Chapter XI.--A discourse concerning the priesthood of Melchisedeck, and Christ. And a clear demonstration that Roman priests are not priests after this order.
All Scripture-priests are reduced to these, two orders, one of Aaron, and the other of Melchisedek. Aaron with all the priests and sacrifices after his order, were excellent figures and representations of Jesus Christ. For there, all men could see in the violent death of the victims destroyed and burnt to ashes, what kind and degree of reward sin will deserve at the hands of Divine justice; and in the transferring of this punishment from the sinner, who deserved it, upon the victim, that without deserving it suffered it, men and angels could likewise discern the great mercies of God, in not imputing to men their trespasses, but laying them on a sacrifice, that was to satisfy justice for them. Hence come these expressions of forgiveness. 2 Sam. xii. 13. "The Lord," says the prophet Nathan, "hath put away, or rather, after the Hebrew,  hath made thy sin to pass over." To which is correlative this other expression of Isaiah liii. 6. "The Lord hath laid, or made the iniquities of us all to meet, upon Him."  That is, when God in his mercy puts away punishment from sinners, He transfers it and makes it pass upon the sacrifice that suffers it for them. Thus far went the order of Aaron towards representing our redemption by Christ.
But, because the condition both of Aaron and of his order was unavoidably attended, as well in their persons as in their office, with such circumstances of weakness and mortality as did rather overshadow than express the excellency of that blessed Saviour, either in his eternal nature, or in the strength of his eternal Sacrifice; God, in his infinite wisdom, was pleased, besides Aaron, to being in Melchisedek, and to set Him out with such colours that could represent both the Saviour and his salvation, in a higher and more eminent manner. For example, in the order of Aaron, the high-priest, with his best robes, appears not better than a mere mortal man, whose beginning and end, birth and death, are as commonly known as his life: his sacrifices are but beasts, which in no reason can make amends for the sins of their own masters. And yet these satisfactions were but temporary and short, some for a day, some for a month, the best of them were but for a year; which being ended, these temporary sacrifices and atonements were to be reiterated over and over, as if nothing had been done before.
Here then appears a nobler representation, both of what Christ is in his nature, and of what He was to do by his office.
1. Among all great persons, whose birth and death are as punctually recorded, as their very life, in Scripture, comes in a priest higher and greater than they all. His life and dignity stand on record. Genes. xiv. 19, 20. [Thus I take the Apostle's meaning, marturoumenoV oti zh that is, Of whom it is recorded, that he liveth. Hebr. vii. 8.] And though undoubtedly he was mortal, yet there is no more mention made, either of father and son, predecessor and successor in his office, or of the beginning and end in his life, than if he had been eternal. And by this means he represented, as well as it was possible, (for such great things cannot be represented otherwise than negatively) the everlasting both nature and priesthood of Christ.
2. Whereas Aaron and other priests of that order appear commonly in Scripture about their altars, and among their victims, that is, with some mention made of sacrifices, and other things which do belong to their office; Melchisedek alone comes in with this glorious and sacerdotal character, as being priest of the Most High God. Gen. xiv. But if you desire to know what sacrifices he comes to offer, you shall find about Melchisedek no victim, that he can offer, unless he offers his own body. And by this was represented what the apostle insists upon, as specifical to Christ's priesthood, that "He came not with the blood of goats, &c., but by his own Blood." Heb. ix. 12. And "by the sacrifice of Himself." Heb. ix. 26, &c.
3. Neither is there any mention or appearance of an altar, which is a thing most requisite both to offer and to sanctify sacrifices. Thus Melchisedek was in figure what Christ, at his passion, was in most real truth, priest, altar, and oblation. Which the apostle alludes unto, Hebr. ix. 14. "How much more shall the Blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself to God, &c." In which words Christ is the priest, his Blood is the sacrifice, and his Eternal Spirit is the altar, that both raised up on high and sanctified this precious oblation, above all what either the blood of all men, or the suffering of all angels could have been worth. Otherwise, as the blood of bulls and goats was too mean a sacrifice for this sovereign king and priest to offer; and any other hands, but of Christ, too profane to offer up the Blood of Christ: so certainly, neither marble, nor gold, nor any such gross earthly matter, could have been holy enough to receive and to support that most precious effusion. Christ's Eternal Spirit was the only decent altar to lift it up to God, and to sanctify this sacred gift. So, whatever both the fathers and we say sometimes of that cross that Christ was nailed to, must be taken in a large sense; for strictly and properly the cross was, both in the law of God, and the customary law of old Rome, the instrument of a cursed punishment, and not an altar fit for any holy sacrifice.
4. Whereas Aaron, and all the priests who came after him of that order, had a tabernacle to officiate in, both little, as being but of some few cubits, and weak, as being set up by men. Melchisedek appears blessing Abraham, in the name of the Most High God, not sitting in Jerusalem, or between the cherubins, as the order of Aaron did, (who had no other sanctuary either to offer, or to bless) but in the name of the Most High God, master, or possessor of heaven and earth, Genes. xiv. 19, 22, that is, whose dwelling and possession is not a lesser temple than the whole world. The ground whereabout this temple stands, is all the earth; wherefore God calls it his footstool, Isaiah lxvi. The compass and circuit of it reaches about to the utmost ends of this earth. The surface of all the air, wherein all men promiscuously breathe, makes but the out courts of this great temple. The sun, moon; and other planets, are the lamps of the holy place: and if you go somewhat higher, there you meet with the firmament and all its stars, which make that magnificent veil, which opens and shuts that holy place embroidered with flowers, and studded with spangles, where the Almighty God hath his throne, and the blessed angels their abode. And this great mystery the apostle partly alludes unto, and partly expresses in plain terms, when he says that Christ is minister of the true tabernacle; which the Lord hath pitched, and not man. Heb. viii. 2. And that, having offered Himself up once, Heb. vii. 27, (in the out court of this tabernacle, or in the inferior part of the world) he is, by and [Compare Heb, chap. vi. 19, 20, chap. vii. 27, chap. viii. 1, 2, chap, ix. 12, 24.] with his own blood, entered through the inner veil, into that holy place, where He is set on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens, there to appear in the presence of God for us. Hence it is, that when He offered Himself in the lower part of this world, the upper part of it felt the strength of his sacrifice; the lights of heaven were darkened; and as, in the days of Solomon, the glory of Christ appeared at that great consecration, and filled as well the heavens, as the whole earth with thick darkness: so, now that He is in heaven, as in his true sanctuary, these low and remote parts where we crawl, feel his intercessions from above. And thus, wheresoever Christ presents himself, whether in heaven, or in earth; this true Melchisedeck fills all the parts of his great temple, with the sweet savour and blessings of his powerful sacrifice.
5. Although it is very probable that Abraham, living the most part of his life as he did; like a traveller and pilgrim, in his country about Salem, either had, or sought more than once the happiness to meet Melchisedek, whom he knew to be priest of the Most High God, in a higher manner than himself; and also that Melchisedek had the same mind to meet and bless Abraham, whom he knew to be gracious with his God, and moreover, to have the promises; it is not without a mystery, that this great man never appears either with Abraham, or with any man else more than once: which must evidently, relate to that once appearing for sin, which the apostle observes continually, both as quite opposite to the order of Aaron, and proper to the priesthood of Christ. "Not that he should offer himself often, as the high priest, &c., but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin, by the sacrificing of himself."
Now, first, observe the great wisdom of God in contriving all things so suitably to their own orders. In Aaron's order all things are weak. 1. A priest troubled with infirmity, Heb. vii. 28. 2. A tabernacle made with hands, chap. ix: 24. 3. Sacrifices that cannot purify the conscience, chap. ix. 9, and therefore need to be often reiterated. Chap. ix. 7. 4. A covenant old and decaying, chap. viii. 13. And, lastly, a commandment carnal and temporal to order all these things for a while, chap. vii. 16. Contrariwise, in the order of Melchisedek all things are strong, and eternal. A priest free from sin, and continuing for ever, in a tabernacle made by God Himself, therein to offer his own blood by an Eternal Spirit, in behalf of a new covenant, made upon better promises of eternal salvation, by one oblation, once offered for sin on earth, and a continued appearance for us in heaven. Finally, an oath, a law, and power of an endless life, to concert and bind all these great things together, Heb. chap. vii. chap. viii. chap. ix. &c.
Secondly, observe how these two orders are well suited for their proper ends and effects. Aaron's order turns to a typical redemption, from legal and typical sins. Such were, for example, to touch a dead body, to eat of any flesh torn by wild beasts, to come near a leper, &c. The blood of goats was sufficient to wash away such sins; and an infirm priest to consecrate and offer such blood; and a carnal institution, to ordain such an ordinary priest. And either a tabernacle made of skins, or a temple made of stones, was good enough for such sacrifices and such priests. The order of Melchisedek is designed to procure and work a real and eternal redemption. Therefore, here is a sacrifice of an infinite value to satisfy an infinite justice, and to buy out of its hand, this everlasting purchase of eternal salvation: a priest of an infinite dignity to offer, and to bless, that infinitely precious oblation: a tabernacle of a large extent both to contain all guests, that is, all men who are universally invited to this sacrifice; and to afford such, and so many rooms, as this infinite and eternal priest must need stand and officiate in. Therefore, this tabernacle cannot be less than both the whole earth and heaven; the earth to contain all mankind, which is called to this Sacrifice; and all the heavens, either through, or to which, this high priest must carry the blood, and therewith enter into that sanctuary, to perform that other moiety of his sacerdotal office, by an everlasting appearance and intercession. Finally, a decree confirmed by oath, immutable and never to be repented of, to consecrate a king, and a priest to this everlasting office; and to settle eternity, both upon that salvation, and upon all other advantages, that depend on that priest and king. All these doctrines support themselves by their own agreeableness with all rational equity, with the express tenets of an apostle, and with clear analogy of faith.
As touching the bread and wine, wherewith Melchisedek feasted Abraham, I have said nothing all this while: and the truth is, I am not certain what to say, because it was a private act, which the holy apostle, who doubtless well understood what was either significant, or insignificant in it, took no more notice of, than of the mules and slaves, that probably brought this bread and wine. It is true, indeed, mention is sometimes made in the writing of the fathers, of Melchisedek's presenting bread and wine, with reference to the Eucharist; but it is by way of accommodation and allusion, with which ornamental schemes of speech it is usual with them, as it is with other authors, upon occasion to serve themselves: and besides, they declare that Melchisedek gave them to Abraham and not to God.
It is well known that every circumstance of action that happens to a type, or parable, is not a part of either; and, in the present case, to be a priest after the similitude, or the order of Melchisedek, (which two words the apostle uses to express one thing, Heb. vii, 15,) is to be ordained such a priest, as Melchisedek was: and this ordination or likeness, must not extend further (unless we have some other infallible guide, that will lead us that further way) than the holy apostle extends it.
This order is by the apostle extended as far as to represent, 1. The joining of two dignities together, to wit, both the royal and sacerdotal in Jesus Christ, which were separated by Moses. 2. The eternity of this Royal Priest, and the perpetual duration of his priesthood. 3. The excellency and extraordinariness of both Priest, and Sacrifice; a thing which was never seen, but in Christ, nor so much as shadowed, but in Melchisedek. The Sacrifice is as great, and as good, as the Priest: and the Priest, with his own Body and Blood, and Soul, is the same with his Sacrifice. 4. The vastness of the tabernacle, as large and high, as the whole world. 5. The one infinite act of offering, which, at one blow, did fill up with the strength of his Sacrifice, all the rooms of this tabernacle, and all the ages of the Church; and did obtain, throughout the succession of all these ages, an eternal salvation of all men; all men, I say, whosoever will give themselves up to this Priest, and wait for Him in the tabernacle, and partake of the sacrifice. These are the great and high mysteries, which, as well as any other, deserved not only to be foretold by prophecies, but also forshewed by types and figures. And there are none to this purpose, but this order of Melchisedek.
Now among these magnificent wonders of Christ's law, bread and wine can be reputed but of little importance, which you may find as well, or better among the oblations of Aaron: and thus far belonging better to his order, because he is often commanded to offer bread; [Levit. c. 2.] which priest Melchisedek is not. Therefore, if offering bread and wine makes an order, Aaron will be more certainly a priest after the order of Melchisedek, then was either Melchisedek, or Christ Himself. It is in vain that Bellarmine, [Bellarm. de Missa l. 1. c. 6. § Respondeo primum. Becan. de Sacrif. q. 4. n. 18. Greg. de Valent. De Ritu, &c. Disp. 6. q. 11. Punct. 1.§ 11.] and some others say, that bread and wine were but as appendages and sauces of Aaron's fleshy sacrifices. Which is to say, that the order of Melchisedek was but an appendage to the order of Aaron: and that this of Aaron was both nobler and fuller than that of Melchisedek. I say nobler, because that is the nobler order of priesthood, which is instituted to offer the nobler sacrifice: and such are Aaron's victims, they have life and soul in them; whereas bread and wine have none. I say fuller also, since according to this Roman divinity, Melchisedek's whole sacrifice was but a very small accessory to the sacrifice of Aaron. So Aaron had his own living oblations, and the lifeless ones of Melchisedek besides, within the compass of his order.
It seems Roman Catholics, and the holy apostles did not study divinity in the same school. For the apostle, who alone hath taught both Hebrews and all the Church, what Melchisedek's order signifies, either makes observations, or discovers mysteries in every word which Moses and David did ever say concerning Melchisedek, Genes. xiv. and Psal. cx, except only that Bread and Wine, which he presented Abraham with: whereas pretended Catholics insist chiefly upon that bread, as the main essential point, wherein they are to seek both for that order, and for the mysteriousness thereof. Hence it is, that they say [Bellarm. de Miss. l. 1. c. 6. § Ex qua ratione. Becan. de Sacrif q. 4. n. 19.] (and I suppose all learned Christians will wonder at it) that, when Christ offered upon the cross that all-sufficient Sacrifice, which wrought everlasting salvation, which at one offering consecrated all for ever: and by virtue whereof He sits at the right hand of God, and doth appear for us, within the veil, as High Priest for ever, was not after the order of Melchisedek, because forsooth upon the cross Christ wanted bread. The apostle says expressly, that Christ is entered into heaven as a High Priest, Hebr. chap. v. 6, 7, chap. viii. 1, and chap. ix. 11, 12, after the order of Melchisedek, Psal. cx. 1, 4, 5, where surely He appears with his own shape, and without bread. But if we believe Roman priests, He neither offered nor appeared upon the cross, because there He appeared in his own shape, and without bread. Christ, says Bellarmine, [Bellarm. ibid.] by the sacrifice of the cross was priest, neither after the order of Melchisedek, because He did not offer Himself under the form of bread: nor after the order of Aaron, because He did not offer Himself under the form of a beast.
But all this hath no other ground, than a beastly mistaking of the order of Melchisedek, and the order of Aaron, for the shape of their sacrifices. Certainly the order of Aaron can signify in no language the form of a lamb or a bull, nor the order of Melchisedek the form of bread. These orders do essentially relate to the law and manner, wherewith these men were established in their respective priesthood. And so the apostle doth interpret it, Heb. vii. 15, 16, the order of Aaron to be after the law of a carnal, that is ceremonial and temporal commandment; and the order of Melchisedek, after the power of an endless life, and therefore of an unchangeable priesthood. But and if these two distinct orders relate further to their sacrifices, (as really they do some way or other, since they are established to that purpose) they will directly signify, that the priest of one order was established to make atonement both for himself and for the people, with the blood of another victim, Heb. ix. 25. And the Priest of the other to do it for the people, and not for Himself, by his own blood. Heb, ix. 12. Therefore, whosoever saw Aaron among his lambs and bulls, could not doubt of what he did see; this is the priest, might he say, and these are the victims, which he is to offer. But he that sees either Melchisedek in Scripture, or Jesus Christ upon the cross, may well say; as Isaac did, being in the way to that mountain where, Christ afterwards suffered; O Lord my God, here are two great and holy priests indeed! but where are the lambs for burnt offerings? Genes. xxii. 7. So that after his best thinking upon the solitary condition wherein he sees them, he must conclude, that if they are ordained to offer there and then any sacrifice, they must in all necessity offer themselves.
All these things are so evident, both by their own dependency on each other, and by their suitableness with the fundamentals of Christian religion, that they may easily evidence themselves to any honest conscience. But if one be contentious; the authority of an apostle, who without contradiction refers whatever he says, to the Sacrifice of the cross, and not one word to the sacrifice of the altar, which they call Mass, in a full and large discourse upon the order of Melchisedek, is evidence enough to force and to convince the most stubborn.
Here I will by way of interrogatory propose three arguments, which, however upon different matters, agree in this, that they can obtain admittance into any sober man's understanding, without any help of scholarship. The first will be against praying to saints; how it should come to pass, if prayer to saints, or angels, be any useful piece of Christian devotion, that during above four thousand years that God had a Church in the world, and among so many thousand prayers and occasions of praying, the wars and troubles of David, and the distresses of all saints; not one example is recorded in all Scriptures of any holy man, who ever called upon any created saint or angel? And how is it likely or possible, that the universal Church in after times, should learn either new ways towards heaven, or new ways of true help and comfort, which neither Patriarchs, nor prophets, nor apostles ever taught or knew?
The second is against prayers for souls conceived to be in purgatory; how doth it come to pass, if either prayers or Masses be true acts of Christian charity, as they are pretended to be, that St. Paul for instance, who is so careful of exhorting all sorts of men and women, to all kinds of Christian duties, forgets the most considerable, as for father, children, and all true friends, to be charitable to their dearest relations, being, as it is supposed, in purgatory, and standing in greater need than ever of their prayers, but specially of their contributions for Masses? Did no flames of purgatory burn in the days of St. Paul? or had fathers, wives and children no relations in those days, that did either die, or fall into those flames?
The third is full to this purpose against Mass or sacrifice of the altar, if this Mass-sacrifice be the sacrifice properly both foreshewed and intended by the order of Melchisedek; how comes it to pass that the apostle spends the best part of a large Epistle upon this order; and by Rome's own confession, speaks not one single word of Mass, which is pretended to be the object and the complete end of this order? Was it because the oblation of bread and wine did not set out so well the excellency of Christ above Aaron, (which is the first reply of Bellarmine [Bellarm. l. 1. de Miss. c. 6. § Respondeo. Becanus de Sacrif. q. 4. § Objiciunt secundo.]) and the expressions of death and suffering, and of strong cries and tears, which he spares not to mention at every occasion in this epistle, did set it out better? or, (which is their other reply [Bell. ibid.] ) was it because this mystery of Mass was too high for these Christians to whom he writes; but the other high points of Christian religion, as Christ's eternal Person, Incarnation, Passion, of which he speaks freely to them, were not too high? Or, if they say the apostle hath only named the order, and not explained what it is, let them supply and explain it better. But, before they take on them to teach us more fully than the apostle hath done this high point of Divinity, let them better study grammar, and learn that neither in Hebrew the order of Melchisedek signifies the form of bread, nor in Greek the order of Aaron the form of rams or goats, or of any other victims that Aaron was ordained to offer. Otherwise, whensoever he did offer bread, as he did often, not as an accessory, as Bellarmine [Bell. supra. Gregor. de Valent. de Ritu &c. Disp. 6. q. 11. p. 1. Becan. supra.] and others would have it, but as a principal sacrifice, Levit. ii., the order of Aaron will become the order of Melchisedek.
But then, what must we make of this bread and wine, which the apostle thus lays aside? I say; 1. That this apostolical neglect is a clear demonstration, that this bread and wine, which he passes by, are not so essential to the order of Melchisedek, as is every thing else which he most punctually observes. 2. The literal sense of these words, Melchisedek offered bread and wine, Gen. xiv. 18, signifies not, that Melchisedek offered himself either to God or to Abraham under the shape of bread and wine; but only that after the laudable custom observed in those days among princes and nations, whether confederates or friends, Melchisedek being a neighbour king, thought fit to meet and congratulate Abraham, though perhaps then a lesser prince, after a signal victory, and to supply his army with such refreshments (most commonly signified in those countries under the notion of bread and wine) as soldiers might want in their march. Thus St. Ambrose [St. Ambros. Heb. vii. 1.] takes it out of many Jewish writers. Therefore were the Ammonites accursed, Deut. xxiii., and the princes of Succoth threatened utter destruction, Judg. viii. 6, for refusing this friendly entertainment, to Moses and to Gideon.
Whether these provisions of bread and wine were parts of any sacrifices, as holy feastings were commonly, that had been offered to the Lord before Melchisedek brought them down, I know not, and it matters not. There is never a priest, no not Bellarmine himself, [Bell. de Miss. l. 1. c. 2. § Neque his repugnat.] who can tell how they could have been sacrificed at that time when they were offered. Melchisedeck perhaps had in his way neither oven nor altare portatile, that is, an altar fit for travellers to carry about, as itinerant Mass-priests have now a days: and Jesuit Salmeron [Salmer. de Euchar. Tract. 27. § Ruit secunda.] gives us leave to think, that Melchisedek might offer them to Abraham, just in the same manner as the High Priest Ahimelech once gave the shew bread to David, 1 Sam. xxi., and Pope Gregory his holy cakes to some troops of Aquitaine, that were marching against the Turks. However, most certain it is, that this bread and wine, whether sacrificed, or not, was brought by way of either supply, or festival to Abraham.
But let us suppose it to have been offered both ways, that is both to Abraham, and to God, (for in such a clear case as this, there is no danger to be liberal) and let us see in both what mysteries this literal sense can well bear.
First then, Melchisedek offered bread and wine as a sacrifice to God; this priest offering, I say, represented our Saviour Christ, and this bread and wine offered, represented both the nature and the strength of the sacrifice which Christ offered among his sufferings upon the cross, bread is not bread, that is, nourishment fit for men, as long as its substance stands in the field, or lies in a heap in the floor: it must be cut down, thrashed, ground to powder, and with all this, it is not bread yet. Therefore, besides, it must be dried and prepared by suffering the violent heat of fire; thus, after much ado it becomes bread. So Christ Jesus was neither bread to maintain life, (that is bread of life) nor sacrifice to procure life by any propitiation of sins, as long as he could stand alive, and work miracles in his native country; He must be beaten, nailed to the cross, and put to death, and yet, for all his constancy under all these pressures from men, He is not much more than a martyr. The vengeance due to sin, the wrath of God, and the fire of the altar, must fall from heaven upon Him. Thus true Melchisedek, on his cross at Salem, was by his sufferings from Jews and Romans made a martyr; by that fiery vengeance laid on Him from above for all our sins, He hath been made besides martyr, our burnt offering; and in both, Abraham and his whole army might see, as in a figure, by what they might expect to live, and never die, when they met in their way both Melchisedek and his bread. The like mystery lies in the wine.
Secondly, consider, if you please, also this bread, as offered to Abraham. In the first nation, as offered to God, it is a sacrifice; as offered to Abraham, it is a sacrament. As sacrifice, it did prefigurate what our Saviour was to suffer for the sins of mankind; and as sacrament, it promised the refreshments, strength, sustenance, and nourishment, which Abraham and all his followers, that is, all true Christians, shall receive of true Melchisedek, after and from these sufferings. As you turn this bread towards the cross, there you see the beaten and burnt side, where it was made a sacrifice: and as you turn it towards the table, there you see the food and blessing, which worthy communicants can receive of a sacrament. These two sides answer one to another, as the womb for the birth, (for the Church and all her children are born out of the wounds and passion of their Saviour, as Eve was out of the open side of her husband) and the breasts for the growth of an infant; as the blood of the Passover, which saved Israel from Egypt, and the manna that maintained them alive when they were saved in the wilderness; as the killing of victims upon the great brazen altar, and the sacerdotal intercession, grounded upon the death of these victims, before the mercy-seat: in a word, as Christ dying for his disciples, and Christ blessing them afterward with mercies procured by that death.
Thirdly, compare this bread and wine under this second notion, that is, a kind of refreshment offered by Melchisedek to Abraham, with the bread and wine of the Holy Communion, which Christ hath ordained for his Church: in this comparison, that cannot be said properly to have been a shadow to represent this; since both this and that are but shadows of something more substantial than themselves; and in good severe divinity, shadows are not instituted to represent shadows, although being they are much like one another, because both represent but the same truth; in this sense one may be said to be the figure of the other; and holy Fathers say so sometimes. But, however, they are two figures, or sacraments, agreeing together like two images, to represent one and the same original. Such two sacraments were the flood and the holy baptism, which St. Peter, I Ep. iii. 21, calls antitupa, that is, answerable, and parallel representations of washing and sanctification. For Christ the true Melchisedek, and saving sacrifice of mankind, being offered upon the cross, neither in the first beginning, nor the last end, but about the middle space of the generations of the world, God had set up in the first several sacraments to represent Christ as coming, and in the succeeding ages two other principal and signal ones, to represent and commemorate Him, as already come. These two orders of sacred signs, like so many stars shining in their respective places, shew the way to one Christ: and, like the cherubs of Moses, wait upon, and turn their faces towards one and the same mercy-seat. Thus, here Melchisedek with his banquet, and Christ with his Eucharist, both give bread and wine alike; the one to Abraham and his household, as an assurance that none of them should ever want help and relief, till the Messias were come to them; and the other presents Christians with the like refreshments, as long as they will march and fight after the example of Abraham, until at last they come to Christ. So that if you divide all true children of that most faithful patriarch into two armies, marching the one before, and the other after Christ; those were, these are, to look upon this sacrifice, whereby Melchisedek hath obtained for them everlasting peace and justice, as the only cause and fountain of all the gracious effluxes that keep up tired travellers, from either being overcome by their enemies in all their battles, or from fainting under their own infirmities in their long way.
Melchisedek offering his bread and wine, whether to God, or to Abraham, may very well bear these true doctrines; and I am sure, that whatever Holy Fathers have either said or alluded to this purpose, comes to no more. In the mean while, all this is far from signifying, much less from proving, that like as Mechisedek once did offer in sacrifice bread and wine to God: so Christ must every day, and upon ten thousand altars, sacrifice Himself by Mass-priests, under the shew of bread and wine. And I pray what work do they herein behalf of Melchisedek, wherefore they should call themselves priests after his order?
The order of Melchisedek admits no more of servants to assist him, than of, fathers and mothers to beget him, or of predecessors and successors to come before and after him. But though you should allow about this mystery some officers, because certainly we cannot think but Melchisedek had bakers to make these loaves, and mules and wagons to bring them, and slaves to unlade them, to set them upon the altar, (I speak all this by supposition) and to distribute them among the soldiers, after he had consecrated them; and though you should also suppose that Mass-priests be called in among these men to drudge about the bread and wine yet of all these slaves, none can be thought to have been called, or without call to have been so bold and saucy, as to lay hands upon his master, and to offer Melchisedek himself either to God, or to the soldiers, among his loaves. If some such strange attempt could be proved, that were a mystery indeed, that might oblige us to seek among the disciples, for more officers than one Judas, to bind and deliver up Christ at their example. But till that be evidently demonstrated, (for such a business must not be believed without clear demonstration) in God's name, what have Mass-priests in them resembling great and holy Melchisedek, that they should take upon themselves the title and dignity of his order? They are not kings, unless it be by that round mark, which the barber shaves on their heads, which they call crown. [Durant. Rational. l. 2. c. 1. § Septimo Corona.] Their kindred and extraction is fully known, unless it be by chance of some popes, whose fathers were in the dark, but their mothers were known enough. They have long lists of predecessors, and brag of long successions, which Melchisedek had not at all. And they have all, not one excepted, both beginning and end of days.
As they are nothing like Melchisedek in their persons, so are they quite different from him, in their sacrifice. For, to speak out of their own principles, the order of Melchisedek was ordained to offer true substantial bread: and Mass-priests, by their own confession, do offer true substantial flesh. If you say that they offer flesh, but it is under the appearance of bread; you say by the same means, that with this appearance, they may seem what they are not, videlicet priests after the order of Melchisedek: but by their offering true real flesh, they are most really what they will not appear to be, priests after the manner of Aaron.
Any man may easily perceive, that if they be priests of any order, they are fitted from head to foot, with all the proper characters, that may resemble the order of Aaron, this only excepted, that they are not descended from Levi.
1. Roman priests are infirm and sinners like other men; and, as it appears sometimes in whole droves of their chief priests, whom they call popes, above the rate of other men. 2. Therefore have they good need to offer after the manner of Aaron for their trespasses, as well as for the trespasses of other people. 3. They are many, because they cannot continue by reason of mortality, Heb. vii. 23. 4. They are made priests after the law of a carnal commandment: both because their consecration is with as coarse oil as that of Aaron's could ever be and because the order, which they receive of offering the body of Christ for quick and dead, is not so much as Levitical, as Aaron's was, and was from God, but merely erroneous, and grounded upon nothing else than the vanity of flesh and blood. 5. The tabernacles wherein they offer are made with hands as Aaron's was. 6. Their Sacrifices can do no more, than the bulls and goats of Aaron could, and scarce so much. For by their own confession they cannot so much as purge away poor venial sins. [Cajetan. de Celebrat. Miss. q. 2. Lindan. Panopl. l. 4. c. 51. Aiala de Tradit. 3. p. Consid. 5.] 7. Therefore, by reason of this weakness, must they oftener be reiterated, then ever the Levitical were: it being not heard, that whole thousands of sacrifices were ever offered by Jews for one man: as it is usual to hear of four thousand Masses sung by Roman priests for one soul: and, as some say, [Petr. Maff. Vit. Ignat. l. 2. c. 12.] the founder of the Jesuits had three thousand of those, which they call celestial victims, celebrated for the happy success of one business he had at Rome. 8. What they offer, is what Aaron did, frankincense, cakes and wine, and as they say, true flesh and blood, &c. Only Roman priests can exceed the power of Aaron by two notable excellencies. 1. In offering the blood of a man sometimes for the recovery of a vile beast; as in the Masses of St. Hubert, for a hound; of St. Antony, for a hog; and of St. Rochus and St. Barbara, for any other sort of cattle. Whereas, the power of Aaron went no further than to offer beasts for men, and never men for men, much less for beasts. 2. The other is such as I think neither Melchisedek, nor Aaron were ever acquainted with, to offer the body and blood of their victims in such a way, that the blood shall be really shed, and yet the Sacrifice shall be unbloody. [Bell. de Miss. l. i. 12. § Praeter illa, Argumenta.]
These two prerogatives being laid aside, all the world may quickly wonder, why Roman priests will disown the order of Aaron, whom they resemble in all other things: and appropriate unto themselves, the order of Melchisedek, to whom they are altogether unlike. Never such a disproportion was observed between officers of the same order. Aaron and his priests and Levites, were so well sorted together, that though they differed in degrees, yet one might see among them all, a most decent suitableness, whensoever they were seen together, about their tabernacle and altar: whereas at Mass, Christ whom they made Chief Priest, and the Mass-priests, who pretend to be his officers, agree one with another in nothing, as to this purpose. They have quite different tabernacles; for Christ never offered in a tabernacle made with hands, nor the Mass-priests in a tabernacle made without hands. And whereas no inferior priests under the law, ever were so bold, as to sacrifice at the altar without, whilst the Chief Priest was interceding in the sanctuary within these Mass-priests exercise a most disorderly priesthood: for they never offered, when Christ was offering on earth, which was the only time for priests to officiate under the Chief Priest: and now they take upon them to offer in this outward court, against all law, when the Chief Priest our blessed Saviour is entered to intercede in his sanctuary which is heaven. Thus Mass tumbles all upside down; the priests of Israel did never offer, in the out court, but when their Chief either was or could be with them; and the priests of Rome can never offer, but when he is away from them.
Some are pleased to think, at least to say, that were it not for their continual offering, Christ could not continue to be a priest: [Alph. de Castro cont. Homes. l. 10. Tit. Missa. § Secundo argumentantur. Salmero De sacrif. Tract. 27. Suarez Disp. 74. sect. 2. § Circa Secundam. Becan. De sacrif q. 4. § Secunda conclusio. Bellar. De Miss. l. 1. c. 6. § Praeterca.] because they presuppose, that a priest continues to be priest no longer than he sacrifices. After this rate the priests of Israel were no more priests, after they had passed their fifty years, for they did not offer after that age, Num. iv. Nor the priests of Rome, in the afternoons, for they are not to offer then: nor many of them more than during three or four hours, that is, during three or four Masses, which they are bound to sing and [Navar. c. 25. n. 88.] no more every year. Christ Himself had not been priest (I speak upon their own principles) during the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity: nor should or could be hereafter under the Antichristian. For Christ had no substitutes, to offer any sacrifice under that, nor as they say, shall have any to say Mass under this. And what will become of most popes, whom they take for their highest priests, when by reason of their age, or other employments about the church, they never, or seldom officiate? I will say more;. in the judgment [Bonavent. 4. Dist. xii. q. 4. Alexand. Alens. par. 4. q. 51. Becan de mor. Miss. q. i. conclus. i. Suarez Disp. 80. sect. i.] of their best doctors; priests may be priests; and honest priests, without saying so much as one Mass in their whole life. And thus Mass pretends to be necessary to uphold the eternal priesthood of Christ.
But the true and direct answer (although such silly things need no answer) is, that offices and dignities (such are the priestly and royal) given for life, are not at all limited either to acts, or to moments of function. Witness those priests, who neither say Mass, nor absolve, and yet keep their priestly office. I answer secondly, that there are sometimes such signal acts, as can give a denomination, and a title; not only during their existency, but all along the time that the effects produced in that moment of their existency can last. So God, and the blessed Virgin, (to insist on no more examples) continue really throughout all generations, the one to be the Creator for a work done in six days, and the other; to be a mother for a childbearing of nine months.
Our Saviour without Roman priests, or Roman Masses, continues to be priest for ever, upon this threefold account. 1. Priesthood is a dignity, that cannot be taken away but by degradation, or by death; which have no place in Jesus Christ. 2. Although the actual offering of Himself upon the cross, was of few hours, the strength and effect of that offering is as long and lasting, as if the offering itself were eternal. 3. If a perpetual office requires a perpetual function; interceding, which is as essential to priesthood, as offering or sacrificing, is perpetual. Durant himself is full for this. Christ, says he, [Durant. Rational. l. 2. De Sacerdote fol. 27.] performed excellently the office of priest, when He offered Himself upon the cross, for the sins of mankind, and performs it yet more gloriously now, when, sitting at the right hand of his Father, He intercedes continually for us. The holy apostle intimates the first account, Heb. vii. 16, "by the strength of an indissoluble life." And more plainly, 24, when he says, that "Christ hath an unchangeable priesthood, because He continues for ever." He intimates the second, Heb. ix. 12, when he says, that "Christ once for all entered into the holy place after, or by, having procured an everlasting redemption." And he intimates the third, Heb. vii. 25, and the first and the second also, when he says, that "Christ is able to save them absolutely, whosoever address themselves to God by Him: living for ever, that He may intercede for them."
Now, what doth a. Roman priest with his wafers any more towards these great fundamentals, which keep up the eternal priesthood of Christ, than an Astrologer with his instruments towards the upholding of heaven? or poor Robin with his predictions towards the causing of a good year? The very Mass-priests can sometimes laugh at these [Gabr. vasq. T. 3. Disp. 225. c. 2. § Verum quamvis. Id. T. i. Disp. 185. c. 2.] weak reasons, when they are squabbling among themselves.