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Reflections on God's fidelity to his promises.

firmation is to them an end of all strife.

the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it

by an oath :

ble for God to lie, we

123

vii.

Heb.

and an oath for con- ascribe that knowledge and power, which is SECT. supposed to render him the object of their veneration and worship; and an oath, when thus taken for confirmation [is] to them an end of all vI. 16. 17 Wherein God, farther strife and contention. On which account, 17 willing more abun- the blessed God, in humble condescension to dantly to show unto our infirmities, being willing in the most abundant manner to manifest to the heirs of the promise, the immutability of his counsel, and his determinate resolution of bestowing upon them the blessings he engaged, interposed with the so18 That by two lemnity of an oath. That by two immutable 18 immutable things, in things, in each of which [it is] impossible for which it was impossi- God to lie, even his word and his oath, we might have a strong might have strong consolation, even we who in Consolation, who have humble obedience to the gracious designs of his fled for refuge to lay bold upon the hope set gospel, have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope laid before us, the noble prize which that gospel proposes as the great object of our am19 Which hope we bition and pursuit; I speak of eternal life, the 19 the soul, both sure and hope of which through the Divine goodness we stedfast, and which have, and I trust we shall resolutely retain it, as entereth into that with an anchor of the soul, both secure and stedfast, and as entering into the place within the vail, the holy of holies, where God dwells, and where we hope to dwell for ever with him. This an-20 chor will indeed be sufficient to enable us to out-ride all the storms of temptation, being fixed in that glorious, though invisible world, whither Jesus as the Forerunner is entered for us, to take possession of glory in our name, and prepare all things necessary for our admittance into it even he [who is] made an High-Priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedeç; as we are going more largely to shew,

before us;

have as an anchor of

in the vail,

20 Whither the Forerunner is for us enan High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

tered, even Jesus made

IMPROVEMENT.

Ver.

10

WITH what amazing (condescension doth God, by his apostles, speak of those works and labours of love, which the persons who bave performed them with the greatest simplicity of heart, know to be most undeserving of his regard! How kindly hath he made himself a debtor to us, or rather to his own promise and oath, so that it would indeed be unrighteous in him to fail those expectations which nothing in ourselves could possibly raise! Let us then be animated to the greatest diligence, by a full assurance of hope. There are those who inherit the promises, of which we 11 are the heirs, and they have passed to that glorious inheritance by

VOL. X.

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vii.

The Apostle having mentioned Melchisedec,

SECT. the exercise of faith and patience. Let us chide our sluggish souls into a more resolute imitation of them. And when they are ready 12 to sink into indolence again, let us again awaken them by view. ing those promises, and the fidelity of that God who hath made them, and who hath added, by a condescension that can never be sufficiently acknowledged and adored, the sanction of his oath to 13 that of his word. Behold the strong consolation which he hath given. 16, 18 And given to whom? To those who fly for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them in the gospel. Thither let us fly for our lives; fly, as if we heard the footsteps of the avenger of blood just behind us, and our lives depended upon the speed of the present moment. Happy the souls that have found this refuge! Whose 19 faith and hope like a strong and steady anchor, hath entered into heaven, hath fixed on that blessed Redeemer who lives and reigns there, who appears as an Intercessor for his people, and intercedes with such efficacy and success, that he is also to be regarded as their Forerunner, as gone to prepare a place for them. Let us constantly 20 retain that view of him; and while we continue exposed to all the Jabours and sorrows of mortality, let us seek our safety and our comfort by fixing our regards upon him, waiting continually the aids of his grace, till he shall see fit to call us to fill the place he hath provided, and receive the inheritance he hath secured for us.

SECT.

vili.

Heb.

SECT. VIII.

The Apostle enters into a parallel between Melchisedec and Christ, as agreeing in title and descent; and from various respects, in which the priesthood of Melchisedec was superior to the Levitical priesthood, infers also the superior glory of the priesthood of Christ. Heb. VII. 1-17.

HEBREWS VII. 1.

I HAVE again and again mentioned that scripture, in which the Messiah is spoken of in VII. 1. prophecy, as made a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Now I think, it may be worth our while to dwell a little more intently on the contemplation of this subject; and then we shall find, that without straining the allego ry, it holds in a variety of instructive particulars for this Melchisedec, of whom Moses speaks in that celebrated history, (Gen. xiv. 18, &c.) to which David refers, [was] king of Salem, and priest of the most high God: in both which

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SECT.

viii.

Heb.

Explains his title, King of righteousness and peace ; God, who met Abra- offices he was a remarkable type of our blessed ham returning from Lord. And it is well known, he was the celethe slaughter of the Kings, and blessed brated and holy person who met that illustrious patriarch, our father Abraham, when returning VII.1. from the slaughter of the kings, who had taken Lot prisoner, with the king of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the neighbouring cities of the plain. And we are expressly told, that he blessed him on this occasion, that is, he pronounced on Abraham himself a blessing in the name of God 2 To whom also to whom he ministred. To whom also Abraham 2 Abraham gave a tenth divided the tenth of all the spoils he had brought by interpretation king back, in token of his reverence to the office he of righteousness, and bore. And indeed when we come to consider after that also king of his name and title according to the signification Salem, which is king of it in the Hebrew language, we shall find it

part of all; first being

of peace :

S Without father,

out descent, having

a

bear a remarkable analogy to that of our Lord
Jesus Christ for first, his name Melchisedec,
being interpreted, signifies that he [is] King of
righteousness, or a most righteous sovereign;
and then, his title taken from the place where he
resided and ruled, is, King of Salem, that is,
King of Peace; for it is well known that Salem
in the Hebrew tongue is peace, as Melech is
King, and Tsedec righteousness.

Now if we come to compare this Melchisedec, 3 without mother, with this King of righteousness and peace, with neither beginning of the Mosaic priests, we shall find a remarkable days, difference in many respects, in all which there

is a resemblance between him and our Lord.
For instance, whereas it is necessary the Jewish
priests should all be of the family of Aaron, and
there are several laws concerning the descent
and qualities of their mothers, which must be
observed and recorded, in order to make out
their legitimacy, and their consequent right to
serve at the altar, Melchisedec is, as it were,
without father, and without mother, neither his
father

a Abraham divided the tenth.] The objection which Mr. Chubb has brought against this from Gen, xiv. 23, as if it were Melchisedec who paid tithes to Abraham, and not Abraham to Melchisedec, is really trifug; a change of person, without express notice given of it, being usual in the sacred scriptures, and in all writers, and languages; not to observe, that the version of the Seventy in the common edi. tions, and in that copy which is printed in the polyglot, instead of He, expressly reads Abraham. But Mr. Chubb's par

ticular exceptions have been so abundantly
answered by the author of the case of
Abraham and Melchisedec, Jacob and Esau,
&c. considered, published anno 1746,
against Chubb's four Dissertations, that I
need not particularly enlarge. This may
however be a proper place to observe, that
the relative must evidently refer to the re-
mote antecedent in the following passages,
Luke xvii. 16. Acts xxiii. 23. 2 Kings
xviii. 29. Psal. cv. 37. Acts vii. 5. Deut.
xxxi. 22, 23. Gen. xiv. 20, &c.
b Without father, without mother.] It has
been

Q 2

126

SECT.

viii.

To whom Abraham gave the tenth of his spoils :

Son of Gad, abideth a

father nor his mother are mentioned in scrip- days, nor end of life; ture; and he is without pedigree, or any writ- but made like unto the Heb. ten account of his genealogy, by which it may priest continually. VII. 3. be traced up to more distant progenitors of the

4

4 Now consider how

great this man was, untriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

to whom even the pa

priestly order; and herein he answers to Christ,
who with respect to his human nature, had no
father, nor any mother with regard to his Divine.
Again, as there was a certain age at which the
Jewish priests entered upon their ministry in the
tabernacle or temple and at which they quitted
it, Melchisedec having neither beginning of days,
nor end of life, mentioned in scripture, but be-
ing in that respect as if he were immortal, and
therein made like the Son of God, who existed
before all worlds, he remaineth a priest for ever".
Now I doubt not, my brethren, but that as I
proceed in this argument, you see and reflect,
how great a man this Melchisedec [was], to
whom, as I hinted above, even the patriarch
Abraham gave the tenth of all the spoils he had
recovered from the king of Shinar and his allies.
5 And this will be farther illustrated, by consider-
ing that truly they of the descendents of Levi who
receive the Aaronical priesthood, have according
to the law by which they are constituted, a com- hood, have a command-
mandment; and in consequence of that, a right the people according to
only to tythe the people that is their brethren, the law, that is, of their
though indeed coming as well as themselves, out brethren, though they
of the loins of Abraham: But he of whom come out of the loins

we

5 And verily they that are of the sons of

Levi, who receive the office of the priest

ment to take tithes of

of Abraham:

been observed by many, and it is not unfit
the reader should be reminded of it here;
that several ancient writers of character
among the heathens, speak of persons be-
ing born of no father, or without a father,
when they mean only to express by it that
their father was unknown. See Harris on
the Messiah, Serm. ix. p. 262. Elsner like-
wise (Observ. Sacr. Vol. II. p. 347,) hath
some remarkable quotations to shew that
it was usual among the Greeks, to say of
a person that he was απαίως αμήτωρ, witho
out father, without mother, when his parents
were unknown. And accordingly several
of the fathers imagine, that this is here as
serted of Melchisedec, because there is ro
mention made of his parents in the sacred
scriptures. But the reason, in Elsner's
opinion, is, that there was no trace of his
parentage in the sacerdotal genealogies, he
being without priestly descent, ayinahoynlos,
as it immediately follows, not enrolled
among the priests.

e Without pedigree.] As the genealogy

of our Lord is so distinctly delivered both by the evangelists Matthew and Luke, there may seem here to be a failure in the resemblance; I therefore added the words which determine it to the idea of some priestly ancestors, which will render the propriety very conspicuous, and is agreeable to Elsner's interpretation mentioned in the note above.

d Remaineth a priest for ever.] Bishop Burnet would transpose this clause, He was a priest of God for ever, made like unto the Son of God. I cannot forbear observing, that I think his interpretation and illustra tration of this scripture, 4 Dis p. 69–71,) the best I remember to have seen.

e How great a man.] This is a severe stroke upon the Jews, not only as it proves the superior dignity of Christ above the Aaronical priesthood, but shews also that God had of old a people among the Gentiles, and that there was a person among them superior to Abraham himself.

f As

He was therefore superior to the Levitical priests.

from them, received

7 And without all

contradiction, the less is blessed of the better.

8 And here men that die receive tithes but of whom it is witnessed

there he receiveth them,

127

viii.

Heb.

6 But he whose de- we have now been speaking, whose pedigree is SECT. scent is not counted not reckoned from them, nor had any relation at tithes of Abraham, and all to the Abrahamic family, took tythes of Abrablessed him that had ham himself, and even blessed him who had re- VII. 6. the promises. ceived the promises, so much celebrated in your history through every generation. But without 7 all contradiction, the inferior is blessed of the superior, rather than the superior of the inferior: so that while pronouncing this blessing upon Abraham, Melchisedec evidently acted in an higher character than the patriarch himself sustained at that time, and in that circumstance. And again, it may farther be observed for the 8 illustration of this argument, that here, under the institution of Moses, men who die, receive tythes; the priests of that dispensation are mortal men, like their brethren; but there, in the case of Melchisedec, he [receiveth them] of whom it is only testified in scripture, that he liveth, but of whose death we have no account; and in that respect, he may be said to bear some resemblance to the ever-living, and ever-blessed Jesus. And indeed as one may say, by Abraham and in 9 his person, even Levi, who in his posterity received the tythes of the other descendants of Israel, was himself tythed. For he was yet in 10 the loins of [his] father Abrahams, when Melchisedec met him upon the occasion I have just been mentioning.

that he liveth,

9 And as I may so

say, Levi also who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.

10 For he was yet in the loins of his fa

ther, when Melchisedec met him.

11 If therefore perfection were by the

Now I introduce all these reflections, to lead 11 Levitical priesthood, you to consider the aspect this wears as to the (for under it the people gospel, and the view it gives of its superior exreceived cellence in comparison of the law. And I may reason thus upon the premises, If perfection had been by the Levitical priesthood, and no more excellent atonement and intercession than

Els

í As one may say: We Los TV. ner is of opinion, (Obser. Sacr. Vol. II. p. 550.) that this should be translated, to say the truth; alledging, that it is not agreeable to the respect we owe to the apostle's character, to suppose that he inserted those words as an apology for an assertion in itself not strictly just and exact; and he produces some passages out of the classics to vindicate this version. But the justness of it is largely controverted by Raphelius. Annot. ex Herod. in loc.

g In the loins of Abraham.] Christ could not be said to be so, because of his extraordinary descent; otherwise the argument would, I think, have been in

theirs

conclusive, as it wou'd have been proved
that Christ, as well as Levi, paid tythes in
Abraham.

h Now-if perfection, &c.] Elsner justly
observes, (Observ. Sacra. Vol. II. 351.)

that this is not to be considered as a conse-
quence flowing directly from the verses
immediately preceding, as might be con-
cluded from the rendering of the vul-
gate and Erasmus Schmidius, and our com-
mon translation: but that it is the begin-
ning of a new paragraph, or branch of
discourse; and that & MV should be ren-
dered, but if, or, which is much the same,
now if, in support of which he produces
several authorities.

i Sprung

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