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over sacred things; to them was given a kingdom, that they should be priests to God; they did not assume it, neither did Aaron assume the office. The institution of a medium, through which the offering of a sinful being could be made acceptable to the Most High, could not in the nature of the case be a matter of human appointment; neither could the presiding over such an institution be an office which any created being could assume for himself, or in behalf of others. Wherefore, it is said, (Heb. v. 4,) “No man taketh this honour upon himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron ; ” —not the honour of teaching, or preaching, or even of prophesying, but the honour of offering sacrifices for sins ; the honour of becoming a medium through which, or a mediator through whom the propitiatory offerings of a sinful creature can be made to a God of infinite purity. This is the honour we apprehend which no man taketh, or can take upon himself, except he that is called of God. The house of Aaron has long since passed into oblivion ; no pretender to a lineal descent from that family, amongst the descendants of Abraham, ventures to claim the priestly or sacrificatorial office ; even the tribe of Levi is no longer to be identified ; and if the temple were now restored, and sacrifices as of old again required, no man of the Hebrew nation at least would assume to occupy at the altar the station of him who was called of God.
Let us contrast with this the language of the apostle Peter, concerning those for whose growth even the milk of the word was desirable : “ Ye also, as lively stones, (in allusion to the living stone, Christ,) are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood,” &c.; and again, “ But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood," &c. Thus, an honour which Aaron did not take upon himself, and which in a certain sense, even Christ, it is said, did not take upon himself, (Heb. v. 5,) is attributed to a whole community of disciples, “ strangers scattered,” &c. The priestly reign or kingdom of the house of Aaron, merged in the person of Christ, has now become the kingdom of the followers of Jesus; they have not merely a priesthood instituted among them, as was the case with the children of Israel, but they are all, without exception, constituted one priesthood, and one generation of priests ;—and this for the purpose, as it is said by Peter, of offering up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. As Aaron and his descendants presided over the offerings of the temple, so these preside or reign (Baouleum) over the spiritual sacrifices alluded to.
It has been suggested that “ Christians are here denominated priests, ιεράτευμα, because they are said, ανενέγκαι πνευματικάς θυσίας, i. e., instea of offering victims, they exhibit piety and devotedness to the service of God; and being priests, they are also said to be paginɛtol," (royal ;) “ in the same manner as they are said συμβασιλεύειν τα Χριστώ,” (to reign with Christ,) &c., (Rob. Lex. 313.)
This interpretation comes far short, we think, of the meaning of the apostle. If Christians had no better sacrifices to make than those of their own “ piety and devotedness,” we apprehend their offerings would be little better than those of Cain—mere fruits of the ground :-a spiritual sacrifice must be a sacrifice in a spiritual sense. In this sense Christ, our great High Priest, offered once for all his merits, his atonement, his righteousness, in behalf of all his followers ; this was the offering over which he reigned or presided. The disciple adopted in Christ is accounted to offer the same sacrifice—in the sight of God occupying the position of his divine substitute ; and thus, in the same sense, as a priest reigning or presiding over sacred things.
Such a state of things must be the converse of that existing under the legal dispensation ; there, no individual could officiate as a priest or sacrificator, except he were of the family of Aaron ; here every individual, although so feeble in faith as to be fed with milk rather than meat, is accounted a priest; coming unto God in Christ, as in his holy temple ; resting his offering upon Christ for sanctification, as upon an altar; and pleading the merits of Christ as his offering ; dipping, as it were, his hyssop branch into the blood of sprinkling, and laying his hand upon the sin-atoning Lamb. In this respect, the whole coinmunity of Christians constitute a royal priesthood, and every member of that community reigns as a priest.* The definition we have already given of the term must be sufficient to show, however, that every such priest is not a pastor, or teacher, or prophet, bishop or overseer, presbyter or elder; the duties to be discharged by such functionaries requiring gifts and talents not alike possessed by all ; while the spiritual priesthood requires no other qualification than that of adoption in Christ, according to the purpose of God.
Apocalyptically, we apply the same interpretation to the words “ and they shall reign for ever and ever.” The reign is of the priestly character, a spiritual presiding over spiritual sacrifices. The elements of the economy of grace are here personified as the servants of God, charged with the exhibition of the true sacrifice, as well as of all that pertains to the worship of God, in the strict sense of that term. The same elements of truth which virtually serve God and the Lamb, by promoting bis glory, (causing all honour and praise to be given to him,) virtually also preside in his temple ; reigning as priests over sacred things, by their tendency to place the vicarious offering of Christ in its true light, and thence educing that offering or sacrifice of gratitude, which the redeemed sinner is bound to render to God in return for all his benefits. As it is said, in reference to the same elements, Rom. v. 20, “ Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound : that as sin reigned unto death, even so might grace reign, through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord;" or, as the language might be
* Christ is the Aaron of the Christian dispensation ; every follower of Christ, as adopted in him, is accordingly of the house and lineage of the spiritual Aaron, the High-Priest of our profession.
paraphrased, “Where the transgression of the law most abundantly rendered man obnoxious to condemnation, there the principles of salvation by sovereign grace most powerfully predominated, through justification by Jesus Christ, unto eternal life.'
V. 6. And he said unto me, These sayings (are) faithful and true.*
Και είπε μοι· ούτοι οι λόγοι πιστοί και αληθινοί :
$ 521. 'And he said unto me,' &c.—The word are is supplied by our translators, and we may dispense with it, or transpose it by rendering the expression, these are the faithful and true sayings.' This is the third time in which this formal declaration has occurred, the circumstances on each occasion being similar ; that is, as if an answer were required to a question understood, (S$ 427, 471.) It has just been declared that these servants of God shall rule, reign, or predominate forever. The question understood, we suppose to be, Who are these servants of God ? the answer is, These, the true and faithful words or sayings; or, rather, as the term 26you, plural of hóyos, might be rendered, These faithful and true doctrines, or elements of doctrine ;t principles of the economy of grace, comprehended in the whole purpose of God ;-that decision of the divine mind, (fiat,) unchangeable from all eternity, which is distinguished, by way of pre-eminence in the Scriptures, is the WORD OF GOD. Every doctrinal principle involved in this Word or purpose, pertaining to man's redemption, must reign, preside, or predominate ; its reign being secured by all the arrangements of the economy of redemption, as the elements of a city population are secured in the enjoyment of their rights and privileges by the entire structure of the city, with all its peculiar advantages.
These sayings, principles, or words, (267o!,) were personified, Rev. xix. 9, as the guests at a nuptial feast, taking part in the celebration or manifestation of the marriage. Again, they appear, Rev. xxi. 3–5, as the things made new; and lastly, they are represented as these servants of God and the Lamb; their whole tendency being that of glorifying the name of Jehovah. We do not suppose these sayings, however, to be represented solely by the dwellers in the city, we suppose all the elements of the economy of redemption to be virtually the servants, and (oi 26701) the words of God; accordingly they are all represented by different parts of the city, or different parts of the city may be different figures for the same elements of truth, or true sayings.
* We have divided the verse here, because we think the subject of the first clause properly belongs to the description just given of the holy city; while the last clause is part of the account given by the messenger of himself.
† (Rob. Lex. 416. l.iyos (3) (6) (a) applied to Rev. i. 9, and xx. 4.)
The preceding narrative, from the commencement of the fourth chapter to the close of the twentieth chapter, contains an exhibition of the contest between opposite principles, (the elements of truth and those of error,) in sacred things—matters pertaining to the way of salvation. Towards the close of this narrative, the elements of truth become more and more developed, and their destined predominance more and more brought forth, till finally, in this exhibition of the new Jerusalem, it is manifested that they are to reign or rule forever; all of these elements being symbolized in the various particulars, given of the splendid and well-fortified city just contemplated; they are all spoken of as destined to serve God continually, and to rule or reign in sacred things forever; and all, accordingly, we apprehend, are entitled to the appellation of true and faithful sayings, (16701,) elements of doctrine, elements of the same class as those of whom it is said, Rev. xiv. 5, “ And in their mouth was found no guile ;” opposites of " whatsoever causeth abomination or maketh a lie.”
$ 522. Although the description upon which we have been commenting is that of a city, and not of a woman, we have purposely retained for our remarks the running title of the Bride, the Lamb's wife, because it is important to bear in mind, throughout our consideration of the subject, that the new Jerusalem or holy city, and the bride or wise of the Lamb, are representations of the same mystery—interchangeable figures of the same subject.
Whether as a bride or city, the holy Jerusalem is equally an opposite of Babylon; both are revealed to us by a like twofold mode of illustration. The one as a bride appears in a clothing of the purest white, prepared by the hand of God himself; all her attractions being destined to secure the affections of one object alone; the other appears arrayed in the meretricious decorations of a harlot, intent upon perverting from the right way all coming within the baneful influence of her allurements. But whether as a bride or city, the new Jerusalem is seen descending immediately from God, out of heaven, leaving no room for suspicion of the smallest adventitious mixture of earthly material, either in her own composition or in that of her array ; while all that is to be inferred from the description of Babylon as a woman, or as a city, shuts us up to the conclusion that she is of the earth, earthy.
From the description given of the holy city, the hand of man is not to be traced in its structure; as, in the building of the altar of stone, upon which no iron tool of man was to pass, (Ex. xx. 25 ; Deut. xxvii. 5,) an intermixture of human labour in giving it perfection, or in attempting to make it more acceptable to Jehovah, would have been a pollution. Babylon, on the contrary, is represented to have risen into importance froin her own resources—her arts, her manufactures, and her commerce ;-her magnificence was instrumentally the work of men's hands, and her wealth and power the result of human toil. Nothing is said in the Apocalypse of the walls of Babylon ; they were but earthly mounds when first erected, and may be supposed to have crumbled to decay long ere her final destruction. Of gates she had no occasion, for there was nothing however false and abominable which might not have obtained admittance ; even that which was of a better character would have been received for the purpose of effecting its perversion. Neither is any thing said of her supply of water: the great river had been dried up; she had no living springs to which she could resort; her cisterns were broken cisterns, incapable of answering the purpose for which they were intended ; she was utterly without the means of arresting the conflagration with which she was destroyed. Sudden destruction came upon her, and that without remedy-she could not escape ;- the fire destroyed every work, for every work was of the same destructible material ; even her site or foundation was nowhere to be found. She had no temple of God-He was not in any of her thoughts—God is not supposed to have been there worshipped at all. Self was the idol of her adoration, and of that idol the whole city may be contemplated as the temple ; self-interest, self-gratification, and mercenary calculation, constituting all her temple service.
We have adverted to these particulars of the harlot city by way of recalling the imagery furnishing so striking a contrast with the features of the vision of peace, the heavenly Jerusalem. Employing Paul's exposition of the two Jerusalems, (Gal. iv. 24,) as a key to these two figures of the Apocalypse, we have taken them as representations of two plans, systems, or economies of salvation ; Babylon representing a plan of works, not purely legal, but a confused mixture—in pretence a gospel plan, but really an adulteration of the elements of grace with those of works, ($$ 385, 386.) The holy Jerusalem, on the other hand, we suppose to represent, as in a picture, the divine scheme of salvation by grace, sovereign grace, entirely free from any admixture of pretensions to merit on the part of the being saved. Accordingly, the glory exhibited in this picture is the glory of God alone. The vision offers for our contemplation no foundation or site upon
which to rest our hopes other than Christ, (God in Christy) the stone, the rock, the mountain filling the whole world. It shows us no wall of salvation but that of divine righteousness; it shows us no gate but the way of access to God in Christ—a way justly to be esteemed a pearl of inestimable value ; it shows us no means of ablution from sin but the river of the water of life, the atoning offering of the Son of God. It shows us no