Front Page Titles (by Subject) Number XLVII.: No Priests instituted by the Christian Religion. - The Independent Whig, vol. 2 (7th ed. 1743)
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Number XLVII.: No Priests instituted by the Christian Religion. - Thomas Gordon, The Independent Whig, vol. 2 (7th ed. 1743) 
The Independent Whig: or, a Defence of Primitive Christianity, And of Our Ecclesiastical Establishment, against The Exorbitant Claims and Encroachments of Fanatical and Disaffected Clergymen. The Seventh Edition, with Additions and Amendments (London: J. Peele, 1743). Vol. 2.
Part of: The Independent Whig, 4 vols.
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NoPriestsinstituted by the Christian Religion.
Wednesday,December 7. 1720.
I Will, in this Paper, shew, that there are no Priests or Sacrificers in the Gospel Dispensation, in any other Sense, than as every Christian may be called so, as he offers up to God the Sacrifices of Praises and Thanksgivings, and a pure and contrite Heart: and, in this respect, St. Peter calls all Christians, a spiritual House, an holy Priesthood, to offer up spiritual Sacrifices, a chosen Generation, a Royal Priesthood, an holy Nation, a peculiar People, God’s Heritage, or more properly, God’s Clergy.
It is undoubtedly true, that all Power, Superiority, or Distinction amongst Men, must be derived either from the positive Institutions of God, or the Consent and Agreement of one another; and therefore, whoever demands any Authority over others, their Goods, or Possessions, must support his Pretences by such Proof as the Nature and Importance of the Claim requires; and it must be very glaring and undeniable, when it is levelled at the temporal and eternal Happiness of all Mankind.
It is a severe Circumstance, which attends those, who oppose received Opinions, that they must not only contend against popular Prejudices, and Notions long imbibed, against the Interests and Passions of great Numbers of artful and combining Men, but in most Countries against the Weight and Force of public Authority. The labouring Oar too will always lie upon you: You must disprove what has no Proof to support it, and bring Clouds of Arguments to maintain Propositions that are really self-evident; a bare Possibility that you may be mistaken, shall be deemed a full Conviction; and sometimes the clearest Demonstration on your Side, shall be called only carnal and human Knowledge, not to be used about Spiritual Things; and even when the irrefragable Strength of your Reasoning forces Consent, you will have no Thanks for your Pains, but will be esteemed officious and factious, and be said to disturb Points already settled, if by chance you should escape the Censure of promoting the Cause of Deism or Atheism.
However, these Claims, in the Popish and popishly-affected Clergy, are so enormous, the Consequences of them so fatal to Christianity and the Arguments pretended to be brought from Reason and Authority for their Support, so weak and contemptible, the whole Design and current of the Gospel being directly against them; that I shall do my utmost totally to demolish and throw down the tottering Building, and shew that it has no Foundation in common Sense or Scripture.
No Proposition can be more evident, than that, before any positive Institution, every Man must have been his own Priest, and alone must have offered up his own Prayers and Thanksgivings; but when God Almighty instituted the Jewish Dispensation, which consisted of numerous Rites, Ceremonies, and Sacrifices, he also appointed Persons to officiate and execute these Duties for the People as well as for themselves, who were called Priests or Sacrificers, with particular Salaries or Dues annexed to their Office, and they were to be only chosen out of one Tribe.
Accordingly, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, chap. v. ver. 1. and chap. viii. ver. 3. a High-Priest is defined as one taken up from amongst Men, and ordained for Men in Things pertaining to God; that he may offer Gifts and Sacrifices for Sins: So that the Business of the Priesthood was for expiating Sin, and reconciling Men to God, by offering Gifts and Sacrifices: And the Apostle adds, Verse the 4th, That no Man could take this Honour to himself, but he which was called of God, as was Aaron, whose Commission was couched in the plainest and most express Words imaginable, and the People’s Duty and Obedience were prescribed even to the minutest Circumstance.
As the Jewish Rites and Ceremonies were almost endless, and consisted of so many minute Particulars, that it was next to impossible not to commit some Breaches of their Law; therefore God appointed Atonement to be made for the lesser Transgressions of it, by Gifts and Offerings, and the Persons aforesaid to make those Offerings; but for the greater Sins, such as Idolatry, Perjury, Murder, Adultery, breaking their Sabbath, &c. no Sin-Offerings or expiatory Sacrifices were allowed; and for this Reason the Apostle, chap. vii. v. 18, 19. argues, that there is verily a Disannulment of the Commandment going before for the Weakness and Unprofitableness thereof; for the Law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in a better Hope did, by the which we draw nigh unto God.
He adds, chap. ix. v. 9. That Gifts and Sacrifices could not make him that did the Service perfect, as pertaining to the Conscience. And chap. x. v. 4. That it is not possible, that the Blood of Bulls and of Goats should take away Sins. And v. 6, 8. That in Burnt-Offerings and Sacrifices for Sins, God has no Pleasure; and he argues from thence, chap. v. v. 4, 10. and chap. vii. from the 11th v. to the 19th, a Necessity that another Priest should arise after the Order of Melchisedek, which was an higher Order, and that he should be perfect (being to become Author of eternal Salvation to all them who obey him): for if Perfection was in the Levitical Priesthood, (under which the People received the Law) what Need was there, that another Priest should arise after the Order of Melchisedek, and not after the Order of Aaron? For the Priesthood being changed, there is made a Necessity of the Change also of the Law.
And then he observes many Differences between our Saviour’s and the Jewish Priesthood:
1.Thatthis Priest was not made after the Law of a carnal Commandment, but after the Power of an endless Life.
2.Thathe was made a Priest, not without an Oath, which the Jewish Priests were not, v. 20, 21.
3.Thatthey were many Priests, because they were not suffered to continue, by reason of Death; but this Man, because he continueth, hath an unchangeable Priesthood: Wherefore he is able to save them to the utmost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make Intercession for them, v. 23, 24, 25.
4.Thatthe Law maketh Men High-Priests which have Infirmity; but such a High-Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from Sinners, and made higher than the Heavens, who needeth not daily to offer up Sacrifices, first for his own Sins, and then for the People; for this he did once, when he offered up himself, v. 26, 27, 28.
5.Thathe obtained a more excellent Ministry, by how much he is Mediator of a better Covenant, which was established upon better Promises; for if the Covenant had been faultless,then should no Place have been sought for the second; for finding Fault with them, saith the Lord, I will put my Laws into their Minds, and write them in their Hearts, and they shall not teach every Man his Neighbour, saying, Know the Lord; for all shall know me from the greatest to the least; for I will be merciful to their. Unrighteousness, and their Sins and Iniquities I will remember no more; in that he saith, By a new Covenant, he hath made the first old; and that which decayeth, and waxeth old, is ready to vanish away, chap. viii. ver. 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13. and chap. x. ver. 16, 17.
6.Inchap. ix. the Apostle compares the Rites and bloody Sacrifices of the Law, and shews how far inferior they are to the Blood and Sacrifice of Christ, who not by the Blood of Goats and Calves, but by his own Blood, entered at once into the holy Place, having obtained eternal Redemption for us; for if the Blood of Bulls and of Goats, and the Ashes of an Heifer sprinkling the Unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the Flesh, how much more shall the Blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself, without Blot, to God, purge your Consciences from dead Works, to serve the living God? ver. 12, 13, 14.
7.Inchap. x. he shews the Weakness of the Law-Sacrifices; which, being offer’d up Year by Year continually, could not make the Comers thereto perfact; for then they would have ceased to have been offered, because that the Worshippers, once purged, should have had no more Conscience of Sins. Ver. 1, 2. Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy Will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second; by the which Will we are sanctified, through the Offering of Jesus Christ, once for all. Every Priest standeth ministring, and offering the same Sacrifices, which can never take away Sins; but this Man, after he offered one Sacrifice for Sins for ever, sat down at the Right-hand of God; for by one Offering he hath perfected, for ever, them that are sanctified; that is, those who obey his Commands, v. 9, 10, 11, 12, 14. And in v. 18. he tells them, Where Remission of sins is, there is no more Offering for Sins.
In the rest of the Chapter, the Apostle exhorts the Hebrews, whom he calls his Brethren, to have the Boldness to enter in with him into the Holiest, by the Blood of Jesus; and having a High Priest over the House of God, to draw near with a true Heart, in full Assurance of having our Hearts sprinkled from an evil Conscience, and our Bodies washed with pure Water,and to hold fast the Profession of our Faith, without wavering; and to consider one another to provoke unto Love, and to good Works; not for saking the assembling ourselves together, as the Manner of some is; but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as ye see the Day approaching. And he enforces his Argument, by telling them, that if we sin wilfully after the Knowledge of the Truth, there remaineth no more Sacrifice for Sins.
Now, in all this Epistle, where this Matter is so fully and at large explained, (as well as in many other Parts of Scripture, where the Jewish Priesthood, Rites and Ceremonies are plainly abolished) there is not one Word or Hint given of any other to be established upon the Ruins of it. In all the Chapters which I have quoted, no Priest, Sacrificer, Prophet, Mediator, Intercessor, Reconciler, Benedictor, Embassador, or Spiritual Prince, is once mentioned, but Jesus Christ alone; though one might have expected to have met with him, or to have heard of him here, if there was to have been any such Person in Nature. On the contrary, the Apostle himself addresses to the Hebrws as his Equals, and claims no Right, Privilege, or Superiority over them; talks to them always in the Plural Number; nor does he, in the modern Phrase, say, Pray ye, &c. but joins himself with them in every Act of Love and Duty.
If this was the Case of the Hebrews, who were Parties to the Horeb Contract, by which God became their temporal King, and consequently, they became bound, and Subjects to all the Laws of Moses; the Argument is much stronger in behalf of the Gentiles, who were never any way concerned in the Jewish Priesthood, Rites and Ceremonies; and there must be therefore a very plain and positive Institution and Establishment found out in Scripture, before they can be subjected to it.