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neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.” The object of the Apostle in this verse is sufficiently evident; the description which he had just before given of Melchisedec was sufficient to prove the typical resemblance which Melchisedec bore to Christ, as I will attempt to explain more clearly hereafter. He now proceeds to give a finish to the picture, as the ingenious artist adorns his portrait in a dress which the original perhaps had seldom if ever worn, by describing him in terms, not such as were strictly and literally true, but such as the national customs and conceptions of himself, for he was a Jew, and his correspondents, who were Jews, perfectly justified him in using. He therefore says that Melchisedec bore a farther resemblance to the Son of God, because he was without father, and mother, and descent, because he had neither beginning of days nor end of life, and because he abode a priest continually. Such expressions as these, clearly meant that Melchisedec was not like the Jewish priests, a decendant of Levi. The Jews above all other nations were extremely precise in their genealogical records. They were originally divided into twelve tribes, besides the tribe of Levi, to which the priests and the inferior ministers termed Levites belonged. And even so obscure an individual as Joseph, the reputed father of our Saviour, is described to have been of the house and lineage of David. By the expressions, therefore, to which we are now alluding, St. Paul merely, yet clearly, meant to say, that though the family and descent of the Levites were carefully recorded and even occupied a place in the sacred records of the Jews, yet was there nothing whatever handed down to posterity respecting the lineage of Melchisedec; nothing whatever had been recorded in the Sacred Volume, or elsewhere, respecting the birth, death, or parentage of this most extraordinary individual, from whom even the Patriarch Abraham, the founder of their race, received a blessing, and thereby acknowledged as his superior, but whose name and office are now familiar to us after a lapse, according to all reasonable computation, of nearly four thousand years.
He may, therefore, according to the strong figurative allusion on which, as we have just seen, the Apostle had entered, be said to abide a priest continually, that is, to be a perpetual type of the Messiah, the great High Priest of the whole world.
We have hitherto been considering the text in respect of its applicability to the character and office of Melchisedec; I now propose taking a second view of it, for the purpose of ascertaining more particularly how the character and office of Melchisedec, as herein described, can be said to resemble those of Jesus Christ. In respect of this branch of our subject, it is to be observed that Melchisedec, in his capacity of king, represented our Lord, who was likewise a king, though he declared “My kingdom is not of this world.” As a priest, also, Melchisedec resembled the Redeemer of the World, who offered up the reality of which the offerings of all other priests before his advent were the shadows, even his own spotless and immaculate person, as a satisfaction unto God for the sins of the world. And when we regard the act of Melchisedec in offering Abraham bread and wine after his return from battle, we present to our imagination a prophetic representation of the sacred elements of which the Lord's Supper consists, and which are essentially characteristic of the religion of which it forms a component part. And I think it is not straining the analogy too far to say that the act of Abraham, in dedicating “a tenth part of all” to the use of Melchisedec, is typical of a custom which now accompanies the reception of the sacred elements, I mean that of depositing alms in the keeping of the priest, for the benefit indeed of our poor fellow creatures, but as a solemn and grateful offering, as in reality it is, to Melchisedec's great antitype, Jesus Christ. Such a consideration might further teach us, not indeed to give to the thoughtless and undeserving, and to decline the trouble of discriminating, or at least attempting to discriminate, between want and imposition, but to be more liberal of our charitable donations than, I think, even the best of us very frequently are. “ He that hath pity on the poor,
lendeth unto the Lord ; and look what he layeth out, it shall be paid him again.”
We now come to the consideration of the resem
a Communion Service.
blance which Melchisedec bears to Christ in respect of the genealogy which has been assigned to the former by St. Paul. We have already seen that this genealogy, in respect of Melchisedec, was not literally true, but merely described by the Apostle in a figurative manner; in a manner which was to be understood in reference to the customs and notions of the Jews respecting pedigrees, and in reference to the fact of the Jewish priesthood not being taken from all tribes promiscuously, but from that tribe which was peculiarly set apart and consecrated to this purpose—the tribe of Levi. With such qualifications as are here implied, the great and zealous apostle says, in speaking of Melchisedec, that he was “ without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually.” Now it is here worth our while to contrast this last expression with that which terminates the preceding chapter, and which forms an appropriate and necessary introduction to this. St. Paul, at the end of the last chapter, speak. ing of Jesus, says that he was made a “high priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec;” and here, speaking of Melchisedec, he says, “made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually.” Now inasmuch as that to which any person or thing is likened cannot be expected to bear a complete resemblance to its counterpart—the thing likened, and, as we have already seen, Melchisedec the likeness, was in certain respects different from our Lord,
the object likened to it; Melchisedec, for example, was an earthly king, whereas our Lord was a heavenly one; so here our Lord, who becomes the likeness, of course is in some degree different from Melchisedec. In either case, in fact, inferiority and superiority are implied; and, therefore, when a description is applied to Melchisedec, which implies a heavenly origin, (and such, certainly, the being without father and mother, without beginning of days or end of life, does imply,) we perceive that Melchisedec, the earthly personage, was inferior to our Lord, the heavenly personage: and, consequently, though the Son of God could be thus literally described, yet could a mere man be only figuratively and comparatively so. It is, therefore, clear that it was not he who was made like unto the Son of God, but the Son of God himself of whom it can be literally said that He was without father, and without mother, and without descent; that He is without beginning of days and end of life, and that He it is who abideth a priest continually. Jesus Christ was made a high priest after the order, that is, in the same manner, or according to the simili. tude or likeness, of Melchisedec; but Melchisedec it was, and not Christ, who was king of Salem, and a mere priest, or minister, or servant of God; whereas Melchisedec was made like unto Jesus Christ, yet Jesus Christ was it, and not Melchisedec, who, in a spiritual sense, is without father, without mother, without descent, who has neither beginning of days, nor end of life, who is the Son