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footstool of his Father. Death instead of putting an end to his priesthood, only prolonged and ennobled it; and instead of interrupting it, was itself an instance of its exercise.
Unlike the Jewish priests then, this man continueth ever; and his priesthood is an intransmissible priesthood. He had power to lay down his life, and he had power to take it again ; and he ever liveth to make intercession. “Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto him.” So little has death affected his capacity to carry on the great work of his priestly office, that he is just as able to instruct us in Divine wisdom now, as when he trod the highways of Palestine, or the streets of its renowned metropolis. He is just as able and as willing now to cure us of our moral maladies, as when he rejoiced the hearts of the impotent who surrounded Bethesda's pool, or healed the afflicted whom he met in his earthly walks. He is equally competent to raise up every sinner from the grave of moral death in these latter days, as he was in the days of his flesh to bring up Lazarus from the corruption of natural decay. His goodness and his power are unchangeably the same. He was not only consecrated with an oath, but he is consecrated a priest forever. His priesthood ever was, is now, and ever shall be in his own hands; and its high functions, involving the immortal destinies of uncounted millions, he is ever ready to exercise. In consideration then of his continual readiness at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by him, how greatly superior is his priesthood to all other orders !
3. But Christ's superior priestly excellence may be seen again, in his superior personal dignity. · For such an high priest became us who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high-priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's, for this he did once when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high-priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son who is consecrated for evermore.”
The Jewish priests were “men having infirmity.” Like those for whom they officiated, they were altogether sinful and unholy, and had need to offer sacrifices for themselves. This too is a duty prescribed in the Mosaic ritual, and the observance of it by every priest was enforced by the penalty of death. As they were mor
tal, so also they were chargeable with error and sin, which it was their daily duty to confess and expiate by bloody sacrifices. But Christ can lay claim to a superior moral dignity. 1st. Paul affirms that he was holy. He was not only outwardly righteous; but he was internally pure from all the seeds, principles, or inclinations of sin. 2nd. He was harmless—perfectly free from any perpetrations of wrong. No charges of injuring any one, in name, person, or property, by word, gesture, or thought, could at any time be alledged against him. And though it cannot be said of any other inhabitant of earth, it may yet be said of him, that he never in any way did wrong to another. He was entirely holy, and harmless as he was pure. 3d. He was also undefiled ; either by sin, or any improper desire or passion. He was unstained by crime, and unspotted from the world. As the lamb for the legal sacrifice, he was without spot or blemish. 4th. He was separate from sinners. With the wicked as such, he never associated. He partook not of their feelings, plans, or pleasures. Though he mingled with them whilst on earth, it was only that he might benefit their souls. With their principles and views he had no sympathy. He could weep over their degradation and lay down his life for their redemption; but never once was he to be identified with them in sin. 5th. And not only so; the apostle declares him made higher than the heavens. He is lifted upin dignity above all the angels of God-far above all principalities and powers, and every name that is named upon the catalogues of the exalted. How greatly superior then is our High Priest in personal dignity and excellence. Considered as a man, he is distinguished from all other men, not only by his miraculous conception_his sublime wisdom-and his stupendous works; but also by his immaculate purity which remains free from contamination in all his intercourse with the fallen, and in all his conflicts with the powers of darkness.
But in addition to the consideration of his pre-eminent moral excellence, it is also to be taken into the account, that he is by nature the Son of God. For the word of the oath which was since the law, maketh the Son" high-priest. By virtue of this Sonship he has a nature in common with the awful sovereign who reigns supreme upon the throne of the universe. There is not a perfection --not one consideration of honor or dignity which adorns the Divine character, to which our High Priest cannot rightfully lay claim. For whilst he is said to have purged our sins and been seat
ed at the right hand of the Majesty on high; he is also described as “the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person.” Surely then he is the most glorious and honored of all the ministers of God; and the office sustained by him derives a lustre from his dignity, which throws both Melchisedec and Aaron into the shade.
4. The paramount excellence of the Messiah's priesthood is also to be seen in the superior value of the sacrifice which he offered. The oblations presented by the legal priests consisted chiefly of beasts, such as oxen-sheep-goats, &c. The blood which they sprinkled was merely inferior animal blood. But Christ offered not the firstlings of the flock—the choicest of the herd-or even the cattle upon ten thousand hills. It was not by the blood of bulls or of goats that he sought to procure remission of sins for the guilty. The apostle affirms in the text, that “he offered up himself.” He was at once the priest and the sacrifice. The victims for the Jewish oblations were mean, and their cost of but trifling consideration. But what can represent the worth of the christian offering! It overmatches the entire contents of heaven's exhaustless treasury. What thus raises the worth of the Savior's sacrifice above all cal. culation, is the inexpressible dignity of the victim. Not from among the animal orders-not from among human or angelic ranks was be selected. He was plucked from the throne of Deity itself. He who was seated amid the splendor of a wide and everlasting empire, receiving the honor and applause of an unmeasured universe, was brought down as the victim. He who was the object of heaven's loudest Halleluias, was made to endure the torments due our sins. Yes, he to whose praise the exultant notes swelled over the plains of glory—“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!" was made the subject of crucifixion and death, in order to atone for human guilt. “He who was slain without the gates of Jerusalem was the Lord of glory, although the princes of this world did not recognize him in such profound humiliation; the blood with which the church was redeemed was the blood of God, although the priests and rulers of the Jews, who saw it streaming from his wounds, despised it as the blood of an impious malefactor. The Godhead it is acknowledged is impassible ; but from the union of the two natures of Christ, there resulted a communication of properties, in consequence of which the acts of both belonged to the same person, and are predicated of each other. That nature died which alone
could die; but it was the nature of him who was higher than the kings of the earth and the angels of heaven, because he and his Father are one. Compared with this oblation, those which were offered with such pomp in the temple of Jerusalem were weak and childish things, and would be altogether unworthy of notice, were it not that God himself appointed them, and that they derived a borrowed importance from their typical relation to the sacrifice of Christ."
5. There is however another view of Messiah's priesthood, which goes on still farther to show its superiority. It is represented as having permanently secured all the interests of all men depending upon the exercise of priestly functions. It is said that he offered up himself“ once for all.” It was necessary for the legal priests daily to repeat their sacrifices. There was nothing in the character of the offering, or in those who made it, which was at all competent to wash away sins, or to do away the great reason for the sacrificial service. Their sole purpose was to keep up a proper acknowledgment of those numerous transgressions, which Christ's atonement alone could cancel; and to accomplish this, their daily repetition was indispensable. But not so with our great high-priest. The offering which he made, though presented but once, was so ample and perfect that it had sufficient merit to counterbalance the ill desert of an entire world, and needed never to be repeated. -There is not one single claim of Divine justice upon one single individual of all the generations of Adam, which it has not effectually met. The sacrifice of Christ forever did away all sacrifice; because it at once by the draining of the life-blood of an incarnate God forever did away with the only occasion of sacrifice. No priest can come after priest Messiah ; and without him, all the priesthoods of former ages are powerless. Christ Jesus is pre-eminently the priest—and that of Messiah the priesthood of all time. The Savior covers the whole ground; not an interest is overlooked; not a soul is neglected. His offering was once for all.” According to prophecies long ago uttered, “ He finished the transgression, and made an end of sins, and made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting righteousness.”?
From these considerations the conclusion is inevitable, that the priesthood of Messiah is far superior to all other priesthoods; and hence that the christian system is to be preferred to all other reli
· Dick’s Theology, Vol. 2, page 54.
gions, and claims attention and confidence by reasons greatly more urgent than those which wedded the Jews to the Mosaic institutions. A more judicious course of argument than is here employed, is not to be conceived. It is one which must have told with overwhelming power upon the mind of every thoughtful Jewish reader, and it is one which should not be without its effects
From this discussion we are led to contemplate the entire ability of the Savior to redeem and glorify all them that come to him.Consecrated priest by the Divine oath—raised from the dead to continue the exercise of his priestly functions on the other side of the grave-honored with high and peculiar personal endowmentspresenting a sacrifice the value of which cannot be computed by finite intelligence—and offering that “once for all," "he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.” This power he many a time evinced while he walked the earth the despised and rejected Nazarene ; but he is daily displaying it now in more numerous and striking instances than in the days of his humiliation. No one has ever asked aid of him, and found him una. ble to render it. None has ever sunk because his arm was too weak to save. What he has done for the few who are now exulting in the joys of redemption, he can do for all ; nor shall any one that trusts in him ever be confounded. He is able to save to the uttermost. “He makes the salvation complete. So the Bible assures us; and so we see it in fact as far as we can trace the soul. When a christian friend dies, we stand at his bedside and accompany him as far as we can into the valley of the shadow of death. We ask him whether he feels that Christ is able to save? He replies, - yes. When he has lost the power of speaking above a whisper, we ask him the same question, and receive the same reply. When he gives us the parting hand, and we, still anxious to know whether all is well, ask the same question, a sign, a smile, a lighting up of the dying eye, declares that all is well. As far as we can trace the departing soul when it goes into the dark valley, we receive the same assurance; and why should we doubt that the same grace is bestowed further onward, and that he saves to the uttermost?" But what else thus saves ? Friends give the parting hand at the gloomy entrance of that valley, and the gay and the worldly coolly turn away. The delusions of infidelity there forsake the soul, and minister no comfort then. Flatterers turn away from the dying scene--for who flatters the dying with the praise of beau