« IndietroContinua »
sons of Levi) received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him." Besides, ayevfttAoyjjros cannot refer to Melchizedeck's having no natural genealogy, or natural father and mother; but the Apostle says, "whose descent, (or register,) was not counted after the manner of the sons of Levi." For his deficiency in this kind of priestly genealogy, or descent from any sacerdotal family, is mentioned as one instance of his resemblance to Christ, whose genealogy is particularly traced both by Matthew and Luke, as not having descended from a sacerdotal family, but as having sprung from Judah, of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning the priesthood. See Parkhurs^s Gr. Lex. This is also rendered very clear in the Syriac version of the testament, which is one of the most ancient, and was in use when Peter was at Aiitioch. It is there said, "whose father and mother were not written in their genealogies," viz. in the genealogies of the priests, for all the families of the priests, as well as those of other tribes, from Jacob, were written in their genealogies, which were kept in the temple. But as this method of registering the families by their names, and tribes, had its formal beginning under Moses, there could be no account given of Melchizedeck, who lived 500 years before the commencement of the priesthood of Aaron. That there was a priesthood established for the worship of the most high God, consequently a dispensation prior to that of the Jewish, is also evident from various parts of scripture. We read that, when the Hebrews came out of Egypt, Jethro the father-in-law of Moses was a priest of Midian, and offered sacrifice, at which Moses and Aaron attended, with all the elders of Israel. Exod. xviii. 12. which proves that Jethro was a priest of the most high God, as well as Melchizedeck. After the time of Moses, we find that this very .an.
cient order was frequently adopted. Samuel governed Israel, who officiated in the priestly office. Nor was this order of Melchizedeck, confined to these ancient people; it was also the order of the heathen nations to the time of Cicero, who, though he filled the office of the greatest temporal power in the world, viz. the consulate, wa3 also a priest. It is also written, that Job, who lived in the lime of Moses, and who was the king of Idumca, was employed in the priestly office. Ch. i. 5.
We also find that the holy sacrament was instituted in the most ancient church, before the establishment of the Israelitish church, and that the bread and wine were used as sacred symbols; Christ commanded the Apostles to observe it, when "he took bread and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
Deists have frequently amused themselves by attempting to show that there was no necessity for any thing of this nature; and have concluded that if there had, water would have been more proper than wine, as coming pure from the Creator. But they should have recollected, that the scripture treats concerning the inward and spiritual state of man ; that this state cannot be obtained without passing through trials, troubles, combats and fightings within, against "the sins which do most oasily beset us;" and that by this combat, a new life is .«fiven, agreeably to the words of Christ, "the kingdom oi'heaven is in you." Wine, therefore, was commanded to be used as a proper type, or figure, to represent this new life, having undergone a fermentation, altogether incomprehensible in its nature, by which a pure natural spirit, or vivifying power is generated. It was therefore a more proper subject than water, to signify the sacred leaven of that divine power, which works in the hearts and souls of all who obey the commands of God, and endeavour to keep a conscience void of offence towards man.
From this, we may observe, that Christ was not a priest after the order of Aaron, who was a priest descended from the tribe of Levi, the priesthood being confined to that tribe; but he was a priest after the order of Melchizedeck, in whose person, and in all the priests of that and the first patriarchal order, the kingly or magisterial, and the priestly, offices were united.
It may be satisfactory to the reader to know, that, at the time of Abraham,
THE WORSHIP OF THE SERPENT
Was the worship of the Chaldeans, from which nation he was called to promulgate the worship of God. A serpent in the Egyptian language is called Oub; and as the language of Babel, or Chaldee, was originally-the same as that of Egypt, Oub in the Chaldee dialect had the same meaning. Thus we find that Moses, who was born in Egypt, says, Lev. xx. 27. "A man also, or a woman that hath a (om6,) familiar spirit, or that is a wizard." Here the translators have rendered the word Oub, 'familiar spirit,' but which should have been translated serpent. Ch. xx. 9. And the soul "that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them;" or " who go worshipping after them," a term used to signify a departure from the worship of God, in allusion to departing from virtue, but which in the original Hebrew is, "and the soul that turneth after such as have (Oboth) female serpents."— Deut. xviii. 11. or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits. In Hebrew, the noun is singular, viz. or a consulter with (Oh) a serpent.—1 Sam. xxviii. 3. "And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits." In the Hebrew, "And Saul had put away those that had (Oboth) female serpents."—Ver. 7. "And Saul said unto his servants, seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit." In Hebrew, "that hath (Ob) a serpent."—Ver. 9. "how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits." In the original, "that have (Oboth) female serpents."—2 Kings, xxi. 6. "and dealt with familiar spirits." In Hebrew, •• and dealt with (Ob) a serpent," in the singular.—Ch. xxiii. 24. "Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the idols." In Hebrew, "moreover, (Oboth) the female serpents, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols."—2 Chron. xxxiii. 6. "and dealt with a familiar spirit." In Hebrew, "and dealt with (Ob) a serpent.
The apocryphal scriptures are in conformity with the above, for in the narrative which is given concerning the destruction of the idol, Bel and the Dragon, by Daniel, or as it should be rendered, Bel's Dragon, or BePs Serpent, we have a satisfactory reason given, why he was cast into the den of lions. Daniel had convinced the king, that the worship of this creature was inconsistent with reason, and that he had been imposed on by the priests of this serpent temple; he therefore undertook to destroy the serpent idol.* This being accomplished, the people finding that their religion was in danger of being destroyed, demanded Daniel, and the king reluctantly delivered him up to appease their wrath, and he
* See Apociyph. c. v.
was cast into the den of lions. That this was the principal cause, will appear, if we attend to the book of Daniel; for we there find that idolatry was at this time abolished. The circumstance, however, of being cast into the den, is assigned to no other cause, but that of his worshipping God, and refusing to obey the impious decree of the idolatrous Babylonians. But it is remarkable that both these causes, viz. the destruction of the Dragon Serpent, in the apocrypha, and the non-compliance of Daniel, are said to be at the same period of the history.
It is reasonable to conclude, that the lords of Babylon, who themselves had been accustomed to all that pomp and splendor, which was displayed in their idol worship, and to which they had been brought up from their infancy, were partial to it; and seeing also the effect, which the destruction of their idols had on the superstitious Chaldeans, craftily prevailed on the king to sign a decree, that whoever should ask a petition of any god, or man, save of the king, for thirty days, should be cast into the den of lions; Dan. vi. 7. 8. By this they knew that they should entrap Daniel, that they should be revenged on him for the insult offered to the religion of their fathers, and thus appease the rage of the people. This shows us how valuable the apocryphal scriptures are, for confirming and explaining many particulars in the prophetical books. For here we have the cause of Daniel's being cast into the den of lions, viz. because he had destroyed their idol, and had convinced the king of the folly and wickedness of idolatrous worship; the particulars of which do not appear in the book of Daniel.
In the time of the kings of Israel, the worship of the serpent, which was then the polite worship of the eastern nations, was observed among them; 2 Kings, xviii. 4. •' He removed the high places, and brake the images.