« VorigeDoorgaan »
apostle, by interpreting the name, has taught us that it is typical. And yet we do not assert that the royalty and righteousness of this man, separately viewed, constituted him a type of Messiah; but viewed in connection with his priesthood, they did. A righteous king-priest was an illustrious type of Messiah.
This man was also ohh, Melech-Salem, king of peace. It may be questioned whether this was not, like the former, a name of the man in which view he would be called Melechsalem, from his pacific policy; as he was called Melchisedec for his righteous adminisstration. The general opinion however is that oh, Salem, was the name of his city: and the opinion has this much in its favour, that David uses Melchisedec as the name of the man, and not Melechsalem. Be it then the name of his city for nothing can be gained by farther criticism. This name in the Hebrew language signifies peace, and the apostle's translating it, proves it typical. We ventured to presume that Melchisedec's conduct corresponded with his name: may we not also risk a conjecture that the condition of Salem corresponded with its name. The language would then correspond with the facts, and both would be typical. Melchisedec a righteous king, reigning over Salem, a peaceful city, and being at the same time Priest
of the Most High God, was an excellent type of that High Priest, who reigns in righteousness, over the peaceful city of our God.
But whatever may have been the conduct of Melchisedec, or condition of his city; the association of the two titles belongs to the essence of the type. They are the two eyes of the picture, concentrating their vision on the same object. A righteous king and a peaceful city! in the type, and in the antitype. This is that natural connection between cause and effect, which the Creator has established in the constitution of human things: the natural connection between virtue and happiness, which it is the business of his moral government to maintain. Truth, however, extorts the reluctant concession, and it issues from the lips in a sigh drawn deep from the bottom of the heart, that the most righteous governor, and peaceably inclined community, may, through the violence of foreign aggression, be compelled to unsheath the defensive sword. Still political justice extinguishes half the causes of war, by forbearing those injuries which provoke retaliation. Whether it be considered as the natural tendency of things, or be rather viewed as the earthly retribution which God, for the encouragement of virtue, grants to righteousness in the present
world, the fact is certain, and the decree divine, "That the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever." It is a truth which no squeamish delicacy may modify, no sinister motive repress, that the permanency of warlike character in a nation, rarely, if ever, results from the infelicity of its situation; but from its injustice. And they have their reward. Let them drink down their cup of blood and tears, poisoned with deadly guilt: this is but the beginning of their sorrows.
III. Of the extraordinary terms in which the apostle speaks of Melchisedec viz., without father, &c.
The terms alluded to are, indeed, but few. And the difficulty in ascertaining their meaning has arisen entirely from considering them detachedly from the drift of the apostle's argument, and from synonymous phrases which fix their signification beyond all reasonable question. Paul's design is to prove that as Melchisedec, who was constituted the pattern of priest Messiah, was wholly distinct from the priests of Aaron's family, so of consequence must Jesus be. In effecting this design, he proves, first, that Melchisedec was in reality a priest: ¡Epeus 78 8
, priest of the Most High God. No argu
ment against the reality of his priesthood could be ventured without contradicting both Moses and David. The next point, is to prove that this priest had nothing to do with the Jewish order of priest. This fact certainly was plain enough: yet the apostle states it, repeats it again and again, and expresses it in all possible variety of phrase; obviously with no other view than to keep it so long before the eyes of the Jews, that they should be compelled to admit that there was, and must be, a priesthood different from the Jewish priesthood. If that fact was once believed, the rest of his argument would give him little trouble. In the following passage he expresses the fact in terms as simple and plain as mortal man could use. Heb. vii. 11, 15. "If, therefore, perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should arise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken, pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah, of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is
yet far more evident, for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest." Never was language more perspicuous and definite. There was a priest, Melchisedec, totally distinct from the Aaronic priest-It was foretold that Messiah should arise after the order of that priest, and not after the order of Aaron -That he should be of the tribe of Judah, of consequence not a Levitical priest-And therefore perfection was not by the Levitical priesthood, &c. &c., and as the priesthood was changed, so also must be the law.
Of so much consequence is the fact of Melchisedec's distinct priesthood: and in such plain terms does the apostle state it, and argue from it. Yet in another part of his discourse he states this self-same fact, in terms, which have created amazing confusion of ideas, and subjected his whole discourse to the imputation of mystery and darkness, with what justice, it may be premature to say: the sequel perhaps may determine. The passage is as follows.
Heb. vii. 3.
"Without father, without mother, without descent, (genealogy,) having neither beginning of days nor end