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the most valuable improvement; though, if entered upon with an unhallowed and contentious spirit, they may prove as injurious as they are to the humble mind truly beneficial.
“ The godly consideration of them,” as our Seventeenth Article states, “is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons ;
.... as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation, to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: but, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the devil doth thrust them, either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.” The true use of them, is to compose the mind with a humble affiance in God, as unbounded in mercy and unchangeable in his promises. They lead us to refer every mercy to God, as “the Author,” and to look to him for the continuance of it, as “the Finisher," of our salvatione A just view of these doctrines, at the same time that it teaches to put away all carnal hopes, tends to raise us also above carnal fears. It shews us, that, in the whole work of man's salvation, the creature is nothing, and God is ALL: it furnishes us with a consolation which nothing can destroy, and with a strength which nothing can overcome. In a word, it is “ an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” It is quite a mistake to imagine that the possession of this anchor supersedes the necessity of care on our part : we must be as diligent in the use both of the chart and compass, as if we had no such means of safety on board. It will never justify us in running needlessly amidst rocks and quicksands; nor do we ever find such an use made of it amongst the saints of God. Its use is, to keep us steadfast in a time of need : and, if improved to that end, it will be found of incalculable advantage to the believing soul.
e Heb. xii. 2.
2. The advantage which the Christian has over all other people upon earth-
A man that knows not God as a merciful and unchanging God, knows not where to look in a time of trial. He may, indeed, comfort himself with some general notions of God's mercy ; but he has no solid ground of hope; nor can he ever know what is meant by “the peace of God which passeth all understanding.” But the truly enlightened Christian can glory in the midst of tribulations : for he refers all to God, who is too wise to err, too mighty to be foiled, too faithful to forsake his people: he views God as presiding in every storm, and as “ordering all things for the good of his own people'. He regards not the various circumstances which occur, as though they were accidental: whatever their aspect be, he considers them as parts of one great whole; and, whether the steps which he is constrained to take in this wilderness appear, in the eye of sense, to be progressive or retrograde, he still bears in mind, that they are leading him “ in the right way,” to the city of habitation, the heavenly Jerusalem. Behold this illustrated in the Apostle Paul. What storms and tempests he had to sustain, you well know: but was he appalled by them ? No: “ he knew in whom he had believed; and that He was able to keep that which he had committed to him "." “ Who," says he, “is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again ; who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord'.” Here you see the anchor in the full discharge of its office; and here you behold a stability which no created power could impart. This shews the Christian in his true light. I pray God we may all have an ever-increasing measure of that confidence in God which so mightily upheld his soul; and that we may thus be “ kept in safety for that inheritance, which we know to be reserved in heaven for usk.” i Rom. viji. 34–39.
& Ps, cvii. 7. h 2 Tim. i. 12.
f Rom. viii. 28.
k 1 Pet. i. 4, 5.
MELCHIZEDEC A TYPE OF CHRIST. Heb. vii. 1-3. For this Melchizedec, 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 gave 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 descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
THE principal scope of the Epistle to the Hebrews is, to shew the superiority of Christ above the ordinances, and dispensers, of the Levitical law. In prosecuting this argument the inspired writer frequently mentions a priesthood different from that of Aaron, a priesthood instituted by God before any one of Abraham's chosen descendants was born, and consequently intended for the benefit of the Gentile world; and he shews that Christ was, according to an express prediction, and a most solemn oath, to be a priest of this higher order, the order of Melchizedeca.
The words of the text should properly be connected with chap. v. 10. the whole intervening part being, as it were, a parenthesis. The Apostle, having laid great stress upon this prediction, now proceeds to illustrate it. He recites, in few words, the history to which the prediction itself refers, and declares, that it was altogether typical of Christ'. The agreement between Melchizedec and Christ may be observed in two particulars : I. The dignity of their persons
a Ps. cx. 4. with Heb. v, 6, 10. and vi. 20. and vii. 17, 21.
Melchizedec, in reference to the import of his name, and the name of the city over which he presided, was called, king of righteousness, and king of peace: but in an infinitely higher degree do these titles belong to Christ
[Christ is a king, not only over one city or country, but over the whole world; “ his kingdom ruleth over all ;" “ he has the utmost ends of the earth for his possession;" he is “ King of kings, and Lord of lords.” In his own person he is holy, harmless, separate from sinners; "he loveth righteousness, and hateth iniquity;" he is indeed “the Holy One, and the Just.” His laws are a perfect transcript of his mind and will, all holy, and just, and good. In his government he exercises the most perfect equity, not oppressing or despising any, but ever ready to afford protection, and succour, to all that call upon him. The very ends for which he administers his government, are altogether worthy of his divine majesty ; he rules his people, only that he may transform them all into his own image, and make them “partakers of his own holiness.” In every view, he approves himself worthy of that august title which the voice of inspiration assigns him, “The Lord our Righteousness.” But Jesus is also called, " The Prince of peacea;” nor is this without reason, since he reconciles us to an offended God, and makes peace for us by the blood of his cross : yea, he brings peace into the wounded conscience; and calms the tempests which were wont to agitate the soul - -]
That typical king is also called a “priest of the Most High God;" yet, though glorious in this respect, he was only a shadow of Jesus, our great High-priest
[Melchizedec, though a king, was not ashamed to execute the priestly office. Whether the bread and wine, which he provided for the refreshment of Abraham's troops, had any mystical signification, we pretend not to say: but certainly he acted as a priest, when he blessed Abraham; and was regarded as a priest by Abraham, who presented to him the tenth of all his spoils. As for Jesus, there was not any part of the priestly office which he did not perform. He was not indeed of that tribe to which the priesthood belonged, and therefore he was not instituted “ according to the law of a carnal commandment;” but he was appointed of God with a solemn oath; and anointed to his office with a superabundant measure of the oil of gladness. Having, in order that he might have somewhat to offer, taken upon him our nature, he “presented himself an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour." And having shed his own blood, he is gone with it within the vail, and there carries on the work of intercession for us; and will soon come forth again, not like the Jewish high-priest, to bless one nation only, but, like Melchizedec, to bless the father of the faithful, together with all his children dispersed throughout the world.]
b Gen. xiv. 14-20.
c Jer. xxiii, 6.
d Isai, ix. 6.
Thus both in their names and offices is there a very striking agreement between Melchizedec and Christ. But the parallel between them may be yet further noticed in, II. The duration of their priesthood
We are altogether indebted to the revelation of God for a just construction of what was related respecting Melchizedec, and of what was intentionally omitted in his history
[Melchizedec, like other men, was doubtless born of human parents, and in due season cut off by death from this present state of existence. But there is no mention made of his birth, or parentage, or death: nothing is said of any predecessor, whom he followed in his office, or of any successor to whom he resigned his office. These omissions, which might have been well accounted for from the brevity of that part of the Mosaic history, we are assured were ordered of God, on purpose that, by appearing “not to have beginning of days or end of life,” he might, as far as a mortal man could do, shadow forth the eternity of Christ's priesthood.]
What was figurately ascribed to him, is literally true with respect to Christ
[Christ, though born after the world had stood four thousand years, was appointed to this office from all eternity; and actually executed it, by his representatives at least, from the first moment that Adam or Abel offered their sacrifices on the
e Ps. xlv. 7.