« הקודםהמשך »
vered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all."
Here we perceive, on the very first glance, that no earthly priest or sovereign can be intended. A person, described as the King of righteousness and the King of peace, suddenly makes his appearance, and as suddenly is removed altogether from the scene of action. We hear not of him before : we hear nothing of him again. He vanishes; and, in no subsequent part of the history, does he leave a trace behind. largely told of Abraham's converse with the pious Abimelech; who appears unambiguously, with his first military officer and with his whole household, as the Philistèan prince of Gerar: and we afterwards find, either the same sovereign in his old age, or his son of the same name, entering into a covenant with Isaac. But, respecting this emiDently holy King of righteousness, with whom we might well suppose that Abraham would be specially anxious to caltivate a close intimacy, we hear nothing more. Though seated in the immediate vicinity of the patriarch, if he were indeed a mortal king of Jerusalem, Abraham makes not a single recorded effort to renew his so happily begun intercourse with him. Even when he journeys to mount Moriah, which lies on the very edge of the city, for the purpose of sacrificing his son; he avails not himself of the opportunity to communicate with his venerable friend and to inform
him what great things God has wrought, but he returns to Beer-Sheba without troubling himself to take the slightest notice of a man whom of late he had so studiously honoured. This is not in nature: nor can it be accounted for, on the supposition that a literal prince, named Melchizedek, reigned in Jerusalem. But translate the titles, as St. Paul does ; view them, as descriptive of the speaker's character; and compare them with titles of an exactly similar import, which are confessedly given to the Messiah: the whole narrative will then stand almost self-interpreted; or, if we require an authoritative gloss, we have it ready to our hand as given by the pen of an apostle.
After distinctly stating, that we are to understand the titles as descriptive and translateable titles, not as proper names : St. Paul goes on to say, that the mysterious person, who bore them, was without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life ; but that, being THENCE the very counterpart' of the Son of God, he abideth a priest to all elernity."
The common mode of explaining this most extraordinary passage is, that Moses preserves a complete silence respecting both the birth and death and parentage and family of the supposed Hierosolymitic regulus: whence the man Melchizedek was made to serve as a type of the divine and human nature of Christ. But surely such an interpreta
Heb. vii. 3.
tion can be esteemed no better than a wretched paltering with words. If the mere silence of the historian respecting particulars, which had no immediate concern with his narrative, can thus constitute a simple mortal an eminent type of the Messiah: we may just as well maintain, that the oppressing tyrants Amraphel and Arioch and Chedorlaomer were made the very counterparts of the Son of God; for their birth and death and parentage and family are no more recorded, than those of Melchizedek. The language of the apostle is peremptory and unambiguous. He says nothing of any mystic and intentional suppression of particulars; which nevertheless actually occurred, though not recorded: so far from it, he declares, that the person, whom he teaches us to denominate King of righteousness and King of peace, was without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life ; and he adds, that on this special account he was the very counterpart of the Son of God. Nor does he stop here: as if to anticipate and prevent the gloss which I am opposing, he asserts that he abideth a priest to all eternity. How could this be true of any mere man? Granting for a moment the propriety of the gloss ; acknowledging that Melchizedek is said to have been without genealogy and without beginning and without end, simply because none of these particulars are recorded in history: still, can we say with any degree of truth respecting this imagined regulus, that he abideth a priest to all eternity? Had he been a type, it might indeed have been said of him, that he shadowed out an everlasting priest; but I cannot comprehend, how he himself could be declared to sustain that character.
In fact, according to the common opinion of Melchizedek, he was not a priest who abideth to all eternity: for, if he were nothing more than a petty sacerdotal king of Jerusalem, he must have died many centuries before the birth of his antitype. The very characteristic of his priesthood however is acknowledged under the Law, no less than under the Gospel, to be eternity: for David, as quoted by St. Paul, says to the Messiah; Thou art a priest FOR EVER after the order of Melchizedek. Now, if Melchizedek were a mere mortal, how shall we demonstrate, that his order was eternal ? This can only be done: either by proving, that he himself lived until the advent of Christ; or by shewing from history, that he uninterruptedly handed down his sacerdotal functions and authority to a line of priests of his own order, until from the last of them Christ duly received his consecration. Without the establishment of one or the other of such positions, we can never truly contend, that eternity was the characteristic of Melchizedek's order, and that he himself abideth a priest continually. But let us admit, that he was a manifestation of the Divine Word ; and every thing will be easy and consistent. As such, he was at that time, and indeed always so far as his deity is concerned, without earthly father and mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days, without end of life: as such, he was made
like unto the Son of God, being in fact his very counterpart, and differing only from the Christ whom Paul preached in the circumstance of his then assumed human body being temporary and not permanent: as such also, he abideth a priest to all eternity of an order essentially distinct both from the Patriarchal and from the Levitical priesthood.
We shall now readily perceive the full import of the remainder of the apostle's exposition : with this key to the whole, the bare citing of it will be amply sufficient.
Consider how GREAT this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they, that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the Law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham : but he, whose descent is not counted from them, received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him THAT HAD THE PROMISES. And, without all contradiction, The LESS is blessed of THE BETTER. And here MEN THAT DIE reccive tithes : but there he received them, of whom it is witnessed that HE LIVETH. And, as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham-For, after the similitude of Melchizedek, there ariseth another priest ; who is made, not AFTER THE LAW OF A
COMMANDMENT, but POWER OF AN ENDLESS LIFE. For he testifieth,