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Of the priestly office of Christ; how he was a priest; when he entered on this office; and how he dischargeth it.
MR. BIDDLE'S ELEVENTH CHAPTER EXAMINED.
His eleventh chapter is concerning the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the first and second question he grants him to be a priest, from Heb. iv. 14. and to be appointed to that office by the Father, from Heb. v. 5. The remainder of the chapter is spent in sundry attempts to prove that Christ was not a priest, whilst he was on the earth; as also to take off from the end of his priesthood, with the benefit redounding to the church thereby.
For the first, a man would suppose Mr. Biddle were fair and ingenuous in his concessions, concerning the priesthood of Jesus Christ. May we but be allowed to propose a few questions to him, and to have answers suggested according to the analogy of his faith, I suppose his acknowledgment of this truth will be found to come exceedingly short of what may be expected. Let him therefore shew, whether Christ be a high-priest properly so called, or only in a metaphorical sense, with respect to what he doth in heaven for us, as the high priest of old did deal for the people in their things, when he received mercy from God? Again, whether Christ did or doth offer a proper sacrifice to God? and if so, of what kind? or only that his offering of himself in heaven is metaphorically so called? If any shall say that Mr. B. differs from his masters in these things, I must needs profess myself to be otherwise minded, because of his following attempt to exclude him from the investiture with, and execution of, his priestly office in this life, and at his death; whence it inevitably follows, that he can in no wise be a proper priest, nor have a proper sacrifice to offer, but that both the one and the other are metaphorical; and so termed in allusion to what the high-priest among the Jews
did for the people. That which I have to speak to, in this ensuing discourse, will hinder me from insisting much on the demonstration of this, that Christ was a priest so called, and offered to God a sacrifice of atonement or propitiation, properly so called, whereof all other priests and sacrifices appointed of God, were but types. Briefly, therefore, I shall do it.
The Scripture is so positive that Jesus Christ in the execution of his office of his mediation, was, and is a priest, a high-priest, that it is amongst all that acknowledge him utterly out of question. That he is not properly so called, but metaphorically, and in allusion to the high-priest of the Jews, as was said, the Socinians contend. I shall then, as I said, in the first place prove, that Christ was a high-priest, properly so called; and then evince when he was so, or when he entered on that office. This first is evident from that description or definition of a high-priest, which the apostle gives, Heb. v. 1. Every high-priest taken from among men, is ordained for men, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin.' That this is the description of a high-priest properly so called, is manifest from the apostle's accommodation of this office spoken of to Aaron, or his exemplifying of the way of entrance thereinto, from that of Aaron, v. 4. And no man taketh this honour to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.' That is, to be such a high-priest as Aaron was, which here he describes. One that had that honour, which Aaron had. Now certainly Aaron was a high-priest properly and truly, if ever any one was so in the world. That Jesus Christ was such a high-priest, as is here described, yea, that he is the very high-priest so described by the Holy Ghost, appears upon this twofold consideration. 1. In general, the apostle accommodates this definition or description of a highpriest, to Jesus Christ, ver. 5. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made a high-priest.' Were it not that very priesthood of which he treats, that Christ was so called to, it were easy so to reply: true; to a proper priesthood a man must be called, but that which is improper and metaphorical only, he may assume to himself, or obtain it upon a more general account, as all believers do. But this the apostle excludes, by comparing Christ in his admission to this office, with Aaron, who was properly so. 2. In parti
cular, all the parts of this description have in the Scripture a full and complete accommodation unto Jesus Christ, so that he must needs be properly a high-priest, if this be the description of such a one.
1. He was taken from amongst men. That great prophecy of him so describes him, Deut. xviii. 18. 'I will raise you up a prophet from among your brethren.' He was taken from among men, or raised up from among men, or raised up from among his brethren. And in particular, it is mentioned out of what tribe amongst them he was taken, Heb. vii. 13, 14. For he, of whom these things are spoken, pertaineth to another tribe: For it is evident, that our Lord sprang out of Juda.' And the family he was of in that tribe, namely, that of David, is every where mentioned. 'God raised up the horn of salvation in the house of his servant David;' Luke i. 69.
2. He was ordained for men, тà πρòç тòv Geòv, as to things appointed by God: kadíorara, is appointed to rule and preside, and govern, as to the things of God. This ordination or appointment, is that after-mentioned, which he had of God: his ordination to this office, ver. 5, 6.' So also Christ glorified not himself, to be made a high-priest, but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,' &c. He had his ordination from God. He who made him both Lord and Christ, made him also a high-priest; and he was made in a more solemn manner than ever any priest was, even by an oath; chap. vii. 20, 21. 'For as much as not without an oath,' &c. and he was so appointed for men, to preside and govern them in things appertaining to God, as it was with the high priest of old; the whole charge of the house of God, as to holy things, his worship, and his service, was committed to him. So is it with Jesus Christ, Heb. iii. 6. Christ is as a Son over his own house, whose house are we.' He is for us, and over us, in the things of the worship, and house of God. And that he was ordained for men, the Holy Ghost assures us farther, chap. vii. 26. 'Such a high-priest became us;' he was so, for us which is the first part of the description of a high priest, properly so called.
3. The prime and peculiar end of this office, is to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin. And as we shall abundantly ma
nifest afterward, that Christ did thus offer gifts and sacrifices for sin so the apostle professedly affirms, that it was necessary he should do so, because he was a high-priest, chap.viii. 3. For every high-priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices; wherefore it is of necessity, that this man have somewhat also to offer.' The force of the apostle's argument, concerning the necessity of the offering of Christ, lies thus. Every high-priest is to offer gifts and sacrifices; but Christ is a high-priest, therefore he must have somewhat to offer. Now if Christ was not a priest properly so called, it is evident his argument would be inconclusive; for from that which is properly so, to that which is only so metaphorically, and as to some likeness and proportion, no argument will lie. For instance; Every true man is a rational creature; but he that shall thence conclude, that a painted man is so, will find his conclusion very feeble. What it is that Christ had to offer, and what sacrifice he offered, shall afterward be declared. The definition then of a high-priest, properly so called, in all the parts of it, belonging unto Christ, it is necessary that the thing defined belong also unto him.
2. He who is a priest, according to the order of a true and real priesthood, he is a true and real priest. Believers are called priests, Rev. i. 5. and are said to offer up sacrifices to God; spiritual sacrifices, such as God is pleased with. Whence is it, that they are not real and proper priests? Because they are not priests of any real order of priesthood, but are so called, because of some allusion to, and resemblance of, the 'priests of old, in their access unto God. This will also by the way discover the vanity of them among us, who would have the ministers of the gospel, in contradistinction to other believers, be called priests. Of what order were they who did appropriate that appellation? The absurdity of this figment, the learned Hooker could no otherwise defend, than by affirming that priest was an abbreviation of presbyter. When both in truth, and in the intendment of them that used that term, its sense was otherwise. But to return. The sons of Aaron were properly priests. Why so? Because they were so appointed in the line of the priesthood of Levi, according to the order of Aaron. Hence I assume, Christ being called a priest, according to b 1 Pet. ii. 9. Ephes. ii. 18. Heb.x. 22.
a Heb. xiii. 16.