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I say then, first, that Christ was a priest while he was on earth; and he continueth to be so for ever,--that is, until the whole work of mediation be accomplished.
Socinus first published his opinion in this business in his book, “De Jesu Christo Servatore," against Covet. For some time the venom of that error was not taken notice of. Six years after, himself telleth us (Ep. ad Niemojev. 1"), he wrote his answer to Volanus, wherein he confirmed it again at large; whereupon Niemojevius, a man of his own antitrinitarian infidelity, writes to him, and asks him sharply (in substance) if he was not mad, to affirm a thing so contrary to express texts of Scripture (Ep. 1 Joh. Niemojev, ad Faust. Socin.) Before him, that atheistical monk Ochinus had dropped some few things in his dialogues hereabout. Before him, also, Abelardus had made an entrance into the same abomination; of whom says Bernard, Ep. 190, “Habemus in Francia novum de veteri magistro theologum, qui ab ineunte ætate sua in arte dialectica lusit; et nunc in Scripturis sanctis insanit."
How the whole nation of the Socinians have since consented into this notion of their master, I need not manifest. It is grown one of the articles of their creed, as this man here lays it down among the substantial grounds of Christian religion. Confessedly on their part, the whole doctrine of the satisfaction of Christ and justification turns on this hinge: for though we have other innumerable demonstrations of the truth we assert, yet as to them, if this be proved, no more is needful; for if Christ was a priest, and offered himself a sacrifice, it cannot but be a sacrifice of atonement, seeing it was by blood and death. Crellius tells us that Christ died for us on a double account; partly as the mediator and surety of the new covenant, partly as a priest that was to offer himself to God. A man might think he granted Christ to have been a priest on the earth, and as such to have offered himself a sacrifice. So also doth Volkelius allow the killing of the sacrifice to represent the death of Christ.* Now, the killing of the sacrifice was the sacrificing of it. $o Stuckius proves from that of the poet,“ “ Et nigram mactabis ovem, lucumque
1 « Nam annos abhinc sex atque eo amplius idem paradoxum in mea de Jesu Christo Servatore disputatione sine dubio legisti."— Faust. Socin. Res. ad Joh. Niemojev. Ep. 1.
*3 « Verum non sine mærore (ne quid gravius addam), incidi inter legendum in quod. dam paradoxon, dum Christum in morte, sive in cruce sacrificium obtulisse pernegas." Joh. Niemojev. Ep. 1 ad Faust. Socin.
3 “ Etenim mortem, Christus subiit, duplici ratione: partim quidem, ut foederis mer diator, seu sponsor, et veluti testator quidem; partim ut sacerdos Deo ipsum oblaturus." Crell. de Caus. Mort. Christi, p. 6.
• “ Partes hujus muneris hæc sunt potissimum; mactatio victimæ, in tabernaculum ad oblationem peragendam ingressio, et ex eodem egressio. Ac mactatio quidem mor. tom Christi violentam, sanguinisque profusionem continet.”—Volkel. de Vera Relig. lib. iii. cap. xxxvii. p. 145.
• [Virg. Geor. iv. 547.]
revises." But Crellius afterward expounds himself, and tells us that this twofold office of Christ (than which nothing can be spoken more ridiculously) of a mediator and a priest did as it were meet in the death of Christ, the one ending (that is, his being a mediator), and the other beginning; and Volkelius doth the like, with a sufficient contradiction to his assertion, calling the death of Christ the beginning and entrance of his priesthood.” As for his mediatorship, Crellius telleth us that it is most evident that Christ therein was “subordinate to God” (so he phrases it); that is, he was a mediator with us for God, and not at all with God for us. And this he proves, because he put not himself into this office, nor was put into it by us, so as to confirm the covenant between God and us, but was a minister and messenger of God, who sent him for this purpose. But the folly of this shall be afterward manifested. Christ was given of God, by his own consent, to be a mediator for us, and to lay down his life a ransom for us, 1 Tim. ii. 3-6; which certainly he did to God for us, and not for God to us, as shall afterward be evinced. But coming to speak of his priesthood he is at a loss. “When," saith he," he is considered as a priest” (for that he was properly a priest he denies, calling it “Sacerdotii, et oblationis metaphora,") "although he seemeth to be like one who doth something with God in the name of men, if we consider diligently, we shall find that he is such a priest as performs something with us in the name of God.”5
This proof is παρά την σύνθεσιν και διαίρεσιν. But this is no new thing with these men: “Because Christ, as a high priest, doth something with us for God, therefore he did nothing with God for us;" as though, because the high priest of old was over the house of God and ruled therein, therefore he did not offer sacrifices to God for the sins of the people. All that Crellius in his ensuing discourse hath to prove this by, is because, as he saith, “Christ offered not his sacrifice until he came to heaven;" which because he proves not, nor endeavours to do it, we may see what are the texts of Scripture urged for the confirmation of that conceit by Mr B. and others.
Seeing all the proofs collected for this purpose are out of the
1 " In morte utrumque munus (mediatoris, et sacerdotis) veluti coit: et prius quidem in ea desinit, eâque confirmatur; postremum autem incipit, et ad id Christus fuit quodammodo præparatus.”—P. 8.
? " Hinc colligitur solam Christi mortem, nequaquam illam perfectam absolutamque ipsius oblationem de qua in Epist. ad Hebræos agitur, fuisse; sed principium et præparationem quandam istius sacerdotii in cælo demum administrandi, extitisse."--Idem ibid.
3 “ Jam vero satis apparet, Christum priori modo spectatum, penitus Deo subordinatum esse." --P. 6.
4“ Neque enim vel ipsum ingessit, vel a nobis missus est ad fædus inter Deum, et nos peragendum: sed Dei, qui ipsum in hunc finem miserat, minister, ac internuntius hac in parte fuit.”—P. 7.
6 “ Cum vero consideratur ut sacerdos,— etsi similitudinem refert ejus, qui Deo aliquid hominum nomine præstet,--si tamen rem ipsam penitus spectes, deprehendes talem eum esse sacerdotem, qui Dei nomine nobis aliquod præstet."-P. 7.
Epistle to the Hebrews, I shall consider them in order as they lie in the epistle, and not as transposed by his questions with whom I have to do.
The first is in his 11th question, thus insinuated : “Why would God have Christ come to his priestly office by suffering?” According to the tenor of the doctrine before delivered, the inference is, that until after his sufferings he obtained not his priestly office, for by them he entered upon it. The answer is, “ Heb. ii. 10, 17, 18."
Ans. The apostle doth not say absolutely that it became Christ to be made like us that he might be a high priest, but that he might be a merciful high priest; that is, his sufferings and death were not required antecedently that he might be a priest, but they were required to the execution of that end of his priesthood which consists in sympathy and sufferance together with them in whose stead he was a priest. He sustained all his afflictions, and death itself, not that he might be a priest, but that being merciful, and having experience, he might on that account be ready to "succour them that are tempted;" and this the words of the last verse do evidently evince to be the meaning of the Holy Ghost, “In that he himself hath suffered being tempted,” etc. His sufferings were to this end of his priesthood, that he should be "merciful, able to succour them that are tempted." Besides, it is plainly said that he was a high priest, sis cò indoneodai τάς αμαρτίας του λαού, or ιλάσκεσθαι τον Θεόν περί των αμαρτιών,-« to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” Now, that reconciliation was made by his blood and death the Scripture informs us: Rom. v. 10, “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son;" Dan. ix. 24. So that even from this place of Scripture, produced to the contrary, it is evident that Christ " was a high priest on earth,” because he was so when he made reconciliation, which he did in his death on the cross.
But yet Mr B.'s candid procedure in this business may be remarked, with his huckstering the word of God. He reads the words in this order: “It became him to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest.” Who would not conclude that this is the series and tenor of the apostle's discourse, and that Christ is said to be made perfect through sufferings, that he might be a merciful high priest? These words, of “making perfect through sufferings,” are part of the 10th verse; “ that he might be a merciful high priest,” part of the 17th; between which two there intercedes a discourse of a business quite of another nature,-namely, his being “made like his brethren" in taking on him “the seed of Abraham,” whereof these words," that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest,” are the immediate issue; that is, he had a body prepared him that he might be a priest and have a sacrifice. “Our high priest was exer
cised with sufferings and temptations," says the apostle: “Jesus was exercised with sufferings and temptations that he might be our high priest,” says Mr B.!
Heb. viii. 1, 2, is insisted on to the same purpose in his third question, which is
Q. What manner of high priest is Christ ?
A. Heb. viii, 1, 2, “ We have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle," etc.
I name this in the next place, because it is coincident with that of chap. iv. 14, insisted on by Socinus, though omitted by our author.
Hence it is inferred that Christ entered the heavens before he was a high priest, and is a high priest only when he is “set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
Ans. That Christ is a high priest there also we grant; that he is so there only, there is not one word in the place cited to prove. Heb. iv. 14 saith, indeed, that “our high priest is passed into the heavens,” but it says not that he was not our high priest before he did so, as the high priest of the Jews entered into the holy place, but yet he was a high priest before, or he could not have entered into it. He is “such an high priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of Majesty;" that is, not like the typical high priest, who died and was no more, but he abides in his office of priesthood; not to offer sacrifice, for that he did once for all, but to intercede for us for ever.
Heb. viii. 4 is nextly produced, in answer to this question,
Q. Was not Christ a priest whilst he was upon earth, namely, when he died on the cross?
A. Heb. viii. 4, vii. 15, 16.
The same question and answer are given by the Racovian Catechism, and this is the main place insisted on by all the Socinians: “For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law.”
Ans. 1. 'Emi yñs may be interpreted of the state and condition of him spoken of, and not of the place wherein he was. If he were ŠTi yñs, of a mere earthly condition, as the high priest of the Jews, he should not be a priest: so is the expression used elsewhere. Col. iii. 2, we are commanded "not to mind Tà émi rñs yňs,"—that is, "terrene things, earthly things.” And verse 5, “ Mortify your members sà śmi rñs yñs,"—that is, “your earthly members.”
2. If the words signify the place, and not the condition of the things whereof they are (expressive], they may be referred to the tabernacle, of which he speaks, and not to the high priest. Verse 2, the apostle tells us that he is the minister or priest of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man; and then, verse 3, that in the other tabernacle there were priests that offered daily sacrifices: so that, saith he, if this tabernacle avisi yñs, he should not be a priest of it; for in the earthly tabernacle there were other administrators. But to pass these interpretations,
3. The apostle does not say that he that is upon the earth can be no priest, which must be our adversaries' argument, if any, from this place, and thus formed: He that is upon the earth is no priest; Christ before his ascension was upon the earth: therefore he was no priest. This is not the intendment of the apostle, for in the same verse he affirms that there were priests on the earth. This, then, is the utmost of his intendment, that if Christ had been only to continue on the earth, and to have done what priests did or were to do upon the earth, there was neither need of him nor room for him; but now he is a priest, seeing he was not to take upon him their work, but had an eternal priesthood of his own to administer. There is no more in this place than there is in chap. vii. 19, 23, 24; which is a clear assertion that Christ had a priesthood of his own, which was to perfect and complete all things, being not to share with the priests, that had all their work to do upon the earth; and in verses 13-15 of chap. vii. you have a full exposition of the whole matter. The sum is, Christ was none of the priests of the old testament, no priest of the law; all their earthly things vanished when he undertook the administration of the heavenly. So that neither doth this at all evince that Christ was not a priest of the order of Melchizedek even before his ascension.
To this Heb. vii. 15, 16 is urged, and these words, “ After the power of an endless life," are insisted on; as though Christ was not a priest until after he had ended his life and risen again.
But is this the intendment of the apostle? doth he aim at any such thing? The apostle is insisting on one of his arguments, to prove from the institution of the priesthood of Melchizedek, or rather a priesthood after his order, the excellency of the priesthood of Christ above that of Aaron. From the manner of the institution of the one and of the other this argument lies. Says he, “The priests of the Jews were made κατά νόμον εντολής σαρκικής, according to the law of a carnal commandment,”—that is, by carnal rites and ceremonies, by carnal oil and ordinances; “but this man is made a priest after the order of Melchisedec, κατά δύναμιν ζωής ακαταλύτου, by virtue of an endless life,-by the appointment of God, baving such a life as should never by death interrupt him in the administration of his office:” for though the life of Christ was intercepted three days, yet his person was never dissolved as to the administration of his office of priesthood, which is the thing spoken of, and in respect of that he had an “endless life.”
Question 9 is to the same purpose: