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blessed Kingdom enlarged, through the same thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the Unity of the same Holy Spirit, World without End. Amen.
Priests, send upon thy Servants now to be ordained Priests in thy Church, thy heavenly Blessing, that they may be clothed with Righteousness, and that thy Word spoken by their Mouths may have such Success, that it may never be spoken in vain: Grant also that thy People may have Grace to hear and receive the same as thy most holy Word, and the Means of their Salvation, that in all our Words and Deeds we may seek thy Glory, and the Increase of thy Kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
CH A P. VIII.
Ember Days in September.
Q. Wherein confijis the Dignity of the Priesthood ?
À. In the peculiar Relation it hath to God, whether we consider him as the Author of it, from whom it received its Institution, or the Nature of those Affairs it treats about, it being ordained
Heb.v.de for Men in Tbings pertaining unto God. An Employ
Heb. i. 14.
ment, as in its own Nature the most honourable and ihe most happy, so in its Effects the most beneficial to Mankind.
Q. How doth it appear to be the most honourable Employment?
A. Because no Man can be employed in any Work more honourable than what immediately relates to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and to the Salvation of Souls, immortal in their Nature, and redeemed by the Blood of God. The Powers committed to their Trust, cannot be exercised by the greatest Princes, as such; and it is the same Work in Kind, and is the main End and Design of it, with that of the blessed Angels, who are ministring Spirits for those who shall be Heirs of Salvation. It is the same the Son of God discharged, when he condescended to dwell among Men. It is the increasing and maintaining that Building whereof he laid the Foundation when upon Earth. It is the promoting his glorious Design and Undertaking for the Salvation of Souls.
Q. U berein consists the Happiness of the Employment?
A. In that it fixes the Mind upon the best and noblest Objects; upon God, a Being infinite in all Perfections, and upon that Happiness which is placed in the eternal Enjoyment of him, and upon those Mcthods that are established for the attaining of it. In that it engages Men in the greatest Acts of doing Good, in turning Sinners from the Error of their Ways, and by all wise and prudent Means in gaining Souls unto God. In that it fets Men above the low and mean Concerns of this Life; and instead of bodily Labour, confines them to the more delightful Exercises of the Mind. Add to all this, that the faithful and diligent Discharge of the holy Function gives a Title to a higher Degree of Glory in the next World; for
they that be wise fall shine as the Brightness of the Fir- Dan. xii. mament, and they that turn many to Righteousness, as the Stars, for ever and ever.
Q. What are the Benefits of the Priesthood ?
A. It is by the Execution of the Priesl's Office, that Men are made Members of the Church of Christ by Baptism; and without being born of Water John ii. 5. and of the Spirit, we cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven: That our spiritual Life is mainlained by the holy Eucharift ; for it is the Cup of Cor. x. Blessing which they bless, that is the Communion of the 16. Blood of Christ; it is the Bread which they break, that is the Communion of the Body of Christ. That the Pardon of our Sins is signed and sealed to us; for by the Administration of the Sacraments are the Benefits of Christ's Sacrifice really conveyed to all worthy Receivers; and that our Minds and Consciences are quieted by the Comfort and Benefit of Absolution. It is, moreover, by the faithful Discharge of this high Office, Men are turned from Darkness to Light, convinced of the Folly of their Sins, and of the Necessity of being holy, if ever they will be happy. Besides that the Good of the the State is hereby more secured, in those Instructions Men receive from the Ministers of God, in the necessary Duties of Obedience, Justice, and Fidelity.
Q. What hath been the general Sense of Mankind in Reference to the Priesthood ?
A. All Nations, whether learned or ignorant, whether civil or barbarous, have agreed in this as a common Dictate of natural Reason, to express their Reverence for the Deity, and their Affections to Religion, by conferring extraordinary Privileges of Honour upon such as administer in holy Things, and by providing liberally for their Maintenance.
cide doubtful Cases; and from those severe Panishments he threatens to bring on such as did not comply with their Determinations. And as for the High-Priest, his Garments, his Palace, his Place in the Sanhedrim, and upon other Occasions, fufficiently shew the Dignity of his Office, and the Authority he was invested with. The Laws that
God was pleased yet farther to give in relation to Lev . xxi. the Priesthood, tended to preferve the Character
from being contemptible; for any corporeal Blemish made a Man unfit for it; and the particular Directions concerning their Marriages, and their not mourning for their nearest Kindred, made their Persons ftill more eminent. But what chiefly contributed to their Honour, was the Law about First-Fruits and Tenths, which were solemnly dedicated to God, and yet were to be brought to the Temple for the Maintenance of the Priefis.
Q. Why was the Priesthood confined to one Tribe?
A. It is thought that the chief Reason why God confined the Priesthood under the Law to one Tribe, was the better to train up the Jews in the Knowledge and Worship of the true God, and to preserve them from the idolatrous Rights of their Neighbours, to which they were but too much addicted. For this was a certain Sign, that Sacrifices offered to him by any other Hands, were neither agreeable nor acceptable to him; because this tertified that the Church of God was restrained to one People. So long, therefore, as none could administer in holy Things but those of the Tribe of Levi, so long there could be no Church but of that People whereof Levi was a Tribe.
Q. Why was Levi preferred to this great Honour before any of the other Tribes?
A. Not only because this Tribe was distinguishcd by its Relation to Mofes, who was Prince of
the Congregation, and whom God thought fit farther to honour, by advancing his Father's House to the highest Pitch of Dignity mortal Man could attain to; but also because this Tribe had given the most famous Instances of their Zeal agunft Idolatry. When the Israelites worshipped the Golden Calf, the greatest Part of the Levites preserved themselves free from that Infection. When Mofes took Ven- Exod.
xxxii. 26, geance on those that were guilty of that Idolatry, the Levites being kindled with Zeal, were obedient spea, de to his Voice, and assisted in expiating the Guilt in Hebo of so great a Sin with the Blood of their own p.138, Kindred. And if we may believe the Jewish Rabbins, when the other Tribes were tainted with the Superstitions of Egypi, the Tribe of Levi kept constant to the Worship of God; whereupon God was pleased thus to reward that Fidility and Zcal for which they were so renowned,
Q. What Infiances are there in the Testament of honourable Persons exercising the Priesthood ?
A. Melchisedeck, who exercised that holy Function, Gen. xiv. was King as well as Priest, and the Patriarch Abrabam acknowledged his Superiority by receiving his Benediction, and by paying him Tribute, even the Tenth of all his Spoils. Fotipherah, Priest of On, Exod. iii. was so considerable as to marry his Daughter to Foseph, the great Favourite of the King of Egypt. Jethro, Priest of Midian, was Father-in-law to Moses, eminent for his Wisdom and Authority. And the High-Priest Aaron was Brother to the same Moses, who was so mighty in Words and Deeds.
Q. How was the Priesthood esteemed among ibe Primitive Christians ?
A. The Primitive Christians always expressed a Aas vii mighty Value and Efteem for their Clergy, be- 22. cause they were sensible there could be no Church without Priests, and tat it was by their Means that God conveyed to them all thole mighty Bleslings which wee purchased by Christ's Death.
Heb. vik 4:
Gen. xli. 45.