Imatges de pÓgina
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sor-a mediator to whom the work of your reconciliation and salvation may be intrusted. Otherwise you must be lost.

But let these thoughts also serve to lead you to the contemplation of that gracious provision through which we have access to God. Christ Jesus is a priest forever. And through his unchanging priesthood the vilest of sinners may draw nigh and receive mercy, whilst at the same time every attribute of the Divinity is exalted, and the throne of the Majesty on high is still upheld in all its firmness and glory. Coming into our world-braving its woes-reproving its wickedness-instructing its ignorance-dying for its sins and then bursting away from the grave which could not retain him to return to the throne of his appointed mediatorship, he has become the author of eternal salvation. Nor is there any one so well fitted to perform such a work. There is not a feature or symptom of our case which he does not fully understand; not an agony arising from our condition which he has not felt; and not an emergency in the whole complicated frame-work of our redemption which he is not able and ready to meet. With such an High Priest to attend to our interests with the eternal God, let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain the fruits of that great salvation, which both delivers us from the power and curse of sin, and exalts us to the holy realms of everlasting life.

But in all this, do not fail to take with you the thought that Christ is the high Priest of those only who employ and obey him. He does not officiate for the careless and incorrigible sinner. Of all the souls whom he represents in heaven, the case of the unyielding rebel is not among them. Of all the melting tenderness of his intercessions, none of it is in behalf of the unfeeling wretch who refuses obedience to the teachings of his Gospel. In all the earnest exhibitions of his mangled body as the ground of salvation for the penitent, the negligent have not the least interest The text declares that he has become the author of eternal salvation only "to them that obey him." The many who are now living in entire regardlessness of religion, may compromise with their consciences by fancies that since Christ is mediator their interests are secure; but let me say to you, that Christ mediates for none but those who employ and openly acknowledge him. Not in all the Bible can you point to a passage which extends the benefits of his mediation to the impenitent. There is not one single promise flowing from Di

vine mercy to which the unconverted can lay claim. It is true that Christ has sent his minister to call sinners to repentance, and sent the Holy Spirit to "convince of sin, of righteousness and a judgment to come;" yet, instead of securing the Divine blessing upon the heedless, these mercies will only add to the intensity of their condemnation. Christ might die a thousand times, and a thousand times go through the performance of the duties belonging to the mediatorial office, but it would not help one iota toward the salvation of those who will not acknowledge him and believe in him. No, no, we must first render obedience to the Savior before he becomes our High Priest, or ever our souls are benefited through his ministrations. He is a Savior, and a great Savior; but only of them that believe. And this is a thought which I wish to impress deeply, upon the minds of those of you who have never as yet submitted yourselves to Christ, or brought yourselves to trust in him. Take it with you. And whenever you hear the sad account of the Savior's sufferings for the salvation of those who believe on his name, and of his tearful intercessions before the mercy-seat in behalf of those who have intrusted him with the concerns of their souls, remember that whilst ever you remain impenitent you have no interest whatever in these amazing exhibitions of Divine love. Let this thought weigh upon your minds continually-night and day-at home and abroad, until you find it in your hearts to submit yourselves entirely and unreservedly into the hands of that kind Savior who is even now waiting to be gracious,

LECTURE XII.

POPULAR IGNORANCE REPROVED.

Heb. v. 11-14. Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.

THESE words, as was remarked in the last lecture, may be regarded as the opening of a kind of digression from the main point which the apostle has under consideration. But though a digression, it is one very apposite to the purpose in contemplation. It is only a short suspension of the argument, with a view of impressing it more pungently upon the minds of his readers, by a few timely remarks upon their listlessness and the intimate connection of the subject with their eternal welfare.

There are two opinions which different expositors have advanced as being taught in the text, which have tended very much to embarrass the argument of the apostle, and to forestall its proper investigation. The first is, that he has kept back some of the "many things" which he had to say of Melchizedek, and that from the mere hints given there can be no satisfaction obtained by pressing our inquiries respecting him. The second is, that the subject itself is of such deep and profound mystery and so exceedingly "hard to be uttered" that the feeble intellect of man is incompetent to its comprehension. I think that it will be made appear, that there is no reasonable ground for either of these opinions. And though Paul does tell us that he had many things to say upon the matter, and yet seems to hesitate about giving them expression; nevertheless, that he has left none of them untold may be legiti mately inferred from the following considerations.

1st. The chief design and object of the apostle, or rather of the Holy Ghost in him is, to prove to the Jews by scriptural arguments, that Christ Jesus is a priest-a priest Divinely appointed

a priest superior to the Aaronic order, and hence the more entitled to their hearty acceptation and confidence. We saw in the last lecture whereon he founded the arguments of Christ's Divine vocation, and of his natural qualifications for the holy office; he then comes to by far the most important point of the argument, viz. the order and character of the Messiah's priesthood. To fail here, would be to fail in the whole conclusion; and to withhold anything which could throw the least light upon the matter, would be the part of an unskilful or dishonest disputant, neither of which can be affirmed of Paul.

2nd. It may also be reasonably inferred, that nothing respecting the Priesthood of Melchizedek has been withheld, from the very minute and circumstantial discussion which is subsequently given it. Everything conceivable of the ancient patriarch relevant to the point we have in chapter seven. If any important matters have been omitted, we have a right to demand the evidence of such omissions. But where are there any vacancies discernable in the account? His name, city, royalty, priesthood, blessing of Abraham, reception of tithes from the father of the Hebrews, separation from and superiority over the Levitical priests, and typical relation to Christ in all these respects are the most minutely discussed.

3d. Besides this, the whole scope of the passage very plainly indicates the purpose on the part of the apostle to give to his readers all that he had to say relative to the subject. After the utterance of the reproof of their dullness of hearing, he expressly declares his purpose to leave the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, and go on unto perfection; i. e. to the investigation of these high and difficult branches of christian knowledge. Or, as the whole may be paraphrased, "omitting now to insist on the first elements of christian doctrine, let us proceed to the consideration of the more difficult principles of religion, not discussing at present the doctrines of repentance, faith, baptisms, &c., and this we will do if God permit." Here we have the pointed avowal of the apostle to proceed to the discussion of this very subject which they were so much indisposed to hear, and which involved so much difficulty for them to receive. And on the probability that many would refuse to go with him in this matter, and that others would abandon all further attention to a religion which as they thought so blasphemously depreciated the holy priesthood of Aaron, he tells them further that "it is

impossible for those once enlightened" and having made certain advances in the christian course, "if they apostatize to renew them again unto repentance," or save them from utter ruin. Thus literally compelling them at the peril of their souls, to give attention to the weighty considerations which he was about to advance concerning the priesthood of Melchizedek. Such then are the considerations which lead me totally to dissent from the opinion that Paul kept back any part of what he had to communicate on this subject.

And that there is nothing in it which is beyond human capacity to understand, I think is equally clear. It is true that the apostle did find difficulty, and no little of it, in enabling his Jewish readers to understand and properly regard this matter. But on what account? Not surely because there is any thing peculiarly mysterious or incomprehensible in the subject itself; but as he says, because they were dull of hearing. He does not here as in another place talk of "unspeakable words which it is impossible for a man to utter," he does not once hint at the incompetency of the human intellect, nor at a general or irremediable weakness. The infirmity of which he speaks is one peculiar to the christianized Jews at that particular time, and one which he does not fail to reproach. "Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing, for when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." Here is language which plainly teaches that to those Jewish babes-unskilled in the word-needing to be taught even the first rudiments -and capable of feeding only on milk, the subject is indeed a difficult one. But it also carries with it the strong intimation, that to men of full age, who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil, and are capable of feeding on strong meat, the whole matter is simple and plain enough. And that such is the fact will be more satisfactorily shown when we come to the more immediate discussion of the subject itself.

You have already observed, my hearers, that the specific nature of the difficulty of Paul in the instance of the text, was meagerness

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