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Christ A Priest

“For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec,” Hebrews 7:17

“For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens,”

Hebrews 7:26

The High-Priest was taken from among men, but it behooved him not to have any blemish, Leviticus 21:17.
Christ was of the race of mankind, of the seed of David according to the flesh: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same,” “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens,” Hebrews 2:14-15, Hebrews 7:26-28.
The Priest assumed not to himself this office, but was called to it of God, Hebrews 5:4; they were consecrated by imposition of hands, when they were twenty-five years old, Numbers 8:24.
“So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee,” Hebrews 5:5. And in another place, “Thou art a priest for ever,” Psalms 110:4. The Father invested him in this office: ”for him hath God the Father sealed,” John 6:27. He was baptized, and the Spirit came down visibly upon him, when he was about thirty years old.
The Priests were anointed with oil, and washed with water. “Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him, therefore shall he wash his flesh in water,” Exodus 29:7, Leviticus 16:4. “Even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows,” Hebrews 1:9. “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power,” Acts 10:38. He had also immaculate sanctity and purity in him.
The Priest was gloriously clothed: “And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty,” Exodus 28:2.
Christ was said to be glorious in his apparel, clothed with the divine nature as with a garment; he was adorned with perfect and complete righteousness, Isaiah 63:1,2.
The Priest was to have a holy crown upon his head, Exodus 29:6.
Signifying the Deity of Christ, which as a circle hath neither beginning nor end; and the royal dignity, whereby he is advanced to be the supreme Head in all things to his Church, or his Kingship.
The Priest’s body and loins were to be covered with clean linen.
Christ’s humanity is clothed with true holiness, which is compared to fine linen, clean and white, Revelation 19:8.
The High-Priest bore the names of the tribes of Israel upon his breast, when he went in before the Lord.
The Lord Jesus, as our High-Priest, presents, or bears the remembrances of all his faithful people upon his heart, when he appears before God to make intercession for them,  Hebrews 7:25. “And he calleth his own sheep by name,” John 10:3.
The High-Priest had Urim and Thummim upon his breast.
Christ hath in him the perfection of true light, beauty and holiness. Urim and Thummim signified Christ’s prophetical office, whereby he, as a standing oracle to his Church, answers all doubts and controversies whatsoever.
The High-Priest had an engraven plate of God: “And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD. Exodus 28:36, 38.
Christ is the real Antitype of this engraven plate, in likeness of a signet, holiness to the Lord, in that the Father hath actually communicated to him his nature, who is the express image of his person, a glorious representation of him to us, being able to bear, and hath borne our iniquities: “and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” Isaiah 53:6.
Aaron the Priest was Moses’ mouth to the people.
Christ is the mouth of the Father to the sons of men; he is called “The Word of God,” Revelation 19:13. “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son,” Hebrews 1:2.
The High-Priest was not to marry a widow, a divorced woman, nor an harlot, but a chaste virgin, Leviticus 21:14.
Christ’s Church must be a pure virgin, chaste, unstained with superstition of idolatry, giving neither love nor worship to any other: Christ owns none but such a people for his spouse.
The Priest’s work was to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people: “For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices,” Hebrews 8:3.
Christ offered up his own body, as a sacrifice for our sins: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many,” “He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself,” Hebrews 9:26, 28.
The Priest was to take the blood of the bullock, and dip his finger in it, and sprinkle seven times the mercy-seat, Leviticus 16:14; and likewise the blood of calves and goats, and he sprinkled the book, and all the people, the tabernacle, and the vessels of the ministry.
As Christ was offered upon the cross for the sins of mankind, as a propitiatory sacrifice; so must his blood in a spiritual manner be sprinkled upon our consciences, that we may be cleansed from our sins, and accepted in the sight of God.  “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,” Hebrews 10:22. “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:13-14. “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel,”  Hebrews 12:22-24.
The Priest’s garments were to remain after him, to clothe and adorn his sons withal.
Christ’s righteousness remains forever, to clothe and adorn all true believers.  It is the wedding-garment, whosoever hath it not, shall be shut out of the marriage-chamber, and cast into utter darkness, Matthew 22:12,13.
The Priests were to sound the trumpets, sometimes an alarm to war, sometimes to assemble the people, Numbers 10:4.
Christ sounds the great trumpet of the Gospel, for the assembling and gathering together of his elect to himself, from all the four quarters of the earth; and will sound an alarm at the last day, to the general judgment. “For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,” 1 Corinthians 15:52.
The Priests of the Lord were to teach the law to the people: “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts,” Malachi 2:7.
Christ is the great Searcher of God’s law; it is he that give us the knowledge of salvation, that “to guide our feet into the way of peace,” Luke 1:79.We must seek the law, the mind and will of God, at his mouth, who shows us plainly of the Father. His tabernacle is only standing; not Moses’, not Aaron’s, not Elias’, but Jesus’:  “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him,” Matthew 17:4, 5. He is the last and only Teacher sent from God.
The Priest was to judge of the plague of the leprosy, and to pronounce clean, or unclean.
Christ if Judge concerning the plague of every man’s heart, what sin is deadly, and what not. Though there is no sin venial, as the papists affirm, yet there is much more danger and evil in some sins, than in others. As for example, it is worse to have sin in the affection, than in the conversation; to love it, than to commit it. The best of saints have not been without sin; infirmities have attended them, yet they loved them not. It is a loathsome thing to a true believer: “But what I hate, that do I,” Romans 7:15. The Priest was to pronounce a man utterly unclean, if the plague was got into his head: so if a man’s judgment, will and affection, are for the ways of sin; if they choose and love that which is evil, Christ the High-Priest, in his word, pronounces such unclean. When men approve not of God’s ways, because they forbid, and give no tolerance to their beastly lust and sensuality, and from hence secretly despise religion in the strictness of it; these surely have the plague in their heads.
The Priests under the law made and anointed kings. Jehoiada the Priest, and his sons, anointed Joash king of Judah, 2 Chronicles 23:9-11.
The Lord Jesus makes and anoints many to be kings; for besides his acting towards men, in bringing of them to their thrones and kingdoms, as it is said, “By me kings reign,” Proverbs 8:15; he makes all saints “kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth,” Revelation 5:10.
The Priests were to appoint officers over the house of God; and it did not appertain to the civil magistrate to intermeddle in the Priest’s office. See the case of Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26:20.
Christ hath the absolute power of appointing what officers should be in his Church: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers,” Ephesians 4:11. Those that make any other spiritual office of officer, than Christ hath ordained, will be found grand criminals in the great day.
The Priests of the Lord were to bless the people.
Christ was sent to “bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities,” Acts 3:26.
The High-Priest only went into the holiest of all, and that not without blood, to make atonement.
Christ entered into heaven itself alone for us, as Mediator, through the merit of his precious blood, shed to make atonement once for all, “now to appear in the presence of God for us,” Hebrews 9:24. “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us,” Hebrews 9:12.
The High-Priest only made the persume for burnt-offerings; and it might not be applied to any other use, but to burn before the Lord.
Christ only makes the prayers of the saints to come up into the nostrils of God, through his own mediation, as sweet incense; Revelation 8:3; and no other prayer must be made to God, but such only as the High-Priest directeth us in, Matthew 6:8-10.
The death of the High-Priest set the guilty person, or man-slayer free, who had fled to the city of refuge: “but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession,” Numbers 35:28. By the High-Priest’s death an atonement was made for him.
Christ’s death makes an atonement for all guilty sinners, that fly to the spiritual city of Refuge, not for the man-slayer only, but for the adulterer, drunkard, and murderer also; all, whoever they be, that take hold of God in Christ by a lively faith, are set at liberty, and for ever delivered from the avenger of blood and all spiritual thraldom whatsoever.
The High-Priest brought the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary, to be burnt without the camp, Hebrews 13:11.
“Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach,” Hebrews 13:12-13.
The Jewish High-Priest was taken of the tribe of Levi, and so was after the order of Aaron.
Christ sprung of the tribe of Judah, and not after the order of Aaron, but after the order of Melchisdec. “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law,” Hebrews 7:12.
The Jewish High-Priest was made without an oath, and after the law of the carnal commandment.
Christ was made a Priest with an oath: “By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament,” Hebrews 7:22.
The High-Priests under the law were men that had infirmities and needed to offer up sacrifices for their own sins.
But Christ is an High-Priest without infirmity: “For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore,” Hebrews 7:28. “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens,” Hebrews 7:26.
The Priests under the law offered up sacrifices of sin continually: “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins,” Hebrews 10:11.
“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God,” Hebrews 10:12. Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the High-Priest entereth into the holy place, “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,” Hebrews 9:26. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many,” Hebrews 9:28. “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified,” Hebrews 10:14.
The Priests under the law offered up the bodies of beasts, and it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sin, or purge the conscience, or make the comers thereunto perfect. Hence it is said, there was a “Remembrance again made of sins ever year,”  Hebrews 10:1-3.
Christ offered up his own body, which was the Antitype of all those legal sacrifices: “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all,” Hebrews 10:10. Those sacrifices cleansed only ceremonially: “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God,” Hebrews 7:19. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God,” Hebrews 9:14.  ”And the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin,” 1 John 1:7.
The High-Priest under the law had a successor. “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death,” Hebrews 7:23.
“But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood,” Hebrews 7:24. He hath none, needeth none, can have none to succeed him in the Priesthood, “seeing he ever liveth” and hath taken the whole work upon himself, being infinitely able and sufficient to discharge the whole truth reposed in him.
The Priest under the law, and the sacrifice, were two things.
Christ is both Priest and sacrifice. The Divinity, or eternal Spirit, offered up the humanity as an acceptable sacrifice unto God.
The Priest under the law entered into the holy place, by the own blood of bulls and calves.
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us,” Hebrews 9:12.
IX. The Priest under the law offered sacrifices only for the Jewish nation, or Israel according to the flesh.
Christ offered up a sacrifice both for Jews and Gentiles. “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” 1 John 2:2.


  • From hence we may learn, that without the blood of Christ offered up as a propitiatory sacrifice to God, there is no remission of sin, nor eternal life. Gods wrath is only appeased by a sacrifice; and this clearly hinted from the beginning.
  • From hence we may learn how far the Priesthood of Christ, and the Gospel covenant doth excel that of the law; moreover, the end and design of God in the one, and in the other. Many things have been briefly touched, wherein the great differences do consist; some of which, for the sake of the weak, I shall reiterate in this place. The Priest under the law was a mortal man; Christ God-man. Those Priests were sinners themselves, and needed a sacrifice for their own sins; Christ was without sin, and needed no offering for himself, Christ offered up his own body on the tree. Those sacrifices were the shadow; the sacrifice of Christ is the substance of them. The Priest and sacrifice is the type, Christ the Anti-type. Those sacrifices could not take away sin, nor purge the conscience; Christs sacrifice doth both.
  • Moreover, this reprehends such as slight and invalidate the meritorious sacrifice of Christ, and accounts his blood to have no more virtue nor efficacy in it to justification, than the blood of any godly man.
  • It also calls upon all faithful Christians, to study the nature of Christs Priesthood more and more; much of the mystery of the two covenants consisteth in Priesthood, and sacrifice, there is something in it hard to be understood.
  • This greatly detects the ignorance and abominable error of the Romish church, that continues to offer up fresh sacrifices for sin; as if Christ had not offered up a sufficient sacrifice once for all, or that he needeth competitors, and help, to atone and make peace between God and sinners.
  • It may also confute their blasphemous notion concerning Christs Priesthood as if it passed from him unto them; whereas nothing can be more plainly asserted than his continuing a Priest forever. His Priesthood is unchangeable, exercised in his own Person, as a principal part of the glory of his office; and on the discharge of it, depends the Churchs preservation and stability: seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them, Hebrews 7:25. And every believer may from hence go with confidence unto him in all their concerns, for relief and succour.

But this of Christ’s offering once for all, and continuing a Priest forever, the annotators are greatly at a loss about, concluding, that it makes against the Jews and Aaron’s Priesthood. For clear it is, that what the papists affirm concerning their Priest and mass to be a propitiatory sacrifice for the quick and the dead, is detected from hence to be a blasphemous, execrable, and pestilent error; and by no means are they able to make the offerings and sacrifices made by their Priests as Christ’s successors, to hold good in any case, or consonant to God’s word. Which further to evince, we shall here cite a page of Dr. Owen’s, on Hebrews 7:24; and so conclude this of Christ’s Priesthood.

“The expositors of the Roman church are greatly perplexed in the reconciling of “this passage of the apostle unto the present Priesthood of their Church; and they may well be so, seeing undoubtedly they are irreconcilable. Some of them say, that Peter succeeded unto Christ in his Priesthood, as Eleazar did unto Aaron. Some of them deny that he hath any successor. But it is openly evident, that some of them are not so circumspect but do plainly affirm, that Peter was Christ’s successor. A Lapide indeed affirms, that Peter did not succeed unto Christ, as Eleazar did unto Aaron, because Eleazar had the Priesthood in the same degree and dignity with Aaron, and so had not Peter with Christ; but yet that he had the same Priesthood with him, a Priesthood of the same kind, he doth not deny.

“That which they generally fix upon is, that their Priests have not another Priesthood, or offer another sacrifice, but are partakers of his Priesthood, and minister under him, and so are not his successors, but his vicars; which I think is the worst composure of this difficulty they could have thought upon: for,

  1. This is contrary unto the words and design of the apostle; for the reason he assigns, why the Priesthood of Christ doth not pass from him to any other, is, because he abides himself forever to discharge the office of it. Now this excludes all subordination and conjunction, all vicars, as well as successors; unless we shall suppose, that although he doth thus abide, yet he is one way or other disabled to discharge his office.
  2. The successors of Aaron had no more another Priesthood, but what he had, nor did they offer any other sacrifice than what he offered, as these Priests pretend to offer the same sacrifice that Christ did; so that still the case is the same between Aaron and his successors, and Christ and his substitutes.
  3. "They say, that Christ may have substitutes in his office, though he abide a Priest still, and although the office still continue the same unchangeable: so God, in the government of he world, makes use of judges and magistrates, yet is himself the supreme Rector of all. But this pretence is vain also: for they do not substitutes their Priests unto him, in that which he continueth to do himself, but in that which he doth not, which he did indeed, as a Priest ought to do, but now ceaseth to do for ever in his own Person; for the principal act of the sacerdotal office of Christ consisted in his obligation, or his offering himself a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour unto God. This he did once, and ceaseth for ever from doing so any more; but these Priests are assigned to offer him in sacrifice every day, as partakers of the same Priesthood with him, which is indeed not to be his substitutes, but his successors, an to take his office out of his hand, as if he were dead, and could henceforth discharge it no more; for they do not appoint Priests to intercede in his room, because they grant he continueth himself so to do, but to offer sacrifice in his stead, because he doth so no more. Wherefore if that be an act of Priesthood, and of their Priesthood, as is pretended, it is unavoidable that his Priesthood is passed from him unto them. Now this is a blasphemous imagination, and directly contrary both unto the words of the apostle, and the whole design of his argument; nay, it would lay the advantage on the other side; for the Priests of the order of Aaron had that privilege, that none could take their office upon them, nor officiate in it, whilst they were alive; but although Christ abideth for ever, yet according to the sense of these men, and their practice thereon, he stands in need of others to officiate for him, and that in the principal part of his duty and office. For to offer himself in sacrifice unto God, he neither now doth, nor can, seeing henceforth he dieth no more. This is the work of the mass-Priests alone, who must therefore be honoured as the successors of Christ, or else be abhorred as his murderers; for the sacrifice of him by blood and death.

“The argument of the apostle, as it is exclusive of this imagination, so it is cogent unto this purpose; for so he proceedeth: that Priesthood which changeth not, but is always vested in the same person, and in him alone, is more excellent than that which was subject to change continually from one hand to another; for that transmission of it from one unto another, was an effect of weakness and imperfection. And the Jews grant, that the frequency of their change under the second temple was a token of God’s displeasure. But thus it was not with the Priesthood of Christ, which never changeth, and that of Aaron, which was always in a transient succession. And he reasons he gives of this contrary state of these two Priesthoods, do greatly enforce the argument: for the first Priesthood was so successive, because the Priests themselves were obnoxious unto death, the sum and issue of all weaknesses and infirmities. But as to the Lord Jesus Christ, his Priesthood is prepetual and unchangeable, because he abideth personally for ever: “Being made a Priest according to the power of an endless life,’ which is the sum of all perfection that our nature is capable of.”

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