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all these questions would be nothing to the purpose. The obligation to believe the positive word of God would be paramount. But I must own that both the original record, and the Apostle's reasoning founded on it, concur with the difficulties arising out of the questions I have proposed, in leading me to believe that the meeting between Melchizedek and Abraham was one of those gracious manifestations of the Second Person in Jehovah, with which the patriarchs were often favoured before his incarnation, and that, with a reference to this interview, as well as to others, Abraham is said to have seen the day of Christ, and to have rejoiced in the prospect.
Let us again advert to the narrative; and then to the cxth Psalm, with the Apostolic comment on it. We will begin with the narrative, and then proceed to the exposition.
The account of the interview which Moses has furnished, is short, and I think affords no evidence of the literal reign and priesthood of Melchizedek. The personage who met Abraham is called Melchizedek, which means, as the Apostle informs us, “ king of righteousness;" and he is also denominated “ king of Salem,” which the Apostle interprets to signify king of peace.”*
* Duo nomina tribuuntur huic summo regi in Genesi. Prius est Melchisedec; alterum Melechsalem. Non enim illud magis quam hoc existimari nomen proprium decet. Vox Melech
Christ is both; and his former title is the foundation of the latter, for his mediatorial righteousness is the basis on which is built that peace which he bestows on sinners. He gave “ glory to God in the highest” by a fulfilment of the law for man, and thus was authorised to bestow “ peace” on the subjects of his redemption. If it should be said, that the jod in the word Melchizedek marks it as the proper name of a person, while its omission in Melech-salem shows that the latter is not a personal title ; I answer that there is little solidity in this inference; for the jod might be euphonious in the one name and not in the other ; and I need scarcely add that such compound names are very common throughout the Scriptures.
It is not said in the record that Melchizedek, when he met Abrahamn, came from any specified place: all that is stated is this, that he“ brought forth bread and wine" for the refreshment of Abraham and his attendants, who may be supposed to have been exhausted by their march and conflict. In the kinds of the refreshment which was furnished, there seems to be an allusion
Hebræis regem, Sedec justitiam, salem pacem, notat ; idque tyronibus in Hebraismo haud est ignotum. Itaque Salem non est hic nomen urbis, quemadmodum neque Sedec: aut eant, qui veteribus erroribus novos superstruunt, et in regno Cananææ imaginariam urbem aliquam Sedec collocant ; par enim ratio ejus erit cum stramentitio illo Salem. Cunæus De Repub. . Hebr. Lib. ii. Cap. 3.
to the refreshment of the spiritual household of Abraham in their conflict with the Devil, the world, and the flesh. The correspondence between these refreshments, and the sacramentally prefigurative flour-offering and wine-offering of the typical dispensation on the one hand, and the commemorative bread and wine which, on the other, “ the Lord has commanded to be received” under the Gospel dispensation, needs no explanation.*
Melchizedek, as Abraham's superior, pronounced a solemn blessing on the father of the faithful; and the patriarch gave to Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils which he had taken, thereby recognising the equity of Melchizedek's claim to superiority—an act which, I conceive, may mean, that he dedicated it to the service of his Divine Visitor, to be employed in the promotion of his glory. His grandson Jacob vowed to do the same after the Divine intercourse which he enjoyed at Bethel. Gen. xxviii. 22.
This is the whole of the narrative in the book of Genesis, on which St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, builds a superstructure of most important doctrines. At least he does so at second hand; for the Apostle's immediate reference is made to the construction of this narrative
* gnja, rendered in our translation a meat-offering, was an offering of flour. Levit. ii. 1, &c. vii. 14, &c. , a drink-offering, was a libation of wine.
furnished by the Spirit of inspiration in the exth Psalm, where the Divine edict by which our Lord was constituted the great High priest of our profession, is thus stated—“ Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent” (the oath is an irrevocable one) thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”
If Melchizedek was, as is generally supposed, a mere ma, raised up as a type of our Lord ;--if he was, as the Psalm on which the Apostle reasons seems to assert, constituted a priest by the solemn oath of Jehovah ; and if he officiated as such on behalf of a people who were worshippers of the true God ;--it appears extraordinary, that the history which details so largely the life of Abraham, should contain so little notice of one who was so greatly Abraham's superior, and of an office so highly and widely important as that of a general priest and intercessor. * But if Melchizedek was Christ himself, appearing to Abraham in a way that anticipated his future incarnation and official character, then it is easy to understand the object of his appearance ; and the short notices of his person and character, farnished by the narrative in Genesis and the reference to that narrative in Psalm cx, are sufficient for the purpose of the Divine record, and will be found to have been illustrated by all the other parts of Scripture which relate to the Divine Intercessor.
* Quid causæ, obsecro, est, cur hunc justitiæ et pacis regem non credamus fuisse eundem eum filium Dei, qui postea, ad quercum Mamre, duobus comitatus sociis, Abrahamo apparuit, cibum cum illo sumpsit, adfuit unà in unis ædibus, ac deniqne collocutus cum illo est? Mihi sanè majus certiusque argumentum divinæ celestisque naturæ videtur, homini in media via de repente, velut e machina supervenire, eique benedicere, et alimenta potumque dare, quàm hominis tectum subire, hospitio ejus excipi, epulis accumbere, sermoneš cum illo serere. Unum appears to me
Let us now proceed to the inspired comment on the text of the Old Testament, given by the author of the epistle to the Hebrews. And let me beg your attention, as I pass to this subject, to the importance which is ascribed to the Old Testament Scriptures, by the manner in which the Apostles continually quote them in the support and illustration of Christian doctrine. Surely. they should not be neglected as they are even by many real Christians! And let me further observe, that the notion of some commentators, who consider the quotations made from the Old Testament by the inspired writers of the New, to be used only in a way of accommodation,
modd discrimen est, quod in capite xviii Geneseos expressè tandem dicitur, Deum fuisse qui Abraham adierit : de Melchisedeco autem illud non ait quidem Scriptor Geneseos, sed mysterium hoc reliquit explicandum Davidi et Paulo, qui nos de illo dubitare amplius non sinunt. Cuneus. p. 279.
*"Because they (the Apostles) sometimes only touch at places of the Old Testament, without using them as formal proofs of what they then handled ; Socinus and his disciples have fancied that those citations out of the Old Testament, which are made use of by the Apostles, though they represent the Messias as