Imatges de pàgina

of his love. He therefore is the sole heir, by whose death the inheritance comes to others; which circumstance was predicted by the perfidious husbandmen, (Mark xii, 7.) who, being Scribes and Pharisees, uttered at that time a remarkable truth, although they were ignorant of such a great mystery.

(3) But because it is impossible to obtain benefits of this magnitude except in union with the High Priest himself, it was expected of him that he should ask and obtain the gift of the Holy Spirit, the bond of that union, and should pour him out on his own people. But since the Spirit of grace is the token as well as the testimony of the love of God towards us, and the earnest of our inheritance, Christ could not ask this great gift till a reconciliation had taken place, and to effect this was the duty of the priest. When, therefore, this reconciliation was effected, he asked of his Father another Comforter for his people, and his request was granted. Being elevated to the right hand of God, he obtained this Paraclete promised in the terms of the sacerdotal covenant; and, when he had procured this Spirit, he poured him out in a most copious manner on his followers, as the scripture says, “Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear.” (Acts ü, 33.)

That the asking, the obtaining, and the communication of all these blessings, have flowed from the functions of the priesthood, God has testified by a certain seal of the greatest sanctity, when he constituted Christ the Testator of these very blessings, which office embraces conjointly both the full possession of the good things divised as legacies in the Will, and absolute authority over their distribution.

3. The THIRD FRUIT of Christ's administration is the institution of a neto priesthood both eucharistic and regal, and our sanctification for the purpose of performing its duties ; for when a New Covenant was concluded, it was needful to institute a new eucharistic priesthood, (because the old one had fallen into disuse,) and to sanctify priests to fulfil its duties.

(1) Christ, by his own priesthood, completed such an insti. tution; and he sanctified us by a discharge of its functions.

This was the order in which he instituted it: First, he constituted us his debtors, and as bound to thanksgiving on account of the immense benefits procured for us and bestowed upon us by his priesthood. Then he instructed us how to offer sacrifices to God, our souls and bodies being sanctified and consecrated by the sprinkling of his blood and by the unction of the Holy Spirit, that, if they were offered as sacrifices to God, they might meet with acceptance. It was also his care to have an altar erected in heaven before the throne of grace, which being sprinkled with his own blood he consecrated to God, that the sacrifices of his faithful people, being placed upon it, might continually appear before the face of the Majesty of heaven and in presence of his throne. LASTLY, he placed on that altar an eternal and never-ceasing fire,—the immeasurable favour of God, with which the sacrifices on that altar might be kindled and reduced to ashes.

(2) But it was also necessary that priests should be consecrated: the act of consecration, therefore, was performed by Christ, as the Great High Priest, by his own blood. St. John says, in the Apocalypse, “ He hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his father.” (i, 6.)—“ Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings, and priests.” (v, 10.) Not content to have us joint-heirs in the participation of his inheritance, he willed that we should likewise partake of the same dignity as that which he enjoyed. But he made us partners with him of that dignity in such a manner, as in the mean time always to retain within himself the first place, “as Head of his body the Church, the first-born among many brethren and the Great High Priest who presides over the whole of the House of God.” To Him, we, who are “born again,” ought to deliver our sacrifices, that by him they may be further offered to God, sprinkled and perfumed with the grateful odour of his own expiatory sacrifice, and may thus through him be rendered acceptable to the Father. For this cause, the Apostle says, “By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name.” (Heb. xiii, 15.) We are indeed, by his favour, “ a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices ;” but those sacrifices are rendered “acceptable to God, only by Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. ii, 5.)—Not only was it his pleasure that we should be partakers of this sacerdotal dignity, but likewise of the eternity attached to it, that we also might execute the office of the priesthood after the order of Melchizedec, which by a sacred oath was consecrated to immortality. For though, at the close of these temporary ages, Christ will not any longer

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perform the expiatory part of the priesthood, yet he will for ever discharge its eucharistic duties in our favour. These eucharistic duties we shall also execute in him and through him, unless, in the midst of the enjoyment of the benefits received by us from him, we should desire our memories no longer to retain the recollection, that through him we obtained those blessings, and through him we have been created priests to render due thanksgiving to God the chief Donor of all. But, since we are not able to offer to God, so long as we remain in this mortal body, the sacrifices due to him, except by the strenuous resistance which we offer to Satan, the world, sin, and our own flesh, and through the victory which we obtain over them, (both of which are royal acts,)—and since, after this life, we shall execute the sacerdotal office, being elevated with him on the throne of his Father, and having all our enemies subdued under us,-he hath therefore made us both kings and priests, yea "a royal priesthood” to our God, that nothing might be found in the typical priesthood of Melchizedec, in the enjoyment of which we should not equally participate.

4. The FOURTH and last FRUIT of the Priesthood of Christ, proposed to be noticed by us, is the act of bringing to God all the church of the faithful ;—which is the end and completion of the three preceding effects. For with this intent the covenant was contracted between God and men ; with this intent the remission of sins, the adoption of sons, and the Spirit of grace were conferred on the church; for this purpose the new eucharistic and royal priesthood was instituted ;—that, being made priests and kings, all the covenant people might be brought to their God. In most expressive language the Apostle Peter ascribes this effect to the priesthood of Christ, in these words: “ For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, thaT HE MIGHT BRING US to God.” (1 Pet. iii, 18.) The following are also the words of an Apostle concerning the same act of bringing them to God: “ Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father.” (1 Cor. xv, 24.) In Isaiah's prophecy it is said, “ Behold I and the children whom the Lord hath given me !" Let these words be considered as proceeding out of the mouth of Christ, when he is brirging his children and addressing the Father ;-not that they may be “for signs and for wonders” to the people, but “a peculiar treasure to the Lord.”

Christ will therefore bring all his CHURCH, whom he hath redeemed to himself by his own blood, that they may receive,

from the hands of the Father of infinite benignity, the heavenly inheritance which has been procured by his death, promised in his word, and sealed by the Holy Spirit, and may enjoy it for ever.—He will bring his PRIESTS, whom sprinkled with his blood, he hath sanctified unto God, that they may serve him for ever. He will bring his Kings, that they may with God possess the kingdom for ever and ever : for in them, by the virtue of his Holy Spirit, he has subdued and overcome Satan the Chief, and his auxiliaries—the world, sin, and their own flesh, yea, and “death itself, the last enemy that shall be destroyed.”

Christ will bring, and God even the Father will receive :He will receive the Church of Christ, and will command her as “ the bride, the Lamb's wife," on her introduction into the celestial bride-chamber, to celebrate a perpetual feast with the Lamb, that she may enjoy the most complete fruition of pleasure in the presence of the throne of his glory.-He will receive the PRIESTs, and will clothe them with the comely and beautiful garments of perfect holiness, that they may for ever and ever sing to God a new song of thanksgiving.–And then he will receive the Kings, and place them on the throne of his Majesty, that they may with God and the Lamb obtain the kingdom and may rule and reign for ever.

These are the fruits and benefits which Christ, by the administration of his priesthood, hath asked and obtained for us, and communicated to us : Their dignity is undoubtedly great, and their utility immense. For what could occur of a more agreeable nature to those who are “ alienated from the life of God, and strangers to the covenants of promise,” (Ephes. ii, 12.) than to be received by God into the covenant of grace, and to be reckoned among his people? What could afford greater pleasure to the consciences which were oppressed with the intolerable burden of their sins, and fainting under the weight of the wrath of God, than the remission and pardon of all their transgressions ? What could prove more acceptable to men, sons of the accursed earth, and to those who are devoted to hell, than to receive from God the adoption of sons, and to be written in heaven ? What greater pleasure could those enjoy who lie under the dominion of Satan and the tyranny of sin, than a freedom from such a state of most horrid and miserable servitude, and a restoration to true liberty ? What more glorious than to be admitted into a participation of the Priesthood and of the Monarchy, to be consecrated priests and kings to God, even royal priests and priestly kings ? And, lastly, what could be more desirable than to be brought to God, the. Chief Good and the Fountain of all happiness, that, in a beatified and glorious state, we may spend with him a whole eternity?

This priesthood was imposed by God himself, “ with whom we have to do,” on Christ Jesus,-the Son of God and the Son of man, our first-born brother, formerly encompassed about with infirmities, tempted in all things, merciful, holy, faithful, undefiled, and separate from sinners; and its imposition was accompanied by a sacred oath, which it is not lawful to revoke. Let us therefore rely with assured faith on this priesthood of Christ, entertaining no doubt that God hath ratified and confirmed, is now ratifying and confirming, and will for ever ratify and confirm all those things which have been accomplished, are now accomplishing, and will continue even to the consummation of this dispensation to be accomplished, on our account, by a High Priest taken from among ourselves, and placed in the Divine presence, having received in our behalf an appointment from God, who himself chose him to that office.

Since the same Christ hath by the administration of his own priesthood obtained a perpetual expiation and purgation of our sins, and eternal redemption, and hath erected a throne of grace for us in heaven, let us draw near [to this throne of grace with a true heart and in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,” (Heb. x, 22.) “and our conscience purged from dead works,” (ix, 14.) assuredly concluding “that we shall obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (iv, 16.)

LASTLY. Since, by the administration of this priesthood, so many and such excellent benefits have been obtained and prepared for us, of which we have already received a part as “ the first-fruits,”—and since we expect to reap in heaven the choicest part of these benefits, and the whole of them in the mass, and that most complete,—what shall we render to our God for such a transcendent dignity ? what thanks shall we offer to Christ who is both our High Priest and the Lamb? “ We will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord." We will offer to God “ the calves of our lips,” and will “ present to him our bodies, souls, and spirits, a living sacrifice,

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