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EXCELLENCY OF OUR HIGH PRIEST'S OBLATION,
THE FIRST PART OF HIS PRIESTLY OFFICE.
"For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are
sanctified.” Hebrews, 10; 14.
After this more general view of the priesthood of Christ, we come to a nearer and more particular consideration of the parts thereof; which are his oblation and intercession, answerable to the double office of the High Priest, offering the blood of the sacrifices without the holy place, which typified Christ's oblation; and then once a year bringing the blood before the Lord into the most holy place, presenting it before God, and with it sprinkling the mercy-seat, wherein the intercession of Christ (the other part or act of his priesthood) was in a lively manner typified to us.
My present business is to consider the oblation of Christ; the efficacy and excellency of which are illustrated in the context, by a comparison with all other oblations; and are with a singular encomium commended to us in the words " by one offering.” It is but one offering; but once offered, and never more to be repeated : for Christ dieth no more. Rom. 6 : 9. He also commends it from its efficacy; he "hath perfected” it, that is, not only purchased a possibility of salvation, but all that we need to our full perfection. It brings in a most entire, complete, and perfect righteousness: all that remains to make us perfectly happy, is but the full application of the benefits procured by this oblation for us. Moreover, it is here commended from the extensiveness of it; not being restrained to a few, but applicable to all the saints, in all ages and places of the world. Lastly, He commends it from its perpetuity; it "per. fects for ever;" that is, it is of everlasting efficacy: it shall abide as fresh, vigorous, and powerful to the end of the world, as it was the first moment it was offered. All of which affords us this sweet truth: The oblation made unto God by Jesus Christ is of un
speakable value, and everlasting efficacy, to perfect all them that are or shall be sanctified, to the end of the world :
Out of this fountain flow all the blessings that believers either have, or hope for. Had it not been for this, there had been no such thing as-justification, adoption, salvation, peace with God and hope of glory, par. don of sin, and Divine acceptance: these and all our best mercies had never been. A man, as one saith, might have happily imagined such things as these, as he may golden mountains, and rivers of liquid gold, and rocks of diamonds: but these things could never have had any real existence, had not Christ offered up himself a sacrifice to God for us. It is "the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered up himself without spot to God, that purges the conscience from dead works,” Heb. 9: 14, that is, from the sentence of condemnation and death, inflicted by conscience, for our sins.
His appearing before God as our Priest, with such an offering for us, is that which removes our guilt and fear together: "He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Heb. 9: 26. Now, as the point before us is of so great weight, and so fundamental to our safety and comfort, I shall endeavor to give you as distinct and clear an account of it as can consist with that brevity which I must necessarily use. And therefore, read. er, apply thy mind attentively to the consideration of this excellent Priest that appears before God; the sacrifice he offers; the Person before whom he brings, and to whom he offers it; the persons for whom he offers; and the end for which this oblation is made.
I. The Priest that appears before God with an oblation for us, is Jesus Christ, God-man; the dignity of whose person gave an inestimable worth to the offering he made. There were many priests before him, but none like unto him, either for the purity of his person or the perpetuity of his priesthood: they were sinful men, and offered for their own sins, as well as the sins of the people, Heb. 5: 3; but he was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” Heb. 7: 26. He could stand before God, even in the eye of his justice, as a lamb without spot. Though he made his soul an offering for sin, yet he had done no iniquity, nor was any guile found in his mouth, Isa. 53: 9; and indeed his offering had done us no good, if the least taint of sin had been found on him. The Jewish priests were mortal men, that "continued not by reason of death,” Heb. 7: 23, but Christ is "a Priest for ever.” Psa. 110: 4.
II. The oblation for offering he made, was not the blood of beasts, but his own blood. Heb. 9: 12. And herein he transcended all other priests, that he had something of his own to offer; he had a body given him to be at his own disposal : to this use and purpose he of. fered his body, Heb. 10: 10; yea, not only his body, but his "soul” was made "an offering for sin.” Isa. 53: 10. We had made a forfeiture of our souls and bodies by sin, and it was necessary the sacrifice of Christ should be answerable to the debt we owed. And when Christ came to offer his sacrifice, he stood not only in the capacity of a priest, but also in that of a surety; and so his soul stood in the stead of ours, and his body in the stead of our bodies. Now the excellency of this oblation will appear in the following adjuncts and properties of it. This oblation being the soul and body of Jesus Christ, is therefore,
1. Invaluably precious. So the apostle styles it, " Ye were redeemed with the precious blood of the Son of God," 1 Pet. 1: 19: and such it behooved him to offer. For it being offered as an expiatory sacrifice, it ought to be equivalent, in its own intrinsic value, to all the souls and bodies that were to be redeemed by it. And so it was, and more also. But surely as none but God can estimate the weight and evil of sin, so none but he can comprehend the worth and preciousness of the blood of Christ, shed to expiate it. And being so infinitely precious a thing which was offered up to God, it must needs be,
2. A most complete and all-sufficient oblation, fully to expiate the sins of all for whom it was offered, in all ages of the world.
The virtue of this sacrifice reacheth backward as far as Adam, and reachcth forward to the last person springing from him who shall ever believe. That the efficacy of it thus reachcth back to Adam, is plain: for, on account thereof, he is styled, "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Rev. 13:8. And in the same sense Calvin understands those words of Christ, "Before Abraham was, I am.” John, 8:58. It is therefore but a vain cavil that some make against the satisfaction of Christ, when they say many are saved without it, even as many as were saved before the death of Christ. For they say the effect cannot be before the cause, which is true of physical, but not of moral causes; and such was Christ's satisfaction. As for example, a captive is freed out of prison from the time that his surety undertakes. for him and promises his ransom ; here the captive is actually delivered, though the ransom that delivered him be not yet actually paid. So it was in this case; Christ bad engaged to the Father to satisfy for them, and upon that security they were delivered.
And the virtue of this oblation not only reaches those believers that lived and died before Christ's day, but it extends itself forward to the end of the world. Hence
Christ is said to be " the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” Heb. 13:8.
To the same sense are those words, Heb. 11:40, rightly paraphrased; "God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” As if the apostle had said, "God hath appointed the accomplishment of the promise of sending the Messiah, to be in the last times, that they (namely, that lived before Christ) should not be perfected, that is, justified and saved by any thing done in their time, but by looking to our time, and Christ's satisfaction made therein ; whereby they and we are perfected together." No length of time can wear out the virtue of this eternal sacrifice. It is as fresh, vigorous, and potent now, as the first hour it was offered And though he actually offer it no more, yet he virtually continues it by his intercession now in heaven ; for there he is still a Priest. And therefore, about sixty years after his ascension, when he gave the Revelation to John, he appears to him in his priestly garment; "Clothed in a garment down to the feet, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle," Rev. 1:13; in allusion to the priestly ephod and curious girdle.
And as the virtue of this oblation reaches backward and forward, to all ages, and to all believers, so to all the sins of all believers, which are fully purged and expiated by it: this no other oblation could do. The legal sacrifices were no real expiations, but rather remembrances of sins. Heb. 9:9, 12; 10:3. And all the virtue they had, consisted in their typical relation to this sacrifice. Gal. 3: 23; Heb. 9: 13. Separate from it, they were altogether weak, unprofitable, and insignificant. Heb. 7:18. But this blood cleanseth from all sins. 1 John, 1:7. It expiates all fully, without exception, and finally, without revocation. So that by his being made sin for us, we are made not only righteous,