He can

lification was required in the Aaronical priests, and was possessed by our Lord and Saviour. As to the first of these points, the words of the apostle are abundantly explicit. He describes a high priest as "one who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them who are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity."

Our New Testament High-priest possesses this qualification in the highest degree of excellence. He was

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefs.” He experienced almost every human pain. He can succour the tempted. He knows what strong temptations mean,

for he has felt their force. soothe our sorrows, for he has himself been “exceeding sorrowful.” He can dry the streaming eye, and quiet the throbbing breast, for he has wept and been in agony.

He can support and console the dying, for he has died; and “by dying destroyed him that has the power of death.” “ It behoved him to be in all things made like into his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High-priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people : for in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour those who are tempted.” Every Aaronical priest, though from his dignified station he must have been personally unacquainted with many of the sorrows of man, might have said, in the language of the Heathen poet, man, and nothing which concerns humanity is indifferent to me * But certainly in tenderness of compassion, and extent of experience of human woe, the Highpriest of our profession far transcends them all.

3d, The third point of resemblance between our Saviour and the Aaronical priests, is to be found in the nature, design, and efficacy of his priestly functions.

« I am a

* Hómo sum, nihil humani alicnum puto.—TER.

The functions of the Aaronical priesthood were entirely of a spiritual nature. They were entrusted with the management, not of the secular, but of the sacred interests of their brethren. “ They were ordained for men, in things pertaining to God.In like manner, Jesus as a high priest was the authorized agent of his people with God, in reference to all their interests as moral and accountable, guilty and depraved beings.

The three principal parts of the priestly office, are the offering of sacrifice-the interceding for the people on the ground of this sacrifice—and the authoritatively blessing them in the name of the Lord. The Aaronical priests presented many sacrifices, expiatory and eucharistic. And, “as every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices, it was of necessity that this man should have somewhat to offer.” His human nature was intended to answer this purpose among others. “When he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me.” This holy human nature he actually offered in sacrifice. He “gave himself for us, an offering, and a sacrifice, of a sweet-smelling savour.”

Besides offering sacrifice, the Aaronical high-priests, on the ground of their sacrifice, made intercession for the sins of the people. Once a year, as the representative of those with the management of whose spiritual interests he was intrusted, the high-priest, with the blood of the sacrifice of atonement, entered within the veil, and sprinkled with blood the mercy-seat, and burnt incense, as an emblem of fervent supplication. In like manner did our Lord make intercession. “In the days of his flesh he offered up prayers,


supplications, with strong crying and tears, to him who was able to save him from death."

“ Christ being come, a high-priest of good things to come, by a great

er and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is not of this building ; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” “ He ever liveth to make interces. sion for those who come to God by him.”

Blessing was the third part of the priest's office. This is the only sacerdotal act that we read of as performed by Melchisedec, after whose order Jesus was a priest. “ Aaron also was separated to bless the people in the name of the Lord.” And we are told, when he entered on the discharge of his sacred functions, that “he lifted up his hands towards the people, and blessed them.” Our Redeemer began his sermon on the mount with benediction. When he left the world, he left it in the act of blessing his people. “He led out his disciples as far as Bethany, and lifted up his hands and blessed them.” And “God having raised him from the dead, has sent him to bless us, in turning every one from his iniquities.”

The design of the priestly functions, in the case of our Lord and the Aaronical priests, was substantially the same.

They were both appointed “to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin.” To remove guilt and its consequences was equally the design of both, though the Jewish priesthood had a reference to ceremonial guilt and temporal punishment; and the priesthood of our Lord had a reference to moral guilt and everlasting destruction.

In the efficacy of his sacerdotal functions also, our Lord resembled the Aaronical priesthood. The decla. ration of the apostle, “that it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take has sometimes been explained as if it asserted the total inefficacy of the Levitical sacrifices; while the truth is, it only asserts their inefficacy to remove moral guilta

away sins,"

[ocr errors]

They made even no permanent atonement for ceremonial offences. But so far as they were intended to be efficacious, they were so.

For the offences on account of which they were offered, considered as a violation of the ceremonial law, they made a complete atonement. The person for whom they were offered, according to the due order, was, with respect to the particular offence expiated, as if he had never committed it. He was completely secured from the punishment which otherwise must have fallen


him. With similar limitations, the intercessions of the Levitical priesthood were also effectual.

Now, the priestly functions of our Lord have fully answered the purpose for which they were designed. His sacrifice was a sacrifice of a sweet smelling savour to God.It has “finished transgression, and made an end of sin, and brought in an everlasting righteousness." It has “perfected for ever all them that are sanctified." His intercession is uniformly prevalent. “ Him the Father heareth always." And he whom he blesses, is blessed indeed.

4th, In fine, in the strict appropriation of the sacerdotal functions to himself, Jesus resembles the Aaronical priesthood.

It was an act of sacrilege for any Israelite, even of the tribe of Levi, to perform any of the functions peculiar to the priesthood. When Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, rebelled against Moses and Aaron, insisting that all the congregation was holy; on the Divine decision being solemnly appealed to, the earth opened and swallowed these sacrilegious intruders, and their brazen censers were made broad plates for a covering of the altar, to be a memorial unto the children of Israel, that no stranger, who is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before the Lord.” When Uzziah, one of the most powerful of the Jewish

kings, attempted to burn incense on the altar, he was forced from the holy place by Azariah the high priest and his brethren ; and Jehovah sanctioned the holy violence of his servant, by smiting the monarch with an incurable leprosy.

In like manner, no person can, without the most imminent hazard, intrude upon the peculiar functions of the High-priest of our profession. They are strictly appropriated to himself. He, and he alone, can make atonement for sin, intercede for others on the ground of his own merits, and authoritatively bless them. Whoever attempts to substitute any thing in the place of his atoning sacrifice, and prevalent intercession, incurs the Divine indignation, and, if he persists, will draw down upon himself swift destruction. Had any Israelite attempted to substitute repentance and refor. mation in the room of the appointed sacrifice, or presented the sacrifice himself, instead of employing the sons of Aaron, far from gaining the remission of his sin, he would have involved himself in deeper guilt. And thus the sinner, who, instead of "submitting to the righteousness of God, goes about to establish his own righteousness," instead of obtaining pardon, com. mits a new and most aggravated transgression. He usurps the place of our great High Priest; and if he perseveres, for him “there remaineth no more sacris fice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgement, which shall devour the adversaries,” the leading points of resemblance between Jesus as a High Priest, and the Aaronical priesthood. And from the

cursory view we have taken of them, it must be obvious that Jesus hath obtained a more excellent mi. nistry

Such are

II. The supeRIORITY of Jesus Christ as a HighPriest above the Aaronical priesthood, will, however,

« 前へ次へ »