Near Lexington, KY., March 6, 1860.
MY DEAR BRETHREN BEEBE & PURINGTON: - As I am rather ‘out of business’ this afternoon, I have concluded that I might possibly do worse than write a little for your consideration, and also for that of the readers of the MESSENGER, should you see proper to publish my scribbling. Although I have been a reader of the S.B. MESSENGER from its commencement until now, I believe, I have written but one or two communications for your columns. I have been reflecting on the Priesthood and Mediatorial work of our dear Redeemer, and know no better subject to write upon; but know it is too momentous a subject to receive its merited justice in my poor language. In the intervening years between the creation of the world and the appearing on this earth of “the great High Priest and Apostle of our profession,” he was vividly portrayed in emblematical hieroglyphics, while Prophets and Kings desired to see the things developed in his day, but died without the opportunity.
Think of the myriads of the victims slain, and the oceans of their blood shed to exhibit typically the one suffering of our great High Priest, and the sublime magnitude of the great propitiation will swell to a vast immensity in the mind of every one who feels a vital interest in the sin-atoning sacrifice which he made. Melchisedec, Aaron, and all the High Priests down through his entire lineage, with their mitred robes, their embroidered garments and all their priestly decorations, were but ominous shadows of the grand substance – the divine reality. Aaron was first decorated with his breast-plate, his ephod, his broidered coat, his mitre and his girdle, and then consecrated with the holy oil. Thus he stood completely enrobed in his priestly habiliments; divinely anointed and thus legally set apart and authorized by the holy unction, and therefore, as really and as legally a High Priest to all intents and purposes before ever a victim was brought to him to offer as such, as ever he was after he had shed and sprinkled the blood of thousands. Had he presumed to slay his victim, shed its blood and with it stand before the august tribunal without this preparation and authenticity, he no doubt would have been stricken dead there.
If then, we are to take the figures as fit representations of the reality, we are not to conclude that the data of our High Priest and Mediator commenced in the days of Pontius Pilate, as some in these latter days professing to be O.S. Baptists have suggested. Although Aaron and his descendents were heavens’ bright emblems of the great Antitype, there was a great disparity between them in this respect. They were Priests for but a brief space of time – He, “a great High Priest forever.” They were often removed by death, “but this man because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.”
“Their priesthood ran through several hands,
For mortal was their race;
Thy never changing office stands,
Eternal as thy days.”
“The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.”
I have used the terms High Priest and Mediator in reference to the same character; for although the offices are different in some respects, yet he who holds the offices [the MAN Christ Jesus,] is the same, as the Scriptures fully show. Hence, says Paul, Heb. 8:3, “Wherefore, it is of necessity that this MAN have somewhat also to offer.” And again, as before quoted in verse 24, “This MAN because he continued ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” Compare with 1st Tim. 2:3, “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the MAN Christ Jesus.” If he is the High Priest today, he ever has been. No change has added to, or diminished from his official character. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever.” Certainly this expression includes all the past, the present and the future. Long before his advent into this world, it was said, Psalms 45:6, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.” See also Heb. 1:8. He hath therefore, an unchangeable and everlasting priesthood, one that has not been confined within the last 1860 years, as it is said, Ps. 110:4, “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.”
On our High Priest’s entrance into the world then, he needed neither qualifications, equipments or priestly authenticity. He was a Priest forever. Like Aaron, before a victim was presented to him with which to make an offering he stood ready, officially prepared in every particular, his authority completely settled, and registered in the archives of heaven. But he needed “somewhat to offer” as a sacrifice. Hence it is said, Heb. 10:5, “Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me,” and verse 9, “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first that he may establish the second.” 10th, By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
It is also said in Isaiah 53:10, “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” If therefore, my brethren, we were involved in guilt, and both soul and body under the curse of the divine law and sentenced to condemnation, here was a soul and body that constituted an offering and a sacrifice acceptable to God, the value and efficacy of which was sufficient to redeem us from all iniquity, and “by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” By his own blood he entered in once, into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” With all the value and efficacy of that blood which “cleanseth us from all sin,” he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.
We therefore stand freely justified from all things from which we could not be justified by the law of Moses, for Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, and there is therefore, now no condemnation for us. How soul-soothing and heart-cheering my dear brethren, to contemplate upon the rich, full, complete and eternal redemption obtained by the crucified body and shed blood of our heavenly High Priest and Mediator.
The ocean of love – the fountain of grace – the door of hope and the channel of mercy are flung wide open to his care-worn children in Achor’s gloomy vale. Now may we join with the poet and sing,
“Though waves and storms go o’er my head,
Though strength and health and friends be gone,
Though joys be withered all, and dead,
And every comfort be withdrawn.
Steadfast on this my soul relies,
Redeeming mercy never dies.”
Let us then, dear brethren, look to his cross and repair to his feet, sinful and unworthy as we are, with our sacrifices, thanksgiving and praises, remembering that it is through our High Priest alone that we can have access to the throne of grace. National Israel did not dare to present their offerings before the altar in their individual persons, they must be offered through their Priests; neither can our prayers, praises and thanksgiving find access to the heavenly altar through any other medium than the Great High Priest and Apostle of our profession. But blessed be his name, we may sing,
“By thee my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.”
The efficacy of this sacrificial atonement of our glorious High Priest; his divine mediation and ever-prevalent intercession, were as fully available and equally endearing to his children of the former dispensation as to those of the latter.
What would have been the doom of the Patriarchs, the Prophets, and all the saints of yore, without a high Priest and Mediator? Their destiny must have been sealed up in inevitable and final ruin. Vain were all their ritual ceremonies and sacrificial oblations as to the removal of guilt. They were “necessary that the patterns of the things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices.” “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin.”
Hence, those meats and drinks and divers washings and carnal ordinances were only typical, and therefore, imposed on those who observed them no longer than “until the reformation.” But lo, the time comes; the Great High Priest and Mediator descends from heaven in regal but humble dignity, with an offering and a sacrifice. A body is prepared him. The incalculable myriads of all the sins of all his people in all ages of the world are laid upon him. He bore their sins in his own body on the tree. Arrayed in these he stands before the dread tribunal of high heaven. The sin-avenging law of God which we poor vile sinners have transgressed in more than ten thousand instances, hurls its direful anathemas upon him. The fated hour has arrived when the stroke of divine justice can no longer be witholden, and an authoritative voice is heard from heaven in awful proclamation – “Awake O sword against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts; smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered, and I will turn my hand upon the little ones.” The slumbering sword of justice can no longer sleep in silent forbearance, but with unerring aim is plunged into his body, and bathed in his blood. The withering curses of Sinai are pouring like a tremendous and destructive hail-storm upon him; the fiends of the dark pit, having been summoned to the contest in the challenge – “Now is your hour, and the power of darkness,” as incarnate devils are gathered thick around him, their unhallowed hands reeking in his blood. The lowering cloud of almighty vengeance has veiled the sun in sable sackcloth, and the merciless storm rages upon him. Three dreadful hour’s suffering upon the cross, and the work is finished. An all sufficient sacrifice is made, the holy incense ascends to heaven, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. The anti-typical blood is poured out like water, and the myriads of our sins, a black and fearful list, is forever washed away. The portentous cloud that lately lowered in the heavens, big with vengeance, has poured down all its stores of wrath upon the sacrifice, and now all is calm. He has blotted out the hand-writing of ordinances that was against us, and which was contrary to us, taking it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.
The Jewish altars need now no longer smoke with burning incense; the bellowing herds, the bleating flocks, the bleeding birds, and other panting victims need no longer be heard and seen to crowd around Jerusalem’s carnal temple; for their anti-type has come, fulfilled, and flung to the winds the former covenant. But O, my brethren and sisters, let us contemplate for a moment the wondrous work performed in those few hours of suffering, the triumphant victory achieved to be exemplified after three days repose in the silent sepulcher.
“He slept in the tomb till the morning arose,
That signed his release and disturbed his repose;
Then bursting its bars he ascended the sky,
To reign in his glory eternal on high.”
O yes! And how soul-animating the thought that we shall reign with him by virtue of the blood he shed for the remission of our sins, and his righteousness which is unto all, and upon all them that believe. He has carried our case before the High Tribunal of heaven; his blood and righteousness affording an all-sufficient plea, he is consequently our ever-prevailing intercessor.
He is ever there for us, and who can be against us. He has spoiled the prince of darkness, and is the victor over death.
“No more the bloody spear,
The cross and nails no more,
For hell itself shakes at his name,
And all the heavens adore.”
He has broken the manacles that bound us; thrown open the prison doors that confined us, let us poor prisoners go free, and made us the participants of His victory. A radiant crown of lucid light and brilliant glory surrounds his burnished throne and crowns his regal head, while the luminous rays fall upon us his poor benighted children, to dissipate the darkness with which we are enshrouded here below.
“And light our passions to a flame,
Lord how we love thy charming name!”
“In his light we see light.” It portrays to us our sinfulness, develops our thralldom, and exhibits our bondage. He shines in our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in his smiling countenance. He works in us to will and to do of his good pleasure, thus hallowing our devotions, and attuning our hearts to sing his high praises. O, my Father’s ransomed children, what wonders has his saving grace wrought for us! Shall we sit in silence and hang our harps upon the willows? Shall a sense of our sinfulness clip the wings of our faith, blunt the ardor of our love, or weaken the anchor of our hope, while the blood and righteousness of our great Mediator and High Priest shine forth in lucid revelation to our admiring eyes?
No, let us look up in humble supplication to the throne of His grace to fill our hearts with love to HIM, love to his noble cause and love to each other, and thereby inspire us to fling to the winds our cruel jealousies, our blighting prejudices, our petty differences, our withering schisms, and form us into one grand orchestra; then prepare us to swell the sweet anthems of undying love in melting notes of harmonious melody, to the lofty praises of our great MEDIATOR, the HIGH PRIEST and APOSTLE of our profession, CHRIST JESUS.
Your brother in the gospel of peace,