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No. XIX.

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THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. THE substance and verification of all blessing from God is to be found, now, and will be found hereafter in the sustainment of those offices by the Lord Jesus Christ, in which man has either failed, or has stood merely as the type, or shadow of “ Him who was to come.

The brightness of both earth’s and heaven's hope stands in this, that in the counsels of God, all power in heaven and in earth shall be administratively, in the hands of the once humbled Son of Man; and that, in fact as well as of right, He shall apply that divine power for the creature's highest good and the Creator's glory, in the wide sphere of heaven and earth.

Many and precious will be the fruits of that dispensation; precious to the church, to Israel, and to the world. For then will come the time of Satan's casting down from his seat of power-of Israel's regathering in peace and joy-of the deliverance of creation from its bondage of corruption and its groans, and above all, the manifestation of Christ in glory, and His church's exaltation and companionship with Him in His throne.

Connected with this bright scene of happiness and glory, is the subject of this paper. For, whatever may be the intermediate importance of the Melchizedek Priesthood of Christ, it looks on for its full display to the time when “ the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” Thus is the record of Scripture which first presents this subject to our minds:-"And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the Most High God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most High God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him țithes of all” (Gen. xiv. vers. 17--20).

In his Melchizedek character the Lord Jesus Christ

stands not so much “the high priest of our profession” as in Hebrews (as he does “ the priest of THE MOST HIGH GOD); and that under the asserted power of him whose special title to praise and glory, as well as dominion, is, that he is Possessor of heaven and earth.Most interesting is it thus to see in this earliest type of Christ's official glory, as God's royal priest, the most perfect presentation of that character in which he will finally stand, and fill heaven and earth with blessing and praise. In this we have an example, which is common in Scripture, as the expression of the Divine counsels, of that which is first in the order of revelation being the last in the order of accomplishment. This is manifest even in the first promise of mercy to man; in the terms of which are indicated the last exertion of Christ's power:-" He shall bruise thine head.” For every part of Scripture is the word of Him who "sees the end from the beginning;" and who cannot rest short of the full accomplishment of His purpose and counsel.

The priesthood of Aaron historically may come in, after its exhibition in the hands of Melchizedek, and so shadow forth an essential part of the work of Christ, previously to the display of his royal priestly glory; still, overpassing the entire of these heaven-appointed types, the Spirit of God, by David, reverts to the brief expression of this glory, before us, saying

6. The Lord hath sworn and will not repent," Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec (Psalm cx).

It is but a brief expression; but we find that after all has been accomplished, in the intermediate period, connected with sacrifice and intercession, of which the elaborated types and service of the tabernacle and Levitical priesthood are the expression; necessary indeed, most necessary, as the grounds of the sustainment before God of an erring and imperfect people—all reverts to the original and simple type in which is presented more prominently the exercise of this priesthood according to the dignity of him who bears it, also to the glory of him who confers it, as well as according to the purposed blessing of that double sphere to which its exercise extends.

In speaking of this bright and blessed aspect of the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, so fraught with blessing from heaven's eternal stores of blessing, and introducing a scene so in contrast with the corruption and misery of the present, and therefore so knit-up with the longing of our hearts for the reign of righteousness; it may be well to advert, by way of illustration, to the general subject of priesthood as it is presented in the Scriptures.

All are familiar with the exhibition of the Levitical priesthood, and with the use that is made of these types in the Epistle to the Hebrews, as illustrating the present position and ministrations of Christ for His people.

But there were priests before the giving of the law, and before the setting apart of the tribe of Levi.

What may be characterised as the priesthood of worship, is the first that is presented in the order of God's revelations; as illustrated in the example of Abel. ** The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering." “ By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” Faith, not formal constitution, made him a priest, and directed him in the choice of his offering; and gained for him acceptance with God.

Subsequently, this priesthood is seen in the heads of the patriarchal families, as Noah, Job, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: not to mention "Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, [who] took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God."

Sacrifice, or the worship of the altar, was connected with all these instances; and sweet was the savour of 'their burnt offerings, though the formal title of priest was not assumed by any.

Melchizedeck is the first historical person in Scripture bearing the title of priest; and in this king and priest is presented the true and perfected glory of the priesthood of Christ. Now he stands for his people in the “holiest," in intercessional grace; but then he will be presented in glory on earth; "and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon

his throne." The Levitical priesthood it will be the less necessary, at this point, to speak of, as it is so interwoven with

our present subject, in its treatment in the Epistle to the Hebrews. I merely notice, therefore, that its ruling characteristic is that of atonement and intercession; and in this respect it is in contrast with the Melchizedek priesthood, which is emphatically that of power and blessing.

No doubt the sacrifice and intercession of Christ are the necessary basis of this, because it is the blessing and glory of mediation in which man is brought nigh to God; still it is not in sacrifice and intercession, but in power and blessing that the peculiar character and glory of the Melchizedek priesthood are displayed.

The action of Melchizedek is alone expressed in blessing. For though it is said, He brought forth bread and wine; and he was the priest of the Most High God;" these are in no sense sacrificial, nor are they, here, expressive of that which is sacrificial, but are the appropriate symbols of strength and joy, ministered to those who had just emerged from scenes of conflict and weariness; and needing thus to be cheered. Melchizedek, the King of Righteousness, thus coming forth from the city of peace, to meet the victors, stands appropriately as the figure of Him who, in anticipation of the full glory of the kingdom, has said, “ Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.Wondrous grace, that shall thus cheer poor wearied hearts in alliance with Himself, amidst the bright scenes of glory!

Thus is the blessing of Abram by Melchizedec; he said, “ Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be the Most High God, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.”

The peculiar title attributed to Jehovah, of the Most High God," and the intimation of the sphere of His power, “ Possessor of heaven and earth,” lead forward to a period in God's counsels regarding this world beyond the present dispensation of His grace, when His supremacy will be universally asserted and acknowledged. It may be observed that this title, “Possessor of heaven and earth,"

expresses far more than the claim of God to universal rule and governance, or His unchangeable supremacy. It is designed to indicate a dispensational display of Divine power, which will issue in the expulsion of all the powers of active and regnant evil, from the two spheres of heaven and earth, in order to the bringing in of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the first-begotten again into the world, in the beneficence of His reign of righteousness and the full display of His official glory;

In the conclusion of the 83rd Psalm, we find the acknowledgment of this title as regards the earth, presented as the result of the execution of God's judgments upon the confederated enemies of Israel, of which the destruction of Sisera and Jabin, of Oreb and Zeeb, and of Zebah and Zalmunnah, are but types. These enemies are thus pleaded against in the Psalm: “ Lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee.” It concludes, “Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: that

know that Thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art The Most High over all the earth."

Entirely in accordance with this, though the subject is looked at from another point, is the language of Psalm

The first verse, as is well known, presents the Lord at the right hand of God, ".expecting till His enemies be made His footstool." In the second and third, " the rod of His strength” is sent out of Zion, and He is seen ruling in the midst of His enemies, and acknowledged by His willing people in the day of His power; while the issue of the whole is given in the accomplishment of the oath, “ The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” The judgment that falls upon His enemies, and the blessing of His willing people, have their issue in the bringing out of the full character of this Priest upon His throne.

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