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As for the world, which is sometimes opposed to the church, it is said, that, by wisdom it knew not God, 1 Cor. i. 21. that is, not in such a way as he is revealed in the gospel; but the church, which Christ loved, and for which he gave himself, is said to be sanctified by the word, Eph. v. 26. and to them it is given, to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; but to others it is not given, Matt. xiii. 11. so that the church is the seat, and the object of the execution of Christ's prophetical, as well as of his other offices; They are taught by him as the truth is in Jesus, Eph. iv. 21.
IV. We are now to consider the way and means by which Christ reveals the will of God to the church; there are two ways by which this is done.
1. Objectively, which is an external method of instruction, the effect and consequence whereof is our hearing of him by the hearing of the ear, or as the apostle calls it, our having the form of knowledge, and of the truth in the law, Rom. ii. 20. This instruction Christ is said to give by the word: And this he did; first, by publishing the glad tidings of salvation in his own Person, which he mentions, as one great end for which he was sent into the world, as he says, I must preach the kingdom of God, for therefore am I sent, Luke iv. 43. and accordingly he styles himself, The Light of the world, John viii. 12. and it is said, that he was anointed to preach good things unto the meek, sent to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, Isa. lxi. 1. and when he is represented, as complying with the call of God, and delighting to do his will, he adds, I have preached righteousness in the great congregation ; lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest, I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart, I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation; I have not concealed thy loving-kindness, and thy truth, from the great congregation, Psal. xl. 9, 10. And as Christ preached the gospel in his own Person, so, when he left the world, he gave commission to others to preach it, and his Spirit to instruct them what they should deliver, by whose inspiration his word was committed to writing, which is the fountain of all truth ; and, by this means, the church attains, as at this day, the knowledge thereof.
2. Our Saviour reveals the will of God to his people, in a subjective way, which is internal, whereby he deals with their hearts, which he disposes and fits to receive the truth : Hereby he opens the eyes of the understanding, to see a beauty and glory in the gospel, and inclines all the powers and faculties of the soul to be conformed to it; and this he does more especially in those in whom he executes his prophetical office effectually, linto salvation. This is styled, in this answer, Christ's executing his prophetical office by his Spirit, as distinguished from the execution thereof by his word. We read sometimes of the Spirit's teaching us, in scripture as our Saviour tells his disciples, that He, viz. the Spirit, would guide them into all truth, John xvi. 13. and of believers having their souls purified, in obeying the truth, through the Spirit, 1 Pet. i. 22. and at other times of Christ's teaching by his Spirit. Now there is no essential difference between Christ's teaching as God, and the Spirit's teaching, since the divine glory of the Son and Spirit, to which this effect is attributed, is the same: But Christ's teaching by his Spirit, only denotes, as was before observed under a foregoing answer, the subserviency of the Spirit's acting herein, to Christ's executing this branch of his prophetical office, whereby he demonstrates his personal glory *.
V. We are now to consider the various ages in which Christ is said to execute this office. That he did this after his incarnation; first, in his own Person, and then, by taking care that his gospel should be preached in all succeeding ages, until his second coming, has been already considered. We may also obsérve, that Christ executed his prophetical office before his incarnation : Thus it is said, that, by his Spirit, he preached unto the spirits in prison, that is, to the world before the flood, who are represented in the words immediately following, as disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing, 1 Pet. iii. 19, 20. so that Noah who was a prophet, was his inferior minister, raised up, and spirited by him, to preach to the world, which upon that account, is called Christ's preaching, and accordingly herein he executed his prophetical office. And he is also said to have given the law from mount Sinai, as the apostle's words seem to intimate, when he says, Whose voice shook the earth, Heb. xii. 26. to wit, mount Sinai, which trembled when he
the law from thence; and that this refers to our Saviour, appears froin the words immediately foregoing, wherein it is said, See that ye refuse not him that speaketh, namely, Christ; for, if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, to wit, from mount Sinai, or when he spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from him, that speaketh from heaven; whose voice then shook the earth, &c. ver. 25.
Moreover, that he executed his prophetical office before his incarnation, and thereby led his church into the knowledge of divine truth, is evident, from the account we have, in scripture, of his appearing to them in the form of a man, or an angel, which he more frequently did, before the word of God was committed to writing, and afterwards occasionally in following ages : Thus he appeared to Moses in the burning bush, and
• See Vol. 1.Page 291,292.
sent him into Egypt to demand liberty for Israel, and afterwards he led them through the red sea, as appearing in the pillar of the cloud and fire; and he is described, as the angel which was with Moses in the church in the wilderness which spake to him in mount Sinui, and with our fathers, who received the lively ora. cles, Acts vii. 38. which is a farther proof of what was before mentioned, that he gave the law from thence; and while they travelled through the wilderness, he led them about, or went before them, in the pillar of cloud, and instructed them, Deut. xxxii. 10. so that all the knowledge of divine things, which they attained to, was the result of the execution of his prophetical office unto them. And when at any time they opposed Moses, his under-minister, he appeared in Person and vindicated him; as in that particular instance, occasioned by Aaron's and Miriam's speaking against him, wherein it is said, The Lord came down in a pillar of a cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and said, If there be a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream; my servant Moses is not so, who is farthful in all mine house, Numb. xii. 5—7. which is a farther intimation, that Christ then executed his prophetical office, by inspiring the prophets, who were raised up at that time.*
To conclude this head, we may observe the difference between Christ's executing his Prophetical office, before and after his incarnation. Iu the former of these, as was but now hinted, he occasionally assumed the likeness of the human nature, that he might the better converse with man, but was not really incarnate; in the latter, he delivered the mind and will of God, as dwelling in our nature. Before this, he discovered what was necessary to be known by the church at that time, and gave them those promises which related to the work of our redemption, to be performed by him : but, in the present execution of his Prophetical office, he opens a more glorious scene, and represents all those promises, as having their accomplishment in him, and displays the divine perfections, in bringing about our salvation, in their greatest beauty and lustre.
Quest. XLIV. How doth Christ execute the office of a Priest? Answ. Christ executeth the office of a Priest, in his once of
fering himself a sacrifice, without spot, to God, to be a re
• The force of this argument, and the application of these and several other scrip. tures to Christ, depend upon this supposition, which, we take for granted, and, were it needful, might easily be proved, that whenever a divine person is said, in scripture, to appear in the form of an angel, or to appear in a cloud as a symbol, or emblem of his presence, this is always meant of our Saviour. But compare Watts's Works, 5 vol. 381, and Edwards's Works, 4 vol. 491.
conciliation for the sins of his people, and in making continual intercession for them.
answer, we may observe the two great branches thereof, namely, the offering himself a sacrifice; and making intercession. There are several scriptures which expressly mention both of them : thus he is said, through the eternal Spirit, to have of fered himself, without spot, to God, Heb. ix. 14. and then described as having entered into heaven, now to appear in the presence of God for us, ver. 24. and elsewhere the apostle speaks of him, as having an unchangeable priesthood, and being able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, and that this is founded on his offering up himself, and making intercession for them, chap. vii. 24, 25, 27. In considering this, we may observe,
1. The reason of his being styled a Priest, which denomination was taken from those who exercised the priestly office under the ceremonial law, who were types of him, as such: accordingly we may consider; that the office of the priesthood was executed by sundry persons, appointed to this service. A priest was a public minister, who was to serve at the altar, to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins, Heb. v. 1. That these were offered in all the ages of the church, after the fall of man, appears, from the sacrifice that Abel offered, which the apostle calls an excellent one, and, upon this occasion, says, that he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts, Heb. xi. 4. and therefore it follows, that it was instituted by him: yet it does not appear that there was, in that early age of the church, a set of men solemnly and publickly invested in this office : but the heads of families are generally supposed to have been the public ministers in holy things, and particularly priests, though they do not appear to have been then so styled; and thus it continued till about the time that God brought Israel out of Egypt, when, by his appointment, all the first-born of the children of Israel were consecrated to him; and these officiated as priests, during that small interval of time, till the priesthood was settled in the tribe of Levi, upon which occasion God says, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel, instead of all the first-born, because all the first-born are mine ; for on the day that I smote all the first-born, in the land of Egypt, I hallowed unto me all the first-born in Israel, Numb. iii. 12, 13. And, when God gave the ceremonial law from mount Sinai, he appointed that tribe to minister as priests in holy things. Of these some had one part of the ministry of the sanctuary committed to them, and others another; particularly the priesthood, or the charge of offering gifts and sacrifi
ces, was more, especially committed to the family of Aaron, of which the eldest son, in their respective generations, was generally advanced to the high priesthood, and other descendants from him were common priests, who acted under, or were assistants to him in all the parts of his ministry, excepting that which respected his entering into the holy of holies. These were invested in their respective offices by unction, though the high priest's office and unction had some things peculiar in it, in which it exceeded theirs; and they were all types of Christ's priesthood, though the high priest was so in an eminent degree; which leads us to consider,
II. The Priesthood of Christ, as typified under the ceremonial law, and that either by the service which was commonly performed by the high priest, and other priests under him, or as it was typified by Melchizedec, who is occasionally mentioned in scripture, as shadowing forth Christ's Priesthood in some particular instances, which were not contained in other
1. We shall speak concerning the priests under the law, as types of Christ's Priesthood, and particularly shew wherein their priesthood agrees with, or differs from his.
(1.) Wherein they agree.
ist, Every, high priest was taken from among men, as the apostle observes, Heb. v. 1. and was ordained for men in things pertaining to God. And, to this we may add, that he was taken from among his brethren, and so must be a member of that church, in whose name he administered, and of which he was the head, by the dignity of his office. In this, he was a lively type of Christ, who, in order to his being an High Priest, became man, that he inight perform this ministry for men in things pertaining to God. It is true, the validity of his office, or the efficacy thereof to answer its designed end, arose from the dignity of his Person, as God; yet the matter thereof, or the ministry he performed, required that he should be taken from among men, and have all the essential properties of the human nature; so that, as the high priest was taken out of the church, or from among his brethren, and, by office, was the head thereof, Christ was a member of the church, and, as such, complied with those ordinances which God had instituted therein, and from the dignity of his Person and office, was the Head thereof: as a Member of it, he was exposed to the same temptations and miseries as they are, and so is able to sympathize with, and succour them under all their temptations, Heb. iv. 15. compared with chap. v. 2. and as the Head thereof, he manages all affairs relating to it, and expects that all his people should be entirely subjected to himn.
2dly, The matter of the priest's office, or the things that were