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tribes of Israel; so as to have together all of them thus inscribed, to be borne before the Lord, for a memorial upon the High-priest. The broidered coat was a richly wrought tunic, which sort of garment has also been noticed, in the same section, as being the one that was commonly worn by all persons next to the skin. The Breast-plate was a square piece, measuring only a span each way, composed of the same sort of highly ornamented stuff as that of the ephod, and made double, in such a way, perhaps, as to form a sort of bag or pouch in the inside. On one side of it was set four rows of precious stones, each row having three, and no two of all being alike, on every one of which was engraved the name of one of the twelve tribes. This was fastened to the front part of the ephod, with the side that was set with stones, outward; and thus the names of the children of Israel were carried by the High-priest upon his breast, as well as upon his shoulders, for a memorial before the Lord, when he went into the Holy Place. In this way it was signified, that he was the mediatorial representative of the whole church; that all its access to God, and acceptance with him, was in and through his person, and that he continually acted for its universal body, in all his official ministrations. The Mitre was made of fine linen, folded many times round, and finished with peculiar elegance and taste. Upon the front of it was fixed a plate of pure gold, bearing upon it the expressive inscription, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. The robe covered the tunic; and the ephod, as far as it reached down from the shoulders, was girded over the robe, outmost of all. (Ex. xxxix. 1-31.)
Thus splendid was the whole official dress which the High-priest wore on ordinary occasions. But on the great day of atonement, when he entered into the Holiest of all, he clothed himself with other garments, made altogether of linen, strikingly plain and simple. (Lev. xvi. 4. 23.)
As the High-priest was the most important, by far, of all the priests, and included in himself the highest and most essential dignity of the priestly office, he was required to guard himself with yet more care than the rest of his family, from every thing like degradation or defilement, in the smallest degree. (Lev. xxi. 10-15.) His office was originally held for life, according to the divine intention. But
in later times, after the captivity, it came to be oftentimes violently taken away from one, and given to another, without regard to the ancient usage. The right of birth too, which, under the first temple, confined the office to the line of the first born, was in this latter age trampled under foot. Wicked men sought the distinction in the most corrupt manner. Money and shameful intrigue were employed to get possession of it. More than once, the way to the Aaronick mitre, as oftentimes the way to a royal crown has been, was through murder itself; while the wearer displayed upon his forehead, engraven in gold, that signature, Holiness to the Lord, the guilt of blood polluted his soul with its foulest stain. Thus the office came to be held by the worst of men, following each other in quick succession, and piety had no place where it ought to have been found in its highest perfection. Such unholy men were the High-priests that lived in the time of our Saviour. Such was that Caiaphas, who presided in the Sanhedrim, when it tried and condemned the Lord of glory. The place had been occupied some years before by Annas; on which account he is styled High-priest, in the history of Christ's crucifixion, although at that time he did not actually hold the office, having been put out of it to make room for another. Between him and Caiaphas, though both were living at the same time, there had been, in fact, no less than two other persons clothed for a little time with the dignity.
The High-priest might, at any time, if he chose, perform the sacred duties which were commonly discharged by the other priests. He was accustomed, the Jewish writers say, to offer a meat-offering of fine flour every day, half of it in the morning, and half of it in the evening, at his own expense; for so the law in Lev. xvi. 20. was supposed to require, and not merely that he should present such an of fering on the day of his consecration. His most solemn work, however, was performed on the most solemn of all the days of the year-the Great Day of atonement, which will come under consideration hereafter: the duties he had to discharge on that day, were such as no common priest could ever attempt to do. It was, moreover, particularly his business to consult God, when the interests of the people made it proper, by Urim and Thummim.
It has been much inquired, what we are to understand by the URIM and THUMMIM, and how, by means of it, the will of God was discovered when sought in this way. Various conjectures, and some of them very foolish, have been imagined by learned men upon the subject. The account of it is thus given in the sacred volume: "Thou shalt put in the breast-plate of judgment, the Urim and Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the Lord: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the Lord, continually." (Ex. xxviii. 30.) The words Urim and Thummim signify, literally, Lights and Perfections: but as we are not furnished with any description of the thing itself so called, we must necessarily remain in the dark on this point. Whatever it was, it was immediately connected with the solemn consultation of the Divine will; and by its heavenly appointment, it included in it a continual assurance, that when God was inquired of on any suitable occasion in this way, his answer might be confidently expected. Some have thought, therefore, that we are to understand by it, merely a divine virtue imparted to the breast-plate of the High-priest, whereby it was, as it were, consecrated to its use, and became an effectual means of discovering the will of the Lord; and that thus the breast-plate itself might well be called Urim. The language of the bible, however, seems rather to intimate that some visible thing was added to the breast-plate, as the sign and pledge of this virtue which it was to possess. In either case, these names would denote the clear and perfect manner in which God made known his will, when consulted by this method. Counsel was asked of God by Urim and Thummim, only in difficult and important cases. The High-priest, clad in his sacred robes, with the breast-plate on his breast, presented himself in the Holy Place, and proposed the inquiry. The voice of the Most High sounded in distinct answers, as it seems, from between the cherubim behind the veil. Thus repeatedly, we are informed, counsel was sought and obtained in the time of the tabernacle. Even when the ark was away from its sacred tent, the priest, girded with his wonderful ephod, often stood before it, and had the will of the Lord made known in answer to
his inquiries. (Judg. i. 1, 2. xx. 18, 23, 28. 1 Sam. xxii. 10. xxiii. 9—13. xxviii. 6.) We have no account of God being consulted in this way in the time of the temple.
As we have seen already, the High-priest was entrusted with the most important power as a judge, not only in sacred matters, but in questions also of a merely civil kind. He sustained, too, a chief rank in the royal court, as a counsellor, to whom the king was expected to have recourse in every great interest of the state.
We read in 2 Kings xxv. 18, and Jer. xlii. 24, of a Second priest as well as a chief one. This seems to have been one appointed to assist the chief or High-priest, in the general oversight of the Sanctuary, and in cases of unexpected necessity, to take his place, even in the most solemn duties. As he might be suddenly unfitted for his peculiar work, by sickness or defilement, and yet it was of the most vital importance that on the great day of Atonement, especially, that work should not be omitted, it was certainly altogether expedient to have such a substitute, qualified in such emergencies to take upon himself the whole character of Highpriest, in his stead, and so to accomplish the holy services, of the season in their proper place. The Jewish writers of later times, make frequent mention of such an assistant and substitute (when neces cessary) of the High-priest. They call him the Sagan.
We have seen that the whole priesthood was instituted of God, to represent, in shadowy type, the mediatorial character of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. To him the priestly office had regard from the beginning. It was only in its relation to him, that it had any meaning whatever. Hence, it is plain, the High-priest in the Jewish economy, was, more than any other single priest, a figure of this Great Mediator that was to come. As he was the soul of the entire priesthood, and comprehended in himself, in a certain sense, the universal office, (though necessity required a distribution of its manifold duties among many secondary ministers, and reserved for him exclusively, only such as were most vital and essential in their nature,) he of course embodied, in his official person, the largest measure, by far, of that typical significancy that has been mentioned. This will appear with peculiarly striking evidence, when
we come hereafter to consider the solemn services which he was required to perform on the day of atonement. The Apostle, in his epistle to the Hebrews, dwells at large upon the priestly character of Christ, and shows how infinitely it exceeded, in dignity and glory, all that had belonged, in the earthly pattern of heavenly things, to the Aaronick High-priest. He shows that the Holy Ghost had long before taught, that the Levitical priesthood was not sufficient to secure the great ends, to which the priestly office, in its nature, has regard, and that it was, therefore, to be continued but for a season, after which it should give place to one that would possess in reality, all the power that this had only represented in shadow. A new priesthood, it had been signified, was to be introduced after the order of Melchisedek; and the priestly character of that man had been so ordered, in the wise providence of God, as to evince symbolically that this new priesthood of which it was thus the mystical pattern, should have incomparably more excellence than that which distinguished the Jewish state. The priests under the law were made without an oath; but this one who was after the order of Melchisedek with an oath, by which solemnity on the part of God, his office was showed to be far more important than theirs. They were many, not being suffered to continue by reason of death; but this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. They had infirmity and sin of their own; he is altogether holy, harmless and undefiled. (Heb. vii. 1-28.) Yet, though so glorious in his nature, he was not unqualified to feel for those on whose behalf he has undertaken to act. To be fit for his work, he clothed himself with the nature of man, so as to become familiar with all its infirmities and miseries, only without sin. Thus he was qualified to represent that nature in his mediatorial agency, and at the same time to sympathise with it in its weaknesses and sorrows. In that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted, and can be touched in all points with the feeeling of their infirmities. (Heb. ii. 14-18. iv. 14-16. v. 1-9.)