Imatges de pÓgina
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or very indistinctly pronounces until the deed is done. Hence there is danger of being deceived. The disease might exist internally just as really as if it had been outwardly manifested, and we still remain ignorant of the fact until discovery comes too late for salvation. But this difficulty is met in that property of the Divine word which discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. So that it is just such an instrument as our case requires.

2nd. Learn how to regard the hearing of the word of God. The hearing of a preached Gospel is something of a great deal more importance than men are generally disposed to think it. It is the leading and essential means of our salvation. Paul says “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. But how shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” From this we see that preaching is the fundamental agency, and hearing the word preached is the first step in the work of our salvation. But do men regard it in this light? Do they sufficiently feel its claims? Do they hear the word as proceeding from the highest authority in the universe, and as treating of the most important matters relating to human interests? It is with deep regret that I must answer no. But is it not plain from what has this morning been set before you, that it is our duty to God and to ourselves to give it our sincere and hearty attention? Looking at its properties, and the end for which it was sent, are we left to consult our own inclination or convenience in the matter? I tell you my brethren, from the nature of the word it is clear that its weekly ministration in the sanctuary is entitled to a great deal more solemnity and reverence than people are disposed to give it.

Look at the awful import of these exercises. Why the church is the council-chamber of the great God, where every sentence of Gospel truth that is uttered, like the evidence in the case of a trial for murder, either tends to your acquittal and salvation, or to your condemnation and utter death. If you refuse to hear altogether, you are left without hope. If you hear improperly—with a biased mind or an obstinate heart, the word which you hear will be a swift witness against you in the day of judgment. How solemn and critical is your position! What anxious solicitude—what deep breathings of soul for the Divine assistance should you feel in the house of God!

My brethren, it is a solemn thing to preach the word, but it is equally solemn to hear it. It is a soul-stirring thought for the minister, that his regular ministrations at the sacred desk are either to swell the company of the redeemed in glory, or sink his hearers to the deep caverns of hell; but it is a thought equally moving for the hearer, that those pulpit messages to which he weekly listens are to prove in his individual case either “a savor of life unto life, or a savor of death unto death." Oh, that every one of you might feel the truth! A new state of things would speedily be manifested. The ear that is now listless would be open to every word that falls from the lips of the consecrated minister. The thoughts which are now roving amid the objects of this world would be taken up with those sublime truths which relate to our interest in the next. The affections which are now languid and dull would be strung with intensest interest. And every careless spectator would tremblingly confess, that this is none other than the house of God!

Let us then for the future endeavor to realize our true relation to the Divine word to treat it with reverence—to hear it with honest hearts, that it may prove unto us the power of God and the wisdom of God unto the salvation of our souls.

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LECTURE X.

THE PRIESTHOOD OF JESUS CHRIST.

Heb. iv. 14–16. Seeing then that we have a great High Priest that is passed into

the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmity; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

The apostle here resumes the subject hinted at in the opening of the third chapter. Having considered Christ in comparison with Moses as “the apostle of our profession,” he now comes to consider him as “the High Priest of our profession.”

The priesthood of Christ is one of the most interesting and important features of his mediatorial office. Of the different subjects treated of in this epistle, it is the one in which Paul was most intensely engaged in exhibiting and sustaining. His comparison of Christ with the angels, is short. His comparison of him with Moses, is still shorter. But his discussion of the dignity, duties, and utility of the christian Priesthood comprises the great body of the epistle.

The probable reason why the apostle devoted so much time and space to this particular, was partly the clear insight which it affords of the christian economy, and partly the high estimate in which the Jews held the office of high Priest. The high priesthood was the most exalted and honored dignity of the Hebrew nation. On it devolved the presidency of the great civil council of the Sanhedrim, as well as the performance of those religious ceremonies which constituted the life and soul of the Mosaic ritual. Looking upon it then as their chief national glory, and as an office essential to all acceptable religious observances, one great objection which the Jews brought against christianity was the supposed absence of this office, and of those sacrificial rites which depended upon its exercise. have no tabernacle—no temple—no high priest—no sacrifices for sins; these enter into the very nature and idea of religion, and without them there can be none. Come then and go with us,

who have

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the true temple and the true worship.” This was the Jewish argument and cry continually. Hence the apostle finds it important to show, that we have a priest, an authorized priesthood, one too superior to the Aaronic order. Such a course was demanded from him for the invalidation of an objection urged upon a correct principle, and for the vindication of the new religion. This argument, as we shall see, he has fully and effectually met.

In discoursing from the words before us, I will 1st. Identify the priesthood of Jesus Christ, by pointing out those particulars related of him in the Scriptures which designate this office. 2nd. Notice the peculiarities of his priesthood alluded to in the text. And 3d. Consider the encouragements which his priesthood affords us.

The first circumstance in the Savior's history which refers to his priesthood, is his baptism. It was an ancient law concerning the Jewish priesthood, that no one was permitted under the severest penalties to exercise the sacerdotal functions, until he had been previously set apart for that purpose by a public ordinance or installation. The punishment of Uzziah for a neglect of this law is well known; how that when he presumed to offer incense to the Lord in the place of a consecrated priest, he was smitten with leprosy, degraded from his throne, and cut off from the house of Israel. The ceremony of this ordination to the holy office, was differently performed by different individuals, at different times. Most commonly however, by anointing the head with oil, as Moses did the head of Aaron. Christ as a Jew considered it necessary to yield obedience to this law. Hence he received baptism from the hands of John as the ordinance of induction into his priestly office.

Observe here, that John's baptism was not christian baptism.This was a distinct and subsequent institution. The intent and ultimate object of John's mission was to ordain Christ to the high priesthood; and in this way, as well as by leading the people to repentance, to prepare the way for the coming of the kingdom of heaven. John himself speaks of his mission in this light. He says according to the evangelist, “ that he (viz. Christ in his official capacity) might be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.” Jesus too, when he came to be baptized and was forbid by John, said, “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” In other words, let me be baptized that the ancient laws and customs may all be strictly ob

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