Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

when he instituțed, by taking, blessing, and the people according to the law; that is, of distributing bread and wine, that memorial their brethren, though they came out of the of his death, which has been in every age, loins of Abraham; but he whose descent is and shall continue to the end of the world, not counted from them, received tithes of the food of the hungry soul, and a cordial to Abraham, and blessed him that had the prothe faint; the token of a salvation already mises. And without all contradiction, the wrought out and purchased; and the foretaste less is blessed of the better. And here men of a salvation“ ready to be revealed;" the that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth communion of imperfect saints, in the church them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. militant, and the eternal bond of union among And as I may so say, Levi also, who received the spirits of just men made perfect, in the tithes, payed tithes in Abraham; for he was church triumphant.

yet in the loins of his father, when MelAgain, Melchizedec blessed Abram. In chizedec met him."* From which he justly this action of the king of Salem, we behold infers, that “perfection” could not be " by Jesus, "who went about doing good,” and the Levitical priesthood," that "there was scattered blessings wheresoever he went need” of “another priest, after the order of “ He took little children into his arms and Melchizedec, and not after the order of blessed them.” He pronounced a blessing, Aaron;" who should be made, not after the which still rests on “the poor in spirit,” | law of a carnal commandment, but after the "the meek,” “the merciful," "the pure in power of an endless life;" and that "seeing heart," " the peace-makers," and those who the law made nothing perfect,” but “the hunger and thirst after righteousness."* He bringing in of a better hope did,” “ by so blessed the bread before he brake it, and much was Jesus made a surety of a better gave it to his disciples: when he ascended testament:” and “this man because he conup on high, blessings upon blessings flowed tinueth ever hath an unchangeable priestfrom his lips; and in virtue of his interces- hood.” Through him, therefore, let us offer sion at the right hand of the Father, “every “the calves of our lips,” and “present" our good gift, and every perfect gift cometh down “ bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable from the Father of lights.”+ If the world unto God, which is our reasonable service:" has any comfort; if the soul has any hope; for “ we are not our own, we are bought with if there be any communication between hea- a price;" therefore, let us glorify God in our ven and earth; if there be “good will towards body, and in our spirit, which are God's." men;"" if there be any consolation in Christ; As the names and employments, so the if any comfort of love; if any fellowship of united offices and dignity of Melchizedec, spirit; if any bowels and mercies;"I if there met in all their lustre in the person of the Son be any joy purer, and more perfect than an- of God; “ King of Salem,” and “ Priest of other, “the blessing of the Lord it maketh the most high God.” In “derision" of the rich, and he addeth no sorrow therewith;” vain attempts of the heathen, and of the im. it is of him, whom “God having raised up," pious confederacy of the kings and rulers of even “his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, the earth, “ against the LORD, and against in turning away every one of you from his his Anointed,” God declares, “I have set my iniquities."$ But the grand accomplishment King upon my holy hill of Zion."+ He came of the type is reserved for that day, when, not indeed in worldly pomp, but in lowliness together with faithful Abraham, all “the and meekness, yet the powers and potentates ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come of the earth were made subject and subserto Zion, with songs and everlasting joy upon vient to him. “ Wise men from the cast" their heads;"|| when “the Son of man, com were conducted by a star to Jerusalem, and ing in the clouds of heaven with power and thence to Bethlehem of Judah, to do homage great glory," shall thus welcome his re- to him at his birth; and poured “their treadeemed to the regions of eternal day, “Come, sures, gold, frankincense, and myrrh," at his ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom feet. Augustus issued " a decree that all the prepared for you from the foundation of the world should be taxed.” What was his moworld."

tive, what his end? We cannot tell; but we The last of Melchizedec's actions that know the end which God had in view by it: stands upon record, is his receiving the tithe namely, to bring into more public notoriety, of the spoils from Abram. On which subject the several circumstances of Christ's nativi. I think it best to give you the Apostle's com- ty, and to transmit them to the latest postementary in his own words. “ Now consider rity, in all their splendour and importance. how great this man was, unto whom even Thus the haughty master of imperial Rome the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the was constrained of Providence, to render unspoils. And verily they that are of the sons known, unintended, involuntary homage to of Levi, who receive the office of the priest- yonder babe in the stable of Bethlehem." hood, have a commandment to take tithes of "For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus,

whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and † James i. 17. Phil. ii. 1. Aels iii. 28.

† Psalm ii. 6.

* Matt. v. 3. 10.

Ini. xxxv. 10.

Matt. XXV. 34.

* Heb. vii. 4-10.

“I am

l'ontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the i What is its antitype ? “Who shall declare people of Israel, were gathered together, for his generation ?" In the beginning was to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel the Word, and the Word was with God, and determined before to be done."* Is he not the Word was God."* Verily, verily I then “the blessed and only Potentate; the say unto you, before Abraham was, I am.”+ King of kings, and Lord of lords ? Now es- “And the word was made flesh, and dwelt pecially, exalted as he is, to the right hand among us, (and we beheld his glory, the of the Majesty on high. For by him were glory as of the only begotten of the Father) all things created that are in heaven, and that full of grace and truth.”I

“ Without conare in earth, visible and invisible, whether troversy, great is the mystery of godliness: they be thrones, or dominions, or principali- God was manifest in the flesh." ties, or powers: all things were created by Alpha and Omega, the first and the last ; I him and for him.” “ And he is before all am he that liveth and was dead; and behold, things, and by him all things consist.”And, I am alive for evermore, amen.”ll Behold into the kingdom of his glory, when finished, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin " the kings of the earth do bring their glory of the world! “Slain from the foundation and honour." Then shall angels and men of the world!" The altar which consecrajoin in this grand celestial chorus," the teth “the gift,” the priest that presents kingdoms of this world are become the king- the sacrifice; the “second temple” which doms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he eclipses the glory of the “ first.” All, and in shall reign forever and ever.”I

all. Every thing pointed to him; all ended But while his exalted rank as a sovereign in him, and all are infinitely exceeded by removes us to an awful distance, his milder him. character as “the Apostle and High Priest Rejoice, Christians, in this “more sure of our profession," allures us back to his pre- word of prophesy;" and " take heed unto it, sence, and dissipates our terrors. He is “a as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, merciful and a faithful High Priest,an until the day dawn and the day star arise in

High Priest, touched with the feeling of your hearts.”T Revere the unfathomable our infirmities:" "a great High Priest, depths of the eternal mind. “ Secret things that is passed into the heavens," through belong to God; but things which are revealed, whom we have encouragement to "come belong to us, and to our children.” Turn boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may all your inquiries to some good account; reobtain mercy, and find grace to help in time membering that the “ end of the commandof need." He has by * one offering perfect- ment is charity," is to inspire veneration and ed forever them that are sanctified," and love to God, and good will to men. Seck who, having " washed us from our sins in not to be “wise above what is written:" and his own blood," shall at length make us “ be not wise in your own conceit.” In re“ kings and priests unto God and his Father. verence adore an incoinprehensible Jehovah, To him be glory and dominion forever and who, by no search is to be " found out unto ever."'ll

perfection.” Rejoice in hope of that day, The circumstances relating to Melchize- when all mysteries shall be unveiled, and the dec, which are concealed, no less than those wisdom, the love, and the goodness of God which are revealed to us, lead directly to shall shine conspicuously in every creature similar circumstances in the person and and every event; when the honours of a character of our Lord. “Without father, Melchizedec shall be communicated to all without mother, without descent; having and to every one of the myriads of Christ's neither beginning of days nor end of life;" redeemed. When, such as is the head, shall no predecessor; no successor; no limited time all the members be,“ kings and priests unto of service; no derived title; a dignity not God.” And let us, “ by patient continuance passing from hand to hand, but permanent, in well doing, seek for glory, and honour, and inherent, immutable.” Such was the type. immortality." Amen. + Col, i. 16, 17. Rev. xi, 15.

1 John i. 14. § Heb. iv. 16. | Rev. i. 6.

f i Tim. iii. 16 Rev. i. 14. 18

* Acte iv. 27, 28.

John i. 1.

+ Jobn viii. 58.

1 2 Peter i. 19.

[blocks in formation]

And it came to pass, that when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold, a smoking fumace, and a

burning lamp ihat passed between those pieces. In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram.-GENESIS xv. 17, 18.

There is something awfully pleasant, in | they are put upon a clearer and surer fountracing the manners and customs of ancient dation than they were before. Now the times, and of distant nations; particularly in order and form of Abram's sacrifice described the celebration of their religious ceremonies. in the ninth and tenth verses of this chapter, Religion in every age and nation, has been is a full illustration of the meaning of the the foundation of good faith, and of mutual words, “ And he said unto him, Take me an confidence among men. The most solemn heifer of three years old, and a she-goat of conventions, and the most explicit eclara- three years old, and a ram of three years old, tions have been considered as imperfect

, till and a turtle dove, and a young pigeon. And the oath of God was interposed, and until the he took unto him all these, and divided them olher august sanctions of divine worship rati- in the midst, and laid each piece one fied and confirmed the transaction. It can- against another; but the birds divided he not but be a high gratification to every lover not.” And in the text, “ the Lord made a of the holy scriptures, to find in the Bible the covenant," i. e. he cut asunder or divided origin and the model of all the significant a purifying victim. Abram, according to religious rites of latter ages and of remoter God's command, took an heifer, a she-goat nations; to find in Moses, the pattern of and a ram, each of three years old, slew usages described by a Homer and a Titus them; divided each into equal parts; placed Livius, as in general practice among the the separated limbs opposite to each other, two most respectable and enlightened nations leaving a passage between; passed between of antiquity, the Greeks and Romans, the parts himself, according to the custom of

Making of covenants is one of the most the sacrifice; and when the sun was down, frequent and custoinary transactions in the that the appearance might be more visible history of mankind. Controversies and quar- and striking, the Shechinah, or visible token rels of every sort issued at length in a cove- of God's presence, passed also between the nint between the contending parties. The divided limbs of the victims, as “a smoking solemn compacts which have taken place be- furnace and a burning lamp;" the final ratitween God and man, are known by the same fication of this new treaty between God and name; and have been confirmed by similar Abram. By this covenant God graciously forms and ceremonies. The word translated became bound to give Abram a son of his to make a covenant, in all the three learned own loins, who should become the father of languages, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin: that a great nation, and the progenitor, after the is, according to the uniform application of it flesh, of the great Saviour and deliverer of in the Old Testament, and the constant the human race; and Abram on his part phraseology of the most approved Greek and bound himself to a firm reliance upon all Roman authors, signifies to cut, to separate, God's promises, and a cheerful obedience to by cutting asunder, to strike down. The all his commands. Such were the awful soword translated covenant, in the original lemnities of this important transaction. What Hebrew, according as we derive it from one mysteries were contained in these sacred or two words of similar form and sound, sig- rites, we pretend not to unfold. They were nifies either a purifier, that is, a purifying evidently of divine institution, for God hovictim; and the phrase, to make a covenant noared them with his presence, approbation, will import, to kill, strike, cut off, a purify- and acceptance. They apparently had been ing victim; or it may signify a grant of fa- long in use before this period; for Abram, your, a deed of gift freely bestowed and so- without any particular instruction, prepares lemnly ratified by the most high God. And and performs the sacrifice; and they certainly accoriing to this derivation it imports, that continued long in the church of God after the party with whom it is made, is put into this; for we find the practice as far down as a new and happier state."* Between man the times of Jeremiah, that is about the peand man, it denotes a new arrangement of riod of the dissolution of the Jewish monarcertain concerns common to both, whereby chy. The passage in this prophet to which

* Taylor's Hebrew Concordance, d. 232 we refer, describes so minutely these ancient

religious customs, and so sirikingly illus- | the beasts of the earth."* Now the expres trates and supports the history of Abram's sions here employed, of “polluting God's covenant and sacrifice, that I trust you will name, transgressing his covenant, and not forgive my quoting it at full length. “This performing it," and the threatened punishis the word that came unto Jeremiah from ment of this violation, “their dead bodies the Lord, after that the king Zedekiah had shall be for meat unto the fowls of the heaven, made a covenant with all the people which and to the beasts of the earth,” explain to us, were at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto in some measure, the meaning of those them. That every man should let his man- solemn ceremonies with which covenants servant, and every man his maid-servant, were executed. And here surely it is not being an Hebrew, or an Hebrewess, go free, unlawful to employ the lights which are that none should serve himself of them, to thrown upon this subject, by the practice of wit, of a Jew his brother. Now when all the Gentile nations, and the writings of the princes, and all the people which had those who are styled profane authors. From entered into the covenant, heard that every them we learn, that on such occasions the one should let his man-servant, and every custom was, that the contracting party or one his maid-servant go free, that none parties, having passed between the divided should serve themselves of them any more, limbs of the sacrifice, and expressed their then they obeyed, and let them go. But af- full assent to the stipulated terms of the terwards, they turned, and caused the ser-agreement or covenant, in solemn words, vants and the handmaids, whom they had let which were pronounced with an audible go free, to return, and brought them into voice, imprecated upon themselves a bitter subjection for servants and for handmaids. curse, if they ever should violate it. “As ! Therefore the word of the Lord came to strike down this heifer, or ram, so may God Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Thus saith strike me with death, if I transgress my word the Lord, the God of Israel, I made a cove- and oath." “ As the linbs of this animal are nant with your fathers, in the day that I divided asunder, so may my body be torn in brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, pieces, if I prove perfidious.” Permit me to out of the house of bondmen, saying, At the present one instance of many, from the two end of seven years let yc go every man his illustrious nations alluded to. The Greeks brother, an Hebrew which hath been sold and the Trojans, according to Homer, having unto thee; and when he hath served thee agreed to determine the great quarrel besix years, thou shalt let him go free from tween them, by the issue of a single combat thee: but your fathers hearkened not unto between the two rivals, Menelaus and Paris, me, neither inclined their ear. And ye the terms being solemnly adjusted and conwere now turned, and had done right in my sented to on both sides, the ratification of the sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to covenant is thus described, Iliad, lib. III. 338.1 his neighbour, and ye had made a covenant “The Grecian prince drew the sacred knife, before me in the house which is called by cut off a lock of wool from each of the heads my name. But ye turned and polluted my • Jer. xxxiv. 8–20. name, and caused every man his servant, † It may perhaps be amusing to the reader, to comand every man his handmaid, whom he had pare the simplicity of a literal prose translation, with

the poetical elegance and spirit of the English Homer. set at liberty at their pleasure, to return, and the passage follows: brought them into subjection, to be under

"On either side a sacred herald stands,

The wine they mix, and on each monarch's hands you for servants and for handmaids. There

Pour the full urn ; then draws the Grecian lord fore, thus saith the Lord, Ye have not heark His cutlass shea'h'd beside his pond'rous sword; ened unto me, in proclaiming liberty every

From the sign'd victims crops the curling hair,

The heralds part it, and the princes share; one to his brother, and every man to his Then loudly ihus before the attentive bands, neighbour: behold, I proclaim a liberty for

He calls the gods, and spreads his lifted hands: you, saith the Lord, to the sword, to the pes

"O first and greatest Pow'r! whom all obey,

Who high on Ida's holy mountain sway, tilence, and to the famine, and I will make

Eternal Jove! and you bright orb that roll you to be removed into all the kingdoms of From east to west, and view from pole to pole, the earth. And I will give the men that

Thou, mother earth! and all ye living floods!

Infernal furies and Tartarean gods, have transgressed my covenant, which have Who rule the dead, and horrid woes prepare not performed the words of the covenant

For perjur'd kings, and all who falsely swear! which they had made before me, when they cut the calf in twain, and passed between the

“ With that the chief the tender victims slew,

And in the dust their bleeding bodies threw! parts thereof, the princes of Judah, and the The vital spirit issued at the wound, princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the And left the members quiv'ring on the ground.

Froin the same urn they drink the mingled wine, priests, and all the people of the land which

And add libations to the powr's divine ; passed between the parts of the calf ; I will While thus their pray’rs united mount the sky; even give them into the hand of their ene

* Hear mighty Jove! and hear, ye gods on high!

And may their blood, who first the league confound, mies, and into the hand of them that seek Shed like this wine, dielain the thirsty ground: their life; and their dead bodies shall be for

May all their comforts serve promiscuous lust,

And all their race be scatter'd as the dust!'" weat unto the fowls of the heaven, and to

Pope's Iliad, VIL. 376.

Hear and be witness. If

of the devoted lambs, which being distributed | intended ; I now return to take up the thread among the princes of the contending parties, of the narration. Abram having returned he thus, with hands lifted up and in a loud from the slaughter of the kings; having voice, prayed; O Father Jove, most glori- achieved the deliverance of Lot his brother's ous, most mighty: O sun, who seest and son from captivity ; having paid tithes to hearest every thing: ye rivers, thou earth, Melchizedec, the type and representative of and ye powers who in the regions below the great High Priest over the household of punish the false and perjured, be ye witness- God, perhaps the Son of God himself, thus es, and preserve this covenant unviolated.' early exhibited in human nature to the world; Then, having repeated the words of the co- having received the blessing from him, and venant in the audience of all, he cleft asun- bidden him farewell, retires again to the der the heads of the consecrated lambs, quietness and privacy of domestic life, humplaced their palpitating limbs opposite to bly confiding in the divine protection, and each other on the ground, poured sacred patiently waiting the accomplishment of the wine upon them, and again prayed, or rather promises. The man who habitually seeks imprecated: 0 Jupiter Almighty, most God, is readily and happily found of him. glorious, and ye other immortals! Whoever “ After these things the word of the Lord shall first transgress his solemn oath, may his came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear brains and those of his children, flow upon not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceedthe ground like this wine, and let his wife ing great reward."* The din of war, and be divided from him and given to another.' the gratulations of victory, these transitory Thus when it was agreed to settle the con- and pertutbed occupations and comforts being test for empire between Rome and Alba by over, intercourse with Heaven recoinmences the combat of three youths, brothers, on and improves : the still small voice of divine either side; after the interposition of cere- favour is again heard—“ Fear not, I am thy monies similar to those which have been de- shield.” Abram was become the dread of scribed, the Roman priest who presided, ad- one confederacy of princes, and the envy of dressed a prayer to Heaven to this effect: another; both of them situations full of dan•Hear, Father Jupiter, hear prince of Alba, ger; but his security is the protection of the and ye whole Alban nation. Whatever has Almighty. He scorned to be made rich by been read from that waxen tablet, from first the generosity of the king of Sodom; and his to last, according to the plain meaning of the magnanimity and disinterestedness are rewords, without any reservation whatever, compensed by the bounty of the great Lord the Roman people engages to stand to, and of all; “I am thy exceeding great reward." will not be the first to violate. If with a Why should we curiously inquire after the fraudulent intention, and by an act of the nature of the heavenly vision, and ask in state, they shall first transgress, that very what manner the word of the Lord came day, 0 Jupiter, strike the Roman people as I unto him? Know we not the secret, the to-day shall strike this hog, and so much the inexplicable, the irresistible power which more heavily, as you are more mighty and God possesses, and exercises over the bodies more powerful than me.' And having thus and over the minds of men? Know we not spoken, with a sharp flint, he dashed out the what it is to blush for our follies, though no brains of the animal."

eye beholds us, to tremble under the threatenThus in the three most distinguished na- ings of a guilty conscience, though no aventions that ever existed, we find the origin of ger be pursuing; and to enjoy serenity and their greatness, in similar ceremonies; em- peace, in the midst of confusion and tempest? pire founded in religion, and good faith se- Whence is this, but from the word of the cured by the sanction of solemn sacred rites. Lord within us, constraining or encouraging And is it not pleasing to find the living and us to hear ? true God, as in respect of majesty and dig

This renewed declaration of the divine nity, so in priority of time, taking the lead in favour, draws from Abram a dutiful yet paall that is great and venerable among men ? thetic expostulation, on the condition of his We find Moses, the prince of sacred writers, family and affairs; in which the impatience describing a religious sacrifice performed by and fretfulness of the man, mingle with the Abram one thousand nine hundred and thir- submission and resignation of the believer. teen years before Christ, which the prince of He was grown rich and respected; he had heathen poets so exactly describes as the been victorious over his enemies, and become practice of his own country upwards of one a blessing to his friends ; but he is sinking thousand years later; and which the great into the vale of years, and his great posses. Roman historian relates as in use among his sions are ready to descend to a stranger, countrymen, in the time of Tullus Hostilius, Eliezer of Damascus, the steward of his the third king of Rome, before Christ about household. Is it any wonder to see a proud, six hundred and sixty-eight years.

unmortified Haman dissatisfied, though baskThe circumstances of this interesting ing in the sunshine of royal favour, because transaction have led me much farther than Il

H

. Gen. xv. 1.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »