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There are two general parts of this chapter.
I. A farther explication of the excellency of the priesthood of Christ, or of Christ himself, as vested with that office; that is, both in his personal glory, and in the usefulness of his office to the church; above those of the order of Aaron,
II. A farther confirmation hereof; wherein is introduced the consideration of the two covenants, the old and the new. For to the former, was the whole administration of the Levitical priests confined. Of the latter, Christ as our high priest was ihe mediator and surety, And therefore the apostle fully proves the excellency of this new covenant above the old, which redounds to the glory of its mediator.
The first part is contained in the first five verses; the latter extends from thence to the end of the chapter.
In the first part, two things are designed. 1. A recapitula. tion of some things before delivered. 2. The addition of some farther arguments in the confirmation of the same truth, so long before insisted on.
Both of them he compriseth in three instances of the excellency of Christ in his priesthood, or in the discharge of his office.
1. In his exaltation and the place of his present residence ; ver. 1.
2. In the sanctuary whereof he is a minister, and the tabernacle wherein at present he doth administer, ver. 2.
3. In the sacrifice he had to offer, or which he offered before his entrance into that sanctuary, ver. 3. which he illustrates by two especial considerations, ver. 4,5. VER. 1.-Κεφαλαιον δε επι τοις λεγομενοις, τοιχτον εχομεν αρχιερέα, ός
καθισεν εν δεξια τα θρονε της μεγαλοσυνης εν τους ερανοίς. KsQuddur. Syr. *77, Caput ; Vul. Capitulum, summa ; Beza. Cæterum eorum quæ diximus hæc summa est, • Moreover this is the sum of what we speak.' Summatim autem dicendo, 'to speak briefly,' sti toog aspopesv015. Syr. 1977537---- of all these things ;' the head, chief or principal of all these things. ' Vul. Super ea quæ dicuntur; Rhem, the sum concerning ihese things which be said.' Vol. VI.
T018Toy yours; Syr. ' We have a high priest, he who sitteth ;' omitting this word, or including it in x3x, is, ille.
Tns Meya wouins ; Vul. magnitudinis, which the Rhemists render by “majesty,' and retain sedis for @gove ; Beza. Majestatis illius ; or throni virtutis magnificandi. Ver. 1.- Now of the things that are spoken, this is the sum :
we have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the
throne of the Majesty in the heavens. This first verse contains two things. 1. A preface to that part of the ensuing discourse which immediately concerns the priesthood of Christ, to the end of ver. 5. 2. A declaration of the first pre-eminence of our high priest, which the apostle would have us in an especial manner to consider.
First, The preface is in these words, Κεφαλαιον δε επι τοις λεγομέyous; which may be considered either as to its design in general, or as to the sense of the words.
I. The design of the apostle in this interlocution, (which is not unusual with him), is to stir up the Hebrews to a diligent consideration of what he insisted on, and to leave an impression of it on their minds. And this he doth for two reasons.
1. Lest the length and difficulty of his preceding discourse. should bave any way discomposed their minds, or wearied them in their attention, so as that they could not well retain the substance of what he pleaded. In such cases, it was always usual with them who pleaded important causes, before the wisest judges, to recapitulate what had been spoken at length before, and to shew what hath been evinced by the arguments they had used in their plea. To this purposc speaks Quintilian, lib. 6. cap. 1. Perorationis duplex ratio est posita, aut in rebus, aut in affectibus. Rerum repetitio aut congregatio, quæ Græce dicitur avecxscanninois, a quibusdam Latinorum enumeratio, et memoriam judicis reficit, et totam simul causam ante oculos ponit ; et etiam si per singula minus moverat, turba valet. In hac, qua repetimus quam brevissime dicenda sunt, et (quod Græco verbo patet) decurrendum per capita. How this whole course is steered by the apostle in this place, it is easy for any one to observe.
2. Because of the importance of the matter in hand. He is treating of the very head of all the differences between the law and the gospel, between those who adhered to Mosaic institutions, and those who embraced the faith. Hence he calleth them to a renewed attention to what he delivered. For herein he set life and death before them, and was zealous for them, and earnest with them, that they would choose life, and not die in their unbelief.
II. The sense of the words is to be considered. kiparasov, is capilulum, capul, properly the head of any living creature. But the most frequent use of it is in a sense inetapaorical, as it is
here used by the apostle. And so it hath a double sense and use whereunto it is principally applied, for it hath also other significations. For, 1. It is taken for that which is chief and principal in any matter, business or cause. KsParamor é^8 ts malfpocelos, Isoc. • The head of the whole business. Kapanalo Tas Wasdiras, as you to try of Inu ogodno, Plato, de Legib. lib. 1. • The principal thing in education or instruction.' And so is caput used among the Latins. Caput est in omni procuratione negotiï et muneris publici, ut avariliæ pellatur etiam minima suspicio. • This is the chief or principal thing in the management of all public affairs, that all suspicion of covetousness be far away. 2. It is taken for the sum and substance of what hath been spoken or declared, reduced into a short scheme : w do wv xspanaw uttı, ut summatim dicam, Demosthenes. And so some render these words summalim dicendo. And Isocrates hath an expression directly answering that of the apostle in this place, ad Nicoc. Kepadatos do twy sigruesar, • the sum of what hath been spoken;' so WX7, caput, the head,' is used in the Hebrew, 5x7wi vya wan ne xvn 2, Exod. xxx. 12. “ When thou takest the head,” (the sum) “ of the children of Israel." So also Num. iv. 2. And in this sense is avauspanair. peas, used by our apostle as some think, Eph. i. 10. but it may have another sense in that place. In whether of these two significations it is here used by our apostle, will best appear, from the consideration of what it is applied to, Tois deyoussous. For these words also are capable of a double interpretation.
1. Efı, may be put for ", .in' or ' among;' and then the things themselves treated of may be intended. And if so, xspanauer requires the first signification, the chief and principal thing or matter.' Among all the things treated of, this is the principal,' as indeed it is, and that on which all other things in debate, did depend.
2. If so, be in a manner redundant, and no more is intended but tan sy ouesvar, ' of the things spoken,' then xspanalo, is to be taken into the second signification, and denotes a recapitulation of them. This is that which my arguments amount to, the sum of what I have pleaded.
Both these seases are consistent. For the apostle, in this and the ensuing verses, doth both briefly recapitulate, what he had evinced by his preceding arguments, and also declares what is the principal thing that he had contended for and proved. I iocline to the latter signification of the word, respected in our translation ; yet so as that the former also is true, and safely applieable to the text.
And some directions we may take from the wisdom of the apostle in this management of his present subject, in our preaching or teaching of spiritual things. For,
Obs. I. When the nature and weight of the matter treated ef, or the variety of arguments wherein it is concerned, do require that our discourse of it should be drawn forth to a length more than ordinary, it is useful to refresh the minds and relieve the memories of our hearers, by a brief recapitulation of the things insisted on. It is so, I say, sometimes; as this way is taken once, and but once, by our apostle. When, it is necessary, is left to the wisdom and choice of those who are called to this work; I mean of such who, labouring diligently and conscientiously in the discharge of it, do really consider at all times what is for the benefit and edification of their hearers. But this is to be done only on great and important occasions ; the usual way of the repetition of the heads of sermons formerly preached, is in my judgment useless and unprofitable.
Obs. II. Wben doctrines are important, and such as the eternal welfare of the souls of men are immediately concerned in, we are by all means to endeavour an impression of them on the minds of our hearers.--Be they never so precious, and worthy of all acceptation, oft times they will not obtain an entrance into men's minds, unless they have an edge ministerially put on them. Wherefore they are by all suitable means, with gravity and zeal to be called to a diligent attendance to them. Weight is to be laid doctrinally in their delivery, on things that are of weight really in themselves. And this is the first part of this verse, or the preface of what ensues.
Secondly, The second part of it, in the following words, contains the first general pre-eminence of our high priest, and that taken from his present and eternal state or condition. And there are three things considerable in the words. 1. Our relation to this high priest. 2. The general denotation of him. 3. His eminency and dignity in particular above all others.
I. Our relation to him is expressed in the word exoptev, have.' For the apostle, together with his assertion of the priesthood of Christ, and the declaration of the nature of it, doth frequently intersert the mention of our interest therein, or our relation to him in the discharge of that office ; “ Such a high priest became us," Heb. vii. 26. “ We have not a high priest that cannot," &c. chap. iv. 15. “ The high priest of our profession,” chap. iii. 1. And bere, “ We have such a high priest.” And to the same purpose, “ We have an altar," chap. xiii. 10. And two things the apostle seems to design herein.
1. The dignity of the Christian church, as now separated from the church of the Jews. In all their confidence in their worship, that which they principally boasted of was their high priest and his office. He was anointed with the holy oil. He wore the garments that were made for beauty and glory. He had on his forehead a plate of gold, with that glorious inscription, “ Holiness to Jehovah.” And he alone entered into the boly place, having made expiation of the sins of the people. The Christians who were now separated from them, they des
pised, as those who had no lot nor portion in all this glory; no such visible high priest as they had. So the same persons were afterwards reproached by the Pagans, that they had neither temples nor altars, nor images nor visible deities. So hard was it to call off the carnal minds of men, from things visible and sensible in divine worship, to those that are spiritual and heavenly. And herein lies the reproach of degenerated Christians, especially those of the Roman church, that whereas the gospel, in asserting the pure, heavenly, spiritual worship of God, had prevailed against the world, and triumphed over all that is carnal, invented to please the senses, and satisfy the superstitious minds of men ; they have made themselves the scorn and spoil of their conquered enemies, by returning, in various degrees, to the same kind of worship, which was before destroyed and triumphed over. And as therein they seem to make a public acknowledgment, that the gospel in the management of their predecessors, had much injured the world, in the introduction of a worship spiritual and divine, excluding all those visible glories which it had found out to entertain the minds of men ; so it will appear in the issue that they have made themselves transgressors, by building up what was before destroyed. But the primitive Christians did still oppose the spiritual worship of sanctifiéd souls, in the observance of the institutions of Christ, to all the pretences of glory and beauty pleaded to be in their outward forms. So the apostle here, to evince the dignity of the Christian church against the unbelief of the Jews, pleads their relation to an invisible spiritual high priest, exalted in glory and dignity far above all that they could enjoy by virtue of a carnal commandment. Whatever you think of us, whatever you boast of yourselves, " we have a high priest,” and that such an one, as he immediately declares.
2. He would teach us, that whatever be the glory and dignity of this liigh priest, without an interest in him, without an especial relation to him, unless " we have a high priest,” we are not concerned therein. Many do give their assent to this truth, that Christ is a high priest, but how or wherein he is so to them, they know not, nor yet do they make any use of him as such, Yea, to many the principal mysteries of the gospel, are but mere notions and barren speculations; what it is to be practically influenced by them, and to live in the power of them, they know not. That there is a high priest they believe, but what it is for them to have a bigh priest, they cannot understand. But this is that we are to look after, if we intend benefit by it. And we may know whether we have a high priest or not, really and substantially, by the use which we make of him as such in all our approaches to God. For he presides over the whole house of God, and all the sacred services there, pf. None can come to the Father but by him. Through him