Page images
PDF
EPUB

have we boldness, through him have we ability, through him have we access unto, and acceptance with God. He presents both our persons and duties unto him. Without a daily improvement by faith of the office of Christ unto these ends, it cannot be said that we have a high priest.

3. That the office of the priesthood of Christ is confined unto the church, unto believers. Theirs he is, and for them alone doth he administer before God in this office.

6

II. There is a general denotation of this priest, as to his qualifications, in the word TOTOY. He doth not now only say that we have a high priest ;' nor another high priest,' not according to the ordinances of the law, which he had proved before, from the type of Melchisedec, and the testimony of the psalmist; but moreover such an one as hath that dignity, and those excellencies which he now ascribes to him. The salvation of the church doth not depend merely on its having a high priest, which yet in itself is absolutely necessary to the church, but on his dignity and excellency, his exaltation and glory. Wherefore it is affirmed of him, that he is such a high priest as is set on the right hand of the throne of the glorious majesty in the heavens. And two things we must consider in these words. 1. The design of the apostle in them; and, 2. Their particular interpretation.

First, The design of the apostle, as we observed before, was not to prove the reality of his priesthood, that he was truly a priest; nor yet absolutely the qualifications of his person, but his dignity and excellency. For our Lord Jesus Christ, when he was on the earth, and whilst he offered up to God his great propitiatory sacrifice, was as unto his outward state and condition, inferior unto the Levitical high priests, who were in great honour and veneration among the people. But the state and condition of any in the bearing and discharge of an office, is not to be esteemed and reckoned from what he condescends unto, with respect unto any action or duty belonging unto that office. For a king may condescend unto very mean services, when the condition of his subjects and good of the kingdom require it of him. But it is to be reckoned from his durable estate and perpetual abode therein. Now, although our Lord Christ was for a season in a condition of deep humiliation, taking on him the form of a servant, and being esteemed even as a worm and no man, which was necessary unto the sacrifice he had to offer, yet as unto his durable state wherein he continues in the discharge of his office, he is incomparably exalted above all the high priests under the law. And this is that which the apostle designs here to declare. For what did the high priest do, after he had offered the anniversary sacrifice of expiation unto God? He entered indeed into the holy place, with the blood of the sacrifice, presenting it there before the august pledges of the presence of God. But all the while he was there, he stood be

[ocr errors]

fore the typical throne, or ark and mercy-seat, with holy awe and reverence. And immediately on the discharge of his present duty, he was to withdraw and go out of the holy place. A great privilege this was, and a great honour was herein put on the high priest. For all others, both priests and people, were everlastingly excluded out of that sanctuary. But what is this unto the glory of our high priest? for after he had offered his great sacrifice unto God, he entered not into the holy place made with hands, but into heaven itself. And be entered not to stand with humble reverence before the throne, but to sit on the throne of God at his right hand. Nor did he do so to abide there for a season, but for evermore.

Secondly, As to the words themselves, we may observe that the apostle three times in this epistle maketh use of them with some little variety; chap. i. 3. xii. 2. and in this place. Chap. i. 3. He sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high where there is no mention of the throne. Chap. xii. 2. 'He is set down at the right band of the throne of God:' where majesty is not added. Here we have both; the right hand of the throne of the majesty. In the first place, the glory of his kingly power is intended; in the second, his exaltation and glory, as they ensued on his sufferings; and in this place, the declaration of his glory in his priestly office. The same glory and advancement hath respect unto various acts and powers in the Lord Christ.

Exo. 1. The manner of his enjoyment of this dignity and glory is expressed in the word, he sat down." Hereof there was nothing typical in the legal high priest, who never sat down in the holy place. But as he was in many things typified by the Levitical priests, so in what they could not reach unto, he was represented in Melchisedec, who was both a king and a priest. And hence he is prophesied of as a 'priest upon his throne,' Zech. vi. 13. And the immutable stability of his state and condition is also intended.

2. The dignity itself consists in the place of his residence, where he sat down; and this was, diži, at the right hand.' See the exposition hereof, ch. i. 3.

6

3. This right hand is said to be, του θρόνου της μεγαλωσύνης. There is frequent mention in the Scripture of the throne of God. A throne is insigne regium, an ensign of royal power. That intended by it, is the manifestation of the glory and power of God in his authority and sovereign rule over all.

4. This throne is here said to be, Tas μsyaλwovens, of 'majesty,' or 'glorious greatness and power,' that is, of God himself, for his essential glory and power is intended. The right hand of the throne of majesty, is the same with the right hand of God. Only God is represented in all his glory, as on his throne. Christ is set down at the right hand of God, as considered in all his glori

ous power and rule. Higher expression there cannot be used to lead us into a holy adoration of the tremendous invisible glory which is intended. And this is the eternal stable condition of the Lord Christ our high priest. A state of inconceivable power and glory. Herein he dischargeth the remaining duties of his mediation, according as the nature of his especial offices do require. In this state doth he take care and provide for the application of the benefits of his oblation or sacrifice unto believers; and that by intercession, whereof we have spoken.

5. Thus is he said to be tv savos, in the heavens ;' as in the other place mars, in the highest,' that is, heavens. And by the heavens here, not these visible aspectable heavens, are intended; for with respect unto them he is said to be exalted above all heavens, and to have passed through them. But it is that which the Scripture calls the heaven of heavens, 1 Kings viii. 27. wherein is the especial residence and manifestation of the glorious presence of God. With respect hereunto our Saviour hath taught us to call on our Father who is in heaven. And from the words we may observe, that,

Obs. III. The principal glory of the priestly office of Christ, depends on the glorious exaltation of his person.-To this end is it here pleaded by the apostle, and thereby he evinceth his glorious excellency above all the high priests under the law. To evidence and make useful this observation, the things ensuing are to be observed.

1. The divine nature of Christ is capable of no real exaltation by an addition of glory, but only by the way of manifestation. So God absolutely, is often in the Scripture said to be exalted, that is, he is so, when he himself by any acts of grace or providence, makes the eternal glory of his power, his holiness, or any other properties of his nature, manifest and conspicuous; or when others ascribe unto him the glory and praise that are his due. So only may the Lord Christ be exalted or made glorious, with respect unto his divine nature, wherein he is essentially over all God blessed for ever. And there is in this way, an exaltation or manifestation of glory peculiar and proper unto the person of Christ, as distinct from the persons of the Father and the Holy Spirit. For he did in a peculiar way and manner for a season, forego and leave his glory as to the manifestation of it. For being (essentially) in the form of God, and counting it no robbery to be equal with God, yet he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, Phil. ii. 6, 7. In his incarnation, and his whole converse on the earth, he cast a vail over his eternal glory, so as that it appeared not in its own native lustre. Those indeed who believed on him, "saw his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth," John i. 14. But they saw it darkly and as in a glass, during the time of his

4

5

humiliation. But after his resurrection his glory was unvailed and made conspicuous, even when he was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead," Rom. i. 4.

2. The person of Christ as to his divine nature, was always on the throne, and is incapable of the exaltation here mentioned, of sitting down at the right hand of it. Although he came down from heaven, though he descended into the lower parts of the earth, although he was exposed unto all miseries, was obedient unto death, the death of the cross, wherein God redeemed his church with his own blood, yet did he all this in the human nature that he assumed; his divine person can no more really leave the throne of majesty, than cease to be. So he saith of himself, "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven," John iii. 13. His ascension into heaven in this place, which preceded the actual ascension of his human nature, is nothing but his admission into the knowledge of heavenly things, of all the secrets of the counsel of God; see John i. 18. Mat. xi. 27. For it is of the knowledge of heavenly mysteries, that he is there discoursing with Nicodemus. In his incarnation, he came down from heaven, assuming a nature upon the earth, the highest condescension of God. And whereas the actings of his power on the earth are often called his coming down from heaven, Gen. xviii. 21. Isa. lxiv. 1.; how much more may this infinite condescension of the second person, in assuming our nature, be so called. But yet he was still in heaven; the Son of man which is in heaven. In his divine nature he was still on the throne of majesty. For this being an inseparable property of divine authority, he could never really forego it. Then,

3. It is the human nature of Christ, or Christ in his human nature, or with respect unto it, that is capable of this real exaltation, by a real addition of glory. It is not the manifestation of his glory with respect unto his human nature, but the real collation of glory on him after his ascension, that is intended. This the whole Scripture testifieth unto, namely, a real communication of glory unto Christ by the Father after his ascension which he had not before. See Luke xxiv. 26. John xvii. 24. Acts ii. 33. Acts v. 31. Rom. xiv. 9. Eph. i. 20—23. Phil. ii. 9-11. Heb. i. 3. xii. 2. 1 Pet. i. 21. Rev. v. 9-13. And concerning this glory given him of God, we may observe,

1. That it is not absolutely infinite and essentially divine glory. This cannot be communicated unto any. A creature, as was the human nature of Christ, cannot be made God, by an essential communication of divine properties unto it. Nei ther are they so communicable, nor is that a capable subject of,

their inhesion. Wherefore they speak dangerously who assert a real communication of the properties of the one nature of Christ unto the other, so as that the human nature of Christ shall be omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient; neither doth the union of the two natures in the person of Christ, require any more the transfusion of the divine properties into the human, than those of the human into the divine. If therefore by that union, the human nature should be thought to be rendered subjectively omnipotent and omnipresent, the divine, on the other hand, must become limited and finite. But whatever belongs upto Christ with respect to either nature, belongs unto the person of Christ, and therein he is all that he is in either nature, and in both hath done and doth, what in either of them he hath done and doth, they yet continuing distinct in their essential properties.

2. Yet this exaltation and glory of Christ, in his human nature, is not only absolutely above, but also of another kind, than the utmost of what any other created being either hath, or is capable of. It is more than any other creature is capable of, because it is founded in the union of his person, a privilege which no other creature can ever pretend unto, or be made partaker of unto eternity, Heb. ii. 16. This renders his glory in his exaltation, of another kind than that of the most glorious creatures, in their best condition.

3. Again, It consists greatly in that power and authority over the whole creation, and every individual in it, and all their concerns, which is committed unto him. See our explanation hereof at large on Heb. i. 3.

4. This exaltation of the person of Christ gives glory unto his office, as the apostle here declares. It is the person of Christ which is vested with the office of the priesthood, or God could not have redeemed his church with his own blood: although he' exercise all the duties of it, both here below, and in heaven above, in the human nature only. And it is the person of Christ which is thus exalted and made glorious, although the especial subject of this exaltation and glory be the hunian nature only. And this gives glory unto his office; for,

1st, This is a manifest pledge and evidence of the absolute perfection of his oblation, and that by one offering he hath for ever perfected them that are sanctified. When the high priest of old appeared for a while in the holy place, he returned again unto his former station, that he might be in a condition to of fer another sacrifice at the return of the year. And hence doth our apostle prove, that none of the worshippers were perfected by those sacrifices. But our high priest having offered himself once for all, and now sitting down for ever at the right hand of God, in glory and majesty inconceivable, it is evident that he hath

« EelmineJätka »