To proue the Priesthood of Christ incomparably to excel the Priesthood of Aaron (and therfore
that Leuitical Priesthood now to cease, and that law also with it) he scanneth euery word of the
verse alleaged out of the Psalme, Our Lord hath sworne: thou art a Priest for euer, according
to the order of Melchisedech.
1. FOR this Melchisedech.
The excellencie of this person vvas so great, that some of the antiquity tooke him to be an Angel, and some the holy Ghost. Vvhich opinion not onely the Hebrues, that auouch him to be Sem the sonne of Noë, but also the cheefe fathers of the Christians do condemne: not doubting but he vvas a mere man and a Priest and a king, vvhosoeuer he vvas. for els he could not in office and order and sacrifice haue been so perfect a type and resemblance of our Sauiour, as in this Chapter and other is shevved. Melchisedech, the King of Salem, Priest of the God most high, Gen. 14,18. who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the Kings, and blessed him:
2. to whom also Abraham deuided tithes of al: first indeed by interpretation, When the Fathers & Catholike Expositours pike out allegories and mysteries out of the names of men the Protestants not endowed with the Spirit whereby the Scriptures were giuen, deride their holy labours in the search of the same: but the Apostle findeth high mysterie in the very names of persons & places, as you see. the King of iustice: & then also King of Salem, which is to say, King of peace,
3. Without father.
The resemblance of Melchisedech to Christ, in many points.
Not that he vvas vvithout father and mother, saith S. Hierom ep. 126: for Christ him self vvas not vvithout father, according to his diuinity, not vvithout mother, in his humanity: but for that his petigree is not set out in the Genesis, as the genealogie of other Patriarches is, but is sodenly induced in the holy historie, no mention made of his stocke, tribe, beginning, or ending, and therfore in that case also resembling in a sort the sonne of God, vvhose generation vvas extraordinarie, miraculous, and ineffable, according to both his natures, lacking a father in the one, and a mother in the other. his person hauing neither beginning nor ending, and his kingdom, and Priesthod specially, in him self and in the Church, being eternall, both in respect of the time past, and the time to come: as the said Doctor in the same epistle vvriteth. without father, without mother, without Genealogie, hauing neither beginning of daies nor end of life, but likened to the Sonne of God, continueth a Priest for euer.
4. And Behold.
By the sundrie excellencies of Melchisedechs Priesthood is proued the excellencie of the Priesthood and Sacrifice of the new Testament.
To proue that Christes Priesthod far passeth the Priesthod of Aaron: and the Priesthod of the nevv Testament, the Priesthod of the old lavv: and consequently that the sacrifice of our Sauiour and the sacrifice of the Church doth much excel the sacrifices of Moyses lavv, he disputeth profoundly of the preeminences of Melchisedec aboue the great Patriarch Abraham, vvho vvas father of the Leuites. behold how great this man is, to whom also Abraham the Patriarke gaue Tithes.
He receiued tithes of Abraham, & consequently of Leui and Aaron.
The first preeminence, that Abraham paied tithes, and that of the best and most cheefe things that he had, vnto Melchisedec, as a duety and homage, not for him self onely in person, but for Leui, vvho yet vvas not borne, and so for the vvhole Priesthod of Leuies stocke, acknovvledging thereby, Melchisedec not onely to be a Priest, but his Priest and Superior, and so of al the Leuitical order. And it is here to be obserued, that vvhereas in the 14 of Genesis, vvhence this holy narration is taken, both in the Hebrue, and in the 70, it standeth indifferent or doubtfull, vvhether Melchisedec paied tithes to Abraham, or tooke tithes of him: the Apostle here putteth al out of controuersie, plainely declaring that Abraham paied tithes to the other, as the inferiour to his Priest and Superior. And touching paiment of tithes, it is a natural duety, that men ovve to God in al lavves, and to be giuen to his Priests in his behalfe, for their honour and liuelihod. Iacob promised or vovved to pay them, Gen. 28. Moyses appointed them Leuit. 27. Num. 18. Deut. 12. 14, 26. Christ confirmeth that duety Mat. 23: and Abraham specially here giueth them to Melchisedec: plainely thereby approuing them or their equiualent to be due to Christ and the Priesthod of the nevv Testament, much more then either in the lavv of Moyses, or in the lavv of Nature. Of vvhich tithes due to the Clergie of Christes Church see S. Cyprian ep. 66. S. Hierom ep. 1 c. 7. and ep. 2 c. 5. to Heliodorus and Nepotianus. S. Augustine ser. 119 de tempore. tithes of the principal things.
5. And certes Nu. 18,21.
Ios. 14,4. they of the sonnes of Leui that take the priesthood haue commandement to take tithes of the people according to the Law, that is to say, of their Brethren: albeit themselues also issued out of the loines of Abraham.
6. But he whose Generation is not numbred among them, tooke tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.
7. But without al contradiction, that which is lesse, Is blessed of the better.
He blessed Abraham.
The second preeminence is, that Melchisedec did blesse Abraham: vvhich vve see here S. Paul maketh a great and soueraine holy thing, grounding our Sauiours prerogatiue aboue the vvhole order of Aaron therein: and vve see that in this sort it is the proper act of Priesthod: and that vvithout al controuersie as the Apostle saith, he is greater in dignitie, that hath authority to blesse, then the person that hath not, and therfore the Priests vocation to be in this behalfe far aboue any earthly king, vvho hath not povver to giue benediction in this sacred maner, neither to man, nor other creature.
Blessing a great preeminence, specially in Priests.
As here Melchisedec, so Christ blessed much more, and so haue the Bishops of his Church done, and do. Vvhich no man can maruel that our forefathers haue so highly esteemed and sought for, if he marke the vvonderful mysterie and grace thereof here expressed. This Patriarch also vvhich here taketh blessing of Melchisedec, him self (though in an inferior sort) blessed his sonnes, as the other Patriarches did, and fathers do their children by that example. is blessed of the better.
8. And here indeed, The tithes giuen to Melchisedech were not giuen as to a mere mortal man, as al of the Tribe of Leui & Aarons order were: but as to one representing the Sonne of God, who now liueth & reigneth & holdeth his Priesthood & the functions thereof for euer. men that die, receiue tithes: but there he hath witnes, that he liueth.
9. And (that it may so be said) by Abraham Leui also, which receiued tithes, was tithed.
10. For as yet he was in his Fathers loines, when Melchisedech met him.
11. If then consummation.
The ful accomplishment of man's redemption was not by Aaron, but by Melchisedechs Priesthood.
The principal proposition of the vvhole epistle and al the Apostles discourse, is inferred & grounded vpon the former prerogatiues of Melchisedec aboue Abraham and Leui: that is, that the end, perfection, accomplishment, and consummation of al mans dueties and debtes to God, by the general redemption, satisfaction, full price and perfect ransom of al mankind, vvas not atchieued by any or al the Priests of Aarons order, nor by any sacrifice or act of that Priesthod, or of al the lavv of Moyses, vvhich vvas grounded vpon the Leuitical Priesthod, but by Christ and his Priesthod, vvhich is of the order and rite of Melchisedec. If then consummation was by the Leuitical Priesthood (for vnder it the people receiued the Law) What necessitie.
The Apostle to confute the Iewes false persuasion of Aarons Priesthood and Sacrifices, speaketh altogether of the Sacrifice of the Crosse.
This disputation of the preeminence of Christes Priesthod aboue the Leuitical order, is against the erroneous persuasion of the Ievves, that thought their lavv, Priesthod, and sacrifices to be euerlasting, and to be sufficient in them selues, vvithout any other Priest then Aaron and his successors, and vvithout al relation to Christes Passion or any other redemption or remission, then that vvhich their Leuitical offices did procure: not knovving that they vvere all figures of Christes death, and to be ended and accomplished in the same. Vvhich point vvell vnderstood and kept in mind, vvill cleere the vvhole controuersie betvvixt the Catholikes and Protestants, concerning the sacrifice of the Church. for, the scope of the Apostles disputation being, to auouch the dignity, preeminence, necessitie, and eternal fruite and effect of Christes Passion, he had not to treate at all of the other, vvhich is a sacrifice depending of his Passion, specially vvriting to the Hebrues, that vvere to be instructed and reformed first touching the sacrifice of the Crosse, before they could fruitfully heare any thing of the other. though in couert and by most euident sequele of disputation, the learned and faithfull may easily perceiue vvherevpon the said Sacrifice of the Church (vvhich is the Masse) is grounded. And therfore S. Hierom saith, ep. 126: that al these commendations of Melchisedec are in the type of Christ, cuius profectus Ecclesiæ sacramenta sunt. what necessitie was there yet another Priest to rise according to the order of Melchisedech, and not to be called according to the order of Aaron?
12. For the Priesthood being Translated.
No lawful State of people without an external Priesthood.
Note vvel this place, and you shal perceiue thereby, that euery lavvful forme and manner of lavv, state, or gouernement of Gods people dependeth on Priesthod, riseth, standeth, falleth, or altereth vvith the Priesthod. In the lavv of Nature, the state of the people hanged on one kind of Priesthod in the lavv of Moyses, of an other: in the state of Christianity, of an other: and therfore in the former sentence the Apostle said, that the Ievvish people or Commonvvealth had their lavv vnder the Leuitical Priesthod, and the Greeke more properly expresseth the matter, that they vvere legitimated, that is to say, made a lavvful people or communitie vnder God, by the Priesthod. for there is no iust nor lavvful Commonvvealth in the vvorld, that is not made legal and Gods peculiar, and distinguished from vnlavvful Commonvveales that hold of false goddes, or of none at al, by Priesthod.
External Priesthood necessarie for the state of the new Testament.
Vvherevpon it is cleere, that the nevv lavv, and al Christian peoples holding of the same, is made lavvful by the Priesthod of the nevv Testament, and that the Protestants shamefully are deceiued, and deceiue others, that vvould haue Christian Commonvveales to lacke an external Priesthod, or Christes death to abolish the same. for, this is a demonstration, that if Christ haue abolished Priesthod, he hath abolished the nevv lavv, vvhich is the nevv Testament and state of Grace, vvhich al Christian Commonvvealths liue vnder. Neither vvere it true, that the Priesthod vvere translated vvith the Lavv, if al external Priesthod ended by Christes death, vvhere the nevv lavv began. for so the lavv should not depend on Priesthod, but dure vvhen al Priesthod vvere ended: vvhich is against S. Paules doctrine.
External Sacrifice also necessarie for the same.
Furthermore it is to be noted, that this legitimation or putting Communities vnder lavv, and Priesthod, of vvhat order soeuer, is no othervvise, but by ioyning one vvith an other in one homage of sacrifice external, vvhich is the proper act of Priesthod for, as no lavvful state can be vvithout priesthod, so no priesthod can be vvithout sacrifice. And vve meane alvvaies of Priesthod & sacrifice taken in their ovvne proper signification, as here S. Paul taketh them. for, the constitution difference, alteration, or translation of states and lavves rise not vpon any mutation of spiritual or metaphorically taken Priesthod, or sacrifice: but vpon those things in proper acception, as it is most plaine.
The translation of the old Priesthood & Sacrifices, must needes be into the said Priesthood & Sacrifice of the Church.
Lastly, it foloweth of this, that though Christ truely sacrificed him self vpon the Crosse (there also a Priest according to the order of Melchisedec) and there made the ful redemption of the vvorld, confirmed, and consummated his compact, and Testament, and the lavv and priesthod of this his nevv and eternal state, by his bloud: yet that can not be the forme of sacrifice into vvhich the old Priesthod and sacrifices vvere translated, vvherevpon the Apostle inferreth the translation of the Law. For they all vvere figures of Christes death, and ended in effect at his death, yet they vvere not altered into that kind of sacrifice, vvhich vvas to be made but once, and vvas executed in such a sort, that peoples and nations Christened could not meete often to vvorship at it, nor haue their law and Priestes constituted in the same. though for the honour and duety, remembrance and representation thereof, not onely vve Christians, but also al peoples faithful both of Iewes & Gentiles, haue had their priesthod and sacrifices according to the difference of their states. Vvhich kind of Sacrifices vvere translated one into an other: and so no doubt is the Priesthod Leuitical properly turned into the Priesthod and sacrifice of the Church, according to Melchisedecks rite, and Christes institution in the formes of bread and vvine. See the next note. translated, it is necessarie that a translation of the Law also be made.
13. For he on whom these things be said, is of another Tribe, of the which, none attended on the altar.
14. For it is manifest that our Lord sprung if Iuda: in the which Tribe Moyses spake nothing of Priesthood. Priestes.
15. And yet it is much more euident: if according to the similitude of Melchisedech there arise another Priest,
16. which was not made according to the Law of the carnal commandement, but according to the power of life indissoluble.
17. For he witnesseth, Ps. 109,4. That thou art A Priest for euer.
How Christ is a Priest for euer.
Christ is not called a Priest for euer, onely for that his person is eternal, or for that he sitteth on the right hand of God, and perpetually praieth or maketh intercession for vs, or for that the effect of his death is euerlasting: for al this proueth not that in proper signification his Priesthod is perpetual: but according to the iudgement of al the fathers grounded vpon this deepe and diuine discourse of S. Paul, and vpon the very nature, definition, and propriety of Priesthod, and the excellent act and order of Melchisedec, and the state of the new law, he is a Priest for euer according to Melchisedecks order, specially in respect of the sacrifice of his holy body and bloud, instituted at his last supper, and executed by his commission, commaundement, and perpetual concurrence vvith his Priests, in the formes of bread and vvine: in vvhich things onely the said high Priest Melchisedec did sacrifice.
Christs eternal Priesthood consisteth in the perpetual Sacrifice of his body and bloud in the Church.
For though S. Paul make no expresse mention hereof, because of the depth of the mysterie, and their incredulity or feeblenesse to vvhom he vvrote: yet it is euident in the iudgement of all the learned fathers (vvithout exception) that euer vvrote either vpon this epistle, or vpon the 14 of Genesis, or the Psalme 109, or by occasion haue treated of the sacrifice of the altar, that the eternity and proper act of Christes Priesthod, and consequently the immutability of the new law, consisteth in the perpetual offering of Christes body and bloud in the Church.
The Protestants cauilling vpon particles, against Melchisedechs Sacrifice & Priesthod, directly against the Apostle.
Which thing is so vvell knowen to the Aduersaries of Christes Church and Priesthod, and so graunted, that they be forced impudently to cauill vpon certaine Hebrue particles, that Melchisedec did not offer in bread and vvine: yea and vvhen that vvill not serue, plainely to deny him to haue been a Priest: vvhich is to giue checkmate to the Apostle, and to ouerthrow all his discourse. Thus vvhiles these vvicked men pretend to defend Christes onely Priesthod, they in deede abolish as much as in them lieth, the vvhole order, office, and state of his eternall law and Priesthod.
Christs eternal Priesthood and Sacrifice in the Church is proued out of the Fathers.
Arnobius saith, By the mysterie of bread and vvine he vvas made a Priest for euer. And againe, The eternal memorie, by vvhich he gaue the food of his body to them that feare him. in psal. 109. 110. Lactantius, In the Church he must needes haue his eternal Priesthod according to the order of Melchisedec. Li. 14. Institut. S. Hierom to Euagrius, Aarons Priesthod had an end, but Melchisedecks, that is, Christes and the Churches is perpetuall, *both for the time past and to come. S. Chrysostom therfore calleth the Churches sacrifice, hostiam inconsumptibilem, an host or sacrifice that can not be consumed. ho. 17 in 9 Hebr. S. Cyprian, hostiam qua sublata, nulla esset futura religio, an host vvhich being taken away, there could be no religion. de Cœna Domini nu 2. Emissenus, perpetuam oblationem & perpetuò currentem redemptionem, a perpetual oblation and a redemption that runneth or continueth euerlastingly. ho. 5 de Pasch. And our Sauiour expresseth so much in the very institution of the B. Sacrament of his body and bloud: specially vvhen he calleth the later kind, the nevv Testament in his bloud, signifying that as the old law vvas established in the bloud of beastes, so the new (vvhich is his eternal Testament) should be dedicated and perpetual in his owne bloud: not onely as it vvas shed on the Crosse, but as giuen in the Chalice. And therfore into this sacrifice of the altar (saith S. Augustine li. 17 de Ciuit. c. 20. S. Leo ser. 8 de Passione, and the rest) vvere the old sacrifices to be translated. See S. Cyprian ep. 63 ad Cecil. nu. 2. S. Ambrose de Sacram. li. 5. c. 4. S. Augustine in Psal. 33. Conc. 2. and li. 17. de Ciuit. c. 17. S. Hierom ep. 17. c. 2. & ep. 126. Epiph. hær. 55. Theodoret in Psal. 109. Damascene li. 4. c. 14.
* That is, from Adam to the end of the world, represented by Sacrifice.
Finally if any of the fathers, or all the fathers, had either vvisedom, grace, or intelligence of Gods vvorde and mysteries, this is the truth. If nothing vvil serue our Aduersaries, Christ Iesus confound them, and defend his eternal Priesthod, and state of his new Testament established in the same. a Priest for euer, according to the order of Melchisedech.
18. Reprobation certes is made Of the former commandement.
The old commandement & the new.
Maundy thursday why so called.
The vvhole law of Moyses conteining all their old Priesthod, sacrifice, sacraments, and ceremonies, is called the Old commaundement: and the new Testament conteining the sacrifice of Christes body and bloud, and al the sacraments and graces giuen by the same, is named the Nevv mandatum: for vvhich our forefathers called the Thursday in the holy vveeke, Maundy thursday, because that in it, the new law and Testament was dedicated in the Chalice of his bloud: the old mandatum, law, Priesthod, and sacrifices, for that they vvere insufficient and vnperfect, being taken avvay: and this new sacrifice, after the order of Melchisedec, giuen in the place thereof. of the former commandement, because of the weakenesse and vnprofitablenesse thereof.
19. For the Law brought nothing to perfection, but The introduction.
The introduction of a new Priesthood.
Euer obserue, that the abrogation of the old law, is not an abolishing of al Priesthod, but an introduction of a new, conteining the hope of eternal things, vvhere the old had but temporal. an introduction of a better hope, by the which we approch to God.
20. And in as much as it is not without an othe, (the other truely without an othe were made Priestes:
21. but this With an othe.
The eternitie of the new Priesthood confirmed by the Fathers othe & Christs passion.
This othe signifieth the infallible and absolute promis of the eternitie of the new Priesthod and state of the Church: Christ by his death, and bloud shed in the sacrifice of the Crosse, confirming it, sealing it, and making him self the surety and pledge therof. For though the new Testament vvas instituted, giuen, and dedicated in the Supper, yet the vvarrant, confirmation, and eternal operation therof, vvas atchieued vpon the Crosse, in the one oblation and one general and euerlasting redemption there made. with an othe, by him that said vnto him: Ps. 109,4. Our Lord hath sworne, & it shal not repent him: thou art a Priest for euer)
22. by so much, is Iesvs made a suretie of a better Testament.
23. The Epistle vpon S. Leo his day Iunii 28. And for some other Confessours Bishops. And the other indeed were made Priestes, Being many.
By the comparison of many priests, & one, is not meant that there is but one Priest of the new Testament.
The Protestants not vnderstanding this place, feine very folishly, that the Apostle should make this difference betvvixt the old state and the new: that in the old, there were many Priests: in the new, none at all but Christ. Which is against the Prophet Esay, specially prophecying of the Priests of the new Testament (as S. Hierom declareth vpon the same place) in these vvordes, You shal be called the *Priests of God: the *ministers of our God, shal it be said to you: & it taketh away al visible Priesthod, & consequently the lawful state that the Church and Gods people haue in earth, vvith al Sacraments and external vvorship.
Esa. c. 61.
The meaning is, that the absolute Sacrifice of eternal redemption could not be done by those many Aaronical Priests, but by one only, Christ Iesus who liueth a Priest for euer, hath no Successour, and as cheefe Priest, worketh & concurreth with al Priests in their priestly functions.
The Apostle then meaneth first, that the absolute sacrifice of consummation, perfection, and vniuersal redemption, vvas but one, once done, and by one onely Priest done, and therfore it could not be any of the sacrifices, or al the sacrifices of the Iewes law, or vvrought by any or by all of them, because they vvere a number at once, and succeding one an other, euery of their offices and functions ending by their death, and could not vvorke such an eternal redemption as by Christ onely vvas vvrought vpon the Crosse. Secondly, S. Paul insinuateth therevpon, that Christ neuer loseth the dignitie or practise of his eternal Priesthod, by death nor othervvise, neuer yeldeth it vp to any, neuer hath successors after him, that may enter into his roome or right of Priesthod, as Aaron and al other had in the Leuitical Priesthod, but that him self vvorketh and concurreth vvith his ministers the Priests of the new Testament, in al their actes of Priesthod, as vvel of sacrifice as Sacrament, blessing, preaching, praying, and the like vvhat so euer.
This therfore vvas the fault of the Hebrues, that they did not acknowledge their Leuitical sacrifices and Priesthod to be reformed and perfited by Christes sacrifice on the Crosse: and against them the Apostle onely disputeth, and not against our Priests of holy Church, or the number of them, vvho al confesse their Priesthod and al exercises of the same, to depend vpon Christes onely perpetual Priesthod. being many, because that by death they were prohibited to continue:
24. but this, for that he continueth for euer, hath an euerlasting priesthood.
25. whereby he is able to saue also for euer them that goe. going by himself to God: Christ according to his humane nature praieth for vs, & continually representeth his former passion and merits to God the Father. alwaies liuing to make intercession for vs.
26. For it was seemely that we should haue such a high Priest, holy, innocent, impolluted, separated from sinners, and made higher then the Heauens.
27. which hath not necessitie daily (as the Priestes) first Leu. 9,7. 16,6. for his owne sinnes to offer Hostes, then for the peoples. For This he did once,.
This is the special preeminence of Christ, that he offereth for other mens sinnes onely, hauing none of his owne to offer for, as al other Priests both of the old and new law haue. And this againe is the special dignitie of his owne person, not communicable to any other of vvhat order of Priesthod so euer, that he by his death (which is the onely oblation that is by the Apostle declared to be irreiterable in it self) paied the one full sufficient ransom for the redemption of all sinnes. this he did once, in offering himself.
28. For the Law appointeth Priestes men that haue infirmitie: but the word of the othe which is after the Law, the Sonne for euer perfected.