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we shall most happily escape the danger, the dreadful danger of apostasy, to which we may otherwise be exposed. And O! let the awful passage before us be duly attended to in this view! Let us not rest in any enlighioning we may have received, in any taste we may have had of the heavenly gift, of the good word of God, or the powers of the world to come ; nor in any operation of the Spirit of God upon our minds, to form them to the most splendid talents, and qualify us for the most pompous external services. Men may have all thesc, and yet fall away, and their guilt become more aggravated : they may injure the Redeemer so much the more in proportion to all they have known of him : and indeed will be capable of wounding him the deeper by their apostasy, and of exposing him to greater infamy. Let us daily pray to be delivered from so great an evil! We are not left to be like a barren wilderness; the rain from on high comes often upon us, and we enjoy the choicest cultivation : may we bring forth fruits meet for him by whom we are dressed, the genuine fruits of practical, vital religion. So shall we receive a blessing from God, and flourish more and more, till we are transplanted to the paradise above.
But as for those unhappy creatures who still continue to bring forth briars and thorns, let them dread that final rejection which will be the portion of those who persist in abusing the divine goodness; let them dread the curse, the awful, the irrecoverable curse, to be pronounced on such ; let them dread the everlasting dearth with which their souls shall be parched, when ordinances, when the work. ings of the Spirit of God, when the common comforts and supports of this mortal animal life, shall be no more. Gladly do the ministers of Christ entertain better hopes concerning those committed to their care, while yet there is room for hope, though faithfulness to God and to the souls of men, obliges them to speak in the language of such cautions as these. May divine grace apply it to those who are particularly concerned in it, and plant what hath hitherto been a barren and abandoned desert, with such fruits of holiness, as may transform it into the garden of the Lord,
Sincere believers comforted with a view of the goodness of God, and his
fidelity to his engagements, which he hath secled by the entrance of Chris! into heaven as our forerunner. Ch. vi. 10, &c.
I HAVE reason, brethren, to entertain the hope of your final sal10 1 vation : For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and
labour of love, which you have manifested to his name, in having 11 ministered and in ministering to the saints. And we wish that
every one of you may shew the same diligence to the full assur12 ance of hope, unto the end : that you may not be sluggish, but
imitators of those, who, through faith and long-suffering, do now 13 inherit the promises. For when God niade the promise to Abra
ham, seeing he had no [one] greater to swear by, he swore by
14 himself; saying, “ Blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I 15 will multiply thee." (Gen. xxvii. 16.) And thus, having waited 16 long, he obtained the promise. For men truly swear by a being
greater than themselves ; and an oath for confirmation is to them 17 an end of all contention. On which account God, being willing
in the most abundant manner to manifest to the heirs of the prom18 ise the immutability of his counsel, interposed with an oath : that
by two immutable things, his word and his oath, in which it is im
possible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who 19 have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope laid before us; which
hope we have, as an anchor of the soul, both secure and stedfast, 20 and entering into the place within the vail ; whither Jesus the
forerunner is entered for us, who is made an high-priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedec.
REFLECTIONS. With what amazing condescension doth God, by his apostles, speak of those works and labours of love, which the persons who have performed them with the greatest simplicity of heart, know to be most undeserving of his regard! How kindly hath he made himself a debtor to us, or rather to his own promise and oath, so that it would indeed be unrighteous in him to fail those expectations which nothing in ourselves could possibly raise ! Let us then be animated to the greatest diligence, by a full assurance of hope. There are those who inherit the promisce, of which we are the heirs, and they have passed to that glorious inheritance by the exercise of faith and patience. Let us chide our sluggish souls into a more resolute imitation of them. And when they are ready to sink into indolence again, let us again awaken them by viewing those promises,' and the fidelity of that God who hath made them, and who hath added, by a condescension that can never be sufficiently acknowledged and adored, the sanction of his oath to that of his word. Behold the strong consolation which ho hath given. And given to whom? To those who fly for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them in the gospel. Thither let us fly for - our lives ; fly, as if we heard the footsteps of the avenger of blood
just behind us, and our lives depended upon the speed of the present moment. Happy the souls that have found this refuge! Whose faith and hope like a strong and steady anchor, hath entered into heaven, hath fixed on that blessed Redeemer, who lives and reigns there, who appears as an intercessor for his people, and intercedes with such efficacy and success, that he is also to be regarded as their forerunner, as gone to prepare a place for them. Let us constantly retain that view of him; and while we continue exposed to all the labours and sorrows of mortality, let us seek our safety and our comfort by fixing our regards upon him, waiting continually the aids of his grace, till he shall see fit to call us to fill the place he hath provided, and receive the inheritance he hath secured for us.
A parallel between Melchisedec and Christ, and the superior glory of
Christ's priesthood. Ch. vii. 1–17.
INTOW this Melchisedec of whom I have spoken, was king of
Salem, and priest of the most high God, who met Abraham when returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him ; 2 to whom also Abraham divided the tenth of all (Gen. xiv.) Hir
name and title bear a remarkable analogy to those of Christ : for first his name Melchisedec, being interpreted, is King of Righteousness, and then his title is King of Salem, that is, King of Peace. And
whereas it was necessary for the Jewish priests to be of the family of 3 Aaron, he was, as it were, without father", without mother, without
pedigree, or any written genealogy ; having neither beginning of
days, nor end of life, mentioned in scripture ; but being made like 4 to the Son of God, remaineth a priest for evert. Now you see
how great a man this Melchisedec was, to whom even the patri. 5 arch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And that truly they
of the descendants of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have ac
cording to the law a commandment to tithe the people, that is, 6 their brethren, though, coming out of the loins of Abraham : but
he whose pedigree is not reckoned from them, took tithes of
Abraham himself, and blessed him who had received the promises. ✓ But without all contradiction, the inferior is blessed of the superi8 or. And here, under the institution of Moses, men who die, like
other persons receive tithes: but there, in the case of Melchisedec,
he receiveth them, of whom it is only testified that he liveth. 9 And, as one may say, by Abraham even Levi, who in his poster10 ity received tithes, was himself tithed: for he was yet in the loins 11 of his father Abraham, when Melchisedec met him. Now if per
fection had been by the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law) what further need was there that another priest
should arise according to the order of Melchisedec, and not be 12 reckoned according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood be
ing changed, there must of necessity also be a change of the law. 13 For the person of whom these things are spoken, belonged to an14 other tribe, of whom no one appertained to the Jewish altar. For
it is plain that our Lord sprung from Judah, of which tribe Moses 15 spake nothing relating to the priesthood. And it is yet more
abundantly manifest, that there ariseth another priest according to 16 the similitude of Melchisedec; who is made not according to the
law of the carnal commandment, but according to the power of an 17 endless life. For he testifieth, “ Thou art a priest for ever ac
cording to the order of Melchisedec.”
* Some heathen writers speak of persons whose father was unknown, as born of no father.
“ All his life." M.
REFLECTIONS. Let our souls adore the King of righteousness, and the King of peace ; submitting to him under the former title, that we may experience the peace which he gives, and which none can take away. Let us repose our confidence in the Son of God, who without beginning of days, or end of life, abideth a priest for ever ; a priest on a throne, to confirm the counsels of eternal peace transacted between the Father and himself. To him do all the prophets bear witne88 ; to him did all the pa. triarchs render humble homage, and his blessing was that which rendered Abraham the father of the faithful, blessed indeed. He sprang from the tribe of Judah, and was the Shiloh that was to come before it ceased to be a tribe, according to the ancient oracle of dying Jacob. But the honours of the priesthood are now transferred to, and centered in him, not according to the law of a carnal commandment, but the superior power of an endless life. Let us rejoice that his life is endless, and that by him we may likewise attain to an endless life, to an immortality of glory. The priests of the Old Testament, the ministers of the New, as well as private believers under both dispensations, die ; but the eternally prevailing priesthood of Jesus gives us life in death, and entitles us to the hope of that glorious world, where he will put his own likeness and splendour upon us, and make us in our inferior degrees of dignity, immortal kings and priests io God, even the Father : 10 him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
That the Aaronical priesthood was not only excelled, but vindicated and con- . summated by that of Christ ; and by consequence the obligation of the law Missolved. Ch. vii. 18. &c.
.18 THEREFORE there is an abolition of the former command19 1 ment, because of its weakness and unprofitableness : for the
law made nothing perfect ; but the introduction of a better hope, by 20 which we draw near to God, did. And inasmuch as he was not con. 31 slituted without an oath ; (for they indeed of the line of Aaron, are
become priests without an oath, but he was set apart with an oath, by him who said unto him, “ The Lord hath sworn, and he will
not repent, Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of 22 Melchisedec,”') by so much Jesus is the surety of a better cove23 nant. And there were many priests, because they were hindered 24 by death from continuing in their office. But he, because he abi
deth for ever, hath a priesthood that never passeth over to another. 25 From whence also he is able to save to the uttermost those who ap
proach to God by him [who is always living to intercede for them. 26 For such a high priest exactly suited us, who was holy, harmless,
unpolluted, separate from sinners, and made higher than the 27 heavens ; who had not daily necessity, as those high-priests apie
pointed by Moses, first to present sacrifices for his own sins, and
then for those of the people : for this he did once for all, in offer28 ing himself. For the law constituteth men high-priests, who have
infirmities ; but the word of the oath, which reacheth beyond the law, constituteth the Son of God, who is consecrated for ever,
REFLECTIONS. Let the introduction of this better hope which we receive by Jesus Christ, and which bringeth the greatest perfection of happiness to those that embrace it, fill our hearts with thankfulness to God, and with a solicitous zeal to secure an interest in it. Let us draw near to God upder its supporting influence, and be quickened thereby to purify our. selves from all poliutions of the flesh and spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God; in firm dependence upon that great High-Priest, whom he hath constituted with the solemnity of an oath, as the great surety and guarantee of the better covenant.
God helps the frailty of our nature, by transmitting his promises to us through the hands of his Son, and by giving us such a proof of his gracious regards, as his incarnation and sufferings afford : in which it is certain, that God hath already done what is far more astonishing than any thing which he hath promised further to do. And Jesus takes his covenant people under his care, and graciously engages to watch over them for their good, and to communicate to them all such assistances of his grace as may be sufficient to induce them to answer their part of the engagement.
He is possessed of an unchangeable priesthood ; let us daily look to him, as knowing, that in consequence of the intercession, which he ever lives to make, he is ever able completely to save all that come unto God by him. Let us every day, and every hour, have recourse to him as the Mediator of our approaches to God. And let us make the thoughts of him familiar to our minds, the thought of his sanctity, his dignity, and his love: confiding in that sacrifice he hath once for all offer. ed for his people, being above all need of sacrificing for himself. To conclude ; while we cheer and strengthen our hearts with such contemplations as these, let us always consider the obligation which the character of our High-Priest and our Saviour lays upon us, to be ourselves holy, harmless, and undefiled, and to maintain a separation from sinners, so far as the duties of life, in the present circumstances of the world, may admit.
The superior dignity of Christ as our High-Priest, and the distinguished ex
cellence of the new covenant established in him. Ch. viii.
INTOW the chief article of the things which have been spoken,
TV is this : We have such a High-Priest as hath been described, who hath now sat down at the right-hand of the majestic throne in 2 the heavens ; a minister of holy things, and of the true tabernacle, 3 which not man but the Lord hath pitched. For every high-priest
is constituted to offer gifts and sacrifices ; therefore it was neces4 sary that [He*] also should have something to present. But if he
* W.-" This man.” D. and C. T. “This high-priest." M.