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Melchisedec himself was a Priest for ever : CHA P. Yet since Christ is said to be a Priest after a the Order of Melchisedec, because Christ's Priesthood was to endure for ever ; it is tacitly implied that Melchifedec's Priesthood must in some Sense be for ever too : It must be figuratively for ever, a Type of that true and proper Eternity, through which Christ's Priesthood is appointed to endure.
А Туре, which the Priesthood amongst the Jews was not calculated to be. For with them the Men that received Tithes, died; But of Melchifedec who received the Tenths from Abraham it is witnessed tbat be liveth. The Jewish Priesthood passed down from one to another : As one. died, another succeeded : But the Melchifedecian Priesthood we never read to have been performed by any but Melchifedec. alone;
whose Life and Priesthood were of equal Duration; both enduring very probably as long as the Worship of the true God continued in Phænicia. And because the Scriptures say nothing of his Death, therefore the holy Penman says, it is witnessed (i, e, mystically, or by Way of Figure) that be liveth.
In these Respects did the Order or Nature of Melchifedec's Priesthood, differ from the
CH A P. Priesthood of the Order of Aaron; and there
fore I shall proceed to enquire in the
III. THIRD Place, Why and how Jesus was called an High Priest after the Order of Melchifedec.
Where I shall shew,
1. What Reason there was for changing the Priesthood.
2. How, or in what Respects, that Change was made
1. The Reason of the Change, the holy Penman expresly tells us, was, because there was no Perfection by the Levitical Priesthood; if there had, then indeed there would have been no Need that another Priest Nould rise after the Order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the Order of Aaron; under which Order or Priesthood the People received the Law, chap. vii. 11. and which therefore ought to have been continued, amongst the Jews at least, if Perfection could have been obtained or procured by it. But the Law (and the Priesthood appointed by the Law) could make nothing perfe&t, ver. 19.
The Law having a Shadow of good Things to come, and not the very Image of the Things, could never with those Sacrifices that they offered,
Tear by rear continually, make the Comers SER M. thereunto perfect, chap. x. 1. i. e. it could not perfectly expiate their Sins. For a perfect Expiation consists in the Remissioni not only of some smaller Sins, but of all in general, even of the groffest: And in a Remission that discharges them, not only from some temporal Punishment due to them in this World; but also from the eternal Punishment incurred in the World to come, In these Things the true Perfection of Men consists in the Sight of God; and for the obtaining of such Perfe&tion, a Priesthood is principally wanted. And yet such Perfection the Priesthood according to the Order of Aaron could not procure. That could only expiate or do away some light Transgressions ; Sins of Ignorance or Infirmity; and those only with respect to some temporary Punishments they might expect to befal them in this Life, Sins of a more heavy and grievous Nature, and such as the Law had threatned with Death, it could by no Means expiate; nor even remit the eternal Punishment of Sins of any kind whatever. Persons that had contracted a legal Defilement, the Jewish Priesthood could so far expiate, as to qualify them again to be present at the legal Service of the Temple ; VOL. II.
SER M. but it could by no Means open to them a
Way into the heavenly Temple above, or assure
When he was come, who
Commandment going before, and that for the SE
R M. Weakness and Unprofitableness thereof, chap. vii. 18. It was weak in not being able to do what was expected and fought for from it : And that Weakness of Course rendered it unprofitable, i. e. of no Use, and therefore fit to be abolished. For this Reason, I say, or rather the holy Penman says, There was a disannulling of the Law, which could make nothing perfect : But in the Rocm of it, the Bringing in of a better Hope, by the which we draw nigh unto God, ver. 19. i. e. It was succeeded by the New Covenant and Priesthood of Christ, which was able perfectly to expiate our Sins, and to introduce us thoroughly reconciled to God.
This Reason and Necessity was there for a Change in the Priesthood : And so advantageous and happy was the Change that was wrought. Let us therefore now enquire, in the
2. Second Place, In what Respects the Change was made, or how Christ was a Priest after the Order of Melchisedec, more than after the Order of Aaron.
The first Difference I shall note is the least material ; because it only relates to his Tribe, to a particular Line or Family of Men from which he sprang. He was of the Seed of