« AnteriorContinuar »
hing whistance w is, that his partitoly Ghost
by them that he was Jesus Christ himself. That this could not have been the case is evident, from two circumstances: in the first place, he was a real man, which, upon this supposition, he would not have been, as our Lord was but once incarnate; and secondly, he was a type of Christ; but a type cannot be the person or thing which it typifies, any more than a shadow is the substance which it represents. The more probable opinion is, that he was a real man, claiming relation to earthly parents the same as other persons ; although the Holy Ghost, in order to make him a more striking type of “ the High Priest of our profession,” has been pleased to conceal his pedigree. Whether he were Shem, the son of Noah, as some have thought, or one of the Canaanitish kings, as has been supposed by others, or any other person with whom it has been thought proper to identify him, is a matter of conjecture, but can form no profitable subject for inquiry. It is in his official character that the Apostle speaks of him, and in that respect he was without predecessor or successor.
In every religion so much depends upon the priests, both for its support and for its practical influence, that in addition to the design of God, which was to point out the office of his Son, it was natural to expect that in the Mosaic dispensation the greatest attention would be paid to the sacerdotal office, and the most scrupulous care taken to preserve the order and genealogy of the priesthood; accordingly, the tribe of Levi only was allowed to possess the power to serve at the altar; and all his sons
partook of the suceession, not in consequence of any fitness in them for it more than in others, but by virtue of the relation which they bore to their father, and to one family in the above tribe, that of Aaron, the high priesthood was confined.
So Christ, as a Priest, had no ancestors; nor was there any one to whom he ever did, or ever will resign his functions. This office, as the High Priest of his people, originated with himself, and to him it must always be restricted: “ For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.
2. The priestly office of Melchizedec united the regal and the sacerdotal honours in the same person. He was a king and priest.
Such is the importance attached to those solemn duties which immediately relate to the service and glory of God, and the spiritual good and salvation of souls, that it is necessary to their right performance to have the whole strength of the mind engaged in them. Such, however, is the tendency of civil affairs to cause distraction of thought, that although in the early days of the world the same persons were kings and priests, nevertheless from the days of Moses, when the Israelites had become more numerous, and the worship of God assumed a more complicated, though a more spiritual character, these were deemed incompatible with each other, and no longer allowed in one individual.
It is true that we often find kings taking a prominent part in the service of God; as in the
* Heb. vii. 28.
case of David, who in the days of Abiathar inquired of the Lord by the use of the ephod ;* and also that of Solomon, when he conducted the devotions of the people at the dedication of the Temple, on which occasion he not only prayed with them, but presided at their feasts, and then dismissed them with joy and gladness of heart;t and after him Jehoshaphat did nearly the same thing :I but in no case does it appear to have been allowed to a king to sacrifice or burn incense. As a proof of the rigour with which the sanctity of the sacerdotal functions were guarded, it may be mentioned, that for daring to violate them Uzzah appears to have brought upon himself the indignation of the Lord when he performed the work of a priest, in putting forth his hand to stay the ark.
But in Melchizedec these offices were united. In one of them he blessed Abraham, and took tithes of what he possessed; and in the other refreshed him and his people with bread and wine.|| In this respect he prefigured Him who was to come, of whom it was predicted, “He shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a Priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both."T
3. The office of Melchizedec was restricted entirely to himself. He was "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life; but, made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually."**
Admirably as the Jewish law was suited to * 1 Sam. xxx. 7. + 2 Chron. vii. 1. I 2 Chron. xx. 5. § 2 Sam. vi. 3—6. ll Gen. iv. 18. q Zech. vi. 13. the state and circumstances of the people, there was not a greater blessing connected with it than the establishment of the priesthood. An order of men qualified for their station, and having at heart the best interests of their fellow-men, was raised up to succeed each other, in whose knowledge, experience and sympathy the people were taught to confide; but great as the advantage of this was, it had many abatements, which marked it with imperfection. Notwithstanding the sacredness of the office, it was too frequently held by men who were themselves strangers to the practical importance of the things about which they ministered; and even where there was no ground of complaint with respect to the persons themselves, disease and infirmity would often in some cases require the sacerdotal responsibilities to be transferred from one person to another, who perhaps was of a very different spirit, and far less qualified in a moral sense to sustain them: “For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity;" and even from the most willing and efficient hands they would be wrested by time and dissolution : hence the Apostle says, “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death."*
** Heb. vii. 3.
But in the case of Melchizedec there seeins to have been an exemption ; for admitting that the words “abideth a priest continually” apply to him, and not to the Son of God, as seems most natural to conclude, and without taking the expressions in their strict literal sense, he
* Heb. vii. 23.
appears to have been free from those interrup. tions in his sacred work to which other priests were subject. As there was no one to whom he could delegate his office, so, through a singular interposition of Providence, he needed none; and when, to a very lengthened period of his existence, he had strength to discharge its duties, he laid down his priesthood with his life; and thus his order was confined to, and terminated with himself.
In like manner Christ was made a Priest, “not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life."* He has indeed been separated from the earth; but death in his case, instead of terminating his official connection with his people, has invested him with his full power: for as the high priest under the law, when he had offered the sacrifice, went into the immediate presence of God to plead its efficacy, so He, by his own sacrifice, has passed into “ heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." op Of him “it is witnessed that he liveth." As the unbroken continuance in an office tends to give it weight and power in the hands of him by whom it is held, so it is affirmed of Christ, that “ He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." As from these considerations it appears that Melchizedec was a type of Christ in the peculiarities of his office, in like manner it will be seen that he was so,
II. In the blessings he bestowed, or that were attendant on his reign and ministry. * Heb.vii. 16. + Heb. ix. 24. | Heb. vii. 8. § Heb. vii. 25.