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the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Hebrews 7

Owen's Exposition of HebrewsOwen on Hebrews

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THERE are almost as many different analyses given of this chapter as there are commentators upon it; and sometimes the same person proposeth sundry of them, without a determination of what he principally adheres unto. All of them endeavor to reduce the whole discourse of the apostle unto such a method as they judge most artificial and argumentative. But, as I have elsewhere observed, the force of the apostle’s reasonings doth not absolutely depend on any such method of arguing as we have framed unto ourselves. There is something in it more heavenly and sublime, suited to convey the efficacy of spiritual truth, as to the understanding, so to the will and affections also. For this reason I shall not insist on the reducing of this discourse unto any precise logical analysis, which none of the ancients do attempt. But whereas those methods which are proposed by learned men, whereunto, in their judgment, the apostle’s arguing is reducible, are only diverse, and not contradictory unto one another, the consideration of all, or any of them, may be of good use to give light unto sundry passages in the context. Those who have labored herein with most appearance of accuracy, are Piscator and Gomarua My design being to examine and consider all the apostle’s arguings, and their connections particularly, I shall content myself with a plain and obvious account of the whole in general.

The design of the apostle in this chapter is not to declare the nature or the exercise of the priesthood of Christ, though the mention of them be occasionally inserted in some passages of it; for the nature of it he had spoken unto, Hebrews 5:0, and treats of its use at large, Hebrews 9:0. But it, is of its excellency and dignity that he discourseth in this place; and that not absolutely neither, but in comparison with the Levitical priesthood of the church under the old testament. As this was directly conducing unto his end, so it was incumbent on him in the first place to confirm; for if it were not so excellent, it was to no purpose to persuade them to embrace it who were actually in the enjoyment of another. This, therefore, he designeth to prove, and that upon principles avowed by themselves, with light and evidence taken from what was received and acknowledged in the church of the Hebrews from the first foundation of it.

After this, he manifests abundantly the excellency of this priesthood from its nature and use also. But he was, in the first place, to evince it from the faith and principles of the ancient church of Israel; which he doth in this chapter: for he declares how God had many ways instructed them to expect an alteration of the Levitical priesthood, by the introduction of another, more useful, efficacious, and glorious; the continuance of them both in the church at the same time being inconsistent.

Herein were the authority and infinite wisdom of God made manifest in his dealing with the church of old. By his authority he obliged them unto a religious observance of all those institutions which he had then appointed; this he did unto the last day of the continuance of that state of the church, Malachi 4:4-6. But in his infinite wisdom, he had before them, in them, and with them, inlaid instructions for the church, whereby they might see, know, and believe, that they were all to cease and issue in something better, afterwards to be introduced. So Moses himself, in all that he did in the house of God, gave testimony unto what was to be spoken and declared afterwards, Hebrews 3:5.

And with respect unto both of these did that church greatly miscarry. For first, in many ages it could not be brought with any constancy to submit unto the authority of God, in obedience unto his ordinances and institutions, as the whole story of the Old Testament doth declare: and now, when the time was come wherein they were all to cease, under a pretense of adhering to the authority of God, they rebelled against his wisdom, and refused to consider the instructions which he had inlaid from first to last concerning their ceasing and alteration; whereon the generality of the church fell and utterly perished. This, therefore, the apostle designs here to enlighten them in.

And this should teach us with what diligence, with what reverence, with what subjection of soul and resignation of our understandings unto the will and wisdom of God, all divine revelations are to be inquired into. So dealt in this matter the holy men and prophets of old, 1 Peter 1:10-11. And as for want hereof the whole church of the Jews perished at this season, so in all ages sundry particular persons did wofully miscarry. See Lev 10:1-3 ; 2 Samuel 6:6-7. And the want hereof is the bane of most churches in the world at this day.

In order unto the end mentioned, the apostle in the first place declares, that antecedently unto the giving of the law, and the institution of the Levitical priesthood thereby, God had, without any respect thereunto, given a typical prefiguration of this priesthood of Christ, in one who was on all accounts superior unto the Levitical priests, when they were afterwards introduced. This sacred truth, which had been hid for so many ages in the church, and which undeniably manifests the certain future introduction of another and a better priesthood, is here brought to light, and improved by the apostle. As “life and immortality,” so all spiritual truth was “brought to light by the gospel,” 2 Timothy 1:10. Truth was stored up in the prophecies, promises, and institutions of the Old Testament; but so stored up as that it was in a great measure hidden also; but was brought forth to light, and made manifest in the Gospel. For whereas it is said, that the great mystery of the manifold wisdom of God was hidden in him from the beginning of the world, Ephesians 3:9-10, the meaning is not, that it was so hid in the will and purpose of God as that he had made no intimation of it; for he had done so variously from the foundation of the world, or the giving of the first promise: but he had so laid it up and stored it in his sacred revelation, as that it was much hid from the understanding of the best of men in all ages, until it was displayed and brought forth to light by the Gospel, Psalms 49:4; Psalms 78:2. And all that glorious evidence of the grace of God which now appears unto us in the writings of the Old Testament, is from a reflection of light upon them from the New Testament, or the revelation of God by Jesus Christ. And therefore the whole church of the Jews, although they were in the entire possession of those writings of the Old Testament for so many ages, never understood so much of the mystery of the will and grace of God declared in them as every ordinary believer under the Gospel is enabled to do. And if we have the privilege and advantage of those oracles of God which were committed to them, incomparably above what they attained unto, certainly greater measures of holiness, and greater fruitfulness in obedience, are expected from us than from them. These things, the instance here insisted on by our apostle will manifest.

He in whom this prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ was made, is Melchisedec; concerning whom and his priesthood an account is given in the first part of the chapter, unto verse 10. And the description given of him consisteth of two parts:

1. The proposition of his story, or what is recorded concerning him, verses 1-3;

2. The application of it unto the present purpose and design of the apostle, verses 4-10. And this closeth the first general part of the chapter. The second part of it, from verse 11 unto verse 24, consisted in a double inference, with their improvements taken from that discourse, as respecting Christ in his office.

1. Unto the removal, abolition, or taking away out of the church, the whole Aaronical priesthood, with all the worship of the tabernacle and temple, which depended thereon. This he evidently proves to ensue from the respect that was had unto the Lord Christ in the priesthood of Melchisedec, whereof he had given an account. Hereunto do all arguings belong, verses 11-17.

2. Unto the excellency of the priesthood of Christ in itself above that of the tabernacle, even during its continuance; which follows no less evidently from what he had proved before, verses 18-24.

3. Having laid this foundation in his demonstration o£ the necessary removal of the Aaronical priesthood, and the pre-eminence of that of Christ above it, even whilst it did continue, he further declares the nature of it from the dignity and qualifications of his person, with the manner of the discharge of his office on this account, verses 24-28. For the design of the apostle in this epistle, especially in this chapter and the three that ensue, is to open unto us or turn aside a double veil; the one here below, the other above. That below is the veil that was on all the ordinances, institutions, ceremonies, and types of the law. This is the veil that is unto this day upon the Jews, that they “cannot see unto the end of the things that were to be done away.” This he removes by giving a clear and full account of the mind of God in them, of their use and signification. The other above is the veil of the heavenly sanctuary. This he opens unto us in a declaration of the ministry of Christ our high priest therein, as we shall see. And under these heads, as the apostle plainly convinceth the Hebrews of the ceasing of their priesthood and worship, and that unto the unspeakable advantage of the church; so to us he doth unfold the principal design and end of all the Mosaical types of the Old Testament, with the institution of God in them.

This may suffice as a plain view and prospect of the general scope of the apostle in these discourses. The especial coherence of one thing with another, the nature of his instances, the accuracy and force of his arguings, the perspicuity of his deductions, with the like concernments of the argument in hand, shall be observed and spoken unto as they particularly occur in our progress,

Verses 1-3

Οὗτος γὰρ ὁ Μελχισεδὲκ , βασιλεὺς Σαλὴμ , ἱερεὺς τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ὑψίστου , ὁ συναντήσας ᾿Αβραὰμ ὑποστρέφοντι ἀπό τῆς κοπῆς τῶν βασιλέων , καὶ εὐλογήσας αυτόν ᾧ καὶ δεκάτην ἀπό πάντων ἐμέρισεν ᾿Αβραὰμ , πρῶτον μὲν ἑρμηςευόμενος βασιλεὺς δικαιοσύνης , ἔπειτα δὲ , καὶ βασιλεὺς Σαλὴμ , ὅ ἐστι βασιλεὺς εἰρήνης· ἀπάτωρ , ἀμήτωρ , ἀγενεαλόγητος , μήτε ἀρχὴν ἡμερῶν , μήτε ζωῆς τέλος ἔχων , ἀφωμοιωμένος δὲ τῷ ψἱῷ τοῦ Θεοῦ , μένει ἱερεὺς εἰς τὸ διηνεκές .

There is little variety in the translation of these verses. Θεοῦ τοῦ ὑψίστου . Vulg. Lat., “Dei summi,” for “altissimi;” “the most high God.” ᾿Απὸ πάντων . Syr., מֵן כֻּל , “of all:” but adds, in a new way of exposition, מֶדֵם דִּאית הֲוָא עַמֵהּ , “every thing that was with him;” that is, “of the spoils,” as it is afterwards expounded. ᾿Εμέρισε . Vulg. Lat., “divisit;” properly Syr., פְרַשׁ , “separated,” laid aside. Bez., “impartitus est;” “imparted,” “gave.” ᾿Αγενεαλόγητος . Vulg. Lat., “sine genealogia.” Bez., “sine genere,” “without stock;” “sine serie generis,” “without pedigree.” The Syriac gives us an exposition of this passage: “Whose father and mother are not written in the generations” (or “genealogies,”) “neither the beginning of his days nor the end of his life;” which manifests how ancient this exposition of these words was in the church. Μένει ἱερεύς . Syr., מְקַוְיָא כּוּמָרוּתֵה “his priesthood remaineth.” [1]

[1] EXPOSITION. ᾿Αφωμ . Ebrard thus explains the substance of the paragraph: “Calvin has already observed with reason that the author does not say ὁμοῖος . Melchisedec was not like to Christ, but was represented in a manner like to Christ ..... The Levitical priest became a priest by his birth, and left the priesthood at his death to his son; his office was, from the nature of him who held it, not a continuing one, but one that moved onwards from member to member, and the succession was expressly prescribed and regulated in the law … Melchisedec, ( a), was a priest not by formal, legal investment, but because his internal character, his qualities of righteousness and peace, impelled him to bring sacrifices to God, and to consecrate the power of the king by the internal qualities of the priest; ( b), was a priest not by descent, but in himself; and therefore, ( c) , was not a link in a chain of predecessors and successors, but is represented as alone in his order, and thus far as one who continues a priest, yields up his priesthood to no one.” ED.

Hebrews 7:1-3 . For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham divided out a tenth part of all; first, being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is King of peace; without father, without mother, without pedigree, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

The words are an entire proposition, consisting of a subject and a predicate, or what is affirmed of it. Unto the subject spoken of, which is “Melchisedec,” there is adjoined a large description, by its properties and adjuncts in sundry particulars. That which is affirmed of him as so described, which is the predicate of the proposition, is contained in the last words, or the close of the third verse, “But being made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest for ever.”

The introduction of the whole discourse, and therein its connection unto what went before, is contained in the causal particle γάρ , “for.” And this may respect the reason why the apostle affirmed, and insisted so much on it, that the Lord Christ was “a priest after the order of Melchisedec:” ‘For both the truth,’saith he, ‘of my assertion and the necessity of insisting thereon will be sufficiently manifest, if you will but consider who this Melchisedec was, how he is represented in the Scripture, and what is affirmed of him.’Or respect may be had in this word unto the whole preceding discourse, from Hebrews 5:11. There he lays the foundation of it, affirming that he had many things to say of this Melchisedec, and those such as they could not easily understand, unless they diligently applied their minds unto the knowledge of divine mysteries; hereof he now designs to give them an account: “For this Melchisedec,” etc. But the connection is most natural unto the words immediately preceding; and a reason is given of what was affirmed in them, namely, that “Jesus was made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec,” Hebrews 6:20: ‘For it was thus with this Melchisedec.’

Obs. 1. When truths in themselves mysterious, and of great importance unto the church, are asserted or declared, it is very necessary that clear evidence and demonstration be given unto them; that the minds of men be left neither in the dark about their meaning, nor in suspense about their truth. So dealeth our apostle in the large ensuing confirmation which he establisheth his foregoing assertion withal.

The mention of Melchisedec is introduced with the demonstrative pronoun οὗτος , “thin” It always hath an emphasis, and denotes somewhat eminent in the subject spoken of, mostly in a way of commendation: so Hebrews 7:4, Θεωρεῖτε πηλίκος οὗτος , “Consider how great a man this was;” ‘this man of whom is our discourse.’

The person spoken of is variously described:

1. By his name; “Melchisedec.”

2. By his original office; he was “a king.”

3. The place of his rule or dominion, which was Salem; “king of Salem.”

4. By another office added to the former, which principally belongs unto the design of the apostle: which is described,

(1.) By the nature of it, the priesthood; a “priest :”

(2.) By its object and author; “of the most high God.”

5. By his actings as a priest; “he blessed Abraham:” illustrated,

(1.) By the manner of it; “he met him:”

(2.) By the time of it, and its circumstances; when “he returned from the slaughter of the kings.”

6. By the acknowledgment of his office made by Abraham; “he divided unto him the tenth part of all.”

7. By the interpretation of his name; the “king of righteousness:”

8. Of the place of his reign; “king of peace.”

9. By sundry properties of his person, gathered out of the relation of his history in the Scripture; “without father, without mother, without pedigree, without beginning of days or end of life.” These descriptions in all these particulars being given of him, there are two things affirmed concerning him:

1. That “he was made like unto the Son of God;”

2. That “he abideth a priest continually:” all which things must be spoken unto.

First, For the person spoken of, and described by his name, Melchisedec, I shall in this place say no more of him but what is necessary for the understanding of the text; for I shall not here examine those opinions and disputes concerning him which for the most part have been raised by needless curiosity. The fond and impious imagination of them who would have him, some of them, to be the Holy Ghost, and some of them God, even the Father himself, have been long since exploded. That he was an angel in human appearance, is so contrary to the design of the apostle, that not many have given countenance to that opinion.

But that he was the Son of God himself, in a prelibation of his incarnation, taking upon him the form of a man, as he did afterwards the internal form and being in the personal union, some learned men have conjectured and contended. Howbeit, this also is directly contrary to the text, wherein he is said to be “made like unto the Son of God.” And indeed all such opinions as make him more than man are wholly inconsistent with the design of the apostle; which is to prove, that even among men there was a priest and priesthood, representative of Christ and his priesthood, superior to that of the law; which hath nothing of argument in it if he were more than a man. Besides, he lays it down for a certain principle, that “every high priest is taken from among men,” Hebrews 5:1; and therefore, if Melchisedec were a high priest, he was so also.

Among those who grant him a mere man, very many, following the opinion of the Jews, contend he was Shem, the son of Noah; who was certainly then alive, and of great authority in the world by virtue of his primogeniture. But this also riseth up in contradiction unto our apostle, beyond all possibility of reconciliation. The Jews, who are no further concerned in him but as to what is declared by Moses, may safely, as to their own principles, though not truly, conjecture him to be Shem; but whereas our apostle affirms that he was “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life,” we are not allowed to interpret these things of him concerning whom most of them are expressly recorded. Nor will it suffice to say that these things indeed are written of him under the name of Shem, but not under the name of Melchisedec; for this were to make the apostle to lay the weight of so important an argument as that in hand, and from whence he infers the removal of all the ancient legal institutions out of the church, upon a nicety, and to catch as it were at an advantage for it. Besides, let him be called as he will, it is his person in the discharge of his office which the apostle speaks of; and the things affirmed of him are not true concerning, or not truly applicable unto Shem. And we may observe by the way, what a blessed effect it is of the care and wisdom of God towards the church, that there are so few things in the Scripture that seem to administer occasion unto the curiosities and conjectures of men; and of those not any of them needful unto our faith and obedience, so as that they should receive the least prejudice by our ignorance of the precise sense of those places. The whole is filled with such depths of wisdom and truth, as require our humble, diligent, reverent, careful search into them, all the days of our lives. But particular passages, historical or mystical, such as seem to leave room for variety of conjectures, are very few. Had they been multiplied, especially in matters of any importance, it could not have been avoided but that religion would have been filled with fruitless notions and speculations. And thus it hath fallen out in this matter of Melchisedec; which being veiled or hidden in the Old Testament, and that on purpose that we should know no more of him nor any of his concerns but what is expressly written, all ages have been fruitlessly exercised, yea pestered, with such curious inquiries about him as rise up in direct opposition unto the scope of the Holy Ghost in the account given concerning him.

These things, therefore, are certain, and belong unto faith in this matter:

First, That he was a mere man, and no more but so; for,

1. “Every high priest” was to be “taken from among men,” Hebrews 5:1; so that the Son of God himself could not have been a priest had he not assumed our nature:

2. That if he were more than a man, there were no mystery in it that he is introduced in the Scripture “without father, without mother, without pedigree,” for none but men have so:

3. Without this conception of him there is no force in the apostle’s argument against the Jews.

Secondly, That he came not to his office by the right of primogeniture (which includes a genealogy) or any other successive way, but was raised up and immediately called of God thereunto; for in that respect Christ is said to be a priest after his order.

Thirdly, That he had no successor on the earth, nor could have; for there was no law to constitute an order of succession, and he was a priest only after an extraordinary call These things belong unto faith in this matter, and no more.

Two things every way consistent with the scope and purpose of the apostle, yea, eminently subservient thereunto, I shall take leave to add; the one as my judgment, the other as a probable conjecture only. And the first is, that although he lived and dwelt in Canaan, then and afterwards principally possessed by the posterity of the son of Ham, so called, yet he was none of the seven nations or peoples therein that were in the curse of Noah devoted unto bondage and destruction. For whereas they were therein, by a spirit of prophecy, anathematized and cast out of the church, as also devoted unto destruction, God would not raise up among them, that is, of their accursed seed, the most glorious ministry that ever was in the world, with respect unto typical signification; which was all that could be in the world until the Son of God came in his own person. This I take to be true, and do somewhat wonder that no expositors did ever take any notice of it, seeing it is necessary to be granted from the analogy of sacred truth.

My conjecture is, that he was a person of the posterity of Japheth, who was principally to be regarded as the father of the Gentiles that were to be called. Noah had prophesied that God should “enlarge the heart of Japheth,” or “persuade him,” so as that he should return to “dwell in the tents of Shem,” Genesis 9:27. Unto Shem he had before granted the present blessing of the covenant, in these words, “Blessed be the LORD God of Shem,” Genesis 9:26; and thereby the bringing forth of the promised Seed was confined unto his posterity. Hereon among them was the church of God to be continued, and upon the matter confined, until the Shiloh came, unto whom the gathering of the Gentiles was to be, in the enlargement of Japheth, and his return to dwell in the tents of Shem. And whereas the land of Canaan was designed of God for the seat of the church in his posterity, he suffered it to be possessed first by the seed of cursed Canaan, that in their dispossessing and destruction he might give a representation and security of the victory and final success of the Lord Christ and his church over all their adversaries. Before this came to pass, God, as I suppose, brought this Melchisedec and some others of the posterity of Japheth into the land of Canaan, in pursuit of the promise made unto Shem, even before Abraham himself had possession of it, and placed him there in a condition of office superior unto Abraham himself. And this might be done for two ends:

1. That a claim might be put in on the behalf of Japheth unto an interest in the tents of Shem in the type of the privilege, for a while confined unto his family. This right and rule of Melchisedec in those places, which were to be the seat of the church enjoying the promise made to Shem, took, as it were, livery and seisin for the Gentile posterity of Japheth, which was in due time to be brought into the full possession of all the rights and privileges of it.

2. That he might manifest that the state of Gentile converts, in the promise and spiritual privileges of the church, should be far more excellent and better than were the state and privileges of the posterity of Shem whilst in their separate condition; “God having provided some better things for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” But these things are submitted to the judgment of every candid reader.

I shall only add what is certain and indubitable, namely, that we have herein a signal instance of the sovereignty and wisdom of God. All the world was at that time generally fallen into idolatry and false worship. The progenitors of Abraham, though a principal branch of the posterity of Shem (as it is like, in the line of primogeniture), “dwelt on the other side of the flood, and served other gods,” Joshua 24:2. Probably Abraham himself was not free from the guilt of that apostasy before his call. Canaan was inhabited by the Amorites with the rest of the devoted nations on the one hand, and the Sodomites on the other. In the midst of these sinners above others was this man raised up, the great type of Christ, with all the illustrious qualifications to be afterwards declared. And we may learn,

Obs. 2. That God can raise the greatest light in the midst of the greatest darkness, as Matthew 4:16.

Obs. 3. He can raise up instruments for his service and unto his glory, when, where, and how he pleaseth.

Obs. 4. This signal prefiguration of Christ to the nations of the world, at the same time when Abraham received the promise for himself and his posterity, gave a pledge and assurance of the certain future call of the Gentiles unto an interest in him and participation of him.

Secondly, This is the person spoken of; and the first thing in the description of him is his office, that he was “a king.” So he is reported in the first mention of him, Genesis 14:18, “Melchizedek king of Salem.” Now, whereas this doth not belong unto that wherein he was principally to be a type of Christ, nor is the Lord Christ anywhere said to be a king after the order of Melchisedec, nor doth the apostle make any use of the consideration of this office in him, we may inquire wherefore God placed him in that state and condition. And there seem to have been two ends thereof:

1. To make his typical ministry the more eminent and conspicuous. For, placing him in the condition of regal power and authority, what he was and did would necessarily be more conspicuous and more regarded than if he had been only a private man. And moreover, by those possessions and wealth which he had as a king, he was enabled unto the solemn and costly discharge of his office of priesthood in sacrifices and other solemnities. God therefore made him a king, that he might be known and observed as he was a priest, and be able to bear the burden of that office. And these things were then not only consistent, but some preparation seems to be made for the conjunction of these offices by the privilege and rights of primogeniture; whereof I have discoursed elsewhere. Now although nothing can be concluded from hence concerning the preeminence of the priestly office among men above the regal, which the Romanists plead for, from mere vain and empty pretences, yet it doth follow, that the greatest temporal dignities and enjoyments ought to be subservient unto spiritual things, and the concerns of Christ.

2. Although he was not in his kingly office directly typical of Christ, yet by being a king he was the more meet to represent him as a priest, seeing he was to be the only king and priest of the church also. And it may be observed, that although Moses in Genesis makes mention of the acts of both his offices, yet our apostle takes notice of those of one sort only. For Moses informs us in the first place, that, when he went to meet Abraham, “he brought forth bread and wine;” that is, for the refreshment of him and his army. Now this was an act of regal power and munificence. This the apostle takes no notice of, but only of his receiving tithes, and blessing Abraham; which were both of them acts of sacerdotal power. Wherefore, although it was convenient he should be a king, yet a king, and in what he did as a king, he was no type of Christ, though there might be a moral resemblance between them. For as Melchisedec refreshed Abraham, the father of the faithful, and his army, when they were weary after their conflict with their enemies, and in the discharge of their duty; so doth the Lord Christ, as king of his church, take care to support, relieve, and refresh all the children of Abraham, all believers, in all their duties, and in the whole course of obedience. So hath the wisdom of God disposed of things in the Scripture unto a fitness to give instruction, even beyond what they are firstly and principally designed unto. And although this and the like considerations should give no countenance unto men’s curiosity in the exposition and application of any passages in the Scripture beyond the severest rules of interpretation, yet may it encourage us unto a diligent search into them, whilst we are duly steered by the analogy of faith. And I see no reason why we may not hence collect these two things:

Obs. 5. The Lord Christ, as king of the church, is plentifully stored with all spiritual provisions for the relief, supportment, and refreshment, of all believers, in and under their duties; and will give it out unto them as their occasions do require. For as Melchisedec represented the Lord Christ in what he did, so Abraham, in his battle and victory, was a type of all believers in their warfare and conflict with all their spiritual adversaries. Wherefore, as he and all his were refreshed by the kingly bounty of Melchisedec, so shall they be from the munificence and unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ.

Obs. 6. Those who go to Christ merely on the account of his priestly office and the benefits thereof, shall also receive the blessings of his kingly power, in abundant supplies of mercy and grace. Abraham designed nothing with Melchisedec but the owning of his sacerdotal office, in giving him the tithes of all, and receiving his blessing; but when he met him he was refreshed also with his kingly bounty. Many poor sinners go unto Christ principally, if not only, at the first, upon the account of his sacerdotal office, to have an interest in his sacrifice and oblation, to be made partakers of the mercy and pardon procured thereby; but when they come to him in a way of believing, they find that he is a king also, ready, able, powerful to relieve them, and unto whom they owe all holy obedience. And this answers the experience of many, it may be the most of them that do believe.

Thirdly, This kingly office of Melchisedec is further asserted by the specification of the place where he was king and reigned; he was “king of Salem.” There hath been great inquiry about, and much uncertainty there is concerning, this place or city. Two opinions, all sorts of those who have inquired into these things with any sobriety, do incline unto; for as for one who hath not long since affirmed, that this Salem is “Jerusalem that is above, the mother of us all,” he hath thought meet to give other instances also how little he understands the things he undertakes to treat about. But some think it was that city, and no other, which was afterwards called Jerusalem, and became in David’s time, and so for a long continuance, the principal seat of the church and solemn worship of God. This place, they say, was first called Salem, and afterwards, it may be presently after the reign of this Melchisedec, and on the occasion thereof, by the addition of יִרְאֶה or יִרְאוּ , “a vision,” or, “they shall see peace,” called Jerusalem. Others think that Salem was a city or town not far from Sychem, which was afterwards destroyed; and there are reasons for both opinions.

Of this latter opinion Jerome is the principal author and maintainer, in his epistle to Evagrius. And there are three reasons for it, whereon he much insists:

1. That there was a city near Sychem that was called Salem, and no otherwise. And this is plainly affirmed in the Scripture, Genesis 33:18, “And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan.” For those who render the words, יָבאֹ יַעֲקֹב שָׁלֵם עִיר שְׁכֶם , “Et venit Jacob pacificus,” (or,” incolumis,”) “ad urbem Shechem,” so making the word appellative, and not the name of a place, are undoubtedly mistaken; for the same place is mentioned again in the New Testament by the same name, John 3:23, “John was baptizing in AEnon, near to Salim.” For that Salim and Salem are the same Jerome well shows, with the reason of the variation.

2. He affirms, that at that time were seen at Sychem the ruins of the palace of Melchisedec, which manifested it to have been a magnificent structure.

3. It is pleaded that the circumstances of the story make it necessary to judge that it was this Salem. For Abraham was passing by the place where Melchisedec reigned, who thereon went out to meet him. Now, whereas he was returning from Hobah, which was on the left hand, or north side of Damascus, Genesis 14:15, Jerusalem was not in the way of his return, but Salem was.

On the other side, it is pleaded with more probability that Jerusalem was the seat of his kingdom. For,

1. It was anciently called Salem; which name is afterwards occasionally applied unto it, as that whereby it was known: Psalms 76:2, “In Salem is God’s tabernacle, and his dwelling-place in Zion,” where Jerusalem only can be intended. Some think that afterwards, when it was possessed by the Jebusites, it began at first to be called Jebussalem, that is, Salem of the Jebusites; which by custom was transformed into Jerusalem. But the approved etymology, from יִרְאֶה and שָׁלֵם , so that the name should signify a “sight,” or “vision of peace,” is certainly true, and probably given by God himself.

2. In the days of Joshua, the king of Jerusalem was called Adonizedec; a name of the same signification with Melchisedec, which possibly from him was the name of the kings who afterwards reigned in that city. And that man, as it should seem, was in some reputation for righteousness among the Canaanites, whence he managed their common cause in their danger, Joshua 10:1-4.

3. Abraham dwelt at this time at Hebron, in the plain of Mamre; and, on his return from Hobah, or Damascus, the way lay near unto Jerusalem, as all charts yet declare; and Sychem was more to the north than that he should conveniently pass that way.

4. Jerusalem being designed to be the place where the Lord Christ was to begin and exercise his priestly office, it may well be supposed that there this his illustrious type was to appear and be manifested; especially considering that it was to be the place where the seat of the church was to be fixed until the signification of the type was to be effected.

And these reasons do prevail with me to judge that Jerusalem was the place of the habitation and reign of Melchisedec. As for what is affirmed by Jerome concerning the ruins of his palace at Sychem, it is notoriously known how little credit such traditions do deserve. Besides, Josephus, who lived four hundred years before him, makes no mention of any such thing. And it is probable that the ruins which Jerome saw were those of the palace of Jeroboam, who there fixed the seat of the kingdom of Israel, 1 Kings 12:25, as king of the place where he obtained the crown, 1 Kings 12:1. But credulous and superstitious posterity chose to ascribe it unto the memorial of Melchisedec, rather than of him who being the bane and ruin of the nation, his memory was accursed. And to inquire how this city came afterwards into the hands of the Jebusites, is directly contrary to the design of the Holy Ghost, which was to hide from us the end of his life and offices, as our apostle declares. And herein also possession was taken of the seat of the church in the tents of Shem, on the behalf and in the name of the Japhethian Gentiles. And may we not observe, that,

Obs. 7. God, in his sovereign pleasure, gives various intervals unto places, as to the enjoyment of his worship and ordinances. This Jerusalem, which was at first ennobled by the priesthood of Melchisedec, was afterwards left for a long season unto the idolatrous Jebusites. In process of time it was visited again, and made the fixed station of all solemn divine worship, as it is now left unto salt and barrenness. So hath he dealt with many other places, and in particular, notwithstanding their boasting, with the city of Rome, some time a seat of the gospel, now the throne of antichrist. “Go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh,” Jeremiah 7:12; Jeremiah 7:14; Jeremiah 26:6.

By the way, we must here give an account of somewhat that the apostle doth not say, as well as what he doth. After the mention of Melchisedec, and his being king of Salem, in the story, Genesis 14:0., it is added, that he met Abraham, “and brought forth bread and wine,” Genesis 14:17-18. Of his meeting Abraham the apostle takes notice; but of his bringing forth bread and wine, not at all. Hereof undoubtedly no reason can be given, but only that that particular action or passage belonged not at all unto his purpose. For he who takes notice of all other circumstances, arguing as well from what was not said of him as from what was, would not have omitted any thing which is so expressly affirmed as this is, had it any way belonged unto his purpose. But the importunity of the Papists, who, with a strange kind of confidence, do hence seek countenance unto their missatical sacrifice, makes it necessary that we should inquire a little further into it.

Melchisedec, they tell us, as a priest and type of Christ, did offer this bread and wine in sacrifice to God. Herein, they add, alone was he typical of Christ, who offered himself unto God under the appearance of bread and wine. And he also instituted the sacrifice of the mass, wherein he should be so offered continually unto the end of the world. And on that account alone, they say, he continueth a priest for ever. For if he had not appointed priests here in his room, to offer him unto God, that office of his would have ceased, as Bellarmine disputes at large.

It were easy to make naked the fondness of these imaginations, would our present design permit. Some few things may be remarked on their assertions; as,

1. The apostle, in this whole discourse wherein Melchisedec is introduced and concerned, treateth not at all of the sacrifice of Christ, nor intimates any resemblance between the offering of Melchisedec and that of Christ; but it is the office alone and its dignity which he insists upon, designing to treat afterwards at large about his sacrifice, and when he doth so, he doth not in the least compare it with the sacrifice of Melchisedec, but with those of Aaron according to the law, so that there was no occasion for him to mention any sacrifice of Melchisedec’s, should any such thing be supposed in the text of Moses.

2. A supposition of such a sacrifice of bread and wine as that pleaded for is contrary to the apostle’s design, and destructive of it; for whereas he endeavoreth to prove that the priesthood of Melchisedec was far more excellent than that of Levi, he could not do it by this, that he offered bread and wine in sacrifice, for so also did the Levitical priests, Leviticus 7:13; Leviticus 23:13; Leviticus 23:18. But all the excellencies which the apostle insisteth on consist in the dignity of his office and the qualifications of his person, not in the matter of his sacrifice.

3. Let all be granted they can desire, yet are they not advantaged as unto their especial end thereby; for what is the offering of real bread and wine, and no more, unto the offering of the body and soul of Jesus Christ, under the appearance of them?

4. As unto what they contend, that the Lord Jesus Christ would not be a priest for ever unless he had those priests on earth who continue to offer him in the sacrifice of the mass, it is so far from truth, as that the contrary is irrefragably true and certain; for if he indeed hath need of other priests to carry on his office, he doth not continue the administration of it himself, or all the apostle’s arguings against the perpetuity of the Aaronical priesthood are invalid.

But because I am not willing to engage in any thing controversial beyond what is absolutely necessary, I shall only tender some considerations evidencing that no such thing as a sacrifice can be included in that expression, “He brought forth bread and wine;” and so proceed:

1. The process of the story directs unto another sense of the words. Abraham was now returned with his forces unto “the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale,” Genesis 14:17; a place not far from Jerusalem, called, as it is likely, the king’s dale from Melchisedec, unto whom it belonged; where afterwards Absalom built a a pillar, for the memorial of his name, 2 Samuel 18:18. Here, probably, he continued for a while, as to refresh his own people, so to stay for the coming of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. For, upon their defeat in the battle, they had left the plain and fled unto the mountains, Genesis 14:10, giving up the cities with all their spoil unto the conquerors; but now, hearing of the success of Abraham, and his recovery of the captives with their goods, they resort unto him for relief. He who intended to restore all unto them, stayed for them, as it is probable, some days in the king’s dale. Now, it was the manner in those countries, when any forces were on an expedition, that those in their way who were at peace with them did bring forth supplies of bread and wine, or water, for their refreshment. For the neglect of this duty, wherein they brake the laws of friendship and hospitality, did Gideon so severely punish the inhabitants of Succoth and Penuel, Judges 8:5-9; Judges 8:13-17. And the observance of this duty is recorded unto the commendation of Barzillai the Gileadite, who sent refreshment unto David and his army; for he said, “The people are hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness,” 2 Samuel 17:27-29. In this state of things, Melchisedec, being the neighbor, friend, and confederate of Abraham, when he came with his army and abode so near unto him, brought forth bread and wine for their refreshment; which being a mere civil action, our apostle takes no notice of it. And they who can discover a sacrifice in this expression, have either more skill in the opening of mysteries than he had, or a better invention in coining groundless fables and imaginations of their own.

2. This act of Melchisedec is immediately subjoined unto the mention of him as king, being an instance of kingly power and munificence: “Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine.” After this it is added, “And he was the priest of the most high God;” which is a plain introduction of and preparation for the expression of his exercise of that office in his blessing of Abraham, which ensues in the next words. The Romanists contend that vau in וְהוּא כֹהֵן , is redditive, giving a reason of what was before affirmed:’ “He brought forth bread and wine,” because he was “the priest of the most high God.”’But as this offers force to the universal usage of that particle, which is connexive only, so it will not serve their occasion. For they would have it that Melchisedec only offered this sacrifice of bread and wine; whereas if the reason why he did so was because he was the priest of the most high God, then every one who was so was in like manner to offer the same sacrifice. And whereas they place the whole especial nature of the Melchisedecian priesthood in this his sacrifice, if this were common to him with all others, then was he not a priest of a particular order; and so the whole discourse of the apostle is vain and impertinent. But it is plain, that he having nothing to do with nor inference to make from his royal office or acts, doth therefore omit this, which evidently was an act of kingly bounty.

3. The word here used, הוֹצִיא , he “brought forth,” or caused to be brought forth, “bread and wine,” is no sacred word, nor is ever used in the Scripture to express the sacred action of oblation or offering in sacrifice; it is always a common action that is denoted thereby.

4. The apostle’s silence in this matter casteth this pretense out of all consideration. His design was to evince the excellency of the priesthood of Christ above that of Levi, from this particular consideration, that he was “a priest after the order of Melchisedec.” To prove that he was so indeed, and withal to show how great and excellent a person this Melchisedec was, who bare that office as a type of Christ in his, and also in how many things the resemblance between the Lord Christ and him did consist, wherein he was “made like unto the Son of God,” he proposeth unto consideration every minute circumstance of all that was spoken of him, and what also in common use ought to be spoken of him, but being not so, was certainly omitted for some special reason and signification; insisting on some things which no man could have conjectured to have been designedly significant, if the Holy Ghost himself had not made the discovery thereof; omitting nothing that might confirm the truth or illustrate the evidence of his argument; yet he wholly passeth by this passage, without the least notice of it. Herein, if the Romanists may be believed, in this accurate collection of all things he omits nothing but only that wherein the essence and substance of his cause and plea did wholly consist. For this his offering of bread and wine in sacrifice, they say, was that thing alone wherein he was peculiarly the type of Christ; and they dispute with great vehemency that the resemblance between them consisted herein alone, although the apostle doth instance expressly in sundry other things, as we shall see more afterwards, and makes no mention of this at all. It is therefore clear as the day-light, that he and they are diversely minded in this matter. But if they are in the right, certainly never any man managed an argument unto less advantage than the apostle doth that in this place, wherein yet there is an appearance of so great accuracy and care. For they do suppose that he scrupulously collects all the circumstances belonging unto the matter he treats of, and some of them of a difficult application unto his purpose, and at the same time omits that wherein the whole force of his argument did consist; which is a failure not modestly to be ascribed unto any person of sobriety or judgment. Wherefore we need not further trouble ourselves with those forced and futilous pretences. The reason why the apostle mentions Melchisedec as king of Salem, is to intimate his first prerogative above the Aaronical priests, in that he was a king. And we may observe that,

Obs. 8. Acts of munificence and bounty are memorable and praiseworthy, though they no way belong unto things sacred by virtue of divine institution. So was this bringing forth of bread and wine by Melchisedec, to refresh Abraham and his people, though there was nothing of sacrifice threin. In former ages, either men were more inclined to such acts than now they are, or there were more efficacious means of engaging them thereunto than are judged meet now to be made use of, because perhaps discovered to have something of deceit in them. But this went along with all their bounty, that if they would make the acts of it sacred and religious, all should be peculiarly devoted and dedicated unto God; wherein, although their pious intentions are to be commended, yet it may justly be feared that they missed of their aim, in making things and services sacred which God had not made so. But such acts as those we speak of, towards men, need no more of religion in them, but that they be done in obedience to the will of God, who requires of us to do good to all, and to exercise loving-kindness in the earth. They are so good and praiseworthy, provided,

1. They are of real use, and not in things that serve only for ostentation and show;

2. That they interfere with no other especial duty, nor cause an omission of what is necessary, etc. Again,

Obs. 9. It is acceptable with God, that those who have labored in any work or service of his should receive refreshments and encouragements from men. For as such an acceptable service is the relief given to Abraham and his people by Melchisedec celebrated. God is himself a sufficient reward unto his people in and for all their services; he needs not call in the help of men to give them a recompence: however, it is well-pleasing unto him, that he, or his work which they do, in any thing, be owned by men.

Fourthly, The apostle proceeds with his description of the subject of his proposition, with respect unto that office which he principally regards: ῾ ῾Ιερεὺς τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ὑψίστου , “priest of the most high God.” Two things are here asserted: 1. That in general he was a “priest.”

2. The limitation of that office with respect unto the author and object of it is expressed; he was a “priest of the most high God.”

1. He was a priest, and he was the first that was so by especial institution. How the rite of sacrificing was common to all worshippers of old, and what was the peculiar interest of the first-born therein, I have at large before declared. I have also proved that Melchisedec was the first who was authoritatively separated unto this office by God’s approbation. And as it was a new, so it was a great and remarkable thing in the world. For although we know not how far it was received or understood by the men of that age, who I believe were not stupidly ignorant and carnal, as some would have them to be; yet certain it is, that the institution of this office, and the representation of it in the person of Melchisedec, gave great light and instruction into the nature of the first promise, and the work of the blessing Seed which was to be exhibited. For the faith of the church in all ages was so directed, as to believe that God had respect unto Christ and his work in all his institutions of worship. Wherefore the erection of the office of a priesthood to offer sacrifice, and that in the person of so great a man as Melchisedec, must needs lead them into an acquaintance with the nature of his work in some measure, both he and it being so conspicuously represented unto them.

In this general assertion, that he was a priest, two things are included:

(1.) That he was truly and really a man, and not an angel, or an appearance of the Son of God, prelusory unto his incarnation. For “every priest is taken from among men,” Hebrews 5:1, of the same common nature with other men, and in the same state, until he be separated unto his office. And so was Melchisedec, a man called out from amongst men, or he was not a priest.

(2.) That he had an extraordinary call unto his office; for he falleth likewise under that other rule of our apostle, “No man taketh this honor unto himself, unless he be called of God,” Hebrews 5:4. But of what nature this call was, and how he received it, cannot positively be determined in particular. Two things are certain concerning him negatively:

[1.] That he came not to this office in the church by succession unto any that went before him, as did all the Levitical priests after Aaron. There was none went before him in this office, as none succeeded unto him, as we shall see immediately. And when the Lord Christ is said to be “a priest after the order of Melchisedec,” it doth not suppose that he was of any certain order, wherein were a series of priests succeeding one another, but only that it was with Christ as it was with him, in point of call and office. Wherefore his call was personal, in some act of God towards him, wherein himself and no other was concerned.

[2.] He was not called or set apart unto his office by any outward unction, solemn consecration, or ceremonial investiture: for the Lord Jesus Christ had none of these, who was made a priest after the manner that he was; only there was an outward sign of his call unto all his offices, in the descending of the Holy Ghost on him in the form of a dove, Matthew 2:0, John 1:0. These things belonged purely unto the law and Aaronical priesthood, wherein spiritual things were to have a carnal representation. And those by whom they are received, in the separation of any unto an evangelical office, do prefer the ministration of the law before that of the gospel, as more glorious, because they discern not the glory of spiritual things. Besides, there was none in the world greater than he, nor nearer unto God, to confer this office upon him, as Aaron was consecrated by Moses. For in the authoritative collation of an office there is a blessing; and, “without controversy, he who blesseth is greater than he who is blessed by him,” as we shall see immediately. And therefore would not God make use of any outward means in the call or the separation of the Lord Christ unto his offices, or any of them; because there was none in heaven or earth greater than he, or nearer unto God, to be employed therein. Angels and men might bear witness, as they did, unto what was done by the Lord God and his Spirit, Isaiah 61:1; but they could confer nothing upon him. And therefore, in the collation of the ministerial office under the gospel, the authority of it resides only in Jesus Christ. Men can do no more but design the person according to his rules and laws; which may be done among equals. Wherefore the call of Melchisedec unto his office was extraordinary, and consisted in an extraordinary unction of the Spirit.

And this had two things attending of it:

[1.] That it gave unto himself sufficient security and warranty to undertake and execute the office whereunto he was called. So did every extraordinary call, accompanied with a divine afflatus and inspiration, Amos 7:14-15.

[2.] That it evidenced itself unto all that feared God; who thereon willingly submitted unto his administrations in the discharge of his office. And this is all that we can know, as to the way and manner of his becoming a priest. That he was not so by succession unto any other, by the right of primogeniture, nor made so by men, are certain from the apostle’s discourse. The time, place, season, and occasion of his call, are all hidden from us; but he was made a priest by God himself. For,

Obs. 10. Every one is that in the church, and nothing else, which God is pleased to make him to be. Wherefore, for us to rest in God’s vocation is our honor and our safety, as well as our duty. For,

Obs. 11. Where God calleth any one unto a singular honor and office in his church, it is in him a mere act of his sovereign grace. So he took this Melchisedec, who had nothing of stock, race, descent, or succession, to recommend him, but as one as it were newly sprung out of the earth, and raised him to the highest dignity that any man in those days was capable of. Let us not, therefore, repine or murmur at any of God’s dealings with others, nor envy because of his gifts bestowed on them. May he not do what he will with his own, seeing he is greater than men, and giveth no account of his matters?

Obs. 12. A divine call is a sufficient warranty for the acting of them according unto it who are so called, and for the obedience of others unto them in their work or office. By virtue hereof this Melchisedec arose in the midst of the nations of the world, took on him a new office and power, being owned and submitted unto therein by Abraham, and all that believed.

Obs. 13. The first personal instituted type of Christ was a priest; this was Melchisedec. There were before real instituted types of his work, as sacrifices; and there were moral types of his person, as Adam, Abel, and Noah, which represented him in sundry things; but the first person who was solemnly designed to teach and represent him, by what he was and did, was a priest. And that which God taught herein was, that the foundation of all that the Lord Christ had to do in and for the church was laid in his priestly office, whereby he made atonement and reconciliation for sin. Every thing else that he doth is built on the supposition hereof.. And we must begin in the application where God begins in the exhibition. An interest in the effects of the priestly office of Christ is that which in the first place we ought to look after. This being attained, we shall be willing to be taught and ruled by him, and not else.

2. The apostle adds the limitation of this his office of priesthood, as to its author and especial object; and that is “the most high God.” For so by ὁ Θεὸς ὁ ὑψίστος , doth he render אֵל עְלְיוֹן in Moses.

(1.) He was כֹהֵן לְאֵל a “priest to God.” This determines the sense of the word “cohen” to the office of the priesthood; contrary to the pretensions of some modern Jews, and the Targum on Psalms 110:0. For whereas they cannot understand how the Messiah should be a priest, and perceive well enough the inconsistency of the legal priesthood with such a supposition, they would have the word “cohen” in the psalm to signify a” prince” or a “ruler.” But although the word used absolutely may be applied sometimes to such a purpose, yet where God is proposed as its object, a “priest of God,” or “unto God,” none can be signified but one in the priestly office.

(2.) He was a priest “unto the most high God.” This is the first time that this title is ascribed unto God in the Scripture, which afterwards is frequently repeated; and so also are others of the same importance, as “God above,” “God over all,” “The God of heaven,” and absolutely, “The Most High.” And it is either descriptive or distinctive, as all such attributes and epithets are:

[1.] As it is descriptive, the majesty, power, and authority of God over all, are intended therein. “The most high God,” is the glorious God, with whom is terrible majesty. To represent them, it is said that “his throne is high and lifted up,” Isaiah 6:1; and he is called “The high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity,” Isaiah 57:15. Thus is he styled, to fill our hearts with a reverence of him, as one infinitely above us, and whose glorious majesty is absolutely inconceivable. So, when the Holy Ghost would express the glory of Christ as exalted, he says he is made “higher than the heavens,” and he “is set down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” “The most high God,” therefore, is first, God as inconceivably exalted in glory and majesty. Again, his power and authority are also intended herein. “The Most High ruleth over all,” Daniel 4:17. God over all in power and authority, disposing of all things, is “the most high God.” So Abraham explains this name, Genesis 14:22.

[2.] As it is distinctive it respects other gods, not in truth and reality, but in reputation. For so there were then “lords many, and gods many,” in the world. So they were esteemed by them that made them, and worshipped them: λεγόμενοι θεοί , as our apostle speaks, such as were “called gods,” 1 Corinthians 8:5, but “by nature were not gods,” Galatians 4:8. They were all earthly; and though some of them had their being above, as the sun, moon, and host of heaven, yet they had all their deity from beneath; nor ever had it any existence but in the deluded imaginations of the sons of men. In opposition unto them, with distinction from them, God is called “the most high God.” The world was at that time fallen into all manner of idolatry. Every country, every city, every family almost, had made new gods unto themselves. The most general veneration, as I have elsewhere showed, was then given unto the sun, and that because he appeared to them on high, or the highest being they could apprehend. Hence had he the name of ἥλιος among the Greeks, from עֶלְיוֹן , “the high one.” In opposition unto all these gods, and in renunciation of them, Melchisedec professed himself “the priest of the most high God;” as Paul preached at Athens “the unknown God,” in opposition unto all their known σεβάσματα , or “idols,” which they supposed themselves acquainted withal. And whereas God had not yet revealed himself by any especial name, as he did afterwards on sundry occasions (the first he made of that kind being El Shaddai, or “God Almighty,” Genesis 17:1, as himself declares, Exodus 6:3), those that feared him made use of this title, as most comprehensive, as most suited unto their present faith and profession. So Abraham expounds this title, Genesis 14:22, “The most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth;” which he gives as a reason why he would not take aught of the king of Sodom, seeing he was the servant of that God who disposed of all things in heaven and earth, and so had no need of supplies from him. His God could make him rich without the help of the king of Sodom. Wherefore God under this consideration, of “the most high God,” was the principal object of the faith of believers in those days. For whereas they were few in number, and all the inhabitants of the earth were greedily set upon getting possessions and inheritances for themselves, they believed in God as him who was able to protect them and provide for them, according unto the tenor of the name whereby he afterwards revealed himself unto Abraham, namely, of El Shaddai, or “God Almighty.” And this also was the principal part of their profession, that they served the most high God alone, in opposition unto all the false and dunghill deities of the earth. The Socinians, in all their disputes against the deity of Christ, do always make use of this name, and continually repeat it. “Christ,” they say, “is not the most high God.” A god they will allow him to be, but not the most high God. But whereas this name is used in distinction only from all false gods, if their Christ be a god, but not on any account the most high God, he is a false god, and as such to be rejected. See Jeremiah 10:11. And from this name or title of God, as it is descriptive of his majesty and authority, we may observe,

Obs. 14. To keep up and preserve a due reverence of God in our minds and words, we should think of and use those holy titles which are given unto him, and whereby he is described in the Scripture. This was the constant manner of the holy men of old, and which God himself in sundry places directs unto. Thus Abraham immediately makes use of this name, Genesis 14:22, “I have lift up mine hand unto Jehovah, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth.” So are we taught to fear that glorious and dreadful name, “The LORD thy God,” Deuteronomy 28:58. See Isaiah 30:15; Isaiah 57:15. And there is nothing that argues a greater contempt of God among men, than the common, slight, irreverent mention of his name, whose highest degree is that horrible profanation of swearing and cursing by it, with wicked and diabolical spirits. Let us not therefore think of God, nor mention him, but as the “high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity.” Not that on all occasions of mentioning him we should constantly make use of these glorious titles, the Scripture warranting us to speak both to him and of him without their addition unto his name; but that we should do so as occasion doth require, and always sanctify him in our hearts and words, as him unto whom they do belong.

Obs. 15. It is good at all times to fix our faith on that in God which is meet to encourage our obedience and dependence upon him in our present circumstances. The believers in those days did in a very particular manner confess themselves to be “strangers and pilgrims on the earth,” Hebrews 11:13. The church was not as yet fixed unto any certain place, and they being separated from the apostate world, not mixing with it, nor incorporating in any society, went up and down from one place to another. In this condition, having no inheritance nor abiding place, but exposed unto manifold dangers, they eyed God in an especial manner as “the most high God;” as him that was over all, and had the disposal of all things in his own sovereign power. And that variety of titles which in the Scripture are given unto God, with the descriptions that are made of him, are all suited unto this end, that, in the variety of occasions and trials that may befall us in this world, we may still have something peculiarly suited unto the encouragement of our faith and dependence on God.

Obs. 16. In particular, it is a matter of inestimable satisfaction that he whom we serve is “the most high God,” the sovereign “possessor of heaven and earth.” It is in sense the same with that name which God gave himself when he entered into covenant with Abraham, encouraging him thereby unto an adherence to him in faith and obedience, Genesis 17:1, “I am God Almighty.” And it were easy to demonstrate what relief, in all troubles, dangers, persecutions, distresses, inward and outward, in life and death, we may thence receive. As this name is distinctive we may observe, that,

Obs. 17. Public profession in all ages is to be suited and pointed against the opposition that is made unto the truth, or apostasy from it. The world being now generally fallen into idolatry and the worship of new, earthly gods, believers made this the principal part of their profession, that they served the most high God; which ought to be observed on all alike occasions.

Fifthly, The apostle describes this Melchisedec from that action of his, with its circumstances, which gave occasion unto the whole account of him: “Who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings.” On this occasion only is he introduced in the Scripture story, as a new person, never heard of before, nor ever afterwards to be made mention of, as unto any of his own concerns. Abraham did not only overthrow the whole army of the kings, and recover the spoils, but he slew the kings themselves, as is expressly affirmed, Genesis 14:17. Hence is he here said to “return from the slaughter of the kings:” for as he includeth in it the destruction of their host, so it was that which signalized his victory. And the ἀκροθίνια afterwards mentioned were the “opima spolia” taken from the kings themselves. As Abraham thus returned with honor and glory, made very great in the eyes of the nations round about, and as he staid in the king’s dale to deliver unto the king of Sodom his goods and people, with a royal munificence, becoming a servant of the most high God, who had a better portion than could be found amongst the spoils, Melchisedec, knowing the state of things, and the promise made to Abraham, comes out unto him, for the ends mentioned.

But it may be inquired whether this were a just occasion for the introduction of this “king of peace, priest of the most high God,” and type of Christ, to bless him who returned from wax with the spoils of a bloody victory.

Ans. 1. The apostasy and rebellion of the whole world against God have made it necessary that spiritual victory be the foundation of all the actings of Christ, in the setting up of his kingdom. The first promise of him was, that he should “break the serpent’s head,” “wound the head over the large earth,” Psalms 110:6. This was to be effected by a glorious conquest and victory, which is everywhere so described in the Scripture. See Colossians 2:15. And because outward force and opposition is always used by the world in the defense of the interest of Satan, he will also sometimes apply the outward sword for the destruction of his stubborn adversaries, Isaiah 63:1-3; Revelation 19:0. This, therefore, was no unmeet season for the introduction of him who made so solemn a representation of him.

2. Abraham himself was in this victory also a type of Christ; not absolutely of his person, as was Melchisedec, but of his power and presence in his church. Melchisedec, I say, represented Christ in his person and his offices; Abraham represented his presence in the church, or the church as his body. I will neither approve of nor reject that conjecture of some, that those four kings were types of the four great monarchs of the world which the church of God was to conflict withal, and at length to prevail against; as Daniel 7:17-27. And, indeed, many things in their names and titles do notably countenance that conjecture. But it is certain in general that they were great oppressors of the world, roving up and down for dominion and spoil. Wherefore Abraham’s conquest of them was not only a pledge of the final success of the church in the world, but also a representation of the usefulness of the church unto the world, whenever its pride and blindness will admit of its help and kindness, Micah 5:7. The church is indeed the only means of conveying blessings unto the world, as the oppression thereof will prove its ruin. 3. The land of Canaan was now given unto Abraham and his seed for a possession, to be the seat of the church and God’s worship among them. The nations now inhabiting it were devoted unto destruction in an appointed season. And he was not to allow these foreign kings to set up any dominion therein. And God gave him this victory as a pledge of his future possession.

4. Abraham was obliged, both in justice and affection, to rescue his brother, Lot, whom they were carrying away captive. And this is expressed as the next cause of his engagement against them, Genesis 14:14. On all accounts, therefore, this war was just, and the victory ofGod. And because there was a representation therein of the victory and success of Christ in his church, it was a season most eminently proper for the introduction of Melchisedec, blessing him in the exercise of sacerdotal power.

5. This congress of Melchisedec and Abraham, after Abraham had gotten the victory over all his adversaries, was a type and representation of the glorious congress and meeting of Christ and the church at the last day, when the whole church shall have finished its warfare, and be victorious over the world, sin, the law, death, and hell. Then will the Lord Christ bring out the stores of heaven for their eternal refreshment, and give them in the fullness of the blessing; and all things shall issue in the glory of the most high God. All the promises are “unto him that overcometh.” And we may observe, that,

Obs. 18. All the commotions and concussions that are among the nations of the world do lie in, or shall be brought into, a subserviency unto the interest of Christ and his church. I intend those places where either the seat of the church is, or is to be. A great war and tumult there was between these eastern kings and those of Canaan, and many nations were smitten and destroyed in the expedition, Genesis 14:5-7. And what is the final issue whereinto all these things do come? Why, two things fell out hereon, that neither side of the combatants either looked for or had any interest in:

1. The victory of Abraham, or the church, over them all

2. A glorious type and representation of Christ, brought forth visibly acting in his church. Yea, I may add, that in Abraham’s glorious victory and royal munificence on the one hand, and in the sacerdotal blessing of Melchisedec on the other, there was such a representation of Christ, in his principal offices as priest and king, as had never been made in the world before. This issue did God direct that war and tumult unto. It will be no otherwise with all those confusions and disorders that the world is filled withal at this day, though we can see nothing of the ways and means of their tendency unto such an end.

Obs. 19. There have been, and are to be, such seasons wherein God will dispose of nations and their interests according as the condition of the church doth require; as he did here with all these nations, Isaiah 43:3-4; Isaiah 60:6-7.

Obs. 20. The blessing of God may be expected on a just and lawful war. This war and victory of Abraham, which he received the blessing upon, are celebrated, Isaiah 41:2-3. And our apostle mentions that circumstance of the slaughter of the kings as that which was a token of God’s kindness unto Abraham, and of his own greatness. And where these things occur,

1. A lawful, necessary, immediate cause of war, as Abraham had for the rescue of Lot;

2. A lawful call unto the war, as Abraham had, being a sovereign prince, and raising his army of his own people merely, and that to the securing of the possessions of a country granted unto him by God himself; and,

3. A subserviency unto the glory of Christ and the good of the church; the presence of God in it, and the blessing of God upon it, may be justly expected.

Sixthly, Melchisedec is further described by two acts of his sacerdotal power or office, which he exercised on this occasion of meeting Abraham:

1. He blessed him; and then,

2. He received tithes of him:

1. He met Abraham, and blessed him. This solemn benediction is fully expressed, Genesis 14:19-20: “And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be the most high God, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.”

There are two parts of this blessing:

(1.) That which hath Abraham for its object, a blessing of prayer;

(2.) That which hath God for its object, a blessing of praise. Our apostle seems to take notice only of the first, or that part of the blessing whereof Abraham was the immediate object; but the truth is, the other part, whereby he blessed God, being on the account of Abraham, and as it were in his name, it belongs also to the blessing wherewith he was blessed.

As to this blessing, we may consider,

[1.] The nature;

[2.] The form of it.

As to the nature of it, blessings in general are the means of communicating good things, according unto the power and interest in them of them that bless, Genesis 33:11. So also are curses of evil. Hence it is God alone that absolutely can either bless or curse; for he only hath sovereign power of all good and evil. He doth therefore so express his blessing, “In blessing I will bless thee,” Genesis 22:17; ‘do it assuredly and effectually, as having all the subject-matter of blessings in my hand.’And therefore he says to Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee,” Genesis 12:3; because he is over them and all their blessings and curses. Balak, therefore, was not a little mistaken when he tells Balaam,

“I know that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed,” Numbers 22:6;

for however he might divine concerning them that should be so, absolutely he could neither bless nor curse. Wherefore I say, all blessings are instituted means of the conveyance and communication of good unto others, according unto the power and interest of them that bless in that good. This being amongst men, by God’s concession and institution, various, there are also various sorts of blessings, which may be reduced unto two heads:

1 st . Such as are authoritative;

2 dly . Such as are charitative or merely euctical.

The latter sort of blessing is removed from our consideration in this place, for our apostle treats only of such blessings as evidently and unavoidably prove him that blesseth to be superior unto him that is blessed, verse 7: but this is not so in this latter sort of blessings, which consist only in prayer for a blessing on them; for so equals may bless one another; yea, inferiors may bless superiors, children may bless parents, servants masters, subjects their rulers, Psalms 20:1-4.

Authoritative benediction among men is twofold:

(1st.) Paternal;

(2dly.) Sacerdotal, or with respect unto any other office in the church.

(1st.) Paternal benedictions were of old of two sorts:

[1st.] Such as were of common right.

[2 dly .] Such as had an especial prophetical warranty.

[1st.] For the first; parents have an especial right, by virtue of divine institution, authoritatively to bless their children, inasmuch as he hath given unto them an especial interest in the matter of the blessing and power for the communication of it. And this blessing consists in two things:

First, A solemn declaration unto God of their acceptance and approbation of that duty and obedience which their children perform unto them, by the law of nature and God’s appointment. This ordinarily brings the children so blessed under the promise of the fifth commandment. So are the words of the command, לְמַעַן יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ , that “they may prolong thy days.” ‘They shall have power to communicate this good unto thee by their blessing, in their solemn declaration of their acceptance and approbation of thy obedience.’And if this were more considered and more observed by parents and children, it would be much to their advantage. And, indeed, the state of those children is unhappy, whose parents cannot sincerely avow an approbation of their duty; which intercepts the benefit of their blessings. them in their own covenant-interest. God having promised to be a God unto believers, and to their seed in and by them, they do three ways bless them with the good things thereof: first, By communicating unto them the privilege of the initial seal of the covenant, as a sign, token, and pledge of their being blessed of the Lord; secondly, By pleading the promise of the covenant in their behalf; thirdly, By careful instructing of them in the mercies and duties of the covenant. Wherefore, although this power of blessing be founded in the law of nature, and in all nations something hath been observed that looks towards it, yet it is by faith alone, and in an interest in the covenant, that any parents are able to bless their children in a due manner. For a blessing is a communication of good according to his interest in it that blesseth, which we have none in any that is really so, but by virtue thereof. And whereas these things are a solemn appointment of God, it is certainly a disadvantage that a foppish ceremony is in common practice substituted in the room of them.

[2 dly .] There was of old a paternal benediction that had its rise in an especial warranty, and was accompanied with a spirit of prophecy. This consisted in a certain prediction and declaration of future events, whereby those so blessed were infallibly and indispensably stated in a right unto them. So Noah blessed Shem and Japheth; Isaac blessed Jacob; Jacob all his sons. Herein God gave unto some parents the honor of a power to bequeath unto their posterity those good things which he graciously intended to bestow on them. This kind of blessing is now absolutely ceased, for it wholly respected the coming of Christ in the flesh, with those other things which conduced thereunto.

It were well if, instead of all these several ways of blessing, many parents did not curse their children. Some upon their provocations have desperately and profanely imprecated curses upon them; and we have known instances wherein God hath eminently revenged their impiety, by his judgments inflicted on parents and children both. Some entail a curse upon them, by oppression and falsehood in getting their estates, or in a flagitious course of life; which God will revenge to the third generation. But most do curse them with the cursed example of their conversation, initiating them almost from the cradle in a course of sin and wickedness. appointed of God whereby they may bless their children, do ofttimes not see the effect of their endeavors. They bless them, but they are not blessed. But, first, They have peace and comfort in the discharge of their duty; secondly, Their blessing may have success, and oftentimes hath, when they are gone out of the world, yea, in their children’s children, for many generations; thirdly, If all fail, they shall be witnesses for God at the last day against their own profligate posterity. But I return.

(2dly.) Sacerdotal blessings were authoritative also, and that on a double ground:

[ 1st .] Of common right and equity; and,

[2 dly .] Of especial institution.

[1st.] There was a common right and equity, that he who was called to be a priest should bless the people authoritatively. For as he was appointed to act for men with God, so it is reasonable that he should pronounce blessings unto them in the name of God; that as he ministerially carried their gifts, offerings, and services unto God, so in like manner he should return his acceptance and blessing unto them. Whereas, therefore, this right and duty belonged unto the office of the priest, two things ensue thereon; firstly, That this blessing was an act of authority, for every act of office is so; secondly, That he who thus blesseth another is greater than he who is blessed by him, as our apostle disputes, and as we shall see afterwards. And we may take notice, in our passage, that whatever be the interest, duty, and office of any, to act in the name of others towards God, in any sacred administrations, the same proportionably is their interest, power, and duty to act towards them in the name of God in the blessing of them. And therefore ministers may authoritatively bless their congregations. It is true, they can do it only declaratively, but withal they do it authoritatively, because they do it by virtue of the authority committed unto them for that purpose. Wherefore the ministerial blessing is somewhat more than euctical, or a mere prayer. Neither is it merely doctrinal and declaratory, but that which is built on a particular especial warranty, proceeding from the nature of the ministerial office. But whereas it hath respect in all things unto other ministerial administrations, it is not to be used but with reference unto them, and that by them by whom at that season they are administered.

[2 dly .] There was an especial institution of a sacerdotal benediction under the old testament, recorded, Numbers 6:22-27:

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee and keep thee: the LORD make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the LORD lift up the light of his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.”

Their putting the name of God upon the people, was their praying for and pronouncing blessings on them in his name, by virtue of this institution; for it is an institution whereby the name of God is put on any thing or person. Hereon God would effectually bless them. This especial institution, I acknowledge, was after the days of Melchisedec, and the cessation of his office as to actual administration; but it is apparent, and may be proved, that many, if not the most, of those sacred institutions which were given in one system unto Moses, were singly and gradually given out by inspiration and prophecy unto the church before the giving of the law, only at Sinai their number was increased, and the severity of their sanction heightened. Thus this sacerdotal benediction was but a transcript from and expressive of that power and form of blessing which Melchisedec as a priest enjoyed and used before.

And from what hath been spoken we may gather the nature of this blessing of Melchisedec wherewith he blessed Abraham. For,

(1.) It had the nature of a blessing in general, whereby any one man may bless another, in that it was euctical and eucharistical;-it included both prayer for him and thanksgiving on his account unto God.

(2.) It was authoritative and sacerdotal. He was “the priest of the most high God,” and he “blessed Abraham;” that is, by virtue of his office. For so the nature of the office requireth, and so God had in particular appointed, that the priests should bless in his name.

(3.) It was prophetical, proceeding from an immediate inspiration, whereby he declares the confirmation of the great blessing promised unto Abraham; “Blessed be Abram.” And we may see,

Obs. 21. That he who hath received the greatest mercies and privileges in this world may yet need their ministerial confirmation. Abraham had before received the blessing from the mouth of God himself; and yet it was no doubt a great confirmation of his faith, to be now blessed again in the name of God by Melchisedec. And, indeed, such is the estate of all the faithful, the children of Abraham in this world, that, what through the weakness of their faith, what through the greatness of their temptations and trials, they stand in need of all ministerial renovations of the pledges of God’s goodwill towards them. We are apt to think that if God should speak once unto us, as he did to Abraham, and assure us of the blessing, we should never need further confirmation whilst we live; but the truth is, he doth so speak unto all that believe, in the word, and yet we find how much we want the ministerial renovation of it unto us. Bless God for the ministry, for the word and sacraments; ordinarily our faith would not be kept up without them.

Obs. 22. In the blessing of Abraham by Melchisedec, all believers are virtually blessed by Jesus Christ. Melchisedec was a type of Christ, and represented him in what he was and did, as our apostle declares. And Abraham in all these things bare the person of, or represented all his posterity according to the faith. Therefore doth our apostle, in the foregoing chapter, entitle all believers unto the promises made unto him, and the inheritance of them. There is, therefore, more than a bare story in this matter. A blessing is in it conveyed unto all believers, in the way of an ordinance for ever.

Obs. 23. It is God’s institution that makes all our administrations effectual. So did sacerdotal benedictions become authoritative and efficacious. Innumerable ways and means of blessing things and persons have been found out in the Papacy. They will bless bells, steeples, churches, and church-yards, utensils, fonts, candles, salt, and children by confirmation. There is, in truth, in them all a want of that wisdom, gravity, and reverence, which ought to accompany men in all religious services; but that which renders them all useless, and casts them out of the verge of religion, is, that they want a divine institution.

2. The second sacerdotal act, or exercise of priestly power ascribed unto Melchisedec, is that he received tithes of all: “To whom also Abraham gave the tenth of all.” As Abraham gave them in a way of duty, so he received them in a way of office. So the apostle expresseth it, verse 6, “He received tithes of Abraham,” or tithed him. And the word πάντων , “of all,” is limited unto the spoils which he took from the enemies, verse 4, “To whom Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.” This in the original history is so expressed as to leave it doubtful both to whom the tenths were given, and of what they were: Genesis 14:20, מַעֲשֵׂר מִכֹּל וַיִּתֶּןאּלוֹ , “And he gave him the tenth of all.” The words immediately preceding are the words of Melchisedec, and the story concerneth him; so that if the relative included in ויִּתֶּן , “he gave,” do answer unto the next antecedent, Melchisedec gave the tenth of all unto Abraham. Nor doth it appear what the בֹּל or “all” was that is intended; whether his own whole estate, or all the tithable things which he had then with him. But all this ambiguity is removed by our apostle, according to the mind of the Holy Ghost, and withal it is declared how great a mystery depended on the right understanding of those words. It was Abraham that gave the tenth of all to Melchisedec; whereby he acknowledged him to be the priest of the most high God, and the type of the Son of God as incarnate, every way superior unto him, who had but newly received the promises. And the tenth which he gave was only of the spoils that he took from the enemies, as a token and pledge in particular that the victory and success which he had against the kings was from God.

This receiving of tithes by Melchisedec was a sacerdotal act. For,

(1.) The tenth thus given was firstly given unto God; and he who received them, received them as God’s officer, in his name. Where there was none in office so to receive them, they were immediately to be offered unto God in sacrifice, according unto their capacity. So Jacob vowed the tenth unto God, Genesis 28:22; which he was himself to offer, there being no other priest to receive it at his hand: and no doubt but he did it accordingly, when God minded him to pay his vow at Bethel, Genesis 35:1-6. And,

(2.) The things that were fit of this sort were actually to be offered in sacrifice unto God. This Saul knew, when he made that his pretense of sparing and bringing away the fat cattle of the Amalekites, 1 Samuel 15:15. And I no way doubt but that these tenths that Abraham gave, at least such of them as were meet for that service, although it be not expressed, were offered in sacrifice unto God by Melchisedec . For whereas he was a king, he stood in no need of any contribution from Abraham; nor was it honorable to receive any thing in way of compensation for his munificence in bringing forth bread and wine, which were to sell his kindness and spoil his bounty; nor would Abraham have deprived the king of Sodom and others of any of their goods, to give them unto another. Wherefore he received them as a priest, to offer what was meet in sacrifice to God; whereon, no doubt, according to the custom of those times, there was a feast, wherein they ate bread together, and were mutually refreshed.

(3.) This matter was afterwards precisely determined in the law, wherein all tithes were appropriated unto the priests. I observe these things, only to show that the apostle had just ground to infer from hence the sacerdotal power of Melchisedec, and his pre-eminence in that office above Abraham. For every thing in the Scripture is significant, and hath its especial design, the whole being inlaid with truth by infinite wisdom, whether we apprehend it or no. Without this light given by the Holy Spirit himself, how should we have conceived that this giving the tenth of the spoils to Melchisedec was designed to prove his greatness and dignity above Abraham and all the Levitical priests on that account, as the great type and representative of Jesus Christ And indeed all the mysteries of sacred truth which are contained in the Old Testament, are seen clearly only in the light of the New; and the doctrine of the Gospel is the only rule and measure of the interpretation of the writings of the Old Testament. Wherefore, although the writings of both are equally the word of God, yet the revelation made immediately by Jesus Christ is that which ought to be our guide in the whole. And they do but deceive themselves and others, who, in the interpretation of mystical passages and prophecies of the Old Testament, do neglect the accomplishment of them and light given unto them in the New, taking up with Jewish traditions, or vain conjectures of their own; such as the late writings of some highly pretending unto learning are stuffed withal.

And we may see from hence,

(1.) How necessary it is for us, according to the command of our Savior, to “search the Scriptures,” John 5:39; ἐρευνᾶν , to make a scrupulous .inquiry, a diligent investigation, to find out things hidden, or parcels of gold ore. So are we directed to “seek for wisdom as silver, and to search for her as for hid treasures,” Proverbs 2:4. There are precious, useful, significant truths in the Scripture, so disposed of, so laid up, as that if we accomplish not a diligent search we shall never set eye on them. The common course of reading the Scripture, and the common help of expositors, who for the most part go in the same track, and scarce venture one step beyond those that are gone before them, will not suffice, if we intend a discovery of these hid treasures. This diligent search was attended unto by the prophets themselves under the old testament, with respect unto their own prophecies, which they received by inspiration, 1 Peter 1:10-11. God gave out those deep and sacred truths by them which they comprehended not, but made diligent inquiry into the mind of the Holy Ghost in the words which themselves had spoken. What belongs unto this diligent search shall be elsewhere declared.

(2.) That the clear revelations of the New Testament ought to be our, principal rule in the interpretation of difficult passages in the Old. What our apostles in these cases had by immediate inspiration and direction, that we must look for from what is recorded in their writings; which is sufficient for us, and will not fail us.

There is great inquiry usually made on this place, whether tithes be due by the light of nature, or at least by such a moral-positive command of God as should be perpetually obligatory unto all worshippers unto the end of the world. This many contend for, and the principal reasons which they plead from the Scripture are these:

1. That tithes were paid before the law as well as under the law; and what was so observed in the worship of God, namely, that being in usage before the law, and confirmed by the law, is originally of the law of nature, and could have no other fountain.

2. Our Lord Jesus Christ himself, speaking of tithing mint and cummin, approveth of it, affirming that those things ought not to be omitted, though the most inferior instance that could be given of the duty.

3. He seems in like manner to have respect thereunto, when he commands to “give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s,” which were the tithes; the law concerning them being thereby confirmed, which proves it not to be ceremonial. And this some men judge to be a certain argument of that which is moral and unalterable, namely, the appointed usage of it before the law, under the law, and under the gospel after the expiration of the law of ceremonies, or “the law of commandments contained in ordinances.” And it seems so to be, if there be the same reason of the law or command in all these seasons; for otherwise it is not so. For instance, it is supposed that the eating of blood was forbidden before the law, and assuredly it was so under the law, and is so in the New Testament, Acts 15:0: which yet proves it not to be morally evil and perpetually forbidden; for it is not so upon the same grounds and reasons. For in that place of Genesis 9:4, “But flesh with the life thereof, that is, the blood thereof, shall ye not eat,” blood is not absolutely forbidden, but in some cases, and with respect unto a certain end. It was not to be eaten whilst it was yet hot and warm in the flesh; which prohibition God gave to prevent that savage custom which yet afterwards got ground among men, of eating flesh, like ravenous beasts, whilst the blood was yet warm in it. Under the law it was forbidden, because God had taken it to be the principal part of sacrifices, and far the most significant, Leviticus 17:5-6; Leviticus 17:11; Leviticus 17:14. And in the 15th of the Acts it is only occasionally forbidden for a season, to avoid scandal and offense. So that if it should be supposed that the matter of the prohibition before the law, under the law, and in that synod at Jerusalem, were the same, yet the reasons of it being various, it doth not prove a morality in the law, or such as should be everlastingly obligatory. But where not only the subject- matter, but the formal reason of the command is the same, there it is of natural equity, and unalterable; and so it is said to be in the case of tithes.

I shall not enter into any long digression about this controverted subject. It is such as wherein the various interests of men have engaged their utmost diligence, on the one hand and on the other. But this I am sure enough of, that unless they were paid by them that give them with more conscience and regard unto duty than generally they seem to be, not one in a thousand having respect in the payment of them to any thing but the civil law of the land; and unless they were turned unto a better account with them by whom they are received than generally they do; it is to no great purpose to dispute, upon what grounds or by what right they are due unto any. And without solicitousness concerning offense, I shall take leave to say, that it is no safe plea for many to insist on, that tithes are due and divine, as they speak, that is, by a binding law of God, now under the gospel. For be the law and institution what it will, nothing is more certain than that there is nothing due under the gospel, by virtue of God’s command or institution with respect unto his worship, unto any who do not wholly give up themselves unto the ministry, and “labor in the word and doctrine;” unless they be such as are disenabled by age and infirmities, who are not to be forsaken all the days of their lives. For men to live in pleasure and idleness, according to the pomp, vanities, and grandeur of the world, neither rising early, nor going to bed late, nor spending their time and strength in the service of the church, according to the duties required of all the ministers thereof in the gospel, to sing unto themselves that tithes are due to them by the appointment and law of God, is a fond imagination, a dream that will fill them with perplexity when they shall awake. But as unto the question in hand, I shall briefly give my thoughts about it in the ensuing observations and propositions:

By “tithes” is understood either the express law of tithing, or paying the tenth of all our substance and of the whole increase of the earth; or only the dedicating of a certain portion of what we have unto the uses of the worship and service of God.

1. If this latter be intended, it is with me past all doubt and question that a bountiful part of our enjoyments is to be separated unto the use and service of the worship of God, particularly unto the comfortable and honorable supportment of them that labor in the ministry. And it is no small part of that confusion which we suffer under, that Christians, being in all places compelled to pay the tenth by civil laws unto some or other, whether they will or no, are either discouraged, or disenabled, or think themselves discharged from doing that which God certainly requireth at their hands in a way of duty. However, this will be no excuse for any, for generally they have yet left unto them that whereby they may discharge their duty in an acceptable manner; and I cannot but wonder how some men can satisfy their consciences in this matter, in such circumstances as I shall not now name.

2. If the strict legal course of tithing be intended, it cannot be proved from this text, nor from any other instance before the law; for Abraham gave only the tenth of the spoils, which were not tithable by law. For if the places taken or destroyed in war were anathematized, as Jericho was, and also Amalek, no portion was to be reserved, under a pretense of sacrifice or any other sacred use; as Saul found to his cost. And if they were not anathematized, all the spoils were left entirely unto the people that went to war, without any sacred decimation. So the Reubenites and the Gadites, at their return over Jordan into their own land, carried all their rich spoils and cattle with them, no tithe being mentioned, Joshua 22:8; although there is no question but many of them offered their freewill offerings at the tabernacle. And when God would have a sacred portion out of the spoils, as he would have in the wilderness, out of those that were taken from the Midianites, to manifest that they fell not under the law of tithes, he took not the tenth part, but one portion of five hundred from the soldiers, and one of fifty from the people, Numbers 31:28-30. Wherefore the giving of the tenth of the spoils was not from the obligation of any law, but was an act of free-will and choice in the offerer. But yet there was so great an equity herein also, namely, that God should have an acknowledgment in the fruits of those successes which he gave in war, that out of the spoils of his and his people’s enemies David made his provision for the building of the temple. And the captains of the host that went against Midian, after a tribute was raised for the Lord out of the spoils according unto the proportions mentioned, when they found the goodness of God in the preservation of their soldiers, whereof there was not one lost, they made a new voluntary oblation unto God out of their spoils, Numbers 31:48-50. And as for the instance of Jacob, who vowed unto God the tenth of all, it is so far from proving that the tenth was due by virtue of any law, that it proves the contrary. For had it been so, it could not have been the matter of an extraordinary vow, whereby he could express his obedience unto God.

3. The precise law of tithing is not confirmed in the gospel. For that saying of our Savior’s approving the tithing of mint and cummin, evidently respects that legal institution which was then in force, and could not be violated without sin. And by his approbation of that law, and of the duty in observance of it, he did no more confirm it, or ascribe an obligatory power unto it under the gospel, than he did so unto all those other ceremonial institutions which both he himself observed as a man made under the law, and enjoined others so to do. They all continued in full force “until the time of reformation,” which gave them their bounds and limits, Hebrews 9:10, and ended with his resurrection. His other saying of “giving unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s,” respects our whole moral obedience unto God, and not this or that particular institution. The meaning of it is, that we are to pay or perform unto God all whatever he requireth of us in a way of obedience; but what that is in particular, is not here determined. And other mention of tithes in the gospel there is none.

4. Whereas by the light of nature, all rules of reason and positive institutions, a portion of what God is pleased to give unto every may, is to be returned unto him, in the way of his worship and service, wherein it may be used according unto his appointment; and whereas before the giving of the law sundry holy men fixed on the tenth part, as that which was meetest to be so dedicated unto God, and that, as is probable, not without some especial conduct of the Holy Spirit, if not upon express revelation; and whereas this was afterwards expressly confirmed under the law by positive institution, the equity whereof is urged in the gospel; it is the best direction that can be given unto any what proportion of their estate should be set apart unto this purpose. Herein, I confess, so many circumstances are in particular cases to be considered, as that it is impossible any one certain rule should be prescribed unto all persons. But whereas withal there is no need in the least to furnish men with pleas and excuses for the non-performance of their duty, at least as unto the necessary degrees of it, I shall not suggest any thing unto them which may be used to that purpose. I shall therefore leave this rule in its full latitude, as the best direction of practice in this matter.

5. On these suppositions it is that the apostle, treating of this matter, makes no use of the right or law of tithing, though directly unto his purpose if it had not been abrogated. For intending to prove that the ministers of the gospel ought to be liberally supported in their work with the earthly things of them unto whom they do administer the things of God, he argueth from the light of nature, the general equity of other cases, the analogy of legal institutions, the rules of justice, with the especial institution of Christ in the gospel, but makes no mention of the natural or legal right of tithing, 1 Corinthians 9:7-14. And farther I shall not at present divert on this subject. And we may observe, that,

Obs. 24. Whatsoever we receive signally from God in a way of mercy, we ought to return a portion of it unto him in a way of duty. That this was the practice of the saints of old might easily be proved by an induction of instances, from this act of Abraham (yea, from the sacrifice of Abel) down to the vow of Jacob, the dedications of David, Solomon, and others, in their respective places and generations. The light of nature also counted it as a duty among all the civilized heathens. The offerings and sacred dedications of nations and private families are famous on this account. And it was laid as a lasting blemish on good Hezekiah, that he rendered not unto the Lord according to the mercy which he had received.

And we may do well to consider,

1. That no man hath any great or signal success in any affair or occasion; more than others, or more than at other times, but there will be in his mind an ascription of it unto one cause or another. This the nature of things makes necessary, nor can it be avoided, Habakkuk 1:11.

2. That whatever a man doth secretly ascribe such success unto, that he makes in some sense his god. “They sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous,” Habakkuk 1:16. They ascribed their successes unto theirown strength, endeavors, and means that they used. Hereby they deified themselves as far as in them lay; and therefore these thoughts are called sacrificing and burning incense, which were expressions of religious worship. And it is no better with us, when, in our successes in our trades and affairs, we secretly applaud our own endeavors and the means we have used as the only causes of them.

3. It is a great sign that a man hath not engaged God in the getting of any thing, when he will not entitle him unto any portion of what is gotten. There are two evils common in the world in this case. Some will make no acknowledgment unto God, in the especial consecration of any part of their substance unto him, where it is lawfully gotten; and some will make great dedications of what hath been gotten by robbery, spoils, oppression, and violence. Many public works of munificence and charity, as they are called, have had no other original. This is but an endeavor to entitle God unto injustice, and draw him to a copartnership with them, by giving him a share in the advantage. God “hateth robbery for burnt-offering,” Isaiah 61:8; and “he smiteth his hand at men’s dishonest gain,” Ezekiel 22:13. He will have nothing to do with such things, nor accept of any portion of them or from them, however he may overpower things in his providence unto his glory. Both these ways are full of evil, though the latter be the worst.

4. No man hath any ground to reckon that he can settle what he hath unto himself or his, where this chief rent unto God is left unpaid. He will at one time or other make a re-entry upon the whole, take the forfeiture of it, and turn the ungrateful tenant out of possession. And, among other things, this makes so many estates industriously gotten so speedily moulder away as we see they do in the world.

5. God hath always his receivers ready to accept of what is tendered, namely, his poor, and those that attend the ministry of his house.

Seventhly, The apostle pursues his design and argument from the name and title of the person spoken of, with their interpretation: “First being, by interpretation, King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, that is, King of peace.” And we shall consider herein,

1. The names themselves, with their interpretation.

2. The grounds or reasons of the apostle’s arguing from this interpretation.

3. What is intended in them, or what he would have us learn from them.

4. Their order, which he particularly observes.

1. He respecteth

(1.) His proper name, that is, Melchisedec; for the fancy of some, that Sedec was a place or city where first he reigned, as he did afterwards at Salem, is very fond. For then he must be utterly without a name belonging unto his person; which the apostle doth not observe, as he would have done one way or other, had any such unusual thing offered itself unto him. Besides, had it been so, he would not have been called Melchisedec, but rather Melec Sedec, as he is said to be Melec Salem. מֶלֶךְ is a “king;” and by the interposition of yod to smooth the composition, the former segol is turned into pathach, and the latter into shevah, whence Melchi ariseth. Some would have this yod to be a pronoun affix; and then the meaning of the word is, “my king;” and on this supposition, taking צֶדֶק for צַדִּיק , Sedek for Saddik, they would render it, “my righteous king. ” But there is nothing more ordinary, in the composition of names, than the interposition of yod parago-ricum, to soften the sound and pronunciation of them. So is it in Adonizedek, Adonibezek, Abimelech, Ahitub, Abishua, Abishag, Abishalom, and sundry others. Wherefore Melchi is nothing but the name Melec, a “king,” a little varied, to fit it unto the composition intended. צֶדֶק is “righteousness.” And so the whole name is properly interpreted and rendered by our apostle βασιλεὺς δικαιοσύνης , a “king of righteousness.”

(2.) His title is, מֶלֶךְ שַׁלֵם , “the king of Salem;” of which place we have spoken before. This is, by interpretation, saith our apostle, βασιλεὺς εἰρὴνης , the” king of peace.” Some think that herein occurs a greater difficulty than did in the interpretation of his name. For שׁלֵם , “Salem,” say they, doth not signify “peace,” but שָׁלוֹם , “Shalom.” Salem is only as much as “pacificus,” peaceable; not “pax, or peace itself. But yet neither ought this to give us any trouble. For instances may be given in this language wherein the same word is used sometimes substantively, sometimes adjectively; as, for instance, אורךְ , and ארךְ , and כבד , are. And upon the matter the signification is the same. “Rex pacificus” and “rex pacis” do both denote him that is the maker and author of peace. So God on that account is called the “God of peace,” Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20; 1Th 5:23 ; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Hebrews 13:20. Wherefore, as we ought to acquiesce in the authority of the apostle, who knew better than us all the signification of these names, so that he gives is proper, according unto our best conception of these things.

2. It may be inquired what ground the apostle had to argue from the signification of those names, which seems to be but a curious and infirm kind of argumentation; and we find by experience, that whilst some have followed and imitated, as they supposed, this example, they have fallen into woful mistakes.

Ans. (1.) The apostle takes it for granted in general, that every thing in the story of Melchisedec was mystical and figurative. This he did on good grounds, because the only reason of its introduction was to give a representation of the person and priesthood of Christ.

(2.) It was usual, under the old testament, to have names given unto children by a spirit of prophecy; as to Noah, Peleg, and others, yea, it may be most of the patriarchs. It was so also to have men’s names changed upon some great and solemn occasions: as Abram was called Abraham; Sarai, Sarah; Jacob was called Israel; and Solomon, Jedidiah. And whereas this was sometimes done by divine authority, as in the instances mentioned, whence it was highly significant; so the people, in imitation thereof, did often give other names to themselves, or others, on some occasion wherewith they were affected. Hence it is that we find the same persons so frequently called by divers names; which gives no little difficulty in genealogies. But where this was done by divine warranty, it was doctrinal, and prophetically instructive. So was it in that great name given unto our Lord Jesus Christ himself, namely, Immanuel; which the evangelist remembers, and gives us the interpretation thereof, Matthew 1:23. Now, whether this name was given to Melchisedec from his nativity by a spirit of prophecy, as is most probable, or whether his name was changed by God himself when he was publicly called unto his office, is uncertain, and no way needful to be inquired into; but certain it is, that this name was given him by divine direction, and that for the very end for which it is here used and applied by our apostle. And no countenance can hence be taken unto their curiosity who seek for mysteries out of names and their numbers, which, for aught they know, had a casual imposition, or that which respected some particular occasion whereof they are utterly ignorant.

(3.) As for the name of the place where he reigned, or Salem, it was also given unto it on the same ground, to be presignificative of the work that was to be effected by Him whom he typed out. Most probably at that time God first gave that name unto that place; for that it was not the Salem by Sychem we have before declared. And I am persuaded that God himself, by some providence of his, or other intimation of his mind, gave that name of Peace first unto that city, because there he designed not only to rest in his typical worship for a season, but also in the fullness of time there to accomplish the great work of peace-making between himself and mankind. Hence it was afterwards, by the same guidance, called Jerusalem, or a Vision of Peace, because of the many visions and prophecies concerning the spiritual and eternal peace which was to be wrought and published in that place; as also from all those holy institutions of his worship which there represented the means whereby that peace was to be wrought, namely, the sacrifice of Christ himself, the only real and proper priest of the church.

Wherefore our apostle doth justly argue from the signification of those names, which were given both to the person and place by divine authority and guidance, that they might teach and fore-signify the things whereunto by him they are applied.

3. The interpretation of the names being proper, and the argument from thence in this case useful, as to the signification of them, it must be inquired how this man was “king of righteousness and peace.” Most suppose that no more is intended but that he was a righteous and peaceable king, one that ruled righteously and lived peaceably. And it is true that absolutely in himself, and as unto his own personal qualifications, he was so, and no more, nor could be more. But these names have respect to his relative state, and were given him as a type of Christ. He was a “king of righteousness and peace” as he was “without father and without mother;” that is, to represent Christ in his office. Really, he was a righteous and peaceable king; typically; he was the “king of righteousness and peace.” Now, “the king of righteousness” is him who is the author, cause, and dispenser of righteousness unto others; as God is said to be “The LORD our Righteousness.” And so is “the king of peace” also; in which sense God is called “the God of peace.” Thus was it with Melchisedec as he was the representative of Jesus Christ.

4. The last thing that the apostle observes from these names and titles, is their order, wherein it is natural that the name of a man should precede the title of his rule: “First, King of righteousness, and afterwards King of peace.” Righteousness must go first, and then peace will follow after. So it is promised of Christ and his kingdom, that

“in his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth,” Psalms 72:7.

First they are made righteous, and then they have peace. And Isaiah 32:17,

“The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and peace for ever.”

This is the order of these things. There is no peace but what proceedeth from, and is the effect of righteousness. So these things with respect unto Christ are declared by the psalmist, Psalms 135:9-13. What we are taught hence is,

Obs. 25. That the Lord Jesus Christ is the only king of righteousness and peace unto the church. See Isaiah 32:1-2; Isaiah 9:6. He is not only a righteous and peaceable king, as were his types, Melchisedec and Solomon; but he is the author, cause, procurer, and dispenser of righteousness and peace to the church. So is it declared, Jeremiah 23:5-6,

“Behold the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, “The LORD our Righteousness.”

He is righteous, and reigneth righteously; but this is not all, he is “The LORD our Righteousness.”

Eighthly, The apostle proceeds yet unto other instances in the description of Melchisedec, wherein he was “made like unto the Son of God:” Verse 3, “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.” The things here asserted, being at the first view strange and uncouth, would administer occasion unto large discourses, and accordingly have been the subject of many inquiries and conjectures; but it is no way unto the edification of those who are sober and godly, to engage into any long disputes about those things wherein all learned, sober expositors are come to an issue and agreement, as they are in general in this matter. For it is granted that Melchisedec was a man, really and truly so, and therefore of necessity must have had all these things; for the nature of man, after him who was first created, who yet also had beginning of life and end of days, doth not exist without them. Wherefore these things are not denied of him absolutely, but in some sense, and with respect unto some especial end. Now this is with respect unto his office; therein, or as he bare that office, he was “without father, without mother,” etc. And how doth it appear that so it was with him? It doth so because none of them is recorded or mentioned in the Scripture, which yet diligently recordeth them concerning other persons; and in particular, those who could not find and prove their genealogies were by no means to be admitted unto the priesthood, Ezra 2:61-63. And we may therefore by this rule inquire into the particulars:

1. It is said of him in the first place, that he was “without father, without mother,” whereon part of the latter clause, namely, “without beginning of days,” doth depend. But how could a mortal man come into the world without father or mother? “Man that is born of a woman,” is the description of every man; what therefore can be intended? The next word declares he was ἀγενεαλόγητος , without descent,” say we. But γενεαλογία is a “generation, a descent, a pedigree,” not absolutely, but “rehearsed, described, recorded.” Γενεαλόγητος is he whose stock and descent is entered upon record. And so on the contrary, ἀγενεαλόγητος is not he who hath no descent, no genealogy, but he whose descent and pedigree is nowhere entered, recorded, reckoned up. Thus the apostle himself plainly expresseth this word, verse 6, ῾Ο μὴ γενεαλογούμενος , “whose descent is not counted;” that is, reckoned up in record. Thus was Melchisedec without father and mother, in that the Spirit of God, who so strictly and exactly recorded the genealogies of other patriarchs and types of Christ, and that for no less an end than to manifest the truth and faithfulness of God in his promises, speaks nothing unto this purpose concerning him. He is introduced as it were one falling from heaven, appearing on a sudden, reigning in Salem, and officiating the office of the priesthood unto the most high God.

2. On the same account is he said to be “without beginning of days and end of life.” For as he was a mortal man he had both. He was assuredly born, and did no less certainly die, than other men; but neither of these is recorded concerning him. We have no more to do with him, to learn from him, nor are concerned in him, but only as he is described in the Scripture, and there is no mention therein of the beginning of his days, or the end of his life. Whatever, therefore, he might have in himself, he had none to us. Consider all the other patriarchs mentioned in the writings of Moses, and you shall find their descent recorded, who was their father, and so upwards unto the first man; and not only so, but the time of their birth and death, the beginning of their days and the end of their lives, is exactly recorded. For it is constantly said of them, such a one lived so long, and begat such a son; which fixeth the time of birth. Then of him so begotten it is said he lived so many years; which determines the end of his days. These things are expressly recorded. But concerning Melchisedec none of these things are spoken. No mention is made of father or mother, no genealogy is recorded of what stock or progeny he was; nor is there any account of his birth or death. So that all these things are wanting unto him in this historical narration, wherein our faith and knowledge are alone concerned. Some few things may yet further be inquired into for the clearing of the sense of these words:

(1.) Whereas the observation of the apostle is built upon the silence of Moses in the history, which was sufficient for him, whatever was the cause and reason of that silence, we may inquire whence it was. Whence was it, I say, that Moses should introduce so great and excellent a person as Melchisedec without any mention of his race or stock, of his parents or progenitors, of his rise and fall, contrary unto his own custom in other cases, and contrary unto all rules of useful history? For to introduce so great a person, in any story, and on so great an occasion, without giving any account of him, or of any of his circumstances, whereby his concernment in the matter related might be known, is utterly contrary unto all rules of serious history.

Ans. [1.] Some of the Jews absurdly imagine that it was because his parents were not only obscure, but that he was born of fornication, and so he had no right of genealogy. But this is both a foolish and wicked imagination. For it is not to be supposed God would have advanced a person known to be of such an extract and original unto the honor of the priesthood, and that of the most excellent kind that ever was under the old testament. For being low and mean in the world, it is neither disadvantage nor disparagement; the best of men were so, and all the chief patriarchs were but shepherds. But bastardy is a mark of infamy in the world, and God would not raise such an one to administer peculiarly unto him, and that as a type of his own Son, who was to be incarnate.

[2.] Some say that there is no singular thing herein, but that it is done according to the custom of Scripture, which relates only the genealogies of the patriarchs who were of that lineage from whence Christ did come; but when it makes mention of any others, though they be never so eminent, it reckoneth not up their genealogy. Thus it dealeth with Jethro, the father-in- law of Moses; and with Job, so great and holy a person, concerning whom it says no more but that “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job.” And some things may be allowed herein; but the instances are no way parallel. For Jethro, he was a stranger unto the church, and there is a full account concerning him, so far as it is either necessary or useful that we should in point of story know any thing of him. And the story of Job is a separate stow, wherein himself only and family were concerned; and we have therein his country, the number and names of his children, with the years of his life, and time of his death. But as we have none of these things in the account of Melchisedec, so he is introduced as one in whom the church of God was publicly concerned. Wherefore,

[3.] The true cause of the omission of all these things was the same with that of the institution of his priesthood, and the introduction of his person in the story. And this was, that he might be the more express and signal representative of the Lord Christ in his priesthood. For to this end it was not only needful that he should be declared to be a priest, as the Messiah was to be, but also in that declaration all those circumstances were to be observed wherein the nature of the priesthood of Christ might be any way prefigured. After this, the church being reduced into a standing order for succession, it was obliged necessarily for many generations unto a priesthood which depended solely on their genealogy and pedigree both by father and mother, Ezra 10:18-19; Nehemiah 7:63-65. Wherefore, whereas the priesthood of our Lord Christ was to depend on no such descent, (“for it is evident that our Lord sprang of Judah, whereof Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood,”) it was necessary that it should be originally represented by one who had no genealogy, seeing that, as unto his office, he himself was to have none. And therefore, when the church of Israel was in the highest enjoyment of the Levitical priesthood, whose office depended wholly on their genealogy, yea, so far as that on a supposition of a defect or change thereof, not only the priesthood itself, but all the sacred worship also which it was designed to officiate, must utterly cease, yet the Holy Ghost then thought meet to mind them that a priest was to come without respect unto any such descent or genealogy, in that he was to be “after the order of Melchisedec,” who had none, Psalms 110:4. This is the true and only reason why, in the story of Melchisedec as the priest of the most high God, there is no mention made of father, mother, genealogy, beginning of life, or end of days.

And we may herein consider the sovereign wisdom of the Holy Ghost, in bringing forth truth unto light according as the state and condition of the church doth require. And first, he proposeth only a naked story of a person that was a type of Christ, and that obscurely and sparingly. Something the men of the age wherein he lived might learn by his ministrations, but not much. For that which was principally instructive in him for the use of the church was not of force until all his circumstances were forgotten; and the church was now to be instructed, not so much by what he was, as by what was recorded of him: wherein the Scripture superseded all tradition that might be of him in the world; yea, the contrivance of any tradition concerning his parents, birth, and death, had been contrary to the mind of God, and what instruction he intended the church by him. Afterwards, when, it may be, all thoughts of any use or design of this story in Moses were lost, and the church was fully satisfied in a priesthood quite of another nature, the Holy Ghost, in one word of prophecy, instructs the church, not only that the things spoken concerning Melchisedec were not so recorded for his sake, or on his own account, but with respect unto another priest which was afterwards to arise, by him represented, which gave a new consideration, sense, and design to the whole story, but moreover gives it to know that the priesthood which it then enjoyed was not always to continue, but that another of another nature was to be introduced, as was signified long before the institution of that priesthood which they enjoyed, Psalms 110:4. And though this was sufficient for the use and edification of the church in those days, yet it was left greatly in the dark as to the flail design and meaning of these things. And therefore it is evident that at the coming of our Savior, and the accomplishment of this type, the church of the Jews had utterly lost all knowledge and understanding of the mystery of it, and the promise renewed in the psalm. For they thought it strange that there should be a priest that had no genealogy, no solemn consecration nor investiture, with his office. Wherefore our apostle, entering upon the unfolding of this mystery, doth not only preface it with an assertion of its difficulty, or how hard it was to be understood aright, but also, by a long previous discourse, variously prepareth their minds unto a most diligent attention. And the reason of it was, not only because they had utterly lost the understanding that was given in these things formerly, but also because the true understanding of them would put an end at that time unto that priesthood and worship which they had adhered unto. Wherefore until this time the church was not able to bear the true understanding of this mystery, and now they could no longer be without it. Hence it is here so fully and particularly declared by our apostle. And we may observe,

Obs. 26. That the church never did in any age, nor ever shall, want that instruction by divine revelation which is needful unto its edification in faith and obedience. This it had in all ages, according unto that gradual progression which God gave unto light and truth in the explication of the great mystery of his grace, which was hid in him from the foundation of the world. An instance hereof we have in the things which concern this Melchisedec, as we have observed. The church had never need to look after the traditions of their fathers, or to betake themselves unto their own inventions; their instruction by revelation was always sufficient for the state and condition wherein they were. Much more, therefore, is it so now, when the sum and perfection of all divine revelations is given in unto us by Jesus Christ.

Obs. 27. It is a great honor to serve in the church, by doing or suffering, for the use and service of future generations. This was the honor of Melchisedec, that he was employed in a service the true use and advantage whereof was not given in unto the church until many generations after. And I add suffering unto doing, because it is well known what glories have sprung up in future ages, upon the past sufferings of others.

Obs. 28. The Scripture is so absolutely the rule, measure, and boundary of our faith and knowledge in spiritual things, as that what it conceals is instructive, as well as what it expresseth. This the apostle manifests in many of his observations concerning Melchisedec, and his inferences from thence. But I have, as I remember, discoursed somewhat hereof before.

(2.) Our next inquiry is, wherein Melchisedec was typical of Christ, or what of all this belongeth unto the following assertion that “he was made like unto the Son of God;” that is, so described as that he might have a great resemblance of him.

Ans. It is generally thought that he was so in the whole, and in every particular mentioned distinctly. Thus he is said to be “without father, and without mother” (no mention is made of them), because the Lord Christ was in some sense so also. He was without father on earth as to his human nature; with respect whereunto God says that he will “create a new thing in the earth, a woman shall compass a man,” Jeremiah 31:22, or conceive a man without natural generation. And he was without mother as to his person or divine nature, being the “only begotten of the Father,” by an eternal generation of his own person. But yet it must not be denied but that, on the other side, he had both father and mother, a father as to his divine, and a mother as to his human nature; but as to his whole person, he was without father and mother. Again, whereas he is said to be “without genealogy,” it is of somewhat a difficult application; for the genealogy of Christ was βίβλος γενέσεως or סֵפֶר תּוֹלְדוֹת . The “roll of his pedigree” is declared by two of the evangelists, the one driving of it up to Abraham, the other unto Adam; as it was necessary, to manifest the truth of his human nature and the faithfulness of God in the accomplishment of his promises. It may be, therefore, respect is had unto these words of the prophet, Isaiah 53:8, דּוֹרוֹ מִי יְשׂוֹחֵחַ , “ Who shall declare his generation?” there was somewhat in his age and generation, by reason of his divine pre-existence unto all, that was ineffable. Again, he is said to be “without beginning of days and end of life.” And this also is spoken by our apostle with respect unto the narration of Moses, wherein mention is made neither of the one nor of the other. And it belongs unto his conformity unto the Son of God, or that wherein he represented him; for as unto his divine person, the Lord Christ had neither the one nor the other, as the apostle proves, Hebrews 1:10-12, from Psalms 102:25-27. But on the other side, as to his human nature he had both, he had both beginning of days and end of life; both which are upon solemn record. Wherefore it should seem that if there be a likeness in these things on the one account, there is none on the other, and so no advantage in the comparison.

Considering these difficulties in the application of these particulars, some do judge that these instances do not belong unto the analogy and resemblance between Christ and Melchisedec, but are introduced only in order unto what ensues, namely, he “abideth a priest for ever,” wherein alone the similitude between him and Christ doth consist. And so, they say, we find things quoted in the Scripture at large, when only some one passage in it may be used directly unto the business in hand. But although this will be difficultly proved, namely, that any testimony is cited in the Scripture whereof any principal part of it belongs not unto the matter designed to be confirmed, yet it may be granted that it is so sometimes, when the sense of the whole context is to be taken in. But there was no reason, on this ground, that the apostle should make so many observations on what was not spoken at all, which in an ordinary way ought to have been mentioned, if the whole of what he so observed was not at all to his purpose.

Wherefore it must be granted, as that which the plain design of the apostle exacteth of us, that Melchisedec even in these things in the story, that he was “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life,” was a type and representative of Christ. But it is not of the person of Christ absolutely, nor of either of his natures distinctly, that our apostle treateth, but merely with respect unto his office of priesthood. And herein all the things mentioned do concur in him, and make a lively representation of him. It was utterly a new doctrine unto the Hebrews, that the Lord Christ was a priest, the only high priest of the church, so as that all other priesthood must cease. And their chief objection against it was, that it was contrary unto the law, and inconsistent with it; and this because he was not of the line of the priests, neither as to father, or mother, or genealogy, nor had any to succeed him. But in this type of his the apostle proves that all this was to be so. For,

[1.] In this respect he had neither father nor mother from whom he might derive any right or title unto his office; and this was for ever sufficient to exclude him from any interest in the priesthood as it was established by law.

[2.] He had no genealogy upon the priestly line; and that which is recorded of him on other accounts is so far from having respect unto his right unto the priesthood of the law, that it directly proves and demonstrates that he had none. For his genealogy is evidently of the tribe of Judah, which was excluded legally from that office; as we have, besides the institution, an instance in king Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26:16-21, from Exodus 30:7-8; Numbers 18:7. Hence our apostle concludes, that had he been on the earth, that is, under the order of the law, he could not have been a priest; there being others who, by virtue of their descent, had alone the right thereunto, Hebrews 8:3-4. Wherefore God in these things instructed the church that he would erect a priesthood which should no way depend on natural generation, descent, or genealogy; whence it inevitably follows, that the state of the priesthood under the law was to cease, and to give place unto another, which our apostle principally designs to prove.

[3.] In this respect also the Lord Christ was “without beginning of days and end of life.” For although in his human nature he was both born and died, yet he had a priesthood which had no such beginning of days as that it should be traduced from any other to him, nor shall ever cease or be delivered over from him unto any other, but abides unto the consummation of all things. In these things was Melchisedec made like unto Christ, whom the apostle here calls the Son of God; “made like unto the Son of God.” I have formerly observed, that in this epistle the apostle makes mention of the Lord Christ under various appellations, on various occasions, so that in one place or another he makes use of all the names whereby he is signified in the Scripture. Here he calls him “the Son of God;” and that,

1. To intimate that although Melchisedec was an excellent person, yet was he infinitely beneath him whom he represented, even the Son of God. He was not the Son of God, but he had the honor in so many things to be made like unto him.

2. To declare how all those things which were any way represented in Melchisedec, or couched in the story, or left unto inquiry by the veil of silence drawn over them, could be fulfilled in our high priest; and it was from hence, namely, that he was the Son of God. By virtue hereof was he capable of an always living, abiding, uninterrupted priesthood, although as to his human nature he once died, in the discharge of that office.

This description being given of the person treated of, which makes up the subject of the proposition, it is affirmed concerning him that he “abideth a priest for ever.” For any thing we find in the story, of his death, or the resignation of his office, or the succession of any one unto him therein, “he abideth a priest for ever.” Some, I find, have been venturing at some obscure conjectures of the perpetuity of the priesthood of Melchisedec in heaven. But I cannot perceive that they well understood themselves what they intended. Nor did they consider that the real continuance of the priesthood for ever in the person of Melchisedec, is as inconsistent with the priesthood of Christ as the continuance of the same office in the line of Aaron. But things are so related concerning him in the Scripture, as that there is no mention of the ending of the priesthood of his order, nor of his own personal administration of his office, by death or otherwise. Hence is he said to “abide a priest for ever.” This was that which our apostle principally designed to confirm from hence, namely, that there was in the Scripture, before the institution of the Aaronical priesthood, a representation of an eternal, unchangeable priesthood, to be introduced in the church; which he demonstrates to be that of Jesus Christ.

It may not be amiss, in the close of this exposition of these verses, summarily to represent the several particulars wherein the apostle would have us to observe the likeness between Melchisedec and Christ; or rather, the especial excellencies and properties of Christ that were represented in the account given of the name, reign, person, and offices of Melchisedec; as,

1. He was said to be, and he really was, and he only, first the king of righteousness, and then the king of peace; seeing he alone brought in everlasting righteousness and made peace with God for sinners. And in his kingdom alone are these things to be found.

2. He was really and truly the priest of the most high God; and properly he was so alone. He offered that sacrifice, and made that atonement, which was signified by all the sacrifices offered by holy men from the foundation of the world.

3. He blesseth all the faithful, as Abraham, the father of the faithful, was blessed by Melchisedec. In him were they to be blessed, by him are they blessed, through him delivered from the curse, and all the fruits of it; nor are they partakers of any blessing but from him.

4. He receiveth all the homage of his people, all their grateful acknowledgments of the love and favor of God in the conquest of their spiritual adversaries, and deliverance from them, as Melchisedec received the tenth of the spoils from Abraham.

5. He was really without progenitors or predecessors unto his office; nor would I exclude that mystical sense from the intention of the place, that he was without father as to his human nature, and without mother as to his divine.

6. He was a priest without genealogy, or derivation of his pedigree from the loins of Aaron, or any other that ever was a priest in the world; and moreover, mysteriously, was of a generation which none can declare.

7. He had, in his divine person, as the high priest of the church, neither beginning of days nor end of life, as no such thing is reported of Melchisedec; for the death which he underwent, in the discharge of his office, being not the death of his whole person, but of his human nature only, no interruption of his endless office did ensue thereon. For although the person of the Son of God died, whence God is said to “redeem his church with his own blood,” Acts 20:28; yet he died not in his whole person: but as the Son of man was in heaven whilst he was speaking on the earth, John 3:13, namely, he was so in his divine nature; so whilst he was dead on the earth in his human nature, the same person was alive in his divine. Absolutely, therefore, nor in respect of his office, he had neither beginning of days nor end of life.

8. He was really the Son of God, as Melchisedec in many circumstances was made like to the Son of God.

9. He alone abideth a priest for ever; whereof we must particularly treat afterwards.

The doctrinal observations that may be taken from these verses are,

Obs. 29. When any were of old designed to be types of Christ, there was a necessity that things more excellent and glorious should be spoken or intimated of them than did properly belong unto them. So, many things are here observed of Melchisedec which were not properly and literally fulfilled in him. And so there are likewise of David and Solomon, in sundry places. And the reason is, because the things so spoken were never intended of them absolutely, but as they were designed to represent the Lord Christ, unto whom alone they did truly belong. And in the exposition of such typical prophecies, the utmost diligence is to be used in distinguishing aright what is absolutely spoken of the type only, and what is spoken of it merely as representing Christ himself.

Obs. 30. All that might be spoken, so as to have any probable application in any sense unto things and persons typically, coming short of what was to be fulfilled in Christ, the Holy Ghost, in his infinite wisdom, supplied that defect, by ordering the account which he gives of them so as more might be apprehended and learned from them than could be expressed. And where the glory of his person, as vested with his office, could not be represented by positive applications, it is done by a mystical silence, as in this story of Melchisedec. And the most eminent and glorious things assigned unto types, as such, have a more glorious signification in Christ than they have in them. See to this purpose our exposition on Hebrews 1:5.

Obs. 31. That Christ, abiding a priest for ever, hath no more a vicar, or successor, or substitute in his office, or any deriving a real priesthood from him, than had Melchisedec; whereof we shall speak afterwards.

Obs. 32. The whole mystery of divine wisdom, effecting all inconceivable perfections, centred in the person of Christ, to make him a meet, glorious, and most excellent priest unto God in the behalf of the church. This it is the principal design of the whole gospel to demonstrate, namely, to declare that all the treasures of divine wisdom and knowledge are hid in Jesus Christ, Colossians 2:3. The constitution of his person was the greatest mystery that ever infinite wisdom effected, 1 Timothy 3:16. And thereby did God gloriously represent himself and all his infinite perfections unto us, Hebrews 1:3; Col 1:14-15 ; 2 Corinthians 4:6. Had he not had the divine nature, he could not have been the “express image” of God in himself; and had he not been man, he could not have represented him unto us. Nor can any thing be more mysteriously glorious than the furniture of his person as mediator, with all fullness of power, wisdom, and grace, for the accomplishment of his work, John 1:16; Colossians 1:18-19; Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:5-11. The work that he wrought, in offering himself a sacrifice and making atonement for sin, hath the highest, inconceivable impression of divine wisdom upon it, 1 John 3:16; Acts 20:28; Revelation 5:9; Ephesians 5:2; and so also hath the grace that is from thence administered by him and from him, unto Jews and Gentiles, Ephesians 3:8-11. And instances of the like kind may be multiplied. And we may consider thence, first, into what condition of sin and misery we were fallen by our apostasy from God, whence nothing would or could recover us but this blessed work of the whole mystery of divine wisdom; and then the unspeakable riches and excellencies of that wisdom, love, and grace, which provided this way for our recovery.

Verses 4-5

The proceed of these verses is unto the application of what was before discoursed. For having proved that Christ, the promised Messiah, was to be a “priest after the order of Melchisedec,” from Psalms 110:0, and given a description both of the person and office of this Melchisedec, from the historical narration of them as laid down by Moses; he makes application of the whole unto his present purpose: and from the consideration of sundry particulars in his description, he confirms in general the argument which he had in hand. For that which principally he designeth to prove is, that a more excellent priesthood than that of Aaron being introduced, according to the purpose and promise of God, it followed necessarily that that priesthood, with all the worship, rites, and ceremonies which belonged unto it, was to cease and be taken out of the way; for as this new, promised priesthood was inconsistent with it, and could not be established without the abolition of it, so it brought a far greater benefit and spiritual advantage unto the church than it before enjoyed. And we are not to wonder that the apostle insists so much hereon, and that with all sorts of arguments, especially such as the Old Testament furnished him withal; for this was the hinge on which the eternal salvation or destruction of that whole church and people at that time did turn. For if they would not forego their old priesthood and worship, their ruin was unavoidable; Christ would either be rejected by them, or be of no profit unto them. Accordingly things fell out thus with the most of them; they clave absolutely unto their old institutions, and, rejecting the Lord Christ, perished in their unbelief. Others contended for the continuance of their priesthood and worship, for which they supposed they had invincible reasons, although they admitted the profession of Christ and the gospel therewithal. But our apostle, knowing how inconsistent these things were, and how the retaining of that persuasion would keep them off at present from believing the necessity, usefulness, glory, and advantages, of the priesthood of Christ, and the spiritual worship of the gospel, as also dispose them unto apostasy for the future, laboureth by all means to eradicate this pernicious, fundamental error out of their minds. Unto this end doth he so diligently insist on all the instances, and particulars of them, whereby God of old did intimate unto their forefathers the introduction of this alteration, with the advantage of the church thereby. And I mention these things, that we may see the reason the apostle did so scrupulously, as it were, insist on all the ensuing particulars, which otherwise we may not so easily discern the necessity of; and withal to show,

1. How hard it is to dispossess the minds of men of inveterate persuasions in religion;

2. The great care and diligence they ought to use and exercise who have the care of the souls of men committed unto them, when they discern them in apparent danger of ruin.

That the old priesthood was to be removed, and the new one mentioned to be introduced, he proves in the first place by the greatness of the person who was first chosen of God to prefigure and represent the Lord Christ in his office of priesthood. For if he were so excellent in his person and office, as deservedly to be preferred above Aaron and all his successors, then he who was prefigured and represented by him must be so also; yea, be so much more, as that which is typed out and signified is, and always must be, more excellent than the type and sign, which are of no use but with respect thereunto.

In these verses he chooseth out his first instance, in what he had observed before out of the narrative of Moses concerning the greatness and excellency of Melchisedec, in that he received tithes of Abraham. His design is to prove him more excellent and greater than all the Levitical priests. But herein he takes a step backward, and begins with Abraham himself, from whom both people and priests confessedly derived all their privileges. And he produceth his instance in the case of tithes, whereon, as it is known, the whole Levitical priesthood did depend. And this the apostle knew full well, that if once he proved him greater than Abraham, he should not need, with that people, to prove him above any of his posterity, but they would immediately give over the contest. So in their exceptions unto our Savior’s testimony concerning himself, they acknowledge they could proceed no higher. “Art thou,” say they, “greater than our father Abraham? whom makest thou thyself to be ?” John 8:53. But yet our apostle, nor content herewith, to obviate all pretences, proves distinctly afterwards that the whole order of the Levitical priests were inferior unto him.

Hebrews 7:4-5 . Θεωρεῖτε δὲ , πληίκος οὗτος , ᾧ καὶ δεκάτην ᾿Αβραὰμ ἔδωκεν ἐκ τῶν ἀκροθινίων ὁ πατριάρχης . Καὶ οἰ ἐκ τῶν υἱῶν Δευϊv τὴν ἱερατείαν λαμβάνοντες ἐντολὴν ἔχουσιν ἀποδεκατοῦν τὸν λαὸν κατὰ τοῦ νόμον , τοῦτ᾿ ἔστι , τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὑτοῶν , καίπερ ἐξεληλυθότας ἐκ ὀσφύος ᾿Αβραάμ·

Θεωρεῖτε δέ , “considerate,” “spectate.” Syr., חֲזַו , “videte.” Vulg. Lat., “intuemini.” “Consider,” “behold,” “contemplate.” Serious consideration with diligent intuition is intended. Πηλίκος οὗτος . “Quantus hic;” “sit,” Vulg. Lat. “Fuerit” is supplied by others; as by us, “how great this man was.” Syr., כְּמָא רַב הָנָא “quam magnus hie.” Δεκάτην ἐκ τῶν ἀκροθινίων . Beza, “decimas spoliorum;” “decimas de spoliis hostium;” “de spoliis;” Vulg. Lat., “decimas de praecipuis,” of “the chiefest things.” The Syriac makes a distinction: מעֲסָרֵא וְרִישִׁיחָא , fruits.” [2] ,”tithes and first-

[2] EXPOSITION. To meet the objection, that no stress can be laid on the circumstance that Melchisedec received tithes, inasmuch as the Levitical priests also received them, the apostle, according to Ebrard, argues, 1. From the fact that they received the priesthood in virtue of descent, τὴν ἱερατείαν λαμβάνοντες : 2. From their right to tithes by statute, whereas Abraham gave tithes to Melchisedec voluntarily: 3. From the limitation of the Levitical right to the λαός , the chosen people, while that of Melchisedec stretched beyond his tribe, and was recognised by Abraham: and, 4. Descent from Abraham, while it secured tithes for the Levites, involved those who were not Levites in the burden of paying, “though they came out of the loins of Abraham.” Ebrard sums the whole up in a mathematical formula: Melchisedec > > [Abraham > (Levites > not Levites)]. Ed.

Hebrews 7:4 . Consider then how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

The duty of the Hebrews, upon the proposition of the state of Melchisedec, before insisted on, is here pressed on them. And the words contain both a respect unto the preceding discourse, a duty prescribed, the object of that duty, and the reason of a qualification therein expressed, amplified by the title, state, and condition of one person concerned.

1. The note of respect unto the preceding discourse is in the particle δὲ ; which we render “now,” “consider now, then, or therefore.” ‘But do you consider. The things before laid down are, as of importance in themselves; so of your especial concernment.’

2. The especial duty which he prescribes unto them, with respect unto the things proposed by him concerning the excellency of Melchisedec and his office, is, that they would “consider” it.

He doth four times in this epistle call the Hebrews unto this especial duty of an intense consideration of the things proposed unto them, as we have translated his words, and that not unduly, Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 10:24; Hebrews 12:3, and in this place. Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 10:24, we have the same word in the original, κατανοήσατε ; whose importance hath been declared on Hebrews 3:1. Hebrews 12:3, the word is ἀναλογίΣασθε , which signifies “to call things unto a due reckoning and account,” so as to conform our minds unto them; which is our great duty with respect unto the patient sufferings of Christ, there intended. The word here used signifies “diligently to behold,” “contemplate on,” or “to look into” the things proposed unto us. He had before warned them that what he had to discourse on this subject was difficult and hard to be understood; but withal, such was its use and excellency, that neither would he refrain from declaring of them, nor ought they to spare any pains in a diligent inquiry into them. Having therefore laid down the matter of fact, and stated the whole subject which he designed to treat upon, he adds their duty with respect thereunto. And this, in the first place, is, that they would “heedfully and diligently look into them.”

Obs. 1. It will be fruitless, and to no advantage, to propose or declare the most important truths of the gospel, if those unto whom they are proposed do not diligently inquire into them. And here those unto whom the dispensation of the gospel is committed are pressed with no small difficulty, as our apostle professeth that he was in this very case. For whereas it is incumbent on them, in that declaration of the whole counsel of God which is enjoined them, to insist upon sundry things that are deep, mysterious, and hard to be understood; when their hearers, for want of a good foundation of knowledge in the principles of religion, or through carelessness in attending unto what is delivered, do not come unto a due perception and understanding of them, it is very grievous to see their own labors and others’profit disappointed. Wherefore, if men think they have nothing to do but as it were to give the hearing unto such as endeavor to carry them on to perfection, they will lose all the advantage of their ministry. This duty, therefore, is here prescribed by the apostle with respect unto this truth, to obviate this slothful frame. And we may on this occasion briefly name the things that are required thereunto; as,

1. Sense of a concernment in them. Unless this be well fixed on the mind, men will never diligently attend unto them, nor duly consider them. If, upon the proposal of sacred truths that appear hard to be understood, they begin to think that this belongs not unto them, it is for others who are more exercised than they, it is not likely they would ever endeavor to apprehend them aright. And this very frame keeps many on a low form of knowledge all their days. Possibly, also, this neglect is increased in many by the spreading of a late foolish apprehension, that we are upon the matter to look after nothing but the doctrines and precepts of morality that are in the Scripture; but as for the more spiritual mysteries of grace, we are not concerned in them. Where this principle is once imbibed, men will rest and satisfy themselves in the most profound ignorance; and not only so, but despise all such as endeavor to be wiser than themselves. But,

2. Unto a due apprehension of these things, there is not only required a sense of our concernment, but also a delight in them. If the light be not pleasant unto us, as well as useful, we shall not value it nor seek after it. When such mysterious truths as that here insisted on by our apostle are proposed unto men, if they have no delight in such things, they will never be at the cost and pains of inquiring into them with necessary diligence. Curiosity, indeed, or a humor to pry into things we have not seen, and which we cannot see in a due manner, because not revealed, is everywhere condemned by our apostle, who warns us all to be “wise unto sobriety,” and not above what is written. But there is a secret delight and complacency of mind in every beam of spiritual light shining in its proper divine revelation, when the soul is disposed aright unto the reception of it. Without this in some measure, we shall not “follow on to know,” nor thrive in knowledge.

3. Study, meditation, and prayer, with the diligent use of all other means appointed for the search and investigation of the truth, do close this duty. Without these things in hearers, ministers lose all their labor in the declaration of the most important mysteries of the gospel. This the apostle, as to the present case, designs to obviate in the frequent prescription of this duty.

That which the apostle proposeth in the first place, and in general, as the object of this inquiry and consideration, is Πηλίκος οὗτος , “Quantus iste erat.” The word respects greatness and excellency in any kind: “Nunc quantus Achilles,” “Quantus erat Julius Caesar,” and the like. And this greatness of Melchisedec respected neither the endowments of his person, nor the largeness of his dominion, nor his riches or wealth; in which sense some are said to be great in the Scripture, as Job, Barzillai, and others: but it regards alone his dignity with respect unto his office, and his nearness unto God on that account. That which these Hebrews insisted on, as their chief and fundamental privilege in Judaism, and which they were most unwilling to forego, was the greatness of their predecessors, with their nearness unto God in favor and office. In the first way, as to divine love and favor, they gloried in Abraham, and opposed the privilege of being his children on all occasions unto the person and doctrine of Christ, John 8:33; John 8:53. And in the latter, they thought Aaron and his successors to be preferred above all the world. And whilst they were under the power and influence of these apprehensions the gospel could not but be ungrateful unto them, as depriving them of their privileges, and rendering their condition worse than it was before. To undeceive them in this matter, and to demonstrate how unspeakably all those in whom they trusted came short of the true high priest of the church, he calls them to consider the greatness of him whose only eminence consisted in being a type or representative of him. Wherefore the greatness of Melchisedec, here proposed unto earnest consideration, is that which he had in representing Jesus Christ, and his nearness unto God on that account. And it were well that we were all really convinced that all true greatness consists in the favor of God, and our nearness unto him, on the account of our relation unto Jesus Christ. We neither deny nor undervalue any man’s wealth or power hereby. Let those who are rich and wealthy in the world be accounted and called great, as the Scripture sometimes calls them so; and let those who are high in power and authority be so esteemed, we would derogate nothing from them which is their due: but yet the greatness of them all is but particular, with respect unto some certain things, and therefore fading and perishing; but this greatness and honor, of the favor of God and nearness unto him, on the account of relation unto Jesus Christ, is general, abiding, yea, eternal.

The proof of the apostle’s assertion, included in that interrogation, “How great this man was,” follows in an instance of what he had before observed and proposed unto them, “Unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils,” ᾧ καὶ δεκάτην ἔδωκε : δεκάτην , that is μερίδα , “the tenth part.” The conjunction καὶ is emphatical; and although in the original it is joined with δεκάτην , yet in construction it is to be understood with “Abraham;” not, “unto whom Abraham gave even the tenth;” but, “unto whom even Abraham gave the tenth,” as it is in our translation.

The proof of the greatness of Melchisedec from hence consists in three things:

1. In the nomination of the person that was subject unto him, or “Abraham.”

2. In the qualification of his person; he was “the patriarch.”

3. In what he did; “he gave him the tenth part of the spoils.”

1. As to the person himself, he was the stock and root of the whole people, their common father, in whom they were first separated from the other nations to be a people of themselves. And herein they had a singular reverence for him, as generally all nations have for the first founders of their political state; who among the idolatrous heathens were commonly deified, and made the objects of their religious adoration. But moreover, it was he who first received the promise and the covenant, with the token of it, and by whom alone they put in their claim unto all the privileges and advantages which they gloried in above all nations in the world. This Abraham, therefore, they esteemed next unto God himself. And their posterity do now place him in heaven above the angels, hardly allowing that the Messiah himself should be exalted above him, and tell a foolish story how he took it ill that the Messiah should be on the right hand, and he on the left hand of God. But it is sufficiently evident from the Gospel, how much in those days they boasted of him, and trusted in him. Hence it is that our apostle expresseth it so emphatically, “even Abraham.”

2. The qualification of his person, and his title thereon, are added in like manner: he was ὁ πατριάρχης . A “patriarch” is a father; that is, a prince or ruler of a family, a ruling father. And these patriarchs were of three sorts among the Jews. Of the first sort was he alone who was the first separated progenitor of the whole nation. He was their אָב רִאשׁוֹן , the first father of all that great family. Secondly, There were such as succeeded him, from whom the whole nation in like manner descended, as Isaac and Jacob; who were “heirs with him of the same promise,”

Hebrews 11:9. Thirdly, Such as were the first heads of their twelve tribes, into which the nation was divided; that is, the twelve sons of Jacob, who are called patriarchs, Acts 7:8-9. Others that followed them, as David (who is also called a patriarch, Acts 2:29), were termed so in allusion unto them, and being signally the progenitors of a most eminent family among them. Now it is evident that the first of these on all accounts is the principal, and hath the pre-eminence over all the rest. And this was Abraham alone. Wherefore if any one were greater than Abraham, and that in his own time, it must be acknowledged it was upon the account of some privilege that was above all that ever that whole nation as descendants from Abraham were made partakers of. But that this was so, the apostle proves by the instance ensuing, namely, that he gave to Melchisedec, etc.

3. ῎Εδωκε , “he gave” them; yet not arbitrarily, but in the way of a necessary duty; not as an honorary respect, but as a religious office. And he gave thus δεκατην , that is, μερίδα , or מעֲשֵׂר , the “tithe portion;” delivering it up unto his use and disposal, as the priest of the most high God. And this tenth was τῶν ἀκροθινίων , as the apostle interprets the passage in Moses, of the “spoils of war.” Θίν is “acervus,” “a heap of corn,” or any useful things; ἀκροθίνιον is the “top of the heap,” the best of it, from whence the first-fruits were taken for sacred services. And because it was the custom of all nations afterwards to dedicate or devote some portion of what they got in war unto religious services, the word itself came to signify “the spoils of war.” At first it was the portion that was taken out of the whole; and afterwards the whole itself was signified by it. Now, although Abraham had reserved nothing unto himself of what belonged unto the king of Sodom and his companions, yet the army and kings which he had newly slain and destroyed having smitten sundry other nations, Genesis 14:5-7, and dealt with them as they did with Sodom and the other towns, took all their goods and provision, verse 11, and being now on their return home, and laden with prey, it fell all into the hand of the conqueror. “The tenth part of the spoils,” in every kind, might probably be a very great offering, both for sacrifice and sacred dedication in the place where Melchisedec ministered in his office. What further concerns the greatness of this man, the apostle further declares in the ensuing verses, where it will fall under consideration. From this one instance, of Abraham’s paying tithes unto him, it is in a great measure already evinced.

But how came Melchisedec to be thus great? Is it because he was originally in himself more wise and honorable than any of the sons of men? We read no such thing concerning him; which the apostle declares to be the rule and measure of all our conceptions in this matter. Is it that he attained this dignity and greatness by his own industry and endeavors? as the prophet says of some, that “their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves,” Habakkuk 1:7. Neither do we find any thing of that nature ascribed unto him. The sole reason and cause hereof is, that God raised him up and disposed of him into that condition of his own good pleasure. And we may see in him, that,

Obs. 2. The sovereign will, pleasure, and grace of God, is that alone which puts a difference among men, especially in the church. He makes men great or small, high or low, eminent or obscure, as it seemeth good unto him.

“He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and he hath set the world upon them,” 1 Samuel 2:8;

which is plentifully elsewhere testified unto. Whence was it that the twelve poor fishermen were made apostles, to “sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel,” and becoming princes in all nations? Who made the most glorious apostle of the first and fiercest persecutor? Was it not He who “hath mercy on whom he will have mercy,” and is “gracious unto whom he will be gracious?” And it is laid down as a universal rule, that no man hath any thing in this kind but what he hath freely received; nor doth any man make himself to differ from others, 1 Corinthians 4:7. For,

1. God lays the foundation of all spiritual differences among men in his sovereign decree of eternal election, Romans 9:11-16; Ephesians 1:4. And among them that are chosen, he calleth them when and how he pleaseth, both unto grace and employment or work. And,

2. As to grace, gifts, and spiritual endowments, the Holy Spirit “divideth unto every man as he will,” 1 Corinthians 12:11. Let every one, then, be contented with his lot and condition; let every one endeavor to fill up the place and state wherein he is fixed, and as he is called to abide with God. Let God be owned in all his gifts and graces; and our souls be humbled in what we come short of others; and the sovereignty of grace admired, in all the different effects of it which we behold.

Obs. 3. Whereas even Abraham himself gave the tenth of all to Melchisedec, we may observe, that the highest privilege exempts not any from the obligation unto and performance of the meanest duty. Notwithstanding all those advantages and privileges which Abraham was possessed of, on the account whereof he was mighty in his own days, and almost adored by his posterity, yet when the meanest duty was presented unto him, he readily complied with it. Nor ought it to be otherwise with any. For,

1. Privilege is less than duty. A man may have the greatest privileges and yet be rejected; but the least sincere duty shall not be unrewarded: for duty indeed is our chiefest honor and advantage. And for men to pretend to such advancements in the church of God, as that they should be exempted thereby from the ordinary labor of the ministry, is horrid pride and ingratitude. But when spiritual or ecclesiastical privileges are pretended to countenance men in a life or course of idleness, sloth, pleasure, sensuality, or worldliness in any kind, it is a crime that, it may be, we as yet want a name to express. Wherefore,

2. Whatever is pretended, that is no privilege which either exempts a man from or hinders him in and unto the performance of any duty whatever. It is such a privilege as, being well improved, will send men to hell. It will prove no otherwise, let the pretense be what it will. For,

3. There are indeed but two ends of any privileges whereof in this world we may be made partakers; whereof the first is to enable us unto duty, and the other is to encourage us there- unto. Hereunto we may add, that when any are highly exalted in privileges, so that they have an advantage thereby to give an eminent example unto others is the performance of their duties, when these ends are not pursued, all privileges, promotions, dignities, exaltations, are snares, and tend unto the ruin of men’s souls. There are things still of this nature, both as unto whole churches and as unto particular persona Some churches are like Capernaum as to the outward means of grace, as it were lifted up to heaven. Let them take heed of Capernaum’s judgment, in being brought down as low as hell for their abuse of them, or negligence in their improvement. Some persons have eminent endowments; and if they are not eminent in service, they will prove to their disadvantage: yea, the highest privileges should make-men ready to condescend unto the meanest duties. This is that which our Lord Jesus Christ so signally instructed his disciples in, when he himself washed their feet, and taught them the same duty towards the meanest of his disciples, John 13:11-17.

Obs. 4. Opportunities for duty, which render it beautiful, ought diligently to be embraced. So did Abraham as unto this duty, upon his meeting of Melchisedec. Hence the performance of this duty became so renowned, and was of the use whereunto it is here applied by our apostle. It is season that gives every thing its beauty. And omission of seasons, or tergiversations under them, are evidences of a heart much under the power of corrupt lusts or unbelief.

Obs. 5. When the instituted use of consecrated things ceaseth, the things themselves cease to be sacred or of esteem. For what became of all these dedicated things after the death of Melchisedec? They were no more sacred, the actual administration of his typical priesthood ceasing. Of what use was the brazen serpent, after it was taken from the pole whereon it was lifted up by God’s appointment or of what use would the lifting of it up be, when it was not under an express command? We know it proved a snare, a means of idolatry, and that was all. God’s institution is the foundation and warranty of all consecration. All the men in the world cannot really consecrate or dedicate any thing, but by virtue of divine appointment. And this appointment of God respected always a limited use, beyond which nothing was sacred. And every thing kept beyond its appointment is like manna so kept; “it breeds worms and stinketh.” These things are manifest, from the consideration of all things that God ever accepted or dedicated in the church. But ignorance of them is that which hath filled the world with horrid superstition. How many things have we had made sacred which never had warranty from any institution of God! monasteries, abbeys, persons, and lands, altars, bells, utensils, with other things of the like nature very many; which, whatever use they are of, yet all the men in the world cannot make them sacred. And the extending of the sacredness of dedicated things beyond their use hath had a no less pernicious event. Hence was the useless reservation of the consecrated bread after the sacrament, and afterwards the idolatrous worship of it. But these things are here occasionally only mentioned. The apostle adds, in the confirmation of his argument,

Hebrews 7:5 . And verily they that are the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham. There is in these words an illustration and confirmation of the present argument, proving the preference of Melchisedec above Abraham, from his giving the tithe or tenth of all unto him, and consequently receiving the blessing from him. And this is taken from what was determined in the law and acknowledged among the Hebrews; with which kind of arguments the apostle doth principally press them in the whole epistle, as we have showed on many occasions. Now this is, that the priests, who received tithes by the law, were superior in dignity and honor unto the people from whom they did receive them. And this was only declared in the law, for the foundation of it was in the light of nature, as the apostle expressly intimates in the instance of benediction afterwards.

There are considerable in the words,

1. The introduction of this new confirmation of his foregoing argument.

2. A description of the persons in whom he instanceth.

3. The action ascribed unto them, with its limitation. And,

4. The qualification of the persons on whom their power was exercised:

First, The introduction of his reasoning herein is in these words, Καὶ οἱ μέν . The connection in the conjunction is plain; yet not a reason is given of what was spoken before, but a continuation of the same argument with further proof is intended. And he adds the note of observation, μέν , “verily;” as if he had said, ‘As to this matter of tithing, and what may thence justly be inferred as to dignity and pre-eminence, you may consider how it was under the law; and what I propose unto you, you will there find directly confirmed.’It is a great advantage, to press them with whom we have to do from their own principles.

Secondly, The description of the persons in whom he instanceth is in these words, “The sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood.” It was the priests directly whom he intended, or the sons of Aaron; and he might have so expressed it, ‘the priests according to the law.’But he varieth his expression for sundry reasons that appear in the context:

1. Because all the Levites did receive tithes by the law, yea, tithes in the first place were paid unto them in common. But because their dignity among the people was less conspicuous than that of the priests, and the design of the apostle is not merely to argue from the giving of tithes unto any, but the giving of them unto them as priests, as Abraham gave tithes of all unto Melchisedec as priest of the most high God, he thus expresseth it, “The sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood.” For though all the sons of Levi received tithes, yet all of them did not receive the priesthood; with which sort of persons alone he was concerned.

2. He doth thus express it to introduce the mention of Levi, whom he was afterwards to mention on the same occasion, and to lay the weight of him and the whole tribe under the same argument.

3. He minds them, by the way, of another dignity of the priest-hood, in that not all the posterity of Abraham, rio, nor yet of Levi, were partakers thereof, but it was a privilege granted only to one part of them, even the family of Aaron. And these are the persons in whom he makes his instance. Thus God distributes dignity and pre-eminence in the church as he pleaseth. Not all the posterity of Abraham, but only those of Levi, were set apart to receive tithes; and not all the posterity of Levi, but only the family of Aaron, did receive the priesthood. And this order of his sovereign pleasure God required of them all to submit unto and acquiesce in, Numbers 16:9-10. And it is a dangerous thing, out of envy, pride, or emulation, to transgress the bounds of dignity and office that God hath prescribed; as we may see in the instance of Korah. For every man to be contented with the station which God hath fixed him unto by rule and providence, is his safety and honor. What God calleth and disposeth men unto, therein are they to abide, and to that are they to attend. It was new to the people, to set the whole tribe of Levi, taken into a particular sacred condition, to attend for ever on the worship of God; yet therein they acquiesced. But when the priests were taken out of the Levites, and exalted above them, some of them murmured at it, and stirred up the congregation against Aaron, as though he took too much upon him, and deprived the congregation of their liberty, which yet was all holy. The end of this sedition was known, notwithstanding the specious pretense of it.

Thirdly, What is ascribed unto these persons ensues in the words, “Have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law.” They had “a command to take tithes;” and they were to do it “according to the law:” the one was their warranty, and the other their rule; for so are the “commandment” and the “law” here to be distinguished.

1. They had a “commandment to take tithes;” that is, there was a command or institution enabling them so to do; for the command in the first place respected the people, making it their duty to pay all their tithes unto the Levites. God did first take the tithe to be his peculiar portion; and thereby alienated it from the people, that they had no propriety in it. “And all the tithe of the land,” saith he, “is the LORD’S,” Leviticus 27:30. Hence those that withheld their tithes are said to “rob God,” Malachi 3:8. And wherever it can be manifested that God hath, by an institution of his own, taken the whole tithes of any place into his own possession, there for any to detain them for their own use, it is sacrilege, and not else. But God having thus in the land of Canaan taken them into his own propriety, he commanded the people to pay them to the priests. This command given unto the people to pay them, was a command to the priests to receive them; for what men have a right to do in the church, by God’s institution, that they have a command to do. The right of the priests unto tithing was such, as that it was not at all their liberty to forego it at their pleasure; yea, it was their sin so to have done. The command which obliged others to pay them, obliged them to receive them. And they who on slight pretences do forego what is due to them with respect unto their office, will on as slight, when occasion serves, neglect what is due from them on the same account. And this fell out frequently with the priests of old; they neglected their wages, that they might have countenance in the neglect of their work. And we may hence observe, that,

Obs. 6. Rule, institution, and command, without regard unto unrequired humility, or pleas of greater zeal and self-denial, unless in evident and cogent circumstances, are the best preservatives of order and duty in the church. They are so in every kind, especially in the disposal of earthly things, such as the maintenance of the officers of the church doth consist in. Neither the people’s pretense of poverty, nor the ministers’pretense of humility, will regulate this matter as it ought to be. But as it is the people’s duty to provide for them, wherein they exercise grace and obedience towards Jesus Christ; so it is the ministers’duty cheerfully to receive what is their due by the appointment of Christ, for they have a command so to do. But whereas they are not many who are apt to transgress on this hand, we shall not need further to press this consideration. But we may add,

Obs. 7. As it is the duty of those who are employed in sacred ministrations to receive what the Lord Christ hath appointed for their supportment, and in the way of his appointment, so it is likewise, without trouble, solicitousness, or complaint, to acquiesce therein. So was it with the priests of old, they were to receive their portion, and to acquiesce in their portion; the neglect of which duty was the sin of the sons of Eli. We take it for granted that the way of maintenance is changed as to the ministers of holy things under the new testament. That the law of maintenance is taken away is the highest folly to imagine, it being so expressly asserted by our Savior himself and his apostle, Luke 10:7; 1 Corinthians 9:0. But here it is thought lies the disadvantage, that whereas the priests under the old testament had a certain portion which was legally due unto them, and they might demand it as their own, it is now referred unto the voluntary contribution of them that have the benefit and advantage of their labor. Now whereas they oftentimes, yea, for the most part, are negligent in their duty, and, through love of the present world, very scanty and backward in their contributions, ministers cannot be supported in their work in any measure proportionable unto what the priests were of old. Besides, it should seem unworthy a minister of the gospel, who ought to be had in esteem, and is declared by the apostle to be “worthy of double honor,” to depend on the will, and as it were charity of the people, many of them, it may be, poor and low themselves. And these things have taken such impression on the minds of the most of them that are called ministers, as that, with the help of the secular power, they have wisely provided a new way and law of legal tithing for their subsistence, with a notable overplus of other good ecclesiastical lands and revenues: which practice I shall neither justify nor condemn, let the effects of it and the day declare it. Only I say, that the institution of Christ before mentioned stands in no need of this invention or supply to safeguard it from these objections. For,

(1.) The change made in the way of maintenance, pretended so disadvantageous unto ministers of the gospel, is no other but a part of that universal alteration, wherein carnal things are turned into those that are more spiritual, which was made by the bringing in of the kingdom of Christ, And if ministers may complain that they have by the gospel lost the former allotment of sacred officers in tithes, the people may as well complain that they have no inheritances in the land of Canaan. But he is unworthy the name of a minister of the gospel, who is not satisfied with what our Lord hath ordained in every kind. And as for those who indeed think better of what was of use in Judaism or heathenism than what is warranted by the gospel, I shall not debate the matter with them. Wherefore as yet I judge, that the taking of the maintenance of sacred ministers from the law of a carnal commandment enforcing of it, and charging it on the grace and duty of the church, is a perfective alteration, becoming the spirituality and glory of the kingdom of Christ. For,

(2.) This way is the most honorable way, and that which casts the greatest respect upon them. Even the princes and rulers of the world have their revenue and supportment from the substance of the people. Now I would only ask, whether it would not be more honorable that the people should willingly and of their own accord bring in their contribution, than merely pay it under the compulsion of a law? For in this latter way, no man knoweth whether they have the least true honor for their ruler or regard unto his office; but if it might be done in the former, all the world must take notice what reverence, regard, and honor they have for the person and dignity of their prince. It is true, generally the men of the world are such lovers of themselves, and so little concerned in public good, that if they were left absolutely at liberty in this matter, their governors might be defrauded of their right, and the ends of government be disappointed; wherefore, in all countries provision is made by law for the payment of that tribute which yet without law is due. But whether it be meet to bring this order into the church or no, I much question. If it be so, possibly it may secure the revenue of ministers, but it will not increase their honor. For however men may please themselves with outward appearances of things, true honor consists in that respect and reverence which others pay them in their minds and hearts. Now when this is such, and that on the account of duty, that men will freely contribute unto our supportment, I know no more honorable subsistence in the world. ‘What!’will some say, ‘to depend on the will and love of the people? there is nothing more base and unworthy!’Yea, but what if all the honor that Jesus Christ himself hath, or accepts from his people, proceeds from their wills and affections? Mohammed, indeed, who knew well enough that neither honor, respect, nor obedience was due unto him, and that he could no way recompense what should be done towards him in that kind, provided that men should be brought in subjection unto his name by fire and sword. But our Lord Jesus Christ despiseth all honor, all obedience and respect, that are not voluntary and free, and which do not proceed from the wills of men. And shall his servants in the work of the gospel suppose themselves debased, to receive respect and honor from the same principle? Well, therefore, because our apostle tells us that “our Lord hath ordained that those who preach the gospel shall live on the gospel,” and all obedience unto his ordinances and institutions must be voluntary, if ministers are ashamed, and esteem it unworthy of them, to receive what is so contributed in a way of voluntary obedience, let them try if they can prevail with themselves to receive it so for Him, and in his name, who is not ashamed to receive it, no, if it be only a cup of cold water, so it come from a free and willing mind, when he despiseth the revenue of the whole world upon compulsion. If they will not do so, their best way is to leave his service, and take up with that which is more honorable. For my part, I do judge that the way of maintenance of ministers by voluntary benevolence, in a way of duty and obedience unto Christ, though it be not likely the most plentiful, is yet the most honorable of all others. And of this judgment I shall be, until I am convinced of two things:

[1.] That true honor doth not consist in the respect and regard of the minds of men unto the real worth and usefulness of those who are honored, but in outward ceremonies and forced works of regard.

[2.] That it is not the duty which every church owes to Jesus Christ, to maintain those who labor in the word and doctrine, according to their ability; or that it is any gospel-duty which is influenced by force or compulsion.

(3.) It must be acknowledged, that this way of voluntary contribution is not like to afford matter for that grandeur and secular greatness, those ample revenues, those provisions for ease, wealth, and worldly honor, which some think necessary in this case. But yet, however, it must be granted, that all those large possessions and dominions which some now enjoy under the name of church-revenues, were originally voluntary grants and contributions. For it will not be said that the clergy got them by force of arms, or by fraud, nor were they their patrimonial inheritance. But yet I fear there were some undue artifices used to induce men unto such donations and ecclesiastical endowments, and somewhat more of merit fixed thereon than truth will allow, besides a compensation therein for what might be undergone in purgatory, when men were gone out of the world. However, the thing itself in its whole kind, that men out of their substance and revenue should design a portion unto the service of the church, is not to be condemned. But it proved mischievous and fatal, when those who received what was so given, being unmeasurably covetous and worldly, fixed no bounds unto the charity or superstition of men in this kind, until they had overrun the world with their gains. And not only so, but whereas there was no pretense of use of such great revenues, in any way pretended to be of divine appointment, they were forced to invent and find out ways innumerable, in abbeys, monasteries, cloisters, to be repositories of their overflowing treasure and revenues. But when God had appointed to build his tabernacle of the free-will offerings of the people (a type of the gospel- church), when there was provision enough of materials brought in, the liberality of the people was restrained by proclamation, and some perhaps grieved that their offerings were not received, Exodus 36:5-6. Through want of this care to put a stop unto the devotions of men in these donations, according unto a just measure of the church’s necessary use, the bounds whereof were broken up and left invisible, by the pride, ambition, covetousness, and craft of the clergy, the whole world ran into superstition and confusion. At present, I grant that the way which the gospel appoints is not likely to make provision for pomp, grandeur, wealth, revenues, and inheritances, unto them that rely upon it. Nor do I think that if the present establishment of a superfluous revenue unto the clergy were removed, the world itself would in haste run into the same state again. Wherefore, those who judge these things necessary and desirable, must be permitted, as far as I know, to betake themselves unto the advantage the world will afford; it is acknowledged that the gospel hath made no provision of them.

(4.) It is indeed supposed, unto the disadvantage of this way, that by means thereof ministers do become obnoxious unto the people, do depend upon them, and so cannot deal so uprightly and sincerely with their consciences as they ought to do, lest they incur their displeasure, wherein they are too much concerned. It were easy to manifest with how many more and greater inconveniencies the other way is attended, were we now comparing of them. And in truth it is a vain thing to look for or expect any such order and disposal of these things, as should administer no occasion for the wisdom and graces of those concerned; nor would such a way be at all useful. I say, therefore, that God hath established mutual duty to be the rule and measure of all things between ministers and people. Hereunto it is their wisdom and grace to attend, leaving the success unto God. And a minister may easily conclude, that seeing his whole supportment in earthly things, with respect unto his ministry, depends on the command of God on the account of the discharge of his duty, if he have respect thereunto in his work, or so far as it is lawful for him to have, that the more sincere and upright he is therein, the more assured will his supportment be. And he who is enabled to give up himself unto the work of the ministry in a due manner, considering the nature of that work, and what he shall assuredly meet withal in its discharge, is not in much danger of being greatly moved with this pitiful consideration of displeasing this or that man in the discharge of his duty.

(5.) It is further pleaded, that these things were tolerable at the first entrance and beginning of Christianity, when the zeal, love, and liberality of its professors, did sufficiently stir them up unto an abundant discharge of their duty; but now the whole body of them is degenerate from their pristine faith and love: coldness and indifferency in the things of their eternal concernment, with love of self and this present evil world, do so prevail in them all, as that, if things were left unto their wills and sense of duty, there would quickly be an end of all ministry, for want of maintenance. This is of all others the most cogent argument in this case, and that which prevails with many good and sober men utterly to decry the way of ministers’maintenance by a voluntary contribution. I shall briefly give my thoughts concerning it, and so return from this digression. And I say,

[1.] I do not condemn any provision that is made by good, wholesome, and righteous laws among men, for this end and purpose, provided it be such as is accommodated unto the furtherance of the work itself. Such provision as in its own nature is a snare and temptation, inclining men unto pride, ambition, luxury, distance from, and elation above the meanest of the sheep or lambs of Christ, or as it were requiring a worldly grandeur and secular pomp in their course of life, must plead for itself as it is able. But such as may comfortably support, encourage, and help men in this work and discharge of their duty, being made without the wrong of others, is doubtless to be approved. Yea, if, in this degeneracy of Christianity under which we suffer, any shall, out of love and obedience unto the gospel, set apart any portion of their estates, and settle it unto the service of the church in the maintenance of the ministry, it is a good work, which, if done in faith, will be accepted.

[2.] Let those who are true disciples indeed know, that it is greatly incumbent on them to roll away that reproach which is cast upon the institutions of Christ by the miscarriages of the generality of Christians. He hath “ordained that those who preach the gospel shall live on the gospel.” And the way whereby he hath prescribed this to be effected is, that those who are his disciples should, in obedience unto his command, supply them with temporals by whom spirituals are dispensed unto them. If this be not done, a reproach is cast upon his institutions, as insufficient unto the end for which they were designed. It is therefore incumbent on all who have any true zeal for the glory and honor of Christ, to manifest their exemplary obedience and fruitfulness in this matter; whereby it may appear that it is not any defect in the appointment of Christ, but the stubborn disobedience and unbelief of men, that is the cause of any disorder.

[3.] Seeing there is such a degeneracy among Christians, as that they will not be wrought upon unto a voluntary discharge of their duty in this matter, it may be inquired what hath been the cause, or at least the principal occasion thereof. Now if this should be found and appear to be, the coldness, remissness, neglect, ignorance, sloth, ambition, and worldliness, of those who have been their guides and leaders, their officers and ministers, in most ages, it will evince how little reason some have to complain that the people are backward and negligent in the discharge of their duty. And if it be true, as indeed it is, that the care of religion, that it be preserved, thrive, and flourish, not only in themselves but in the whole church, has been committed unto those persons, there can be no such apostasy as is complained of among the people, but that the guilt of it will lie at their doors. And if it be so, it is to be inquired whether it be the duty of ministers absolutely to comply with them in their degeneration, and suffer them to live in the neglect of their duty in this matter, only providing for themselves some other way; or whether they ought not rather by all ways and means to endeavor their recovery into their pristine condition. If it be said, that whatever men pretend, yet it is a thing impossible, to work the people into a due discharge of their duty in this matter, I grant it is, whilst that is only or principally intended. But if men would not consider themselves or their interest in the first place, but really endeavor their recovery unto faith, love, obedience, and holiness, and that by their own example as well as teaching, it may well be hoped that this duty would revive again in the company of others; for it is certain it will never stand alone by itself. But we must proceed with our apostle.

2. Those sons of Levi who obtained the priesthood “received tithes- according to the law;” that is, as the matter or manner of tithing was determined by the law. For by “tithes” I understand that whole portion which, by God’s order and command, belonged unto the priests; and this in all the concerns of it was determined by the law. What, when, how, of whom, all was expressly established by law. So they received tithes according to the law, in the order, way and manner therein determined; for it is God’s law and appointment that gives boundaries and measures unto all duties. What is done according unto them is straight, right, and acceptable; whatever is otherwise, however it may please our own wisdom or reason, is crooked, froward, perverse, and rejected of God.

But there is an objection that this assertion of the apostle seems liable unto, which we must take notice of in our passage. For whereas he affirms that “the Levites who received the office of the priesthood took tithes of. their brethren,” it is evident, from the first grant and institution of tithing, that the Levites who were not priests were the first who immediately received them of the people. See Numbers 18:21-24.

Ans. (1.) By “tithes” the whole consecrated portion according unto the law is intended, as we said before. Hereof the portion allotted unto the priests out of various offerings or sacrifices was no small part, wherein the Levites had no interest, but they belonged and were delivered immediately unto the priests.

(2.) The Levites themselves were given unto the priests, for their service in and about holy things, Numbers 3:9. Whatever afterwards was given unto the Levites, it was so with reference unto the supportment of the priesthood in due order. The tithes, therefore, that were paid to the Levites were in the original grant of all to the priests.

(3.) The priests tithed the whole people in that tenth of all which they received of the Levites; and that being given unto them, what remained in the possession of the Levites themselves came, as all other clean things, to be used promiscuously, Numbers 18:26-32.

Fourthly, The privilege of the priests in taking the tenth of all is amplified by the consideration of the persons from whom they took them. Now these were not strangers or foreigners, but their own brethren. And these also were so their brethren as that they had a right unto, and were partakers of the same original privileges with themselves; which did not exempt them from the duty of paying tithes of all unto them: “Took tithes of their brethren, though they came out of the loins of Abraham.” Abraham first received the promises, and was an equal common spring of privileges to his whole posterity. The priests were not more children of Abraham than the people were. The whole people, therefore, being so, and thereby equally interested in all the privileges of Abraham, or the church of believers it is manifest how great the honor and pre-eminence of the priests were, in that they took tithes of them all. And this the apostle declares, to strengthen his argument for the greatness and excellency of Melchisedec, in that he received tithes of Abraham himself. And we may learn,

Obs. 8. That it is God’s prerogative to give dignity and preeminence in the church among them which are otherwise equal; which is to be acquiesced in. Our common vocation by the word states us all equally in the same privilege, as all the children of Abraham were in that respect in the same condition; but in this common state God makes, by his prerogative, a threefold difference among believers; as to grace, as to gifts, as to office. For,

1. Although all true believers have the same grace in the kind thereof, yet some much excel others in the degrees and exercise of it. As one star differeth from another, that is, excelleth another, in glory, so here one saint excelleth another in grace. This, both the examples of the Scripture and the experience of all ages of the church do testify. And this dependeth on the sovereign pleasure of God. As he is “gracious unto whom he will be gracious,” so when, and how, and in what measure he pleaseth. Some shall have grace sooner than others, and some that which is more eminent than others have: only, he that hath least shall have no lack, as to making of him meet for the inheritance of the saints in light; and he that hath most hath no more than he shall find need of and exercise for. But so it is, some God will have as pillars in his house, and some are but as bruised reeds. And every one’s duty it is for himself, in his place and condition, to comply with the will of God herein.

(1.) Let not the weak, the feeble of the flock, those who either really are so or in their own apprehensions, complain or faint. For,

[1.] There is no man in the world that hath so little grace, who hath any, but he hath ‘more than he ever deserved; as none hath so much, as that any dram of it is of his own earning. And as he who hath nothing but what he hath freely received, hath nothing to boast of; so he who hath that which he never deserved, hath no reason to complain. [2.] It is the pleasure of God it should be so. If it be his will to keep us spiritually poor, so we are thereby kept humble, we shall be no losers. I say not this, as though any one who hath but a little grace, or apprehends himself to have so, should, on the pretense that such is the will of God concerning him and his condition, neglect the most earnest endeavor after more, which would be a shrewd evidence that he hath none at all; but that those who, in a diligent use of means for growth and improvement, cannot yet arrive unto such an increase, such an addition of one grace unto another, as that their profiting may be manifest (which fails out on several occasions), may find relief in the sovereign pleasure of God to keep them in their low condition.

[3.] They may do well to consider, that indeed there is a great deal of glory in the least of true grace. Though there be not so much as in more grace, yet there is more than in all things under the sun besides. No man hath so little grace, who hath any, as that he is ever able to set a sufficient price upon it, or to be thankful enough for it.

[4.] There is, indeed, so much spoken in the Scripture concerning the love, care, compassion, and tenderness of our Lord Jesus Christ, towards the weak, the sick, the diseased of his flock, that on some accounts the state of those humble souls who have yet received but little grace seems to be most safe and desirable, Isaiah 40:11. Let not such, therefore, complain; it is God alone who is the author of this difference between them and others. And on the same grounds,

(2.) Those who are strong, who have much grace, ought not,

[1.] To boast or be lifted up; for, as we observed before, they have nothing but what they have freely received. Yea, it is very suspicious that what any one boasteth of is not grace; for it is the nature of all true grace to exclude all boasting. He that, by comparing himself with others, finds any other issue in his thoughts, but either to admire sovereign grace or to judge himself beneath them, is in an ill condition, or at least in an ill frame.

[2.] Nor to trust unto what they have received. There is none hath so much grace as not every moment to need supplies of more. And he who, like Peter, trusteth unto that wherein he is above others, will one way or other be brought down beneath them all. [3.] Let such be greatly fruitful, or this appearance of much grace will issue in much darkness.

2. God dealeth thus with men as to spiritual gifts. Among those who are called, the Spirit divideth unto every one even as he will. Unto one he giveth five talents, unto another two, and to a third but one. And this diversity, depending merely on God’s sovereignty, is visible in all churches. And as this tends in itself unto their beauty and edification, so there may be an abuse of it unto their disadvantage; for besides those disorders which the apostle declares to have ensued, particularly in the church of Corinth, upon the undue use and exercise of spiritual gifts, there are sundry evils which may befall particular persons by reason of them, if their original and end be not duly attended unto. For,

(1.) Those who have received these spiritual gifts in any eminent manner may be apt to be lifted up with good conceits of themselves, and even to despise their brethren who come behind them therein. This evil was openly prevalent in the church of Corinth.

(2.) Among those who have received them in some equality, or would be thought so to have done, emulations, and perhaps strifes thereon, are apt to ensue. One cannot well bear that the gift of another should find more acceptance, or be better esteemed than his own; and another may be apt to extend himself beyond his due line and measure, because of them. And,

(3.) Those who have received them in the lowest degree may be apt to despond, and refuse to trade with what they have, because their stock is inferior unto their neighbors.’But what is all this to us? May not God do what he will with his own? If God will have some of the sons of Abraham to pay tithes, and some to receive them, is there any ground of complaint? Unto him that hath the most eminent gifts, God hath given of his own, and not of ours; he hath taken nothing from us to endue him withal, but supplied him out of his own stores. Whoever, therefore, is unduly exalted with them, or envies because of them, he despiseth the prerogative of God, and contends with him that is mighty.

3. God distinguisheth persons with respect unto office. He makes, and so accounts, whom he will faithful, and puts them into the ministry. This of old Korah repined against. And there are not a few who free themselves from envy at the ministry, by endeavoring to bring it down into contempt. But the office is honorable; and so are they by whom it is discharged in a due manner. And it is the prerogative of God to call whom he pleaseth thereunto. And there is no greater usurpation therein than the constitution of ministers by the laws, rules, and authority of men. For any to set up such in office as he hath not gifted for it, nor called unto it, is to sit in the temple of God, and to show themselves to be God. We may also hence observe, that,

Obs. 9. No privilege can exempt persons from subjection unto any of God’s institutions, though they were of the loins of Abraham. Yet,

Verse 6

῾Ο δὲ μὴ γενεαλογούμενος ἐξ αὐτῶν δεδεκάτωκε τὸν ᾿Αβραὰμ , καὶ τὸν ἔχοντα τὰς ἐπαγγελίας εὐλόγνκε .

The Ethiopic translation omits these words, ῾Ο δὲ μὴ γενεαλογοὐμενος ἐξ αὐτῶν δεδεκάτωκε τὸν ᾿Αβραάμ . He takes up the name “Abraham” in the foregoing verse, “who came forth out of the loins of Abraham;” and adds unto them what follows in this, “who received the promises;” possibly deceived by a maimed transcript of the original.

Μὴ γενεαλογούμενος . Syr. הָנָא דֵּין דְלָא כְּתִינ בְּשַׁרְ בָּתְהוּן “he who is not written in the genealogies:” properly enough; for the apostle speaks of the genealogies that were written and on record in the book of Genesis, wherein there is none of Melchisedec; and it is the writing by divine inspiration that his argument is founded on. Answ. “Genealogisatus,” “genealogized.” “Is cujus genus non recensetur ex illis,”” whose stock is not reckoned from them;” or as Beza, “ad illos non refertur.” Vulg. Lat., “cujus generatio non annumeratur in eis;” that is, as the Rhemists, “he whose generation is not numbered among them.” Ours, “whose descent is not counted from them;” putting “pedigree” in the margin. Γενεαλογούμενος is, “is cujus ortus,” “generatio,” “nativitas recensetur;” whose “original,” “nativity,” “stock, “race, is reckoned up,” or “recorded.”

᾿᾿Εξ αὐτῶν , “from them,” “from among them.” Vulg. Lat., “in eis,” for “inter cos,” “among them;” “whose generation is not numbered among them.” The meaning is, he was not of their stock or race; he sprang not of them, nor arose from among them.

Δεδεκάτωκε , “decimas tulit,” “sumpsit,” “exegit” “accepit,” “decimavit.” Δεκατεύω is “decimo,” or “decimam partem excerpo;” “to take out the tenth part:” Τὰ τῶν πολεμίων δεκατεύσειν εὐξάμενος τότε , Plut. in Camillo; “ex spoliis hostium decimas excerpere.” Δεκατόω , with an accusative case, as here, is “to receive tithes of any;” and ἀποδεκατόω , in the same construction, is of the same signification: verse 5, ᾿Αποδεκατοῦν . But absolutely it signifies “to pay tithes,” or, “to give tithes,” not to receive them: Luke 18:12, ᾿Αποδεκατῶ πάντα ὅσα κτῶμαι “ I tithe all that I possess;” that is, give tithe out of it.

Hebrews 7:6 . But he whose descent is not reckoned from them, received tithes from Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.

A description there is in these words of Melchisedec, by a negation of a certain respect, useful to be observed unto the design of the apostle; and then an assertion upon a supposition thereof.

1. He was a person whose descent, pedigree, nativity, traduction of stock and lineage, was not reckoned from among them. He had before observed absolutely, that he was not at all genealogized: verse 3, ἀγενεαλόγητος ,

“without descent.” And how this was necessary, to shadow out the eternity of the priesthood of Christ, we have declared. For if he had had any genealogy, or had stood in need thereof, it had been to show from whom he derived his priesthood, and unto whom it was transmitted; whereas he had no such circumstances, nor was to have, as to the end of his call and office. Hence it follows, in particular, that he could not derive his descent from Levi. Morally he could not, because so he had none at all; and naturally he could not, for in his days Levi was only yet in the loins of Abraham: so that in no respect he could descend from him. But the apostle hath a peculiar intention in this verse; for whereas he designed to prove the greatness of Melchisedec from his receiving tithes, he intends here to declare on what right and title he did so. For there were but two ways whereby any one did or might take tithes of any:

(1.) By virtue of the law, or institution of God in the law. This way none could do so but he who legally derived his descent from Levi.

(2.) By virtue of some especial grant or personal privilege, either before or above the law. Whereas, therefore, Melchisedec, as is here declared, had no interest in the former, it must be with respect unto the latter that he had this right; which argues his dignity. So God may, and doth sometimes, communicate of his favor and privileges thereby, by especial exemption, and not by an ordinary rule or constitution. I do not at all know, nor can it be proved, that God is now, by his word, or law, or constitution, obliged to give no ministry unto the church but by virtue of an orderly outward call according to the rule. It is true, we are obliged to keep ourselves unto the rule and law in the call of ministers, so far as we are able; but whether God hath bound himself unto that order, I very much question. Yea, when there is any great and signal work to be done in the church, it may be, such as the church cannot or will not call any unto, even such a reformation of persons as may prove a dissolution of its constitution, if God raise, gift, and providentially call, any unto that work, assisting them in it, I should not doubt of the lawfulness of their ministry, as granted unto them by especial privilege, though not communicated by external rule and order. It is good, ordinarily, to be genealogized into the ministry by established rule; but God can, by virtue of his own sovereignty, grant this privilege unto whom he pleaseth. And let not any imagine that such a supposition must needs immediately open a door unto confusion; for there are invariable rules to try men and their ministry by at all times, whether they are sent of God or no. The doctrine which they teach, the ends which they promote, the lives which they lead, the circumstances of the seasons wherein they appear, will sufficiently manifest whence such teachers are.

2. Having thus described Melchisedec, and manifested on what account the things mentioned were ascribed or did belong unto him, he mentions the things themselves, which were two:

(1.) That he “received tithes of Abraham.”

(2.) That “he blessed him.”

In both which he demonstrates his greatness and dignity:

(1.) By the consideration of the person of whom he received tithes; it was Abraham himself.

(2.) By an especial circumstance of Abraham; it was “he who had received- the promises,” from whence the whole church of Israel claimed their privileges:

(1.) He “received tithes of Abraham.” The Levitical priests received tithes of those who came out of the loins of Abraham; which was an evidence of their dignity by God’s appointment: but he received them of Abraham himself; which evidently declares his superiority above them, as also herein above Abraham himself. And the apostle, by insisting on these things so particularly, shows,

[1.] How difficult a matter it is to dispossess the minds of men of those things which they have long trusted unto, and boasted of. It is plain, from the Gospel throughout, that all the Jews looked on this as their great privilege and advantage, that they were the posterity of Abraham: whom they conceived on all accounts the greatest and most honorable person that ever was in the world. Now, although there was much herein, yet when they began to abuse it, and trust unto it, it was necessary that their confidence should be abated and taken down. But so difficult a matter was this to effect, as that the apostle applies every argument unto it that hath a real force and evidence in it, especially such things as they had not before considered; as it is plain they were utterly ignorant in the instructive part of this story of Melchisedec. And we see, in like manner, when men are possessed with an inveterate conceit of their being “the church,” and having all the privileges of it enclosed unto them, although they have long since forfeited openly all right thereunto, how difficult a thing it is to dispossess their minds of that pleasing presumption.

[2.] That every particle of divine truth is instructive and argumentative, when it is rightly used and improved. Hence the apostle presseth all the circumstances of this story, from every one of them giving light and evidence unto the great truth which he sought to confirm.

(2.) That it might yet further appear how great Melchisedec was, who received tithes of Abraham, he declares who Abraham was, in an instance of his great and especial privilege. It was he who “had the promises.” This he singles out as the greatest privilege and honor of Abraham, as it was indeed the foundation of all the other mercies which he enjoyed, or advantages that he was intrusted withal. The nature of this promise, with the solemn manner of its giving unto Abraham, and the benefits included in it, he had at large declared, Hebrews 6:13-16. Hereby Abraham became “the father of the faithful,” “the heir of the world,” and “the friend of God;” so that it exceedingly illustrates the greatness of Melchisedec, in that this Abraham paid tithes unto him.

The medium of the argument in this instance is liable only unto one exception, namely, ‘That Abraham was not the first that received the promises; so that although he was not, yet there might be others greater than Melchisedec, who never made any acknowledgment of his pre- eminence. For the promise was given unto Adam himself, immediately after the fall; as also unto Noah, in the covenant made with him; and to others also, who, before Abraham, died in the faith.’

Ans. It is true, they had the promise and the benefit of it; but yet so as in sundry things Abraham was preferred above them all. For, [1.] He had the promise more plainly and clearly given unto him, than any of his predecessors in the faith. Hence he was the first of whom it is said, that “he saw the day of Christ, and rejoiced;” as having a clearer view of his coming, and of salvation by him, than any that went before him.

[2.] The promise was confirmed unto him by an oath, which it had not been unto any before.

[3.] The promised Seed was in it peculiarly confined unto his family or posterity. See Hebrews 2:16.

[4.] His receiving of the promise was that which was the foundation of the church in his posterity, which he had peculiarly to deal withal. He had, therefore, the pre-eminence above all others in this matter of receiving the promises.

But it may yet be said, ‘That Abraham had not received the promises then, when he was blessed of Melchisedec, so that it was no argument of his pre- eminence at that time.’But,

[1.] He had before received the same promise, for the substance of it, which was afterwards more solemnly confirmed unto him, on the trial of his faith in offering his only son, Genesis 12:2-3; Genesis 13:15-16.

[2.] He was then actually instated in a right unto all that further confirmation of the promises which he received on various occasions; and what followed added not unto the dignity of his person, but served only unto the confirmation of his faith. So “Melchisedec blessed him who had the promises.” And we may observe,

Obs. 1. We can be made partakers of no such grace, mercy, or privilege in this world, but that God can, when he pleaseth, make an addition thereunto. “He who had received the promises” was afterwards “blessed.” We depend upon an infinite Fountain of grace and mercy, from whence it is made out unto us by various degrees, according to the good pleasure of God. Neither will he give unto us, nor are we capable to receive, in this world, the whole of what he hath provided for us, in the enjoyment whereof our final blessedness doth consist. Wherefore, as it is required of us to be thankful for what we have, or to walk worthy of the grace we have received, yet we may live in constant expectation of more from him; and it is the great comfort and relief of our souls that we may so do.

Obs. 2. It is the blessing of Christ, typed in and by Melchisedec, that makes promises and mercies effectual unto us, He is himself the great subject of the promises, and the whole blessing of them cometh forth from him alone. All besides him, all without him, is of or under the curse. In him, from him, and by him only, are all blessings to be obtained.

Obs. 3. Free and sovereign grace is the only foundation of all privileges. All that is spoken of the dignity of Abraham is resolved into this, that “he received the promises.”

Verses 6-10

In the five following verses the apostle pursues and concludes that part of his argument, from the consideration of Melchisedec, which concerned the greatness and glory of Him who was represented by him, and his pre- eminence above the Levitical priests. For if Melchisedec , who was but a type of him, was in his own person in so many instances more excellent than they, how much more must He be esteemed to be above them who was represented by him? for he whom another is appointed to represent, must be more glorious than he by whom he is represented. This part of his argument the apostle concludes in these verses, and thence proceeds unto another great inference and deduction from what he had taught concerning this Melchisedec. And this was that which struck into the heart of that controversy which he had in hand, namely, that the Levitical priesthood must necessarily cease upon the introduction of that better priesthood which was fore-signified by that of Melchisedec. And these things, whatsoever sense we now have of them, were those on which the salvation or damnation of these Hebrews did absolutely depend. For unless they were prevailed on to forego that priesthood which was now abolished, and to betake themselves alone unto that more excellent one which was then introduced, they must unavoidably perish; as, accordingly, on this very account it fell out with the generality of that people, their posterity persisting in the same unbelief unto this day. And that which God made the crisis of the life or death of that church and people, ought to be diligently weighed and considered by us. It may be, some find not themselves much concerned in this laborious, accurate dispute of the apostle, wherein so much occurs about pedigrees, priests, and tithes, which they think belongs not unto them. But let them remember, that in that great day of taking down the whole fabric of Mosaical worship, and the abolition of the covenant of Sinai, the life or death of that ancient church, the posterity of Abraham, the friend of God, to whom until this season an enclosure was made of all spiritual privileges, Romans 9:4, depended upon their receiving or rejecting of the truth here contended for. And God in like manner doth oftentimes single out especial truths for the trial of the faith and obedience of the church in especial seasons. And when he doth so, there is ever after an especial veneration due unto them. But to return: Upon the supposition that the Levitical priests did receive tithes as well as Melchisedec, wherein, they were equal; and that they received tithes of their brethren, the posterity of Abraham, which was their especial prerogative and dignity; he yet proveth, by four arguments, that the greatness he had assigned unto Melchisedec, and his pre-eminence above them, was no more than was due unto him. And the first of these is taken from the consideration of his person from whom he received tithes, verse 6; the second, from the action of benediction which accompanied his receiving of tithes, verse 7; the third, from the condition and state of his own person, compared with all those who received tithes according to the law, verse 8; and the fourth, from that which determines the whole question, namely, that Levi himself, and so, consequently, all the whole race of priests that sprang from his loins, did thus pay tithes unto him, verses 9, 10.

Verse 7

But what if Abraham was thus blessed by Melchisedec, doth this prove that he was less than he by whom he was blessed? It doth so, saith the apostle, and that by virtue of an unquestionable general rule:

Hebrews 7:7 . Χωρὶς δὲ πάσης ἀντιλογίας , τὸ ἔλαττον ὐπὸ τοῦ κρείττονος εὐλογεῖται .

Χωρὶς δὲ πάσης ἀντιλογίας . Erasm., “porro nemo negat;” “absque ulla, omni contradictione;” “and without all contradiction.”

The words ἔλαττον and κρείττον , “less” and “greater,” are in the neuter gender, and so rendered in most translations, “illud quod minus est, a majore;” only the Syriac reduceth them to the masculine, הָו דַּמְּיַתַּר מֶנֵהּ הָו דַּבְצִיר מֶתְבַּרַךְ מֵן , “he who is the less is blessed of him who is greater,” or “more excellent than he;” which is the sense of the words.

Hebrews 7:7 . And, without all contradiction, the less is blessed of the greater.

The words prevent an objection, which is supposed, not expressed; and therefore are they continued with those foregoing by the conjunction δέ , as carrying on what was before asserted by a further illustration and confirmation of it. And there is in them,

1. The manner of the assertion; and,

2. The proposition itself:

1. The manner of it is in these words, Χωρὶς πάσης ἀντιλογίας “Without,” beyond, above, “all reasonable contradiction.” A truth this is that cannot, that will not be gainsaid, which none will deny or oppose; as that which is evident in the light of nature, and which the order of the things spoken of doth require. All truths, especially divine truths, are such as ought not to be contradicted; and which no contradiction can evert, or change their natures, that they should not so be. But against some of them, not for want of truth, but either from want of evidence in themselves or from want of light in them unto whom they are proposed,

contradictions may arise, and they may be called into dispute or question. Thus it hath fallen out with all truths which we receive by mere supernatural revelation. The darkness of the minds of men, unable clearly to discern them and perfectly to comprehend them, will raise disputes about them, and objections against them. But some truths there are which have such an evidence in themselves, and such a suitableness unto the principles of reason and natural light, that no color of opposition can be made unto them. And if any, out of brutish affections or prejudices, do force an opposition unto them, they are to be neglected and not contended withal. Wherefore that which is here intimated is, that there are some principles of truth that are so secured in their own evidence and light, as that, being unquestionable in themselves, they may be used and improved as concessions, whereon other less evident truths may be confirmed and established. The due consideration hereof is of great use in the method of teaching, or in the vindication of any questioned truths from opposition. In all teaching, especially in matters that are controverted, it is of great advantage to fix some unquestionable principles, whence those which are less evident or more opposed may be deduced, or be otherwise influenced and confirmed. Neglect hereof makes popular discourses weak in their application; and those wherein men contend for the truth, infirm in their conclusions. This course, therefore, the apostle here useth, and resolveth his present argument into such an unquestionable principle as reason and common sense must admit of.

2. The proposition thus modified, is, That “the less is blessed of the greater;” that is, wherein one is orderly blessed by another, he that is blessed is therein less than, or beneath in dignity unto, him by whom he is blessed, as it is expressed in the Syriac translation. Expositors generally on this place distinguish the several sorts of benedictions that are in use and warrantable among men, that so they may fix on that concerning which the rule here mentioned by the apostle will hold unquestionably. But as unto the especial design of the apostle, this labor may be spared: for he treats only of sacerdotal benedictions; and with respect to them, the rule is not only certainly true, but openly evident. But to illustrate the whole, and to show how far the rule mentioned may be extended, we may reduce all sorts of blessings unto four heads:

(1.) There is benedictio potestativa; that is, such a blessing as consists in an actual efficacious collation on, or communication of the matter of the blessing unto, the person blessed. Thus God alone can bless absolutely. He is the only fountain of all goodness, spiritual, temporal, eternal, and so of the whole entire matter of blessing, containing it all eminently and virtually in himself. And he alone can efficiently communicate it unto, or collate it on any others; which he doth as seemeth good unto him, “according to the counsel of his own will.” All will grant, that with respect hereunto the apostle’s maxim is unquestionable; God is greater than man. Yea, this kind of blessing ariseth from, or dependeth solely on, that infinite distance that is between the being or nature of God and the being of all creatures. This is God’s blessing, טובה תוספת , an “addition of good,” as the Jews call it; a real communication of grace, mercy, privileges, or whatever the matter of the blessing be.

(2.) There is benedictio authoritativa. This is when men, in the name, that is, by the appointment and warranty, of God, do declare any to be blessed, pronouncing the blessings unto them whereof they shall be made partakers. And this kind of blessing was of old of two sorts:

[1.] Extraordinary, by virtue of especial immediate inspiration, or a spirit of prophecy.

[2.] Ordinary, by virtue of office and institution. In the first way Jacob blessed his sons; which he calls a declaration of “what should befall them in the last days,” Genesis 49:1. And such were all the solemn patriarchal benedictions; as that of Isaac, when he had infallible direction as to the blessing, but not in his own mind as to the person to be blessed, Genesis 27:27-29. So Moses blessed the children of Israel in their respective tribes, Deuteronomy 33:1. In the latter, the priests, by virtue of God’s ordinance, were to bless the people with this authoritative blessing:

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee, and keep thee; the LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; the LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them,” Numbers 6:22-27.

The whole nature of this kind of blessing is here exemplified. It is founded in God’s express institution and command. And the nature of it consists in “putting the name of God upon the people;” that is, declaring blessings unto them in the name of God, praying blessings for them on his command. Wherefore the word “bless” is used in a twofold sense in this institution: Verse 23, “Ye shall bless the children of Israel,” is spoken of the priests; verse 27, “I will bless them,” is spoken of God. The blessing is the same, declared by the priests, and effected by God. They blessed declaratively, he efficiently. And the blessing of Melchisedec in this place seems to have a mixture in it of both these. For as it is plain that he blessed Abraham by virtue of his sacerdotal office, which our apostle principally considereth, so I make no question but he was peculiarly acted by immediate inspiration from God in what he did. And in this sort of blessing the apostolical maxim maintains its evidence in the light of nature.

(3.) There is benedictio charitativa. This is, when one is said to bless another by praying for a blessing on him, or using the means whereby he may obtain a blessing. This may be done by superiors, equals, inferiors, any or all persons mutually towards one another. See 1 Kings 8:14; 1 Kings 8:55-56; 2 Chronicles 6:3; Proverbs 30:11. This kind of blessing, it being only improperly so, wherein the act or duty is demonstrated by its object, doth not belong unto this rule of the apostle.

(4.) There is benedictio reverentialis. Hereof God is the object. So men are said often to “bless God,” and to “bless his holy name:” which is mentioned in the Scripture as a signal duty of all that fear and love the Lord. Now this blessing of God is a declaration of his praises, with a holy, reverential, thankful admiration of his excellencies. But this belongs not at all unto the design of the apostle, nor is regulated by this general maxim, but is a particular instance of the direct contrary, wherein, without controversy, the greater is blessed of the less. It is the second sort of blessings that is alone here intended; and that is mentioned as an evident demonstration of the dignity of Melchisedec, and his pre-eminence above Abraham.

Obs. 4. It is a great mercy and privilege, when God will make use of any in the blessing of others with spiritual mercies. It is God alone who originally and efficiently can do so, who can actually and infallibly collate a blessing on any one. Therefore is he said to “bless us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things,” Ephesians 1:3. There is no one blessing but he is the sole author and worker of it. But yet, also, he maketh use of others, severally, in various degrees of usefulness, for their communication. And this he doth, both to fill up that order of all things in dependence on himself, wherein he will be glorified; and also to make some partakers in his especial grace and favor, by using them in the collation of good things, yea, the best things, on others. For what greater privilege can any one be made partaker of, than to be an instrument in the hand of God in the communication of his grace and goodness? And a privilege it is whose exercise and improvement must be accounted for. I speak not, therefore, of them whose benedictions are euctical and charitative only, in their mutual prayers; but of such as are in some sense authoritative. Now, a man blesseth by the way of authority, when he doth it as an especial ordinance, as he is called and appointed of God thereunto. Peculiar institution gives peculiar authority. So parents bless their children and households, and ministers the church:

1. Parents bless their children in the name of the Lord several ways:

(1.) By instruction; the discharge whereof was the glory and honor of Abraham in the sight of God himself, Genesis 18:17-19. For whereas the knowledge and fear of God are the greatest blessing that any one in this world can be made partaker of, he hath ordained that parents shall be instrumental in the communication of them unto their children; suitably unto that general law of nature whereby they are obliged in all things to seek their good. This being the end of the instruction which God hath appointed them to attend unto, they do therein bless them in the name of the Lord. And if parents did truly consider how they stand in the stead of God in this matter, how what they do is peculiarly in his name and by his authority, they would, it may be, be more diligent and conscientious in the discharge of their duty than they are. And if children could but understand that parental instruction is an instituted means of God’s blessing them with the principal blessing, and that whereon all others, as unto them, do much depend, whereunto the fifth commandment is express, they would with more diligence and reverence apply themselves unto the reception of it than is usual among them.

(2.) They do it by their example. The conversation and holy walking of parents is God’s ordinance whereby he blesseth their children. This is the second way of instruction, without which the former will be insufficient, yea, insignificant. Let parents take what pains they please in the teaching and instructing of their families, unless their personal walk be holy, and their lives fruitful, they will do more for their destruction than their edification. The least disorder of life persisted in, is of more prevalency to turn aside children from the ways of God, from the liking and practice of them, than a multitude of instructions are to persuade to their embracement. For, besides that we are all naturally more prone to evil than good, and a far less occasion or means will hasten us down a precipice than raise us and bear us up in the difficult course of holy obedience, instances of a life inconsistent with instructions, or not answering them, beget secret thoughts in the minds of them who are instructed that all the pains taken therein are hypocritical; than which apprehension nothing is more effectual to alienate the minds of any from the ways of God. But when men’s teachings of their families are exemplified by the holiness and fruitfulness of their own lives, then are they an ordinance of God for the blessing of them. To pray, to read, to catechise, to instruct, and then to lead a life of frowardness, passion, worldly-mindedness, vain communication, and the like, is to pull down with one hand what we set up with the other; or rather, with both our hands to pull down our own houses.

(3.) By prayer for them. So David blessed his household, 2 Samuel 6:20. For besides the duty of prayer absolutely considered, there is in those prayers, by the appointment of God, an especial plea for and application of the promises of the covenant unto them which we ourselves have received. So it is expressed in the prayer of David, 2 Samuel 7:29. “Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue for ever before thee: for thou, O Lord GOD, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever.” And I do not understand how those who do not believe in the especial interest of their children in the covenant of grace, can bless them in the name of the Lord in a due manner. These are some few heads of parental benediction; which whether the duty thereof be answered in that common custom which some even confine all parental blessings unto, in an open neglect of all the duties mentioned, and others of an alike nature, is not hard to determine.

2. Ministers bless the church. It is part of their ministerial duty, and it belongs unto their office so to do:

(1.) They do it by putting the name of God upon the church. This was the way whereby the priests blessed the people of old, Numbers 6:27. And this putting the name of God upon the church, is by the right and orderly celebration of all the holy ordinances of worship of his appointment. For the name of God and of Christ is upon them all; wherefore, in the orderly celebration of them the name of God is put upon the church, and it is brought under the promise of the meeting and blessing of God; as he hath spoken concerning every thing whereon he hath placed his name. This is an especial way of authoritative blessing, which can no way be discharged but by virtue of ministerial office. Only, let ministers take heed that they put not the name of a false god upon the church, by the introduction of any thing in religious worship which is not of God’s appointment.

(2.) They bless the church, in the dispensation and preaching of the word unto the conversion and edification of the souls of men. So speak the apostles concerning their preaching of the word, Acts 3:26,

“Unto you first, God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”

This sending of Christ after his resurrection, was the sending of him in the ministry of the apostles and others, by the preaching of the gospel. And the end hereof is, to bless them unto whom it is preached. And it is known that all the principal spiritual blessings of God in this world are communicated unto the souls of men by the ministry of the word, and ministerial administration of the sacraments, as the only outward causes and means thereof. Herein do ministers bless the people in the name and authority of God.

(3.) They do it by the particular ministerial applications of the word unto the souls and consciences of men. This authority hath Christ given unto them. Saith he,

“Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained,” John 20:23.

I know what use hath been made of these words; that is, how they have been abused to give countenance unto the necessity of private confession of all sins unto the priests, and of their power of absolution or remission thereon. But yet the real intention of the words, and the truth that is in them, must not be waived or overlooked. It is not, therefore, the mere preaching of the word, and therein a doctrinal declaration of whose sins are remitted and whose sins are retained, according to the gospel, which men are respectively interested in by their faith or unbelief, that is here intended (the commission giving power whereunto is of a more general nature): but an especial application of the word unto the consciences of men with respect unto their sins is included therein. And this is done two ways: [1.] With respect unto the judgment of the church;

[2.] With respect unto the judgment of God.

The first is that binding or loosing which the Lord Christ hath given power for unto the ministers and guides of the church, as to the communion thereof, Matthew 18:18. For by the ministerial application of the word unto the souls and consciences of men, are they to be continued in or excluded from the communion of the church; which is called the binding or loosing of them. The other respects God himself, and the sense which the conscience of a sinner hath of the guilt of sin before him. In this case the ministers of the gospel are authorized, in the name of Christ, to remit their sins; that is, so to apply the promises of mercy and grace unto their souls and consciences, as that, being received by faith, they may have peace with God. So are they authorized to remit or retain sins, according to the tenor and terms of the gospel. Not that the remission of sins absolutely doth depend on an act of office, but the release of the conscience of a sinner from the sense of guilt doth sometimes much depend upon it, rightly performed; that is, by due application of the promises of the gospel unto such as believe and repent.

(4.) How they bless the church by prayer and example, may be understood from what hath been spoken concerning those things with respect unto parents. The authority that is in them depends on God’s especial institution, which exempts them from and exalts them above the common order of mutual charitative benedictions.

(5.) They bless the people declaratively; as a pledge whereof it hath been always of use in the church, at the close of the solemn duties of its assemblies, wherein the name of God is put upon it, to bless the people by express mention of the blessing of God, which they pray for upon them. But yet, because the same thing is done in the administration of all other ordinances, and this benediction is only euctical, or by the way of prayer, I shall not plead for the necessity of it. And we may yet infer two things from hence:

Obs. 5. That those who are thus appointed to bless others in the name of God, and thereby exalted unto a pre-eminence above those that are blessed by his appointment, ought to be accordingly regarded by all that are so blessed by them. It is well if Christians do rightly consider what their duty is unto them who are appointed as a means to communicate all spiritual blessings unto them. And,

Obs. 6. Let those who are so appointed take heed lest, by their miscarriage, they prove a curse unto them whom they ought to bless. For if they are negligent in the performance of their duties in the things mentioned, much more if therewithal they put the name of any false god upon them, they are no otherwise.

Verse 8

The eighth verse carrieth on the same argument, by a particular application unto the matter in hand of the things which he had in general observed before in Melchisedec; for whereas the apostle had before declared, that he was “without father, without mother, without beginning of days or end of life,” he now shows how all this conduced unto his purpose.

Hebrews 7:8 . Καὶ ὧδε μὲν δεκάτας ἀποθνήσκοντες ανθρωποι λαμβάνουσιν , ἐκεῖ δὲ , μαρτυρούμενος ὅτι ζῇ .

῎Ανθρωποι . Syr., by a usual idiotism of that language, “the sons of man.” ᾿Αποθνήσκοντες , “qui moriuntur,” “who die.” Vulg. Lat., “homines morientes,” “dying men;” of which difference we must speak afterwards. Μαρτυρούμενος ὅτι ζῇ , generally, “de quo testatum est, quod vivat.” Vulg. Lat., “ibi autem contestatur quia vivit;” which the Rhemists render, “but there he hath witness that he liveth:” both obscurely. Arias, “testatione dictus quia vivit;” to no advantage. Μαρτυρούμενος is properly, “is de quo testatur;” as Erasmus, Beza, Castalio, Schmidt, render it. The Arabic concurs with the Vulgar. The Syriac, by way of paraphrase, “he of whom the Scripture witnesseth that he liveth.” [3]

[3] EXPOSITION. Μαρτ . ὅτι ζῇ , can be nothing else than a concise representation of the idea, Μήτε ἀρχὴν ἡμερῶν , μήτε ζωῆς τέλος ἔχων : and is therefore to be explained thus: “Of whom only his life is recorded, not his death” (Bleek); or, in other words, it is not the individual Melchisedec who has the testimony that he liveth, but it is again the typical figure of him, as it appeared to the eye of the psalmist [Psalms 110:0. ] in the framework of Genesis 14:0: Ebrard. ED.

Hebrews 7:8 . And here men verily that die receive tithes; but there he of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.

There is in the words a comparison and opposition between the Levitical priests and Melchisedec, in this matter of receiving tithes, which in general was common to them both. And we may consider in them,

1. The circumstances of the comparison.

2. The general agreement of both sorts, which is the ground of the comparison.

3. The parts of the antithesis, or opposition, or dissimilitude between them:

1. The circumstances of the comparison are two:

(1.) The manner of its introduction, or the earnestness of the assertion, in the particle μὲν . It is as much as “quidem” or “equidem,” “truly,” “verily;” which is omitted in our translation, though elsewhere the same particle is so rendered. ‘This, moreover, is the state of the case in this matter.’And the insertion of it is proper unto an affirmation upon a concession, as this here is.

(2.) The determination of the time, or place, or manner of the opposition, in these adverbs ὧδε and ἐκεῖ “here” and there.” ῟Ωδε usually refers unto place; and some think that the apostle hath respect unto Jerusalem, the seat of the Levitical priesthood, and the land of Canaan, which alone was tithable according to the law; for the Jews do judge, and that rightly, that the law of legal tithing extended not itself beyond the bounds of the land of Canaan, a sufficient evidence that it was positive and ceremonial. In opposition hereunto, ἐκεῖ , “there,” must signify some other place, or any place where the priesthood of Melchisedec hath its signification; that is, in Christian religion. But the truth is, if ὧδε , “here,” signifies a certain and determinate place, that opposed in ἐκεῖ , “there,” must be Salem, where Melchisedec dwelt; which was not only afterwards tithable, as within the bounds of Canaan, but most probably was Jerusalem itself, as we have declared. This conjecture, therefore, is too curious; nor do we need to tie up ourselves unto the precise signification of the word ὧδε , although that also be sometimes used with respect unto time as well as place. Wherefore these words, “here” and “there,” do express the several different states under consideration. “here,” is in the case of the Levitical priesthood; and “there” respects the case of Melchisedec, as stated, Genesis 14:0.

2. The foundation of the comparison, that wherein both agreed, is in this, that they received tithes. It is expressed of the one sort only, namely, the Levitical priests, they received tithes; but it is understood of the other also, whereon the word is repeated and inserted in our translation, “But there he receiveth them.” Δεκάτας λαμβάνουσι , “They do receive tithes,” in the present tense. But it may be said, there was none that then did so, or at least “de jure” could do so, seeing the law of tithing was abolished. Wherefore an enallage may be allowed here of the present time for that which was past; “they do,” that is, “they did so” whilst the law was in force. But neither is this necessary; for, as I have before observed, the apostle admits, or takes it for granted, that the Mosaical system of worship was yet continued, and argueth on that concession unto the necessity of its approaching abolition. And yet we need not here the use of this supposition; for the words determine neither time nor place, but the state of religion under the law. According unto the law are tithes to be paid unto, and received by such persona This, therefore, is agreed, that both the Levitical priests and Melchisedec received tithes.

3. The opposition and difference lies in the qualification and properties of them by whom they are received. For,

(1.) Those on the one side, that is, of the Levitical priesthood, were ἀποθνήσκοντες ἄνθρωποι , “homines qui moriuntur,” or “homines morientes,” “men that die,” “dying men;” that is, men subject unto death, mortal men, who ‘lived and died in the discharge of their office, according unto the common laws of mortality. And the observation of Schlichtingius on these words is, as far as I can understand, useless unto his own design, much more to the apostle’s:

“Notandum vero quod non mortalibus hominibus, sed morientibus tantum Melchisedecum auctor opponat, nec immortalem eum esse, sed vivere dicit; vita autem non mortalitati sed morti proprie opponitur.”

Something is aimed at in way of security unto another opinion, namely, that all men were created in a state of mortality, without respect unto sin. But nothing is gotten by this subtilty. For by dying men the apostle intends not men that were actually dying, as it were at the point of death; for in that condition the priests could neither execute their office nor receive tithes of the people. Only he describes such persons as in the whole course of their ministry were liable unto death from the common condition of mortality, and in their several seasons died accordingly. Wherefore “dying men,” or men subject to death, and “mortal men,” are in this case the same. And although life as to the principle of it be opposed unto death, yet as unto a continual duration, the thing here intended by the apostle, it is opposed unto mortality, or an obnoxiousness unto death. For a representation is designed of him who was made a priest, “not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.” Wherefore, saith the apostle,’those who received tithes after the law were all of them mortal men, that had both beginning of days and end of life.’So the death of Aaron, the first of them, and in him of all his successors, is recorded in the Scripture.

(2.) In opposition unto this state of the Levitical priests, it is affirmed that ἐκεῖ , in the case of Melchisedec, μαρτυρούμενος ὅτι ζῇ , “it is witnessed that he liveth.” How “he liveth, and how it is “witnessed unto that he liveth,” we must inquire. For it is apparently Melchisedec of whom in the first place, as the type, these things are spoken; and yet we know that really and in his own person he was dead long before. But there are several things on the account whereof it is said that “it is witnessed that he liveth.” For,

[1.] Whatever the Scripture is silent in as to Melchisedec, which it usually relates of others in the like state, our apostle takes for a contrary testimony unto him. For he lays down this general principle, that what the Scripture conceals of Melchisedec, it doth it to instruct us in the mystery of his person and ministry, as types of Christ and his. Hence the silence of the Scripture, in what it useth to express, must in this case be interpreted as a testimony unto the contrary. So it witnesseth of him that “he was without father, without mother, without descent,” in that it mentioneth none of them. And whereas he hath “neither beginning of days nor end of life” recorded in the Scripture, it is thereby “witnessed that,” not absolutely, but as to his typical consideration, “he liveth.” For there are no bounds nor periods fixed unto his priesthood, nor did it expire by the bringing in that of Levi, as that did by the introduction of Christ’s.

[2.] He did actually continue his office unto the end of that dispensation of God and his worship wherein he was employed: and this witnesseth the perpetuity of his life, in opposition unto the Levitical priests; for these two states are compared by the apostle, that of Melchisedecand that of Levi. There was a time limited unto this priesthood in the house of Aaron; and during that time one priest died and another succeeded in several generations, until they were greatly multiplied, as the apostle observeth, verse 23. But during the whole dispensation of things with respect unto Melchisedec , he continued in his own person to execute his office, from first to last, without being subject unto death; wherein “it is witnessed that he liveth.”

[3.] He is said to “live,” that is, always to do so, because his office continueth for ever, and yet no mere mortal man succeeded him therein.

[4.] In this whole matter he is considered not absolutely and personally, but typically, and as a representation of somewhat else; and what is represented in the type, but is really, subjectively, and properly found only in the antitype, may be affirmed of the type as such. So it is in all sacramental institutions; as the paschal lamb was called expressly “the LORD’S passover,” Exodus 12:11, when it was only a pledge and token thereof; as, under the new testament, the bread and wine in the sacred supper are called “the body and blood of Christ,” which they do represent. Thus it is true really and absolutely of the Lord Jesus Christ, that he liveth for ever, that he is a priest for ever; which the apostle much insisteth on and urgeth unto his purpose afterwards. This eternity, or ever-living of Jesus Christ, was represented in Melchisedec, in that it is not said anywhere in the Scripture that he died: “it is witnessed,” therefore, “that he liveth,” because he whom he represents doth really do so, and his own death is not mentioned, on purpose that he might so represent him. And the apostle’s argument unto the dignity and pre-eminence of Melchisedec above the Levitical priests in this instance is of an unquestionable evidence: for consider Melchisedec, not in his natural being and existence, which belongs not unto this mystery, but in his Scripture being and existence, and he is immortal, always living; wherein he is more excellent than those who were always obnoxious unto death in the exercise of their office. And from the branches of this comparison we may take two observations:

Obs. 1. In the outward administration of his worship, God is pleased to make use of poor, frail, mortal, dying men. So he did of old, and so he continues still to do. “Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?” Zechariah 1:5. The prophets of old, the most eminent administrators under the old testament, they were all mortal, dying men; and whilst they lived in this world they were subject unto like passions with other men, James 5:17. And the same account the apostle giveth us of the principal administrators of the new testament, 2Co 4:8-12 ; 2 Corinthians 6:8-10. And we know it is so with all those into whose hands the same work is transmitted. Yea, ofttimes, as to the infirmities of body and outward condition, their weakness and frailty are signalized above others. Nor doth any advantage accrue to the gospel by the secular exaltation of such as pretend unto the same employment; wherein, without other qualifications, they do little resemble the ministry of Christ himself. Such, I say, doth God please to make use of; persons obnoxious unto all infirmities and temptations with all other believers, and equally with them falling under the stroke of mortality. He could have accomplished his whole design immediately by his grace and Spirit, without the institution of any administrators; he could have employed his holy angels in the declaration and dispensation of the gospel; or he could have raised up men so signalized with wisdom, and all endowments of mind and body, as should have eminently distinguished them from the whole race of mankind besides: but waiving these, and all other ways possible and easy unto his infinite wisdom and power, he hath chosen to make use, in this great occasion, of poor, infirm, frail, tempted, sinning, dying men. And sundry reasons of this his holy counsel are expressed in the Scripture:

1. He doth it to make it evident that it is his own power, and nothing else, which gives efficacy and success unto all gospel administrations: 2 Corinthians 4:7,

“We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

There is an “excellency of power” accompanying the dispensation of the word. Mighty spiritual effects are produced by it, such as wherein the glory of God doth consist, and whereon the eternal welfare of the souls of men doth depend. This glory, in subduing the adverse power of sin, Satan, and the world; in the quickening, sanctifying, saving the souls of the elect; God will be seen and owned in, he will not give it unto another. Whereas, therefore, those by whom these treasures are communicated unto others, are frail, perishing, “earthen vessels,” or those by whom the gospel is dispensed are poor, frail, weak men, seen and known so to be, there is no veil by their ministry cast over the glory of God. There is not a soul convinced, converted, or comforted by their word, but they may truly say of it as the apostles did of the miracle which they wrought, Acts 3:12,

“Why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power and holiness we had made this man to walk,”

this blind man to see, this dead man to live? By the consideration of our meanness all may discern that the excellency of this power is of God, and not of us. Yea, for this very end our apostle refused to make use of such a persuasiveness of words and exercise of wisdom as might give any appearance or countenance unto such an apprehension as though by them this effect were produced: 1 Corinthians 2:4-5,

“My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God.”

And herein ought he to be an example unto us all. But it is come to that with many, that being destitute utterly of what he had, namely, an ability to dispense the word in the “demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” they do wholly betake themselves unto what he refused, or the “enticing words of man’s wisdom,” according to their ability. But what the Jews spoke blasphemously of Christ, upon his opening the eyes of him who was born blind, may in a sense be truly spoken of any of us upon the opening of the eyes of them that were spiritually blind, “Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner,” John 9:24.

2. God hath so ordered things, in wisdom and grace, that the administrators of holy things unto others might have experience in themselves of their state and condition, so as to be moved with compassion towards them, care about them, and zeal for them. Without these graces, and their constant exercise, men will be but very useless instruments in this work. And they will not grow anywhere but in men’s own experience. For how shall he be tender, compassionate, careful towards the souls of others, who knows no reason why he should be so towards his own? The high priest of old was such an one a

“could have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that were out of the way; for that he himself also was compassed with infirmity,” Hebrews 5:2.

And therein was he a type of Christ, who “was in all points tempted like as we are,” that he might be ready “to succor them that are tempted.” This gave him the experience of compassion in the exercise of it. Wherefore, when a minister of the gospel knows his own weakness, infirmities, and temptations, his need of mercy and grace, the way of his obtaining supplies of them, the danger of the snares which he is exposed unto, the value of his own soul, the preciousness of the blood of Christ, and excellency of the eternal reward, he cannot, considering the charge committed unto him, and the duty required of him, but be moved with pity, compassion, tenderness, love, and zeal, towards those unto whom he doth administer; especially considering how greatly their eternal welfare depends on his ability, diligence, and faithfulness in the discharge of his duty. And this proves, on sundry accounts, greatly to the advantage of the poor tempted disciples of Christ; for it makes a representation unto them of his own compassion and love, as the great shepherd of the sheep, Isaiah 40:11; and causeth a needful supply of spiritual provision to be always in readiness for them, and that to be administered unto them with experience of its efficacy and success.

3. That the power of gospel grace and truth may be exemplified unto the eyes of them unto whom they are dispensed, in the persons of them by whom they are administered, according unto God’s appointment. It is known unto all who know aught in this matter, what temptations and objections will arise in the minds of poor sinners against their obtaining any interest in the grace and mercy that is dispensed in the gospel. Some, they judge, may be made partakers of them; but for them, and such as they are, there seems to be no relief provided. But is it no encouragement unto them, to see that, by God’s appointment, the tenders of his grace and mercy are made unto their souls by men subject unto like passions with themselves; and who, if they had not freely obtained grace, would have been as vile and unworthy as themselves? For as the Lord called the apostle Paul to the ministry, who had been “a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious,” that he might “in him show forth all long- suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting,” that is, for the encouragement even of such high criminal offenders to believe, 1Ti 1:13 ; 1 Timothy 1:16; so in more ordinary cases, the mercy and grace which the ministers of the gospel did equally stand in need of with those unto whom they dispense it, and who have received it, is for a pattern, example, and encouragement of them to believe after their example.

4. In particular, God maketh use of persons that die in this matter, that their testimony unto the truth of gospel grace and mercy may be complete and unquestionable. Death is the great touchstone and trial of all things of this nature, as to their efficacy and sincerity. Many things will yield relief in life, and various refreshments, which upon the approach of death vanish into nothing. So it is with all the comforts of this world, and with all things that have not an eternal truth and substance in them. Had not those, therefore, who dispense sacred things, been designed themselves to come unto this touchstone of their own faith, profession, and preaching, those who must die, and know always that they must do so, would have been unsatisfied what might have been the condition with them, had they been brought unto it; and so have ground to fear in themselves what will become of that faith wherein they have been instructed, in the warfare of death, when it shall approach. To obviate this fear and objection, God hath ordained that all those who administer the gospel shall all of them bring their own faith unto that last trial; that so, giving a testimony unto the sincerity and efficacy of the things which they have preached, in that they commit the eternal salvation of their souls unto them (and higher testimony none can give), they may be encouragements unto others to follow their example, to imitate their faith, and pursue their course unto the end. And for this cause also doth God ofttimes call them forth unto peculiar trials, exercises, afflictions, and death itself in martyrdom, that they may be an example and encouragement unto the whole church.

I cannot but observe, for a close of this discourse, that as the unavoidable infirmities of the ministers of the gospel, managed and passed through in a course of faith, holiness, and sincere obedience, are on many accounts of singular use and advantage unto the edification and consolation of the church; so the evil examples of any of them, in life and death, with the want of those graces which should be excited unto exercise by their infirmities, are pernicious thereunto.

Obs. 2. The life of the church depends on the everlasting life of Jesus Christ. It is said of Melchisedec, as he was a type of him, “It is witnessed that he liveth.” Christ doth so, and that for ever; and hereon, under the failings, infirmities, and death of all other administrators, depend the preservation, life, continuance, and salvation of the church. But this must be spoken to peculiarly on verse 25, whither it is remitted.

Verses 9-10

It may be objected unto the whole precedent argument of the apostle,

‘That although Abraham himself paid tithes unto Melchisedec, yet it followeth not that Melchisedec was superior unto the Levitical priests, concerning whom alone the question was between him and the Jews. For although Abraham might be a priest in some sense also, by virtue of common right, as were all the patriarchs, yet was he not so by virtue of any especial office, instituted of God to abide in the church. But when God afterwards, by peculiar law and ordinance, erected an order and office of priesthood in the family of Levi, it might be superior unto, or exalted above that of Melchisedec, although Abraham paid tithes unto him.’This objection, therefore, the apostle obviates in these verses; and therewithal, giving his former argument a further improvement, he makes a transition, according unto his usual custom (as it hath been often observed that it is his method to do), unto his especial design, in proving the excellency of the priesthood of Christ above that of the law, which is the main scope of this whole discourse.

Hebrews 7:9-10 . Καὶ , ὠς ἔπος εἰπεῖν , διὰ ᾿Αβραὰμ καὶ ΔευϊV ὁ δεκάτας λαμβάνων δεδεκάτωται· ἔτι γὰρ ἐν τῇ ὀσφύϊ τοῦ πατρὸς η῏ν , ὅτε συνήντησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Μελχισεδέκ .

῾Ως ἔπος εἰπεῖν , “ut verbum dicere,”” as to speak a word.” Vulg. Lat., “ut ita dictum sit,” “be it so said.” Syr., “as any one may say.” Arab., “and it is said that this discourse” (or “reason”)” may be some way ended.” “Ut ita loquar,” “as I may so speak.” In the rest of the words there is neither difficulty nor difference among translators.

Hebrews 7:9-10 . And, as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchisedec met him.

There are three things observable in these words:

1. The manner of the introduction of the apostle’s new assertion.

2. The assertion itself, which hath the force of a new argument unto his purpose, Hebrews 7:9. And,

3. The proof of his assertion, in Hebrews 7:10.

1. The manner of the introduction of his assertion is in these words, “As I may so say.” This qualification of the assertion makes an abatement of it, one way or other. Now this is not as to the truth of the proposition, but as to the propriety of the expression. The words are as if that which is expressed were actually so, namely, that Levi himself paid tithes, whereas it was so only virtually. The thing itself intended was, with respect unto the apostle’s purpose, as if it had been so indeed; though, Levi not being then actually existent, he could not be tithed in his own person. Nor is the apostle dubious of the truth of the consequent which he urgeth from this observation, as if he had said “prope dixerim;” which is supposed as one signification of this phrase. Only, the instance being new, and he arguing from what was virtual only as if it had been actual, he gave his assertion this qualification. This is spoken upon an allowance of the common acceptation of the sense of these words among interpreters. For my part, I rather incline to judge that he useth this phrase for as much as “ut verbo cicam,” ‘To sum up the whole in a word, to put an issue unto this dispute between the Levitical priesthood and that of Melchisedec, I say, that not only Abraham, but even Levi himself was tithed by him.’

2. His assertion is, that “Levi, who received tithes, was tithed in Abraham,” namely, when Abraham gave the tithes of all to Melchisedec. By “Levi” he intendeth not the person of Levi absolutely, the third son of Jacob, but his posterity, or the whole tribe proceeding from him, so far as they were interested in the priesthood; for Levi himself never received tithes of any, the priesthood being erected in his family long after his death, in the person of his great-grandchild, Aaron. So, then, Levi who received tithes is the same with the sons of Levi who received the priesthood, Hebrews 7:5, namely, in their several generations unto that day.

Of this Levi it is affirmed that δεδεκάτωται διὰ ᾿Αβραάμ , “he was tithed” or “paid tithes in Abraham,” or through him and by him, as the word is. When Abraham himself gave tithes to Melchisedec, he did it not in his own name only, but in the name of himself and his whole posterity. And this, upon the principles before laid down and vindicated, proves the preeminence of the priesthood of Melchisedec above that of the house and family of Levi. All the difficulty of the argument lies in the proof of the assertion, namely, that Levi did indeed so pay tithes in Abraham. This the apostle therefore proves by the observation which he lays down, verse 10, “For he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchisedec met him.”

3. The force of this proof seems to depend on a double principle:

(1.) That children, the whole posterity of any one, are in his loins before they are born. And this principle is sure in the light of nature and common reason; they are in them as the effect in its cause, nor have they any future existence but with relation unto their progenitors, even the remotest of them.

(2.) That what any one doth, that all his posterity are esteemed to do in and by him. But it is certain that this rule will not generally hold, nor indeed will it ever do so absolutely, without some other cogent circumstances. By human laws, the crimes of men reflect dishonor in some cases on their families; and on the other side, they entail the honor which by their worth they have acquired on their posterities. What a man also gives away of his estate unto public uses, as in the foundation of schools or hospitals, his children may be said to do it in him, because so much is decreased from their inheritance; as here, what Abraham gave to, Melchisedec, it was alienated from his posterity, Levi among the rest. But none of these things reach the case in hand, or are sufficient to give force or evidence unto the reasoning of the apostle.

Wherefore, to find them out, sundry things must be observed which are manifest truths in themselves, and on the supposition whereof the apostle’s argument stands firm:

(1.) That Abraham was now called of God, and separated unto his service, so as to be the foundation of a new church in the world. And there is a relation unto such an original stock in all the branches, beyond what they have unto any other intermediate progenitors. Hence all the idolatrous nations in the world constantly made the first persons from whom they derived their original, or whose offspring they would be accounted, their gods whom they worshipped. These were their “Joves indigites,” their home-born deities, whom they honored, and whose honors they thought descended unto them by inheritance.

(2.) He had now received the promise that God would be a God unto him and his seed after him, whereby all his posterity were taken into covenant with him; and hereon Abraham covenanted with God in the name of, and as the great representative of all his seed. And such covenants are the foundation of all order and rule in this world. For after persons, or a people, have covenanted into such agreements in government, and as to the administration of common right among themselves, provided the terms whereon they have agreed be good and suitable unto the light of nature,- their posterity are not at liberty to alter and change them at their pleasure; for whereas they derive all their rights and inheritances from their progenitors, they are supposed in them to have consented unto all that was done by them.

(3.) Hereon what God said and did unto Abraham, he said it and did it unto all his seed in him. The promises were theirs, and the inheritance was theirs; yea, what God is said to give unto Abraham so often, namely, the whole land of Canaan, was never actually made good unto him in his own person, no, not a font’s breadth: but he received the grant of it as the representative of his posterity, who, four hundred years after, had the actual possession of it.

(4.) What Abraham did solemnly in obedience unto God, by virtue of the covenant, as a public condition thereof, he did undertake in it for his posterity, and performed it in their name, and therefore God enjoined him to bring all his posterity under the token of that engagement, in circumcision, so soon as they were capable thereof. And on the other hand, God continually affirms that he would do them good, because of his oath and engagement unto Abraham, seeing they were intended therein. Wherefore,

(5.) Abraham, in this solemn address unto God by Melchisedec, the type of Christ, wherein he expressed his constant-obedience unto him, was the representative of all his poster and in particular of Levi and all the priests that descended from him. And having now received the whole land, by virtue of a covenant, in the behalf of his posterity, that it should be theirs, though he himself had never possession of it, nor in it, he doth in the name of his posterity, and as their representative, give the tenths unto God by Melchisedec, as that chief rent which God for ever reserved unto himself, upon his grant. When the people came actually to possess the land, they held it always on this condition, that the tenths of all should be given unto God. And this Abraham, in his taking seisin of it for them, paid in their name. So truly and virtually was Levi himself tithed in the loins of Abraham, when Melchisedec met him. Wherefore it was not merely Levi being in the loins of Abraham with respect unto natural generation, whence he is said to be tithed in him, but his being in him with respect unto the covenant which Abraham entered into with God in the name of his whole posterity.

This reasoning of the apostle’s, I confess, at first view seemeth intricate, and more remote from cogency than any elsewhere used by him. And therefore by some profane persons hath it been cavilled at. But all things of that nature arise merely from want of a due reverence unto the word of God. When we come unto it with those satisfactions in our minds, that there is truth and divine wisdom in every expression of it, that all its reasonings are cogent and effectual, though we understand them not, we shall not fail, upon a humble inquiry, to attain what we may safely embrace, or see what we ought to admire. And so this place, which at first sight seems to present us with a reasoning on a very uncertain foundation, being duly inquired into, we find it resolved into the firm principles of reason and religion.

And the foregoing observation will expedite two difficult questions which expositors raise unto themselves on this verse. The first whereof is, Whether Christ himself may not, as well as Levi, be said to pay tithes in Abraham, as being in his loins? which would utterly frustrate the design of the apostle. The second is, How or in what sense one may be said to do any thing in another, which may be reckoned or imputed unto him?

For the first of these, Austin and others have well labored in the solution of it. The sum of what they say is, that the Lord Christ was not in Abraham as Levi was, not in his nature as it was corrupted; nor did he educe or derive his nature from him by carnal generation or the common way of the propagation of mankind. And these things do constitute a sufficient difference and distance between them in this matter. But yet with these considerations, and on the supposition of them, there is another which contains the true and proper reason of this difference. And that is, that the Lord Christ was never in Abraham as a federate, as one taken into covenant with him, and so represented by him, as Levi was. Abraham was taken into covenant with Christ, as the head, sponsor, surety, and mediator of the new covenant; with respect whereunto he says of himself and the elect, “Behold I and the children which the LORD hath given me.” Hereon he was the representative of Abraham and all that believe, and what he did is imputed unto them. But he was never taken into covenant with Abraham, nor was capable of so being, seeing unto him it was a covenant of pardon and justification by faith, which He was no way concerned in but as the procurer of them for others. Wherefore what Abraham did cannot be imputed unto him, so as he should be esteemed to have done them in him.

And this makes way for the solution of the general question, How one may be said to do any thing in another which shall be reckoned unto him as his own act? And this may be by virtue of a covenant, and no otherwise. Hence divines do usually illustrate the imputation of the sin of Adam unto his posterity by this example of Levi; though I have not met with any who truly understand the ground of the comparison, which is Abraham acting as a covenanter in the name of his posterity. But whereas this is opposed with some vehemency by Schlichtingius in his comment on this place, I shall transcribe his words, and consider his discourse:

“Haec sententia non ad omnes actiones transferenda est; sed ad eas tantum, quae proprie versantur vel in auctione vel in diminutione rerum quae a parentibus in liberos devolvi et haereditario jure trans- ferri solent, qualis actio est decimarum solutio. Persolvuntur enim de bonis et facultatibus, quae hactenus cum sunt liberorum, quatenus jus haereditatis ad eos spectat, praesertim si certum sit, fore liberos, qui in bona succedant, quemadmodum Abrahamo contigit, cui certa fuit a Deo promissa posteritas. Quemadmodum enim haeredes per-sonam patris post mortem ratione possessionis bonorum veluti re-praesentant, ita antequam haeredes a patre separentur et de bonis paternis statuendi arbitrium habeant, pater omnium liberorum suorum personam quadam ratione refert, et quicquid de illis statu-erit aut fecerit id haeredes quodammodo fecisse censentur. Dico, quodammodo, quia proprie id dici non potest; nec auctor hic D. id proprie factum esse asserit, sed improprietatem verbis suis subesse ipsemet profitetur, ut antea vidimua Ex dictis autem facile intelligitur, id quod nos una cum auctore D. statuimus, ad eos tantum successores seu posteros esse extendendum ad quos vel certo, ut Abrahami posteris contigit, vel saltem verisimiliter perventura sit haereditas parentis, et notabilis aliqua bonorum ab eo profectorum portio. Alioquin vis illa haereditatis de qua diximus, expirabit, nec posteris tribui poterit id quod majorum aliquis circa bona sua fecerit, Quibus ira explicatis, facile jam apparet falli eos qui ex hoc loco colligunt omnem Adami posteritatem in ipso Adamo parente suo peccasse, et mortis supplicium vere fuisse commeritum. Nam vel de eo nunc quidquam dicam ipsum auctorem improprietatem in hac loquendi forma agnoscere, nequaquam id extendendum est ad parentum majorumve peccata ac merita. Etenim peccata ac merita qua talia mere sunt personalia, seu personam ejus qui peccat non egrediuntur, nec eatenus parentes posteritatem suam re-praesentant; licet fieri queat ut ex eorum delicto damnum aliquod nec exiguum ad liberos redundet, quemadmodum quidem in Adami delicto contigit; ipsum tamen peccatum ac meritum Adami revera non communicatur cure ejus posteritate, ac proinde posteri Adami ob parentis sui noxam revera non puniuntur, nisi et ipsi parentem fuerint imitati.”

I have transcribed these words at large, because their design is to defeat that article of our faith concerning the imputation of the sin of Adam unto all his posterity; which there is no doubt but they will make use of who are gone over among ourselves unto the negative of it: and that it might appear whose heifer they plough withal who deny the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto justification, because “those things that are personal and inherent in one cannot be communicated unto another.” I say, therefore,

1. That this assertion, “One being accounted unto another in what he doth, holds only in those things which belong unto the increase or diminution of an inheritance which descends from parents unto children, and not otherwise,” is “gratis dictum,” without pretense or confirmation. Even in things moral, God threatens to “visit the iniquities of the fathers on the children.” So the Israelites wandered penally in the wilderness forty years, and bare the iniquity of their parents. The infants that perished in the flood, and at the conflagration of Sodom, died penally under the judgment that came for the sin of their parents. Wherefore the general foundation of his whole discourse is unproved and false, and the application of it unto the present case, as we shall see, weak and impertinent. For,

2. This renders the argument of the apostle as weak and impertinent as any thing can be imagined. For it allows Levi to be no otherwise tithed in Abraham, but as part of the goods which Abraham gave in tithe to Melchisedec would have descended unto him; for he was but one of the twelve sons of Jacob, the grandchild of Abraham, whose share in those tithes cannot be computed to be worth mentioning, much less to bear the weight of an argument in so great a cause. Besides, it is not the person of Levi, but his posterity in the family of Aaron, that is intended; and such movables as were tithed by Abraham do seldom descend through so many generations. It is therefore ridiculous to impose such a kind of argumentation on the holy apostle.

3. Yea, this interpretation is directly contrary unto what the apostle designed to confirm by the instance he gives. For that which he aimed at, was to prove Levi inferior to Melchisedec, by his paying of tithes in the loins of Abraham: but if he did this no otherwise but that some goods that should have descended unto him were given unto Melchisedec, it argues him rather superior unto him; for absolutely he that gives is superior to him that receives, as it is in general a more blessed thing to give than to receive.

4. That which he proceeds upon is a general rule of his own framing, which is no way applicable unto this particular case, as it is a particular case. It is this, “That, as children succeed into the room of their parents as to their goods, and after a sort represent them; so parents, before their children come to inherit, do represent their children, so as that they may be said in some sense to do what is done by their parents.” But this is a rule made without any color of reason. For,

(1.) I would know when this representation and concernment should expire, or whether it holds unto all generations. If it hold for ever, then may we all be said in some sort to do what Adam did with his goods and lands before he died, and so of all our intervenient progenitors. If it do expire, and this relation abideth only for a season, I desire to know the bounds of that season. Aaron was the first of the house of Levi who is intended in these words, and he was the seventh generation from Abraham; in which time it is probable, if ever, this right of inheritance would expire.

(2.) It is not true in any sense, in the very next parents in most cases. For suppose a parent be wicked and flagitious, and shall waste his substance and goods in riotous living, in what sense shall his son, suppose him a person fearing God, be said so to have disposed of his goods in him?

(3.) The truth is, unless it be by a subsequent approbation of what our progenitors have done, or by virtue of a covenant whereby they and their posterity were obliged (which is the case in hand), children can in no sense be said to do what their progenitors have done in the disposal of their goods and inheritances. Neither, indeed, will a subsequent approbation give any tolerable sense unto this assertion, unless there be a power of an effectual dissent in the children also. If a man give a part of his estate to found an hospital, and leave the care of it unto his posterity, with this proviso, that if any of them saw just cause for it, they should resume the estate into their own possession; in case they do not so, they may in some sense be said to do what indeed their father did. But if this be not in their power, though they approve of what he did, they cannot be said to have done it. But in covenants the case is plain. Men may enter into a mutual covenant for the erection of a government among them, which proving a foundation of all their civil rights for the future, their posterity may be said to have made that covenant, and to be obliged thereby, as it was in this case.

5. Neither will it advantage his pretense, with a seeming acknowledgment of some impropriety in the assertion, in these words, ὡς ἔπος ειπεῖν , “as I may so say.” For although it should be granted that he intends some impropriety in the expression, yet there must be truth in his assertion, which this interpretation will not allow; for if it be true only in the sense he contends for, it is true in none at all, for that is not any. But the meaning of these words is, “ut verbo dicam,” ‘That I may give you a summary of the whole, that which my argument riseth up unto.’

6. Having given us this crooked rule, he adds a limitation unto it, whereby he hopes to reduce the whole to his purpose. For saith he, “This rule is not to be extended unto the merits or sins of parents and ancestors, though some loss may accrue unto the children thereby;” for thence he infers, that though we may suffer some loss by the sin of Adam, yet his sin is not imputed unto us. But,

(1.) How far the children of flagitious parents may not only suffer loss, but undergo temporal punishment also, for the sins of their parents, was showed before in the instances of those who perished in their infancy, both by the flood and in the conflagration of Sodom.

(2.) The case between any other parent and his posterity is not the same as it was between Adam and us all; so that these things are sophistically jumbled together. There is, indeed, an analogy between Adam and his posterity on the one hand, and Christ with believers on the other; and never was there, nor shall there ever be, the like relation between any else: for these two individual persons were appointed of God to be the heads of the two covenants, and representatives of the federates, as unto the ends of the covenants. Hence the whole evil of the one and the good of the other, as they were, and as far as they were, heads of the covenants, are imputed unto them who derive from them in their respective covenants. But after the first sin Adam ceased to be a head unto his posterity, as to the good or evil of that covenant, which was now broken and disannulled. Neither was he nor any of his posterity ever after restored or assumed into the same state and condition. It is therefore highly vain to confound the consideration of our concernment in what Adam did as he was the head of the covenant, with what he afterwards did, and other intervenient progenitors might do. All this our apostle confirms at large, Romans 5:0.

7. Abraham was taken into a new administration of the covenant, with new promises and seals; but he neither was nor could be made the head and representative of that covenant whereinto he was taken, otherwise than typically. Hence his moral good or evil could not be reckoned unto his posterity in covenant. But yet he was made the head and spring of the administration of its outward privileges; and this, so far as his trust extended, was imputed unto his posterity, as in the case of circumcision. Wherefore, seeing what he did unto Melchisedec belonged unto the administration of the covenant committed unto him, Levi is rightly said to have done it in him also. And so these things do mutually illustrate one another. But to deny that we were all in Adam, as the head of the first covenant, that we sinned in him, that the sin which we in any sense have sinned in him is imputed unto us, is not to dispute with us, but expressly to contradict the Holy Ghost.

But we may take some observations from these words; as,

Obs. 1. They who receive tithes of others, for their work in holy administrations, are thereby proved to be superior unto them of whom they do receive them. They are given unto them, among other ends, as an acknowledgment of their dignity. So it was when they were paid of old by God’s institution; and so it would be still, if they might be paid or received in a due manner, with respect unto the labor of any in gospel administrations. But whereas not one among thousands doth give or pay them on any other ground but because they must do so whether they will or no; nor would do so any more, were it not for the coercive, enforcing power of human laws; if they on the other side that do receive them, do look on them, not as a free pledge of the people’s respect and the honor that they bear unto them, but as their own right and due by law, they are a testimony neither of the people’s obedience nor of the ministers’dignity, but only of the extreme disorder of all things in religion

Obs. 2. It is of great concernment unto us what covenant we do belong unto, as being esteemed to do therein what is done by our representative in our name. There were never absolutely any more than two covenants; wherein all persons indefinitely are concerned. The first was the covenant of works, made with Adam, and with all in him. And what he did as the head of that covenant, as our representative therein, is imputed unto us, as if we had done it, Romans 5:12. The other is that of grace, made originally with Christ, and through him with all the elect. And here lie the life and hope of our souls, that what Christ did as the head of that covenant, as our representative, is all imputed unto us for righteousness and salvation. And certainly there is nothing of more importance unto us, than to know whether of these covenants we belong unto. We are also some way concerned in them by whom the one or the other of these covenant-states is conveyed unto us; for before we make our own personal, voluntary choice, we are by the law of our nature, and of the covenant itself, enclosed in the same condition with our progenitors as to their covenant-state. And thence it is, that in the severest temporal judgments, children not guilty of the actual transgression of their parents, not having sinned after the similitude of them, by imitation, do yet ofttimes partake of the punishment they have deserved; being esteemed in some manner to have done what they did, so far as they were included in the same covenant with them. And many blessings, on the other hand, are they partakers of who are included in the covenant of those parents who are interested in the covenant of grace; for such parents succeed in the room of Abraham, every one of them. And what Abraham did, as to the administration of the covenant intrusted with him, his posterity, whose representative he was therein, are said to have done in him, as Levi is in this place; and therefore they had the seal of the covenant given unto them in their infancy. And an alteration in this dispensation of grace hath not yet been proved by any, or scarce attempted so to be.

Verse 11

In this verse, after so long a preparation and introduction, whereby he cleared his way from objections and secured his future building, the apostle enters on his principal argument concerning the priesthood of Christ, and all the consequences of it, with respect unto righteousness, salvation, and the worship of God, which depend thereon. This being his main design, he would not engage into it before he had in every respect declared and vindicated the dignity and glory of the person of Christ as vested with his blessed offices. And from hence unto the didactical part of the epistle, he proceeds in a retrograde order unto what he had before insisted on. For whereas he had first declared the glory of the person of Christ in his kingly office, Hebrews 1:0; then in his prophetical, Hebrews 2:3; having now entered on his sacerdotal, he goes on to enlarge upon this last function, then he returns unto his prophetical, and shuts up the whole with a renewed mention of his kingly power, as we shall see in their order and proper places.

Hebrews 7:11 . Εἰ μὲν ου῏ν τελείωσις διὰ τῆς Λευϊτικῆς ἱερωσύνης η῏ν ( ὁ λαὸς γὰρ ἐπ᾿ αὐτῇ νενομοθέτητο ) τίς ἔτι χρεία , κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισεδὲκ ἕτερον ἀνίστασθαι ἱερέα , καὶ οὐ κατὰ τὴν τάξιν ᾿Ααρὼν λέγεσθαι ;

Τελείωσις . Syr., גְּמִירוּתָא , “consummatio,” “perfectio;” a sacred “perfection,” or completeness of state and condition.

Διὰ τῆς Λευϊτικῆς ἱερωσύνης . Syr., בְּיַד כּוּמָרוּתָא דַּלְוָיֵא , “by the hand of the priesthood of Levi himself;” because Levi himself received not the priesthood in his own person, but his posterity. Tremellius renders it “Levitarum,” the “priesthood of Levites.” The original leaves no scruple, “by the Levitical priesthood,” the priesthood that was confined to the house, family, tribe, and posterity of Levi.

῾Ο λαὸς γὰρ ἐπ᾿ αὐτῇ νενομοθέτητο (Ms.,; ἐνενομοθέτητο , corruptly). “Nam sub hoc populo sancita est lex,” Beza; “for under it the law was established to the people.” “Sub ipso populus legem accepit,” “aceeperat” Syr., לְעַמָּא דְּבָהּ סִים נָמוּסָא “by whom” (or “whereby”) “the law was imposed upon the people.” If דְּבָהּ , “by whom,” relate unto Levi, the sense is mistaken;’and much more by the Arabic, which takes “the law” only for the law of the sacerdotal office, from which it is plainly distinguished. The Ethiopic reads the whole verse to this purpose, “And the people did according to the law of the priesthood which was appointed; what need was there, therefore, that he should give another priest, whose appointment one should say was according to Melchisedec?” which argues the great unskilfulness of that interpreter.

Τίς ἔτι χρεία , “quid adhuc,” “quid amplius opus erat,” “esset;” “necessarium fuit;” “what need was there yet,” or “moreover.” Syr., לְמָנָא “wherefore;” “ad quid,” “to what purpose.”

᾿Ανίστασθαι “oriri;” Beza, “exoriri;” Vulg. Lat., “surgere.” Syr., דּיְקוּם , “should arise.” “Oriri,” properly. Κατὰ τὴν τάξιν . Syr., בּדְמוּתֵהּ , “after the likeness of Melchisedec;” “secundum ordmem.’ “

“in” or Καὶ οὐ κατὰ τὴν τάξιν ᾿Ααρὼν λέγεσθαι , “et non secundum ordinem Aaron dick” Syr., אֲמַי דֵּין ; which is rendered in the translation in the Polyglot, “sed dixit,” “but he said, it shall be” (or “he shall be”) “in the likeness of Aaron:” “Dixisset autem,” which, regulated by the precedent interrogation, gives us the true sense of the place: “Suppose there must another priest arise, yet if perfection had been by the Levitical priesthood, he would have said that he should be of the order of Aaron.” [4]

[4] VARIOUS READINGS. Lachmann and Tisehendorf adopt as the text, αὐτῆς νενομοθέτηται , on the authority of such manuscripts as A B C D. TRANSLATION. ᾿Επ ᾿ αὐτ . “Under it;” the rendering of our version would convey the impression that the law was prescribed during the time of the priesthood, whereas part of the law was in existence antecedently to the institution of the priesthood; and if αὐτῆς be the preferable reading, such a translation would be untenable for grammatical reasons. It is accordingly differently rendered by various critics; by Craik,” In dependence upon it;” by Ebrard, “Upon the basis of it;” and by Turner, “In connection with it.” The last remarks, “Inasmuch as the author proceeds to show that the predicted abrogation of the priesthood, in the announcement of another like Melchisedec’s, implied also an intended abrogation of the law, it was directly to the purpose to intimate the close connection of the two.” Stuart gives the same view: “The meaning is, that the priesthood and the law are inseparably linked together, so that if the one be changed, the other must of necessity be,” ED.

Hebrews 7:11 . If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron ?

The first thing in the words is the introduction of the ensuing discourse and argument in these particles of inference, εἰ μὲν οὗν , “if therefore;” ‘if things be as we have declared.’he had a peculiar scope and design in all those things. These he is now introducing. The improvement of his whole preceding discourse, and the whole mystery of the priesthood of Melchisedec, he will now make an application of unto the great cause he has in hand. He hath proved, by all sorts of arguments, that the priesthood of Melchisedec was superior unto that of Aaron. Before, he had evinced that there was to be another priest after his order; and this priest must of necessity be greater than all those who went before him of the tribe of Levi, inasmuch as he was so by whom he was represented before the institution of that priesthood. Now he will let the Hebrews know whither all these things do tend in particular, and what doth necessarily follow from and depend upon them. This he lays the foundation of in this verse, and declares in those following. And that they might consider how what he had to say was educed from what he had before proved, he introduceth it with these notes of inference, εἰ μὲν ου῏ν , “if therefore.” And to comprehend the meaning of these words in genera], with the design of the apostle in them, we may observe,

1. That his reasoning in this case is built upon a supposition which the Hebrews could not deny. And this is, that τελείωσις , “perfection,” or “consummation,” is the end aimed at in the priesthood of the church. That priesthood which perfects or consummates the people, in order unto their acceptance with God and future enjoyment of him, their present righteousness and future blessedness, is that which the church stands in need of, and cannot rest till it comes unto. That priesthood which doth not do so, but leaves men in an imperfect, unconsummate estate, whatever use it may be of for a season, yet it cannot be perpetual unto the exclusion of another. For if so, either God has not designed to consummate his people, or he must do it some other way, and not by a priesthood. The first is contrary to the truth and faithfulness of God in all his promises, yea, would make all religion vain and ludicrous; for if it will never make men perfect, to what end doth it serve, or what must do so in the room thereof? That this should be done any other way than by a priesthood, the Hebrews did neither expect nor believe; for they knew. full well that all the ways appointed by the law, to make atonement for sin, to attain righteousness and acceptance with God, depended on the priesthood, and the services of it, in sacrifices and other parts of divine worship. If, therefore, the apostle proves that perfection could not be attained by nor under the Levitical priesthood, it necessarily follows that there must be some more excellent priesthood remaining as yet to be introduced. This, therefore, he undeniably evinceth by this consideration. For,

2. Look unto the Levitical priesthood in the days of David and Solomon. Then was that order in its height and at its best; then was the tabernacle first, and afterwards the temple, in their greatest glory, and the worship of God performed with the greatest solemnity. The Hebrews would grant that the priesthood of Levi could never rise to a higher pitch of glory, nor be more useful, than it was in those days. Yet, saith he, it did not then consummate the church; perfection was not then attainable by it. This the Jews might deny, and plead that they desired no more perfection than what was in those days attained unto. Wherefore our apostle proves the contrary; namely, that God designed a perfection or consummation for his church, by a priesthood, that was not then attained. This he doth by the testimony of David himself, who prophesied and foretold that there was to be “another priest, after the order of Melchisedec.” For if the perfection of the church was all that God ever aimed at by a priesthood, and if that were attained or attainable by the priesthood in David’s time, to what end should another be promised to be raised up, of another order? To have done so, would not have been consistent with the wisdom of God, nor the immutability of his counsel; for unto what purpose should a new priest of another order be raised up to do that which was done before? Wherefore,

3. The apostle obviates an objection that might be raised against the sense of the testimony produced by him, and his application of it. For it might be said, that though after the institution of the Levitical priesthood there was yet mention of another priest to arise, it might be some eminent person of the same order; such a one as Joshua the son of Josedech, after the captivity, who was eminently serviceable in the house of God, and had eminent dignity thereon, Zechariah 3:4-7: so that the defect supposed might be in the persons of the priests, and not in the order of the priesthood. This the apostle obviates, by declaring that if it had been so, he would have been called or spoken of as one of the order of Aaron; but whereas there were two orders of the priesthood, the Melchisedecian and Aaronical, it is expressly said that this other priest should be of the former, and not of the latter.

4. He hath yet a further design, which is, not only to prove the necessity of another priest and priesthood, but thereon also a change and an abrogation of the whole law of worship under the old testament. Hence he here introduceth the mention of the law, as that which was given at the same time with the priesthood, and had such a relation thereunto, as that of necessity it must stand or fall with it. And this may suffice for a view of the scope of this verse, and the force of the argument contained in it.

We shall now consider the particulars of it:

1. A supposition is included, that τελείωσις , which we render “perfection,” is the adequate and complete end of the office of the priesthood in the church. This, at one time or another, in one order or another, it must attain, or the whole office is useless. And the apostle denies that this could be obtained by the Levitical priesthood. And he calls the priesthood of the law “Levitical,” not only because Levi was their progenitor, the patriarch of their tribe, from whom they were genealogized; but also because he would comprise in his assertion not only the house of Aaron, unto whom the right and exercise of the priesthood was limited and confined, but he would also take into consideration the whole Levitical service, which was subservient unto the office of the priesthood, and without which it could not be discharged. Wherefore the “Levitical priesthood” is that priesthood in the family of Aaron which was assisted in all sacerdotal actings and duties by the Levites, who were consecrated of God unto that end. That τελείωσις , or “perfection,” was of this priesthood, is denied in a restrictive interrogation. ‘If it had been so, it would have been otherwise with respect unto another priest than as it is declared by the Holy Ghost.’

2. Our principal inquiry on this verse will be, what this τελείωσις is, and wherein it doth consist. The word is rendered “perfectio,” “consummatio,” “consecratio,” “sanctificatio,” “dedicatio.” The original signification and use of the word hath been spoken unto on Hebrews 2:10, where it is rendered “sanctification.” Real and internal sanctification is not intended, but that which is the same with sacred dedication or consecration; for it is plainly distinguished from real inherent sanctification by our apostle, Hebrews 10:14, Μιᾷ γὰρ προσφορᾷ τετελείωκεν εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς τοὺς ἁγιαζομένους , “By one offering he hath perfected them that are sanctified”. This τελείωσις , the effect and product of τετελείωκεν , is wrought towards them who are “sanctified,” and so doth not consist in their sanctification. Much less, therefore, doth it signify an absolute perfection of inherent holiness. Some men no sooner hear the name of “perfection,” in the Scripture, but they presently dream of an absolute, sinless, inherent perfection of holiness; which, if they are not utterly blinded and hardened, they cannot but know themselves far enough distant from. But this word hath no such signification. For if it denotes not internal holiness at all, it doth not do so the perfection of it; nor is any such perfection attainable in this life, as the Scripture everywhere testifies. Wherefore the apostle had no need to prove that it was not attainable by the Levitical priesthood, nor to reflect upon it for that reason, seeing it is not attainable by any other way or means whatever. We must therefore diligently inquire into the true notion of this τελείωσις , or “perfection,” which will guide the remaining interpretation of the words. And concerning it we may observe in general,

First, That it is the effect, or end, or necessary consequent of a priesthood. This supposition is the foundation of the whole argument of the apostle. Now the office and work may be considered two ways:

1. With respect unto God, who is the first immediate object of all the proper acts of that office.

2. With respect unto the church, which is the subject of all the fruits and benefits of its administration.

If we take it in the first way, then the expiation of sin is intended in this word; for this was the great act and duty of the priesthood towards God, namely, to make expiation of sin, or atonement for it by sacrifice. And if we take the word in this sense, the apostle’s assertion is most true; for this perfection was never attainable by the Levitical priesthood. It could expiate sin and make atonement only typically, and by way of representation; really and effectually, as to all the ends of spiritual reconciliation unto God and the pardon of sin, they could not do it. For “it was not possible,” as our apostle observes, “that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins,” Hebrews 10:4; which he also proves in his ensuing discourse at large. But I do not know that this word is anywhere used in this sense, nor doth it include any such signification. And whereas God is the immediate object of that sacerdotal energy whereby sin is expiated, it is the church that is here said to be perfected; so that expiation of sin cannot be intended thereby, though it be supposed therein. Besides, the apostle doth not here understand sacrifices only, by which alone atonement was made, but all other administrations of the Levitical priesthood whatever.

The Socinians would have expiation of sin here intended; and I shall therefore examine briefly what they speak to this purpose in their comment on this place:

“‘Perfectionis,’ τελειώσεως , nomine hoc loco nihil aliud intelligit auctor, quam veram et perfectam expiationem peccatorum, qua non tantum quorundam sed omnium etiam gravissimorum criminum reatus, isque non tantum poenae alicujus temporariae et ad hanc vitam spectantis, sed ipsius aeternae mortis, aufertur, jusque homini vitae sempiternae conceditur; qua denique non tantum reatus omnis omnium peccatorum, sed et ipsa peccata in hominibus tolluntur. Namque his in rebus vera hominum perfectio coram Deo consistit. Si, ergo, haec perfectio hominibus contingere potuisset per sacerdotium Leviticum, certe nullus fuisset usus novi sacerdotis Melchisedeciani. Sacerdotium enim propter peccatorum expiationem constituitur. At si perfecta peccatorum expiatio con- tingebat per Aaronicum sacerdotium, quid opus erat novum istum superinducere sacerdotem secundum ordinem Melchisedeci, ut scilicet perageret id, quod peragere potuerat Aaronicus? Quocirca cum Deus illum constituere voluerit, atque adeo jam constituerit; hinc pater nemini, per Leviticum sacerdotium, perfectionem seu perfectam expiationem contigisse, ut certe non contigit. Quorundum enim peccatorum expiatio per illud fiebat, nempe ignorantiarum et infirmitatum; gravium autem peccatorum et scelerum poena morris luenda erat. Nec ista expiatio ad tollendam aeternam mortem quid-quam virium habuit, sed tantum ad tollendas quasdam poenas temporarias, et huic vitae proprias. Nec denique illis sacrificiis ulla vis inerat homines ab ipsis peccatis retrahendi.”

First, what in general is suited unto the apostle’s argument, whatever be the sense of the τελείωσις , here mentioned, is approved. The question is, whether the expiation of sin be here intended, what is the nature of that expiation, and what was the use of the sacrifices under the law? All which on this occasion are spoken unto, and the mind of the Holy Ghost in them all perverted. For,

1. That expiation of sin properly so called, by an act of the priestly office towards God, is not here intended, hath been before declared, both from the signification of the word and the design of the apostle. What these men intend by “the expiation of sin,” and how remote it is from that which the Scripture teacheth, and the nature of the thing itself requireth in the reason and common understanding of all mankind, I have fully evinced in the exercitations about the priesthood of Christ. And take “expiation” in the sense of the Scripture, with the common sense and usage of mankind, and in their judgment it was by the Levitical priesthood, and was not by the priesthood of Christ. For it cannot be denied but that the Levitical priests acted towards God, in their offering of sacrifices to make atonement of sin: but that the Lord Christ did so is by these men denied; for that which under this name they ascribe unto him is only the taking away of punishment due unto sin by his power, which power was given him of God upon his ascension or entrance into heaven, as the holy place.

2. They deny that expiation was by the Levitical priesthood, on two grounds:

(1.) “Because they did expiate only some lesser sins, as of ignorance and infirmity;” and so it cannot be said to be by them, because they were only some few sins that they could expiate.

(2.) “Because their expiation concerned only deliverance from temporal punishment.” That expiation in the Scripture sense could not be really effected by the Levitical priesthood is granted, and shall afterwards be proved. But both these pretended reasons of it are false. For,

1. There was an atonement made in general “for all the sins of the people.” For when Aaron made an atonement by the scape-goat, Leviticus 16:10, he “confessed over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins,” verse 21. And herein the greatest as well as the least of their sins were comprised. For although there were some sins which were capital, according unto the constitutions of their commonwealth, in which respect there was no sacrifice appointed in particular whereby they who were guilty of them might be freed from punishment, that the ordinances of God might not seem to interfere; yet had they, by their interest in the more general sacrifices, a right unto expiation of sin as to its guilt, for otherwise every one who died penally must of necessity die eternally.

2. It is also false, that their sacrifices had no other use but to free men from temporal punishments. Indeed it is a wild apprehension, that the use of sacrifices in the church of old, to be observed by the people with so great solemnities, and under so great penalties, wherein the principal actings of faith did consist, as also the great exercise of the spiritual obedience of the whole church, should serve only to free men from legal, outward, civil, temporal punishments, for lesser sins of ignorance and infirmity; which were none at all, for the most part. Absolutely, indeed, and of themselves, by virtue of their own worth, or by their own innate efficacy, they neither did nor could expiate sin as to its guilt and eternal punishment, which attended all sin by the curse of the law; nor did God ever appoint them for that end: yet they did it relatively and typically; that is, they represented and exhibited unto the faith of the sacrificers that true, effectual Sacrifice to come, whereby all their sins were pardoned and done away. Wherefore, 3. The difference between the expiation of sin by the Levitical priesthood and by Christ did not consist in this, that the one expiated sin only with respect unto temporal punishments, the other with respect unto them that are eternal; but in the manner of their expiation, and the efficacy of each to that end. They expiated sins only typically, doctrinally, and by way of representation; the benefit received from their sacrifices being not contained in them, nor wrought by their causalty, nor procured by their worth or value, but were exhibited unto the faith of the sacrificers, by virtue of their relation unto the sacrifice of Christ. Hence were they of many sorts, and often repeated; which sufficiently argues that they did not effect what they did represent. But the Lord Christ, by the “one offering of himself,” wrought this effect really, perfectly, and absolutely, by its own value and efficacy, according unto the constitution of God. But this is not the perfection here intended by the apostle.

Secondly, This τελείωσις respects the church, which is the subject of all the benefits of the priesthood, and it is that perfect state of the church in this world which God from the beginning designed unto it. He entered upon its erection in the first promise, with respect unto his worship, and the blessed condition of the church itself. Hereon, and with respect hereunto, is the church-state of the old testament said to be weak and imperfect, like that of a child under governors and tutors. Hence also it had a yoke imposed on it, causing fear and bondage; “God having ordained better things for us,” or the church under the new testament, ἵνα μὴ

χωρὶς ἡμῶν τελειωθῶσι , Hebrews 11:40, “that they without us should not be consummated,” or made “perfect” in their church-state. And this state of the church is expressed by this word in other places, as we shall see. The foundation of it was laid in that word of our Savior wherewith he gave up the ghost, Τετέλεσται , John 19:30, “ It is finished,” or “completed;” that is, all things belonging unto that great sacrifice whereby the church was to be perfected were accomplished. For he had respect unto all that the prophets had foretold, all that he was to do in this world; and the consummation of the church was to ensue thereon, when “by one offering he for ever perfected them that are sanctified.” And those who were thoroughly instructed in the privileges of this church-state, and had a sense of the benefits thereof, are called τέλειοι , “perfect,” 1 Corinthians 2:6: “We speak wisdom ἐν τοῖς τελείοις ,” the mysteries of the gospel, wherein such persons discerned the wisdom of God. And so are they called, Hebrews 5:14. This our Savior prayed for in the behalf of his church immediately before he procured it by his sacrifice, John 17:23, ῝Ινα ω῏σι τετελειωμένοι “That they may be perfected.” And the end of the institution of the ministry of the gospel, to make his mediation effectual unto the souls of men by the application of it in the word unto them, was to bring the church εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον , Ephesians 4:13, to “a perfect man,” or that perfection of state which it is capable of in this life. So the apostle informs us, that what he aimed at in his ministry, by “warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom,” was that “he might present πάντα ἄνθρωπον τέλειον ἐν Χριστῷ ,” Colossians 1:28, “every man,” that is, all believers, “perfect in Christ Jesus.” For

“in him we are complete,” Colossians 2:10; where, though another word be used ( πεπληρωμένοι ), yet the same thing is intended; namely, that perfect, complete state of the church, which God designed to bring it unto in Christ. And that our apostle useth the same word in the same sense in sundry places in this epistle we shall see in our progress.

Thirdly, This τελείωσις , or “perfection,” may be considered two ways:

1. As to its absolute completeness in its final issue. This the apostle denies that he himself had as yet attained, Philippians 3:12, ‘“Not as though Ihad already ἔλαβον , “attained,” or “received;” namely, the whole of what is purchased for me by Christ; ἤ ἤδη τετελείωμαι , “ or were already made perfect :”’ which could not be without “attaining the resurrection of the dead,” verse 11; though the substance be so already in the saints departed; whence he calls them “the spirits of just men τετελειωμένων ,” Hebrews 12:23, “made perfect.,’And this he calls absolutely τὸ τέλειον , 1 Corinthians 13:10, “that which is perfect;” or that state of absolute perfection which we shall enjoy in heaven.

2. It may be considered as to its initial state in this world, expressed in the testimonies before cited; and this is that which we inquire after. And the Lord Christ, as the sole procurer of this state, is said to be τελειωτής , the “consummator,” the “perfecter,” the “finisher of our faith,” or religious worship, Hebrews 12:2, as having brought us into a state τελειώσεως , “of perfection.”

This is that, whatever it be (which we shall immediately inquire into), that is denied unto the Levitical priesthood, and afterwards unto the law, as that which they could not effect. They could not, by their utmost efficacy, nor by the strictest attendance unto them, bring the church into that state of perfection which God had designed for it in this world, and without which the glory of his grace had not been demonstrated.

Fourthly, The chief thing before us, therefore, is to inquire what this state of perfection is, wherein it doth consist, and what is required unto the constitution of it; and in the whole to show that it could not be by the Levitical priesthood or law. Now the things that belong unto it are of two sorts: first, Such as belong unto the souls and consciences of believers, that is, of the church; and secondly, Such as belong to the worship of God itself. For with respect unto these two doth the apostle discourse, and assert a state of perfection in opposition unto the imperfect state of the church under the law, with respect unto them both. And as unto the first, there are seven things concurring unto the constitution of this state:

1. Righteousness;

2. Peace;

3. Light, or knowledge;

4. Liberty with boldness;

5. A clear prospect into a future state of blessedness;

6. Joy;

7. Confidence and glorying in the Lord.

And the latter, or the worship of the gospel, becomes a part of this state of perfection,

1. By its being spiritual;

2. Easy, as absolutely suited unto the principles of the new creature;

3. In that it is instructive;

4. From its relation unto Christ, as the high priest;

5. From the entrance we have therein into the holy place.

In these things consists that state of perfection which the church is called unto under the new testament, which it could never attain by the Levitical priesthood. This is that “kingdom of God” which “is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,” Romans 14:17. But because these things are of great importance, although the particulars are many, I shall briefly consider them all apart. First, The first thing constituting this gospel-state of perfection, is righteousness. The introduction of all imperfection and weakness in the church was by sin. This made the “law weak,” Romans 8:3, and sinners to be “without strength,” Romans 5:6. Wherefore the reduction of perfection must in the first place be by righteousness. This was the great, fundamental promise of the times of the new testament, Isaiah 60:21; Psalms 72:7; Psalms 135:10-11. And this was to be brought in by Christ alone.

Wherefore one name whereby he was promised unto the church was, “The LORD our Righteousness,” Jeremiah 23:6. Righteousness of our own we had none, nor could any thing in the whole creation supply us with the least of its concerns, with any thing that belongs thereunto; yet without it must we perish for ever. Wherefore Jehovah himself becomes our righteousness, that we might say, “In Jehovah have we righteousness and strength;” and that “in him all the seed of Israel might be justified and glory,” Isaiah 45:24-25. For “by him are all that believe justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses,” Acts 13:39. To this end he brought in “everlasting righteousness,” Daniel 9:24, צֶדֶק עֹלָמִים , not a temporary righteousness, suited unto the עֹלָם , the “age” of the church under the old covenant, which is often said to be everlasting, in a limited sense; but that which was for all ages, to make the church blessed unto eternity. So is he “of God made unto us righteousness,” 1 Corinthians 1:30.

This is the foundation of the gospel τελείωσις , or “perfection;” and it was procured for us by the Lord Christ offering up himself in sacrifice, as our great high priest. For “we have redemption through his blood,” even “the forgiveness of sins,” Ephesians 1:7; God having

“set him forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins,” Romans 3:25.

And this he is in opposition unto whatever the law could effect, taking away that condemnation which issued from a conjunction of sin and the law:

“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us,” Romans 8:3-4. The end of the law in the first place, was to be a means and instrument of righteousness unto those to whom it was given. But after the entrance of sin it became weak, and utterly insufficient unto any such purpose; for “by the deeds of the law can no flesh be justified.” Wherefore Christ is become “the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth,” Romans 10:4.

And by whomsoever this is denied, namely, that Christ is our righteousness, which he cannot be but by the imputation of his righteousness unto us, they do virtually overthrow the very foundation of that state of perfection which God designed to bring his church unto. This the Levitical priesthood could not effect, for the reason given in the words following, “For under it the people received the law.” It could do no more but what the law could do; but that could not make us righteous, because it was “weak through the flesh;” and by the deeds of the law no man can be justified.

It may be said, that believers had this righteousness under the Levitical priesthood, or they could not have had a “good report through faith,” namely, this testimony, “That they pleased God.”

Ans. (1.) Our apostle doth not deny it, yea, he proves at large, by manifold instances, Hebrews 11:0, that they had it; only he denies that they had it by virtue of the Levitical priesthood, or any duties of the law He speaks not of the thing itself, with respect unto the persons of believers under the old testament, but of the cause and means of it. What they had of this kind was by virtue of another priesthood, which therefore was to be introduced; and the other, which could not effect it, was therefore to be removed. He denies not perfection unto persons under the Levitical priesthood, but denies that they were made partakers of it thereby.

(2.) They had this righteousness really, and as to the benefits of it; but had it not in such clearness and evidence of its nature, cause, and effects, as it is now revealed in the gospel. Hence, although their interest in it was sufficient to secure their eternal concernments, yet they had it not in such a way as is required unto this τελείωσις in this life. For we know how great a portion of the perfect state of the gospel consists in a clear apprehension that Christ is, and how he is, our righteousness; whereon the main of our present comforts do depend. The great inquiry of the souls of men is, how they may have a righteousness before God. And the clear discovery of the cause of it, of the way and manner how we are made partakers of it, is a great part of the perfection of the gospel-state.

(3.) It was so obscurely represented unto them, as that the law rose up in a competition with it, or rather, against it, in the minds of the generality of the people. They looked for righteousness “as it were by the works of the law,” Romans 9:32; and on this rock of offense, this stumbling- stone,they shipwrecked their eternal condition, Romans 9:32-33. For whilst

“they went about to establish their own righteousness, they submitted not unto the righteousness of God,” Romans 10:3.

And we may easily apprehend how great a snare this proved unto them. For there is in corrupted nature such an opposition and enmity unto this righteousness of God in Christ, and the dictates of the law are so rivetted in the minds of men by nature, that now, after the full and clear declaration of it in the gospel, men are shifting a thousand ways to set up a righteousness of their own in the room of it. How strong, then, must the same inclination be in them who had nothing but the law to guide them, wherein this righteousness was wrapped up under many veils and coverings! Here, therefore, at the last, the body of the people lost themselves, and continue unto this day under the curse of that law which they hoped would justify and save them.

2. Peace is the next thing that belongs unto this gospel-state of perfection. “The kingdom of God is ...... peace,” Romans 14:17. To lay the foundation of this kingdom, the Lord Christ both made peace and preached peace, or declared the nature of the peace he had made, tendering and communicating of it unto us, Ephesians 2:14; Ephesians 2:17. And this peace of evangelical consummation is threefold:

(1.) With God;

(2.) Between Jews and Gentiles;

(3.) In and among ourselves:

(1.) It is peace with God. This is the first effect and fruit of the righteousness before mentioned, Isaiah 32:17. For “being justified by faith, we have peace with God,” Romans 5:1. And hereon depends our peace in the whole creation, above and below. And if we look into the promises of the Old Testament concerning the kingdom of Christ, the greatest part, and the most eminent of them, respect peace with God and the whole creation. All things in the creation were at odds, jarring and interfering continually, upon the entrance of sin. For an enmity thereby being introduced between God and man, it extended itself unto all other creatures that had either dependence on man, or were subservient naturally unto his use, or were put in subjection to him by God, the Lord of all. Hereby were they all cast into a state of vanity and bondage; which they groan under, and as it were look out for a deliverance from, Romans 8:20-23. But in this gospel-state God designs a reconciliation of all things, or a reduction of them into their proper order. For

“he purposed in himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he would gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him,” Ephesians 1:9-10.

The ἀνακεφαλαίωσις here mentioned is the same on the matter with the τελείωσις in this place. God had, in his counsel and purpose, distributed the times or ages of the world into several parts or seasons, with respect unto his own works, and the revelation of his mind and will unto men. See our exposition on Hebrews 1:1. Every one of these parts or seasons, had its particular οἰκονομία , or “dispensation.” But there was a πλήρωμα τῶν καιρῶν , “a certain time” or “season,” wherein all the rest that were past before should have their complement and perfection. And this season had its especial οἰκονομία , or “dispensation” also. And this was the ἀνακεφαλαίωσις mentioned; the peace-making and reconciliation of all things, by gathering up the scattered, divided, jarring parts of the creation into one head, even Christ Jesus. And as this enmity and disorder entered into the whole by the sin of man, so the foundation of this catholic peace and order, from which nothing is excluded but the serpent and his seed, must be laid in peace between God and man. This, therefore, God designed in Christ alone, 2 Corinthians 5:20-21. The first and fundamental work of Christ, as the high priest of the new covenant, was to make peace between God and sinners. And this he did by bringing in of “everlasting righteousness.” So was he typed by Melchisedec, “first king of righteousness, then king of peace.” For “when we were enemies we were reconciled unto God by the death of his Son,” Romans 5:10. Hence his name was שׂראּשָׁלוֹם , “the Prince of Peace,” Isaiah 9:5. Wherefore this reconciliation and peace with God is a great part of this gospel-perfection. So our Savior testified, John 14:27. “Peace,” saith he, “I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Assured peace with God, delivering the souls of his disciples from all trouble and fear, is that which he peculiarly bequeathed unto them. And so great a share in this τελείωσις doth this peace with God, and the consequence of it in peace with the residue of the creation, bear, that the kingdom of Christ is most frequently spoken of under this notion, Isaiah 11:4-9, etc. But these things are liable under a double objection. For,

[1.] Some may complain hereon, ‘“Behold, our bones are dried, our hope is lost, we are cut off for our parts;” for we cannot attain unto this peace with God, being exercised with fears and disconsolations all our days, so as that we seem to have no interest in this gospel-state.’

Ans. 1st. Peace is made for all that believe.

2dly . The way of attaining it is laid open unto them, Isaiah 27:5.

3dly . Patient abiding in faith will in due time bring them into this peace.

4thly . It is one thing to have peace with God, which all believers have; another to have the constant sense and comfort of it in their own souls, which they may want for a season.

[2.] Some say, they are so far from finding peace with the whole creation, that on all accounts they meet with great enmities in the world.

Ans. 1st. It is not said that peace is made for us with Satan and the world, the serpent and his seed. This belongs not unto this perfection.

2dly . Whatever troubles we may have with other things, yet in the issue they shall all work together for our good; which is sufficient to constitute a state of peace.

This part of the perfection of the church could not be attained by the Levitical priesthood. For two things belong thereunto:

[1.] That peace be actually made.

[2.] That it be fully declared. o the apostle expresseth it as it was effected by Christ, Ephesians 2:14,

“He is our peace:” and that,

1 st . By making peace, “he made peace,” Ephesians 2:15-16.

2dly . By declaring it, Ephesians 2:17, “He came and preached peace.”

Neither of these could be done by the Levitical priesthood. Not the first, it could not make peace; because it could not bring in righteousness, which is the cause and foundation of it, Isaiah 32:17; Romans 5:1. Not the second, it could not declare or preach this peace; for the giving of the law, with all tokens of dread and severity, with the curse annexed unto it, was directly contrary hereunto. This, therefore, was brought in by this better priesthood alone.

(2.) Peace between Jews and Gentiles belongs unto this state; for God designed not the erecting of his kingdom amongst one party or sort of mankind. That it should be otherwise, that the Gentiles should become the children of Abraham, and be made heirs of the promise, was a great mystery under the old testament, Ephesians 3:4-6. And we know how slow the disciples of Christ themselves were in the receiving and understanding hereof. But evident it is that this was God’s design from the giving of the first promise: and we see now, in the light of the gospel, that he gave many intimations of it unto the church of old; with respect whereunto the veil abideth on the minds of the Jews unto this day. Wherefore without this peace also, the perfect state of the church aimed at could not be attained. But this could never have been brought about by the Levitical priesthood and the law; for they were indeed the principal occasion of the distance between them, and the means of the continuance of their disagreement. And that which the Jews thought to have been the principal advantage and privilege of Abraham in his posterity, was that which, whilst it continued, kept him from the actual possession of his greatest glory, in being “the heir of the world,” and a “father of a multitude of nations.” Nor, whilst that priesthood was standing, could Japheth be persuaded to dwell in the tents of Shem. Hence this peace was so far from being the effect of the Levitical priesthood and the law, as that it could not be introduced and established until they were both taken out of the way, as our apostle expressly declares, Ephesians 2:14-16. The last issue of this contest came unto these two heads:

[1.] Whether the Gentiles should at all be called unto the faith of the gospel.

[2.] Whether, being called, they should be obliged unto the observation of the law of Moses. The first fell out among the apostles themselves, but was quickly determined by our Lord Jesus Christ, unto their joy and satisfaction. And this he did two ways:

1st . By sending Peter to preach the gospel unto Cornelius, and thereon bestowing the Holy Ghost on them that did believe, Acts 10:14; Acts 10:17; Acts 10:45-47

2dly . By giving Paul an open, full commission to go to the Gentiles and preach the gospel unto them, Acts 22:21; Acts 26:15-18. Here the body of the people of the Jews fell off with rage and madness. But the other part of the controversy was of longer continuance. The Jews, finding that the Gentiles were by the gospel brought so near unto them as to turn from dumb idols unto God, and to receive the promise no less than themselves, would by all means have brought them over unto the obedience of the law of Moses also. This yoke the Gentiles being greatly afraid of, were in no small perplexity of mind what to do. The gospel they were resolved to embrace, but were very unwilling to take on them the yoke of the law. Wherefore the Holy Ghost in the apostles at length puts an issue unto this difference also, and lets the church know, that indeed the “wall of partition was broken down,” the “law of commandments contained in ordinances was taken away,” and that the Gentiles were not to be obliged unto the observation of it; which they greatly rejoiced in, Acts 15:31. Other way there was none for the reconciliation of those parties, who had been at so long and so great a variance.

It will be said, that we yet see a variance between Jews and Gentiles continued all the world over; and that they are in all places mutually an abomination unto each other. And it is true it is so, and is likely so to continue; for there is no remedy that can be so effectual to heal a distemper, or make up a fracture, as that it will work its cure without use or application. The gospel is not at all concerned in what state and condition men are who reject it, and refuse to believe it. They may still live in enmity and malice, hateful, and hating one another. But where it is believed, embraced, and submitted unto, there an absolute end is put unto all difference or enmity between Jews and Gentiles, as such, seeing all are made one in Christ. And this τελείωσις belongs only unto them who do obey the gospel.

(3.) Peace among ourselves, that is, among believers, doth also belong hereunto. There was peace and brotherly love required under the law. But no duty receiveth a greater improvement under the gospel. The purchase of it by the blood of Christ, his prayer for it, the new motive added unto it, the communication of it as the legacy of Christ unto his disciples, with the especial ends and duties of it, do constitute it a part of the perfect state of the church under the gospel.

3. The third thing wherein this τελείωσις , or “perfection,” doth consist, is spiritual light and knowledge with respect unto the mysteries of the wisdom and grace of God. God had designed for the church a measure of spiritual light and knowledge which was not attainable under the law; which is the subject of that great promise, Jeremiah 31:35, whose accomplishment is declared, 1 John 2:27. And there are three things which concur unto the constitution of this privilege:

(1.) The principal revealer of the mind and will of God. Under the law God made use of the ministry of men unto this purpose, as of Moses and the prophets. And he employed also, both in the erection of the church-state and in sundry particulars afterwards, the ministry of angels, as our apostle declares, Hebrews 2:2. And in some sense that state was thereby “put in subjection unto angels,” verse 5. But this ministry, and the dispensation of light and knowledge thereby, could not render it complete; yea, it was an argument of the darkness and bondage under which it was. For there was yet one greater than they all, and above them all, one more intimately acquainted with God and all the counsels of his will, by whom he would speak forth his mind, Deuteronomy 18:18-19. This was the Son of God himself, without whose immediate ministry the consummation of the church-state could not be attained. This consideration our apostle insists upon at large in the first chapter, and the beginning of the second, concluding from thence the pre-eminence of the evangelical state above the legal. The especial nature whereof we have declared in the exposition of those places. A most eminent privilege this was, yea, the highest outward privilege that the church is capable of, and it eminently concurs unto its perfection. For whether we consider the dignity of his person, or the perfect knowledge and comprehension that he had of the whole counsel of God and the mysteries of his grace, it incomparably exalts the present church-state above that of old; whence our apostle draws many arguments unto the necessity of our obedience above what they were urged withal. See Hebrews 2:2-3; Hebrews 12:25. And this full revelation of his counsels by the ministry of his Son, God did reserve, partly that he might have a pre- eminence in all things, and partly because none other either did or could comprehend the mysteries of it as it was now to be revealed. See John 1:18.

(2.) The matter or things themselves revealed. There was under the Levitical priesthood “a shadow of good things to come,” but no perfect image or complete delineation of them, Hebrews 10:1. They had the first promise, and the enlargements of it unto Abraham and David. Sundry expositions were also added unto them, relating unto the manner of their accomplishment; and many intimations were given of the grace of God thereby. But all this was done so darkly, so obscurely, so wrapped up in types, shadows, figures, and allegories, as that no perfection of light or knowledge was to be obtained. The mystery of them continued still “hid in God,” Ephesians 3:9. Hence the doctrines concerning them are called “parables and dark sayings,” Psalms 128:2. Neither did the prophets themselves see into the depth of their own predictions, 1 Peter 1:11-12. Hence the believing church waited with earnest expectation, “until the day should break, and the shadows should flee away,” Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 4:6. They longed for the breaking forth of that glorious light which the Son of God was to bring, attending in the meantime unto the word of prophecy, which was as the light of a candle unto them shining in a dark place. They lived on that great promise, Malachi 4:2. They expected righteousness, light, and grace, but knew not the way of them. Hence their prophets, righteous men, and kings, desired to see the things of the gospel, and saw them not, Matthew 13:17; Luke 10:24. And therefore John the Baptist, though he was greater than any of the prophets, because he saw and owned the Son of God as come in the flesh, which they desired to see, and saw not; yet, living and dying under the Levitical priesthood, not seeing “life and immortality brought to light by the gospel,” the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he in spiritual knowledge. Wherefore it belonged unto the τελείσωις , or perfect state of the church, that there should be a full and plain revelation and declaration made of the whole counsel of God, of the mystery of his will and grace, as the end of those things which were to be done away. And this is done in the gospel, under that new priesthood which was to be introduced. Nor without this priesthood could it be so made; for the principal part of the mystery of God depends on, consists in the discharge of the office of that priesthood. It does so on its oblation and intercession, the atonement made for sin, and the bringing in of everlasting righteousness thereby. The plain revelation of these things, which could not be made before their actual accomplishment, is a great part of this gospel perfection. This the apostle disputes at large, 2 Corinthians 3:0. from verse 7 to the end of the chapter.

(3.) The inward spiritual light of the minds of believers, enabling them to discern the mind of God, and the mysteries of his will as revealed, doth also belong unto this part of the perfection of the gospel church-state. This was promised under the old testament, Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:34. And although it was enjoyed by the saints of old, yet was it so in a very small measure and low degree, in comparison with what it is now, after the plentiful effusion of the Spirit. See 1 Corinthians 2:11-12. This is that which is prayed for, Ephesians 1:17-19; Ephesians 3:18-19.

Wherefore this head of the τελείωσις , or “perfection” intended, consists in three things:

(1.) The personal ministry of Christ in the preaching of the gospel, or declaration of the mystery of the wisdom and grace of God in himself.

(2.) The dispensation or mission of the Holy Ghost, to reveal and fully make known the same mystery by the apostles and prophets of the new testament, Ephesians 3:5.

(3.) The effectual illumination of the minds of them that do believe, enabling them spiritually to discern the mysteries so revealed, every one according to the measure of his gift and grace. See concerning it, 1 Peter 2:9; Ephesians 3:16-19; Ephesians 5:8.

4. There belongs unto this perfection that παῤῥησία , that “liberty and boldness,” which believers have in their approaches unto God. This is frequently mentioned as an especial privilege and advantage of the gospel- state, Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:19; Hebrews 10:35; 1 John 3:21; 1 John 5:14. And, on the contrary, the state under the Levitical priesthood is described as a state of fear and bondage; that is, comparatively, Romans 8:15; 2 Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 2:15. And this bondage or fear arose from sundry causes inseparable from that priesthood and the administration of it; as,

(1.) From the dreadful manner of giving the law. This filled the whole people with terror and amazement. Upon the administration of the Spirit by the gospel, believers do immediately cry, “Abba, Father,” Romans 8:16; Galatians 4:6. They have the liberty and boldness to draw nigh unto God, and to call him Father. But there was such an administration of a spirit of dread and terror in the giving of the law, as that the people were not able to bear the approaches of God unto them, nor the thought of an access unto him. And therefore they desired that all things for the future might be transacted by an internuncius, one that might go between God and them, whilst they kept at their distance, Deuteronomy 5:23-27. When any first hear the law, they are afraid of God, and desire nothing more than not to come near him. They would be saved by a distance from him. When any first hear the gospel, that is, so as to believe it, their hearts are opened with love to God, and all their desire is, to be near unto him, to draw nigh unto his throne. Hence it is called “the joyful sound.”

Nothing can be more opposite than these two frames. And this spirit of fear and dread, thus first given out in the giving of the law, was communicated unto them in all their generations, whilst the Levitical priesthood continued. For as there was nothing to remove it, so itself was one of the ordinances provided for its continuance. This are we now wholly delivered from. See Hebrews 12:18-21.

(2.) It arose from the revelation of the sanction of the law in the curse. Hereby principally “the law gendered unto bondage,” Galatians 4:24;f or all the people were in some sense put under the curse, namely, so far as they would seek for righteousness by the works of the law. So saith our apostle, “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse,” Galatians 3:10. This curse was plainly and openly denounced as due to the breach of the law, as our apostle adds, “It is written, Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” And all their capital punishments were representations thereof. This could not but take a deep impression on their minds, and render them obnoxious unto bondage. Hence, although on the account of the promise they were heirs, yet by the law they were made as servants, and kept in fear, Galatians 4:1. Neither had they such a prospect into the nature and signification of their types as to set them at perfect liberty from this cause of dread. For as there was a veil on the face of Moses, that is, all the revelations of the mind and will of God by him were veiled with types and shadows, so there was a veil on their hearts also, in the weakness of their spiritual light, that “they could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished,” 2 Corinthians 3:13; that is, unto Him who is “the end of the law for righteousness unto every one that believeth,” Romans 10:4. It was therefore impossible but that their minds must ordinarily be filled with anxiety and fear. But there is now no more curse, in the gospel-state, Revelation 22:3. The curse abideth only on the serpent and his seed, Isaiah 65:25. The blessing of the promise doth wholly possess the place of it, Galatians 3:13-14. Only they who will choose still to be under the law, by living in the sins that it condemneth, or seeking for righteousness by the works which it commands, are under the curse.

(3.) Under the Levitical priesthood, even their holy worship was so appointed and ordered as to keep them partly in fear, and partly at a distance from the presence of God. The continual multiplication of their sacrifices, one day after another, one week after another, one month after another, one year after another, taught them that by them all there was not an end made of sin, nor everlasting righteousness brought in by any of them. This argument our apostle makes use of to this purpose, Hebrews 10:1: “The law,” saith he, “could never by those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually, τοὺς προσερχομένους τελειῶσαι ,” bring the worshippers unto this perfection. And he gives this reason for it, namely, because they had still a “conscience of sins;” that is, a conscience condemning them for sin: and therefore there was a “remembrance made of sins again every year,” Hebrews 10:2-3. Hereby they were kept in dread and fear. And in their worship they were minded of nothing so much as their distance from God, and that they had not as yet a right to an immediate access unto him. For they were not so much as once to come into the holiest, where were the pledges and tokens of God’s presence. And the prohibitions of their approaches unto God were attended with such severe penalties, that the people cried out they were not able to bear them, Numbers 17:12-13; which Peter reflects upon, Acts 15:10.

“The Holy Ghost thereby signifying that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest while as the first tabernacle was yet standing,” Hebrews 9:8.

No man had yet right to enter into it with boldness; which believers now have, Hebrews 10:19-20.

(4.) God had designed the whole dispensation of the law under that priesthood unto this very end, that it should give the people neither rest nor liberty, but press and urge them to be looking after their full relief in the promised Seed, Galatians 4:1-2; Galatians 3:24. It pressed them with a sense of sin, and with a yoke of ceremonial observances, presenting them with the “hand-writing of ordinances which was against them,” Colossians 2:14. It urged their consciences not to seek after rest in or by that state. Here could be no perfection, because there could be no liberty. The παῤῥησία , or “boldness” we speak of, is opposed unto all these causes of bondage and fear. It was not the design of God always to keep the church in a state of non-age, and under schoolmasters; he had appointed to set it at liberty in the fullness of time, to take his children nearer unto him, to give them greater evidences of his love, greater assurances of the eternal inheritance, and the use of more liberty and boldness in his presence. But what this παῤῥησία of the gospel is, wherein it doth consist, what is included in it, what freedom of spirit, what liberty of speech, what right of access and boldness of approach unto God, built upon the removal of the law, the communication of the Spirit, the way made into the holiest by the blood of Christ, with other concernments of it, constitutive of gospel perfection, I have already in part declared, in our exposition on Hebrews 3:6, and must, if God please, yet more largely insist upon it, on Hebrews 10:0; so that I shall not here further speak unto it.

5. A clear foresight into a blessed estate of immortality and glory, with unquestionable evidences and pledges giving assurance of it, belongs also to this consummation. Death was originally threatened as the final end and issue of sin. And the evidence hereof was received under the Levitical priesthood, in the curse of the law. There was, indeed, a remedy provided against its eternal prevalency, in the first promise. For whereas death comprised all the evil that was come, or was to come on man for sin, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” the promise contained the means of deliverance from it, or it was no promise, tendered no relief unto man in the state whereinto he was fallen. But the people under the law could see but little into the manner and way of its accomplishment, nor had they received any pledge of it, in any one that was dead, and lived again so as to die no more. Wherefore their apprehensions of this deliverance were dark, and attended with much fear; which rendered them obnoxious unto bondage. See the exposition on Hebrews 2:14-15, where we have declared the dreadful apprehensions of the Jews concerning death, received by tradition from their fathers. They could not look through the dark shades of death, into light, immortality, and glory. See the two-fold spirit of the old and new testaments with respect unto the apprehensions of death expressed; the one, Job 10:21-22; the other, 2 Corinthians 5:1-4. But there is nothing more needful unto the perfect state of the church. Suppose it endowed with all possible privileges in this world, yet if it have not a clear view and prospect with a blessed assurance of immortality and glory after death, its condition will be dark and uncomfortable. And as this could not be done without the bringing in of another priesthood, so by that of Christ it is accomplished. For,

(1.) He himself died as our high priest. He entered into the devouring jaws of death, and that as it was threatened in the curse. And now is the trial to be made. If he who thus ventured on death as threatened in the curse, and that for us, be swallowed up by it, or detained by its power and pains, there is a certain end of all our hopes. Whatever we may arrive unto in this world, death will convey us over into eternal ruin. But if he break through its power, have the pains of it removed from him, do swallow it up in victory, and rise triumphantly into immortality and glory; then is our entrance into them also, even by and after death, secured. And in the resurrection of Christ the church had the first unquestionable evidence that death might be conquered, that it and the curse might be separated, that there might be a free passage through it into life and immortality. These things originally and in the first covenant were inconsistent, nor was the reconciliation of them evident under the Levitical priesthood; but hereby was the veil rent from top to bottom, and the most holy place not made with hands laid open unto believers. See Isaiah 25:7-8.

(2.) As by his death, resurrection, and entrance into glory, he gave a pledge, example, and evidence unto the church of that in his own person which he had designed for it; so the grounds of it were laid in the expiatory sacrifice which he offered, whereby he took away the curse from death. There was such a close conjunction between death and the curse, such a combination between sin, the law, and death, that the breaking of that conjunction, and the dissolving of that combination, was the greatest effect of divine wisdom and grace; which our apostle so triumpheth in, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57. This could no otherwise be brought about but by his being made a curse in death, or bearing the curse which was in death, in our stead, Galatians 3:13.

(3.) He hath clearly declared, unto the utmost of our capacities in this world, that future state of blessedness and glory which he will lead all his disciples into. All the concernments hereof, under the Levitical priesthood, were represented only under the obscure types and shadows of earthly things. But he hath “abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,” 2 Timothy 1:10. He destroyed and abolished him who had the power of death, in taking away the curse from it, Hebrews 2:14. And he abolished death itself, in the removal of those dark shades which it cast on immortality and eternal life; and hath opened an abundant entrance into the kingdom of God and glory. He hath unveiled the uncreated beauties of the King of glory, and opened the everlasting doors, to give an insight into those mansions of rest, peace, and blessedness which are prepared for believers in the everlasting enjoyment of God. And these things constitute no small part of that consummate state of the church which God designed, and which the Levitical priesthood could no way effect.

6. There is also an especial joy belonging unto this state; for this kingdom of God is “righteousness , and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Neither was this attainable by the Levitical priesthood. Indeed many of the saints of the old testament did greatly rejoice in the Lord, and had the joy of his salvation abiding with them. See Psalms 51:12; Isaiah 25:9; Habakkuk 3:17-18. But they had it not by virtue of the Levitical priesthood. Isaiah tells us that the ground of it was the “swallowing up of death in victory,” Isaiah 25:8; which was no otherwise to be done but by the death and resurrection of Christ. It was by an influence of efficacy from the priesthood that was to be introduced that they had their joy: whence “Abraham saw the day of Christ, and rejoiced to see it.” The prospect of the day of Christ was the sole foundation of all their spiritual joy, that was purely so. But as unto their own present state, they were allowed and called to rejoice in the abundance of temporal things; though the psalmist, in a spirit of prophecy, prefers the joy arising from the light of God’s countenance in Christ above all of that sort, Psalms 4:6-7. But ordinarily their joy was mixed and alloyed with a respect unto temporal things. See Leviticus 23:39-41; Deuteronomy 12:11-12; Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 16:11; Deuteronomy 27:7. This was the end of their annual festivals. And those who would introduce such festival rejoicings into the gospel-state do so far degenerate unto Judaism, as preferring their natural joy, in the outward manner of expression, before the spiritual, ineffable joys of the gospel. This it is that belongs unto the state thereof: such a joy in the Lord as carrieth believers with a holy triumph through every condition, even when all outward causes of joy do fail and cease. A joy it is “unspeakable, and full of glory,” 1 Peter 1:8. See John 15:11; Romans 15:13; Jude 1:24. It is that inexpressible satisfaction which is wrought in the minds of believers by the Holy Ghost, from an evidence of their interest in the love of God by Christ, with all the fruits of it, present and to come, with a spiritual sense and experience of their value, worth, and excellency. This gives the soul a quiet repose in all its trials, refreshment when it is weary, peace in trouble, and the highest satisfaction in the hardest things that are to be undergone for the profession of the name of Christ, Romans 5:1-5.

7. Confidence and glorying in the Lord is also a part of this perfection. This is the flowering or the effect and fruit of joy; a readiness unto, and the way whereby we do express it. One great design of the gospel is to exclude all boasting, all glorying in any thing of self in religion, Romans 3:27. It is by the gospel, and the law of faith therein, that men are taught not to boast or glory, neither in outward privileges nor in moral duties. See Philippians 3:5-9; Romans 3:27-28; Romans 4:2. What, then? is there no glorying left us in the profession of the gospel, no triumph, no exultation of spirit, but we must always be sad and cast down, at best stand but on even terms with our oppositions, and never rejoice over them? Yes, there is a greater and more excellent glorying introduced than the heart of man on any other account is capable of. But God hath so ordered all things now, “that no flesh should glory in his presence, but that he who glorieth should glory in the Lord,” 1Co 1:29 ; 1 Corinthians 1:31. And what is the reason or foundation hereof? It is this alone, that we are “in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,” verse 30. So it was promised of old, that “in the LORD,” that is, “The LORD our Righteousness,” “all the seed of Israel should be justified and glory,” Isaiah 45:25. This is that καύχημα which we have opened on Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 3:14, whither the reader is referred. It is that triumphant exultation of spirit which ariseth in believers, from their absolute preferring their interest in heavenly things above things present, so as to contemn and despise whatever is contrary thereunto, however tendered, in a way of allurement or rage.

In these things, and others of the like nature and kind, consists that τελείωσις , or “consummation” of the state of the church as to the persons of the worshippers, which the apostle denies to have been attainable by or under the Levitical priesthood. The arguments wherewith he confirms his assertion ensue in the verses following, where they must be further considered. But we may not proceed without some observations for our own edification in this matter:

Obs. 1. An interest in the gospel consisteth not in an outward profession of it, but in a real participation of those things wherein the perfection of its state doth consist. Men may have a form of godliness, and yet be utter strangers to the power of it. Multitudes in all ages have made, and do make a profession of the gospel, who yet have no experience in themselves of the real benefits and advantages wherewith it is accompanied. All that they obtain hereby is but to deceive their souls into eternal ruin. For they live in some kind of expectation, that in another world they shall obtain rest, and blessedness, and glory by it; but the gospel will do nothing for them hereafter, in things eternal, who are not here partakers of its power and fruits in things spiritual.

Obs. 2. The pre-eminence of the gospel-state above the legal is spiritual, and undiscernible unto a carnal eye. For,

1. It is evident that the principal design of the apostle, in all these discourses, is to prove the excellency of the state of the church under the new testament, in its faith, liberty, and worship, above that of the church under the old. And,

2. That he doth not in any of them produce instances of outward pomp, ceremonies, or visible glory, in the confirmation of his assertion. He grants all the outward institutions and ordinances of the law, insisting on them, their use, and signification, in particular; but he opposeth not unto them any outward, visible glory in gospel administrations.

3. In 2 Corinthians 3:0 he expressly compares those two administrations of the law and the gospel, as unto their excellency and glory. And first, he acknowlegeth that the administration of the law, in the institution and celebration of it, was glorious, verses 9-11; but withal he adds, that it had no glory in comparison with that under the new testament, which doth far excel it. Wherein, then, doth this glory consist? He tells us it doth so in this, in that it is the “administration of the Spirit:” verse 8, “How shall not the administration of the Spirit be rather glorious?” He doth not resolve it into outward order, the beauty and pomp of ceremonies and ordinances. In this alone it doth consist, in that the whole dispensation of it is carried on by the grace and gifts of the Spirit; and that they are also administered thereby. ‘This,’saith he, ‘is glory and liberty, such as excel all the glories of old administrations.’

4. In this place he sums it up all in this, that the “perfection” we have treated of was effected by the gospel, and could not be so by the Levitical priesthood and the whole law of commandments contained in ordinances. In these spiritual things, therefore, are we to seek after the glory of the gospel, and its pre-eminence above the law. And those who suppose they render the dispensation of the gospel glorious by vying with the law in ceremonies and an external pomp of worship, as doth the church of Rome, do wholly cross his design. And therefore,

Secondly, This τελείωσις , or “perfection,” respects the worship of the gospel as well as the persons of the worshippers, and the grace whereof they are made partakers. God had designed the church unto a more perfect state in point of worship than it was capable of under the Levitical priesthood. Nor, indeed, could any man reasonably think, or wisely judge, that he intended the institutions of the law as the complete, ultimate worship and service that he would require or appoint in this world, seeing our natures, as renewed by grace, are capable of that which is more spiritual and sublime. For,

1. They were in their nature “carnal,” as our apostle declares, Hebrews 7:16, and Hebrews 9:10. The subject of them all, the means of their celebration, were carnal things, beneath those pure spiritual acts of the mind and soul, which are of a more noble nature. They consisted in meats and drinks, the blood of bulls and goats, the observation of moons and festivals, in a temple made of wood and stone, gold and silver, things carnal, perishing, and transitory. Certainly God, who is a spirit, and will be worshipped in spirit and in truth, designed at one time or other a worship more suited unto his own nature, though the imposition of these things on the church for a season was necessary. And as they were carnal, so they might be exactly performed by men of carnal minds, and were so for the most part; in which respect God himself speaks often with a great undervaluation of them. See Psalms 50:8-13; Isaiah 1:11-14. Had not he designed the renovation of our natures into his own image, a new creation of them by Jesus Christ, this carnal worship might have sufficed, and would have been the best we are capable of. But to suppose that he should endow men, as he doth by Christ, with a new, spiritual, supernatural principle, enabling them unto a more sublime and spiritual worship, it cannot be imagined that he would always bind them up unto those carnal ordinances in their religious service. And the reason is, because they were not a meet and sufficient means for the exercise of that new principle of faith and love which he bestows on believers by Jesus Christ. Yea, to burden them with carnal observances, is a most effectual way to take them off from its exercise in his service. And so it is at this day; where-ever there is a multiplication of outward services and observances, the minds of men are so taken up with the bodily exercise about them, as that they cannot attend unto the pure internal actings of faith and love.

2. What by their number, and what by their nature and the manner of exacting of them, they were made a yoke which the people were never able to bear with any joy or satisfaction, Acts 15:10. And this yoke lay partly, in the first place, on their consciences, or the inner man. And it consisted principally in two things:

(1.) The multitude of ceremonies and institutions did perplex them, and gave them no rest; seeing which way soever they turned themselves, one precept or other, positive or negative, “touch not, taste not, handle not,” was upon them.

(2.) The veil that was on them, as to their use, meaning, and end, increased the trouble of this yoke. “They could not see unto the end of the things that were to be done away,” because of the veil; nor could they apprehend fully the reason of what they did. And it may be easily conceived how great a yoke it was, to be bound unto the strict observation of such rites and ceremonies in worship; yea, that the whole of their worship should consist in such things as those who made use of them did not understand the end and meaning of them. And, secondly, it lay on their persons, from the manner of their imposition; as they were tied up unto days, times, and hours, so their transgression or disobedience made them obnoxious to all sorts of punishments, and excision itself For they were all bound upon them with a curse; whence “every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward,” Hebrews 2:2. For “he that despised Moses’law died without mercy,” Hebrews 10:28; which they complained of, Numbers 17:12-13. This put them on continual scrupulous fears, with endless inventions of their own to secure themselves from the guilt of such transgressions. Hence the religion of the Jews at present is become a monstrous confused heap of vain inventions and scrupulous observances of their own, to secure themselves, as ‘they suppose, from transgressing any of those which God had given them. Take any one institution of the law, and consider what is the exposition they give of it in their Mishna, by their oral tradition, and it will display the fear and bondage they are in; though the remedy be worse than the disease. Yea, by all their inventions they did but increase that which they endeavored to avoid; for they have brought things unto that pass among them, that it is impossible that any one of them should have satisfaction in his conscience that he hath aright observed any of God’s institutions, although he should suppose that he requireth nothing of him but the outward performance of them.

3. Their instructive efficacy, which is the principal end of the ordinances of divine worship, was weak, and no way answered the power and evidence of gospel institutions, Hebrews 10:1. Therefore was the way of teaching by them intricate, and the way of learning difficult. Hence is that difference which is put between the teachings under the old testament and the new. For now it is promised that men “shall not teach every man his brother, and every man his neighbor, saying, Know the LORD,” as it was of old. The means of instruction were so dark and cloudy, having only “a shadow of the things” themselves that were to be taught, and “not the very image of them,” that it was needful that they should be continually inculcated, to keep up the knowledge of the very rudiments of religion. Besides, they had many ordinances, rites, and ceremonies imposed on them, to increase their yoke, whereof they understood nothing but only that it was the sovereign pleasure and will of God that they should observe them, though they understood not of what use they were: and they were obliged unto no less an exact observance of them than they were unto that of those which were the clearest and most lightsome.

The best direction they had from them and by them was, that indeed there was nothing in them that is, in their nature or proper efficacy to produce or procure those good things which they looked for through them, but they only pointed unto what was to come. Wherefore they knew that although they exercised themselves in them with diligence all their days, yet by virtue of them they could never attain what they aimed at; only there was something signified by them, and afterwards to be introduced, that was efficacious of what they looked after. Now unto the strict observation of these things were the people obliged, under the most severe penalties, and that all the days of their lives. And this increased their bondage. God, indeed, by his grace, did influence the minds of true believers among them unto satisfaction in their obedience, helping them to adore that sovereignty and wisdom which they believed to be in all his institutions; and he gave unto them really the benefits of the good things that were for to come, and that were prefigured by their services; but the state wherein they were, by reason of these things, was a state of bondage. Nor could any relief be given in this state unto the minds or consciences of men by the Levitical priesthood; for it was itself the principal cause of all these burdens and grievances, in that the administration of all sacred things was committed thereunto.

The apostle takes it here for granted that God designed a τελείωσις , or state of perfection, unto the church; and that as unto its worship as well as unto its faith and obedience. We find, by the event, that it answered not the divine wisdom and goodness to bind up the church, during its whole sojourn in this world, unto a worship so carnal, burdensome, so imperfect, so unsuited to express his grace and kindness towards it, or its sense thereof. And who can but pity the woful condition of the present Jews, who can conceive of no greater blessedness than the restoration of this burdensome service? So true is it what the apostle says, the veil is upon them unto this present day; yea, blindness is on their minds, that they can see no beauty but only in things carnal: and like their forefathers, who preferred the bondage of Egypt, because of their flesh-pots, before all the liberty and blessings of Canaan; so do they their old bondage-state, because of some temporal advantages it was attended withal, before the glorious liberty of the sons of God.

In opposition hereunto, there is a worship under the gospel which hath such properties as are constitutive also of this perfection. By gospel- worship, I understand the whole way and order of that solemn worship of God which the Lord Christ hath commanded to be observed in his churches, with all the ordinances and institutions of it; and all the private worship of believers, in their whole access unto God. The internal glory and dignity of this worship must be referred unto its proper place, which is Hebrews 10:19-22. Here I shall only mention some few things wherein its excellency consists, in opposition unto the defects of that under the law, on the account whereof it is constitutive of that evangelical perfection whereof we treat:

1. It is spiritual; which is the subject of the apostle’s discourse, 2 Corinthians 3:6-9, etc. And it is so on a twofold account:

(1.) In that it is suited unto the nature of God, so as that thereby he is glorified as God. For “God is a spirit,” and will be “worshipped in spirit;” which our Savior asserts to belong unto the gospel-state, in opposition unto all the most glorious carnal ordinances and institutions of the law, John 4:21-24. So is it opposed unto the old worship as it was carnal. It was that which, in and by itself, answered not the nature of God, though commanded for a season. See Psalms 50:8-14.

(2.) Because it is performed merely by the aids, supplies, and assistances of the Spirit, as it hath been at large proved elsewhere.

2. It is easy and gentle, in opposition unto the burden and insupportable yoke of the old institutions and ordinances. That so are all the commands of Christ unto believers, the whole system of his precepts, whether for moral obedience or worship, himself declares: “Take my yoke upon you,” saith he, “and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,”

Matthew 11:29-30. So the apostle tells us that “his commandments are not grievous,” 1 John 5:3. But yet concerning this ease of gospel- worship some things must be observed:

(1.) As to the persons unto whom it is so easy and pleasant. And it is so only unto them who, being “weary and heavy laden,” do come unto Christ that they may have rest, and do learn of him; that is, unto convinced, humbled, converted sinners, that do believe in him. Unto all others, who on mere convictions, or by other means, do take it upon them, it proves an insupportable burden, and that which they cannot endure to be obliged unto. Hence the generality of men, although professing the Christian religion, are quickly weary of evangelical worship, and do find out endless inventions of their own, wherewith they are better satisfied, in their divine services. Therefore have they multiplied ceremonies, fond superstitions, and downright idolatries, which they prefer before the purity and simplicity of the worship of the gospel; as it is in the church of Rome. And the reason hereof is, that enmity which is in their minds against the spiritual things represented and exhibited in that worship. For there being so near an alliance between those things and this worship, they that hate the one cannot but despise the other. Men of unspiritual minds cannot delight in spiritual worship. It is therefore,

(2.) Easy unto believers, on the account of that principle wherewith they are acted in all divine things. This is the new nature, or new creature in them, wherein their spiritual life doth consist. By this they delight in all spiritual things in the inner man, because they are cognate and suitable thereunto. Weariness may be upon the flesh, but the spirit will be willing. For as the principle of corrupted nature goeth out with delight and vehemency unto objects that are unto its satisfaction, and unto all the means of its conjunction unto them and union with them; so the principle of grace in the heart of believers is carried with delight and fervency unto those spiritual things which are its proper object, and therewithal unto the ways and means of conjunction with them and union unto them. And this is the proper life and effect of evangelical worship. It is the means whereby grace in the soul is conjoined and united unto grace in the word and promises; which renders it easy and pleasant unto believers, so that they delight to be exercised therein.

(3.) The constant aid they have in and for its performance, if they be not wanting unto themselves, doth entitle it unto this property. The institution of gospel-worship is accompanied with the administration of the Spirit, Isaiah 59:21; and he συναντιλαμβάνεται , “helpeth” and assisteth in all the worship of it, as was intimated before.

(4.) The benefit which they receive by it renders it easy and pleasant unto them. For all the ordinances of evangelical worship are of that nature, and appointed of God unto that end, so as to excite, increase, and strengthen grace in the worshippers; as also, to convey and exhibit a sense of the love and favor of God unto their souls. And in these two things consists the principal interest of all believers in this world, nor have they any design in competition with that of increasing in them. Finding, therefore, how by the diligent attendance unto this worship, they thrive in both parts of their interest, it cannot but be pleasant unto them.

(5.) The outward rites of it are few, lightsome, easy to be observed, without scrupulous, tormenting fears, nor such as, by attendance unto bodily services, do divert the mind from that communion with God which they are a means of.

3. It is instructive, and that with clearness and evidence of the things which we are to know and learn. This was a great part of the imperfection of legal institutions, that they taught the things which they signified and represented obscurely, and the mind of God in them was not learned but with much difficulty; no small part of their obedience consisting in a resignation of their understandings unto God’s sovereignty, as to the use and the end of the things wherein they were exercised in his worship. But all the ordinances and institutions of the gospel do give light into, and exhibit the things themselves unto the minds and faith of believers. Hereon they discern the reasons and grounds of their use and benefit; whence our whole worship is called our “reasonable service,” Romans 12:1. Thus in the preaching of the word, “Jesus Christ is evidently set forth, crucified among us,” Galatians 3:1; not darkly represented in types and shadows. And in the sacrament of the supper we do plainly “show forth his death till he come,” 1 Corinthians 11:26 And the like may be said of all other evangelical institutions. And the principal reason hereof is, because they do not represent or shadow things to come, no, nor yet things absent, as did those of old; but they really present and exhibit spiritual things, Christ and the benefits of his mediation, unto our souls. And in the observance of them we are not kept at a distance, but have an admission unto the holy place not made with hands; because Christ, who is the minister of that holy sanctuary, is in them and by them really present unto the souls of believers. Two other things, mentioned before, concerning this worship, namely, its relation unto Christ as our high priest, and our access in it unto the holy place, the throne of grace, must be spoken unto at large elsewhere.

This is a brief declaration of that τελείωσις , or “perfection,” which the apostle denies to have been attainable by the Levitical priesthood. And the grounds of his denial he gives us in the remaining words of the text, which we shall also consider: only we may observe by the way, that,

Obs. 3. To look for glory in evangelical worship from outward ceremonies and carnal ordinances, is to prefer the Levitical priesthood before that of Christ. That which we are to look for in our worship is a τελείωσις such a “perfection” as we are capable of in this world. This the apostle denies unto the Levitical priesthood, and ascribes it unto the priesthood of Christ. But if such a perfection be to be found in ceremonies and ordinances outwardly pompous and glorious, upon necessity the contrary conclusion must be made and affirmed. But yet so it is come to pass in the world, that men do order things in their public worship as if they judged that the pure, unmixed worship of the gospel had no glory in comparison of that of the law, which did excel, and whereunto they do more or less conform themselves. But it is time for us to proceed with our apostle.

Having denied perfection unto the Levitical priesthood, which he lays down in a supposition including a negation, so as to make way for the proof of what he denied; for the further explication of it, and application unto his present purpose, he adds the respect that their priesthood had to the law, intending thereby to bring the law itself under the same censure of disability and insufficiency: ῾Ο λαὸς γὰρ ἐπ᾿ αὐτῇ νενομοθέτητο .

1. The subject spoken of is ὁ λαός , “the people;” that is, in the wilderness, the body of the church, to whom the law and priesthood were given immediately by the ministry of Moses. But after this, the whole posterity of Abraham in their successive generations were one people with them, and are so esteemed. For a people is still the same: and, as a people never dies till all individuals that belong unto it are cut off, so by this “people” the whole church of all ages under the old testament is intended.

2. Of this people he says, νενομοθέτητο , “they were legalized.” They were also “evangelized,” as our apostle speaks, Hebrews 4:2. They were so in the promise made unto Abraham, and in the many types of Christ and his offices and sacrifice that were instituted among them. Yet were they at the same time so brought under the power of the law, as that they had not the light, liberty, and comfort of the gospel, which we enjoy. Νομοθετεῖν , is “legem ferre,” “legem sancire,” “legem imponere;” to “make” “constitute,” “impose” a law And the passive, νομοθετεῖσθαι , when applied unto persons, is “legi latae subjici,” or “legem latam accipere;” to be made “subject unto a law;” to receive the law made to oblige them. So is it used in this place. We have therefore not amiss rendered it “received the law,” “The people received the law.” But the sense of that expression is regulated by the nature of a law. They so received it as to be made subject unto it, as to be obliged by it. Other things may be otherwise received; but a law is received by coming under its obligation. They were brought under the power, authority, and obligation of the law. Or, because the law was the foundation and instrument of their whole state, both in things sacred and civil, the meaning of the word may be, they were brought into that state and condition where into the law disposed them.

This is said to be done ἐπ᾿ αὐτῇ , “under it;” that is, ἱερωσύνῃ , “under that priesthood.” But how the people may be said to receive the law under the Levitical priesthood, must be further inquired into. Some think that ἐπί in this place answers unto עַל in the Hebrew; that is, “concerning it.”

And so the meaning of the word is, ‘For it was concerning the Levitical priesthood that the people received a command;’that is, God by his law and command instituted the Levitical priesthood among them, and no other, during the times of the old testament. According unto this interpretation, it is not the whole “law of commandments contained in ordinances” that is intended, but the law constituting the Levitical priesthood. This sense is embraced by Schlichtingius and Grotius; as it was before them touched on, but rejected, by Junius and Piscator. But although there be no inconveniency in this interpretation, yet I look not on it as suited unto the design of the apostle in this place. For his intention is, to prove that perfection was not to be attained by the Levitical priesthood. Unto this end he was to consider that priesthood under all its advantages; for if any of them seem to be omitted, it would weaken his argument, seeing what it could not do under one consideration it might do under another. Now, although it was some commendation of the Levitical priesthood that it was appointed of God, or confirmed by a law, yet was it a far greater advancement that therewith the whole law was given, and thereon did depend, as our apostle declares in the next verses.

The introduction of this clause by the particle γάρ may be on a double account, which though different, yet either of them is consistent with this interpretation of the words.

1. It may be used in a way of concession of all the advantages that the Levitical priesthood was accompanied withal: ‘Be it that together with that priesthood the people also received the law.’Or,

2. On the other side, there is included a reason why perfection was not to be attained by that priesthood; namely, because together with it, the people were brought into bondage under the yoke of the law. Either way, the whole law is intended. But the most probable reason of the introduction of this clause by that particle, “for,” was to bring the whole law into the same argument, that perfection was not attainable by it. This the apostle plainly reassumes, verses 18, 19, concluding, as of the priesthood here, that “it made nothing perfect.” For it is the same law, which made nothing perfect, that was given together with that priesthood, and not that especial command alone whereby it was instituted.

There yet remains one difficulty in the words: for “the people” are said to “receive the law under the Levitical priesthood;” and therefore it should seem that that priesthood was established before the giving of the law. But it is certain that the law was given on Mount Sinai before the institution of that priesthood; for Aaron was not called nor separated unto his office until after Moses came down from the mount the second time, with the tables renewed, after he had broken them, Exodus 40:12-14. Two things may be applied to the removal of this difficulty. For,

1. The people may be said to receive the law under the Levitical priesthood, not with respect unto the order of the giving of the law, but as unto their actual obedience unto it, in the exercise of the things required in it. And so nothing that appertained unto divine worship, according unto the law, was performed by them until that priesthood was established. And this, as I have showed, is the true signification of the word νενμοθέτητο , here used. It doth not signify the giving of the law unto them, but their being legalized, or brought under the power of it. Wherefore, although some part of the law was given before the institution of that priesthood, yet the people were not brought into the actual obedience of it but by virtue thereof. But,

2. The apostle in this place hath especial respect unto the law as it was the cause and rule of religious worship, of sacrifices, ceremonies, and other ordinances of divine service; for in that part of the law the Hebrews placed all their hopes of “perfection,” which the moral law could not give them. And in this respect the priesthood was given before the law. For although the moral law was given in the audience of the people before, on the mount; and an explication was given of it unto Moses, as it was to be applied unto the government of that people in judiciary proceedings, commonly called the “judicial law,” before he came down from the mount, Exodus 21-23; yet as to the system of all religious ceremonies, ordinances of worship, sacrifices of all sorts, and typical institutions, whatever belonged unto the sacred services of the church, the law of it was not given out unto them until after the erection of the tabernacle, and the separation of Aaron and his sons unto the office of the priesthood: yea, that whole law was given by the voice of God out of that tabernacle whereof Aaron was the minister, Leviticus 1:1-2. So that the people in the largest sense may be said to receive the law under that priesthood. Wherefore the sense of the words is, that together with the priesthood the people received “the law of commandments contained in ordinances;” which yet effected not in their conjunction the end that God designed in his worship. And we may observe, that,

Obs. 4. Put all advantages and privileges whatever together, and yet they will bring nothing to perfection, without Jesus Christ. God manifested this in all his revelations and institutions. His revelations from the foundation of the world were gradual and partial, increasing the light of the knowledge of his glory from age to age: but put them all together from the first promise, with all expositions of it and additions unto it, with prophecies of what should afterwards come to pass, taking in also the ministry of John the Baptist; yet did they not all of them together make a perfect revelation of God his mind and will, as he will be known and worshipped, Hebrews 1:1-2; Hebrews 1:1-2; John 1:18. So also was there great variety in his institutions. Some were of great efficacy and of clearer significancy than others; but all of them put together made nothing perfect. Much more will all the ways that others shall find out to attain righteousness, peace, light, and life before God, come short of giving rest or perfection.

The last thing considerable in these words, is the reason whereby the apostle proves, that in the judgment of the Holy Ghost himself, perfection was not attainable by the Levitical priesthood: “For if it were, what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

The reason in these words is plain and obvious. For after the institution of that priesthood, and after the execution of it in its greatest glory, splendor, and efficacy, a promise is made in the time of David of another priest of another order to arise. Hereof there can be no account given but this alone, that perfection was not attainable by that which was already instituted and executed. For it was a perfection that God aimed to bring his church unto, or the most perfect state, in righteousness, peace, liberty, and worship, which it is capable of in this world; and whatever state the church be brought into, it must be by its high priest, and the discharge of his office, Now, if this might have been effected by the Levitical priesthood, the rising of another priest was altogether needless and useless. This is that invincible argument whereby the holy apostle utterly overthrows the whole system of the Judaical religion, and takes it out of the way, as we shall see more particularly afterwards. But the expressions used in this reason must be distinctly considered. “That another priest;” “a priest of another sort.” Not only a priest who individually was not yet exhibited, but one of another stock and order; a priest that should not be of the tribe of Levi, nor of the order of Aaron, as is afterwards explained. ᾿Ανίστασθαι , “to arise;” that is, to be called, exalted, to stand up in the execution of that office. “To rise up,” or “to be raised up,” is used indefinitely concerning any one that attempts any new work, or is made eminent for any end, good or bad. In the latter sense God is said to raise up Pharaoh, to show his power in him, that he might magnify his glorious power in his punishment and destruction, Exodus 9:16; Romans 9:17. In a good sense, with respect unto the call of God, it is used by Deborah, Judges 5:7, “Until I Deborah arose, until I arose another in Israel.” Commonly ἐγείρω and ἐγείρομαι are used to this purpose, Matthew 11:11; Matthew 24:24; John 7:52. “To arise,” therefore, is to appear and stand up at the call of God, and by his designation, unto the execution or performance of any office or work. So was this other priest to appear, arise, stand up, and execute the priest’s office, in compliance with the call and appointment of God.

And this priest was thus to “rise after the order of Melchisedec.” So it is expressly affirmed in the Psalms. And here the apostle takes in the consideration of what he had before discoursed concerning the greatness of Melchisedec. For he designed not only to prove the thing itself, which is sufficiently done in the testimony out of the psalmist, but also to evidence the advantage and benefit of the church by this change. And hereunto the consideration of the greatness of Melchisedec was singularly subservient, as manifesting the excellency of that priesthood by whom the righteousness of the church and its worship was to be consummated.

Lastly, The apostle adds negatively of this other priest, who was to rise by reason of the weakness of the Levitical priesthood, which could not perfect the state of the church, that he was “not to be called after the order of Aaron.”

Καὶ οὐ κατὰ τὴν τάξιν ᾿Ααρὼν λέγεσθαι , “And not to be called after the order of Aaron;” that is, in the psalm where the rising of this priest is declared and foretold. There he is said to be, or is denominated, “a priest after the order of Melchisedec,” and nothing is spoken of the order of Aaron. Λέγεσθαι , denotes only an external denomination, not an internal call. It is not the same with καλούμενος , used by our apostle, Hebrews 5:4, Καλούμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ , “called of God;” that is, by an effectual call and separation unto office. But it answers προσαγορευθείς , Hebrews 5:10, “cognominatus;” called so by external denomination. For the real call of Christ unto his office, by Him who said unto him, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,” was such as the call of Melchisedec himself could not represent. Wherefore the call of Christ unto his office and that of Melchisedec are nowhere compared. But upon the account of sundry resemblances, insisted on by the apostle in the first verses of this chapter, Christ is called by external denomination a priest after his order, and is nowhere called so after the order of Aaron. And the reason why the apostle addeth this negative is evident. For it might be said, that although another priest was foretold to arise, yet this might respect only an extraordinary call unto the same office, and not a call unto an office of another kind or order. Aaron was called by God immediately, and in an extraordinary manner; and all his posterity came into the same office by an ordinary succession. So God promised to raise up a priest in a singular manner, 1 Samuel 2:35,

“I will raise me up a faithful priest, which shall do according unto that which is in mine heart and in my mind.”

A priest of another order is not here intended, but only the change of the line of succession from the house of Ithamar unto that of Phinehas, fulfilled in Zadok in the days of Solomon. So a new priest might be raised up, and yet the old legal order and administration be continued. ‘But,’saith the apostle, ‘he is not to be of the same order.’For the defect of the Levitical priesthood was not only in the persons, which he mentions afterwards, but it was in the office itself, which could not bring the church to perfection. And that “de facto” he was not so to be, he proves by this argument negatively from the Scripture, that he is nowhere by the Holy Ghost said to be of the order of Aaron, but, on the contrary, of that of Melchisedec, which is in consistent therewithal.

And this is the first argument whereby the apostle confirms his principal design, which he particularly strengthens and improves in the verses following.

Verse 12

Μετατιθεμένης γὰρ τῆς ἱερωσύνης , ἐξ ἀνάγκης καὶ νόμου μετάθεσις γίνεται .

“Mutato sacerdotio.” Vulg. Lat., “translato.” Beza, “hoc sacerdotio;” expressing the article. Syr., “Yea, even as a change was made in the priesthood, so a change was made also in the law;” not to the mind of the apostle. Ethiop., “If their law is passed away, their priesthood shall pass away;” more out of the way than the other.

Hebrews 7:12 . For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change of the law.

In this verse the apostle evidently declares what he intended by “the law” in that foregoing, which “the people received under the Levitical priesthood.” It was the whole “law of commandments contained in ordinances,” or the whole law of Moses, so far as it was the rule of worship and obedience unto the church; for that law it is that followeth the fates of the priesthood.

And herein lieth the stress and moment of the controversy which the apostle then had with the Jews, and which we have at this day with their unbelieving posterity. For the question was, whether the law of Moses was to be eternal absolutely, the rule of the worship of the church whilst it was to continue in this world. And it appears that in the preaching of the gospel, that which most provoked the Jews was, that there was inferred thereby a cessation and taking away of Mosaical institutions. This was that which enraged them, unto the shedding of the blood of the church, which they were guilty of, after the murder of the Head thereof. For they fell on Stephen under pretense that he had said that “Jesus of Nazareth should change the customs which Moses delivered,” Acts 6:14. And this also provoked their rage against our apostle, Acts 21:28. Yea, the most of them who were converted to the faith of the gospel yet continued obstinate in this persuasion, that the law of Moses was yet to continue in force, Acts 21:20. And with this opinion some of them troubled the peace and hindered the edification of the churches called from among the Gentiles, as hath been at large elsewhere declared. This matter, therefore, which the apostle now entereth upon, was to be managed with care and diligence. This he enters upon in this verse, being a transition from one point unto another, having made way for his intentions in the verse foregoing. That which hitherto he hath insisted on in this chapter, is the excellency of the priesthood of Christ above that of the law, manifested in the representation made of it by Melchisedec. In the pursuit of his argument unto that purpose, he proves that the Aaronical priesthood was to be abolished, because, after its institution, there was a promise of the introduction of another, wherewith it was inconsistent. And herein observing the strict conjunction that was between that priesthood and the law, with their mutual dependence on one another, he proves from thence that the law itself was also to be abolished.

Herein, therefore, lay the principal design of the apostle in this whole epistle. For the law may be looked on under a double consideration:

1. As unto what the Jews, in that degenerate state of the chinch, obstinately looked for from it.

2. As unto what it did really require of them, whilst it stood in force and power. And under both these considerations it was utterly inconsistent with the gospel.

1. The Jews at that time expected no less from it than expiation of sin by its sacrifices, and justification by the works of it. It is true, they looked for these things by it unjustly, seeing it promised no such thing, nor was ever ordained unto any such purpose; but yet these things they looked for, and were resolved so to do, until the law should be removed out of the way. And it is evident how inconsistent this is with the whole work of the mediation of Christ, which is the sum and substance of the gospel. But suppose they looked not absolutely for atonement and justification by the sacrifices and works of the law, yet the continuance of their observance was repugnant unto the gospel. For the Lord Christ, by the one offering of himself, had made perfect atonement for sin; so that the sacrifices of the law could be of no more use or signification. And the continuance of them, wherein there was renewed mention of the expiation of sin, did declare that there was not a perfect expiation already made: which overthrows the efficacy and virtue of the sacrifice of Christ; even as the daily repetition of a sacrifice in the mass continueth to do. Again; whereas the Lord Christ, by his obedience and righteousness, had fulfilled the law, and was become the end of it for righteousness unto them that do believe, the seeking after justification as it were by the works of the law was wholly repugnant thereunto.

2. And in the next place, the law may be considered as it prescribed a way of worship, in its ordinances and institutions, which God did accept. This the people were indispensably obliged unto whilst the law stood in force. But in the gospel our Lord Jesus Christ had now appointed a new, spiritual worship, suited unto the principles and grace thereof. And these were so inconsistent as that no man could at once serve these two masters.

Wherefore the whole law of Moses, as given unto the Jews, whether as used or abused by them, was repugnant unto and inconsistent with the gospel, and the mediation of Christ, especially his priestly office, therein declared; neither did God either design, appoint, or direct that they should be co-existent. If, then, the law continue in its force, and have power to oblige the consciences of men, and is still so to abide, there is neither room nor place for Christ and his priesthood in the church, nor, indeed, for the discharge of his other offices. And this opposition between the law and the gospel, works and grace, our own righteousness and that of Christ, our apostle doth not only grant, but vehemently urge, in all his epistles, allowing none to suppose that they may have both these strings unto their bow. One of them he is peremptory that all mankind must betake themselves unto. Here the Jews were entangled, and knew not what to do. The greatest part of them adhered unto the law, with an utter rejection of the gospel and the Author of it, perishing in their unbelief. Others of them endeavored to make a composition of these things, and retaining of Moses, they would admit of Christ and the gospel also. And this the Holy Ghost in the apostles did for a while bear withal. But now, whereas the whole service of the tabernacle was of itself fallen down, and become, as useless, so of no force, its obliging power ceasing in its accomplishment by Christ; and whereas the time was drawing near wherein God by his providence would utterly remove it; the inconsistency of it with the gospel-state of the church was now fully to be declared.

This, therefore, our apostle grants, that there was such a repugnancy between the law and the gospel, as unto the ends of righteousness and divine worship, as that one of them must of necessity be parted withal. Wherefore the whole controversy turning on this hinge, it was highly incumbent on him to manifest and prove that the law did now cease, according unto the appointment of God; and that God had of old designed, foretold, and promised, that so it should do, and be abolished upon the introduction of that which was the end and substance of it. And this I look upon as the greatest trial the faith of men ever had in the concerns of religion; namely, to believe that God should take away, abolish, and leave as dead and useless, that whole system of solemn worship which he had appointed in so glorious a manner, and accepted for so many generations. But yet, as we are to acquiesce in the sovereign pleasure of God, made known by revelation, against all reasonings of our own whatsoever; so it must be confessed that faith was greatly bespoken and prepared, by the nature, end, and use of all those institutions, which more than intimated that they were appointed only for a time, and served to introduce a more glorious dispensation of divine wisdom and grace.

The proof, therefore, of the utter cessation of the law, the apostle enters upon by the invincible argument whose foundation or proposition is laid in this verse, and the especial parts of it are explained, confirmed, and vindicated, in those that follow. And in his ensuing discourse his principal design is to prove, that the church is so far from being a loser or disadvantaged by this change, as that she receiveth thereby the highest privilege and greatest blessing that in this world she is capable of.

In the words of this verse there is a supposition of the change of the priesthood, as that which was proved before; and an inference from thence unto a necessity of the change of the law.

“The priesthood being changed;” that is, the priesthood of Levi, appointed and exercised under the law. Μετατιθεμένης , “translato,” “mutato;” so some read, “transferred,” “translated;” some, “changed.” The former do not reach the whole sense intended; for the office of the priesthood may be transferred from one person to another, one family unto another, yea, one tribe unto another, and yet the priesthood, as to the kind and nature of it, continue the same. This our apostle afterwards mentions, verses 13, 14, as a part of his argument to prove the priesthood itself to be changed. But this it doth not absolutely, seeing it is possible that the office may be transferred from one tribe unto another and yet not be changed as unto its nature. But the proof lies in this, that Moses, in the institution of the priesthood, made no mention of the tribe of Judah; and therefore if that office be transferred unto that tribe, it must be of another kind than that before instituted. And on this supposition, that which he intends to prove follows evidently upon the translation of the priesthood. For all the sacred services and worship which the law required were so confined, or at least had that respect unto the Levitical priesthood, as that no part of it, no sacred duty, could be performed, on a supposition of taking away the priesthood from that tribe and family. For whereas the whole of their worship consisted in the service and sacrifices of the tabernacle, God had appointed that whosoever did draw nigh unto the performance of any of these services that was not of the seed of Aaron, should be cut off and destroyed. Wherefore, upon a supposition of the ceasing or changing of the priesthood in that family, the whole law of ordinances became impracticable, useless, and lost its power; especially seeing there was no provision made in the law itself for a priesthood in any other tribe. Besides, such was the contexture of the law, and such the sanction of it, (“Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them,”) that if any thing be taken out of it, if its order be disturbed, if any alteration be made, or any transgression be dispensed withal, or exempted from the curse, the whole fabric must of necessity fall unto the ground.

But yet it is not a mere transferring of the priesthood from one tribe unto another that is here intended by the apostle; for there is such a change of the priesthood as there is of the law. But the change of the law was an ἀθέτησις , a “disannulling” or abolishing, as it is affirmed, verse 18: such, therefore, must the change of the priesthood be; and so it was. The priesthood was changed, in that one kind of it was utterly abolished, and another introduced. So was the Levitical priesthood changed, as that the other priest, which came with his office in the room thereof, could not be called or said to be after the order of Aaron, but was of another kind, typed out by Melchisedec. It may therefore be inquired on what grounds this priesthood was to be so abolished, or how it appears that so it is, and by what means it was actually taken away.

That it was so to be abolished the apostle proves,

1. Because, before the institution of that priesthood, there was another far more excellent, namely, that of Melchisedec.

2. That the Holy Ghost had declared that the introduction of that more excellent priesthood for a season was to prefigure and represent another priesthood, that was afterwards to be established. And this could not be that of Levi, seeing God doth not make use of that which is more excellent to prefigure or represent that which is inferior thereunto. Another priesthood, therefore, must arise and be granted unto the church, in answer unto that type.

3. That it was impossible that this new priesthood, after the order of Melchisedec, should be consistent with that of Levi, or that it should be continued after that was brought in. For,

(1.) He was to be of another tribe, as he immediately proves.

(2.) Because his priesthood and sacrifice were to be of another kind than that of Levi; which he demonstrates at large in the three ensuing chapters.

(3.) Because, on the other, hand, the priesthood of Aaron,

[1.] Could never accomplish and effect the true and proper ends of the priesthood, which the church stood in need of, and without which it could not be consummated: and,

[2.] Was in its own nature, offices, works, and duties, inconsistent with any priesthood that was not of its own order. It must therefore be abolished.

It may therefore be inquired, how the priesthood was changed, or that of the house of Levi taken away. And I say, as the apostle directs, first, It was done by the appointment of God. For his introduction of another priest, when it was actually accomplished, had the force of a repealing law. The institution of the former was abrogated thereby, without any other constitution. For as unto its use, it did hence cease of itself. It had no more to do, its work was at an end, and its services of no advantage to the church. For the sign of what is to come is set aside when the thing signified is brought in, and ceaseth to be a sign; yea, the continuance of it would give a testimony against itself. And as to its right, this new institution of God, by his own authority applied unto it in its proper season, took it away. Secondly, The application of the authority of God in the institution of a new priesthood to take away the old was made by the Holy Ghost, in the revelation of the will of God by the gospel, wherein the ceasing of it was declared. And sundry things may be observed concerning this abolishing of it:

Obs. 1. Notwithstanding the great and many provocations of them by whom it was exercised and discharged, yet God took it not away until it had accomplished the end whereunto it was designed. Neither the wickedness of the people, nor of the priests themselves, could provoke the Lord to revoke his institution, until,

1. The appointed end of it was come. And it is no small part of the blindness of the present Jews, to think that God would so utterly abolish his own ordinance, as they must acknowledge he hath done, if he would have it to be of any longer use in the church. For sixteen hundred years they have not had any priest among them. Nor is it possible they should, according unto the law, if they were actually restored unto their own pretended right in Canaan: for they have utterly lost the distinction of tribes among them, nor can any of them in the least pretend that they are of the lineage of the priests; and for any one to usurp that office who is not lineally descended from Aaron, they own to be an abomination. As, therefore, they know not how to look for a Messiah from the tribe of Judah, seeing all sacred genealogy is at an end; no more can they look for a priest of the house of Aaron. Now, this end of it was the “bringing in of a better hope,” or the promised Seed; who, according to the promise, was to come to the second temple, and therefore whilst that priesthood continued.

2. God took it not away till he brought in that which was more excellent, glorious, and advantageous unto the church, namely, the priesthood of Christ. And if this be not received, through their unbelief, they alone are the cause of their being losers by this alteration.

3. In abundant patience and condescension, with respect unto that interest which it had in the consciences of men from his institution, God did not utterly lay it aside in a day, after which it should be absolutely unlawful to comply with it; but he took it away by degrees, as shall afterwards be declared.

Obs. 2. That the efficacy of all ordinances or institutions of worship depends on the will of God alone. Whilst it was his will that the priesthood should abide in the family of Levi, it was useful and effectual unto all the ends whereunto it was designed; but when he would make an alteration therein, it was in vain for any to look for either benefit or advantage by it. And although we are not now to expect any change in the institutions of divine worship, yet all our expectations from them are to be resolved into the will of God.

Obs. 3. Divine institutions cease not without an express divine abrogation. Where they are once granted and erected by the authority of God, they can never cease without an express act of the same authority taking them away. So was it with the institutions of the Aaronical priesthood, as the apostle declares. And this one consideration is enough to confirm the grant of the initial seal of the covenant unto the seed of present believers, which was once given by God himself in the way of an institution, and never by him revoked.

Obs. 4. God will never abrogate or take away any institution or ordinance of worship unto the loss or disadvantage of the church. He would not remove or abolish the priesthood of Levi until that which was incomparably more excellent was introduced and established.

Obs. 5. God in his wisdom so ordered all things, that the taking away of the priesthood of the law gave it its greatest glory. For it ceased not before it had fully and absolutely accomplished the end whereunto it was designed: which is the glory and perfection of any ordinance; even the mediation of Christ himself shall cease when all the ends of it are fulfilled. And this end of the priesthood was most glorious; namely, the bringing in of that of Christ, and therein of the eternal salvation of the church. And what more honorable issue could it come unto? The Jews, by their pretended adherence unto it, are they which cast the highest dishonor upon it; for they own that it is laid aside, at least that it hath been so for sixteen hundred years, and yet neither the end of it effected nor any thing brought in by it unto the greater advantage of the church.

The next thing considerable in these words, is the inference which the apostle makes from his assertion and the proof of it: “There is made of necessity a change also of the law;” ἐξ ἀνάγκης , “of necessity.” It is not a note of the necessity of the inference from the proposition, in the way of argument, but the necessary dependence of the things mentioned, the one on the other. For whereas the whole administration of the law, so far as it concerned the expiation of sin by sacrifices, and the solemn worship of God in the tabernacle or temple, depended absolutely on, and was confined unto the Aaronical priesthood, so as that without it no one sacrifice could be offered unto God, nor any ordinance of divine worship be observed; that priesthood being abolished and taken out of the way, the law itself of necessity and unavoidably ceaseth and becometh useless. It doth so, I say, as unto all the proper ends of it, as a law obligatory unto the duties required in it.

Wherefore there is also νόμου μετάθεσις , “a change of the law; that is, an abolition of it: for it is a change of the same nature with the change of the priesthood; which, as we have showed, was its abolition and taking away. And how this came to pass the word γίνεται declares; there is “made” a change. It did, indeed, necessarily follow on the change of the priesthood; yet not so, but that there was an act of the will and authority of God on the law itself. God made this change, and he alone could do it; that he would do so, and did so, the apostle proves in this and the verses following. So is the “law of commandments contained in ordinances taken out of the way,” being “nailed unto the cross of Christ,” where he left it completely accomplished.

But moreover, the law in its institutions was an instructive revelation, and taught many things concerning the nature of sin, its expiation and cleansing; representing, though darkly, good things to come. So it is yet continued as a part of the revealed will of God. And the light of the gospel being brought unto it, we may learn things far more clearly out of it than ever the Jews of old could do.

And the force of the argument here insisted on by the apostle against the absolute perpetuity of the law, which was of old, and yet continueth to be, the head of the controversy between the Jews and the church of Christ, is so unavoidable, that some of them have been compelled to acknowledge that in the days of the Messiah legal sacrifices and the rest of their ceremonies shall cease; though the most of them understand that their cause is given away thereby. And they have no other way to free themselves from this argument of the apostle, but by denying that Melchisedec was a priest, or that it is the Messiah who is prophesied of, Psalms 110:0.; which evidences of a desperate cause, and more desperate defenders of it, have been elsewhere convinced of folly. Wherefore this important argument is confirmed by our apostle in the ensuing verses. And we may see,

Obs. 6. How it is a fruit of the manifold wisdom of God, that it was a great mercy to gave the law, and a greater to take it away. And,

Obs. 7. If under the law the whole worship of God did so depend on the priesthood, that that failing, or being taken away, the whole worship of itself was to cease, as being no more acceptable before God; how much more is all worship under the new testament rejected by him, if there be not a due regard therein unto the Lord Christ, as the only high priest of the church, and to the efficacy of his discharge of that office!

Obs. 8. It is the highest vanity, to pretend use or continuance in the church, from possession or prescription, or pretended benefit, beauty, order, or advantage, when once the mind of God is declared against it. The pleas of this kind for the old priesthood and law excelled all that can be insisted on, with respect unto any other things that any pretend a veneration for in divine worship; yet were they of no validity or efficacy.

Verse 13

᾿Εφ᾿ ὅν γὰρ λέγεται ταῦτα , φυλῆς ἐτέρας μετέσχηκεν , ἀφ᾿ ἧς οὐδεὶς προσέσχηκε τῷ θυσιαστηρίῳ .

᾿Εφ᾿ ὅν ,” in quem.” “In quo,” Vulg. Lat. הָּו טֵּיר דֵּאתַאמְרִ עֲלַוְהִי חָלֵין , Syr.; “for he concerning whom these things are spoken.” “For he on whom these things are said,” Rhem., improperly. Φυλῆς ἑτέρας μετέσχηκεν . Vulg., “de alia tribu est;” Rhem., “is of another tribe:” omitting the especial force of the word μετέσχηκεν , though the substance of the sense be retained. Syr., ‘ אֶתִילֵד , “was born of another tribe.” “Particeps fuit,” did derive his genealogy from, and so had his especial relation unto, another tribe. Προσέσχηκε , “ministravit,” “attendit.” Vulg., “praesto fuit.” The Ethiopic, “And if any one will say so,” (or “as one may say,”) “he placeth another tribe, because they kept not the altar;” mistaking both the meaning of the design and sense of the apostle’s words.

Hebrews 7:13 . For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth unto another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.

The causal conjunction, γάρ , doth not only intimate a pursuit of the foregoing argument, and the confirmation of the supposition whereon it was built, but also an entrance upon the express application of the whole precedent discourse unto the person of Jesus Christ, the true and only high priest of the church. In the words there is,

1. The subject to be further treated on described, ᾿Εφ᾿ ὅν λέγεται ταῦτα : that is, περὶ οὗ , “de quo,” “he concerning whom;” “quem designaverunt haec,” “ad quem haec pertinent,” “he who is designed in all these things,” “he unto whom they do all belong,” “he with respect unto whom ταῦτα ,” “these things;” that is, all that hath been spoken concerning Melchisedec and his priesthood, all things that do naturally follow and ensue thereon. For although sundry of them were spoken firstly and immediately concerning other persons and things, yet they all belong ultimately and perfectly unto Christ alone, whom they did represent and make way for. And we may observe hence,

Obs. 1. That it is our duty, in studying of the Scripture, to inquire diligently after the things which are spoken concerning Jesus Christ, and what is taught of him in them. This doth our apostle find out in all that was spoken concerning Melchisedec and the Levitical priesthood. This he himself gives in charge, John 5:39, “Search the Scriptures: they are they which testify of me.” Our principal aim in searching the Scriptures ought to be, that we may find out what they say and what they testify concerning Christ. And this was the practice of the prophets of old, with respect unto all the revelations which they received, 1 Peter 1:10-12. Let the pains, and industry, and skill of men, in the reading and interpreting of the Scriptures, be what they will, without this design they will never rightly be understood, nor duly improved. For as those things which concern his person, office, and grace, with the mysteries of the wisdom of God in them all, are the principal subject of them; so all other things which are taught and revealed in them are never apprehended, unto any good end or purpose, unless their relation unto him and dependence upon him be rightly understood. Some are charged that they esteem no preaching but that which is concerning the person of Christ; which how false an accusation it is, their preaching and writings do discover. But this they say, indeed, (that is, some do so,) that seeing it is the design of God to “gather all things into a head in Christ,” that preaching is to little purpose which doth not more or less expressly evidence the relation of all truths and duties unto him.

2. It is added, φυλῆς μετέσχηκε , “he pertaineth unto another tribe.” To confirm his argument concerning the changing or abolition of the priesthood, the apostle supposeth the distribution of the people into tribes, according unto the number of the sons of Jacob. And as these tribes had a common interest in the church, so some of them had peculiar privileges granted and confirmed unto them by law. So the priesthood was granted, confined, and confirmed unto the tribe of Levi, and unto the family of Aaron in that tribe. And it was so confined thereunto, as that all the rest of the tribes were for ever excluded from any interest therein, and all that belonged unto them incapacitated therefor. But unto one of the tribes so excluded from an interest in the legal priesthood did He belong of whom these things are spoken. And this I look upon as the principal reason of the distinction of that people into their tribes; namely, that God thereby might provide for their instruction as to the continuance of the legal worship among them; which could be no longer continued than the priesthood was reserved unto that one tribe whereunto it was originally granted,

Μετέσχηκε . See the meaning of the word in our exposition on Hebrews 2:14. His share, lot, and interest, lay in another tribe.

3. He describes in general this other tribe whereof he was, by its legal exclusion from all the service of the altar: “Of which no man gave attendance at the altar.” What tribe that was in particular he declares in the next verse, showing not only of what tribe he was, but also what it was necessary he should be. “Another tribe, ἀφ᾿ ἧς , whereof; “from which none that was genealogized attended at the altar;’that is, had right so to do, or was not forbidden by the law so to do. God doth not reckon that to be done in his service which he hath not appointed, much less which he hath forbidden. What other inroads were made on the sacerdotal office we know not; but one of the tribe here intended by the apostle, whereof none was to attend at the altar, did draw nigh to offer incense; for which he was rebuked by the high priest, and punished of God, 2 Chronicles 26:16-21. And God exercised the greater severity herein, that the church might understand, that when he introduced and allowed of a priest of another tribe, that old priesthood must of necessity cease and be abolished. “No man gave attendance;” that is, had right so to do.

That expression, προσέσχηκε τῷ θυσιαστηρίῳ , “attended,” “waited on the altar,” may be a synecdochical description of the whole priestly office from the principal work and duty belonging thereunto. But I suppose the apostle may not only include the priests, unto whom the immediate work of sacrificing at the altar did belong, but all those who attended the services of it, though they could neither burn incense nor offer sacrifice; that is, all the Levites in their courses. For he so excludes the tribe whereof he speaks from the least relation unto the sacerdotal work or office. None of them ever did or might draw near nor minister at the altar, in any sacred services whatsoever. See 1 Corinthians 9:13.

This entrance doth the apostle make into the confirmation of his assertion, that the priesthood was changed, and therewithal the law. For it appears that there was to be a priest who had no right by the law so to be, seeing he was of that tribe which the law utterly excluded from any interest in the sacred services of the altar, and much more those which were peculiar unto the Aaronical priests. Thus,

Obs. 2. All men’s rights, duties, and privileges, in sacred things, are fixed and limited by divine institution. And,

Obs. 3. Seeing Christ himself had no right to minister at the material altar, the re-introduction of such altars is inconsistent with the perpetual continuance of his priesthood.

Verse 14

The apostle confirms his assertion by a particular application of it unto the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 7:14 . Πρόδηλον γὰρ ὅτι ἐξ ᾿Ιούδα ἀνατέταλκεν ὁ Κύριος ἡμῶν , εἰς ἥν φυλὴν οὐδὲν περὶ ἱερωσύνης Μωϋσῆς ἐλάλησε .

Περὶ ἱερωσύνης . Vulg. Lat., “de sacerdotibus;” without countenance from any copies of the original or ancient translation. [5]

[5] VARIOUS READINGS. So far is this statement from being correct, that ἱερέων is adopted as the text by Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Theile, while Griesbach marks it as a reading of great value, on the authority of Mss. A B C* D* E., and eight versions. EXPOSITION. “The application of ἱερέων , is not certain. It may be connected with the point already stated, the change, namely, of the priesthood, and then πρόδηλον will mean for, and the idea be this: ‘Such a change was no doubt intended, for it is shown clearly by the fact that “our Lord sprang from Judah. Then the next verse will continue the proof: ‘And that this change was intended is yet more abundantly evident, if (or since, εἰ ) another priest like Melchisedec rises up.’But the connection may be with the statement immediately preceding, and then ὅτι must be rendered that, and the meaning will be as in our English translation. This view is most generally followed by interpreters....The use of πρόδηλον immediately followed by περισσότερον ἔτι κατάδηλον seems to favor the other view.” Turner. While OEcumenius, Limborch, Tholuck, Bleek, and others, connect κατάδηλον with the change of the priesthood, (“That, with the priesthood, the law also is changed, is so much the more manifest,”) Ebrard, De Wette, and Boothroyd, connect it with the descent of Christ: “That Jesus sprang from Judah is already in itself an acknowledged fact (verse 14); but this is all the more manifest, as (verse 15) it follows from Christ’s priesthood being after the order of Melchisedec that he could not be born κατὰ νόμον .” ED.

Hebrews 7:14 . For it is evident [or manifest] that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning the priesthood.

The words contain a double assertion:

1. That “our Lord sprang of the tribe of Judah.”

2. That “of that tribe Moses spake nothing concerning the priesthood.” There wants nothing to complete the proof of his argument but that our Lord was a priest; which he therefore proves in the ensuing verses.

In the First part of the words there are two things considerable:

1. The manner of the proposition, or the modification of the assertion, Πρόδηλόν [ ἐστι .] The conjunction γὰρ , “for,” doth only show that a reason or proof of what was before laid down is here introduced. And of this he saith, “palam est,” “manifestum,” it is “manifest,” “open,” a thing confessed; “evident,” as we say, in itself; a thing easy to be proved, but that it is by no man denied. Only, whereas δῆλον is “manifest” or “evident,” πρόδηλον seems to intimate what was “manifest beforehand;” as προδηλόω is to “evidence a matter beforehand.” And this may not only respect, but be confined unto the preceding promise and declaration that the Messiah should be of the tribe of Judah. But we may consider in general how this is said to be a thing “evident” or “manifest” in its application unto our Lord Jesus Christ. And,

(1.) This was included in the faith of believers, who granted him to be the Messiah; for nothing was more plainly promised under the old testament, nor more firmly believed by the church, than that the Messiah was to be of the tribe of Judah, and of the family of David. And thus it was πρόδηλον , “manifest to them beforehand.” For unto Judah the promise was solemnly confined, Genesis 49:8-10, and frequently reiterated unto David, as I have showed elsewhere. Whoever, therefore, acknowledged our Lord Jesus Christ to be the true Messiah, as all the Hebrews did unto whom our apostle wrote, though the most of them adhered unto the law and ceremonies of it, they must and did grant that he sprang of the tribe of Judah. And none of the unbelieving Jews made use of this objection, that he was not of the tribe of Judah; which if they could have managed, had absolutely justified them in their unbelief. This was sufficient unto the purpose of the apostle, seeing he proceeded not only on what was granted among them, but firmly believed by them, and not denied by their adversaries.

(2.) It was in those days manifest by his known genealogy; for, by the providence of God, his parents were publicly enrolled of that tribe, and of the family of David, in the tax and recognition of the people appointed by Augustus Caesar, Luke 2:4-5. And this was made yet more famous bythe cruelty of Herod, seeking his destruction among the children of Bethlehem, Matthew 2:0. And the genealogies of all families, whilst the Jewish commonwealth continued in any condition, were carefully preserved, because many legal rights and constitutions did depend thereon.

And this preservation of genealogies was both appointed of God and fenced with legal rights, for this very end, to evidence the accomplishment of his promise in the Messiah. And unto this end was his genealogy written and recorded by two of the evangelists, as that whereon the truth of his being the Messiah did much depend.

Sundry of the ancients had an apprehension that the Lord Christ derived his genealogy from both the tribes of Judah and Levi, in the regal and sacerdotal offices, as he who was to be both king and priest. And there is a story inserted in Suidas, how, in the days of Justinian the emperor, one Theodosius, a principal patriarch of the Jews, acquainted his friend, one Philip, a Christian, how he was enrolled by the priests in their order, as of the lineage of the priests, by the name of “Jesus the son of Mary and of God;” and that the records thereof were kept by the Jews at Tiberias to that very time. But the whole story is filled with gross effects of ignorance and incredible fables, being only a dream of some superstitious monastic. But the ancients grounded their imagination on the kindred that was between his mother and Elisabeth, the wife of Zacharias the priest, who was “of the daughters of Aaron,” Luke 1:5. But this whole conceit is not only false, but directly contradictory to the scope and argument of the apostle in this place. For the authors of it would have the Lord Christ so to derive his genealogy from the tribe of Levi, as thence to be entitled unto the priesthood; which yet it could not be, unless he were also proved to be of the family of Aaron: and to assign a priesthood unto him as derived from Aaron, is openly contradictory unto the apostle in this place, and destructive of his whole design, as also of the true, real priesthood of Christ himself; as is evident unto any one who reads this chapter. The alliance and kindred that was between the blessed Virgin and Elisabeth was doubtless by an antecedent intermarriage of those tribes, as Elisabeth’s mother might be sister unto the father or grandfather of the holy Virgin. And this was not only lawful between the tribes of Judah and Levi, or the regal and sacerdotal families, whence Jehoshabeath the wife of Jehoiada, was the daughter of Jehoram the king, 2 Chronicles 22:11, as some have imagined, but such marriages were usual unto and lawful among all the other tribes, where women had no inheritances of land; which was expressly provided against by a particular law. And this very law of exception doth sufficiently prove the liberty of all others; for the words of it are, “Every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers,” Numbers 36:8. Both the express limitation of the law unto those who possessed inheritances, and the reason of it, for the preservation of the lots of each tribe entire, as verses 3, 4, manifest that all others were at liberty to marry any Israelite, be he of what tribe soever. And thus both the genealogies of Matthew and Luke, one by a legal, the other by a natural line, were both of them from the tribe of Judah, and family of David. So,

Obs. 1. It pleaseth God to give sufficient evidence unto the accomplishment of his promises.

2. For the manner of the proceeding of the Lord Christ from that tribe, the apostle expresseth it by ἀνατέταλκε , “he sprang.” ᾿Ανατέλλω is usually taken in an active sense, “to cause to rise:” Matthew 5:45, Τὸν ἥλιον αὐτοῦ ἀνατέλλει , “He causeth his sun to rise.” And sometimes it is used neutrally, for “to rise;” and so, as some think, it peculiarly denotes the rising of the sun, in distinction from the other planets. Hence is ἀνατολή , “the east,” from the rising of the sun. So the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is called the “rising of the Sun of Righteousness with healing in his wings,” Malachi 4:2. ᾿Ανατολὴ ἐξ ὕψους , Luke 1:78, “Theday-spring from on high.” Thus did the Lord Christ arise in the light and glory of the sun, “a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel.” But the word is used also to express other springings, as of water from a fountain, or a branch from the stock. And so it is said of our Lord Jesus, that he should “grow up as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground,” Isaiah 53:2; a “rod out of the stem, and a branch out of the roots of Jesse,” Isaiah 11:1. Hence he is frequently called “The Branch,” and “The Branch of the LORD,”

Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15; Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12. But the first, which is the most proper sense of the word, is to be regarded; he arose eminently and illustriously from the tribe of Judah.

Secondly, Having laid down this matter of fact, as that which was evident, and on all hands confessed, he observes upon it, that “of that tribe Moses spake nothing concerning the priesthood.”

Εἰς ἥν φυλήν , “with reference unto which tribe;” περὶ ἧς , “de qua tribu.” Being to prove that the priesthood did no way belong to the tribe of Judah, so that the introduction of a priest of that tribe must necessarily exclude those of the house of Aaron from that office, he appeals unto the lawgiver, or rather, the law itself. For by “Moses,” not the person of Moses absolutely is intended, as though these things depended on his authority; but it is his ministry in giving of the law, or his person only as ministerially employed in the declaration of it, that our apostle respects. And it is the law of worship that is under consideration. Moses did record the blessing of Judah, as given him by Jacob, wherein the promise was made unto him that the Shiloh should come from him, Genesis 49:10; and this same Shiloh was also to be a priest: but this was a promise before the law, and not to be accomplished until the expiration of the law, and belonged not unto any institution of the law given by Moses. Wherefore Moses, as the lawgiver, when the office of the priesthood was instituted in the church, and confirmed by especial law or ordinance, spake nothing of it with respect unto the tribe of Judah. For as in the law, the first institution of it was directly confined unto the tribe of Levi and house of Aaron, so there is not in all the law of Moses the least intimation that on any occasion, in any future generation, it should be translated unto that tribe. Nor was it possible, without the alteration and abolition of the whole law, that any one of that tribe should once be put into the office of the priesthood: the whole worship of God was to cease, rather than that any one of the tribe of Judah should officiate in the office of the priesthood. And this silence of Moses in this matter the apostle takes to be a sufficient argument to prove that the legal priesthood did not belong, nor could be transferred, unto the tribe of Judah. And the grounds hereof are resolved into this general maxim, that whatever is not revealed and appointed in the worship of God by God himself, is to be considered as nothing, yea, as that which is to be rejected. And such he conceived to be the evidence of this maxim, that he chose rather to argue from the silence of Moses in general than from the particular prohibition, that none who was not of the posterity of Aaron should approach unto the priestly office. So God himself condemneth some instances of false worship on this ground, that “he never appointed them,” that “they never came into his heart,” and hence aggravates the sin of the people, rather than from the particular prohibition of them, Jeremiah 7:31. Wherefore,

Obs. 2. Divine revelation gives bounds, positively and negatively, unto the worship of God.

Verses 15-17

That the Aaronical priesthood was to be changed, and consequently the whole law of ordinances that depended thereon, and that the time wherein this change was to be made was now come, is that which is designed unto confirmation in all this discourse. And it is that truth whereinto our faith of the acceptance of evangelical worship is resolved; for without the removal of the old, there is no place for the new. This, therefore, the apostle now fully confirms by a recapitulation of the force and sum of his preceding arguments.

Hebrews 7:15-17 . Καὶ περισσότερον ἔτι κατάδηλόν ἐστιν , εἰ κατὰ τὴν ὁμοιότηατ Μελξισεδὲκ ἀνίσταται ἱερεὺς ἕτερος , ὅς οὐ κατὰ νὁμον ἐντολῆς σαρκικῆς γέγονεν , ἀλλὰ κατὰ δύναμιν ζωῆς ἀκαταλύτου . Μαρτυρεῖ γὰρ , ῞Οτι σὺ ἰερεὺς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισεδέκ . [6]

[6] VARIOUS READINGS. Σαρκίνης , instead of σαρκικῆς , is the reading preferred by Griesbach, Lachmann, and Tischendorf; the sense remaining unchanged. Μαρτυρεῖται is adopted by Lachmann and Tischendorf, on the authority of such Mss. as ABD*E.*. The sense is thus improved, “it is testified.” The other reading would seem to ascribe the psalm to Moses, verse 14, contrary to Matthew 22:43. ED.

Hebrews 7:15-17 . And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, who is made not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec.

There are four things to be considered in these words:

1. The manner of the introduction of this new argument, declaring its especial force, with the weight that the apostle lays upon it: “And it is yet far more evident.”

2. The medium or argument itself which he insists upon; which is, that from what he had already proved, “there was another priest to arise, after the similitude of Melchisedec.”

3. The illustration of this argument, in an explication of the ways and means whereby this priest arose, declared both negatively and positively: “Who is made not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.”

4. The confirmation of the whole with the testimony of David: “For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec.” The manner of the introduction of this argument is emphatical: Καὶ περισσότερον ἔτι κατάδηλόν ἐστι , “And it is yet far more evident.”

The conjunctive particle, καί , connects this consideration unto that foregoing, as of the same nature and tendency.

The thing spoken of is said to be κατάδηλον . Of what he said before he affirmed that it was πρόδηλον , Hebrews 7:14, namely, that “our Lord sprang of Judah,” “evident,” “manifest,” “demonstrable;” but this, he adds, is κατάδηλον : which composition of the word intends [strengthens] the signification, arguing yet a more open and convincing evidence.

Hence he adds, that it is περισσότερον , “magis patet,” “abundantius manifestum,” comparatively with what was said before; of an abundant efficacy for conviction; that whose light nothing can stand against. But we must observe, that the apostle doth not compare the things themselves absolutely with one another, and so determine that one is of a more evident truth than the other; but he compares them only with respect unto the evidence in arguing unto his end. There is more immediate force in this consideration, to prove the cessation of the Levitical priesthood, that “another priest was to arise after, the similitude of Melchisedec,” than was merely in this, that “our Lord sprang of the tribe of Judah;” but of this afterwards.

And therefore he adds ἔτι , “yet;” that is, ‘Above all that hath been collected from the consideration of Melchisedec, there is yet this uncontrollable evidence unto our purpose remaining.’

The apostle, we see, lays great weight on this argument, and withal proceeds gradually and distinctly from one thing to another in the whole discourse. It may be we see not why he should insist so much upon, and so narrowly scan, all particulars in this manner; for being freed by the gospel from the power of temptations about it, and being of the Gentiles, who were never concerned in it, we cannot be sensible of the just importance of what is under confirmation. The truth is, he hath the greatest argument in hand that was ever controverted in the church of God, and upon the determination whereof the salvation or ruin of the church did depend. The worship he treated of was immediately instituted by God himself; and had now continued nearly fifteen hundred years in the church. All this while it had been the certain rule of God’s acceptance of the people, or his anger towards them: for whilst they complied with it, his blessing was continually upon them; and the neglect of it was still punished with severity. And the last caution that God had given them, by the ministry of the last prophet he sent unto them, was, that they should abide in the observance of the law of Moses, “lest he should come and smite the earth with a curse,” Malachi 4:4; Malachi 4:6. Besides these and sundry other things, that were real and pleadable in the behalf of the Mosaical worship, the Hebrews esteemed it always their great and singular privilege above all other nations, which they would rather die than part withal. And the design of the apostle in this place, is to prove that now, utterly unexpectedly unto the church, after so long a season, their whole worship was to be removed, to be used no more, but that another system of ordinances and institutions, absolutely new, and inconsistent with it, was to be introduced. And upon the compliance of the Hebrews with this doctrine, or the rejection of it, depended their eternal salvation or destruction.

It was therefore very necessary that the apostle should proceed warily, distinctly, and gradually, omitting no argument that was of force and pleadable in this cause, nor failing to remark on them in an especial manner which contained an especial evidence and demonstrative force in them; as he doth in this instance. For this introduction of it, “And it is yet far more,” or “abundantly more evident,” is as a hand put in the margin of a writing, calling for a peculiar attendance unto and consideration of the matter directed unto. And we may see,

Obs. 1. That present truths are earnestly to be pleaded and contended for. So the apostle Peter would have believers established ἐν τῇ παρούσῃ ἀληθείᾳ , “in the present truth.” All truth is eternal, and in itself equally subsistent and present unto all ages; but it is especially so either from the great use of it in some seasons, or the great opposition that is made unto it. So this doctrine about the abolition of the Mosaical ceremonies and institutions, with the introduction of a new priesthood and new ordinances of worship, was then “the present truth,” in the knowledge and confirmation whereof the church was eternally concerned. And so may other truths be at other seasons. And any of them may be so rendered by the opposition that at any time is made unto them. For God is pleased to exercise and try the faith of the church by heresies; which are fierce, pertinacious, and subtile oppositions made to the truth. Now none of them, which aim at any consistency in and with themselves, or are of any real danger unto the church, did ever reject all gospel truths, but some general principles they will allow, or they would leave themselves no foundation to stand upon in their opposition unto others. Those, therefore, singly opposed by them at any time, as the deity or satisfaction of Christ, justification by faith, and the like, being so opposed, become “the present truth” of the age; in the instance of adherence whereunto God will try the faith of his people, and requires that they be earnestly pleaded for. And this is that which the apostle Jude intends, verse 3, where he exhorts us ἐπαγωνίζεσθαι , to “contend,” “strive,” “wrestle” with all earnestness and the utmost of our endeavors, “for the faith once delivered unto the saints;” namely, because of the opposition that was then made unto it. And a truth may come under this qualification by persecution as well as by heretical opposition. Satan is always awake and attentive unto his advantages: and therefore though he hates all truth, yet doth he not at all times equally attempt upon every thing that is so; but he waiteth to see an inclination in men, from their lusts, or prejudices, or interests in this world, against any especial truth, or way of divine worship which God hath appointed. When he finds things so ready prepared, he falls to his work, and stirs up persecution against it. This makes that truth to be “the present truth” to be contended for, as that wherein God will try the faith, and obedience, and patience of the church. And the reasons why we ought with all care, diligence, and perseverance, to attend unto the preservation and profession of such troths, are obvious unto all.

Obs. 2. Important truths should be strongly confirmed. Such is that here pleaded by the apostle; and therefore doth he so labor in the confirmation of it. He had undertaken to convince the Hebrews of the cessation of their legal worship, out of their own acknowledged principles. He deals not with them merely by his apostolical authority, and by virtue of the divine revelation of the will of God which himself had received; but he proceeds with them on arguments taken out of the types, institutions, and testimonies of the Old Testament, all which they owned and acknowledged, though without his aid they had not understood the meaning of them. On this supposition it was necessary for him to plead and press all the arguments from the topic mentioned which had any cogency in them; and he doth so accordingly.

Obs. 3. Arguments that are equally true may yet, on the account of evidence, not be equally cogent; yet,

Obs. 4. In the confirmation of the truth, we may use every help that is true and seasonable, though some of them may be more effectual unto our end than others.

This we are instructed in by the apostle affirming, in this place, that what he now affirms is “yet far more evident.” And this evidence, as we observed before, may respect either the things themselves, or the efficacy in point of argument. For in themselves all things under the old testament were typical, and significant of what was afterwards to be introduced. So our apostle tells us that the ministry of Moses consisted in giving “testimony to those things which were to be spoken” or “declared afterwards,” Hebrews 3:5. But among them some were far more clear and evident, as to their signification than others were. In the latter sense, the things which he had discoursed about Melchisedec and his priesthood were more effectually demonstrative of the change of the Levitical priesthood, than what he had newly observed concerning the rising of our Lord Jesus Christ, not of the tribe of Levi, but of Judah, although that had life and evidence also in itself, which is principally intended.

The argument itself is nextly expressed whereunto this full evidence is ascribed, Εἰ κατὰ τὴν ὁμοιότητα Μελχισεδὲκ ἀνίσταται ἱερεὺς ἕτερος , “If another priest do arise, after the similitude of Melchisedec.” And in the words there is,

1. The modification of the proposition, in the particle εἰ .

2. The notation of the subject spoken of: “another priest.”

3. His introduction into his office: “he did arise.”

4. The nature of his office, and the manner of his coming into it: “after the likeness of Melchisedec.”

1. Εἰ , “if,” is generally taken here not to be a conditional, but a causal conjunction. And so, as many judge, it is used, Rom 8:31 ; 2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 3:8; 1 Peter 1:17. And it is rendered in our translation by “for,” “For that an other priest;” as Beza rendereth it by “quod,” “because;” others by “ex eo quod,” and “siquidem;” Syr., “And again, this is more known, by that which he said.” All take it to be an intimation of a reason proving what is affirmed. And so it doth if, with the Vulgar, we retain “si,” or “siquidem,” “if so be:” “And it is yet far more evident, if so be that another priest.”

As to the argument in general, we must observe,

(1.) That the design of the apostle in this place is not to demonstrate the dignity and eminency of the priesthood of Christ from that of Melchisedec, his type, which he had done before sufficiently; he cloth not produce the same words and arguments again unto the same purpose: but that which he aims at is, from that testimony, whereby he had proved the dignity of the priesthood of Christ, now also to prove the necessary abolition of the Levitical priesthood. Wherefore,

(2.) He doth not insist on the whole of the testimony before pleaded, but only on that one thing of “another priest,” necessarily included therein.

2. The subject spoken of is, ἱερεὺς ἕτερος : that is, not merely אחֵר ; that is, ἄλλος , alius, as the Syriac understood it, who renders it by אחֲ רַינָא ;” but it is זָר , “alienus’that is intended. Every זָר was by the law absolutely forbidden to approach unto the priest’s office, or altar, or sacred employment. So ἕτερος , “another,” in this case is “a stranger,” one that is not of the house or family of Aaron. And nothing can be more evident, than that the Levitical priesthood, and the whole law of divine worship, must be taken away and abolished then, if it appear that any זָר , ἕτερος , or “stranger,” may be admitted into that office; much more, if it were necessary that it should so be. For the law of the priesthood took care of nothing more than that no stranger, that was not of the house of Aaron, should be called to that office. See Exodus 29:33; Leviticus 22:10; Numbers 1:51; Numbers 3:10: “Aaron and his sons they shall wait on the priest’s office; וְהַזָּר הַקָּרֵב יוּמָת , and the stranger that cometh nigh” (that is, to discharge any sacerdotal duty) “shall be put to death.” And God gave an eminent instance of his severity with respect unto this law in the punishment of Korah, though of the tribe of Levi, for the transgression of it. And he caused a perpetual memorial to be kept of that punishment, to the end they might know that “no stranger, who is not of the seed of Aaron, should come near to offer incense before the LORD,” Numbers 16:40. And hence our apostle in the next verse observes, that this priest was not to be “made after the law of a carnal commandment,” seeing his making was a dissolution of that law or commandment. If, therefore, there must be ἱερεὺς ἕτερος , “another priest,” that was not of the lineage of Aaron, the other is abolished.

3. His introduction into his office is expressed by ἀνίσταται , “there ariseth.” “Oritur,” “exoritur.” Syr., קָאֵם , “surgit;” Vulg. Lat., “exsurgat;” “arose,” in an extraordinary manner: Judges 5:7, “Until I Deborah arose, I arose a mother in Israel;” that is, by an extraordinary call from God to be a prophetess and a deliverer. Deuteronomy 18:18, “I will raise them up a Prophet;” which was Christ himself. So God “raised up an horn of salvation in the house of his servant David,” Luke 1:69; that is, with an extraordinary power and glory. So was this priest to arise; not springing out of, nor succeeding in any order of priesthood before established. But all things in the law lay against his introduction; and the body of the people in the church was come unto the highest defiance of any such priest. But as God had foresignified what he would do, when the time of the reformation of all things should come, so when he performed his word herein, he did it in that manner, with that evidence of his glory and power, as introduced him against all opposition. For when the appointed time is come wherein the decrees of God shall bring forth, and his counsel be accomplished, all difficulties, though appearing insuperable, shall vanish and disappear, Zechariah 4:6-7.

4. The nature of his priesthood is declared, in its resemblance unto that of Melchisedec, κατὰ τὴν ὁμοιότητα . The apostle intendeth not to express the words of the psalmist, עלאּדִּבְרַתִי , which he constantly renders κατὰ τάξιν , “according unto the order;’but he respects the whole conformity that was between Melchisedec and our Lord Jesus Christ, in the instances which he had before insisted on. For whereas God had ordered all things in the Scripture concerning Melchisedec, that he might be ἀφωμοιωμένος τῷ Υἱῷ τοῦ Θεοῦ , verse 3, “made like unto the Son of God,” he is said to arise καθ᾿ ὁμοιότητα , “according to the likeness” or “similitude of Melchisedec.” For every similitude is mutual; one thing is as like unto another as that is unto it. This, therefore, is evident, that there was to be another priest, ἕτερος ; not only ἄλλος , merely “another,”

but ἀλλογενής , one of “another stock and race:” and a priest he was to be “after the similitude of Melchisedec,” and not so much as after the similitude of Aaron. The arising of Christ in his offices puts an end unto all other things that pretend a usefulness unto the same end with them. When he arose as a king, he did not put an end unto the office and power of kings in the world, but he did so unto the typical kingdoms over the church, as he did to the priesthood by arising as a priest. And when he ariseth spiritually in the hearts and consciences of believers, an end is put unto all other things that they might before look for life, or righteousness, or salvation by.

Hebrews 7:16 . This verse containeth an illustration and confirmation of the foregoing assertion, by a declaration of the way and manner how this other priest, who was not of the seed of Aaron, should come into that office. And this was necessary also, for the prevention of an objection which the whole discourse was obnoxious unto. For it might be said, that whatever was affirmed concerning another priest, yet there was no way possible whereby any one might come so to be, unless he were of the family of Aaron. All others were expressly excluded by the law. Nor was there any way or means ordained of God, any especial sacrifice instituted, whereby such a priest might be dedicated, and initiated into his office. In prevention of this objection, and in confirmation of what was before declared, the apostle adds, “Who was made not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.”

The words declare,

1. That this priest was made so; and,

2. How he was made so, both negatively and positively.

1. He was made so; ὅς γέγονε , “ which priest was made,” or “who was made a priest.” The force of this expression hath been explained on Hebrews 3:2; Hebrews 5:5. The Lord Christ did not merely on his own authority and power take this office upon himself; he became so, he was made so by the appointment and designation of the Father. Nor did he do any thing, in the whole work of his mediation, but in obedience unto his command, and in compliance with his will. For it is the authority of God alone which is the foundation of all office, duty, and power in the church. Even what Christ himself is and was unto the church, he is and was so by the grace and authority of God, even the Father. By him was he sent, his will did he perform, through his grace did he die, by his power was he exalted, and with him doth he intercede. What acts of God in particular do concur unto the constitution of this office of Christ, and to the making him a priest, have been declared before.

2. The manner of his being made a priest is first expressed negatively: Οὐ κατὰ νόμου ἐντολῆς σαρκικῆς , “Not after,” (or “not according unto”) “the law of a carnal commandment.” Syr., דְּפוּקְדָנָא פַגְרְנָיָא , “the law of bodily commandments.” It is unquestionable, that the apostle by this expression intendeth in the first place the law of the Levitical priesthood, or the way and manner whereby the Aaronical priests were first called and vested with their office; and then any other law, constitution rule, or order of the same kind. He was made a priest neither by that law, nor any other like unto it. And two things we must enquire into:

(1.) Why the call of the Aaronical priests is said to be “after the law of commandment.”

(2.) Why this commandment is said to be “fleshly:”

(1.) For the first, we may observe, that the whole law of worship among the Jews is called by our apostle, ὁ νὸμος τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασι , Ephesians 2:15, “The law of commandments in ordinances.” And it is so called for two reasons:

[1.] Because commands were so multiplied therein that the whole law was denominated from them. Hence it became ζύγος δυσβάστακτος , a “yoke hardly to be borne,” if not altogether intolerable, Acts 15:10.

[2.] Because of that severity wherewith obedience was exacted. A command in its formal notion expresseth authority; and the multiplication of them, severity: and both these God designed to make eminent in that law; whence it hath this denomination, “a law of commandments.” Hereof the law of the constitution of the office of the priesthood, and the call of Aaron thereunto, was a part; and he was therefore made a priest by “the law of commandments,” that is, by a preceptive law, as a part of that system of commands wherein the whole law consisted. See this law and all the commands of it, Exodus 28:0, throughout.

(2.) Why doth the apostle call this commandment “carnal” or “fleshly?”

Ans. It may be on either of these three accounts:

[1.] With respect unto the sacrifices, which were the principal part of the consecration of Aaron unto his office. And these may be called “fleshly” on two accounts:

1st . Because of their subject-matter; they were flesh, or the bodies of beasts: as the Syriac reads these words, “the commandment of bodies;” that is, of beasts to be sacrificed.

2dly . In themselves and their relation unto the Jewish state, they reached no farther than the purifying of the flesh. They “sanctified unto the purifying of the flesh,” as the apostle speaks, Hebrews 9:13. And thus the whole commandment should be denominated from the principal subject-matter, or the offering of fleshly sacrifices, unto the purifying of the flesh.

[2.] It may be called “carnal,” because a priesthood was instituted thereby which was to be continued by carnal propagation only; the priesthood appointed by that law was confined unto the carnal seed and posterity of Aaron, wherein this other priest had no interest.

[3.] Respect may be had unto the whole system of those laws and institutions of worship which our apostle, as was also before observed, calls “carnal ordinances, imposed until the time of reformation,”

Hebrews 9:10. They were all carnal, in opposition unto the dispensation of the Spirit under the gospel, and the institutions thereof.

None of these ways was the Lord Christ made a priest. He was not dedicated unto his office by the sacrifice of beasts, but sanctified himself thereunto when he offered himself through the eternal Spirit unto God, and was consummated in his own blood. He was not of the carnal seed of Aaron, nor did, nor could, claim any succession unto the priesthood by virtue of an extraction from his race. And no constitution of the law in general, no ordinance of it, did convey unto him either right or title unto the priesthood.

It is therefore evident that he was in no sense made a priest “according to the law of a carnal commandment;” neither had he either right, power, or authority to exercise the sacerdotal function in the observance of any carnal rites or ordinances whatever. And we may observe,

Obs. 5. That what seemed to be wanting unto Christ in his entrance into any of his offices, or in the discharge of them, was on the outward solemnity. The sacrifices which were offered, and the garments he put on, with his visible separation from the rest of the people, had a great ceremonial glory in them. There was nothing of all this, nor any thing like unto it, in the consecration of the Lord Christ unto his office. But yet, indeed, these things ,had no glory, in comparison of that excelling glory which accompanied those invisible acts of divine authority, wisdom, and grace, which communicated his office unto him. And indeed, in the worship of God, who is a spirit, all outward ceremony is a diminution and debasement of it. Hence were ceremonies “for beauty and for glory” multiplied under the old testament; but yet, as the apostle shows, they were all but “carnal.” But as the sending of Christ himself, and his investiture with all his offices, were by secret and invisible acts of God and his Spirit; so all evangelical worship, as to the glory of it, is spiritual and internal only. And the removal of the old pompous ceremonies from our worship is but the taking away of the veil which hindered from an insight and entrance into the holy place.

Secondly. The way and manner whereby the Lord Christ was made a priest is expressed positively: ᾿Αλλὰ κατὰ δύναμιν ζωῆς ἀκαταλύτου , “But according unto the power of an indissoluble life.” ᾿Αλλά denotes an opposition between the way rejected and this asserted, as those which were not consistent, He was not made a priest that way, but this.

How then is Christ made a priest “according to the power of an endless life?” That is, saith one in his paraphrase, “installed into the priesthood after his resurrection.” What is meant by “installed,” I well know not. It should seem to be the same with τελειωθείς , “consecrated,” “dedicated,” “initiated.” And if so, this exposition diverts wholly from the truth; for Christ was installed into his office of priesthood before his resurrection, or he did not offer himself as a sacrifice unto God in his death and blood- shedding. And to suppose that the Lord Christ discharged and performed the principal act of his sacerdotal office, which was but once to be performed, before he was installed a priest, is contradictory to Scripture and reason itself. “Ideo ad vitam immortalem perductus est, ut in aeternum sacerdos noster esset,” “ He was therefore brought unto an immortal life, that he might be our priest for ever,” saith another. But this is not to be “made a priest according to the power of an endless life.” If he office always, unto the consummation of all things, what he says is true, but not the sense of this place: but if he means, that he became immortal after his resurrection, that he might be our priest, and abide so for ever, it excludes his oblation in his death from being a proper sacerdotal act; which that it was, I have sufficiently proved elsewhere, against Crellius and others.

Some think that the “endless life” intended is that of believers, which the Lord Christ, by virtue of his priestly office, confers upon them. The priests under the law proceeded no farther but to discharge carnal rites, which could not confer eternal life on them for whom they ministered; but the Lord Christ, in the discharge of his office, procureth “eternal redemption” and “everlasting life” for believers. And these things are true, but they comprise not the meaning of the apostle in this place. For how can Christ be made a priest according to the power of that eternal life which he confers on others? For the comparison and opposition that is made between “the law of a carnal commandment,” whereby Aaron was constituted a priest, and “the power of an endless life,” whereby Christ was made so, do evidence, that the making of Christ a priest, not absolutely, which the apostle treats not of, but such a priest as he is, was the effect of this “endless life.”

Wherefore the ζωὴ ἀκατάλυτος , the “indissoluble life” here intended, is the life of Christ himself. Hereunto belonged, or from hence did proceed, that δύναμις , or “power,” whereby he was made a priest. And both the office itself and the execution or discharge of it are here intended. And as to the office itself, this eternal or endless life of Christ is his life as the Son of God. Hereon depends his own mediatory life for ever, and his conferring of eternal life on us, John 5:26-27. And to be a priest by virtue of, or according unto this “power,” stands in direct opposition unto “the law of a carnal commandment.”

It must therefore be inquired, how the Lord Christ was made a priest according unto this “power.” And I say, it was because thereby alone he was rendered meet to discharge that office, wherein God was to “redeem his church with his own blood,” Acts 20:28. By “power,” therefore, here, both meetness and ability are intended. And both these the Lord Christ had, from his divine nature and his endless life therein. Or it may be the life of Christ in his human nature is intended, in opposition unto those priests who, being made so “by the law of a carnal commandment,” did not continue in the discharge of their office, “by reason of death,” as our apostle observes afterwards. But it will be said, that this natural life of Christ, the life of the human nature, was not endless, but had an end put unto it in the dissolution of his soul and body on the cross.

I say, therefore, this life of Christ was not absolutely the life of the human nature considered separately from his divine; but it was the life of the person of the Son of God, of Christ as God and man in one person. And so his life was endless. For,

(1.) In the death which he underwent in his human nature there was no interruption given unto his discharge of his sacerdotal office, no, not for a moment. For,

(2.) His person still lived, and both soul and body were therein inseparably united unto the Son of God. Although he was truly and really dead in his human nature, he was still alive in his indissoluble person. And this the apostle hath a respect unto in the testimony which he cites in the next verse to prove that he is a priest for ever. The “carnal commandment” gave authority and efficacy unto the Levitical priests; but Christ is made a priest “according to the power of an endless life,” that is, through the power and efficacy of that eternal life which is in his divine person, both his human nature is preserved always in the discharge of his office, and he is enabled thereby to work out eternal life on the behalf of them for whom he is a priest.

And so the apostle proves the difference of this other priest from those of the order of Aaron, not only from the tribe whereof he was to be, and from his type, Melchisedec, but also from the way and means whereby the one and the other were enabled to discharge their office.

Hebrews 7:17 . The proof of all before asserted is given in the testimony of the psalmist so often before appealed to: “For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

The introduction of this testimony is by μαρτυρεῖ γάρ , or “he witnesseth,” or “testifieth;” that is, David doth in the psalm, or rather, the Holy Ghost, speaking in and by David, doth so testify. He doth not absolutely say that so he speaketh, but testifieth; because he used his words in a way of testimony unto what he had delivered. And although one thing be now principally intended by him, yet there is in these words a testimony given unto all the especial heads of his discourse: as,

1. That there was to be “ another priest, ” a priest that was not of the stock of Aaron, nor tribe of Levi; for he says unto the Messiah, prophesied of, who was to be of the seed of David, “Thou art a priest,” although a stranger from the Aaronical line.

2. That this other priest was to be “ after the order of Melchisedec,” and was not to be called after the order of Aaron. For he was עלאּדִּבְרָתִי , κατὰ τάξιν , “after the order.” is a redundant, and not a suffix, דִּבְרַת is from דָבַר ; and signifies a state or order of things: מַרתִּי אֲנִי כְּלִבּי עַל־דִּבְרַת בְּנֵי הָאָדָם , Ecclesiastes 3:18; “I said in my heart concerning the estate of the sons of men,” their condition and order of all things; that is, τάξις . The priesthood of Christ, in the mind of God, was the eternal idea or original exemplar of the priesthood of Melchisedec. God brought him forth, and vested him with his office, in such a way and manner as that he might outwardly represent in sundry things the idea of the priesthood of Christ in his own mind. Hence he and his priesthood became an external exemplar of the priesthood of Christ, as unto its actual exhibition: and therefore is he said to be “made a priest after his order;” that is, suitably unto the representation made thereof in him.

3. That he was made a priest, namely, by him and his authority who said unto him, “Thou art a priest;” as Hebrews 5:5-6; Hebrews 10:4. That he was so “after the power of an endless life;” for he was “a priest for ever.” This word is applied to the law and legal priesthood, and signifies a duration commensurate unto the state and condition of the things whereunto it is applied. There was an עוֹלַם of the law, an “age,” whereunto its continuance was confined. So long all the promises annexed unto it stood in force. And as ascribed unto the new state of things under the gospel, it doth not signify eternity absolutely, but a certain unchangeable duration unto the end of the time and works of the gospel; for then shall the exercise of the priesthood of Christ cease, with his whole mediatory work and office, 1 Corinthians 15:28. Christ, therefore, is said to be “a priestfor ever:”

1. In respect of his person, endued with an “endless life.”

2. Of the execution of his office unto the final end of it; “he liveth for ever to make intercession.”

3. Of the effect of his office; which is to “save believers unto the utmost,” or with an “everlasting salvation.”

And the apostle had sufficient reason to affirm that what he proposed was eminently “manifest,” namely, from the testimony which he produceth thereof. For what can be more evident than that the Aaronical priesthood was to be abolished, if so be that God had designed and promised to raise up another priest in the church, who was neither of the stock nor order of Aaron, nor called the same way to his office as he was; and who, when he was so raised and called, was to continue “a priest for ever,” leaving no room for the continuance of that priesthood in the church, nor place for its return when it was once laid aside? And we may observe, that,

Obs. 6. The eternal continuance of Christ’s person gives eternal continuance and efficacy unto his office. Because he lives for ever, he is a priest for ever. His endless life is the foundation of his endless priesthood. Whilst he lives we want not a priest; and therefore he says, that “because he liveth, we shall live also.”

Obs. 7. To make new priests in the church, is virtually to renounce the faith of his living for ever as our priest, or to suppose that he is not sufficient to the discharge of his office.

Obs. 8. The alteration that God made in the church, by the introduction of the priesthood of Christ, was progressive towards its perfection. To return, therefore, unto or look after legal ceremonies in the worship of God, is to go back unto poor, “beggarly elements” and “rudiments of the world.”

Verses 18-19

In the twelfth verse of this chapter the apostle affirms, that “the priesthood being changed, there was of necessity a change made of the law also.” Having proved the former, he now proceeds to confirm his inference from it, by declaring that the priest and priesthood that were promised to be introduced were in all things inconsistent with the law. In that place he mentions only a μεταθεσις , or “change” of the law. But he intended not an alteration to be made in it, so as that, being changed and mended, it might be restored unto its former use; but it was such a change of it as was an ἀνθέτησις , an “abrogation” of it, as in these verses he doth declare.

Now this was a matter of the highest concernment unto the Hebrews, and of great importance in itself; for it included and carried along with it an alteration of the whole state of the church, and of all the solemn worship of God therein. This, therefore, was not to be done but on cogent reasons and grounds indispensable. And no doubt but the apostle foresaw what a surprisal it would be unto the generality of the Hebrews, to hear that they must quit all their concern and special interest in the law of Moses. For he had three sorts of persons to deal withal in this great cause:

1. Such as adhered unto and maintained the Mosaical institutions, in opposition unto Christ and the whole way of our coming unto God by him.

These esteemed it the greatest blasphemy imaginable, for any to affirm that the law was to be changed or abrogated. And this was the occasion of the death of the first martyr of Jesus Christ, under the accusation of blasphemy, which by the law was to be punished with death. For this they made their charge against Stephen, that he “spake blasphemous words against Moses,” (whom they put in the first place,) “and against God,” Acts 6:11. And the proof of this blasphemy they lay on these words, “that Jesus should change the customs which Moses had delivered to them.” Accordingly, on this very account, they stirred up persecution with rage and madness against the holy apostles all the world over. The mouths of these cursed unbelievers were to be stopped; and therefore cogent reasons and unanswerable were in this case to be urged by the apostle; and they are so accordingly. And they were now to know, that notwithstanding all their rage and bluster, those that believed were not ashamed of the gospel; and they must be told that the law was to be abrogated, whether they would hear or forbear, however they were provoked or enraged thereby.

2. There were others of them who, although they received the gospel and believed in Christ, yet were persuaded that the law was still in force, and the worship prescribed in it still to be observed. And of these there were very great multitudes, as the apostle declares, Acts 21:20. This error was, in the patience of God, for a while tolerated among them, because the time of their full conviction was not yet come. But those who were possessed with it began, after a while, to be very troublesome unto the church, and would not be content to observe the law themselves, but would impose the observation of it on all the Gentile converts, on the pain of eternal damnation: Acts 15:1, “They said” and contended, “that unless they were circumcised, after the manner of Moses, they could not be saved.” These also were to be restrained and convinced. And those of them who were obstinate in this persuasion, not long after apostatized from the whole of Christianity. And,

3. There were sincere believers, whose faith was to be strengthened and confirmed. With respect unto them all the apostle laboureth with great diligence in this argument, and evidently proves, both that it was the will and purpose of God that the administration of the law should have an end, and also that the time was now come wherein it was to cease and be abrogated. This, therefore, he proceeds withal in these verses.

Hebrews 7:18-19 . ᾿Αθέτησις μὲν γὰρ γίνεται προαγούσης ἐντολῆς , διὰ τὸ αὐτῆς ἀσθενὲς καὶ ἀνωφελὲς . Οὐδὲν γὰρ ἐτελείωσεν ὁ νόμος , ἐπεισαγωγὴ δὲ κρείττονος ἐλπίδος , δι ᾿ ἧς ἐγγίζομεν τῷ Θεῷ .

᾿Αθέτησις . Vulg. Lat., “reprobatio;” Rhem., “reprobation; most improperly. Syr., שׁוּחֲלָפָא “mutatio,” a “change;” which reacheth not the force of the word. Ar., “abrogatio.” Bez., “fit irritum;” that is, “mandatum.” ᾿Αθετέω is rendered, “loco moveo,” “abrogo,” “abdico,” “irritum facio,” “to take out of the way,” “to abrogate,” “to disannul,” “to make void;” and for the most part it hath respect unto a rule, law, or command, that was or is in force. Sometimes it is used of a person, who ought in duty to be regarded and honored, but is despised; Luke 10:16, John 12:48, where it is rendered to “despise.” So 1 Thessalonians 4:8, Jude 1:8. Sometimes it represents things, Gal 2:21 , 1 Timothy 5:12. But commonly it respects a law, and is applied unto them who are absolutely under the power of the law, or such in whose power the law is. The first sort are said to “make void the law,” when they transgress it, neglecting the authority whereby it is given, Mark 7:9, Hebrews 10:28. But when this word is applied unto him who hath power over the law, it signifies the abrogation of it, so far as that it shall have no more power to oblige unto its observance. ᾿Αθέτησις is used nowhere in the New Testament but here and Hebrews 9:26. Here it is applied unto the law, being the taking away of its power to oblige unto obedience; there unto sin, denoting the abrogating of its power to condemn.

Μὲν γάρ , “quidem,” “equidem,” “enim.” Syr., דֵּין , “autem,” “but.” “For verily.”

Προαγούσης ἐντολῆς , “praecedentis mandati.” The Syriae thus renders the verse, “The change which was made in the first commandment was made for its weakness, and because there was no profit in it.”

Διὰ τὸ αὐτῆς ἀσθενές , “propter ipsius imbecillitatem;” “infirmitatem;” “propter illud quod in eo erat infirmum aut imbecille.” Καὶ ἀνωφελές , “et inutilitatem.” וַדְּיוּתְיָן לֵית הֲוָא בֵהּ Syr., “and because there ‘was no profit in it.”

The Arabic changeth the sense of the place, reading to this purpose, “For there is a transgression where the commandment went before, because that was weak and of little advantage.”

Οὐδὲν γάρ . Syr., מֵדֵם גֵּיר לָא , “non enim aliquid;” that is, “nihil.”

᾿Ετελείωσεν ὁ νόμος . Syr., גְּמַר , “perfecit lex;” “finished,” “perfected.” Beza, consummavit .” Vulg. Let., “ad perfectum adduxit.” Rhem., “brought nothing to perfection.” Others, “sanctificavit.” Syr., “for the law did not perfect any thing.”

᾿Επεισαγωγή δὲ κρείττονος ἐλπίδος . Vulg., “introductio vero melioris spei.” Beza, “sed superintroducta spes potior.” Others, “sed erat introductio ad spem potiorem.” Syr חֲלָפַוְהִי סַבְרָא דַּמְיַתִר מֶגֵהּ דְּבֵהּ על דֵּין ; “but there entered in the room thereof a hope more excellent than it.” ᾿Επεισαγωγή is supraintroductio,” or “postintroductio;” the bringing in of one thing after another. Some supply “erat” here, and read the words,” sed erat introductio ad spem potiorem,” or “spei melioris.” Εγγίζομεν , “appropinquamus,” “accedimus.” Vulg., “proximamus.” Rhem. “we approach.”

Our own translation fully expresseth the original in all the parts of it, only it determines the sense of verse 19, by the insertion of that word, “did.” [7]

[7] EXPOSITION The word commandment has been explained in reference to the law respecting the priesthood; as, in Romans 7:8, it has been limited to the particular commandment, “Thou shalt not covet.” But here the reason given for the “annulling,” namely, the “weakness and uselessness” of the commandment, applies to the law as a whole; and so in Romans, “the commandment coming,” “the commandment for life,” and other places of the same sort, accord best with the idea of the moral law as a whole, it is elsewhere used in this general sense, 2 Peter 2:21; 2 Peter 3:2 . Turner. ED.

Hebrews 7:18-19 . For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before, for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect; but the bringing in of a better hope, by which we draw nigh unto God.

1. The subject spoken of is the “ command.”

2. Described by the time of its giving; it “went before.”

3. Hereof it is affirmed, that it is “disannulled.” And,

4. The reason thereof is adjoined, from a twofold property or adjunct of it in particular: for,

(1.) It was “weak;”

(2.) It was “unprofitable.”

5. As unto its deficiency from its general end; “it made nothing perfect.”

6. Illustrated by that which took its work upon itself, and effected it thoroughly; “the hope brought in, by which we draw nigh unto God.”

FIRST, The ἐντολή , or “command,” is of as large a signification, verse 18, as νόμος , “the law,” in verse 19; for the same thing is intended in both the words. It is not, therefore, the peculiar command for the institution of the legal priesthood that is intended, but the whole system of Mosaical institutions. For the apostle having already proved that the priesthood was to be abolished, he proceeds on that ground and from thence to prove that the whole law was also to be in like manner abolished and removed. And indeed it was of such a nature and constitution, that pull one pin out of the fabric, and the whole must fall unto the ground; for the sanction of it being, that “he was cursed who continued not in all things written in the law to do them,” the change of any one thing must needs overthrow the whole law. How much more must it do so, if that be changed, removed, or taken away, which was not only a material part of it, but the very hinge whereon the whole observance of it did depend and turn! And the whole of this system of laws is called ἐντολή , a “command,” because it consisted ἐν δόγμασι , in “arbitrary commands” and precepts, regulated by that maxim, “The man that doeth these things shall live by them,” Romans 10:5. And therefore the law, as a command, is opposed unto the gospel, as a promise of righteousness by Jesus Christ, Galatians 3:11-12. Nor is it the whole ceremonial law only that is intended by “the command” in this place, but the moral law also, so far as it was compacted with the other into one body of precepts for the same end; for with respect unto the efficacy of the whole law of Moses, as unto our drawing nigh unto God, it is here considered.

SECONDLY, This commandment is described by the time of its giving: it is προάγουσα , it “went before;” that is, before the gospel as now preached and dispensed. It did not do so absolutely; for our apostle shows and proves, that as to the promise, whereby the grace of the new covenant was exhibited, and which contained the substance and essence of the gospel, it was given four hundred and thirty years before the giving of the law, Galatians 3:17. Wherefore, the precedency of the law here expressed may respect the testimony produced out of David, whereby the apostle proves the cessation of the priesthood, and consequently of the law itself; for the command was given before that testimony, and so went before it. But it rather respects the actual introduction of a new priest, in the accomplishment of this promise; for hereon the whole change and alteration in the law and worship pleaded for by our apostle did ensue. The “commandment going before,” is the law whereby the worship of God and obedience unto him were regulated before the coming of Christ, and the introduction of the gospel.

THIRDLY, Of this command, or law, it is affirmed that there is an ἀθέτησις , and that with some earnestness: ᾿Αθέτησις μὲν γὰρ γίνεται “For truly,” “verily,” “certainly.” This, whatever it be, came not to pass of its own accord, but it was made by him who had power and authority so to do; which must be the lawgiver.

᾿Αθέτησις may respect a law, as was before intimated, either on the account of the lawgiver, him that hath power over it, or of those unto whom it is given as a law, and who are under the power of it. In the latter sense, ἀθετέω is to “transgress a law,” to make it void what lies in us, by contemning the authority of him by whom it is given; that use of the word was before observed, in Mark 7:9, Hebrews 10:28. In the first sense it is directly opposed unto νομοθεσία , that is, the “giving,” “presenting,” and “promulgating of a law,” by a just and due authority, whence it hath a power and force to oblige unto obedience. ᾿Αθέτησις is the dissolution hereof. The word, as was said even now, is once more used in the New Testament, and that by our apostle in this epistle, Hebrews 9:26: “Christ hath appeared εἰς ἀθέτησις ἀμαρτίας ” “to put away sin,” say we, “by the sacrifice of himself;” that is, to the abrogation or abolishing of that power which sin hath by its guilt to bind over sinners unto punishment. So the ἀθέτησις of the law is its “abrogation,” in taking away all its power of obliging unto obedience or punishment. The apostle elsewhere expresseth the same act by καταργέω , Ephesians 2:15; 2 Timothy 1:10.

It is therefore plainly declared, that the law is “abrogated,” “abolished,…disannulled.” But we must yet further inquire,

1. How this could be done;

2. By what means it was done; and,

3. (which himself adds expressly) For what reason it was done.

The first of these seems not to be without its difficulties. For it was a law originally given unto the church by God himself, and continued therein with his approbation for many generations; and there are multiplied instances in the sacred records of his blessing them who were faithful and obedient in its observation; yea, the whole prosperity of the church did always depend thereon, as its neglect was always accompanied with severe tokens of God’s displeasure. Besides, our Savior affirmeth of himself that he “came not καταλῦσαι τὸν νόμον ,” Matthew 5:17, “to dissolve” or “destroy the law:” which upon the matter is the same with ἀθετῆσαι ; for if a law be disannulled or abrogated, it is totally dissolved as to its obligatory power. And our apostle removes the suspicion of any such thing from the doctrine of the gospel, Romans 3:31, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

Ans. There are two ways whereby any law may be disannulled or abrogated:

First, By taking away all authority and use from it as unto its proper end, whilst it is in its pretended force. For suppose it to be made for ever, or for a time only, its abrogation is its deprivation of all authority and use as a law. And this cannot regularly be done but on one of these accounts: 1. That the authority giving the law was not valid from the beginning, but men have been obliged unto it on a false presumption thereof.

2. That the matter of it was never good, or useful, or meet to be made the matter of law. On neither of these accounts could this law be abolished, nor ever was so by the Lord Christ or the gospel, nor is so to this day. For God himself was the immediate author of it, whose authority is sovereign and over all: and thence also it follows that the matter of it was good; for “the commandment,” as our apostle speaks, “is holy, and just, and good,”

Romans 7:12. And however there be a difference between that which is morally good in itself and its own nature, and that which is so only by divine institution, yet the revealed will of God is the adequate rule of good and evil unto us, as unto our obedience. On these accounts, therefore, it never was, nor ever could be abolished.

Secondly, A law may be abrogated, when, on any consideration whatever, its obligation unto practice doth cease or is taken away. Thus was it with this law; for, as every other law, it may be considered two ways:

1. With respect unto its main end, and directive power to guide men therein. This, in all human laws, is the public good of the community or society unto whom they are given. When this ceaseth, and the law becomes not directive or useful unto the public good any more, all rational obligations unto its observance do cease also. But yet this law differed also from all others. All that any other law aimeth at, is obedience unto itself, and the public good which that obedience will produce. So the moral law in the first covenant had no other end but obedience unto it, and the rewardableness thereon of them that did obey it. So was it an entire instrument of our living to God, and of eternal rewards thereon. But as, in its renovation, it was made a part of the law here intended, it came with it to be of another nature, or to have another use and end. For the whole scope and design of this law was to direct men, not to look after that good which was its end, in obedience unto itself, but to something else that it directed unto by that obedience. The end it directed unto was righteousness before God. But this could never be attained by an obedience unto it; nor was it ever intended that so it should do. This “the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh,” Romans 8:3. And therefore those who pursued and followed after it with the most earnestness for this end, never attained thereunto, Romans 9:31-32. This end, therefore, is principally to be considered in this law; which when it is attained, the law is established, although its obligation unto obedience unto itself doth necessarily cease. Now this end of the law was Christ and his righteousness, as the apostle expressly declares: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,” Romans 10:4. And therefore this whole law was “our schoolmaster to Christ,” Galatians 3:24; Galatians 2:5. This is called by our Savior, πληρῶσαι τὸν νόμον , “to fulfill the law;” and is opposed unto the destroying of it, Matthew 5:17, “I came not ἀπολῦσαι ,” “to destroy” or “dissolve the law, but to fulfill it.” That is, not to abrogate it, or take it away, as that which either wanted a just authority or was not good or useful, the common reasons of the abrogation of any law in force; but ‘I came to bring in and accomplish the whole end which it aimed at, and directed unto;’whereon it would cease to oblige unto a further practice. And this the apostle calls ἱστάναι , “to establish the law:” “Do we then make void the law through faith? yea, we establish the law,” Romans 3:31. That is, ‘we declare how it hath its end and full accomplishment;’which is the greatest establishment that any law is capable of. And if the fulfilling of the law, both as unto what it requires in a way of obedience, and what also in its curse for sin, be not imputed unto us, we do not by faith establish the law, but make it void.

2. The law may be considered with respect unto the particular duties that it required and prescribed. And because the whole law had its end, these were appointed only until that end might be, or was attained. So saith our apostle, “They were imposed until the time of reformation,” Hebrews 9:10. Wherefore two things did accompany this law in its first institution:

(1.) That an obedience unto its commands would not produce the good which it directed unto, as formally respecting the law itself.

(2.) That the duties it required had a limited time for their performance and acceptance allotted unto them. Wherefore, without the least disparagement unto it, as unto the authority whereby it was given, or as unto its own holiness and goodness, it might be disannulled as unto its actual obligation unto practice and observance of its commands; for the end of. it being fully accomplished, it is no less established than if the observance of it had been continued unto the end of the world.

It was therefore “established” by Christ and the gospel as unto its end, use, and scope; it was “disannulled” as unto its obligatory power unto the observance of its commands. For these two are inconsistent, namely, that a law as unto all its ends should be fulfilled, and yet stand in force in its obligatory power unto obedience. Secondly, We must inquire how this was done, or how this law was abrogated as to its obligatory power and efficacy. And this was done two ways:

First, Really and virtually. This was done by Christ himself in his own person. For the fulfilling and accomplishing of it. was that which really and virtually took away all its obligatory power. For what should it oblige men unto? An answer is ready unto all its demands, namely, that they are fulfilled; and as unto what was significative in its duties, it is all really exhibited: so that on no account can it any more oblige or command the consciences of men. This the apostle sets out in a comparison with the relation that is between a man and his wife, with the obligation unto mutual duties that ensues thereon, Romans 7:1-6: Whilst the husband is alive, the wife is obliged unto all conjugal duties towards him, and unto him alone; but upon his death that obligation ceaseth of itself, and she is at liberty to marry unto another. So were we obliged unto the law whilst it was alive, whilst it stood in its force and vigor; but when, through the death of Christ, the law was accomplished, it died as to the relation which was between it and us, whereon all its obligation unto observance was disannulled. This was that whereby the law was really and virtually abrogated. Its preceptive part being fulfilled, and its significative being exhibited, it was of no more force or efficacy as a law. The reason why it was thus to have an end put unto it, is declared in the close of the verse.

Secondly. It was so abrogated declaratively, or the will of God concerning its abrogation was made known four ways:

1. In general, by the promulgation and preaching of the gospel, where the accomplishment and cessation of it was declared. For the declaration made that the Messiah was come, that he had finished his work in the world, and thereby “made an end of sin, bringing in everlasting righteousness, whereby the law was fulfilled, did sufficiently manifest its abrogation. The apostles, I confess, in their first preaching to the Jews, spake not of it expressly, but left it to discover itself as an undeniable consequent of what they taught concerning the Lord Christ and the righteousness of God in him. This for some while many of them that believed understood not, and therefore were “zealous of the law;” which God in his patience and forbearance did graciously tolerate, so as not to impute it unto them. It was indeed great darkness and manifold prejudices that hindered the believing Jews from seeing the necessary consequence unto the abolition of the law from the promulgation of the gospel; yet this was God pleased to bear with them in, that we might not be too fierce, nor reflect with too much severity on such as are not able in all things to receive the whole truth as we desire they should.

2. It was so by the institution and introduction of new ordinances of worship. This was wholly inconsistent with the law, wherein it was expressly enacted that nothing should be added unto the worship of God therein prescribed. And if any such addition were made, by the authority of God himself, as was inconsistent with any thing before appointed, it is evident that the whole law was disannulled. But a new order, a new entire system of ordinances of worship, was declared in the gospel; yea, and those, some of them especially, as that of the Lord’s supper, utterly inconsistent with any ordinances of the law, seeing it declares that to be done and past which they direct us unto as future and to come.

3. There was a determination made in the case by the Holy Ghost, upon an occasion administered thereunto. Those of the apostles who preached the gospel unto the Gentiles, had made no mention unto them of the law of Moses; as knowing that it was “nailed unto the cross of Christ, and taken out of the way.” So were they brought unto the faith and obedience of the gospel without any respect unto the law, as that wherein they were not concerned, now it had received its accomplishment. But some of the Jews who believed, being yet persuaded that the law was to be continued in force, and its observation imposed on all that were proselyted by the gospel, occasion was given unto that solemn determination which was made by the apostles, through the guidance of the Holy Ghost, Acts 15:0. And the substance of that determination was this: That the gospel, as preached unto the Gentiles, was not a way or means of proselyting them unto Judaism, but of bringing them into a new church-state, by an Interest in the promise and covenant of Abraham, given and made four hundred and thirty years before the giving of the law. Whilst the law stood in its force, whoever was proselyted unto the truth, he was so unto the law; and every Gentile that was converted unto the true God was bound to be circumcised, and became obliged unto the whole law. But that being now disannulled, it is solemnly declared, that the Gentiles converted by the gospel were under no obligation unto the law of Moses, but being received into the covenant of Abraham, were to be gathered into a new church-state erected in and by the Lord Christ in the gospel. 4. As unto those of the Hebrews who yet would not understand these express declarations of the ceasing of the obligatory power of the law, to put an end unto all disputes about his will in this matter, God gave a dreadful ἀθέτησις or “abolition” unto it, in the total, final, irrevocable destruction of the city and temple, with all the instruments and vessels of its worship, especially of the priesthood, and all that belonged thereunto.

Thus was the law disannulled, and thus was it declared so to be.

Obs. 1. It is a matter of the highest nature and importance, to set up or take away, to remove any thing from or change any thing in, the worship of God. Unless the authority of God interpose, and be manifested so to do, there is nothing for conscience to rest in, in these things. And,

Obs. 2. The revelation of the will of God, in things relating unto his worship, is very difficultly received, where the minds of men are prepossessed with prejudices and traditions. Notwithstanding all those ways whereby God had revealed his mind concerning the abolition of the Mosaical institutions, yet those Hebrews could neither understand it nor receive it, until the whole seat of its worship was destroyed and consumed.

Obs. 3. The only securing principle, in all things of this nature, is to preserve our souls in an entire subjection unto the authority of Christ, and unto his alone.

Thirdly, The close of the verse gives an especial reason of the disannulling or abrogation of the command, taken from its own nature and efficacy: “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before, διὰ τὸ τῆς αὐτῆς ἀσθενὲς καὶ ἀνωφελές :” the adjective in the neuter gender put for a substantive, which is emphatical; as on the contrary it is so, when the substantive is put for the adjective, as 1 John 2:27, ᾿Αληθές ἐστι , καὶ οὐκ ἔστι ψεῦδος , “Is true, and is not a lie;” that is, “mendax, “false” or “lying.” And αὐτῆς , “its own,” is added, to show that the principal cause of disannulling the law was taken from the law itself.

I have proved before that “the commandment” in this verse is of equal extent and signification with “the law” in the next. And “the law” there doth evidently intend the whole law, in both the parts of it, moral and ceremonial, as it was given by Moses unto the church of Israel. And this whole law is here charged by our apostle with “weakness and unprofitableness;” both which make a law fit to be disannulled. But it must be acknowledged that there is a difficulty of no small importance in the assignation of these imperfections unto the law. For this law was given by God himself; and how can it be supposed that the good and holy God should prescribe such a law unto his people as was always weak and unprofitable. From this and the like considerations the blasphemous Manichees denied that the good God was the author of the Old Testament; and the Jews continue still upon it to reject the Gospel, as not allowing the least imperfection in the law, but equalling it almost with God himself. We must therefore consider in what sense the apostle ascribes these properties unto the law.

First, Some seek for a solution of this difficulty from Ezekiel 20:11, compared with Ezekiel 20:25. Ezekiel 20:11, God saith, “I gave them my statutes, and showed them my judgments; which if a man do, he shall live in them.”

But Ezekiel 20:25, “I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live.” The first sort of laws, they say, was the decalogue, with those other judgments that accompanied it; which were given unto the people as God’s covenant, before they broke it by making the golden call These were good in themselves, and good unto the people, so as if they did them they should live therein. But after the people had broken the covenant in making of a golden calf, God gave them that whole system of ordinances, institutions, and laws, which ensued. These, they say, in that place of Ezekiel God calls “statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live,” as being imposed on the people in the way of punishment. And with respect unto these they say it is that the apostle affirms “the commandment was weak and unprofitable.”

But as the application of this exposition unto this passage in the apostle’s discourse is not consistent with the design of it, as will afterwards appear, so indeed the exposition itself is not defensible. For it is plain, that by the laws and statutes mentioned Ezekiel 20:11, not any part of them, but the whole system of ordinances and commandments which God gave by Moses, is intended. And the two words in the text, חֻקִּים and מִשְׁפָּטִים , do express the whole law ceremonial and judicial. And it was not from this or that part, but from the whole law, that the people, as far as they were carnal, looked for righteousness and salvation, Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12. And as those laws and statutes mentioned Ezekiel 20:11 contained the whole law given by Moses, so those intended Ezekiel 20:25, whereof it is said that they were not good, nor could they live in the keeping of them, cannot be the laws and statutes of God considered in themselves. For it is inconsistent with the holiness, goodness, and wisdom of God, to give laws which, in themselves and their own nature, should not be good, but evil Nor, on supposition that he had given them “statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live,” could he plead, as he doth, that “his ways were equal,” and that “their ways were unequal.” For in these laws he evidently promised that “those who did them should live therein.” Where is the equality, equity, and righteousness, if it were otherwise? Wherefore if the statutes of God be intended in the place, it must be with respect unto the people, their unbelief and obstinacy, that it is said of them, that “they were not good;” being made useless unto them by reason of sin. In that sense the apostle says, that “the commandment which was ordained to life, he found to be unto death,” Romans 7:10. But I rather judge, that having charged the people with neglect and contempt of the laws and judgments of God, which were good, God’s giving them up judicially unto ways of idolatry and false worship, which they made as laws and judgments unto themselves, and “willingly walked after the commandment,” as Hosea 5:11, is here so expressed. But there is no ground for such a distinction between the laws and judgments of God in themselves, that some of them should be good, and some of them should be not good; that in some of them men might live, but not in others.

Secondly, I answer, that the whole law may be considered two ways:

1. Absolutely in itself.

2. With respect,

(1.) Unto the end for which it was given;

(2.) Unto the persons unto whom it was given:

In itself, no reflection can be made upon it, because it was an effect of the wisdom, holiness, and truth of God. But in the respects mentioned it manifests its own weakness and unprofitableness; for they were sinners unto whom it was given, and both defiled and guilty antecedently unto the giving of this law, being so by nature, and thereon “children of wrath.” Two things they stood in need of in this condition:

1. Sanctification by an inherent purity and holiness, with a complete righteousness from thence. This the moral law was at first the rule and measure of, and would have always effected it by its observance. It could never, indeed, take away any defilement of sin from the soul, but it could have prevented any such defilement. But now, with respect unto the persons unto whom it was given, it became “weak and unprofitable” unto any such end. It became so, saith the apostle, by reason of the flesh, Romans 8:3. For although in itself it was a perfect rule of righteousness, Romans 10:5, Galatians 3:12; Galatians 3:21, yet it could not be a cause or means of righteousness unto them who were disenabled, by the entrance of sin, to comply with it and fulfill it. Wherefore the moral law, which was in itself efficacious and useful, was now become unto sinners, as unto the ends of holiness and righteousness, “weak and unprofitable;” for “by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

2. Sinners do stand in need of the expiation of sin; for being actually guilty already, it is to no purpose to think of a righteousness for the future, unless their present guilt be first expiated. Hereof there is not the least intimation in the moral law. It hath nothing in it, nor accompanying of it, that respects the guilt of sin, but the curse only. This, therefore, was to be expected from the ceremonial law, and the various ways of atonement therein provided, or no way at all But this of themselves they could not effect. They did, indeed, represent and prefigure what would do so, but of themselves they were insufficient unto any such end. For “it is not possible,” as our apostle speaks, “that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin,”

Hebrews 10:4. And this law may be considered three ways:

(1.) In opposition unto Christ, without respect unto its typical signification; under which notion it was now adhered unto by the unbelieving Hebrews. This being no state of it by divine appointment, it became thereby not only of no use unto them, but the occasion of their ruin.

(2.) In competition and conjunction with Christ; and so it was adhered unto by many of these Hebrews who believed the gospel. And this also was a state not designed for it, seeing it was appointed only “until the time of reformation;” and therefore was not only useless, but noxious and hurtful.

(3.) In subordination unto Christ, to typify and represent what was to be obtained in him alone; so during its own season it was of use unto that end, but yet could never effect the thing which it did represent. And in this state doth the apostle pronounce it “weak and unprofitable,” namely, on a supposition that atonement and expiation of sin was actually to be made, which it could not reach unto. But it may be yet further inquired, why God did give this law unto the people, which, although it was good in itself, yet, because of the condition of the people, it could not attain the end which was intended. The apostle gives so full an answer unto this inquiry, as that we need not further to insist upon it. For he giveth two reasons why God gave this law.

1. He saith, “It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made,” Galatians 3:19. It had a manifold necessary respect unto transgression: as,

(1.) To discover the nature of sin, that the consciences of men might be made sensible thereof.

(2.) To coerce and restrain it, by its prohibition and threatenings, that it might not run out into such an excess as to deluge the whole church.

(3.) To represent the way and means, though obscurely, whereby sin might be expiated. And these things were of so great use, that the very being of the church depended on them.

2. There was another reason for it, which he declares in the same place, verses 23, 24. It was to shut up men under a sense of the guilt of sin, and so with some severity drive them out of themselves, and from all expectation of a righteousness by their own works, that so they might be brought unto Christ, first in the promise, and then as he was actually exhibited.

This brief account of the weakness and unprofitableness of the law, whereon it was disannulled and taken away, may at present suffice. The consideration of some other things in particular will afterwards occur unto us. Only in our passage we may a little examine or reflect on the senses that some others have given unto these words.

Schlichtingius, in his comment on the next verse, gives this account of the state of the law:

“Lex expiationem concedebat leviorum delictorum, idque ratione poenae alicujus arbitrariae tantum: gravioribus autem peccatis quibus mortis poenam fixerat, nullam reliquerat veniam, maledictionis fulmen vibrans in omnes qui gravius peccassent.”

But these things are neither accommodated unto the purpose of the apostle nor true in themselves. For,

1. The law denounced the curse equally unto every transgression, be it small or great: “Cursed is he who continueth not in all things.”

2. It expiated absolutely no sin, small or great, by its own power and efficacy; neither did it properly take away any punishment, temporal or eternal. That some sins were punished with death, and some were not, belonged unto the polity or the government erected among that people. But,

3. As unto the expiation of sin, the law had an equal respect unto all the sins of believers, great and small; it typically represented the expiation of them all in the sacrifice of Christ, and so confirmed their faith as to the forgiveness of sin; but farther it could not proceed.

And Grotius on the place:

“Non perduxit homines ad justitiam illam veram et internam, sed intra ritus et facts externa constitit. ...... Promissa terrestria non operantur mortis contemptum, sed eum operatur spes melior vitae aeternae et coelestis.”

Which is thus enlarged by another: “The Mosaical law got no man freedom from sin, was able to give no man strength to fulfill the will of God, and could not purchase pardon for any that had broken it. This, therefore, was to be done now afterwards by the gospel; which gives more sublime and plain promises of pardon of sin, which the law could not promise; of an eternal and heavenly life to all true penitent believers: which gracious tenders, now made by Christ, give us a freedom of access unto God, and confidence to come and expect such mercy from him.”

Ans. 1. What is here spoken, if it intend the law in itself, and its cardinal ordinances, without any respect unto the Lord Christ and his mediation, may in some sense be true; for in itself it could neither justify nor sanctify the worshippers, nor spiritually or eternally expiate sin. But,

2. Under the law, and by it, there was a dispensation of the covenant of grace, which was accompanied with promises of eternal life; for it did not only repeat and re-enforce the promise inseparably annexed unto the law of creation, “Do this, and live,” but it had also other promises of spiritual and eternal things annexed unto it, as it contained a legal dispensation of the first promise or the covenant of grace. But, 3. The opposition here made by the apostle is not between the precepts of the law and the precepts of the gospel, the promises of the law and the promises of the gospel, outward righteousness and inward obedience; but between the efficacy of the law unto righteousness and salvation, by the priesthood and sacrifices ordained therein, on the one hand, and the priesthood of Christ, with his sacrifice, which was promised before and now manifested in the gospel, on the other. And herein he doth not only show the preference and dignity of the latter above the former, but also that the former of itself could do nothing unto these ends; but whereas they had represented the accomplishment of them for a season, and so directed the faith of the church unto what was future, that now being come and exhibited, it was of no more use nor advantage, nor meet to be retained.

Thus, then, was the law disannulled; and it was so actually by the means before mentioned. But that the church might not be surprised, there were many warnings given of it before it came to pass: as,

1. A mark was put upon it from the very beginning, that it had not a perpetuity in its nature, nor inseparably annexed unto it: for it had no small presignification in it, that immediately upon the giving of it as a covenant with that people, they brake the covenant, in making the golden calf in Horeb; and thereon Moses brake the tables of stone wherein the law was written. Had God intended that this law should have been perpetual, he would not have suffered its first constitution to have been accompanied with an express emblem of its disannulling.

2. Moses expressly .foretells, that after the giving of the law, God would “provoke them to anger by a foolish nation,” Deuteronomy 32:21, Romans 10:19; that is, by the calling of the Gentiles, whereon “the wall of partition” that was between them, even “the law of commandments contained in ordinances,” was of necessity to be taken out of the way.

3. The prophets frequently declared that it was of itself utterly insufficient for the expiation of sin, or the sanctification of sinners, and thereon preferred moral obedience above all its institutions; whence it necessarily follows, that seeing God did intend a τελείωσις , or “state of perfection,” for his church, this law was at last to be disannulled.

4. All the promises concerning the coming of Christ as the end of the law, did declare its station in the church not to be perpetual; especially that insisted on by our apostle, of his being “a priest after the order of Melchisedec.”

5. The promises and predictions are express, that a new covenant should be established with the church, unto the removal of the old; whereof we must treat in the next chapter. By all these ways was the church of the Hebrews forewarned that the time would come when the whole Mosaical law, as to its legal or covenant efficacy, should be disannulled, unto the unspeakable advantage of the church. And we may hence observe,

Obs. 4. The introduction into the church of what is better and more full of grace, in the same kind with what went before, doth disannul what so preceded; but the bringing in of that which is not better, which doth not’communicate more grace, doth not do so. Thus our apostle expressly disputes that the bringing in of the law four hundred years after the giving of the promise, did not evacuate or any way enervate the promise. And the sole reason hereof was, because the promise had more grace and privilege in it than the law had. But here, the bringing in of another priesthood, because it was filled with more effectual grace and mercy, utterly disannulled that which was instituted before. And as we may hence learn the care and kindness of God unto the church, so also our own duty in adhering with constant obedience unto the institutions of Christ. For this must be so, until something else more full of grace and wisdom than they are be appointed of God in the church. And indeed this is that which is pretended by those by whom they are rejected; for they tell us that the ordinances of the gospel are “weak and unprofitable,” and are disannulled by that dispensation of the Spirit which hath ensued after them. But the truth is, to fancy a dispensation of the Spirit without, against, or above the ordinances of Christ, who alone doth dispense Him, and that in the ways of his own appointment, is to renounce the whole gospel.

Obs. 5. If God would disannul every thing that was weak and unprofitable in his service, though originally of his own appointment, because it was not exhibitive of the grace he intended, he will much more condemn any thing of the same kind that is invented by men. I could never yet understand why God should abolish those ordinances of worship which himself had appointed, because they were weak, and approve of such as men should find out of themselves, which cannot have the least efficacy or signification towards spiritual ends; such as are multiplied in the Papacy.

Obs. 6. It is in vain for any man to look for that from the law, now it is abolished, which it could not effect in its best estate; and what that is the apostle declares in the next verse.

Hebrews 7:19 . “For the law made nothing perfect; but the bringing in of a better hope, whereby we draw nigh unto God.” [8]

[8] TRANSLATION. Different renderings of this passage have been proposed. 1. Scholefield suggests, “But was the bringing in of a better hope;” and Turner, to the same effect, referring in support of this view to Erasmus, Zuingle, Tyndale, and Cranmer, translates thus: “The law perfected nothing, but was (merely) the introduction of a better hope.” So also Ebrard. According to this view, the Mosaic system is the introduction to the Christian. 2. Schlichting, Michaelis, Semler, and Ernesti, supply ἐτελείωσεν to ἐπεισαγωγή ; “the bringing in of a better hope made perfect.” To this view Owen accedes, and the rendering of the authorized version agrees with it. According to it, the Christian system, in its efficacy to bring to perfection, is contrasted with the Mosaic, which could not. 3. Conybeare and Howson regard the A. V. as wrong; and ascribe the error to an oversight of the connection of μέν in verse 18 with δέ in verse 19. Their translation is as follows: “On the one hand, an old commandment is annulled, because it was weak and profitless (for the law perfected nothing); and on the other hand, a better hope is brought in, whereby we draw near unto God.” This view in the main has the support of Theodoret, Luther, Gerhard, Bengel, Tholuck, Bleek, Olshausen, Bloomfield , and Craik. It contrasts not the Christian system as a whole with the Mosaic as a whole, but the abolition of the latter with the introduction of the former. ED.

FOURTHLY, The disannulling or abolition of the law was laid down in the precedent verse, as a necessary consequent of its being “weak and unprofitable.” For when a law hath been tried, and it is found liable unto this charge, it is equal, and even necessary, that it should be disannulled; if the end aimed at be necessary to be attained, and there be any thing else to be substituted in its room whereby it may so be. This therefore the apostle declares in this verse, giving the reasons in particular of what he had before asserted in general. So the causal connection, γάρ , “for,” doth intimate. And,

1. He gives an especial instance, wherein it was evident that the law was “weak and unprofitable.”

2. He declares what was to be introduced in the room thereof, which would attain and effect the end which the law could not reach unto, by reason of its weakness.

3. He expresseth what that end was. The first he doth in these words, Οὐδὲν γὰρ ὁ νόμος ἐτελείωσε , “For the law made nothing perfect.” The subject spoken of is ὁ νόμος , “the law;” that is, the whole system of Mosaical ordinances, as it was the covenant which God made with the people in Horeb. For the apostle takes “the commandment” and “the law” for the same in this chapter; and “the covenant,” in the next, for the same with them both. And he treats of them principally in the instance of the Levitical priesthood; partly because the whole administration of the law depended thereon; and partly because it was the introduction of another priesthood, whereby the whole was disannulled.

Of this law, commandment, or covenant, it is said that οὐδὲν ἐτελείωσε , “it made nothing perfect.” Οὐδέν , “nothing,” for οὐδένα , “no man,” say expositors generally; “it made no man perfect.” So the neuter is put for the masculine. So it is in those words of our Savior, John 6:37, Πᾶν ὅ δίδωσί μοι ὁ Πατήρ πρὸς ἐμὲ ἥξει , “ All that the Father giveth me cometh unto me;” that is, “every one.” So is οὐδέν , as here, put for οὐδένα , verse 63: ῾Η σὰρξ οὐκ ὠφελεῖ οὐδέν , “ The flesh profiteth nothing;” that is, say some, “no man.” But I am not satisfied with this exposition, but rather judge that the apostle did properly express his intention. It made “nothing,” that is, none of the things which we treat about, “perfect.” It did not make the church-state perfect, it did not make the worship of God perfect, it did not perfect the promises given unto Abraham, in their accomplishment, it did not make a perfect covenant between God and man; it had a shadow, an obscure representation of all these things, but it “made nothing perfect.”

What the apostle intends by τελείωσις , and so consequently by ἐτελείωσε in this place, we have discoursed at large before on verse 11; so that we shall not here again insist upon it.

But it may be inquired why, if “the law made nothing perfect,” it was instituted or given by God himself. He had designed a state of perfection unto the church, and seeing the law could not effect it, nay, seeing it could not be introduced whilst the law was in force, unto what end served the giving of this law?

Ans. This doubt was in part solved before, when we showed the ends for which the law was given, although it was weak and unprofitable as unto some other. But yet there are some other reasons to be pleaded, to represent the beauty and order of this dispensation. For,

1. In all these things the sovereignty of God is to be submitted unto; and, unto humble souls, there is beauty in divine sovereignty. When the Lord Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and thanked his heavenly Father that he had revealed the mysteries of the gospel unto babes, and hid them from the wise and prudent, he assigns no other reason but his sovereignty and pleasure, wherein he rejoiced: “Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight,” Luke 10:21. And if we cannot see an excellency in the dispensations of God, because they are his, who gives no account of his matters, we shall never delight in his ways. So our apostle gives no other reason of this legal dispensation, but that “God had provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect,” Hebrews 11:40. Therefore did he give them this law for a season, which made nothing perfect; even so it seemed good in his sight. It is the glory of God to be “gracious to whom he will be gracious,” and that at what time he will, and unto what degree and measure he pleaseth. And in this glory of his are we to acquiesce.

2. Mankind having wofully prevaricated and apostatized from God, it was just and equal that they should not be at once re-instated, in their reparation. The suddenness of it might have taken off from its greatness. Wherefore, as God left the generality of the world without the knowledge of what he intended, so he saw good to keep the church in a state of expectancy as to the perfection of liberty and deliverance intended. He could have created the world in an hour, or a moment; but he chose to do it in the space of six days, that the glory of his work might be distinctly represented unto angels and men And he could immediately after the fall have introduced the promised Seed, in whose advent the church must of necessity enjoy all the perfection whereof it is capable in this world; but to teach the church the greatness of their sin and misery, and to work in them an acknowledgment of his unspeakable grace and mercy, he proceeded gradually in the very revelation of him, as we have showed on Hebrews 1:1, and caused them to wait, under earnest desires, longings, and expectations, many ages for his coming. And during this season it was of necessity that they should be kept under a law that made nothing perfect. For, as our apostle speaketh, “if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void,” Romans 4:14; and “if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain,” Galatians 2:21; and

“if there had been a law given which could have’given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law,” Galatians 3:21.

Wherefore, until the actual exhibition of the promised Seed, it was absolutely necessary that the church should be kept under a law that made nothing perfect.

3. That people unto whom the law was peculiarly to be given, and by whom God would accomplish his further design, were a stubborn, earthy, hard hearted people, that stood in need of a yoke to burden and subdue them unto the will of God. So obstinate they were in what they had once received, and so proud of any privilege they enjoyed, that whereas their privileges were very many and very great, they would never have had any thought of looking out after another state, but have foregone the promise, had they not been pinched, and burdened, and disappointed in their expectation of perfection by this law, and the yoke of it.

4. God had designed that the Lord Christ should in all things have the pre- eminence. This was due unto him, on the account of the glory of his person and the greatness of his work. But if the law could have made any thing perfect, it is evident that this could not have been.

Secondly, Perfection being thus denied unto the law, it is added, ᾿Επεισαγωγὴ δὲ κρείττονος ἐλπίδος . The words are elliptical, and without a supplement give no certain sense. And this may be made two ways: First, by the verb substantive ἧν , and so the whole of what is asserted is an effect of the law. “It made nothing perfect,” but “it was the bringing in of a better hope,” or “an introduction unto a better hope,” as some render the words. It served as God’s way and method unto the bringing in of our Lord Jesus Christ; unto this end it was variously serviceable in the church. For as its institutions, promises, instructions, and types, did represent him unto the faith of believers; so it prepared their minds unto an expectation of him, and longing after him. And the conjunction δέ , which is adversative, seems to intimate an opposition in what the law did, unto what it is said before that it did not. It “did not make any thing perfect,” but it “did bring in a better hope;” and we know in how many things it was a preparatory introduction of the gospel. Wherefore this sense is true, though not, as I judge, directly intended in these words.

Beza first observed that δέ was put for ἀλλά in this place, as it is unquestionably in sundry others. If so, not an assignation of a contrary effect unto the law unto what was before denied is intended, but the designation and expression of another cause of the effecting of that which the law could not effect. And the defective speech is to be supplied by ἐτελείωσε , “made perfect;” as we do it by “did,” that is, “did make all things perfect.” To the same purpose the apostle expresseth himself in other words, Romans 8:3. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” For the words are so to be supplied, ‘What the law could not do, that God did;’which what it was, and how God did it, the following words declare. Thus, God had designed to bring the church into a better state, a state of comparative perfection in this world. This the law was not a means or instrument suited unto: wherefore another way is fixed on to that end; which being completely effective of it, the law was laid aside and disannulled, as unprofitable.

This the word ἐπεισαγωγή doth lead unto: for it is as much as “postintroductio,” or “superintroductio;” the introduction of one thing after or upon another. This was the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, which were brought in after the law, upon it, in the room of it, to effect that which the law could not do. This our apostle further argues and confirms, Hebrews 10:1-10.

This, therefore, is the sense of the words, ‘The introduction of the better hope, after and upon the law, when a sufficient discovery had been made of its weakness and insufficiency as unto this end, did make all things perfect, or bring the church unto that state of consummation which was designed unto it.’

Thirdly, It remaineth only, therefore, that we show what this “better hope” is, whereunto this effect is ascribed. Whatever it be, it is called “better” with respect unto the law, with all things that the law contained or could effect, somewhat of more power and efficacy to perfect the church-state. This neither was nor could be any thing but Christ himself and his priesthood. For “we are complete in him,” Colossians 2:10; and “by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified,” Hebrews 10:14; the heavenly things themselves being purified thereby.

“Hope,” therefore, is used here metonymically, to design the thing hoped for. From the giving of the first promise, and throughout under the dispensation of the law, Christ and his coming into the world were the hope of all believers, the great thing which they desired, longed and hoped for. Hence was he called “the Desire of all nations,” Haggai 2:7; that which the secret desires of the whole race of mankind worked towards. And in the church, which enjoyed the promises, they rejoiced in the foresight of it, as did Abraham; and desired to see his day, as did the prophets, diligently inquiring into the time and season of the accomplishment of those revelations which they had received concerning him, 1 Peter 1:11-12. It is not, therefore, the doctrine of the gospel, with its precepts and promises, as some suppose, which is here intended, any otherwise but as it is a declaration of the coming of Christ, and the discharge of his office; for without a respect hereunto, without virtue and efficacy thence alone derived, the outward precepts and promises of the gospel would no more perfect the church-state than the law could do.

Obs. 7. When God hath designed any gracious end towards the church, it shall not fail, nor his work cease for want of effectual means to accomplish it. All means, indeed, have their efficacy from his designation of them unto their end. His wisdom makes them meet, and his power makes them effectual. Whatever, therefore, seems to be a means in the hand of God unto any end, and doth not effect it, was never designed thereunto; for he fails in none of his ends, nor do his means come short of what he aims at by them. Wherefore, although God designed a perfect state of the church, and after that gave the law, yet he never designed the law to accomplish that end. It had other ends, as we have already declared. But men were very apt to take up with the law, and to say of it, “Surely the LORD’S anointed is before us.” Wherefore God by many ways and means discovered the weakness of the law, as unto this end. Then were men ready to conclude that the promise itself, concerning this perfect church-state, would be of none effect. The mistake lay only herein, that indeed God had not as yet used that only means for it which his infinite wisdom had suited for, and his infinite power would make effectual unto, its attainment. And this he did in such a way, as that those who would not make use of his means, but would as it were impose that upon him which he never intended to make use of in that kind, perished in their unbelief. Thus was it with the generality of the Jews, who would have perfection by the law, or none at all.

Wherefore the promises of God concerning the church, and to it, must be the rule and measure of our faith. Three things do deeply exercise the church, as unto their accomplishment:

1. Difficulties rendering it wholly improbable.

2. Long and unexpected procrastinations.

3. Disappointment of appearing means of it.

But in this instance, of the introduction of a perfect church-state in and by the person of Jesus Christ, God hath provided a security for our faith against all objections which these considerations might suggest. For

1. What greater difficulties can possibly lie in the way of the accomplishment of any of the promises of God which yet are upon the sacred record unaccomplished, as suppose, the calling of the Jews, the destruction of antichrist, the peace of the church, and prosperity of it in the plentiful effusion of the Spirit, but that as great, and greater, lay in the way of the fulfilling of this promise? All the national provocations, sins, and idolatries, that fell out in the posterity of Abraham; all the calamities and desolating judgments that overtook them; the cutting down of the house of David, until there was only a root of it left in the earth; the unbelief of the whole body of the people; the enmity of the world, acted by all the craft and power of Satan; were as mountains in the way of the accomplishment of this promise: but yet they all of them became at length a plain before the Spirit of God. And if we should compare the difficulties and oppositions that at this day lie against the fulfilling of some divine promises, with those that rose up against this one of perfecting the church- state in Christ, it would, it may be, abate our forwardness in condemning the Jews for incredulity, unless we found ourselves more established in the faith of what is to come than for the most part we are.

2 . Long and unexpected procrastinations are trials of faith also. Now this promise was given at the beginning of the world, nor was there any time allotted for its accomplishment. Hence it is generally supposed, from the words there used in the imposition of the name of Cain on her first-born, that Eve apprehended that the promise was actually fulfilled. The like expectations had the saints of all ages; and they were continually looking out after the rising of this bright morning Star. Many a time did God renew the promise, and sometimes confirmed it with his oath, as unto Abraham and David; and yet still were their expectations frustrated, so far as confined unto their own generations. And though God accepted them in their cries, and prayers, and hopes, and longing desires, yet nearly four thousand years were expired before the promise received its accomplishment. And if we do believe that the faith and grace of the new testament do exceed what was administered under the old, and that we do enjoy that pledge of God’s veracity in the accomplishment of his promises which they attained not unto, shall we think it much if we are exercised some part of that season (as yet but a small time) in looking after the accomplishment of other promises?

3. Disappointment of appearing means is of the same nature. Long after the promise was given and renewed, the law is in a solemn and glorious manner delivered unto the church, as the rule of their worship and the means of their acceptance with God. Hence the generality of the people did always suppose that this was it which would make all things perfect.

Something, indeed, they thought might be added unto its glory, in the personal coming of the Messiah; but the law was still to be that which was to make all things perfect. And we may easily apprehend what a surprisal it was unto them, when it was made manifest that the law was so far from effecting this promised state, that there was a necessity for taking it out of the way, as a thing “weak and unprofitable,” that “the better hope,” perfecting the state of the church, might be introduced. Such appearances are sometimes presented unto us of means highly probable for the delivery of the church, which after a while do utterly disappear, and things are rolled into a posture quite contrary unto the expectations of many. When there is an appearance of what God hath promised, of what believers have prayed for, it is no wonder if some do earnestly embrace it.. But when God hath laid aside any means, and sufficiently declared that it is not his holy pleasure to use it in such a way, or unto such a length as we would desire, for the fulfilling of his promises, it is not duty, but obstinacy and selfishness, to adhere unto it with any such expectation.

Obs. 8. Believers of old, who lived under the law, did not live upon the law, but upon the hope of Christ, or Christ hoped for. Christ is “the same” (that is, unto the church) “yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” If justification, if salvation could be had any other way, or by any other means, then was his coming needless, and his death in vain. It was the promise of him, and not of the law which he had broken, which was the relief and salvation of Adam. This being the first thing that was proposed unto fallen man, as the only means of his restoration, justification, and salvation, if any thing were afterwards added unto the same purpose, it would declare this to be insufficient; which would be an impeachment of divine wisdom and grace. On the same promise of Christ, which virtually contained and exhibited unto believers all the benefits of his mediation, as it was frequently renewed and variously explained, did all the saints live under the old testament. And the obscurity of the revelations of him in comparison of that by the gospel, respected only the degrees, but not the essence of their faith.

Obs. 9. The Lord Christ, by his priesthood and sacrifice, makes perfect the church, and all things belonging thereunto, Colossians 2:10.

FIFTHLY, In the last place, the apostle illustrates the work wrought through the introduction of “the better hope,” by the effect of it in them that do believe: Δι᾿ ἧς ἐγγίζομεν τῷ Θεῷ , “By which we draw nigh unto God.” Δι᾿ ἧς , “by which,” may refer either to the remote antecedent, ἐπεισαγωγή , “the introduction” or “bringing in;” or unto the next, which is ἐλπίδος , “the hope;” being both of the same gender. “By the introduction of the better hope we draw nigh to God;” or, “By which hope we draw nigh to God.” Both come to the same, for the substance of the sense; but the application is more natural to the next antecedent, “By which hope we draw nigh unto God.” It remaineth only that we inquire what it is thus to draw nigh to God.

᾿Εγγίζω is a word belonging unto the sacerdotal office, denoting the approach of the priests unto God in his worship. So the LXX. for the most part render קָרַב , the general term for all access unto God with sacrifices and offerings. And this doth the apostle intend. Under the Levitical priesthood, the priests in their sacrifices did draw nigh unto God. The same now is done by all believers, under the sacerdotal ministration of Jesus Christ. They now, all of them, draw nigh unto God. And in all their worship, especially in their prayers and supplications, they have by him an access unto God, Ephesians 2:18. There is a similitude in these things, and an allusion in the one unto the other; yet so as that the one doth far excel the other, as to grace and privilege. For,

1. Under the law it was the priests alone who had this privilege of drawing nigh unto God, in the solemn worship of the temple and tabernacle. The people were kept at a distance, and might never come near the sacred services of the holy place. But all believers being made a royal priesthood, every one of them hath an equal right and privilege, by Christ, of drawing nigh unto God.

2. The priests themselves did draw nigh only unto outward pledges, tokens, and symbols of God’s presence. Their highest attainment was in the entrance of the high priest once a-year into the most holy place. Yet was the presence of God there only in things made with hands, only instituted to represent his glory. But believers do draw nigh to God himself, unto the throne of his grace, as the apostle declares, Hebrews 10:19-22.

It may therefore be granted that there is this intention in the words. For as, by the law of old, the priests in the solemn worship of the church did draw nigh to God in those visible pledges of his presence which he had appointed; and this they did by virtue of the Aaronical priesthood and the law of its institution, which was the utmost that could be attained in their imperfect state; so now, upon the introduction of “the better hope,” and by virtue thereof, believers in all their solemn worship do draw nigh unto God himself and find acceptance with him.

And there are two reasons for the admission of this interpretation. For,

1. One part of the apostle’s design is to manifest the glory and pre- eminence of gospel-worship above that of the law. And the excellency hereof consists, not in outward forms and pompous ceremonies, but in this, that all believers do therein draw nigh unto God himself with boldness.

2. Whereas it is peculiarly the priesthood of Christ, and his discharge of that office in his oblation and intercession, which he intends by “the better hope,” as he fully declares himself towards the end of the chapter, they are those which we have a peculiar respect unto, in all our approaches unto God in our holy worship. Our entrance unto the throne of grace is through the veil of his flesh as offered. Our admission is only by virtue of his oblation, and our acceptance depends on his intercession. Herein, therefore, in a peculiar manner, by this “better hope, we draw nigh unto God.”

But yet there is a more extensive signification of this expression in the Scripture, which must not be here excluded. By nature all men are gone far off from God. The first general apostasy carried mankind to a most inconceivable distance from him. Though our distance from him by nature, as we are creatures, be infinite, yet this hinders not but that, in his infinite goodness and condescension, we may have intercourse with him, and find acceptance before him. But the distance which came between us by sin cuts off all communion of that kind. Wherefore our moral distance from God, as our nature is corrupted, is greater, with respect unto our relation unto him, than our essential distance from him, as our nature is created. Hence, being “far off” is the expression of this state of nature: Ephesians 2:13, “Ye were sometimes far off” And whatever accompanieth that state, in wrath and curse upon men; in fear, bondage, and power of sin, and enmity against God within them; in obnoxiousness unto misery in this world, and to eternal destruction hereafter, is comprised in that expression. It is to be far from the love and favor of God, from the knowledge of him, and obedience unto him. Wherefore, our drawing nigh unto God denotes our delivery and recovery from this estate. So it is expressed in the place above named:

“But now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” To represent this, all the acts of solemn worship, which respected the sacrifice of Christ, were called “approximations.”

And hereunto, unto this drawing nigh to God, or that we may so do, two things are required:

1. A removal of whatever kept us at a distance from God. And the things of this nature were of two sorts:

(1.) What was upon us from God, for our Sin and apostasy. This was his wrath and curse; and these were declared in the publishing of the law on mount Sinai, with the terrible appearances and dreadful voices that accompanied it. This made the people “stand afar off,” Exodus 20:21; as an emblem of their condition with respect unto the law.

(2.) Guilt within, with its consequences of fear, shame, and alienation from the life of God. Unless these things, of the one sort and the other, those upon us and those within us, be taken away and removed, we can never draw nigh unto God. And to secure our distance, they were enrolled in a hand-writing, as a record against us, that we should never, on our own account, so much as endeavor any access unto him, Ephesians 2:14, Colossians 2:14. How they were removed by “the bringing in of the better hope,” that is, by the priesthood of Christ, the apostle declares in this epistle, as we shall see, God willing, in our progress, This neither was nor could be done by the law or its ordinances; neither the moral preceptive part of it nor the ceremonial, in all its rites and sacrifices, could of itself expiate sins, make atonement for our apostasy, turn away the wrath of God, or take away guilt, fear, bondage, and alienation, out of the minds of men.

2. There is moreover required hereunto, that, upon the justification and acceptation of our persons, we have faith, liberty, boldness, confidence and assurance, given unto us, in our coming unto God. And this cannot be without the renovation of our natures into his image, the quickening of our souls with a new principle of spiritual life, and ability unto all duties of acceptable obedience. All these things are required unto our drawing nigh unto God, or unto a state of reconciliation, peace, and communion with him. And we may observe,

Obs. 10. Out of Christ, or without him, all mankind are at an inconceivable distance from God. And a distance it is of the worst kind; even that which is an effect of mutual enmity. The cause of it was on our part voluntary; and the effect of it, the height of misery. And however any may flatter and deceive themselves, it is the present condition of all who have not an interest in Christ by faith. They are far off from God, as he is the fountain of all goodness and blessedness, “inhabiting,” as the prophet speaks, “the parched places of the wilderness, and shall not see when good cometh,” Jeremiah 17:6; far from the dews and showers of grace or mercy; far from divine love and favor, cast out of the bounds of them, as Adam out of paradise, without any hope or power in themselves to return. The flaming sword of the law turns every way, to keep them from the tree of life. Yet are they not so far from God but that they are under his wrath and curse, and whatever of misery is contained in them. Let them flee whither they please; wish for mountains and rocks to fall on them, as they will do hereafter; hide themselves in the darkness and shades of their own ignorance, like Adam among the trees of the garden; or immerge themselves in the pleasures of sin for a season; all is one, “the wrath of God abideth on them.” And they are far from God in their own minds also; being alienated from him, enemies against him, and in all things made up with Satan, the head of the apostasy. Thus is it, and inconceivably worse, with all that embrace not this “better hope,” to bring them nigh unto God.

Obs. 11. It is an effect of infinite condescension and grace, that God would appoint a way of recovery for those who had wilfully cast themselves unto this woful distance from him. Why should God look after such fugitives any more? He had no need of us or our services in our best condition, much less in that useless, depraved state whereinto we had brought ourselves. And although we had transgressed the rule of our moral dependence on him in the way of obedience, and thereby done what we could to stain and eclipse his glory, yet he knew how to repair it unto advantage, by reducing us under the order of punishment. By our sins we ourselves “come short of the glory of God;” but he could lose none by us, whilst it was absolutely secured by the penalty annexed unto the law. When, upon the entrance of sin, he came and found Adam in the bushes, wherein he thought foolishly to hide himself, who could expect (Adam did not) but that his only design was to apprehend the poor rebellious fugitive, and give him up to condign punishment? But quite otherwise, above all thoughts that could ever have entered into the hearts of angels or men. After he had declared the nature of the apostasy, and his own indignation against it, he proposeth and promiseth a way of deliverance and recovery! This is that which the Scripture so magnifies, under the names of “grace,” and “love of God,” which are beyond expression or conception, John 3:16. And it hath also this lustre frequently put upon it, that he dealt not so with the angels that sinned; which manifests what condition he might have left us in also, and how infinitely free and sovereign that grace was from whence it was otherwise. Thence it was that he had a “desire again unto the works of his hands,” to bring poor mankind near unto him. And whereas he might have recalled us unto himself, yet, so as to leave some mark of his displeasure upon us, kept us at a greater distance from him than that we stood at before, as David brought back his wicked Absalom to Jerusalem, but would not suffer him to come into his presence, he chose to act like himself, in infinite wisdom and grace, to bring us yet nearer unto him than ever we could have approached by the law of our creation. And as the foundation, means, and pledge hereof, he contrived and brought forth that most glorious and unparalleled effect of divine wisdom, in taking our nature into that inconceivable nearness unto himself, in the union of it unto the person of his Son. For as all things, in this bringing of us nigh to God who were afar off, are expressive effects of wisdom and grace; so that of taking our nature into union with himself is glorious unto astonishment. And as we are thereby made inconceivably more nigh to God in our nature than we were upon our first creation, or than angels shall ever be; so by virtue thereof are we in our persons brought in many things much nearer to God than ever we could have been brought by the law of creation. “O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens!” Psalms 8:1.

It is in the admiration of this unspeakable grace that the psalmist is so ravished in the contemplation of God, as hath been declared in our exposition on the second chapter of this epistle.

Obs. 12. All our approximation unto God in any kind, all our approaches unto him in holy worship, is by Him alone who was the blessed hope of the saints under the old testament, and is the life of them under the new. These things must be afterwards spoken unto.

Verses 20-22

The apostle had warned the Hebrews before, that he had “many things to say,” and those “not easy to be understood,” concerning Melchisedec. And herein he intended not only those things which he expresseth directly concerning that person and his office, but the things themselves signified thereby in the person and office of Christ. And therefore he omits nothing which may from thence be any way represented. So from that one testimony of the psalmist he makes sundry inferences unto his purpose; as,

1. That the Lord Christ was to be a priest; which included in it the cessation of the Levitical priesthood, seeing he was of the tribe of Judah, and not of the tribe of Levi.

2. That he was to be another priest; that is, a priest of another order, namely, that of Melchisedec. And this he variously demonstrates, to prove his pre-eminence above the Aaronical priesthood, as also thereon, that upon his introduction that order was utterly to cease and be disannulled.

3. He observes from the same testimony, unto the same purpose, that he was to be a priest for ever, so as that there should never more, upon his death or otherwise, be any need of another priest, nor any possibility of the return of the former priesthood into the church.

4. Neither yet doth he rest here, but observes moreover the manner how God, in the testimony insisted on, declared his purpose of making the Lord Christ a priest, which was constitutive of his office; and that was by his oath: and thence he takes occasion to manifest how far his priesthood is exalted above that under the law. This is that which now lies before us in these verses. And we have in these things an instance given of what unsearchable stores of wisdom and truth are laid up in every parcel of the word of God, if we have a spiritual light in their investigation.

Hebrews 7:20-22 . Καὶ καθ᾿ ὅσον οὐ χωρὶς ὁρκωμοσίας ( οἱ μὲν γὰρ χωρὶς ὁρκωμοσίας εἰσὶν ἱερεῖς γεγονότες , ὁ δὲ μετὰ ὁρκωμοσίας διὰ τοῦ λέγοντος πρὸς αὐτόν· ῞Ωμοσε Κύριος , καὶ οὐ μεταμεληθήσεται· Σὺ ἱερεὺς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισεδέκ ), κατὰ τοσοῦτον κρείττονος διαθήκης γέγονεν ἔγγυος ᾿Ινσοῦς .

The words of the 20th verse being elliptical, the sense of them is variously supplied. Most translators carry on the sense unto that which is the midst of the 21st in our translation, “others were made priests without an oath.” The Syriac refers the words unto them foregoing, וְשַׁרְדֵהּ לַן בְּמַוְמָתָא , “and confirmed it” (that is, “the better hope”) “with an oath;” and Beza, “etiam quatenus non sine jurejurando superintroducta est, “inasmuch as [that hope] is not brought in without an oath;” and another since, “et eo potior ilia spes, quatenus non absque jurejurando superintroducta est,” Schmid. But this limits the comparison unto this verse, which the apostle really finisheth Hebrews 7:22. Vulg. Lat., “et quantum est non sinejurejurando;” which the Rhemists render, “and inasmuch as it is not without an oath.” Ours supply, “he was made a priest,” “inasmuch as not without an oath he was made a priest:” no doubt according to the mind of the apostle; for he hath a prospect in these words unto what ensues, where he expressly applies this oath unto the priesthood of Christ, and the consummation thereof.

Καὶ καθ᾿ ὅσον , “etiam quatenus,” “et quatenus;” “and inasmuch.” Καθ ᾿ ὅσον is omitted by the Syriac. Vulg., “in quantum est,” “inasmuch.” Hereunto answereth κατὰ τοσοῦτον , verse 22, “eatenus.”

῾Ορκωμοσία is the same with ὅρκος , “jusjurandum;” an “oath.” But it is here principally applied unto those oaths whereby conventions, compacts, or covenants, were confirmed. Hence ὁρκωμόσια were the “sacrifices” that were offered in the confirmation of sworn covenants. It is three times used here by our apostle on this occasion, verses 20, 21, 28, and nowhere else in the New Testament.

Οἱ μὲν γάρ . Vulg., “alii quidem;” which the Rhemists mend by rendering it, “and the other.” Beza, “nam illi quidem.” And so the Syriac, הָנוּן גֵּיר , “and they.” Ours, “for those priests;” rather, “and truly those priests,” though μὲν γάρ have only the force of a causal conjunction.

Εἰσὶ γεγονότες . Syr., הֲווּ , “were.” But the manner of their being made priests is intended, and so the words are to be expressed fully; “facti sunt,” “were made.” Διὰ τοῦ λέγοντος πρὸς αὐτόν . The Syriac adds, בְּיָד דַּוִיד , “by the hand of David.” It is not the giving of the oath, but the recording of it in the psalm, that he intendeth.

Οὐ μεταμεληθήσεται , “non pcenitebit.” Syr., וְלָא נְדַגֵּל “and will not lie;” “will not repent,” or change his mind.

Κατὰ τοσοῦτον . Vulg., “in tantum;” to answer “in quantum” before. “Tanto,” “eatenus;” “tanto,” “by so much.” Syr., הָנָא כֻּלהּ “hoc toto,” “by all this;” and so proceeds, “this covenant was more excellent wherein Jesus was made the surety.”

Of the signification of the word ἔγγυος I shall speak afterwards. [9]

ft9 VARIOUS READING. The clause, Σὺ ἱερεὺς usque ad Μελξισεδέκ , is omitted by Tischendorf, on the authority of c, some other manuscripts, and several versions. EXPOSITION. Christ is called a “surety” here, not as the vicarious fulfiller of that which men ought to have performed, but because God on his part gave him to the human race, as a surety for the actual fulfillment of his covenant promise. For this, and this alone, is what is spoken of in the context. Ebrard. Several writers expound it as a paronomasia with ἐγγίζομεν , verse 19; in which case it must include not his relation, as surety, to God only, but to his redeemed also. TRANSLATION. Owen here translates διαθήκη “covenant,” not “testament,” according to the A.V. He is followed by all modern critics, Scholefield, Craik, Stuart, Ebrard, etc. Bleek, however, adheres to the rendering, “testament.” ED.

Hebrews 7:20-22 . And inasmuch as not without an oath: (for they truly were made without an oath; but this with an oath, by him that said unto him, The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) by so much was Jesus made surety of a better covenant.

The same argument is pursued as in the foregoing verses, only with a new medium, and that such as leads on towards the conclusion of the whole disputation. The introduction of a new priesthood, the cessation or abolition of the old, with the advantage of the church thereby, because of its dignity, pre-eminence, and stability, above that which was to give place unto it, are the things which the apostle is in the proof and confirmation of. There are three things in these three verses:

1. A proposition of a new medium for the confirmation of the principal argument before insisted on, Hebrews 7:20.

2. An illustration and proof of what is asserted in that proposition, Hebrews 7:21.

3. An inference from its being so established and proved, Hebrews 7:22. In the proposition three things may be considered:

1. The connection of it unto the preceding discourse, by the conjunction καί .

2. The modification of the proposition, in the manner of its introduction; καθ᾿ ὅσον , “quanto,” “quatenus,” “in quantum;” “inasmuch.”

3. The proposition itself, expressed negatively: Οὐ χωρίς , “Not without,” etc.

1. The note of connection, καί , may respect Hebrews 7:17, where the same testimony now insisted upon is introduced, and so may intimate a further pursuit of the same argument. If so, the other two verses, 18, 19, are inserted as a parenthesis, comprising an inference of what the apostle had before proved, with the reason of it: for whereas before he had only made use of the words of the Father unto Christ, “Thou art a priest for ever,” and thereon showed what would thence follow; he now proceeds to declare the manner how those words were spoken, namely, “with an oath.” Or it may respect the words immediately foregoing, namely, “the bringing in of a better hope;” for it was brought in “by an oath:” and this sense is followed by most translators, who supply the defect in these words by the repetition of “a better hope.” But although neither of these suppositions concerning the connection of the words doth prejudice the sense or design of them, yet, as we have observed before, καί oftentimes is as much as “moreover,” as it is rendered, “etiam,” by Beza; and then it denotes not an immediate connection with, or dependence on what went before in particular, but only a process in the same general argument. And so it is here a note of introduction of a new, special consideration, for the confirmation of the same design. Hence our translators supply the words, not with any thing that went before, but with what follows after, which the apostle designed now in particular to speak unto, “he was made a priest.”

2. The modification of the proposition is in these words, Καθ᾿ ὅσον , “eatenus quantum,” “in quantum;” “inasmuch,” “so much.” Hereunto answers κατὰ τοσοῦτον , Hebrews 7:22, “in tantum,” “quanto,” “tanto.” The excellency of the covenant whereof Christ was made mediator above the old covenant, had proportion with the pre-eminence of his priesthood above that of Aaron, in that he was made a priest by an oath, but they were not so. And we may observe in general, that,

Obs. 1. The faith, comfort, honor, and safety of the church, depend much on every particular mark that God hath put upon any of the offices of Christ, or whatever belongs thereunto.

We have lived to see men endeavoring their utmost to render Christ himself, and all his offices, of as little use in religion as they can possibly admit, and yet retain the name of Christians. And it is to be feared that he is as little valued by some in their practice as he is by others in their notions. This is not the way of the Scripture. Therein every concernment of him and his offices is particularly insisted on; and the apostle in this chapter makes it manifest what important mysteries depend on such minute considerations as some would think were little to be regarded. But all things concerning him are full of divine mysteries; and every word about them that drops from infinite wisdom ought to be an object of faith and admiration. When, therefore, we cease to inquire with all diligence into all the revelations made concerning Christ or his offices, or any thing which belongs unto them, we do really cease to be Christians. And there can be no greater evidence of our want of faith in him and love unto him, than if we neglect a due consideration of all things that the Scripture reveals and testifies concerning him.

3. The proposition itself is in these words: “Not without an oath.” Two things the apostle supposeth in this negative proposition:

(1.) That there were two ways whereby men either were or might be made priests; namely, they might be so either with or without an oath. And he expresseth the latter way, applying it negatively unto Christ, that he might include a negation of the former way with respect unto the priests under the law; both which he afterwards expressly mentioneth.

(2.) That the dignity of the priesthood depends on, and is declared by the way whereby God was pleased to initiate men into that office. These two things being in general laid down, as those which could not be denied, the apostle makes application of them in the next verse distinctly, unto the priests of the law on the one hand, and Christ on the other, in a comparison between whom he is engaged. And we may observe, that,

Obs. 2. Nothing was wanting on the part of God that might give eminency, stability, glory, and efficacy, unto the priesthood of Christ: “Not without an oath.” For,

1. This was due unto the glory of his person. The Son of God in infinite grace condescending unto the susception of this office, and the discharge of all the duties of it, it was meet that all things which might contribute any thing unto the glory or efficacy of it should accompany his undertakings. For being in himself “the image of the invisible God, by whom all things were created,” it was meet that in his whole work he should “in all things have the pre-eminence,” as our apostle speaks, Colossians 1:15-16; Colossians 1:18. He was, in every thing that he undertook, to be preferred and exalted above all others, who ever were employed in the church, or ever should be; and therefore was he made a priest “not without an oath.”

2. God saw that this was needful, to encourage and secure the faith of the church. There were many things defective in the priesthood under the law, as we have partly seen already, and shall yet see more fully in our progress. And it suited the design and wisdom of God that it should be so; for he never intended that the faith of the church should rest and be terminated in those priests or their office. What he granted unto them was sufficient unto the end and use whereunto he had designed it; so as that the church might have all that respect for it which was needful or for their good. But so many defects there were in that administration, as might sufficiently evidence that the faith of the church was not to acquiesce therein, but to look for what was yet to come, as our apostle proves by many instances in this chapter. But upon the introduction of the priesthood of Christ, God really and actually proposeth and exhibiteth unto the church all that they were to trust unto, all that he would do, or was any way needful to be done, for their peace and salvation. No other relief was to be expected for the future; therefore did God, in infinite wisdom and grace, for the stability and security of their faith, grant the highest and most peculiar evidences of the everlasting confirmation of his priesthood. And hereby did he manifest that this dispensation of his will and grace was absolutely unchangeable; so that if we comply not therewithal we must perish for ever. Thus all the whole Scripture, and all contained therein, direct us unto our ultimate hope and rest in Christ alone.

Hebrews 7:21 . In the application of this assertion, the apostle affirms that “those priests,” the priests under the law, “were made without an oath.” No such thing is mentioned in all that is recorded concerning their call and consecration; for where they are expressly declared in their outward circumstances, Exodus 28:0; Exodus 29:0; there is mention made of no such thing. But their dedication consisted in three things:

1. A call from God, expressed Exodus 28:1. We have showed how necessary this was unto the first erection of any priesthood, though it was to be continued by an ordinary succession. See Hebrews 5:4. It is therefore granted, that in this general foundation of the office, Aaron had it, even as Christ had, though not in the same way or manner; for the call of Christ was far more eminent and glorious than that of Aaron, as hath been showed.

2. It consisted in the appointment and preparation of those peculiar garments and mystical ornaments wherein they were to administer their office; and their unction with the holy anointing oil, when clothed with those garments.

3. In the sacrifices wherewith they were consecrated and actually set apart unto that office whereunto they were called.

And these two were peculiar unto them, there being no use of them in the consecration of Christ: for both of them did declare their whole administration to be external and carnal, and therefore could never make any thing perfect; nor were capable of a confirmation unto perpetuity.

But the promise made unto Phinehas seems to be expressed for an eternity in this priesthood. “Behold,” saith God, “I give unto him my covenant of peace: and he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood,” Numbers 25:12-13. But this proves not a certain absolute perpetuity of this priesthood of Phinehas. For,

1. The covenant intended was not a complete, solemn covenant, confirmed either by oath or sacrifice, but only a naked promise or declaration of the will of God. And that בְּרִית is frequently used for such a promise as wherein the nature of a covenant is not contained, is acknowledged by the Jews themselves.

2. All the special covenants or promises that God made unto or with any under the law, that had respect unto legal administrations, were all of them commensurate unto the duration and continuance of the law itself. Whilst the covenant of the law itself was in force, they also continued; and when that ceased, then also were they to cease; for, the foundation being taken away, the whole building must come to the ground. Now, that this old covenant of the law was to cease, and be taken away by the introduction of another and a better, God did openly and frequently declare under the old testament, as our apostle manifests by one signal instance in the next chapter. And this is the sense of לְעוֹלָם , “for ever,” in this case constantly. It expresseth a certain continuance of any thing, so as not to be changed, or to have another thing substituted in the room of that whereunto it is applied, whilst that legal dispensation continued. And so it was in this promise made unto Phinehas. For although there was an intercision made afterwards, as to the continuance of the priesthood in the line of his family, by the interposition of Eli and his sons, who were of the posterity of Ithamar, yet he returned again unto the enjoyment of this promise, in the person of Zadok, in the days of Solomon, and so continued until the second temple was forsaken of God also, and made “a den of thieves.”

But neither with respect unto him or any other is there any mention of the oath of God; for indeed God did never solemnly interpose himself with an oath, in a way of privilege or mercy, but with direct respect unto Jesus Christ. So he “sware by himself” unto Abraham, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed; whereby he declared the immutability of his counsel, in sending his Son to take his seed upon him. So he “sware unto David by his holiness,” that his seed, namely Christ, should sit on the throne for ever. Wherefore, although God never changeth any real internal acts of his will, or his purposes, for “with him there is neither variableness nor shadow of turning,” yet he often works an alteration in some things, which on some conditions, or for some time, he hath proposed and enjoined unto his church, unless they were confirmed by his oath; for this declares them to be absolutely immutable.

This is the account the apostle gives of the Aaronical priests, Καὶ οἱ μέν , “And they truly,” that is, Aaron, and all his posterity that exercised the priest’s office in a due manner, “they were all made priests;” that is, by God himself. They did not originally “take this honor unto themselves,” but “were called of God.” For he hath no regard unto them who in those days invaded the priest’s office with violence, deceit, or bribery; and so not only corrupting but evacuating the covenant of Levi. Those that entered into and executed their office according to the law are here intended by him. These were all made priests in the way of God’s appointment; but neither all of them nor any of them were made priests by an oath. God, into whose sovereign will and pleasure all these things are resolved, granted unto them what he saw convenient, and withheld what seemed good unto him. What he did, was sufficient to oblige the people unto obedience during that dispensation of his will; and what he did not add, but reserved for a further dispensation of his grace, intimated that liberty which he reserved unto himself of making an alteration therein, as he saw good. And we may see that,

Obs. 3. Although the decrees and purposes of God were always firm and immutable, yet there was no fixed state of outward dispensations, none confirmed with an oath, until Christ came. Nor shall we find any rest in any thing, until we come to Christ.

The apostle in the next words declares in particular and positively what he had in general and negatively before laid down: “But this with an oath;” ὁ δέ , “but he,” “this man,” he who was to be “a priest after the order of Melchisedec.” He was made μεθ᾿ ὁρκωμοσίας , “with an oath.” This is first asserted, and then proved by the testimony of the psalmist. And the assertion may have a double signification:

1. That this oath was constituent of his office. Therein his call and consecration did consist.

2. That his call, constitution, or consecration, was confirmed and ratified with an oath. And the latter sense is intended; for so doth the antithesis require.

‘Those legal priests had a divine constitution and call; but they had no confirmation by the addition of an oath; God used not an oath in or about any thing that belonged unto them. Wherefore this man was also to have another call unto and constitution of his office; but he was to be confirmed therein by an oath.’Wherein this call of Christ unto his office did consist, what were the acts of the divine will thereabout, and what was the manifestation of them, I have declared at large in the exercitations about the priesthood of Christ. Two things are to be considered in this oath:

1. The form; and,

2. The matter of it.

The form of it is in these words, “The Lord sware, and will not repent.” And the matter of it is, that he in his own person should be “a priest for ever.”

1. The person swearing is God the Father, who speaks unto the Son in Psalms 110:1. “The LORD said unto my Lord.” And the oath of God is nothing but the solemn, eternal, and unchangeable decree and purpose of his will, under an especial way of declaration. So the same act and counsel of God’s will is called his “decree,” Psalms 2:7. Wherefore, when God will so far unveil a decree and purpose as to testify it to be absolute and unchangeable, he doth it in the way of an oath; as hath been declared, Hebrews 6:13-14. Or, to the same purpose, God affirms that he hath sworn in the case.

If, then, it be demanded, when God thus sware unto Christ, I answer, We must consider the decree itself unto this purpose, and the peculiar revelation or declaration of it; in which two this oath doth consist. And as to the first, it belongs entirely unto those eternal federal transactions between the Father and the Son, which were the original of the priesthood of Christ, which I have at large explained in our exercitations. And as for the latter, it was when he gave out that revelation of his mind in the force and efficacy of an oath, in the psalm by David.

It is, therefore, not only a mistake, but an error of danger in some expositors, who suppose that this oath was made unto Christ upon his ascension into heaven. For this apprehension being pursued, will fall in with the πρῶτον ψεῦδος of the Socinians in this whole cause, namely, that the kingly and priestly offices of Christ are not really distinct. Moreover, it supposeth the principal discharge of the priesthood of Christ, in his sacrifice, to have been antecedent unto this oath; which utterly enervates the apostle’s argument in these words. For if he were made a priest and discharged his office without an oath, as he must be and do on this supposition, that the oath of God was made unto him after his ascension (or that his death and oblation therein belonged not unto his priestly office), he had no pre-eminence herein unto the Aaronical priests. He might so have a subsequent privilege of the confirmation of his office, but he had none in his call thereunto.

Wherefore this oath of God, though not in itself solely the constituent cause of the priesthood of Christ, yet it was, and it was necessarily to be, antecedent unto his actual entrance upon or discharge of any solemn duty of his office.

That additional expression, “And he will not repent,” declares the nature of the oath of God and of the purpose con firmed thereby. When God makes an alteration in any law, rule, order, or constitution, he is or may be said, ἀνθρωποπαθῶς , to repent. This God by this word declares shall never be; no alteration or change, no removal or substitution, shall ever be made in this matter. ever.” He was not only made a priest with an oath, which they were not, but a priest for ever. This adds unto the unchangeableness of his office, that he himself in his own person was to bear, exercise, and discharge it, without substitute or successor.

And this “for ever” answers unto the “for ever” under the law, each of them being commensurate unto the dispensation of that covenant which they do respect; for absolute eternity belongs not unto these things. The “for ever” of the old testament was the duration of the dispensation of the old covenant. And this “for ever” respects the new covenant, which is to continue unto the consummation of all things, no change therein being any way intimated or promised, or consistent with the wisdom and faithfulness of God; all which were otherwise under the law. But at the end of the world, together with the dispensation of the new covenant, an end will be put unto all the mediatory offices of Christ, and all their exercise. And there are four things which the apostle declareth and evinceth in this observation:

1. That our high priest was peculiarly designed unto and initiated into his office, by the oath of God, which none other ever was before him.

2. That the person of the high priest is hereby so absolutely determined, as that the church may continually draw nigh unto God the fall assurance of faith.

3. That this priesthood is liable to no alteration, succession, or substitution.

4. That from hence ariseth the principal advantage of the new testament above the old, as is declared in the next verse; and we may observe,

Obs. 4. That although God granted great privileges unto the church under the old testament, yet still in every instance he withheld that which was the principal, and should have given perfection unto what he did grant. He made them priests, but without an oath.

In all things there was a reserve for Christ, that he in all might have the pre-eminence.

Obs. 5. God by his oath declares the determination of his sovereign pleasure unto the object of it. What he proposeth and pre- scribeth unto us, he declares no more of his mind and his will about but that he requireth and approveth of our obedience unto it; but it and about it that seem good unto him. Nothing, therefore, in the whole legal administration being confirmed by the oath of God, it was always ready for removal at the appointed season.

Obs. 6. Christ’s being made a priest for ever by the oath of God, is a solid foundation of peace and consolation to the church. For,

Obs. 7. All the transactions between the Father and the Son, concerning his offices, undertakings, and the work of our redemption, have respect unto the faith of the church, and are declared for our consolation. Such were his solemn call to his sacerdotal office, and the oath of God whereby he was confirmed therein. I will not say that these things were needless on the part of Christ himself, seeing it became the glory of his person to be thus testified unto in his condescension unto office; yet was it in all these things the good and benefit of the church that was-designed. What the Lord Christ said of his prayer unto God the Father, at least so far as it was vocal, that it was not needful for him, but was only for the confirmation of the faith of others, John 11:41-42, may be spoken of all other transactions between God and him; the faith of others was principally respected in them, and thereunto they were absolutely needful. For,

1. The things which God proposeth unto our faith through Christ are exceeding great and glorious, and such as, being most remote from our innate apprehensions, do need the highest confirmation. Things they are which “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have they entered into the heart of man,” 1 Corinthians 2:9. Things unexpected, great and glorious, are apt to surprise, amaze, and overwhelm our spirits, until they are uncontrollably testified unto. So when Jacob’s sons told their father that Joseph was alive, and made governor over all the land of Egypt, Genesis 45:26, the tidings were too great and good for him to receive. But it is added, that when they gave evidence unto their report by the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, “the spirit of Jacob revived,” verses 27, 28. The things of the gospel, pardon of sin, peace with God, participation of the Spirit, grace and glory, are great and marvellous. Men at the hearing of them are like them that dream; the words concerning them seem like the report of the women unto the apostles concerning the resurrection of Christ, “they seemed as idle tales, and they believed them not,” Luke 24:2. Wherefore God discovers the fountains of these things, that we may apprehend the truth and reality of them. His eternal covenant with his Son about them, his oath that he hath made unto him, whereby he was established in his office, and the like glorious transactions of his wisdom and grace, are revealed unto this very end, that we might not be faithless in these things, but believe. For can any thing that is proposed unto us be supposed to exceed the duty of faith, when we see it, either in itself or in its springs and foundation, solemnly confirmed by the oath of God? They are glorious things which we are to expect from the priesthood of Christ, and the discharge of that office. And is it not an unspeakable encouragement thereunto, that God hath confirmed him in that office by his solemn oath unto him? For two things evidently present themselves unto our minds thereon:

(1.) That this is a thing which the infinitely holy, wise God lays great weight and stress upon. And what is he not able to effect when he doth so, and consequently lays out the treasures of his wisdom and en-gageth the greatness of his power in the pursuit of it? And,

(2.) His counsel herein is absolutely immutable, and such as on no emergency can admit of alteration. If, therefore, the engagement of infinite wisdom, grace, and power, will not excite and encourage us unto believing, there is no remedy, but we must perish in our sins.

2. As the things proposed in the gospel, as effects of the priesthood of Christ, are in themselves great and glorious, requiring an eminent confirmation, so the frame of our hearts with respect unto them is such, from first to last, as stands in need of all the evidence that can be given unto them. For there is in us by nature an aversation unto them, and a dislike of them. In the wisdom of our carnal minds, we look on them as foolish and useless. And when this woful enmity is conquered by the mighty power of God, and the souls of sinners wrought over to approve of these effects of divine wisdom and grace, yet no man can recount how many doubts, fears, jealous suspicions, we are, as to our closing with them by faith, obnoxious unto. Every one’s own heart, if he have any acquaintance with it, if he be diligent in the examination of it, will sufficiently satisfy him what objections faith in this matter hath to conflict withal. And it is to be feared that he who is insensible of the oppositions that arise against sincere believing, never yet knew what it is so to believe. To encourage and strengthen our hearts against them, to give power unto faith against all oppositions, doth God thus reveal the wisdom of his counsel and the glorious springs of this ministration whereinto our whole faith is principally resolved. And indeed we may try the sincerity of our faith by its respect unto these things. It may be some, for aught I know, may be carried on in such an easy course, and be so preserved from perplexing temptations, as not to be driven to seek their relief so deep as these springs of God’s confirmation of the office of Christ by his oath do lie; but yet he that doth not of his own choice refresh his faith with the consideration of them, and strengthen it with pleas in his supplications taken from thence, seems to me to be greatly unacquainted with what it is truly to believe.

Hebrews 7:22 . “By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.”

Κατὰ τοσοῦτον , “by so much,” answers directly to καθ᾿ ὅσον , Hebrews 7:20, “inasmuch.” There is therefore an immediate connection of these words unto that verse. Hence verse 21, wherein a confirmation is interserted of the principal assertion, is justly placed in a parenthesis in our translation. So the sense of the words is to this purpose: ‘And inasmuch as he was not made a priest without an oath, he is by so much made the surety of a better testament.’

And there may be a twofold design in the words:

1. That his being made a priest by an oath made him meet to be the surety of a better testament; or,

2. That the testament whereof he was the surety must needs be better than the other, because he who was the surety of it was made a priest by an oath.

In the one way, he proves the dignity of the priesthood of Christ from the new testament; and in the other, the dignity of the new testament from the priesthood of Christ. And we may reconcile both these senses by affirming, that really and efficiently the priesthood gives dignity unto the new testament, and declaratively the new testament sets forth the dignity of the priesthood of Christ.

It is owned tacitly, that the priesthood of Levi, and the old testament, were good, or these could not be said to be “better,” in way of comparison. And good they were, because appointed of God, and of singular use unto the church during their continuance. But this priesthood and testament are better, by so much as that which is confirmed with an oath is better than that which is not so; which alone gives the proportion of comparison in this place. Many other advantages there were of the priesthood of Christ and of the new testament, in comparison unto those of the old, all which increase the proportion of difference; but at present the apostle considers only what depends on the oath of God. Wherefore the design of the comparison contained in these words, κατὰ τοσοῦτον , is, that whereas this priest after the order of Melchisedec was designed to be the surety of another testament, he was confirmed in his office by the oath of God; which gives a pre-eminence both unto his office and the testament whereof he was to be a surety.

In the assertion itself, that “Jesus was made a surety of a better testament,” we may consider,

1. What is included or supposed in it; and,

2. What is literally expressed.

First, Three things are included and supposed in this assertion:

1. That there was another testament that God had made with his people.

2. That this was a good testament.

3. That this testament had in some sense a surety.

Secondly, As unto what is expressed in these words, there are four things in them:

1. The name of him who was the subject discoursed of; it is “Jesus.”

2. What is affirmed of him; he was “a surety.”

3. How he became so; he was “made” so.

4. Whereof he was a surety; and that is of a “testament” of God: which

5. is described by its respect unto the other before mentioned, and its preference above it; it is a “better testament.”

First, It is supposed,

1. That there was another testament which God had made with his people. This the apostle supposeth in this whole context, and at length brings his discourse unto its head and issue in the eighth chapter, where he expressly compareth the two testaments the one with the other. Now this was the covenant or testament that God made with the Hebrews on Mount Sinai, when he brought them out of Egypt, as is expressly declared in the ensuing chapter, whereof we must treat in its proper place.

2. It is supposed that this was a good testament. It was so in itself, as an effect of the wisdom and righteousness of God; for all that he doth is good in itself, both naturally and morally, nor can it otherwise be. And it was of good use unto the church; namely, unto them who looked unto the end of it, and used it in its proper design. Unto the body of the people, indeed, as far as they were carnal, and looked only on the one hand for temporal benefits by it, or on the other for life and salvation, it was a heavy yoke, yea, the “ministration of death.” With respect unto such persons and ends, it contained “statutes that were not good,” “commandments that could not give life;” and it was every way unprofitable. But yet in itself it was on many accounts “holy, just, and good:”

(1.) As it had an impression upon it of the wisdom and goodness of God.

(2.) As it was instructive in the nature and demerit of sin.

(3.) As it directed unto and represented the only means of deliverance, by righteousness and salvation in Christ.

(4.) As it established a worship which was very glorious and acceptable unto God during its season. But, as we shall show afterwards, it came short in all its excellencies and worth of this whereof Christ is the surety.

3. It is supposed that this testament had a surety; for this new testament having a surety, the other must have so also. But who this was must be inquired into.

(1.) Some would have our Lord Jesus Christ to be the surety of that testament also; for so our apostle affirms in general, “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,” 1 Timothy 2:5-6.

Be the covenant or testament what or which it will, there is but “one mediator between God and men.” Hence our apostle says of him, that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever,” Hebrews 13:8. If, therefore, he be the only mediator to-day under the new testament, he was so also yesterday under the old.

Ans. [1.] There is some difference between a mediator at large, and such a mediator as is withal a surety. And however, on any account, Christ may be said to be the mediator of that covenant, he cannot be said to be the surety of it.

[2.] The place in Timothy cannot intend the old covenant, but is exclusive of it; for the Lord Christ is there called a mediator with respect unto the ransom that he paid in his death and blood-shedding. This respected not the confirmation of the old covenant, but was the abolition of it: and the old was confirmed with the blood of beasts, as the apostle expressly declares, Hebrews 9:18-19.

[3.] The Lord Christ was indeed, in his divine person, the immediate administrator of that covenant, the angel and messenger of it on the behalf of God the Father: but this doth not constitute him a mediator properly; for “a mediator is not of one, but God is one.”

[4.] The Lord Christ was a mediator under that covenant, as to the original promise of grace, and the efficacy of it, which were administered therein: but he was not the mediator and surety of it as it was a covenant; for had he been so, he being “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever,” that covenant could never have been disannulled.

(2.) Some assert Moses to have been the surety of the old testament; for so it is said that “the law was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator,” Galatians 3:19, that is, of Moses, whom the people desired to be the internuncius between God and them, Exodus 20:19; Deuteronomy 5:27; Deuteronomy 18:16.

Ans. [1.] Moses may be said to be the mediator of the old covenant in a general sense, inasmuch as he went between God and the people, to declare the will of God unto them, and to return the profession of obedience from them unto God; but he was in no sense the surety thereof. For, on the one side, God did not appoint him in his stead to give assurance of his fidelity unto the people. This he took absolutely unto himself, in those words wherewith all his laws were prefaced, “I am the LORD thy God.” Nor did he, nor could he, on the other side, undertake unto God for the people; and so could not be esteemed in any sense the surety of the covenant.

[2.] The apostle hath no such argument in hand as to compare Christ with Moses, nor is he treating of that office wherein he compares him with him, and prefers him above him; which was his prophetical office, whereof he had before discoursed, Hebrews 3:4-6. Wherefore,

(3.) It was the high priest alone who was the surety of that covenant. It was made and confirmed by sacrifices, Psalms 50:5; as we shall see more at large afterwards, Hebrews 9:19-20. And if Moses were concerned herein, it was as he executed the office of the priest in an extraordinary manner. Therefore the high priest, offering solemn sacrifices in the name and on the behalf of the people, making atonement for them according to the terms of that covenant, supplied the place of the surety thereof. And we may observe, that,

Obs. 8. How good and glorious soever any thing may appear to be, or really be, in the worship of God, or as a way of our coming to him, or walking before him, if it be not ratified in and by the immediate suretiship of Christ, it must give way unto that which is better; it could be neither durable in itself, nor make any thing per fect in them that made use of it.

Secondly, In what is positively asserted in the words we may observe,

1. The person who is the subject spoken of; and that is “Jesus.” He had in general declared the nature of the priesthood of him who was to have that office, according to the order of Melchisedec ; but he had not yet, in this whole chapter, that is, from the beginning of this discourse, mentioned who that person was, or named him. But here he makes application of the whole unto him. It is Jesus who in all these things was intended. And this he doth suitably unto his design and occasion. For two things were in question among the Hebrews:

(1.) What was the nature of the office of the Messiah?

(2.) Who was the person? For the first of these, he proves unto them, from their own acknowledged principles, that he was to be a priest; as also what was the nature of that priesthood, and what would be the necessary consequence of the setting up of that office in the church, and the exercise of it: this his whole precedent discourse is designed unto. Now he asserts the second part of the difference, namely, that it is Jesus who is this priest; because in him alone do all things concur that were to be in that priest, and he had now discharged the principal part and duty of that office.

It was sufficient for the church of the Jews to believe in the Messiah, and to own the work of redemption which he was to accomplish. Nor did the mere actual coming of Christ make it absolutely necessary that they should all immediately be obliged to believe him to be the person. Many, I doubt not, died after his incarnation and went to heaven without an actual belief that it was he who was their Redeemer. But their obligation unto faith towards that individual person arose from the declaration that was made of him, and the evidences given to prove him to be the Son of God, and the Savior of the world. So he tells those unto whom he preached and who saw his miracles, “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins”, John 8:24. It would not now suffice them to believe in the Messiah in general, but they were also to believe that Jesus was he, or they must perish for their unbelief. Howbeit they only were intended who, hearing his words and seeing his miracles, had sufficient evidence of his being the Son of God. Of others in the same church this was not as yet required. Nor, it may be, cloth our Savior oblige them immediately unto faith in this matter; only he declares what would be the event with them who, upon his accomplishment of his work on the earth, and the sending of the Holy Ghost after his ascension, whereby he gave the principal declaration and evidence of his being the Messiah, should continue in their unbelief. Hereon, and not before, the belief in his individual person, in “Jesus, the Son of God,” became the foundation of the church; so that whoever believed not in him did die in their sins. Wherefore the apostles, immediately upon the coming of the Holy Ghost, made this the first and principal subject of their preaching, namely, that “Jesus was the Christ.” See Acts 2-5. So our apostle in this place, having asserted the nature of the office of the promised Messiah, makes an application of it unto his person; as he also had done, Acts 2:9. And we may observe, that,

Obs. 9. All the privileges, benefits, and advantages of the offices and mediation of Christ will not avail us, unless we reduce them all unto faith in his person. Indeed it is not so much what is done, though that be inconceivably great, as by whom it is done, namely, “Jesus, the Son of God,” God and man in one person. It is a matter of somewhat a surprising nature, that divers in these days do endeavor to divert the minds and faith of men from a respect unto the person of Christ. But that the crafts of Satan have made nothing, be it never so foolish or impious in religion, to seem strange, a man could not but admire how such an attempt should be either owned or countenanced. For my part, I must acknowledge that I know no more of Christian religion but what makes me judge that the principal trouble of believers in this world lies herein, that they can no more fervently love, nor more firmly believe in the person of Christ, than what they have as yet attained unto. But this notion hath been vented and carried on among us by persons who, out of an aim after things novel and contrary to the received faith, have suffered themselves to be imposed on by those who have other principles than what they seem to own. For the Socinians, denying the divine nature of Christ, do their utmost, in the pursuit of that infidelity, to take the minds of men from a regard unto his person, and would reduce all religion unto a mere obedience unto his commands. And indeed there can be no place for that divine faith in him, trust on him, and love unto him, which the church has always professed, if it be supposed that he is not God and man in one person. And their reasonings, they are unto this purpose, which some represent unto us, who yet will not avow that principle from whence alone they are taken and do rise. But so long as we can hold the head, or this great foundation of religion, that the Lord Christ is the eternal Son of God, which alone gives life and efficacy unto his whole work of mediation, our faith in all its actings will be reduced unto his person; there it beginneth, there it endeth. It is Jesus who is this mediator and surety of the covenant, in whose person “God redeemed the church with his own blood.”

2. That which is affirmed of this person is, that he was “made a surety.” The way whereby he became so is expressed by γέγονε , he was “made” so. So is this word used with respect unto him, Hebrews 1:4: of the same importance with another translated “appointed,” Hebrews 3:2; and it signifies what is expressed, Hebrews 5:5. The places may be consulted with our exposition of them. Respect is had herein unto the acts of God the Father in this matter. What are those acts of God, whether eternal or temporal, that did concur unto or any way belong unto the investiture of Christ in his offices, I have at large declared on Hebrews 1:1-3. And more particularly for what concerns his priesthood, it hath been handled apart in our exercitations on that subject. But we may here also observe, that,

Obs. 10. The whole undertaking of Christ, and the whole efficacy of the discharge of his office, depend on the appointment of God, even the Father.

3. It is affirmed that he was thus “made,” “appointed,” or “constituted,” that is, by God himself, a “ surety;” which is further declared by the addition of that whereunto his suretiship had a respect, namely, “a better covenant,” κρείττονος διαωθήκνς .

Of the proper signification of the word διαθήκη , and its use, we must treat expressly afterwards. Here we shall only observe, that in this word the apostle takes many things as granted among the Hebrews; as,

(1.) That there was to be another covenant or testament of God with and towards the church, besides that which he made with Israel when he brought them out of Egypt. The promises hereof are so frequently repeated by the prophets, especially those who prophesied towards the latter end of their church-state, that there could be no question about it, nor could they be ignorant of it.

(2.) That this new covenant or testament should be better than the former, which was to be disannulled thereby. This carried along with it its own evidence. For after God, in his wisdom and goodness, had made one covenant with his people, he would not remove it, abolish it, and take it away by another, unless that other were better than it; especially declaring so often as he doth that he granted them this new covenant as the highest effect of his grace and kindness towards them. And that indeed it was expressly promised to be a better covenant than the former, we shall see in the next chapter, if we live and God will.

(3.) It is supposed that this better covenant must have a surety. The original covenant that God made with Adam had none, and therefore was it quickly broken and disannulled. The especial covenant made with Israel had no surety, properly so called; only therein the high priest did represent what was to be done by any one that should undertake to be such a surety.

Of the word and its signification we have spoken before. And in our inquiry into the nature of this suretiship of Christ, the whole will be resolved into this one question, namely, ‘Whether the Lord Christ was made a surety only on the part of God unto us, to assure us that the promise of the covenant on his part should be accomplished; or also an undertaker on our part for the performance of what is required, if not of us, yet with respect unto us, that the promise may be accomplished?’The first of these is vehemently asserted by the Socinians, who are followed by Grotius and Hammond, in their annotations on this place.

The words of Schlichtingius are:

“Sponsor foederis appellatur Jesus, quod nomine Dei nobis spoponderit; id est, fidem fecerit Deum foederis promissiones servaturum esse. Non vero quasi pro nobis spoponderit Deo, nostrorumve debitorum solutionem in se receperit. Nec enim nos misimus Christum sed Deus, cujus nomine Christus ad nos venit, foedus nobiscum panxit, ejusque promissiones ratas fore spopondit et in se recepit, ideoque nec sponsor simpliciter sed foederis sponsor nominatur. Spopondit autem Christus pro foederis divini veritate, non tantium quatenus id firmum ratumque fore verbis perpetuo testatus est, sed etiam quatenus muneris sui fidem maximis rerum ipsarum comprobavit documentis, tum perfecta vitae innocentia et sanctitate, tum divinis plane quae patravit operibus, tum mortis adeo truculentae, quam pro doctrinae suae veritate subiit, perpessione.”

After which he subjoins a long discourse about the evidences which we have of the veracity of Christ. And herein we have a brief account of their whole opinion concerning the mediation of Christ. The words of Grotius are:

“Spopondit Christus; i.e., nos certos promissi fecit, non solis verbis, sed perpetua vitae sanctitate, morte ob id tolerata, et miraculis plurimis;”

which are an abridgment of the discourse of Schlichtingius. To the same purpose Dr. Hammond expounds it, that “he was a sponsor or surety for God unto the confirmation of the promises of the covenant.”

On the other hand, the generality of expositors, ancient and modern, of the Roman and Protestant churches, affirm that the Lord Christ, as the surety of the covenant, was properly a surety or undertaker unto God for us, and not a surety or undertaker unto us for God. And because this is a matter of great importance, wherein the faith and consolation of the church are highly concerned, I shall insist distinctly upon it.

(1.) And first, we may consider the argument that is produced to prove that Christ was only a surety for God unto us. Now this is taken neither from the name nor nature of the office and work of a surety, nor from the nature of the covenant whereof he was a surety, nor of the office wherein he was so. But the sole argument insisted on is, “That we do not give Christ as a surety of the covenant unto God, but he gives him unto us; and therefore he is a surety for God and the accomplishment of his promises, and not for us, to pay our debts, or to answer what is required of us.”

But there is no force in this argument; for it belongs not unto the nature of a surety by whom he is or may be designed unto his office and work therein. His own voluntary susception of the office and work is all that is required thereunto, however he may be designed or induced to undertake it. He who of his own accord doth voluntarily undertake for another, on what grounds, reasons, or considerations soever he doth so, is his surety. And this the Lord Christ did in the behalf of the church: for when it was said, “Sacrifice, and offering, and burnt-offerings for sin, God would not have,” or accept as sufficient to make the atonement that he required, so as that the covenant might be established and made effectual unto us; then said he, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God,” Hebrews 10:5-9. He willingly and voluntarily, out of his own abundant goodness and love, took upon him to make atonement for us; wherein he was our surety. And accordingly this undertaking is ascribed unto that love which he exercised herein, Gal 2:20 ; 1 John 3:16; Revelation 1:5. And there was this in it, moreover, that he took upon him our nature, or the seed of Abraham; wherein he was our surety. So that although we neither did nor could appoint him so to be, yet he took from us that wherein and whereby he was so: which was as much as if we had designed him unto his work, as to the true reason of his being our surety. Wherefore, notwithstanding those antecedent transactions that were between the Father and him in this matter, it was the voluntary engagement of himself to be our surety, and his taking our nature upon him for that end, which was the formal reason of his being instituted in that office .

(2.) We may consider the arguments whence it is evident that he neither was nor could be a surety unto us for God, but was so for us unto God. For,

[1.] ῎Εγγυος , or ἐγγυητής , a “surety,” is one that undertaketh for another wherein he is defective, really or in reputation. Whatever that undertaking be, whether in words of promise, or in depositing of real security in the hands of an arbitrator, or by any other personal engagement of life and body, it respects the defect of the person for whom any one becomes a surety. Such an one is sponsor, or “fidejussor,” in all good authors and common use of speech. And if any one be of absolute credit himself, and of a reputation every way unquestionable, there is no need of a surety, unless in case of mortality. The words of a surety in the behalf of another, whose ability or reputation is dubious, are, “Ad me recipio, faciet aut faciam.”

And when ἔγγυος is taken adjectively, as sometimes it is, it signifies him who is “satisdationibus obnoxius,” liable to payments for others that are non-solvent.

[2.] God can therefore have no surety properly, because there can be no imagination of any defect on his part. There may be, indeed, a question whether any word or promise be a word or promise of God. To assure us hereof is not the work of a surety, but of any one or any means that may give evidence that so it is. But upon a supposition that what is proposed is his word or promise, there can be no imagination or fear of any defect on his part, so as that there should be any need of a surety for the performance of it. He doth, indeed, make use of witnesses to confirm his word; that is, to testify that such promises he hath made, and so he will do. So the Lord Christ was his witness: Isaiah 43:10, “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen.” But they were not at all his sureties. So Christ affirms that he came into the world to “bear witness unto the truth,” John 18:37: that is, the truth of the promises of God; for he was

“a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises unto the fathers,” Romans 15:8.

But a surety for God properly so called he was not, nor could be. The distance and difference are wide enough between a witness and a surety; for a surety must be of more ability, or more credit and reputation, than he for whom he is a surety, or there is no need of his suretiship. This none can be for God, no not the Lord Christ himself, who in his whole work was the servant of the Father. And the apostle doth not use this word in a general, improper sense, for any one that by any means gives assurance of any other thing: for so he had asserted nothing peculiar unto Christ; for in such a sense all the prophets and apostles were sureties for God, and many of them confirmed the truth of his word and promises with the laying down of their lives. But such a surety he intends as undertaketh to do that for others which they cannot do for themselves, or at least are not reputed to be able to do what is required of them.

[3.] The apostle had before at large declared who and what was God’s surety in this matter of the covenant, and how impossible it was that he should have any other: and this was himself alone interposing himself by his oath. For in this cause, “because he could swear by none greater, he sware by himself,” Hebrews 6:13-14. Wherefore if God would give any other surety besides himself, it must be one greater than he. This being every way impossible, he swears by himself only. Many ways he may and doth use for the declaring and testifying of his truth unto us, that we may know and believe it to be his word, and so the Lord Christ in his ministry was the principal witness of the truth of God, but other surety than himself he can have none. And therefore,

[4.] When he would have us in this matter, not only to come unto the “full assurance of faith” concerning his promises, but also to have “strong consolation,” he resolves it wholly into “the immutability of his counsel,” as declared by his promise and oath, Hebrews 6:17-19. So that neither is God capable of having any surety properly so called, neither do we stand in need of any on his part, for the confirmation of our faith in the highest degree.

[5.] We on all accounts stand in need of a surety for us, or on our behalf. Neither without the interposition of such a surety could any covenant between God and us be firm and stable, or “an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure.” In the first covenant, made with Adam, there was no surety, but God and man were the immediate covenanters. And although we were then in a state and condition able to perform and answer all the terms of that covenant, yet was it broken and disannulled. If this came to pass by the failure of the promise of God, it was necessary that, on the making of a new covenant, he should have a surety to undertake for him, that the covenant might be stable and everlasting. But this is false, and blasphemous to imagine. It was man alone who failed and brake that covenant. Wherefore it was necessary that, upon the making of the new covenant, and that with a design and purpose that it should never be disannulled as the former was, we should have a surety and undertaker for us; for if that first covenant was not firm and stable, because there was no surety to undertake for us, notwithstanding all that ability which we had to answer the terms of it, how much less can any other be so, now our natures are become depraved and sinful! Wherefore we alone are capable of a surety, properly so called, for us; we alone stood in need of him; and without him the covenant could not be firm and inviolable on our part: the surety, therefore, of this covenant is so with God for us.

[6.] It is the priesthood of Christ that the apostle treats of in this place, and that alone. Wherefore he is a surety as he is a priest, and in the discharge of that office; and is therefore so with God on our behalf. This Schlichtingius observes, and is aware what will ensue thereon against his pretensions, which he endeavors to obviate: “Mirum,” saith he,

“porro alicui videri posset, cur D. Auctor de Christi sacerdotio in superioribus et in sequentibus agens, derepente eum sponsorem foderis, non vero sacerdotem vocet. Cur non dixerit, tanto praestantioris foederis factus est sacerdos Jesus? hoc enim plane requirere videtur totus orationis contextus. Credi-bile est in vote sponsoris sacerdotium quoque Christi intelligi. Spon-sorts enim non est solum alieno nomine quippiam promittere, et fidem suam pro alto interponere; sed etiam, si ira res ferat, alterius nomine id quod spopondit, praestare. In rebus quidem humanis, si id non praestet is pro quo sponsor fidejussit; hic vero propter contrariam causam (nam prior hic locum habere non potest) nempe quatenus ille, pro quo spopondit Christus, per ipsum Christum promissa sua nobis exhibet, qua in re praecipue Christi sacerdotium continetur.”

Ans. 1st. It may indeed seem strange, unto any one who imagineth Christ to be such a surety as he doth, why the apostle should so call him and so introduce him in the description of his priestly office, as that which belongeth thereunto. But grant what is the proper work and duty of a surety, and for whom the Lord Jesus was a surety, and it is evident that nothing more proper or pertinent could be mentioned by him, when he was in the declaration of that office.

2dly . He confesseth that by his exposition of this suretiship of Christ, as making a surety for God, he contradicteth the nature and only notion of a surety among men. For such a one, he acknowledgeth, doth nothing but in the defect and inability of them for whom he is engaged and doth undertake. He is to pay that which they owe, and to do what is to be done by them, which they cannot perform. And if this be not the notion of a surety in this place, the apostle makes use of a word nowhere else used in the whole Scripture, to teach us that which it doth never signify among men: which is improbable and absurd; for the sole reason why he did make use of it was, that from the nature and notion of it among men in other cases, we may understand the signification of it, what he intends by it, and what under that name he ascribes unto the Lord Jesus.

3dly . He hath no way to solve the apostle’s mention of Christ being a surety in the description of his priestly office, but by overthrowing the nature of that office also: for, to confirm this absurd notion, that Christ as a priest was a surety for God, he would have us believe that the priesthood of Christ consists in his making effectual unto us the promises of God, or his effectual communicating of the good things promised unto us; the falsehood of which notion, really destructive of the priesthood of Christ, I have elsewhere at large detected and confuted. Wherefore, seeing the Lord Christ is the surety of the covenant as a priest, and all the sacerdotal actings of Christ have God for their immediate object, and are performed with him on our behalf, he was a surety for us also.

(3.) It remaineth that we inquire positively how the Lord Christ was the surety of the new covenant, and what is the benefit we receive thereby. And unto this purpose we must first consider that opinion of some, that the whole end of the mediation of Christ was only to procure the new covenant: although at first view it be irreconcilable unto the nature and notion of a surety; for a surety is not the procurer of that whereof he is the surety, but only the undertaker for its accomplishment. But we must more distinctly consider this assertion, and in what sense Christ may be said to procure the new covenant by his death and mediation. And to this end we must observe, that the new covenant may be considered divers ways, in various respects:

[1.] In the designation and preparation of its terms and benefits in the counsel of God. And this, although it have the nature of an eternal decree, yet is it distinguished from the decree of election, which first and properly respects the subjects or persons for whom grace and glory are prepared; for this respects the preparation only of that grace and glory, as to the way and manner of their communication. It is true, this purpose, or counsel of God’s will, is not called the covenant of grace, which is the express declared exemplification of it. The covenant of grace, I say, is only the declaration of this counsel of God’s will, accompanied with the means and power of its accomplishment, and the prescription of the ways whereby we are to be interested in it, and made partakers of the benefits of it. But in the inquiry after the procuring cause of the new covenant, it is the first thing that ought to come under consideration; for nothing can be the procuring cause of this covenant which is not so of this spring and fountain of it,

of this idea of it in the mind of God. But this is nowhere in the Scripture affirmed to be the effect of the death or mediation of Christ; and so to ascribe it, is to overthrow the whole freedom of eternal grace and love. Neither can any thing that is absolutely eternal, as is this decree and counsel of God, be the effect of, or be procured by, any thing that is external and temporal. And besides, it is expressly assigned unto absolute love and grace: see Ephesians 1:4-6, with all those places where the love of God is assigned as the sole cause of the designation of Christ unto his office, and the sending of him.

[2.] It may be considered with respect unto the federal transactions between the Father and Son concerning the accomplishment of this counsel of his will. What these were, wherein they did consist, I have declared at large in my exercitations. Neither do I call this the covenant of grace absolutely, nor is it so called in the Scripture: but it is that wherein it had its establishment, as unto all the ways, means, and ends of its accomplishment; and by it were all things so disposed, as that it might be effectual unto the glory of the wisdom, grace, righteousness, and power of God. Wherefore the covenant of grace could not be procured by any means or cause but that which was the cause of this covenant of the mediator, or of God the Father with the Son as undertaking the work of mediation. And as this is nowhere ascribed unto the death of Christ in the Scripture, so to assert it is contrary unto all spiritual reason and understanding. Who can conceive that Christ, by his death, should procure the agreement between God and him that he should die?

[3.] With respect unto the declaration of it. This you may call God’s making or establishing of it with us, if you please; though making of the covenant in the Scripture is applied only unto its execution or actual application unto persons. But this declaration of the grace of God, and the provision in the covenant of the mediator for the making of it effectual unto his glow, is most usually called the covenant of grace . And this is twofold:

1st . In the way of a singular and absolute promise; as it was first declared unto and thereby established with Adam, and afterwards with Abraham. This is the declaration of the purpose of God, or the free determination of his will as to his dealing with sinners, on the supposition of the fall and the forfeiture of their first covenant state. Hereof the grace and will of God were the only cause, Hebrews 8:8. And the death of Christ could not be the means of its procurement; for he himself, and all that he was to do for us, were the substance of that promise wherein this declaration of God’s grace and purpose was made, or of this covenant of grace, which was introduced and established in the room of that which was broken and disannulled, as unto the ends and benefits of a covenant. The substance of the first promise, wherein the whole covenant of grace was virtually comprised, directly respected and expressed the giving of him for the recovery of mankind from sin and misery, by his death, Genesis 3:15. Wherefore if he, and all the benefits of his mediation, his death and all the effects of it, be contained in the promise of the covenant, that is, in the covenant itself, then was not his death the procuring cause of that covenant, nor do we owe it thereunto.

2dly . In the additional prescription of the way and means whereby it is the will of God that we shall enter into a covenant state with him, or be interested in the benefits of it. This being virtually comprised in the absolute promise, is expressed in other places by the way of the conditions required on our part. This is not the covenant, but the constitution of the terms on our part whereon we are made partakers of it. Nor is the constitution of these terms an effect of the death of Christ, or procured thereby. It is a mere effect of the sovereign wisdom and grace of God. The things themselves as bestowed on us, communicated unto us, wrought in us by grace, are all of them effects of the death of Christ; but the constitution of them to be the terms and conditions of the covenant is an act of mere sovereign wisdom and grace. God so loved the world as to send his only-begotten Son to die, not that faith and repentance might be the means of salvation, but that all his elect might believe, and that all that believe might not perish, but have life everlasting. But yet it is granted, that the constitution of these terms of the covenant doth respect the federal transactions between the Father and the Son, wherein they were ordered to the praise of the glory of God’s grace; and so, although their constitution was not the procurement of his death, yet without respect unto it, it had not been. Wherefore the sole cause of making the new covenant, in any sense, was the same with that of giving Christ himself to be our mediator, namely, the purpose, counsel, goodness, grace, and love of God, as it is everywhere expressed in the Scripture.

It may be therefore inquired what respect the covenant of grace hath unto the death of Christ, or what influence it hath thereinto. I answer, it hath a threefold respect thereunto:

[1.] In that it was confirmed, rattled, and made irrevocable thereby. This our apostle insists upon at large, Hebrews 9:15-20. And he compares his blood, in his death and sacrifice of himself, unto the sacrifices and their blood whereby the old covenant was confirmed, purified, dedicated, or established, Hebrews 9:18-19. Now these sacrifices did not procure that covenant, or prevail with God to enter into it, but only ratified and confirmed it; and this was done in the new covenant by the blood of Christ, in the way that shall be afterwards declared.

[2.] He thereby underwent and performed all that which the righteousness and wisdom of God required, that the effects, fruits, benefits, and grace intended, designed, and prepared in the new covenant, might be effectually accomplished and communicated unto sinners. Hence, although he procured not the covenant for us by his death, yet he was, in his person, mediation, life, and death, the only cause and means whereby the whole grace of the covenant is made effectual unto us. For,

[3.] All the benefits of it were procured by him; that is, all the grace, mercy, privileges, and glory that God had prepared in the counsel of his will, and proposed in the covenant or promises of it, are purchased, merited, and procured by his death, and effectually communicated or applied unto all the covenanters, by virtue thereof, with other of his mediatory acts. And this is much more an eminent procuring of the new covenant than what is pretended about the procurement of its terms and conditions. For if he should have procured no more but this, if we owe this only unto his mediation, that God would thereon, and did, grant and establish this rule, law, and promise, that whosoever believed should be saved, it was possible that no one should be saved thereby; yea, if he did no more, considering our state and condition, it was impossible that any one should so be.

These things being premised, we shall now briefly declare how or wherein he was the surety of the covenant, as he is here called. A surety, sponsor, “vas, “praes, “fidejussor, for us the Lord Christ was, by his voluntarily undertaking, out of his rich grace and love, to do, answer, and perform, all that is required on our part, that we may enjoy the benefits of the covenant, the grace and glory prepared, proposed, and promised in it, in the way and manner determined on by divine wisdom. And this may be reduced unto two heads:

[1.] He undertook, as the surety of the covenant, to answer for all the sins of those who are to be and are made partakers of the benefits of it; that is, to undergo the punishment due unto their sins; to make atonement for them, by offering himself a propitiatory sacrifice for their expiation; redeeming them by the price of his blood from their state of misery and bondage under the law and the curse of it, Isaiah 53:4-6; Isaiah 53:10; Matthew 20:28; 1Ti 2:6 ; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Romans 3:25-26; Hebrews 10:5-10; Romans 8:2-3; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; Galatians 3:13. And this was absolutely necessary, that the grace and glory prepared in the covenant might be communicated unto us. Without this undertaking of his, and performance of it, the righteousness and faithfulness of God would not permit that sinners, such as had apostatized from him, despised his authority, and rebelled against him, falling thereby under the sentence and curse of the law, should again be received into his favor, and be made partakers of grace and glory. This, therefore, the Lord Christ took upon himself, as the surety of the covenant.

[2.] That those who were to be taken into this covenant should receive grace enabling them to comply with the terms of it, fulfill its conditions, and yield the obedience which God required therein. For, by the ordination of God, he was to procure, and did merit and procure, for them the Holy Spirit, and all the needful supplies of grace, to make them new creatures, and enable them to yield obedience unto God from a new principle of spiritual life, and that faithfully unto the end. So was he the surety of this better covenant.

Obs. 11. The stability of the new covenant depends on the suretiship of Christ, and is secured unto believers thereby. The introduction of a surety in any case is to give stability and security; for it is never done but on a supposition of some weakness or defect, on one account or other If, in any contract, bargain, or agreement, a man be esteemed every way responsible, both for ability and fidelity, there is no need of a surety, nor is it required. mentioned by our apostle in the next verse, namely, that they are all mortal and subject unto death, in which case neither ability nor fidelity will avail any thing, men in all cases of importance need sureties. These give the utmost confirmation that affairs among men are capable of. So doth the suretiship of Christ on our behalf in this covenant. For the evidencing whereof, we may consider,

1. The first covenant, as made with Adam, had no surety. As unto that which in the new covenant the suretiship of Christ doth principally respect, it had no need of any: for there was no sin, transgression, or rebellion against God, to be satisfied for; so that it was absolutely incapable of a surety unto that end. But as to the second part of it, or his undertaking for us, that, through supplies of strength from him, we shall abide faithful in the covenant, according to the terms and tenor of it, this had no inconsistency with that first state. As the Lord Christ, upon his undertaking the work of mediation, became an immediate head unto the angels that sinned not, whereby they received their establishment and security from any future defection, so might he have been such a head unto, and such an undertaker for man in innocency. No created nature was, or could have been, unchangeable in its condition and state, merely on its root of creation. As some of the angels fell at first, forsaking their habitation, falling from the principle of obedience, which had no other root but in themselves; so the rest of them, all of them, might afterwards have in like manner apostatized and fallen from their own innate stability, had they not been gathered up into the new head of the creation, the Son of God as mediator, receiving a new relation from thence, and establishment thereby. So it might have been with man in innocency; but God, in his infinite, sovereign wisdom, saw it not meet that so it should be. Man shall be left to the exercise of that ability of living unto God which he had received in his creation, and which was sufficient for that end; a surety God gave him not. And therefore, although he had all the advantage which a sinless nature, filled with holy principles, dispositions, and inclinations, free from all vicious habits, rebellious affections, inordinate imaginations, could afford unto him, yet he brake the covenant, and forfeited all the benefits thereof. Whatever there was besides in that covenant of grace, power, ability, and the highest obligations unto duty, yet all was lost for want of a surety. And this abundantly testifies unto the pre-eminence of Christ in all things For whereas Adam, with all the innumerable advantages he had, that himself to conflict withal, yet utterly brake the covenant wherein he was created and placed; believers, who have little strength in themselves, and a powerful inbred opposition unto their stability, are yet secured in their station, by the interposition of the Lord Christ as their surety.

2. When God made a covenant with the people in the wilderness, to manifest that there could be no stability in it without respect unto a surety, that it could not continue, no, not for a day, he caused it to be dedicated or confirmed with the blood of sacrifices. This the apostle declares, and withal its typicalness with respect unto the new covenant, and the confirmation of it with the blood of Christ, Hebrews 9:18-21. And afterwards, as we have declared, the high priest, in the sacrifices that he offered, was the typical mediator and surety of that covenant. And the end of this appointment of God, was to manifest that it was from the blood of the true sacrifice, namely, that of Jesus Christ, that the new covenant was to receive its stability. And we need a surety unto this purpose,

(1.) Because, in the state and condition of sin, we are not capable of immediate dealing or covenanting with God. There can be no covenanting between God and sinners, unless there be some one to stand forth in our name, to receive the terms of God, and to undertake for us. So when God began to treat immediately from heaven with the people of old, they all jointly professed, such was the greatness and glory of God, such the terror of his majesty, that it was impossible for them so to treat with him; and if he spake unto them any more, they should all die and be consumed. Wherefore, with one consent, they desired that there might be one appointed between God and them, to transact all things and to undertake for them as to their obedience; which God well approved in them, Deuteronomy 5:23-31. Adam, indeed, in the state of innocency, could treat immediately with God, as unto that covenant wherein he was placed; for notwithstanding his infinite distance from God, yet God had made him for converse with himself, and did not despise the work of his own hands. But immediately upon the entrance of sin he was sensible of the loss of that privilege; whereon he both fled and hid himself from the presence of God. And hence those who of old thought they had seen God, concluded that they should die, as being sensible of their incapacity to treat immediately with him. So when the prophet cried out that he was “undone,” or “cut off,” because of the immediate presence of God, “his eyes having seen the King, the LORD of hosts,” Isaiah 6:5, he was not relieved from his apprehensions until “his mouth was touched with a live coal from the altar,” a type of the mediation and sacrifice of Christ. Whilst we have any thing of sin remaining in us, we can have nothing to do with God immediately. Wherefore, that there may be any covenant between God and us, much more such an one as shall be “ordered in all things, and sure,” there must be one to stand before God in our stead, to receive the terms of God and to declare them unto us, and to undertake for us that we shall stand unto them and make them good, to the glory of God. And in this sense was the new covenant firstly made with Christ, not only as he undertook the work of mediation, which he did upon the especial eternal compact which was between the Father and him, but also as he undertook for all the elect to receive the terms of the covenant from God for them, in which sense the promise in the first place was made unto the seed that is one, which is Christ, Galatians 3:16, and to answer for them, that they should receive and stand to those terms. For he said,

“Surely they are my people, children that will not lie; so he was their Savior,” Isaiah 63:8.

Wherefore it could not be, upon the account of God’s holiness and glorious greatness, that there should be any new covenant at all between God and sinners, without the interposition of a surety. Nor did it become the infinite wisdom of God, after man had broken and disannulled the covenant made with him in innocency, to enter into a new covenant with him, in his fallen condition, without an immediate undertaker that it should be assuredly kept and the ends of it attained. If you have lent a man a thousand pounds upon his own security, when he owed nothing else, nor was indebted to any other, and he hath not only failed in his payment, but contracted other debts innumerable; will you now lend him ten thousand pounds on the same security, expecting to receive it again? Had God entered into never so many covenants with men, without such a surety and undertaker, they would have been all broken and disannulled, as he well knew. He knew “that we would deal very treacherously, and were” rightly “called transgressors from the womb,” Isaiah 48:8. But so to covenant with us, would no way have become the infinite wisdom of God. Wherefore “he laid help upon one that is mighty, he exalted one chosen out of the people,” Psalms 139:19. He committed this work unto Jesus Christ; and then said concerning us, “Now deliver them, for I have found a ransom.”

(2.) The changeableness of our condition in this world requires a surety for us, to render the covenant firm, stable, and unalterable. So the psalmist, complaining of our frail and mutable condition, shows that it is in Christ alone that we have all our establishment: Psalms 102:25-28, “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth,” etc. That it is the Lord Christ, the Son of God, that in an especial manner is intended, I have showed and proved at large on Hebrews 1:10, where this passage in the psalm is applied unto him. And the conclusion that the psalmist makes from the consideration of his immutability is this, “The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee,” verse 28. Without an interest in him and his stability we are subject to change, alter, decline, so as it is impossible the covenant should be sure unto us. The very nature of the principle whereby we live and walk before God in this world, renders our condition alterable in itself; for “we walk by faith, and not by sight,” 2 Corinthians 5:7. It is vision alone, or the immediate enjoyment of God, which will instate us in an unalterable condition. Whilst we walk by faith it is otherwise with us, and we depend wholly on our surety for our security in the covenant.

(3.) Who is it, among the whole society of believers, that is not sensible of such actual dispositions unto change, yea, such actual changes, as that it is evident unto him that his final stability depends on the undertaking of a surety? No man can give an account, from himself, whence it is that he hath not already utterly broken covenant with God. There is no one corruption, no one temptation, but doth evidence a sufficiency in itself to defeat us of our covenant interest, if we stood upon our own bottoms. It is faith alone with respect unto the suretiship of Christ which discovers how we have been kept hitherto, and which gives us any comfortable prospect of our future preservation. And the same is evident from the consideration of all the adversaries of our covenant interest.

Here we might stay a while, to contemplate the glory of divine wisdom and grace in providing this surety of the covenant, and to adore the infinite love and condescension of Him who undertook the discharge of this office for us; but we must proceed, only observing,

Obs. 12. That the Lord Christ’s undertaking to be our surety gives the highest obligation unto all duties of obedience according to the covenant. For he hath undertaken for us that we shall yield unto God this covenant obedience, and said, “Surely they are children that will not lie.” He is no believer who understands not somewhat of the force and power of this obligation.

Verses 23-25

Καὶ οἱ μὲν πλείονές εἰσι γεγονότες ἱερεῖς , διὰ τὸ θανάτῳ κωλύεσθαι παραμένειν· ὁ δὲ διὰ τὸ μένειν αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα , ἀπαράβατον ἔχει τὴν ἱερωσύνην· ὅθεν καὶ σώζειν εἰς τὸ παντελὲς δὺναται τοὺς προσερχομένους δι᾿ αὐτοῦ τῷ Θεῷ , πάντοτε ζῶν , εἰς τὸ ἐντυηχάνειν ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν .

Καὶ οἱ μὲν πλείονες . Vulg. Lat., “et alii quidem plures faeti sunt sacerdotes,” “and many others truly were made priests;” or, “and others truly were made many priests.” The Rhemists reduce it to this sense, “and the other, indeed, were made priests being many;” rendering οἱ μέν by”alii,” instead of” illi,” which corrupts the sense, and takes off from the immediate respect unto the priests of the order of Aaron, intended by the apostle. “Et illi quidem plures sunt facti sacerdotes,” “and they truly were many priests.” So the Syr., וְהֲנוּן חֲווּ כּוּמָרֵא סַגְּיָאֵא “and they were many priests;” omitting the note of asseveration, μέν , “truly.”

Εἰσι γεγονότες , “were made:” not only the event and matter of fact, but God’s institution is also intended.

Διὰ τὸ θανάτῳ κωλύεσθαι . Vulg. Lat., “idcirco quod morte prohiberentur permanere.” Rhem., “because that by death they were prohibited to continue.” Ours, “because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death;” “quoniam per mortem non sinebantur permanere,” which is the true meaning of the words. Syr., “because they died, and were not left to continue.”

῾Ο δέ , “hic autem,” “at iste;” “but this man,” διὰ τὸ μένειν αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα , “quod maneat in anternum,” “quoniam ipse in aeternum maneat,” “propterea quod in aeternum manet;” all to the same purpose. Syr, מֶטוּל דַּלְעָלַם קַיָּם “because he standeth” (or “continueth “) “for ever.” ῾απαράζατον ἔχει τὴν ἱερωσύνην , “sempiternum,” “perpetuum habet sacerdotium.” Syriac, לָא עָבְרָא כּוּמָרוּתֵהּ , “his priesthood passeth not away.” ᾿Απαράβατος , “that may not be transgressed,” and so “not altered;” as ἀπαράζατος νόμος , a “sacred law” which none ought to transgress, which cannot in any thing be dispensed withal: and by consequence only, it is that “which passeth not away,” “that priesthood ( τὴν ἱερωσύνην ) which altereth not,” which cannot be changed. ῞Οθεν καὶ σώζειν . Syr., . וּמֶשְׁכַּח לְמַאחָיוּ , “and he can quicken,” or “enliven,” or “give eternal life.” Εἰς τὸ παντελές . Syr., לְעָלַם “for ever,” respecting duration of time; “in perpetuum,” Vulg. Lat. Others, “perfecte,” “perfectly,” completely. Ours, “to the uttermost.”

Τοὺς προσερχομένους , “aecedentes per semetipsum ad Deum.” Rhemists, “he is able to save for ever, going by himself unto God;” strangely darkening the sense. For “going” seems to respect his own going to God, which the Vulg., “aceedentes,” will not bear, “eos qui per ipsum accedunt ad Deum,” “those who by him draw nigh to God.”

Πάντοτε ζῶν , “semper vivens ad interpellandum pro nobis;”” always living to make intercession for us,” instead of “for them,” αὐτῶν . Syr., וּמַסֵק צְלַוְתֵא חֲלָפַיְהוּן , “causing to ascend,” or “offering prayers for them.” [10]

[10] TRANSLATIONS. ᾿Απαράβατος . A priesthood without succession. Stuart. Not transferable . Peils. Untransferable. Craik. Such as cannot pass to a successor. Ebrard. Giveth not his priesthood unto another. Conybeare and Howson. Halt das Priesterthum als ein nicht ubergehendes. De Wette. Tholuck prefers the passive signification: “He has the priesthood which cannot be passed over, or changed;” or, as Turner explains it, “which is indestructible.” Εἰς τὸ παντ ., says Ebrard, does not signify “evermore,” but “to completeness;” the precise antithesis to the words, verse 19, “the law made nothing perfect.” ED.

Hebrews 7:23-25 . And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this [man], because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able to save them also to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

The apostle in these words proceedeth unto his last argument from the consideration of the priesthood of Christ, as typed and represented by that of Melchisedec. And his intention is still to prove the excellency of it above the Levitical, and of his person above theirs. And in particular, he makes it manifest that “the bringing in of the better hope” did “perfect” or “consummate” all things, which the law could not do.

That he hath in these verses a respect unto Melchisedec as a type of Christ, and what we are taught thereby, is evident from the matter treated of in them. He had observed, that, as to the description given of him in the Scripture, he “abideth a priest continually,” Hebrews 7:3; and that “it is witnessed of him that he liveth,” seeing it is nowhere mentioned that he died, Hebrews 7:8. And this is the last consideration of him which he improveth unto his purpose; and it is that which gives virtue and efficacy unto all the others that he had before insisted on. Set this aside, and all the others, whether advantages or excellencies, which he had discoursed of, would be as ineffectual unto the ends aimed at as the law itself. For what profit could it be unto the church, to have so excellent and glorious a priest for a season, and then immediately to be deprived of him, by the expiration of his office?

Moreover, as what the apostle affirms here of Christ hath respect unto what he had before observed concerning Melchisedec; so what he affirms of the Levitical priests depends on what he had before declared concerning them, namely, that they were all mortal, dying men, and no more, and who actually died in their successive generations, Hebrews 7:8.

The words, therefore, have three things in them in general:

1. The state and condition of the Levitical priests by reason of their mortality, Hebrews 7:23. This he observes, because he is not declaring the dignity of Christ and his priesthood absolutely, but with respect unto them; whose state, therefore, was the antithesis in the comparison.

2. The state and condition of the priesthood of Christ on the account of his glorious immortality, Hebrews 7:24.

3. The blessed effects and consequents of the priesthood of Christ, inasmuch as, by virtue of his immortality, he was a priest for ever, Hebrews 7:25.

In the FIRST (Hebrews 7:23) there is,

1. The introduction of his assertion and observation; καὶ οἱ μέν , “and they truly.”

2. What he affirms of those priests; “they were many.”

3. Whence that came to pass; namely, “because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:” which is not alleged only as the cause and reason of their being many, but also as a proof of their weakness and infirmity.

1. In the introduction of his assertion, there is a note of connection, and another of asseveration.

The first is the copulative conjunction, καί , “and.” A process unto a new argument, to the same purpose with those foregoing, is intended hereby. The former design is continued, and a new confirmation of it is added: for he resolved to omit nothing that was of moment and unto his purpose. There is, secondly, a vehemency in his assertion, or a note of asseveration; “and they truly.” He had used the same note before in the same manner, Hebrews 7:21;. where we omit the emphasis of it without cause. And in other places the same translators render this particle by “truly,” as they do here, Acts 1:5. But he doth not so much assert a thing by it that was dubious, as positively declare that which was well known, and could no way be gainsaid by them with whom he had to do. And an argument pressed “ex concessis” is forcible. This is a known truth.

2. That which he affirms of them is, that “they were many priests;” or, “there were many made priests;” or, “they who were made priests were many.” The sense is the same. By the appointment of God himself there were “many made priests,” or executed the office of the priesthood. It is the high priests only, Aaron and his successors, of whom he speaks; and it is with respect unto their succession one to another that he affirms they were “many.” This both the reason of it which he subjoins, and what he afterwards adds concerning the priesthood of Christ, wherein there was no succession, do evidently declare; for there neither was nor could be, by the law, any more than one at a time. Perhaps, in the disorder and confusion of that church, there might be more that were so called and esteemed, as were Annas and Caiaphas; but that confusion he takes no notice of, but attends unto what always was, or ought to have been, according to the law.

By succession these high priests were many; for from Aaron, the first of them, unto Phinehas, who was destroyed with the temple, there were inclusively fourscore and three high priests. Of these, thirteen lived under the tabernacle, before the building of the temple by Solomon; eighteen under the first temple, unto its destruction by the Babylonians; and all the rest lived under the second temple, which yet stood no longer than the first. And the multiplication of high priests under the second temple the Jews look upon as a punishment, and token of God’s displeasure; for “because of the sins of a nation, their rulers are many,” and frequently changed.

Whatever advantages there may be in an orderly succession, yet is it absolutely an evidence of imperfection. And by the appointment of this order God signified an imperfection and mutability in that church-state. Succession, indeed, was a relief against death; but it was but a relief, and so supposed a want and weakness, Under the gospel it is not so, as we shall see afterwards. Observe, that,

Obs. 1. God will not fail to provide instruments for his work that he hath to accomplish. If many priests be needful, many the church shall have.

3. The reason of this multiplication of priests, was “because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death.” They were mortal men, subject unto death, and they died. Death suffered them not to continue in the execution of their office . It forbade them so to do, in the name of the great sovereign Lord of life and death. And hereof an instance was given in Aaron, the first of them. God, to show the nature of this priesthood unto the people, and to manifest that the everlasting priest was not yet come, commanded Aaron to die in the sight of all the congregation, Numbers 20:25-29 . So did they all afterwards, as other men, die in their several generations. They were all by death forbidden to continue. Death laid an injunction on them, one after another, from proceeding any farther in the administration of their office. It is not, surely, without some especial design that the apostle thus expresseth their dying, ‘They were by death prohibited to continue.’Wherefore he shows hereby,

(1.) The way whereby an end was put unto their personal administration; and that was by death.

(2.) That there was an imperfection in the administration of that office, which was so frequently interrupted.

(3.) That they were seized upon by death, whether they would or no; when, it may be, they would have earnestly desired to continue, and the people also would have rejoiced in it. Death came on them, neither desired nor expected, with his prohibition.

(4.) That when death came and seized on them, it kept them under its power, so that they could never more attend unto their office. But it was otherwise with the priest of the better covenant, as we shall see immediately. Observe,

Obs. 2. There is such a necessity for the continual administration of the sacerdotal office in behalf of the church, that the interruption of it by the death of the priests was an argument of the weakness of that priesthood.

The high priest is the sponsor and mediator of the covenant. Those of old were so typically, and by way of representation. Wherefore all covenant transactions between God and the church must be through him. He is to offer up all sacrifices, and therein represent all our prayers. And it is evident from thence what a ruin it would be unto the church to be without a high priest one moment. Who would venture a surprisal unto his own soul in such a condition? Could any man enjoy a moment’s peace, if he supposed that in his extremity the high priest might die? This now is provided against, as we shall see in the next verse.

Hebrews 7:24 . “But this [man], because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.”

SECONDLY In opposition unto what was observed in the Levitical priests, the contrary is here affirmed of the Lord Christ. And the design of the apostle is still the same, namely, to evince, by all sorts of instances, his pre-eminence as a priest above them as such also.

1. The person spoken of is expressed by ὁ δέ . The exceptive conjunction, δέ , “but,” answereth unto μέν , before used, and introduceth the other member of the antithesis; ὁ , “hic,” “ille,” “iste;” ‘he of whom we speak, namely, Jesus, the surety of the new testament.’We render it, “this man,” not improperly; he was the “mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Nor doth the calling of him “this man,” exclude his divine nature; for he was truly a man, though God and man in one person.

And the things here ascribed unto him were wrought in and by the human nature, though he that wrought them was God also: “But he,” or “this man,” who was represented by Melchisedec, “of whom we speak.”

2. It is affirmed of this person, that he hath “an unchangeable priesthood;” the ground and reason whereof is assigned, namely, “because he continueth ever:” which must be first considered.

The sole reason here insisted on by the apostle why the Levitical priests were many, is because they were forbidden by death to continue. It is sufficient, therefore, on the contrary, to prove the perpetuity of the priesthood of Christ, that he abideth for ever. For he doth not absolutely hereby prove the perpetuity of the priesthood, but his perpetual, uninterrupted administration of it; διὰ τὸ μένειν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα .

This was the faith of the Jews concerning the Messiah, and his office. “We have heard,” say they, “out of the law, ὅτι ὁ Χριστὸς μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ,” John 12:34; “ that Christ abideth for ever:” whereon they could not understand what he told them about his being “lifted up” by death. And so the word μένει , signifieth “to abide,” “to continue” in any state or condition, John 21:22-23. And this was that which principally he was typed in by Melchisedec; concerning whom there is no record as to the beginning of days or end of life, but, as unto the Scripture description of him, he is said “to abide a priest for ever.”

It may be said, in opposition hereunto, ‘That the Lord Christ died also, and that no less truly and really than did Aaron, or any priest of his order; wherefore it will not hence follow that he had any more an uninterrupted priesthood than they had.’

Some say the apostle here considers the priesthood of Christ only after his resurrection and ascension into heaven, after which “he dieth no more, death hath no more power over him.” And if we will believe the Socinians, then he first began to be a priest. This figment I have fully confuted elsewhere. And there is no ground in the context on which we may conjecture that the apostle intends the administration of his priesthood in heaven only, although he intends that also; for he speaks of his priesthood as typed by that of Melchisedec, which, as we have proved before, respected the whole of his office.

I say, therefore, that although Christ died, yet he was not forbidden by death to abide in his office, as they were. He died as a priest, they died from being priests. He died as a priest, because he was also to be a sacrifice; but he abode and continued not only vested with his office, but in the execution of it, in the state of death. Through the indissolubleness of his person, his soul and body still subsisting in the person of the Son of God, he was a capable subject of his office. And his being in the state of the dead belonged unto the administration of his office, no less than his death itself. So that from the first moment of his being a priest he abode so always, without interruption or intermission. This is the meaning of διὰ τὸ μένειν αὐτόν , he in his own person abideth. Nor doth the apostle say that he did not die, but only that he “abideth always.”

3. It followeth from hence that he hath “an unchangeable priesthood;” a priesthood subject to no change or alteration, that cannot pass away. But ἱερωσύνη παραβατος , is “sacerdotium successivum,” “per successionem ab uno alteri traditum;” such a priesthood as which, when one hath attained, it abideth not with him, but he delivereth it over unto another, as Aaron did his unto Eleazar his son, or it falls unto another by some right or law of succession; a priesthood that goes from hand to hand. ῾ιερωσύνη ἀπαράβατος , is “a priesthood that doth not pass from one unto another.” And this the apostle seems directly to intend, as is evident from the antithesis. The priests after the order of Aaron were many, and that by reason of death: wherefore it was necessary that their priesthood should pass from one to another by succession; so that when one received it, he that went before him ceased to be a priest. And so it was; either the predecessors were taken off by death, or on any other just occasion; as it was in the case of Abiathar, who was put from the priest’s office by Solomon, 1 Kings 2:27. Howbeit our apostle mentions their going off by death only, because that was the ordinary way, and which was provided for in the law. With the Lord Christ it was otherwise. He received his priesthood from none. Although he had sundry types, yet he had no predecessor. And he hath none to succeed him, nor can have added or joined unto him in his office. The whole office of the priesthood of the covenant, and the entire administration of it, are confined unto his person. There are no more that follow him than went before him.

The expositors of the Roman church are greatly perplexed in the reconciling of this passage of the apostle unto the present priesthood of their church. And they may well be so, seeing they are undoubtedly irreconcilable. Some of them say that Peter succeeded unto Christ in his priesthood, as Eleazar did unto Aaron. So Ribera. Some of them deny that he hath any successor, properly so called. “Successorem non habet, nec ita quisquam Catholicus loquitur, si bene et circumspecte loqui velit,” saith Estius. But it is openly evident that some of them are not so “circumspect” as Estius would have them, but do plainly affirm that Peter was Christ’s successor. A Lapide, indeed, affirms that Peter did not succeed unto Christ as Eleazar did unto Aaron, because Eleazar had the priesthood in the same degree and dignity with Aaron, and so had not Peter with Christ; but yet that he had the same priesthood with him, a priesthood of the same kind, he doth not deny.

That which they generally fix upon is, that their priests have not another priesthood, nor offer another sacrifice, but are partakers of his priesthood, and minister under him; and so are not his successors, but his vicars: which, I think, is the worst composure of this difficulty they could have thought upon; for,

(1.) This is directly contrary unto the words and design of the apostle. For the reason he assigns why the priesthood of Christ doth not pass from him unto any other, is, because he abides himself for ever to discharge the office of it. Now this excludes all subordination and conjunction, all vicars as well as successors; unless we shall suppose, that although he doth thus abide, yet is he one way or other disenabled to discharge his office.

(2.) The successors of Aaron had no more another priesthood but what he had, than it is pretended that the Roman priests have no other priesthood but what Christ had. Nor did they offer any other sacrifice than what he offered; as these priests pretend to offer the same sacrifice that Christ did. So that still the case is the same between Aaron and his successors, and Christ and his substitutes.

(3.) They say that Christ may have substitutes in his office though he abide a priest still, and although the office still continue the same, unchangeable: so God, in the government of the world, makes use of judges and magistrates, yet is himself the supreme rector of all. But this pretense is vain also. For they do not substitute their priests unto him in that which he continueth to do himself, but in that which he doth not, which he did, indeed, and as a priest ought to have done, but now ceaseth to do for ever in his own person. For the principal act of the sacerdotal office of Christ consisted in his oblation, or his “offering himself a sacrifice of a sweet- smelling savor unto God.” This he did once, and ceased for ever from doing so any more. But these priests are assigned to offer him in sacrifice every day, as partakers of the same priesthood with him; which is indeed not to be his substitutes, but his successors; and to take his office out of his hands, as if he were dead, and could henceforth discharge it no more. For they do not appoint priests to intercede in his room, because they grant he continueth himself so to do; but to offer sacrifice in his stead, because he doth so no more. Wherefore, if that be an act of priesthood, and of their priesthood, as is pretended, it is unavoidable that his priesthood is passed from him unto them. Now this is a blasphemous imagination, and directly contrary both unto the words of the apostle and the whole design of his argument. Nay, it would lay the advantage on the other side. For the priests of the order of Aaron had that privilege, that none could take their office upon them, nor officiate in it, whilst they were alive; but although Christ “abideth for ever,” yet, according unto the sense of these men, and their practice thereon, he stands in need of others to officiate for him, and that in the principal part of his duty and office; for offer himself in sacrifice unto God he neither now doth nor can, seeing “henceforth he dieth no more.” This is the work of the mass-priests alone; who must, therefore, be honored as Christ’s successors, or be abhorred as his murderers, for the sacrifice of him must be by blood and death.

The argument of the apostle, as it is exclusive of this imagination, so it is cogent unto his purpose. For so he proceedeth: That priesthood which changeth not, but is always vested in the same person, and in him alone, is more excellent than that which was subject to change continually from one hand unto another. For that transmission of it from one unto another was an effect of weakness and imperfection. And the Jews grant that the frequency of their change under the second temple was a token of God’s displeasure. But thus it was with the priesthood of Christ, which never changeth; and that of Aaron, which was always in a transient succession. And the reasons he gives of this contrary state of these two priesthoods do greatly enforce the argument. For the first priesthood was so successive, because the priests themselves were obnoxious unto death, the sum and issue of all weaknesses and infirmities; but as to the Lord Christ, his priesthood is perpetual and unchangeable, because he abideth personally for ever, being made a priest “according to the power of an endless life,” which is the sum of all perfection that our nature is capable of. And we may observe,

Obs. 3. The perpetuity of the priesthood of Christ depends on his own perpetual life. He did not undertake any office for the church to lay it aside whilst he lives, until the whole design and work of it be accomplished. And therefore he tells his disciples, that “because he liveth they shall live also,” John 14:19; for whilst he lives he will take care of them. But this must be spoken unto on the next verse.

Obs. 4. The perpetuity of the priesthood of Christ, as unchangeably exercised in his own person, is a principal part of the glory of that office. His discharge of this office for the church in his own person, throughout all generations, is the glory of it.

1. Hereon depends the church’s preservation and stability. There is neither a ceasing nor any the least intermission of that care and providence, of that interposition with God on its behalf which are required thereunto. Our high priest is continually ready to appear and put in for us on all occasions. And his abiding for ever manifests the continuance of the same care and love for us that he ever had. The same love wherewith, as our high priest, he laid down his life for us, doth still continue in him. And every one may with the same confidence go unto him with all their concerns, as poor, diseased, and distempered persons went unto him when he was upon earth; when he never showed greater displeasure than unto those who forbade any to come unto him, whatever their pretences were.

2. Hereon depend the union and communion of the church with itself in all successive generations. For whereas he is their head and high priest, in whom they all center as unto their union and communion, and hath all their graces and duties in his hand, to present them unto God, they have a relation unto each other, and a concernment in one another. We that are alive in this generation have communion with all those that died in the faith before us; as shall be declared, if God will, on Hebrews 12:22-24. And they were concerned in us, as we are also in the generations that are to come. For all the prayers of the church from first to last are lodged in the hand of the same high priest, who abides for ever; and he returns the prayers of one generation unto another. We enjoy the fruits of the prayers, obedience, and blood of those that went before us; and if we are faithful in our generation, serving the will of God, those shall enjoy the fruits of ours who shall come after us. Our joint interest in this our abiding priest gives a line of communication unto all believers, in all generations. And,

3. The consolation of the church also depends hereon. Do we meet with troubles, trials, difficulties, temptations, and distresses? hath not the church done so in former ages? What do we think of those days wherein prisons, tortures, swords, and flames, were the portion of the church all the world over? But did any of them miscarry? was any one true believer lost for ever? and did not the whole church prove victorious in the end? Did not Satan rage and the world gnash their teeth to see themselves conquered and their power broken, by the faith, patience, and suffering, of them whom they hated and despised? And was it by their own wisdom and courage that they were so preserved? did they overcome merely by their own blood? or were they delivered by their own power? No; but all their preservation and success, their deliverance and eternal salvation, depended merely on the care and power of their merciful high priest. It was through his blood, “the blood of the Lamb,” or the efficacy of his sacrifice, that they “overcame” their adversaries, Revelation 12:11. By the same blood were “their robes washed, and made white,” Revelation 7:14. From thence had they their righteousness in all their sufferings. And by him had the church its triumphant issue out of all its trials. Now, is he not the same that he ever was, vested with the same office? and hath he not the same qualifications of love, compassion, care, and power, for the discharge of it, as he always had? Whence, then, can any just cause of despondence in any trials or temptations arise? We have the same high priest to take care of us, to assist and help us, as they had, who were all of them finally victorious.

4. This gives perpetual efficacy unto his sacrifice, etc.

Obs. 5. The addition of sacrificing priests, as vicars of, or substitutes unto Christ in the discharge of his office, destroys his priesthood as to the principal eminency of it above that of the Levitical priesthood.

Hebrews 7:25 . “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

THIRDLY, In this verse the apostle brings his whole preceding mysterious discourse unto an issue, in the application of it unto the faith and comfort of the church. It was not his design merely to open mysterious truths in the notion of them; nor only to prove the glory and pre-eminence of the gospel church-state above that of the same church under Mosaical institutions, on the account of the priesthood of Christ: but his principal design was, to demonstrate the spiritual and eternal advantages of all true believers by these things. The sum of what he intends he proposeth in this verse, and afterwards enlargeth on unto the end of the chapter. What believers ought to seek in, and what they may expect from this blessed, glorious priesthood, is that which he now undertakes to declare. In like manner, on all occasions he manifests that the end of God, in the whole mystery of his grace by Jesus Christ, and institutions of the gospel, is the salvation of his elect, unto the praise of the glory of his grace.

There are in the words,

1. The illative conjunction, or note of inference, “wherefore.”

2. An ascription of power unto this high priest; “he is able.”

3. The end of that power, or the effect of it; it is “to save:” which is further described,

(1.) By the extent of it; it is “unto the uttermost:”

(2.) The especial object of it; “those that come to God by him.”

4. The reasons of the whole: which are,

(1.) His perpetual life:

(2.) His perpetual work; “he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

First, The note of inference, ὅθεν , is frequently made use of by our apostle in this argumentative discourse, as Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 8:3; Hebrews 9:18; Hebrews 11:19, and in this place; “ideo,” “quapropter.” Nor is it anywhere else in the New Testament used for the introduction of a conclusion or inference from premises in a way of argument. And the causality which here it includes may respect the whole foregoing discourse, as asserting that which necessarily follows thereon: or it may have respect only unto the ensuing clause in this verse; as if the apostle had only intended in particular, that the Lord Christ is “able to save to the uttermost, because he ever liveth.” But he rather seems to make an inference from the whole foregoing discourse, and the close of the verse is only an addition of the way and manner how the Lord Christ accomplisheth what is ascribed unto him by virtue of his office: ‘Being such an high priest as we have evidenced him to be, “made by an oath,” and “abiding for ever,” he is “able to save.”’

Obs. 6. Considerations of the person and offices of Christ ought to be improved unto the strengthening of the faith, and increase of the consolation of the church. So they are here by the apostle. After the great and ample declaration that he had made of the excellency of his priestly office with respect unto his person, he applies all that he had spoken unto the encouragement of the faith and hope of them that endeavor to go to God by him. And all those who explode such considerations, and such improvements of them, are no otherwise to be looked on but as persons utterly ignorant both of Christ and faith in him.

Secondly, That which is inferred to be in this priest, is power and ability. Δύναται , “He is able;” “he can.” This is the second time the apostle ascribeth power or ability unto this priest. See Hebrews 2:18, and the exposition thereof. And it is not an ability of nature, but of office, that is intended. An ability of nature in Christ he had proved sufficiently in the first chapter of the epistle, and that accompanied with supreme power, or authority over all; but whereas, as our mediator, he hath undertaken such offices for us, he is, as such, able to do no more than he is so by virtue of them, or in the discharge of those offices. If, therefore, there be any thing needful for us, which, although it may be supposed within the compass of the divine power of the Son of God, is yet not to be effected in a way of office; that, as our mediator, he is not able for. Hence doth our apostle press his ability not absolutely, but as the high priest of the church. As, if a man who is mighty in wealth, riches, and power, be also made a judge, it is one thing what he can do by his might and power, another what he is able for and can do as a judge; and he who hath to deal with him as a judge, is to consider only what he is able for in the discharge of that office. And he doth this partly to evince his preeminence above the high priests of the law. For by reason of their personal infirmities, and the limited nature of their office, they were really unable to effect many things which the church stood in need of from those that discharged that office, supposing them the only way of our approach unto God. Were they never so ready, willing, diligent, and watchful, yet they were not able to do all that was necessary for the church. Being themselves sinful men, made priests by the law of a carnal commandment, and subject unto death, they had no ability to effect in the church what is expected from the priestly office. But the Lord Christ, our high priest, being free from all these imperfections, as he is a priest, “he is able.” But principally he insists upon it to encourage and confirm the faith of the church in him with respect unto this office. Wherefore, having by many demonstrations assured us of his love and compassion, Hebrews 2:0 and Hebrews 5:0, there remains nothing but to satisfy us also of his power and ability And this he hath now evinced, from the nature and dignity of his office, as vested in his person. This is the ability here intended; not an absolute divine power, inherent in the person of Christ, but a moral power, a “jus,” a right; and what can be effected in the just discharge of this office. And hereon,

Obs. 7. The consideration of the office-power of Christ is of great use unto the faith of the church. To this end we may observe,

1. That the foundation of all the benefits which are received by Christ, that is, of the spiritual and eternal salvation of the church, is laid in his condescending to undertake the office of a mediator between God and man. And as this was the greatest effect of divine wisdom and grace, so it is the first cause, the root and spring, of all spiritual blessings unto us. This the whole Scripture beareth testimony unto, Hebrews 10:7; 1 John 3:16. This is the fundamental article of faith evangelical. And the want of laying this foundation aright, as it occasioneth many to apostatize from the gospel unto a natural religion, so it weakeneth and disordereth the faith of many believers. But this is the first ground of all friendship between God and man.

2. Having undertaken that office, all the actings of it for us and towards us, or towards God in our behalf, are circumscribed and limited by that office. We have no ground of faith to expect any thing from him or by him but what belongs unto the office that he hath undertaken. Neither are we, in our addresses unto him and expectations from him, to consider him absolutely as God, the eternal Son of God only, but as the mediator between God and man. We can look for no more from a king but what he can justly do as a king, nor from any other person in office; no more are we to look for from Christ himself.

3. This office of Christ in general, as the mediator and sponsor of the new covenant, is distinguished into three especial offices, of a king, a prophet, and a priest. Whatever, therefore, we receive from Christ, or by him, we do it as he acts in that threefold capacity, or in one of those offices, a king, a priest, or a prophet. Whatever he hath done for us, or continueth to do, whatever he doth over us, for us, or towards us, he doth it in and under one of these capacities; for unto them may all his office-relation unto us be reduced. And the kindness of all those other relations wherein he stands unto us, as of a shepherd, the bishop of our souls, of an husband, of a brother, a friend, he puts forth and exerciseth in the acts and actings of these offices.

4. All these offices, whether vested jointly in any one other person, or severally and distinctly in several persons, as they were under the old testament, could never extend their acts and effects unto all the occasions and necessities of the church. The business of our apostle, in this chapter, is to prove that the office of the priesthood as vested in Aaron and his successors made nothing perfect, did not consummate the church-state, nor could effect its salvation. The kingly office, as it was typically managed by David and others, was remote from answering that rule and safety which the church stood in need of. Neither did nor could any one prophet, no, nor yet all the prophets together, reveal and declare the whole counsel of God. But, 5. These offices as they were in Christ did perfectly answer, and yet do, all that belongs to the redemption, sanctification, protection, and salvation, of the church. And this they do on two accounts:

(1.) Because they were committed unto him in a more full, ample, and unlimited manner, than either they were or could be unto others, on purpose that they might answer all the ends of God’s grace towards the church. So, as he was made a king, not this or that degree or enlargement of power was committed unto him, but “all power in heaven and in earth,” over all the creation of God, in all things, spiritual, temporal, and eternal. See our description and delineation of this power, on Hebrews 1:2-3. As a prophet, he did not receive this or that particular revelation from God, but “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge were laid up in him,” and he knew the whole mind and counsel of God, as coming forth from his divine bosom. And as unto his sacerdotal office, we are now engaged in an inquiry into its especial nature, as differing from, and exalted above, whatever was committed unto any of the sons of men under that name.

(2.) The principal reason of the all-sufficiency of the office-power and ability of Christ is taken from his own person, which alone was capable of a trust of such a power, and able to execute it unto all the ends of it. He alone, who was God and man in one person, was capable of being such a king, priest, and prophet, as was able to save the church unto the uttermost.

Wherefore, in the consideration of this office-power of Christ, wherein all our salvation doth depend, we have two things to attend unto:

(1.) His person who bears these offices, and who alone is fit and able so to do; and,

(2.) The especial nature of the office as committed unto him. On these grounds he was able to do infinitely more as a priest than all the priests of the order of Aaron could do. So the apostle expresseth it in the next words.

Thirdly, “He is able to save;” καὶ σώζειν , “even to save,” “to save also;” not for this or that particular end, but absolutely, ‘“even to save.” The general sense of this word is limited and determined in the use and application of it throughout the Scripture. Not any temporal deliverances, but that which is supernatural, spiritual, and eternal, is intended thereby. And,

1. The notion of the word includeth in it a supposition of some evil or danger that we are delivered from. This is sin, with its consequents of misery, in the curse of the law and the wrath to come. Wherefore it is said of Christ, that “he saves his people from their sins,” Matthew 1:21; “from the curse,” Galatians 3:13; and “from the wrath to come,” 1 Thessalonians 1:10. In these things all that is or can be evil unto our nature, here or unto eternity, are included.

2. The bringing of us into an estate of present grace and right unto future blessedness, with the enjoyment of it in its appointed season, is intended in it; for although this be not included in the first notion of the word, yet it belongs unto the nature of the thing intended.

This salvation, called therefore “great’and “eternal salvation,” doth not merely respect the evil we are delivered from, but the contrary good also, in the present favor and future enjoyment of God. And concerning this salvation two things are to be considered:

1. That there is power and ability required unto this work: “he is able to save.” It was no easy thing to take away sin, to subdue Satan, to fulfill the law, to make peace with God, to procure pardon, to purchase grace and glory, with all other things great and glorious, that belong unto this salvation. And it is the great concernment of faith well to fix this principle, that he who hath undertaken this work is able to accomplish it, and that by the means he hath designed to use, and the way wherein he will proceed. We are apt to pass this over without any inquiry into it, and to take it for granted that God is able to do whatever he pleaseth; but it is not of the absolute power of God whereof we speak, but of the power of God, or of Christ, put forth in such a peculiar way. And the want of faith herein is the first and most proper part of unbelief. Wherefore, as God engageth his omnipotency, or all-sufficiency, as the foundation of all his covenant actings towards us, Genesis 17:1; so he often pleadeth the same power to assure us of the accomplishment of his promises, Isaiah 40:28-29. And it is expressly asserted as the principal ground of faith, Romans 4:21; Rom 11:23 ; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 3:20; 2 Timothy 1:12; Jude 1:24; and often in this epistle.

2. It is here supposed that the discharge of Christ’s priestly office is the way designed to save us by, or to effect this great work of salvation. No other way or means is appointed of God unto this end. Here we must look for it, or go without it. Wherefore the inquiry is necessary, whether, in the discharge of this office, and within the bounds and limits of it, he be able to save us with this salvation. For indeed many are like those “sons of Belial” who said of Saul, when God had anointed him king, “How shall this man save us? and despised him,” 1 Samuel 10:27. They understand not how Christ is able to save them by his priesthood; and therefore, under various pretences, they trust to themselves, and despise him. All false religion is but a choice of other things for men to place their trust in, with a neglect of Christ. And all superstition grows on the same root, in all effects or instances of it, be they great or small. Wherefore I say, we are to consider whether this office, and the acts of it, be suited and meet for the effecting of all things that belong to this salvation. For if we find them not so, we cannot believe that he is a priest able to save us. But they evidence themselves to be otherwise, unless our minds are darkened by the power of unbelief; as we shall see in the particulars afterwards insisted on by our apostle. And we are here taught, that,

Obs. 8. It is good to secure this first ground of evangelical faith, that the Lord Christ, as vested with his offices, and in the exercise of them, is able to save us.

Salvation is that which all sinners, who have fallen under any convictions, do seek after. And it is from God they look for it. He alone, they know, can save them; and unless he do so, they cannot be saved. And that he can do so, they seem for a while to make no question, although they greatly doubt whether he will or no. Here, under these general apprehensions of the power of God, they cannot long abide, but must proceed to inquire into the way whereby he will save them, if ever they be saved. And this the whole Scripture testifieth to be no otherwise but by Jesus Christ. For “there is no salvation in any other; neither is there any other name under heaven given among men, whereby they must be saved,” Acts 4:12. When their thoughts are thus limited unto Christ alone, their next inquiry is, “How shall this man save us?” And hereon are they directed unto his offices, especially his priesthood, whereby he undertakes to deliver them from the guilt of their sins, and to bring them into favor with God. Is it not therefore highly incumbent on them to satisfy themselves herein, that Christ is able to save them in the exercise of this office? for if he be not, there is no salvation to be obtained. And when men are come thus far, as that they will not question in general but that the Lord Christ, in the discharge of his sacerdotal office, is able to save sinners in general, yet unbelief will keep them off from acquiescing in this power of his, as so limited, for their own salvation. As Naaman had thoughts in general that Elisha could cure men of their leprosy, yet he would not believe that he could cure them in the way and by the means he prescribed. He thought he would have taken another course with him, more suited unto his apprehensions, as a means for his recovery. Hereon he turns away in a rage; which if he had not by good advice been recalled from, he had lived and died under the plague of his leprosy, 2 Kings 5:10-14. When persons are reduced to look for salvation only by Christ, and do apprehend in general that he can save sinners, yet ofttimes, when they come to inquire into the way and manner of it, by the exercise of his priestly office, they cannot close with it. Away they turn again into themselves; from which if they are not recovered, they must die in their sins. Unless, therefore, we do well and distinctly fix this foundation of faith, that Christ as a priest is able to save us, or is able to do so in the discharge of his sacerdotal office, we shall never make one firm step in our progress. To this end we must consider, That the Lord Christ as mediator, and in the discharge of his office, is “the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” So saith our apostle, “Christ crucified is, to them that believe, the power of God, and the wisdom of God,” 1 Corinthians 1:23-24. His death is both an effect of divine power and wisdom; and thereby do they exert their efficacy unto the utmost, for the attaining of the end designed in it. Wherefore we are to look unto this priesthood of Christ, as that which divine wisdom hath appointed as the only way and means whereby we may be saved. And if there be any defect therein, if Christ, in the discharge of it, be not able to save us, notwithstanding the difficulties which unto us seem insuperable, it must be charged on divine wisdom, as that which was wanting in the contrivance of a due means unto its end. And so it is done by the world; for the apostle testifieth that this “wisdom of God” is looked on and esteemed by men as mere “foolishness.” The way proposed in it, to save sinners by the cross of Christ, is accounted as folly by all unbelievers, whatever else they pretend as the reason of their unbelief. But this faith is to fix upon; namely, that although we yet see not how it may be done, nor have the experience of it in our own souls, yet this being the way which infinite wisdom hath fixed on, there is no defect in it, but Christ by it is able to save us. For the very first notion which we have of wisdom as divine and infinite, is, that we are to acquiesce in its contrivances and determinations, though we cannot comprehend the reasons or ways of them. Besides, the Lord Christ is herein also “the power of God.” God in him and by him puts forth his omnipotent power for the accomplishing of the effect and end aimed at. Wherefore, although we are not to look for our salvation from the power of God absolutely considered, yet are we to look for it from the same omnipotency as acting itself in and by Jesus Christ. This is the way whereby infinite wisdom hath chosen to act omnipotent power; and into them is faith herein to be resolved.

1. He is able to save also εἰς τὸ παντελές . The word may have a double sense; for it may respect the perfection of the work, or its duration: and so it is variously rendered; “to the uttermost,” that is, completely; or “evermore,” that is, “always” or “for ever.” So the Syriac translation carries it.

Take the word in the first sense, and the meaning is, that he will not effect or work out this or that part of our salvation, do one thing or another that belongs unto it, and leave what remains unto ourselves or others; but “he is our Rock, and his work is perfect.” Whatever belongs unto our entire, complete salvation, he is able to effect it. The general notion of the most that are called Christians lies directly against this truth. In the latter sense two things may be intended:

(1.) That after an entrance is made into this work, and men begin to be made partakers of deliverance thereby, there may great oppositions be made against it, in temptations, trials, sins, and death, before it be brought unto perfection; but our Lord Christ, as our faithful high priest, fainteth not in his work, but is able to carry us through all these difficulties, and will do so, until it be finished for ever in heaven.

(2.) That this salvation is durable, perpetual, eternal, Isaiah 45:17. “Salvare in aeternum;” to procure “salutem aeternam.” But “favores sunt ampliandi,” and there is nothing hinders but that we may take the words in such a comprehensive sense as to include the meaning of both these interpretations. He is able to save completely as to all parts, fully as to all causes, and for ever in duration. And we may observe,

Obs. 9. Whatever hinderances and difficulties lie in the way of the salvation of believers, whatever oppositions do rise against it, the Lord Christ is able, by virtue of his sacerdotal office, and in the exercise of it, to carry the work through them all unto eternal perfection.

In the assertion of the ability of Christ in this matter, there is a supposition of a work whereunto great power and efficacy is required; and whereas it is emphatically affirmed, that “he is able to save unto the uttermost,” it is supposed that great oppositions and difficulties do lie in the way of its accomplishment. But these things are commonly spoken unto by our practical divines, and I shall not therefore insist upon them.

2. The whole is further declared by instancing in those who are to be saved, or made partakers of this salvation. “He is able to save to the uttermost,” but yet all are not to be saved by him; yea, they are but few that are so. Of the most it may be said, “They will not come unto him that they may have life.” Wherefore those whom he is thus able to save, and doth save accordingly, are all those, and only those, “who come unto God by him.”

To “come to God” hath a double sense in the Scripture; for it is sometimes expressive of faith, sometimes of worship.

(1.) To come to God, is to believe. Faith or believing is a coming to God. So Christ calling us unto faith in him, calleth us to come unto him, Matthew 11:28. And unbelief is a refusal to come to him, “Ye will not come unto me, that ye may have life.” Faith in God through him, is coming to the Father by him, John 14:6; so to come to God by Christ, is through him to believe in God, 1 Peter 1:21.

(2.) Our access unto God in his worship, is our coming unto him. So is it most frequently expressed in the Old Testament, “Drawing nigh unto God.” And the expression is taken from the approach that was made unto the tabernacle in and with all holy services. Worship is an approximation unto God, Psalms 78:28, אַלֹהִים קִרְבַת . So our apostle calls those who worshipped God in the ordinances of the law, τοὺς προσερχομένους , Hebrews 10:1, the “comers,” the worshippers; not those that come to the worship, but those who by that worship come to God. In answer hereunto, our evangelical worship is προσαγωγή , an “access,” an approximation, a drawing nigh or coming to God, Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 10:22. The latter sense is principally here intended; for the discourse of the apostle is concerning the state of the church under the new testament, with the advantage of it above that of old, by its relation unto the priesthood of Christ. They came of old to God with their worship by the high priest of the law; but those high priests could not save them in any sense. But the high priest of the new testament can “save to the uttermost” all gospel worshippers, “all that come to God by him.” But the former sense of the word is also included and supposed herein. They that come unto God by Christ, are such as, believing in him, do give up themselves in holy obedience to worship God in and by him.

So is the way expressed of this coming unto God, δι᾿ αὐτοῦ that is, “by him” as a high priest; as it is at large explained by the apostle, Hebrews 10:19-22.

Now, to come unto God by Jesus Christ in all holy worship, so as thereon to be interested in his saving power as the high priest of the church, is so to come,

(1.) In obedience unto his authority, as to the way and manner of it;

(2.) With affiance in his mediation, as to the acceptance of it;

(3.) With faith in his person, as the foundation of it.

(1.) It is to come in obedience unto his authority, and that on a double account:

[1.] Of the way of coming. It is not by legal institutions, it is not by our own inventions; it is only by his appointment, Matthew 28:20. To come to God any other way, gives us no interest in the care or saving power of Christ, John 15:7-8.

[2.] Of that especial respect which we have in our souls and consciences unto his sovereign rule over us.

(2.) With affiance in his mediation. And therein faith hath respect unto two things:

[1.] The sacrifice he hath offered, the atonement and reconciliation he hath made for us, whereon our whole liberty of access unto God doth depend, Hebrews 10:19-22.

[2.] To his intercession, whereby he procures actual acceptance for our persons and our duties, Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 2:1.

(3.) The foundation of the whole is faith in his person as vested with his holy office, and in the discharge of it. It is so to believe in him, as to believe that “he is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him.” This is the ground whereon, in our holy worship we assemble in his name, Matthew 18:20; and make all our supplications unto God in his name, John 16:26; that is, by an exercise of faith and trust in him,that by and through him we shall be accepted with God. And we may hence observe,

Obs. 10. The salvation of all sincere gospel worshippers is secured by the actings of the Lord Christ in the discharge of his priestly office.

Obs. 11. Attendance unto the service, the worship of God in the gospel, is required to interest us in the saving care and power of our high priest. Men deceive themselves, who look to be saved by him, but take no care to come to God in holy worship by him. Nor is it an easy or common thing so to do. All men pretend unto divine worship, some one way, some another, and in words they interpose the name of Christ therein; but really to come to God by him is a matter of another import. Two things are indispensably required thereunto:

(1.) That the principle of saving faith be antecedent unto it;

(2.) That the exercise of faith be concomitant with it. Unless we are true believers, our worship will not be accepted; and unless we are in the exercise of faith on God through Christ in the performance of it, it gives no glory to him, it brings no ad vantage unto ourselves.

Obs. 12. Those who endeavor to come unto God any other way but by Christ, as by saints and angels, may do well to consider whether they have any such office in heaven as by virtue whereof they are able to save them to the uttermost. That this is done by those of the Roman church, cannot with any modesty be denied; yea, it is avowed by them. For when they are charged with the wickedness of their doctrine and practice in this matter, evacuating the mediation of Christ, they reply, that they admit of no mediators of reconciliation with God, but only of intercession. Be it so. Ability to save to the utmost is here ascribed unto our high priest upon the account of his intercession. A respect unto his oblation, whereby he made reconciliation, is included; but it is the efficacy of his intercession that is expressly regarded: for being “reconciled by his death, we shall be saved by his life,” Romans 5:10. He, therefore, alone is the mediator of intercession, who is able, by virtue of his office, to save us to the utmost, through that intercession of his.

Those by whom they choose to go to God are able to save them, or they are not. If they are not, is it not the greatest folly and madness imaginable, whilst we seek after salvation, to set Him aside on any occasion, in any one instance, who can save us to the utmost, and betake ourselves unto them who cannot save us at all? If they are able to save us in any sense, it is either by virtue of some office and office-power that they are invested withal in heaven, (as ministers are, in the discharge of their office, said to “save them that hear them,” 1 Timothy 4:16; that is, ministerially and instrumentally,) or without any such office. If they can do so without any office, they can do more than Jesus Christ can do; for he is able to do it by virtue of his office only. And if it might have been otherwise, what need was there that Christ should undertake and discharge this office of the priesthood, and that our apostle should so labor to prove the excellency of this his office, only to satisfy us that he is able to save them that come to God by him? If they do it by virtue of any office committed to them, let it be named what it is. Are they priests in heaven for ever after the order of Melchisedec? Dishonor enough is done unto Christ, by making any sacrificing priests on the earth, as they do in their mass; but to make interceding priests in heaven also, is the highest reproach unto him. Or are they the kings or prophets of the church? or under what name or title is this power intrusted with them? Such imaginations are most foreign from true Christian religion. A holy, painful minister on the earth can do much more towards the saving of the souls of men, than any saint or angel in heaven. For the work of doing it ministerially, by the dispensation of the word, is committed unto them in the way of office; but office in the church beareth none in heaven, but only Jesus Christ.

And what is the reason why men should so readily close with other means, other mediators of intercession, to go to God by them? For when they pray to saints, although they should only pray unto them to intercede for them, as some of them pretend, (however openly and manifestly against their express and avowed practice,) yet do they go to God by them. For to speak of any religious prayer, and yet not to look on it in general as a going or coming to God, is a fond and senseless imagination. Wherefore, whenever they pray to saints, as most of them do more than to Jesus Christ, their design is to go to God by them. But what is it that should induce them hereunto? Our Lord Christ hath told us that “he is the way;” and that “no man cometh unto the Father but by him,” John 14:6. What reason can any man give why he should not believe him, but, although he hath said that “no man cometh unto the Father but by him,” should yet attempt to go another way? Have others more power in these things than he, so as it is advisable on that account to make our application unto them? Where is it said of any saints or angels, or all of them together, that they are able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by them? or where is any one word spoken of their power or interest in heaven unto that purpose? But it will be said, ‘That we may be relieved and saved, we stand not in need of power only, but of love, pity, and compassion: and although the saints have less ability than Christ, yet they may have more of love and compassion for us. For some of them, it may be, were our kindred, or progenitors, or countrymen, or such as may have an especial kindness for us: especially the blessed Virgin, and other female saints, are, by their natural constitution as well as their grace,’(who would not think so?) ‘mightily inclined unto pity and compassion.’And indeed they are marvellous things which some of them tell us concerning the blessed Virgin in this case, and her condescension in the pursuit of her love and pity. But yet this imagination is the highest pitch of folly and ingratitude. Certainly nothing can more stir up the indignation of God, than to have any creatures in heaven or earth, or all together, equalled in love and compassion to Jesus Christ. He that doth not know that there is an unparalleled eminency of these in him, who is not in some measure instructed in the cause and effect of them, knows no more of the gospel than a Jew. There is more love, pity, and compassion, in Christ Jesus, towards every poor sinner that comes unto God by him, than all the saints in heaven are able to comprehend. And if kindred or alliance may be of consideration in this matter, he is more nearly related unto us than father or mother, or wife or children, or all together; we being not only “bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh,” but so joined to him as to be “one spirit” with him. But it will yet be said, ‘That it is on none of these considerations that men choose to go unto God by other mediators of intercession; only whereas the Lord Christ is so great, and so gloriously exalted at the right hand of the Majesty on high, they dare not always presumptuously intrude into his glorious presence; and therefore they make use of the saints, who are more cognate unto us, and not clothed with such terrible majesty. And in going unto God by the friends of Christ, they please him as well as if they went immediately by himself.’

Ans. (1.) He is an unbeliever, unto whom the glorious exaltation of the Lord Christ is a discouragement from going unto him, or by him unto God on the throne of grace. For all the glory, power, and majesty of Christ in heaven, are proposed unto believers, to encourage them to come unto him, and to put their trust in him. But this is the talk of men who, whatever devotion they pretend unto, indeed know nothing really of what it is to pray, to believe, to trust in Christ, or by him to draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace. See Hebrews 4:14-16.

(2.) All the glory, power, and majesty of Jesus Christ, as exalted in heaven as our mediator, are but means effectually to exert and exercise his love and compassion towards us: “He liveth for ever to make intercession for us.” But we proceed.

Fourthly, The close of this verse gives us the special reasons and confirmation of all the efficacy that the apostle hath assigned unto the priesthood of Christ: Πάντοτε ζῶν εἰς τὸ ἐντυγχάνειν ὑπέρ αὐτῶν , “Always living to make intercession for them.” And three things must be considered in these words:

1. The state and condition of Christ as a high priest: “he liveth always,” or “for ever.”

2. What he doth as a high priest in that state and condition: he “maketh intercession for us.”

3. The connection of these things, their mutual regard, or the relation of the work of Christ unto his state and condition; the one is the end of the other: “he liveth for ever to make intercession for us.”

First, As to his state and condition, “he liveth for ever.” He is always living. The Lord Christ, in his divine person, hath a threefold life in heaven. The one he lives in himself; the other for himself ; and the last for us.

1. The eternal life of God in his divine nature. This he liveth in himself: “As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given unto the Son to have life in himself,” John 5:26. He hath given it him by eternal generation, in a communication unto him of all the divine properties. And he that hath “life in himself,” a life independent on any other, he is the “living one,” the “living God.” No creature can have life in himself; for “in God we live, and move, and have our being.” He is hereby “Alpha and Omega, the first and the last,” the beginning and end of all, Revelation 1:11; because he is ὁ ζῶν , the “living one,” verse 18. And this life of Christ is the foundation of the efficacy of all his mediatory actings, namely, that he was, in his own divine person, the living God, Acts 20:28; 1Co 2:8 ; 1 John 3:16. But this is not the immediate cause of his mediatory effects, nor is it here intended.

2. There is a life which he liveth for himself; namely, a life of inconceivable glory in his human nature, He led a mortal life in this world, a life obnoxious unto misery and death, and died accordingly. This life is now changed into that of immortal, eternal glory. “Henceforth he dieth no more, death hath no more power over him.” And not only so, but this life of his is unto him the cause of, and is attended with, all that ineffable glory which he now enjoys in heaven. This life he lives for himself; it is his reward, the glory and honor that he is crowned withal All the endowments, all the enjoyments, and the whole eternal exaltation of the human nature in the person of Christ, belong unto this life of glory. And the glorious exaltation of that individual human nature which the Son of God assumed, far above all principalities and powers, and every name that is named, in this world, or the world to come, is the principal part of the design of infinite wisdom in the work of the new creation. But neither is this life here intended.

3. The Lord Christ lives a mediatory life in heaven, a life for us. So saith our apostle, he was made a “priest after the power of an endless life;” whereof we have treated before. He lives as king, prophet, and priest, of the church. So he describes himself, Revelation 1:18, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore; and have the keys of hell and of death.” As he died for us, so he liveth for us; and is intrusted with all power over the church’s adversaries, for its good. As he died for us, so he liveth for us in heaven; and therefore he tells us, that “because he liveth we shall live also,” John 14:19. Now this life differeth not essentially from that life of glory in the human nature which he liveth for himself in heaven; only it denoteth one especial end of it, and that only for a season. The Lord Christ will have the life in himself, the divine life, unto all eternity; and so also will he have the life of glory in the human nature; but he shall cease to live this mediatory life for us when the work of his mediation is accomplished, 1 Corinthians 15:28; but he shall lead this life always for us, until the whole work committed unto him be accomplished, and shall lead it as a life of glory in himself unto eternity.

Obs. 13. It is a matter of strong consolation unto the church, that Christ lives in heaven for us.

It is a spring of unspeakable joy unto all true believers, that he lives a life of immortality and glory in and for himself in heaven. Who can call to mind all the miseries which he underwent in this world, all the reproach and scorn that was cast upon him by his enemies of all sorts, all the wrath that the whole world is yet filled withal against him, and not be refreshed, rejoiced, transported, with a spiritual view by faith of all that majesty and glory which he is now in the eternal possession of? So was it with Stephen, Acts 7:56, And therefore, in all the appearances and representations which he hath made of himself since his ascension into heaven, he hath manifested his present glory, Acts 26:13; Revelation 1:13-18. And the due consideration hereof cannot but be a matter of unspeakable refreshment unto all that love him in sincerity.

Secondly, But herein lieth the life of the church’s consolation, that he continues to live a mediatory life in heaven for us also. It is not, I fear, so considered nor so improved as it ought to be. That Christ died for us, all who own the gospel profess in words; though some so explain their faith, or rather their infidelity, as to deny its proper use, and to evacuate its proper ends. That so he lived for us here in this world, as that his life was some way or other unto our advantage, at least thus far, that he could not have died if he had not lived before, all men will grant, even those by whom the principal end of this life, namely, to fulfill the law for us, is peremptorily denied; but that Christ now lives a life of glory in heaven, that most men think is for himself alone. But the text speaks to the contrary: “He liveth for ever to make intercession for us.” Neither is this the only end of his present mediatory life in heaven, though this only be here expressed. Should I undertake to show the ends of the present mediatory life of Christ for the church, it would be too great and long a decursion from the text. However, the whole of the work of this life of his may be reduced into these three heads:

1. His immediate actings towards the church itself, which respects his prophetical office.

2. His actings for the church in the world, by virtue and power of his kingly office.

3. His actings with God the Father in their behalf, in the discharge of his sacerdotal office.

1. The first consisteth in his sending and giving the Holy Ghost unto the church. He lives for ever to send the Holy Spirit unto his disciples. Without this constant effect of the present mediatory life of Christ the being of the church would fail, it could not subsist one moment. For hereon depends,

(1.) All saving light to understand the word of God, or spiritual things in a spiritual manner; wherein he continueth the exercise of his prophetical office:

(2.) All habitual grace, whereby the souls of the elect are quickened and regenerated:

(3.) All supplies of actual grace; which the whole church hath from him every moment, and without which it could yield no obedience unto God:

(4.) All spiritual gifts, the sole foundation and means of the church’s edification, and without which it can have no real benefit by any gospel ordinances or administrations:

(5.) All comfort and all consolation, which in all variety of occurrences the church doth stand in need of: which things I have elsewhere spoken unto at large.

2. His actings by virtue of his mediatory life for the church in the world are also various; wherein he exerciseth his kingly power, that power which is given unto him as he is “head over all things unto the church,” Ephesians 1:22. Hence is the whole preservation of the church in this world by glorious effects of divine wisdom and power. Hence doth proceed the present controls that are given unto its adversaries. And hence will proceed their future destruction; for he must reign until all his enemies be made his footstool. In the exercise of this life, wherein the keys of hell and of death are committed unto him, doth he put forth his mighty power over the world, Satan, death, the grave, and hell, for the eternal security and salvation of the church. Did he not live this life for us in heaven, neither the whole church nor any one member of it could be preserved one moment from utter ruin. But hereby are all their adversaries continually disappointed.

3. By virtue of this life he acts with God on the behalf of the church. And the only way whereby he doth this, in the discharge of his priestly office, is expressed here in the text, “He liveth for ever to make intercession for them.” Now this expression containing the whole of what the Lord Christ, as the high priest of the church, doth now with God for them, and whereon the certainty of our salvation doth depend, it must with some diligence be inquired into.

Expositors, especially those of the Roman church, inquire with many disputes into the external form of the intercession of Christ, as namely, whether it be oral and vocal, or no. And they produce many testimonies out of the ancients upon the one side and the other. And great weight is laid by some on the difference and determination of it. For whereas Ribera grants that the dispute is more about words and the manner of expression, than the matter itself; Tena affirms that what he says is most false. And it is evident that the testimonies produced by themselves out of the ancients, as Chrysostom, Theophylact, Ambrose, Austin, and so to Rupertus and Thomas, are expressly contradictory to one another. Now, although our principal concernment lieth in the internal form and efficacy of the intercession of our high priest, rather than in the outward manner of it, yet, so far as that also is revealed, we may inquire into it. And we shall find that the true stating of it tends unto the encouragement and establishment of our faith. And the things ensuing may be observed unto this purpose:

(1.) The Socinian figment about the nature of the intercession of Christ is of no consideration; for, by a strange violence offered unto the nature of things, and the signification of words, they contend that this intercession is nothing but the power of Christ to communicate actually all good things, the whole effect of his mediation, unto believers. That Christ hath such a power is no way questioned; but that this power in the exercise of it is his intercession, is a most fond imagination. That which casts them on this absurd conception of things, is their hatred of the priestly office of Christ, as exercised towards God on our behalf. But I have elsewhere sufficiently disputed against this fiction.

(2.) The intercession of Christ was under the old testament typed out three ways:

[1.] By the living fire that was continually on the altar. Herewith were all sacrifices to be kindled and burned; which thence were called אִשִּׁים , “firings.” But this principally typified his prayers; when he “offered himself unto God through the eternal Spirit;” which he did with “strong cries and supplications,” or “intercessions,” Hebrews 5:7. Hereby, and the actings of the eternal Spirit therein, he kindled and fired in himself a” sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savor,” Ephesians 5:2.

[2.] By the תָּמִיד , or “daily sacrifice” of morning and evening for the whole people. See the institution of it, Exodus 29:38-42. For although that sacrifice had in it the nature of an expiatory oblation, because it was by blood, yet the principal end of it was to make continual application of the great, solemn, annual expiation, unto the consciences of the people.

[3.] By the incense that was burned in the sanctuary. And this was of two sorts:

1st . That wherewith the high priest entered once a-year into the most holy place, on the day of expiation. For he might not enter in, yea, he was to die if he did, unless in his entrance he filled the place and covered the ark and mercy-seat with a cloud of incense, Leviticus 16:12-13; which incense was to be fired with burning coals from the altar of burnt-offerings. So did our high priest: he filled heaven at his entrance with the sweet savor of his intercession, kindled with the coals of that eternal Fire wherewith he offered himself unto God.

2dly . The incense that was burned every day in the sanctuary by the priests in their courses. This represented prayer, Psalms 141:2; and was always accompanied with it, Luke 1:9-10. This also was a type of the continual efficacy of the intercession of Christ, Revelation 8:4. But the former was the most solemn representation of it. In that anniversary sacrifice, whereof we must treat afterwards at large, there was atonement made for all the sins and transgressions of the people, Leviticus 16:21. And it was consummated by carrying some of the blood, as a representation of it, into the most holy place, sprinkling it before the ark of the covenant and the mercy-seat. This was done but once in the year. To keep this in remembrance, and to make application of the benefits of it unto the consciences of the worshippers, the daily sacrifice was appointed. So doth the intercession of Christ make continual application of his great sacrifice and atonement, whence it derives its efficacy. And as the fire on the altar kindled all the renewed sacrifices, which were to be repeated and multiplied, because of their weakness and imperfection; so doth the intercession of Christ make effectual the one perfect sacrifice which he offered once for all, in the various applications of it unto the consciences of believers, Hebrews 10:2.

(3.) The actual intercession of Christ in heaven, as the second act of his sacerdotal office, is a fundamental article of our faith, and a principal foundation of the church’s consolation. So is it asserted to be, 1 John 2:1-2. And it is expressed by our apostle as that whereby the death of Christ is made effectual unto us, Romans 8:34; for it compriseth the whole care and all the actings of Christ, as our high priest, with God in the behalf of the church. This, therefore, is the immediate spring of all gracious communications unto us. For hereby doth he act his own care, love, and compassion; and from thence do we receive all mercy, all supplies of grace and consolation needful unto our duties, temptations, and trials. Hereon depends all our encouragement to make our application unto God, to come with boldness of faith unto the throne of grace, Hebrews 4:15-16; Hebrews 10:21-22. Wherefore, whatever apprehensions we may attain of the manner of it, the thing itself is the center of our faith, hope, and consolation.

(4.) It is no way unworthy or unbecoming the human nature of Christ, in its glorious exaltation, to pray unto God. It was in and by the human nature that the Lord Christ exercised and executed all the duties of his offices whilst he was on earth; and he continueth to discharge what remains of them in the same nature still. And however that nature be glorified, it is the same essentially that it was when he was in this world. To ascribe another kind of nature unto him, under pretense of a more divine glory, is to deny his being, and to substitute a fancy of our own in his room. So, then, the human nature of Christ, however exalted and glorified, is human nature still, subsisting in dependence on God and subjection unto him. Hence God gives him new revelations now, in his glorified condition, Revelation 1:1. With respect hereunto he acted of old as the angel of the covenant, with express prayers for the church, Zechariah 1:12-13. So the command given him to intercede by the way of petition, request, or prayer, Psalms 2:8, “Ask of me,” respects his state of exaltation at the right hand of God, when he was “declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead,” Psalms 2:7-8; Romans 1:4. And the incense which he offereth with the prayers of the saints, Revelation 8:3-4, is no other but his own intercession, whereby their prayers are made acceptable unto God.

(5.) This praying of Christ at present is no other but such as may become him who sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high. There must, therefore, needs be a great difference, as to the outward manner, between his present intercession in heaven and his praying whilst he was on the earth, especially at some seasons. For being encompassed here with temptations and difficulties, he cast himself at the feet of God, with “strong cries, tears, and supplications,” Hebrews 5:7. This would not become his present glorious state; nor is he liable or exposed unto any of the causes or occasions of that kind of treating with God. And yet at another time whilst he was in this world, he gave us the best estimate and representation of his present intercession that we are able to comprehend. And this was in his prayer recorded John 17:0. For therein his confidence in God, his union in and with him, the declaration of his will and desires, are all expressed in such a manner as to give us the best understanding of his present intercession. For a created nature can rise no higher, to express an interest in God, with a oneness of mind and will, than is therein declared. And as the prayers with cries and tears, when he offered himself unto God, were peculiarly typed by the fire on the altar; so was this solemn prayer represented by that cloud of incense wherewith the high priest covered the ark and the mercy-seat at his entrance into the most holy place. In the virtue of this holy cloud of incense did he enter the holy place not made with hands. Or we may apprehend its relation unto the types in this order: His prayer, John 17:0, was the preparation of the sweet spices whereof the incense was made and compounded, Exodus 30:34. His sufferings that ensued thereon were as the breaking and bruising of those spices; wherein all his graces had their most fervent exercise, as spices yield their strongest savor under their bruising. At his entrance into the holy place this incense was fired with coals from the altar; that is, the efficacy of his oblation, wherein he had offered himself unto God through the eternal Spirit, rendered his prayer as incense covering the ark and mercy-seat, that is, procuring the fruits of the atonement made before God.

(6.) It must be granted that there is no need of the use of words in the immediate presence of God. God needs not our words whilst we are here on earth, as it were absent from him; for he is present with us, and all things are naked and open before him. But we need the use of them for many reasons, which I have elsewhere declared. But in the glorious presence of God, when we shall behold him as the Lord Christ doth, in the most eminent manner, face to face, it cannot be understood what need or use we can have of words to express ourselves unto God, in prayers or praises. And the souls of men, in their separate state and condition, can have no use of voice or words; yet are they said to cry and pray with a loud voice, because they do so virtually and effectually, Revelation 6:9-10. However, I will not determine what outward transactions are necessary, unto the glory of God in this matter, before the angels and saints that are about his throne. For there is yet a church-state in heaven, wherein we have communion, Hebrews 12:22-24. What solemn outward, and, as it were, visible transactions of worship, are required thereunto, we know not. And, it may be, the representation of God’s throne, and his worship, Revelation 4:5, wherein the “Lamb in the midst of the throne” hath the principal part, may not belong only unto what is done in the church here below. And somewhat yet there is which shall cease, and not be any more after the day of judgment, 1 Corinthians 15:26; 1 Corinthians 15:28.

(7.) It must be granted, that the virtue, efficacy, and prevalency of the intercession of the Lord Christ, depends upon and flows from his oblation and sacrifice. This we are plainly taught from the types of it of old. For the incense and carrying of blood into the holy place, after the expiatory sacrifice, the great type of his oblation of himself, did both of them receive their efficacy and had respect unto the sacrifice offered without. Besides, it is expressly said that the Lord Christ, “by the one offering of himself, obtained for us eternal redemption,” and “for ever perfected them that are sanctified.” Wherefore nothing remains for his intercession but the application of the fruits of his oblation unto all them for whom he offered himself in sacrifice, according as their conditions and occasions do require. Wherefore,

(8.) The safest conception and apprehension that we can have of the intercession of Christ, as to the manner of it, is his continual appearance for us in the presence of God, by virtue of his office as the “high priest over the house of God,” representing the efficacy of his oblation, accompanied with tender care, love, and desires for the welfare, supply, deliverance, and salvation of the church. Three things, therefore, concur hereunto:

[1.] The presentation of his person before the throne of God on our behalf, Hebrews 9:24. This renders it sacerdotal. His appearance in person forus is required thereunto.

[2.] The representation of his death, oblation, and sacrifice for us; which gives power, life, and efficacy unto his intercession. Thence he appears “in the midst of the throne as a Lamb that had been slain,” Revelation 5:6. Both these are required to make his intercession sacerdotal. But,

[3.] Both these do not render it prayer or intercession; for intercession is prayer, 1 Timothy 2:1, Romans 8:26. Wherefore there is in it, moreover, a putting up, a requesting, and offering unto God, of his desires and will for the church, attended with care, love, and compassion, Zechariah 1:12.

Thus far, then, may we proceed:

(1.) It is a part of his sacerdotal office; he intercedes for us as the “high priest over the house of God.”

(2.) It is the first and principal way whereby he acts and exerciseth his love, compassion, and care towards the church.

(3.) That he hath respect therein unto every individual believer, and all their especial occasions: “If any man sin, we have an advocate.”

(4.) That there is in his intercession an effectual signification of his will and desire unto his Father; for it hath the nature of prayer in it, and by it he expresseth his dependence upon God.

(5.) That it respects the application of all the fruits, effects, and benefits, of his whole mediation unto the church; for this is the formal nature of it, that it is the way and means appointed of God, in the holy dispensation of himself and his grace unto mankind, whereby the continual application of all the benefits of the death of Christ, and all effects of the promises of the covenant, shall be communicated unto us, unto his praise and glory.

(6.) The efficacy of this intercession as it is sacerdotal depends wholly on the antecedent oblation and sacrifice of himself; which is therefore as it were represented unto God therein. This is evident from the nature and order of the typical institutions whereby it was prefigured, and whereunto by our apostle it is accommodated. But what belongs unto the manner of the transaction of these things in heaven I know not.

The third thing observed, was the connection of the two things mentioned, or their relation one unto another; namely, the perpetual life of Christ and his intercession: “He liveth for ever to make intercession.” His intercession is the end of his mediatory life; not absolutely, nor only, but principally. He lives to rule his church; he lives to subdue his enemies, for he must reign until they are all made his footstool; he lives to give the Holy Spirit in all his blessed effects unto believers. But because all these things proceed originally by an emanation of power and grace from God, and are given out into the hand of Christ upon his intercession, that may well be esteemed the principal end of his mediatory life. So he speaks expressly concerning that great fruit and effect of this life of him, in sending of the Spirit: “I will pray the Father,” I will intercede with him for it, “and he shall send you another comforter,” John 14:16. And the power which he exerts in the subduing and destruction of the enemies of his kingdom, is expressly promised unto him upon his intercession for it, Psalms 2:8-9; for this intercession of Christ is the great ordinance of God for the exercise of his power towards, and the communication of his grace unto the church, unto his praise and glory. So doth our high priest live to make intercession for us. Many things we may from hence observe:

Obs. 14. So great and glorious is the work of saving believers unto the utmost, that it is necessary that the Lord Christ should lead a mediatory life in heaven, for the perfecting and accomplishment of it; “He liveth for ever to make intercession for us.” It is generally acknowledged that sinners could not be save, without the death of Christ; but that believers could not be saved without the life of Christ following it, is not so much considered. See Romans 5:10; Romans 8:34-35, etc. It is, it may be, thought by some, that when he had declared the name of God, and revealed the whole counsel of his will; when he had given us the great example of love and holiness in his life; when he had fulfilled all righteousness, redeemed us by his blood, and made atonement for our sins by the oblation of himself; confirming his truth and acceptation with God in all these things by his resurrection from the dead, wherein he was “declared to be the Son of God with power;” that he might have now left us to deal for ourselves, and to build our eternal safety on the foundation that he had laid. But, alas! when all this was done, if he had only ascended into his own glory, to enjoy his majesty, honor, and dominion, without continuing his life and office in our behalf, we had been left poor and helpless; so that both we and all our right unto a heavenly inheritance should have been made a prey unto every subtle and powerful adversary. He could, therefore, no otherwise comfort his disciples, when he was leaving this world, but by promising that “he would not leave them orphans,” John 14:18; that is, that he would still continue to act for them, to be their patron, and to exercise the office of a mediator and advocate with the Father for them. Without this he knew they must be orphans; that is, such as are not able to defend themselves from injuries, nor secure their own right unto their inheritance.

The sure foundations of our eternal salvation were laid in his death and resurrection So it is said, that when God laid the foundation of the earth, and placed the corner-stone thereof, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy,” Job 38:7. Although the foundations were only laid, yet that being done by infinite power and wisdom, which would infallibly accomplish and perfect the whole, it was a blessed cause of praise and ascribing glory to God. Yet were the continued actings of the same power required unto the perfection of it. The foundation of the new creation was laid gloriously in the death and resurrection of Christ, so as to be the matter of triumphant praises unto God. Such is the triumph thereon described, Colossians 2:15; 1 Timothy 3:16. And it may be observed, that as on the laying of the foundation of the earth, all the holy angels triumphed in the expression and demonstration of the infinite wisdom, power, and goodness of God, which they beheld; so in the foundation of the new creation, the apostate angels, who repined at it, and opposed it unto their power, were led captives, carried in triumph, and made the footstool of the glory of Christ. But all this joy and triumph is built on the security of the unchangeable love, care, and power of Jesus Christ, gloriously to accomplish the work which he had undertaken; for had he left it when he left the earth, it had never been finished; for great was that part of the work which yet remained to be perfected.

Neither could the remainder of this work be committed unto any other hand. He employeth others under him in his work, to act ministerially in his name and authority. So he useth the ministry of angels and men. But did not he himself continue to act in them, by them, with them, and without them, the whole work would fail and be disappointed. In one instance of the revelation of the will of God concerning the state of the church, by the opening of the book wherein it was recorded, there was none found worthy in heaven or earth to do it, but the Lamb that was slain, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Revelation 5:1-7. How much less is any creature able to accomplish all that remains for the saving of the church unto the utmost!

Who can express the opposition that continues to be made unto this work of completing the salvation of believers? What power is able to conflict and conquer the remaining strength of sin, the opposition of Satan and the world? How innumerable are the temptations which every individual believer is exposed unto, each of them in its own nature ruinous and pernicious!

God alone knoweth all things perfectly, in infinite wisdom, and as they are. He alone knows how great a work it is to save believers unto the utmost; what wisdom, what power, what grace and mercy, are requisite thereunto. He alone knows what is meet unto the way and manner of it, so as it may be perfected unto his own glory. His infinite wisdom alone hath found out and determined the glorious and mysterious ways of the emanation of divine power and grace unto this end. Upon all these grounds, unto all these purposes, hath he appointed the continual intercession of the Lord Christ in the most holy place. This he saw needful and expedient, unto the salvation of the church and his own glory. So will he exert his own almighty power unto those ends. The good Lord help me to believe and adore the mystery of it.

Obs. 15. The most glorious prospect that we can take into the things that are within the veil, into the remaining transactions of the work of our salvation in the most holy place, is in the representation that is made unto us of the intercession of Christ. Of old when Moses went into the tabernacle, all the people looked after him, until he entered in; and then the pillar of the cloud stood at the door of it, that none might see into the holy place, Exodus 33:8-9. And when the Lord Christ was taken into heaven, the disciples looked after him, until a cloud interposed at the tabernacle door, and took him out of their sight, Acts 1:9. And when the high priest was to enter into the tabernacle, to carry the blood of the sacrifice of expiation into the most holy place, no man, be he priest or not, was suffered to enter into or abide in the tabernacle, Leviticus 16:17. Our high priest is now likewise entered into the most holy place, within the second veil, where no eye can pierce unto him. Yet is he there as a high priest; which makes heaven itself to be a glorious temple, and a place as yet for the exercise of an instituted ordinance, such as the priesthood of Christ is. But who can look into, who can comprehend the glories of those heavenly administrations? Some have pretended a view into the orders and service of the whole choir of angels, but have given us only a report of their own imaginations. What is the glory of the throne of God, what the order and ministry of his saints and holy ones, what is the manner of the worship that is given unto Him that sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, the Scripture doth sparingly deliver, as knowing our disability, whilst we are clothed with flesh and inhabit tabernacles of clay, to comprehend aright such transcendent glories. The best and most steady view we can have of these things, is in the account which is given us of the intercession of Christ. For herein we see him by faith yet vested with the office of the priesthood, and continuing in the discharge of it This makes heaven a temple, as was said, and the seat of instituted worship, Revelation 7:15. Hence, in his appearance unto John, he was “clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle;” both which were sacerdotal vestments, Revelation 1:13. Herein is God continually glorified; hereby is the salvation of the church continually carried on and consummated. This is the work of heaven, which we may safely contemplate by faith.

Obs. 16. The intercession of Christ is the great evidence of the continuance of his love and care, his pity and compassion, towards his church. Had he only continued to rule the church as its king and lord, he had manifested his glorious power, his righteousness, and faithfulness. “The scepter of his kingdom is a scepter of righteousness.” But mercy and compassion, love and tenderness, are constantly ascribed unto him as our high priest. See Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 5:1-2. So the great exercise of his sacerdotal office, in laying down his life for us, and expiating our sins by his blood, is still peculiarly ascribed unto his love, Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:2; Revelation 1:5. Wherefore these properties of love and compassion belong peculiarly unto the Lord Christ as our high priest. All men, who have any spiritual experience and understanding, will acknowledge how great the concernment of believers is in these things, and how all their consolation in this world depends upon them. He whose soul hath not been refreshed with a due apprehension of the unspeakable love, tenderness, and compassion of Jesus Christ, is a stranger unto the life of faith, and unto all true spiritual consolation.

But how shall we know that the Lord Christ is thus tender, low ing, and compassionate, that he continueth so to be; or what evidence or testimony have we of it? It is true he was eminently so when he was upon the earth in the days of his flesh, and when he laid down his life for us. We know not what change may be wrought in nature itself, by this investiture with glory; nor how inconsistent these affections are, which in us cannot be separated from some weakness and sorrow, with his present state and dignity. Nor can any solid satisfaction be received by curious contemplations of the nature of glorified affections. But herein we have an infallible demonstration of it, that he yet continueth in the exercise of that office with respect whereunto all these affections of love, pity, and compassion, are ascribed unto him. As our high priest, δύναται συμπαθῆσαι , he is “able to suffer,” to “condole with,” to have “compassion on” his poor tempted ones, Hebrews 4:15. All these affections doth he continually act and exercise in his intercession. From a sense it is of their wants and weaknesses, of their distresses and temptations, of their states and duties, accompanied with inexpressible love and compassion, that he continually intercedes for them. For he doth so, that their sins may be pardoned, their temptations subdued, their sorrows removed, their trials sanctified, and their persons saved; and doing this continually as a high priest, he is in the continual exercise of love, care, pity, and compassion.

Verse 26

In this verse the apostle renders a reason of his whole preceding discourse, and why he laid so great weight upon the description of our high priest. And he hath probably in it a respect unto what he had last asserted in particular, concerning his ability to save them to the utmost that come to God by him.

Hebrews 7:26 . Τοιοῦτος γὰρ ἡμῖν ἔπρεπεν ἀρχιερεὺς , ὅσιος , ἄκακος , ἀμίαντος , κεχωωρισμένος ἀπὸ τῶν ἀμαρτωλῶν , καὶ ὑψηλότερος τῶν οὐρανῶν γενόμενος . [11]

[11] VARIOUS READING. Καὶ is prefixed to ἔπρεπεν by Scholz and Tischendorf; the latter of whom cites in support of it MSS. A B D E.. EXPOSITION . Conybeare and Howson, as also Ebrard, explain κεχωρισμένος ἀπὸ τ . ἀμ . in reference to the obligation resting on the high priest to keep aloof from any one Levitically unclean, Leviticus 21:1-12. ED.

Τοιοῦτος γὰρ ἡμῖν ἔπρεπεν . Syr., דַּאֵיךְ חָנָא גֵיר כּוּמָרָא אַף זָדֵק הֲוָא לַן , “for yet also this high priest was just to us;” that is, it was just, right, or meet, that we should have this high priest. All others, “talis nos decebat.”

Ὅσιος . Syr., דַכְיָא , “pure;” “sanctus,” “holy.”

Ἄκακος . Syr., דְלָא בּישׁו , “without malice.” Beza, “ab omni malo alienus.” “Innocens.” “Free from all evil.”

Ἀμίαντος . Syr., דְלָא טולשָא , “without spot.” Vulg., “impollutus;” Beza, “sine labe:” “unpolluted,” “without spot.”

Κεχωρισμένος ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν . Syr., דְפַרִיק מֵן חַטָּהֵא , “separate from sins;” all others, “from sinners.”

The words will be further explained in our inquiry into the things signified by them.

Hebrews 7:26 . For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.

There is something supposed and included in this assertion, namely, that if we intend to come unto God, we had need of a high priest to encourage and enable us thereunto; for if in particular we need such a high priest, it is supposed that without a high priest in general we can do nothing in this matter. This, therefore, is the foundation which in this argument the apostle proceedeth on, namely, that sinners, as we are all, can have no access unto God but by a high priest. And there was no need for him much to labor with those Hebrews in the confirmation hereof; for, from the first constitution of their church, they had no other way of approach unto God in and with their sacred services. And God had not only by the institution of that office among them, declared that this was the way whereby he would be worshipped; but also by legal prohibitions, fortified with severe penalties, he had forbidden all men, the highest, the greatest, the best and most holy, to come unto him any other way. Hereby were they taught the everlasting necessity of a high priest, and the discharge of his office, whatever end or issue their typical priests came unto. And herein lies a great aggravation of the present misery of the Jews: High priest of their own they have none, nor have had for many ages. Hereon all their solemn worship of God utterly ceaseth. They are the only persons in the world who, if all mankind would give them leave and assist them in it, cannot worship God as they judge they ought to do. For if Jerusalem were restored into their possession, and a temple re-edified in it more glorious than that of Solomon, yet could they not offer one lamb in sacrifice to God; for they know that this cannot be done without a high priest and priests infallibly deriving their pedigree from Aaron, of whom they have amongst them not one in all the world. And so must they abide under a sense of being judicially excluded and cast out from all solemn worship of God, until the veil shall be taken from their hearts, and, leaving Aaron, they return unto Him who was typed by Melchisedec, unto whom even Abraham their father acknowledged his subjection.

Whence this necessity of a high priest for sinners arose, I have so largely inquired into and declared, in my Exercitations on the Original and Causes of the Priesthood of Christ, as that there is no need again to make mention of it. Every one’s duty it is to consider it, and rightly improve it for himself. The want of living up unto this truth evacuates the religion of most men in the world.

Upon this supposition, of the necessity of a high priest in general, the apostle declares what sort of high priest was needful for us. And this he shows,

1. In his personal qualifications;

2. In his outward state and condition, Hebrews 7:26;

3. In the nature of his office and the manner of its discharge, Hebrews 7:27.

And he confirmeth the whole by the consideration of the person who was this priest, and of the way and manner how he became so, compared with them and their consecration unto their office who were priests according unto the law, Hebrews 7:28.

The first two are contained in this verse, namely,

1. The personal qualifications of him who was meet to be a priest for us, by whom we might come unto God; and,

2. His outward state and condition.

And in the first place, the necessity of such a high priest as is here described, is expressed by ἔπρεπε , “became us;” “decuit,” “decebat,” “it was meet,” “it was just for us,” as the Syriac renders it. And respect may be had therein either unto the wisdom of God, or unto our state and condition, or unto both; such a high priest it was meet for God to give, and such a high priest it was needful that we should have. If the condecency of the matter, which lies in a contrivance of proper means unto an end, be intended, then it is God who is respected in this word; if the necessity of the kind of relief mentioned be so, then it is we who are respected.

The word is applied unto God in this very case, Hebrews 2:10, “It became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things.” Consider God as the supreme ruler and governor of the world, as the first cause and last end of all, and “it became him,” was necessary unto his infinite wisdom and holiness, that having designed the “bringing of many sons unto glory,” he should “make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” So the condecency here intended may respect,

1. The wisdom, grace, and goodness of God. It became him to give us such a high priest as we stood in need of, namely, one that was able in the discharge of that office to save all to the uttermost that come unto God by him; for to design our salvation by a high priest, and not to provide such a one as was every way able to effect it, became not the wisdom and grace of God. 2. Respect may be had herein unto our state and condition. Such this was, as none but such a high priest could relieve us in, or save us from. For we stand in need of such a one, as our apostle declares, as

(1.) Could make atonement for our sins, or perfectly expiate them;

(2.) Purge our consciences from dead works, that we might serve the living God, or sanctify us throughout by his blood;

(3.) Procure acceptance with God for us, or purchase eternal redemption;

(4.) Administer supplies of the Spirit of grace unto us, to enable us to live unto God in all duties of faith, worship, and obedience;

(5.) Give us assistance and consolation in our trials, temptations, and sufferings, with pity and compassion;

(6.) Preserve us by power from all ruining sins and dangers;

(7.) Be in a continual readiness to receive us in all our addresses to him;

(8.) To bestow upon us the reward of eternal life.

Unless we have a high priest that can do all these things for us, we cannot be “saved to the uttermost.” Such a high priest we stood in need of, and such a one it became the wisdom and grace of God to give unto us. And God, in infinite wisdom, love, and grace, gave us such a high priest as, in the qualifications of his person, the glory of his condition, and the discharge of his office, was every way suited to deliver us from the state of apostasy, sin, and misery, and to bring us unto himself, through a perfect salvation. This the ensuing particulars will fully manifest.

The qualifications of this high priest are expressed first indefinitely, in the word τοιοῦτος . A difference from other high priests is included herein. He must not be one of an ordinary sort, but one so singularly qualified unto his work, so exalted after his work, and so discharging his work unto such ends. In all these things we stood in need of such a high priest as was quite of another sort, order, and kind, than any the church had enjoyed under the law, as the apostle expressly concludes, Hebrews 7:28.

FIRST, His personal, inherent qualifications are first expressed; and we shall consider first some things in general that are common unto them all, and then declare the especial intendment of every one of them in particular: “Such a high priest became us as is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” And,

First, There is some allusion in all these things,

1. Unto what was typically represented in the institution of the office of the priesthood under the law. For the high priest was to be a person without blemish, not maimed in any part of his body. He was not to marry any one that was defiled; nor to defile himself among the people. On his forehead, in his ministrations, he wore a plate of gold with that inscription, “Holiness to the LORD.” And no doubt but personal holiness was required of him in an especial manner; for want whereof God cast out the posterity of Eli from the priesthood.

But all those things were only outward representations of what was really required unto such a high priest as the church stood in need of. For they were mostly external, giving a denomination unto the subject, but working no real change in it. And where they were internal, they were encompassed with such a mixture of sins, weaknesses, infirmities, and the intercision of death, as that they had no glory in comparison of what was required. All these things the apostle observes, reducing them unto two heads, namely, that they were obnoxious unto sin and death; and therefore as they died, so they offered sacrifices for their own sins. But the church was taught by them, from the beginning, that it stood in need of a high priest whose real qualifications should answer all these types and representations of them.

2. It is possible that our apostle, in this description of our high priest, designed to obviate the prejudicate opinion of some of the Hebrews concerning their Messiah. For generally they looked on him as one that was to be a great earthly prince and warrior, that should conquer many nations, and subdue all their enemies with the sword, shedding the blood of men in abundance. In opposition unto this vain and pernicious imagination, our Savior testifies unto them that he came not to kill, but to save and keep alive. And our apostle here gives such a description of him, in these holy, gracious qualifications, as might attest his person and work to be quite of another nature than what they desired and expected. And their frustration herein was the principal occasion of their unbelief. See Malachi 3:1-3.

3. I am sorry that it hath fallen from the pen of an able expositor of our own on this place, that “the time when the Lord Christ was thus made a high priest for ever, and that by an oath, was after he had offered one sacrifice, not many; for the people, not for himself; once, not often; of everlasting virtue, and not effectual for some petty expiations for a time; and after he was risen, ascended, and set at the right hand of God.”

If by being “made a high priest,” only a solemn declaration of being made so is intended, these things may pass well enough; for we allow that in the Scripture, then a thing is ofttimes said to be, when it is first manifested or declared. So was the Lord Christ “determined to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead.” But if it be intended, as the words will scarce admit of any other interpretation, that the Lord Christ was first made a high priest after all this was performed, then the whole real priesthood of Christ and his proper sacrifice are overthrown. For it is said he was not made a high priest until “after that he had offered his one sacrifice;” and if it were so, then he was not a priest when he so offered himself. But this implies a contradiction; for there can be no sacrifice where there is no priest. And therefore the Socinians, who make the consecration of the Lord Christ unto his sacerdotal office to be by his entrance into heaven, do utterly deny his death to have been a sacrifice, but only a preparation for it, as they fancy the killing of the beast of old to have been. And the truth is, either the Lord Christ was a priest before and in the oblation of himself on the cross, or he was never any, nor needed so to be, nor could he so be; for after he was freed from death, he had nothing to offer. And it is a strange order of things, that the Lord Christ should first offer his only sacrifice, and after that be made a priest. But the order, time, and manner of the call and consecration of the Lord Christ unto his priesthood I have elsewhere declared. Wherefore,

4. We may observe, that all these qualifications of our high priest were peculiarly necessary on the account of the sacrifice which he had to offer. They were not only necessary for him as he was to be the sacrificer, but also as he was to be the sacrifice; not only as he was to be the priest, but as he was to be the lamb. For the sacrifices were to be “without blemish,” as well as the sacrificers. So were we

“redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,” 1 Peter 1:19.

But however the sacrifices were chosen under the law without blemish, yet were they still in their own nature but calves, and goats, and lambs; and therefore priests who had weaknesses, and infirmities, and sins of their own, might be meet enough to offer them: but here both priest and sacrifice were to be equally pure and holy. 5. We must not pass by the wresting of this text by the Socinians, nor omit its due vindication. For they contend that this whole description of our high priest doth “not respect his internal qualifications in this world, before and in the offering of himself by his blood, but his glorious state and condition in heaven.” For they fear (as well they may) that if the qualifications of a priest were necessary to him, and required in him whilst he was in this world, then he was so indeed. He who says, “Such an high priest became us, as is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” doth affirm that when he was so he was our high priest. In that state wherein these things were necessary unto him he was a priest. To avoid this ruin unto their pretensions, they offer violence unto the text, and the signification of every word in it, and dangerously insinuate a negation of the things intended, to be in Christ in this world. So speaks Schlichtingius on the place:

“Unde apparet sequentibus verbis, seu epithetis Christo tributis, non mores ipsius seu vitam ab omni peccati labe puram, sed felicem ac beatum stature describi ac designari, ob quem fiat ut in aeternum vivens, nostri quoque perpetuam gerat curam. Licet enim omnia ista ratione vitae et morum de Christo intellects verissima sint, tamen nihil ad praesens auctoris institutum faciunt.”

So also argues Smalcius, de Reg. Christi, cap. 23, whom we have elsewhere refuted.

The paraphrase of one of our own seems to comply herewith; which is as followeth: “And this was a sort of high priests which we sinful, weak creatures had need of,” (which, by the way, I do not understand; for we stood not in need of a new “sort of high priests,” but of one single individual high priest,) “one that, being mercifully disposed, is also incapable of suffering any hurt, of being defiled or corrupted, and consequently of dying; and to that end is exalted unto a pitch above our sinful, corruptible condition here.” So ἄκακος and ἀμίαντος are rendered in the margin, “free from evil, and undefilable.” The sense is plainly the same with that of Schlichtingius, though there be some variety in the expressions of the one and the other. And therefore is Christ said to be exalted that he might be such as he is here described; as though he was not so before in the sense here intended by the apostle, however the words here in another sense might be applied unto him. Three things seem to be aimed at in this exposition:

(1.) To make way for another corrupt notion on the next verse, wherein these men, with Grotius, would have Christ in some sense offer for his own sins also; which there can be no pretense for, if these things be ascribed unto him as he was a priest in this world.

(2.) To take care that the innocency, holiness, and absolute purity of our high priest, be not supposed to be necessary unto our justification, neither as the material nor formal cause of it. For if the Lord Christ in the sacrifice of himself died for our justification, and that he might do so, it was necessary that he should antecedently be “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners;” then was his being so necessary unto our justification, as a cause thereof.

(3.) To obviate an apprehension of his being a high priest before his death, and to have offered his one sacrifice therein. For if he had not the qualifications necessary unto a high priest before his ascension into heaven, he could not be so before.

But these things are none of them compliant with the truth; and,

(1.) This exposition is contrary to the concurrent sense of all sober ancient and modern expositors; and, which is more, it is contrary to the common sense of all Christians. Not one of them who knoweth aught of these things, unless their minds are perverted with these men’s glosses, and that merely to comply with other opinions wherein the text is no way concerned, but hold, in their first and last consideration of these words, that they respect Jesus Christ as to his personal holiness in this world. And that exposition had need be well confirmed, which is not only contrary to the judgment of all learned men, but also destructive of the common faith of Christians. But as yet we have nothing beyond crude assertions offered in the proof of it.

(2.) It is contrary unto, or inconsistent, with, the sense and use of the words in all good authors, sacred and profane; and contrary unto the application of them unto the Lord Christ in other places of the Scripture, as we shall see immediately.

(3.) It is contrary to the order of the apostle’s words; for he placeth all these properties as qualifications of his person antecedently unto his exaltation. He was first “holy, harmless, undefiled,” and then “made higher than the heavens;” but according unto this exposition, his being made higher than the heavens is the antecedent cause of his being made holy, etc.

(4.) It is highly false, that the blessed state pretended to be here set forth was antecedently unto his being a priest, and the sacrifice which he offered; yea, such an estate was inconsistent with the oblation of himself. For he offered himself unto God in his blood, Hebrews 9:14; and that with strong cries and tears, Hebrews 5:7: which were inconsistent with such a state; for it is so described on purpose to be exclusive of every thing required thereunto.

(5.) Schlichtingius pleads,” That although all these things were true with respect unto the life and manners of Christ, yet it was no way unto the purpose of the apostle to mention them unto the end designed.” But,

[1.] If that be the sense of the words which he contends for, not one of them is true with respect unto the life and manners of Christ in this world; for they all belong unto his blessed estate in the other.

[2.] We shall see on the next verse how far he will allow them to be true of the life and manners of Christ in any sense, seeing in some sense he affirms him to have offered sacrifice for his own sins. And this he doth with an express contradiction unto his own main hypothesis: for by “sins” he understands weaknesses and infirmities; and whereas he will not allow Christ to have offered himself before his entrance into the holy place, and makes it necessary that he should be antecedently freed from all weaknesses and infirmities, it is the highest contradiction to affirm that he offered for them, seeing he could not offer himself until he was delivered from them.

[3.] We have only his bare word for it, that the ascription of those things unto our high priest as inherent qualifications, was not unto the purpose of the apostle. And his assertion is built on a false supposition, namely, that the Lord Christ was not a high priest on the earth, nor did offer himself unto God in his death; which overthrows the foundation of the gospel.

Secondly, The vanity and falsehood of this novel exposition will yet further and fully be evinced, in an inquiry into the proper signification of these words as here used by the apostle; every one whereof is wrested to give countenance unto it:

1. He is, or was to be, ὅσιος , “sanctus,” “holy;” that is, חָסִיד . For, Acts 2:27, חֲסִידְךָ is rendered Τὸν ὅσιόν σου , “Thine Holy One,” Psalms 16:10. And the Lord Christ is there said to he ὅσιος antecedently unto his resurrection; which must be with respect unto his internal holiness: “Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” And in the New Testament the word is everywhere used for him that is internally holy, 1 Timothy 2:8; Titus 1:8. The Syriac renders it in this place by דּכְיָא , “pure;” which is an inherent qualification; as it doth, 1 Timothy 2:8, and Titus 1:8, by חסְיָא , “pious,” “holy.” Οσιος , saith Hesychius, καθαρός , δίκαιος , εὐσεβής , εἰρηνικός , ἅγιος , pure,” “righteous,” “godly,” “peaceable,” “chaste.” So ὁσίως is used only for “holily,” 1 Thessalonians 2:10; and ὁσιότης is “internal holiness,” Luke 1:75; Ephesians 4:24. Nowhere is it used for a merciful disposition, much less for venerable and sacred, upon the account of an immortal nature, or any other privilege as it is pretended. Neither is the word used in any other good author to signify any one but him that is holy and righteous, or free from all sin and wickedness.

It is therefore the holy purity of the nature of Christ that is intended in this expression. His life and actions are expressed in the ensuing epithets. His nature was pure and holy, absolutely free from any spot or taint of our original defilement. Hence, as he was conceived in the womb, and as he came from the womb, he was that τὸ ἅγιον , “holy thing” of God, Luke 1:35. All others since the fall have a polluted nature, and are originally unholy. ‘But his conception being miraculous, by the immediate operation of the Holy Ghost, and his nature not derived unto him by natural generation, (the only means of the propagation of original defilement,) and, in the first instant of its being, filled with all habitual seeds of grace, he was ὅσιος , “holy.” And such a high priest became us as was so. Had he had a nature touched with sin, he had not been meet either to be a priest or sacrifice. This holiness of nature was needful unto him who was to answer for the unholiness of our nature, and to take it away. Unholy sinners do stand in need of a holy priest and a holy sacrifice. What we have not in ourselves we must have in him, or we shall not be accepted with the holy God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.

2. He was to be ἄκακος . That is, saith Schlichtinius, “omnis mali expers, nullis amplius miseriis obnoxius.” “Incapable of suffering any hurt,” saith another, to the same purpose.

(1.) The word is but once more used in the New Testament, and that in a sense remote enough from “one not exposed to misery,” or “incapable of suffering:” Romans 16:18, ἐξαπατῶσι τὰς καρδίας τῶν ἀκάκων , men “simple and harmless;” who for the most part are exposed to most evils and troubles in the world.

(2.) It is never used in any good author in such a sense, nor can any instance be produced unto that purpose; but it constantly signifies one innocent, harmless, free from malice, who doth no evil. Nor did any one before these interpreters dream of a passive interpretation of this word. It is he who doth no evil; not he who can suffer no evil. Κακός is “mains,” or “qui dolo malo utitur;” an evil, malicious person. Κακία is “vitiositas,” in the judgment of Cicero. [Tusc. Quaest., lib. 4:cap. 15.] “Virtutis,” saith he, “contraria est vitiositas: sic enim malo quam malitiam appellare eam, quam Graeci κακίαν appellant; ham malitia certi cujusdam vitii nomen est: vitiositas, omnium.” We render it sometimes “naughtiness,” James 1:21; sometimes “malice,” or “maliciousness,” 1 Peter 1:16; all manner of evil with deceitful guile. Wherefore ἄκακος is he that is free from all evil, fraud, or sin; the same absolutely with that of the apostle Peter, 1 Peter 2:22, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.”

῞Οσιος , “holy,” is his epithet with respect unto his nature; ἄκακος , “harmless,” respects his life. The first includes all positive holiness; the other, an abnegation of all unholiness. As he was ὅσιος , he had not κακὸν παρακείμενον , “sin present,” as we have with us, Romans 7:18; Romans 7:21; or ἁμαρτίαν εὐπερίστατον , “sin easily besetting,” Hebrews 12:1. As he was ἄκακος , he was free from every effect of such a principle.

And we had need of such a high priest. Had he not been innocent and every way blameless himself, he would have had other work to do than always to take care of our salvation, as the apostle observes in the next verse. He must first have offered for his own sins, as the high priest did of old, before he had offered for us or ours. And this added unto the merit of his obedience. For whereas he was absolutely innocent, harmless, and free from all evil and guile, he was reproached and charged with every thing that is evil; a “seducer,” a “blasphemer,” a “seditious person,” the worst of malefactors. For herein also, as to the suffering part, “he was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” And a great encouragement this is unto those who suffer in the like kind, according to their measure.

3. He was to be ἀμίαντος , “cujus felicitas et beatitas nulla vel minima adversitate quasi labe pollui inficique possit,” saith Schlichtingius; than which a more vain imagination or more absurd expression can hardly be thought on. But it is not for us to charge the apostle with such obscurity, and expressing of his mind in such uncouth terms, never used by any others, nor by himself in any other place in such a sense or signification. “Unpolluted,” “undefiled;” that is, “every way happy and blessed, not touched with the defilement of any adversity”! But the use of adversity is to purge and purify. And as that word doth properly signify “undefiled,” “unpolluted,” that is, morally, with any sin or evil, so it is not used in the New Testament in any other sense. See Hebrews 13:4; Jas 1:27 ; 1 Peter 1:4. The inquiry, therefore, is how this differs from ἄκακος , which contains a negation of all moral evil.

Ans. The one is, “he did no evil in himself;” the other, that “he contracted none from any thing else,” nor from any persons with whom he conversed. This may fall out sometimes. Hence the prophet, in his consternation at the appearance of the glory of God unto him, cried out he was “undone;” not only because of his own sinful defilements, but because of the uncleanness of the people among whom he dwelt, Isaiah 6:5. And on this ground there was an atonement of old to be made for the holy place and tabernacle. Not that they had any uncleanness of their own, but because of the uncleanness of the people, and their remaining among them in the midst of their uncleannesses, Leviticus 16:16.

And besides, many things might befall the high priests of old whereby they might be legally defiled, and so rendered incapable for the discharge of their office. And for this cause they always had a second priest in readiness, at the great solemn festivals, especially at the anniversary expiation, that in case any such pollution should befall the high priest, the other might for that time take his place and discharge his office. So it was with them principally with respect unto ceremonials, though immoralities might also defile them, and incapacitate them for their duty. But no such thing was our high priest liable unto, either from himself or from converse with others. As he was unconcerned in ceremonials, so in all moral obedience nothing could affix on him either spot or blemish. And “such an high priest became us;” for whereas it was his design and work to “sanctify and cleanse his church,” until it have “neither spot nor wrinkle,” but be “holy and without blemish,” as it was, Ephesians 5:26-27, how had he been meet to attempt or effect this work had not he himself been every way “undefiled?”

4. He was κεχωρισμένος ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶ . That is, saith Schlichtingius, “loco et conditione, ut statim additur, ‘excelsior coelis factus.’“ He is at the bottom of his notions and end of his invention, so that he can find out no sense for this expression, but puts us off to the next words, which are quite of another signification, or express a thing of another nature, and are distinguished from this expression by the conjunction, “and.” “Separate from sinners;” that is, saith he, “made higher than the heavens”! We must therefore inquire after another sense of these words, which readily offers itself unto us. “Separate from sinners:” “from sins,” saith the Syriac. But that was sufficiently secured before. From sinners as sinners, and in their sins. He was like unto us in all things, sin only excepted. We must therefore consider wherein he was, and wherein he was not separate from sinners:

(1.) He was not separate from them as unto community of nature; for God sent his own Son “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” Romans 8:3. He sent him in the flesh, for he sent him “made of a woman, made under the law,” Galatians 4:4; wherein “the Word was made flesh,” John 1:14: but he sent him only “in the likeness of sinful flesh;” and that because “he made him sin for us, who knew no sin,” 2 Corinthians 5:21. He took our flesh, that is, our nature upon him, without sin; yet so as that, by reason of the charge of sin with the consequences thereof that was upon him, he was “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” He was not, therefore, really separate from sinners as they were flesh, but as they were sinful flesh. He “took upon him the seed of Abraham;” and “because the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he himself also partook of the same.” Without this relation unto us, and union with us in one common nature, whereby “he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are of one,” he could not have been a high priest or sacrifice for us. He was not, therefore, so separated from sinners, as to be of another nature from them. “He took not on him the nature of angels,” nor was a mere spirit, but had “flesh and bones,” as he declared unto his disciples. And the same nature he hath still with him in heaven; and in the same will appear at judgment. It is equally destructive unto our faith and comfort, to suppose our high priest not separate from us in point of sin, and to be separate from us as to his nature.

(2.) He was not separate from sinners as to the duties of outward conversation. He lived not in a wilderness, nor said unto the children of men, “Stand off, I am holier than you.” He conversed freely with all sorts of persons, even publicans and harlots; for which he was reproached by the proud, hypocritical Pharisees. His work was to call sinners to repentance, and to set before their eyes an example of holiness. This he could not have done had he withdrawn himself from all communication with them. Yea, he condescended unto them beyond the legal austerities of the Baptist, Matthew 11:18-19. Hence those who of old, pretending more than ordinary holiness and devotion, did withdraw themselves into wildernesses from the converse of men, did quite forget the example and work of their Master: yea, they did avowedly prefer the example of the Baptist, as they supposed, before that of our Savior; which sufficiently reflects on his wisdom and holiness. Nor indeed, did they in the least express the pattern which they proposed unto themselves for imitation. For although John lived in the wilderness of Judea for the most part, yet was he “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” He lived there where it was most convenient for him to discharge his ministry, and preach the word of God. And his austerities in food and raiment, were but to express outwardly the doctrine of repentance enforced by threats which he preached. But as these persons forsook the example of Christ and the gospel, to go back unto John and his ministry, so they utterly mistook their pattern, and instead of making their retirement a means and help to discharge the ministry in calling others unto faith and repentance, they made it a covert for their own ignorance and superstition. And for those votaries of the Roman church who pretend, in the foolish imitation of them, to fancy a wilderness in the midst of populous cities, there can be no course of life invented more alien from the conduct of natural light, more useless unto the glory of God and the good of the community of mankind, nor more contrary to the example and commands of our Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles.

(3.) He is not said to be separate from sinners so in state and condition as kings and potentates are from persons poor and mean; and who therefore, out of a sense of their own meanness, and the others’state and greatness of mind, dare not approach unto them. No; but as he was meek and lowly, and took up his whole converse with the lower sort of the people, the poor of this world, so he did by all ways and means invite and encourage all sorts of sinners to come unto him.

(4.) He is not said to be separate from sinners, as though he had been ever in any communion with them, in any thing wherein he was afterwards separated from them. The participle, κεχωρισμένος , hath the sense of an adjective, declaring what is, and not how he came so to be. He was always in such a state and condition, so holy, so harmless, and undefiled, as never to have a concern in any thing from which he was to be separated.

It appeareth hence plainly wherein it was that he was “separate from sinners;” namely, in sin, in its nature, causes, and effects. Whatever of that sort he underwent was upon our account, and not his own. He was every way, in the perfect holiness of his nature and his life, distinguished from all sinners; not only from the greatest, but from those who ever had the least taint of sin, and who otherwise were most holy. And so it became us that he should be. He that was to be a middle person between God and sinners, was to be separate from those sinners in that thing on the account whereof he undertook to stand in their stead.

And these are the properties of the human nature of our high priest, and which were necessary antecedently unto the discharge of any part or duty of his office.

SECONDLY, His present state and condition is in the next place expressed: “And made higher than the heavens.”

῾Υψηλότερος γενόμενος , “made higher.” God is called אֵל עֵלִי