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offered by him, were, as was before observed, gifts and sacrifices offered for the remission of sins; which blessing could not be attained without shedding of blood, as the apostle observes, without shedding of blood there is no remission, chap. ix. 22. Thus Christ was to redeem his people, and procure forgiveness of sins, and make atonement for them by sacrifice, or by the shedding of blood.
3dly, After the high priest had offered sacrifices, there was another part of that ministry, which was peculiar to himself, in which he was an eminent type of Christ, which he performed but once a year, to wit, on the great day of expiation, when he went into the holiest of all within the vail, with blood and incense; the blood he sprinkled on the mercy-seat over the ark, and caused the smoke of the incense to ascend and cover the mercy-seat, and from thence he received an intimation from God, that the sacrifices, which he had offered for the people, were accepted, after which he went out, and blessed them, in the name of the Lord; in all which, he was a lively type of Christ's executing his Priestly office, chap. ix. 3, 7. compared with Lev. xvi. 14. who first offered an acceptable sacrifice for us on earth, and then entered into heaven, (which was typified by the priest's entering into the holy of holies) to present his sacrifice before God, and to make intercession for us; and, as the consequence hereof, he blesses his people, in turning them from all their iniquities, and in conferring all the other
fruits and effects of his sacrifice upon them. Thus Christ's Priesthood was shadowed forth by that ministry, which was performed by the priests under the ceremonial law; nevertheless,
(2.) There were many things in which they differed; as,
ist, The priests under the law were mere men ; but Christ, though truly man, was more than a man. Though he was made, in all the essential properties of the human nature, like unto us; yet he had a divine nature, in which he was equal with God; and therefore his ministry could not but be infinitely more valuable, than that of any others, who were types of him.
2dly, The priests under the law were of the tribe of Levi, and therefore theirs is called, by the apostle, The Levitical priesthood, Heb. vii. 11. But our Saviour, as Man, was of the tribe of Judah, and therefore did not derive his priesthood from them by descent, as they did from one another, chap. vii. 13, 14.
3dly, The sacrifices which were offered by the priests under the law, were no other than the blood of beasts, appointed for that purpose; but Christ offered his own blood, chap. ix. 12, 14.
4thly, The priests under the law were sinners ; accordingly Aaron was obliged first to offer up sacrifice for his own sins, and then for the peoples', chap. vii. 27. but Christ needed not Voi. ÎI.
to do this, for he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, ver. 26.
5thly, The sacrifices offered by the priests under the law, could not expiate, or take away sins, chap. X. 4. but Christ, by the offering that he has made, has for ever perfected them that are sanctified, or made a full atonement for all sin. Now since it is said, that it was impossible for sin to be expiated by the sacrifices under the law, we are to enquire in what sense atonement was, or could not be made thereby: if the sin was of such a nature, or that it was punishable by human judicature, the making atonement by sacrifice, in many instances, put a stop to the prosecution, and took away the guilt, which the person had contracted, as to any farther proceedings of men against him; for this was an ordinance appointed by God, in which the of. fender had an external and visible recourse to the blood of Jesus, signified by the blood which he offered ; and this is supposed to have been accompanied with repentance for the sin committed, which gave satisfaction to the church, as to what concerned this matter, as offensive to them; and they could demand no more of the offender, in order to their declaring, that, so far as they were judges, his guilt was expiated, by that which was signified by the sacrifice which he brought, which was of fered for him, and therefore the crime that he committed was pardoned.
It is true, there were some crimes that were to be punished with death; and, in this case, the church was not to receive satisfaction by sacrifice, nor were proceedings against the guilty person to be stopped by this means : and, among other crimes, that of wilful murder was one which admitted of no sacrifice; so, I think, the meaning of what the Psalmist says, is to be understood, Thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it, Psal. li. 16. as implying, that the guilt of blood was such, that he had hereby forfeited his life, which, though no subject had power enough to take away, yet God might, for this, have set his face against him, and have cut him off, in a visible manner, from among his people, as he often did, when crimes were not punished in a legal way. This punishment God graciously remitted, when he told him, by Nathan, that he had put away his sin, he should not die, 2 Sam. xi. 13. and David, when he testifies his repentance, in this Psalm, would have offered sacrifice, but he finds that none was ordained for the sin he had committed. In other cases, indeed, the church was satisfied, excommunication, or some other punishment, prevented, and the offender taken into favour, by his offering sacrifice, in which respect, this service is called making atonement for him : but, in other respects, it was impossible to expiate sin thereby, so as to procure justification in the sight of God; for they could
not expiate it, as to what concerns the conscience, as it is said, that the sacrifices could not make him, that did the service, perfect, as pertaining to the conscience, Heb. ix. 9. so that, that guilt of sin, which burdens the consciences of men, as having more immediately to do with God, was taken away only by Christ's sacrifice; in which respect, the efficacy hereof far exceeds all the ends and designs of the sacrifices, which were offered under the law. And this farther
inasmuch as these sacrifices were to be repeated, there being a continual remembrance of sin ; for this supposes, that sin was not hereby wholly expiated in the sight of God: and, in this, they also differ from the sacrifice Christ offered, inasmuch as that, being effectual to take away sin, was offered but once, chap. X. 10, 14.
6thly, The priests under the law were mortal, and therefore the priesthood was successive; but Christ, as he was not from them by a lineal descent so he had no successor in his priesthood. In this, the apostle opposes him to them, when he says, They truly were many, because they were not suffered to continue, by reason of death; but this man, becuuse he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood, chap. vii. 23.
Again, as the priesthood ceased, in particular persons, by death, so the high priesthood was sometimes taken away from those that were advanced unto it, for some instances of mal. administration : thus the high priesthood, for some time, descended in the line of Eleazar, the elder branch of Aaron's family; and afterwards, during the reign of the judges, it was transferred to the younger branch of his family, namely, the descendants from Ithamar, in which line it was when Eli was high priest ; * and afterwards, when his sons, by their vile behaviour, forfeited their right to the high priesthood, and God threatened that he would take it away from his family, 1 Sam. ii. 30. compared with ver. 35. and 1 Kings ii. 35. (which was accomplished when Abiathar, in the beginning of Solomon's reign, was thrust from the priesthood) it again descended in Zadock, to the elder branch of Aaron's family.
* It is very hard to determine the reason of the translation of the high priesthood from Eleazar to Ithamar's family, or the exact time when this was done. The learn. ed Dr. Lightfoot [See his Works, Vol. I. page 51.) gives a very probable account hereof, or the best conjecture that, I think, can be made relating to it, which is this: He supposes, that Jepihah offered his daughter, not as devoting her to perpetual dir. ginity, but by putting her to death, which was one of the most vile and inhuman ac. tions that we read of in scripture: it was, in Jepthah, a sin of ignorance, arising from the disadvantage of his education, and the all example of those from whom he took it, before he was raised up to be a Judge: but the high priest onght to have res strained him from it, by telling him, that it was a sin; whereas, instead thereof, it ie more than probable that he was active herein, or the person by whom this sacrifice was performed; and consequently this was such an instance of male-administration, thai,
for it, the high priesthood was taken from that branch of Aaron's family, in which is then was, and transferred to another.
Again the priesthood itself was not designed to continue for ever, but only during that dispensation ; after which, there was to be no altar, priests nor, sacrifice : But Christ's priesthood, as it was unalienable, so it could never be forfeited by maleadministration, or descend to any other; therefore he is said to be a Priest for ever, which seems to be the meaning of that scripture, in which his priesthood is considered, as different from the Levitical priesthood, as those priests were made without an oath ; but this with an oath, by him that said unto him, The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for eder, chap. vii. 21. which oath not only signifies the establishing of him in his priesthood, but it secured to him that he should never fall from it.
There are other things in which Christ's priesthood differs from that of the priests under the law, in that they entered into the holy places made with hands, but Christ into heaven it self, chap. ix. 7. compared with ver. 24. and then it was only the high priest that was to enter into the holy of holies : But, as the apostle observes, that under the gospel, in the virtue of Christ's sacrifice, all believer's are admitted into the holiest of all, that is, they have access through faith, into the presence of God, br the blood of Jesus.
And lastly, under the law, there was a certain order of men that were priests, and yet all the people were not so; but, under the gospel-dispensation, believers are styled, an holy and a roy. al priesthood, and the sacrifices they offer up, are spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God, by Jesus Christ, i Pet. ii. 5, 9. And this leads us,
2. To consider Christ's priesthood, as typified by Melchizedek, concerning whom it is said, in Gen. xiv. 18, 19, 20. that Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine to Abraham, returning from the slaughter of the kings; and he was priest of the most high God, and he blessed him, &c. And this is referred to, as tending to set forth Christ's priesthood, in Psal. cx. 4. The Lord hath sworn and will not repent; thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek; and the apostle, in Heb. vii. refers to these scriptures, which are the only places of the Old Testament where this is mentioned, and applies them to Christ's priesthoud as containing many things which were not typified by the Aaronical priesthood. And it may be observed, that when the apostle enters on this subject, he premises this concerning it, that it contained a very great difficulty, as he says, Of whom [i. e. Melchizedek] we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, Heb. v. 11. that is, hard to be explained, so as to be fully understood; it will be no strange thing therefore if we cannot fully explain it, or assert some things concerning it, which are only probable; and
certainly this observation of the apostle should induce us to treat on this subject with the greatest humility and modesty. As to what we have to say concerning it, I hope we shall advance nothing contrary to the analogy of faith, how difficult soever some phrases, used in scripture, relating thereunto, may seem to be: And the method in which we shall proceed, shall be; first, to enquire who this Melchizedek was; and, secondly, how we have herein an eminent type of Christ's priesthood in some things, in which it was not shadowed forth by the Aaronical priesthood.
We shall now enquire who this Melchizedek probably was; and here we pass by the conjecture of some who lived in an early age of Christianity, whom Epiphanius mentions *, who supposed that he was the Holy Ghost; which appears to be a very absurd notion, inasmuch as we never read in scripture, of the Holy Ghost's appearing in the form of a man, nor of his performing any of those offices which belong to the Mediator; and therefore it is equally contrary, to the tenor of scripture, to call him the priest of the most high God, as it is to call the Father so; and thus Melchizedek is styled, in the scripture we are explaining. I shall add no more, as to this ungrounded opinion ; but proceed to consider that which is more commonly acquiesced in, namely,
First, That he was a man: But when it is farther enquired, what man? there are three different opinions relating hereunto.
(1.) The Jews generally conclude that he was Shem, the son of Noah, as also do many other ancient and modern writers, who pay a deference to their authority and reasoning to The principal thing that induces them to be of this
opinion, is, because it appears, from scripture-chronology, that Shem was living at that time, when Abraham returned from the slaughter of the kings 5. And they farther add, that Shem, having received the patriarchal benediction from his father, might truly be reckoned the greatest man in the church, and that both as a priest and a king, as Melchizedek is described to be. But
* Vid. Ephiph. Hær. Page 67. $7. † Among the latter, is the learned Dr. Lightfoot. See his Works, Vol. I. Page 12. and Vol. II. Page 327. # IVe have no account of the year when this battle was fought; but it is evident that it was before Isaac was born, and consequently before Abraham had lived 25 years in the land of Canaan. And that Shem was then living, appears from hence, that from the flood to Abraham's coming into the land of Canaan, was 427 years, as appears by considering the sum total of the years of the lives of the patriarchs, mentioned in Gen. xi. 10. & seq. and also that Terah was 130 years old when Abraham was born, as appears, by comparing Gen. xi. 32. zvith Acts vii. 4. and Gen. xii. 4. and by considering Abraham as 75 years old, as it is there said he wus, when he lefi Haran. Now Shem was born 98 or 100 years before the flood, as appears by comparing Gen. v. 32. with chap. xi. 10. and vii. 11. Therefore, when Abraham went out of his country into the land of Canaan, Shem was 525 or 527 years old; and, when Shem died, he was 600 yeurs old, Gen. xi. 10, 11, therefore Shem lived more than half a hundred years after this battle was fought.