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But most remarkable was the fidelity of both these teachers, in persisting on the part of God, in opposition to the powers of this world, and the malice of their own people. When Moses was come to years, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season*. As the one rejected the pleasures of Pharaoh's court, so the other withstood the solicitations of the ambitious Jews, refusing to be made a king, and rejecting all the kingdoms of the world when they were offered to him. Each of them exposed themselves to reproach and hatred, for maintaining the authority of God, and acting in his name. This is pointed out to us in many remarkable observations of the first martyr, St. Stephen, in his apology against the Jews. This, says he, is that Moses, whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them. When he first offered himself to his own people as a deliverer, they received him not, but affronted him with that insolent question, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? When he pleaded the cause of God, all the congregation murmured at him, as the Jews hated Christ for his exhortations to obedience: cor
* Chap. xi. 24.
rupt scribes, pharisees, and chief priests, rose up against him, as Moses was opposed and railed at by a self-sanctified party, headed by Corah, Dathan, and Abiram. The opposition therefore that was raised against Jesus Christ, and all the affronts put upon him, though they might make him seem little in the eyes of the Jews, brought his character to a conformity with that of their first lawgiver, and to their eternal confusion demonstrated the truth of his mission. And thus argues the first martyr, pressing the Jews with the inference-This Moses, whom they refused, saying, who made thee a ruler and a judge, the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer. Persecuted as he was and despised, God sent him and supported him; and they who have persecuted Christ, have only fulfilled what the scriptures foreshewed by the things which had happened to Moses, the first faithful minister of God to the children of Abraham. The church which was brought out of Egypt, was under his œconomy in the wilderness, to be directed in the way, and to be fed and supported as occasion required. The people of God are still travelling through a wilderness, with the second Moses to lead and support them under all the wants, temptations, and dangers of their earthly pilgrimage. By this
faithful guide will the house of God be governed and protected, till the office of Moses shall be superseded by that of Joshua, and he shall put them in possession of the good land which they have now in prospect.
The second capacity in which this epistle sets before us the Son of God, is that of our great high priest, signified to us under the figures of the law by the two characters of Melchizedec and Aaron,
It pleased God from the beginning of the world, as soon as the fall had given occasion to such a dispensation, to take from among men some person properly appointed, to make intercession for the rest; and thereby to keep up the expectation of a divine intercessor, who should make an atonement once for all by a sufficient and eternal sacrifice. The first eminent example the scripture gives us of such a person, is in the character of Melchizedec, who as priest of the most high God met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the Kings, and blessed him*. His priesthood was prior to that of the Mosaic law, and greater, because, as the apostle argued, Abraham shewed its superiority, by offering to this priest the tenth of the spoils, and taking his blessing. From Abraham the Levi
* Chap. vii. 1.
tical priesthood descended; and the children being inferior to the father, and the father inferior to this high priest, it follows that the priesthood of the law was inferior to the priesthood of Melchizedec. From him Abraham received bread and wine ; and the oath of God being the great sanction of the priesthood which administers this sacrament, it is thence evident, that the priesthood of the gospel, which Christ began, and continued and perpetuated, with its offering of bread and wine, is the only true priesthood; earlier than the priesthood of the law in time, and superior to it in dignity. Thus after the similitude of Melchizedec, there ariseth another priest, who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For it appears by the apostles reasoning, that this Melchizedec was no human person; inasmuch as he had no human descent, and it is essential to this order, that its priesthood should be unchangeable* and eternal.Whence it must follow, that no mere man could ever be capable of the conditions of such a priesthood. There never could be more than one priest of the order; and that priest is Christ
* The Greek means such a priesthood as doth not pass from one person to another; so that there can be but one person of that order.
Christ himself; who, before the days of his flesh, exhibited to the Father of the faithful that effectual priesthood, which should save the world; and made him a partaker of its benefits. All this doctrine the apostle has drawn out of the short account in the book of Genesis concerning the person of Melchizedec, and the oath spoken of in the 110th Psalm relating to his priesthood. In the person of Aaron, and the priesthood of the law, we have another standing memorial of the priesthood of Christ, which taught the people under a figure, that the true priest should do, once for all, what Aaron and his successors did year by year. The law had a shadow of the good things that were to come by the Gospel; and all its ceremonies and services were accommodated to shew the necessity and the effects of a better priesthood with better sacrifices. For first, the tabernacle itself was a pattern of an heavenly original: the directions given to Moses for the constructing of it imply that it was no more than a copy; and thus argues the apostle. The priests, says he, that offer gifts and sacrifices serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things; as Moses was admonished of God (or, according to the Greek, as Moses was divinely informed of God) when he was about to make the tabernacle; For, see saith