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This title, which is given to the people of God, in 1 Pet. ii. 9.* is of the same import with that in Exod. xix. 6. a kingdom of priests, and with another in Rev. i. 6. kings and priests. They are words used to express the power and dignity, with the grace and holiness, conferred upon the children of God.
No man can make himself a king, without being a usurper; nor can any ordain himself a priest, without authority. These are offices, which none can take to themselves, save they who are called of God; as were Saul and David, for the kingdom; and, for the prieste hood, Aaron. Those, who intrude themselves into these stations without a proper vocation, are too commonly puffed up by their fleshly mind, and come to nothing.
"The sense is, as though the Lord had said, Ye shall be to me a people, in whom I will constitute a kingdom and priesthood; or, as the Chaldee paraphrast expounds it, To me ye shall be kings and priests. For all these in a certain manner, by conjunction of soul, are kings in the one King [Christ,] and all are priests in him the one great High-priest. Whence, there is no impropriety in saying, that all the people offered sacrifice ( as it is said of Solomon and the Israelites in 1 Kings viii. 62, 63. ] though the priest only actually performed it.” Estius in Exod. xix. 6.
These king-priests, therefore, are appointed of God to participate a kingdom which cannot be shaken, and for this purpose (according to the outward sign) are spiritually anointed by him, which is the token and qualification of their calling and station. None are truly his spiritual priests, but those who have the unction of the Holy One, and are taught of God: and that is never put upon man's flesh, or corrupt . nature, nor yet upon a stranger to the grace and covenant of God. Exod. xxx. 32, 33. · They are called kings, because they have a royal will and sublime spirit imparted to them, by which they are enabled to look down upon the mean and beggarly spirit of this world, occupied in trash and sin, and to look up, with dignity and delight, to that wisdom and glory and all its fruitful and happy effects, which the King of kings hath appointed for them. They have also a power to reign in righteousness over evil, and the authors of evil; imperfectly here, because of a corrupt body which they bear about them, but perfectly in the life to come, when they shall be absolutely holy and victorious for ever. Their dominion shall be extensive; how extensive, we cannot conceive through the medium of our frail and feeble sense; and of its duration there shall be no end. Their very crown is a crown of glory and of righteousness, and, like their inheritance and kingdom, incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading.
They are named priests, because of their sacred and unalterable character, and because of the privilege, by which they intimately and nearly approach the HIGH
EST,* and offer up spiritual sacrifices and services before him. They are clothed with the bright and spotless robes of righteousness and salvation, which shine upon them with glory and beauty. Their holy anointing teacheth them wonderful things of Jehovah's wisdom and truth; and they are led on from knowing and seeing only in part, through the heavy impressions of a fallen animal nature, to a blissful state, where they shall know even as also they are known..
The word priest, being only a contraction of preoster as that is of presbyter, signifies strictly an elder, one who is wise and established in the things of God, and therefore able to guide and instruct others. In the spiritual sense, all God's people are and shall be made wise and learned in his holy ways, filled with apprehensions of his sublime glory, and led on to more and more perfect investigations of his eternal and infinite truth, with increase of capa. city and without end of being. Jacob loved Joseph, not merely because he was the son of his old age, as our tran. slation renders the clause; but because he was the son of the elders himself to him, that is, wise, and wise in spiritual things, as the elders:t so their heavenly father, having furnished their minds with wisdom from above, loves his children in the gift and for the gift, which he himself hath bestowed upon them. .
* This high privilege of their spiritual character was prefigured by the legal priests, as it appears from Exod. xix. 22, and Lev. x. 3. and confirmed by Heb. x. 19, Rom. v. 2. Eph. iii. 12. The word 7n3 not only signifies priest, but prince, in high authority. Such was Potipherah, Joseph's father-in-law; and such were David's sons, in 2 Sam. viii. 18.
. Gen. xxxvii. S. .
As priests to God and the Father, or of God and of Christ, they are also the true Aaronites. The name is taken from a root, which signifies to proclaim, to praise, to cry out for joy. They exalt the Lord, and bless his holy name: And hereafter, like the morning stars, they shall lift up their voices for ever, and sing together and shout for joy, ascribing glory, and honour, and blessing, to God and the Lamb their Redeemer.
They are likewise the true and spiritual Levites. The word Levi (as we shall observe hereafter) signifies joined; · and the tribe, who bare that name, were joined to
Aaron* as his brethren, and were given to him for the service of holy things :f so the redeemed are joined to the Lordi the great high priest of their profession, in one Spirit, and were given to him & of the Father, that they might be holy and without blame before him in love, and serve him in righteousness and true holiness for ever.
. . . · They are not confined to any particular stock or nation, as of old; but the Gentile believers are equally brethren with the Jews, equally come to the holy mountain the spiritual Jerusalem, are alike a sacred offering in a clean vessel, and taken for priests and levites unto JeHOVAH. || Thus all the ends of the earth are brought nigh unto God: Thus all the earth, the whole world, that is Gentiles as well as Jews, having faith in the Redeemer, are made his own; and to these, to the whole of these whatever be their nation or tongue, he is named, though
in himself Jehovah Sabaoth, their Husband, their Redeemer, their Holy One, their Alehim, and their Adon. †
4. Isa. liv. 5. Mic. iv. 13. 1 John ii. 1, 2. Some, contrary to the general sense and analogy of faith, which run through the whole scriptures, have ventured to assert an universal redemption from this 1 John îi. 1,2. If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
In the first place; the word ris should not have been translated any man, but any one; i; e. of those to whom and for whom the apostle writes, who have the word of God in them, who walk in the light, who have fellowship with the Father and with Christ, and whom therefore the apostle calls, my little, or dear, children, because of such he was the means of conversion. These are the persons, whom he places with himself, when he says, that Christ is the propitiation for our sins.
Next; The word world hath various acceptations in scripture; sometimes meaning, the whole universe, or creation, of God; sometimes, the world we live upon; sometimes, the evil people in distinction from God's people; sometimes, God's people only for whom the world stands; sometimes, ia dispensation of God existing in the world, and especially in the time of the Jews, who distinguished the present world (their then státe under the law of Moses) from the world to come (as Heb. ii. 5.) or the dispensation under the Messiah. These are some of the chief senses of the word world in the Bible; to which we may add those very intelligible distinctions in the usage of the term among men, as great, the political, the commercial, the wicked, or the religious, world.
But, as the CHURCH upon earth is the real and important part of the world in God's eye, it is often called, and especially in the prophetic writings, by the names earth, or land, or world, itself; metonymically or typically shadowing forth that future land of uprightness or the living, that new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, that perfect world the face of which the Israel of God shall fill with fruit. Isa. xxvü, 6. Of this region, denoting the