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tue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly-kindness; and to brotherly-kindness, charity. And thus we will make our calling and election so sure that we shall never fall, and finally have an entrance administered unto us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
You perceive then that the whole responsibility of your salvation is thrown into your own hands. Not indeed in the sense of meriting it, nor in the sense of accomplishing it by your own endeavors. For “it is Christ that died,” and it is the “Spirit that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his own good pleasure.” If it were not so, your condition of all creatures would be most miserable. But what I mean is, that your effectual calling has some dependence upon your conduct. Not that your salvation is of works; by
Infinite wisdom and goodness have set heaven and everlasting life before you. They have instituted a plan through which your salvation is made immutably certain, provided you embrace it by faith. And the same authority which exacts faith of you, confers the ability wherewith to comply. So that if you are saved, it will be all of grace; but at the same time if you are lost, it will be your own fault. The responsibility is with you. The God who might have justly passed you by in your fall, and left you to reap the fruit of your sins on the desert plains of hell, has graciously provided for your rescue, given into your hands again the reins of your destiny, and the most conclusively assured you of his immutable purpose to save you if obedient. What then will you do? The responsibility rests with you. God has placed it with you. His beloved Son has said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned.”May Almighty God influence you to submit to his grace, that he may save you according to bis immutable purpose !
THE SUPERIORITY OF MESSIAH'S PRIESTHOOD.
Heb. vii. 1-19. For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God,
who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 10 whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, king of peace; without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like onto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they thal are of the sons of Levi, u ho receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take lithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham. But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abrahamı, and blessed him that had the piomises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the beller. And here men that die receive uitbes; 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 lithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him. If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) ubat further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For be of u hom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For il is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah ; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. . And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did ; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
The apostle here resumes the subject from which he so abruptly broke off in the 10th verse of the 5th chapter. Having reproved his readers for the little progress which they had made in christian knowledge, warned them against the fearful consequences of abandoning the christian religion, and encouraged them to hold fast their faith and hope unto the end, he now found the way open to present the “many things” he had to say concerning the priesthood of Melchisedec. The precise point to be improved, was the superior nature of Messiah's priesthood. The first consideration from which he show's its superiority, is its peculiar order, or rank. This he liad already several times alluded to, as being the same as that of Melchisedec. The priesthood of Melchisedec then, its superiority
over that of Aaron, and its typical relation to Christ, shall constitute the subject of our present inquiry.
In order to render this discussion satisfactory, it will be necessary for us first to determine who Melchisedec was. Upon this point, as upon others respecting this personage, commentators have entertained the most extravagant speculations. And it may add considerable force to the conclusions to which our present investigations may lead, to expose the absurdity of those embarrassing notions which have heretofore been circulated under the authority of great names.
It has been contended by some, that Melchisedec was an angel; and a certain sect sprang up in the third century, who affirmed that he was the mediator of fallen angels. Such however, cannot be the fact, as may be inferred from several considerations. There is not an instance in all the Scriptures in which the priestly oflice is ascribed to an angel; nor is there the slightest intimation that fallen angels have any hope of being saved. We are moreover taught that “every high priest is taken from among men.”
Some have thought him to be the Holy Ghost. But neither have we an instance on record in which the Holy Ghost was ever represented as a priest. On the contrary the Scriptures refer to his office in the economy of redemption as looking toward men whom he sanctifies, but to that of a priest as looking toward God to whom atoncient and intercession are made. Priests are ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices; but we are not advised that the Iloly Ghost has any offering to bring. And it is utterly intolerable to suppose, that an inspired apostle would gravely set about telling us that the Holy Ghost is “ without father, without mother,” &c.
Nor could he have been, as others have confidently asserted, the Son of God himself, who assuming the appearance of humanity presented himself in a vision to Abraham as an early type of his future priesthood. If Melchisedec was a priest, as the account asserts that he was, the mere appearance of humanity was not enough. Paul also declares that he was " like unto the Son of God,” this plainly involves the fact that he was not the same. If he really was the Son of God, we must then understand the inspired record to say that be was a type of himself, and that his own priesthood was like his own priesthood! in which case the ideas of identity and similarity would be totally confounded. We are then
driven to the conclusion, that Melchisedec was neither an angelthe Holy Ghost--or the Son of God, and could have been none other than a man.
And that he was a veritable man, positive circumstances noted in the account go on farther to establish. The historical details are just as strongly discriptive of humanity as those which determine our belief that Abraham and the king of Sodom were men. His priestly office, his royal authority, and his reception of tithes from Abraham can only be predicated of humanity. And the extraordinary terms in which he is spoken of instead of being irreconcilable with the supposition that he was a man, I expect to be able to show go on to confirm it. For how indeed could priest Messiah in his human nature be consistently represented by any other than a human being ? Nor was he ever a priest in any other nature. The conclusion then is not to be resisted,-Melchisedec was a man. As to what particular man he was—whether Enoch-Shem-Ham—Japhet-Job-or who? has not been preserved on record. Nor can we conceive it to be of any consequence that we should know. Enough has been preserved for every practical purpose, and beyond this we have no license for the indulgence of our curiosity in sacred things.
The next thing to be inquired into respects the particulars from which the apostle shows Melchisedec to be a priest of an entirely different order from the Levitical priests. This difference is seen 1st, in the fact that his priesthood had united to it the kingly dignity. “For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him, to whom also Abrahain gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation king of righteousness, and after that also king of Salem, which is, King of peace.” The translation of these titles by the apostle, is rather a by the way matter. He merely incidentally refers to their signification as worthy of remark, that they are also fitly typical of the character of Jesus our high Priest, and of the condition of those brought under his royal authority. It was enough for his purpose to show that the patriarch of whom he is speaking was a king as well as a priest. This is indicated by the titles by which he was called. The one is Melchisedec, which in Hebrew signifies—the righteous king; and another, only part of which he introduces, which signifies–King of peace.
. Both of these designate royalty, and hence the kingly char
acter of his priesthood. This was a dignity which never belonged to Aaron's order. Some of them were prophets, but none of them were kings. Some of them were eminently typical of Messiah in many respects; but their priesthood lacked this kingly feature, and must therefore be regarded as a different order from that of Melchisedec.
2nd. This difference is further manifested in this, his genealogy was not reckoned either from them, or like them. This is what is meant by the declarations without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.”— These extraordinary terms surely were not intended to mean that he had not a genealogy known to his contemporaries, or that he was not born and did not die as other men. The point to be proven, and one indeed essential to the argument, is that Melchisedec's priesthood was of a different order from the Levitical. It is then very apposite to his purpose to show that his “ genealogy is not counted from them;" and this is very effectually done in these words. It was a law concerning the Jewish priesthood, and one in fact observed by the entire nation, for each family to prepare carefully and correctly a full register of all its names, births, and deaths. These records were all officially preserved in the archives of the nation for subsequent reference. In order to make good the claims of an individual to succeed to the priestly office, it was necessary that he be able to show from these genealogical records that he was of the tribe of Levi, that his father was a priest, that his mother was such a woman as the law required for a priest's wife, (Ezra ii. 61-63; Lev. xxi. 13–15,) to show the date of his birth or “beginning of days,” (Num. iv. 1-3,) and probably also the death of the preceding priest in order to preserve regularity in filling vacancies. Paul then denies, as the Jews themselves must also have known, that Melchisedec had any official “descent” or genealogy of this kind. Were we to seek over all the genealogical registers of the priesthood, we would not find his name, for he is “ without" priestly “descent;" nor his father's name, for he is " without father;" nor his mother's name, for he is “ without mother;" nor the entry of his birth or his death, for he does not belong to any order whose genealogy is thus recorded ; and his priesthood is therefore altogether of a different rank.