Imatges de pÓgina

pression before us, as we say of such and such an one, He is a pillar of the church, or a pillar of the state, because upon his shoulders resteth much of their prosperity and wellbeing.

The other part of the promise to the church at Philadelphia consisteth of three things, which Christ will write upon every one that overcometh: 1st, "the name of my God;" 2d, "the name of the city of my God, new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God;" 3d, "my new name." After what we set forth in our former Lecture concerning the meaning and importance of a name, we may not doubt, that under these three things are couched great and precious truths, which we shall endeavour to unfold in order. The first of these forms of expression seemeth to be taken from the ordinance of God concerning the high priest, that he should bear upon his forehead a plate of gold, whereon was written" Holiness to the Lord" (Exod. xxviii. 36): "And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD." And the reason assigned for the ordinance is not less remarkable than the ordinance itself: "And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always. upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord" (ver. 38). This language, "bearing the iniquity," &c. so often used of the priesthood, and from them transferred to our great High Priest (Isai. liii. 16; John i. 29; Heb. ix. 28; 1 Pet. ii. 24), is constantly used, as one studious of the Law of Moses well knows, to signify, that the sin for which any one came to offer sacrifice, passed over from himself to the victim, upon the head of which they were confessed, and in the victim they were supposed to inhere. The victim being partly consumed upon the altar, and partly eaten by the priests, brought the guilt of all the sins of Israel upon the holy persons and the holy vessels; which together continued all the year round to drink up the sin of the whole congregation, and for their cleansing one day was appointed, the day of atonement, wherein the high priest, as being the great intercessor, made atonement for the altar, which represented all the vessels of the sanctuary, and for himself, who represented all the persons

of the priesthood. This being accomplished, the people greatly rejoiced, as having been delivered from all their sins. And the beasts which were offered on that day being very sinful, as containing all the sins of all the congregation for that year, might not be burned upon the altar or eaten by the priests, but were sent forth of the camp into the unclean region, and there burned with fire by the hands of a man, who was counted unclean for that act, and had to be washed and purified according to the law. Of this great system of transferring sins from one person to another, the high priest, being the head, is said "to bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their gifts." He is always looked upon as laden with the transgressions of all Israel, even as Christ is, in the passages referred to above, looked on as bearing in his body the load of a world's transgression. Now the wonder is, that with all this the high priest should yet bear on his forehead the words "Holiness to the Lord," which is required to be" always upon his forehead, that they might be accepted of the Lord." This points to the perfect holiness of Christ, notwithstanding his bearing the sins of the world; and that it was through his immaculate holiness that the sacrifice upon the cross was of any merit whatever. The high priest's plate of gold, "Holiness to the Lord," not only protected him from being consumed for the sin of all the people which he bore about with him, but found acceptance with God for those holy gifts, which they were continually bringing in as an atonement for their iniquity; God hereby signifying that one holy person was sufficient to protect, and preserve, and find acceptance for the whole congregation of the tribes of Israel. Not that the high priest was in himself more holy than they, but that he prefigured the person of our blessed Jesus, the holy Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world; and declared that for one holy person God was bearing with, and from the beginning had borne with, the sins of the whole congregation and family of mankind.

Now if this be the end for which God appointed that the high priest should have his name written upon his forehead, something analogous to this must be signified by the promise of Christ, that upon every one who overcometh he will write the same blessed and glorious name. It must.

refer to some dignity and office in the world to come, parallel with the dignity and office of the high priest in the dispensation which is past, and with the office of Christ in the present dispensation. That we shall have the fellowship of Christ's name, of his new name, of that name which no one knoweth but he who receiveth it, is declared in this same promise; but the thing here presented to us is some specific part of that fulness. And what is it?

Upon a theme so very lofty it is necessary to proceed with all manner of caution and circumspection. Let us therefore look first into the description of that state of things where all these promises are fulfilled; for, as we have already seen, the seven promises of the Spirit, to the victorious part of the church, are but the word and particulars of that blessedness of the righteous, which is described at length in the last three chapters of the Revelations, containing the new heaven and the new earth, with the city of the great King. Now as we found there the exposition of the former part of the promise," being made pillars in the temple of God," let us look there for light upon this also, "I will write upon him the name of my God." The answer to the promise is found in the xxiid chapter, verses 3-5: "And the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever." This is written in the language of the temple. The throne of God is the cherubim, and the mercy-seat, where the high priest alone might go in and minister, whither our High Priest, the forerunner, is entered before us within the veil; but now, behold, many have admission into the holy presence of God, even" his servants" who " serve or worship" him (for the word always signifies religious service); that is, do before him the service of the most holy place, have liberty of access to him in their persons, as we have at present in the Spirit through the veil of Christ's flesh. Accordingly, it is added that they see his face, which was the high priest's sole prerogative, to go in and look upon the symbolical face of God, whence beamed his glory, and came forth his word; and to shew that as high priests they had


this prerogative, it is said, "his name shall be in their foreheads," which is the promise of our text realized. Then-still further to keep up the action of the most holy place, which was enlightened neither by the sun, like the court, nor by the candlestick, like the holy place, but by the schechinah or cloud of glory, the very light of God-it is added, "And there shall be no night there, and they need no candle, neither light of the sun, for the Lord God giveth them light." And, finally, to shew that it was not a priesthood merely, but a royalty also, a royal priesthood, it is added, "And they shall reign for ever and ever." "Unto him that loved us...and hath made us kings and priests, be glory and dominion for ever." There can

be no doubt, after the examination of this passage, that the promise, "I will write upon him the name of my God," hath reference to the dignity of the high priesthood, which is reserved for us in that day. And how shall this be occupied, and for what ends?

Christ is now the High Priest over the house of God; and this office hath he obtained not through his Godhead, but through his manhood, because he was made like unto his brethren in all things," and, having been tempted as they are, " is able to succour them that are tempted." "For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." This being the office of an high priest," to have compassion on them that are ignorant, and on them that are out of the way," the Son of God, that he might be qualified for the same, did take flesh and blood with the brethren, and was trained up to the perfection of that high and holy mediatorship. In like manner are we training up through the fellowship of his sufferings, and the conformity of his death, to fill the same office to which he is now exalted, of being a nation of kings and priests after the order of Melchizedek. If any one say that our office is only that of subordinate priests, he erreth, not knowing the Scriptures and the grace of God. No priest but the high priest had the name of God upon his forehead, none but the high priests were of the first-born, as we are called; "the church of the first-born :" none but the high priest was accounted a king as well as a priest. He only

had the raiment of a king, now we are called to be kings as well as priests. We are to be like Christ, and he is High Priest we are to sit in his throne; we are to be glorified with the share of his glory, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. Where then is his supremacy? Where it should be, in his Godhead. But how is this realized? Not in a visible shape or form; but by his receiving the worship of all creation along with the Father. As he appeareth, we appear; as he is, we are; in all his manifest glory, we have a share. But with his Godhead no one intermeddleth. With our manhood humbled he did communicate; with his manhood exalted, we shall communicate. In his flesh he is the image of God, and we are predestinate "to be conformed to the image of his Son." And thus do we become one with Him, even as He is one with the Father. He is a High Priest, and we also are high priests; he is a Priest after the order of Melchizedek, and so also are we. And this dignity we have now in the Spirit, as the Apostle teacheth us in that passage (Heb. x. 19), where he urgeth us to "enter into the holiest through the veil," whether none but the high priest might go; and in that other passage (vi. 18—20), where our hope is represented as being within the veil, whether Christ for us is gone as our forerunner, whom we shall follow if we cleave to that anchor of the soul. And, finally, the whole new Jerusalem, enlightened with the light, and having the throne, of God, is but the antitype of the most holy place, and constructed like to it, of equal dimensions, length, breadth, and height. What then serveth Christ? He serveth to procure for us this entrance into the most holy presence of God; and to Him we owe acknowledgment, and of Him we hold it, and for Him we exercise it; and when we offer to God, as we do always, we offer only by and through Him, yea and to Him; and we ever know that He is the only way to the Father, and the Father's only way to us.

If any one stand amazed at the boldness of these thoughts and the stupendous dignity into which I am bringing man, let him learn that this was man's original level, and that it is the depth to which sin hath dragged us down, that makes it look such a giddy height. Man, I say, was made to be God's image, and his king; a priest for holi

« AnteriorContinua »