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The following Sermon is published at the urgent request of many of the principal inhabitants of the parish in which it was preached. As they heard it with an indulgence which its own merits might not elsewhere command, I have endeavoured, by annexing Notes of a practical nature, to render it more generally useful, and to further the accomplishment of objects highly important to the very extensive parish with which I am now connected, St. Margaret's, Leicester. I may, perhaps, be allowed to add, that the profits, if any, which may arise from the sale of this Sermon, shall be devoted to the benefit of the National School of St. Botolph, Aldersgate.
Hebrews IV. 14.
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
If there was, in the whole of the Mosaic economy, one thing more than another which the Jews were accustomed to regard with reverence and gratitude, it was the sacred office of the high priest, who was appointed by God to intercede for the pardon of their sins, and to dispense to them blessings from heaven. It was therefore naturally to be expected that, among the Jewish converts to Christianity, there should be some, who still looked back with feelings of regret to the abolition of his power and government. Hence did St. Paul, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, labour strenuously to remove this regret, by shewing that it originated in a total misconception of the
Divine dispensations; since that sacred office, so far from being abolished, as they had supposed, received additional and permanent dignity in being transferred to Jesus Christ, the great High Priest of their new profession, who was of a much higher order than that of Aaron, and was possessed of far superior power to supply their spiritual wants. Since then the Son of God had passed into the heavens, to appear for ever in that character for them before his Father's throne, the apostle argues that therefore they were no less bound than" encouraged to hold fast their profession. .
A doctrine more sublime, or a duty more important, it is impossible for the human mind to conceive; and as they are, in reality, subjects of equally deep concern to us as to the Jewish converts, they at once deserve and demand our most attentive and devout meditation. Let us now, therefore, in the first place, inquire into the nature of that doctrine asserted by the apostle, that Jesus the Son of God is passed into the heavens, as our great High Priest ; and next, consider the inference which the apostle deduces from it,--that we must therefore hold fast our profession.
With regard to the first of these topics, we may remark that, as the Jewish high priest was typical of our Saviour, it was natural to expect, what we actually find to be the fact, that the mode of executing his office was accurately prescribed to him by Divine wisdom. For it was by the express command of heaven that, on the great day of atonement, arrayed in his pontifical robes, he appeared in the midst of the congregation. There, having laid aside his gorgeous apparel, (since the expiatory office, which he was about to perform was more fitly discharged in the garments of humility,) he clothed himself in simpler attire: and then offered sacrifice, first for his own sins, and afterwards for those of the people. Thence was he entitled, by Divine permission, to enter alone into the holy of holies, carrying with him the blood of the sacred victims to sprinkle upon the mercy-seat, which was placed within the vail, and encircled with the bright effulgence of the Divine glory. It was thus that the Jewish high priest atoned yearly by sacrifice for his own sins and for the sins of the