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1. In their nature, righteousness and peace.
That he was the only regal person by whom these blessings had been promoted we cannot suppose ; for corrupt as the age then was, and hostile to each other as the monarchs with whom he is associated in the Sacred History appear to have been, it is more than probable that there were some even among them who were influenced by principles of equity and a peaceful disposition; but however this may have been, there was no one who in this respect bore a resemblance to him. So much were these blessings the objects of his pursuit, that a name was conferred upon him expressive of the high esteem in which he was known to hold them : “ First being, by interpretation, King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace.”*
As these properties were not always found in those who reigned at that time, and never except in the case of Melchizedec, so as to justify a name expressive of them being given to their advocate, so they were seldoin met with in harmony with each other. Righteousness is often exercised at the expense of peace, and righteousness is sometimes the price of peace, but in him they met in a delightful union. He was King of righteousness at the same time that he was King of peace.
But to whom can these titles apply with so much propriety as to the Lord Jesus Christ? He is the King of whom the ancient prophets spoke, who was to reign in righteousness: "In whose days the righteous should flourish, and
* Heb. vii. 2.
abundance of peace, so long as the moon endureth."* At his birth the peace of the world was indicative of the blessings of his reign, and angels from heaven sang “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men.”+ Peace was a property in his disposition for which he was especially remarkable, and under his heavenly government peace will everywhere abound : “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."# Peace is not only the blessing which he enforces on his subjects by his own example and precepts, but he promotes it in them, and they are brought into a state of reconciliation to God, and of peace with each other and in themselves.
In connection with the blessing of peace is that of righteousness, which he also especially advances, and of which he equally merits the application of King. By his own obedience he has not only fulfilled the law for himself, and made it honourable, but what he did being imputed to his people constitutes their justification, and by his death the full demands of Divine justice are met. Hence “ this is the name wherewith he shall be called, The Lord our righteousness." | This is the principle by which his reign is supported, " And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faith* Ps. lxxii. 7. of Luke ii. 14. #Isa. ii. 4,
§ Jer. xxxii, 16,
fulelchizedec ard to themes are enfinite mi
fulness the girdle of his reins."* The reign of Melchizedec and that of Christ are alike.
2. In regard to the persons by whom the above-mentioned blessings are enjoyed.
Jehovah having in his own infinite mind designed to redeem to himself a people out of every nation, and tongue, and tribe under heaven, according to the covenant of redemption into which the Sacred Three had entered, intimations of his purpose were given from the earliest period of time; nor was there any season when Gentiles were not in some measure partakers of the blessings enjoyed by God's ancient people, the Jews. The appointment of the Mosaic worship, however, was especially intended to benefit the descendants of Abraham ; hence for them particularly the high priest's office was sustained.
In the case of Melchizedec, however, we can trace no restriction to any one people. His own nation were Gentiles, while Abraham, and those who formed his household, were Jews; yet on them he bestowed his blessing. Indeed in his case, those who were not of God's chosen race took precedence both as to numbers and benefits; for while those who constituted the people of his constant attention were many, those who were blessed by him on the occasion to which the apostle refers were but few.
In these respects he was like Christ, who, while he was the hope of Israel, is likewise to be God's salvation to the ends of the earth. In him the middle wall of partition was broken down; for he is our peace, who has made both one: and while the advantages of his priestly office were first appropriated to God's ancient people, the greater number of those by whom they will be enjoyed are to be found in the Gentile world. And may we not consider Melchizedec's conduct as designed to prefigure the fact that the Gentiles should in reality first enjoy the full blessings of the Messiah, and after that, and in connection with them, the Jewish people be brought into a participation of the same. The reign of Melchizedec typified that of Christ,
* Isa. xi. 5.
3. In the variety of the blessings bestowed. They related both to this world and that which is to come.
Such was the manner in which the temporal and spiritual interests of the Jews were united, that although the priestly character, strictly speaking, embraced only the latter, the priests under the law were often conversant with the former ; but then that was rather a collateral branch of their office, or that which they chose to interfere with, than what was necessarily included in their work; but when Melchizedec bestowed bread and wine in connection with his blessing, he did it in an authoritative manner.
So it was with Christ; he has not only the spiritual affairs of his church committed to him, but is intrusted with all the events of • Providence, and orders all the temporal interests of his people for their good, the furtherance of his designs, and the promotion of his glory.
ABRAHAM OFFERING ISAAC.
“ By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises, offered up his only begotten son; of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called : Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure."*
The circumstance to which the Apostle here alludes is recorded in the 22nd chapter of the Book of Genesis, from the first verse. The only light in which it is there placed before us is that of a severe trial with which God visited his servant the Patriarch; and the conduct of Abraham on that occasion is here mentioned, principally with a view to furnish a most striking instance of the triumph of faith. The questions, however, which arise from it in connection with the typography of Scripture are these :—Was this the only design which the Almighty had to accomplish by it? And was it so regarded by the father of the faithful himself? By some it has been maintained that it was, and could not possibly possess a typical character; that though there are many points of resemblance between Abraham's offering up Isaac and the conduct of the Eternal Father giving up his only begotten Son to die for the sins of the world, yet the former never was intended to prefigure the latter; and that from the event as recorded in the book of Genesis no Jew would ever derive an idea of atonement. In support of these opinions it is alleged that the shedding of blood, which was the main thing in an atonement, was wanting. If Isaac had been actually slain, his death would have been a sacrifice, but not an atonement. The history concentrates our views on what Abra
. . Heb. xi. 17-19.