« AnteriorContinuar »
introducing a metaphorical, or imaginary priesthood and sacrifice in their room; and so, robbing the church of its principal treasure, they pretend to supply the want of it with their own fancies. And there are more reasons than one, why I could not omit a strict examination of their reasonings and objections against this great part of the mystery of the gospel.
$3. Our Lord Jesus Christ is, in the Old Testament, called (375) Cohen, Psal. cx, 4; “Thou art Cohen for “ever.”. Also it is said of him, Zech. vi, 13, “He “shall be Cohen upon his throne.” We render it in both places a priest (tepeus, sacerdos.) In this epistle he is frequently said to be (vegeus and «pXtepeus, Pontifex, Pontifex Maximus) a priest and high priest. The meaning of these words must be first inquired into,
The verb (315) is used only in pihil, cihen; and it signifies (tegegyelv, sacerdotio fungi, or munus sacerdotale exercere) to be a priest, or to exercise the office of the priesthood. The Septuagint mostly render it by (segeleuw, sacerdotio fungor) to exercise the priestly office. Some would have the word to be anbiguous, and to signify (officio fungi, aut ministrare in sacris aut politicis) to discharge an office, or to minister in things sacred or political, But no instance can be produced of its use to this purpose. The word is, therefore, sacred; or is used properly only in a sacred
The Arabic (379) Cahan, is to divine, to prognosticate, to be a soothsayer, to foretel; and Caahan is a diviner, a prophet, an astrologer, a figure-caster. This use of it came up after the priests had generally taken themselves to such arts, as were partly curious, partly diabolical, by the instigation of the false gods to whom they ministered.
94. He who was first called (375) a priest in the scripture, probably in the world, was Melchisedeck, Gen. xiv, 18. Sometimes, though rarely, it is applied to express a priest of false gods; as of Dagon, 1 Sam. V, 5; and of Egyptian deities, Gen. xli, 45; “Joseph “married the daughter of Potipherah, priest of On;" that is, of Heliopolis, the chief seat of the Egyptian religious worship. It is confessed, that this name is sometimes used to signify secondary princes, or princes of a second rank; but the Jews, after the Targum, offer violence to Psal. cx, 4; where they would have Melchisedeck to be called Cohen, because he was a prince; for it is expressly said of him, he was a king, of which rank none is, on account of his office, ever called Cohen. I say, therefore, that Cohen is properly (ouins) a sacrificer; nor is it otherwise to be understood, unless the abuse of the word be obvious, and a metaphorical sense necessary. The Targumists make a great difference in rendering the word. Where it intends a priest of God properly, they retain it; where it is applied to a prince, or ruler, they render it by (837) rabba; and where applied to an idolatrous priest, by (N7915) comara. But in this matter of Melchisedeck, Gen. xiv, 18; they are peculiar: “And he was (w202) “meshamesh, a minister before the high God.” And by this word they express the ministry of the priests, Exod. xix, 22; «The priests who draw nigh (NWO) “to minister before the Lord;" whereby it is evident, that they understood him to be a sacred officer, or a priest unto God. But in Psal. cx, 4; where the same word occurs again to the same purpose, they render it by (N37) a prince, or great ruler: “Thou art a great “ruler like Melchisedeck;" which is a part of their open corruption of that psalm, with a design to apply it unto David; for the author of that Targum lived after they knew full well how the prophecy in that psalm was in our books, and, by Christians, applied to the Messiah, and how the ceasing of their law and worship was, from thence, invincibly proved in this epistle. This made them maliciously to pervert the words in their paraphrase, although they durst not violate the sacred text itself. But the text is plain; “Melchise“deck was Cohen to the high God;" a priest, one called to the office of solemn sacrificing to God; for he that offereth not sacrifice to God, is not a priest to him; for this is the principal duty of his office, from which the whole receives its denomination. But, that Melchisedeck was by office a sacrificer, appears, from Abraham's delivering up unto him, Gen. xiv, 20, “The tenth of all;" that is, as our apostle interprets the place (Twv engoliwy) of the spoils he had taken; among which, there is no question but there were many clean beasts meet for sacrifice. For in their herds and cattle consisted the principal parts of the riches of those days, and these were the principal spoils of war, See Numb. xxxi, 32, 33. Abraham, therefore, delivered these spoils to Melchisedeck, as the priest of the high "God, to offer in sacrifice for him. And it may be, there was somewhat more in it, than the mere preeminence of Melchisedeck, whereby he was the first and only priest in office, by virtue of special Divine call, namely, that Abraham himself coming immediately from the slaughter of many kings, and their numerous armies, was not yet prepared for this sacred service.
Sacrificing had been hitherto left at liberty; every one who was called to perform any part of solemn religious worship, was allowed to discharge that duty also. But it pleased God, in the reducing of his church, into peculiar order, the more conspicuously to represent what he would afterwards really effect in Jesus Christ, to erect among them a peculiar office of priesthood; whereby an inclosure of sacrificing was made to the office of the priests; that is, so soon as there was such an office, by virtue of special institution, it belonged exclusively to that office.
Whereas, therefore, it is prophesied, that the Messiah should be a priest, the principal meaning of it is, that he should be a sacrificer; one that had a right, and was actually called to offer sacrifice unto God. This is the general and real notion of a priest amongst all men throughout the world.
$5. We have seen that Jesus Christ is a priest; he was prophesied of under the Old Testament, and declared to be so in the New. The ultimate origin of this office lies in the eternal counsels of God; but our present design is, to trace those discoveries, which God hath made of his eternal counsels in this matter, through the several degrees of Divine revelation,
Our first condition under the law of creation was a condition of innocency and natural righteousness; and therefore God had not ordained an establishment in it of either priest or sacrifice. They would have been of no use in that state; for there was nothing supposed, which might be prefigured or represented by them. Wherefore God did not pre-ordain the priesthood of Christ, with any respect to the obedience of man under the law of creation; nor should any such have been upon a supposition of its continuance.
There is an indissoluble relation between priesthood and sacrifice; they mutually assert or deny each other. Where the one is proper, the other is so also; and where the one is metaphorical, so is the other. Thus, under the Old Testament, the priests who were proporly so' by office, had proper carnal sacrifices to offer; and under the New Testament, believers being made priests unto God; that is, spiritually and metaphorically, such also are their sacrifices, spiritual and metaphorical. Wherefore, arguments against either of these conclude equally against both. Where there are no priests there are no sacrifices; and where there are no sacrifices there are no priests. We may, therefore, conclude, that there was no priesthood to be in the state of innocency; whence it will follow, that there could be no sacrifice. And, that there was to be no sacrifice properly so called; whence it will equally follow, that there was no priesthood therein. That which ensues on both, is, that there was no counsel of God concerning either priesthood or sacrifice in that state.
$6. “For every high priest taken from among men, “is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that she may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins," saith our apostle, Heb. v, 1. What is here affirmed of the high priest is truc, in like manner, concerning every priest; only the high priest is here mentioned by way of eminence; because by him our Lord Christ, as to his office, and the discharge of it, was principally represented. Every priest is, therefore, one “taken from “among men;" he is (naturæ humanæ particeps) partaker of human nature in common with other men; and antecedently to his assumption of his office, he is one of the same rank with other men; he is taken, or separated from among them, and is vested with his office, by the authority and according to the will of God.
This office, therefore, is not a thing which is common to all, nor can it take place in any state or con-dition, wherein the whole performance of Divine service is equally incumbent on all individually; for