« Prev Mr Biddle’s eleventh chapter examined. Next »

Mr Biddle’s eleventh chapter examined.

His eleventh chapter is concerning the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the first and second questions he grants him to be a priest, from Heb. iv. 14, and to be appointed to that office by the Father, from chap. 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, show 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 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 398priest properly so called, and then evince when he was so, or when he entered on that office:—

1. 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, verse 4, “And no man taketh this honour unto 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 high priest to Jesus Christ: Verse 5, “So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an 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 particular, 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 an one:— [1.] He was taken from amongst men. That great prophecy of him so describes him, Deut. xviii. 18, “I will raise them up a prophet from among their 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 everywhere mentioned: “God raised up the horn of salvation in the house of his servant David,” Luke i. 69. [2.] He was ordained for men, τὰ πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, as to things appointed by God. Καθίσταται 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: Heb. v. 5, 6, “So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,” etc. He had his ordination from 399God. 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, “Inasmuch as not without an oath,” etc. 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: Chap. iii. 6, “Christ is 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 an 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 manifest 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 high 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. 6, and are said to offer up sacrifices to God, spiritual sacrifices, such as God is pleased with, Heb. xiii. 16. 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, 1 Pet. ii. 9; Eph. ii. 18; Heb. x. 22. 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 400of 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 the order of a true and proper priesthood, was truly and properly so. He was “a priest after the order of Melchizedek,” Ps. cx. 4; which the apostle often insists on in the Epistle to the Hebrews. If you say that Christ is called “a priest after the order of Melchizedek,” not properly, but by reason of some proportion and analogy, or by way of allusion to him, you may as well say that he was a priest according to the order of Aaron, there being a great similitude between them; against which the apostle expressly disputes in the whole of the 7th chapter to the Hebrews. He therefore was a real priest, according to a real and proper order.

3. Again; he that was appointed of God to offer sacrifices for the sins of men was a priest properly so called; but that Christ did so and was so appointed will appear in our farther consideration of the time when he was a priest, as also in that following, of the sacrifice he offered, so that at present I shall not need to insist upon it.

4. Let it be considered that the great medium of the apostolical persuasion against apostasy in that Epistle to the Hebrews consists in the exalting of the priesthood of Christ above that of Aaron. Now, that which is only metaphorically so in any kind is clearly and evidently less so than that which is properly and directly so. If Christ be only metaphorically a priest, he is less than Aaron on that consideration. He may be far more excellent than Aaron in other respects, yet in respect of the priesthood he is less excellent; which is so directly opposite to the design of the apostle in that epistle as nothing can be more.

It is, then, evident on all these considerations, and might be made farther conspicuous by such as are in readiness to be added, that Christ was and is truly and properly a high priest; which was the first thing designed for confirmation.

The Racovian Catechism doth not directly ask or answer this question, Whether Christ be a high priest properly so called? but yet insinuates its author’s judgment expressly to the contrary:—

The sacerdotal office of Christ is placed herein, that as by his kingly office he can help and relieve our necessities, so by his sacerdotal office he will help, and actually doth so; and this way of his helping or relieving us is called his sacrifice.445445   “Munus igitur sacerdotale in eo situm est, quod quemadmodum pro regio munere potest nobis in omnibus nostris necessitatibus subvenire, ita pro munere sacerdotali subvenire vult, ac porro subvenit; atque hæc illius subveniendi, seu opis afferendæ ratio, sacrificium ejus appellatur.” — Cat. Rac. de mun. Chris. sacer, q. 1.

Thus they begin. But, — 1. That any office of Christ should bespeak power to relieve us without a will, as is here affirmed of his 401kingly, is a proud, foolish, and ignorant fancy. Is this enough for a king among men, that he is able to relieve his subjects, though he be not willing? or is not this a proper description of a wicked tyrant? Christ as a king is willing as well as able to save, Isa. xxxii. 1, 2. 2. Christ as a high priest is no less able than willing also, and as a king he is no less willing than able, Heb. vii. 25. That is, as a king he is both able and willing to save us, as to the application of salvation and the means thereof; as a priest he is both willing and able to save us, as to the procuring of salvation and all the means thereof. 3. It is a senseless folly, to imagine that the sacrifice of Christ consists in the manner of affording us that help and relief which as a king he is able to give us. Such weak engines do these men apply for the subversion of the cross of Christ! But of this more afterward.

But they proceed to give us their whole sense in the next question and answer, which are as follow:—

Q. Why is this way of his affording help called a sacrifice?

A. It is called so by a figurative manner of speaking; for as in the old covenant the high priest entering into the holiest of holies did do those things which pertained to the expiation of the sins of the people, so Christ hath now entered the heavens, that there he might appear before God for us, and perform all things that belong to the expiation of our sins.446446   “Quare hæc ejus opis afferendæ ratio sacrificium vocatur? — Vocatur ita figurato loquendi modo; quod quemadmodum in prisco fœdere summus pontifex ingressus in sanctum sanctorum, ea quæ ad expianda peccata populi spectarent, perficiebat; ita Christus nunc penetravit cœlos, ut illic Deo appareat pro nobis, et omnia ad expiationem peccatorum nostrorum spectantia peragat, Heb. ii. 17, iv. 14, v. 1, ix. 24.” — De Mun. Chris. Sacer. q. 2.

The sum of what is here insinuated is, — 1. That the sacrifice of Christ is but a figurative sacrifice, and so, consequently, that he himself is a figurative priest: for as the priest is, such is his sacrifice, — proper, if proper; metaphorical, if metaphorical. What say our catechists for the proof hereof? They have said it; not one word of reason or any one testimony of Scripture is produced to give countenance to this figment. 2. That the high priest made atonement and expiation of sins only by his entering into the most holy place and by what he did there; which is notoriously false, and contrary to very many express testimonies of Scripture, Lev. iv. 3, 18, 22, 27, v. 17, vi. 2–7, xvi. 1–6, etc. 3. That Christ was not a high priest until he entered the holy place; of which afterward. 4. That he made not expiation of our sins until he entered heaven and appeared in the presence of God; of the truth whereof let the reader consult Heb. i. 3. If Christ be a figurative priest, I see no reason why he is not a figurative king also; and such, indeed, those men seem to make him.

The second thing proposed is, that Christ was a high priest whilst he was on the earth, and offered a sacrifice to God. I shall here first answer what was objected by Mr B. to the contrary, and then confirm the truth itself.

402I say then, first, that Christ was a priest while he was on earth; and he continueth to be so for ever, — that.is, until the whole work of mediation be accomplished.

Socinus first published his opinion in this business in his book, “De Jesu Christo Servatore,” against Covet. For some time the venom of that error was not taken notice of. Six years after, as himself telleth us (Ep. ad Niemojev. 1447447   “Nam annos abhinc sex atque eo amplius idem paradoxum in mea de Jesu Christo Servatore disputatione sine dubio legisti.” — Faust. Socin. Res. ad Joh. Niemojev. Ep. 1.), he wrote his answer to Volanus, wherein he confirmed it again at large; whereupon Niemojevius, a man of his own antitrinitarian infidelity, writes to him, and asks him sharply (in substance) if he was not mad, to affirm a thing so contrary to express texts of Scripture.448448   “Verum non sine mœrore (ne quid gravius addam), incidi inter legendam in quoddam paradoxon, dum Christum in morte, sive in cruce sacrificium obtulisse pernegas.” — Joh. Niemojev. Ep. 1 ad Faust. Socin. (Ep. Joh. Niemojev. ad Faust. Socin.) Before him, that atheistical monk Ochinus had dropped some few things in his dialogues hereabout. Before him, also, Abelardus had made an entrance into the same abomination; of whom says Bernard, Ep. 190, “Habemus in Francia novum de veteri magistro theologum, qui ab ineunte ætate sua in arte dialectica lusit; et nunc in Scripturis sanctis insanit.”

How the whole nation of the Socinians have since consented into this notion of their master, I need not manifest. It is grown one of the articles of their creed, as this man here lays it down among the substantial grounds of Christian religion. Confessedly on their part, the whole doctrine of the satisfaction of Christ and justification turns on this hinge: for though we have other innumerable demonstrations of the truth we assert, yet as to them, if this be proved, no more is needful; for if Christ was a priest, and offered himself a sacrifice, it cannot but be a sacrifice of atonement, seeing it was by blood and death. Crellius tells us that Christ died for us on a double account; partly as the mediator and surety of the new covenant, partly as a priest that was to offer himself to God.449449   “Etenim mortem, Christus subiit, duplici ratione: partim quidem, ut fœderis mediator, seu sponsor, et veluti testator quidem; partim ut sacerdos Deo ipsum oblaturus.Crell. De Causis Mortis Christi p. 6. A man might think he granted Christ to have been a priest on the earth, and as such to have offered himself a sacrifice. So also doth Volkelius allow the killing of the sacrifice to represent the death of Christ.450450   “Partes hujus muneris hæc sunt potissimum; mactatio victimæ, in tabernaculum ad oblationem peragendam ingressio, et ex eodem egressio. Ac mactatio quidem mortem Christi violentam, sanguinisque profusionem continet.” — Volkel, de Vera Relig. lib. iii. cap. xxxvii, p. 145. Now, the killing of the sacrifice was the sacrificing of it. So Stuckius proves from that of the poet,451451   [Virg. Geor. iv. 547.]Et nigram mactabis ovem, lucumque 403revises.” But Crellius afterward expounds himself, and tells us that this twofold office of Christ (than which nothing can be spoken more ridiculously) of a mediator and a priest did as it were meet in the death of Christ, the one ending (that is, his being a mediator), and the other beginning;452452   “In morte utrumque munus (mediatoris, et sacerdotis) veluti coit: et prius quidem in ea desinit, eaque confirmatur; postremum autem incipit, et ad id Christus fuit quodammodo præparatus.” — P. 8. and Volkelius doth the like, with a sufficient contradiction to his assertion, calling the death of Christ the beginning and entrance of his priesthood.453453   “Hinc colligitur solam Christi mortem, nequaquam illam perfectam absolutamque ipsius oblationem de qua in Epist. ad Hebræos agitur, fuisse; sed principium et præparationem quandam istius sacerdotii in cœlo demum administrandi, extitisse.” — Idem ibid. As for his mediatorship, Crellius telleth us that it is most evident that Christ therein was “subordinate to God” (so he phrases it); that is, he was a mediator with us for God, and not at all with God for us.454454   “Jam vero satis apparet, Christum priori modo spectatum, penitus Deo subordinatum esse.” — P. 6. And this he proves, because he put not himself into this office, nor was put into it by us, so as to confirm the covenant between God and us, but was a minister and messenger of God, who sent him for this purpose.455455   “Neque enim vel ipsum ingessit, vel a nobis missus est ad fœdus inter Deum, et nos peragendum: sed Dei, qui ipsum in hunc finem miserat, minister, ac internuntius hac in parte fuit.” — P. 7. But the folly of this shall be afterward manifested. Christ was given of God, by his own consent, to be a mediator for us, and to lay down his life a ransom for us, 1 Tim. ii. 3–6; which certainly he did to God for us, and not for God to us, as shall afterward be evinced. But coming to speak of his priesthood he is at a loss. “When,” saith he, “he is considered as a priest” (for that he was properly a priest he denies, calling it “Sacerdotii, et oblationis metaphora,”) “although he seemeth to be like one who doth something with God in the name of men, if we consider diligently, we shall find that he is such a priest as performs something with us in the name of God.”456456   “Cum vero consideratur ut sacerdos, — etsi similitudinem refert ejus, qui Deo aliquid hominum nomine præstet, — si tamen rem ipsam penitus spectes, deprehendes talem eum esse sacerdotem, qui Dei nomine nobis aliquod præstet.” — P. 7.

This proof is παρὰ τὴν σύνθεσιν καὶ διαίρεσιν. But this is no new thing with these men: “Because Christ, as a high priest, doth something with us for God, therefore he did nothing with God for us;” as though, because the high priest of old was over the house of God and ruled therein, therefore he did not offer sacrifices to God for the sins of the people. All that Crellius in his ensuing discourse hath to prove this by, is because, as he saith, “Christ offered not his sacrifice until he came to heaven;” which because he proves not, nor endeavours to do it, we may see what are the texts of Scripture urged for the confirmation of that conceit by Mr B. and others.

Seeing all the proofs collected for this purpose are out of the 404Epistle to the Hebrews, I shall consider them in order as they lie in the epistle, and not as transposed by his questions with whom I have to do.

The first is in his 11th question, thus insinuated: “Why would God have Christ come to his priestly office by suffering?” According to the tenor of the doctrine before delivered, the inference is, that until after his sufferings he obtained not his priestly office, for by them he entered upon it. The answer is, “Heb. ii. 10, 17, 18.”

Ans. The apostle doth not say absolutely that it became Christ to be made like us that he might be a high priest, but that he might be a merciful high priest; that is, his sufferings and death were not required antecedently that he might be a priest, but they were required to the execution of that end of his priesthood which consists in sympathy and sufferance together with them in whose stead he was a priest. He sustained all his afflictions, and death itself, not that he might be a priest, but that being merciful, and having experience, he might on that account be ready to “succour them that are tempted;” and this the words of the last verse do evidently evince to be the meaning of the Holy Ghost, “In that he himself hath suffered being tempted,” etc. His sufferings were to this end of his priesthood, that he should be “merciful, able to succour them that are tempted.” Besides, it is plainly said that he was a high priest, εἰς τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ λαοῦ or ἱλάσκεσθαι τὸν Θεὸν περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν, — “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” Now, that reconciliation was made by his blood and death the Scripture informs us: Rom. v. 10, “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son;” Dan. ix. 24. So that even from this place of Scripture, produced to the contrary, it is evident that Christ “was a high priest on earth,” because he was so when he made reconciliation, which he did in his death on the cross.

But yet Mr B.’s candid procedure in this business may be remarked, with his huckstering the word of God. He reads the words in this order: “It became him to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest.” Who would not conclude that this is the series and tenor of the apostle’s discourse, and that Christ is said to be made perfect through sufferings, that he might be a merciful high priest? These words, of “making perfect through sufferings,” are part of the 10th verse; “that he might be a merciful high priest,” part of the 17th; between which two there intercedes a discourse of a business quite of another nature, — namely, his being “made like his brethren” in taking on him “the seed of Abraham,” whereof these words, “that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest,” are the immediate issue; that is, he had a body prepared him that he might be a priest and have a sacrifice. “Our high priest was exercised 405with sufferings and temptations,” says the apostle: “Jesus was exercised with sufferings and temptations that he might be our high priest,” says Mr B.!

Heb. viii. 1, 2, is insisted on to the same purpose in his third question, which is, —

Q. What manner of high priest is Christ?

A. Heb. viii. 1, 2, “We have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle,” etc.

I name this in the next place, because it is coincident with that of chap. iv. 14, insisted on by Socinus, though omitted by our author.

Hence it is inferred that Christ entered the heavens before he was a high priest, and is a high priest only when he is “set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

Ans. That Christ is a high priest there also we grant; that he is so there only, there is not one word in the place cited to prove. Heb. iv. 14 saith, indeed, that “our high priest is passed into the heavens,” but it says not that he was not our high priest before he did so, as the high priest of the Jews entered into the holy place, but yet he was a high priest before, or he could not have entered into it. He is “such an high priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of Majesty;” that is, not like the typical high priest, who died and was no more, but he abides in his office of priesthood; not to offer sacrifice, for that he did once for all, but to intercede for us for ever.

Heb. viii. 4 is nextly produced, in answer to this question, —

Q. Was not Christ a priest whilst he was upon earth, namely, when he died on the cross?

A. Heb. viii. 4, vii. 15, 16.

The same question and answer are given by the Racovian Catechism, and this is the main place insisted on by all the Socinians: “For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law.”

Ans. 1. Ἐπὶ γῆς may be interpreted of the state and condition of him spoken of, and not of the place wherein he was. If he were ἐπὶ γῆς, of a mere earthly condition, as the high priest of the Jews, he should not be a priest: so is the expression used elsewhere. Col. iii. 2, we are commanded “not to mind τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς,” — that is, “terrene things, earthly things” And verse 5, “Mortify your members τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς,” — that is, “your earthly members.”

2. If the words signify the place, and not the condition of the things whereof they are [expressive], they may be referred to the tabernacle, of which he speaks, and not to the high priest. Verse 2, the apostle tells us that he is the minister or priest of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man; and then, verse 3, that 406in the other tabernacle there were priests that offered daily sacrifices: so that, saith he, if this tabernacle ἦν ἐπὶ γῆς, he should not be a priest of it; for in the earthly tabernacle there were other administrators. But to pass these interpretations, —

3. The apostle does not say that he that is upon the earth can be no priest, which must be our adversaries’ argument, if any, from this place, and thus formed: He that is upon the earth is no priest; Christ before his ascension was upon the earth: therefore he was no priest. This is not the intendment of the apostle, for in the same verse he affirms that there were priests on the earth. This, then, is the utmost of his intendment, that if Christ had been only to continue on the earth, and to have done what priests did or were to do upon the earth, there was neither need of him nor room for him; but now he is a priest, seeing he was not to take upon him their work, but had an eternal priesthood of his own to administer. There is no more in this place than there is in chap. vii. 19, 23, 24; which is a clear assertion that Christ had a priesthood of his own, which was to perfect and complete all things, being not to share with the priests, that had all their work to do upon the earth; and in verses 13–15 of chap. vii. you have a full exposition of the whole matter. The sum is, Christ was none of the priests of the old testament, no priest of the law; all their earthly things vanished when he undertook the administration of the heavenly. So that neither doth this at all evince that Christ was not a priest of the order of Melchizedek even before his ascension.

To this Heb. vii. 15, 16 is urged, and these words, “After the power of an endless life,” are insisted on; as though Christ was not a priest until after he had ended his life and risen again.

But is this the intendment of the apostle? doth he aim at any such thing? The apostle is insisting on one of his arguments, to prove from the institution of the priesthood of Melchizedek, or rather a priesthood after his order, the excellency of the priesthood of Christ above that of Aaron. From the manner of the institution of the one and of the other this argument lien Says he, “The priests of the Jews were made κατὰ νόμον ἐντολῆς σαρκικῆς, according to the law of a carnal commandment,” — that is, by carnal rites and ceremonies, by carnal oil and ordinances; “but this man is made a priest after the order of Melchisedec, κατὰ δύναμιν ζωῆς ἀκαταλύτου, by virtue of an endless life, — by the appointment of God, having such a life as should never by death interrupt him in the administration of his office:” for though the life of Christ was intercepted three days, yet his person was never dissolved as to the administration of his office of priesthood, which is the thing spoken of, and in respect of that he had an “endless life.”

Question 9 is to the same purpose:—

407Q. How did Christ enter into the holy place to offer himself?

A. Heb. ix. 12, “By his own blood.”

Ans. Would not any one imagine, [from this question,] that it was said in the Scripture that Christ entered into the holy place to offer himself? that that is taken for granted, and the modus or manner how he did it is alone inquired after? This is but one part of the sophistry Mr B. makes use of in this Scripture Catechism; but it is so far from being a true report of the testimony of the Scripture, that the plain contrary is asserted, — namely, that Christ offered himself before his entrance into the holy place not made with hands, and then entered thereinto, to appear in the presence of God for us. Christ entered by his own blood into the holy place, inasmuch as, having shed and offered his blood a sacrifice to God, with the efficacy of it, he entered into his presence to carry on the work of his priesthood in his intercession for us; as the high priest, having offered without a sacrifice to God, entered with the blood of it into the most holy place, there to perfect and complete the duties of his office in offering and interceding for the people.

The remaining questions of this chapter may be speedily despatched. His sixth is:—

Q. What benefit happeneth by Christ’s priesthood?

A. Heb. v. 9, 10.

Though the place be very improperly urged as to an answer to the question proposed, there being very many more testimonies clearly and distinctly expressing the immediate fruits and benefits of the priestly office of Christ, yet because we grant that by his priesthood, principally and eminently, Christ is become the author of salvation, we shall not dissent as to this question and answer. Only, we add as to the manner, that the way whereby Christ by his priesthood became the author of salvation consists principally in the offering up of himself to death in and by the shedding of his blood, whereby he obtained for us eternal redemption, Heb. ix. 14, 26.

But this Mr B. makes inquiry after:—

Q. How can Christ save them by his priesthood?

A. Heb. vii. 25, ix. 28.

Ans. We acknowledge the use of the intercession of Christ for the carrying on and the completing of the work of our salvation, as also that it is the apostle’s design there to manifest his ability to save beyond what the Aaronical priests could pretend unto, which is mentioned chap. vii. 25; but that “he saves us thereby,” exclusively to the oblation he made of himself at his death, or any otherwise but as carrying on that work whose foundation was laid therein (redemption being meritoriously procured thereby), I suppose Mr B. doth not think that this place is any way useful to prove. And that place which he subjoins is not added at all to the advantage of his 408intendment; for it is most evident that it is of the offering of Christ by death and the shedding of his blood, or the sacrifice of himself, as verse 26, that the apostle there speaks.

There is not any thing else that is needful for me to insist upon in this chapter; for though the Scripture instructs us in many other uses that we are to make of the doctrine of the priesthood of Christ than what he expresses in his last question, yet that being one eminent one amongst them (especially the foundation of coming with boldness to the throne of grace, being rightly understood), I shall not need to insist farther on it.

Not to put myself or reader to any needless trouble, Mr B. acknowledging that Christ is a high priest, and having opposed only his investiture with the office whilst he was upon the earth, and that to destroy the atonement made by the sacrifice of himself, having proved that he was a priest properly so called, I shall now prove that he was a high priest whilst he was upon earth, and show afterward what he had to offer, with the efficacy of his sacrifice, and the intent thereof:—

1. The Scripture will speedily determine the difference: Eph. v. 2, “Christ hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.” He that offereth sacrifices and offerings unto God is a priest; so the apostle defines a priest, Heb. v. 1. He is one “taken from amongst men,” and “ordained to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins,” Now, thus did Christ do in his giving himself for us. Παρέδωκεν, “he delivered himself for us.” “To deliver himself,” or “to be delivered for us,” notes his death, always in contradistinction to any other act of his: so Eph. v. 25, Gal. ii. 20, Rom. viii. 32, iv. 25, Ὃς παρεδόθη διὰ τὰ παραπτώματα ἡμῶν καὶ ἠγέρθη διὰ τὴν δικαίωσιν ἡμῶν. In that delivery of himself he sacrificed, therefore he was then a priest.

To this Socinus invented an answer, in his book “De Servatore,” which he insists on again, Ep. 2 ad Niemojev., and whereunto his followers have added nothing, it being fixed on by them all, in particular by Smalcius in Cat. Rac.; and yet it is in itself ludicrous, and almost jocular. The words, they tell us, are thus to be read: Παρέδωκεν ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, and there they place a point in the verse, προσφορὰν καὶ θυσίαν τῷ Θεῷ, without any dependence upon the former words; making this to be the sense of the whole: “Christ gave himself to death for us; and O what an offering was that to God! and O what a sacrifice!” that is, in a metaphorical sense; not that Christ offered himself to God for us, but that Paul called his giving himself to die “an offering,” or a thing grateful to God, as good works are called “an offering,” Phil. iv. 18; — that is, the dying of Christ was “præclarum facinus,” as Volkelius speaks.457457   Volkel. de Ver. Relig. lib. iii. cap. xxxvii. p. 146. But, —

409(1.) It is easy to answer or avoid any thing by such ways as this. Divide, cut off sentences in the dependence of the words, and you may make what sense of them you please, or none at all.

(2.) These words, προσφορὰν καὶ θυσίαν, have no other word to be regulated by but παρέδωκεν, and therefore must relate thereunto; and Christ is affirmed in them to have given himself “an offering and a sacrifice.”

(3.) These words, “An offering and a sacrifice,” are not a commendation of Christ’s giving himself, but an illustration and a description of what he gave, — that is, himself, a sacrifice of sweet savour to God. So that notwithstanding this exception (becoming only them that make it), it is evident from hence that Christ offered himself a sacrifice in his death, and was therefore then a priest fitted for that work.

2. Heb. v. 6, 7, “As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death,”’ etc. Verse 6, the apostle tells us that he was a priest; and, verse 7, what he did by virtue of that priesthood, — προσήνεγκε δεήσεις καὶ ἱκετηρίας. It is a temple expression of the office of a priest that is used. So verse 1, a high priest is appointed ἵνα προσφέρῃ, “that he may offer.” Now, when did Christ do this? It was “in the days of his flesh, with strong crying and tears;” both which evidence this his offering to have been before his death and at his death. And his mentioning of prayers and tears is not so much to show the matter of his offering, which was himself, as the manner, or at least the concomitants of the sacrifice of himself, — prayers and tears. And these were not for himself, but for his church, and the business that for their sakes he had undertaken.

3. Heb. i. 3, “When he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” The purging of our sins was by sacrifice; there was never any other way καθαρισμοῦ. But now Christ did this before his ascension: Καθαρισμὸν ποιησάμενος, — “When he had by himself,” or after he had, “purged our sins;” and that δἰ ἑαυτοῦ, “by himself,” or the sacrifice of himself. That our sins are purged by the oblation of Christ the Scripture is clear; hence his blood is said to “cleanse us from all sin,” 1 John i. 7. And, Heb. x. 10, “sanctified” is the same with “purged,” and this “through the offering of the body of Christ ἐφάπαξ.” Christ, then, offering this sacrifice whilst he was on the earth, was a priest in so doing.

Unto this may be added sundry others of the same import: Chap. vii. 27, “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.” The one sacrifice of Christ is here 410compared to the daily sacrifices of the priests. Now, those daily sacrifices were not performed in the most holy place, whither the high priest entered but once in a year; which alone was a representation of heaven: so that what Christ did in heaven cannot answer to them, but what he did on earth, before he entered the holy place not made with hands.

And chap. ix. 12, “He entered by his own blood into the holy place, αἰωνίαν λύτρωσιν εὑράμενος,” — “after he had obtained eternal redemption.” Redemption is everywhere in the Scripture ascribed to the blood of Christ; and himself abundantly manifesteth in what account it is to be had, when he says that “he gave his life a ransom,” or “a price of redemption.” Where and when Christ laid down his life we know; and yet that our redemption or freedom is by the offering of Christ for us is as evident: Chap. ix. 26, “He put away sin” (which is our redemption) “by the sacrifice of himself;” so that this sacrifice of himself was before he entered the holy place; and consequently he was a priest before his entrance into heaven. It is, I say, apparent from these places that Christ offered himself before he went into the holy place, or sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; which was to be proved from them.

4. Christ is often said to “offer himself once for all;” designing by that expression some individual action of Christ, and not such a continued course of procedure as is his presentation of himself in heaven, or the continuation of his oblation, as to its efficacy, by his intercession. So Heb. vii. 27, Τοῦτο ἐποίησεν ἐφάπαξ ix. 28, Ἅπαξ προσενεχθείς, etc.; x. 10, 12, 14. In all these places the offering of Christ is not only said to be one, but to be once offered. Now, no offering of Christ besides that which he offered on the earth can be said to be once offered; for that which is done in heaven is done always and for ever, but that which is done always cannot be said to be done once for all. To be always done or in doing, as is Christ’s offering himself in heaven, and to be done once for all, as was the oblation spoken of in those places, whereby our sins are done away, are plainly contradictory. It is said to be so offered ἅπαξ as to be opposed unto πολλάκις, whereby the apostle expresses that of the Aaronical sacrifice, which in two other words he had before delivered. They were offered εἰς τὸ διηνεκές and καθ ἡμέραν, that is, πολλάκις: in which sense his offering himself in heaven cannot be said to be done ἅπαξ but only that on the cross. Besides, he was ἅπαξ προσενεχθεὶς εἰς τὸ πολλῶν ἀνενεγκεῖν ἁμαρτίας, chap. ix. 28, and how he did that we are informed, 1 Pet. ii. 24, Ὃς τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν αὐτὸς ἀνήεγκεν ἐν τῷ σώματι αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον, — he did it in his own body on the tree.

Besides, the apostle, Heb. ix. 26, tells us that he speaks of such an offering as was accompanied with suffering: “He must often have suffered since the foundation of the world.” It was such an offering 411as could neither be repeated nor continued without suffering that he treats of. We do not deny that Christ offers himself in heaven, — that is, that he presents himself as one that was so offered to his Father; but the offering of himself, that was on earth: and therefore there was he a priest.

5. Once more; that sacrifice which answered those sacrifices whose blood was never carried into the holy place, that must be performed on earth, and not in heaven. That many proper sacrifices were offered as types of Christ, whose blood was not carried into the holy place, the apostle assures us, Heb. x. 11. The daily sacrifices had none of their blood carried into the holy place, for the high priest went in thither only once in the year; but now these were all true sacrifices and types of the sacrifice of Christ, and therefore the sacrifice of Christ also, to answer the types, must be offered before his entrance into heaven, as was in part declared before: yea, there was no other sacrifice of these but what was performed in their killing and slaying; and therefore there must be a sacrifice, prefigured by them, consisting in killing and shedding of blood. All this is asserted by the apostle, Heb. vii. 27, “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.” Those sacrifices which were offered καθ ἡμέραν, “daily,” were types of the sacrifice of Christ, and that of his which was offered ἐφάπαξ did answer thereunto, — which was his death, and nothing else.


« Prev Mr Biddle’s eleventh chapter examined. Next »





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |