THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED
I have shown that the ordained channels or means of grace dry up and disappear at the second advent; and that wherever this is intimated, the grace conveyed is so bound up with the means of conveying it, that neither can without violence be torn asunder from, or be imagined to survive, the other.
But I said that the agencies of salvation would cease at the same time; by which I mean the present work of Christ in the heavens, and the work of the Spirit, as the fruit of it. The truth on this subject, which I shall now illustrate from Scripture, may be expressed as follows:—
THE INTERCESSION OF CHRIST, AND THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT, FOR SAVING PURPOSES, WILL CEASE AT THE SECOND ADVENT
I. The ground and the nature of Christ’s intercession are sufficiently known. But what I wish to be observed is the place which it holds in relation to his two advents. It stands intermediate between his first and his second coming, as the following passage, viewed as a whole, plainly shows:—
Heb. 9:12, 24–28. “By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.—Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; (for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world:) but now once, in the end of the world, hath he appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many: and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation.”
Here the two advents stand at the two extremities of Christ’s mediatorial work, while the intercession stretches from one to the other, and occupies the whole intervening period. Each of these three things is termed an “appearing”—the word being somewhat different in each case, but the idea essentially the same—and each of them is said to be done once. Thus: “Once, in the end of the world, hath he appeared (πεφανέρωται), to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” “By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place”—“not into the holy places made with hands, but into heaven itself, now to appear (ἐμφανισθῆναι) in the presence of God for us.” “And unto them that look for him shall he appear (ὀφθήσεται) the second time [once for all], without sin, unto salvation.” The first and the last appearances are to us: the intermediate appearance is to God, for us. This intermediate appearance—“in the presence of God for us”—carries into effect the work of his first appearance to us, and prepares the way for his second. As he appeared the first time “to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself,” so he will appear the second time, “without sin, unto salvation.” Now, as the second coming is here represented as crowning the whole purpose of the first, it is plain that the intercession, which is but a continual pleading upon the merit of his death, must be over, for all saving purposes, before he comes.
Let the reader now connect this view of Christ’s intercession with the following:—
Heb. 7:25: “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
Taking this expression, “to the uttermost” (εἰς τὸ παντελὲς), comprehensively, it may denote that Christ is able to save “completely as to all parts, fully as to all causes, and for ever in duration.”—(Owen, ad loc.) But as the contrast here between Christ and the high priests under the law, is made to hinge upon his “ever living” to discharge his office, while “they were not suffered to continue by reason of death,” I think the apostle, by this expression, means perpetuity—to the uttermost case, to the last object, and the last necessities of that object, for whom salvation is designed and required. His people may, one by one, disappear from the stage; but their Intercessor liveth. Age after age shall find him at his post. And the last soul that “comes unto God by him,” shall find him “in heaven itself, there appearing in the presence of God for him,” a Priest in perpetuity before the Mercy-Seat,
“Till all the ransomed Church of God
Be saved to sin no more.”
The last soul that ever shall be saved will be the fruit of this glorious intercession as well as the first.
If these observations be just, they go to settle the whole question. When the Advent arrives, the Intercession is done; and, when the Intercession is done, Salvation is done. When Christ appears the second time to us, he will cease to appear in the presence of God for us.
In the first edition of this work, I dwelt upon the sphere or locality where the intercession is conducted—“the holy place not made with hands,” “heaven itself,” “at the right hand of God;” affirming that as Christ’s going in within the veil corresponds to his ascension from the earth, and session at the right hand of God, so his coming out again, as did the high priest at the close of his work, answers to his glorious return to us at his second advent; and thus, that the period of his intercession is just the time of his absence from us in the heavens—neither less nor more; and that, while there is one outstanding soul to be gathered in, he cannot leave his present abode, nor alter his present attitude “in the presence of God for us.”
I am satisfied that this is correct. But as great pains have been taken to show that it is not so, I will show that my argument from the intercession of Christ is not dependent on that particular aspect of it, by waiving it altogether. It has been said, for example, that the locality is of no consequence; that there is nothing to hinder the Redeemer from interceding on earth as well as in heaven—on the Mount of Olives as well as at the right hand of God—and that though it was necessary that he should go, it was not necessary for him to stay within the veil, even for a moment, with a view to the exercise of his present office as our “High Priest over the house of God.” I believe I could show this to be unsatisfactory and incorrect. But as my argument from the position and the period of the intercession—as intermediate between the two advents—and therefore ceasing necessarily when the second, the consummating advent, arrives—is complete without it, I am content to let the other alone.
Nor do I enter into the questions which have been raised about the continuance of Christ’s intercession, and in what sense, after the whole Church has been gathered and perfected. I will not be drawn into such matters. The proposition I have laid down is, that Christ’s intercession, for saving purposes (by which I mean, the inbringing of sinners and the perfecting of saints), will cease at his second coming; and this I think I have established.
II. The second branch of our proposition, regarding the work of the Spirit, must stand or fall with the first. For as the mission of the Comforter is through the intercession of Christ, and the continued effusion of the Spirit results from the continual intercession of our High Priest, the second advent, if it bring the latter to a close, must be the terminating period of the former also.
The passages which show the connection of these two things, are such as the following:—
John 7:38, 39: “He that believeth on me, out of his belly [the depths of his inner man] shall flow rivers of living water. (This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet [given]; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”
Chap. 14:16, 17, 26: “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; [even] the Spirit of truth.—The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things.”
Chap. 15:26: “When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father.”
Chap. 16:7, 14: “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.—He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.”
Acts 2:33: “Being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this.”
Tit. 3:5, 6: “He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”
Rev. 3:1: “These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God.”
Chap. 5:6: “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood A LAMB AS IT HAD BEEN SLAIN, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.”
But why quote passages expressly linking the mission and work of the Spirit with Christ’s sacerdotal Intercession and regal Glory at the right hand of God? For it is admitted on all hands, that the whole application of Christ’s work in the flesh is accomplished in every one of his people, from first to last, by the agency of the Spirit, communicated through his continual intercession. Thus this department of Christ’s priestly office holds at once of the purchase and of the application of redemption. The actual salvation of any soul, as it is by virtue of his meritorious death which his intercession pleads, so it is through the agency of his Spirit which that intercession procures. In this intercession the merit of his death and the might of his Spirit find their legal connection, and by means of it the one passes into the other. There is a continuous presentation of his sacrifice, or of himself in the virtue of it, in order to a continuous acknowledgment of his right to receive and dispense the Spirit to each of his redeemed in succession, down to the last, when he “appears the second time, without sin, unto salvation.” This appearing lies, as we have seen, at the other extremity of the Redeemer’s work. We have nothing here to do—let me repeat it—with questions regarding the active agency of the Spirit, the exercise of intercession, and other mediatorial functions of Christ, in the everlasting state. My views on that subject differ in nothing, I suppose, from those of others sound in the faith, and of my esteemed opponents in this great question. It is with the intercession of Christ and the work of the Spirit, for saving purposes, or during the period when the saving of souls is going on—that I have exclusively to do. And this, I think I have shown, is to cease at the second coming of Christ.
The force of our reasoning on this head is felt and admitted even by premillennialists themselves, when their particular scheme of the second advent does not happen to require their opposition to it. Take the following proof of this from good Joseph Perry, “an unworthy servant in the work of the gospel,” whose premillennial system certainly has its own difficulties, as we have seen, though this is not one of them:—
“There are some things,” says he, “that these last do hold (meaning those who in his day held the views now most prevalent amongst premillennialists), that I cannot by any means assent to; and that is, when Christ shall be established upon the throne of his glory, in his kingdom, and all the saints with him, in a perfect, incorruptible state of immortality, that then there shall be preaching of the gospel, and conversion-work go forward among the multitude of the nations that shall be found living when Christ cometh, according to the opinion of some good men. I say this is that which I cannot fall in with, but must profess my dislike against, because I cannot believe that the Lord Jesus Christ will come down from heaven, and LEAVE THAT GREAT WORK OF INTERCESSION NOW AT GOD’S RIGHT HAND, UNTIL THE WHOLE NUMBER OF GOD’S ELECT AMONG JEWS AND GENTILES ARE CONVERTED, AND THE MYSTICAL BODY OF CHRIST IS COMPLETED. AND IF SO, WHERE IS THERE ANY ROOM FOR CONVERSION-WORK TO GO ON AFTER THIS?”
The honest man never thought there could be a question about Christ’s coming putting an end to his intercession. And what he could not comprehend was, how, when his coming had brought him out from within the veil and put an end to his intercession, his mystical body should still be incomplete, and conversion-work go on as before.
So natural is this view of the intercession of Christ, that we find even those to whose system it is fatal, letting it slip from their pen, as if unaware at the moment what they were conceding. For example, in one of the volumes of Lent Lectures on the Second Advent, I find Mr. Barker on Heb. 7:25, thus expressing himself:—
“It is absolutely necessary to remember that the word ‘ever’ signifies continuity, not eternity of action; FOR THE OFFICE OF CHRIST AS OUR INTERCESSOR WILL HAVE ITS CLOSE WHEN HE HAS BROUGHT ALL HIS PEOPLE WITH HIM.” And when will that be? The whole tenor of the lecture answers, at the time mentioned in his text, when ‘the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout,’ when ‘we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with the risen in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.’”—(1 Thess. 4:16, 17.)
“When Messiah,” says the Duke of Manchester, “shall leave the ‘Holy of Holies,’ where he has now entered, to ‘appear in the presence of God for us’—INTERCESSION, WHICH IS PECULIAR TO HIS BEING IN THE HOLY OF HOLIES, SHALL HAVE CEASED. Coincident with this,” he adds, “upon resigning the kingdom, (that in which he now reigns, but which he will resign at the millennium) to the Father, he will leave ‘the throne of grace,’ on which he shall reign until the effectual application, by the Holy Ghost, of all his work towards ‘the restitution of all things.’”
And now, summing up the argument of these two chapters, what have we found? We have found that when Christ comes, as the Church will then be complete, so the means of grace and the agencies of salvation will then terminate. In other words, as there will then be no more souls to be saved, so the whole provision for saving them will be withdrawn. The object of the Scripture will be exhausted; both the sealing ordinances of the New Testament will disappear, and with them the grace which they “signify and seal;” in a word, the intercession of Christ and the work of the Spirit, for saving purposes, will then terminate. I have not sought to establish one of these positions as a mere inference from another. Each of them has been established independently of all the rest. Each of them is thus a check upon the rest, and a test of their soundness. And thus the whole argument on this branch of our subject is cumulative; making it evident, on a number of different but connected grounds, that a millennium after the second advent was never designed, is not provided for, and will not take place.
 My friend Mr. Wood seems to think I have deprived him of the satisfaction of demolishing this argument, by not giving it in full. Others, however, including one who has written forcibly on this subject, have expressed to me their regret that what they believe to be a scriptural and important position should not have more prominence. Surely the hints above given should be enough for both parties.
 Let me refer the reader to Calvin (Instit. lib. iii. cap. xx.), Turretin (Theol. Elenct. Loc. xiv. quæst. xv.), Owen (on Heb. 7:25, and 9:24–28), De Moor (Comm. in Marckii Comp. cap. xx. § xxix.), Symington (Atonement and Intercession, pp. 348–357.)
 Glory of Christ’s Visible Kingdom, pp. 219, 220.
 The Hope of the Apostolic Church, p. 184. Compare p. 204. 1846.
 Horæ Hebraicæ, p. 90. 1835.
In his “Finished Mystery,” his Grace seems to intimate that I have so far misunderstood him, as at least to draw a wrong inference from his statement. I regret this, and the more as I have not been able to catch the precise import of his explanation. The reader, therefore, will bear in mind that his Grace does not admit the conclusion which his words seem to suggest.
 I have carefully considered what Mr. Birks has advanced in reply to this and the preceding chapter, in his “Outlines of Unfulfilled Prophecy,” ch. 4 (pp. 156–169), but have not found any thing fresh in it. Charges of “utter irrelevancy” against the Scripture proofs which I adduce, and against my arguments as “unsubstantial shadows,” will require something more to sustain them than Mr. Birks has adduced.