Of christ's blessing his people as a priest
Thirdly, I proceed in this chapter to consider another part of Christ's priestly office; which lies in blessing his people; for this was what belonged to the priests. Aaron and his sons were appointed to bless the people of Israel in the name of the Lord; and had a form of blessing prescribed them; which they were to use, and did use on that occasion, #De 21:5 Nu 6:23-26. Indeed, the blessing of the priests was only prayerwise; they could not confer a blessing, only prayed for one; yet when they did, the Lord promised to give one, #Nu 6:27 and some think Christ's blessing his people is only a species or branch of his intercession; though Christ does not only intercede for blessings for his people, but he actually confers them; and whether this is to be considered as a branch of Christ's intercession; which is made, not in a supplicant, but in an authoritative manner, as has been shown; or whether as a distinct part of Christ's priestly office; I shall treat of it particularly and separately, and much in the same method as the other parts have been treated of; by showing,
1. That Christ was to bless his people; this was promised and prophesied concerning him, and was prefigured in types of him.
1a. First, It was promised to Abraham, that in his "seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed", #Ge 22:1-24 28:1-22 and which was renewed to Isaac, #Ge 26:4 and also again to Jacob, #Ge 28:14 and which contains the sum of the gospel preached unto Abraham; for by "seed" is meant, not his numerous natural seed, descending from him by ordinary generation, in successive periods of time; but his single, special, and principal seed, the Messiah, who was to spring from him, #Ga 3:8,16 and by "all nations" are meant some of all nations, the chosen vessels, who consist both of Jews and Gentiles, the redeemed of the Lamb, who are by him redeemed out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation; and are effectually called, by the Spirit and grace of God, out of the world, and the nations of it, in each of the periods of time, and so are all blessed, both in time and to eternity; and on this account Christ is truly called, "the desire of all nations", #Hag 2:7 whose coming as an High Priest with good things being promised, might be expected and desired by them; and those may be said not only to be blessed in him as their representative, as they are, both in eternity and in time, #Eph 1:3,4 2:5,6 and not only "through" him, all the blessings of goodness being put into his hands for them; and so they come to them, through his hands, and through the efficacy of his blood, as redemption, pardon, grace, and eternal life, #Eph 1:7 #Ac 13:38 Tit 3:6 Ro 6:23 but they are blessed by him as it is his own act and deed; and so the apostle interprets and explains the phrase; "In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed; unto you first, God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away everyone of you from his iniquities", #Ac 3:25,26.
1b. Secondly, Christ's blessing his people was prefigured in Melchizedek, the type of him, and of whose order he was. This illustrious person met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, "and blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abraham of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth", #Ge 14:19 that is, May Abraham be blessed of God with both temporal and spiritual blessings, which he who is Lord of both worlds is able to bestow upon him: and on this benediction the apostle observes that Melchizedek, who "received tithes from Abraham, blessed him who had the promises"; not only of a Son to be his heir, and of the land of Canaan for his seed, but of the Messiah, and of the heavenly inheritance; from whence he infers the greatness, the excellency, and the superiority of Melchizedek, as a type of Christ, #Heb 7:6,7. The priests under the law, one part of whose work and office it was to bless the people, and who did bless them, were types and figures of Christ in that action, and foreshowed what he was to do when he came, #Le 9:22 Ps 118:26.
2. Christ has blessed his people, does bless them, and will continue to bless them: he blessed them under the Old Testament; he appeared in an human form to Jacob, and wrestled with him; nor would Jacob let him go except he blessed him; and he had power with him, and prevailed, and got the blessing; as appears by the name of Israel he gave him; and having such an experience of his ability to bless, he addressed him for a blessing on his grandchildren, saying, "The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads"; meaning Christ the uncreated Angel, the Angel of God's presence, the Angel of the covenant, who had protected him from all evil throughout his life, and particularly from the evil he feared from his brother Esau; when he appeared to him, and for him, and blessed him, as before observed, #Ge 32:24-29 48:16 and as Christ came in the fulness of time, an High Priest of good things; he blesses his people with them, of which his blessing his disciples is a specimen; and which was done by him after he had offered himself a sacrifice, and was risen from the dead, and before his ascension to heaven; "he lift up his hands and blessed them: and it came to pass while he blessed them he was parted from them", #Lu 24:50,51.
2a. First, Observe the qualifications of Christ to bless his people, his fitness, ability, and sufficiency for such a work.
2a1. As he is God, or a divine person, he must be able to bless;
God is blessed; this is an epithet of his; blessedness is a
perfection of Deity; it is a principal one; yea, all his
perfections are comprehended in it, and serve to complete
creatures. Now Christ is "over all, God blessed for ever",
#Ro 9:5 all the fulness of the Godhead is in him; all that
the Father hath are his, he is the Lord God omnipotent, "and
able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or
such he is the Creator of all things; nothing is made
without him, but all by him and for him; and he has all the
blessings of nature in his hands to dispose of; the earth is
his, and the fulness thereof; and he can give it to whom and
such jointly works in providence with his divine Father; and
has all providential goodness to bless men with: as such he
is the God of all grace, the God of his people, their sun
and shield, who gives grace and glory; and his grace is
comes from him; and grace and peace are equally prayed and
wished for from him as from the Father; as in all the
to bless his people; as such, God has "made him most blessed
for evermore", and "prevented him with the blessings of
goodness", #Ps 21:3,6 by laying up in him the blessings of
the covenant of grace, to communicate to his people; by
them in him. As God, he has a natural claim and right to all
blessedness; he has it to the full, infinitely, in right of
nature; it is independent of, and underived from another:
but as Mediator, he is made blessed by the will and pleasure
unto him; it is his Father's good pleasure, that all the
fulness of grace should dwell in him; out of which, his
people, in all ages, receive grace for grace; and all their
spiritual wants are supplied from thence; nor can they want
enough to dispense unto them. Besides, as Mediator, he has
obtained all blessings for them, in a way consistent with
all the perfections of God, to bestow them on them. Who can
doubt of his abilities to bless his people with deliverance
from ruin and destruction; since he has obtained eternal
redemption for them? or with a justifying righteousness;
since, as he came to bring in everlasting righteousness, he
is become the end of the law for righteousness to everyone
give, since he has made peace by the blood of his cross? or
with salvation, and all things appertaining to it; since he
is become the author of eternal salvation, and is able to
save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him?
2b. Secondly, The persons who are blessed by Christ: though "all nations" of the earth are said to be blessed in him, and by him; yet not every individual of all nations; for at the same time that this was promised to Abraham, God declared that he would curse them that cursed him; and so all such that curse his people, and blaspheme his name; yea, there are some whose very blessings are cursed, as well as their persons; and, indeed, all that are of the works of the law, or seek for justification by them, are cursed, "that continue not in all things written in the book of the law to do them", #Ga 3:10 which no man does; and therefore is cursed by that very law by which he seeks for justification. To which may be added, that all graceless and Christless sinners, instead of being blessed by Christ, will, at the last day, be bid to depart from him, saying, "Depart from me, ye cursed", #Mt 25:41. But,
2b1. All that are blessed of the Father are blessed by Christ;
with all spiritual blessings in him; and those that are
blessed in him are blessed by him; the same the Father
blesses, the Son does also; to whom he will say at the great
day, "Come, ye blessed of my Father", #Eph 1:3 Mt 25:34.
2b2. All that are chosen of God in Christ are blessed by him; for
they are blessed with all spiritual blessings according as
they are chosen in him; their election of God is the
standard, rule, and measure of all after blessings; that
he did predestinate, them he also called", &c. #Ro 8:30. The
elect of God are the objects of all the blessings of grace
which arise from Christ's death, resurrection, session at
the right hand of God, and his intercession there; or
triumphant challenge of the apostle, #Ro 8:33,34.
2b3. All that are given to Christ by the Father are blessed by
him; for these he prays for blessings, on these he bestows
grace, and the blessings of it; his gospel, and the
privileges belonging to it; he confers grace on them, keeps
them by his power, and gives unto them eternal life,
2b4. All the covenant ones are blessed by Christ; all that are in
covenant have a right to the blessings of it, and they are
blessed with it; God is their covenant God, and happy are
they whose God he is; God, even their own God, will bless
sure; and Christ, the mediator of it, in whose hands they
are, gives them the sure mercies of David.
2b5. All the spiritual Israel of God, the whole Israel of God,
what is said of literal Israel, "Happy art thou, O Israel,
---O people saved by the Lord", #De 33:29 is true of mystic
Israel, or the elect of God among all nations; that Israel
whom God has chosen, and Christ has redeemed and called by
Christ, and saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation,
#Ps 135:4 Isa 43:1 45:17,25.
2c1. With a justifying righteousness; this is a great blessing:
David describes "The blessedness of the man to whom God
imputeth righteousness without works", #Ro 4:6 and that is
wrought out, and brought in, but he brings it near to his
people; he puts it upon them, he clothes and covers them
with it; so that they are justified from all their sins, and
secured from condemnation and death, and are saved from
unto God; and it is well with them at all times, in life, in
death, and at the last judgment.
2c2. With the pardon of their sins, which is another great
forgiven", #Ps 32:1 and Christ has not only shed his blood
to obtain remission of sins for his people, but through the
ministry of his gospel, and by his Spirit and grace he
applies it to them, #Mt 9:2 and which fills their hearts
2c3. Christ blesses his people with the adoption of children;
they are not only predestinated of God unto it by him, and
he has redeemed them that they might receive it, but he
2c4. Those are blessed by Christ with regeneration and conversion
by his Spirit and grace through the ministration of his
gospel; this is the instance mentioned by the apostle, of
up, and to whom sent, #Ac 3:26. His blessing them lay in
this, in turning them from sin and self; and in turning them
to himself, to his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, for
peace, pardon, justification, and eternal salvation.
2c5. The same persons are blessed by Christ with the Spirit,
which he has received without measure; and with the graces
thereof in an abundant manner, at first conversion, which
are richly shed on them, through Christ, their Saviour; and
till he brings them to glory.
2c6. The Lord blesses his people with peace, #Ps 29:11 which flows
from his peace speaking blood, his perfect righteousness, and
and is what the world can neither give nor take away.
2c7. He blesses them with the gospel, the ordinances of it, and
the privileges of his house. He favours them with the joyful
satisfies them with the goodness and fatness of his house;
he gives them a place, and a name in it, better than that of
sons and daughters; he makes them fellow citizens with the
saints, and makes them into the household of God, and
the children of God.
2c8. And lastly, Christ blesses his people with eternal life and
happiness; he not only intercedes for them that they may be
gone beforehand, to prepare mansions of glory for them; but,
according to his promise, will come and take them to
himself, and introduce them into his kingdom and glory,
where they shall be for ever with him.
2d. Fourthly, The nature and excellencies of these blessings.
2d1. They are covenant blessings; which are laid up and secured
in the covenant of grace, ordered in all things and sure;
2d2. They are spiritual blessings, #Eph 1:3 such as are of a
spiritual nature, relating to the spiritual welfare of men,
or spirits; and are what the Spirit of God takes, shows, and
applies unto them.
2d3. They are solid and substantial ones; blessings indeed, such
indeed!" #1Ch 4:10. Earthly and temporal blessings, as
riches and honours, are things that are not, non-entities,
comparatively speaking, have no solidity and substance in
them; but the blessings of Christ, both of grace and glory,
hoped for; and heaven is a more "enduring substance"; which
wisdom, or Christ, causes his people to inherit, #Heb 11:1
#Heb 10:34 Pr 8:21 23:5.
Isaac blessed Jacob was confirmed by him with a resolution
not to alter it: and the blessing Balaam was commanded to
bless Israel with, was what he could not reverse, whatever
good will he had to it: but the blessings of grace by
reverses; these are "the gifts and calling of God" to grace
and glory, which "are without repentance", #Ro 11:29.
2d5. These blessings are eternal; whatever is done in this way of
Christ's righteousness is an everlasting righteousness;
pardon of sin ever remains; once a child of God, always so;
no more a servant, but a son, an heir of God, and a joint
heir of Christ; so every blessing of grace, with glory and