Owen - BX9315 O81

OF CHRIST IN HEAVEN. whereof was to enter into the holy place. And the prayers of all saints is a synecdochical expression of the whole worship of the church. And this is pre- sented before the throne of God, by this High Priest. And it is not said that their prayers came unto the throne ofGod, but the smoke of the incense out of the hand of the angel did so. For it is the incense of the intercession of Christ alone that gives them their acceptance with God. Without this, none of our pray- ers, praises, or thanksgivings would ever have access in the presenceof God, or unto the throne of grace. Bles- sed be God for this relief, under the consideration of the weakness and imperfection of them. Wherefore in him and by him alone, do we present all our desires, and prayers, and whole worship to God. And herein in all our worship do we ourselves t, enter into the most holy place," Heb. x. 19. We do it not merely by faith, but this especial exercise of it, in putting our prayers into the-hand of this High Priest. Thereare three things in all our worship that would hinder its access unto God, and acceptance with him, as also keep offcomfort and peacefromour consciences. The first is the sin or iniquity that cleaves unto it; se- condly, the weakness or imperfection that at best is in it; and thirdly, theunworthinessof the persons by whom it is performed.. With reference unto these things the law could never consummate or perfect the consciences of them that came unto God by the sacrifices of it. But there are three things in the sacerdotal ministration of Christ, that removes and takes them all away, whereon we have access with boldness unto God. And they are, (t.) The influence of his oblation. (2.) The efficacy ofhis intercession; and, (3.) Thedignity of his person. Through the first of these he bears and takes away all the iniquity of our holy things; as Aaron did typically ofold, by virtue of the plate of gold, with the name of God (a figure of Christ) on his forehead, Exod. xxviii. 36, 37, 38. He bath made atonement for them in the blood of his oblation, and they appear not in the pre- sence of God. Through the second, or the efficacy of his intercession, he gives acceptance unto our prayers and holy worship, with power and prevalency before God: for this is that incense, whose smoke or sweet perfume comes up with the prayersof all saints unto the throne of.God. Through the third, or the dignity of his person, wherein he appears as the representative of 139 his whole mystical body, he takes away from our con- sciences that sense of our own vilenessand unworthiness, which would not suffer us to approach with boldness unto the Throne ofGrace. in these things consists the life of the worship of the church, of all believers, with ont which as it would not be acceptable unto God, so we could have neither peace nor consolation in it our- selves. Fourthly, Herein bath thechurch that is triumphant, communion with that which is yet militant. The as- sembly above have not lost their concernment in the church here below. As we rejoice in their glory, safe- ty, and happiness, that having passed through the storms and tempests, the temptations,, sufferings, and dangers of this life and world, as they are harboured in eternal glory, unto the praise of God in Christ; so are they full of affections towards their brethren exercised with the same temptations, difficulties, and dangers which they have passed through, with earnest desires for their deliverance and safety. Wherefore when they behold the Lord Jesus Christ, as the great High Priest over the house of God, presenting their prayers, with all their holy worship unto him, rendering them accepta- ble by the incense of his own intercession, it fills them with satisfaction, and continually excites them unto the assignation ofpraise, and glory, and honour unto him. This is the state of the saints above, with respect unto the church here below, This is all which may be herein ascribed unto them, and this may safely be so. What some have fancied about their own personal in- tercession, and that for particular persons, is deroga- tory unto the honour ofJesus Christ, and inconsistent with their present condition. But in these things con- sist their communionwith the church here below. A love they have unto it, from their union with it its the same mystical body, Eph. i. 10. A sense they have.o its condition, from the experience they had of it in the days of their flesh. A great concernment they have for the glory of God in them, and a fervent desire of their eternal salvation. They know that without them they shall not be absolutely consummate or made perfect in . their whole persons, Rev. vi. 11. In this state ofthings,.. they continually behold the Lord Jesus Christ present- ing their prayers before the throne of grace, making intercession for them, appearing to plead their cause against all their adversaries, transacting all their affairs