How then, you will inquire, are we to judge of the intent of all these references to the mosaic law, in this epistle to the hebrews, and what degree of inspiration are we to attribute to it?

With respect to the latter inquiry, it is to be observed, that in all these occasional writings of the apostles, no new revelation is to be expected in them, unless when expressly pointed out by themselves; which we do not find here done by, St. Paul. But he, as well as the other apostles, being fully informed of the gospel-doctrine, and deeply impressed with the importance of it, would always be able, without any immediate divine assistance, to state, and explain and apply it, to any particular purpose, case, of emergency, that called for it, either in preaching or writing. And their doctrine,

. thus delivered, could not be called mere human teaching, or the word of man, but that which Jesus Christ received by inspiration, and communicated to his followers, the word of God.

The special occasion of his inditing this epiftle, and the persons to whom it was

sent, sent, and their situation, will unfold the reason of that continual reference to the mofaic institution, which we meet with in this epistle, beyond any other of his, writings.

Addressing himself then, as is generally acknowleged, to hebrew christians, residing'in Judea, in dangerous times, just before the breaking out of their fatal war against the romans, when they were under many temptations to desert the gospel, his chief design is to confirm them in their adherence to it. And the argument most likely to turn them back to judaism, being this, that the gospel tended to abolith their divine religion, their priesthood and sacrifices, without giving them an equivalent in lieu of it, this eminent teacher makes it his business to shew the superiority of Christ, in character and office, to Moses ; and even to angels, by whose instrumentality they supposed their law to have been given; and teaches at large, by comparison, that Christ was a better high priest than any under their law, and his death, or sacrifice, more efficacious and acceptable to God, than their legal sacrifices,


Not that Christ was properly a priest, or his death properly a sacrifice : but our apostle, a jew writing to jews, speaks to them in their own way, in terms of allusion to their old religion and its ceremonies; and intended to signify this only by it, that whatever advantages they supposed that they had from their high priests and sacrifices, christians derived far more and greater from Christ.

That this was the apostle's intent, in applying so much of the jewish history and ritual to his present purpose, I persuade myself you will find on the maturest examination to be the truth ; and that in this way of interpreting his letter to his countrymen, you have fome sure rule and plan by whichi to proceed; but in the method which Dr. Horne's prejudices leads him to embrace, you are wholly left to ingenious conjecture, and imagination.

And though there will soon be an oppora tunity of farther inquiry into the supposed priestly character of Christ, his interceflion, and making atonement for us, you will perhaps at present see cause to agree with me, that H


there is no ground for that extreme dissatisfaction, in which you are made to join with the president of Magdalen, at the following passage which he cites from the sequel to the apology on resigning the vicarage of Catterick, p. 88. 89. “Our Lord never • called himself an high priest, nor is

spoken of as such by any of the four his« torians of his life and of the first propaga* tion of his religion among jews and gen* tiles ; nor is he so stiled by any of the

writers of the New Testament, except the ' author of this epistle to the hebrews. From ' whence we may conclude, that neither * Christ, nor the evangelists esteemed this ' to be any real part of his character, or • needful to be attended to by his followers.'

[ocr errors]



Moses's account of the transgresion of our first

parents, much misrepresented, through the bias of wrong religious Systems. It is probable, according to Dr. Priestley's conje&ture, that he did not receive that account from a particular divine inspiration. How it is to be interpreted. Juftification of this

tion of this way of interpretation, from

similar infances in fcripture, especially, Christ's temptation. A farther confirmation of the probability, that Mofes drew up his history of the fall, in the manner here stated.

Dr. Priestley, in his letters to Dr. Price, p. 158. 159. remarks, that that worthy person had appeared to him, without any just ground, to found, what he calls, the necefsity of Christ's incarnation, and the efficacy of his death, on the transgression of our first parents; observing to him, that, if the fall of man, whatever it was, had been an event, on which the whole christian scheme was thus founded, we might have expected


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

H 2

a morc

« ElőzőTovább »