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lasting gospel to all nations, he left them in a visible manner. “ And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.” But he left eleven of his ministering servants behind, to acquaint the gazing and astonished spectators, that he should certainly return again, in the same manner, in which they had seen him go up to heaven. All these circumstances of his ascension, display the tenderness of his heart towards the human
10. Christ is lovely in his intercession for his people, at the right hand of God. Though he has left, yet he has not forgotten this world. He bears all his friends, and all whom his Father has given him, on his heart. 66 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” What astonishing condescension and grace appears in the intercession of Christ. While all heaven are directing their prayers and praises to him, he is offering up his prayers for his poor, weak, suffering followers on earth. He thinks it not enough to die for them, but in addition to his expiring agonies, offers up his all-prevailing intercessions for their perseverance in holiness, and safe arrival to the mansions of bliss.
Lastly, Christ appears lovely in the preparations which he is making, for the final and complete happiness of all his chosen
God has given him to be “head over all things to the church.” He has committed all power in heaven and earth into his hands. He has given him the supreme disposal of all things, until the consummation of the great work of redemption. Christ sits as King of Zion. And Zion is the object which lies nearest to his heart. He is governing all things in reference to his church, which he means to make the perfection of beauty and of blessedness. All the dispensations of his providence are expressions of love and tenderness towards Zion, which he hath set as a seal upon his heart, and upon his arm. Accordingly he told his disciples at his parting interview, "I go to preparo a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” How beautiful, how amiable is Christ in this part of his conduct. “ Yea, he is altogether lovely.”
HEADS OF IMPROVEMENT.
1. We learn from this subject that Christ is more amiable than any other person in the universe. There is a greater mixture of amiable qualities uniting in him, than in any other person. All human and divine excellencies unite in his person and character. Besides, all Christ's amiable qualities have been more clearly exhibited than those of any other person. He has been placed in a situation, in which no other person ever was, or ever will be placed. And situation is necessary to display amiable qualities.
2. We learn from what has been said, that the truth of Christianity is necessarily connected with the existence and loveliness of Christ. If there existed such a person as the sacred writers represent Christ to be, then his person and character runs through the whole Bible, and connects every part of it, from beginning to end. Admit the fact, that such a person existed, suffered, and died, and all other facts recorded will be established, and the whole scripture history and doctrines will be supported.
3. Is Christ altogether lovely? Then all who have hated, and opposed him, have done it without a cause. He was hated and opposed while he was upon the earth, and has been since he took the government of the world upon himself. But there never has been any reason or cause, why he should be hated and opposed.
4. Is Christ altogether lovely? Then it must be highly displeasing to God, for men to despise and oppose this most exalted personage. It is so represented in scripture. And there is a good reason for it. Despising Christ is really despising all God's works and designs, which all meet in the Son of his love. Set Christ out of view, and there is nothing in God's works and designs, worthy of himself.
5. Is Christ altogether lovely ? Then communion with Christ must tend to make his followers lovely. It had this effect upon
his first disciples. Others “ took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."
6. Is Christ altogether lovely? Then his personal presence will be an ever-increasing source of divine happiness to the redeemed in heaven. His loveliness will ever be unfolding.
Bor made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually."
Hebrews, vii. 3.
Christ crucified was not only foolishness to the Greeks, but a stumbling-block to the Jews. The Greeks had no religion of divine institution to oppose to the gospel of Christ. They could only reason against it; and according to their unenlightened and unsanctified reason, it appeared to them foolishness. But the Jews had a divine religion to oppose to the doctrines and institutions of Christ. They said they knew that God spake unto Moses, and that all the laws, rites, and ceremonies which he had delivered to them, were of divine authority. They supposed, therefore, that they had a right to reject Christ, or any other person, who should introduce a new religion, different from that which they had already received from heaven. And upon this ground they actually stoned Stephen, because he taught that Christ had introduced a new dispensation, and set aside the rites and ceremonies instituted by Moses. Some said, " This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law: for we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.” They supposed it was blasphemy for Christ, or any other man, to speak against those rites and ceremonies, which they knew came from God. For they could not easily believe that God would repeal his own laws, or abolish his own religion. The apostles, therefore, took a good deal of pains to remove this stumbling-block out of the minds of the Jews; but after all their preaching upon it, the apostle Paul found it necessary to write upon the subject. And it is the great design of this epistle to the Hebrews, or Jewish converts, to illustrate the connection, harmony, and consistency
between the Old Testament and New. The method he takes
I. Inquire who Melchisedec is. And,
I. Let us inquire who Melchisedec is. Here it may be observed,
1. There is no evidence of his being a mere man. I know that most readers and interpreters of scripture have taken him to be one of the natural descendants of Adam. Some have supposed him to be Noah. Some have supposed him to be Shem. And some have believed him to be an eminently pious king and priest of Canaan. I shall not inquire which of these particular opinions is most probable; but only inquire whether there be any evidence of his being a mere man. We shall, therefore, only consider that portion of scripture which seems to favor the opinion of his being a mere man. It is said, he appears to be a mere man from the first account given of him in the fourteenth of Genesis. Let us turn to that chapter, and read the account there given of him. After mentioning Abraham's return from the slaughter of the kings, the sacred writer goes on to say, “And Melchisedec king of Salem brought forth bread and wine; and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most
high God, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be the most high God, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.” If this passage had not been explained by the apostle in his epistle to the Hebrews, it would seem to favor the opinion of Melchisedec's being a mere man; but yet it would afford no clear evidence of it. For Abraham was as much a king and priest as Melchisedec, if he were a mere man; and one priest never paid tithes to another priest of a different nation. It is true, indeed, the priests under the law paid tithes to the high-priest. But it does not appear that Melchisedec was a high-priest. Hence the circumstance of Abraham paying tithes to Melchisedec destroys the seeming evidence of his being a mere man. Besides, we know that the Amorites, a people devoted to destruction for their idolatry, possessed Salem and the whole land of Canaan in the days of Abraham.
And who can think it probable, that such an idolatrous and devoted people had a man at the head of them, who was a king and priest of superior piety and dignity to Abraham, the friend of God? It is said, Melchisedec is expressly called a man.
“Consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.” To this it may be sufficient to reply, Melchisedec might be a man, but not a mere man. Christ, we know, was a man, though not a mere man; and, for aught that yet appears, Melchisedec might
But it is further said, that Melchisedec must be a mere man, because he is represented as being like Christ, and Christ is represented as being like him. In the text it is said, “ Melchisedec was made like unto the Son of God." And Christ is said to be a priest “after the order of Melchisedec.” But if Melchisedec were Christ, it is asked, how could he be said to be like Christ, and Christ said to be like him? Hence it is supposed he was a mere man. This mode of reasoning is much more plausible than solid. We read in the next chapter to the text, that when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.” If Melchisedec were Christ, it was proper
made like unto the Son of God," and the Son of God was made like unto him. It is generally supposed by divines, that Christ appeared in a visible form to the ancient patriarchs, and in particular to Abraham. He sometimes appeared as a prophet, and sometimes as a priest. When Abraham was returning from the slaughter of the kings, he appeared to him as the priest of the most high God. This appearance was a type of his appear