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Epistle to the Hebrews. As no expressions occur in the Revelation which have not been already considered, I may now observe, that with the exception of those found in the Epistle to the Hebrews, I have examined all the phraseology respecting the death of Christ, which appears to oppose what I have stated as the Scripture Doctrine of Redemption by Jesus Christ; and that as nothing has occurred, in the undisputed writings of Apostles, which in any way really opposes it, I cannot admit that what may be found in that Epistle ought to be allowed to decide against that doctrine, even if it appeared positively inconsistent with it. I shall however consider a little the expressions on which so much stress is generally laid, previously observing from Sykes, p. 345, that the Writer cer. tainly had in view " to show, that whatever were the benefits or advantages which the Jews might pretend to under their law, or whatever was looked upon by them as excellent or eminent in that, the followers of Christ had the same at least, or what was better, and in a more excel. lent manner."*
* Much is usually inferred from the expressions of the Writer to the Hebrews, respecting the typical nature of the Mosaic institutions. It may assist the reader in extricating himself from the labyrinth in which these inferences involve us, if he attend to the following passage of Dr. Sykes, taken from his Paraphrase on the Hebrews, Note on ch. ix. 24, where will be found an induction of passages proving his assertions.
“A Type is, what by the appointment of God prefigures something future; it is what adumbrates, or is designed by God to adumbrate something else. So Dr. Outram de Sacrificiis, p. 203, 204. It is usually so understood, as to signify a sign or symbol of something else, designed by God to prefigure that future thing: and hence in general it is inferred that the end and design of all types is to prefigure Christ and his church. The difficulty will be to show, or to prove, the sacrifices the law, or the holy of holies, or any of those things which usually are imagined to be types of Christ, e.g. the brazen serpent, or Jonas, or any other persons or things, to have been instituted or designed by God on purpose to prefigure Christ, or his actions, or his church. And the reason of the difficulty is, that not one of these are ever expressly said to be instituted with any such design: and if we do not presuppose any such designed institution to prefigure any thing in Christ, the reasoning is equally strong and just throughout the Gospels, and this Epistle. I would not be mistaken or misrepresented as if I thought there were no instances of types, as signifying prefigurations of future events. There are many such in the Scriptures : but in no place where this word occurs throughout the New Testament does it ever signify, or at least it cannot be proved to signify, that any thing in the law was designed to shadow out or to prefigure Christ, or his kingdom.”After adducing all the passages in the N.T. in which the word TUTOS occurs, Sykes concludes, “ It is remarkable enough that in not any one does it signify, an instituted designed prefiguration made by God of any thing that was to be done by Christ, or in his kingdom."
Heb. ii. 17. "That he might be a compassionate and faithful High
Priest in things relating to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people, εις το ελασκεσθαι τας αμαρτιας του λαου.” The original verb, and the noun inaouos used by St. John (p. 375), have the same origin and correspond in force; and it would have prevented much error, if the royal translators had rendered the latter as they have the former,-reconciliation rather than propitiation.' Jesus is spoken of as'a mercy-seat and as a sacrifice; here, and in several other parts of the Epistle, he is represented as the High-Priest (who sprinkled the mercy-seat with blood, and offered up the sacrifices); and it is upon this latter allusion to the Jewish ritual, which I believe is found only in this Epistle, that so much has often been said, respecting the priestly office of our Saviour. It
is a most remarkable circumstance that he should have been truly and properly a Priest, and should really and literally have exercised the office, without his having known it, or at least without his ever intimating any thing of the kind. And if he were a Priest only figuratively, and is spoken of as such, solely in reference to the Jewish ritual, and to remove Jewish prejudices, surely those who regard the religion of Jesus as a spiritual service, free from the weak and beggarly elements of the Mosaic ritual, cannot be blameworthy in making such a figurative representation no part of their system, inasmuch as the reality makes no part of Christianity.
There was great propriety in thus representing our Saviour to the Jews; but it strikes me, that, to the imagination of a Christian, it is rather derogatory from the dignity of our Lord's office, to speak of him under this character. The office of Jewish High-Priest and that of our Saviour, fully agree but in these two leading points,--both were supreme under the respective dispensations, and both had the ministry of reconciliation communicated to them ; but it will not be found that the High-Priest effected any spiritual deliverance, that he removed moral impurities, that he gave to men those glorious hopes and prospects which, in millions of instances, have enabled the Christian to triumph over sin and death; it will not be found that he abolished death and redeemed men from iniquity; nor that any thing which God wrought in or by him, nor any thing which he did or suffered assured to men such blessings as we enjoy through our Lord Jesus Christ.
If it be necessary to employ any figurative representation in order to endear to our minds the work and character of our Saviour, let us rather speak of him, as he spoke of himself, as the good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep.-How Jesus made reconciliation as to the sins of the people, I have already sufficiently explained in p. 366, 371, and 376, &c. • God was, by Christ, ev XpotW, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing to them their offences,'(2 Cor. v. 19); and Christ made reconciliation, inasmuch as he was the mediator of this new covenant and died to ratify it.
In various parts of the Epistle we find references to the Priesthood of Christ. It was the Writer's object to show, that whatever there was of excellence in the Jewish ritual, there was something similar to it, of equal or superior value, in the Christian system. His argument on this particular point is, in whatever respect the office of the High-Priest is dignified or interesting, that of Jesus has equal or greater dignity or interest; --and it is not wonderful if (in the midst of much that is strikingly beautiful and pathetic) he em ploys the Jewish modes of interpreting Seripture, and dwells upon single and obscure points of resemblance, in thus endeavouring to interest the feelings and remove the prejudices, of his fellow Jews. With those analogies which do not refer to the sacrifices offered up by the High
Priest, I have nothing to do; and I shall therefore confine myself to a brief explanation of those which
appear to give some countenance to the idea, that the death of Christ, considered as a sacrifice corresponding to those of the law, rendered God propitious, or made satisfaction for sin.
Heb. vii. 27. Who needeth not daily, as the High-Priests, to offer
up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; for he did this once for all, when he offered up himself, Here, for the first time, the Writer brings in the death of Christ, in direct reference to the Mosaic ritual; and it is to show that it was unnecessary for him to offer sacrifices daily; for since our High-Priest (0.28) was perfected (TETEdelwuevov) for ever perfected (Temelweis) by sufferings (ch. v. 8, 9), one such sacrifice was sufficient. The sacrifices of the Law cleansed the High-Priest from his ceremonial defilement; the sufferings of Christ completed the perfection of his moral character. This is here the point of resemblance, and the Writer carries it no further; for he does not, in what here follows, make any allusion to the second object of the legal sacrifices, “ for the sins of the people.'
Heb. viii, 3. “For every High-Priest is appointed to offer both
gifts and sacrifices; wherefore it is necessary that this High
Priest also have something which he may offer.' The necessity is obviously the necessity of legal fitness. If Christ had not had somewhat to offer, he could not have been said to have fulfilled the office. This verse appears to assign a reason