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purity is the effect of divine teaching; holiness both external and internal, negative and positive. All the discoveries of God which Christ makes to the soul have an assimilating quality, and change it into his own likeness, 2 Cor. iii. 18.
(4.) All Christ's teachings are practical, issuing in cheerful obedience. Idle notions and useless speculations are not learned from Christ. As his creating words, so his teaching words, are always attended with effect. As when he said, 'Let there be light, and there was light;' so when he says to a soul, Be thou humbled, it is effectually humbled; as in the case of Job, chap. xl. 4, 5. 'Behold, I am vile, what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken, but I will not answer: yea, twice, but I will proceed no further.' And when he says, Be thou comforted, comfort immediately follows, Isa. Ixvi. 13. 'As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you: and ye shall be comforted in Jesusalem.
(5.) Christ's teachings are always agreeable to the written word. The Spirit of Christ and the word of Christ never disagree, as John xiv. 26. The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.' When ho speaks to the heart of a sinner, whether in a way of conviction, instruction, or consolation, he either makes use of the express words of scripture, or speaks to the heart in a language every way agreeable thereunto. So that the written word becomes the standard and touchstone to weigh and try all doctrines by, Isa. viii. 20. To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.' Whatever differs from the scriptures of truth, must not pass for an inspiration of God, but is a deluding sophism and insinuation of the devil.
(6.) Yon will have a great love to your teacher, and will be in case to say with David, 'Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee,' Psal. Ixxiii. 25.
OF CHRIST'S PRIESTLY OFFICE.
HEBREWs vii. 17.-Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of
It is evident from the context, that the apostle is speaking of Christ as a Priest, applying to him this passage taken from Psal. ex. 4. Thou art a Priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek. Where two things are proposed; 1. That he is indeed a Priest, whose business it is to offer sacrifices. 2. That he is so after the order of Melchisedec; noting thereby the similitude betwixt the two, the one being a notable type of the other. This likeness consists not in an unbloody sacrifice, that of bread and wine, which Melchisedec brought forth to Abraham when he returned from the slaughter of the kings who had taken Sodom and Gomorrah; but, (1.) In the name, Christ being the true King of righteousness,' and 'King of peace,' in which respect Melchisedec was only a type of him, Heb. vii. 2. (2.) In their original; ver. 3. Melchisedec is represented as without father, without mother, without descent, having no beginning of days;' nothing being recorded of his birth and parentage, he is like an immortal. In this he was a notable type of Christ, who had no father as man, no mother as God, was God himself from eternity, and his goings forth were of old, from everlasting. (3.) In their continuance, because Melchisedec's death is no where recorded, ver. 8.; but is represented as one who liveth. So Christ our High Priest liveth for ever, to make intercession for us. (4.) In their office, Melchisedec was priest of the most high God, and king of Salem, or Jerusalem. So Christ is a Priest, who offered himself a sacrifice to God, and he is constituted King of Zion, of the church. (5.) In respect of unity. Melchisedec is set forth as having neither predecessor nor successor in his office. So Christ was set up to be a priest from everlasting, and is represented as a lamb slain from the foundation of the world; and the sacrifice that he offered being perfect, there is no more occasion for any other priests; and he has no successor, having an unchangeable and perpetual priesthood. (6.) In respect of dignity; Melchisedec being proposed as greater than Abraham. So Christ is greater than both : for he said, 'Before Abraham was, I am.' Thus Christ is a Priest, and that for ever. In this office is contained the grand relief of poor souls distressed and perplexed with the guilt and burden of their sins. When all other remedies have been tried in vain, it is the blood of the sacrifice of Christ, sprinkled by faith upon the trembling lonscience, that must cool and refresh, and sweetly compose and settle it.
The doctrine arising from the text is,
Doct. Christ executeth the office of a Priest, in his once offering himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us.
In discoursing from this doctrine, I shall,
I. I am to shew that Christ is truly and properly a Priest. This is evident, if we consider, 1. That the scripture holds him forth as such, Psal. ex. 4. and Heb. v. and other places of that epistle. 2. Because he exercises the acts of the priestly office, in offering sacrifice, and praying for his people. 3. Because he was typified by such as were really priests, as all the Levitical priests, and Melchisedec.
Quest. Wherein did Christ's priestly office differ from the priestly office under the ceremonial law ?
1. The priests under the law were priests after the order of Aaron: but Christ is a priest after the order of Melchiscdec. Who this Melchisedec was, it is in vain to inquire, and cannot possibly be known; the Holy Ghost designedly concealing his genealogy, beginning and ending, and descent, that so he might be a fitter type of Christ and his everlasting priesthood. He was like a man dropt from the clouds, and at last caught up again, and none knew how. It is said of him. Heb. vii. 3. that he was without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually.' Now, Christ was a Priest after the order of this Melchisedec, not by a corporeal unction, legal ceremony, or the intervening act of a human ordination, but by a divine and heavenly institution, and immediate unction of the Spirit of life, in that extraordinary manner, whereby ho was to be both King and priest unto God, as Melchisedec was, Heb. vii. 16. He was not a Priest after the order of Aaron, because the law made nothing perfect, but was weak and unprofitable; and therefore was to be abolished, and to give place to another priesthood. Men were not to rest in it, but to be led by it to him who was to abolish it, Heb. vii. 11, 12. The ministry and promises of Christ were better than those of the law; and therefore his priesthood, which was the office of dispensing them, was to be more excellent too, Heb. viii. 6. For when the law and covenant were to be abolished, the priesthood, in which they were established, was likewise to die.
2 The priests under the law were sinful men, and therefore of
fered sacrifices for their own sins, as well as for the sins of tho people, Heb. v. 3. But Christ was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's; for this he did once when he offered up himself,' Heb. vii. 26, 27. He was perfectly pure and holy, and could stand before God even in the eye of his strict justice, as a lamb without blemish and without spot.' Though he made his soul an offering for sin,' yet he had done no iniquity, neither was there any guile found in his mouth.' And indeed his sacrifice had done us no good, had he been tainted with the least sin.
3. The priests under the law were many, because they were mortal; death as an universal deluge was continually sweeping them off the stage. But Christ as a Priest for ever, Psal. ex. 4. Heb. vii. 23. • This man continueth ever.'
4. The priesthood under the law was changeable; but Christ's priesthood is unchangeable. The legal dispensation was to continue only for a time. It was but like the morning star to usher in the rising sun, which so soon as he appears in our horizon, it evanishes and shrinks away, Heb. vii. 12. God confirmed this priesthood with an oath, Psal. ex. 4. Heb. vii. 21. as well as a King. Those offices which were divided before between two families, were both united and vested in Christ; this being absolutely necessary for the discharge of his Mediatory undertaking, and for the establishment of his kingdom, which being of another kind than the kingdoms of this world, even spiritual and heavenly, therefore needed such a King as was also a minister of holy things. And the apostle tells us, Hob. vii. 24. that 'this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.'
5. The priests under the law offered many sacrifices, and of various kinds, as lambs and rams, calves and buttocks, and the blood of many beasts : but Christ offered but once, and that but one sacrifice, even the sacrifice of himself. So it is said, Heb. ix, 25, 26. 'Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year, with the blood of others; (for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world): but now once in tho end of the world, hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.' And herein he excelled and far transcended all other priests, in this, that he had something of his own to offer. He had a body given him to be at his own disposal for this very end and purpose. It is said, Heb. x. 5, 7, 10. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not but a body hast thou prepared me. Then said I, Lo, I
come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God. By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. He offered up his body, and not only his body, but his soul also was made an offering for sin, Isa. liii. 10. We had made a forfeiture both of our souls and bodies by sin.
It was therefore necessary that the sacrifice of Christ should be answerable to the debt which we owed to God. And when Christ came to offer up his sacrifice he stood not only in the capacity of a Priest, but also in that of a Surety; and so his soul stood in the stead of ours, and his body in the stead of our bodies.
6. All those sacrifices that the priests offered under the law were types of the sacrifice of Christ, which he was to offer in the fulness of time, they not being sufficient in themselves to purge away sin, nor acceptable to God any further than Christ was eyed in them. But Christ's sacrifice was the thing typified by all these oblations, and is efficacious in itself for the satisfaction of justice, and the expiation of sin, Heb. s. 1, 4, 14. 'For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.' His sacrifice was invaluably precious, and of infinite efficacy and virtue. And such it behoved to be : for it being offered as an expiatory sacrifice, it ought to be proportioned and equivalent, in its own intrinsic value, to all the souls and bodies that were to be redeemed by it. So that as one rich diamond is more in worth than ten thousand pebbles, or one piece of gold than many counters, so the sacrifice of Christ's soul and body is far more valuable than all the souls and bodies in the world.
7. The priests under the law appeared before God in behalf of the people, in the temple made with hands; but Christ appeareth in heaven itself. The Levitical priests offered sacrifices and made prayers for the people in the temple; and the high priest, who was an eminent type of Christ, entered into the holy of holies, the figure of heaven, once a-year, and that not without blood. This was typical of Christ's entering into heaven itself in his people's name, to appear for them before the throne of God. Hence it is said, Heb. ix. 24. 'For 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.' 1 John ii. 1. “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.