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our great High Priest, by offering himself a sacrifice, performed that part of his ministry which pertained to God, in the behalf of men; and he also deals with God, by appearing in his presence, continually making intercession for them; and, on the other hand, he deals with men, as designing to bring them to God, which he does more especially as a Prophet and King.
3. These three offices, which Christ executes, are distinct, and therefore not to be confounded. This we maintain against Socinus, and his followers: they speak, indeed, of Christ, as a Prophet, Priest, and King, which they are obliged to do, because the words are so frequently mentioned in scripture ; yet the sense they give of them, amounts to little more than an acknowledgment of his Prophetical office: and even this, as they explain it, contains in it nothing more than what other prophets, that went before him, either were, or might have been, qualified to perform ; for any one, who is under divine inspiration, may infallibly declare the will of God, and give forth those laws, by which God has ordained that his church should be governed ; and our Saviour, according to them, does little more than this. They speak of him, indeed, as a Priest, but not as making satisfaction for our sins to the justice of God, nor by interceding in the virtue thereof, but only by putting up prayers and supplications to him on our behalf; which differs very little from those prayers and supplications that were put up by other prophets in behalf of the people.
Again, they speak of him as a King, but not as subduing our wills, or conquering our enemies, by almighty power; or, if they allow that he subdues us to himself, as a King, yet, in their farther explaining thereof, they mean nothing else by it, but his gaining us over to his side by arguments, freeing us from our ignorance, and over-coming our prejudices against truth, by a clear revelation of it; or, if they speak of his conquering our enemies, they intend nothing else by it, but his guarding and defending his people, by furnishing them with arguments to resist their subtle attempts against them, all which things are reducible to his Prophetical office; so that, though they speak of him as executing three offices, it is no more than if they should assert, that he executes but one; and the most they intend by all this, is, that he is a teacher, sent from God, and consequently not much superior in excellency to Moses, who was a prophet, raised up from among his brethren, and had the honourable character given him, that he was faithful in all his house ; whereas, the apostle proves, by what he says of our Lord Jesus, that he was counted worthy of more glory, as he who hath builded the house, haih more honour than the house ; and farther styles him a divine Person, when he says, he that bụilt all things is God, Heb. iii. 2, 3.
4. These three offices, which Christ executes, are not to be divided, especially when they are executed in such a way, as is effectual to the salvation of those who are concerned herein. He may, indeed, in an objective way, reveal the will of God, or give laws to his church, as a Prophet, without working savingly upon the understanding: he may also execute his kingly office, as a judge, in pouring the vials of his wrath on his enemies, without subduing the stubbornness of their wills, or bringing them to the obedience of faith : nevertheless, we must conclude, that, wheresoever he executes one of these offices in a saving way, he executes them all. In this respect, though the offices be distinguished, yet in the execution of them, they are not divided : thus whosoever is so taught by him, as a Prophet, as to be made wise to salvation, is redeemed by his blood, as a Priest, overcome by his power as a King, and brought into subjection to his will in all things ; so all for whom, as a priest, he has purchased peace, to them he will, in his own time, proclaim it, as a Prophet, and enable them to believe in him, by making them willing in the day of his power.
5. He executes these offices in a twofold state ; first, of humiliation, and then of exaltation, with different circumstances agreeable thereunto; which twofold state will be considered in some following answers. What we shall observe, at present, concerning it is, that that part of Christ's priestly office, in which he made atonement for sin, was executed on earth in his state of humiliation; whereas the other part thereof, consisting in his intercession, together with some branches of his prophetical and kingly office, were executed both in earth and heaven, though in a different manner, agreeable to those circumstances of glory in which he was, and is.
Quest. XLIII. How doth Christ execute the office of a Pro
phet? Answ. Christ executeth the office of a Prophet, in his reveal
ing to the church, in all ages, by his Spirit and word, in divers ways of administration, the whole will of God, in all things concerning their edification and salvation.
WHAT which may be first observed, before we consider the
parts of Christ's prophetical office, and the manner of his executing it, is the order in which it is mentioned, as set before his priestly and kingly offices, which may give us occasion to enquire whether it be executed before them.
i. If we consider the natural order of his executing his three offices, or the dependence of the execution of them, one on the other, then it must be observed, that he first executes his priestly office, and, pursuant hereunto, his prophetical and kingly; for sinners must first be redeemed by his blood, before they can be brought to a saving knowledge of him, or an entire subjection to him ; therefore he first deals with God as a Priest, in our behalf, and thereby prepares the way of salvation, and lays the foundation thereof, in his oblation and intercession, and then, as a Prophet and King, he deals with men, and thereby brings them to God. In this respect, therefore, if these three offices were to be laid down in their natural order, we must say, that Christ executes the office of a Priest, Prophet, and King.
2. If we consider the order in which our Saviour executed these offices, in the exercise of his public ministry, we may say, he first produced his commission, or proclaimed the end of his coming into the world, and proved himself to be the Messiah, and so discovered himself to his people, as the great Prophet of his church; and, after that, he laid down his life, as a sacrifice for sin, as a Priest, and then he conquered his enemies, spoiled principalities and powers, and exerted the exceeding greatness of his power, in the application of redemption, as a King. It is in this respect that the offices of Christ are generally treated of, in the same method in which they are here laid down ; so that his prophetical office is first mentioned, which is what we are now to consider. And,
I. We shall shew how Christ is described, in scripture, as the Prophet of his church. There are many expressions whereby his prophetical office is set forth: Thus he is styled, a Teacher come from God, John iii. 2. and he calls himself our Master, Matt. xxiii. 8. or the Lord of our faith, and, as such, is distinguished from all other teachers, some of which affected very much to be called Rabbi, and would persuade the world, by an implicit faith, to believe whatever they said : But our Saviour advises his disciples to refuse that title ; for, says he, One is your master, even Christ.
Again, he is called, a law-giver, Mat. xxxiii. 22. or, the one and only lawgiver; and, it is added, that he differs from all other law-givers, in that he is able to save, and to destroy, James iv. 12. he is also called, The Angel, or Messenger of the covenant, who reveals the covenant of grace to us; and brings these glad tidings, that is, in him, reconciling the world to himself.
He is also called, The apostle, as well as the high Priest, of our profession, Heb. üi. 1. as he was first sent of God to publish peace, before he appointed others, who are called apostles, or inferior ministers to him, to pursue the same design. He is also styled, A witness to the people, their leader and commander, Isa. lv. 4. and he is farther described, as a faithful witness, Rev. i. 5. VOL. II.
And he is set forth by several metaphorical expressions, which denote the execution of this office, viz. The light which shineth in darkness, John i. 5. Thus the prophet Isaiah describes him, when he says, Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee, Isa. lx. 1. He is likewise compared to the sun, the fountain of light, and so called, The Sun of righteousness, that was to arise with healing in his wings, Mal. iv. 2. and, The bright and morning star, Rev. xxii. 16. by which ,and many other expressions to the same purpose, this prophetical office of Christ is set forth in scripture.
II. We shall now consider what Christ does in the execution of his prophetical office, as he is said to reveal the will of God to his church. And,
1. How he was qualified for this work, which supposes him to have a perfect knowledge of the divine will. We have before observed, that the Socinians, agreeably to the low thoughts they have of him, as a mere creature, suppose, that he was unacquainted with the will of God till he entered on his public ministry; and, in order to his being instructed therein, that he was, soon after his baptism, taken into heaven, and there learned, from the Father, what he was to impart to mankind, which they suppose to be the meaning of those scriptures, that speak of him, as coming down from heaven, or coming forth from the Father, into the world, John vi. 38. compared with chap. xvi. 28, and his speaking as the Father had taught him, or what he had seen with his Father, chap. viii. 28, 38. But, since we have shewn the absurdity of this opinion elsewhere, when speaking in defence of our Saviour's deity *, and have considered that those scriptures, which mention his coming down from heaven, plainly refer to his incarnation, and that the mode of expression is the same, as when God is said, in other scriptures, to come down into this lower world, by his manifestative presence here, which is not inconsistent with his omnipresence ; therefore I shall only add, at present, that those scriptures, which speak of Christ's being taught the things which he was to impart to the church, as they do not overthrow the omniscience of his divine nature; so they give no countenance to this supposition, that his human nature was taken up into heaven to be taught the will of God. In this nature, indeed, he needed instruction, and had no knowledge but what he received by communication; and it is plainly said of him, that he increased in wisdom, as he advanced in age : But the knowledge which he had, as man, which was sufficient to furnish him for the execution of this office, proceeded from a two-fold cause, namely, the union of that nature with his divine Person, the result whereof was, his having all those perfections that belong to it, of which the knowledge of
* See Vol. 1. Page 347–350.
divine things is one; for it would have been a dishonour to him, * as God, to be united to a nature that had the least blemish or defect, or was unqualified to perform the work which he was therein to engage in. And, besides this, our Saviour had an unction from the Holy Ghost, which, as has been already observed, implies not only his receiving a commission, but, together therewith, all necessary qualifications to discharge the. work he was engaged in, which include in them his knowing the whole will of God; as it is said, God gave not the Spirit by measure unto him, John iri. 34. that is, he
it in a greater measure to him, than he ever did to any other, as the work, that he was to engage in, required it.
2. Let us now consider what is the will of God, which Christ reveals. This includes in it every thing that relates to our salvation, or that is necessary to be known and believed by us, in order thereunto, viz. that God had an eternal design to glorify his grace, in the recovery of a part of mankind from that guilt and misery, in which they were involved, and putting them into the possession of compleat blessedness ; and that, in order hereunto, each of the Persons in the Godhead designed to demonstrate their distinct Personal glory, that, in this respect, they might receive adoration and praise from men; the Father, as sending our Saviour, to be a Redeemer; the Son, as taking that character and work upon him; and the Spirit, as applying the redemption purchased by him.
Moreover, he was to make a public proclamation that salvation was attainable; and that the way to attain it, was by sinners coming to him as a Mediator, by whom they might have access to the Father; and to invite them to come to him by faith, as he often does in the gospel. He was also to let them know, that this faith is the gift of God, and in what way they may expect to attain it, to wit, in a constant attendance on the ordinances of his own appointment; and, to encourage them hereunto, that there are many great and precious promises, which are all put into his hand, to apply and make good to his people. These, and many other things, which contain in them the sum and substance of the gospel, are what we understand by the will of God, which Christ communicates, as a Prophet, to his church. As it may be observed, that these doctrines are such as are matter of pure revelation, which could not have been known without it, as well as of the highest importance, and therefore worthy to be made known by so excellent a Person. And this leads us to consider,
III. The persons to whom Christ reveals the will of God, namely, the church; to them the lively oracles of God are committed ; and they are built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief Corner-stone.