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in the soul, conceive it possible to remove either in a sudden change; yet such is the birth of men unto Christ, “Before she travailed, she brought forth: before her pain came, she was delivered of a man-child :" the earth bringeth forth in one day, and a nation is born at once: it is spoken of Jerusalem, the mother of us all.y

y Isai. lxvi. 7, 8.

VERSE IV.

The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent ; Thou art a Priest

for ever, after the order of Melchizedek.

From the regal office of Christ, and the administration thereof, by the sceptre of his Word and Spirit, to the conquering of willing people unto himself,—the prophet now passeth to his sacerdotal office ; the vigour and merit whereof is, by the two former, applied unto the church. Therefore a we may observe, that though the tribes were interdicted confusion with one another in their marriages b, yet the regal and Levitical tribes might interchange and mingle bloods; to intimate (as I conceive) that the Messiah, with relation unto whose lineage that confusion was avoided, was to be both a king and a priest. Thus we find Jehoiada the priest married Jehoshabeath, the daughter of king Jehoram. And Aaron, of the tribe of Levi, took Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab, who was of the tribe of Judahd. In which respect I suppose Mary, and Elizabeth the wife of Zachary the priest, are called cousins. In the law, indeed, these two offices were distinct. “Our Lord,” saith the apostle, “sprang out of the tribe of Judah, of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood";” and therefore when king Uzziah encroached on the priest's office, he was smitten with a le

a Poterant Levitæ ex Regia familia ducere, quippe quæ etiam peculiari privilegio hinc est exempta, &c. Tarnov. Exercit. Biblic. page 21, edit. 2.-Communicabant inter se regia tribus ac sacerdotalis, propterea quod Christus Dominus secundum humanitatem Rex futurus erat et Sacerdos. Theodoret. in Num. qu. 52. Ai δύο φυλαι συνήπτοντο μόναι προς αλλήλας, ήτε βασιλική τη ιερατική, και η ιερατική τη βασιλική. Epiphan. contra Antidiconarionitas Heres. 78. Νόμος δε ήν μη urnsteueda: quasiv è été pns punais. Damascen. de Orthodoxa fide, lib. 4. c. 15. But notwithstanding these authorities, upon more deliberate consideration of this matter, I conceive myself to have been herein mistaken ; and am rather persuaded that marriages were lawful between several tribes, save only in the case when daughters did inherit, to avoid confusion of possessions amongst the tribes. Judg. xxi. 1. Aug. quæst. 47. in Judic. Joseph. Antiq. lib. 4. cap. 7.-Philo Judous de Monarchia. lib. 2.--Luc. Brugens. in Matth. i. 16. + Numb. xxxvi. 7. C2 Chron. xxii. 11. d Exod. vi. 23. Numb. i. 7. • Luke i. 36. Heb. vii. 14.

prosy. But amongst the Gentiles (amongst whom Melchizedek is thought to have been a priest") it was usual for the same person to have been both king and priest i.

The words contain the doctrine of Christ's priesthood, the quality of it, eternal: the order, not of Aaron, but of Melchizedek : the foundation of both, God's immutable decree and counsel: he cannot repent of it, because he hath confirmed it by an oath. I shall handle the words in the order as they lie.

The Lord hath sworn :" Here are two things to be enquired: First, How God is said to swear? Secondly, Why he swears in this particular case of Christ's priesthood? The former of these the apostle resolves in one word fueTÍTEUTEV 6pxcu", • He interposed in or by an oath,' namely, himself: for that is to be supplied out of the thirteenth verse, where it is said, that “ he sware by himself.” So elsewhere it is said, that “he sware by the excellency of Jacob,” that is, by himself! “ By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, that in blessing I will bless theem.” The meaning is, that God should deny himself (which he cannot do "), and should cease to be God, if the word which he hath sworn, should not come to pass. So that usual form, “as I live,” is to be understood, Let me not be esteemed a living God, if my word come not to pass. So elsewhere the Lord interposeth his holiness, “I have sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto Davido ;" as impossible for him to break his word as to be unholy.

For the second question, Why God swears in this particular? I answer: First, and principally, to show, rñs Bourns αυτού αμετάθετον P, The immutable and irreversible certainty of what he speaks? “I have sworn by myself;" the Word is gone out of my mouth, "and it shall not return "," &c. Thus we find God confirming the unmovableness of his covenant by an oath' When the Lord doth only say a thing (though

8 2 Chron. xxvi. 18, 21. h Sacerdos Ecclesiæ habentis præputium. Hieron. To. 3. lib. Quæst. Heb. in Genes.-Verisimile est illum esse ex illis gentibus, quæ Palestinam incolebant. Theodoret. Quest. 63. in Genes. i Vid. Casaub.in Sueton. August. cap. 31.-Rex Anius, Rex idem hominum Phæbique Sacerdos. Virgil. Æneid. lib.3. k Heb. vi. 17. I Amos viii. 7. vi, 8. m Gen. xxii, 16. n 2 Tim. ii. 13.

Im lxxxix. 35. Ρ Τον όρκον δε πολλαχού και την αμετάθετον σερί εκάστου πράγματος αναβεβαίωσιν ονομάζει, ώστε ώμοσε κύριος και ου μεταμεληθήσεται, ότι άτρέπτους και ακινήτους δόγμασι την της επαγελίας χάριν τώ Δαβίδ εβεβαίωσεν. . 9 Heb. vi. 17. r Isai. xlv. 23. • Isai. liv. 9, 10. Psalm lxxxix, 34, 35.

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his word be as certain in itself as his oath, for it is as impossible for him to lie as to forswear himself), yet there is an implicit kind of reservation for the altering, revoking, or reversing that word by some subsequent declarations. As, in the covenant and priesthood of Aaron, though God made it for a perpetual ordinance, yet there was, after, a change of it, for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. So when the Lord sent Jonah to preach destruction unto Nineveh within forty days, though the denunciation came not to pass, yet was it not any false message, because it was made reversible upon an implicit condition ; which condition the Lord is pleased sometimes in mercy to conceal, that men may be the sooner frighted out of their security, upon the apprehension of so approaching a danger. “ At what time, saith the Lord, I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and pull down, and destroy: if that nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them!” But when the Lord swears any absolute act, or promise of his own (for the revocation whereof there can no other ground • de novo' arise, than was extant at the time of making it, and yet was no bar or hindrance unto it, namely, the sin of man), he then, by that oath, seals and assures the immutability thereof to those that rely upon it.

Secondly, It is to commend the excellency and pre-eminence of that above other things, which hath this great seal of Heaven, the oath of God, to confirm and establish it. “ Inasmuch," saith the apostle, “as not without an oath he was made priest, by so much was he made a surety of a better testamentų;" and this is a consequent of the former : for by how much the more abiding, by so much the more glorious is the ministry of the gospel. “If that which is done away, were glorious, much inore that which remaineth, is glorious *.” The more solemn and sacred the institution was, the more excelleni is the priesthood. Now this oath was that seal of God, by which he designed and set apart his Son for that great office, in a more solemn manner of ordination, than was to others usual. “ Him hath God the Father sealed y." It was but “ He hath said,” unto others, “ Ye are Gods;" but it is, “ He hath sanctified,” to his Son 2 Thirdly, It is to commend God's great compassion and

+ Jerem. xviii. 7, 8,

· Heb. vi. 20, 22.

* 2 Cor. iii. II.

goodwill“, for the establishing of the hearts of men in comforts and assurance. He therefore confirmed his promise by an oath, “That by two immutable things, wherein it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope, which is set before us b." An oath, even amongst men, is the end of all controversy,' the determination and composing of all differences : how much more, when he sets his seal

and covenant, should the hearts of men be secure, and lay fast hold thereon without doubt or scruple! Therefore we find the saints, in the Scripture, make mention of the oath of God, for establishing their hearts against fears or dangers : “ Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn to our fathers from the days of old.” “Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word d.”—that is, Thou didst make it appear to thine enemies that thou didst fight for thy people, and remember thy Word or covenant of mercy which thou didst swear unto Abraham the father of the faithful, and so oftentimes new ratify unto his seed, the tribes which proceeded from him.—And this is the ground of all the church's comfort and stability: for alas ! we, every day, deserve to have God abrogate his covenant of mercy with us, but he is mindful of the oath which he hath sworno. There was wickedness enough in the world, to have drawn down another flood after that of Noah; the same reason that caused it, did remain after it was removed. But God's Oath bound him to his mercy %. The meaning then of this first clause is this:-The Lord, to show the immutability of his counsel, the unchangeableness of Christ's priesthood, the excellency of it above the priesthood of Aaron, the strong consolation which

upon

his
mercy

y John vi. 27. z John x. 34, 36. a Quod Deus tantopere commendat, quod etiam humano more sub dejeratione testatur, summâ utique gravitate et aggredi et custodire debemus, ut in asseveratione Divinæ gratiæ permanentes, in fructu quoque ejus et emolumento proinde perseverare possimus. Tertul. de pænitent. cap. 4.—Quid est Dei veri veracisque juratio, nisi promissi confirmatio, et infidelium quædam increpatio ? Aug. de Civit. Dei, lib. 16. cap. 13.

b Heb. vi. 17, 18. • Micah vii. 20. d Hab. iii. 9. * Dcut. vii. 7, 8. ix. 5. I Gen, vi. 12. 13. viii. 21. & Isai. liv. 9.

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