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ing the priesthood of the Messiah. May the Lord prepare your heart to receive Christ crucified, as the wisdom and power of God unto salvation.
JESUS A PRIEST AND SACRIFICE.
Dear Brother Benjamins
§ 1. It is a long time since I received a letter from you. I am very desirous to know your opinion on the important subject of my last letters. To guilty and depraved sinners, what can be of greater importance than the atoning sacrifice of the Messiah, and the application of that precious blood, which was shed for the remission of sin, upon our heart, to purge our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God? To this subject I would once more invite your attention. Having, at considerable length, shown that the Messiah was to be a priest, and that he was to offer up himself, in body and soul, by suffering and dying as a vicarious sacrifice, I will now endeavor to show that Jesus of Naza. reth was such a priest, and that he offered such a sacrifice. And may you and I,
dear Benjamin, and whoever may read these letters, realize and experience the truth of the following beautiful remark: As the sun paints the clouds with variety of glorious colors, which, in their own nature, are but dark and lowering vapors exhaled from the earth; so, when the Sun of Righteousness arises, even the carnal ordinances and commandments of the law, dark and earthly as they seem, are gilded by his beams, and wear a smiling
appearance. By his kindly influence, who is the light of the world, the most barren places of the Scripture rejoice, and blossom as the rose. What portion of sacred writ is more apt to be perused without edification and delight, than what relates to the Levitical priesthood; the qualifications of their persons, their apparel, their consecration, and different parts of their functions ? And, indeed, it must be confessed a very
hard task to reconcile, with the wisdom of God, the enjoining such numberless rites, purely for their own sake. But when we consider that Aaron and his successors were figures of our great High Priest, we must acknowledge that these injunctions are neither unworthy of God, nor useless to man; but are profitable for doctrine, and instruction in righteousness." M'Ewen.
§ 2. All that was excellent in Aaron and his successors, and all that was useful in the sacrifices, is to be found in Jesus Christ, but in all things he was infinitely superior both to the priests and their oblations. In illustrating and confirming this proposition, I shall appeal more frequently to the Epistle to the Hebrews, than to any other part of the Bible. It hath often been observed, that this epistle seems to have been written, in a particular manner, to elucidate the nature of the priesthood. The subject indeed, as to the substance of it, is hinted at in other passages of the New Testament; but yet, if we may so say, more sparingly than, perhaps, any other doctrine of like importance. The Holy Ghost seems to have reserved it for this epistle. And allow me, dear brother, to recommend it to your serious and careful perusal; yea, would to God that cur brethren would candidly read it. How desirable that the same end might be accomplished amongst our people, as that which it was designed to effect, when it was first written and addressed to the Hebrews. It evidently appears that the author's design was to prove what our learned doctors, and scribes, and elders in Jerusalem strongly denied; namely, that Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had lately put to death, is Christ, the son of God, and that the Gospel, of which Jesus is both the subject and the author, is of divine original, and universal obligation. In this letter, all the arguments and objections by which those who put Jesus to death endeavored to set his claim aside and overturn the Gospel, are introduced, examined, and confuted; his title and authority, as a lawgiver, to abolish the institutions of Moses, and to substitute the Gospel dispensation in their room, is established; the absolute inefficacy of the Levitical atonements to procure the pardon of sin, is demonstrated; the reality of the sacririce of himself, which Christ offered for sin, together with its efficacy and its acceptableness to God, are clearly proved. And on all these considerations the unbelieving brethren were exhorted to forsake the law of Moses and embrace the Gospel;
and such of our nation as had embraced it, were cautioned against apostacy.
§ 3. Let us first consider the person of Jesus Christ an. swerable to that of the high priest.
Here we shall notice his descent and qualifications, his call, his dress, and his consecration. To most of these the apostle had a reference in the following few verses: “Every high priest taken from among men, is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron: so also Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest; but he that said unto him, thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedek.” Heb. 5:1-6.
§ 4. 1. With respect to the descent and qualifications of the high priest. According to the law of Moses, every high priest was to be of the stock of Israel, the tribe of Levi, and the family of Aaron, having his genealogy well attested.
his body sound, and his life temperate. In this respect Jesus Christ is not a whit behind Aaron and his successors. Of him it is testified that he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham; and as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” Heb. 2 : 14–16. This was necessary, else he could not have been a fit Mediator between God and man. He must be our kinsman by nature, before he could be our Goel or Redeemer by office. It must indeed be acknowledged that he was neither of the tribe of Levi nor of the family of Aaron; for “it is evident our Lord sprang out of Judah, and Moses says nothing of the priesthood belonging to that tribe," Heb. 7: 14; and this indeed disqualified him from officiating in the temple, yet it does not in the least infer his incapacity to be a priest of a higher order than that of Aaron, even after the order of Melchisedek, who joined in one person the priest and the king.
With respect to this "wonderful man,” many things are concealed which are too curiously inquired after, and those things which are revealed, are "hard to be understood.” Let it suffice to mention, that in the order of Aaron were many priests, who, like other mortals, resigned their breath by the stroke of death, and their priestly honor was laid in the dust with them. We know from whence they arose; with what carnal ordinances and ceremonies they received their inaugurations; what sacrifices they offered; in what holy places they officiated; who assisted them in their various functions, and who succeeded them when they died. But Jesus, the priest after the “order of Melchisedek,” being possessed of immortal life, and called of God, without external ceremonies, to his high office, himself was the sacrifice, himself was the altar, himself was his tabernacle and temple, assisted by none, nor succeeded by any. Of him alone can it be said to have neither beginning of days, nor end of life. Being set up from everlasting, he abideth a priest continually : for, though he died, yet, even in death, he was
a priest ; and now “ he ever liveth to make intercession for his people.” But to return.
$ 5. Like Aaron, our Jesus was taken from among men, and was an Hebrew of the Hebrews, and no priest could cver boast of such illustrious pedigree as he: which of them all was born of a virgin ? and " to which of them said God at any time, thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee ?" Again, the soundness of their bodies was infinitely surpassed by the integrity and perfection of the soul of our blessed Savior. This was absolutely necessary, for the least deformity here had rendered him utterly incapable of propitiating the Deity by the sacrifice of himself; for, " such an High Priest became us, who was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” Heb. 7: 26 and "a lamb without blemish, and without spot,” even in the pure eyes of God.
One of the most important qualifications of the high priest was to be able to minister between God, and men in such a manner as to be impartial and faithful toward the justice and truth of God, and not to be overruled by his love to men, to injure Him; and to be compassionate and merciful toward the errors of men, and not to be overruled by his zeal to God's justice, to give over the care and service of them. Such a high priest is Jesus, our Emmanuel; zealous for his Father's righteousness and glory; for he was "set forth to declare the righteousness of God," Rom. 3:25; and he did glorify him on the earth, by finishing the work which he had given him to do, John, 17 : 4; and he was compassionate toward the errors and miseries of his people, for he was appointed to expiate and to remove them out of the way, Col. 2:14. Hence, although he was to endure all sinles. infirmities; such as hunger, thirst, weariness, pain, sufferings, temptations, revilings, slanders, &c. that having experience and sense of these things, he might know how to have compassion on others. Heb. 4:15.
$ 6.2. The call of the high-priest is the next thing which invites our attention. This call was as necessary as his per