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political designs. Under the Horeb covenant, the priesthood was separated from the civil authority. There first we discover the rudiments of an enlarged policy. The priesthood, free and independent-are limited to the concerns of piety and morality; that the public conscience might not be perverted by the contingencies of peace and war, and other political events, which operate so largely on the moral sentiments and habits of mankind. On the other hand, the civil magistrate is left to pursue the national policy, under the censorship of the national conscience. How the balance was held between the civil and ecclesiastical powers, under the theocracy, this is not the place to enquire. But it is within the knowledge of every one, that to re-unite those functions, separated by God himself, has been the effort of all ages since. Hence, we see the magistrate swallowing up the priesthood: there, the priesthood engulphs the civil power: while either event is highly injurious to society; but the lat
But to return to our subject. As no priesthood existed previous to the days of Abraham, nor in his family, till the consecration of Aaron; as no evidence of divine origin can be produced in behalf of the heathenish priesthoods; and, as
we are assured that Melchisedec was a divinely constituted priest; it follows, that he was the first priest among men, and his the first priesthood. Let us, therefore, produce the evidence that this man had a divine appointment to the priest's office.
1. He is denominated by Priest of the Most High God. The term , Cohen, has been considered by some, who are never to be named without respect, as a sacred title, and never applied to any who are not, in the official sense, priests. But the scriptural usage of the term establishes the contrary opinion. From that usage we collect that, Cohen, is a title of honour, a subordinate title, and a title given equally to officers in church, and in state. Take the following proofs.
A list of the civil and ecclesiastical officers, in the days of David, is given, 2 Sam. viii., in which we notice this double application of this official title. Thus, Zadok and Ahimelech were D', Cohanim; viz., of God, that is Priests, verse 17: and David's sons were on. Cohanim; viz., of their father, that is, his ministers of state: verse 18.
A similar list is given, 2 Sam. xx. At that time Zadok and Abiathar were ', Cohanim, Priests of God: and Ira, the Jairite, was ɔ,
Cohen, to David; or, his minister of state: verse 26.
In 1 Kings iii., we have an account of the civil and ecclesiastical officers, in the reign of Solomon. At that time Zadok and Abiathar were, Cohanim, or priests of God: and Zabud, the son of Nathan, was . Cohen, &c., the king's confidential minister of state. Further, it may be remarked that the verb , which associates with the above mentioned official title, is never used in the scriptures to express civil ministration. This is somewhat strange as the title denotes equally a civil, or a religious minister; one would expect that the verb would equally signify civil, or religious ministration. This, it seems, is not the case. Yet, a person acquainted with the philosophy of language, will strongly suspect that the verb must have had an application of that sort, as well as the noun, though instances do not occur in the Bible. There, it uniformly signifies priestly ministration, except in Isaiah lxi. 10., where it has a highly figurative signification: the allusion, however, is to the priesthood.
Now, as the verb is never used to express ordinary, or servile labour: as the term, Cohen, is never used like ¬y, Gnebed, as a term of voluntary humiliation: and, in fine, as it is the
title of the immediate ministers of God, and of sovereign princes; it is a title of honour. As it is never used in speaking of sovereign princes, but only of their ministers, or the ministers of God, it is a subordinate title. And the passages which have been quoted show that it belongs equally to officers in church, and in state.
Having fixed the meaning of this official title, this appears to be the proper place to consider a few passages of scripture, which, from the application of it, seem to create some embarrassment to our general doctrine of three divinely constituted priesthoods.
The priests of Egypt, D, Cohanim; Gen. xlvii. 22; and Potiphar, ¡, Cohen, priest of On; Gen. xli. 45, 50-who were they? Priests of God, or ministers of Pharaoh? If they were priests of God, the idea of three divine priesthoods must be given up. And even should we deny the divine origin of their priesthood, yet, if we admit them to be priests at all, we will find ourselves involved in some difficulty: for, as it is notorious, that the religious rites and officers of heathenism, were, in most instances copied from some antecedent divine institution; and, as the solitary instance of Melchisedec's priesthood does not appear of sufficient celebrity to affect the organization of society in the sur
rounding empires; will not the existence of an order of priests in Egypt, furnish presumptive evidence of an antecedent divine order of priests?
To this it is answered-that we have no evidence that Potiphar, and the other ', Cohanim, in Egypt, were priests of God. We have evidence that they were ministers of Pharaoh. All history testifies that this class of men, in Egypt, were not mere ministers of religion: religion, in fact, was the least important of their functions. They were the philosophers, astronomers, surveyors, engineers, architects, historians, and instructors of the nation: in a word, all offices, dependent on learning, fell into their hands, as being the only persons qualified for them. The population of Egypt was divided into five classes, the priests, 'the soldiers, the shepherds, the husbandmen, and the artificers; of which, the former were continually about the person of the king, and employed in every business requiring superior knowledge: and, even religion itself, was quite a philosophical business among the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and other nations of the east. We are, therefore, without any good reason for believing that the priests of Egypt were either priests of God, or formed on any pre-existing divine model.
Jethro, priest of Midian, Moses's father-in