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CONCERNING THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST.
OF THE ORIGIN OF CHRIST'S PRIESTHOOD.
si. The doctrine of Christ's priesthood is more sparingly taught
in other parts of scripture, but professedly in the Epistle to the Hebrews. 52. The importance of the subject, and the opposition made to it, justify a particular discussion. $3. Signification 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. 87. Nor could it have any proper sacrifice, 38. 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. (1.) 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. 829. End. $30. Conditions and limitations. $31. Con
clusion. $1. AMONGST
MONGST 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 reveVOL. I.
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, perhaps, 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 institutions, 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 (dugeppeyveulos) 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 (duovoyla Tive, 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,
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.
83. Our Lord Jesus Christ is, in the Old Testament, called (3475) 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 (lepeus, sacerdos.) In this epistle he is frequently said to be (vegeus and apXlepeus, 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 (legegyelv, sacerdotio fungi, or munus sacerdotale exercere) to be a priest, or to exercise the fice of the priesthood. The Septuagint mostly renderit by llegaleuw, sacerdotio fungor) to exercise the priestly office. Some would have the word to be ambiguous, 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
The word is. therefore, sacred; or is used properly only in a sacred sense.
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,
$4. He who was first called (305) 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 (Oulus) 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 (NUOUS) “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 (37) 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