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by the scripture, which they all receive and acknowledge.
§7. Thirdly, They insist upon the promises which concern themselves, and these, of all others, they most mind and urge against their adversaries. Nothing, they say, is more certain and evident in the scripture, than that the people of Israel shall be brought into a blessed and prosperous condition by the Messiah, at his coming, and in particular, that by him they shall be brought home into their own land. But now, say they, instead of this, that whole people is scattered over the face of the earth, under great misery and oppression for the most part, without the least interest in the country promised to them. And from hence it is, that they most obstinately conclude, that the Messiah is not yet come; for until they are rich, wealthy, and powerful, they will not believe that God is faithful.
In the consideration of these promises, we must carefully distinguish between those which had their full, at least their principal accomplishment in the return of the people from the captivity of Babylon, and those which have a direct regard to the days of the Messiah. It is known, that the prophets do very usually set out that merciful deliverance in metaphorical expressions, in order to set off the greatness of the mercy itself. But the present Jews, who look for the accomplishing of all the most strained allegories in a literal sense, do wrest them all to the times of the Messiah, when they hope they shall receive them in full measure; for they reckon of all things according to their outward gain and profit, and not according to the manifestation of the glory and love of God therein.
But let them know, that whatever is foretold and promised, concerning themselves in the days of the Mes
siah, they have no color of reason to expect, until they receive him, own and submit to him, which, to this day, they have not done. When Moses went out to visit them of old in their distress, and slew the Egyptian that smote one of them; yet, because they refused him, and would not understand, that it was by him God would deliver them, and endeavored to betray him to death, their bondage was continued forty years longer. Nevertheless, at length, by the same Moses were they delivered. In like manner, although the Jews have refused and rejected him who was promised to be the Savior, and so continue to this day in their captivity, spiritual and temporal; yet it is He, by whom, in the time appointed, they shall be delivered from the one and the other. But this shall not be done until they own and receive him; and when God shall give them hearts to do it, they will quickly find the blessed success thereof. But all this, we say, must come to pass, when the veil shall be taken from before their eyes, and they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and joyfully receive him whom they have sinfully rejected for so many generations. And when, by his spirit and grace, they shall be turned from ungodliness, and have their eyes opened to see the mystery of the grace, wisdom, and love of God, in the blood of his Son, then shall they obtain mercy from the God of their forefathers, and returning again into their own land, Jerusalem shall be inhabited again.
OF THE ORIGIN OF CHRIST'S PRIESTHOOD.
1. The doctrine of Christ's priesthood is more sparingly taught in other parts of scripture, but professedly in the Epistle to the Hebrews. §2. The importance of the subject, and the opposition made to it, justify a particular discussion. §3. Sig.. nification of the word priest. §4. Melchisedeck the first priest. A sacrificer. Corruption of the Targum. Legal institution of a priesthood, in reference to the Messiah. §5. The origin of Christ's priesthood. The state of innocency could have no priesthood properly so called. §6. This far- ́ ther proved. §7. Nor could it have any proper sacrifice, §8. If man had not sinned, the Son of God would not have taken our nature upon him. §9. Of the nature of the Divine counsels. The end of God in his works in general; and in the creation of man in particular. §10-13. (I.) Personal transactions in the holy Trinity, concerning man, Gen. i, 26. $14-18. The same truth farther revealed and confirmed, Prov. viii, 22—31. §19. The same truth expressed, Psal. ii, 7. §20. (II.) Federal transactions between the Father and Son, about the work of redemption. $21. Explanation of terms. Covenants how ratified of old. §22. A complete and proper covenant, what it requires. §23. Of covenants, with respect to personal services. $24. The covenant between Father and Son express. $25. Counsel. §26. Will. §27. The things disposed of in the power of the parties. §28. Matter. §29. End. §30. Conditions and limitations. §31. Conclusion.
§1. AMONGST the many excellencies of this Epistle to the Hebrews, which render it as useful to the church, as the sun in the firmament is to the world; the reve 37
lation that is made therein, concerning the nature, singular pre-eminence, and use of the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ, may well be esteemed to deserve the principal place. The subject, indeed, as to the substance of it, is delivered in some other passages of the New Testament; but yet more sparingly than, per haps, any other truth of the like importance. The Holy Ghost reserved it for this, as its proper place; where, upon the consideration of the Old Testament institutions, and their removal out of the church, it might be duly represented, as that which gave an end to them in their accomplishment, and life to those ordinances of evangelical worship, which were to succeed in their room.
When our Lord Jesus says, that he came, "to give "his life a ransom for many," Matt. xx, 28; he had a respect to the sacrifice that he had to offer, as a priest. The same also is intimated, where he is called the Lamb of God, John i, 29. Our apostle also mentioneth his sacrifice, and his offering of himself unto God, Ephes. v, 2. On which account he calleth him a propitiation, Rom. iii, 25; and mentioneth also, his intercession with the benefits thereof, Rom. viii, 34. The clearest testimony to this purpose is, that of the apostle John, who puts together both the general acts of his sacerdotal office, and intimates withal, their mutual relation, 1 John ii, 2; for his intercession as our advocate with his Father, respects his oblation as he was a propitiation for our sins. So the same apostle tells us, that "he washed us in his own blood," Rev. i, 5; when he expiated our sins by the sacrifice of himself. But for the principal acquaintance we have with these and sundry other evangelical mysteries, especially in reference to the nature and use of Mosaical institu>tions, which make so great a part of the scripture,
we are entirely obliged to the revelation made in this Epistle.
§2. And this doctrine concerning the priesthood of Christ, and the sacrifice that he offered, is, on many accounts, deep and mysterious. This our apostle plainly intimates in sundry passages of this epistle. With respect hereunto, he saith, the discourse he intended was (Surepμnvevlos) hard to be uttered, or rather hard to be understood when uttered, chap. v, 11. As also another apostle, that there are in this epistle (duayonla Tiva, 2 Pet. iii, 16,) some things hard to be understood. Hence it is required, that those who attend to this doctrine, should be past living on milk only, or be contented with the first rudiments and principles of religion; and that they may be able to digest strong meat, by having "their senses exercised, to discern "good and evil," chap. v, 12-14. And when he resolves to proceed in the explication of it, he declares that he is leading them on to perfection, chap. vi, 1; or the highest and most perfect doctrine in the mysteries of the Christian religion,
Moreover, the doctrine concerning the priesthood, and sacrifice of the Lord Christ, which contains the principal foundation of the faith and comfort of the church, hath in all ages, by the craft and malice of Satan, been either directly opposed, or variously corrupted. But there is a generation of men whom the craft of Satan (who envies the strong consolation of the church, which he knows proceeds in a great measure from this truth) hath stirred up in this and the foregoing age, who have made it a great part of their preposterous and pernicious endeavors to overthrow this whole office of the Redeemer, and the efficacy of the sacrifice of himself depending on that office. This they have attempted with much subtlety and diligence,