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perfect: but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest; (for those priests were made without an oath, but this with an oath by Him that said unto him, 'The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek') by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better Testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this (man) because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore 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. For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people: for this he did once when he offered
himself. 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."
* Tns Meta Tow youos, perhaps, " which (reached) beyond the law, though uttered before it. Unless the promise and the oath of God are to be distinguished, the oath by which the promise was confirmed was made before the world began." Tit. i. 3. Parkhurst.
Such, my friend, is the inspired comment on the history of Melchizedek in the book of Genesis, or rather on the reference made to that history in the cxth. Psalm. Let us then, with this clew to direct our steps, inquire who Melchizedek was.
The general opinion has been, though not without many exceptions, that Melchizedek was a mere man, a native of Canaan, who resided at a place called Salem, where he fulfilled the united offices of priest and king ;-that, as no record remained of his genealogy, he might be said to have had none ;--and that, as no obituary was preserved, he might be considered as living for ever ;--and that, consequently, a sort of typical similitude existed between his person and priesthood and the person and priesthood of Christ.
All this is to me very unsatisfactory. To assume a similitude on the mere absence of document about the birth, parentage, and death of Melchizedek, circumstances of which no possible doubt could exist, if Melchizedek were a man like other men ;-to make the silence of record a foundation for so important a chain of reasoning as that which the Apostle builds on the character of this great personage, appears to me dishonourable to the reasoning powers of the Apostle who wrote the Epistle, and still more so to the inspiring Spirit.
But where was Salem, the supposed seat of Melchizedek's empire and priesthood : Jerusalem was at that time called Jebuz, and did not change its name for some ages posterior to the era of Abraham.* -In what respects could a petty prince of a district in Canaan be so much greater in dignity and rank than the patriarch Abraham, who was constituted “heir of the world,” and “ the friend of God;" and of whose eminent piety so much is spoken in Scripture ?If Melchizedek reigned as an earthly potentate, and acted, in a literal sense, as“ priest of the most High God," his residence, whether it was Jebuz or Shalem in Sichem, could have been at no great distance from the places where Abraham sojourned for a very considerable time; and if this king and priest were so great a personage as he is represented to have been, is it conceivable that it should not have been the duty and privilege of Abraham to have sought his protection, and to have worshipped at his altar -*Could the separation of Abraham from the rest of the world, as the depositary of Divine Truth, and the recipient of Divine promises, have been indispensably necessary, if a royal priest, of higher rank and quality, surrounded as his throne and altar must have been with pious subjects and worshippers, previously existed ?—Even if the reign and priesthood of the district where they are supposed to have been enjoyed in the person
* Another Salem, or, as the name is otherwise spelt, Shalem, or Salim, situate in Schechem, was, in the opinion of St. Jerom, the seat of Melchizedek's reign and priesthood ; and certainly both Jebus, afterwards called Jerusalem, and this Shalem, lay in the line of Abraham's return to Hebron from the slaughter of the kings near Damascus ; so that, were there no other reason for considering Salem to denote the character of Melchizedek rather than the seat of his kingdom, the difficulty arising from the early name of Jerusalem, as being called at that time Jebuz, might be removed by admitting St. Jerom's opinion, that the historian meant the more northern Shalem, or Sichem. But if Melchizedek were an earthly potentate, and if the seat of his government, whether it were Jerusalem or the more northern Salem, lay directly in the way of the confederated invading kings on their march to Sodom; and also in the direct line of Abraham's pursuit to Dan and Hoba ; is it not extraordinary that the dominion of Melchizedek should have escaped from assault by the former, and that his troops should not have joined in the pursuit with the latter. See the probable line of march by looking at the places as marked in Wells's Ancient Geography.
* Indeed, if St. Jerom's conjecture be right, that Salem was the northern city of that name and is to be identified with Sichem; the very first place where Abraham pitched his tent, after his entrance into Canaan, was the very seat of Melchizedek's kingdom. For we read Gen. xii. 6. that “ he passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh."-Bethel and Hebron to which he afterwards removed, were at no great distance from the other Salem or Jebuz, and in journeying from the former of these places to the latter, it should seem that he must have passed through the heart of Melchizedek's dominions, had Melchizedek been king of the southern Salem. Yet no friendship appears to have taken place between these neighbouring worshippers of Jehovah ; no protection or resting place was afforded by the royal believer to his afflicted brother, during his many seasons of danger and rial.
of Melchizedek, terminated with his life, it seems hardly credible, that all traces of his piety, if its influence reached no further than his own petty dominions, should have been so soon and so intirely effaced, as they appear to have been by the account which is given of the idolatrous state of Canaan at the time when it was given into the hands of the descendants of Abraham, only four generations afterwards. Indeed the hint which the Divine promise, Gen. xv. 16, gives of the then state of Canaan, where a reason is given for a delay of Divine judgment on the Jand, that “the iniquity of the Amorite,” in whose district Abraham was then sojourning at Hebron, was “ not yet full,” implies that the Canaanites had made great advances in impiety and wickedness, and is hardly consistent with the supposed reign and priesthood of Melchizedek among the Jebusites or the Perizzites, in whose countries the two Salems stood.—And, lastly, might we not have expected, that the descendants of Melchizedek's subjects, if not all extinct, would have received some favour at the time of the invasion of Canaan by the Israelites, for the sake of Melchizedek, even if they had lost his piety; as the descendants of Lot did for the sake of their ancestor ?
If it can be proved from the original record, or from the Apostle's reasoning founded upon it, that Melchizedek was an earthly priest and king,