"And if any Man Sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,",
1 John ii.1. -- "And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father,", &c.

It is the natural office of the conscience to accuse a man in evil doing. As every man by sin is liable to the judgment of the supreme court of heaven, so he is likewise subject to the inferior court of his own conscience, for the most high God hath a deputy within every man's breast, that not only is a witness, but a judge, to fasten an accusation, and pronounce a sentence upon him according to the law of God. And while it is so, that a man is accused in both courts, at the supreme tribunal, and the lower house of a man's own conscience, when man's accuser is within him, and God, his righteous Judge, above him, who can come in to plead such a man's cause? A person self condemned, who shall plead for his absolution? If he cannot but accuse himself, and stop his mouth, being guilty before God of the transgression of all his law, then what place for an advocate to accuse him, or defend his cause? And who is it that can enter in the lists with God, who, because the supreme and highest Judge, must be both Judge and party? Where shall a daysman be found to lay his hands on both, and advocate the desperate-like cause of sinners? Truly, here we had been at an eternal stand, and here had the business stuck for ever, for anything that the creation could imagine, had not the infinite grace and wisdom of God opened themselves to mankind, in opening a door of hope to broken and outlaw sinners. And behold, here is the provision made for the security and salvation of lost souls, -- there is one able and mighty to save, -- a person found out fit for this advocation, who taketh the broken cause of sinners in hand, and pleads it out, and makes out justice to be for them, and not against them, -- "If any man sin, we have an advocate," &c.

There is one thing imported, that sin maketh a man liable to a charge and accusation, and brings him under the hazard of judgment. Indeed it is hard enough to endure an accusing conscience, and a spirit wounded with the apprehension of wrath. When our Saviour would express great affliction, he doth it thus -- "A man's enemies shall be those of his own house." If a domestic enemy be so ill, what shall a bosom enemy be, when a man's accuser is not only beside him, but within him, -- not only in the house with him, but in the field too, -- carried about with him whithersoever he goeth, so that he can have no retiring or withdrawing place from it! Indeed, some poor souls make a mad escape from under the challenge of their consciences, they get away from their keepers to more excess in sin, or make some vain diversion to company, and other things of the world. But the end thereof shall be more bitterness, for that will not still sleep within them, but shall awake upon them with more terror, and one day put them in such a posture, that all the comforts of the world shall be but as a drop of water to a man in a burning fever, or as oil to a flame. But, as I told you, that is not the greatest matter, to be self accused, and self-condemned, if there were not a higher tribunal, which this process originally flows from, one greater than the conscience, who speaks to us in his word, and hath written his charge and sentence against us, and this is it which sets the soul most on edge, and it is but the very apprehension of that higher judgment, which is the gall and wormwood, the poison of those challenges in the conscience. I would desire you to look upon this, and consider that there is a sentence passed in the word of God upon all your actions, that the wrath of God is revealed in the scriptures as due to you, however you may flatter yourselves in your sins, and fancy an immunity from wrath, though you live in sin. I wish ye were once persuaded of this, -- that all sinners must once appear before God's tribunal and hear the righteous sentence of the dueness of punishment pronounced; I say, all must once appear, either to hear and believe it, or to see it executed. The wisdom of God requires, that all men's guilt, which is a transgression of the law, should once come to a judicial trial and decision by the law, and either this must be done in your own consciences here, that ye may sist yourselves before him, and take with your sins, and humble yourselves in his sight, and then the matter is put over upon a Mediator, or else you must give him leave, nay he will take leave to cite you to appear, to see the sentence executed which was pronounced, since ye would not apply it to your own hearts. O! happy is that soul that anticipates that great day of final judgment, by a previous self judgment and self trial. Well, then, hath the scriptures included all under sin, that all men might be guilty and every mouth stopped before God, Rom. iii.19. What shall we do then? Since righteousness and justice is against us, who can plead for us? It would seem that there could be no relaxing, no repealing, no dispensing with this law at least that if there be anything of that kind, that righteousness and judgment can have no hand in it. Yet, behold, what follows, "we have an advocate," &c. And an advocate's office is to sue out the client's right, from principles of justice. Elsewhere Christ hath the office of a Judge, here he is an advocate for the party, and both of these may have a comfortable consideration, John v.22. "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son." And yet, here we have an advocate with the Father, and that is, with the Father as judge. These do not cross one another, but make out our abundant consolation, that one entire office of our Saviour is represented under all these various notions suited to our capacity. A Judge he is yea, his tribunal is the highest and supreme, from which there is no appeal, the ultimate decision lies here of all capital or soul cases and causes. It is true, the Father doth not wholly divest himself of judgment and authority in the matters of life and death, for the gospel is his contrivance, as it was the Son's, but Christ is, as it were, substituted his vicegerent, in the administration of the second covenant. You read of a preparatory tribunal erected in the word by God the Creator, that is, of the law which condemns us. Now, such is the mercy and grace, and free love of God, that he hath relaxed that sentence as to the persons. He hath not taken that advantage which in justice he had against us, but upon some valuable considerations hath committed to the Son a royal power of prescribing new laws of life and death, and new terms of salvation, and Christ having, at his Fathers will, satisfied the law, in what it did threaten us, he is, as it were, in compensation of such a great service, made Lord and King "both of the dead and living," (Rom. xiv.9,) and "all things in heaven and earth are given to him," Matt. xxviii.18, John xiii.3. And therefore, whatever soul is aggrieved under the accusation and charge of the law, hath liberty, yea, and is called to it, of duty, to appeal unto this new erected tribunal, where Christ sits to dispense life according to the terms of grace and he may be sure the Father will not judge him according to the law, if the Son absolve him in the gospel.

Now, with this it consists, that he who hath all final judgment in his hand, yet is our advocate in another consideration, as we consider God the Father sitting upon the tribunal of justice, and proceeding according to the terms and tenor of his first law, or covenant of life and death. Then Christ comes in with his advocation for poor sinners, and sustains their persons, and maintains their cause, even from the principles of justice. He presents his satisfactory sacrifice and pleads that we are not to be charged with that punishment that he hath suffered, because he hath indeed fulfilled our legal righteousness, and by this means the law's mouth is stopped, which had stopped our mouth, and the sinner is absolved, who was found guilty. Thus you see the salvation and absolution of believers is wonderfully secured, for there is a sentence for it in the court of the gospel, pronounced by the Son. But lest you think he should usurp such an absolute power, then hear, that he is an advocate to plead out the equity and justice of it, before the very tribunal of the law, that the law itself being the rule, the Father himself, who made the law, being the Judge, the poor soul that flies unto him as a refuge, may be saved, since what it craved of us it gets in him, and is as fully satisfied that way, as it could have been by us. Therefore, that same righteousness which bids condemn the sinner, commands to save the believer in Christ, though a sinner. What shall a soul then fear? Who shall condemn? It is Christ that justifieth, for he is judge of life and death and that is much. But it is the Father that justifieth, and that is more whatsoever tribunal you may be cited unto, you may be sure. Is it the gospel? Then the Son is judge. Is it the law? Then the Son is advocate. He will not only give life himself, but see that his Father do it, and warrant you from all back hazards. Nay, before the matter shall misgive, as he comes down from off the throne, to stand at the bar and plead for sinners, who devolve themselves upon him, so he will not spare if need require, to degrade himself further, if I may say so, and of an advocate become a supplicant. And truly he ceased not in the days of his flesh to pray for us, "with strong cries and tears," Heb. v.7. And now he still lives to make intercession for us. He can turn from the plea of justice, to the intercession and supplication of mercy, and if strict justice will not help him, yet grace and favour he is sure will not disappoint him.

There is a divine contexture of justice and mercy in the business of man's redemption, and there is nothing so much declares infinite wisdom, as the method, order, and frame of it. Mercy might have been showed to sinners, in gracious and free pardon of their sins, and dispensing with the punishment due to their persons, yet the Lord's justice and faithfulness in that first commination might be wronged and disappointed by it, if no satisfaction should be made for such infinite offences, if the law were wholly made void both in the punishment, as also to the person. Therefore in the infinite depths of God's wisdom there was a way found out to declare both mercy and justice, to make both to shine gloriously in this work, and indeed that is the great wonder of men and angels, such a conjunction or constellation of divine attributes in one work. And indeed, it is only the most happy and favourable aspect in which we can behold the divine Majesty. The Psalmist, Psalm lxxxv., expects much good from this conjunction of the celestial attributes, and prognosticates salvation to be near at hand, and all good things, as the immediate effect of it. There is a meeting there, as it were, of some honourable personages, (ver.10, 11) such as are in heaven. The meeting is strange, if you consider the parties, -- Mercy and Truth, Righteousness and Peace. If Mercy and Peace had met thus friendly, it had been less wonder, but it would seem, that Righteousness and Truth should stand off, or meet only to reason and dispute the business with Mercy. But here is the wonder, -- Mercy and Truth meet in a friendly manner, and "kiss one another." There is a perfect agreement and harmony amongst them, about this matter of our salvation. There was a kind of parting at man's fall, but they met again at Christ's birth. Here is the uniting principle, "Truth springing out of the earth." Because he who is "the truth and the life, was to spring out of the earth therefore" righteousness will look down from heaven, and countenance the business, and this will make all of them to meet with a loving salutation.

Now, as this was the contexture of the divine attributes in the business of redemption, so our Lord and Saviour taketh upon him divers names, offices, and exercises, different functions for us because he knoweth that his Father may justly exact of man personal satisfaction, and hath him at this disadvantage, and that he might have refused to have accepted any other satisfaction from another person. Therefore he puts on the habit and form of a supplicant and intercessor for us, and so while he was in the flesh, he ceased not to offer up "prayers and supplications with strong cries and tears," and he is said still "to make intercession for us." As he learned obedience, though a Son, so he learned to be a humble supplicant, though equal with God. Because our claim depends wholly on grace, he came off the bench, and stood at the bar, not only pleading but praying for us, entreating favour and mercy to us. And then, he personates an advocate in another consideration, and pleads upon terms of justice, that we be pardoned, because his Father once having accepted him in our stead he gave a satisfaction in value equal to our debt, and performed all that we were personally bound to. So then you may understand how it is partly an act of justice, partly an act of mercy, in God to forgive sin to believers, though indeed mercy and grace is the predominant ingredient, because love and grace was the very first rise and spring of sending a Saviour and Redeemer, and so the original of that very purchase and price. He freely sent his Son, and freely accepted him in our stead, but once standing in our room justice craves that no more be exacted of us, since he hath done the business himself.

A sinner stands accused in his own conscience, and before God, therefore, to the end that we get no wrong, there is a twofold advocate given us, one in the earth, in our consciences, another in the heavens with God. Christ is gone up to the highest tribunal, where the cause receives a definitive sentence, and there he manageth it above, so that though Satan should obtrude upon a poor soul a wrong sentence in its own conscience, and bring down a false and counterfeit act, as it were, extracted out of the register of heaven, whereby to deceive the poor soul, and condemn it in itself, yet there is no hazard above, he dare not appear there, before the highest court, for he hath already succumbed on earth. When Christ was here, the prince of the world was judged and cast out, and so he will never once put in an accusation into heaven, because he knoweth our faithful advocate is there, where nothing can pass without his knowledge and consent. And this is a great comfort, that all inferior sentences in thy perplexed conscience, which Satan, through violence hath imposed upon thee, are rescinded above in the highest court, and shall not stand to thy prejudice, whoever thou be that desirest to forsake sin and come to Jesus Christ.

But how doth Christ plead? Can he plead us not guilty? Can he excuse or defend our sins? No, that is not the way. That accusation of the word and law against us is confessed, is proven, all is undeniably clear, but, he pleads satisfied, though guilty, -- he presents his satisfactory sacrifice and the savour of that perfumes heaven, and pacifieth all. He shows God's bond and discharge of the receipt of the sum of our debt, and thus is he cleared, and we absolved. Therefore I desire you, whoever you are that are challenged for sin, and the transgression of the law, if ye would have a solid way of satisfaction and peace to your consciences, take with your guiltiness. Plead not "not guilty." Do not excuse or extenuate, but aggravate your guilt. Nay, in this you may help Satan, accuse yourselves, and say that you know more evil in yourselves than he doth and open that up before God. But in the meantime, consider how it is managed above. Plead thou also "satisfied in Christ though guilty," and so thou mayest say to thy accuser, "If thou hast any thing to object against me, why I may not be saved, though a sinner, thou must go up to the highest tribunal to propone it, thou must come before my judge and advocate above, but forasmuch as thou dost not appear there, it is but a lie, and a murdering be."

Now this is the way that the Spirit advocates for us in our consciences, John xiv. and xv.26. {GREEK SMALL LETTER PI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER RHO}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER KAPPA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER LAMDA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER TAU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER FINAL SIGMA} is rendered here "Advocate," there "Comforter." Both suit well, and may be conjoined in one, and given to both, for both are comfortable advocates, -- Christ with the Father, and the Spirit with us. Christ is gone above for it, and he sent the Spirit in his stead. As God hath a deputy judge in man, that is, man's conscience, so the Son, our advocate with God, hath a deputy advocate to plead the cause in our conscience, and this he doth, partly by opening up the Scriptures to us and making us understand the way of salvation in them, partly manifesting his own works and God's gifts in us by a superadded light of testimony, and partly by comforting us against all outward and inward sorrows. Sometimes he pleads with the soul against Satan "not guilty," for Satan is a slanderous and a false accuser, and cares not calumniari fortiter ul aliquid haereat, to calumniate stoutly, and he knoweth something will stick.(254) He will not only object known sins and transgressions of the law, but his manner is to cast a mist upon the eye of the soul, and darken all its graces, and then he brings forth his process, that they have no grace, no faith in Christ, no love to God, no sorrow for sin. In such a case, it is the Spirit's office to plead it out to our consciences, that we are not totally guilty, as we are charged, and this is not so much a clearing of ourselves, as a vindication of the free gifts of God, which lie under his aspersion and reproach. Indeed, if there be a great stress here, and, for wise reasons, the Spirit forbear to plead out this point, but leave a poor soul to puddle it out alone, and scrape its evidences together in the dark, -- I say, if thou find this too hard for thee to plead not guilty then my advice is, that ye wave and suspend that question. Yield it not wholly, but rather have it entire, and do as if it were not. Suppose that article and point were gained against thee, what wouldst thou do next? Certainly, thou must say, I would then seek grace and faith from him who giveth liberally. I would then labour to receive Christ in the promises. I say, do that now, and thou takest a short and compendious way to win thy cause, and overcome Satan. Let that be thy study, and he hath done with it.

But in any challenge about the transgression of the law, or desert of eternal wrath, the Spirit must not plead "not guilty," for thou must confess that, but in as far as he driveth at a further conclusion, to drive thee away from hope and confidence to despondency of spirit, in so far the Spirit clears up unto the conscience that this doth nowise follow from that confession of guiltiness, since there is a Saviour that hath satisfied for it, and invites all to come, and accept him for their Lord and Saviour.

sermon xxiv and if any
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