SACERDOTALISM AND THE DEATH-BED
By D. M. PANTON, M.A.
WARRANT OF SCRIPTURE CONCERNING NEW TESTAMENT PRIESTHOOD
By ROBERT GOVETT, M. A.
SACERDOTALISM AND THE DEATH-BED
a soul about to enter eternity, on the threshold of the unknown, Sacerdotalism - Roman, Greek or Anglican - provides what it
regards as certain vital necessities; and
[*"Extreme Unction", say the Decrees of the Council of Trent (p ' 98), "cleanses away sins, if there be any still to be expiated, and the remains of sin; and relieves and strengthens the soul of the sick, by exciting in him great confidence in the divine mercy."]
Now the Holy Spirit has recorded for all time the marvellous drama of a dying soul, utterly unprepared, and having only a few minutes to live, and yet, face to face with Christ, in the end perfectly prepared for eternity. It is one who embodies with singular pungency the sin of all time. The first sin ever committed, and thus the fountain of all sin, was theft; our Lord was betrayed by a thief; He was crucified by thieves, who gambled for His clothes at the foot of the cross; a thief was crucified on His right hand, and another thief on His left; and, as our Saviour’s words to the dying man show, He died for a thief. This scene is the only death-bed conversion recorded in the whole Book of God, and it is the inspired drama for ever of a conversion just in time.
the first startling fact is that there
is no priest. The only priests God
has ever regarded as such, God-ordained sacerdotal sacrificers
Hold Thou Thy cross before my dying eyes, Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Darkness was beginning to settle over the land, and the darkness of death was already creeping over the faces on three crosses, and one of them sees only Jesus. Whether he remembered Isaiah’s prophecy we do not know, but it was full to the point:- "He poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered" - for three crosses had to be provided for three men to be executed - "with the transgressors; yet HE BARE THE SIN of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isa. 53: 12). It was probably our Lord’s intercession for the soldiers, immediately preceding (Luke 23: 34), that opened the thief's eyes to Whom it was that was on the neighbouring cross, an intercession which won his heart; but in Heaven he will discover that it was our Lord’s wordless intercession that won him.
The second arresting omission is that there is no baptism. The Lord calls for water, but not to sprinkle it on the brow of the dying man. In the place of a preparatory sacrament there is a spiritual revolution. The whole scheme of Sacerdotalism is internal life created by external means - a priest, holy water, oil in unction; whereas the whole of real salvation is God recreating a soul through His Word gripped by the mind. Two awful facts have burnt themselves into the thief’s soul - sin, and the terror of the beyond. When the other malefactor rails on Christ, he replies:- "Dost thou not even FEAR GOD, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? and we indeed justly for we receive the due reward of our deeds" (Luke 23: 40). We perish (he says) as moral suicides: our sin, and therefore our doom, is our own: 0 brother-thief, do you dare sin afresh in the very moment you are to meet your God?
dawns the one vital for us all, whether living or dying: - confession of sin
puts us in the right approach to God, but it must be followed by the saving
creed created on
[* We find the complete superscription by examining all four Gospels.]
Lord’s reply now adjusts the truth on the future of the dying saint, and
disposes of the Roman Purgatory. He
gently sets aside the exact terms of the prayer, for the coming Kingdom is not
part of God’s free gift; but fundamental salvation comes instantly at a dying
cry; and fundamental salvation, while it includes judgment on discipleship at
the Judgment Seat, and possible loss of that Kingdom which was in the thief's
mind, is an instantaneous salvation that knows of no Purgatory between [the time of] death
and resurrection. For every child of
God death is what it was to the dying thief - "This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise";
for it is to "depart and be WITH CHRIST,
* for it is very far better" (Phil. 1: 23): it
is the swift, safe transit into almighty power for ever. The Lord answers the cry in the dying heart,
which had, unconsciously, been un-scripturally expressed; and perfectly
reassures the soul with assurance of undying life. No ‘purging’ of the saved in Paradise is ever
named; and for a wicked soul,
[* That is, not "with Christ" in Heaven before our resurrection; but in Hades - the place of the dead: "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from THY PRESENCE? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in Shoel [Gk. ‘Hades’, i.e., in "the heart of the earth" (Matt. 12: 40) where "the Son of Man" was for "three days and three nights" before His resurrection.] behold, THOU ART THERE" (Psa. 139: 7, 8).]
now is disclosed the only ‘extreme unction’ known to the whole Bible*,
our High Priest’s ‘absolution’ of a sinner with only a few minutes to live:- "This day shalt thou be with
[* "The priestly and well remunerated rite of Extreme Unction, the anointing of the dying with consecrated oil, was first practised, as St. Irenaeus tells us, by the Gnostic sect of the Marcosians in the second century but has been exalted by the Church of Rome to the dignity of a Sacrament. Howsoever camouflaged nowadays, its original raison d' etre was that the lubricated corpse might slip out of the devil’s clutches" (Prof. David Smith, D.D.)]
Alas, for one on the right of the Saviour there are a myriad on the left. He who postpones his conversion till the death-hour is staking his eternity on the slenderest chance the Bible records. A dying man has said:- "Just when your body is turned into an engine of torture, and all the power you have must be mustered to bear it, then you are exhorted to think of your soul!" But these men, dying not of disease but under a judicial sentence, brought an unclouded brain to their death-hour, and (as their words show) a wide-a-wake judgment, and both are actually face to face with Christ: both know exactly how long they have to live, and both are consciously facing death. But the soul, which has procrastinated for years is likely to procrastinate [i.e., ‘to postpone continually; delay’. -Ed.] - or even be utterly without feeling still: in the second malefactor there is no fear of God: no dread of Hell; no repentance for sin; no terror of eternity: he dies with the word ‘Christ’ upon his lips, yet he dies a lost soul. Christ says not one word to him, much less does He bring priest or sacrament to one who was born with iniquity in his heart; who lived with robbery in his hands; and who dies with blasphemy on his lips.
WARRANT OF SCRIPTURE CONCERNING NEW TESTAMENT PRIESTHOOD.
By ROBERT GOVETT
PRINTED BY JOSIAH FLETCHER, No. 8, THE WALK
IN the second number of Quo Warranto, - the organ of ‘the Conference of Norfolk Nonconformists,’ - a paper has appeared, bearing the title, ‘Who is God's Priest?’ So sad is the doctrine contained therein, that, as a matter of duty to my brethren in Christ, I sit down to warn them of it, and to expose its erroneous statements by comparing them with Scripture.
The paper begins by stating, that "the true priest is the true representation of Deity on earth." Now it is granted, that Christians are to resemble God’s character. But they resemble him, not as priests, but as sons. "Be ye therefore followers (imitators) of God, as dear children:" Eph. 5: 1. To resemble in character the God worshipped, is not essential to the idea of priesthood. A priest is one who stands between God and men, to offer gifts and sacrifices. Thus the Scripture teaches; though the reference be made directly only to the high priest - "For every High Priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:" Heb. 5: 1. The Jewish priests were true priests if consecrated and of Aaron’s family, however unlike they were to the God they served.
The writer continues, "The true priest is the man who is truest to his God."* But he goes on to say -
"Our countrymen have worshipped many false gods, and our countrymen have set up many false priests."
[* If the man who is truest to his God is the true priest, there is but one, for there cannot be two truest. This remark, too, no more describes the priest than the simple worshipper. ‘He is the true worshipper who is true to his God.’]
Perhaps my readers are ready to say, ‘Well, that was true in the days of our Pagan ancestors.’ Nay, but he implies that the false gods abide to the present day. For -
"The false gods and the false priests of
writer should have told us, who the false gods of
this sentiment clashes with the former, "The true
priest is the man who is truest to his God." Among the worshippers then of the false gods
The author next tells us how this hatred to the true God’s service was removed.
"The careful reading of the 0ld and New Records purified my blood, put my nervous system in right play, and gave me accurate conceptions of duty and of priesthood. I will lay before you the conclusions at which I arrived about God’s ministers."
What may not be learned at the lips of one, who has, derived from the "Old and New Records" "ACCURATE CONCEPTIONS OF DUTY AND OF PRIESTHOOD?"
But his words are strange! I never read in either Record, that the reading of them was intended to affect the blood, or the nervous system. I thought that these were properly the province of the physician. Hatred to God’s service and worship lies deeper than the blood, or the nerves. The passage just quoted supposes it to reside in the soul. Nor is there throughout the paper an acknowledgement of the sinfulness of the human spirit, or of the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s regeneration.
The author then lays before his readers the negative conclusions which he reached. He first found out who are not God’s priests.
"I began to doubt whether the Pope of Rome was the true priest."
Then he was brought up a Roman Catholic. Up to his reading the ‘Records’ he believed the Pope to be the true priest of God. The perusal of the New Testament wrought a change. Has he ever since turned Protestant, and confessed himself such?
why did he set aside the priesthood of the Pope? Because of his pomp,
pretensions, and excommunications; and because of the flight of the present
He questions next priesthood of Queen
3. He questions the priesthood of modern bishops. They have too much show and riches. The ambassadors of Christ at first were sent out without purse or scrip.
4. He doubts the claims of clergymen in general. But clergymen in general have not much pomp, which was the ground of the rejection of the former cases. What then is his plea?
"I understood the type of a clergyman to be, a man who dare not preach except in a gown, who could not preach except by notes, and who would not preach except he was paid for it."
"The type!" Did the writer suppose that there was but one type of clergymen? If he did, he was greatly lacking in intelligence, and unfit to pass judgment on them. Some resemble his picture, but there are those who preach in cottages without gown, and without notes, and who give away more than they receive from their livings.
But his questionings went further.
"Doubts crept into my mind, whilst traversing the sacred page, as to the importance of those outward signs, by which a large clan of men, of all sections of religion, claim spirituality and priesthood. I mean the mark of a pulpit, of a title, of a cravat, or of an ordination."
This statement shows great ignorance, of the case. From pomp we have descended to, signs of priesthood. Pomp excludes from the priesthood: the signs of it make it dubious. Say to any Evangelical Nonconformist minister, - ‘Sir, I saw you yesterday in a pulpit; am I not to understand by that mark that you claim to be spiritual? I see you to-day in a white cravat. Is not that the signal of your claiming to be a priest?’ ‘I, would have you know, sir,’ would be the reply, ‘if you, are so ignorant, that all are accounted spiritual who are born again of the Holy Ghost. Have I yet to inform you, that Evangelical Dissenters acknowledge no priesthood but that which is possessed in common by all believers?’
For titles I do not plead, nor for cravats. But, that there should be something above the usual level of the floor when many are to be addressed, and when some are seated in a gallery, is a matter of such necessity, that I should think apostles must have had something like a pulpit, as Ezra certainly had: Neh. 8: 4.
There was also ordination of old, if by that be meant the appointment of officers of the church by the laying on of hands: 1 Tim. 5: 22.
What however does he say at the end of the paragraph?
"In order to recognise any of them as the true priests of God I must look for New Testament marks, and not for remnants of Papal tradition."
This ends the negative part of the question. He next proceeds to discover to us who are God’s priests.
“The true priest is a man whose doctrines are divine,
and whose heart is virtuous. You
may find him in the Catholic Church, or the
"Virtuous, heart!" Is that a New Testament mark? Are, there any hearts but "darkened," "hard,"
"foolish," "impenitent," "blind,"
"covetous," "evil hearts of unbelief," save amid the
regenerate? There are many whose
doctrines are divine, as far as they go, and whose conduct is virtuous, who are
not God’s priests at all. Virtue means
conformity to the claims of duty between man and man. The writer has only forgotten
the first and great commandment! "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with
all thy soul." Truly he has
"accurate conceptions of duty and of priesthood!" The merely moral man is thus pronounced a
priest of God. Yet, says the Scripture,
"Except ye be converted, and
become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom, of heaven:"
Matt. 18: 3. "Except a man be born
again he cannot see the
"Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." But the present doctrine overturns the former. The Pope, the Queen, the bishops, the clergy, were ejected from the priesthood, on the ground of their pomp and forms. But now it appears, that in spite of both, if their doctrines be divine and their hearts virtuous, they are true priests still! Or, will the writer prove, that wealth and pomp are incompatible with virtue? Hardly. Into an illustration of priesthood, which he gives a little after, wealth enters. The pious cottager wants wealth for the completion of his priesthood, in order that he may assist the unfortunate. The reason of all this confusion is, that he has never set before himself or others the true notion of what a priest is. Hence he rejects some, on grounds which make no part of the idea, and which therefore cannot form fit tests of priesthood. He continues,
"The Old Testament, I found, revealed an old priesthood, which ran in a particular family, which ministered in a particular temple, and which perished when the religion of symbols and ceremonies gave way to spiritual worship and virtuous emotion. The temple, the priesthood, and the ceremonies of the Jews, were the pictorial illustrations of great thoughts."
Truly God’s thoughts are ‘great thoughts!’ "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts:" Isa. 55: 9. But is this the way in which a mind that reverently bows to Scripture, speaks of God’s ordinances? The Jewish rites are worthy of deep study. God of old must be approached by the sinner only through blood. "It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul?" Ley. 17: 11. "Almost all things are by the law purged with blood, AND WITHOUT SHEDDING OF BLOOD IS NO REMISSION:" Heb. 9: 22. Will the writer confess this?
But what follows is equally bad.
"They were the hieroglyphics for perpetuating doctrine in the absence of a popular literature; and when the Son of God finished his mission, the whole thing was rent into pieces; for those whose hearts are purified need not now that their worship should he clogged with drapery and architecture."
Has God anywhere committed his doctrine to the keeping of a "popular literature?" How long the truth would have lasted, if it had been commended to such care, writings like this will show. God’s doctrine, as the Scripture declares, will, throughout the dispensation, never be popular, but always rejected by the world.
The temple and its services were not destroyed till about forty years after the Son of God finished his earthly mission. His heavenly mission is not finished yet.
"Those whose hearts are purified." Will the author tell us how? Quakers affirm, that it is by turning to the light within. How does he think it effected? Peter declares it is by the Spirit's operation, through faith in the work of Christ: 1 Pet. 1: 18-22.
"Christ," says the writer, "came and gave the soul DIRECT contact with
Deity." Weigh this well, believers! If the writer means what he says here is
Christianity overturned from its foundations. If Christianity be a scheme from God, it is
essentially MEDIATION. That is,
it proclaims, - that to the holy, just, and pure God, man, at his best estate,
is unworthy and unfit to approach. It is
the provision of a substitute to bear the just consequences of his sins, and a
perfect righteousness in the obedience of another. It is the proclamation of an intercessor
already in the presence of God, by whose pleadings alone our prayers or praises
are accepted. To the Christian mind,
proofs of this can scarcely be needed. It is the first truth that rises to light from
the pages of the New Testament. Priesthood
is mediation: and Jesus is High Priest. "There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus:" 1 Tim. 2: 5.
"But now hath he obtained a more excellent
ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant,
which was established on better promises:" Heb. 8: 6. Had
"We have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ"
whom also we have access (approach) by faith into this grace wherein we stand." Rom. 5: 1. 2; Eph. 1: 5, 7; 2: 18;
Compare the account given by this writer of the reason of Christ’s coming, which he states by way of result, with the intent of Christ’s coming, as stated by himself. (1) "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance:" Luke 5: 32. (2) "The Son of Man is come to save that which was lost:" Matt. 18: 11. (3) "The Son of Man came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many:" Matt. 20: 28.
But four positive illustrations of what is meant by New Testament priesthood, are given.
(1) 1 "A pious cottager lifts his broad eyes to the heavens, and beholds his future destiny, and wants only wealth that he may divide it among the unfortunate. He is a true priest."
"Broad eyes!" But I must not stay to expose the bad taste of this inflated production. The doctrine of it is immeasureably worse. The cottager is pious. What is the form of his piety? The true "priesthood" scorns "the bewilderments of theology." How does he behold his destiny in the heavens? Let him open his eyes as widely as he will, he will not find it written there. To him that believes not, the Scripture, the sky is silent. He wants wealth. Not so the Christian. "Be content with such things as ye have." "Give alms of such things as ye have:" Luke 11: 41. Yet will he do good to all, "specially to them that are of the household of faith." And even the lowliest cottager has a means of doing good to some disciple of Christ. "For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward:" Mark 9: 41. The true priest of God does not know of such a thing as ‘fortune.’ "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father:" Matt. 10: 29.
But the second illustration is worse.
(2) "A little child in fever and in death kisses the nurse, utters the words ‘Home,’ and ‘Father,’ and falls asleep, to wake only on the morning of the resurrection. That child is a teacher of heaven!"
"In order," says he in a former passage, "to recognise any of them as the true priests of God, I must look for New Testament marks."
Pray, are the words ‘home,’ and ‘father,’ New Testament marks of priesthood? Or are they so, when spoken in fever, and at the verge of death? For anything that appears, they may refer to the child’s natural home, and his earthly father. They might have come from the child of heathen parents. Thank God, our instruction concerning heaven does not rest on the quicksand of such an utterance!
But who is the third type of his priesthood?
(3) "A little black chimney sweeper escapes from the tyrants who stole him from his home, and dies on Salisbury Plain, with his hands folded in worship, and his knees bent, and his lifeless eyeballs fixed on the heavens; he is found next morning in that attitude, with a great sheet of snow for a coffin; and I say, that in the dead attitude of that boy we have a more glorious priesthood than in all the palace parades and chariot processions of ordained clergy."
men stealing is not very common in
‘In the attitude of a dead body is a glorious priesthood!’ Can nonsense exceed this?
The exterior of devotion suffices with this writer to prove piety, provided only it be without cravat title, pulpit, or ordination. Here is a living clergyman, really born again of the Spirit, preaching the Gospel with earnestness given of God! Is he a priest? ‘No, look at his gown!’ There is a man on bended knees, fervently imploring in secret the blessing of God upon the saints, and giving thanks. He is a priest, surely! ‘Not so! Look at his white cravat!’
But what shall we say of "palace parades, and chariot processions of ordained clergy?” What does he mean? Are these anything but "the great swelling words of vanity" of which the Scriptures speak? *
[* For a further specimen take this: "O give to man those heaven made priests whose bosoms heave as an ocean of troubled and excited benevolence, and whose words are the trembling and nervous and majestic words of an agonized intelligence" What straining to be grand!]
The last exhibition of priesthood is the most instructive, because the most definitely marked of any.
(4) "A blind, deaf, and dumb girl in America, discovers that there is a loving Father above, and a suffering humanity beneath, and whilst her mind worships the one, her fingers work hard to buy bread to relieve the other; and hers is a priesthood which will blaze with eternal lustre at the throne of Divinity, whilst mitres and maces, titles and cravats, pretensions and plaudits, will he left in the old world to perish amidst its flames."
Again we must apply his rule. “In order to recognise any of them as the true priests of God, I must look for New Testament marks." Now, is this girl a New Testament priestess?
She "discovers that there is a loving Father above." Then is she no believer. The Gospel is not a system that the enlightened understanding of the wisest could discover. It is a testimony which must be carried from without to every one that believes. That we are sinners, is a truth which conscience may learn from within. That the Son of God came to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, is something which no intellect or conscience could discover. Thus Paul puts it. "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" Rom. 10: 13,14.
Here we have the essence of the writer’s system.
‘God is love - worship him! Men are suffering - assist them!’ - ‘Is not that a simple and sublime Gospel, that scorns the bewilderments of theology?’ Nay, even this has its bewilderments. If God is love, how is there a suffering humanity beneath?’ How comes it, that this, his glorious priestess, is ‘blind, deaf, and dumb?’
‘Suffering humanity!’ Is that the feature on which our eyes are mainly turned in holy Scripture? Or is it not its sinfulness? Is not that the source of its suffering? Is it not the visible manifestation of that Justice and Holiness of God, of which this paper omits all mention? Humanity would never have been suffering, had love embraced the whole circle of the attributes of God.
This system is Cain’s Gospel. It is the shutting out of ATONEMENT. It is the tacit denial of six. It is the tacit thrusting aside of the JUSTICE OF GOD. And it must end, if ever it be allowed full scope, as Cain’s scheme did, in murder. Such a style of doctrine and practice; we are warned, will prevail in the perilous latter days. "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah." Jude 11.
In the author’s view, his heroine had learned enough, and more than enough, for salvation. She discovered, in spite of fearful impediments, this way of salvation. As soon as she knew God, she worshipped him. As soon as she discovered the sufferings of humanity, her good works flowed copiously. SHE NEEDS NO SAVIOUR. Her own right hand framed and planted the ladder of merit, that conducted her from earth to heaven. Nor is hers a bare salvation. So bright is her glory, that it blazes with eternal lustre at the throne of Divinity! Down then, ye bewildered theologians, who so monotonously assert that all, created excellence must be less than the glow-worm spark, in the presence of the God-head! Before the very splendours of the throne of God, she will blaze with eternal lustre!
Are not these "accurate conceptions of duty and of priesthood?" Or must we credit rather the contradicting Scriptures, which affirm, that "There is none righteous, no, not one." "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." "That no flesh should glory in his presence." "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace."
If the author’s words are a clear index to his views, he holds, as the Swedenborgians do, that the Father suffered crucifixion.
"Mighty Father! help us to raise from the cottage and the senate house, men whose spirits shall never be led away by flattering words, whose hearts will never cringe before a storm, and whose blood becomes indignant at the temptation of gold. 0 help us to rouse and to raise some noble people, who shall reflect that instinct of love which enabled thyself the glorious God to become mortal and to become the crucified one, that the nations might be saved."
But now for his concluding words.
"0 give to us the true priests! 0 give to us those who will redeem thine own benevolent glory from the treason of fake priests, and proclaim the resurrection of the world to truth and love!"
Sir, we understand you! They are false
priests, who assert the justice of God, and his wrath against sinners. They are false priests, who cry aloud,
"He that believeth not shall be damned."
that hath not the Son of God shall not see life, but the wrath of God
abideth on him." "To them
who are contentious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation
and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil?"
Your desired proclamation marks you out to be no priest of God, but one of the "false teachers" of whom an apostle warns us. 2 Pet. 2: 1. You would proclaim "the world's resurrection to truth and love." The Scripture asserts it to be "dead in trespasses and sins." Eph. 2: 1,5; Rom 6: 13; Matt. 8: 22. It speaks of "the whole world" as "lying in wickedness." 1 John 5: 19.
Instead of its resurrection to truth, the Scripture affirms that it loves darkness rather than light, though light be come into the world; because its deeds are evil. John 3: 19. It hated the truth, for it hated Jesus who is "The Truth." "The world cannot hate you, but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil." John 7: 7.
Instead of its being alive to love, the New Testament teaches that its Prince is Satan, the liar and murderer. John 12: 31; 8: 44. And Jesus warns his disciples that because God loved them, the world would hate them. John 15: 18, 19 ; 16: 14.
Believers! is not this awful doctrine to be put forth by those who profess to lead the people of God to nearer conformity with Scripture? How fearful the Editor’s responsibility! Can he both believe in Christ as the Scriptures teach, and at the same time give currency to doctrines subversive of the Gospel?
If one may judge from this communication, the composer of the present paper is no member of any orthodox Christian church. And if so, are those without to be set to teach those within?
Let all understand, that in resisting the Conference and its Quo Warranto, we are contending, not for a mere point or two of order and organization, but for WHOLE AND ENTIRE CHRISTIANITY. Let none be faint-hearted, but be up and doing! We are exhorted to this course by apostolic authority. "It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints." Jude 3.
But the question having been once opened by this unscriptural writer, I am unwilling to let it drop, without giving a brief sketch of what is the testimony of the New Testament concerning priesthood.
First then, it sets forth Jesus, the Son of God risen from the dead, as the great High Priest of our profession. Heb. 3: 1. It gives a description of priesthood. Heb. 5: 1. It tells us, that our Lord’s order is higher than that of Aaron, that his covenant is superior, is mode of consecration loftier, his sacrifice, once offered, for ever complete. It teaches, that his ministry is among those originals on high, of which the tabernacle of Moses contained only the copies. Heb. 7 - 10.
From the high priesthood of the Son of God THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS takes its rise. They are consecrated to this high OFFICE BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST.
"John to the seven churches which are in
2. "They sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof, FOR THOU WAST SLAIN, AND HAST REDEEMED US TO GOD BY THY BLOOD out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation, and HAST MADE US UNTO OUR GOD KINGS AND PRIESTS ; and we shall reign on the earth!" Rev. 4: 9, 10. *
[* I omit all consideration of the various readings on this verse, as they do not affect the question now at issue.]
Thus the blood of Christ is the great offering by which believers are consecrated, and have become God's priests; on which the paper above considered is silent.
3. The conqueror shall hereafter be owned a "priest of God and of Christ." Rev. 20: 6.
The Christian is exhorted as a priest to draw nigh to God boldly. On what footing? "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS, by (through) a new and living way which he bath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh, and having a high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith:" Heb. 10: 19-22.
The believer is an offerer of sacrifices. Of course, he presents no sacrifice of atonement. But One could offer that. By that "one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified :" Heb. 10: 14.
4. Those sacrifices of the inferior priests are acceptable only as presented by the High Priest. To this Peter bears witness. "To whom coming as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious, ye also as living stones are built up a spiritual house, an HOLY PRIESTHOOD to offer up spiritual sacrifices ACCEPTABLE To GOD BY JESUS CHRIST:" 1 Pet. 2: 4, 6. Jesus is made the test, in the verses which follow, of the true and of the false of the saved and of the lost.
5. "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious, but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner. And a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who bath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light, which in time past were not a people, but now are the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." 1 Pet. 2: 7-10.
Here we have the way of approach to God through the mediation of Christ. And God’s priests are not those who by nature were priests of light and love, but those who dwelt in darkness, till drawn forth by Supreme Mercy to the light; who were the children of wrath, till they received mercy.
But what are the sacrifices to be rendered by these royal priests ?
1. Their bodies, as it is written - "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service:" Rom. 12: 1.
2. Alms deeds, as it is written - "Even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again to my necessity. Not because I desire a gift, but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all and abound. I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were, sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell and sacrifice, acceptable, well pleasing to God." Phil. 4: 16-18. And again, "To do good and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifice God is well pleased:" Heb. 12: 16.
3. Praises, as saith the Scripture. - "BY Him therefore (Jesus) let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips giving thanks to his name:" Heb. 13: 15.
4. They are taught as priests to intercede for others.
"I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men." 1 Tim. 2: 1.
I have done. If now this false and unscriptural scheme shall lead the believing reader to cling the closer to Jesus the Son of God, as the author of all true priesthood to those redeemed by his blood, the Lord will have got himself glory out of the very device of the enemy. May he bless the testimony, and it shall suffice! To Father, Son, and Spirit be glory for ever! Amen.