Systematic Theology - Vol. 2

By Charles Hodge | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI.

PRIESTLY OFFICE.

§ 1. Christ is truly, not figuratively, a Priest.

THE meaning of the word priest and the nature of the office are to be determined, first, by general usage and consent; secondly, by the express declarations of the Scriptures; and, thirdly, by the nature of the functions peculiar to the office. From these sources it can be shown that a priest is, (1.) A man duly appointed to act for other men in things pertaining to God. The idea which lies at the foundation of the office is, that men, being sinners, have not liberty of access to God. Therefore, one, either having that right in himself, or to whom it is conceded, must be appointed to draw near to God in their behalf. A priest, consequently, from the nature of his office, is a mediator. (2.) A priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. His function is to reconcile men to God; to make expiation for their sins ; and to present their persons, acknowledgments, and offerings to God. (3.) He makes intercession for the people. Not merely as one man may pray for another, but as urging the efficacy of his sacrifice and the authority of his office, as grounds on which his prayers should be answered.

Much depends upon the correctness of this definition. It would amount to little to admit Christ to be a priest, if by that term we mean merely a minister of religion, or even one by whose intervention divine blessings are secured and conveyed. But if by a priest be meant all that is included in the above statement, then the relation in which Christ stands to us, our duties to Him, his relation to God, and the nature of his work, are all thereby determined.

That the above definition is correct, and that Christ is a priest in the true sense of the term, is evident,

1. From the general usage of the word and the nature of the office among all nations and in all ages of the world. Men have everywhere and at all times been conscious of sin. In that consciousness are included a sense of guilt (or of just exposure to the displeasure of God), of pollution, and of consequent unworthiness to approach God. Their consciences, or the laws of their moral

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