Page images
PDF
EPUB

blood of bulls and lambs; much more the heavenly things shadowed by them, ought to be purified or consecrated by better blood than the blood of beasts. The blood consecrating these, should as much excel the blood that consecrated those, as the heavenly things themselves do, in their own nature, excel those earthly shadows of them. Mark what proportion there is between the type and anti-type : such also is the proportion between the blood that consecrates them : earthly things with common, heavenly things with the most excellent blood.

So, then, there are two things to be especially observed here: 1. The nature of Christ's death and sufferings: it had the nature, use, and end of a sacrifice ; and it was of all sacrifices the most excellent. 2. The necessity of his offering it: it was necessary to correspond with all the types and prefigurations of it under the law; but especially it was necessary for the expiating of sin, propitiating a justly incensed God, and opening a way for us to come to him. Hence, The sacrifice of Christ, our High Priest, is most excellent

in itself, and most necessary for us. Sacrifices are of two kinds; eucharistical, or thankofferings, in testimony of homage, duty, and service, and in token of gratitude for mercies freely received ; and ilastical, or expiatory, for satisfaction to justice, and thereby reconciling God. Of this last kind was the sacrifice offered by Jesus Christ for us : to this office he was called by God. Heb. 5 : 5. In it he was confirmed by the unchangeable oath of God, Psa. 110:4; for it he was singularly qualified by his incarnation, Heb. 10 : 6, 7; and all the ends of it he has fully answered. Heb. 9:11, 12

My present design is, to show the general nature, and the absolute necessity of the priesthood of Christ in order to our recovery from our deplorable state of sin and misery.

I. We will consider what it supposes and implies, and wherein it consists.

1. It supposes man's revolt and fall from God, and a dreadful breach made thereby between God and him ; else no need of an atoning sacrifice. "If one died for all, then were all dead,” 2 Cor. 5 : 14, dead in law, under sentence to die, and that eternally. In all the sacrifices, from Adam to Christ, this was still preached to the world, that there was a fearful breach between God and man; and therefore, that justice required our blood should be shed. And the fire flaming on the altar, which wholly burnt up the sacrifice, was a lively emblem of that fiery indignation that should devour the adversaries. But above all, when Christ, the true and great Sacrifice, was offered up to God, the clearest mirror was set before

us, in which to see our sin and misery by the fall. 2. His priesthood supposes the unalterable purpose of God to take vengeance for sin ; he will not let it pass. I will not pretend to say what God could do in this case, but I think it is generally yielded, that he must punish it in the person of the sinner, or in his surety. Those that contend for such a forgiveness, as is an act of charity, like that whereby private persons forgive one another, must at once suppose God to part with his right, and also render the satisfaction of Christ altogether useless, as to the procurement of forgiveness; yea, rather an obstacle, than a means to it. Surely, the nature and truth of God oblige him to punish sin. "He is of purer eyes than to look on iniquity.” Hab. 1 : 13. And besides, the word is gone out of his mouth, that the sinner shall die. 'i 3. The priesthood of Christ pre-supposes the utter impotency of man to appease God, and recover his favor, by any thing he could do or suffer. Surely God would not come down to assume a body to die, and be offered for us, if at any cheaper rate it could have been accomplished ; there was no other way to recover man and satisfy God. Those that deny the satisfaction of Christ, and talk of his dying to confirm the truth, and give us an example of meekness, patience, and self-denial; affirming these to be the sole ends of his death, do not only therein root up the foundations of their own comfort, peace, and pardon, but most boldly impeach infinite wisdom. God could have done all this at a cheaper rate: the sufferings of a mere creature are able to attain these ends: the deaths of the martyrs did it. But who by dying can satisfy and reconcile God? what creature can bring him an adequate and proportionable value for sin ? yea, for all the sin of all the redeemed, from Adam to the last that shall be found alive at the Lord's coming ? Surely, none but Christ can do this.

4. Christ's priesthood implies the necessity of his being God-man. It was necessary he should be a man, in order to his suffering, his compassion, and the application of his righteousness and holiness to men. Had he not been man, he had no sacrifice to offer, no soul or body in which to suffer. The Godhead is immortal, and above all those sufferings and miseries which Christ felt for us. Besides, his being man fills him with bowels of compassion, and a tender sense of our miseries : this makes him a merciful and faithful High Priest, Heb. 4 : 15, and not only fits him to pity, but to sanctify us also; for "he that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are both of one.” Heb. 2 : 11, 14, 17. And equally necessary was it that our High Priest should be God, since the value and efficacy of his sacrifice results from thence.

5. The priesthood of Christ implies the extremity of his sufferings. In sacrifices, you know there was a destruction, a kind of annihilation of the creature to the glory of God. The shedding of the creature's blood, and burning its flesh with fire, was but an umbrage, or faint resemblance of what Christ endured when he made his soul an offering for sin.

[ocr errors]

6. It implies the gracious design of God to reconcile us at a dear rate to himself, in that he called and confirmed Christ in his priesthood by an oath, and thereby provided a sacrifice, of infinite value, for the world. Sins, for which no sacrifice is allowed, are desperate sins; and the case of such sinners is helpless : but if God allow, yea, and provide a sacrifice himself, how plainly doth it speak his intentions of peace and mercy! These things are manisestly pre-supposed, or implied in Christ's priesthood.

This priesthood of Christ is that function wherein he comes before God, in our name and place, to fulfill the law, and offer

up

himself to him a sacrifice of reconci. liation for our sins; and by his intercession to continue and apply the purchase of his blood to them for whom he shed it: all this is contained in that important Scripture. Heb. 10 : 7-14. Or, more briefly, the priesthood of Christ is that whereby he expiated the sins of men, and obtained the favor of God for them. Col. 1: 20, 22; Rom. 5 : 10. But because I shall insist. more largely upon the several parts and fruits of this office, it shall here suffice to speak this much as to its general nature; which was the first thing proposed for explication.

II. The necessity of Christ's priesthood comes next to be considered. It was, according to the Scriptures, necessary, in order to our salvation, that such a Priest should, by such a sacrifice, appear before God for us. This appears from two principles, which are evident in fcripture : that God required full satisfaction, and that fallen man is totally incapable of tendering him any such satisfaction; therefore Christ, who only could, must do it, or we perish.

1. God required full satisfaction, and would not remit one sin without it. This will be clearly proved from the nature of sin, and from the veracity and wisdom of God.

Such is the nature of sin that the sinner deserves to suffer for it. Penal evil, in a course of justice, follows moral evil. Sin and sorrow ought to go together; there is between these a necessary connection. The

wages of sin is death.” Rom. 6 : 23.

The veracity of God requires it. The word is gone out of his mouth; In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” Gen. 2 : 17. From that time ! man was instantly and certainly obnoxious and liable to the death of soul and body. The law pronounces him cursed that continues not in all things written therein to do them.” Gal. 3 : 10. Now, though man's threatenings are often vain and insignificant, God's shall surely take place; "not one tittle of the law shall fail, till all be fulfilled.” Matt. 5:18. God will be true in his threatenings, though thousands and millions perish.

The wisdom of God, by which he governs the rational world, admits not of a dispensation or relaxation of the threatenings without satisfaction: for, as well no king, as no laws for government; as well no law, as no penalty; and as well no penalty, as no execution. To this purpose one observes, " It is altogether unfitting, especially to the wisdom and righteousness of God, that that which provoketh the execution, should procure the abrogation of his law; that that should supplant and undermine the law, for preventing of which alone the law was before established.” How could it be expected that men should fear and tremble before God, when they should find that his threats against sin were vain? So then God required satisfaction, and would admit no treaty of peace on any other ground.

Let none here object, that reconciliation upon this only ground of satisfaction, is derogatory to the riches of grace; or that we allow not God what we do men, namely, to forgive an injury freely, without satisfaction. Free forgiveness to us, and full satisfaction made to God by Jesus Christ for us, are not things inconsistent with

« PreviousContinue »