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for they proceed, "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth." The atonement is the purchase-money; the redemption of the souls and bodies of the elect, and the inheritance of the earth, the glorious purchase." For we have not been redeemed "with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ ;" and we are now" sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession."
But, to obtain further light on the priesthood of Christ, let us again advert to the observances of that law which was a shadow of good things to come." On the Day of Atonement, the high priest went into the holy place with the blood of the sacrifice and Christ, our great High Priest, has entered, not into the holy place made with hands, but into heaven itself, with his own blood. Though He was always predestinatively a Priest, in the same sense as He was the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," yet his installation into the priestly office, if we may use the term, was an event which took place at a certain epoch of time, as well as the event of his death. The Scriptures distinctly fix this epoch. St. Paul declares his resurrection to be the manifestation of his Sonship (Rom. i. 4); explaining thereby that decree of the second Psalm, "Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee"—that is, at the time of his resurrection, when he appeared as the "firstbegotten from the dead." Now the words of this decree are also declared elsewhere, by the same Apostle, to be that which constituted him a Priest (Heb. v. 4). From this it appears, that at his death he was the victim sacrificed for sin; at his resurrection, the high priest about to enter into the holy place with the blood of the victim-the presentation of his own atonement-in order that God might, on account of it, extend pardon and favour to his elect people. And as the Jewish high priest was wont, after the presentation of the blood of the sacrifice, to come forth to the people, and offer eucharistical burntofferings; so shall our great High Priest appear the second time, to them that look for him, to offer up, during a long day of joy and gladness, the tribute of thanks and praises from a redeemed world.
The more vividly to apprehend the priestly office of our King during his glorious reign on the earth, let us contemplate, so to speak, the first draught of God's purpose, as it appeared in the creative state. Let us view it, not as it appeared to the mind of Him who from all eternity decreed that it should be but a transient state, but as we may suppose it would appear to those principalities and powers in heavenly places to whom God makes known by the church his manifold wisdom. They be
held a fair creation, which its Maker pronounced good; and saw it given in possession to holy beings, to whose various powers and faculties this good and fair creation was exactly adapted. From such a glorious commencement they would naturally anticipate that this earth should become the habitation of a multitude of happy beings, who would maintain a constant communion with the Author of their being, by the interchange of blessings and grateful adoration. And when they saw these fair expectations marred, and were told that by this very interruption a still more glorious state of things would ultimately be brought about, no wonder, indeed, was it, that into this marvellous scheme of redemption the angels desired to look.
The Fall produced enmity between God and the creature; but God ordained One by whom he should "reconcile all things unto himself." The effects of this reconciliation will be a return to that state from which the creature fell; himself and his habitation redeemed from the curse, and holy intercourse with the infinite God renewed. Again shall the sunshine of God's countenance, and the dew of his blessing, exhale from the grateful earth the incense of praise; and all the glories of the creative state shall be restored. But if nothing more than the original glory were restored, the manifold wisdom of God in ordaining the Fall would not be displayed. What, then, is the grand difference between the creation state and the redemption state? It is the priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ: it is the Eternal Word having taken hold of the nature of Abraham's seed, and having joined it in everlasting union with his essential Divinity; thus forming a line between the creature and the Creator, and opening up a new and living way of close communion between them, to which the creation state had no access. They are one with Him who is one with the Father. Not only are they permitted to hold communion with the Almighty, but God in very deed dwells with them upon the earth, in the Second Person of the blessed Trinity. That great mystery, which Solomon imperfectly understood, and naturally marvelled at-how He whom the heaven of heavens could not contain should tabernacle amongst men-has now, by his incarnation, become a reality. Christ is "a Priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek." Not only during the Millennial ages shall their King-Priest present to God the Father the adoration of a redeemed world; but through the ages of eternity the immediate Object of their worship shall be Himself their Fellow-worshipper; and, as the Beginning and Head of creation, shall for ever lift up the creature in the presence of the Father. To the worshippers, He is "the Image of the invisible God,' "the fulness of the Godhead in a body;" and He
stands before the great Object of their worship as the head and representative of the redeemed creature; as Him who hath "reconciled all things," by whom "all things consist," in whom "all things are gathered into one:" thus, like Aaron with the names of the tribes of Israel upon his shoulders, bearing the creature before the Lord for an everlasting memorial.
And thus, throughout eternity, shall the great work of redemption be kept in remembrance. The glorified humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be an eternal monument of the mighty work accomplished by the Word being made flesh. Even when he shall have subdued all things to himself, and shall deliver up the kingdom to his Father, there exists a memorial of all he has done. "Then shall the Son also be subject to him who put all things under him." He shall, as the Head of the creature, tell out the manifold wisdom of God in the creation, the fall, and the redemption of man, by his eternal subjection, as man, to his Father and their Father, to his God and their God.
REIGNING ON EARTH NO DEGRADATION TO OUR LORD.
THE Scriptural doctrine of our Lord's glorious advent to set up his Millennial kingdom, is objected to by many under the idea that "to suppose him reigning personally and visibly in such a world as this, is rather to degrade than to exalt our Lord."
But this is taking a low and carnal view of the subject. The question is, "What saith the Scripture?" and if these things be therein declared, let the objectors know, that the Lord cannot be degraded by accomplishing his own glorious purposes, and least of all when accomplishing that great work which will be the theme of praise and admiration among the heavenly host through all eternity. These objectors actually do believe that God governs the world at this moment: there is therefore an end of their assumption that the Lord would be degraded by reigning over it. There remains, then, only a part of the objection, that he would be degraded by becoming visible. Why degraded? Evidently because the objectors, taking a carnal, intellectual view of the subject, imagine, that as long as the Lord is invisible to this wicked world, its wickedness is invisible to him, and that he would be degraded by looking upon it. They think, moreover, that the Lord would see with mortal eyes; forgetting, that in His view this earth is the dwelling-place of immortal spirits,-of his redeemed, of angels and archangels, ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who shall
be heirs of salvation." Yet they believe that he is now visible to angels and archangels, and that the Lord sits upon his throne among them? What, then, is the real difference? where is the force of the objection, excepting to our carnal conceptions?
But (they say) sin is here. True, it is so now; and that the Lord should on that account be nearer to us even now, as a present help, than these objectors really think, is a great condescension : but it is not degradation; for the Lord can never be degraded by doing that which he has willed to do: and therefore the only question is, "What saith the Scripture?" There the question begins, and there it ends.
If these objectors had been unfortunately gifted with more logical heads, they must have been inevitably Socinians; for, if we are to talk of degradation, what can be more so, according to the standard of human intellect, than the notion that the Holy Spirit should dwell within the decaying, offensive, and sin-polluted body of a human being? According to their ideas, the Saviour, our Lord and our God, was degraded by passing through the womb of the Virgin; and according to their logic, at all events, the Holy Spirit, to avoid degradation, should cease to dwell with us when our bodies become loathsome from sickness! the bed of a dying Christian ought to be without consolation! and that Spirit, which would have repelled the assaults of Satan, ought to have retired in disgust!
These objectors make a mere man of the Lord, ascribing to him the animal senses of a human being, and then cry out upon others for degrading him! They cannot keep in mind, that in the sight of the Lord all his works are equal, and that there is nothing offensive but sin. Their carnal conceptions would admit the notion of the Lord's appearing in the form of an archangel, if it were propounded in Scripture; but they are staggered at the idea of his assuming the form of an earthly king, because they do not comprehend, that, compared with the greatness of God, both are equally nothing; and because, while occupied in comparing the creatures with each other, they forget that both are equally the work of the Creator's hands, and that he could change the one into the other in an instant. These objectors, in the same way measuring every thing by their own carnal standard, believe that God dwells in heaven-meaning a place of his own making; but they cannot admit that he can dwell on earth, which is also a place of his own making. But why not? Because they think (and, if they knew their own thoughts, they would confess it) that the two places are made with different materials, and that the Creator did not make the materials. This alone can be their reason for thinking that the earth possesses inherently qualities which must always, and under all circumstances, render it incapable of becoming either paradise
or heaven. It is plain that these objectors do not think that the presence of the Lord constitutes heaven, or that sin is the cause of the present condition of this earth and its inhabitants; but that the earth itself has a something in its composition above the controul of the Divine presence; and that, if the Lord were to erect his throne here, instead of exalting the earth, the earth would lower Him! I once knew an ultra-Socinian, who by the powers of his intellect had arrived at the conclusion that God was not Almighty: these objectors do not seem to be aware, that when they apply the word "degradation" to the Lord, they set up a supposed power above his will. Whatever we find in Scripture falls within the term "condescension." To assume any thing which has not Scripture for its warrant, is not to "degrade" the Lord, but to commit the sin of interpolating God's word. The word "degradation" is out of the question: the terms "scriptural" or "unscriptural" can alone be properly employed, in considering the operations of the Divine will.
Mr. Irving very ably overthrows these objectors on their own mode of reasoning, by observing, that "to rule as a King is a less humiliation than to be crucified as a malefactor." This is a conclusive answer to the objectors, upon their own narrow basis; though, in point of fact, the Lord is always equally glorious. These objectors cannot help making a human being of the Lord, and do not comprehend that his glory is independent of circumstances. "If," say they, "we could, with the Socinians, suppose him a mere man, we could conceive a throne on this earth would do him honour." Now this is not a fair way of stating their objection; for they really do mean that such a throne would do him dishonour; and, meaning this, they do make the Lord a mere man, as completely dependent on outward circumstances, as the Socinians: the only difference between them consists in the three letters which form the syllable dis-both are evidently thinking of a creature, and not of the Creator.
To what a groveling view of Divine things has the standard of orthodoxy fallen! To bear a testimony against the Catholic bill, as the work of Infidel indifference, was a duty; but who can wonder that our Established Church should be thus shaken, when we see Mr. Irving assailed with such silly objections as the human intellect can afford, on a subject beyond its grasp, instead of being met on Scripture ground, which is our only guide? I am not competent to say whether Mr. Irving is right, but any one may see that these objectors are wrong. Their best attempts at argument shew that they stand on the very verge of Socinianism, and depend on their natural understandings more than on the revealed word of God. They think themselves