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supplying our need shall be put forth at the right time, for the supply of all our wants, in the best and kindest way. The way into the holiest is made manifest; and why should not the believer by faith enter in and approach the throne of mercy? Why should he hesitate? Why should he fear? Having such a High Priest—having acknowledged Him as our High Priest -should we not hold fast our profession? And that we may hold fast our profession, should we not be constantly, in the exercise of faith in the truth, going to our Father and God, that we may obtain from Him, for the sake of our great High Priest, everything that is necessary to secure our holding fast our profession?
CHRIST, THE AUTHOR OF ETERNAL SALVATION, MADE PERFECT
BY SUFFERING IN THE DAYS OF HIS FLESH.
HEB. V. 7-9. “Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared : though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered ; and being made perfect, He became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him."
In reading, we must have often found that nothing is of greater importance towards the right understanding of an author's particular statements, illustrations, and arguments, than a distinct apprehension of his general object. Without this, the most accurate statements may seem incorrect, the most apposite illustrations irrelevant, and the most cogent arguments inconclusive. For example, there is no understanding the meaning of the passage which I have read as my text, unless we perceive the design the Apostle had in writing it. Happily, it is not difficult to discern that design ; and in apprehending it, we may find the key which unlocks the precious treasures which this somewhat difficult passage contains.
Those words form part of the Apostle's demonstration of the superiority of the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ to that of Aaron and his sons. He introduces the subject by asserting the fact, that in Christ Jesus we Christians have a High Priest; a great High Priest-essentially great, for He is the Son of God; officially great, for He has passed through these heavens into the true holy place, the heaven of heavens; and a compassionate High Priest—one who can be, who is, who cannot but be, touched with the feeling of our infirmities—having been tempted like unto us in all things, yet without sin. Having asserted this fact, he has proceeded to produce the evidence that Jesus Christ is a High Priest—such a High Priest. As a necessary preliminary, he has given a concise but comprehensive description of what a high priest is: 'A man divinely selected and ordained to manage the religious concerns of his fellow-men, by offering in their stead, and for their benefit, gifts and sacrifices for sin ;' and on the basis of this description, he proceeds to prove that Jesus Christ is a Priest, having been divinely selected and ordained to the priesthood, and having successfully performed its functions. The substance of his first argument is this: He did not take this honour to Himself, He was called of God as was Aaron ; He did not glorify Himself in making Himself a High Priest, but He who in one ancient oracle had said to Him, “ Thou art My Son, this day I have begotten Thee,” had said to Him in another ancient oracle, “Thou art a Priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec."
The three verses now before us form the second branch of the evidence of the reality of our Lord's priesthood. As He has been divinely appointed to the office, so He has successfully performed its functions. At first view the words may not seem very distinctly, if at all, to convey this idea. But if we will but examine them with sufficient care, it will become clear that this is their meaning.
These three verses form one long and complicated sentence. To the right interpretation of such a sentence, the first step is its right construction. A distinct apprehension of what is the main body of the sentence, and what are the members attached to it,---or, to vary the figure, what is the trunk, and what are the branches which grow out of it,-often goes far to make a sentence perspicuous which at first view appears obscure or even unintelligible. The leading idea becomes distinctly marked, and the subsidiary ones are seen in their relation to their principal.
The body of this sentence-expressing the great leading idea, that Jesus Christ has successfully performed the functions of the high-priesthood to which He has been divinely appointed is to be found in these words, “ He learned obedience by the things which He suffered, and is become the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him." He has done what He, as a High Priest, was appointed to do; He has obtained what, as a High Priest, He was appointed to obtain. The other clauses
are, all of them, expressive of subsidiary ideas, defining and qualifying the primary ones. The body of the sentence divides itself into two parts : “He, as a High Priest, learned obedience by the things which He suffered ;” and,“ He, as a High Priest, is become the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him." The three clauses, “In the days of His flesh ;” “ when He had offered, or, having offered, up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, and was heard in that He feared;" and, “though He were a Son," qualify the first statement, “ He learned obedience by the things which He suffered :” the first of them defining the term of His priestly obedience; the second being illustrative of the nature and extent of those sufferings by which Christ, as a High Priest, learned obedience; and the third intimating that the dignity of His nature did not prevent
any degree the learning of all the obedience and the enduring of all the suffering which were required of Him as a High Priest. The clause, “ being made perfect," qualifies the second part of the sentence, connecting it with the first, and showing how His “ learning as a High Priest obedience by the things which He suffered”—which is just the same thing with His being, as “the Captain of salvation, made perfect through suffering" -led to His being the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him—the same thing with “ bringing the many sons to glory.”
If we have at all succeeded in resolving this considerably complicated sentence, it expresses this great thought : Jesus Christ has successfully performed for us the functions of a High Priest. And it offers two very important and appropriate topics for our consideration. First, what He did as our High Priest; and secondly, what He has obtained as a High Priest by doing this-His discharge, and His successful discharge, of the priestly functions. As to the first—He learned obedience by the things which He suffered ; He did this "in the days of His flesh.” While doing so, He offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared ; and He thus learned obedience though He was a Son. As to the second, He was made perfect as a High Priest by thus-learning obedience; and having been thus made perfect, He is become “ the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey
Him." Such is the outline I will attempt to fill up in the remaining part of this discourse.
Let us first, then, consider the account contained in the text of what our Lord did as our High Priest: He “ learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” (1.) “He suffered;" and (2.) “He learned obedience by the things which He suffered."
First, “ He suffered.” And what were the things He suffered? We may rather ask, What were the things He did not suffer? What suffering, of which an innocent, holy man is capable, did the Saviour not endure? He was “the man who saw affliction by the rod of God's wrath”-“a man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefs.” To borrow the words of an old divine : “ If hunger and thirst, if revilings and contempt, if sorrows and agonies, if stripes and buffetings, if condemnation and crucifixion, be suffering, Jesus suffered. If the infirmities of our nature, if the weight of our sins, if the malice of man, if the machinations of Satan, if the hand of God could make him suffer, our Saviour suffered.”
These sufferings He was subjected to as our High Priest. He stood in our place. He was appointed to offer sacrifice for our sins. He suffered, “ the Just One in the room of the unjust.” Being without sin, He was not personally liable to suffering at all. But " the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” “ Exaction was made” of the desert of our sins; “ and He answered” to the exaction. “ He bare our sins.” “ He was wounded for our transgressions ; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him." These are the things which He suffered,—the multiplied, severe, varied, penal, vicarious sufferings which He endured.
Now, secondly, by these sufferings, it is said by the Apostle, our High Priest learned obedience. “ He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” The meaning of these words is, I apprehend, — In these sufferings He became practically acquainted with the full amount of that obedience which the divine law exacted from Him, as our divinely appointed highpriest,' — submission to these sufferings forming the great act of atoning sacrifice, to perform which was His primary duty as our High Priest.
The words have often, usually indeed, been otherwise inter