« PreviousContinue »
SERM. have need that one teach you again, which be
the first Principles of the Oracles of God; and are become such as have need of Milk, and not of strong Meat : For every one that is unskilful in the Word of Righteousness, is as one that useth Milk: for he is a Babe, But lince strong Meat belongeth to such as are:of full Age, (i. e. to such as are perfect) and ta those who by reason of Use (or Habit) have their Senses exercised to discern both Good and Evil, ver. U-14. Therefore leaving the Principles of the Doctrine of Christ ; let us go on to Perfeétion : And this will we do the next Opportunity if God permit, chap. xii. I, 3 But since the Melchisedecbian Priesthood of our Lord will open a new Scene, and of itself supply us with Matter more sufficient for a whole Discourse ; I shall wave it at present, and from what has been said concerning our Blessed Saviour's fulfilling and finishing the Aaronick Priesthood, shall draw some practical Inferences and conclude.
And these shall be no other than what the Author of the Epistle before us, himself points
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, chap. iv. 14. so much greater than Aaron himself, and much more so than any
that succeeded afterwards of the Order of SER M.
Aaron, an High Priest that is passed into the Heavens, who is not entred into the boly Places made with Hands, which were but Figures of the true, but into Heaven itself, chap. ix. 24. he being no less than Jesus the only Son of God; seeing we Christians have such an High Priest, let us hold fast our Profeffon ; or (as it is expressed in another Place of this same Epiftle) let us hold fast the Profeffion of our Faith without wavering, chap. X. 23. i. e. let as hold fast that Profeffion which we made in our Baptism, and not be driven from it by any Opposition or Perfecution that may at any Time threaten 'us for it. : Much less let us suffer ourselves to be baffled out of our Religion by the idle Pratings of Men, who finding Christianity allows them no Indulgence to their Vices and Lufts, endeavour to persuade themselves and others, if they could, that on the other hand it yields no solid Satisfaction or Assurance of the bigh Rewards it proposes : In which every good Man is able to contradict them; for he feels and experiences the Truth and the Force of them in his own Breast, therefore maintain our Faith and our Hopes against all Attempts. For since the High
SER M. Priest of our Profeffion is by God himself so
highly exalted ; or rather fince one lo eternally exalted, became our High Prieft; we may be sure that Profession or Religion he patronizes, must be the only true and effențial Religion, the only one that will eternally endure.
But to hasten to the practical Improvements of my Discourse.
It concerns us in the second place to note well and observe for whose Sake he is appointed an High Priest. Did he offer his Sacrifice, (or does he now intercede, in Virtue of his Sacrifice) for all Men indiscriminately, whether good or bad ? No surely : No such Latitude is encouraged, or supposed to be intended by him, through all this Epistle. He himself is exprefly set forth to us, as boly, harmless, undefiled, and feparate from Sinners, chap. vii, 26. And such, to our Pow. er, must we endeavour to be, or else we come not into the Number of those for whom he intercedes. He was himself made perfeet, i. e. he himself was consecrated to his Priesthood by Obedience and Sufferings ;, and in Virtue of that Consecration, be became the Author of eternal Salvation, chap. v.
8, 9. the Author of it, and the Conferrer of S E R M. it on all that shall enjoy it : But for fear
you fhould mistake, and think that Men have nothing to do for themselves, pray mind the Words following, which so closely and so cautiously limit the Sense.- He became the Author of eternal Salvation unto all them that obey bim: to all them ; but to them only: to them only, who believe his Promises, obey his Precepts, and chearfully suffer rather than fwerve from their Obedience or Faith: And this' Limitation of the Benefits of his Priesthood is in another Place very carefully put in ; to prevent our placing any unwarrantable Confidence in it; and that too even where the Greatness and Sufficiency of it is the Thing displayed. In Opposition to the frequent, but yet ineffectual, Repetition of the Sacrifices amongst the Jewish Priests, it is observed that this Man, the Blessed Jesus, after he had offered one Sacrifice for Sins, and but one only, for ever sat down at the Right Hand of God, chap. x. II, 12. For by one Offering, i. e. by the Offering of bis Body once for all, ver. 10. be hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified, ver. 14.
But fan&tified you must be, or else even this Man's, Christ Jesus his Of
SER M. fering, how infinitely valuable or meritorious
soever, and though it should be as often rea peated as the Offerings under the Law, will po more avail to make you perfect than the most imperfect Sacrifices of the Law itself. For as Christ through the eternal Spirit, (or, as the Divine Person of Christ) offered himself (as to his human Nature) without Spot
to God; so the End of that Offering was to purge their Conscience from dead Works, to serve the living God, chap. ix. 14. Meaning that as the Jewish Rites restored Men to the Temple, and put them into a Capacity of frequenting again their religious Worship; fo the Expiation and Intercession of Christ is an Encouragement to us to perform our Services, both religious and moral. It is a Com, fort to us in such Performances ; as it is an Assurance that we shall be accepted if we de perform them : But by no Means are we to think it a Dispensation from them. For Christ intercedes not for the Careless and Presumptuous, who imagine that every Thing is already done for them, who talk of, and depend upon, absalute Decrees, and irresistible Grace, without offering to do any thing for themselves, or endeavouring to work out their own Salvation : No, He neither thed