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the dead, and the prince of the kings of the eartha ; and then, as follows“, hath made us kings and priests unto God the Father.
A royal priesthood.] That the dignity of believers is expressed by these two together, by priesthood and royalty, teaches us the worth and excellency of that holy function taken properly, and so .by analogy, the dignity of the ministry of the gospel which God hath placed in his church, instead of the priesthood of the law; for therefore doth this title of spiritual priesthood fitly signify a great privilege and honour that christians are promoted to, and is joined with that of kings, because the proper office of priesthood was so honourable. Before it was established in one family, the chief, the firstborn of each family had right to this, as a special honour; and amongst the heathens in some places, their princes and greatest men, yea their kings were their priests, and universally the performing of their holy things, was an employment of great honour and esteem amongst them. Though human ambition hath strained this consideration too high, to the favouring and founding of a monarchical prelacy in the christian world, yet that abuse of it ought not to prejudge us of this due and just consequence from it, that the holy functions of God's house have very much hongur and dignity in them, And the apostle we see', prefers the ministry of the gospel to the priesthood of the law. So then they mistake much that think it a disparagement to men that have some advantage of birth or wit more than ordinary, to bestow them thus, and judge the meanest persons and things good enough for this high calling. Sure this conceit cannot have place, but in an unholy, irreligious mind, that hath either very mean thoughts of God, or none. If they that are called to this holy service, would themselves consider this aright, it would not puff them up, but humble them; comparing their own worthlessness with this great work, they would wonder at God's dispensation, that a Rev. i. v, byer. 6.
2 Cor. iii.
should thus have honoured them, as St. Paul in this connection speaks of himself, as less than the least of all saints': So the more a man rightly extols this his calling, the more he humbles himself under : the weight of it, which should make ministers
very careful to walk more suitably to it in eminency of holiness; for in that consists the true dignity of it.
There is no doubt that this kingly priesthood is 'the common dignity of all believers, this honour have all the saints; they are kings, have victory and dominion given them over the powers of darkness and the lusts of their own hearts, that held them captive, and domineered over them before. Base slavishi lusts, not born to command, yet are the hard taskmasters of unrenewed minds; and there is no true subduing them, but by the power and Spirit of Christ. They may be quiet for a while in a natural man, but they are then but asleep; as soon as they awake again, they return to hurry, and drive him with their wonted violence. Now this is the benefit of receiving the kingdom of Christ into a man's heart, that it makes him a king himself. All the subjects of Christ are kings, not only in regard of that pure crown of glory they hope for, and shall certainly attain; but in the present, they have a kingdom, that is the pledge of that other, overcoming the world and satan and themselves, by the power of faith. Mens bona regnum possidet, it is true; but there is no mind truly good, but that wherein Christ dwells. There is not any kind of spirit in the world so noble as that spirit that is in a christian, the very Spirit of Jesus Christ that great king, the Spirit of glory, as our apostle calls it below This is a sure way to ennoble the basest and poorest among us; this royalty takes away all attainders, and leaves nothing of all that is past to be laid to our charge, or to dishonour us.
They are not shut out from God, as they were before; but being in Christ are brought near unto him, d Eph. iij. 8.
• Chap. iv. :
and have free access to the throne of his graces. They resemble in their spiritual state the legal priesthood very clearly, 1. In their consecration: 2. In their service: and 3. in their laws of living.
1. In their consecration. The levitical priests were washed; therefore this is expressed", He hath washed us in his blood, and then follows, made us kings and priests. There was no coming near unto God in his holy services as his priests, unless we were cleansed from the guiltiness and pollution of our sins. This that pure and purging blood doth, and it alone: no other laver can do it; no water but that fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness'. No blood, none of all that blood of legal sacrifices, but only the blood of that spotless lamb that takes away the sins of the world'. So with this, 2. We have that other ceremony of the priest's consecration, which was by sacrifice, as well as by washing; for Christ at once offered up himself as our sacrifice, and let out his blood for our washing, and with good reason is that prefixed there", He hath loved us, and then it follows, washed us in his blood. That precious stream of his heart-blood that flowed, for our washing, told clearly that it was a heart full of unspeakable love that was the source of it. 3. There is anointing, namely, the graces of the Spirit, conferred upon believers, flowing unto them from Christ: For it is of his fulness that we all receive, grace for grace", and the apostle St. Paul says', that we are established and anointed in Christ : It was poured on him as our head, and runs down from him unto us. He is Christ, and we are Christians, as partakers of his anointing. The consecrating oil of the priests was made of the richest ointments and spices, to shew the preciousness of the graces of God's Spirit that are bestowed on those spiritual priests; and as that holy oil was not for common use, nor for any other persons to be anointed withal, save the priests only, so is the Spirit of & Heb. x. 21, 22. h Rev. i. 5. i Zech. xiii. 1. kJleb. ix. 12. John i. 29. m Rev. i. 5. * John i. 16. 02 Cor. i. ?1 grace a peculiar gift to believers. Others might have costly ointments amongst the Jews, but none of that same sort with the consecration-oil. Natural men may have very great gifts of judgment, and learning, and eloquence, and moral virtues; but they have none of this precious oil, namely, the Spirit of Christ communicated to them: no, all their endowments are but common and profane. That holy oil signified particularly eminency of light and know
ledge in the priests; therefore in christians there i. must be light. They that are grossly ignorant of
spiritual things are surely not of this order; this anointing is said to teach us all things P. That holy oil was of a most fragrant sweet smell, by reason of its precious composition; but much more sweet is the smell of that spirit wherewith believers are anointed: Those several odoriferous graces, that are the ingredients of their anointing oil, that heavenly mindedness, and meekness, and patience, and humility, and the rest, that diffuse a pleasant scent into the places and societies where they come; their words, actions and their deportment smelling sweet of them. 4. Their garments wherein they were inaugurate, and which they were after to wear in their services, are outshined by that purity and holiness wherewith all the Saints are adorned; but more by that imputed righteousness of Christ, those pure robes that are put upon them, wherein they appear before the Lord, and are accepted in his sight. These priests are indeed cloathed with righteousness, according to that of the Psalmist”.
5. They were to have the offerings put into their hands; from thence, filling of the hand, signifies consecrating to the priesthood. And thus doth Jesus Christ, that is the consecrator of these priests, put into their hands by his Spirit these offerings they are to present unto God. He furnishes them with prayers, and praises, and all other oblations, that are to be offered by them; he gives them themselves, that they are to offer a living sacrifice, 'resP 1 Joh. ii, 27.
9 Psal. cxxxii. 9.
before that are that of the Ferings pusd. sign
cuing them from the usurped possession of satan and sin.
2dly, Let us consider their services, which were divers; to name the chief, 1. They had charge of the sanctuary, and the vessels of it, and the lights, and were to keep the lamps burning. Thus the heart of every christian, is made a temple to the Holy Ghost, and he himself, as a priest consecrated unto God, is to keep it diligently, and the furniture of divine grace in it; to have the light of spiritual knowledge within him, and to nourish it by drawing continually new supplies from Jesus Christ. 2dly, They were to bless the people, and truly it is this spiritual priest-hood, the elect, that procure blessings upon the rest of the world, and particularly on the places where they live; they are daily to offer the incense of prayer, and other spiritual sacrifices unto God, as the Apostle expresseth it above, verse 5, not to neglect those holy exercises together, and apart. And as the priests offered not only for themselves, but for the people: Thus christians are to extend their prayers, and intreat the blessings of God for others, especially for the public estate of the church. As the Lord's priests, they are to offer up those praises to God, that are his due from the other creatures; which praise him indeed, yet cannot do it after that manner, as these priests do. Therefore they are to offer as it were their sacrifices for them, as the priests did for the people, and because the most of men neglect to do this, and cannot do it indeed because they are unholy, and not of this priesthood; therefore should they be so much the more careful of it, and diligent in it. How few of these, whom the Heavens call
to by their light and revolution that they enjoy, do offer that sacrifice which becomes them, by acknowledging the glory of God which the Heavens declare". This therefore is as it were, put into the hands of these priests, namely, the Godly, to do. 3dly, Let us consider their course of life. We
* Psal. xix. 1.