TO ALL who feel in their hearts that they "have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," who reverently confess their righteous accountability to him, yet feel that they have no self-righteousness to plead, but cry, "God be merciful to me a sinner," this tribute of praise to the Man of the cross, who "came into the world to save sinners," is earnestly commended, as directing their faith and hope to their Crowned King of Glory, "Jesus Christ the Righteous," the successful Advocate with the Father, by their equally dependent friend and servant in the Gospel of Christ.
"JESUS THE CHRIST" is as well the High Priest of all the true worshippers of the true and living God as he is their Prophet and King, and his priesthood is absolutely essential to his success in his prophetic and kingly offices. As their Prophet, he must open their blind eyes, turn them from darkness to light, and make them wise unto salvation; and as their King, he shall reign over them in righteousness; but he does both only because he has made reconciliation for their sine, and thus brings them nigh unto God as the holy people. And so God has said to his holy Son, "As for thee also, by the blood of the covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water." Zech. IX. 11. The blood of his covenant belongs to his priestly office; therefore without the shedding of his precious blood their sins could not have been remitted, but his prisoners must have remained in the prison-house, the pit of iniquity, and perished in their sins, as guilty, and separated from God and holiness. So the streams of mercy, the wells of salvation, and the river of life flow out from the smitten Rock, "the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus," to all who worship God the Father in spirit and in truth.
Thus may be seen the great and vital necessity of the abiding priesthood of the holy Son of God, and the deep importance to us of a true understanding of it, as the Holy Spirit has revealed it in the Scriptures, which are able to make the spiritual, and true worshippers wise unto salvation. This Divinely-given and gracious knowledge is essential to our abiding comfort and peace, and to the establishment of our hearts in the full assurance of faith and hope in Jesus, who is our salvation.
In view of all this my mind has been long exercised about the sacred work of writing upon this heavenly and sublime theme, as a work of faith and labor of love, if our Divine Prophet will graciously open my understanding in the Scriptures, and give me a commandment to write "the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ;" for without this preparation and unction from the Holy One the attempt must be futile, but with it the labor will be made a blessing to the household of God, and to all who may read it who feel too sinful to draw near unto him, and know not how to order their cause before him, yet desire to find favor and acceptance with him.
To me it has been a surprise or wonder that the priesthood of Christ has been so little dwelt upon by the able ministers of the New Testament, either in preaching or writing; for in my extended ministry of forty-five years, having heard thousands of sermons, very many of them good gospel sermons, yet in none of them was there more than an incidental allusion to our Lord's priesthood; neither has it been my privilege to read but little upon it from the pens of our ready writers, with the exception of an able editorial by our beloved Elder Gilbert Beebe, which was recently republished in "The Signs of the Times." My spirit has yearned for a more perfect understanding of this glorious mystery of the acceptance with God of a sinful people as spotless and holy. For this underlies the entire work of salvation, and without it no sinful being could be sanctified unto the acceptable service of the blessed and Holy Father, nor worship him in the beauty of holiness; for without holiness no one shall see the Lord.
It will not be regarded, therefore, as either needless or presumptuous that now at last, though late in life, my seeking spirit is led to enter into an investigation of the eternal priesthood of the beloved and holy Son of God. Yet it is with profound reverence, fear and trembling that I approach upon this holy ground, and write of those things "which the angels desire to look into." For the subject includes the fearful temptation in the wilderness, the infinite suffering in the garden, and the awful scene on Calvary. It leads us down to the mournful sepulcher, where they laid the crucified Son of man, "a man of sorrows, "thence up the peaceful Olivet, where stood the Living Son of God! and still up and away into the glory of "the world to come," the blissful realm of immorality, the eternal home of the Father Almighty, who is Love. O how may one so low rise to a theme so lofty and divine?
It is cause for abounding gratitude to God that, though the priesthood of Christ has not received very special attention from the ministry of our own time, yet in the book of remembrance that was written before the Lord for them that fear him, and that think upon his name, he has given us the Hebrew epistle, which is largely devoted to the wonderful priesthood of our great High Priest, in contrast with the typical Levitical priesthood of Aaron, who stood at the head of that priesthood as the first high priest. Therefore, in entering upon this solemnly wonderful part of revealed truth, it will be in order to first briefly consider the priesthood of Aaron under the old covenant, the dispensation of the law given upon Sinai, before specially dwelling upon the priesthood of Christ under the new and better testament, established upon Sion the mountain of God's holiness, and upon better promises. God himself has in his infinite wisdom and purpose given to his people the dispensation of the law and its ministration first, to convince us of the absolute necessity of a better and perfect way, and to prepare us for it, unto the end that we may offer unto him an offering in righteousness by faith in Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant.
May the Spirit of revelation and truth guide both the writer and reader in this humble effort to look into the everlasting priesthood of our Lord.