Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

3d. Another fact showing the different and distinct order of Melchisedec's priesthood is, that it remained exclusively in his own hands during his whole lifetime, and through the whole dispensation which he represented. This is stated in these words—“ but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually,” and is subsequently referred to, in verses 8 and 16. Under the Mosaic arrangement there was a continual succession of priests. Thus when Aaron died, Eleazar his son stood up in his room; and all the high priests of the Levitical order were succeeded by their sons and their relations. But there was no such official transmission in the priesthood of Melchisedec from one to another. He was the first, the last, and the only priest of his dispensation. His was a continual and intransmissible priesthood, and hence one entirely different and distinct from that of Aaron.

Having thus conclusively shown that the priesthood of Melchisedec was different from the Levitical, the apostle now comes to show that it was also superior to it. “Now consider," says he, “how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And yerily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is of their brethren, though they came out of the loins of Abraham: but he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the pronises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham; for he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.”

The Jews were accustomed to look upon Abraham as probably the greatest man that ever graced the earth. Paul in the text mentions as an instance of his greatness, that some of his children were Divinely allowed the exalted authority to exact tribute for their continual support. He was great in favor and communion with God- he was great in the exercise of faith-he was great in the promises which were made to centre in him--and he was great as the father of the most distinguished nation that ever lived. There was not another whom they held in equal honor. To his greatness and piety they attributed all those wonderful displays of Divine

power and wisdom made in their behalf; and many in the Savior's day made it the subject of their chief glory, that they were the "children of Abraham.” He was the father of the faithful - the root of the true church-and the progenitor of Messiah. But great as Abraham was in many respects, he was yet inferior to Melchisedec. I do not say that he was inferior in piety, or even in personal dignity; but inferior in consideration that Melchisedec was “priest of the most high God.” There was an official superiority to Abraham. Hence he did not take of the spoils of war, or the usual portion of what he possessed, and offer it directly to God by his own hands. In the place of such an immediate consecration, he brought them to Melchisedec, the proper and authorized minister of religion, and by that act himself acknowledged the Divine appointment and superior official standing of the patriarchal priest. In return, Abraham received from his hands also the Divine blessing, the pronunciation of which always implies superiority of age, rank, or station, on the part of him by whom it is uttered. For “without controversy” says Paul, “the less is blessed of the better."

Now the apostle argues that this acknowledgment on the part of Abraham after he had received the promises of Melchisedec's superior dignity, implied also an acknowledgment of inferiority on the part of all the descendants of Abraham. There is a sense in which the actions of the patriarch on that occasion were the actions of all his posterity, and just as really implicated the Levitical priests as if they had been present and taken part in the entire transaction. Abraham in this instance was the seminal and covenant representative of his race. Such a representation is considered perfectly adequate, and its acts conclusive and binding so long as there is no subsequent change in the relative rank of the parties. In this case we are not authorized to believe there was any such change; and hence the act of Abraham stood as if it were the act of all his posterity, and Levi who received tithes, paid. tithes in Abraham to Melchisedec. “We may then conceive the apostle conveying the amount of his argument to his countrymen,” says Dr. Gray, (to whom I here acknowledge my indebtedness for some valuable thoughts and arguments in this discussion,) “in words such as these: while from an overwveening valuation of your priesthood, you are ready to reject the priesthood of Jesus, do you imagine that yours

is the only, or even the noblest priesthood that ever existed among men? Look back to the origin of your nation, and there you will find your father Abraham, after he had received the covenant which is the source and sum of all your national glory, paying tithes to Melchisedec, a priest of the most high God, and receiving his blessing. And as he was at that time your covenant head and representative, his acts are yours, and his inferiority your inferiority. And therefore to speak plainly, your whole nation, and among the rest the tribe of Levi who boast their priesthood, paid tithes in Abraham to Melchisedec his superior and theirs : and bowed farther to that superior man by receiving his blessing; for without all controversy the less is blessed of the better."

Another consideration which the apostle adduces to show the inferiority of the Aaronic priesthood, is the fact which he had already shown from the Hebrew Scriptures, that it was contemplated when God gave commandment concerning its institution, that it should be superceded by another order. “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law ;) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?" He had conclusively shown by reference to the 110th Psalm, that it was predicted by God's own prophet that there would be another priest, one independent of the laws which regulated the house of Aaron, and who should be a continual priest after the order of Melchisedec. This was a point then too plain to admit of denial. Now since such was the accredited fact, the inference was inevitable that the existing priesthood must have been imperfect, and intended merely to be temporary. There was no alternative from this conclusion. There must have been deficiency somewhere, of some sort, else there could have been no justification for its change and abolition by the appointment of another. What this particular defect and inferiority were, will be more satisfactorily shown hereafter. But in the mean time we have the fact itself incontrovert. ibly established, that the Levitical order was imperfect, and that the introduction of another after the order of Melchisedec, was a plain proof that the patriarchal was the superior.

We find then these two propositions very clearly brought out and established in the text. 1st. That the priesthood of Melchise

'See Gray's Priesthoods, page 106.

dec was of a different order altogether from the Levitical priesthood; and 2nd. That it was moreover far superior to the Levitical order. Taking these two propositions in connection with the fact which had already been made appear, viz: that Christ's priesthood was to be of the same order as the priesthood of Melchisedec, we have two very important conclusions. The first is that Christ is entitled to the priestly office, although he was not of the tribe of Levi. It is to this the apostle alludes when he says, “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also in the law. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.” This was no doubt in the Jewish mind a very serious objection to the right of Christ to exercise sacerdotal functions. But his priesthood being of a different order, it cannot come under the laws peculiar to that order; and hence the objection falls.

The second conclusion from these propositions is, that Christ's priesthood is altogether superior to the Levitical priesthood. The argument on this point runs thus: Melchisedec's priesthood is superior to that of the Levites; Christ's priesthood is of the same order as that of Melchisedec; therefore, Christ's priesthood is superior to that of the Levites. And what an overwhelming argument was this for the Jews. With what tremendous force did it press upon them and yet presses upon them the claims of the Gospel of Jesus. He, the despised Nazarene, a priest superior in rank to those whom they venerated and loved so much? Aye, now let their prejudices rave, let their deep-seated hatred to the victim of Calvary stir itself with volcanic fury, let their ingenuity exert itself to the utmost, let the strongest bursts of their over-wrought patriotism rise in opposition, the apostle here embattles the cause of christianity within an adamantine wall of argument thick and flaming high beyond all flight of hope. From this conclusion there is no appeal—no escape. And well may we shout to the sons of Israel, “ Bow, bow! to the cross, and own the bloodless warrior of christianity your conqueror!

I have thus, my hearers, given you a brief but I trust sufficiently distinct outline of the superiority of Messiah's priesthood as argued from its Melchisedecean order. I will now present you with the

points of typical resemblance which the priesthood of Melchisedec bore to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Here again I will draw freely from Dr. Gray.

1st. We have seen from the preceding discussion that Melchisedec was a royal, or kingly priest. So is our Savior. It is an essential feature of his mediatorial character to rule and reign. The dispensation of which he is the head and administrator is called a kingdom-the kingdom of heaven—the kingdom of God. He is in sundry places called the King of Zion-the Prince of Peacethe Ruler over many nations. He was literally of “the house and lineage of David,” Jehovah has assigned him authority over all things, and the prophecies direct us to a period not far distant, when he shall have upon his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.His is “a royal priesthood."

2nd. We saw further that according to the name, Melchisedec was also a righteous King-priest. The same may be said of Jesus Christ. There is not a single action of his life which bears a suspicious aspect. There is not a shadow to cloud his spotless character. Our high priest is “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners ;” “ Though in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."

3d. We have also seen that Melchisedec was a king-priest in Salem, a city, the name of which signifies peace, and probably so called on account of the peaceful condition of its inhabitants. Christ Jesus is a princely priest in the church of God--the New Jerusalem, which is altogether a peaceful community. There is here peace of conscience, peace with God, and the prospect of everlasting peace in the kingdom of glory.

4th. We have seen too, that Melchisedec was a priest whose genealogy was not reckoned like that of the Levites. His father's name, his mother's name, his birth, his death, are none of them entered on the genealogical records. So Jesus is not a priest according to Levitical genealogy, "for it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah, of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.” He did not receive priestly orders by regular official descent, but by a more direct and special appointment.

5th. Melchisedec was also a priest through a whole dispensation, and lived and ministered from the beginning to the end of the same, without having his priesthood to pass out of his own hands. So

« AnteriorContinua »