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N. B. The remainder of the expofition of the fifth com-
DOCTRINES of the CHRISTIAN RELIGION, with respect to both FAITH and PRACTICE,
UPON THE PLAN OF
The ASSEMBLY'S SHORTER CATECHISM.
Of Chrift's priestly Office,
HEBREWS vii. 17.
Thou art a Prieft for ever, after the order of Melchifedec.
T is evident from the context, that the a poftle is fpeaking of Christ as a Prieft, applying to him this paffage taken from Pfal. Cx. 4. Thou art a Priet for ever after the order of Melchifedek. Where two things are propofed. 1. That he is indeed a Priet, whofe bufinefs it is to offer facrifices. 2. That he is fo after the order of Melchifedec; noting thereby the fimilitude betwixt the two, the one being a notable type of the other. This likeness confifts not in an unbloody facrifice, that of bread and wine which Melchifedec brought forth to Abraham when he returned from the flaughter of the kings who had taken Sodom and Gomorrah; but, (1.) In the name, Chrift being the true King of righVOL. II.
teoufnefs, and King of peace, in which refpect Melchifedec was only a type of him, Heb. vii. 2. (2.) Ín their original, ver. 3. Melchifedec is reprefented as without father, without mother, without defcent, having no beginning of days; nothing being recorded of his birth and parentage, he is like an immortal. In this he was a notable type of Chrift, who had no father as man, no mother as God, was God himself from eternity, and his goings forth were of old, from everlasting. (3.) In their continuance, becaufe Melchifedec's death is no where recorded, ver. 8. ; but is reprefented as one who who liveth. So Chrift our High Prieft liveth for ever to make interceffion for us. (4-) In their office. Melchifedec was prieft of the most high God, and king of Salem, or Jerufalem. So Chrift is a Prieft, who offered himself a facrifice to God, and he is conftituted King of Zion, of the church. (5.) In respect of unity. Melchifedec is fet forth as having neither predeceffor nor fucceffor in his office. So Chrift was fet up to be a Prieft from everlafting, and is reprefented as a lamb flain from the foundation of the world; and the facrifice that he offered being perfect, there is no more occafion for any other priefts, and he has no fucceffor, having an unchangeable and perpetual priesthood. (6.) In refpect of dignity; Melchifedec being propofed as greater than Abraham. So Chrift is greater than both: for he faid, Before Abraham was, I am. Thus Chrift is a Prieft, and that for ever, In this office is contained the grand relief of poor fouls diftreffed and perplexed with the guilt and burden of their fins. When all other remedies have been tried in vain, it is the blood of the facrifice of Chrift, fprinkled by faith upon the trembling confcience, that muft cool and refresh, and fweetly compofe and fettle it.
The doctrine arifing from the text is,
DocT." Chrift executeth the office of a Prieft, in "his once offering himfelf a facrifice to fatisfy divine. juice, and reconcile us to God, and in making "continual interceffion for us."
In difcourfing from this doctrine, I fhall,
1. Shew that Chrift is truly and properly a Prieft. II. Explain the nature of Chrift's prieftly office. III. Make fome practical improvement.
I. I am to fhew that Chrift is truly and properly a Prieft. This is evident, if we confider, 1. That the fcripture holds him forth as fuch, Pfal. cx. 4. and Heb. v. and other places of that epittle. 2. Because he exercises the acts of the prieftly oflice, in offering facrifice, and praying for his people. 3. Because he was typified by fuch as were really priests, as all the Levitical priests, and Melchifedec.
Queft. Wherein did Chritt's prieftly office differ from the priestly office under the ceremonial law?
1. The priests under the law were priests after the order of Aaron; 'but Chrift is a Prieft after the order of Melchifedec. Who this Melchifedec was, it is in vain to inquire, and cannot poffibly be known; the Holy Ghoft defignedly concealing his genealogy, be ginning and ending, and defcent, that fo he might be a fitter type of Chrift and his everlafting priesthood, He was like a man dropt from the clouds, and at lait caught up again, and none knew how, It is faid of him, Heb. vii. 3. that he was without father, without mother, without defcent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually. Now, Chrift was a Prieft after the order of this Melchifedec, not by a corporeal unction, legal ceremony, or the intervening act of a hu man ordination, but by a divine and heavenly inttitution, and immediate 'unction of the Spirit of life, in that extraordinary manner, whereby he was to be both King and Prieft unto God, as Melchifedec was, Heb. vi. 16. He was not a Prieft after the order of Aaron, because the law made nothing perfect, but was weak and unprofitable; and therefore was to be abothed, and to give place to another priesthood. Men were not to reit in it, but to be led by it to him who
was to abolish it, Heb. vii. 11. 12. The miniftry and promises of Chrift were better than thofe of the law; and therefore his priesthood, which was the office of difpenfing them, was to be more excellent too, Heb. viii. 6. For when the law and covenant were to be abolished, the priesthood, in which they were establifhed, was likewife to die.
2. The priests under the law were finful men, and therefore offered facrifices for their own fins, as well as for the fins of the people, Heb, v. 3. But Chrift was holy, harmless, undefiled, feparate from finners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as thofe high priests, to offer up facrifice, first for his own fins, and then for the people's for this he did once, when be offered up himself, Heb, vii. 26. 27. He was perfectly pure and holy, and could ftand before God even in the eye of bis ftrict juftice, as a lamb without blemish and without spot. Though he made his foul an offering for fin, yet he had done no iniquity, neither was there any guile found in bis mouth. And indeed his facrifice had done us no good, had he been tainted with the leaft fin,
3. The priefts under the law were many, because they were mortal; death as an univerfal deluge was continually fweeping them off the ftage, But Chrift is a Prieft for ever, Pfal. cx. 4. Heb. yii. 23, This man continueth ever,
4. The priesthood under the law was changeable; but Chrift's priefthood is unchangeable. The legal difpenfation was to continue only for a time. It was but like the morning-ftar to uflier in the rifing fun, which fo foon as he appears in our horizon, it evanishes and fhrinks away, Heb. vii. 12. God confirmed this priesthood with an oath, Pfal. cx. 4. Heb. vii, 21. as well as a King, Thofe offices which were divided before between two familes, were both united and vefted in Chrift; this being abfolutely neceffary for the difcharge of his mediatory undertaking, and for the establishment of his kingdom, which being of another kind than the kingdoms of this world, even