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open to the public eye, by those who have the power to arrest and direct its attention; were the simple but effectual and demonstrative proposition, No official priest but Christ, to be substituted for the unworthy and unapostolic cry, “The Church is in danger,” by those who can control and direct the public voice; we might then expect, that the adversaries of scriptural truth would tremble, that the bulwarks of superstition, like the walls of Jericho, before the shouts of the Israelites, would fall to the ground,-and that the voice of the apocalyptic angel would break next upon the ear, proclaiming, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen;” “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy Apostles and Prophets, for God hath avenged you on her.” By the holy Prophets, no priest is predicted for the service of the Christian church, but Christ. By the holy Apostles, no priest is described, as officiating by divine appointment, but Christ. He only is called of God to the office, as was Aaron; but he, superior to Aaron, is appointed with the solemnity of an oath, is appointed exclusively and irrevocably, for all generations. “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” Those who introduce another priest, invade God's prerogative, to whom alone the right of appointment belongs; detract from the Saviour's perfections, as though he were not every way competent to the work, which the Father has committed exclusively to him and betray the interests of the souls of their fellow men, who, in so far as they trust to the work of the intruding priesthood, are withdrawn from reliance on him, to whom only we are commanded to look, and who only has power to save. In too many instances, there is reason to fear, the withdrawment has been entire, and the consequent injury irreparable. How often, in the hour of dissolution, has the mind been occupied, the conscience soothed, and the hope inspired, not by what Christ, but by what the priest, has performed. He has heard the confession, has pronounced the absolution, has given the host, has administered the unction, and therefore all is safe. Fatal delusion produced by rites, which possess no more authority or ef. ficacy than are to be found in the cabalistic talisman, or the water of the Ganges. And not unfrequently among Protestants, the bread and wine of the Lord's supper are prostituted to a similar purpose of delusion and injury. They are carried to the chamber of the dying, not because there is any command or precedent in the Scriptures, for celebrating the supper under such circumstances; but, because the popish error still lingers, under a modified form, in the Protestant church,--that there is virtue in the elements, when they have been officially administered, to make our peace with God, and afford a passport to his kingdom. A faithful and enlightened minister may, indeed, by the exercise of the discretionary power which he is understood to possess, in reference to the individual administration of the supper, correct the evil which an unscriptural system involves, in most of the cases which come under his own personal care; but then the working of the system, when, as is too commonly the case, it is intrusted to an individual who is qualified for the cure of souls, only by his being invested for his own secular advantage with the orders of the priest, is lamentable in the extreme. In every Case, whether it be that of Catholic or Protestant, in which the conscience derives its peace from the discharge of official rites which are performed by men, there is something brought between the soul and God, as the ground of hope, which he has not authorised, aud which, so far as it is relied upon, deceives and betrays, instead of securing the recipient. The ministers of the Christian religion are to stand amongst their fellow men, not like the priests in the temple, discharging rites through which there was access to God, and the enjoyment of his favour; but like John, on the banks of the Jordan, concerned that Christ only may be seen, relied on, and followed, and pointing to him as the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world; or like Moses, when he had raised the brazen serpent upon the pole, directing the languishing and closing eye to the only remedy which God had appointed: “For as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so has the Son of man been lifted up ; that whosoever believeth in him might not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If, as we hope we have sufficiently proved, Christ is the only Priest officiating by divine appointment for the Christian church, we might, on this fact alone, rest the argument of the second head of our general proposition under this part of the subject, that he is also the all-sufficient Priest. The argument here might be comprised in few words. God, in the infinity of his knowledge, is perfectly acquainted with the whole wants of the whole church. In the infinity of his resources, he is able fully to provide for the whole wants of the whole church. If he make any provision at all, regard to the honour of his character requires, that it should be perfect and complete. He has provided the church a priest, in the person of his Son. He has appointed no other to the office; and the inference is undeniable, that the church can want no other. The perfection and completeness of Christ's work as a priest, must not however be summarily dismissed. It requires, and will amply reward, extended discussion, and full consideration. While we shall find in it abundant confirmation of the principles which have been already advocated, we shall find also the solid rock on which to build our hope, when every other foundation has proved on examination treacherous, and has given way beneath us.
CHRIST THE ALL-SUFFICIENT PRIEST-THE PERFECTION OF HIS SACRIFICE.
“AND almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these ; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”*
* Heb. ix. 22–28.