[F. & W. No. 37. ('Field and Work'?)]

Letters relating to Present Affairs. No. 5.

My Dear Brother: You may not have noticed a recent statement about "the end of priesthood." It is an ominous sign. That the sense of the need of Christ's priestly activity in heaven has been enfeebled is very manifest. Think of taking the death of Aaron, in Numbers 20, as showing that in some sense the Christian reaches a point where he does not need priesthood!

I will quote the statement to which I refer. "When a Christian has done with the responsible side of his course down here, it is the end of priesthood; we don't need it any more as connected with infirmities. That part of our Christian course will be over, and we shall no longer want the help of the High Priest in that sense. It will come to an end in regard to us. And this is true now in so far as our souls enter on the ground of divine purpose. The Priest is known in another light."

When will the Christian be done with the responsible side of his course down here? The only answer to be given to this question is, he will not be done with it until either he dies or the Lord comes. He will, then, need the priesthood in connection with infirmities as long as he is down here. This might be thought to be what is intended, but alas! we cannot explain it so, because it is said that this getting beyond the need of the help of the High Priest is true for us now in the measure in which we enter into divine purpose. Elsewhere it is said: "The death of the High Priest terminates one chapter of Christian experience, and after His death another chapter is opened." It is plain that the thought is that of getting to a point where we do not need the present priestly activities of Christ. We shall know the Priest in another light. As regards those who enter on the ground of divine purpose, it will not be infirmities that will require His attention.

Now it is clear that the significance of the death of Aaron in Numbers 20 is misconceived. The idea is not the end of priesthood, because it does not end. Aaron's son, Eleazar, carries it on. Moses stripped Aaron of his garments and put them upon Eleazar before Aaron died. His death is not a type of the end of priesthood. How important it is to notice all the little details of an account, so that in forming our idea of it we do not leave out something that is essential to a correct idea. To have remembered that Eleazar carried on the priesthood would have made it impossible to have taken Aaron's death as signifying the end of priesthood, or as terminating the responsible side of a Christian's course down here or as closing one chapter of Christian experience and opening another.

Instead of being above the need of the priestly activities of Christ according to the measure in which we enter into the purpose of God, the more we enter into God's purpose, the deeper will our sense of our own infirmity be, and consequently the more practically shall we be dependent on the priestly grace of Christ. Is it true that there are Christians who have reached a point where they do not need to obtain mercy and find grace? If there are any who think they have, let them be warned by the example of Uzziah. By God-given prosperity he became strong, but when he got to be strong he fancied he could do without the priesthood. The grace of God towards him should have kept him humble and been the witness to his soul of his weakness. But alas! it was not so; his heart was lifted up. He was filled with pride. He thought he was strong, and could not endure being dependent on the priesthood. But if pride in him led him to transgress against the Lord his God, we may well be warned against allowing it to work in our own souls. And if God expressed His judgment of it in him by smiting him with leprosy in his forehead, what must be His abhorrence of the pride in us that leads us to fancy ourselves above the need of Christ's priestly grace, because of the grace that has granted us some measure of enjoyment of His purpose!

"We don't need priesthood any more as connected with infirmities," and "this is true now in so far as our souls enter on the ground of divine purpose!" How the heart is lifted up! How differently the apostle speaks, "Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace." There is on that throne a Priest — an Eleazar — who knows our infirmities, and whose priestly grace we need. Have we through grace entered in greater or less measure on the ground of divine purpose, we need the grace of our Priest to stand there. There are enemies mightier than we to contest the ground with us, and unless we are dependent upon our sympathizing Priest they will drive us off. The priesthood of Christ as connected with our infirmities is our grand bulwark. The Lord preserve all our souls in the sense of our need of it, and keep us from the pride that leads us to think we may get while down here beyond it.

The teaching in question is harmful. That it should be so boldly stated without being challenged is a sad surprise. One feeble voice to say, "I don't quite understand." Alas! how the error triumphs! How it carries the day! Can it be that the truth is of such little value that it is not worth contending for? Has it been bought at so trifling a cost that it can be sold for the most paltry sum? Or was the voice of conscience silenced for peace's sake? Can it be possible that peace and unanimity are prized above the truth?

Whichever way we look at it, there is nothing to cheer. A straight blow is struck at a truth which is the bulwark of the saints, and a preservative of the true condition of soul for a child of God in the conflict to which he is called. With but one word, as it were, the very thing essential to victory is destroyed. I have only to persuade myself that I have entered on the ground of divine purpose, and I can dispense with the help of the High Priest. The boldness of the teaching is amazing, but the surrender to it without a struggle is astonishing beyond measure.

Well, let us maintain the truth. Let us contend for the faith once delivered, one part of which is the saint's need of the provision grace has made in the sympathizing and helping High Priest for those to whom it is granted to be upon the ground of divine purpose. C. Crain.
Publisher: W. Blatchley, 27 Lancefield Street, London, W., England.
Editor's Address — B. C. Greenman, c/o above.