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faithful guide will the house of God be governed and protected, till the office of Moses shall be superseded by that of Joshua, and he shall put them in possession of the good land which they have now in prospect.
The second capacity in which this epistle sets before us the Son of God, is that of our great Jdgkpriest, signified to us under the figures of the law by the two characters of Mdchizedec and Aaron.
It pleased God from the beginning of the world, as soon as the fall had given occasion to such a dispensation, to take from among men some person properly appointed, to make intercession for the rest; and thereby to keep up the expectation of a divine intercessor, who should make an atonement once for all by a sufficient and eternal sacrifice. The first eminent example the scripture gives us of such a person, is in the character of Melchizedec, who as priest of the most high God met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the Kings, and blessed him*. His priesthood was prior to that of the Mosaic law, and greater, because, as the apostle argued, Abraham shewed its superiority, by offering to this priest the tenth of the spoils, and taking his blessing. From Abraham the Levi
tical * Chap. vii. i.
tical priesthood descended; and the children. being inferior to the father, and the father inferior to this high priest, ir follows that the priesthood of the law was inferior to the priesthood of Melchizedec. From him Abraham received bread and wine; and the oath of God being the great sanction of the priesthood which administers this sacrament, it is thence evident, that the priesthood of the gospel, which Christ began, and continued and perpetuated, with its offering of bread and wine, is the only true priesthood; earlier than the priesthood of the law in time, and superior to it in dignity. Thus after the similitude of Melchizedec, there ariseth another priest, who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandtnent, but after the power of an endless life. For it appears by the apostles reasoning, that this Melchizedec was no human person ; inasmuch as he had no human descent, and it is essential to this order, that its priesthood should be unchangeable* and eternal.— Whence it must follow, that no mere man could ever be capable of the conditions of such a priesthood. There never could be more than one priest of the order; and that priest is
* Tbe Greek means such a priesthood as doth not pass from tnt person to another; so that there can be but »ne person of that order.
Christ himself; who, before the days of his flesh, exhibited to the Father of the faithful that ef. fectual priesthood, which should save the world; and made him a partaker of its benefits. All this doctrine the apostle has drawn out of the short account in the book of Genesis concerning the person of Melchizedec, and the oath spoken of in the 110th Psalm relating to his priesthood. In the person of Aaron, and the priesthood of the law, we have another standing memorial of the priesthood of Christ, which taught the people under a figure, that the true priest should do, once for all, what Aaron and his successors did year by year. The law had a shadow of the good things that were to come by the Gospel; and all its ceremonies and services were accommodated to shew the necessity and the effects of a better priesthood with better sacrifices. For first, the tabernacle itself was a pattern of an heavenly original: the directions given to Moses for the constructing of it imply that it was no more than a copy; and thus argues the apostle. The priests, says he, that offer gifts and sacrifices serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things; as Moses was admonished of God (or, according to the Greek, as Moses was divinely informed of God) when he was about to make the tabernacle; For, see saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. The heavenly substance of which this tabernacle was the shadow and pattern, is now exhibited to us under the gospel; and we may trace the lines of the true tabernacle if we attend to the form of that which represented it. The first part of the tabernacle, in which the daily ministrations were performed, was a figure of this world, in which temporary and mortal priests perform the services of God. Beyond the vail there was another tabernacle, called the holiest of all, or as the Hebrew speaks, the Holy of Holies. This sacred place was open only to the high priest, who entered into it with the blood of the yearly sacrifice. When Christ by his death, which rent the vail of the temple, had opened a way into the heavenly sanctuary, then was the truth of this yearly service accomplished, and he passed from officiating as a priest upon earth, to appear with the merits of his blood for us in heaven, before the presence of God. And thus the apostle explains it.— Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. In which words it is plainly implied, that he did truly once for all, what
Aaron the high priest did every year; therefore what Aaron did foreshewed what he should do; and if so, the person of Aaron was a figure of his person. That it was no more than a figure for the time then present, and that Aaron was not the true intercessor, which the people of God were taught to expect, was evident from the repetition of his sacrifices year by year* which shewed, that of themselves they were ineffe£hial: every succeeding yearly offering and atonement shewed the inefficacy of what had gone before. Supposing they had answered the end of propitiation, the apostle puts the question, would they not then have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins*, that is, they might have pleaded in the sight of God the effect of what had passed, if it had been effectual; but it was repeated continually; therefore it was not effectual; it was only descriptive or exhibitory of that sacrifice, which in the fulness of time should be effectual to the putting away of sin. And this reminds us of the difference between the high priest of the tabernacle, and the high priest of the true sanctuary; that the latter was both priest and sacrifice. And it was necessary he should be • so;
* Chap, x. 2.