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of God, or the Confent and Agreement of one another; and therefore, whoever demands any Authority over others, their Goods, or Poffeffions, muft fupport his Pretences by fuch Proof as the Nature and Importance of the Claim requires; and it must be very glaring and undeniable, when it is levelled at the temporal and eternal Happiness of all Mankind.
IT is a fevere Circumftance, which attends thofe, who oppofe received Opinions, that they must not only contend against popular Prejudices, and Notions long imbibed, against the Interefts and Paffions of great Numbers of artful and combining Men, but in most Countries against the Weight and Force of public Authority. The labouring Oar too will always lie upon you: You must difprove what has no Proof to fupport it, and bring Clouds of Arguments to maintain Propofitions that are really felf-evident; a bare Poffibility that you may be mistaken, fhall be deemed a full Conviction; and fometimes the cleareft Demonftration on your Side, fhall be called only carnal and human Knowledge, not to be ufed about Spiritual Things; and even when the irrefragable Strength of your Reasoning forces Confent, you will have no Thanks for your Pains, but will be efteemed officious and VOL. II. factious
factious, and be said to disturb Points already fettled, if by chance you should escape the Cenfure of promoting the Cause of Deism or Atheism.
HOWEVER, these Claims, in the Popish and popishly-affected Clergy, are fo enormous, the Confequences of them fo fatal to Christianity, and the Arguments pretended to be brought from Reafon and Authority for their Support, fo weak and contemptible, the whole Defign and current of the Gospel being directly against them; that I fhall do my utmost totally to demolish and throw down the tottering Building, and fhew that it has no Foundation in common Sense or Scripture.
No Propofition can be more evident, than that, before any positive Inftitution, every Man must have been his own Prieft, and alone must have offered up his own Prayers and Thankf givings; but when God Almighty inftituted the Jewish Difpenfation, which confifted of numerous Rites, Ceremonies, and Sacrifices, he also appointed Perfons to officiate and execute thefe Duties for the People as well as for themselves, who were called Priests or Sacrificers, with particular Salaries or Dues annexed to their Office, and they were to be only chofen out of one Tribe.
ACCORDINGLY, in the Epiftle to the Hebrews, chap. v. ver. 1. and chap. viii. ver. 3. a High-Prieft is defined as one taken up from amongst Men, and ordained for Men in Things pertaining to God; that he may offer Gifts and Sacrifices for Sins: So that the Business of the Priesthood was for expiating Sin, and reconciling Men to God, by offering Gifts and Sacrifices: And the Apostle adds, Verse the 4th, That no Man could take this Honour to himfelf, but he which was called of God, as was Aaron, whofe Commiffion was couched in the plainest and most exprefs Words imaginable, and the People's Duty and Obedience. were prescribed even to the minutest Circumstance.
As the Jewish Rites and Ceremonies were almost endless, and confifted of fo many minute Particulars, that it was next to impoffible not to commit fome Breaches of their Law; therefore God appointed Atonement to be made for the leffer Tranfgreffions of it, by Gifts and Offerings, and the Persons aforefaid to make thofe Offerings; but for the greater Sins, fuch as Idolatry, Perjury, Murder, Adultery, breaking their Sabbath, &c. no Sin-Offerings or expiatory Sacrifices were and for this Reason the Apoftle, G 2 chap.
chap. vii. v. 18, 19. argues, that there is verily a Difannulment of the Commandment going before for the Weakness and Unprofitableness thereof; for the Law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in a better Hope did, by the which we draw nigh unto God.
He adds, chap. ix. v. 9. That Gifts and Sacrifices could not make him that did the Service perfect, as pertaining to the Confcience. And chap. x. v. 4. That it is not possible, that the Blood of Bulls and of Goats should take away Sins. And v. 6, 8. That in Burnt-Offerings and Sacrifices for Sins, God has no Pleasure; and he argues from thence, chap. v. v. 4, 10. and chap. vii. from the 11th v. to the 19th, a Neceffity that another Priest should arise after the Order of Melchifedek, which was an higher Order, and that he should be perfect (being to become Author of eternal Salvation to all them who obey him): for if Perfection was in the Levitical Priesthood, (under which the People received the Law) what Need was there, that another Priest should arise after the Order of Melchifedek, and not after the Order of Aaron? For the Priesthood being changed, there is made a Neceffity of the Change alfo of the Law.
AND then he obferves many Differences between our Saviour's and the Jewish Priesthood:
I. THAT this Prieft was not made after the Law of a carnal Commandment, but after the Power of an endless Life.
2. THAT he was made a Prieft, not without an Oath, which the Jewish Priests were not,
V. 20, 21.
3. THAT they were many Priests, because they were not fuffered to continue, by reason of Death; but this Man, because he continueth, bath an unchangeable Priesthood: Wherefore he is able to fave them to the utmost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make Intercession for them, v. 23, 24, 25.
4. THAT the Law maketh Men High-Priefts which have Infirmity; but fuch a High-Prieft became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, feparate from Sinners, and made higher than the Hea vens, who needeth not daily to offer up Sacrifices, firft for his own Sins, and then for the People; for this he did once, when he offered up himself, v. 26, 27, 28.
5. THAT be obtained a more excellent Ministry, by how much he is Mediator of a better Covenant, which was established upon better Promifes; for if the Covenant had been faultG 3