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opening books of the New Testament, which contain this history, and thence have been entitled, for a distinction, the four Gospels, are probably the plainest, and, to simple-minded persons, the most interesting, of the whole number which are included in Holy Scripture. Search in them, and see, and recollect, how your
Lord and Saviour used to bear all things, and to think, and speak, and act, while fulfilling His course ; and be instructed to think, and speak, and act likewise, making only the necessary difference, on account of the difference of your several stations. Be frequent both in reading and hearing of Christ, and in seriously pondering the manner of Him, as the most effectual method to acquire His mind. Keep His perfect example ever fresh in your memory, with a view to imitate it on every practicable occasion, and you will find such occasions more in number, than the careless and forgetful can well imagine, and will soon begin to appear indeed new men. St. Paul writes, in another of his Epistles, “We all beholding as “ in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed “ into the same image from glory to glory as
by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor. iii. 18.) Take heed therefore, and yield yourselves to be so desirably changed in heart, and soul, and conduct, from beholding your Redeemer's holy conversation, where His Apostles and Evangelists have described it: then, in due season, will He change your vile bodies also, that they“ may be fashioned like unto His glorious
body, according to the working whereby He " is able even to subdue all things unto Him“ self.” (Philipp. iii. 21.)
HEBREws iv. 15, 16. 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. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help
in time of need. In the verse immediately preceding, the Apostle declares, by name, the Person whom he thus describes. His words, to that effect, are
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, “ that is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the “ Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.” In my text, he proceeds to state the peculiar fitness of this exalted Person to exercise the priestly office; since, although naturally the Son of God, He had condescended, for the purpose, to be made man, and fully to experience man's condition in every respect short of sin: and thence again, (as in the previous verse,) he derives an apposite exhortation to a becoming confidence and hope towards God.
I design, now, in discoursing on this passage, first, to represent the indispensable necessity which exists, that we should have a High Priest in heaven; secondly, to shew, respecting Jesus the Son of God, that He is precisely of the character to have been desired; and thirdly, to speak about the religious boldness, which the Apostle consequently recommends.
In the beginning, therefore, let me explain our occasion for a high priest, by a statement of the duties belonging to that office. “Every • high priest taken from among men is or“ dained for men
in things pertaining to “ God, that he may offer both gifts and sacri“ fices for sins: who can have compassion on “ the ignorant, and on them that are out of the
way; for that he himself also is compassed “ with infirmity.” (Heb. v. 1, 2.) Thus it is written, in the chapter succeeding that from which my text is taken; and in subsequent places, the Apostle briefly recounts the principal duties of the office, as they stand originally enacted in Leviticus. (Lev. xvi.) It appears, generally, that the high priest was appointed to be the minister of the most solemn transactions, between the God of Israel and His people, and the people of Israel and their God: to the people, he represented God, and to God, he represented the people, laying, as it were, before each, the other's mind. But spe
cially he had to do this, on the day called “ the
great day of atonement.” Once every year, on that solemn day, he was to enter within the vail of the temple, into the holiest place, with the blood of a slain victim, and there to offer it before God, for all the sins of the children of Israel. Also, he was the person to intercede with God for the people, whenever they had committed a trespass, or were needing His gracious favour, and to pronounce His blessing on their right conduct, or repentance. Altogether, accordingly, the calling of the Jewish high priest clearly originated in the unworthiness of the Jewish nation. The unfitness of the members of that ancient church to approach the Divine Majesty without a mediator, or to be accepted in their own persons, was the reason why God gave unto them a continual succession of high priests. And by such provision their intercourse with Him was kept up, whenever, with a faithful spirit, they would resort to it.
Now, considering this to have been the origin of the office of high priest amongst the Jews, you may at once perceive the necessity to Christians, likewise, of a High Priest. Surely, men of all nations are conceived, and born in sin; surely all, since their birth, repeatedly “ have sinned, and come short of the glory of