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Rom. xi. 16.
the lump is also holy'; the consecration of the one involves and is the consecration of the whole. So all Israel shall be saved.' If this use of the type by St. Paul in relation to the salvation of all Israel be valid, are we not warranted also in seeing in it preintimation of the restitution of all things; in seeing in Christ, as the 'First of the firstfruits,' and in the saved ones, as 'a kind of firstfruits,' promise and prelude of the final reconciliation and consecration of all souls to God?
Turn next to the law of the First-born. In remembrance of their great deliverance out of Egypt, when all its first-born were slain and their own spared, the Israelites were commanded to set apart all their first-born unto the Lord. To these appertained special privileges and special duties, as shown in the duties of the Levites who were afterwards substituted for them. The first-born were the priests of their respective families, and as such en
joyed the privilege of interceding for and ruling Deut. xxv. 5–10. over their younger brethren. On them specially
devolved the duty of raising up seed to the dead, of redeeming a brother who had waxen poor and sold himself to a stranger, and of redeeming the inheritance if at any time it were lost or alienated. To these, too, was assigned a double portion of all that the father had. Subsequently, by a special ordinance, the distinctive priestly duties of the firstborn were transferred to the Levites, who were set
apart as a priestly tribe to minister before the Lord Numb. iii. 11– in the place of the first-born. And the Lord spake
unto Moses, saying, And I, behold I, have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead
Lev. xxv. 25;
Deut, cxi, 17.
of all the first-born that openeth the womb among chap. XVIII. the children of Israel; therefore the Levites shall be mine, because all the first-born are mine ; for on the day that I smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the first-born in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be: I am the Lord.' It is in reference to this ordinance of the first-born that the title of First-born is given to Christ and to his saints; so again proving the prophetic and prefigurative character of the law. Christ is the First-born-first out of life, as the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, and the First-born from the dead,' that col. i. 18. in all things He might have the pre-eminence. It is as 'the beginning of the first-born from the dead,' that He is the Head of the Church, the Redeemer of the world; for as by one first-born sin and death entered, so by another First-born they are to be overthrown. He, then, the great First-born, of whom the first-born of the law were types, is the Priest and Prince of
The Priest, in that in this lower sanctuary Heb. ix. 11, 12. He offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin, and in that He entered by his own blood into the upper sanctuary to make intercession. The Prince, in that Heb. z. 12. having sat down at God's right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and Eph. i. 20—23. might and dominion, all things have been put under his feet, and in that He hath been given the headship over all things for the Church, which is his body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.
But there are those who are joint-heirs with Rom. viii. 17. Christ,' as priests and princes. With the high priest under the law, the most prominent type of
Heb. xii. 23.
CHAP. XVIII. the High Priest to come, were associated the whole
body of the first-born, as represented by the Levitical tribe. To these were assigned a variety of duties, in aid of and in subordination to the high priest. With him and under him they executed the work of the sanctuary, and were the ministers and teachers of their brethren. It is worthy of remark that the same word in the Hebrew, Cohen, means equally priest and prince. Now in all this do we not see foreshadowed 'the Church of the first-born, which are written in heaven,' the elect ones of this era of Christ's kingdom, the 'joint-heirs with Christ,' called to be priests and kings, and to share with Him, as the great Priest on his throne, in the glorious work of reconciling and subduing all things to God? As the first-born this is their · birthright,' their 'double portion,' to be not only blessed in themselves, but, as fellow-workers with Christ to be a blessing to others, even as were their types under the law. In the seed of Abraham, it is promised, shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed, a promise to have ultimately the most literal fulfil
ment, as we have before seen, when, after their Rom. xi. 12, 15. conversion to Christ, they, whose temporary casting
away has been the riches of the world, shall by their re-inclusion be life from the dead to the world, as 'priests to the Lord and ministers to our God' amidst the nations. But this we know is not to be in the present dispensation. Like St. Paul, who is their type,* the Jews are to be converted, not by the knowledge of Christ in his humiliation, but at CHAP, XVIII. and by the revelation of his glory; and so, like St. Paul, shall they become apostles to the heathen. Isa. Izvi. 19. Meanwhile, however, there is a spiritual seed of Abraham, even those to whom it has been given to believe, as Abraham did, the promise, and so to become the children of, and to be blessed with, faithful Abraham. If ye be Christ's,' says St. Paul, 'then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to Gal. üi. 29. the promise.' The promise of what? The promise not only of being blessed, as was Abraham, but also of being a blessing; in a word, as the spiritual seed, and as the first-born of this age, of being priests and kings unto Christ.
* προς υποτύπωσιν των μελλόντων πιστεύειν, “for a pattern, an adumbration (see Liddell and Scott's Lexicon) of those who shall hereafter believe. As one born out of due time,'
1 Tim. i. 16.
The first-born are kings and priests now. Every true Christian uses his birthright in the influence for good he exercises on his fellow-men, in his intercession for them, in ministering to them. But is this privilege of the first-born restricted to the present life or to the present era of the kingdom ? Surely not. Under the law, after the sacrifice of the victim on the brazen altar, outside the sanctuary, the priest entered within to offer incense. As the one priestly act set forth atonement, so the other symbolized intercession founded upon it. As thus prefigured in the law, our Great High Priest, having on earth offered one sacrifice for sins, entered into the tabernacle above to make intercession. The
and as having been suddenly converted to Christ by a sight of his glory. St. Paul is a type and earnest of what shall be wrought on Israel, when they shall be born again in a day at the appearing of the Lord in his glory. See Isaiah lxvi. 5-22 ; Zech. xii. and xiv.
1 Pet. ii. 5.
CHAP, XVII. priestly work, which He began on earth in the body Heb. vii. 24, 25. of his humiliation, He continued in heaven in the
body of his glory. And shall it not be so likewise with his first-born, his joint-heirs ? If now in their present bodies of humiliation they exercise their birthright, shall they not much more do so when, at the coming of the Lord, those bodies shall be changed
into the fashion of the body of his glory? If after 1 Pet. ii. 18, 19. his death Christ passed into Hades to preach to the
spirits in prison, if after his resurrection and ascension He continued to exercise his office in yet greater manifestations of grace, does it not warrant the hope that the death and resurrection of the first-born, his joint-heirs, shall introduce them to fuller and wider exercise of their birthright as priests and princes ? Unless this be so, what means the Apocalyptic song of the redeemed before the throne, in praise of the Lamb, Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth'?
Certainly, so far considered, the symbolisms of the law seem to present very remarkable pre-intimations concerning the kingdom of Christ. Clearly does it appear to be foreshadowed in the ordinances of the firstfruits and the first-born, as well as in the constitution of the Levitical priesthood, that it is a marked feature of the divine counsel of redemption, to make the first saved an earnest and pledge of the salvation of the rest, and by the first-born to bless and save the later-born. And if this be so, does it not furnish some clue to the apparent contra
Rev. v. 9.