"I give thee for a covenant of the people."--Isa.42:6; 49:8.
"The Lord shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messanger of the covenant, whom ye delight in Mal.3:1.
"Jesus was made Surety of a better covenant."--Heb.7:22.
to Jesus,the Mediator of the New Covenant. "Heb.8:6,9:15,7:24.
We have here four titles given to our Lord Jesus in connection with the New Covenant. He is Himself called a Covenant. The union between God and man, which the Covenant aims at, was wrought out in Him personally; in Him the reconciliation between the human and Divine was perfectly effected; in Him His people find the Covenant with all its blessings; He is all that God has to give, and is the assurance that it is given... He is called the Messenger of the Covenant, because He came to establish and to it.... He is the Surety of the Covenant not only because He paid our debt, but as He is Surety to us for God, that God will fulfil His part; and Surety for us with God, that we will fulfil our part.... And He is Mediator of the Covenant, because as the Covenant was established in His atoning blood, is administered and applied by Him, is entered upon alone by faith in Him,so it is experimentally known only through the power of His resurrection life, and His neverceasing intercession. All these names point to the one truth, that in the New Covenant Christ is all in all. The subject is so large that it would be impossible to enter upon all the various aspects of this precious truth. Christ's work in atonement and intercession, in His bestowal of pardon and the Holy Spirit, in His daily communication of grace and strength, are truths which lie at the very foundation of the faith of Christians. We need not speak of them here. What specially needs to be made clear to many is how, by faith in Christ as the Mediator of the New Covenant, we actually have access to and enter into the enjoyment of all its promised blessings. We have already seen, in studying the New Covenant, how all these blessings culminate in the one thing-- that the heart of man is to be put right, as the only possible way of his living in the favour of God, and God's love finding its satisfaction in Him. That he is to receive a heart to fear God, to love God with all his strength, to obey God and to keep all His statutes. All that Christ did and does has this for its aim; all the higher blessings of peace and fellowship flow from this. In this God's saving power and love find the highest proof of their triumph over sin. Nothing so reveals the grace of God, the power of Jesus Christ, the reality of salvation, the blessedness of the New Covenant, as the heart of a believer, where sin once abounded, with grace now abounding more exceedingly within it.
I do not know how I can better set forth the glory of our Blessed Lord Jesus as He accomplishes this, the real object of His redeeming work, and as He takes entire possession of the heart He has bought and won and cleansed as a dwelling for
His Father, than by pointing out the place He takes, and the work He does, in the ease of a soul who is being led out of the Old Covenant bondage with its failure, into the real expedience of the promise and power of the New Covenant. (For a practical illustration in the life of Canon Battersby, see Note D.) In thus studying the work of the Mediator in an individual, we may get a truer conception of the real glory and greatness of the work He actually accomplishes, than when we only think of the work He has done for all. It is in the application of the redemption here in the life of earth, where sin abounded, that its power is seen. Let us see how the entrance into the New Covenant blessing is attained.
The first step towards it, in one who has been truly converted and assured of his acceptance with God, is the sense of sin. He sees that the New Covenant promises are not made true in his experience. There is not only indwelling sin, but he finds that he gives way to temper, and selfwill, and worldliness, and other known transgressions of God's law. The obedience to which God calls and will fit him, the life of abiding in Christ's love which is His privilege,the power for a holy walk, well-pleasing to God, in all this his conscience condemns him. It is in this conviction of sin that any thought or desire of the full New Covenant blessing must have its rise. Where the thought that obedience is an impossibility, and that nothing but a life of failure and selfcondemnation is to be looked for, has wrought a secret despair of deliverance, or contentment with our present state it is vain to speak of God's promise or Sower. The heart does not respond: it knows well enough, it is sure, the liberty spoken of is a dream. But where the dissatisfaction with our state has wrought a longing for something better, the heart is open to receive the message.
The New Covenant is Meant to be the deliverance from the power of sin; a keen longing for this is the indispensable preparation for entering fully into the Covenant.
Now comes the second step. As the mind is directed to the literal meaning of the terms of the New Covenant, in its promises of cleansing from sin, and a heart filled with God's fear and God's law, and a power to keep God's commands and never to depart from Him; as the eye is fixed on Jesus the Surety of the Covenant, who will Himself make it all true; and as the voice is heard of witnesses who can declare how, after years of bondage, all this has been fulfilled in them the longing begins to grow into a hope, and the inquiry is made, as to what is needed to enter this blessed life.
Then follows another step. The heartsearching question comes whether we are willing to give up every evil habit, all our own selfwill, all that is of the spirit of the world, and surrender ourselves to be wholly and exclusively for Jesus. God cannot take so complete possession of a man, and bless him so wonderfully, and work in him so mightily, unless He has him very completely, yea, wholly for Himself. Happy the man who is ready for any sacrifice.
Now comes the last, the simplest, and yet often the most difficult step. And here it is we need to know Jesus as Mediator of the Covenant. As we hear of the life of holiness, and obedience, and victory over sin, which the Covenant promises, and hear that it will be to us according to our faith, so that if we claim it in faith it will surely be ours the heart often fails for fear. I am willing, but have I the power to make, and what is more, to maintain this full surrender? Have I the power, the strong faith, so to grasp and hold this offered blessing, that it shall indeed be and continue mine? How such questions perplex the soul until it finds the answer to them in the one word: Jesus ! It is He who will bestow the power to make the surrender and to believe. This is as surely and as exclusively His work, as atonement and intercession are His alone. As sure as it was His to win and ascend the throne, it is His to prove His dominion in the individual soul. It is He, the living One, who is in Divine power to work and maintain the life of communion and victory within us. He is the Mediator and Surety of the Covenant He, the Godman, who has undertaken not only for all that God requires, but for all that we need too.
When this is seen, the believer learns that here, just as at conversion, it is all of faith. The one thing needed now is, with the eye definitely fixed on some promise of the New Covenant, to turn from self and anything it could or need do, to let go self, and fall into the arms of Jesus. He is the Mediator of the New Covenant: it is His to lead us into it. In the assurance that Jesus, and every New Covenant blessing,is already ours in virtue of
our being God's Children; with the desire now to appropriate and enjoy what we have hitherto allowed to lie unused; in the faith that Jesus now gives us the needed strength in faith to claim and accept our heritage as a present possession; the will dares boldly to do the deed and to take the heavenly gift- a life in Christ according to the better promises. By faith in Jesus you have seen and received Him as to you, in full truth the of the New Covenant both in heaven and in your heart He is the Mediator who makes it true between God and you, as your experience.The fear has sometimes been expressed that if we press so urgently the work that Christ through the spirit does in the heart, we may be drawn off from trusting in what He has done and ever is doing,to what we are experiencing of its working.The answer is simple. It is with the heart alone that Christ can be truly known or honoured. It is in the heart the work of grace is to be done, and the saving power of Christ to be displayed. It is in the heart alone the Holy Spirit has His sphere of work; there He is to work Christ's likeness;it is there alone He can glorify Christ. The Spirit can only glorify Christ by revealing His saving power in us.
If we were to speak of what we are to do in cleansing OUR heart and keeping it right, the fear would be wellgrounded. But the New Covenant calls us to the very opposite. What it tells us of the Atonement, and the Righteousness of God it has won for us, will be our only glory even amid the highest holiness of heaven: Christ's work of holiness here in the heart can only deepen the consciousness of that Righteousness as our only plea. The sanctification of the Spirit, as the fulfilment of the New Covenant promises, is all a taking of the things of Christ and revealing and imparting them to us. The deeper our entrance into and our possession of the New Covenant gift of a new heart, the fuller will be our knowledge and our love of Him who is its Mediator; the more we shall glory in Him alone. The Covenant deals with the heart, just that Christ may be found there, may dwell there by faith. As we look at the heart, not in the light of feeling or experience, but in the light of the faith of God's Covenant, we shall learn to think and speak of it as God does, and begin to know what it is that there Christ manifests Himself and there He and the Father come to make their abode.
I do not know that I can find a better case by which to illustrate the place Christ, the Mediator of the Covenant, takes in leading into its full blessing than that of the founder of the Keswick Convention, the late Canon Battersby.
It was at the Oxford Convention in 1873 that he witnessed to having "received a new and distinct blessing to which he had been a stranger before." For more than twentyfive years he had been most diligent as a minister of the gospel, and, as appears from his journals, most faithful in seeking to maintain a close walk with God. But he was ever disturbed by the consciousness of being overcome by sin. So far back as 1853 he had written, " I feel again how very far I am from enjoying habitually that peace and love and joy which Christ promises. I must confess that I have it not; and that very ungentle and unchristian tempers often strive within me for the mastery." When in 1873 he read what was being published of the Higher Life, the effect was to render him utterly dissatisfied with himself and his state. There were indeed difficulties he could not quite understand in that teaching, but he felt that he must either reach forward to better things, nothing less than redemption from all iniquities, or fall back more and more into worldliness and sin. At Oxford he heard an address on the rest of faith. It opened his eyes to the truth that a believer who really longs for deliverance from sinning must simply take Christ at His word, and reckon, without feeling, on Him to do His work of cleansing and keeping the soul. "I thought of the sufficiency of Jesus, and said, I will rest in Him, and I did rest in Him. I was afraid lest it should be a passing emotion; but I found that a presence of Jesus was graciously manifested to me in a way I knew not before, and that I did abide in Him. I do not want to rest in these emotions, but just to believe, and to cling to Christ as my all." He was a man of very reserved nature, but felt it a duty ere the close of the Conference to confess publicly his past shortcoming, and testify openly to his having entered upon a new and definite experience.
In a paper written not long after this he pointed out what the steps are leading to this experience.First, a clear view of the possibilities of Christian attainment_a life in word and action, habitually governed by the Spirit, in constant communion with God, and continual victory over sin through abiding in Christ. Then, the deliberate purpose of the will for a full renunciation of all the idols of the flesh or spirit, and a willsurrender to Christ. And then this last and important step: We must look up to, and wait upon our ascended Lord for all that we need to enable us to do this.
A careful perusal of this very brief statement will prove how everything centred here in Christ. The surrender for a life of continual communion and victory is to be to Christ. The strength for that life is to be in Him and from Him, by faith in Him. And the power to make the full surrender and rest in Him was to be waited for from Him alone.
In June 1875 the first Keswick Convention was held. In the circular calling it, we read: " Many are everywhere thirsting that they may be brought to enjoy more of the Divine presence in their daily life, and a fuller manifestation of the Holy Spirit's power, whether in subduing the lusts of the flesh, or in enabling them to offer more effective service to God. It is certainly God's will that His children should be satisfied in regard to these longings, and there are those who can testify that He has satisfied them, and does satisfy them with daily fresh manifestations of His grace and power." The results of the very first Convention were most blessed, so that after its close he wrote: " There is a very remarkable resemblance in the testimonies I have since received as to the nature of the blessing obtained, viz., the ability given to make a full surrender to the Lord and the consequent experience of an abiding peace, far exceeding anything previously experienced." Through all the chief thought, was Christ, first drawing and enabling the soul to rest in Him, and then meeting it with the fulfilment of its desire, the abiding experience of His power to keep it in victory over sin, and communion with God.
And what was the fruit of this new experience? Eight years later Canon Battersby spoke: "It is now eight years since that I knew this blessing as my own. I cannot say that I have never for a moment ceased to trust the Lord to keep me. But I can say that so long as I have trusted Him, He has kept me; He has been faithful."