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law, who was he, a prince, or a priest of God? Not the latter: he is never so called : and as to his offering sacrifice, Exod. xviii. 12; the fact is irrelative to the question; as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, &c., offered sacrifices without being priests. On the other hand, the term na, Cohen,
, never being used as the title of a sovereign prince, but of the minister of a sovereign prince; such we believe to have been the station of Jethro.
The d'ins, Cohanim, mentioned in Exod. xix. 22. “ And let the priests also, which come near unto the Lord, sanctify themselves ; lest the Lord break forth upon them.” What priests were these? A reference to chapter xxiv. 4, 5, 6, will furnish an answer to this enquiry. “ And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men, 0'70, Cohanim, of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings, of oxen unto the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.'
, Cohanim, or ministers of Moses, whom he employed in the servile part of sacrificing, reserv
,כהניס These young men were the
ing the noble part, the sprinkling of the sacrificial blood, to himself.
What is the meaning of that promise, Exod. xix. 6. “ And ye shall be unto me," dina nakon V17p 121—“ a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation ?" Would it not seem as if the idea of priestly consecration was familiar to the people of Israel, previous to the Horeb covenant and institution of the Levitical priesthood ?-I answer, no. The candid reader must admit, that to adopt the hypothesis of an antecedent priesthood well known to the Israelites, while he finds no such order of men among the tribes of Abraham, (and the solitary instance of Melchisedec was, in all probability, quite overlooked,) would be rash and unwarrantable. Without adopting so bold an hypothesis, the passage admits an easy interpretation, full of spirit and meaning, and perfectly consistent with the ascertained facts of ancient history. They had just left Egypt, where they had seen the priests occupy the most honourable station about the king, discharge the most important duties, and receive an ample reward for their services: and the passage of scripture under consideration may be viewed as alluding to that state of things, and as containing a promise that God, on being chosen king of the Israelitish nation, would make them all as honourable and happy as the priests of Egypt.
To conclude this article of proof, it appears that Melchisedec was a priest of the Most High God, and the first man that ever bore that character; or, indeed, enjoyed it at all till the consecration of Aaron and his sons.
II. Our second proof of his divine appointment is taken from the 110th psalm ; where Messiah is represented as constituted a priest after the order of Melchisedec; which takes the priesthood of the latter as a settled point. The Jews, in order to get rid of the obnoxious doctrine of Messiah's priesthood, a doctrine which involves them in great embarrassment respecting the prerogatives of the tribes of Judah and Levi, insist on giving the term joa, Cohen, in this psalm, its civil sense. But the miserable gloss dethrones their Messiah. For if he be not the priest of God, but only the minister of an earthly prince, he ceases to be a sovereign, a king, on the throne of his father David. But take the passage in its obvious sense, and all is luminous and consistent. Messiah, a king on the throne of David, is Jehovah's yno, Cohen, or priest, after the similitude of Melchisedec, who was both a king and a priest.
III. Our third proof is found, Heb. v. i.
where Paul says that every high priest, aap Bavομενος εξ ανθρωπων, « being taken from among men is ordained for men, in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin.” And again he says, verse 4: “ And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God as was Aaron.” Now as no man could be a priest without a divine appointment; and, as Moses, David, and Paul, testify that Melchisedec was a priest, it follows that he must have had a divine appointment to that office.
After delaying so long on the priesthood of Melchisedec, we will readily be excused from quoting the passages of scripture which prove that the priesthoods of Aaron and Jesus had a similar origin, especially as the proof, in both instances, is ample, obvious, and aquiesced in.
Previous however to dismissing the Aaronic priesthood, it may not be deemed superfluous to advert to a class of facts in the Jewish history, which seem to interfere with its constitutional privileges. The constitution runs thus : Numb. xviii. 7. “ Thou and thy sons with thee” (the speech is addressed to Aaron) “ shall keep your priest's office for every thing of the altar and within the vail; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest's office unto you as a ing up
service of gift : and the stranger” (that is a person not of the family of Aaron) “ that cometh nigh” (to offer sacrifices, or do the priest's office)" shall be put to death.” Upon this ground it was that the priests resisted king Uzziah, when he invaded their office; and God seconded them in defending their rights, by striking the king with leprosy, in the very act of usurpation. 2 Chron. xxvi. 16–21. Yet all this notwithstanding, we find frequent instances of persons who were not priests, offer
sacrifice, without opposition from men, and with the approbation of God: such as Samuel ; 1 Sam. xvi. 2, &c. Gideon; Judges, vi. 24, &c. Elijah ; 1 Kings xviii. 31, &c. But such instances did not at all interfere with the ordinary priesthood. God limited the children of Israel to the ministration of the sons of Aaron in the services of the altar: but he did not limit himself from commanding and accepting sacrifices from other hands. Inspiration furnished full powers. The sovereign of all has a right to demand the services of whom he pleases. But these extraordinary sacrificers are never called, nor considered, priests; any more than Abraham or Job.
Perhaps it may be thought that more time has been spent in establishing the position that