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CHRIST AN HIGH PRIEST.
HEB. iii. 1. Consider the High Priest of our Profession, Christ Jesus.
Jesus our great High Priest
THE names, characters, and offices of the Son of God are chiefly taken from the relative connections of man. kind; our familiarity with which, aid our contemplations to enjoy Jesus as our own. It is confessed there is no intimation in natural religion ; neither is there any personal or relative character among men, which affords the least idea that God will, or consistently can, pardon and cleanse a sinner for the purpose of dwelling with him in glory. For this very reason, Ged instituted the office of High Priest among the Hebrews, to offer an atonement, and make intercession for the people, thereby pointing out the person and office of the promised Messiah ; and which are most eminently realized in Jesus Christ, the true Aaron, the great High Priest of our profession; in whose blood we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, and an hope of eternal life. As the High Priest under the law was the glory of Israel, so Jesus, the great High Priest in the Gospel, is the glory of the Church of God! Let us therefore listen to the injunca tion of our text, and consider Jesus Christ in his priestly
office, beseeching God to establish our faith, and enable us to bear the fruit of righteousness to the glory of his grace! Permit me to premise, that as the ancient Scriptures are extremely lengthy upon this subject, I shall concentrate them as accurately as possible; not only to preserve our discourse within the usual limits, but to afford you a comprehensive view of Jesus our adored High Priest.
1. We will begin with THE PERSONAL QUALIFICATIONS OF JESUS THE HIGH PRIEST. A call from God was absolutely necessary; for, we are assured, no man taketh this honour unto himself but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. Aaron was immediately called of God by Moses; and successive priests were admitted to office by genealogy. No one who knows the Scriptures will hesitate a moment in applying these to Christ, who is emphatically styled the elect, the chosen, the sent of God; and whose genealogy by Mary and Joseph is attested by Matthew and by Luke. Although the Jewish High Priest was taken from amongst his brethren, yet he was to possess a perfection of natural bodily parts, as specified in Lev. xxi. 16. a failure in which, even in the minutest article, was a just exclusion from office. The reason for which evidently appears; for such an High Priest became us, who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. Now observe, as all mankind have sinned, and no perfect moral character existed to represent the holy nature required in the great High Priest, God displayed his wisdom in demanding a perfection of natural bodily parts, that they might be as a shadow or emblem of the still more pure, sound, holy state, both of body and soul, to be possessed by that blessed Messiah and Priest who was to come. If, there.
fore, with admiration, we contemplate the natural per. fections of the Hebrew Priest, with what greater pleasure may we behold the natural, moral, and spriritual excellence of Jesus our holy Priest, who is both in body and soul the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely !—The person chosen to the Priesthood, was presented before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and most solemnly consecrated; the parts of which are minutely recorded. His body was first washed with water taken out of the laver which stood between the door and the altar, to denote the moral purity required in approaching Jehovah, and to signify that no man is thus pure without washing. Nor was Jesus deficient in this instance, but by the new rite of baptism publicly devoted himself to his Father, and his priestly work. Moses then took the garments, made at the express order of the Lord, which were for glory and for beauty, and put them upon Aaron. The broidered coat of fine linen was put on first, and next to the skin; an emblem of the personal righteousness of Jesus, compared to fine linen; then the linen robe of the ephod, which was of blue, without seam, and had pomegranates and golden bells at the hem of it; which was equally expressive of the mediatorial righteousness of Christ; on which the golden bells, the ministry of the Gospel, with all his people, depend; precious indeed as the pomegrainate. This robe being of blue, like the firmament, well denoted the righteousness of Jesus, as the righteousness of God, which came down from heaven; the best robe which heaven could produce, and the best for us to receive! Then the ephod, the outermost garment, was put upon Aaron; this reached down near to his knees, and was of gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and of fine-twines
linen, with curious workmanship, and must certainly have been very superb. It was a symbol of that glorious nature in which Immanuel appeared as our High Priest, richly adorned with the graces of the Spirit, accom. panied with his bloody sufferings for his people. This ephod was girt around the body with a girdle of gold, wrought upon the same materials as the ephod. With such a golden girdle is Jesus represented in his magnifi. cent appearance to John in the Isle of Patmos; for righteousness was the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. Upon the shoulders of the ephod were placed two precious stones, on which were engraven the names of the children of Israel, and on the front was hung the breast-filate of judgment. In this breast-plate were placed twelve precious stones, on which were engraven the twelve Hebrew tribes; in the centre of which, was the Urim and Thummim. These were to be worn by the Priest as a memorial before the Lord; not that God could forget his people, or mistake his designs, but to represent our adored High Priest, the Son of God, who bears the names of his spiritual Israel upon the shoulders of his power, and upon the breast of his love, maintaining their most important interest in the highest heavens. A mitre of fine linen was set upon the head of Aaron; upon it was placed a plate of pure gold, on which was engraven HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD. This sometimes was called an holy crown, no doubt intending to characterize the purity, authority, and dignity of Christ, who is the perfection of holiness; that all his priestly work should magnify the holiness of Jehovah, and that he should be the head and fountain of sanctification to his people; for, without holi. nets no man shall see the Lord.
As I have now mentioned the chief garments, ordered by the God of Israel for their High Priest, I wish to make this remark:- In themselves, and for their High Priest alone, the order of such vestments could never have been worthy the attention of the great God; but they were as so many emblems to point out that promised High Priest, who was to set upon his throne, and appear to take away sin. These emblems, therefore, exhibited to the senses of the Hebrews, were admirably calculated to aid the faith of their souls in looking forward to Messiah as a Priest;. and which we confidently believe are charmingly realized even to us, when we consider Jesus Christ the great High Priest of our profession.
Aaron, thus clothed with his sacerdotal robes, next followed his consecration to office, by pouring the holy oil upon his head. This oil was made of myrrh, cinnamon, calamus, cassia, and oil-olive, boiled or distilled. It was death to an Hebrew to counterfeit it, or apply it to any other use without a warrant from the Lord. On Aaron's head Moses poured of this oil, by which he was set apart to be the Priest of Israel. With the Bible in our hand, we are informed that the High Priest of our profession was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows. The holy Spirit, the divine unction, was upon Jesus without measure; and under this anointing he performed all the parts of his priestly office. In a particular manner the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus at his baptism, when in a more public manner he was set apart, and commenced the duties of his ofñce for the redemption of sinners.-One other part in the ceremony of consecration must not be unnoticed. A bullock and two rams were slain, while the hand of Aaron was placed upon the head of the animals, confessing his sins, thereby signifying that