Billeder på siden

ever hereafter shall, comply with the spirit of the command given in the law of Moses to kings over Israel ; taking the whole of the oracles of God, as their rule, their line, their plummet, they will imitate Hezekiah and Josiah ; their measures will be unexceptionable, highly useful, and mercifully accepted. The deviation, therefore, from the rule is that which is objectionable, not the thing itself. The government of Israel was, strictly speaking, á THÊOCRACY. The Lord was Israel's king, in a manner wholly different from his providential dominion over other nations. The elders and the chief priests were his ordinary deputies, or vicegerents; and the high priest, in some respects, as the head of them. But, when circumstances called for extraordinary measures, extraordinary vicegerents in the political administration were raised up by God himself, and called JUDGES, and extraordinary ministers of religion, called PROPHETS, to excite the priests and Levites to their duty, or to supersede their authority, in some respects, for a season; and in some instances the two offices were conjoined in the same person.

Thus the state of the nation continued till the days of Samuel, the most illustrious judge and prophet who had been raised up among them: and yet, just before he was called forth to fill up this twofold most eminent station in Israel, a singular intimation was given that another arrangement would soon be formed. The Lord, having awfully denounced sentence on Eli's family, predicted the translation of the high priesthood from his line, (who was a descendent of Ithamar,) to that of Eleazar and Phinehas: “I will raise me up a

“ faithful priest, that shall do according to that “ which is in mine heart and in my mind; and I “ will build him a sure house, that he may walk “ before mine anointed for ever.” 1 The Lord's “ anointed" here could not mean the high priest ; for “this priest would walk before the Lord's “ anointed.” The Messiah cannot be meant, (except typically) for he is both high priest and king. A king over Israel, therefore, called the Lord's anointed, and the cordial union of a faithful and pious high priest, or line of high priests, to him and to his family, were evidently predicted: and the prophecy was fulfilled when David, and after him Solomon, were the anointed kings over Israel; and when Zadok, of Eleazar's line, superseded Abiathar as high priest, by the express authority of king Solomon. 2 We have also reason to conclude that the descendents of Zadok were in general examples of genuine attachment to the cause of true religion, and cordially affected to kings of David's race; especially to the pious and reforming kings: though, doubtless, there were exceptions, to the high priests as well as to the kings.3

Here, as it appears to me, the establishment, properly so called with reference to modern usages, by an union or alliance of kings and high priests, or the ministers of political government and those of ecclesiastical government, first dawned. Saul, indeed, who was “ the Lord's anointed,” exercised authority, or rather cruelly tyrannized over the


"1 Sam. ii. 35, 36.

1 Kings ii. 26, 27. 3 Ezek. xliv. 15, 16.

priests, and murdered a great number of them, because they were not, as he thought, sufficiently devoted to his interests. 1 But there was no appearance of union or concert between the kingly authority and the priestly, in any matter of religion, during his whole reign; and, after he had murdered Ahimelech and the priests and their families, " the Lord answered him, neither by “ dreams, nor by urim, nor by prophets.” The high priest, indeed, of Ahimelech's line was with David, who on several occasions consulted the Lord by him, even before he became king. And Abiathar concurred in David's measures, and continued faithful to him till nearly the end of his life : yet Zadok, the second priest, had increasing influence in David's later days; till, soon after, Abiathar's misconduct made way for Zadok's advancement to the high priesthood. David, no doubt, acted as a prophet, and not merely by royal authority, in all his arrangements respecting the priests and the Levites, their courses, and employments, and stations, and in the introduction of psalmody, and music both vocal and instrumental, into the stated services at the sanctuary. Yet, in doing the latter, and in altering the age at which the Levites entered on their services, he in some degree deviated from the exact letter of the Mosaic law, while he carried the spirit of it into the most complete effect.2 It is, however, undeniable. that he, as the Lord's chosen and anointed king, exercised authority over the minis


1 Sam. xxi. i Compare Num. v. 47. with 1 Chro. xxiii. 27.

ters of religion, and in many circumstantials of religious worship; while, at the same time, not the least alteration was attempted either in the moral law, the rule of duty, or in those typical rites which were also the appointed institutions of sacred worship, “shadows of good things to come,” and sacramental seals and prefigurations of them. Nay, the directions given by him to Solomon, as to the building of the temple, and things coincident with it, were in no degree formed, or modified, according to his own mind or judgment, but delivered to him immediately from God himself :' so different a thing is the ordering of mere circumstantials in worship, from changing the express and essential truths, laws, and sacraments, or ordinances of the sacred oracles.

Had this kind of regal interposition, in the matters of religious worship, ceased with David, or even with Solomon, who, as one of the sacred writers, may also be considered as a prophet; little use could have been made of it, as to the interposition of any other kings, either in Israel, or in nations professing Christianity: but, as we shall see, the other kings of Judah, the most pious of them especially, though in no sense prophets, imitated the grand outline of David and Soloînon's example, in a manner by no means marked as dissimilar to that of Christian kings and rulers over their ecclesiastics, as to the circumstantials of religion, in those countries in which establishments have been formed; but some of them, at least, in general, after a more scriptural manner

Il Chr. xxviii, 11-19.

than has generally been hitherto done. This, as it appears to me, proves that the establishment of religion in Israel, by an union and combination, or alliance, of the regal and priestly authorities, grew up long after the introduction of the Mosaic dispensation ; and, under God, arose out of the altered circumstances in which the nation was placed, in a manner greatly resembling that in which Christian establishments arose, some ages after the first introduction of Christianity; and also that the grand objection to establishments under Christianity has arisen hitherto, not from the nature of the thing itself, but from the real or supposed want of accordance in the several establishments, and the measures on which they have been conducted and supported to the sacred oracles.

From the times of David and Solomon, we constantly read of the kings of that race employing, directing, and commanding the priests and Levites, and even the high priest himself; and the conduct both of the kings and of the ministers of religion is recorded with approbation or disapprobation, according as the one gave orders and instructions grounded in the law of God, or contrary to it; and as the other promptly obeyed and executed the scriptural commands, and resisted, or complied with, such as were antiscriptural.

When Jeroboam, to support his kingdom over the ten tribes, which had revolted from Rehoboam and submitted to him as king, established the worship of the golden calves at Dan and Bethel, in all probability he would have gladly employed the priests and Levites in carrying into effect his

« ForrigeFortsæt »