). What then can accrue to our enemy? or what advantage can he get by his thus vexing and troubling the children of the Most High? Certainly nothing, but, as has been said already, to be cast down; for the kingdom of our God, which is a kingdom of grace, and the power of his Christ will prevail. Samson's power lay in his hair, but Christ's power, his power to deliver us from the accusation and charge of Satan, lieth in the worth of his undertakings. And hence it is said again, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb," and he was cast out and down (Rev 12:10-12). And thus much for the privileges that those are made partakers of, who have Jesus Christ to be their Advocate.
[THE NECESSITY OF HAVING CHRIST FOR OUR ADVOCATE.]
Fifthly, I come now to the fifth thing, which is, to show you what necessity there is that Christ should be our Advocate.
That Christ should be a Priest to offer sacrifice, a King to rule, and a Prophet to teach, all seeing men acknowledge is of necessity; but that he should be an Advocate, a pleader for his people, few see the reason of it. But he is an Advocate, and as an Advocate has a work and employ distinct from his priestly, kingly, or prophetical offices. John says, "He is our Advocate," and signifieth also the nature of his work as such, in that very place where he asserteth his office; as also I have showed you in that which goes before. But having already showed you the nature, I will now show you the necessity of this office.
First. It is necessary for the more full and ample vindication of the justice of God against all the cavils of the infernal spirits. Christ died on earth to declare the justice of God to men in his justifying the ungodly. God standeth upon the vindication of his justice, as well as upon the act thereof. Hence the Holy Ghost, by the prophets and apostles, so largely disputeth for the vindication thereof, while it asserteth the reality of the pardon of sin, the justification of the unworthy, and their glorification with God (Rom 3:24; Isa, Jer, Mal; Rom 3, 4, 8; Gal 3,4). I say, while it disputeth the justness of this high act of God against the cavils of implacable sinners. Now the prophets and apostles, in those disputes by which they seek to vindicate the justice of God in the salvation of sinners, are not only ministers of God to us, but advocates for him; since, as Elihu has it, they "speak on God's behalf," or, as the margin has it, "I will show thee that there are yet words for God," words to be spoken and pleaded against his enemies for the justification of his actions (Job 36:2). Now, as it is necessary that there should be advocates for God on earth to plead for his justice and holiness, while he saveth sinners, against the cavils of an ungodly people, so it is necessary that there should be an Advocate also in heaven, that may there vindicate the same justice and holiness of God from all those charges that the fallen angels are apt to charge it with, while it consenteth that we, though ungodly, should be saved.
That the fallen angels are bold enough to charge God to his face with unjustness of language, is evident in the 1st and 2nd of Job; and that they should not be as bold to charge him with unjustness of actions, nothing can be showed to the contrary. Further, that God seeks to clear himself of this unjust charge of Satan is as manifest; for all the troubles of his servant Job were chiefly for that purpose. And why he should have one also in heaven to plead for the justness of his doing in the forgiveness and salvation of sinners appears also as necessary, even because there is one, even an Advocate with the Father, or on the Father's side, seeking to vindicate his justice, while he pleadeth with him for us, against the devil and his objections. God is wonderfully pleased with his design in saving of sinners; it pleases him at the heart. And since he also is infinitely just, there is need that an Advocate should be appointed to show how, in a way of justice as well as mercy, a sinner may be saved.
The good angels did not at first see so far into the mysteries of the gospel of the grace of God, but that they needed further light therein for the vindication of their Lord as servants. Wherefore they yet did pry and look narrowly into it further, and also bowed their heads and hearts to learn yet more, by the church, of "the manifold wisdom of God" (I Peter 1:12; Eph 3:9,10). And if the standing angels were not yet, to the utmost, perfect in the knowledge of this mystery, and yet surely they must know more thereof than those that fell could do, no wonder if those devils, whose enmity could not but animate their ignorance, made, and do make, their cavils against justice, insinuating that it is not impartial and exact, because it, as it is just, justifieth the ungodly.
That Satan will quarrel with God I have showed you, and that he will also dispute against his works with the holy angels, is more than intimated by the apostle Jude, verse 9, and why not quarrel with, and accuse the justice of God as unrighteous, for consenting to the salvation of sinners, since his best qualifications are most profound and prodigious attempts to dethrone the Lord God of his power and glory.
Nay, all this is evident, since "we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." And again, I say, it is evident that one part of his work as an Advocate, is to vindicate the justice of God while he pleadeth for our salvation, because he pleadeth a propitiation; for a propitiation respects God as well as us; the appeasing his wrath, and the reconciling of his justice to us, as well as the redeeming us from death and hell; yea, it therefore doth the one, because it doth the other. Now, if Christ, as an Advocate, pleadeth a propitiation with God, for whose conviction doth he plead it? Not for God's; for he has ordained it, allows it, and gloriously acquiesces therein, because he knows the whole virtue thereof. It is therefore for the conviction of the fallen angels, and for the confounding of all those cavils that can be invented and objected against our salvation by those most subtle and envious ones. But,