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6 this is the sum.
We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the “ throne of the majesty in the heavens; a “ minister of the sanctuary, and of the true
tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not “ man.” And again, “ now hath he obtained
a more excellent ministry, by how much “ also he is the Mediator of a better cove“ nant, which was established
better “ promises."
In the discussion of this subject two chief points present themselves to our consideration; first, the necessity that existed for a more powerful and efficient Mediator and Intercessor than any institutions antecedent to the Gospel could supply; secondly, the certainty that we have such a Mediator in the person of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
It is a remarkable circumstance, that in every known religion, even where no distinct traces can be found of its being derived from Revelation, the necessity of an Intercessor between God and man appears to have been virtually acknowledged. Among the imaginary deities of the Gentile world, some were invocated as gods of a subordinate kind, through whom, it was supposed, access was
c Heb. viii. 1, 2, 6.
to be had to the Father of gods and men: and even these, as well as the superior divinities, were only approached through the medium of a sacred order of men offering gifts and sacrifices, and other devotional services, which the worshippers in general were not deemed qualified to perform. The institution of a priesthood seems, indeed, in itself to imply an acknowledgment, a consciousness, on the part of those worshippers, that none were worthy to hold communion with the gods, unless in some way consecrated for
Here we discern the rude lineaments, at least, of that doctrine which to us is more distinctly made known by the light of Revelation. And whether we suppose this common and prevailing notion among mankind to have originated in their natural feelings of unworthiness to come before God, or in some remote tradition handed down to them from patriarchal times, the testimony, in point of weight, is nearly the same. It shews the universality of the sentiment, and indicates that it has a deep foundation in the exigencies of human nature.
No persuasion, indeed, seems to be more congenial than this with the feelings of every one who has not formed to himself either some derogatory conceptions of the Supreme
Being, or some unwarrantable conceits of his own perfection. To say nothing of the immeasurable distance between the creature and the Creator, between infinite perfection and such finite excellencies as the very best of men can attain unto; there is a fearful and seemingly insurmountable barrier between the sinner and his God. Without the assurance of some expiation for his offences, who would not dread to approach a Judge, “ unto whom all hearts are open, all desires
known, and from whom no secrets are “ hid ?” And even when this expiation is found, who may venture to plead it before God, without the intervention of the party through whom the expiation has been made ? Who can be an effective mediator, but the one who himself hath provided the ransom to be paid ?
With a sense of this general necessity for some intercessor between God and man, the reverence attached to the sacerdotal character is evidently connected. The ideas are correlative, and almost inseparable from each other. As such, they are expressly recognised under the Jewish dispensation. “Every high “ priest,” says St. Paul, “ taken from among “ men is ordained for men in things pertain
ing to God, that he may offer both gifts
“ and sacrifices for sins." No offerings of any kind, prayers, thanksgivings, or sacrifices, were deemed fit to be presented to the Almighty, but through those who were invested with that sacred character.
But since this office, when administered by men, fallible and peccable like their fellow creatures, can be no otherwise efficacious than as representative of something more worthy of the Divine acceptance; they who, either from ignorance of revelation, or from a blind and superstitious reverence for the office itself, trust to it without reference to that from which it derives its only value, can have no solid ground for confidence. As they who believed that “the blood of bulls and of goats “ could take away sin,” without the atoning virtue of the Redeemer whom they typified, did but deceive their own souls; so they who imagine that the priest, by virtue of any authority or sanctity of his own, independent of the one great Intercessor in whose name he acts, can perform the work of effectual mediation, are manifestly under a similar delusion. Upon this ground, the Apostle urges upon the Jews, that their ceremonial Law had reference throughout to a higher dispensation; and he labours to shew the absolute futility
d Heb. v.1.
of the most important of their religious services, when disconnected from that Redeemer through whom alone they could be rendered available to the purpose for which they were ordained.
The necessity of an Intercessor who “ is “ able to save them to the uttermost that
come unto God by Him,” being thus established; we are next to inquire into the certainty that we have such an Intercessor in the person
of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Apostle's train of reasoning in his Epistle to the Hebrews, leaves nothing to desire on this momentous point. Having first laid down the fundamental doctrine of our Lord's divinity, declaring that he was “ the “Son of God, the brightness of his glory, and “ the express image of his person®;" he adverts to his having been “made lower than “ the angels, for the suffering of death,” and afterwards “ crowned with glory and ho“ nour.”
The purpose of his suffering is stated to be, that he might “ taste death for
every man,” and be “a merciful and faith“ ful High Priest in things pertaining to God, “ to make reconciliation for the people.” He observes, that though our blessed Saviour e Heb. i. 3.
f Heb. i. 7, 17.