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IV.

LECT. which the prophets and the psalms had fet

before bim, for which he endured the cross and despised the shame of it. This is the priest who faith all these things : it was therefore declared to those who were una der the law, that there was another high priest, above him that ministered in the tabernacle or temple, by whose invisible ministration, the offerings of men were to be presented and made acceptable to God. So plain and direct is the doctrine of this psalm, that St. Peter, by an application of it to the person of Christ, converted three thousand souls at once.

As the words of the apostle above-mentioned, relating to the priesthood of Christ, are spoken with reference to the figures and prophecies of the old testament, it must have been declared therein that we should have a priest higher than the heavens : for that such an one became us, inasmuch as every other would have fallen short of what the scripture had testified by prophetical figns and prophetical words ; fome of which I am now to set before you.

Melchi.

IV.

Melchizedec was a sign of the priesthood LECT. of Christ; being not noly pries of the most high God, but also a king, a person of royal majesty, and in dignity superior to the greatest man upon earth, because he blessed the father of the faithful ; and the less is blessed of the greater. It follows there. fore from this character of Melchizedec, that to the holiness of the priesthood there should be added in the person of Christ the majesty of a king; even of such a king as should have a throne in heaven itself. For thus is this priest spoken of in the i1oth psalm: The Lord said unto my Lord, fit thou at my right hand: and in the subsequent verses of the psalm the same person is spoken unto as a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec : therefore the scripture, under the old covenant, gave notice of a priest who should fit at the right hand of God; and should of consequence be higher than the heavens. The argument from this psalm is every clear ; but what the scripture hath faid on the character and priesthood of Melchizedec is so important, and withal so mysterious,

that

H4

IV.

LECT. that the apostle hath a long and critical

discourse upon it in the epistle to the Hebrews; of which he himself gives us this as the sum : we have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the beavens.

The intercession of Christ as a priest in heaven was signified yearly in the service of the tabernacle, when the high priest went on the great day of atonement into the inner tabernacle or holy of holies with the blood of a facrifice. From whence the same apostle argues, that Christ as our high priest should enter, not into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into beaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us*. The holy place of the tabernacle is applied in the same manner to the residence of God in the invisible heavens in the 24th pfalm: Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord ? or who shall stand in his holy place? be that hath clean bands, &c. this may allude to the ceremony pre. * Heb. ix. 24.

fcribed,

IV.

{cribed, for the high priest to wash himself LECT. with water of before he entered the holy place. Then follows a description of the majestic ascension and entrance of the king of glory into the everlasting doors of the heavenly places; and this psalm is accordingly appointed by the church as one of the proper psalms for the feast of the asa cension. A sign was given that the heavenly places were opened, for himself first and for all believers after him, in consequence of his overcoming the sharpness of death. The vail of the temple by which the holy place was separated from the worldly sanctuary, or first tabernacle, was rent miraculously at his crucifixion, and that figure of the heaven was laid open, into which none but the high priest might enter: which circumstance is thus applied for us in the epistle to the Hebrews; having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of

Jefus, by a new and living way, which be bath consecrated for us through the vail, that is to say, bis flesh; and having an high * See Lev, xvi. 4.

IV.

LECT. priest over the house of God; let us draw

near with a true beart in full asurance of faith, having our bearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water*. These last words allude as the correspondent ones before in the 24th psalm, to the custom of the high priest washing his flesh with water, before he was permitted to enter into the holy place : which ceremony is applied in the psalm to the purity of the great high priest him. felf; but in the language of the apostle with equal propriety to all Christians, who are to partake of the benefits of his ministration in heaven, and to follow a pure high priest with purity of conscience.

Another rite pertaining to the priesto hood, and of great signification in the scripture, is that of the high priest’s consecration with the anointing oil: a sign of grace and authoriry from the spirit of God; and in virtue of this anointing, the high priest had power to heal the leprosy and other unclean diseasest, that the parties so cleansed * Heb. x. 22, &c.

pt Lev. xiv. 11.

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