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flicting on his own well beloved and only begotten Son, agonies which extorted from his lips these words of fearful emphasis : “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death! My God, my God! why hast thou forsaken me?" Surely, if the value of the sacrifice be a just criterion of the dignity of the priesthood, our Saviour has “obtained a more excellent ministry.”
5th, Jesus Christ is superior to the Aaronical priests in the excellence of the blessings procured by him in the exercise of his priestly office.
The Aaronical high-priesthood was a source of benefit, both to those who were invested with it, and to those on whose behalf they performed the sacerdotal functions. The high-priest, in consequence of his office, was elevated above all his brethren. His apparel was splendid,--his revenue princely, and his attendants numerous. His office was the most honourable known among the people of God, and he was admitted to intercourse with the Divinity peculiarly intimate.
But, how much more elevated are the honours, how much more rich are the blessings, which the “High Priest of our profession” has obtained for himself! He is “ a priest upon his throne.” “ Because he humbled himself,” in the offering of his sacrifice, “ and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, God has highly exalted him, and given him a name above every rame, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” God has presented him with the blessings of goodness. “He has set a crown of pure gold upon his head. His glory is great in God's salvation. Honour and majesty have been laid upon him. God has made him most blessed for ever ;-he has made him exceeding glad with his
countenance.” Because he poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors, and bare the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors, he sees his seed, he prolongs his days, and the pleasure of the Lord prospers in his hand. Jehovah apportions him the great as his reward; and he “receives the many as his spoil*.” Instead of being permitted once a year to contemplate the symbol of Deity in the material holy of holies, our New Testament High-Priest enters into heaven, and enjoys for ever the most intimate and uninterrupted communion with God. “ Christ being come, a High-Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, entered in unto the holy place: He is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us.”
The benefits procured by our Lord's performance of the functions of the priesthood for those in whose behalf he acts, are also incomparably more excellent than those secured for the Israelites by Aaron and his sons, in the discharge of their sacred duties. The Aaronical priesthood, by the performance of their sacred duties, obtained for the Israelitish people the remission of ceremonial guilt,—the removal of ceremonial pollution, and an exemption from the temporal evils to which these exposed them. They secured for them a right to mingle in the services of the sanctuary, and the peaceful enjoyment of the promised land.
These were, no doubt, blessings of very considerable value; but they shrink into nothing when compared
* Phil. ii. 8–11; Psal. xxi. 3–6; Isa. liii. 10–12.
with the benefits procured for sinful men, through the sacrifice and intercession of Christ Jesus.
A man might enjoy all these privileges, and yet perish for ever. But, through the priesthood of Jesus Christ, we obtain benefits large as our wishes, and lasting as our souls ;-benefits suited to our nature, as rational and immortal, and to our situation as guilty and depraved. “In him we have redemption through his blood--the forgiveness of sins." He has "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself,” so
" that there is now no more condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.” Through the priesthood of Christ, we obtain deliverance from moral pollution. By the mission, incarnation, and sacrifice of the Son of God, the power of sin over elect men is destroyed. “God, sending his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and a sin offering, condemned sin in the flesh, which the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh *.” The blood of Christ, who, through the Eternal Spirit, offered himself to God a sacrifice without spot, purges
the conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Through the priesthood of Christ we obtain complete and eternal exemption from the dreadful consequences of moral guilt and depravity. “Jesus delivereth us from the wrath to come.”
Nor is this all. He has obtained for us free access at all times, and in all circumstances, to the throne of mercy. Through “the new and living way, opened through the rent vail of his flesh, and consecrated" by his blood, may the sinner approach in the assured hope of pardon, and the saint in the joyful expectation of " finding grace to help in every time of need.” In
• Rom. vii. 3. περι αμαέλιας.
fine, through the priesthood of our Lord, is obtained for us the enjoyment of the Heavenly Canaan. It is in consequence of his being slain that men are redeemed to God, and admitted to the honours and joys of the celestial state. “Who are these that are arrayed in white robes, and whence came they? These are they who have come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither shall they thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and lead them unto living fountains of water, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." How much superior in excellence, then, are the benefits procured by the priesthood of our Lord, to those obtained by the Aaronical priesthood! Judging of the comparative dignity of the offices, by the comparative importance of their results, we must acknowledge, that Jesus has obtained a more excellent ministry.
6th, Jesus Christ is superior to the Aaronical priesthood in the duration of his office.
The individual priests of the order of Aaron, like the rest of their brethren, were of few days.” The office by no means conferred immortality on those who were invested with it. They truly,” says the apostle, “were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death.” And not merely were the individual priests mortal, but the institution itself was but temporary. It did not last above fifteen hundred years. Nearly eighteen centuries have elapsed since any descendant of Aaron performed
any of the priestly functions. The altars are
overthrown; the temple in which they ministered is levelled with the dust; and the sacred fire is extinguished for ever.
It is far otherwise with 'our New Testament High Priest. His mediatorial person is immortal, and his priestly character perpetual. “Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more: death hath no more dominion over him.” “ This man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” This was typified, under the former dispensation, by the priesthood of Melchizedec, whose predecessors and successors, both as a man and a priest, are concealed, for the express purpose of his shadowing forth the immortal life of the Messiah, and the perpetual duration of his priesthood. “For this Melchizedec, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him: To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being, by interpretation, king of righteousness, and after that also king of Salem, whic! is king of peace: Without father, without mother, with out descent, having neither beginning of days, nor en of life: but made like unto the Son of God, abideth priest continually. The law maketh men high priests who have infirmity ; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.”
It is true, indeed, that with respect to one of the leading functions of the priesthood, Jesus has long ceased to exercise it. I allude to the offering of sacria fice. “He was once," and but once, "offered to bear the sins of many." This, however, instead of detracting from, is one of the most powerful illustrations of the dignity and excellence of his ministry. The repetition of the Aaronical sacrifices was a proof of their