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transacted it here on earth. From heaven he came to offer a sacrifice for us; and to heaven is he gone again, to plead that sacrifice in our behalf. Christians do not sufficiently think of a living Saviour: they dwell with pleasure on the thoughts of his death, but scarcely advert to the life which he is now spending in their service above. But St. Paul teaches us to derive from this source more comfort and encouragement than any other;—not even the death of Christ itself being so rich a source of consolation as this --- Reflect then on him in this view, as presenting his own blood before his Father in our behalf, and as asking for us a daily and hourly supply of all that we can stand in need of --- Bear in mind, that you can be in no difficulty which he does not see; nor in any danger, from which he cannot save. And, as his care of you is perfect, so let your affiance in him be perfect also.] 3. With encouragement
(What motive can any one have for an entire surrender of himself to God, like that which is here proposed to him? Does Jesus live altogether for us in heaven, and shall not we live altogether for him on earth? Is not this reasonable, and our bounden duty h? --- Dedicate, then, yourselves to him ; and count no work too arduous to engage in for him, nor any sacrifice too great to make --- It is but little that you can do for him, though your life were protracted to ever so great a length; but time is short and uncertain : therefore “ Whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it with all your might'.”] 8 Rom. v. 10. and viï. 34. h Rom. xii. 1.
i Eccl. ix. 10.
CHRIST, A SUITABLE HIGH-PRIEST. Heb. vii. 26. Such an High-priest became us, who is holy,
harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.
WITHOUT the Epistle to the Hebrews, we could never have understood the true scope of the Levitical law, much less its full accomplishment in the Lord Jesus Christ; we could never have ventured to trace such a correspondence between Melchizedec and Christ, or to lay such a stress on a variety of minute expressions in the prophetic writings as the Apostle
· A SUITABLE HIGH-PRIEST.
2299.7 chrIST, A SUITABLE HIGH-PRIEST. 277 does. And though we might easily have maintained the truth of our holy religion as founded on miracles and prophecies, we never could have silenced an unbelieving Jew so easily, as by the help of this epistle we are enabled to do.
The Apostle is here tracing the superiority of Christ and his priesthood, to all the priests, and their services, under the Levitical law. And, in the words before us, he observes, that no person, but one endowed as Jesus was, would have been sufficient for the necessities of fallen man. In confirmation of this sentiment, I will shew, I. What kind of an High-priest the Lord Jesus was
He is here compared with the high-priests under the law. Now, they were sinful creatures, like ourselves : but of Jesus it is said, He was perfectly “holy”—
[In his own nature, he was “ holy;" in the whole of his conduct, he was “ harmless;" and though in the midst of an ensnaring and polluting world, he was "undefiled :" in no one act, word, or thought, did he ever, in the smallest degree, violate the perfect law of God. “ In him was no sin 6."] He was, in all respects, “ separate from sinners”—
[In his very birth he was widely different from them: he came not into the world like other men: he derived not his human nature in a way of ordinary generation, but from the immediate hand of God. He was born of a pure virgin; and therefore, though born under the law, he was in no respect subject to the curse entailed on Adam's posterity for the violation of it: nor did he inherit the taint and pollution which is, of necessity, transmitted to all who in a natural way descend from him.
In his life, too, he was separate from them: for though he sojourned amongst them, and was continually holding the most friendly intercourse with them, he never, in any degree, imbibed their spirit. He was as pure as the light itself, which is incapable of contamination from the things amongst which it shines.
In his death, also, he was altogether separate from them : for he voluntarily gave up his life; as he shewed, by speaking in a loud voice at the moment of surrendering up his soul to
a Heb. v. 1-3.
0 1 John jii. 5.
Godc: and he died also as a victim, an expiation for sin, even for the sins of the whole world.] He was “ higher than the heavens”—
[He was so previous to his incarnation. From all eternity was he “in the bosom of the Father," and " had a glory with him before all worlds.” He was in a sense that the highest archangel never was, the Son of God, “ his only-begotten Son," whom “ all the angels of heaven worshipped h." He was “ the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his personi.” And subsequent to his death, also, was he exalted “ far above all principalities and powers, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to comek :" “ for he rose again, and went into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him!."]
In all these respects he was widely different from all the priests under the Levitical law
[They were “ taken from amongst their brethren,” and “ compassed with the same infirmities” as others; and “ received honour from," rather than conferred honour upon, the office they sustained; and could execute it only during a few short years of their existence upon earthm. Had He in any of these respects resembled them, he would not have been a suitable High-priest for us.]
To elucidate this, I will proceed to shew, II. Why “such an High-priest alone became us"
Had the Lord Jesus been an imperfect being, like the high-priests of old, 1. He would have needed an offering for himself
[They were forced to offer a sacrifice first for their own sins, before they could hope for any acceptance in what they should offer for the sins of others ". But this was unnecessary for Him, because there was no spot of sin found in him. And this is the very particular which the Apostle, in the words following my text, specifies, as resulting from His spotless character: “He needeth not daily, as those high-priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's."
Having not the slightest imperfection of his own to atone for, he could atone for us, and intercede with God for us.]
2. He would have had nothing that he could offer for us
[He could not offer slain beasts, because he did not belong to the tribe to which this office was exclusively assigned. From the tribe of Judah he sprang: and “ of that tribe nothing was said respecting priesthood." The law would have inflicted death upon him, if he had attempted to interfere with the duties of the Aaronic priesthood. As for his own body, he could not offer that; seeing it would have been polluted: and the law required that every sacrifice should be “ without spot or blemish.” The paschal lamb was set apart four days before it was offered, on purpose that it might be thoroughly examined, so as to be found free from outward blemishand, after it was slain, it was flayed, and laid open; so that the inwards also might be inspected, and be found perfect. Now such an offering must our Lord present: but, if any imperfection cleaved to him, he could not. No such impediment, however, was found in him; so that he could offer himself to God, as “a Lamb without blemish and without spot p."]
3. He would not have corresponded with his type
[He was to be “ a Priest after the order of Melchizedec 9.” Now consider how great a man Melchizedec was: for even Abraham himself, and, in Abraham, all the Levitical priests also, offered tithes to him, confessing thereby their inferiority to him". But, if Jesus was a mere man, he was inferior to Abraham, who, as being “ the father," must be considered as the head, “ of the faithful.” Being however such an one as we have before described, he was a worthy successor of Melchizedec. What Melchizedec was in a shadow, that was Jesus in reality, “ King of righteousness, and King of peace; without father (as to his human nature), or mother (as to his divine), without descent (having no direct successor); having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, but abiding a Priest continually s. "]
4. He would in no respect have answered to our necessities
[All perfection must be in him, to enable him to atone for sin : and all power must be in him, to make that atonement effectual. Had either the one or the other been wanting, he
9 ver. 15, 17, 21.
over. 13, 14.
p 1 Pet. i. 19.
would not have been capable of fulfilling that high office: but, possessing all these requisites, he is accepted of the Father, and is “able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him t."] IMPROVEMENT 4—
Learn, then, from hence,
1. What is the only means of acceptance with our God
[Is there “ a great High-priest over the house of God * ?" We must go to God through him. We must not attempt to approach God, except through this appointed Mediator. To think of looking for acceptance through any works of our own, or of uniting any works of ours with his meritorious sacrifice, would be folly in the extreme. Even when the blood of beasts only was presented in sacrifice, the offerer did not unite with it any thing of his own: how much less, then, can we add any thing to the sacrifice which our High-priest has offered! Let not the thought enter into your heart; or, if it enter, let it be discarded with abhorrence: for there is no High-priest, but he; no sacrifice, but his; no other name given under heaven, whereby any man can be saved, but the beloved, the honoured, the adored name of Jesus. “Look to him, and you shall be savedy: look any where else, and you perish beyond a doubt.]
2. How blessed a thing it is to live under the Christian dispensation
[Supposing a Jew were at this moment living at Jerusalem; and the temple were now standing, as richly furnished in every respect as in the days of Solomon. Suppose, too, that he had the cattle upon a thousand hills at his disposal; he could not offer unto God one acceptable sacrifice; because he could not find, upon the face of the whole earth, a Jew who could infallibly trace his pedigree to Aaron. If any other person should presume to officiate for him, in the place of the high-priest, he must instantly be put to death”. Unhappy people! the only people upon the face of the whole earth, who are incapable of approaching God, in the way which they themselves think and believe to be right! But, Christians, blessed are ye; for you have an High-priest; and one, too,
t ver. 25.
u If this were the subject of an Ordination or Visitation Sermon, here would be an excellent opportunity for shewing what should be the character of the Christian Priesthood ; and how holy, how separate from the ungodly, and how superior to the things of time and sense, every Christian Minister should be. x Heb. iii. 1. y Isai. xlv. 22.
2 Ezra ii. 62.